Bell Chimes In is baaack for 2019. =) And we kick off the series with #37, on shadow work.
Well, it’s not really about shadow work. I realize now in retrospect I never even actually addressed what shadow work is, or even what it is to me. I just jumped right in to my opinions and tangential thoughts.
Anyway, I want to conjoin that video chat with a blog post on the most recent thing to fire up the tarot, pagan, occult, and New Age communities: Doreen Virtue’s “An A-Z List of New Age Practices to Avoid and Why.” At first my response to that article won’t seem to relate to shadow work, but just stay with me. I’ll get there.
Which by the way, is totally okay. Shadow work, that is. It didn’t make it onto Virtue’s list of demonic things. So we’re good. Phew.
Admittedly, she raises great critiques about the New Age community and at some point, those critiques are worth addressing by the community, not in the context of her or her brand of Christianity, but just in general.
For example, are all the different esoteric and divinatory practices we’re dabbling in really serving us? Or is some of that dabbling in large part novelty? Do our practices really bring us a lasting sense of peace and harmony? Are we using the tools we’re availed in a way that is actually bringing us that lasting sense of peace and harmony?
These are all really good and hard questions to interrogate ourselves with. Doreen Virtue herself is a living testament of the New Age skimming the surface of indigenous cultural practices and filling in the gaps of her actual understanding of those practices with fodder and fluff. How can the evolution of the New Age movement going forward be better than that?
But those hard questions are for another day. For now let’s address the A-Z list. You’re going to find that a lot of whip-smart folks have already published their commentary and I’ve found myself pretty much agreeing with all of them and laughing at all the brilliant satire. So I’m not entirely sure what more I can add. I’ll just ramble.
Right off the bat, Virtue states that if her list offends or upsets you, then it’s because demons are oppressing you and it’s the demons manipulating you into being offended or upset, because they’re controlling you.
In other words, if you’re virtuous, good, rational, and balanced, there is no way you could possibly be offended or upset by this list.
Isn’t that gaslighting 101? Isn’t that abuse? Narcissism in all its splendor? Like totes what cult of personality leaders do?
The Usual Fare
She condemns many usual culprits, like astrology, tarot cards, mediumship, and Harry Potter, and since there’s really no surprise there, I’ll actually accept her views on these points because they’re just that– her opinions. Her opinion is that tarot cards invite in the devil. Hey, that’s her religious belief. I’m good with that.
Some of it enters the realm of funny, like peace signs and unicorns, or to be specific, neon-colored unicorn images “where glitter substitutes for the bright light of Jesus.” Credit where credit is due. That’s some creative prose writing!
Wait, But That’s Astronomy, As In Like Science
Belief in Mercury retrograde is also the devil. First off, there’s no believing or no believing in Mercury retrograde. It’s science. It’s astronomy. It really happens, except no, Mercury doesn’t move backwards; it’s our geocentric perspective and due to our orbit versus Mercury’s, from our vantage point it appears to move backwards to us the way if you’re driving faster in the left lane than the car in the right lane next to you, it appears the car in the right lane is driving backwards.
Mercury retrograde as an event is astronomical science. Now, our beliefs about what it means astrologically and whether Mercury is the reason you sent that dumbass e-mail is certainly up for debate. I’m not so sure I’d go as far as she did with calling it the devil, but I meet her at the point where we should take more ownership over what happens to us and not just blame Mercury retrograde.
Violating Consumer Protection Laws.
Since everything she’s ever sold and is still selling is in the realm of woo, I wouldn’t say matter-of-factly that she violates consumer protection laws, but let’s just say she definitely does not pass the smell test.
Most developed countries have consumer protection laws such as an implied warranty of merchantability, where anything you sell to the public must be reasonably fit for the general purpose for which it was sold.
Take a crazy leap into theory with me here. Okay I own a Doreen Virtue angel oracle deck. (Don’t judge me.) Let’s say I bought the angel oracle cards to communicate with angels, as in like heaven floating around with wings real celestial forms, you know, like angels the way I used to believe Care Bears walked around in the skies above the clouds so every time I rode on an airplane I’d stare out the window for hours scanning the horizon for Care Bears. (True story.) Legit angels.
She is now admitting that her angel oracle cards don’t in fact connect me to angels but– oh my god— connect me to demons? I’ve been talking to demons this whole time? Within this ideological framework, isn’t that the complete opposite of angels? She’s admitting that the angel oracle cards I bought from her not only fail to connect me to angels, but in fact, connect me to the total opposite of what I want–demons.
Fortunately for all of us, Doreen Virtue has integrity and came clean as soon as she realized her angel oracle cards aren’t merchantable for their intended purpose.
You know what that means? A total and complete recall. Every single copy of her angel oracle cards ever sold should be given a full refund. Like the way automobile companies send you that little postcard if you’ve bought one of their cars and tells you to bring your car in to the dealer because there’s been a recall, that’s what Hay House needs to do now. Just sayin’. Freakin’ I’ve been talking to demons with my angel oracle cards this whole time? Well, shit. I think I deserve my $20 back.
