New Age Bashing

Several weeks ago, an article entitled “New Age Bullshit Part 1” popped up in “A Parliament of Owls – Spiritual & Metaphysical Chat for Wandering Owl Fans” discussion group on Facebook. Since then, It’s been on my mind quite a bit.  It’s been on my mind because I agree with some of the author’s points, but I also very much disagree about his stance on the new age movement.

In the article, the author speaks immediately about the jargon people in the new age movement use. (He calls them ‘lightworkers’ in the article).  Specifically, he speaks to how most lightworkers only talk about love and light, Further down in the article he speaks to how some of these people refuse to even consider the darker sides of the soul, speaking to how most lightworkers believe that if they don’t give any energy to that side of them, the dark side can’t hurt them, or basically, it won’t exist.   This is where I do agree with him.  Yes, there are people out there that have been in the new age movement for quite some time and don’t think about anything but ‘the light’ and preach how staying in ‘the light’ allows this and that and allows you to develop <insert touchy-feely statement here>.

I further agree with the author that many of these lightworkers are stuck in their own personal development because they only focus on the light.  But just like the minority of any religious or spiritual discipline that ruin it for the rest of the population, the same thing has happened in the new age movement, and these lightworkers he speaks of are the culprits.  Yes, we are going to get the people that are that are stuck but they claim they are not.  We are also going to get the people in the New Age movement that specifically speak to only certain practices are ‘true’ and only using certain tools are ‘right’ and so on and so forth.  And we should deal with them like we do when we find them in any other aspect under this great big umbrella called paganism:  We need to ignore them and continue our path.  Because if the lightworkers are true to form, anything we say to them is only going to get us angrier.

The author basically leaves his article there, which makes it feel more like a rant to me than being anything informative.  (In all fairness, he did say this was part one, but I could not find anywhere where he had a part two.)  Again, I see his point and can understand why he would rant.  People like the lightworkers he describes can be very frustrating to deal with.  But there are other facets to the new age movement he doesn’t even consider covering in his article, and that’s a shame.

As most of you already know, I do intuitive tarot readings.  Many of the clients that come in to see me for readings are searchers.  Some of these people are clearly out of their comfort zone, they come to me even though they have no idea how a reading works or what to ask.  Some don’t even know how a tarot deck works.  Still, they come because they are searching for something that they cannot name.  Still others come speaking of ‘talents’ or ‘gifts’ their recent ancestors had; and their visit to me is them grasping at straws trying to connect with that talent that might be innate in themselves.

In these cases, I do my best to be the gracious host of the metaphysical realms.  I speak to them and give them ideas on reaching out to their ancestors; or other ways they can start ‘testing’ the waters so to speak.  But I don’t give them too much.  Going straight into how to cast a circle, gathering spell components for a spell or talking about some of the more specific areas of the metaphysical realms are just too much for these clients.

So in short, I give them what some people would call New Age practices to start with.

If you look at some of the practices of the new age belief you will see immediately that they are very basic.  They are easy to comprehend and they can be communicated and understood in a very short period of time.  That makes them the perfect building block for me to present to my clients so they can start building their own foundations for metaphysical practice.  Also, the so called ‘light’ exercises are perfect to help teach protection and grounding; which most newbies desperately need.

The practices I speak about aren’t any that need deep oversight.  I’m also not designating myself as their ‘teacher’ by giving them suggested practices, nor do I say they MUST do them.  I simply suggest them and allow the client to make up their own mind as to whether or not the practice is right for them.  And if they choose to go deeper and want more information, then I can suggest a specific person from the list of people I have that I know to be very reputable and that can give them further information about a specific subject.

Another reason I start with new age practices is because of the terminology of the movement is so common.  Reaching for a common language to communicate to someone is the same thing I do in my day job.  As a technical writer, I constantly have to think about my audience; Is my writing going to someone with technical knowledge so I can let lose more technical terms, or is the audience a group who doesn’t know the difference between Kaizen and a Kanban?

In order to communicate anything, we must first make certain we have a common language.  New age terminology easily bridges that gap.  It also allows me to bypass terms that might scare my clients.  Sure there are things that I still must explain in more detail, but overall I have a common language that I can use to start connecting with my client and help them work through whatever problem they have come to me to get more information on.

