- Scientific Rigour:
- Entertainment value:
- Friendliness of people:
- Danger to the Public:
- Danger to your wallet:
- An unwitting celebration of wishful thinking, but mostly benign.
In (a bit) more detail:
It’s Sunday afternoon. It’s raining outside. I’m slightly hung over. There’s nothing better to do, and there’s a Holistic Fair less than five minutes’ walk from the house. Only £3 to get in as well … irresistible! So, I wandered along and spent a few hours in the company of people who all seem very nice, but I’m absolutely certain are misguided in their many beliefs.
What you get for your £3 is one room packed with stalls of people trying to sell you their products and services, and another room for talks/lectures/workshops etc.
We have 33 in total. I’d separate them into two main categories:
1: Tat (20 stalls):
A bit like a regular craft fair, with some added spiritualism. We have pictures of angels, jewellery, candles, crystals (with half-hearted health claim labels), jewellery, ornaments, tarot paraphernalia, aloe products (shampoo, hand cream etc.), jewellery, ‘Keltic Faerie Craft’, henna art, confectionery, jewellery, and so on. Did I mention jewellery? There was jewellery as well. I can’t emphasise the word jewellery enough. Do you like jewellery? If so, they’ve got it! Jewellery.
2: Spiritual / health services (13 stalls)
A plethora of magical thinking on display. We have spiritual healers, soul transformation therapy, essential oil medication, Indian massage therapy, chakra therapy, reiki healing, and of course the usual tarot card readers, mediums, psychics and palm readers. Most of the ‘psychics’ seem to offer their services for £15/£20 for a 15 minute reading. Seems like they’re doing pretty good business.
Most entertainingly we had psychic pet healers, who thankfully confirmed to me that they don’t encourage pet owners to avoid standard veterinary care for their pets, but were convinced that they could help speed up any recovery. As a bonus, they’re also apparently able to ‘spiritually connect’ with your pet to help identify any psychological issues they’re having.
Also reassuring, despite a very clear jab at ‘modern medicine’ at the aromatherapy stall (see picture below), the practitioner was very quick to reassure me that you should still use conventional medical treatment for known conditions. She did however say that there had been positive clinical trials for medical interventions with essential oils, and promised to send me details. I will of course add a follow-up if I receive anything compelling.
I only had time to see two of the speakers:
1: Crystal Skyes: Opening to Awareness
First we have Crystal Skyes, who also happens to be the organiser of the entire event. I’ve had a private reading from Crystal before: It cost me £30, and was both vague and inaccurate in equal measures.
Based on my previous experience with Crystal, my expectations for her talk were pretty low. This proved to be strikingly accurate, because what we got was a somewhat wandering 30 minutes of what appears to be a slightly more cosmic version of mindfulness. Crystal also mentioned this this was really just a taster/intro for the full Opening to Awareness classes that she runs . If you’re interested …
- All day workshop: £45
- Monthly Classes: £5 per person per class
- Email lessons: 6 for £30
- Private 1-2-1 sessions: First session (60 Mins) £30, subsequent session (30 mins) £10
However, considering the lukewarm reception from the sizable audience (more than 50 people in the room), I’m not sure she’ll get too much business after the talk (although I may be overestimating some of the audience in that respect).
2: Mediumship with Joanne Davies
Judging by the title, I was expecting a display of mediumship. What we got instead was a sort of Joanne Davies origin story, and like any good origin story we had some tales of tragic deaths within the family when she was young. She clearly had a tough time as a child, but uses this as a springboard to tell us how this adversity (plus the fact that she was brought up in an environment where magical thinking was the default) led her into a world of spiritualism and eventually mediumship. She carries a fair resemblance to Elaine C Smith, both in looks, and in Glasgow banter, so the audience seem reasonably well engaged. In general she’s a good public speaker, certainly better than Crystal Skyes was before her, but there were some particularly frustrating aspects to her talk. Some examples:
- A strange attack on modern medicine at the start (criticising both Breast Cancer and Heart Foundation campaigns) – giving the impression that we as a society shouldn’t be doing everything we can to tackle these health issues. This is entirely based on the belief that death isn’t the end (to quote: “Death is an illusion”). It’s exactly the type of magical thinking we see in many religions that prevents people from living their (only) life in the best possible way.
- Statements such as “Science is a belief system that thinks we’re a machine”
- Despite her slating of Science (see above), she then went on to cite the work of “Scientist” Rupert Sheldrake, and the highly discredited Scole Experiment, which apparently had “lots of scientists” overseeing proceedings (hint: it didn’t).
- A completely unfounded allegation that we’re deliberately “kept in the dark” by our education system.
- After what started off as appearing to be a bit of a giggle about David Icke, she then went on to say that some of the things he say “could be true for all we know”, including the part about the Royal Family being aliens. This took us down an amusing little tangent about the existence of aliens.
It goes without saying that none of the statements / allegations made during Joanne’s talk had any compelling evidence behind them, but there were plenty of nods of agreement from the audience, and certainly some confirmations of their belief during the short Q&A. Joanne of course took some time to talk about the different services that she provides, and they don’t come cheap.
I only spent £3, and didn’t leave the venue any more of a ‘believer’ than I was when I entered. Unfortunately I think I may have been alone in this respect. The venue was packed with the usual demographic you see at these type of events (>95% female, average age 40s/50s) … and I have little doubt that most of them exited the building worse off … both financially, and in terms of credulity. Disappointing.