Recently, I vented about New Age hucksters out there, the spiritual poseurs who sell ceremonies like those “Inuit” carvings that tourist traps sell as “genuine native craft.” Here’s a relevation – they’re fakes. Nothing but cheap plaster casts painted black – not soapstone carvings. They’re mass produced and their only purpose is to cheat tourists out of their money. You know what I’m talking about. These cheap fakes sit alongside those postcards of unsmiling Indians in buckskin and plains headdresses bracketed by stern-looking RCMP officers and cheezy cups embossed with the Canadian flag. None of the money from the sale of these fake “native crafts” went or will ever go to native peoples. They’re made by hucksters expressly for dumbasses who think they’re actually buying a bit of genuine Inuit art.
I don’t have much time for New Agers and crystal keepers, in general, because they remind me so much of the mindless tourists who willing shell out money for these fake goods. But I reserve my contempt for the charlatans, the fake shamans and elders, those individuals who see an opportunity to take advantage of naive idiots. Thus the title which is borrowed from that huckster-par-excellence, P.T. Barnum; about a world of suckers out there just waiting to be fleeced. Most New Agers, IMHO, fit the bill to a “T.”
I also wrote that there are a lot of people like this out there. They’ve been at it for a long time. They see a chance to make bucks by misappropriating native ceremonies. They sometimes adopt ridiculous sounding names like “Sun Bear,” “Wandering Wolf” or “Four Feathers.” They’ve evolved over the years and now head “foundations” and issue “certificates” to show that they’ve completed their “ministry studies” and are now certified “shamans.” I question the intelligence of anyone who pays money to these places. I save my venom, as I’ve already pointed out, for the people behind these businesses – because that’s all they are. They are not about spiritual well-being – it’s all about misappropriation, packaging, and profit.
First, has anyone signing up for “shaman training” ever noticed the contradiction between the “message” that their so-called “shaman” preaches – the simple life – and the expensive suits they wear, the bling around their necks, fingers and wrists, the huge vehicles parked in front of their “shaman’s” mansion? If not, they should because it goes to motive. Show me the money!
Second, no real shaman or elder will ever promise a “totem,” or “spirit guide” or anything else for the low, low price of whatever. Anyone who does is looking to lift your wallet and empty your bank account. Again, the real motive is money – nothing spiritual about it.
Third, no real shaman or elder will promise that you can attain any level of “awareness” or “spiritual awakening” upon completion of a three or four week course, or even a full year’s
“study” under the tutelage of a “fourth degree” whatever. Nor do real elders hand out “certificates” upon successful completion by the “graduate.” Of course, there’s little mention of money in these promises but just try – go ahead, I dares ya – just try to continue this so-called “shaman training” without paying up front or with a credit card. Because you will be told: No dough? No go. That’s right. It’s all about the money.
Part of the business – and I’m identifying only one in this post – is selling full “shaman kits” so that any idiot can be a pretend shaman. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture. This is a middle package that includes a book, a drum and a drumstick, a rattle, a CD or cassette (just so’s you get the madeup chanting just right) and “an optional drum case.” The “buffalo” drum itself doesn’t use actual bison skin – it uses a synthetic fibre “making it a natural for drumming anywhere anytime in every kind of weather.” That’s right. Even the drum is fake.
I’ve had a co-worker with no genetic ties to North America claim to be Anishnabe because this person paid for a “shaman” course run by a whatever-degree holy man who – upon completion of a four-week program – performed an adoption ceremony making her a member of the Anishnabe. What bunk!
At one time, I thought this person possessed intelligence and integrity. I tried but could not overlook this because it was such a serious insult to the Anishnabe. This person is European but now claims to be Anishnabe, a shaman, and now conducts “shaman training.” I wish I could find the humour in this. I can’t. Because what these hucksters do – and yes, even this former co-worker of mine is now in this category – is cheapen and demean the real work, the real good, done by real elders.
By the way, I’ve checked out a few of these “shamanistic” foundations – for profit businesses all. I’ve followed some of the links to the people associated with them as well, and to the businesses they run as sidelines. Some of these so-called “shamanistic” businesses offer lists of other “shaman” associates across Canada, the U.S., and even Europe. I may be mistaken but I didn’t see a single, real Indigenous North American name or face in the crowd. That’s right. Whites – New Agers – one and all.
I wish they’d go back to their own religions – and leave mine the hell alone.