Ghost? Busted!

I admit it. I have a really vivid dream life. Fortunately, I usually forget what I’ve dreamt even before I finish dreaming it. Yesterday was a bit different. I had a dream about filming a sceptics program in India showing how dishonest the peddlers of healing crystals and Ayurveda are.

The dream started with me entering an esoteric shop and asking the healer to help me. I claimed I was having some problems and inquired what I’d need to do to get some relief. The shopkeeper was very calming and said I would need to hold a diagnosis stone in order for him to pick up the negative vibrations. He could then study the vibrations and prescribe a treatment. (And yes, I know Ayurveda doesn’t work this way. It was a dream.)

I should note here, that what I was dreaming wasn’t my going into the shop itself, but rather my reviewing my video, taped using a hidden camera, of my going into the shop. So we have a dream of a video of a shop selling imaginary charms. Wow, how anti-existential do you want to get for one night?

Back to the dream; I am handed a rather beat-up piece of dark glass and told to hold it while concentrating on my problems. I solemnly hold the piece of ‘crystal’ and pretend to concentrate on my problems while the shopkeeper/healer looks very concerned. While doing this, I mentally write the narration saying that the peddler would be better off selling this type of trinket to foolish tourists as an example of glass beads traded to Indian merchants by the British in the previous century. “These beads are very rare and highly valued”; sort of a reverse trading-worthless-trinkets-to-the-gullible kind of thing. But I digress. After a little while he remarks that it should be long enough and asks for the glass stone diagnostic crystal .

Looking very serious he holds the crystal in both hands, wringing it like a wet rag, moving his hands back and forth as if he were trying to wash any evil from the stone. He does an excellent job of pretending to pick up the vibrations from the stone and makes a really cool grunting/humming/tsking sounds before pronouncing his diagnosis.

I have an energy blockage of some kind. It is extremely serious and I am lucky to have come to his shop when I did, otherwise things would have gone very, very wrong. He is one of the few people who knows how to treat this and he proceeds to collect several different crystals, powders and herbs explaining what I need to do to ‘unblock’ and ‘recenter.’ None of his explanations seem either comforting or comfortable but I act relieved and pay a rather exorbitant sum for the rather worthless collection of dead plants and pebbles.

I later do the journalistic pounce thing, returning to the shop and forcing the poor guy into the defensive, mumbling and defending his way of life. I feel like the ‘Oh, aren’t I just the really impressive journalist, protecting you, dear viewer, from giving your hard earned tourist dollars to some impoverished healer/seller of stones.’ Color me Ralph Nader.

For most people that would have been enough for one dream. Me? I’m just getting warmed up. Now enter the second shopkeeper.

This time it is not a he but a she. We have moved to a new town and are in a much more middle class, upscale shopping district. The woman is the image of the professional sub-continental business woman, well-dressed, urban, intelligent and confident. She greets me, listens to my claims and hands me a stone. I can already tell, for whatever reason, she just isn’t buying my baloney; a reverse sceptic if you will.

I hold the stone while she watches more distracted and annoyed than helpful. I make a show of trying to imbibe the rock with whatever bad vibrations I might have, attempting to wring the stone just like the guy in the previous shop. It worked for him, right?

I give the stone back to the woman who holds it briefly in both hands. No wringing or grunting here, just a slight frown. She shifts position slightly, grasping the stone tighter, then places the stone to her forehead, pretending that the proximity to her brain will help her pick up any negativity. I can tell she hasn’t bought my charade and is simply going through the motions of her own play-acting. Sure enough after a few seconds, she coolly informs me that she can detect no problem. Perhaps I should try western medicine. The sceptic exposed!  She’s really good; I am majorly impressed with the up-market quackery.

Ha! But I have a back up plan. I pretend to be really relieved to hear this. You see, I’ve only been living in India for about 3 months. A few weeks ago, a co-worker had invited me to a wedding in his village. I had been honoured and went along for the experience. For some reason, during the ceremony I managed to disgruntle the village witch who proceeded to curse me. Actually, she hadn’t cursed me; she had called upon some ghost to haunt me. Ever since then absolutely nothing has gone right. My project is behind schedule, I feel sick, and my sex life has gone downhill into a valley of nothingness. I hadn’t quite believed in the witch and am just so relieved that the healer is on the same wavelength. All this gushes out in a too fast, “Thank God I’m not possessed!” kind of speech. Excellent acting if I do say so myself.

This is not what the woman had expected. Now she looks rather nonplussed and a slight look of doubt crosses her face. She recovers immediately and responds with the perfect explanation. She couldn’t use the stone to test whether I was being haunted or not. The stone only works for finding internal problems. She would need a much more complicated ritual to find out whether my problems were spectral, not spiritual. I would need to return later after she had made certain arrangements. She warns me this ceremony would not be without risk to her and is fairly expensive. She’d need some money up front to prepare but, as she hastened to point out, she wouldn’t charge me for my previous consultation if I go ahead with the next step. I just need to spend some money to save some money. Nice bait and switch.

What’s the sceptical journalist to do? I’m in. The rest is fairly predictable. I return later to incense and nonsense. The standard semi-serious mumbo-jumbo* but I am impressed by the really nice outfit the healer wears during the second session. After declaring me to be ghost ridden, she tells me of a priest I must immediately visit to rid my self of evil spirits. I go to priest, get exorcised. Finally, I return doing the journalistic pounce thing all over again. Pow! Zap! Aren’t I just the investigative reporter?

*I know. This is Hindu not voodoo, but what’s mumbo-jumbo in Hindi?

This dream was weird on a number of levels. I don’t mean the sceptic thing. Just think what Freud (Verry, Verry interesting. I zink ve must follow ze reason for ze stones. Vhat do stones say to you?) or Moses (You will think you are sick in the first season of the year. After feeling better, a more dangerous and foreboding illness will encroach in the second season. This too will pass.) might have said about this.

What I find strange is the absolute lack of inducing factors for this dream. Sure, I’m a sceptic but I’m neither a journalist nor a fan of India. The closest I’ve come to seeing anything about India in resent months was a program about horse racing in Uzbekistan. And I haven’t even started looking at Ayurveda silliness yet. So what caused this dream? Perhaps it was the mind-warping, kamikaze memory molecule from earlier.

I have to say, I don’t have even a ghost of an idea.

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