Category Archives: Psychology

The Reality of Atlantis, part 3 of 3

Continued from part 2:

photo of Edgar Cayce superimposed over AtlantisAfter tracking the story of Atlantis through history and into the 20th century, I did discover where my particular alien-infused, clairvoyant, crystal-powered, clone-making, reincarnating Atlantis memories originated. Though my story had its own unique features, the story itself came from the famed 20th-century clairvoyant, Edgar Cayce.

However, I first began dreaming and writing about my remembered past life in Atlantis when I was eleven or twelve years old — and at that time, I had not yet read anything by or about Edgar Cayce. So the question became “How did Edgar’s story get implanted into my memories? How did the story of Atlantis get from Edgar to me?”

Raised on a diet of Edgar Cayce

I digress: Back in 2003, while I was still struggling to understand my involvement in the New Age, I found Bob Carroll’s Skeptic’s Dictionary site, and ordered a number of his recommended books on metaphysical topics. Since a great deal of my life in the New Age was focused on alternative health practices and alternative diets, I ordered Mystical Diets: Paranormal, Spiritual, and Occult Nutrition Practices by Jack Raso.

Bingo!

Raso presented a bullet list (pp.75-76) of health advice from Edgar Cayce, and some of it was identical to advice I and my family received from the trance-medium Purcell (for instance, the 80-20 rule of raw-to-cooked foods and alkaline-to-acid foods is Cayce’s idea). I’ve since discovered that pieces of the dietary and lifestyle advice I got from Kan Li and Purcell were Cayce-inspired but not Cayce-attributed. I’m not suggesting plagiarism, because it’s pretty easy for people to lift ideas from others without realizing it — but some of the info Purcell channeled from Kan Li was actually was sourced from Cayce.

photo of the pharaoh Akhenaton

The Pharaoh Akhenaton, or, as I knew him, Dad.

And though I hadn’t read any Cayce before I recalled the details of my own past life in Cayce’s version of Atlantis, reincarnation was normal everyday talk in our spiritual group. One of Purcell’s ideas was that our group members had known each other in many shared past lives where we had all worked together to bring about great changes in human consciousness. That’s what we were all doing in Atlantis, and it’s what we did in Egypt at the time of Akhenaton (who banished Egypt’s polytheism in favor of the worship of one god and purportedly paved the way for Jesus). We were also together in Camelot, trying to change things for the better. We got around!

In the late 1970s, before Purcell’s group self-destructed, our present-day spiritual purpose was to raise planetary consciousness before the coming cataclysm (which I wrote about on my other blog: Why did you believe in the end of the world?). Since that prophesied cataclysm didn’t occur, I’m gonna go ahead and say that we achieved our goals (this is a joke!).  You’re welcome. Continue reading

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Filed under Metaphysics, New Age, Psychology, Spirituality

Science vs. Religion and Other False Dichotomies

In the early days of unraveling my New Age career, I felt that if I could just find a way to help my readers understand and access critical thinking, I’d be doing a great service. I struggled to devise ways to introduce and then link to cultural skeptic’s sites (such as The Skeptic’s Dictionary or The Skeptical Inquirer, etc.)  from my own website, but I couldn’t find the words to prepare my readers for the painful experience I knew they were in for.

The communication style in the skeptical culture tends toward mockery and condescension (words such as fraud, sham, scam, dupe, charlatan, etc. are used regularly), and it can be a very harsh experience. I think I mocked up nearly a dozen web pages before I finally gave up in 2004 and pulled my entire website down for five years. There was just no way to bridge the chasm with words.

Since then, I’ve studied what I now call “conflict cultures”* of all kinds: skeptics versus New Agers; liberals versus conservatives; pro-choicers versus pro-lifers; Israelis versus Palestinians; Muslims versus Christians; atheists versus theists, and so forth. Though each conflict may seem distinct, the behavior of the people within the conflict tends to be similar — if not identical.

*Sociologically speaking, a culture is any group of people who consider themselves unified by shared referents. A culture can be as large as the human culture, or as small as the drama club at your local middle school. A subculture is generally regarded as a group that unifies around differences from the norm, as minority groups, disability rights groups, high IQ clubs, and political parties do. My term conflict culture refers to a subculture that organizes itself around opposition, as the New Age and skeptical subcultures do, rather than mere difference.

photo of an angry mobConflict cultures tend to encourage intense loyalty and cohesion because they have something to fight against. No matter which conflict culture you belong to, you can easily become ideologically enslaved; you may devolve into a true believer. You’ll learn to categorize and dehumanize people who do not share your views, and you’ll attack them as a matter of supposed honor. True believers and the behaviors they adopt can make the world a very ugly place indeed.

I know; I was a true believer as a young person. Western* medicine was cruel; science was hyper-rationalism divorced from ethics; the AMA was evil; the New Age and the East and alternative medicine had all the answers; nothing in the health food store could hurt you, but all conventional medicines were poison…

*My brother Matthew can’t hear the phrase Western medicine without laughing, because it brings up visions of cowboys riding into town, yee-ha! and whompin’ folks over the head with healin’.  I now call it conventional medicine so that Matthew won’t start giggling.

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Filed under Cognitive Biases, New Age, Psychology, Sociology