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I had psychic surgery to remove my alien implant

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Oh no.

I always come to see Mark when I visit this most mystical outreach of Australia’s coastline. I’m a skeptic, sure, but Mark’s my healer. He’s my wild card; the aberration of science that I’ve described as being the real deal in the same way that racists will have their one black mate who’s “all right”. It makes no sense, but we’ll happily let it through to the keeper.

Mark was the knife-edge on which my skepticism swayed. I’ve told so many fellow naysayers: “but there’s this one guy…” I’ve accredited him with dispensing of my circular thoughts, a broken heart and my smoking habit. Or at least, I’ve thought of it as a dual effort between us – one with immediate results I couldn’t have achieved on my own. Accordingly, I’ve lisped away to people: I could feel energy pulsing down my body and streaming out of my feet.

I think. Couldn’t I? I remember telling Mark I could.

Mark is placid as a panda bear; as warm as a roaring hearth. As benevolent and wise as Yoda. He’s the sort of person you can make prolonged and meaningful eye contact with without wanting to stab out the jelly in your vitreous with pencils. Last time I saw him he diagnosed an energy block in my abdomen.

“That’s funny,” I piped up. “I’ve always had a huge phobia about being touched around there. I’ve had nightmares since I was a kid about being rigged up and prodded in my hips by disembodied fingers.”

Mark suddenly saw arrows. “I’m being shown arrows,” he said. “You were shot in a past life by a jealous lover.” He gave a warm chuckle as I pictured my punctured ovaries. One healing later, I left: a big ball of loved-up expanded consciousness, floating off down the street to the sea.

Now, past lives are about as high on my ‘Maybe Believe This’ list as DNA ThetaHealing ™, but in the name of consistency, I decided to return to this subject with Mark on my next visit. I.e., would he stick to the arrows story?

“Last time I came here you said we should investigate an energy block,” I said.

Mark gazed at my energy for a bit. “I often baulk at saying things like this, because most people don’t react well,” he said, at which point my hips tightened a few notches. “But it’s an implant.”

“An implant?”

“Yes. I’m seeing reptilian ETs – Zeta Reticulans. They used to rule the Earth and would quite frequently study humans by using implants, but these days we thankfully attract more benevolent beings of a higher frequency. The Zetas put an implant in you at birth to study your reproductive system. I can probably get it out.”

I rolled with this. Mark’s not alone in thinking reptilian aliens are all around us; it’s a theory David Icke made popular, and I love hearing David Icke’s theories. Love it.

“I’m not going to use the spirit guides in this operation, I’m going to use the friendly ETs,” Mark said, as I removed my shoes.

I climbed aboard the table for 40 minutes. I usually love this bit, but I wasn’t feeling it as much this time, due to the inconvenient truth of Mark talking about aliens. I was mourning the Mark gone by; the one who told me not to intellectualise spirituality, the one who said he had no interest in studying things like chakras and what have you.

I tried though. It could be true, was my mantra. You don’t know for sure; you only know your version of reality. And besides, it’s worth the $90 for a good blog post.

I saw my individual cells, golden, spinning, shimmering and spitting like Coke bubbles. I felt myself opened up flat as a pancake on the table – although Mark later told me the operation was multidimensional.

“I’ve never seen one as big as this before,” he said when he was done, talking down at me as I lay on the table with my arms behind my head. “It was like the Tardis. There was a whole universe inside.”

“Really?” I said, unable to not be impressed.

“But then there’s a whole universe inside every cell,” Mark pointed out.

“A universe in my pelvic bowl,” I marvel, and we chortle.

“The Zeta aliens actually came in at the beginning,” he said. “It got a bit nasty, but they were asked to leave. Could you feel it being removed from your brain? There were strands leading all the way up your spine, meshed into every cell, and up into your brain. It was a very tricky procedure – I only facilitated it.”

Mark didn’t seem too rattled after facilitating major surgery on the biggest alien implant he’d ever seen. He explained that I’d attracted bad sexual experiences to myself because of the implant. “Your critical mind will explain this away over the next few days,” he continued, “but you know it was special. There was a lot of love in the room. Don’t forget this experience you’ve had.”

