Manifestation, Eugenics and Flower Oil
I am sensing a bad energy.
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Here it is! Part Two in the series on the Christy Dawn Spring 2022 catalog and manifestation culture! I’m sorry this was a bit delayed. Last week, I wrote two newsletters about reproductive healthcare instead: I exist because my grandmother had an abortion and An unedited rant about anti-abortion activists and white feminists.
I edited this newsletter as I organized mutual aid to try to address the formula shortage created by monopolies and government neglect. I am sharper in it that I often am. I debated softening the tone all day yesterday. But decided to leave it I as is. I am just done with this bullshit.
In Part One, I introduced Christy Dawn, Christy Dawn’s owners, Christy and Aras Baskauskas and Lacy Phillips, the owner of a manifestation empire. I wrote about the vividness effect in catalogs and manifestation as a prosperity gospel. The response to the first part has been pretty overwhelming. A lot of readers have been hurt by manifestation culture. I was worried the first part was too long. But many people said they wished there was more!
Part Two will make more sense if you read Part One.
In Part Two, I dig into the energy of the current manifestation movement. There’s white feminism, genocide, eugenics, and flower oil. I listened to readers and kept myself from cutting this too short! But I still had to leave out a lot. The newsletter is broken up by catalog page - so you’ll be able to read it in pieces.
Part Three will tackle the rest of the catalog, Christy Dawn’s production process (it’s good!), the appropriation of Eastern traditions (that’s bad!), fake news (also bad!), the catalog’s setting and the occult.
I also want to remind us all that I am treating this catalog as a cultural artifact. Not everything I find in it was intended by the people who made it. That’s kind of the point. The catalog is a vehicle for understanding what parts of our culture are being influenced by manifestation, even when we don’t know realize it.
It’s Simply Energy
Page 2 and 3
It’s a story about manifesting your life while wearing dresses. Or not wearing them.
The first image is a pair of legs in a billowing dress in the foreground. In the background, there’s a naked woman with a dress slung over her shoulder. “From L to R: The Emilia Dress - $398, The Posey Dress - $148.” There is no way to discern how they differ from one another except for the price. Which is maybe the point. This catalog has been sent out by a dress company. It has images of dresses. But it’s not really about dresses. It’s a story about manifesting your life while wearing dresses. Or not wearing them.
Opposite the image, there is some writing about the shift “from Winter to Spring.” A few ideas in the text are fairly vital to understanding how manifestation culture denies systemic oppression.
In the first few lines - as winter changes to spring, after new life stretches and the world is born - it says,
“Each step in this dance towards the Sun has its own energetic signature, urging us to follow suit - an invitation into different aspects of our experience.”
When I first read energetic signature I thought of nuclear signatures. A nuclear bomb is just energy captured and then released. This ArsTechnica piece by Casey Johnston explains nuclear signatures in detail. But basically after a nuclear bomb explodes forensic specialists can tell where it was built and how it was built by “analyzing the isotopic distribution” and content “of the debris.” So, yeah, my initial reading of the that dance toward the sun was a little apocalyptic. Which, to be fair, I think it is! Just not because of smashed atoms.
Since Christy Dawn didn’t photograph their catalog at Los Alamos, I assume they mean energetic signature within the context of manifestation culture. Energetics are a very big thing for many manifestation coaches. Lacy Phillips, the owner of a manifestation empire who interviewed Christy and Aras Baskauskas for her podcast, says she has “energetic gifts.” She uses these gifts to teach people how to manifest “the life you deserve.” According to her website, her “unique manifestation process is backed by neuroscience, psychology, EMDR, epigenetics, and energetics…”
What is energetics?
Many people in the manifestation space use scientific terms that really exist, but call in their own definitions. Like, when lots of people say energetics they mean the scientific field that studies how energy is transformed and moved through different processes. Like thermodynamics! When manifestation coaches talk about energetics, they also mean the movement of energy. Kind of. To Be Magnetic has a Manifestation Glossary that explains it. Kind of.
