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How To "Decolonialize Spirituality" & Drop The Feeling That You Are Not Enough

Juliet Diaz
By Juliet Diaz
Juliet Diaz is a Bruja, Seer, and Spiritual activist. She's an Indigenous Taino Cubana from a long line of curanderos (Healers) and Brujas on both sides of her parents' lineages. She is the author of the new book, "The Altar Within."
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February 22, 2022

In this excerpt from her new book, The Altar Within, spiritual activist Juliet Diaz shares a ritual that helped her finally drop her resistance to rest and self-care. Questioning the notion that we must always be "on" in order to be valuable—a practice she refers to as "decolonizing spirituality"—was ultimately what liberated her.

Decolonizing spirituality, "the work," requires that we reclaim our sacred sovereignty. That means when we don't want to be on, we get to turn ourselves off. Spiritual work is also resting, recuperating, and recovering. It looks like leading your life with Spirit, following your path with heart, and unraveling everything that doesn't serve you to make space for what does. Most especially, it looks like living our Divined lives for our ancestors, our grandmothers and grandfathers, and even our mothers and fathers—all of those who were denied their authentic paths.

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Before journeying with this practice, I struggled with a guilt that would haunt me in moments of rest and self-care. Since my 20s, I'd tried to take care of myself but was never really consistent with it. Something always came up, and someone always needed me first. By the time I had time for myself, I was too tired or felt obligated to finish up more chores, work more, and so on. Even when I spent time with my kids unwinding watching TV, I would feel guilty for not playing a board game, doing arts and crafts, or throwing the ball around. Ugh. It was a constant narrative that I could not shut off.

This guilt came in many forms, the old language of supremacy raising its head to taunt me: I'm not doing enough, I'm not good enough, I'm not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, strong enough, sexy enough, Indigenous enough, Latina enough. I could be a better sister, aunt, mother, daughter, wife, and friend. Supremacy requires that you reign supreme in all things, and if you don't, then you're losing the game. And that shit ran my fucking life.

When we don’t want to be on, we get to turn ourselves off.

I grew up watching my parents struggle from the moment they stepped foot in this country. Immigrants are the hardest-working people yet are the ones who suffer the most. I learned that to survive, we needed to hustle. And even with hard work and perseverance, life would still throw curveballs, so we had to stay on top of our game. I was taught that there was no time for rest, no time for playing around. I learned that I was supposed to serve and take care of my family before I took care of myself. Money was for paying bills and food, not for self-care and spa days. What the hell was a spa day?

And when we did "indulge," it was a whole-family event; we didn't do it alone. We did it with parents, children, cousins, tias and tios, abuelitas and abuelos. Time for yourself was not something that existed unless it was you hiding in the bathroom, spread out on the floor, crying in your hands. Did I mention that I am the oldest of five? And we all shared a room? Oh, yeah. I had no me time until I was homeless. Even then, the guilt followed me.

This guilt was passed down by generations, and then to top it off, there was the ancestral pain and trauma. I mean, how? How do we even manage to deal with all of it? Well, we start with decolonizing our spirituality and shifting our energy and focus into the self—one day at a time, hermana, one step at a time.

Presence mini ritual:

To start, I want to share a mini ritual with you that will help you call yourself back to the present moment. So, if you find yourself distracted, feeling anxious, or losing interest, acknowledge this as your "ego" inner critic trying to keep you from focusing on the work, and instead of giving in, show up! Show up for yourself in those sneaky moments of self-sabotage.

As soon as you acknowledge this sneaky sabotage, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Then raise your arms, palms to the sky, and say, "I call myself back, I call myself back home, I call myself back home where I am safe and protected." Then bring your hands to your heart space and slowly take a deep breath.

Repeat one to two times or as often as needed. When I first started, I was calling my ass back home multiple times a day. Like, I really didn't like being present with myself. And that was one of the hardest things to observe. Don't confuse being alone for being present because they are not the same thing. I love being alone, but when I was alone when I first started trying to better myself and trying to get to know myself better, I would suddenly grab for my phone, get up and do random things, or check my emails for the 10th time. Once, I even decided to organize my closet, which I had not done in a few months, but when I tried to focus on getting into the work, my fight-or-flight response would kick in.

Watch yourself. Ask your Divine Self for help in observing your behaviors. You don't have to judge yourself. Stepping outside of the box or your comfort zone is hard work, and, look, we all struggle with focusing when the work is hard. But now isn't the time to ignore what you really need. Now is the time to connect to the Divine Self and start learning how to worship who you are, in all your forms.

Excerpted from The Altar Within: A Radical Devotional Guide To Liberate the Divine Self by Juliet Diaz (2022), with permission from the publisher.

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Juliet Diaz
Juliet Diaz

Juliet Diaz is a Bruja, Seer, and Spiritual activist. She's an Indigenous Taino Cubana from a long line of curanderos (Healers) and Brujas on both sides of her parents' lineages. She believes Magic lives within us all and feels passionately about inspiring others to step into their truth and waking to their remembrance. Juliet has devoted her life to helping people come back to their Divine Self and liberate themselves from the oppressor within. She's the creator of Love Juliet & Co, her brand, APP, and online membership community. She is also the co-founder of Spirit Bound Press.

Juliet has a Master's of Science in Herbal Medicine as well as certifications in an array of healing modalities. She has been featured in major publications like Oprah Magazine, National Geographic, The Atlantic, Wired, Popsugar, and Refinery, to name a few. She is the author of the bestselling book Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within (which has sold to over eight countries) and #1 new release Plant Witchery. Her third book and most important book yet, The Altar Within, is available now.