Over the past several years, I have been asked by individuals and audiences if I could provide a precise definition of the term spiritual democracy. I answered this call in 2018 in my book "Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times":
35 Elements of Spiritual Democracy
1) Spiritual Democracy is the big idea of worldwide religious equality.
2) Spiritual Democracy is an American notion; it is related to the Iroquois myth of the Peacemaker and can also be found in early American poetry.
3) Spiritual Democracy is based on the principles of religious Liberty, equality, and individual freedom.
4) Spiritual Democracy exists in three stages: political, economic, and religious.
5) Spiritual Democracy is a dispensation of the Divine Feminine, or “Nature’s God;” it is transcendent of gender, bierotic, and free of the chains of patriarchy.
6) Spiritual Democracy is linked to the cosmic science of nineteenth century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, whose work Whitman, Melville, and Dickinson were aware of.
7) Although it is archaic and found in the rites and symbols of initiation in all shamanistic cultures across the globe, Spiritual Democracy exists in the Now.
8) Spiritual Democracy is supported by a Deus Quadriune, a four-sided, or quaternary God-image, a symbol for wholeness.
9) Spiritual Democracy is informed by the writings of America’s poet-shamans and by the pragmatism of William James and G. G. Jung’s psychology of the Self.
10) Spiritual Democracy is founded on an equality of being in Nature; an experience of being human in relationship to the Self, or the Divine, to which every person has access.
11) Spiritual Democracy is neither patriarchal, nor matriarchal; it places the Cosmic Self in the center of its world-view and asserts that the Divine Feminine, Nature, is present in everyone.
12) Spiritual Democracy is the realization that we are all centers for the transformation of global consciousness.
13) Spiritual Democracy is the realization that we are each a microcosm of meaning in a macro cosmic power that absorbs everything, where meaning is born from a search each person undertakes; whether in the city, at home, or in the solitude of Nature.
14) Spiritual Democracy is a change in attitude that can facilitate solutions to problems of war, genocide, bigotry, and prejudice.
15) In the Near East and the West the origins of the concept of Spiritual Democracy lies in the writings of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who was a beacon of world Peace.
16) Spiritual Democracy is universal, transnational, and transpersonal. It places no God- or Goddess-image above what waits to be Self-realized within you.
17) Spiritual Democracy is a way to personal and cultural liberation.
18) Spiritual Democracy is born from a mystical marriage between the body, soul, and spirit with the Cosmos.
19) Spiritual Democracy is a way to sacred action, whether through political activism, through advocacy for the environment, or through the writing of poetry or prose in the solitude of one’s own home.
20) Spiritual Democracy is a way to become aware of the Self’s ultimate meaning, which is the aim of evolution.
21) Spiritual Democracy is a vocation from the Self, a calling, or destiny to live by that put’s a person in accord with Nature’s God.
22) Spiritual Democracy is born through techniques of vocalism and other expressions of contemplation and art, such as meditation, yoga, the writing of poetry, or active visioning.
23) Spiritual Democracy is a path of nonviolence through the integration of the shadow and human evil.
24) Spiritual Democracy is the calling to advocate for equal rights for all people; women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, and it does not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.
25) Spiritual Democracy is an advocate for many paths to marriage.
26) Spiritual Democracy is a way to speak up for what one knows from the inner most depths of the psyche and the earth.
27) Spiritual Democracy is a path with a heart, a way of love, compassion, and human affection.
28) Spiritual Democracy is a vocation to preserve the psychic integrity of the community in connection with the earth and its native species.
29) Spiritual Democracy is a way to develop our divine nature.
30) Spiritual Democracy is a global phenomenon that takes place in one individual at a time, or in groups that place a premium on the transformation of human consciousness.
31) Spiritual Democracy is patterned upon an instinct of activity in the human psyche, the instinct of vocation, or impulse for Holy or Sacred Work.
32) Spiritual Democracy aims at world peace through non-violent means; revolution, war, and political uprising through peaceful means of protest.
33) Spiritual Democracy is a psychology of vocation, a personal theology that places its greatest emphasis on attending to the call from within.
34) Spiritual Democracy is a personal and global consciousness that sees, feels, and experiences the unity of the Cosmos in all forms of life.
35) Spiritual Democracy is not antagonistic towards any person’s religion. It respects the dignity of all human paths and practices tolerance; it advocates responsibly living out one’s vocation as a path of sacred action.
"Steven Herrmann carries the visionary message of Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and William James forward into our time with the added inspiration of C. G. Jung. This work elevates our vision of what politics can be and should be read universally by citizens and political leaders alike. Spiritual Democracy puts the idea of democracy back to where it belongs, as a shining example of the human spirit at work in the evolution of human culture and social architecture."
―Murray Stein, PhD, author of Minding the Self: Jungian Meditations on Contemporary Spirituality
"This is a grand, brilliant, and breathtaking book that explores in depth the central wisdom at the core of Whitman's prophetic poetry―that of Spiritual Democracy. This vision is at the heart of Sacred Activism, and anyone who wants to truly be inspired to act from a universal consciousness in this terrible and divisive time will find in this book rich food for their soul."
―Andrew Harvey, author of Radical Passion
Exploring what the author calls the "shaman-poets"—Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson—this book demonstrates how far ahead of their times these writers were in forecasting developments of our current time. It was Whitman who first wrote of "Spiritual Democracy" as a vision of transformation and global equality. Steven Herrmann delves deep into the visionary expressions of this idea of Spiritual Democracy—"the realization of the oneness of humanity with the universe and all its forces"—in these early American writers, showing the influence the groundbreaking work of the geologist and thinker Alexander Von Humboldt had on Whitman and others. Writing that every member of the global community regardless of color, gender, or sexual orientation can realize these freedoms, the author explores how one can tap into the vitalizing source of equalizing, vocational energy to bring a sense of purpose and peace. Although the book shines as a work of literary criticism, the author's insights as a Jungian psychotherapist take the reader ever deeper into the creative impulses of Whitman, Melville, Dickinson, and other poets in their crafting of the seminal notion of Spiritual Democracy. In addition, Herrmann offers practical methodologies for personal and global transformation in the section, "Ten Ways to Practice Spiritual Democracy."