“Energetics - The energy based meaning behind certain actions, choices, beliefs, and memories that communicates to the universe your level of subconscious worthiness.”
In this video from 2018, Lacy Phillips says that she “can see energetics.” She says that the life we want can be blocked “by an energetic heaviness like things you haven’t processed in your childhood.” Sometimes the block is because you need to “expand on subsconscious plane.” The block can also be in the “physical realm” “like a relationship that makes you small” or too many “physical objects that keep you stagnant and close.” She can use her energetic gifts to help you know how to lift those blocks.
Let’s say you work for minimum wage, got an unexpected medical bill and now you can’t afford the rent increase your landlord just announced. You might think that has something to do with structural issues outside of yourself, like wage stagnation, healthcare inequity and the housing crisis. But in this blog post, Phillips writes,
“Money is all energetics. Yep! It’s simply energy. Therefore, it flows based on the structure of beliefs you grew up with, to how much you have showed your subconscious that you can expand into, to how worthy you believe you are on a subconscious level.”
You can’t pay for rent because you do not believe you’re worthy. The all-knowing Universe wants to transfer energy to you. And your worthiness is your routing number. Or something.
Like every other iteration of the prosperity gospel, there’s a lot of worthiness doublespeak. The Universe can only succor the worthy. You can only become worthy by understanding you’re already worthy. You’ll only be worthy of that understanding once you you invest in this opportunity to realize your already existing worth. Instead of buying leggings or sending money to a megachurch, a seeker can purchase journals, flower remedies, coaching, courses and workshops.
In the workshops, you’ll learn how the energy behind your actions, choices, beliefs and memories (!!!) make you subconsciously unworthy. It’s brilliant because it’s the kind of guarantee that can always be turned back on the individual. “Oh? You still don’t have money or love? Well, it seems you are still subconsciously unworthy. Better buy another workshop.”
The Worst Part
“Then suddenly, expansion - the world bursts open! Kaleidoscopes of butterflies emerge from the embrace of their chrysalises, bird song fills the air, and Mother Earth is dressed in the brilliant regalia of Spring.”
The riot of color and song this page describes happens in an ecosystem. Flowers can only grow and then bloom because of pollinators like bees and butterflies. Butterflies can only emerge if they exist. The California coastline where the Christy Dawn catalog is photographed is part of the western monarch’s overwintering migration. Over the past few years, their numbers have suffered historic declines. In the mid-90s, nearly 2 million monarchs were counted during a migratory year. This year, it was closer to 100,000 butterflies. According to Elizabeth Pennisi in Science this decline is because,
“It takes several generations for monarchs to complete each one-way trip and, along the way, habitat loss—particularly the decline in milkweed that sustains its caterpillars and plants that supply nectar to migrating adults—and pesticide use have taken a toll. Drought, fires, and other problems related to climate change have also stressed the insects. The monarchs that winter in Mexico have also lost habitat to illegal logging and been battered by winter storms.”
Everything impacts everything. And throughout the catalog, the Christy Dawn is good at acknowledging that when it comes to nature. Maybe because nature is part of the Universe. The Universe is allowed to be a system. But when it comes to people everything is individual.
“Each step in this dance towards the sun has its own energetic signature, urging us to follow suit - an invitation into different aspects of their own experience.”
The individual is an ecosystem, instead of one part of one.
It’s honestly fascinating. I used to think multi-level marketing schemes were the purest embodiment of the prosperity gospel. But manifestation is a much more concentrated version. An MLM scheme acknowledges you need a downline. Even the most colorful LulaRoe story does not try to deny that a seller needs people beneath them to succeed. Manifestation, on the other hand, says there’s just the individual and the Universe.
Phillips addressed this in a Goop interview.
Goop: Can you ever manifest things for someone other than yourself?
Lacy Phillips: No, that’s the worst part. You can’t manifest for other people.