“So,” I offered hopefully, as I swung my legs off the table. “Do you see this as a visualisation technique to hypnotise me into freeing myself from some emotional blockage?”

There came a pause.

“Or are you describing things in real terms?”

“In real terms,” he said. His eyes shone softly, as though he were just giving me a lovely recipe for parsnip soup.

Bugger.

As I walked out, something in me pouted. I love the thought of two shimmering entities walking down the high street with me; why can’t I just go with it? I greatly enjoyed, as a child, believing the spirit of God was channeled through me and that I could bless people just by doing an internal yawn; even if it constantly irritated the family. Where’s the harm?

But Mark had pushed me past my limit of making allowances and moving the goal posts. I hate it when men do that. And so, with reluctance, I write up my findings.

– But Mark will see this and he’s a lovely guy.

– He WON’T see this – he’s not psychic!

In conclusion, in conclusion… I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m quite good at lying on a table and turning it on. Getting the love flowing. Could it be I already found the greatest love of all, inside of me? Possibly. I’ll report back.

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Hey, physicists: do chakras really exist?

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This is very enjoyable: Big Bang Theory types at Physics Forums mull over the possibility of chakras existing. Metaphysical violence ensues.

***

“Most of us can admit that without mythology or placebo effect that some sort of ‘energy’ builds up in the groin.”

“This is a Physics forum. Energy is the capability to do work. Are you saying that the ‘energy’ from your genitals can lift a rock?”

“Chakras are special points on the body through which money can be extracted from Californians.”

“Yoga can supposedly increase what new agers call ‘energy’, a transcendental entity not known by physics.”

“Acupuncture meridians and ‘chi’ have been identified as very real DC currents that naturally occur in the body (and help direct healing through normal physiological processes, for example). Chakras may correspond to similar sorts of cellular activity.”

“The stumbling block is language… metaphorical language that is interpreted as being the objective truth. What is described as a colored wheel of spritual energy is a metaphorical way of describing the hormonal electro-chemical reactions of nervous tissue.”

“I decided one day to experiment with ‘awakening the chakras’ in a secluded field next to a church. Whatever I did (can’t fully remember) caused a dramatic sensation within my naval area. What I do remember is that the sensation kept growing and eventually felt so powerful that I got scared and stopped, even though I would describe it as ‘pleasant’ … My ‘gut’ feeling is that I am simply somehow activating either my nervous system, a hormone dump, or both. As opposed to some actual paranormal phenomenon.”

“At the very least, this will get you arrested. More likely, you will go blind. But doing it near a church is a free ticket to hell.”

“I’m amazed that whoever invented these chakras forgot about the asshole. I mean really, you lose about an atomic bomb worth of energy through there, every day.”

“In traditional Chinese medicine they believe while exercising you must keep the rectum contracted to prevent the leakage of vital force.”

Interview with a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic

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Friendly Skeptic David Glück with a Quantum Wave Laser.

I consider myself to be a wide-eyed pilgrim on a journey of New Age discovery that has so far mainly led into swamps of disappointment and peaks of high dubiousness, due to my failure to be persuaded by over-priced pseudoscientific practices and – as one friend put it – middle-aged women on disability benefits. But I remain eager to experience that awesome, earth-spasming epiphany that can only come to the esoterically inclined.

David Glück, on the other hand, founder of the cuddly sounding Skeptic Friends Network, is unlikely to be converted to the cause. But is he just infected with “paradigm paralysis”? And should he really admit to enjoying his New Age ceramic garlic mincer? What if it starts emitting healing violet light?

What was your motivation to set up a website for skeptics, rather than quietly holding your beliefs? Is it a public service? For the satisfaction of pouring cold water on other people’s stupidity? Something else?

GlückOur first incarnation was as a website back in 1997 to serve a “members area” AOL chat room dedicated to agnosticism and atheism. We set up a page that would serve as an extension of our chat room with the regulars providing content. I think that was something new. A website for a chat room.

