I was scrolling on Twitter this morning when I came across this small excerpt. It puts into context some of my thoughts lately concerning American culture and its response to the pandemic, but even more broadly our culture’s emphasis on individualism instead of community and how that emphasis leads us down many unhealthy, dangerous, and unsustainable paths.

Where does this leave those of us pursuing a spiritual practice? What are our obligations as followers of a spiritual path that venerates nature and considers healing ourselves and our community to be sacred? What do we do with the internal tension that is created when we are raised in a culture that glorifies an “I take what is mine” mindset while we follow a spiritual path that calls us to be in alignment with and stewards of the natural world? How do we resolve the conflict between our current toxic culture and our shared commitment to honoring our ancestors, our peers, and the generations that follow us?

It is incredibly difficult to escape the morals and social constructs of the society in which we are born. Intergrated energy healing and Wicca provide tools like Shadow Work to begin to work through these issues, but first, we must become aware of our own programmed biases, prejudices, and cultural mores that may no longer be in alignment with our spiritual path. As those interested in alternative spiritual practices, we carry an obligation to begin that internal work.

I plan to continue challenging my current belief structures, seek those I accepted blindly, and root out those that formed in blind reaction without deep consideration. It is that last category that can be the most insidious for those new to this work. We are so motivated to reject outdated beliefs that we may too quickly jump into different, but just as toxic, paradigms. Like those who reject the religion of their youth only to embrace New Age practices encouraging spiritual bypassing, conspiracy theories, or escapism, we may never give ourselves the deep roots we need to align our practices with the earth and our community’s needs without challenging the conflict between “I have rights” and “I have obligations.”

This work is not easy nor quick. It is painful and challenging. And yet we choose to take up this ordeal, seeking direct revelation from the gods, spirits, and our own Higher Self. The work continues.

Jennifer Bower is a witch, healer, and teacher in Charlotte, NC.  Her background combines education and experience in psychology and social work, training and extensive work in energy healing, and research and scholarship in neopagan theology and philosophy. Jennifer is the owner of Tree of Life Personal & Spiritual Evolution the Hight Priestess and lead instructor for the Witch’s Tree of Life Mystery School. She leads a local coven in the Ignis Spirae tradition.