Spiritual Community, Toxic?


If community has your back shouldn't spiritual community double down on that concept?

I used to believe that too. I was raised in a pretty conservative christian church and the golden rule was preached pretty regularly. Yet the pastor told my mother that my sister working was going to lead to her getting pregnant as a teenager.

I left organized religion because I had the realization that organizations are created to perpetuate themselves, not for the benefit of those who join the organization. When I left what I considered "traditional" spiritual groups I thought I was free and clear of toxic rules, ideas, & people.

I went to my first pagan gathering expecting enlightened, joyful people wanting to share community with people of all types. I spent about 3 days listening to my camp mates berate their 7 year old son. I became an assistant to a powerful breathwork teacher only to be screamed at over the phone because she was in fear about money.  I went to a women's retreat in MN and took a wet on wet watercolor class where I was told it was "impossible to control the outcome, just go with the flow." Ten minutes later the teacher was standing over my shoulder screaming that "I was doing it wrong!" These all should have been signs to me that things were still horribly wrong, but it took a much bigger event to wake me up.

Not that many years ago I joined a "shamanic community" email group thinking it would be super enlightening. Much to my chagrin a few months later a man on the group posted a Tibetan inlaid conch shell for sale. Harmless right? I replied that I was very interested and would love to buy it. The next morning I awoke to a (group) email from another man on the list that simply said, "Imagine that, the cunt wants a conch!" I was furious and sad and not sure of how to react. I was brought up to be kind and respectful of everyone at all times, but I wanted to scream at him.  The very next post was from a woman, saying, "this man is really a very nice man, don't disparage him on this list. He thought he was replying privately to another man."  The next one after that was another woman stating that she was freezing the list so there would be no attack of the aforementioned man. I was heartbroken and in shock, not only did the organization let me down, but even my sisters came to his defense when all I had done was offer to purchase an item listed for sale.

Obviously toxic people exist in all walks of life.  To join or not to join, that is the question, How do you discern? Where do you draw the line?