latest news When is divination worth money?

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Episode 7: “A Prism”. At first, Faith thought Paulina was giving her a hot tip on psychics and scams. Years of investigation revealed otherwise.

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When I returned to Mexico in December 2010, I had already missed many of my tia The last months of Martha’s life.

She had breast cancer and had undergone several rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy. She ate the healthiest, most organic raw diet possible and took conventional and homeopathic medications between naps. But it wasn’t enough. Her cancer had spread throughout her body. We couldn’t do anything more.

I flew straight from my study abroad semester in France and walked into her room, where she was propped up on pillows, coughing up blood. I tried to cheer her up by showing her all the fancy hats I had bought for her. “That Linda! she said trying them on. She liked the way they looked but returned each hat to me, discouraged. She knew she wouldn’t live long enough to go out and wear them.

That night my mother brought in a disheveled-looking stranger who said he was a Brujo. In Mexico, it is effectively a catch-all term for those who practice any kind of non-Catholic spiritual healing rituals, whether it be native healers or fortune tellers. And this guy’s dirty backpack was a bag of spiritual rituals. It was bulging with tarot cards, crystals, a Bible, feathers, rosaries and shards of glass.

I was surprised and a little taken aback that my mother brought him home from tianguis, the outdoor market. If anything, I would have expected her to bring a priest – not that I would have been happy to see him either. I was 20 years old and immersed in my atheist phase of angry young adulthood. I had grown up Catholic in Santa Cruz, a California mecca for new-age hippies; by the time I was in college, I had already rejected both Catholicism and New Age Spiritualism. I thought anything that wasn’t scientifically proven or logically obvious was hot trash.

And like many insufferable rebellious students, I spoke about it. As this man gave tarot readings to every member of my family, I watched him intently, looking for ways to demystify him. When it was my turn, he instantly knew I was skeptical. He stroked my ego a bit and called me a free thinker, but I wasn’t going to let flattery sway my opinion that it was all a waste of time. He tried, but in the end I got nothing out of the experience, and he left.

My whole family had a little more energy than usual that night, even my tia Martha. Everyone was talking about their interpretations of what the cards were telling them about themselves and their future. They compared notes, reflected on their memories, even joked about changing careers or moving. Everyone was having a good time. Everyone, except me.

When I think back to that night, I have a different perspective on why my mother brought this Brujo. As a scientist herself, I’m sure she didn’t think he could change the fact that my aunt was dying in front of us. But she was looking for hope, and that’s what he offered. My angsty 20-year-old self would have called his practice emotional manipulation at worst, placebo at best. But whatever ? My family needed to believe in something, if only for a night of relief.

And wasn’t it worth paying for?

Well, it depends on how much you pay and who you ask. For me, at 20, any amount of money was too much for a reading. For me, 32 years old, I could see the value of paying; it’s not as if we had skimped on his care to afford this session.

The value of this kind of spiritual practice is in the eye of the beholder. If you feel like you got nothing out of it, then you didn’t. If you feel like you’ve done it, then you’ve done it. There’s no way to prove it anyway.

There is danger in opting for a spiritual practice rather than a medical one. But my family did not hire Brujo instead of turning to evidence-based cancer treatments. It was complementary. And he gave my tia the opportunity to reflect on his life in a joyful way – not only on his impending death but also on the whole meaning of his life.

Fortune tellers and other spiritual advisers sell human connections and opportunities for introspection. And it is possible to benefit from it even if there is nothing metaphysical about it.

That said, it’s still a business. And when money changes hands, it can cloud people’s motives and open the door to exploitation.

Spiritualist and filmmaker George Eli acknowledges that some of his colleagues might focus too much on money and not enough on spirituality.

There is a market for telling people what they want to hear. … A lot of clients come to me and tell me they went to a psychic, paid thousands of dollars a month, and never really got anything out of it.

– George Eli in “Foretold”

But George is a true believer in his practice, and he says many of the cynics he knows – even other Roma – are actually true believers too.

This is the hardest part to understand. If a fortune teller believes in his practice and acts in good faith And the benefits for the customer, what is the problem? Why is there such scrutiny of this spiritual practice – more than, say, astrology, motivational talks and meditation retreats?

Sounds like racism to me. … I don’t know all the individual cases. I don’t know. But I know that when one or two cases come up every three, four, five years, it’s like that in the press. So it’s racism.

– George Eli in “Foretold”

—Jazmin Aguilera

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Go even further

“I would not exist if my ancestors had not practiced Drabarimosor spiritual medicine, writes George Eli. The Romani spiritualist reflects on how he came into his work and why his community and heritage have become so misunderstood.

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