The people that come to see me and people like them are some of the biggest reasons why the new age movement is still thriving.  These are people who could be just becoming aware of the energies within and around them and have no idea how to work with that energy.  They might be scared shitless of something they saw, felt or heard and have no idea what to do about it.  Or they are like me when I found new age practices – they are the people that feel deep in their heart and soul that something is missing, and are reaching for the piece of them they cannot define.

I am a Reiki Master, and that, to many people, is a new age practice.  Yet it was my training in Reiki that ultimately led to my being able to control my intuitive gifts and become the adept reader I am today.  It also led to me being able to use healing abilities and helped to teach me not to send out my own energy and deplete my own personal energy sources.  Reiki became my teacher in other ways too.  It was what I reached for as protection when I started doing my own deeper journey work and it has helped deepen my understanding of the Gods as I know them now.  In fact, Reiki still is a very important piece of my spiritual discipline.

When I found Reiki, it was the only thing that I could find in the pagan community that made any sense regarding my healing and intuitive abilities.  I was already pagan; I’d been practicing rituals at that point for roughly 10ish years and no matter how much I searched, I could find no one who could help me with my intuitive and healing gifts.  Reiki was the only thing that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my practice, and it was the only thing that helped me correct my mistakes properly.

Now had this article been written back then, and had I seen it prior to my decision to be attuned to a new age thing such as Reiki, perhaps I would have reconsidered my decision to become attuned.  And I would not be following the wonderful soul fulfilling path that I currently follow.  I would not be the strong person that I am today.  I would not be devoted to Loki and Odin. I would not be a member of OBOD.  And I would not be a keeper of the Sacred Pipe of my ancestors.  That’s one reason why I’m a bit upset about this article; who is going to read it and step away from possibly the very start of a very fulfilling spiritual path because of what others think about the practices they do?

The whole ‘new age bashing’ in articles like this one also makes me wonder if there is a deeper reason why it happens.  Was there a time where we, in our newbie ignorance, were like those lightworkers perhaps?  Did we condemn practices that weren’t exactly like our own? Or, are we condemning new age practices that are so simple that we in our current knowledge base would now assume that ‘ANY’ newbie should automatically know them as common sense?

Or are we embarrassed at our own beginnings, and that is why the new age movement gets the brunt of the bashing, much like pagan publishers that publish lots of beginner books like Llewellyn publishing (or bash the so called ‘Llewellyn babies’ who read said books), authors that write lots of beginning practice books (Silver RavenWolf) or why books that we once held in high esteem get joked about (Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue anyone?).

Perhaps that is the crux of it.  We all DO have to start somewhere.  Let’s stop bashing those starting points.  And while we are at it, let’s not worry about the lightworkers or other people that choose to stay stuck and help the ones who truly want to reach deeper.  Let’s help them realize that the tools they received and the skills that they learned in the new age movement can help them learn that there is much more to these paths than what they know.  And in the meantime, let’s recognize the new age movement as the stepping block that it can be into a much bigger world.

 

Photo from Deviant Art

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Spirituality and Chronic Illness

 

It was a very cold day in January when it happened.  I was sitting at my desk at work, trying to warm up from walking between buildings on my company’s campus when the full onset kicked in.  At first, I simply felt tingling on my arms, but within a matter of moments it felt like I had just been hit by a car.  Pain overtook every inch of my skin and started working its way down deeper into my body.  Every bone ached.  Every joint stiffened up.  The once comfortable office chair now felt like I was sitting on a bunch of spikes.  My clothes felt like sandpaper.

I was experiencing my first full fibromyalgia flare up.

Fibromyalgia is a disease where the sufferer experiences chronic pain.  The pain can be excruciating at times, like I found out on that cold January morning.  But it can also be intermittent.  It is a very rare day when a fibromyalgia sufferer doesn’t feel some sort of chronic pain.  And many of them also suffer from other chronic illnesses, like chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and numerous other issues.

Millions of people suffer from chronic illnesses like I do.  And like me, I am absolutely certain that many tears have been shed over the years about why this is happening to them, why no one understands their pain, and worst of all, why no one can diagnose or properly treat them.

