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New Agers Vs. Skeptics: The Great Divide

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posted on Mar, 29 2005 @ 10:02 PM
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I have recently come across an article written by a former New Age author & motivational speaker named Karla McLaren. As a 10-year dabbler in the occult and New Age--more than a dabbler, actually, I got pretty far in it--I found Ms. McClaren's words to sum up everything I feel right now. A week or so ago I tried to channel a "dark entity" as part of my neverending quest for mystic adventures. In my time I've "channeled" it all--angels, Wiccan goddesses, dead people, God, demons, spirit guides, etc. It took me performing a "channeling ritual" in which I surrounded myself with every stereotypical "demonic" accessory (black candles, pentagrams, Marilyn Manson cds) and tried to "channel" Satan to finally snap me out of this 10-year reign of delusion. You have no idea how momentous an occasion this is in my life right now. There was nobody in my life or the world that could convince me that my New Age and occult beliefs were mostly a crock of s**t. Some ATS ers tried to, but most did so in that sort of combatant mocking way which never really accomplishes anything but baiting. It took hurling into the void every blasphemy I knew, giving the Darkness every opportunity to rain hell upon me--and on top of it to receive "automatic" words back to me--to finally make me see reality.

Folks, "satan" never possessed me, never harrassed me, never even made an appearance--because satan does not exist. Evil exists, in the minds and hearts of some human beings--and sometimes we personify that evil as "Satan."

What did I "channel," if anything? Why did I receive a much-needed dose of reality instead of the demonic brimstone I expected? I may be a bit more skeptical about things than I used to be, but to receive the gift of opening my eyes and applying a bit more critical thinking to this New Age culture that I have surrounded myself with for so long--it feels like some sort of miracle. Or maybe it was just my subconscious brain trying to straighten itself out.

I look at my belief system and the people I believed in over the last 10 years with abject horror and embarrassment. Ms. McClaren has done the same:



I'm writing this piece as a thank you letter to the skeptical community. I want to thank you for helping me to fully understand just how much bad training I've been exposed to in my metaphysical/New Age culture (actually, it's not my culture any longer, but for simplicity's sake, let me continue to claim it for the duration of this piece). But I'm also writing as an attempt to open a dialogue, and perhaps to begin bridging the precipitous chasm that exists between our two warring cultures, because at this point, the lion's share of people from my culture can't really hear much (if anything) from the skeptical culture. And that's a real shame.

This cultural divide is making it nearly impossible for me to be honest in my own culture about the changes I've made. Right now, my Web site says that I'm on sabbatical. I've cancelled all workshops, turned down numerous book contracts, and I'm slowly deconstructing my career. I've cleared out files, e-mails, and letters, thousands of letters, from people who considered me an expert. I'm turning down all requests for interviews and consultations, and I'm going back to school to get my degree in sociology and behavioral sciences. If I write another book about the New Age culture, I want to write it as a sociologist - not as a mystic or as a naysayer, because neither of those positions has been truly helpful to people in my culture.


This is pretty much spot-on how I'm feeling right now. McClaren goes on to appeal to the skeptical community to make their outreach to New Agers a bit more friendly and less combative. And she displays an incredible amount of "contrition" for promulgating this New Age/occult beliefs for over 30 years:



I've made it, I think, through my rage and horror at my own complicity in helping people remain susceptible - and perhaps through my grief and despair (though that's more cyclical) about my own miseducation. Now I'm considering what to do from here. I've discovered in just the few (less than ten) conversations I've had with faith-based people that skeptical information is absolutely threatening and unwanted. What I didn't understand until recently is that when you start questioning these beliefs, there's a domino effect that eventually smacks into your whole house of cards - and nothing remains standing. Opening the questioning process is a very dangerous thing, and people in my culture seem to understand that on a subconscious level. In response to their extreme discomfort, I've become completely silent around believers - which is hard, because they make up most of my friends, family, and correspondents.




I think I have found a way to speak across the chasm, to you. I am now learning to perform that same feat in reverse - to talk to people in my culture about your culture, but that's a lot harder. I first need a rest, and I need to be in a real school, studying real science and getting a real degree (people in my culture tend to pursue offbeat degrees in offbeat subjects at offbeat schools). Watching people in the New Age has been as hard on me as it has been on you. Underneath all the magic, the wise ghosts, and the never-ending remedies lies a well of pain and loneliness that is immense and overwhelming. I always saw it - I always saw the excruciating truth of my culture, and I thought I could help. That I didn't help - not truly - is possibly the greatest devastation of my life. I need to heal from being a healer.