Because our chat room was called “Atheists and Agnostics” that would also be the theme of the website, which we called “The Truth and Other Lies.” The site also included a rather primitive forum. Dawn, a founding member of SFN, came up with the idea of having a “skeptics’ corner”. Our skeptic page became my favourite part of the site. How much can you say about not believing in God after all? (Quite a lot actually.) We were growing bored having religion as our main focus.

Larry, Dawn and I had a meeting and decided to kill off the “truth” site and dedicate the whole site to skepticism. The Skeptic Friends Network was born. And yeah, we think of SFN as a public service to promote critical thinking, science and logic. We wanted to create an online community to do just that. And of course, as a forum, we do pour cold water on those visitors who present us with claims supported by faulty logic and bad science. One way to support the strengths of critical thinking is to contrast it with sloppy thinking. Sometimes we do that by way of direct debate with those who bring claims of a dubious nature to us. I hesitate to call those people stupid. More often we get people who are pretty smart, but too open to believing things that lack the kind of evidence that skepticism demands. We do tell them why we doubt their claims. And we debate.

For the short answer to your question, it’s a way for me to remain active in a grassroots movement that has become the skeptical community. It must be for the love of promoting critical thinking, because aside from a very few professional skeptics, there sure isn’t any money in it.

Do you get communication from crackpots of both sides?

GlückOy! You should see the kind of mail I get! But most of the crackpots are promoting the kinds of things that we want to expose. Occasionally we get an overzealous “skeptic” who wouldn’t know critical thinking if it hit ’em in the head. They are usually in a constant state of attack. I don’t think they get that skepticism is a method and not a conclusion, even though the methods that we promote often lead us to conclusions, even if they are tentative.

There’s a new breed of “cuddly atheist” emerging to counterbalance the more cynical voices. Are you a cuddly or hard-bitten skeptic?

GlückI’m not comfortable with conflating skepticism with atheism. Some atheists are not skeptics, and some skeptics are people of faith. As for what you are calling “more cynical voices” I going to assume that you’re referring to the “New Atheists”. I don’t think they are cynical so much as they believe that atheism needs to be both defended and promoted. Here in the US, polling says that atheists are the least trusted group. So the “Gnu’s” are pushing back. And I get that. I do wish there was much less bickering between the “Gnu’s” and those who feel that if the message is too harsh, it will turn off the people we would like to reach.

The “framing debate” has also spelled over into the skeptical community, which is a shame, though it was bound to happen, being that most of us are atheists. I’m not an anti-theist. But as someone who promotes “scientific skepticism” as well as being a humanist, I reserve the right to question theism. That said, I see the skeptical and the humanist community as a big tent, duelling epistemologies not withstanding. If what is brought to the table is mostly reasonable, I’m cool with whoever is at the table with the understanding that no idea gets a free pass, just because. If we threw out every skeptic who harbours some weird idea about religion or politics, economics or even science, there wouldn’t be many of us left. (Just for the record, I’m perfect and have no weird ideas.)

Do you do a lot of skeptic networking? There are a lot of sites out there, particularly in the States where – in my opinion – there’s probably more to be skeptical about.

GlückYes. I attend meetings, including The Amazing Meeting and I’m a member of a couple of skeptical organisations. I sometimes attend local events and I network on Facebook and skeptical websites. I also promote skeptic sites and blogs, by way of SFN’s weekly Skeptic Summary. I’m networking with you! And yeah, we have more than our share of whack-a-loons here in the States.

Has ANY New Age activity, from healing to yoga, meditation of some kind of device, ever elicited a “Mmm… maybe” response from you? Do you write off the entire New Age movement?

GlückThere are things that are promoted by the New Age that are probably of some value. Yoga is a good example of that. For relaxation, there is probably some value in meditation. Healing? That’s the sort of thing that worries me. Anything other than evidence-based medicine can be a very dangerous choice. (Steve Jobs is dead now, probably because he put off his doctor’s recommendations in favour of a “natural” cure. His cancer was treatable, and the success rate is good for what he had. But by the time he turned to evidence-based medicine it was too late to save him.)

