It wasn’t the first time seeing the ad or a similar ad. I keep getting ads for mostly white spiritual gurus who have some program, and they claim no one else is offering anything similar, and if I sign up (to whatever they are offering), they will provide it to me.
Side note: As an Afro-Indigenous woman who grew up in spirituality, authentic, from my own culture, I often wonder why Instagram seems to think these are programs I’d be remotely interested in. But, it’s enough that it brings me to write on New Age Spirituality: Whiteness, Appropriation and Profiting.
When I saw this particular ad, again, I decided to do some research, and I signed up for the free webinar.
I then began to get a series of emails meant to increase the anticipation of the secrets she would be sharing with us.
Plus also with prompts to follow her everywhere and enter a giveaway by tagging my friends and asking them to sign up for the webinar.
(The marketing tactics on new age spirituality is one of the most annoying parts of this, but that it actually works on people is what blows my mind.)
RELATED ARTICLE: What to Do When You Know It’s Time to Heal Yourself
The day of the webinar arrived, which was a seven-day live zoom call.
Each day she gave a tidbit of knowledge, nothing you can’t find on most spiritual blog articles, but she presented these as if she discovered them herself.
Towards the final day, the keys were revealed. According to her, the key, and the thing no one else talks about, is that to manifest, you need to practice feeling how you want to feel when you receive the manifestation.
Insert eye roll here. Not because it wasn’t true, but my friend, this was no “key” that she had that no one else does. This is a basic fundamental of manifestation.
At the end of the seven days, she invited us to join her Dear Universe Academy, which was nearly $5,000 to join.
Naturally, I didn’t join. But then I got emails sent giving us this fantastic opportunity to still participate by joining her payment plan.
Nope, I still didn’t join. Infact, I unsubscribed. Enough of the research.
Why didn’t I join? For one, as I researched her practices, I found that many were just simply re-package Native American ancestral practices (a common practice of today’s trendy spiritual gurus), except that she gave no credit to where she took most of these practices and instead claimed them as her discoveries.
Most of today’s new-age spiritual teachers and coaches selling classes and practices are white individuals that have claimed non-Anglo cultural ancestral traditions as their own, re-packaged, and sold back to us.
Worst yet is that not only is it appropriated practices, but at the same time, it comes to a price tag that most people can’t afford.
Charging for your service is considered acceptable practice. We pay our community healers and herbalists. And we should, just like how people invest on their therapist and their doctors.
But some ethics need to be followed in spirituality, and when you find yourself doing the work for profit as your motivator, you become attached to the money.
Spirituality should be easily accessible to all. Should anyone need guidance in their spiritual path, it should be given free.
Spirituality is projected to grow to $271.8 billion by 2024. And to me, that’s troublesome as the attachment to money and profit is not a part of spirituality.
As a collective, we need spiritual practices each day, especially when we have a mental health crisis through a worldwide pandemic.
Practices such as rituals, herbalism, mindfulness, meditation, ancestral healing can ground us, keep anxiety and overwhelm at bay, and improve our emotional and mental health.
It belongs to all of us. I believe our ancestors would happily share these practices with all. I’m saying this in case anyone comes at me with “Spirituality is not just for a few cultures!”
The takeaway here is in appropriation of ancestors that are not your own, by the white community, is spiritual robbery.
The taking without acknowledgment and the taking as if it’s your own—the re-packaging of what did not come from you. And then the selling of it to predominantly white communities vs. the ones you took it from is morally wrong.
If you’re white and reading this, it might feel uncomfortable, and I invite you to consider why. But, at the same time, I encourage you to that feeling and turn it into action. Find your healers and guides within the communities where the practices originated.
For all reading, know to beware of new-age spiritual gurus who claim to have your keys to your healing. If at any moment you feel that without this person, you won’t know how to heal and grow in your spiritual practice, then be self-aware enough to recognize that it’s due to clever marketing.
This article would be incomplete without centering on the people practicing ethical, spiritual work and are BIPOC. Here’s a list to get you started:
Shaman Durek (@shamandurek on Instagram)
Sylvester McNutt III, 9x Author, including Loving Yourself Properly and Free Your Energy (@sylvestermcnutt on Instagram)
Pınar Ateş Sinopoulos-Lloyd, a transdisciplinary artist/poet/philosopher and an Indigenous multi-species futurist.
Cleo Wade, Author of Heart Talk, Where To Begin, & What The Road Said (@cleowade on Instagram)
Phyllicia Bonanno, Yoga Instructor, and Spiritual Leader
Faith Hunter (@spirituallyfly on Instagram), Author of the book Spiritually Fly
Maryam Ajayi is an energy healer and founder of Dive in Well
Lauren Ash, curator of intimacy, wholeness & transformation, and founder of Black Girl in Om
Rachel Ricketts, Spiritual Activist and Author of Do Better (@iamrachelricketts on Instagram)