Sunday, June 23, 2013

Aunt BeaN: The Fruitcake Years

If you didn't think I was kooky before, this one will probably do it.

So I've told you before that I went through a New Age phase when I was searching for "My Path" back in my early 30s.  I had stopped attending an Evangelical church in my mid-20s, but I was still looking around for a spiritual practice that worked for me.

When we moved to Montana, I found a great group of like-minded friends, and we tried all kinds of stuff. Some of it was bizarre and off-the-wall, some of it was genuinely moving.  We learned about crystals and stones, we dried herbs and combined them for our own personal herbal magyk, we made deerskin-covered hoop drums and had drumming nights, we learned to do rituals based on the correspondences of the four elements/directions, we learned about tarot and had our astrological charts made, we had our chakras balanced and we did guided meditations to recover our past life experiences.

We met weekly for awhile with a woman who channeled "the Christ energy" (remember Selena?),  we went to hear lectures by a guy who passed along wisdom from ancient Sumerian Sanskrit texts. We went to New Moon rituals off and on for a couple of years led by a woman who channeled the goddess Binah (a freaking goddess who gave a friend advice about starting up her new business, down to the business name and the logo)(if I were a goddess, I guarantee I would have better things to do than think about somebody else's business cards). I'm sure that's not even the whole list.  It's just what I remember off the top of my head.

But in the end, it was a little too out-there for me.  I remember one time just starting to laugh in exasperation when one of my New Age friends brought up something about wisdom from the ancient Atlanteans. "Do we have to fall for every single thing?" I asked her.  "Do we just throw skepticism to the wind and believe every crazy idea anybody tells us?" and she looked at me blankly, because somebody she knew had received wisdom from the ancient Atlanteans and she didn't see any reason to question that.  But I did.

Some of the things I learned were really meaningful to me, and some of it I still use, although I've incorporated it into a more traditional set of beliefs (more about that another time).  And some of it was batshit crazy.  I don't see those folks anymore, partly because I never quite fit in --I was there more out of curiosity than because I really believed this stuff, and I refused to completely give up my skepticism or my education. I was fascinated and often inspired, but I picked through everything and only kept the things that made sense to me.

But the main reason I don't see those friends anymore is simply because most of them moved away.  I miss them.  Even though my skepticism kept me on the outskirts of the group, it's the only time in my life I've found a group of people who were similarly dedicated to figuring things out--spiritual things.  Why are we here? What does it mean to be a spiritual being?  When you join a small group at a church, the discussions tend to be bound by the dogma of the church.  Both the blessing and the eventual end of my involvement with the New Age folks stemmed from the idea that there were no boundaries.  We were willing to explore just about anything. Ultimately the "All Light All the Time" philosophy didn't cut it for me, but sometimes I miss those days and those friends.  I really do.  There was a lot of joyful exuberant enthusiasm for spiritual pursuits that I've never encountered anywhere else.

And once again I've spent so long typing out the setup that I haven't made it to the thing I was going to say.  But this is probably long enough for today.

(This has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a month, because I know some of you have no patience with this kind of stuff.  But my well of things-to-blog-about has run dry, so here you go.  Don't leave.  Please.)


  1. Just wanted to say thank you, fruitcake. Although it sounds a little like you are a "recovering fruitcake" but we'll let that go.
    Once again, your honesty is a gift. I have not ever had the courage to do the kind of exploration you've described. So my need to explore sneaks up on me (and has snuck up on me) in the form of doubt in my 40s and 50s.
    On the topic of being in the "outskirts" of a group, one of the things I've discovered is that I'm not a joiner so that no matter what group I "join" I am always on the outskirts. I sometimes wonder if it is related to introversion or if I am too much an individual, too satisfied with my own understanding to ever fully give myself to any group.

    1. You know, I've wondered the same thing about being an outskirter. :-) I'm reading the book "Quiet" right now which is about introversion--it's really interesting and has some similar ideas in it. Very thought provoking.

    2. plus, "recovering fruitcake" -- *snort* I should have a t-shirt.

    3. Blogspot needs a LIKE button!

  2. I've never been brave enough to really explore "alternate" spirituality with a group. I've read, yeah, talked occasionally, but not really explored. I have such a deep vein of skepticism running through me that I have trouble buying into anything enough to really get something out of it. It's okay with church as I seem to have some to terms with that and my skepticism, at least mostly.

    1. yes, skepticism. One of the main topics of the next post. Or possibly the one after that, I'm still working on them.