Cures for cancer at the Conscious Life Expo.

Cures for cancer at the Conscious Life Expo.

The problem with the New Age isn’t that some of what it promotes might be of value. The problem is that there’s no gatekeeper. There is no way to determine, from a consumers point of view, what’s crap and what isn’t. Anything goes no matter how whacky it is. It’s also aggressively anti-science. Even as the New Age tout’s studies (that may or may not exist or have nothing to do with what’s being sold) they bash science as a giant conspiracy to keep you sick, make you ill, or keep you from product that claim will cure everything you have. The gold standard for evidence in support of what is being sold by the New Age is almost always anecdotal. And anecdotal evidence doesn’t really fly.

For example, because I know the “balance tricks” (applied kinesiology, which is a pseudoscience of its own), I had my roommate believing that the Power-Balance Bracelet works. Had I not told him the truth about it and how I tricked him into believing that it works, he would have been a perfect candidate for supplying a testimonial on the efficacy of something that really does nothing at all. Would it have hurt him or others to buy a useless product? Probably not. Aside from setting them back a few dollars, no harm done. But who wants to pay good money for a useless piece of plastic?

So yeah. I think the culture of the New Age and its promotion of credulous thinking is not a good thing on many levels ranging the somewhat innocuous to the downright dangerous.

Glück enjoying applied kinesiology.

Is your view that practitioners of pseudoscience are generally: a) deluded, b) professional grifters, or c) manipulating accepted wisdom a step too far?

GlückYes to a, b and c.

Who or what do you reserve the most venom for?

GlückMedical quackery. Those, who without any scientific evidence to support their claims, promise miraculous cures to people. I also have a serious disregard for those who are promoting against childhood vaccination. It’s the quacks who are actually killing people.

Admit it. You enjoyed the Conscious Life Expo.

GlückOkay. But I always leave with mixed feelings. I believe most of the people selling stuff at those expos really do believe in their products. Most of them are very friendly, well-intentioned people. Unfortunately, most of the products range from useless to dangerous. I do go to learn and I ask lots of questions. I try to be open to the answers. But I also go in with a skeptical bias. At this last one, there was a woman selling bus trips to Mexican clinics for alternative cancer treatments and books claiming natural cures for every disease known to man. I had a few words with her. Not that it did any good.

I have also bought things at the expos. Now and then I’ll come across a product that is really neat and does what it’s claimed to do. One of those things was a kind of chair that you wear, for sitting on the floor while still providing back support. Good for camping I suppose. But I’ve never used it. Another was a ceramic garlic mincer. My ex-girlfriend, who is still a partner-in-crime, can usually find some trinket, earrings or some piece of clothing she likes. I have yet to buy a pyramid hat, a tachyonic energy belt or a dowsing rod. Then again, I already own a Uri Geller crystal dowsing kit along with a lot of other very silly things I have collected over the years. Yeah. My little museum of useless stuff makes me happy.

Glück in a New Age... life preserver? Shoulder warmer? DNA re-strander?

Have you been accused of being close-minded? And to what extent will you try/investigate something before dismissing it?

GlückI doubt that any skeptic hasn’t been accused of being closed-minded. It’s routine. I explain that critical thinking and skepticism are methods used to evaluate the truth-value of a claim, and that even our conclusions are not set in stone. Sometimes I get through. I had a very long email exchange with a fellow who accused me of being infected with paradigm paralysis. I kept explaining to him that a skeptic must be open-minded. I gave him specific examples of skeptics changing their minds. I finally pointed out to him that no matter how I responded, he was still going to accuse me and all skeptics of having this horrible affliction. When I suggested that maybe he too had come down with a bad case of paradigm paralysis, he stopped writing to me.

