Maybe I’m going out on a limb here. It’s not my intention to attack anyone’s faith. It’s not my goal in life, my mojo, or anything that makes me tick. And yet when I see someone who is obviously mentally deranged (from my perspective) and ALSO a prominent member of the neo-pagan community… I get worried (and furious). Why?
Because this person needs help and is not getting it.
Because this person, ignorant and refusing to acknowledge that they have a problem, is probably persecuting others with the belief that mental illness is not real.
But most of all- it irks me that this person has followers from a group of people (neo-pagans) who (in my experience) are either unwilling to admit the mentally ill into their groups or who believe that mental illness doesn’t exist.
What’s so wrong with this? It shows me that no one can fucking recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness a mile away, and that we as a group do not have the tools with which to recognize or dismantle/collectively deal with a person’s psychosis.
This person (who I shall not name, quote, or refer to in any way for the sake of not starting a war with their minions/denizens) is clearly deluded, in my opinion. Their ‘channelings’ read like rambling hoaxes. Their ‘facts’ are pure and utter bullshit. And yet- my beloved spouse is too afraid of the community backlash to oust this person’s blatant lies on Facebook.
Peoples- WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
As someone who actively hallucinates aliens- (Well, this is me jumping out of that closet) – I feel I have a special role when it comes to someone who claims to ‘channel’ aliens. And here’s me getting started on a late-night, frustration-fuelled rant. Let us begin with a list of ‘how to tell someone is deluded’ without having to have experienced delusion yourself. Because as someone who’s been there (in my own way) I feel like we develop extra sensors/magical tentacle feely things to sense that someone else is in ‘that zone’. But how would we, as a group, actually recognize this?
Here is (drumroll, please) UnHinged and UnEnlightened’s radar list (cue the firecrackers)
- They seem to be on some YUGE megalodramatic us VS them cosmic battle trip. Alright, here’s another secret. I’ve been there. I felt like I was trapped in some great supernatural battle. But guess what? The antipsychotics made that stop. And it was a great relief. So what does this look like from the outside? Someone who is stuck in a Christ-like cosmic battle. Someone who is so magnetically propulsed into the cosmic workings that they don’t seem in tune with the day to day mundane realities. They see the apocalypse coming, they see the coming era of godhood incarnate for all of us. They see- something so ultramagical and amazing!!!
- Their facts don’t fact check. Now there’s one thing not being educated in the latest academic facts (which, granted, can change pretty fast). But there’s another thing to considering yourself above the facts. That person becomes the source of ze greatest knowledge!!! and they can’t be questioned.
- In fact (as in the case of the leader I came across) they demonize anyone who contradicts them- and this is a big sign of a bad leader, by the way. Demonizing can be an extension of the melodramatic us vs them (point 1) and also piles up into point 2. In the case of the leader I am currently enraged against- anyone who questioned her liturgy was seen as being a force of evil and darkness. Literally. Wow, that’s a major sign of a cult leader too, BTW.
- But ultimately, someone who is so convinced and stuck in their symptoms won’t be able to see outside of them (unfortunately). They are as real to them as everyone else’s respective realities are to them. And so, these people will stick to their delusions like fact. Which, oddly enough, is not the case for normal spirituality, in my experience. I’ve questioned my spirituality and the existence of my loving spirits. I never questioned the reality of my hallucinations. Except the aliens. But that was damned hard. And I still was not sure if I didn’t believe it.
- Their thoughts are not coherent. In my experience, a good trance/psychic channeling experience can be cohesive. It can make sense and have a point. And yes, the gods may speak in riddles and rhymes but- there’s a difference between sacred poetry (or generally being amused by watching your worshippers run in circles trying to understand your teachings) and disorganized thoughts. And here, I’m not talking about the obvious rhyming or alliteration that some schizophrenic episodes may induce, or echolalia. I’m talking about the train of thought that never gets anywhere, that says nothing, and that is not cognitively making sense, or that just doesn’t feel right. As I have said in another blog post, spirituality should not make you less cohesive or sensical. For me, my spirituality enhanced my senses and made me more logical. I could write better. Not write myself into circles. But when I have an episode of un-wellness coming on, my writing skills ditch. My cognitive abilities flies out the window and with it the ability to write anything that made sense or had a goal. So if they can’t make their teachings make sense: maybe something’s wrong.
- Oh, and speaking of cult leaders (been part of one [ish] so haha, guess what? More points!) Be careful you peoples! For all the ‘beware of cults and this is what a cult leader looks like’ that I have seen on Wiccan and neo-pagan website, Y’ALL- an us vs them mentality is intrinsic to a cult. And this is what I have seen A LOT of on neo-pagan groups. Anyone who questions them is immediately demonized. Shoved aside. Negated. Y’all- this is dangerous. This is bad. This needs to stop. We need to grow up, be mature, and learn to have adult discussions and keep an open mind. And this is my point of what makes an ‘adult’ discussion (and what makes good academic discussions) → being able to distinguish from hard academic fact from UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis). Because ultimately, personal gnosis is unverifiable (like the name says). So please, please, distinguish the two. Have discussions. Be respectful. Don’t close your shutters and sink into these us vs them mentalities. It’s very, very, dangerous.
And while speaking of danger, and since my theme is supposed to be about the Wiccan Rede lately- what about any of this causes harm?
- Not pointing someone out as delusional causes harm. How? Because you leave that person in their state of delusion. Yes, some do not want medication. Some simply do not know they are having a problem and if we always ‘accept them’ without gently pointing out that there may be a problem –they may never know. I often wish someone had been able to gently take me aside and let me know that I was rambling, and that I was showing signs. It might have saved me years of suffering. But then again- I would have had to be ready to face the stigma of mental illness. Which leads to our next point of harm.
- As a group that stigmatizes or wishes away mental illness- to not know the signs or be able to recognize it is ludicrous. This shows that when you say ‘no crazies in our group’ that you are enforcing harmful stereotypes upon those with mental illness without any idea what you are talking about. Shame upon you. Shame for spreading stigma. Shame for pretending that mental illness doesn’t exist. Shame for pushing away those who need help.
- Finally- by leaving these people unconfronted, by sharing false ideas of mental illness, these delusional people are left to spread harmful messages. Why am I saying this? Am I debasing people with mental illness? No, I am not. I am facing the fact that people with mental illness are just that- people. They are not saints. They are not ‘enlightened’ or ‘god-like’ or ‘divine’ in their illness. They are people who are deluded and these delusions may not be all that pretty. Having been there, and having heard the stories of others, I know that (though it may honestly not be the intent of the ill person) these people may cause harm. I’ve almost caused serious harm to both strangers, loved ones, and myself due to my delusions. Hence, for the sake of all involved, we need to find ways to cope with these delusions and gently reroute them. Or at the very least, we need to confront them and encourage them to get help and get treated.
So that’s it lovelies. I’m sorry if this was rambling, but it really got under my skin and I just had to let it out. I’ll try and refrain from blasting from my soapbox, but this really is something that I care about. Did I succeed? Does this help? Do you know a leader like this? Am I the only one who’s noticed this within the community? Do let me know. Peace and Light, everyone. Blessed Be.