The organisers wanted me to come with an open mind, but of course that was impossible. In the first place, I have never been convinced that the idea of an open mind is virtuous. In the second place, an open mind is as impossible as space without dimension. We all need to begin somewhere, which is why we all possess presuppositions. When people advocate the virtue of an open mind, they actually mean ‘doubt your own presuppositions in order to give yourself room to consider mine’. The advocate is, in fact, absolutely closed-minded about his own presuppositions, and that is his main, if carefully hidden, point. So, no, I didn’t arrive with an open mind. It was firmly closed shut. But arrive I did – at an Exposition of the Psychic and the Paranormal. Not to confront, but to observe and to understand. It was a chance to peer behind the veil covering the world of mediums, clairvoyants, empaths, shamans, psychics, and ghost hunters.
Once you had entered the Exposition Hall, it took about 30 seconds to discover that the nexus of the Exposition was tangible, non-spiritual cash. There was more than 60 exhibitors in the hall, and all of them had something for sale. This event was more mass-marketing than exposition. Would you like a photograph of your Aura? There were four options, priced at $15, $20, $40, or $50 depending on how thorough an analysis you desired. Would you like an astrological reading? Priced reasonably at $20. You could get a Tarot card reading for $1 per minute, with a minimum time of 15 minutes. Alternatively, you could have three women simultaneously provide you a Tarot reading for 30 minutes at $60. Each woman had her own deck. There were Angelic readers and Thetan readers and Ouija-board readers and Rune readers. There were Shaman healers and Divine healers. There were Psychics and Mediums. There were also people who claimed to be both Psychics and Mediums, although I couldn’t tell you the difference. It all seemed to revolve around energy – and the understanding which proceeds from the belief that we are all composed of energy. Some exhibitors had tables for immediate healing therapy which evidently involved massaging feet. All of these services were available in the price range of $15 – $60.
Pricier services were also available. A Reiki healer told me he could discern my energy blocks and replace my bad energy with good energy. He even claimed that (unlike other Reiki healers) he wouldn’t have to lay hands on me but could just guide the energy via spatial proximity. It would only cost me between $100 and $300 (per visit) depending upon the desired thoroughness of the cleansing. This had something to do with Chakras, which I associate with Buddhism, so I asked him if he was a Buddhist. He said, “No, we are non-denominational. It’s all one.” Another individual was offering a series of six on-line courses in Spiritual Living, but no price was mentioned. There was an opportunity to participate in an “intense training program in the practice of energy healing and shamanism” to be held at a retreat over four separate times during the next year. A non-refundable $200 deposit was required, but again no price was mentioned. There was a trip to Peru on offer to “explore ancient shamanistic practices with native medicine people and deepen connection with the Mountain Spirits”. Or perhaps there would be interest in a trip to Ireland to “engage in healing ceremonies and ritual in this ancient land of faerie, druids and magic”. Priced at only $4,000.
