Spiritual Ascension Means I Invest in Dismantling Systemic Trauma

The last several months have been a whirlwind of activity in my world. I have transitioned from grant writer to business owner, from private visionary to public spiritualist. I didn’t set out to do this, at least not in this way. But sometimes opportunities present themselves and you get that inner knowing that if you don’t say “yes!” that you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. This was the same feeling I had when Warrior and I first got together.

Graphic of a glowing earth with a brilliant grid of interconnected links of light around it. Says: We are all in this together. United in building a world that is interconnected by empathy for one another. Where no one is left behind. Recognizing that pain inflicted on one of us, is pain inflicted on All of Us.

When Warrior and I got together in 2008, I was so overwhelmed by the New Relationship Energy (NRE) that I wanted to step back and refuse the relationship altogether. But in the early days of that romance when Warrior saw so clearly that we were supposed to be together, it was the messages of spiritual ascension, of creating a more loving and sustainable earth, that ultimately convinced me to stay. The divine messages we both received made us throw caution to the wind and hook our fates to one another. We believed so much in a shared mission of raising consciousness that we were willing to endure the ire of anyone in our way to make this vision a reality.

Our spiritual re-union was founded in joy and calm we created together in the midst of pain and trauma. When we got together it opened old wounds for each of our partners and within each other. Many tearful nights were spent agonizing over how we could be together in the midst of all this pain and finding solace in each other’s embrace. Neither of us shrank away from that pain, but neither did we shrink from each other. We found healing joy and we hoped that in celebrating this love we have created together that our partners could likewise participate in that joy eventually. We didn’t ignore the pain that we and others felt, but found a anchor in one another to endure that pain and help them with theirs.

Warrior and I earlier this month sharing a good morning together with coffee & books.

Neither Warrior nor I let ourselves forget the suffering of others. He worked in community mental health treating convinced sex offenders and crisis counseling for 15 years. I represented some of Colorado’s most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness and living with severe disabilities. His clients had to take regular polygraphs to uncover their full sexual history and identify other victims. My clients had to live on $189/mo and navigate complex systems designed to keep them down and out. We both have trauma histories as well, so we both are very attuned to the impact of human suffering, especially when inflicted by unhealed wounds and systemic pressures of inequality. Our spiritual union works because we choose to care about a world beyond our protective bubble and use the bubble to make us stronger to help the world.

Re-union requires us to deal with our shadow

Graphic bears a quote from James Baldwin that says "nothing can be changed until it is faced"
“Nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
– James Baldwin

Both of us have done a lot of heavy spiritual lifting in our relationship. particularly since 2012, we have engaged in confronting and embracing the shadow of our personal and genetic histories. For him, it’s a legacy of a military family and the plight of Scottish immigrants. For me, it’s a history of colonialism spanning from English settlers and Revolutionary patriots to Portuguese nobility and Spanish Conquistadors mixed within Aztec and Pueblo indigenous cultures. Our family lines have known and seen trauma. We carry it in our blood and bones, the memories of both villain and victim.

But we also have our own soul stories, past lives where we found each other over and over again. The illumination of these stories began on our first date (when he introduced me to Battlestar Galactica) and continues to this day. These stories not only brought us together but give us a language to help one another get on a new path. He has a history as a soldier, mercenary, assassin, and spy. I have a history as a healer, a prostitute, a leader, and an Oracle.

These stories manifest constantly in our union together and we are better for it because it exposes old patterns of ours, not just our families of origins. Both lines – our genetic memories and past deeds, need to be healed for us to find that “ascension” into a more loving world. We must confront our individual, genetic and collective shadows to make this a better world.

No one gets left behind

In this time of the global pandemic, financial collapse, and bold truth-telling I and others have viewed this as a great awakening (but hopefully, one less wrought with the shames of the evangelical revival). We don’t have the distractions of sports, concerts, and brunches to get in the way of the work we need to do on ourselves, our families, and our communities. For a while, we had no choice but to sit with ourselves, especially our own patterns of dependence.

This has produced extraordinary rates of anxiety and depression and mental health experts generally agree that a wave of global traumatic reactions will be affecting us for years to come. Everyone’s shadow self is coming out to play because our capacity to cope has been hindered and controlled for so long that old, buried wounds are coming to the surface demanding attention.

And it isn’t just our known individual wounds, like the reverberations of sexual assault or witnessing death, it’s collective wounds too, such as racism. Another is a distrust of the medical profession. Still, another is capitalist and colonialist solutions that barely nourish the body, much less the soul.

But the biggest wound of all is the illusion that we are separate. Separate from one another. Separate from Source. Separate from even ourselves.