Maybe it’s the formula crisis, the housing crisis, or the impending recession, but as I read her answer, I didn’t really buy that she thinks that’s the worst part. The isolated nature of manifestation is a feature, not a bug. Especially if you’ve got a manifestation process to sell. I don’t think anyone can accuse Phillips of being blocked by a belief that money shouldn’t flow to her. Which I think means the workshops work - for her.
Predictive Dormancy, Consequential Dormancy
During that dance toward the sun, “we too begin to soften, stirring from the dormancy of Winter and gathering all of what we nurtured in the stillness.” Dormancy is about conserving energy. Plants and animals stop developing in conditions hostile to growth. It would take too much energy to try to maintain their usual metabolic activity. So they die back, while protecting the life in their roots. There is predictive dormancy - that’s when a perennial plant goes dormant ahead of known conditions, like winter. There’s also consequential dormancy - that’s when a perennial plant goes dormant after unpredictable poor conditions manifest, like a drought.
Our soil is still polluted by radioactive industrial capitalism. What is the half-life of individualism?
I haven’t been allowed to go dormant for a very long time. Few of us have. America doesn’t really have a mechanism that allows us to protect ourselves from adverse growing conditions. Predictive dormancy, for things like pregnancy, isn’t supported by culture or policy in America. And consequential dormancy, something most of us could have used to survive the worst parts of the pandemic (so far), isn’t supported either.
We have to keep producing or lose our jobs, producing or lose our healthcare, producing or lose our housing, producing or go hungry. We can’t die back and go dormant in our ecosystem. What would keep the life in our roots? Our soil is still polluted by radioactive industrial capitalism. What is the half-life of individualism?
There are people who can see a different way. I am really looking forward to the book, Rest is Resistance by The Nap Ministry’s Tricia Hersey.
It will grow back stronger, next year.
Page 4 and 5
You can…kind of…see The Brooklyn Dress, $298 on these pages. Which is helpful. I am less helped by the image of a blonde white woman next to the words “the embodiment of revolution.” Lately, white women claiming to be revolutionaries seem to lean more Marjorie Taylor Green than Dorothy Day.
But let’s assume this particular white woman is definitely not into banning books. Still, I wonder at this choice of model paired with this message,
“Growing up through pavement cracks and blanketing fields. Wherever it takes root, the dandelion flower carries a message of resilience. It flourishes where the soil has been disturbed. Try to remove it, and it will only grow back stronger next year. The embodiment of revolution.”
Dandelions can be used for food, medicine and wishes. But they can also be an invasive species that overpopulates and creates economic and ecological harm. Resilience isn’t always good for an ecosystem. Denali National Park hosts a Dandelion Demolition every year. Volunteers spend hours pulling invasive dandelions in an effort to protect the National Park from their tendency to smother fields.
I look at this image next to these words and I think of white feminism. White feminism is an invasive form of collective action. Part of our country’s problem is that white women intent on maintaining their own power keep coming back stronger each year. I see this image and worry about the mid-term elections.
Relief, Two Ways
Page 6 and 7
The images on this page are so lovely! The model looks healthy and happy. Just one thing. The text refers to the dandelion as medicine, and that’s true. The dandelion is used in traditional medicine every place it grows. There are rich traditions for that little flower in Indigenous, Chinese, Russian, Indian and European cultures. (And more!) My European ancestors would have used it to treat boils, inflammation and stomach aches.
“As you move through the world, look for the mighty Dandelion. Mother Earth is offering you the medicine of awakening - the ability to digest the outside world and emerge from hibernation to greet the beauty of Spring!”
But it is a laxative. And the dress the model is wearing is very ruffle-y and white. On a part of the California coast with few public bathrooms. And I just wonder if maybe it’s better to take dandelion medicine in order to “digest the outside world and emerge from hibernation” in a slightly less delicate garment, near a restroom. But honestly, other than that…no notes. A relief after that last page. No pun intended.
