Warnings From the Shadow

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Many years ago a client informed me that I had given her an inaccurate psychic reading. The reason, she said, was that a malevolent extraterrestrial had clouded my perceptions, causing the reading to fail.

Even if one believes, as I do, that psychic abilities and a spiritual reality exist, there are a lot of less dramatic reasons why a psychic might screw up a reading. Wanting to please a client too much is usually mine. But I also have a horror of misleading people, so naturally this phone call disturbed me.

What disturbed me even more was my client’s allegation that invisible aliens can control human minds. This has become a popular doctrine in the New Age community worldwide. ET influence has been offered as an explanation for illness, fatigue, accidents, depression, relationship difficulties and prosperity setbacks. Self-proclaimed ET representatives offer community, identity, excitement, peace and spiritual rescue to those willing to embrace the truth of the UFO underground.

All of this is an uncomfortable mirror of things I was taught when I was a Fundamentalist Christian in the seventies. In those days it was Satan and his demons that I was taught to beware rather than manipulative ETs, and the identity offered me was that of membership in the ranks of those saved by grace from the Last Judgment.

Both doctrines offer the same seduction. Both view the world “out there” as essentially malignant, and view the world inside us as invaded by evil. Both doctrines offer me the promise that someone outside myself can heal me, whether it be a Messiah or a “de-corder” removing my “ET implants.” Both doctrines promise to save me from the pain of being merely human by giving me a new, cleaner, more spiritual, higher identity as one of the reborn or one of the starborn. And both doctrines relieve me of the responsibility for facing the rage and sadness rooted in my childhood which, unreleased and unresolved, is the true cause of my dysfunctions.

It’s all reminiscent of what sociologists call millennial fever. We are still in the first years of the new millennium. A thousand years ago in Europe, on the eve of the year 1001 in the Christian calendar, paranoid doctrines increasingly proliferated. In those days, the invisible enemies were considered Jews, heretics, and demons. Jews, it was alleged, went about poisoning wells at night; heretics sought to seduce the theologically uneducated; demons crouched on one’s bed under the moon and tempted the flesh to rebel against the Creator. The world, the preachers back then said, was coming to an end. Evidence for this was the rebelliousness of youth and society’s increasing immorality, ecclesiastic corruption, and the proliferation of war, disease, and natural disaster. Watch the skies, people were told, for the Lord would soon appear in His glory to rescue the world from End Time horrors.

Now it is polluters, feminists, gay people, pro-choicers, immigrant “entitlement-takers”, crack dealers and bad ETs we are taught to fear in the night. Now it is good ETs we are taught to search the sky for. But both doctrines are fueled by the same unconscious, unresolved traumas.

Maybe it’s because I am an incest and PTSD survivor in recovery that I resist so strongly the notion that invisible ETs can take over my mind. But I don’t think so. I stand by the truth that intuition, reason, and emotional experience have proven to me: that it is I who cast the shadows that seem to pursue me.

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