Snake oil and me

On Wednesday I finally managed to get a film developed that had been stuck in my old camera since the summer of 2006. I’d actually forgotten most of what was likely to be on it, so I sat down outside Boots and leafed through the wallet of photos. The camera had jammed at the very end of a film and I’d not dared try and retrieve it in case it hadn’t fully rewound. A colleague from work who is a photographer kindly retrieved it for me, in a special dark bag, so I was able to find out what was on the film. I intend to post a few at a later date but need to do a smidge of research for the article I want to write about one.

Some of the photos were from our last holiday before we moved here. We stayed with friends in North Yorkshire and some were taken at the very top of Roseberry Topping and some at a secret beach unknown to all but locals. Since the place is a former pit village, no tourist expects a glorious beach there and even in high summer all you find are locals and a few ex-locals like us. It’s also a brilliant beach for fossil hunting.

Anyway, there a couple of pics taken of me wading in the water, having a wonderful time. Due to some abnormality(light, film whatever) I am surrounded by a pinkish aura, with a deeper pink blob around my right hand. It occurred to me that it would be easy to make a case for this being an accidental Kirlian type photo, showing my “true  colours” and my “healing nature”. I had a small giggle at this and went home.

In the post that day was my copy of The Cygnus Review, which is a book company that specialises in Mind Body Spirit type books, reviewed and with articles etc. This dates from my time as a therapist and I stopped getting it for a while; then I ordered a book via them and I seem to be getting it every month as before. I’d had a long chat a few years back with one of the owners of Cygnus Books basically discussing how I found it disappointing that the vast majority of the books were so light weight and also by the same authors producing yet more books, cards sets and merchandise and how this might be remedied. I’ve had a similar conversation with the owner of our local mind body spirit style shop and it always comes back to the same thing: that’s what most people want. They want the next book by (I won’t mention names) because it’s going to be more of the same. There’s no surprises, no challenges and nothing to make them wake up.

One of the books in this months Review is about Orbs. Now, I am sure there are a lot of things out there that are unexplained that really are of supernatural origin, but I am a firm believer in Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is probably the right one. Looking at my pinkish pics, I am certain that nothing is going on there that a good photographer can’t explain by the age of the film or other factors. But Orbs? Try a swift Google search and see what it comes up with.

So much of the MBS world is built on existing books and these are not checked for either sense or authenticity. Because it’s been around a few years, it becomes a source, and an acceptible one, for people to build their own research(ha ha) on. And people want to swallow what seems nice to them. Go into your local bookstore and visit the MBS section; I can almost guarantee you will find a massive array of books on angels (probably by three authors) plus oracle decks and divination sets. Now my own experience and beliefs suggest that angels are real entities; however, my opinion is that a lot of what is written is wishful thinking, delusion and merchandising. I also suspect from accounts from people I know and respect of their encounters with this type of being, the writers of the popular angel books would die of fright if they ever encountered the real thing.

In my novel, “Little Gidding Girl” I had the enjoyable task of creating a range of spurious therapies for a secondary character to offer as part of her therapy business. They included: Egyptian Rejuvenation Therapy, Angel Healing(with range of angelic beauty products) Japanese Forest Therapy(using Bonsai trees) and Mayan Heart Retrieval. I drew the line at musa-rectal therapy (musa= banana) because it was just too gross. Although I had fun inventing the therapies, I got quite worried because they were altogether just too convincing. My daughter reckoned I could sell any one of them as a genuine therapy and they would actually work. I’ve deliberately not explained them here in case someone somewhere has actually started them(since then, various angel therapy courses have appeared; don’t know about the beauty products yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me)

It scares me because it would be so easy to exploit the very real and very human need for healing and wholeness, and I am fully equipped to do so. I have an inventive brain, a personality that can sell anything and a flair for media ideas. I frequently see ideas I have thought of appear on TV and ads and be successful.