“When we stop to look, we see that Mother Earth gives us everything we need, providing nourishment and wisdom through the medicine of plants.”
I’d argue we often need to stop to cultivate, not just look. But at first glance, I’m very into this page. The model is beautiful. The setting is like Kiki’s Delivery Service meets Aspirational Appalachian Witch. I love that aesthetic. I just do! The outfit is so great. A relief from the dresses! The plant illustrations feel like 18th century British botanical illustrations! Which were…ummm…incredibly popular in part because of the importation of plants from colonized lands.
Okay! Well, I love the nod to “medicine of plants”! There is a rich, varied, global tradition of plant-based healing!
Except ummmm. Unfortunately, I know what some of the Christy Dawn-adjacent manifestation community means when they talk about “plant medicine.” And it takes from that rich tradition while not honoring it.
Safe and Sound
Lacy Phillips does collaborations with brands like Alexis Smart Flower Remedies. Alexis Smart is a “classical homeopath” who sells “natural healing from the wildflowers of the English countryside.” Can I say, my first reaction was a kind of a relief to find a white woman selling plant healing based on her own ancestral tradition instead of the appropriated traditions of others? My second reaction was horror.
One of Smart’s “foundational formulas” is a blend called ‘Safe and Sound’ that promises to, among other things, help the user “regain wholeness” after a trauma. Trauma does many things, but it doesn’t make us less whole. We are never not worthy. We are never not whole.
The Phillips/Smart collaboration has two formulas, Unblocked and Expanded. Unblocked is “designed to enhance the effects of your manifestation practice by helping you cultivate worthiness, clarity & optimism.” If you have low worth, you’ll be blocked from the giving flow of the universe.
Okay! What exactly does that mean for the millions of people in poverty in America? Are they low-worth people just getting what they are calling in? What about the kids? Do the poor kids have low worth? Is the eviction notice on their apartment door a result of their inferior connection to the Universe?
We are never not worthy. We are never not whole.
Expanded is supposed to be taken after Unblocked. Its benefits include enhancing your magnetism while “surrendering to the magic of life.” There are manifestation workshops to go with each oil. If the workshops and oil are not working, it’s because you haven’t become worthy yet. Keep trying! And buying.
A Profound Experience
There’s another thing. Maybe a worse thing? It feels worse.
In the interview on Phillips’ Expanded podcast, Aras talked about his experience with plant medicine. He drinks ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a plant-based psychoactive brew used for rites and rituals by some Indigenous people of the Amazon. There are some very narrow religious exemptions but it’s not legal in the United States. And even those religious exemptions don’t protect everyone. In 2018, Gustavo Vargas, a dual citizen of the US and Colombia, was arrested in Florida because he had ayahuasca for religious ceremonies.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, Vargas did not understand why he was being arrested. I don’t understand either. It is a sacred substance. He called ayahuasca a "gift from God” and "gift that teaches about life and nature." Vargas was sentenced a year of probation. I felt sick when I read what the Times wrote about Vargas’s statement at the hearing, “‘I want to apologize,’ Vargas said through a Spanish interpreter. ‘I never had the intention to cause any harm to my country and to its people.’”
Vargas was forced to apologize for his religious use of ayahuasca in criminal court. Less than a year later, Aras, gave an interview about his habitual use of it on a manifestation podcast.
Aras drank ayahuasca for the first time in Tuna Canyon. He didn’t care for it. He drank it for the second time in Ojai, California. (Of course.) During that experience, he said he “worked with the medicine. And she came to him in the form of a snake, ‘I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to help you. And she showed me all these wonderful, magical, beautiful experiences.’ And I woke up and wanted to learn from her.” Even the way he describes his experience aligns with the way Indigenous women are exoticized by white Americans. That seems like bad energy! (Maybe the snake was a Northern Pacific rattlesnake with Valley Girl accent. But I kind of doubt it.)