In addition to services, there were also products. The customer could purchase jewellery, paintings, Tarot cards, ‘metaphysical supplies’, incense, singing bowls, crystal grids, salt lamps, and images of the Buddha. There was even a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha. And, of course, stones. There were tables and tables and tables of stones – big stones, little stones, polished stones, unpolished stones. There were even blessed stones. It seems polished stones are better than unpolished stones, and blessed polished stones are best of all – so the vendor of blessed polished stones told me, anyways. Each type of stone was placed in a little box with a card indicating the spiritual benefit that may be achieved just by carrying that particular stone. Jet, for example, “protects and purifies”. It will give you “physical, emotional, and spiritual guidance that will help you accomplish your goals in life and achieve harmony and balance”. The sellers would also verbally claim physical benefits from the stones, although they didn’t typically write that onto the card. I found an exception. One particular vendor sold Orgonite pyramids which were composed of layered organic and inorganic material sealed in resin. The pyramids were said to offer protection by transmuting bad energy into good energy and could protect an area based upon the size of the pyramid. A pyramid with a 5” base ($25) could protect the size of a farm. A pyramid 2” at the base ($10) could protect an apartment. But the vendor told me that the pyramid would also help with headaches and migraines. And then she gave me this:
And that is when the material aspects of this subject fade and we begin to see its true nature. There is more going on here than just men and women being separated from their money. Yes, the little pamphlet claims that the ‘technology’ in the Orgonite pyramid has the potential to cure cancer. And we suddenly have a perfect metaphor by which we may understand this whole event. It’s not just about people paying money to see the future in a random laydown of cards, or hear an oracle from the Archangel Gabriel. It’s even less about people carrying rocks in their pockets to achieve peace and tranquillity. It’s about deception. It’s about the spiritual darkness inherent to man and his futile efforts to control that which is beyond his control. There is a veneer of techno-speak about these things, but ultimately this reduces to the Pagan world of magic. You can talk about a pyramid protecting you by transmuting bad energy into good, but all you have really created is a magic charm to keep away evil spirits. The world of this Exposition is a dark world of spirits, with man seeking after a means to exert control over the metaphysical. He uses divination and necromancy to obtain knowledge. He holds onto physical objects to deflect the spiritual forces he fears. He builds idols of wood and stone to the spirits he perceives may provide him benefit. He creates rituals to appease or compel the spirits that they might obey and serve him. The claim to cure cancer is but a physical manifestation of the greater claim inherent in this religious system – the claim to deal with spiritual life and death. Man is, in fact, re-creating around him the Pagan world to which by default he continuously returns. Declaring himself wise, he becomes a fool, and exchanges the glory of the Creator for the image of the creation. But it is all futile. Stone has no power. Wood has no power. Ritual has no power. Men fear the dark and cling as a child to a blanket.
Towards the end of the day, there was a Question & Answer session in which a panel of vendors at the Exposition simply took questions from the audience on any subject metaphysical. The first two questions were revealing in that they exhibited both knowledge of moral guilt and fear of the occurrence of evil. These are the two central religious subjects that man seeks to address through his journey into Paganism, so it should not surprise the reader that they should so quickly occur. It was, however, the final question that interested me the most: “Why has it become so much easier to talk about these subjects in the last 10 years? Why has it become so much more mainstream?”
The panellists offered up the possibility that media, technology, and the internet have led to this shift in attitude. People now have the opportunity to share stories in an environment devoid of judgment. The new media allows people to share ‘experiences’ that were previously hidden and isolated. There is some truth in this at some level, but it doesn’t explain the irrational commitment to (say) receiving protection from a pyramid composed of resin and quartz. One panellist, however, came near the truth when she said, “The vibration of the planet is shifting.” The statement makes no sense on its face. There is no vibration of the planet associated with the beliefs and attitudes of its inhabitants. Yet one may read its spiritual sub-text. The most important cultural shift in Western civilisation is the collapse of Christianity and the concomitant collapse of belief in God. That is the shifting ‘vibration’ she dimly perceives.
Christianity once displaced the pagan worldview. In the 20th century, secularism displaced Christianity. Bold men said: “We believe nothing, and will build our lives upon the presumption of moral freedom.” It was exciting at first to kick God to the curb and stand upon His throne, but it has revealed itself a catastrophic failure. Secularism provides no answers beyond a satisfied stomach and sated genitalia. It cannot answer the question ‘Why?’ because it denies that there can be any answer to that question. Man cannot stand the existence of that void, so he drifts away from secularism in search of answers, but he isn’t finding those answers in Christianity. He is returning by nature to the pagan origins of his forefathers. And they are coming up with the very same answers.
A pyramid on the desk; a stone in the pocket; a necromancer to provide guidance; a ritual to appease the spirits. This is the future of man in the West as secularism crumbles. He will once again cower in the dark and fear the sound in the trees.