As for investigations, I look into things to see how experts come down on whatever is being discussed. I try to not slam the door on anything without doing some research on the subject. I’m not qualified to make the call on most things. I’m not a scientist or an expert in any particular area of concern to skeptics. I’ve learned a lot because of my interested in science. I’ve learned a lot being a skeptic. So I don’t have to keep considering homeopathy or creationism every time they come up. I don’t have to start over every time someone makes a familiar claim. When something new comes along, I look to the experts for guidance. And I do what you do sometimes. I try stuff out. That’s one of the reasons I keep going back to the expos. I’m also aware that even if a psychic fails at reading me (only with psychics do I refuse to ask or answer questions) that the failed reading isn’t proof that psi doesn’t exist.

My advice to skeptics is to learn the style of those who make certain kinds of claims. It becomes not too difficult to spot an idea or a product that should be approached with doubt. When the alarms go off and it’s something new, find out what you can about it. Check with the experts. You can’t lose because you will learn something, no matter what the outcome is.

I know your thoughts on NLP. (Quackery.) But an NLP cornerstone is “the map is not the territory” – meaning our personal perception of the world is not the world. Would you agree with that? And if so, could it stand to follow that your perception on New Age activities may be incorrect?

GlückHa! I agree that my personal perception of the world is not the world. At least, it might not be. But also, I don’t live in a vacuum of me. I’m not the only person who has noticed that much of what is being pushed by the New Age is junk. I’m far from the only person who has noticed the New Age post-modernistic view that all ideas (as long as they’re warm and fuzzy) are equally valid. If we were to all think that way, it would be a disaster. It would be the end of science. We know that gravity happens and we know that those fellows bouncing up and down on mats in full lotus position are not levitating, even if they claim that they are. Might I be wrong? Sure. It could also be that I’m dreaming all of this. But if we were placing bets, which we are, where would you put the good money?

Getting biofeedback.

A Short Interlude from Esther

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2012 Olympic Stadium or Close Encounter of the Third Kind?

On past life regression: “Given that there are seven billion people on Earth; more than there have ever been in the history of time,” says Esther en route to having her aura photographed, “we can’t possibly all have been human beings in our past life; it’s mathematically impossible. So why do people never remember being a tree?”

On the Mayans’ prediction that the world will end in 2012: “That would be really irritating if you’ve been working on the Olympic Stadium.”

EVEN MORE REASONS TO LOVE PRINCE CHARLES (A KING IN ANY OTHER DIMENSION)

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A kid once threw a clod of earth at my dad, after my dad told the kid to stop throwing mud at the car. Dad had got out of the car and had his thunderous face on. The kid didn’t care, and got him on the side of the head. I wanted to kill that kid. I wanted to kill him dead. I feel the same when people take pops at Prince Charles.

You just know the Queen would rather die than relinquish the throne to Charles. She’ll hang on grimly to her handbag and her title until William psyches himself up. But do you know why? Not because Charles is potty, talks to plants and got a divorce. No, it’s because Charles is a menace to modern society. Just hunt out some of his lesser-known speeches.

In an introduction to the Sacred Web Conference at the University of Alberta in 2006, Charles sings his praises for the biannual magazine devoted to theosophy and the study of Tradition and modernity, Sacred Web, and then offers his theories on the same.

Watching a Royal – arranged, as ever, in front of a fireplace – speak in metaphysical terms is a surreal, slightly eerie experience. Charles talks of mystics, of the oneness of all life, and how it is only achieved by tapping into the Divine. I feel like I’m watching an alien invasion flick, in which the President is forced to address the nation about impending doom.

He warns that the human race is on the brink of extinction, and calls for a rejection of modernism, of an age where every man is an island, and a return to Traditionalism – in which perennial wisdom is handed down from generation to generation; kept alive and revered. He references royal astronomer Martin Reese, who wrote Our Final Hour: A Scientist’s Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future In This Century, On Earth and Beyond, but says in his more optimistic moments he hopes it may not be too late for a mass awakening that will allow mankind to take the planet into its next, transcendent cycle.

While Charles’s commitment to environmental causes and sustainability is well reported, his spiritual and philosophical side (he is is Patron of the Temenos Academy – ‘for education in the light of the spirit’) is not humoured in the media. Last year he published a book, Harmony, written with environmentalist Tony Juniper and BBC broadcaster Ian Skelly. There was an accompanying doco. Oh – you missed it?

