I WANT TO BELIEVE ~ being Mulder AND Scully
One of my favourite TV shows of all time was the X-files. I happened upon the pilot episode when it first aired in the UK and I was hooked. Mulder had a poster in his basement office at FBI headquarters which I have long coveted. It showed one of the famous flying saucer black and white photos, with the simple caption I WANT TO BELIEVE. That’s me, too.
Much of the interplay between the characters resembled what goes on inside my head a lot of the time: the sceptical Scully trying to convince Mulder that certain things cannot possibly exist or happen, and Mulder, with his open and questing curiosity trying to convince Scully that there is wriggle room for belief. The conflicts of evidence that both were to face over and over again meant that each had their preconceptions and dearly cherished beliefs about how the world works not merely challenged but often decimated. It made for compelling viewing.
Unlike many people whom I know, I don’t stand firmly in any one camp over certain things, and while I remain open to the idea of extra-terrestrials visiting us, my instinct is that the majority of the evidence cited in its support has other explanations. Not only that, my suspicion is that should any E.T s be watching the earth, the more enlightened ones will be shaking their heads sadly and saying, “Let’s come back in a few millennia; they’re not ready.” The other sort will either wait for us to destroy ourselves and take what’s left, or we have an Independence Day scenario to face.
When it comes to more terrestrial matters, I’m a mass of contradictions. I worked for some years doing a form of holistic massage, known as Reflexology, where the feet are massaged in a way that is aimed at bettering the health of the whole body. I was, I am forced to admit, really rather good at it. If you sense ambiguity there, that’s because what I studied when I trained did not convince me that the theory behind the practise made any real sense at all. Yet what I did worked; I could pinpoint areas of health concerns and ease them merely by working on the feet. Of course, you can cite placebo effect and also the sheer relaxation of having your feet massaged to account for it. Because of this work, and because of my other areas of interest in shamanic work and spirituality I came into contact with a lot of people working in various therapies and what I saw bothered me then and it still bothers me now. For as many genuine, hard-working and humble healers(of whatever sort) I saw, I saw a great deal more folks who were either misguided, deluded or downright money-grabbing frauds. I saw people who could spin you a really convincing Snake Oil pitch and have you hooked.
One person who springs even now very readily to mind did everything: from Reiki to shamanic soul retrieval to Hopi ear-candling and many others.
(RE: ear-candling I do not doubt that many folks who practise this technique are convinced of its effectiveness; however, if you assess what is really going on, the evidence doesn’t stack up to very much. Some of the explanations given for how it works use pseudo-scientific terms, which seem to give credence to it. I’m not here to discredit a therapy, though, but rather the mind set that builds it into a kind of fanatical belief in it.)
That person turned out to have very little integrity, or honour, and preyed on the vulnerable. I’ve seen too many like her now to assume that anyone is “clean” where once I would have assumed they were until I saw evidence to the contrary. There is money to be made from exploiting the gullibility and neediness of hurting people.
Some years ago, I wrote a novel called Little Gidding Girl. The main character is a young woman whose life was knocked off course by the drowning of her boyfriend when she was 18 and in her mid thirties starts to experience flashes of the life she never had. She works in a rather deadening job, as an assistant in one of those New Age shops with therapy rooms attached. Her boss is a mixture of hard headed entrepreneur and New Age space cadet and to keep the therapy business booming trains in a whole load of new holistic therapies, all with a product line to flog to the clients. For this, I invented a list of therapies:
Japanese Forest therapy: the client lies on a futon, surrounded at each of the cardinal points with a bonsai tree of a certain species which emits vibrations suited to their condition, while Japanese incense burns at a mini shrine and traditional Japanese music is played. (there was more to it than this but this gives you the gist)
Egyptian rejuvenation treatment: client lies under a copper rod pyramid, has face massaged with oils of myrrh, frankincense and lotus (fake) and then rests with crystal pyramids on the key acupressure spots on the face while Isis is invoked. This comes with a complete set of tiny pyramids and oils to use at home. Oh and incense. Kyphi, if you need to know.
Angelic beauty spa hour: using essential oils of the highest vibrational purity and known to be beloved by the angels, the face and neck are massaged very gentle, and your aura cleansed with a pure white feather blessed by the angelic presences. (comes complete with beauty range of creams and lotions, and your own white feather)
Mayan Heart Retrieval: my personal favourite. The theory behind this is that as new archaeological evidence has suggested the Mayans were not quite the peace loving folks of legend and actually practised human sacrifice. The victims were chosen for their purity of soul and had their still-beating hearts ripped from their bodies and burned. Those pure souls have now been reincarnated but lacking the etheric heart, which is still retained in by the eternal souls of the priests who stole it to fuel their immortality. Persons who have their etheric heart held can be recognised by relationship problems, depression and a sense of emptiness at their centre. The priestess battles the demonic priests in a ceremony and returns it to the victim. To ensure the heart remains in its physical shell, the client needs to purchase a Mayan heart amulet, a silver heart with a chime inside it.
