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How to train your dragon, geomancy style

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Back in the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch found that if a group of participants – all but one of whom were plants in the experiment – decided that one straight line was longer than another, when it clearly was not, around 75% of the time the non-plant would defy reason and side with the majority.

I’m fully aware of this experiment as I stand here on Diana’s farm, swinging my rose quartz pendulum, but I’m not going to be the girl who couldn’t feel the vortex dragon. No way.

Today I am practicing the ancient art of geomancy. I’m out on a vast, beautiful property carved out of the countryside by volcanic action 470,000 years ago. Lately it’s been festooned with “power towers” and Blair Witch-style mounds of granite and quartz. The six of us gathered here today are under the guidance of Diana, a striking woman with a wily way with a pendulum.

Geomancy dates back to African-Arabian traders using the Silk Road – who would use markings on the ground and complex charts for divination – but it morphed into different forms in European and Asian cultures. It enjoyed a comeback in 17th century Europe as a Renaissance art, before being stamped out by the Age of Reason – then rearing up again during the rise of interest in the occult in the 19th century.

A British lady dousing a mango.

Seeing talk of “dowsing” on Diana’s flyers, I’d thought we’d just be finding water with forked sticks or – better still – animal shoulder blades, but the method we’re practicing today is more closely aligned to feng shui – in that we’ll be communicating with the spirits of the land, or the “devas”, to use Diana’s Sanskrit term. Diana uses pendulums to eke out energy obstructions and water sources, complementing her love of permaculture. Is your telly playing up due to an abundance of positive ions in the earth? Does your baby refuse to settle in its bedroom thanks to some invisible water source? Diana’s your woman. She’s even been called upon to remove negative spirits from a grungy Melbourne rock pub.

Dowsers in olden times.

We begin by holding out our pendulums and trying to gauge the outer reaches of each other’s aura. Diana demonstrates on Craig and starts feeling his vibes from a good few metres away. I hope to blazes my aura – which, to be clear, I don’t believe in – isn’t blinking lamely around my body like a dud battery.

Craig pads towards me slowly in his five-toed imitation-leather shoes, one palm held out towards me, the other hand holding his gently rotating pendulum. He stops a couple of metres away and frowns. “My hand’s tingling,” he murmurs. “I can definitely feel your aura here.” I have a go on him and report the same.

Next, we go for a yomp around the land, and Diana bids us tell her where we think the two yin and yang dragon vortexes crisscrossing the property are.

“I can feel it,” one half of an earnest couple from Northcote tells me, mapping out a dragon’s serpentine girth with his hands.

Can you see the vortex dragon?

Now, some would say that it’s the ‘ideomotor effect’ that has his pendulum all a-whirl; that is, the subconscious mind minutely influencing his muscles. It’s how Victorian-era mediums convinced the public that tables and ouija board glasses were being moved by spirits. Personally, I’m happy to accept that there are grids of meridian and ley lines of energy running through the Earth – enthusiasts have been building monuments on them since the beginning of time – but I baulk at being asked to hold a conversation with a dragon vortex.

How about now?

Actually, that’s not true. I do hold a conversation with a dragon vortex, since the peer pressure is immense. These kinds of new age workshops are like a war of attrition against your rational mind. As the hours and explanations wear on, peppered with semi-scientific sounding guff, you feel your boundaries slide sludgily down the mountainside of common sense.

Diana suggests we ask the dragon for permission to cross its path. As this property is inhabited by actual llamas as well as dragons, I ask the vortex if it likes the furry beasts. The pendulum rotates backwards. No.

We conclude by splitting into gender groups, with the women walking anti-clockwise around a sacred stone circle and the men exploring a “labyrinth” off somewhere I can’t spy on. Finally there’s a power tower ceremony, in which we drum up some sacred noise in thanks. I play the singing bowl.

As a mental exercise in connecting with the land, I enjoyed dowsing well enough, but I reckon I’ll leave the gentle art of geomancy to the experts.

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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.

