With last week being Thanksgiving, I fittingly my made my annual pilgrimage to the Quad Cities Psychic and Paranormal Fair. In previous sojourns, I would either attend an hour-long presentation or hit as many tables as I could. After the former, I reported in detail on one of the fair’s many salespersons. With the latter approach, I gave snippets about a multitude of peddlers of the psychic, supernatural, paranormal, and alternative medicine. This time I went for a middle-ground approach, focusing on the specialized area of energy healing and speaking with anyone proclaiming this ability.
When talking with alternative medics, I have unfailingly found that even the most rudimentary probe of their field leaves them flummoxed. They are used to hearing, “What can you do for my nagging backaches,” instead of being asked to explain the mechanisms behind such treatments.
For the energy healers, I had three primary questions in mind: What kind of energy is it? How is it accessed? How do you measure it? Someone doing genuine energy work could explain these basics instantaneously. For example, an electrician would be able to tell me that a light bulb works by converting electric energy into light energy. He or she could further explain that a light bulb has embedded negative and positive terminals connected by a tungsten filament. When electricity is supplied to those terminals, the resultant flow of electrons cause the filament to heat up until it glows. Further, the electrician could tell me that this resultant energy is measured in watts, a derived unit of one joule per second which quantifies the rate of energy transfer.
Consider the previous paragraph to be the science lesson portion of the post because we now segue into how the Psychic and Paranormal Fair merchants answered those same queries.
The first stop on my search-and-annoy mission was with a therapeutic touch practitioner. She explained, or tried to anyway, that she was “Checking your energy and seeing how it’s in alignment. Energy comes through us.” I asked what type of energy it was and was told, “It’s an attunement to a particular type of energy. It’s just all energy that comes through. And it just works. You have energy all the way around you, I can feel it. I’ve been doing it for 25 years.” Doing it for a quarter century without being able to explain what energy is behind it or how it works would be like the aforementioned electrician being unaware that the light bulb must be screwed it clockwise.
I move on to the next energy merchant, who highlighted her energy clearing abilities. “We all get bogged down with things. You know, we go to Wal-Mart or a bar or a funeral home.” She continued that on these odysseys to discount stores, beverage distributors, and final stops, “We all get bogged down with things and you pick up things, it kind of clogs it up. And when you get an energy clearing, it clears all the energy off and you feel lighter and your chakras get balanced. It’s amazing.”
“What type of energy is it?”
“Um, like, you know, we have our energies. So they get bogged, we get our attachments, you know.”
“But I mean is it chemical, radiant, thermal?”
“It’s like a Reiki and shamanic energy clearing.”
“How do you access it?”
“Um, well, you use the angels and the divine and beings that you work with, like the angels and the divine and the avatars. You know, like we have the hierarchy and the divine, our avatars, and Michael the archangel.
“How do you measure it?
“Well, when you’re not clear and your chakras are blocked and you have attachments on you, that’s where disease comes in.”
My trip to the fair was mostly comical, but her last statement shows the seriousness of scientific stupidity. Instead of realizing diseases have been eradicated and contained via Germ Theory, antibiotics, vaccines, bleach, soap, clean water, sanitation, and double blind studies, she credits, “Um, like you know, angels and Reiki and stuff.” That’s coming from someone in an advanced civilization and her mindset has permeated much of our culture.
Moving on, I came to someone offering two types of energy healing: Reiki and Theta. I may have gotten confused about whether she was talking about one, the other, or both, but I kind of got the feeling through the day it didn’t matter much; all are pretty much the same and equally pointless. Nevertheless, she extolled her ability to “channel energies from the universe into you.”
“What kind of energy?
“Just from the creator.”
“I mean, is it nuclear, electrical, motion?” She answered, “I don’t know,” which was by far the most accurate information and honest assessment I received that day.
While most of the energy healers highlighted ancient angles featuring shamanism or angels, at least one preferred the appeal to novelty instead of the appeal to antiquity counter-fallacy. She offered energetic and vibrational healing.
As to what kind of energy, I was told, “Source energy.”
“How do you access it?”
“I pull it from the source.”
The source comes from the source. That would be like a dentist telling you that your cavity comes from that hole in your tooth.
“How do you measure it?”
“I don’t have to. It’s intelligent, it goes where it needs to go.”
In that case, why would I pay someone to send it there?
So I sauntered to yet another table, this one proudly proclaiming its ability to use reconnective energy healing through shaman this or theta that. There, the purveyor informed me, “It has to do with the higher spiritual self. We can go in and help release that energy and make it heal almost immediately.”
“What kind of energy?”
“Energy.” Hmmm, could you be a little more vague? She doesn’t know what kind of energy he’s releasing; for all she knows it could be nuclear. She later clarified that it was “source” energy. Oh yes, I’ve heard all about that.
“Well, this source energy, is it sound, elastic, gravitational, thermal, what kind?”
“It’s a little bit of everything. It’s really about the vibrations, about Hertz. Like a tuning fork. When we work with a physical body, we work with the vibrational frequencies. In the magnetic field, they are what we call your auras.”
By using “frequencies” and “auras” in her description of how it works, she mixes a science term (though using it incorrectly) with gobbledygook. Frequency refers to how often a repeating event occurs during a specified unit of time. Auras are a fabricated anatomical feature with no basis in reality. The vacuous vendor’s misuse of a science term and her combining it with a pretend one are both pseudoscience trademarks.
She displayed plenty more examples of such in her next spiel:
“In you center, because you’re electrical, it’s really about your electrical currents. When you bring in the flow of your meridians, it’s just like a little – it’s your polar, it’s your meridians and your mind and your energy and your field and whether you repel or attract. We want to bring all those into balance and get rid of the ick you get from microwaves, audio waves, EMF waves, cellular waves, and cell phones. We are bombarded and you get all staticy like an old rabbit ears TV. We take on those energies and get out of attunement, and like a car needs an alignment and tune-up, your physical and spiritual body needs the same thing.”
