If I had to describe myself to someone who did not know me, one of the archetypes I would use is Seeker. My readers know that I write about Astrology and the Tarot, but I also explore different religious and spiritual disciplines.
I have always been interested in subjects that used to be called Occult, then New Age, and now Metaphysical. When I began writing, it was at the same time my husband and I joined a Metaphysical Society, so I was beginning more than just a journey of writing. Many topics that drew my attention or were discussed in our classes were spiritual in nature, and I was off on a different journey of discovery as well.
Now, this doesn’t mean I see myself as any kind of religious or spiritual guru, or that I’m any better or worse than anyone else. But when I study a subject and explore it, I do it with sincerity and an open mind. I had three bad experiences in the last two weeks with so called “spiritual” societies and a Reiki Healer/Witch, and I feel really unsettled about them. The only way I know how to process this is to write about them.
A Spirituality Experience
I have written on my blog about the Celtic Spirituality lecture given at a Metaphysical store which shall remain nameless. I used to read Tarot out of this business, and my family spent a good amount of money there over the years. I was reading a book about Ireland, written by a woman named Patricia Monaghan. Although I had the date circled on the calendar, I didn’t realize the author was actually the writer of a book I was reading right then, and thought it was very serendipitous that I was going to meet her. She gave a very mediocre talk for about an hour, about a book that was ten years old. She did have a few interesting anecdotes, but didn’t put much effort into it. At the end, I asked her to sign the copy of the book she wrote, the copy I was reading. Since it was a free lecture, I bought another of her books and some incense, to support a local business, and went home.
The next day I got a nasty email from the business owner. She is always angry about something, although she fancies herself to be a great Reiki healer and Witch. She’s a racist who still believes President Obama is a Muslim, and thinks the Hispanic business owners next door are using their business as a front for money laundering. She is very paranoid, and ruled by money. I got used to her rants when I read tarot there, but it got tiresome. She attacked me for “coming to a book signing and asking an author to sign a used book.” Now, I already had the book, and bought another from this author, which I later realized was twelve years old. This event was called a “spirituality lecture,” not a book signing. And normally aren’t book signings for new books? The lecture I got for bringing my own book to this affair, coupled with this woman’s often irrational behaviors, led me to tell her I no longer wished to read tarot out of her store, nor wanted to frequent the business at all.
*As I read more of Patricia Monaghan's books, I began to appreciate her a lot. I have Irish heritage, and she had been to the country many times, so had a lot of information to share. Sadly, she passed away about two years ago.
Pitfalls of Metaphysical Fairs
Last week I had the opportunity to be a vendor for a Spiritual Institute that is somewhat affiliated with the Metaphysical Center my husband and I belong to. I paid $150.00 for a table to read tarot and sell a book I had published. About three hours into it, nobody was coming to my table for readings. My husband went to look around. Apparently the people who were members of this Spiritual Institute and wanted tarot readings were being signed in at the door, and led to a private, quiet room to get their readings. I had to read in the large ballroom, but it was so loud to shout over the din, I lost my voice for two days. I am a soft spoken person. Plus it was not in the contract that non members would be treated any differently.
I felt so disillusioned; I emailed the woman in charge of this event the next day. She apparently loves to play “spiritual oneupmanship”, because when I originally called her to set up my presence at this event, she was “in Sedona with her Shaman.” She has emailed me back eight times since I complained, telling me I maligned her Institute, and that I was not treated differently, a bald faced lie. What is it with some people? At the time of this writing she continues to email me, and I’m ignoring her. She led me to believe I would have customers to read for, when she knew ahead of time that all attendees wanting readings would be brought to another room. Is that not a lie? She cheated me out of $150.00 when she knew nobody would come into that main ballroom for a reading, that all the clients would be led to “her” people. This is not spiritual or ethical behavior.
So what is going on with all these fakes who pretend to be spiritual people, then lie and do hurtful things to others? Three incidents of spiritual one-upmanship in two weeks really upset me, and all the negativity really drained my energy. To me, spirituality is how one relates to the people in their life, how they respect the environment, and how they deal with situations they find themselves in with manners, caring and grace. I feel I was badly treated at all three of these events, by people who pass themselves off as healers, as at one with the Universe, Pagans, Reiki therapists, psychics, and more. I would never treat anyone the way they treated me.
