In one of my earlier posts, you might recall that I posted my religious progression from Catholicism to Vanatru. You might also recall that the spot after “Roman Catholicism” but before “Eclectic Wicca” was occupied by “New Age”.
Yep, I was a card-carrying, chakra-activating, aura-cleansing, love-and-light-and-violet-flame-believing, angel-therapy-ing, dolphin-obsessive New Ager.
I first became aware of the New Age movement in high school. My grandma had just died and my math tutor (one of our neighbours) had given me $20 and told me to buy something nice with it. I remember how my dad picked up a book with an angel on the cover and said: “Here, buy this in memory of your grandmother.”
That book was Messages From Your Angels by Doreen Virtue.
At the time, I was looking for comfort, as grieving people tend to do, and this book gave it to me in spades. I find the “channeled messages” corny now, but at the time, they really spoke to me. As an adopted child, it was comforting to learn that children like me had “extra angels” to help and guide them throughout their lives, and, well, dolphins were “enlightened beings”, what more could a dolphin lover ask for?
I think that even before I realized how appropriative the movement is (especially towards First Nations people), I was driven away by how material objects seemed so necessary to this “anti-materialist” movement. Open up a random New Age text and you’ll find some mention of how (Western) society is so “materialist” and “Ego-centered” (the Ego, BTW, might as well be renamed ‘the Ebils’ because it is blamed for, well, everything)–while pointing you to all the books and tapes they’re offering. Doreen Virtue alone has all her books, cassette tapes, CDs, and at least one oracle deck to accompany every book. At the local psychic fair, they charge $60 for a quartz crystal that’s supposedly “cleansing” and every “psychic” will charge (at minimum) $60 for a reading (more if you want a longer reading), that’s not even going into the cost of aura phoros, magical crystal skulls, and chakra wands.
I won’t even start on the issue of appropriation, how “Native Americans/East Indians are so spiritually enlightened–not like us Westerners,” white guilt narrative, let’s-take-things-from-other-cultures-completely-divorce-them-from-their-context-and-sell-them-back-to-white-people, thing, because that’s been done. What I want to talk about is something so vile and disgusting that I STILL remember it clearly even though it happened three years ago.
Three years ago, I went to the local psychic fair with a friend to take advantage of the tarot vendor who was selling decks tax free. We goofed around a bit and bought a cheap aura photo just to say we did, but then we sat down to listen to a couple of the presentations.
I’ll start with the funny one so you can prepare for being filled with RAGE later.
One of the presenters, we were told, was a psychometrist. Psychometry, for those who don’t know, is psychic-speak for people who can find out things about objects just by touching them (ie. that photographs inside an envelope documented a house fire).
She started with a couple of people (one of whom was going to be traveling soon, “near water”) and then she looks at me. Our conversation went something like this:
Psychic: You, I think I’d like to talk to you.
Me: Okay *gets up to go stand at the front*
Psychic: No, no, sit down, it’s okay…. *after I sit, she continues* Now, I definitely see some educational opportunities in your future, either you’re going to school or you’re going back to school….
My friend: *trying so hard to keep a straight face*
Me: Actually, I’m out of school and I don’t plan on going back, I’m just looking for a job right now.
Psychic: Oh, while I’m sure you’ll find the right job soon. You like people so it will all be fine.
Here are some things you need to know about me:
1) At the time, I was out of school (not planning on going back) and looking for work
2) I am short and often mistaken for someone who is much younger, several people have mistaken me for a high school student (or younger) including at my graduation when I received my M.L.I.S.
3) I’m such an introvert I probably exude a chemical that repels people
So now that you’ve had a chuckle, here’s the rage-inducing bit. The other lecture that we attended was by a “medical intuitive” who said such gems as these:
“Alzheimers means that you struggle to keep control of your life,”
“Diseases have physical as well as spiritual symptoms, if you change your way of thinking, the disease will go away.”
What is this I don’t even
Basically, it was the idea that every disease is really caused by hurt feelings. Do you have lung cancer? Maybe you’re talking to much and not listening enough. A fever? You probably have anger issues.
I don’t think I have to explain how fucking dangerous and WRONG this idea is, right? This is more than just flaky love and light and crystal spires of Atlantis stuff, these are diseases that are debilitating and oftentimes fatal. It is EXTREMELY disrespectful to people who have to live with these conditions to victim-blame by pointing the finger at them and saying “If you would only change your way of thinking, you would be cured!”
NO, NO, NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO!
You can’t rid yourself of a condition just by clicking your heels and WISHING it to happen (provided there is a cure at all), but the worst part is the people who were agreeing with her. I hope that no one would be so stupid as to not seek a doctor’s help when they had a medical emergency, but that’s the really chilling part: THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY BOUGHT HER BULLSHIT. It’s one thing to scam gullible people out of $60, spouting all this bullshit when it’s HUMAN LIVES that are at stake is just….completely irresponsible.
Now, before I let you go to do whatever it is you like to do to help with all that rage you’re probably feeling, a note about calling people “New Agers” (this means you, my Pagan and Heathen friends).
Stop it. Right now.
In my experience, the majority of
Asshattru Pagans who call other Pagans “New Age” (or, to use a term I’ve seen a lot “newage sewage”) don’t know anything about actual New Agers beyond that they believe in “love and light”. These people delight in calling my co-religionists “fluffy bunny new age crystal crunchers” because they aren’t hardcore reconstructionists FUCK YEAH! don’t believe the exact same things they do. You can say a belief sounds “New Agey”, that is fine, but to say everyone who isn’t like you is “a new age crystal cruncher” won’t make you sound smart except to your Internet Tough Guy buddies it just makes you sound like an asshole and a sloppy researcher.
You may now go let off some steam.