I am not against psychoactive seeking! I am against white people appropriating and fetishizing Indigenous rites.
I am not against psychoactive seeking! I am against white people appropriating and fetishizing Indigenous rites. There is a European tradition of psychoactive brews. Henbane tea, for example, was drunk by priestesses of Apollo before they delivered oracles. But wealthy, white people would rather grasp at the traditions of Indigenous People than embrace the traditions of their own ancestors. Well, unless the tradition is stealing land from Indigenous people. Then they’re all in.
Aras used the plant medicine of Indigenous people of the Amazon in Ojai, California. Ojai is the stolen land of another Indigenous people, the Chumash. Ojai comes from the Chumash word Awhai. Awhai means moon. Pre-contact, the Chumash lived along the central and southern coast of California. Before Spanish colonization in the 18th century, scholars estimate the Chumash population was around 20,000 people1. Old world diseases and the violence of Spanish missions killed many Chumash. By 1831, mission registration recorded only 2,788 Chumash people. The United States sanctioned California Genocide killed thousands of Chumash.
Aras’s spiritual seeking on Chumash land is a 21st century version of a 19th century trend. The Southern Pacific Railroad wanted Easterners to travel by train to West Coast, so they started advertising the area to health seekers. In the late 19th century, Chumash land became a popular destination for wealthy Americans visiting health resorts. Many of them stayed, further displacing the Chumash people. The Chumash continue to work to rematriate the land.
While talking about drinking ayahuasca. Aras said it was important to know “the lineage of the shaman” supervising your ayahuasca experience. As I’ve been researching, shaman lineage comes up a lot in the white people manifesting with plant medicine space. What does “shaman lineage” mean in that context?? Let’s start with the term shaman, shall we?
In The Colonization of the Ayahuasca Experience, Mark Hay writes that ‘shaman’ is
“a catch-all Western term for a broad variety of specialists, ranging from curanderos—folk healers steeped in highly local herbal and spiritual traditions—to ayahuasqueros—specialists in brewing and serving ayahuasca who are not necessarily healers—to vegetalistas—distinctly mestizo-syncretistic folk plant healers—and beyond.”
White people get precious about lineage but can’t be bothered to use the correct specialist term. This is because white ayahuasca drinking Americans are not grounded in the culture that uses ayahuasca. Without that cultural context, they rely on credentials to prove their experience is “authentic.” (Whatever that means.) In his article, Hay quotes,
Evgenia Fotiou, an anthropologist who studies Western ayahuasca usage, ‘If someone is from the Amazon, they bring some legitimacy’ to an ayahuasca ritual, at least in the participants’ eyes.”
Once the importance of a shaman’s lineage was agreed upon in the interview, Phillips said to Aras,
“I’ve always heard that people who actually go to the native areas have a more profound experience as well. Have you found that to be the case?”
That’s when my head exploded.
I’m just turning this part over to Hay’s article while I piece my skull back together.
“The widespread belief in the power of authentic, traditional rituals and the shamans who lead them is problematic at best, outright dangerous at worst. For starters, there is no true or authentic ayahuasca ritual, or even set of rituals. But more importantly, says Rubén Orellana, a Peruvian archaeologist and curandero, ayahuasca traditions were developed for people coming from specific cultural backgrounds. As such, even though the brew itself, and even some of the ritual practices surrounding it, may have similar raw effects on anyone, they will likely generate very different overall experiences—different risks and benefits—for outsiders than for insiders.”
When westerners fetishisize the cultural rites of the Indigenous People who have ayahuasca traditions, Hays writes they create a “one-sided romantic image” of curanderos, their rituals, and their communities that “hides the complexity of Indigenous Peoples’ situations by erasing the injustices they have experienced and continue to experience.”
Financial success and spiritual enlightenment are always combined in prosperity gospels. One begets the other.