Musa-rectal therapy: imagine colonic irrigation and bananas. I drew the line at this one; I didn’t include it. Some things are just too gross.
In the years since I wrote that novel, I have seen a proliferation of therapies and whatnot and have seen some that bore more than a passing resemblance to my invented ones. As this is an unpublished novel, I cannot take credit for seeding these ideas; I merely fished ’em out of the ether, which just goes to show….
My problem is that I have seen enough phenomena personally to be unable to dismiss all of it as nonsense and moonshine. I’ve probably practised enough weird stuff myself to say that yes, a lot of it is real and it works. What I often object to is the use of a semi-scientific explanation of a phenomena. If that explanation also involves the words quantum, energy, and various others, I tend to take a sharper look, because invariably they are used not only incorrectly, but often in such a way that someone who is somewhat in awe of science will not dare to question it but will then repeat it as fact. This is something the infamous Secret and the so-called Law of Attraction rely upon. It’s also interesting to note that when people have “bought into” a system, they are reluctant to hear or assess anything that may possibly discredit that system. It is one reason why I am glad not to be doing reflexology any more; since then, a lot more variations of the form have been developed, and to go with it, a lot more theories that will probably not stand up to scrutiny.
I find I cannot accept something that has little evidence to support it, and yet, in many cases my own experiential evidence tells me I cannot completely dismiss it. Take dowsing for instance. I was taught to dowse many years ago. The person who taught me had a doctorate in theology, and was employed on occasion by both electrical companies and water companies to find wires and pipes that they had lost. I have read many suggested explanations for dowsing, and I can accept none of them. And yet, I have used it and it has worked (for the record, I don’t use hazel wands. Only time I tried, the thing whipped out of control, poked me in the eye and then split down the centre. It was like holding a very strong lizard).
I’ve known healers too who are 100% genuine. They’re the ones who generally don’t tell you they can heal you. They usually tell you they’ll have a go and see if they can help. I had a friend in one of our villages back in Darkest Norfolk. I’ve lost touch with her since but during one of my dark times, she offered to come and do some healing work with me. She was someone whose integrity I trusted implicitly, so even if I was sceptical about her ability to actually ease my depression I agreed.
She gave off very few indications of being the stereotypical healer-type; her day job was as a high school teacher and her husband ran a garden centre. She didn’t mess about with ritual or much talk. She said a short prayer, I was instructed to sit and try and relax with my eyes closed.
I sat. I had my eyes closed but as you can see light through your eye-lids, I was aware when she moved her hands across my face. I could feel the movement passing my face and then, to my surprise, through my closed eye-lids I saw something.
Each time her hands passed across my face it happened. After a few minutes I asked, “K, are you holding a torch or a candle in your hands, because I can see a light in each hand?”
She paused. “No, I’m not holding anything. Look.”
I opened my eyes; she held out her hands in front of me. They were empty. We continued. Every time her hands passed in front of my eyes, I saw a bright glow in the centre of them, just like you see from a candle if you gaze through your close eyes. The light varied, sometimes becoming brighter and whiter, and other softer and redder.
The results from that session were not a miracle remission, but for a short while the acute nature of my symptoms lessened. Now that might have happened anyway, or it may have been my friend K’s work. I don’t know. One of the things she and I talked about was the nature and origin of my illness and I recall, a little dimly, that she was of the opinion that it was a kind of sacred wounding, something to work through, perhaps for a lifetime.
That’s perhaps why I recoil at many therapies now, because I have begun to wonder if what I have perceived as something to be fixed is actually something that is at the core of my lifetime’s task. What if what I call an illness is actually something that is not a defect/failure to be normal/sickness at all? This is not to say that I do not seek relief but it does perhaps give some context for the fact that nothing at all, from medication to meditation and a lot of things besides, has ever given relief for long.
I started this post with a quote from the X-files and I shall end it with two more. THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Like both Mulder and Scully, I believe that there are answers to my questions, but they are “out there” and I need to search for them. It’s a kind of grail quest, if you like. I’ve begun to wonder if a lot of soul journeys have become a battle between the perception of a person needing to be fixed and a painful desire for release from suffering. Both of these drive a person to seek help beyond themselves. TRUST NO-ONE. Every one has their own agenda, and therapists (and doctors) do too. Even the ones who are good, honest folks, brimming with integrity and intelligence, have a lot bound up in what they practise; so whatever they do and say in regards to healing comes from this as much as it might come from compassion and care for a patient/client. You as patient MUST be fixed to validate the treatment. Those who offer healing without monetary payment are less pressured by this. (My friend K never charged for her work, never defined herself by success in terms of visible improvement of a known condition. She had herself been healed of a very painful and progressive disease of the spine as a young woman, to the bafflement of doctors.)
I WANT TO BELIEVE
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
Simple, isn’t it? No. But it’s somewhere to start, I guess. Let’s just hope that my quest to reconcile my inner Mulder and Scully ends as neatly as that of the series.
(For non X-files viewers, they married, finally, after years of will-they-won’t-they speculation. That was what some folks watched it for. Not me. Honest.)