I WANT TO BELIEVE ~ being Mulder AND Scully

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

TRUST NO-ONE

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.)

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8 thoughts on “I WANT TO BELIEVE ~ being Mulder AND Scully

  1. Great blog!

    I also would really like to believe. I have a painful, chronic condition that my doctor cannot explain and for which he only treats the symptoms. If there is something out there that could help, I would be willing to try it.

    On a lighter note, everyone in my family is a huge fan of X-Files. My son and daughter also coveted that poster, and finally got one when my husband took them on a trip to New Mexico where they visited the Alien museum. As far as we know, that was the only place to get it. I’m not sure you can even get one there, any more.

  2. I do believe the truth is out there, somewhere. X-Files was one of my favourite shows. The early years were the best. Fantastic even. I haven’t regularly watched television for a decade mostly because there’s nothing on. X-Files, Northern Exposure, Medicine Woman…they can’t be beat. It’s like there is no imagination left in Hollywood.

    Great post. It gives me lots to think about.

  3. Maybe I’m not surprised that this post has attracted few responses. It’s always risky nailing one’s colours to the mast and the implication seems to be that if you don’t stand in the gullible/sceptical camp, then you have some kind of agenda that renders you untrustworthy. Also, this is such a vast subject, encompassing the whole field of human belief, that to respond at all risks brief glibness or tedious length. But it grieves me to let such an important holistic principle go unsupported. So, still not sure if this is wise, will step up to the plate ………

    No-one who’s given thought to the matter, doubts that the mind affects the body – anyone who’s thrown up after a shock, had stress headaches, had butterflies or needed to pee before an interview, had a panic attack, had their chest constrict in the face of panic, recognises that these and more prove that mind and body are inextricably linked. So in considering causes of pain or illness, thought or belief has to be included in the list of possible causes.

    When a partner, friend or child is ‘not themselves’, we can often tell straight away – how? Is it their speech? body language? expression? or a weird mixture of different kinds of sensing? On some level, we can pick up that there’s something wrong, though we may not be able to say how. We are somehow sensitive to a host of imperceptible signals because, I would posit, emotions and feelings occupy a place in the body (or rather, around the body) that can be accessed by others. In my own mind, this is an ancient ability that we all possess to some degree, but as with all aptitudes, it runs stronger in some than in others, and like other aptitudes, can be trained and strengthened.

    When you first starting working with the human energy field, you are plagued with doubts – am I really feeling what I think I’m feeling? How much of this is my own unacknowledged ‘stuff’ that I’m projecting? How can it help anyway? Over time, with an intent to trust what your sense tell you but with scrupulous self observation (and stamping down any tendency to glamour or guru-hood) you can build up a genuine sense of ‘knowing’ about what is going on in a person’s field. You feel the knot in your own stomach, feel the grief in your own chest (or ‘see’ or smell or hear, using whatever your own strongest sense is, or a combination of them).

    So how does that ‘knowing’ help? Well, the healthy energy field has a flow to it, a harmonious soft rhythm that on a good day, feels like the heartbeat of the universe. Any ‘stuff’ that the person is going through, either recent trauma or old issues that have got lodged, feel like an interruption to the flow, a build-up or a tightness or a gap. Sometimes, it’s just enough for the client to feel your energy impinging upon theirs, like some kind of blueprint, reminding them of that universal rhythm and how it should be – I’m sure lots of therapies, like Therapeutic touch and Touch for health, even maybe your angelic beauty spa might work along these lines. But for deeper, older patterns you might need to intervene, and that can be done in lots of ways, both energetic and cerebral.

    Clearing out old knotted or dammed-up energy is fairly simple and often that’s enough – homoeopaths talk about NBWS – ‘never been well since ….’, when a once-off trauma has left a clot of energy that needs shifting out and afterwards the system can revert to normal. Far harder to deal with are old belief patterns, that can be personal or familial. Often from childhood or before (‘When I got angry, they didn’t love me, when I was good, they did. So it’s not safe ever to be angry or they’ll stop loving me – I must suppress all my anger for ever.’) these have a quality of life-or-death about them, when it simply doesn’t feel safe for the person to let go of the belief. Talking therapies can help here, but may work best while challenging the belief energetically at the same time. This might be where your ‘sacred wounding’ fits in – an issue you have to challenge lifelong,

    Unfortunately, the energy field doesn’t come complete with little markers. If you come to me and say ‘I’ve got a pain in my elbow’, there won’t be a tick box that lets me deal just with your elbow – all I can do is have a look and see if the energy is flowing smoothly in that area, probably while being aware that there are several, maybe more important, issues going on in your body that you aren’t consciously aware of. So maybe ‘healer’ is not the best word here, though I don’t know a better.