In the interview, Christy said they’ve taken employees to drink ayahuasca too. I am not sure taking psychoactive drugs with your boss is a great idea! But it’s a great reminder that the interview is about manifestation when it comes to creating a successful business. Financial success and spiritual enlightenment are always combined in prosperity gospels. One begets the other.
Anyways. Manifestation + plant medicine. We’ll return to it in the final part of this series. (And yeah, that’s where a wealthy, white, sex-obsessed early 20th century British occultist comes in.)
The Honorable Harvest
The Honorable Harvest is by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Dr. Kimmerer is “a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.” She wrote about the Honorable Harvest in her excellent 2013 book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Christy interviewed Dr. Kimmerer last year. You can watch the Christy Dawn interview.
I love Dr. Kimmerer’s words wherever I find them. Full stop.
There is that little bit of pesky copy in the bottom left page.
“To learn more about our witchy ways, visit ChristyDawn.com/journal”
And like…I don’t know. The Western European definition of “witch” and “witchcraft” justified so much violence against Indigenous spiritual practitioners. And now so many “witchy” white women make money from appropriating Indigenous folkways. It’s just not ummmm … exactly feeling in alignment, maybe?
I turn the page nervously.
Why We Wear White
Page 10 and 11
Why We Wear White kind of sounds like “On Wednesdays we wear pink!”
The copy on this page says wearing white is “a ceremonial offering to ourselves as we step out of the darkness and align with the frequency of light.” How can you make a ceremonial offering to yourself? An offering is sacrificial. Which means an offering is offered, not self-given. I just would love for anything in this catalog to encourage a turn outward instead of inward. Maybe that’s too much to ask from fashion. Anyways, once you’ve offered yourself what you always planned on accepting, you,
“step out of the darkness and align with the frequency of light.”
When Aras talked about shaman lineage, he said there was “a frequency difference” between his shaman and others. In that same interview, Christy talked about manifesting their home in an exclusive Los Angeles canyon by getting “into the frequency of having.” In a post about buying a home on an acre Topanga Canyon, Phillips writes about needing to “shift frequencies to be at the same level” as her partner. In manifestation, frequency is a level of energy. Getting in alignment with light frequency makes you magnetic. And magnetic people get stuff.
Why wear white while aligning with light frequency?
Paige Willey said that in many manifestation circles, “The idea is that white is radiant or illuminated, and that radiance attracts more to you: people, prosperity, opportunities.” If white being attractive seems concerning? You’re right! It totally is! Willey went on to say, with real horror in her voice, that in these circles white clothes promise power because, “The color white is beautiful. If you’re beautiful, you’re successful. Beauty and success are related. One creates the other.”
If you want to really dig into manifestation and white clothing, I recommend this Vanity Fair article about Katie Griggs. A white woman who became incredibly influential in the Venice Beach manifestation community. And yes, along with being the face of a very popular manifestation business, she was also a Qanon conspiracy theorist. Because…white is beautiful, I guess?
Manifestation is not magnetic, privilege is
What happens when you align with the right frequencies and become attractive, or magnetic? In that interview in Goop, Phillips said,
“In my practice, I study my most magnetic clients. We’re talking about the person who’ll say “I have this company, and wouldn’t it be cool if Vogue wrote about it?” And then Vogue emails that night. They’re so magnetic, and everything they want comes to them. The most major commonality lucky people share is that they’re incredibly vulnerable and honest. It’s a kind of humble, authentic honesty. They are fully in their authenticity, meaning they’re not hiding. Nothing’s owning them. There is also the very rare unicorn who grew up in an environment where they were incredibly loved, believed in; there wasn’t any shame. Things come to them because they are whole.”
The “most major commonality lucky people share” is resources. Connections are a type of resource. If someone gets a surprise email from Vogue, it’s because they know someone who knows someone who suggested someone at Vogue look at their company. Or they’re followed by the “right people” on Twitter who retweeted one of their tweets to more “right people”. How did Phillips get interviewed by Goop? She didn’t manifest it. She knew the right person or walked into the right room.