True enough, some of his theories would make Dan Brown blush, but his dismissal in the British press was so thorough that The Guardian commissioned three reviews that made personal attacks. Giant lizards, much?

Guardian review 1) Discovering the same organic patterns everywhere you look is a familiar symptom of paranoia. In the prince’s case, however, it represents an insight into the fundamental rhythms of the universe. If you press your face on a large piece of paper on a wall, he tells us, and let your arms describe natural arcs with a couple of pencils, you would find yourself creating certain cosmically symbolic circles. He forgets to add that you would also look a complete prat.

Guardian review 2) If I’ve learned one thing in the more than 30 years I’ve been faffing around waiting to be king, it’s that we have to listen to Nature … So this book, which has been dictated to me by Tony Juniper-Berry, Peter Penstemon and Diana Daffodil, is Nature’s plea to us to save the world before it is too late.

Guardian review 3) He knew he was right all along.

In his speech for the Sacred Web Conference, Charles irritably acknowledges the ridicule he’s suffered for decades, but he might expect nothing more in an age of superficiality. He quotes TS Eliot: “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

Joining a women’s healing group

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Wasn't like this.

“If we have to look at our vaginas in a mirror,” said Esther, “I’m leaving.”

I’ve tried all sorts of New Agery with Esther in a past blog (and possibly a past life), like Healing My Embittered Soul With Song and Tapping Myself to Emotional Freedom below. Neither of us are fans of angels, spirit guides and unicorns, and Esther has issues with tolerance, so hopefully healing doesn’t involve any of the above, and/or touching our Sacred Feminine.

This must be a sign, though: waiting at Parliament Station, ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams starts warbling out of the tannoy. Why? That’s the anthem for the very slightly spiritual, isn’t it? The ones with the Only God Can Judge Me tattoos. Why? This has to be one of those coincidences I’ve started to look out for.

Once at the building, we’re asked to take off our shoes (Esther is wearing two stripy socks, I’m wearing one. Coincidence?) and we bunker down in a room with cushions laid out in a circle. There are eight women and one facilitator, who’s a new age counsellor. It soon emerges this is group therapy, in the form of shares and visualisation, with much of it anticipated to be “of a highly adult nature”.

As this is the first meet-up, there’s much discussion of the fairest way of doing things, which reminds me why I don’t like to travel with women – way too much conferring. Whoever speaks, it’s eventually determined, should be handed a talking stick to symbolise that they should not be interrupted. The facilitator hunts around the room for something.

“I hope this rather phallic candle isn’t upsetting anyone,” she murmurs as an afterthought, as it journeys obscenely around the room.

Now that's a talking stick.

Once we finally get started, I like this environment. I’m with eight very nurturing women, most here to find their “authentic self”. We’re using voices so unusually hushed and gentle that I’m lulled into a trance and become preoccupied for much of the session with trying to imagine what each lady would sound like down the pub after a few squawky chardonnays.

At first I’m a bit wistful. If this were a men’s group we’d be in the woods staring into a bollocking great bonfire and thrashing drums, Robert Bly-style. Even in this room there’s a rogue element of Lord of the Flies though. Everyone stiffens at the thought of outsiders joining next month, yet we’ve only known each other half an hour.

I’m a latecomer to sisterhood. I grew up with a fierce determination not to be anything like a woman, nor suffer the guilt by association, having observed close-up that men had all the luck, all the fun and the last word. Mum’d pipe up with the odd feminist comment at the dinner table, for my benefit, but I’d join in any derision. Naively, I thought I’d picked a side, the winning side. The battle lines were clearly drawn, and needs must.

Now I’m completely comfortable in this room, talking honestly – which is a relief, as a grown woman who believes she’s “one of the boys” tends to be a lost lamb indeed. I can feel the empathy emanating around us, and when one girl cries in exhaustion I just want to go over and stroke her hair. Instead we are instructed to picture a big sphere hovering in front of us all and imagine exhaling our bad thoughts into it. “You can make a noise if you like,” the facilitator urges, then gaily boots the thing out of the room.