I still believe that there are things out there that science cannot explain--yet. That science explains something "wonderous" does not strip that thing of its wonder. I believe that a degree of psychic phenomena does exist--but that we in the New Age community are innundated with misinformation and exaggeration. Because Mysticism and Science have been at such odds over the centuries the mystic community has become "inbred", isolated, and prey to all manner of charlatan and delusion. Part of this is the fault of the skeptical & scientific community who discounted the seriousness of the "Believers." If there really is a New Era, it will be one where we cast aside these timeworn superstitions and bury them once and for all. There are thousands of people making money off of the gullible with esoteric healing techniques, seminars, channeled books, predictions of doomsday, etc. There are hundreds of thousands more who fail to get adequate health and psychological care because they feel their "guides" will save them.

I cannot tell you the horror that I feel after looking back on 10 years of being involved in this mess. How stupid can one person be? And I portrayed myself to others that I knew and in message boards as some sort of expert! And I happily fed other people's delusions. There is a difference between a casual belief in intuition or life after death and being a wah-wah high-falutin' Wiccan Warrior shaman mystical crystal-using starchild--and yeah, I had crossed it.

Ick. (or is that Icke?)

Here is a link to the entire article. www.csicop.org.... Yes, it's an article from CSICOP--you know, the "joy-killers"


Oh, and notice I didn't mention the Christians in all this. That's a big squirming can of monkeys I've purposely left out for this particular discussion. I like to court my barrages of flames in sections rather than have it pile up on me all at once.

Well, that's it. Sorry, world for being a jerk for 10 years. To be honest, I don't know how much more I could participate on half of these forums without seeming like a troll p**sing on the parade of people who really don't want to entertain any rational explanations for New Age/occult phenomenons--I don't know, is there a real purpose to it? It's ironic that almost one year ago today I joined ATS with this completely different set of views. Well, I'll go now--I have to continue vomiting.


[edit on 29-3-2005 by Cassie Clay]




posted on Mar, 29 2005 @ 11:51 PM
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WOW


That was cool Clay...we disagree of course, as you know my postion, God, and the devil are very real. But, you seem to be very internally honest. To be commended. Here here.

I also agree that in all my years of being on both side, most of the people I met were, ......ah...well you said it best. But, not all. I have met the real deal on both sides, if you are ever interested, U2U me. You can do some research, unless your scared...Bah ha ha ha! kidding...

Take friend, nice job, well written



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 01:06 AM
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Ever since I was inundated with christianity against my will for 17 years I have stayed away from these large movements of people.

Since it's in popular culture I do study it though. Same way I study the rest of human culture.

My motto: Don't mind me, just passing through.

I also don't trust the scientific community simply because of it's severe compartmentalization. That is to say I don't trust their broader conclusions on existence because each branch has it's own language and ways to guage things. There needs to be a unification of the sciences.

Let's see, last time I checked I had no beliefs, belong to no organizations, subscribe to no political slant and generally have a mild disinterest in human affairs over all. But since I'm here might as well learn as much as possible and play along. It's like a being in a big soap opera where you can choose your role. I choose audience a lot.



To be honest, I don't know how much more I could participate on half of these forums without seeming like a troll p**sing on the parade of people who really don't want to entertain any rational explanations for New Age/occult phenomenons--I don't know, is there a real purpose to it?


Entertainment. Learning additional viewpoints. Studying human social interaction within a virtually emotionless medium. Why not just enjoy what's available? By now, many should have realized that no 2 humans are going to agree on everything. Therefore, there will always be debate. When you don't subscribe to anything you can enjoy everything. I see all the sides and find the perspective quite comfortable.



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 05:12 AM
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There is a great divide between the 'skeptics' and 'new-age believers' but there are also great similarities. Like any belief system in life, we have a spectrum ranging from hard headed to soft headed

There're new-age belivers who are scientists, physicists who have a very scientific approach. There are skeptics who are magicians, who pretend to have a scientific approach, but really is nothing more than dogma.

There are yet still real skeptics who are genuinely interested in investigating claims. That is what skepticism is. It amuses me how many people label themselves as skeptic simply because they doubt something. Please let me us make a distinction between skepticism and doubting.

Unfortunately, the popular skeptic also happens to the pseudo skeptic. Such as the CSICOP organization. Many parapsychologists, who are incorrectly labeled as believers, are labeled as such, simply because their findings support a paranormal hypothesis. Otherwise, a lot of parapsychologists are actually skeptics.

Really, the skepticism you will see on internet forums, CSIOP and other popular skeptical organizations is really just glorified flat-earthers. You know the type that just doubt everything till it is proven.

Now, I know it does sound very sappy to those who cannot understand this, I know because it use to make me sick and I could not imagine in a million years I would be saying this one day. When us new-age believers talk about meditating, connecting to the source, healing with crystals, brotherhood, angels and ascended masters and love and light and saying peace to everyone. However, what else do you want us to say?