True Seekers or Power- and Money-Hungry People?
There were some attendees at the above event from the Metaphysical group where my husband and I take courses and attend lectures. We pay yearly dues, and attend various kinds of functions and classes regarding metaphysical issues, for sometimes rather large fees. I asked the woman in charge if I could read tarot at their Metaphysical fair next November. If you get a good crowd, readings cost $25.00 for 15 minutes, $50.00 for a half hour, and in this economy, it’s very welcome. Now this woman, I’ll call her Madame Ego, said, “Oh, I’ve heard your name often, it’s so nice to finally see your face.” I have met her at least five times. One of them was a Winter Solstice ceremony, where only twelve people were in attendance, and as my husband and I were the only couple, we must have stood out. We have taken numerous courses that she did not teach, but seems to have control issues, so she attends them to “check on” the other teachers.
Since I read tarot and wrote my own instructional tarot book, I am very knowledgeable about this topic. She kept up the pretense that she never met me, and said, “Well, my regulars do the tarot readings. But if you were to give me a mini reading, so I could screen you, I might allow you to read if one of my readers was sick or had an emergency.” I was shocked and insulted. This Madame Ego is so stuck on herself, she’s pushing away new members with skills in metaphysical disciplines, and then complaining she gets no new members! How do these people sleep at night, acting haughty and above others, just because they run an organization? And sadly, they are the ones who push away the people searching for answers, or people who just have interests in the lectures they provide.
Meeting With a Sincere Person
As I mentioned in the beginning, I never said I was better than anyone else for learning about spiritual issues. I have always been pulled in that direction, and if I can use any of what I learned to help myself to be a better person, or anyone else, that makes me happy. The happy ending of this last event was meeting a Sufi Muslim woman selling tapestries at the table next to me. Her name is Maryam Kabeer Faye, and she wrote a fabulous book called Journey Through TenThousand Veils.
She told me of a 3 day tarot festival in Washington D.C., and said she was attending to speak about the Temperance card. She really changed my misconception that all Muslim women are squashed, or not allowed to learn. She has been on a journey all her life. She grew up Jewish in Hollywood, and felt the pull to visit India while in her late teens. A highly intelligent person, she skipped two school grades (something that really isn’t done anymore) and was already attending the University of CA at Berkeley at age 16. She is in her mid sixties, so she was living in CA at the height of the hippies and social changes in the 1960’s. She talked about how the music of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Pete Seeger changed her ideas about social justice. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King for equality for everyone. She approached me and said, “Since we’re neighbors, why don’t we get to know each other better?”
Conversing With a Sufi Muslim Woman
She took a copy of my book, and I hers. Her story is amazing. But she made my day. Possibly my week. She told me she listened to my readings (I was shouting to be heard) and that when anyone stood up to leave, they looked calmer and happier. She was surrounded by an aura of serenity and had such love in her eyes. It was a joy just to speak to her. As we chatted, I told her my husband worked with many Muslim people, and how bad it was after 9/11. That people who were friends viewed each other with suspicion in a matter of hours. She smiled, and said, “Isn’t it sad Jean, that so many haven’t learned all that matters is love? You know the truth."
True Seekers Are Still There
Later, I got home and was obsessing about all three of these supposedly spiritual people, and their unspiritual antics. I sat down and began to look at Maryam’s book. She signed it, and said, in part,
My Dear Jean,
"The light and love of God are shining so sweetly through your heart and your face. May your path and that of all who are travelling it with you be illuminated. It is with great joy and gratitude that I embrace you as a traveler on the Holy Path as a seeker.” I only knew her for a few hours, and she chose the same archetype as I chose for myself at the beginning of this piece!
All of a sudden, I felt much better. She was there to make money (unfortunately we need it to live) selling her lovely tapestries and fabrics, just as we all had objects or skills to offer. But her words comforted me and I was able to see past the phony so called "spiritual" nonsense I had endured for the last few weeks. I feel hopeful once again that good triumphs over evil, and that some people are not just dabbling in metaphysical subjects to feel superior to others.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Jean Bakula