I have a new guest post up at Sacred Matters:
Take a looksie 🙂
I have a new guest post up at Sacred Matters:
Take a looksie 🙂
A story has just broken about research into our ancestors and where our DNA comes from. This explains the science and the methodology far better than I can. But what particularly interests me is that this idea of a mystery ancestor providing us with a portion of our DNA may be seen as overlapping with longstanding New Age or metaphysical explanations for human evolution, known as the Paleocontact hypothesis, or the Ancient Astronauts theory. I explain this idea a little more in this presentation (the Powerpoint is also available on my Academia.edu page here).
Amongst Indigos, as I explain in the above presentation, DNA is a key concept for explaining their abilities, and they often support their theories with scientific discoveries, arguing that Science is only starting to catch up with the reality that they have access to.
With this story about our ‘mystery ancestors’ I curious about how and when it will be picked up by Indigos (if at all) as further evidence of some of the DNA accounts they have already been giving. I have performed a few online searches, as well as looked at the main Indigo forum board, but currently the only people posting about the story are conspiracy or free though web-forums. On Twitter there are many people posting the story, but few are adding comments beyond ‘Interesting’, and its not immediately obvious from user names or profiles that these individuals consider themselves to be Indigos.
I’ve posted a tweet myself asking the question, “is this (the story) picked up by the Indigos?” as a test. I want to see if the tweet (and the story) are subsequently picked up and where it spreads to. Its also a reminder tweet for me about the story, as is this blog post!
So this is a little bit of an experiment, or a perhaps it is best described as a direct observation of social media interactions around a hot topic in the Indigo community. Lets see what happens… if anything!
I’ve been thinking a little about writing style lately, as a paper I presented at the BASR conference has been getting some attention and I’m working it into a publishable piece. My supervisor hasnt read the expanded version yet, but he read the conference paper (as rough as it was) and his position is that it isnt scholarly enough – that its more like an after dinner discussion point (ouch!).
This of course challenges me to rework it into something suitably scholarly, but it may well be that the argument itself is just not scholarly enough. And my supervisor, knowing that I will be applying for fellowshios and postdocs, is warning me against publishing for publishing’s sake and not getting quality work out there that committees can judge me on. I understand his concern, but there is also something very nice about being ‘popular’.
What I do, the areas I research, almost always make people say ‘Oooh, how interesting’. Last night we had a welcome back returning grads dinner in my college and I spent a fair bit of time explaining to other grads what an Indigo Child is, how many Jedi there actually ARE, and debating the merits and demerits of the Church of Scientology (I did also find out more about nano-bots, the current trends of thought in the study of Classics, and admired rather some lovely artwork, so it wasnt just me rabbiting on!
I also think however, that working on a popular subject is a little like having your religious beliefs inspired by pop-culture. However serious you are, and how ever seriously you take the subject, the nature of the origins of what you do can trivilise what you are doing to other more serious academics (not including my supervisor in that comment, and he may well be right!). So maybe I need to x amount more serious and scholarly than the average academic Joe to counter balance that. But my natural inclination is towards public accessibility and communicating what is going on in these fields in an appealing way. My presentations often have visual jokes in them, the titles to my papers are often attention grabbing or pun-ish (e.g. my new paper is called, “See Mom it is Real”: The UK Census, Jediism and the Problem of Really ‘Real’ Religion”…).
I may have a problem…
I went to a ‘Mind Body Spirit Fayre’ on Saturday in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. I’m going to use this space to write up some thoughts and issues with this bit of fieldwork. This is a bit stream of consciousness-y but bear with me!
1. This wasnt an ‘Indigo event’ but a more general holistic/New Age/Spiritual fayre. There were about fifty stalls (or ‘over sixty’ according to the marketing) including trinket-y ones with small angel statues and artwork, crystal stalls, therapist and psychic reader stalls, and remedy stalls selling products based on herbs and new technologies etc (such as a Neal’s Yard stall, an Aloe Vera stall, a waist-loss wrap system etc etc).
2. The stall holders and attendees varied in background, some seemed more middle to upper class, others had tattoos, multiple piercings etc. Age range was wide, from small children to retirees, and I’d say that the majority of people I spoke to were women. I only saw two black people, a father and a female toddler. No other ethnic minorities as far as I saw.
