Institutionalized Trauma and Spiritual First Aid in 2016

Institutionalized Trauma and Spiritual First Aid in 2016 January 1, 2016

As we let 2015 pass into the history books it is my hope that we collectively begin to recognize the institutional trauma and violence that impacted members of our community over the past year. Pagans working for world peace, environmental justice, Black Lives Matter, economic justice and confronting the corporate plutocracy have all been exposed to varying amounts of vicarious trauma.

Image by Ilya Andriyanov.  Courtesy of Shutterstock.
Image by Ilya Andriyanov. Courtesy of Shutterstock.


Having personally witnessed some of the most unsettling events of the year Pagan activists have been emotionally wounded by their activism. For many, this vicarious trauma only increases the sense of urgency about community action, others withdraw with a sense of personal failure or become jaded about the ability to affect real change in our world.


All of these reactions are symptomatic of those who witness trauma around the world.   It is my hope that in 2016 the community supports those who so loudly proclaim our values in real ways that support their emotional well-being.


These individuals are doing incredible work in our community and while we may support their various causes we might want to ask ourselves how we are supporting them as individuals.


Are we ensuring that they are able to engage our community in safe spaces that allow them to step back from their work and engage in the spiritual side of our blessed community?


Do we actively listen and offer support when they need to talk about the things they have seen?


How can we manifest healing for our bravest and most engaged community servants?


Are we mindful of the sacrifices these individuals make and their resulting need to find places of peace and respite within our community?


As a Firefighter and now in my daily work with the homeless population I know well the emotional toll that being exposed to physical, institutional, economic, racial and emotional trauma can cause. These individuals who work so hard to promote our communities beliefs are mortal and the toll on their hearts, minds and bodies is real.


Perhaps in 2016 our community can put aside some of their admiration for activists and just have them over for coffee, lend a willing ear, hold their inner tears as evidence of our collective obligation to provide respite and healing for our warriors.


Addressing these issues takes no training, only an open heart and willingness to engage and listen. Being supported in engaging in our blessed community is Spiritual First Aid for our activists. While we may never be able to wash away their pain we can welcome them into our homes, rituals and events as Pagans seeking comfort, joy and belonging.


Lets talk about this in 2016!


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