Blubbing in a towelly nook

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‘Pranic healing and massage’ may sound as though it involves a forefinger and the perineum, but in actual fact it’s about removing energy blockages in the whole body and resolving deep-rooted emotional issues.

Regular readers will be aware of my pathological fear of New Age men, but Greg (name changed!) comes recommended by my two work chums, Sheridan and Gemima (real names!), who always come into the office next day looking flushed and fanning themselves. I can see why when Greg opens the door; he’s like Hollywood’s idea of a New Age man, if the New Age man was in Oceans 11.

We have a bit of a chat about what to expect. When a practitioner says: “You might find you cry, but that’s okay,” which they invariably do, I take it with a pinch of salt. It always reminds me of my first boyfriend waggling two fingers at me and announcing his unfailing ability to satisfy a woman thusly. If you don’t cry or orgasm gratefully, are you the failure?

I hop up onto a massage table in Greg’s house in just my undies and lie on my back under a towel. He walks me through some guided meditation that’s by the book, but still, I feel a bit like I’m being hypnotised. Thoughts start getting surreal and I keep morphing into Sheridan and then Gemima, who’ve both lain in this very spot. Maybe their psychic shadows are imprinting on me. It’s really off-putting. (“Maybe something awful happened on that table and you were disassociating,” James at the train station coffee cart says later.)

The pranic healing itself is done hands-off, other than occasional light touches on my head, but when Greg lubes up to segue into the massage, I freak out a bit. When a woman’s massaged my head or hands in a spa treatment I’ve enjoyed it, but having a man do something so intimate without getting me shitfaced first is incredibly confronting. And this goes on for three hours. Have you any idea how massaged you can become in three hours? There are 206 bones in the human body, and Greg swizzle-sticks them all, with no earlobe or toe left unturned. In fact, I can confidently say he now knows my body more intimately than any man I’ve ever slept with, with the exception of my sexual organs – although I’m sure he gave them a sly massage through some meridian point. Sometimes his hands tremble with the force of whatever’s coming out of them. I amuse myself by trying to zap him back with some piping hot lifeforce of my own.

My critical mind keeps piping up to mock my attempts at being pure consciousness. What if he’s rubbing himself right in front of your face? … Shut up, he can hear you, you know … He must be so bored, you should apologise and leave… This is rubbish; nothing’s happening … What’s that? Is that his leg?

Then, of course, something strange happens. It’s when Greg works from my lower back, up my arms and to my hands that I start crying, facedown in that towelly nook. I’ve barely got time for a We’re not really going to do this, are we? when I feel a bottomless well of grief and loneliness; not just the pinpricks of self-pity that can be willed out when one is laid horizontal and feeling a bit vulnerable, but grief bleeding out of my eyeballs and filling my mouth. Quietly. My fingers curl softly around his arm. He’s gentle, respectful and non-intrusive. I want him to stop touching me and not leave me at the same time.

Through the hole in the table I discover there’s a flower to look at, which my tears are plopping into. There’s some kind of card with writing on it as well, but my eyes are too blurry. Thankfully, when Greg moves onto my legs the feeling goes and I’m lulled into a vegetative state.

Afterwards, after I’ve got dressed, Greg pulls out a chart and shows me where the energy blockages were. He doesn’t need to tell me; I could feel which bits were stiff as a board and resisting arrest. But he tells me what that’s likely to mean, depending on which meridian lines and chakras are affected. He correctly identifies what memories came up for me, and reports on images he saw, which I was seeing, too.

The more time that goes by as I journey home and go about my business the next day, the more I’m able to rationalise the experience as coincidence, general knowledge and the law of probability… but it should be noted that at the time, I was buying it. Or if not entirely buying it, definitely putting it on lay-by. And as Greg says, “Our critical mind doesn’t want us freeing ourselves of the traps we’ve made.”

As a side note:
Greg gives an explanation of how we recreate our past experiences over and over as our lives spiral through time. Our DNA’s a spiral, he says, and so is the universe. The planets rotate around the sun, but beyond that the universe is spiraling, and so history keeps on repeating itself until we can gain some perspective by ascending up the six spheres of consciousness. It’s a theory favoured by David Icke.