If this community actually acted like a community and put some real financial pressure on Hay House to recall all Doreen Virtue decks and issue full refunds, Hay House would have no choice but to sue Doreen Virtue for indemnification of their losses. That’s actually being productive, rather than ranting and raving on the Internet.
Also, instead of whining, consumers oughta be uniting together to forge a collective power and compel her organization to give a 100% refund to every single person who ever got an angel reader certification or fairy certification from Doreen Virtue, to the point of suing. A class action lawsuit really should be filed against her for this. Can the plaintiffs win? I’m not sure. It’s not an easy case to win as plaintiff, but I’ll tell you what the lawsuit would succeed at, irrespective of whether the class action plaintiffs win– bankrupting her to oblivion so she’ll never again be able to pull stunts against consumers like what she’s done here.
She tells you to avoid working with chakras and in that entry on chakras, goes further to cover “Eastern mysticism.” She tells you that “multi-cultural gods and goddesses” don’t actually exist outside of myth and “are really demons pretending to be helpful spirits.”
She connects dream catchers, drumming circles, and sweat lodges to demons– mandalas, yoga, feng shui, any form of meditation that isn’t upon God’s scripture in the Bible, and all forms of polytheism as demonic. She explicitly calls out Wicca, an established religion, as evil. Yah. This is now going beyond criticizing certain practices or isolated beliefs. She’s denigrating an entire religion. (And she does this throughout the list actually. I’m just using Wicca as one example.)
I guess looking on the positive side, Doreen Virtue comes out very strongly against cultural appropriation, with the number of times she repeats “new age borrows from multi-cultural spirituality” and implies this is a horrible transgression.
Basically, blatant displays of ethnocentricism were rampant throughout her post.
You know how sociopaths accuse you of doing what they’re guilty of doing?
In that article, Virtue writes, “Some people are deeply enmeshed in the New Age, perhaps because their career and income depend upon New Age revenue.”
What was she doing before? And what is she doing now? After all, from what I know about the Christian faith, her chosen brand of Christianity feels like some really New Agey Christianity to me. Her dressing has changed, but her M.O. remains the same.
By the way, she now sells 44-card Jesus inspirational quote decks and if you read the five-star rave reviews by folks who bought her Jesus decks and are using them, they’re using them to divine messages for the day or to get answers to their questions. (Uh…oracle cards much?) Not to mention her consumers call these decks oracle cards!!! Some of the reviews are hilarious– talking about yin and yang energy, Christ consciousness, and basically all the things Doreen Virtue herself would call demonic. (Oh– yeah– one of the things listed on that A-Z as being of the devil is “Christ consciousness.”) Other folks noted how the cards are perfect for pulling one card a day to study and for Bible journaling (tarot journaling anyone?).
Virtue mentions that she donates a portion of the proceeds from her deck sales to a charity called Compassion International. I did just a little itty bit of digging. Compassion International is explicitly anti-LGBTQ+ but I think I recall Doreen Virtue saying she totally embraces and loves the LGBTQ+? So she looks straight into the camera to say she loves her gays but then financially supports anti-gay organizations?
Dig more and you come upon a daunting number of complaints from Christians who sponsored a child through Compassion International and noted that they discovered the money they sent to Compassion International [allegedly] wasn’t all going to benefit the poor kids, but instead, most of the donations were [allegedly] getting sucked in by bureaucracy, and [allegedly] throwing Christian rock concerts and Christian social events for the marketing and promotion of Compassion International.
“Compassion,” which by definition implies a certain unconditional expression of your love and generosity, shouldn’t be a bargained-for exchange, and yet in 2017 there was major crackdown in India that shut the doors of Compassion International in that country and booted them out because [allegedly] they weren’t actually helping children for children’s sake, but conditioned sustenance on conversion to Christianity. The donations weren’t so much being used to simply feed, clothe, and shelter needy kids as they were being used to fund the teaching of “Scripture-based values.”
Oops. I got off topic.
“We’re not judging you… but this thing that you do is wrong.” That’s pretty much what she says throughout the article.
It would be the understatement of January 2019 to say that folks didn’t get triggered bigtime by Virtue’s A-Z article.
And although I called her tactics gaslighting, in a way, she wasn’t wrong. If her list offends or upsets you, it’s because the demons are oppressing you, controlling you, and manipulating you into being offended or upset (she says).
Fair point. Hence, the shadow work.
The only difference is I think Virtue is being a lot more literal with her interpretation of “demons” and I’m just talking about our own insecurities.
The one thing in common among all the folks who practice or believe in any of the stuff she listed out is all these folks have at some point or another (or many points…) been made to feel less-than because of their practices or beliefs. An article such as this one getting as many eyeballs on it as it’s getting authored by such a renowned public figure from the New Age community is drudging up every memory of ever having felt less-than for our practices and beliefs. And that’s what’s triggering.
What I’ve found to work for me in these cases is to set aside the person who caused the trigger and focus on the subject matter of the trigger. In this case, it’s our religious and spiritual beliefs.
