A friend of mine was on her way to give her professorial inaugural lecture when she suddenly started feeling symptoms of a urinary track infection. She panicked. UTI is no condition to speak to the Macademia (my word for male-dominated academia). It is hard to be composed when your lady parts are burning.
She was in a hurry so she did what every serious woman with a PhD and a long list of articles in peer-reviewed publications would do in a similar situation: Called her energy healer.
Boom -- the symptoms disappeared and so did the infection. Antibiotics were never needed.
My friend gave her lecture in a state of relieved awe.
Welcome to my world. My circle of friends mainly consists of well-educated women, many of whom have telephone numbers of clairvoyants, shamans, crystal healers and angel therapists saved in their phones, among those of their dentists, gynecologists and car repair shops. None of my friends is religious but most of them are spiritual, in one way or another.
But only secretly.
Lets make one thing clear here: I have never seen anything extra-terrestrial in my life. Okay, a couple of weeks ago I did see a reflection on my living room wall that Diane Cooper would probably interpret as an angel orb and I do keep seeing lots of white feathers wherever I go, but other than that, nothing.
My friends, however, experience weird stuff on daily basis, making me wonder whether the boundaries of "normal" really are too constricted.
There is a friend (a docent with a PhD and a true-blue atheist) who once, when she came home, saw a man sitting on her coach, dressed in old-fashioned postman uniform. Then he disappeared. It turned out that the house she lives in had once upon a time been a dormitory of postmen. She wasn't particularly shocked by this experience as ghosts and spirits are regular visitors in her son's world.
And then there is a friend (also with a PhD -- do we start seeing a pattern here?) who regularly calls to ghost busters to clean her home from unwanted (and unseen) visitors. You may roll your eyes all you want but my friend says she always sleeps a lot better when the, um, ghost busting is done.
But rather harmless, right?
Or maybe not. When the princess of Norway admitted that she has regular contacts with angels, the media went bananas. The Princess is nuts, the tabloids screamed. A member of the royal family should never say such absurd things, at least not in public.
The scope of the outrage made me wonder whether What Cannot Be Explained By Newtonian Physics is not considered only silly but also threatening to our world-view based on, well, Newtonian physics.
In the 16th century around 200 000 women in Europe were burned at stakes by the Church, as witches. In the 3rd millennium there seems to be a peculiar witch-hunt going on as well. While no one gets physically burned anymore, there is a risk of getting branded as a New Age fruitcake the minute you start openly talking about your out-of-this-world experiences that seem to be far more common than anyone has guts to admit. Credibility is top currency in today´s world, particularly if you are a woman.
The word brand, by the way, originates from marking livestock with fire-heated marks.
I get that many people get uncomfortable with experiences that cannot be clinically tested or proven with any known scientific methods. They shake the very basis of our world order. In the absence of evidence it feels the safest to dismiss these experiences the way they usually are dismissed: as fabrications of twisted minds of mainly menopausal women.
But believing in other-worldly creatures surely doesn't cause any significant harm to our society at large.
There are frauds of course, like in any industry, and ripping off confiding people is never acceptable. But unless you end up dying in the hands of a Ghost Whisperer when your stage IV cancer could have been cured by chemotherapy and radiation, why would we really care if Mary next door wants to have an occasional chat with a Unicorn?
When my friends come to me with their stories, I take the stance the Pope Francis took on homosexuals and say to myself: Who am I to judge?
Whatever works is what I also say. If your cancer gets terminal, why not search a cure from a territory not (yet) explored by the medical authorities. What is there to lose?
And if your house gets restless, why not call a ghost buster?
The Quantum weirdness we live in today is no place to deny the authenticity of people´s experiences. Because that's what they are: subjective experiences. We have no way of knowing how the others see the world.
So I am keeping my options open. Should I ever be lucky enough to bump into an Archangel or a Tooth Fairy, I would embrace the experience wholeheartedly because why not? A wonder world is surely much more fun to live in than a world based on Aristotelian logic, which, as Albert Einstein said, may take us from A to B, when imagination takes us anywhere.