Spirit photography and cults

Hey, didja know that this blog is part of a larger blogging network? I know! It’s true! Unfortunately, I’ve been a less-than-exemplary community member over the last couple years. International moves seem to use up a lot of my energy, so I just kinda turned into a hermit. In the name of doing better about that, I’ll be cross-posting more stuff from my fellow Freethought Bloggers, starting with this:

There is a very strong desire among some segments of the population to make contact with dead people. This desire has been exploited by charlatans, people who claim that (for a fee, of course) they can channel your loved ones. The methods used have varied over time. In the US, the rise in interest in communicating with the dead coincided with the Civil War that saw massive numbers of dead people that left their families devastated and seeking some form of comfort.

I’ve found the occult fascinating for years, both as a social and psychological phenomenon, and because I enjoy the aesthetics. I think that the phenomena behind both occult fads and cults are related, and that’s something we’d do well to consider as we continue into this century of high technology and climate chaos. At times it’s hard not to feel like the world is ending, and with the predicted rise in death and destruction, I think a lot of people are going to end up turning to strange places for help. I also think that with traditional Christianity being so closely tied to political leadership in the United States, a lot of younger people are going to prefer things that don’t remind them of the folks who seem to be screwing everything up. Reading Mano’s post made me think of this Tumblr thread Tegan came across a little while back:



Check out Mano’s post (there’s a neat video there!), and maybe spread this post (or the Tumblr post) around, because I’m pretty sure this is going to be one of those aspects of history we’d do well to learn from.




  1. brucegee1962 says

    Not far from where I live there is a commune-type place that has a reputation for ageing gentle hippies who are into yoga, crystals, pot and the like. Recently I heard from an ex-member that they are now getting sucked into anti-vax and from there into QAnon-adjacent spaces.

    Since my communicant was a former member, she was trying to talk them back from the brink using their own language. “See, vaccines are beautiful because they teach your body how to protect itself naturally, and then they leave after a short time. It’s like they open up a flower of strength inside you.”

  2. Jazzlet says

    I think it’s easy to underestimate the difference between the UK and the USA and how they grate on you. I had a three week holiday in the USA at one point, by the end of it both I and and my partner were finding the differences had really screwed with our ability to judge how safe or not situations were, leading to a higher alertness, which is exhausting after a while. The way I put it is that if I was in a pub, got completely pissed (note the language difference 😉 ), tore off all my clothes, got up on a table and started to dance I have a pretty good idea of what would happen in the UK. I have no idea what would happen in the USA.While that is an extreme example it reflects the reality we experienced to, in my case things like wearing no make up at all or wearing no bra which clearly put me in nearly everyone we mets “she’s weird” category, but which would pass unnoticed here. All of which is to say I am not surprised you have been finding living in the UK, and now Eire tiring, particularly as you don’t have work to take you out of the home.

  3. says

    @ Jazzlet – cultural adjustment has been a thing. Tegan and I were apparently considered direct to the point of bluntness in Glasgow, and much more so in Dublin.

    As to the background stress, there is a little of that, but honestly there’s less than there was in the US. I probably have a better idea of what is and isn’t safe there than you do, but only for certain parts of the country, and only to a degree. That, plus the MUCH better medical situation (even though I’m on private insurance here, because immigrant), has greatly improved my quality of life.

    I think had actually under-estimated how shitty life is in the US for people who’re struggling with money.

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