I know this is how it works because that’s how it’s worked for me. People started reading this newsletter when respected writers started sharing it online. Time is also a kind of resource. I don’t make much money from this newsletter yet. I’ve got a little time to figure that out, because my partner has an income that supplements my low wages. If my partner loses his job, dies, or we get divorced, I couldn’t afford to keep doing this work in the hope it’ll pay like a job someday. No amount of manifestation would pay my mortgage for me. There are many, many writers worth reading who never get read. They’re not less magnetic than me. They just don’t have the same privileges of access, time and circumstance.
I grew up in an environment with all love and no shame. I reject the pernicious idea that makes me whole where others are not. When something like home ownership “comes to me” and not others, it is not because I manifested it. It is because I am a white middle-class woman in America. Manifestation is not magnetic, privilege is.
Of course, lots of the time, things do not come to me. I’ve lost so much I am not sure I could gather it all up if it came flowing back to me. And I’ll lose more. I’ll lose until there’s nothing left to lose. Not because I am not whole or worthy. But because energy does flow! It flows out and away from us. That’s life (and death), baby.
There is a free To Be Magnetic workshop called The Extra Layers. It is described as a “support for marginalized communities and anyone who has experienced injustice or felt invisible or inferior.” I thought maybe “extra layers” referred to something structural, but instead the workshop title refers to people who “need a little extra layer of healing.”
The disclaimer before the workshop reads,
“Throughout our workshops, you will hear about how energy, subconscious, and conscious belief systems attract your reality and determine what you manifest.
However, It’s important to recognize that there are systems of oppression, injustice, marginalization, and abuse that are out of your control. Understand that you did nothing to negatively attract these situations— it is not your fault. Please know that we are not insinuating that you are attracting negativity or being punished because of these situations or events. You did not attract oppression or abuse and you deserve safety, freedom, and respect.”
I felt kind of hopeful until the next slide,
“While this workshop is not part of our Manifestation Formula, it is a great addition to provide you the emotional support, empowerment and clearing you may need to create a more effective and sustainable manifestation process.”
That’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Acknowledging systemic inequity is simply not part of the manifestation formula. Of course, this particular workshop still feels like it is part of the formula because is still about worthiness.
“This workshop offers a set of tools to boost self-worth.”
Victims of systems of oppression just need extra healing and more self-worth to get what they want from the Universe. Got it.
The Christy Dawn and Child
For analysis of the aesthetics and context of the Christy Dawn mother daughter dress, I am going to recommend Anne Helen Petersen’s essay Unpacking the Nap Dress again. What I want to focus on is the version of motherhood that Christy Dawn seems to be manifesting.
At the very end of the interview with Lacy Phillips, motherhood came up. (Fatherhood didn’t really seem to come up beyond Aras recounting how he told Christy he wanted to have a baby with her.) Phillips wanted to know about how Christy approaches motherhood. Christy told a story.
She and Aras were fighting. Her five year old son felt upset about the fight and said, “Fuck you, mom!” Christy stopped fighting with Aras, got down on her knees and said, “That doesn’t work for me when you say that to me. Are you upset that mommy and daddy are talking to each other like this?” She said she had to center herself and talk to River with no anger. A few minutes later, she said that being a mother is “the most conscious I’ve had to be.”
Parents fight. And kids often don’t like those fights. And sometimes five year olds curse. My kids definitely knew the eff word by five years old. It’s the context this is all happening in that’s crushing.
Motherhood is heavy in manifestation. Especially Lacy Phillips’ manifestation. Much of that has to do with her emphasis on epigenetics. According to this fun little handout from Harvard,
“Epigenetics is an emerging area of scientific research that shows how environment influences - children’s experiences - actually affect the expression of their genes.”
