In troubled times such as this, people in growing numbers turn to the spiritual side of life for strength and guidance. It is within the realms of spirituality that they seek reassurance that they’re not alone and not forgotten.
While this should be comforting to people and give them strength to come through trying situations, what it may do is make them targets for those who prey on wounded souls.
Before everyone jumps in and tells me how pessimistic I’m being, how there are many groups out there that are sincere in their support of each other in such times, let me tell you why I’m writing this.
I have been following my particular spiritual path, Wicca, for 35 years. It has been my strength and gotten me through some very trouble times. During that time, I’ve had the privilege of editing and writing for a small publication. That was in the 1980s. Thanks to that experience I had some information fall into my hands about some less than honorable people who were taking advantage of those seeking a spiritual path. The information so opened my eyes that I wrote and asked permission to reprint it in my publication. I was allowed to pass the information on.
While the article then had been written specifically for followers of Wicca and Paganism, I now feel the general information it contained is applicable to any spiritual path that one may be seeking to be part of a group.
Do I believe that corruption and predators do exist in the guise of spiritual leaders? Yes. Do I believe that corruption and predators are around every corner? No. What I do believe is that we are in very trying times and this makes it a prime hunting ground for those who are looking to take advantage of others.
For this reason, I want to pass on, in my own words, the information that I gained over 25 years ago. Who knows, it may prove useful to someone and prevent them from losing faith because of less than honest people.
Some of this information may seem obvious, but when a person is in crisis, they may be less than clear-headed or clear thinking. For this reason, I ask that you give even the most obvious indications careful consideration. While I’m not looking to make anyone paranoid, I feel that any honorable, caring spiritual group will have no problems with being carefully scrutinized by someone seeking admittance nor will they mind answering questions that the seeker feels necessary for their peace of mind.
Take a second look and ask questions of any group that –
-requires it members to have sexual relations with anyone other than their chosen partner.
-the person leading the group portrays or believes him or herself to be some divine being. Those leading from their egos often find it necessary to demean others in order to feed that ego.
-you are required to give up all your material possessions or make unreasonable monetary contributions. It’s reasonable to have the group support general expenses and upkeep, so ask where the money is going.
-as part of your indoctrination you are required to pledge to remain with the group forever. Life changes, circumstances change and you may find some day that this group is no longer what is needed in your life.
-part of being in this group is to follow a particular political or social doctrine that goes beyond the values of compassion and growth. The spirituality of one’s life should promote acceptance of differences in the way people express themselves in life.
-there is a condemnation of any who are not part of this group. Those who don’t believe as this group does will surely be damned while the members of this group have a free pass to salvation.
-you are required to follow blindly, doing things you wouldn’t normally do such as drugs or breaking the law in any way and it’s you who would suffer the consequences. Any group that is truly spiritual would never ask any member to do such things.
-either embraces a “holier than thou” attitude or doesn’t seem to embody any high ideals at all. High ideals are the best guarantee for spiritual growth when looking for a group with which to become a part.
-gives you the “pitch” that only they can save you and, right now, you are worthless and no good. This, once again, is any indication of inflated egos. Those who are sincere in their desire to help don’t find it necessary to put you down to feel better about themselves or have power over you.
-through action and word they show little or no compassion for others. This sort of ties in with some of the ones already mentioned but it’s such an indicator that it really can’t be stressed enough. If the leader and/or members of the group show indications of only being “in it” for their own personal gain, you really want to rethink being part of such a group.
-offers you a temporary “hideout” from anything you’re trying to escape from such as your responsibilities, family, or even yourself. A spiritual group should encourage you to face the problems in your life and work through them.
The bottom line to all this is that any honorable, genuine, positive spiritual path will answer your questions, hide nothing, seek to assist you in overcoming your problems and rejoice in your personal growth.
If any aspect of a group you’re considering joining belittles you or makes you feel uncomfortable or bad about yourself, then that group is probably not what you’re looking for.
The energies of hope, joy, unconditional love, peace, and appreciation are the ones which uplift us in trying times. To be encouraged to see something, anything, good in even the worst situation sets us on a path to recovering our self-esteem and being able to look forward with anticipation to a better day. This is what we are really seeking in these trouble times and, if we need a support group, then that group should be promoting those energies and encouraging its members to reach for and achieve them.
To all of you, I wish you peace, prosperity, joy and love on journey through this lifetime on Planet Earth. Blessed Be.