I have been particularly distressed at the lack of meaningful commentary, vulnerable truth-telling, and indeed, activated compassion from communities of “lightworkers”. They have seemingly abandoned others. Dumping folks who are struggling into buckets of “do your work” or “victim mentality”. They vaguely refer to “toxic energy” and proudly declare neutrality and non-judgment, while judging anyone who tries to call them in. They unironically and even flippantly continue to exploit and appropriate cultures of color to reap the benefit of their spiritual knowledge without the inclusion of or compensation for those voices, contributing to white supremacy (this powerful post from Layla F. Saad speaks to this perfectly! )

Healthy societies require interdependence

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
Pinkei Avot

I wrote my honors senior thesis on effective group dynamics. One of the best measurements of effectiveness included a group’s positive amount of “interdependence”. It doesn’t matter the group size or composition, the amount that the individual members have to rely on and depend on one another in complementary ways makes for a stronger and more effective group. This is at the heart of most indigenous cultures. The sense of belonging and purpose is critical for the group to be productive, safe, and prosperous while supporting individual autonomy and voice.

This is why, when we discuss the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, for example, it is important to note that for this to work, you have to feed the participants the illusion of separation. When we believe we are separated, we cling to our own individual security. Our loneliness and worry of someone else betraying us make us feel justified in betraying them first by putting ourselves first.

And so when spiritual people, particularly “woke white women” find it so easy to dismiss and abandon others in pursuit of their version of spiritual ascension, I have to call bullshit. What is the point of ascension if we aren’t raising everyone together? What is the point of ascension if we aren’t dismantling the Towers of oppression along the way? What is the point of ascension if we’re going to continue with an idea of “everyone only for themselves”?

No, ascension is literally about creating a more integrated, holistic, heart-centered connection to one another. It means shattering the illusions of separation. It requires the empathy for all of us to understand that the wounds inflicted on one of us are inflicted on all of us. It requires me to take responsibility for my actions, to hold myself accountable to the group when I reinforce separation by disrespecting other members of the group. It requires us to adopt an understanding that we are not so separate after all. In fact, we cannot effectively heal the devastating realities of climate change without a strong commitment to the ideal that we are all in this together.

My leadership style is not standing in front of a group leading them, but by bringing up the rear, making sure no one gets left behind. As a heart-centered leader and social justice attorney, the core of my work is based on the idea that what happens to one of us happens to all of us. If one of us is not free, none of us are free. And while I can’t single-handedly change the world by myself, I can remain a consistent and persistent light sharing a message of inclusion, of hope, of love, of integration and belonging. I can expose our illusions of separation so we are re-United both within ourselves and with the world around us. Just like Warrior & I had been.

Spiritual supremacy isn’t liberation

When we leave people in darkness to deal with the outcomes of systemic oppression, a daily occurrence for most of my BIPOC and disabled clients, we are likewise putting “our magic” toward enforcing the status quo. These oppressions exist precisely because white people and those adjacent to their power have been able to ignore human suffering, condemning it as some sort of character flaw of the individual, rather than a pattern of the collective. We leave it up to the individual and not the collective to solve their problems, problems that arise for simply trying to exist, thus denying our responsibility for allowing these systems to hurt people.

Likewise, our insistent pursuit of an individualistic benefit of spirituality, namely manifesting individual rewards, such as money or fame, is an example of colonialism in action. Just like settlers who stole indigenous land, forged land deeds to steal my family’s legacy on their land, this steals the resources of the collective, the collective energy of Source, to reap individual gain. On a small scale, this is fine, so long as we recognize it isn’t all about us. But when that is the only use of the magical abilities when the suffering of those who contribute to that collective energy is ignored, dismissed, or “shielded against” and worse, not replenished with energetic compensation, we are actually reinforcing the genetic legacies of our colonizer ancestors.

Unless and until our spiritual magic is put to work for the collective benefit of all – say, putting an end to racism, for example – we will not have true “ascension” because we won’t have a world based on Love and Peace. We will have a world that carries the same systemic problems and individualistic goals, and selfish perceptions we face today, just codified differently. We are trading one problematic structure for another, which sadly is our human legacy of never learning from our mistakes.

We as spiritual people need to wake up to our own awakening. Who are we leaving behind? Looking at the overwhelmingly white faces we have leading some of these movements, invoking Mayan and Toltec spiritualism, African healing practices, and more, without likewise elevating those elders who have preserved these practices, sometimes under threat of death and cultural extinction, it is clear we are missing the point. In our quest to reach ever upward, we must not forget that it is likewise our job to make sure these new spaces aren’t infected with the same legacies of spiritual supremacy that have oppressed people for far too long. It is up to us to not abandon the collective we seek to help.

I say this with love and a passion for service to divine in each of us. I have hope for us all but know that we won’t get very far without each other and waking up to our own human patterns. My prayers and energy are here with you as we examine together the additional wounds we inflict when we are complacent to the suffering around us. Remember, We Are All In This Together.

So Say We All


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