I cannot speak for others, but I can speak for myself. Giving someone love, peace and light is a very positive gesture. Crystals do have healing and other paraphysical properties and this is not 'new-age' beliefs, this is ancient wisdom and even modern scientists are finding great use for crystals. If we are souls, which we are, then there would be more learned souls and theres your ascended masters. There is a source to this entire universe, and it a part of us all, so we can connect to it in a state of super relaxation. This is made possible by our minds that still are unexplored, but modern science knows this much, that the most powerful supercomputers in the world today cannot compare to the power of the human brain.

There is nothing wrong with healthy and scientific new-age beliefs. For some of us it's not even a belief - it's a knowing. Some of us have experienced these beliefs and had them verified. For some of us it's facts.

As I suggested above. This is not really new-age beliefs, it's ancient wisdom resurfacing in our modern times. Yes, there is a lot wrong with this world and we know all this and feel this - this is because our beliefs are wrong and as are our methodologies. New-agers are just putting this right. You can't really stop the phenomena of the new-age. You apparently have no idea Einstein, David Bhom and Schrodinger also had new-age beliefs. Like it or not. There is new age coming after these dark ages end. An age of light and wisdom. We will bring this about.


[edit on 30-3-2005 by Indigo_Child]



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 11:05 AM
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Props for that post. Pretty deep stuff. Must have taken quite some strength to change after 10 years and openly admit to feeling like that.



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 11:10 AM
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Hmmmmmmmm, but what exactly constitutes "new age" I have been accused of this soooooooo many times! I am not a "new ager" we have all been the same since I can remember.....LOL and my parents and grandparents and great grandparents were all "new agers" if this were true....so, what "is" a "new ager"?



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 11:40 AM
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In response to the original post... it's been said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was to convince the world he didn't exist.

I'm not arguing you, it's just something you should think about.



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 11:47 AM
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Originally posted by rp001
In response to the original post... it's been said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was to convince the world he didn't exist.

I'm not arguing you, it's just something you should think about.





Clever trick!




posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 11:50 AM
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yes really what is a "new ager"??

all of the paranormal and physic processes that I have attempted and dabbled with are ancient methods, many from eastern hindu and buddhist philosophies. Are these ancient practices now what you call "new age"?



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 12:23 PM
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New-age is really just a label. Otherwise, as I said before, this all ancient wisdom from eastern spirituality. In this information and more liberal age everyone has access to this information and are more open-minded to it.

What is new is that the age of light and wisdom is returning. I am surprised just how many people I talk to everyday are on spiritual paths, know psychic people, or are just interested. Another decade or two and the 'new-age' will be the current age.

As soon as our society will be ready to educate children about spirituality, meditation, critical thinking, tolerance, psychic development and teach them about consciousness and life skills. There will be a new-age. It is inevitable really. You might well jump on the bandwagon or be left behind.

[edit on 30-3-2005 by Indigo_Child]



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 12:31 PM
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The delusions of a previous "new age" are replaced by the grander delusions of the next one. The names change, but the underlying feeling of grasping at something remains.

So now "going to the other side" is the new thing to do. More books will be written in the name of "helping people". More workshops, retreats, seminars and cults.

Existence still remains what it is, but there will always be someone ready to explain it all for you. Tired of THAT point of view? Check THIS out!

Her letter is rather long winded, but what is the true purpose behind it?

Whatever it is, it's good to see she still takes herself seriously, after all these years...


Confessions of an ex-new ager:

"My Dear Little Sheep,

After all these years some of you have finally seen through me and my kind. Which means I can no longer continue to operate in the way that I have in the past.

So starting now, I will be completely honest, and open minded and contrite. All that good wholesome rational stuff. I'm so sorry that I may have mislead you. But from now on I will speak nothing but the truth, which by the way, I heard from someone else (or did I read about it on a website?).

I want nothing more than to help all of you see through the veils of illusion, which I myself am partly responsible for instilling and strengthening in your minds.

From now on, we must all be "culturally sensitive" to avoid offending anyone or challenging their delusions. Don't you see that my culturally sensitive capacity to attack without attacking and criticize without criticizing was so effective that some of my favorite sheep still didn't know they were being deceived? This method works so well that it will continue to serve me in my new career.

Since I can no longer be with you in the land of "New Age", you must all follow me to the fresh and bold new land of "Skepticism".

To summarize:

1) Forget what I said before. The New Agers are wrong, and now the skeptics are right. Since I'm with the skeptics now, that makes ME right too!

2) In the past, I made a living off of your weaknesses, and I deeply regret it. But I hope you don't mind if I continue to do so (after "real" training of course). After all, I am what I am. A little cultural sensitivity, please!

3) Time for a bedtime story! Sleep little sheepsies, sleeeeeeeep.

