Cultural energetics

Cultural energetics, all lower case, FKA as cultural somatics, is an open-source framework for collective change based on the foundational principle that: cultures are bodies made of bodies, and because of this, individual change and collective change are embodied energetic processes that necessarily have a fractal relationship with each other.

Within the framework of cultural energetics, micro pain, such as early childhood trauma, and macro pain, such as misogyny, are all understood to be interrelated energetic issues. Because of this, bringing about fundamental change require us to work on many levels at once. The healing of a childhood wound may require the healing of a million years old ancestral trauma. The creation of a more ethical business may require the healing of the family-of-origin trauma of its stakeholders. And so on.

At the core, there is nothing less and nothing more to cultural energetics than this multi-layered healing process, which of course is always naturally happening if we pay attention. Basically, cultural energetics is simply a container for what is already there and gives us the permission to work with it using all of our resources.

My belief is that, keeping things this simple is important to honor the sovereignty of the practitioner. The truth is that whatever a person learns through healing their individual energetic system is directly applicable to healing the cultural energetic system. Acknowledgment of this truth allows for the framework to be deeply malleable and not limited by dissemination methods that often become forms of institutional control e.g. certifications and professional regulatory bodies.

That said, there are certain vocabularies and approaches I have taken by applying the base foundation of cultural energetics that I consider to be my unique and original contribution to the field of practice. You can learn more about them at the bottom of this page.

The shift from ‘cultural somatics’ to ‘cultural energetics’

One big reason why I’ve shifted the name of the framework from ‘cultural somatics’ to ‘cultural energetics’ is to avoid its confusion with Cultural Somatics, deriving from Resmaa Menakem’s branding of his Somatic Abolitionism work to address racial-cultural trauma.

Transparently, while I do acknowledge that there are surface similarities to our approaches, I don’t consider my work to be a part of Menakem’s lineage.

There was a time that I considered us to be peers and we mutually agreed to protect the term ‘cultural somatics’ so that anyone can use it to describe their work without needing to comply with our authority. We have since parted ways on this understanding after they involved themselves in a cancellation campaign against me that claimed I was affiliated with ‘alt-right white supremacist groups’.

For a while after, I felt that it was sufficient for cultural somatics to remain an openly accessible term for any practitioner can use that I am affiliated with. I feel differently now, in March of 2022, and I have decided to change the name of the framework to cultural energetics so that there is less confusion.

The most important distinction reflected in this shift is that: the original cultural energetics framework was never explicitly political, in the sense of it being ideological, though it was always meant to have a deep social impact on systemic issues.

Truly uprooting oppression from our lives requires us to stick to a foundational understanding that what we call social problems are energetic issues in a collective body, nothing more nothing less. Frames that prefer certain ideologies over others often prevent deeper work as it over-intellectualizes the subject and neglects the fact that all ideologies, regardless of their surface content, reflect deeper emotional needs of a larger collective system that are requiring attention.

Glossary

Below are some basic cultural energetic terms that constitute the original set that I used to build my practice. Please feel free to use them also, with the acknowledgment that you feel is appropriate.

Cultural soma or cultural energetic body
The invisible sensing, feeling, and thinking body that emerges out of networks of complex relationships.

Cultural nervous system or cultural energetic system
The nervous system of cultural somas.

Cultural attachment
The concept that we form attachment relationships with cultural somas that exhibit similar behavior patterns as in our attachment relationship that we develop in early childhood with our caregivers. Cultural somas can also form attachment relationships with one another e.g. white culture has an attachment relationship to ancestral European cultures. (Indigenous social worker Estelle Simard is another person who has used the term cultural attachment and you may find their work here.)

Cultural somatic context or cultural energetic context
The cultural context of a body, impacted by everything from furniture, clothes, customs, medicine, and other key cultural elements.

Cultural dissociation
Cultural dissociation describes the dissociative mechanism in the cultural nervous system that protects certain bodies, especially those considered privileged, from processing trauma.

Trauma diversity
Trauma diversity refers to the phenomenon of how trauma held in cultural somas interact with our natural diversities in terms of race, culture, gender, neuro-divergence, and so on, to manifest diverse trauma experiences associated with different groups.

Memerotics or memeroticism
Memerotics or memeroticism refers to the concept that the energy of information (memes, from memetics) moving within a body, including collective bodies, is often experienced as erotic (not necessarily sexual) energy by humans. Memes here refer to not just text, audio, and video media but also unseen beings that our ancestors often referred to as spirits, goddesses, fae, kami, etc. Memeroticism shows us that the unshaming of eros, the fundamental universal principle of love between all beings, and not always confusing it with sex itself, is a vital foundational part of lasting individual and collective change.