    On the subject of charging, I have very mixed feelings. Having always had another job, I’ve had the luxury of being able to work for nothing. But there are people out there with skill in this field who have to earn a living, and I think they can help people in a way that merits payment. You as a client have to proceed with caution and go with your gut instinct, but I think to advise TRUST NO-ONE is going too far – there are a lot of good and genuine people out there who can make a difference, if only by giving you time and space to air your problems. In every trade or profession, there are practitioners that are better or worse but you wouldn’t give up on plumbing altogether just because you had a cowboy to fix your sink. I suppose I’m saying, travel hopefully but with discernment when looking for help outside the field of orthodoxy.

    As for quasi-scientific explanations, all I can say is, it’s pretty galling to be regarded as ‘the lunatic fringe’ by half the population and I can understand why people might try to make the work they do sound more plausible. One of the first tenets of he Hippocratic oath is ‘Do no harm’. Nothing that I do causes harm – when American doctors went on strike, the death rate plummeted. Who gets the credibility?

    I’ve only addressed one small portion of your post, but in the microcosm, so the macrocosm. It only needs one small area of orthodoxy to falter for the whole to be under question. To paraphrase, the truth is out there, but whether we will ever see the whole of the elephant is open to question. If you want to believe, you will eventually find something worth believing in, and you’re going to need to trust someone, sometime for this stuff to make sense.
    With all good wishes,
    Gill

    • This is a very interesting and thought-provoking post! I like your idea of staying away from black and white thinking. And I agree with what I understood as your basic premise- without trust nothing real can happen- and it is all too easy to drown into “Gods and Monsters!”

      Very articulate! And I do sense (perhaps wrongly) that maybe it cost you something to be so honest. But, I dont think that I’m the only one who would agree with you.

  4. I watched a friend who was dying of cancer, spend a small fortune on amulets and healing pyramids from a so called reincarnate Buddha. He died anyway and the organisation selling these pseudo scientific gizmos had no interest in buying them back even at a fraction of their original cost. I despise charlatans who exploit the fear and suffering of others for financial gain and self-aggrandisement yet I am cautious not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The medical profession had only recently discovered the curative powers of meditation and mindfulness – practices that date back 2,500 years or more.

  5. I don’t thnk anyone should be criticized for trying whatever they believe may help a chronic condition. No matter how ‘fake’ it may seem to someone else, they do not understand what it is to go through the pain, fatigue, and illness that you face daily. I believe that when the monster is sitting on your doorstep, any weapon should be considered.
    I think you are right to consider that this is something that may be necessary. How many times I have considered what different choices I would have made If I did not have my particular problems is innumerable. Yet, I also know that there are things I would never have accomplished if the number of paths for me to take had not be constricted. Consider all options for one is the correct one.

    • I think it’s not those who try out of desperation and pain that require criticism but those who offer fake therapies KNOWING they are fake. These are people who often lie to themselves about it, too, because they have not even the honesty to admit their own misdeeds.
      In my novel Strangers and Pilgrims, the character Mark realised that his own real gift ad fled but continued to work, even after he knew the gift was gone. His own disintegration from grief was increased and made sharper by it, and his shadier exploits just made it worse still.
      I’m a real crystal buff, and I do continue to use them, despite the fact that I kind of know I may be deluding myself. But I’d never offer to treat someone else, for money, in the light of this powerful doubt. That they help me may be placebo or just their simple beauty. But I cannot offer it to others.
      Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it.

  6. You’ve articulated a tricky subject very well and in line with my own ideas on the subject. We need to look at healing with a balanced eye as you have here, especially as you say, we are very vulnerable to false hope or exploitation when at a low point. Yet, as you say many of these therapies do provide real consolation or alleviation of distress. We must always be vigilant of the snake oil, the cultish and those who charge exhorbitantly for hope.

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