Spiritual Predators and Manipulators
The information I share with you is with the intention to share lessons, mistakes, and truths learned from my own experience on my path of Indigenous self-rediscovery. This piece is written in hopes that it can guide in protecting yourself against, spiritual/cultural manipulators & predators, whether they be organization leaders or “spiritual leaders/elders.“ Inexperienced and eager learners in the Indigenous community make for the best prey by these spiritual predators. It is my sincere desire for you to avoid being taken advantage of and also being discouraged from participating in positive healing Indigenous activities.
While these guidelines would be helpful to anyone they would probably be most beneficial to Chicanos or others who are in the midst of reclaiming their Indigenous identity. These protective guidelines will focus on spiritual predators in the native community but can also be used to protect against manipulators in general.
The scenario is generally this: experienced or popular organizers who have gained some type of notoriety usually by way of association with a popular organization, spiritual circle, medicine person, or social media platform, use their inferred superiority (even tho they will disguise it in “humble” indigenous wisdom buzzwords) or seemingly exclusive knowledge as a platform to manipulate generous, sincere, and eager spirits.
As much as one would like to hold legendary organizations or people in the highest of ideals, the fact is that they are human just like the rest of us. We all have different wounds, shortcomings, and coping mechanisms, and emotional, physical, spiritual challenges. Just because one has a lot of knowledge, experience, or some spiritual skill does not mean they are perfect and as such you should not put them on a pedestal.
For Mexica(n) Natives, much of our enlightenment and strides in reclaiming our Indigenous ways has come via the generosity and guidance of “Northern” or U.S. area Indigenous nations. In this process we often start to emulate our Northern relatives’ mannerisms, styles of being, and adjust to new protocols or ways of addressing people. There is nothing wrong with this if we are aligning ourselves with good indigenous ways and habits. The problem comes when we start to sacrifice our own uniqueness and personal freedoms to try to fit in or impress.
No one likes to come off as unknowledgeable or not “in the know” of Indigenous culture, especially when your heart and mind are so stimulated with inspiration and new hope by reconnecting with your Ancestors’ ways. People don’t want to offend the “elder” or they may want to impress a popular person in the native circles to show that we are down and know what’s up. Never be ashamed to be who you are or have the experience that you do.
I have had profound experiences with spiritually skilled leaders. The experiences have been mostly positive but some were very negative. Regardless, they both require that you stay on point so that you are not abused, hurt, or become entangled in anyone’s web of manipulation. I made serious mistakes in my ignorance and vulnerability that I am still trying to amend and heal from to this day.
Some spiritual predators are excellent at cloaking their true motives and true direction. They do this by using soft or flowery words and never really acknowledging exactly what it is that they want, or where it is that they are going, until they have achieved their objectives or until it is too late to reverse their encroachment or predatory intentions. The most dangerous ones come off very impressive and cloak themselves in the most convincing righteous talk, regalia, and calculated “good” deeds.
Identifying a (Spiritual) Predator
This is a list of attributes to be mindful of in identifying a spiritual predator. Each point does not automatically mean that someone is a spiritual predator but collectively , this list will help you get a feel for the tactics they employ.
- They create a false sense of friendship or intimacy
- This further deteriorates an individual’s desire to ask hard questions, because the average individual is concerned that they will not be liked, or that they would appear to be not trusting, etc.
- Often provoke you to heightened emotions such as anger, sadness, and guilt just to name a few. This emotional provocation is usually followed by some form of call to action. Such as giving money, agreeing or committing to some cause, protest, demonstration, performing a favor, etc
- They give vague answers, rarely go into detail often just telling you want you to hear. If you hear any inconclusive language, do you research! Don’t settle for anyone’s word especially if you barely know them!
- They do extra with the cultural representation. eg. always wearing regalia or like outfits for even informal occasions, facial paint, or excessive jewelry
- Anyone not agreeing with their point of view are immediately labeled as “enemies” , belittled, or called some type of negative name or label.
- They leave no room for other people’s ideas or needs. The more skilled manipulators will get you to come to conclusions that you feel are your own but were actually calculated by their selectively given information.
- They become defensive, angered, or outraged if you question their ideas and usually use a self-righteous disguise using words or sentiments such as: “How dare you question the sacred traditions;” “I’m a sundancer / spiritual person / blah blah and I do such and such sacred ceremonies (insert any spirituality or esteemed cultural terms here);” or some other status that you have subscribed to as being exalted.
- They often come off as self-righteous and self-appointed “judge, jury, and executioner. “ Usually framing themselves as some type of community hero, sacred elder or someone with exclusive access to cultural/spiritual information, martyr, or other noble status.
- Concepts such as: sharing, cooperation, and mutual respect are often foreign to predators. They can and will however, assume the aspects of those traits when it furthers their own desires and long-term planning.
- They often will try to sway you toward some type of devotion or verbal long term commitment to them.
- They often have cult like followers who speak fanatically, think robotically, and go out of their way to unhealthily protect said predator from scrutiny or accountability
- Their actions and demeanor don’t match their words. Some spiritual predators are very skilled at hiding their emotions but often their mask will slip when:
- 1) they get noticeably anxious or impatient when they are very close to achieving an important manipulation milestone that will benefit
- 2) they get unusually upset when something doesn’t go as planned (usually something they calculated and hoped you would complete.)
- 3.) you present them facts that contradict their narrative
Steps to Protect Yourself Against Spiritual Predators
Sage, sweetgrass, or medicine down regularly and engage in prayer, meditation or both for guidance. You can use this prayer as a template. Prayer was key for me, I can’t stress this enough.
- Trusts your gut feelings and intuition. Investigate the source of any unfavorable feelings. Learn to meditate and develop and understanding of how your mind and thoughts work. If you’re feeling negativity or pressure track down the source of those feelings.
- Meticulously check your facts:
- If one is hard on oneself in the assessment of their own knowledge, they will find that they know almost nothing about anyone other than what they were told. That almost none of it is checked.
- Ask questions and investigate any significant claims made by people asking any level of commitments from you
- Be extremely precise in how you identify exactly what an individual wants, or the direction they are taking. Especially if the requests or inferences will result in significant commitments or change of course in your personal plans, friends, or personal needs.
- Look for consistent qualities of good deeds and attitude. Take note if it feels like they are not being genuine. Do not settle for flowery words and lip service.
- Be mindful of the opportunities you have for acceptance and implementation of your ideas or perspectives if you are part of a circle, organization, or team effort. If they are far and few between you are not in a healthy group.
- Carry Obsidian or Black Tourmaline on you. This is going into some other spiritual science but trust that these stone relatives are helpful in promoting clarity and guarding against deception.
Make sure you are not the person who feels or thinks: “We can’t ask this person this or that question because they are [important] sundancer (or similar pedestal status).” Always be respectful and polite in your interactions but never feel ashamed to ask questions ,especially if someone is asking substantial things of you, like your trust, personal information, and money just to name a few.
I hope my advice serves you well. There is good chance that this page will be updated in time. But for now I really hope you consider the points and perspective I bring forth.