Understanding Addressing The Pain

Writing this in 2024 it seems that conspiracy theories flourish in spiritual and mystical communities we’d not expect to see them in. To flip through Instagram or podcasts and hear some “crunchy” New Age yoga teacher swing from positions to WHO conspiracies and Hillary-Clinton-Is-A-Clone is disturbing. Worse, like the more standard conspiracy theories we’re used, to there’s a violent trend in these communities.

The Starseeds are buying guns, the Yoga enthusiasts want to hang doctors, and we’re wondering what the shit is going on.

Well first, if you’re surprised metaphysical communities have issues with conspiracies, fascism, and violent imagery, you’re not paying attention. This has always happened, from grifters to cultic spinoffs to political manipulation. We’re just a bit surprised by it since too many of us still, unconsciously, think of these as some fusion of hippies and peace-and-love New Agers.

But let us not forget that many people seek out magical and metaphysical practices out of pain.

That ache that won’t go away so you try yoga. The spiritual void from consumer culture that leads you to a Buddhist church. The bad year that leads you to magic in hope for understanding and influence. So many of us take to the mystical out of ennui or agony or need.

This is not always a bad thing of course. Those moments of waking up are vital for us to get what’s going on and realize what we have to do differently. But sometimes, the pain leads you down terrible paths, to grift, to fanaticism, to worse.

Conspiracy theories for many are an attempt to soothe pain as well. To explain problems you can’t explain easily. To seek assurance of meaning, even if the meaning is horrible. To give you some way to channel that rage inside you left from your bad job or bad family. Conspiracy theories, used by grifters and manipulators, are also something that can make people feel better for awhile.

So many of us turn to “The Big Picture” in a moment of pain. But it might not be waking up, just finding new ways to numb ourselves.

As much as the conspiracism and tilts towards revenge fantasies bother me in many communities of the metaphysical, keeping this in mind helps. It helps us understand how to handle people better, protect them from falling into traps, and maybe avoid the traps ourselves.

It also reminds us that these days, some of these folks might turn violent as we’ve seen, and we can keep an eye out.


The Syndicate

I was listening to the Nonsense Bazaar, one of my favorite podcasts on weird stuff, and one of the hosts discussed the connections between weird metaphysics grifters. He christened this The Syndicate, and I realized how absolutely appropriate it was. I’d like to go into something that is very obvious in the world of spiritual scams – so obvious it’s disturbingly easy to miss.

If you find any grifty religious/spiritual group and pursue it’s origins you often find others like them very quickly. Some online guru is just channeling beings dreamed up by another scam artist, while doing affiliate marketing with a fellow grifter. An exceedingly weird religious group directs you at courses taught by an only slightly less disturbing organization. If you pursue this for any amount of time, it starts to seem very connected.

The podcast Conspirituality noted a whole guru ecosystem, where some new internet influencer will suddenly hook up with other more well-heeled ones. Once you’re in the ecosystem you get to start exchanging audiences, expanding together, and so on. Plus you want to connect with new talent so they don’t steal your audience.

Now do I think this is some kind of conspiracy? No, it’s just networking by people of similar interests, its the influence of ideas, and of course it’s driven by people who see dollar signs and power. You don’t need a conspiracy, so though there may be some tiny conspiracies, good old greed explains plenty of it.

However I think there’s an issue here that The Syndicate also helps give the illusion of truth.

We humans decide things are true not in simple linear fashion – though it may look like it – but by a web of associations. People we trust, classes we took, experiences we had, techniques we learned, all come together to help us evaluate truth. Even something that comes as a revelation only seems so as it rests on a substrate of past experiences.

The Syndicate has people linking back to each other, to past teachings, and to various forms of content. It has people recommending and boosting each other. It is a web of associations that can give the appearance of truth. Even if this is not intentional, if it’s just people helping each other rip others off, it’s “close to truth.”

When it is intentional, it’s pretty damn effective. In the world of spiritual grift it’s also easy – a dash of Theosophy, some alternative medicine, and then some conspiracy theories and you’re good. Team up with a few others and you’re good.

I think this is important to remember. The network of people busily selling you fake spirituality for real money can seem true because of the network. Something that should set off someone’s alarms may, under the right conditions, do the opposite.

(Come to think of it, the way I recommend podcasts, some of which refer to each other, should make you suspicions . . .)


Games, Culture, and Spiritual Grift

Spiritual merchandise is quite a world to explore. Stones that supposedly block 5G radiation, pants that circulate Chi energy, assorted crystals that are different from those other crystals, potions with luck vibrations, and so on. Plenty of people are ready to sell you all sorts of made-up solutions to your problems that your major problem will be poverty.

Now I’m not against spiritual merchandise per se, like any good mystic I have my own selection of tools and idols and the like. However some of this market gets grifty, with all sorts of claims, questionable testimonials, and even more questionable practices. There’s more than a few sales pitches dug up from the depths of social media that eevated my blood pressure.

A lot of this merchandise seems to be Conspiritual in nature, promising to sell you secrets hidden by them or to fight their influence. You know, that them. It seems things sell better when you think you’re screwing someone else over by buying it. People also seem to ask less questions when you can battle some conspiracy with a credit card charge.

Looking over all of this, something strikes me – a lot of this spiritual grift-merchandise sounds like something out of a role-playing game.

You know what I’m talking bout, games with treasures like The All-Seeing Sphere of Vormak or The Whirling Axe of The Moon. Games with Potions of Healing and Draughts of Clarity. Those specific treasures with special magical effects you’ve probably seen if not spent hundreds of hours using in various games.

These sound just like these 5G Blocking Crystals and Spell Kits For Invoking Loki At A Discount

And I wonder . . . is that an influence?

I mean by now standard RPG game tropes are pretty far integrated into culture. Dungeons and Dragons is a worldwide phenomena and a surprisingly fun and good movie. Computer games with plenty of lovingly-rendered magic items are available to play. Game tropes have worked their way into assorted fictions.

So now I find myself wondering, is all this grifty merch playing on the fact that we think in terms of magic items?

I really don’t know, but now I wish I had a way to analyze it to see if I was on to something or merely have been playing too many games. So if you have any insights, let me know.

If nothing else we can trade game recommendations . . .