What is your theory of change? Do you have one?
When I say theory of change, I mean the core belief you hold about what will make the world a better place. It could be art, and so you become an artist. It could be psychedelics (we all know that one person who is convinced that "if everyone just took shrooms the world would be good"). It could be social justice, or prayer, or dancing, or education, or free hugs, or music, or literature, or God, or restoring families - the list goes on and on.
My current theory of change is this: for radical transformation of the world, we must radically transform our hearts. To radically transform our hearts, we must engage in the radical transformation of the world.
Put another way, my theory of change is social justice + spirituality. More specifically, I believe that justice & Love are intertwined. They need each other, and thrive when they are both operating in unison. That's the core belief Desert Magic is based on; my offerings are rooted in Love, and they are at pay-what-you-can prices because of my belief in equity.
I am active in both social justice and spiritual circles. Often, I see that they operate in isolation from each other. I am dedicated to being a bridge between those spaces & connecting them, because I believe that is where the magic is. That is where the transformed world is.
In social justice spaces we talk about burnout a lot, but focus narrowly on surface level self-care as a way to prevent it. I think the conversation deserves to be larger. It deserves to focus on, as activist Fania Davis put it in a 2016 interview, "self-care and healing and attention to the body and the spiritual dimension—all of this is now a part of radical social justice struggles.” Activism is often hyper aggressive; it requires constant vigilance, loudly leveraging your voice and platform, and whole-souled fighting for justice. After 30 years of constant activism, Fania found that "[i]ntuitively, I realized that I needed an infusion of more feminine and spiritual and creative and healing energies to come back into balance."
The conversation is complex; lots of social justice spaces are justifiably skeptical of spirituality (which I use as an umbrella term including religious and non-religious practices) due to the historic harms done in the name of religions around the world. But there are ways to embody personal and collective spirituality that work with its Love-rooted practices in an affirming, radical, healing way. Love is the energy fueling transformation, so not only will an embracing of spirituality work to personally transform the lives of activists, but it will also serve to drive forward movements.
On the flip side, I've also seen spiritual communities totally avoid social justice work in an impressive display of spiritual bypassing, saying things like "I don't see color," or "everything is love & light," or "I love everyone," while simultaneously wearing Bindis on their foreheads and cleansing their houses with endangered palo santo and having no inclination of the origins of the medicines/practices/lifestyles they are engaged in. That is appropriation, and it is a symptom of the larger lack of awareness and lack of engagement with justice movements, particularly racial justice movements.
Not only is this completely alienating for BIPOC attempting to enter spiritual spaces, but it actually starves spiritual communities of their vibrancy - because healing was never meant to be an individual practice. Too often spirituality is a practice utilized solely to benefit the individual & those who look and think like them. But the whole point of healing is to go forth and assist others in healing themselves; to, as Ram Dass put it, walk each other home. Spirituality without justice is anemic at best, and devoid of life at worst.
In this most recent iteration of the Black Lives Matter movement, I have witnessed a growing awareness of racial inequity in spiritual spaces, and it gives me so much hope. I also think the awareness around self-care in the last few years can and has served as an entryway into a deeper spirituality in activism circles, which also gives me so much hope.
When these two powerful communities and ideologies intersect, magic happens. That is my theory of change. I encourage us all to have a working definition of our theory of change, and use it to guide how we live our lives, in order to work toward the highest good of all. Here's to being magicians that co-create a better tomorrow, both within and without.