3. I had to take the Toddler with me (the other half was sick) which presented a few issues. First, I intended to spend much more time at the fayre than I managed to, working around the Toddler’s lunch, nappy changes etc. Second, the Toddler needed to be set free from his buggy at one point to burn off excess energy after a nap. This meant I spent a good half an hour to an hour walking fast in laps of the hall following a speedy little human. I didnt get much fieldwork/survey work done in this time apart from smiling at the people I had already spoken to and bonding with those who had children too. There were a few children at the fayre but most were older than the Toddler. Two little girls were handing out business cards for their mother’s crystal business. I tried to get the Toddler to hand out my free-listing forms (more on this below) but he ran off with the plastic envelope they were in. When he was tied down he was a pretty good ice-breaker, even when pretending to be shy!
4. Free-listing. I tried a research method I had seen Knut Melvaer and Margrethe Loov talk about during their presentation on fayres in Norway at BASR. I dont think I did it in quite the same way as I left my forms with people to fill out rather than recording their immediate responses. I chose four terms and left space for four responses. These terms were, in this order: New Age, Spiritual, Indigo Children and Parenting. I made it clear I was a PhD researcher but didnt tell them that Indigo Children are the focus of my thesis until after they had filled in the forms. I emphasized that they could fill as much or as little as they wanted to/could. Many admitted that they didnt know what Indigos were and were going to google it, but I had impressed on them that I wanted their immediate responses.
5. This morning I systematised the responses I received and I am very interested in the particulars of the responses, and the patterns I can see that a full on statistical breakdown (with 23 responses the sample is too small for any major statistical work!). So for instance, under New Age I can see that the most common responses are (in descending order): ‘Hippy’, ‘Music’, and then in joint position: ‘1960s’, ‘Alternative’, ‘Futuristic’, ‘Modern’ and ‘Traveller’. Negative words are also very interesting, with New Age receiving ‘Rubbish’, ‘Silly’ and ‘False’, while parenting was dominated by words around ‘hard work’ such as ‘Tough’, ‘Stress’ and ‘Regret’. The term New Age is not particularly liked by what academics refer to AS the New Age Movement!
6. I received the least responses for ‘Indigo Children’, and many of the responses were more like impressions of the term (‘Blue’, ‘Moon’, ‘Colour’) and suggest that the respondents arent all that familiar with the term. Certainly many of them said as much when they handed the forms back and I really had to emphasis it wasnt a test with right or wrong answers! This supports (to a small degre given the sample size!) my impression that the Indigo Child phenomena is more widespread online than offline where it is so geographically widespread that it hasnt as yet made a large impression on the New Age Movement. It was really useful to speak with people from the general holistic milieu to get this perspective: just talking to Indigos could give the impression that its a paradigm shifting idea that is overwhelming held by many.
6. Some of the responses were hard to read due to spelling errors or handwriting, and I am tempted to speculate on educational background, but I dont have biographical evidence for that.
In all I am pretty pleased with how things went and I am planning to go to another fayre this Saturday/Sunday where I will repeat these research methods… but hopefully leave the toddler at home!
While the tiny Tazmanian Devil I live with sleeps I’ve just been quickly uploading the last interview I did to a safer location than my dictaphone.
One theme I notice with my interviews so far (a massive 5 done already! ummm… only another 35 to do according to my supervisor) is location. Noisy coffee shops with inquisitive neighbours might not be all that ideal.
However, its interesting to me that in considering the location for the Skype interviews I am scheduling I am very concerned about who will be able to overhear us… my husband at home, other grads at my college, should I book a private room at college, at my faculty? And yet I have a much more laissez-faire attitude to members of the public sharing our air-space.
I think its in part that I am feeding off of my interviewees’ attitudes. They really dont mind if Joe Bloggs hears them discussing the 5th Dimensional protection that they recently received from Archangel Michael. Because for many of them, they want others to know about the world changes, or the Ascension as some of them call it, that is taking place as we ALL start to operate at a higher vibrational frequency. So while I might plan my Skype interviews ahead of time and dictate the space I am in, when its face to face, the space that they are in is mostly influenced by their message. Something I need to bear in mind in my paper responding to the idea that being spiritual is to be overly individual and non-social in some way. Everything they do is about spreading out their message, even if their original journey is inwards, inwards to find the authentic self.