Go ahead and question those beliefs. Question them hard.
See, every single judgment Virtue passed on the practices she listed out were based on a lack of understanding of those practices. She didn’t dig deep to fully understand what each and every one of those practices truly were about or those beliefs within their full scope of context and then walked out the other side with the informed and well-researched conclusion that they were demonic. No. She didn’t do that. She didn’t form her judgments on rock solid research. She passed judgment off of hearsay.
She committed the very transgression she accuses New Agers of committing: judging the books by their covers, or in this case, judging cultural and religious practices only by what she can see from her limited vantage point, not even from the vantage point of someone “in.”
Every entry from Virtue’s A-Z list that got you fired up because she called what you practice or believe in the devil? Take note. And then when you’re done reading, go and research each and every one of those practices and beliefs. Dig deep. Learn more. Arm yourself with knowledge. Make a conscious effort to engage in those practices even more so that your own experiences can determine whether or not, truly, the practice is evil, or why it would be ludicrous to call them evil. Don’t just say “this is not evil.” Have a deep basis of knowledge for asserting why it’s not “evil,” why these practices or beliefs have in measurable, ascertainable ways made you a better human being.
Knowledge is empowerment. (Oh, wait, she flat out listed empowerment as demonic, didn’t she. Doh. I can’t win this, can I….)
The reason the community has been so triggered by this list is because deep down, we’re not sure about our own practices and beliefs. We secretly question whether astrology is real, whether astral projection is batshit crazy, if maybe crystals are bullshit, if maybe the religion you’ve been following this whole time, which Doreen Virtue names straight out as evil, is truly the right path for you.
You’ve already been questioning and doubting yourself way before Doreen Virtue came along with her list. So now what you need to do is go back to basics with your religion and deepen your learning and your comprehension until you arrive on the other side with conviction. Or maybe you arrive on the other side concluding one of those practices she listed in fact doesn’t serve you, so you can release it and move on to discovering the practices that will. Either way, there are only benefits to be gained.
Although most of the New Agers who were upset by the A-Z list would disagree with Virtue’s negative judgment of those practices, actually their own understanding of those practices are about on par with hers. So if that might be you, then maybe it’s time to immerse yourself in education and further training. Don’t just say she’s wrong. Be informed enough to be able to competently express why that article was littered with logical fallacies and why the actual practice of the things she listed by themselves refute what she’s saying about the practice.
The A-Z article on its own and Doreen Virtue as a personality don’t interest me enough to spend all this time writing about them. But this community that I am a part of is what I care about and the way the article and this denouncer and deceiver, this accuser who claims herself to be a bearer of light– how she has shaken up my community– is why I write.
As the discussions orbiting Virtue’s A-Z List rages on across various social media platforms, there are a few clear, recurring patterns that I’d like to address.
Ease up on the ad hominem attacks. Critiquing her conduct and asking whether her business practices might be a con are good questions to raise. However, denigrating her physical appearance is uncalled for.
I also feel very uncomfortable about all the unabashed conjectures on her psychological state. Since she’s a public figure and has capitalized on her fame, keeping the conversation about her work is productive, but saying she’s mentally unwell doesn’t actually defeat her arguments. Just think about that.
It’s unsettling that our first go-to response to someone who disagrees with our perspective is to accuse them of being crazy. I’m not saying she’s not crazy and I’m not saying that she is. I just don’t think that’s the accusation to rest on.
Want More? Read and Watch:
- Doreen Virtue’s A-Z List of “Demonic” New Age Practices, by Bring Doreen Virtue to Justice, https://thevirtues.org.uk/doreen-virtue/doreen-virtues-a-z-list-of-demonic-new-age-practices/
- The Real A-Z List You Need to See, by Andrew Barker, https://www.tarotangel444.com/blog/azlist
- A Rebuttal to Doreen Virtue’s Attack on Unicorns, by Matt Auryn, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/matauryn/2019/01/23/a-rebuttal-to-doreen-virtues-attack-on-unicorns/
- There is No Virtue in the Judgments of Doreen Virtue, by Jason Mankey, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2019/01/there-is-no-virtue-in-being
- Hello Doreen Virtue Your A-Z List of New Age Practices Lacks Love and Expands White Supremacy, by The Color Mage, https://youtu.be/UGpvlvM_LbU
- Doreen Virtue’s List of Evil New Age Practices, by Lou Valcourt, https://youtu.be/hKrNsW-G8vM
- Doreen Virtue’s List of New Age Practices to Avoid: Thoughts with a Side of Ranting, by Goth Witch, https://youtu.be/6n_aehBopVs
- Doreen Virtue A-Z Bigotry, by Lippy Witch, https://youtu.be/-rYmxzAJEIs
- More Hostility Toward the Pagan Community, by Raven Ways, https://youtu.be/kcWBzdSDsW4
- WTF Doreen Virtue? See You In Hell. XO, by Black Lunar Tarot, https://youtu.be/pUXSZPZcBos