I came to this fair skeptical, but as she finished, I realized she was right about my mind becoming extremely cluttered. I was also wondering if she planned on further research, testing, and experiments on this ickiness she had isolated.
With all her meandering, I lost track of whether she was claiming to bring energy in or take it out. “Both,” she clarified. If that case, why not just leave it alone?
As to the energy she accesses, I asked, “How to you bring it in?”
“Energy comes directly from the true source, divine.”
“How do you measure it and know you are getting the right amount?”
She assured me that was done automatically. “When you pour water in a cup and it overflows, that’s what the body does. When it fills up with that energy, it loses what you don’t need. Your body will only take on what you can manage.”
Could you imagine that coming from your anesthesiologist? It would be unacceptable then and, while with our analogy-happy alternative medic would only take your money and not your life, it again shows the clear distinction between authentic and counterfeit medicines.
She closed by telling me, “There’s a lot of clutter out there and you never know when you’re going to bump into it.”
“That’s for sure,” I said. “And in some places it’s more concentrated than others.”
I moseyed onto another Reiki provider, who made the same hackneyed undefined energy claims.
“What type of energy is it?’
“I call it energy from divine, from God. We are just conduits, we don’t do the healing. We don’t determine where it goes.”
Here we see another difference between medicine rooted in science fact and one grounded in science fiction. Imagine a chemotherapist telling a cancer patient, “We don’t know what this is, how it works, or how we’re going to direct it to where it needs to go.”
“It is thermal energy, sound energy, motion energy?”
“The energy comes through you. It’s divine energy. You can’t even put a title on it.”
Oh, I can think of a word or two.
“How do you access it?”
“You get trained and attuned to it.”
“I mean, do you use a wand, a ringing bowl, a tuning fork, maybe a spork?”
“It actually just comes – your attuned physical energy will know what it needs.”
“How do you measure it?
“You don’t. You feel it, you feel the heat.”
“But if you can’t measure it, couldn’t you overdose?”
“You can’t. You can never to too much Reiki.”
Or too little.
Next was a theta healing table, featuring one of the more obscure versions of alleged energy medicine. While it is seldom seen even at alternative medic gatherings, the purported mechanisms sound familiar.
“I help people change what they want to change, shift what they want to shift,” the merchant told me. “And I do that by putting my brain into the theta brain waves. In that state, I can talk to whatever sources and ask it what needs to be healed.” If she’s hearing voices, she needs to see a doctor, not play one.
“What type of energy does it use?”
“It uses the energy of the creator, whatever divine source that is for you.”
“I mean, is it kinetic energy, potential energy, heat energy, light energy?”
“I can’t explain it. All I know is that it works if I use the technique.”
“With that technique, how do you access the energy?”
“I close my eyes, I lift my eyes up. I do a short mediations and that puts me into the theta brain waves.”
“How to you transfer that to the patient to heal them?”
“I’m not actually doing the healing.”
Then what the hell are you here for? I asked that in a more diplomatic way, but the gist was the same.
She answered, “It’s that very act of witnessing it that brings the healing.” Sounds sort of like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle, except for parts about being grounded in decades of sound scientific research, peer review, and replication.
“How do you measure it to ensure you’re using the right amount for healing?”
“Well, I’m asking the creator to do it, so if you believe in the all-knowing force, it will do what it needs to do. It’s all-knowing.”
Then is should know to heal without being asked to.
The day’s most awkward encounter was with a cherub-faced 14-year-old who I can only presume was running his first fair booth, and who was definitely being asked specifics of his healing modality for the first time.
The following exchange is presented largely without the multiple 40-second pauses between question and answer and his repeated gazes back at the healing pyramid which accompanied him. He first told me that this 3-D triangle “allows energy to flow easier.”
“What kind of energy?”
“Um, like, right energy. To make you understand things easier.”
“How do you access it?”
“You just kind of sit there, relax.”
“How do you measure it, how do you get the right amount?”
He made a third awkward silent stare back at the pyramid, as if expecting the right answer to spring forth from within with the, um, like, right energy.
“It’s just kind of like gives you whatever is necessary.” I’ve always found the notion of a healing pyramid oxymoronic since such structures are where ancient Egyptians buried their dead.
I figured I had made the laconic lad’s day laborious enough, so I moved on to crystals, without which no psychic and paranormal fair would be complete.
“What kind of energy does this use?”
“Well, any kind, universal. There are different ways to use different energy for healing.”
“Which types of energy correspond to which types of healing?”
“Well, there’s universal energy basically. Each type of stone emits a different frequency and each stone has a different healing property.”
“How do you access the energy, through the stone?”
“Well, the stone emits its own. And then by holding it, it emits that frequency and you can pick it up and share that frequency and attune yourself to that. We are all energetic beings so we will change our frequency, the vibration of our frequency slightly and different energies help us in different ways.”
“How do you measure it, how do you know you’re getting the right amount?”
“You quiet yourself and you put the stone in your non-dominant hand.”
I had spoken to nearly a dozen energy medicine practitioners without buying anything, so my energy level was draining and I decided to challenge her no further and I made my way to yet another Reiki enthusiast.
“What kind of energy is it?”
“Um, well, it’s not only me using your energy, you can also use universal energy as well.”
“What type is it, nuclear, radiological, chemical?”
“It’s a little bit different for everybody. Some people see colors, some people feel intense heat, some people feel cold, some people feel nothing.”
I strongly suspect what category I would be in.