Prelude Part 2

That experience (see the last post) threw me completely into the wonderful world of Woo and drowned me in it. I became convinced that I was some kind of trance channeling psychic Girl Wonder. Any brand of Woo was something that I subscribed to. I spent thousands of dollars on Reiki classes and became an energy healer. For years I practiced hands on healing as an Usui and Karuna Reiki Master. I convinced people that Reiki would help them feel better.

In reality, who doesn’t feel better by laying down for 45 minutes and just relaxing? It doesn’t take mysticism to make that happen. At this point I had lost all rational thought. Fortunately the American public didn’t buy into it and I found that I could not make a living doing or teaching Reiki. So I moved on to hypnotherapy.

There is at least a little bit of validity to hypnosis. Unfortunately the theories about how the brain is ordered that this group subscribes to is incorrect. Hypnosis really is simply giving someone else permission to reprogram you. If you REALLY want it to work and put the effort into making it work then it will work. It’s another form of a magic bullet, though. As with reiki, there is SO much woo in hypnosis. I would love to see more scientific research done on how and why it works.

Penn and Teller did an episode of Bullshit! on hypnosis. I was only able to see their conclusions in that show though. According to Penn, they just don’t know how it works yet.

When we moved to a smaller town and I couldn’t get my hypnosis practice off the ground, I turned to a different career. Herbalism. Dr. Steven Novella calls herbs “dirty drugs” and for good reason. They are not regulated by the FDA or any other government agency. I became SO fascinated with how herbs work on the human body that I started studying phytochemistry and pharmagognosy through the American College of Health Sciences.

That was an inkling of the beginning of my return to rational thought. About that time my husband introduced me to Penn Jillette’s podcast radio show and his cable TV show Penn & Teller’s Bullshit. The things Penn said really started making sense. It took me no time at all before I had begun to reject psychics and the like. It was a hard lesson but I realized I had been deluding myself. So I walked away from Reiki and the rest of the Woo I was involved in.

Unfortunately, I clung to herbalism for another year or so because of the financial investment and because I still thought I might be able to do some good.

Ken also introduced me to The Geologic Podcast. Thanks to George and my continued exposure to Penn I became a skeptic and a non-theist. What cemented it in place fully for me was meeting James Randi at DragonCon last year. He asked me if I felt any better since giving up Beliefs.

My heartfelt reply was a resounding “Yes! I feel like a burden has been lifted and now I’m free to be myself”.

I’m afraid I don’t have a real time line for any of this so I’m calling my official Skeptical Birthday August 29th 2008 because that was the day that James Randi helped me confirm that I was doing the right thing for myself.


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