Love and Li^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HThe better to eat you with my dear,
Wolf"



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 12:44 PM
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The reason for the divide between "New Agers and Skeptics" is because the Skeptics see New Age religiouns as just the same old thang in a different package. Also Skeptics also look at New Agers as more then a lil nutz and you know what I agree! Anyone willing to put "faith" in something that cannot be empiracally proven to me is Ignorance Incarnate. I'm sorry I do not mean to offend but that is just how I see it.

Regards,
Chris the Crotchety Athiest



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 01:19 PM
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Anyone willing to put "faith" in something that cannot be empiracally proven to me is Ignorance Incarnate. I'm sorry I do not mean to offend but that is just how I see it.


Do you have empirical proof that you exist?



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 01:26 PM
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More books will be written in the name of "helping people". More workshops, retreats, seminars and cults.


Has it occured to you that these 'new age' books do help people? You can go on Amazon and read reviews of some of these books.


[2) In the past, I made a living off of your weaknesses, and I deeply regret it. But I hope you don't mind if I continue to do so (after "real" training of course). After all, I am what I am. A little cultural sensitivity, please!


And people make a living of your weakness. This has got nothing to do with which side of the fence you are on. It's just human psychology. Just look at how much money people like Randi are making by just doubting.
It's cut's both ways mate.

As I outlined above. The "new age" comprises a spectrum of people. As do the "skeptics"



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 01:31 PM
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Originally posted by Indigo_Child


Has it occured to you that these 'new age' books do help people? You can go on Amazon and read reviews of some of these books.

Just look at how much money people like Randi are making by just doubting.
It's cut's both ways mate.




I have to agree totally here with Indigo! Many people have been and are helped with these books.....many people are learning, and becoming more aware but like anything else, one must review and choose wisely!



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 01:45 PM
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Originally posted by rp001
In response to the original post... it's been said that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was to convince the world he didn't exist.

I'm not arguing you, it's just something you should think about.


It's probably the greatest joke ever pulled as well. By the person who invented that joke.

And there are sheep on both sides, New Ager's and Skeptics. Any skeptic that refuses to try to verify for himself if any claims made are true, especially stuff that is readily available, is not a skeptic but a sheep. Plain and simple.



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 01:57 PM
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Has it occured to you that these 'new age' books do help people?

That's what the lady that wrote the letter thought too. Apparently, she has changed her mind. Have you read her letter?


And people make a living of your weakness. This has got nothing to do with which side of the fence you are on. It's just human psychology. Just look at how much money people like Randi are making by just doubting. It's cut's both ways mate.

Agreed. My point is that wolves don't care about sides or fences.



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 02:55 PM
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Part of what makes a skeptic typically disdainful of new-agers is that they new-agers typically have very little regard for how things "really" used to be. As a Native American studying the dying ways of my tribe, I find often find myself filled with disgust at many of the people who honestly feel like they are honoring NatAm culture by hanging dreamcatchers on their rear view mirrors, or painting wolves, moons, and headdresses on the windows to their vans. The bastardization of these traditions, made into kitschy pop art can only be described as the following, for those familiar with other cultures:

  • Walking through a Japanese person's home with muddy shoes.
  • Mixing fine bourbon with Orange Crush.
  • Putting Ketchup on a Steak.
  • Wearing a red, white, and blue tux to a wedding.
  • Putting Cheese-Whiz on a Holy Wafer during communion.


This stems from the likes of Ravenwood Silvermoon, and all the other wannabees, who advise that those poor at sewing try Puffy Paint to decorate their ceremonial garb instead! Most New-Agers have zero knowledge of the background or specifics of the traditions they are attempting to respect, and make little or no effort to learn.

[edit on 3/30/2005 by thelibra]



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 03:01 PM
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Originally posted by thelibra
As a Native American studying the dying ways of my tribe, I find often find myself filled with disgust at many of the people who honestly feel like they are honoring NatAm culture by hanging dreamcatchers on their rear view mirrors, or painting wolves, moons, and headdresses on the windows to their vans. The bastardization of these traditions


As a Native American, I couldn't of said it any better...it has become very "trendy" to display NA "type" objects! I am also very sick of the disturbing of our dead....they want to say it is in the interest of history...let me go dig up anyone out of a cemetery and see how long it takes them to throw my butt in the pokey! Sorry...I got off topic here....
I'll go be quiet now.



posted on Mar, 30 2005 @ 03:29 PM
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That's what the lady that wrote the letter thought too. Apparently, she has changed her mind. Have you read her letter?


You mean her post? Yes I have. However, what she wrote is just one single opinion. If you go to Amazon, read the reviews by readers on some of the new-age books. You can clearly see that people are helped by these books. If they are happy, then what does it matter if one lady says they don't. She is speaking for herself - not for them.


Agreed. My point is that wolves don't care about sides or fences.


In psychology when skeptics and believers are discussed, we use the terms sheep and goat. However, in reality, there are sheep and goats on both side.



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