Also, says Greg, our DNA carries the imprints of our parents, grandparents and ancestors, whose experiences become our own. It’s an idea I first heard from strange Theta-Healer and DNA restrander Maria. It’s not dissimilar to the idea that DNA replicates at a distance, which has been posited by Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier (argh! Nobel Prize science and pseudoscience collide. Now I feel even more wobbly), recently backed up by Professor Jeff Reimer at the University of Sydney. Psychic slayer James Randi disagrees with the idea of DNA teleportation, needless to say, drawing comparisons with homeopaths’ claims that water has memory.

The difference between reiki and theta healing (TM)

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Both involve combing the fingers through the air above the body, but theta healing (TM) is approximately $60 more expensive.

Needled by acupuncture

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NOT my back.

Of all the alternative medicines to try, acupuncture could surely ease what ails one. It dates back to 200BC and is endorsed by the likes of the National Health Service in the UK and the World Health Organisation. I head to a practitioner in Melbourne with no particular complaint in mind.

After quizzing me on my relationship with my father, the practitioner massages my back excruciatingly with her nubby thumbs over soothing whale music, and then sets to tenderising my flesh further with some kind of scrapey ‘Gua Sha’ spoon. “You will have some marks for a few days,” she observes cheerfully.

She taps a needle into my freshly pulverised shoulder blade groove and immediately one kidney sings out in horror… followed a second later by the other.

I start to experience that sense of dread and rising panic one feels in a screaming kidney hangover when one considers the prospect of getting up and going to work the next day, before one sensibly pushes the thought aside and flails pathetically for the pizza menu. There are also heady notes of childhood “don’t leave me” agitation and claustrophobic “what if I can’t get up off this table?” alarm.

After the needles are set on fire (or something — she’s a bit vague) I’m left alone to “get in the zone” and immediately the CD gets stuck on one warbly note, at which point I discover it really hurts when I laugh. I raise my head out of its towelly nook with difficulty, a thin strand of drool connecting us still, but decide that calling out feebly for assistance would just be too much to take.

“I don’t have my diary on me at the moment,” I bluff, once safely upright in reception. The practitioner looks at me sadly, as though she knows we are never going to see each other again, despite me executing my most sincere “sure, we’ll stay friends” smile.

The outcome is somewhat confusing. Dyed-in-the-wool skeptics will tell you there’s no stock in acupuncture whatsoever, yet it’s elicited a reaction in me, even if it’s an unwanted one. Maybe, like when I tried on my special $3 acu-sock, it was just the idea of having my organs messed with that made them cry foul.

Tai chi: calming for me; rage-inducing for commuters

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“Ridicule is nothing to be scared of,” said Adam Ant, who should know.

I’m in an extremely central Melbourne precinct with 10 softly-spoken pensioners in sweatshirts, pants and gloves, repulsing the monkey.

And a strange thing happens. Gentle, gentle, I’m feeling so gentle. I’m so used to bowling over pedestrians and skewering my hipbones on the edges of desks, I didn’t know I could feel like this. It’s as though I’m pushing and sculpting treacle instead of air. Warm, lovin’ treacle. I look over at my friend Lou and she’s similarly entranced.

Tai chi is an internal martial art that translates as ‘great extremes boxing’ (it involves ‘yielding and sticking’ to an incoming attack. Maybe this limpet-like tactic repels the attacker into shaking you off). Stay serious, reader – I’m working muscles I never even knew I had as I form magical tigers, snakes and storks with my body, and there’s not an ounce of fat, nor orthopedic shoe, on any of these elderly athletes.

We’re in the middle of a complex leg balancing sequence to a watery Mandarin rendition of Irene Cara’s ‘What A Feeling’ when some huffing bronco in a suit ploughs through the middle of us, scattering old people in his wake. Luckily, I have achieved great mental clarity, so I don’t mind.

