We know that the wellness / spirituality industry has a racism problem. But within the same wellness / spirituality circles, there exists another problem (that isn’t unrelated to the former). I’d like to call it spiritual diet culture. The predominating wellness consumer wants a low calorie, low commitment, nutrient and culturally stripped healing experience that has everything to do with appearance and very little to do with the traditional spiritual practices and the peoples where they are taken from.

I’ve had women DM, email me, or approach me (prior to Covid times) asking me to “quickly” explain an occultic concept or practice to them. They’d ask me things like:

  • Quick question— How do you cast a spell?

  • Quick question— What does it mean when [insert animal] shows up in my dreams repeatedly?

  • Quick question— Can you teach me to do what you do by next Thursday?

  • Can you simplify this—  I don’t have the budget to hire you for the 6 hours you said you will need to teach the topic. Can’t you condense it or take some parts out and teach it in 1 hour?

  • Can you simplify this— I don’t have time to practice. Can you show me how to do this the shortcut way?

  • Can you simplify this— Not everyone is interested in depth. Can you just teach something that will just make people feel good?

  • Can you simplify this— Wow, if we did it the way you suggest, Mimi, it would take years to get skillful.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with these questions. I’m given the feeling that I’m “being difficult”. Or that there is something “wrong” with my interpretation of the spirits when they say XYZ cannot be done with shortcuts. When I know from experience that all crafts require the practitioner to commit with integrity, grit, and patience. When I see how the cultural context is replaced with fad platitudes, with fad gurus, with fad decks, with fad crystals, spirituality has become just another example of capitalism, with issues of race and gender mixed within, producing either a McSpirituality or a Low Calorie Spirituality.

When culture, context, tradition, and the “full caloric” practices are exploited and diminished in favour of what’s immediate, superficial, and what’s noncommittal, we’ve become guilty of reverse alchemy: transforming the gold and the precious within a culture and their spiritual practice to nothing more than plastic for fast consumption. From gold to plastic. And look at many of the “popular leaders/brands” of wellness and spirituality (I’ll save that critique for another day): look closely. What are they offering? Gold or plastic? And when looking, discernment will be needed, as part of the fads that I listed earlier are words that give the illusion of integrity, allyship, and sincerity. No one told me that the Emperor’s New Clothes is a prophecy, not a fable.

And what happens when we consume nothing more than plastic spirituality? While low in calories, we become malnourished and starved, listless and dissatisfied, disconnected and lifeless. We also hurt the cultures where the practices are taken from and offend the spirits. We hurt the Earth as we mine the crystals, overprint paper to fill metaphysical shops, overharvest plants, and over consume in general. The very antithesis of all the “high vibes” these practices falsely promise: full shelves of stuff and starved hearts.

And what happens when you consume nutrient-depleted food products? Yet many spiritual diet consumers wholeheartedly mistaken their plastic for gold, and when they notice that they aren’t experiencing the depth and the healing that was promised to them, they write off the practice and blame the diluted version as the real thing. Meditation was never meant to make you more productive or complacent to what’s monstrous in your life. Meditation, in the original intent in the East, was meant to awaken you and be a catalyst for social harmony. But if meditating is making you work harder, better, faster, stronger so you can get ahead of the next guy over, then…

When studios and prospective clients approach me with requests that fit into the same category as what’s listed above, I used to expend a lot of time and energy to gently and thoroughly explain why I am not the right practitioner for them. Sometimes I would be met with resistance— not so much a resistance to WHAT I’m saying, but a resistance to UNDERSTANDING what I’m saying. It would feel frustrating because no amount of carefully chosen words or metaphors seemed to help create an awareness. Then, in one particular conversation, the words came to me, and I’ve been using the same terms since. Ironically and sadly, what I was trying to convey was finally understood by the other. I simply said, “I don’t offer low calorie core shamanism. I don’t offer diet spirituality. I’m a full calorie kind of practitioner.”

Some food for thought (pardon the mom pun),

Mimi Young
founder, spirit communicator + shamanic intuitive

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