I’m going to go back again, you know… and I won’t be writing about it.

Poking my Pineal Gland

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Got a third eye tattoo? Pull up a chair!

Riding on the breeze there came the distant rumble of bongos. But instead of the familiar knot of repulsion in my gut, I found myself imagining the satisfaction the bongo botherers were getting out of interlocking their rhythms and looping into infinity, like psychedelic fractals.

“Thank god,” said a fellow diner when infinity petered out; but at this they started up again, which made me titter and root for the bongo botherers.

I drained the ubiquitous latte and set off to follow the sound.

Richard was not from anywhere in particular, but a citizen of planet earth. To be fair he didn’t utter this himself, but I deduced it from his rough, brown legs, straggly goatee and faraway stare. He perched on a rock, looked out to sea and requested a rolling paper. I shifted over to sit next to him and threw sticks for his sandy dog, which was wearing a bandana. The sun was setting epically over Mount Warning. Richard requested some tobacco.

This lovely photo of my new friends provoked vile threats about glassings and chasing people with flamethrowers when I posted it on Facebook.

“Get here earlier tomorrow,” he said. “You need to absorb some vitamin D from the sun and decalcify your pineal gland. That’s your third eye. It calcifies as you get older.” I pictured it scabbed and scaly as a cuttlefish bone behind my chickenpox scar.

Richard gave me a lentil pie he’d salvaged from a dumpster behind the bakery and cracked one open himself.

I thought about what to say other than, “And what do you do?”

“This is all just a figment of our imagination,” he offered before I could come up with anything. He swept his hand out at the shimmering horizon. “What we see here, we have created. Think about taking acid or mushrooms, and how differently you see things then.

“We’re all made up of energy,” he continued. “Like golden light. Sometimes when we meet someone with the wrong energy we’re like lightsabers, you know? Shwwwwung, shwwwwung. But we’re all just drops in the ocean. How do I know? I’ve read enough books and had enough conversations to be sure.”

It helped that Richard was good looking, in the same way that market researchers recruit hot young students to wield clipboards and bounce into your path. Sometimes you’ll weaken and listen. Richard talked some more about the meaning of life, and then drifted off. “Maybe your reason for coming to Byron Bay was for us to have this conversation,” he said in parting.

I wandered off into the sun’s crimson haze, and had a think about my pineal gland. The ancient Egyptians called it the Eye of Horus; the Freemasons depicted the All-Seeing Eye of the Great Architect of the Universe on the dollar bill. It’s known as the Third Eye of clairvoyance, or the Crown Chakra in the Hindu religion and sees metaphysical reality, not physical reality. Metaphysically, your soul leaves your body through it; physically, it secretes melatonin and serotonin, regulating sleep and mood. I want to see if I can get mine picking up stuff my other senses can’t.

How to stimulate your pineal gland without drugs, according to the internet 

  • Musically, the pineal gland resonates to the frequency of B. Get a tuning fork and ‘om’ along.
  • It emits a violet/white frequency, so enjoys having amethyst, charoite, dumorierite and quartz crystals of the same hue placed over it for up to 90 minutes.
  • Burn or massage in essential oils of mugwort, sandalwood, lavender, frankincense, myrrh, pine, oakmoss, and Himalayan cedar.
  • Consume chamomile, pine bark, lavender bud, wild indigo bark, violet, licorice and ginseng.
  • Tape a small, gold-plated magnet over your PG and wear for a few hours throughout the day.
  • Hold the pointed side of a quartz or amethyst crystal to the pineal gland while looking up to the morning sun.
  • Chant.
  • Have Tantric sex.
  • Rub milk snow on the male’s pineal gland. Milk snow is vaginal fluid, just quietly.

That’s all on the ‘to do’ list.

Conclusion: You know, I think I did go to Byron Bay to meet Richard, as sitting and talking to anyone on a pile of rocks while the sun goes down is quite out of character.

Further reading: This is the most concise, well-balanced article I found on the third eye: http://www.magickriver.net/3rdeye.htm.