And yet, this appals me. I am no guru. I am no Messiah. I want people to find their own way and if I can help, I will. But this is not what most people want. They want the books that come out every six months, they want the next set of cards or crystals or the next course or whatever. Maybe this IS their way of finding their way; but it doesn’t seem to be helping anyone but the fatcat authors and publishers and the whole merchadising industry surrounding it all. The sad thing is there is a grain of truth in every glossily packaged book or course; but to get to that truth you have to swallow a whole pack of lies, dross and frankly bullshit.

There’s a berry known as Miracle Berries that make everything from drain cleaner to shit taste sweet and nice. Someone out there has found the equivalent in the MBS area and it’s going to kill people eventually. Their bodies might go on but their souls are going into shutdown. It’s not why I got out of therapy work but it’s why I’d not want to ever go back. In the end I value my integtrity too highly to sell something that is unreal or damaging.

I’d rather be able to distinguish between good and evil and have the sadness that comes with this than eat poison and never know it.

8 thoughts on “Snake oil and me

  1. This problem of becoming the guru is real. Therapists become engaged in becoming the wise men or wise women for their patients – transference. This seems to be a necessary part of the process. Identifying with the transference becomes a problem for the therapist/analyst. Because of our sacred place in their “work” of healing, we do have REAL power. But, that power is misplaced. To use that power is yet another act of projection that needs to be dealt with.


  2. Wow! So much I want to respond to here!

    First: Viv, how is it that I never knew you that you used to be a therapist????? We have even MORE in common!!! So you changed professions because of the snake oil factor? I LOVE what I do, I will have to write a post on that…. But I do agree with all the charlatans who are out there making a buck off the poor, unsuspecting lost souls. Its a sin of the vilest nature. On the other hand, I have known people who I love, respect and admire who have seen angels.

    I would LOVE to see the photos of your pink Orbs (that sounds vaguely suggestive 🙂 I hope you’ll post them.

    Now onto Retired Eagle. Hello and nice to meet you! So you’re still a therapist. I will have to go and check out your blog. Ex military? My husband too. I do wonder why you refer to our clients work of healing in quotes…as if you don’t really think of it as such? Can you explain? I think in traditional, individual talk therapy the therapist does become something of a guru, with all the transference issues etc. Are you psychoanalytically trained? I am not. I introduce myself to my clients by explaining “I’m the expert in mental health, but you’re the expert on yourself. We’ll work together, collaboratively and equally, without a hierarchy.” Of course this does not mean that it doesn’t happen, but at least it sets the tone and i remind them where necessary. I do provide insight oriented talk therapy if that’s what they want, and supportive, but the main interventions are
    EMDR, DNMS, and Imago Relationship Therapy. In all of those the therapist functions more like a coach with a protocol, to help them do their OWN healing.

    Whew! What a mouthful!!! Have a wonderful day! Its gorgeous here in PA, USA today, FINALLY!


    • I used to work for some years as a reflexologist, primarily, doing other forms of healing as the client asked, including crystal healing and laying on of hands. I didn’t leave because of the snake oil factor, but because for a second time I had to relocate and couldn’t face building up a practice from scratch again. I also don’t have a suitable space in this house where I might have worked. I also felt that time had ended for me, and that was primarily because of snake oil. I have always been ruthlessly honest about what I do, and what can and can’t work. Others aren’t. I would still do laying on of hands if asked.
      I used to belong to the Churches Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies, but let my membership lapse last year because of lack of time but aim to return to it this year. The body exists to give a space for those who have special gifts and who have found a woeful lack of understanding in mainstream churches. I used to go to meetings in the midlands but there is too long a distance to the meetings here, and so I may well go to London meetings in future as it is easier to get to by train than the local meetings.
      I will send you the photo privately!


  3. Once I went out with a friend “to look for fairies.” I dropped my camera in the creek. The film came out with lots of blue shapes, some vaugly human shaped. Quite the trick. I used to play in the darkroom a bit and such things are fun to make.
    And so much money I could make if I would only do what people want to push on me. That transferance stuff, the projections, the “healing”. I know I’d have taken it too far. People get hateful when I tell them “No” I just won’t do it. And people think Jesus was saying to always let your light shine. It’s much safer to keep the basket handy when those folks get mesmerized by the Light. Needy glomers not wanted.


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