Since that January morning, I have learned a lot about why this has happened to me, and what I could do to help myself feel better.  I am thankful for the resources out there and for the people I have reached out to for more information.  But I still believe that there is one facet of support that is sorely lacking for indiciduals with chronic illnesses, and that is spiritual support.  I don’t think it’s for lack of trying, there are plenty of spiritual leaders out there that are willing to do what they can to soothe the suffering of those dealing with issues like mine.  However, they will never fully understand the pain.  They will never fully understand the fatigue, the mental stress and the hundreds of other symptoms that people with chronic illness have to fight every day.

For those of us following pagan or alternative spiritual paths, there is even less information out there.  And the information and tools that are out there don’t really help.  In fact, many of those tools can cause more pain and suffering.

For example, there are times that even the the simplest energy work hurts.   These are times when even the well wishes of others double the pain you feel.  You know they mean well, but the healing energy they send feels like a sandstorm against and inside your body.  They don’t understand that those of us with these types of illnesses have enough energy from nerves going haywire as it is.  To send additional energy at that time is like adding fuel to the blazing fire that is a flare up.

Another example is the total body wellness model in spirituality.  Many books, health gurus and even doctors talk about how an illness starts as negative energy in your aura.  Left alone, this negativity goes deep into your chakras and causes disease (usually spelled out as ‘dis-ease’).  While this view has some merit, most people with chronic illness will go through a period where they start to blame themselves for getting sick.   This couldn’t be further from the truth.  However, when you are in the middle of a flare up of fatigue or pain, you can’t think straight.  That’s when the thought that you have done this to yourself grows to the point that your self worth diminishes, you start to take care of yourself less and less, and the disease gets worse.  This horrible cycle continues until you can either find the courage to stop it or until the disease gets so out of control you end up disabled and bedridden.

I highly doubt I am the only pagan living with diseases like fibromyalgia.  And I also don’t think that I am alone in using energy work, spells, meditation and journeying to help fight this disease.  These things are just more tools in the arsenal, and if you are like me, you want as many tools as you can get.

In the coming weeks I want to explore this topic further.  I have been using energy work on myself to alleviate the symptoms of my own chronic illness, and I believe that these tools can be used by others for the same benefit.  And while I believe these tools won’t fully heal these illnesses, they can make life better for many people.

I will be putting out posts about this as often as I can.  First however, I must put how I am doing some of these things into words to the point that they are understandable.  When I first got the idea for this series of blog posts I must admit that so many ideas and thoughts were coming to me that it was hard to write everything down.  I truly hope that these ideas will help to make others lives better.  And even if it just helps one other person, I will be very happy.

For now, if you are fighting what feels like a loosing battle with any chronic illness, please remember that you are not alone.  Recognize the fact that you are a powerful and strong person that deals with more on a daily basis than many people will ever realize.  That fact means you are stronger than you give yourself credit for.  We are in this together, and we can see this fight through.

Photo from Deviant Art

A place for mundanity


Recently I got a request from a Facebook page that I like to follow for the positive memes.  The request was from the owner of the page.  She was asking for prayers to give her strength to deal with the dark forces that were invading her life.  Those dark forces were stopping her from making an income and she needed all the white light and magics she could muster to get them out of her life.

I don’t know all of the specifics of the request, but it reminded me of another one I had years ago as a Wiccan priestess.  I was contacted by a couple who were trying to get the demon that had attached itself to them to leave.  Their theory was that the demon didn’t want them to be together because even though they loved each other, they would yell and bicker about everything and just couldn’t get along.

Don’t get me wrong here, there is a place for magic and spell work to help things move along, but there is also a need to do everything that is physically possible to make things work for yourself too.  Praying to the Gods and the spells are only a piece of the puzzle to get through the rough spots in your life.

I have a great example that I thought of while driving home last evening.  Here in the Midwest, the darkness falls quickly.  That darkness, along with the time of year, means a great amount of deer in my neighborhood.  Deer getting hit by vehicles is an unfortunate, yet frequent event.  To prevent this, I have some spell work on my vehicle and created a reiki shield to help keep deer and any other animals out of my way.  Now I could just rely on that, but I don’t.  Instead I also drive slower at night, don’t tailgate, and choose roads where I haven’t seen as many deer moving.  So far I have been very thankful that I haven’t hit anything.  All three of these things I believe have had a hand in that.

Recognizing that there is mundane work to do in my book is a must for any magic practitioner.  It’s described as a foot in both worlds.  We are in the world, but not fully a part of the world.  This is a hard thing to remember at times, but it is a critical thing to keep in mind.