Other commuters may smirk, but I know they’re jealous. I’m starting the day parting the wild horse’s mane and they’re … well … they’re not. Definitely going to do this lots. Feel all smooshy.

Tapping myself to emotional freedom

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The fact that I’ve come to investigate Emotional Freedom Techniques in this windswept Box Hill motel with Esther of all people, should suggest that I’ve come bearing a bucketload of pig’s blood to tip all over it.

Both of us pop a capillary at any pseudoscientific talk of angels, the law of attraction and whatnot, as evidenced by our recent experiment with healing our souls with song… So why do we keep coming back for more?

Maybe because we’re two reformed grog-botherers who’ve lost our religion. We once had blind faith, just like the good people we’re scathing of – faith that this time when we poured a rather large vodka, we wouldn’t end up making pricks of ourselves with our stockings at half mast. (I could metaphor on for a bit about worshipping at the altar of the bottle shop, but I won’t.) Maybe we do crave something new to believe in. Maybe, Esther worries, we have the God Gene.

The first hint that EFT might be the real deal is that this three-hour session with a husband and wife couple is free. Sure, you can buy the book, but it turns out there’s no hard sell.

I won’t use the couple’s real names, because I don’t tell them I’ll be writing about them. David and Anne used to practise Neuro-Linguistic Programming, till they “suspended their disbelief” and switched to Emotional Freedom Techniques – developed by a US realtor and NLP practitioner with no medical or psychological background – which promises to cure emotional and physical pain. The US military, for instance, has been using it on personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder.

During the opening spiel, about men and women across the States who have leapt out of wheelchairs and had pernicious diseases cured by EFT, I hear the word “tapping” and shrivel up inside. Doesn’t this involve touching people? I really should have looked into this before coming along.

Happily, tonight we’ll only be touching ourselves. We use our fingers to tap ourselves on meridian points on the hands, face and body while repeating a mantra. David gives us all a chocolate as an experiment. Most of us, upon holding it, start getting strong urges to eat it. First we do three rounds of tapping, the basic mantra of which is: “Even though I want to eat this chocolate, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

We’re told to take a bite of the chocolate. My brain usually lights up like a Christmas tree at this point, but I find the thing tastes flat and dull. Everyone else reports something similar; one bloke complains his tastes of cow. By golly, if we’ve been brainwashed, I hope we’ve done it ourselves.

Now we’re going to move to an emotional problem. We’re asked to think back to something that traumatised us, at least three years ago, and isolate what emotion it made us feel. We rate how bad it’s making us feel right now with a mark out of 10. Then we drop the name of that emotion into the mantra: “Even though I feel xxx…” and tap through it while replaying the scene in our minds. This time, though, we imagine we’re tapping our younger selves. Afterwards we see if the mark out of 10 has gone down. And repeat.

David invites two people to the front to reveal what their trauma was and then be tapped through it. The first guy recounts a childhood humiliation, and reports his anxiety levels go down as he repeats the process. The girl refuses to talk about what happened to her and is close to tears.

David asks if he can perform the tapping on her himself, an uncomfortable moment, especially given her body language. He goes through three or four rounds, dropping in phrases like “I don’t feel I can trust people” and “I know I am safe here”, which seems manipulative. Meanwhile, we’re all slapping away at ourselves in front of her. It sounds like a porn film in here.

A few times, David loses my willingness. He insists that every experience we’ve had is imprinted inside us and could potentially be replayed like a movie. He talks of the time he worked at Amway. He references The Secret. Rationalising things like EFT, he chuckles, involves “rational lies”. And then there’s his account of being regressed to the womb. Lastly, I’m always suspicious of people who smile “Isn’t that interesting” when “um” would do just as well.

Keeper? I’m not sure yet if I feel beatific because I’ve spent gentle, quality time with myself (that doesn’t involve a cigarette or rolling around in bed), or because there’s something in this tapping lark. Hey – that chocolate thing was weird though.

POSTSCRIPT: Seven days later, I’ve had no desire to smoke. Isn’t that interesting?