Scientists have discovered that, while DNA remains the same, gene expression can change after birth. Basically environmental factors during development can change the chemical markers that decide which genes release their information. Supportive experiences can change which genes are expressed. So can traumatic experiences. Have you heard of intergenerational trauma being passed down through genes? That’s real! And that’s studied through epigenetics! But these gene expression changes are not necessarily good or bad. They’re not necessarily permanent or temporary. And we don’t really know much about any of it beyond that.
The To Be Magnetic Glossary has a slightly…different definition of epigenetics. Emphasis my own,
“the influence of the environment on the expression of your genes; certain lifestyle factors and deeply rooted beliefs can switch on or off the expression of certain traits.”
Which means that low-self worth can be coded into the building blocks of your physical being because of gene expression. The Universe only gives freely to high worth people. So inferior gene expression caused by trauma can keep a person from having a good life. I know what you’re about to ask! Yes, that does sound like the version of eugenics that emerged after genetics became a field of study.
Modern genetics was born in the 1860s when an Augustinian friar figured out how to trace inheritance patterns in pea plants. This is also the same that white supremacy was figuring out how to reorient itself in a post-slavery world. Frances Galton was one of Charles Darwin’s most ardent followers. He took Darwinism and genetics and used them to seed the eugenics movement with genetic determinism. Genetic determinism claims human behavior is completely controlled by inherited genes. Everything is nature and nothing is nurture. Galton said that “defective” people should be kept from reproducing to protect the gene pool.2
A lot of white abled people agreed with him. They sorted people into superior genetic and inferior genetic categories. Eugenicists believed white, “able-bodied”, middle and high-income people deserved to live and reproduce. And they successfully advocated for the forced sterilization of Black people, poor people, disabled people and Indigenous people. By 1920, “more than half of U.S. states eventually adopted sterilization laws, which were aimed primarily at compulsory sterilization of those deemed to be genetically unfit…”
Epigenetics is one way to disprove genetic determinism. And Phillips’ version of epigenetics acknowledges that environment impacts gene expression. But then it bends back toward Galton! It makes gene expression a determinant of whether someone is worthy of a good life. The natural conclusion of this kind of thinking is not hard to fathom because we’ve already seen it play out. When enough people blame poverty, illness, [insert any real or perceived societal inconvenience] on unworthy gene expression, genocide - through forced sterilization and other violent means - follows. And it comes for anyone who is not white and “able-bodied” first.
Some of us had bad parents. Some of us need to heal from having bad parents. Phillips takes that reality and twists it.
She says people can fix changed gene expression through “reparenting.” Paige Willey explains the concept poignantly, “Reparenting is how you give your younger self what you didn’t get as a child. You imagine a different parent. You imagine them giving you the things that you wanted.”
The To Be Magnetic manifestation formula promises that those imaginings can become part of your material world through actual repairs to your DNA’s once corrupted gene expression. Once you’ve fixed your genes, you can have a good life.
Willey said the weight placed on moms in the manifestation community was incredibly difficult to witness, “If you inflict any harm on your child, your child will not be successful. The parents become the source of suffering for their children.”
So like, if a mother’s kid tells her to “fuck off” and she responds in any way other than compassionate calm? She might be altering her child’s gene expression and the gene expression of his descendants. That alteration could make their genes less worthy of the Universe. Generations of unworthy babies all because she couldn’t keep her temper. The only way to undo that damage is for her child to imagine over her mothering with reparenting. From that perspective, Christy is right. Being a mother is the most conscious you ever have to be.
In a To Be Magnetic blog post about parenting, Phillips writes that parents must help children “keep as much of their natural magnetic state as possible.” People with unworthy gene expression create people with unworthy gene expressions. So Phillips writes, “…our own shadow and wounded inner child….ABSOLUTELY must be reprogrammed and mended if we intend on raising magnetic children, and being magnetic ourselves. It’s non-negotiable.”
As luck would have it, she has an Unblocked Shadow and Unblocked Inner Child workshop to help reprogram parents. They’re just $68 each.
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Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Zimmer, Carl. She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, And Potential Of Heredity. Dutton Books, 2018