Even though the James Ray Sweat Lodge trial has been nudged from the spotlight by the Casey Anthony trial , it has not lost its place of importance in seriousness of the crime. And, even though this is not a cold case, I still have strong feelings about this case, as it touches the New Age community intimately.
Everyone is familiar with The Secret and all the attention and success it received when it first hit the scene. I must admit, I have never read the book or watched the movie, as when it took on such a cult following and rendered nearly everyone that came into contact with the concept comatose, seeminglyfloating along in a mindless trance of rapture. Even Oprah coind’t resist. This sort of thing just rubs me the wrong way and makes me very suspicious. Never being a “follower”, I have always marched to a different drummer. Mainstream fads and the fantastical is lost on me. Always a free thinker, I become suspicious of anything that gravitates towards joining, following, cliques, taking oaths and exclusivity. Must be a past life thing…but please excuse me. I digress.
James Ray found guilty of negligent homicide...
When I first heard of this tragedy in Sedona, I could feel my heart sinking in my chest. Suddenly the Native American, Pagan, Wiccan and New Age communities were thrust under a microscope by the secular masses. Suddenly anything and everything these certain groups of people believed in and lived by was coming under scutiny because of the carelessness of one single man who got a little too full of himself and let the greed of fame and fortune get the better of him. Or was is? Is this a solitary incident? Is James Ray the only soul on the planet to let the “dark side” of his nature get the better of him and, letting it take over, use that very darkness to take advantage of innocent folks who’s only quest is to find enlightenment in the planet’s changing, evolving times?
I think not.
As I watched the days unfold around this event, it gave me pause to think on other similar events that happen on a smaller scale in my own life on a daily basis. I’m afraid it’s true. Not a day goes by where I don’t receive an email or a phone call from someone who has been told by a so-called psychic practitioner that they have a “curse” upon them, that they are “hexed”, that unless they cough up some ungodly amount of money – usually whistling to the tune of hundreds if not thousands of dollars – they will die, their children will die and their life will become a living hell, never to be recovered from in this lifetime. I am beginning to think that I should make a recording to make my job just a little easier: “There is no curse. There is no hex. You are not followed by demons. You are not doomed. Your children will not die. There is no boogy man out to get you. Beep.” These superstitious scare tactics perpetuated upon the seekersof Light in this world have my complete and undiliuted sympathies. I cannot imagine how I would feel if someone was able to convine me unequivocally that my life was doomed and that my only salvation was to empty my bank account (“What price do you put on the life of your child?”) and to bow to them, put my faith in them and believe that if they burn this candle and say that chant on this night at that phase of the moon that they will save me?!
There is an apparent cycle going on with this sort of interaction between the different subcultures, belief systems and the mainstream secular masses. On one side there is the Mainstream, content in their complacency. These folks are fine as long as you don’t shake their tree. On the other side are the Seekers, searching for their truth in very unique and individual ways. These are folks of every belief, mode or religious bent, be it Christian, Muslim, Wiccan, New Age, Spiritualist, indigenous, what have you. It’s all good. That’s what our country was founded upon, the right to seek and find and worship the way one sees fit. And then in the middle we have what I call “The Players”. You know the type: they swindle and burn and take from unsuspecting people who believe in the good of man and the Light of the Divine that shines within. Only the Light in the Players is not what it seems, used to trick and deceive, sad to say. And when they do their deed and then sneak off, a thief in the night, carrying with them whatever they can, be it someones hard earned money or simply their innocence and dignity. The tree is then rattled and the Mainstream rouses out of their slumber, half asleep, looking around shouting, “Who goes there? What’s going on?”, layingtheir eyes upon the only ones in the line of sight – the viable and the legitimate; the perpetrators long gone, no where in sight. It’s amusing to me, as this is the common story line in many stories, told over the millenia in every conceivable form be it chidren’s faerie tales, countless novels and possibly every TV drama ever aired. Talk about living an archtype! The irony is not lost on me…
Being in a cookie cutter, mass production society hasn’t helped the situation. The paradox is that those who are trying to make a difference and break out of this old pattern of “being the same as everyone else at the speed of light” are left holding the bag when the darkness seeps through and make its mark. The same old question is left ringing in the ears from all camps. What do we do, as individuals and within our own communities to protect ourselves from spiritual fraud? I wish I could say that the answer is simple. But I think that remembering to use common sense is up there on the top of the list, as well as having patience and taking the time to explain and help others who are either misinformed, uneducated or not aware of the pitfalls of living in a society today that is in the midst of desperate times spiritually, morally, politically and financially, and it is probably going to get worse before it gets better. I will be glad when the charlatans get bored with playing psychic and go back to their day jobs whenever the become avaialbel again once the global economy gets back on its feet. But there is a light on the horizon and that light is within you. There are ways to stay on top of it all:
* Have an open but discerning mind. If your hinky meter begins to go off, or that little voice inside is telling you that something just isn’t right, then heed those inner insights when dealing with someone trying to manipulate you by fear and the negative.
* Get references or ask others how they feel or if they have had experience with a certain psychic or intuitive, especially if they are asking a fee.
* Remember, just because a psychic or intuitive charges a large amount of money does not mean they are better than someone who is more reasonably priced. And, while some intuitives don’t charge anything, it is not true that “realpsychics” don’t or can’t charge because of Karma or some unseen universal force commanding them not to. True and legitimate psychics and intuitives have bills to pay, too, and a need to keep the lights on.
* Scam artists will take advantage of the fact that people with issues or problems won’t take the time to check to see if a psychic service is legitimate or not. They take advantage of the “instant gratification” that a lot of folks are looking for these days. So, take some time to check out more than a few other services and compare.
* Sleep on it. Take your time. Chances are your problem can wait and will be there when you wake in the morning, or quite possibly will resolve itself or the answer become very apparent after a good nights sleep.
* Look for the Light. If it feels dark, scary or laden with talk of curses, hexes, demons and large dollar amounts then there is a high probability that you will be getting ripped off. Legitimate psychics, mediums and intitives work from a place of Light always, their mission to spread that light whenever and wherever possible.
* NEVER give money to any psychic or psychic medium who promises to remove a curse or spell that they “claim” has been put on you. Moreover, never give money to any psychic or psychic medium who asks you to “wire” a large sum of money to purchase a candle, crystal or any product that they say is going to remove a curse, a spell or bad luck. You are not cursed. There is no spell. They are merely using fear to manipulate you. 🙂
[For more info on this case, check out The Daily Beast and the CNN Justice In Session Blog.]