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Update: In 2018 (after this post was originally written), John of God turned himself in to the police after over 600 accusations of sexual abuse. In December 2019, he was sentenced to 19 years and four months for the rapes of four different women. This kind of story is all too familiar in the world of gurus/cults and one of the reasons I have such distrust in these kinds of therapies and the people who create them. They play on people’s vulnerabilities.
I wrote this post directly after I had tried the crystal light bed, but my later post – Time to say F*ck it – is a better representation of my conclusions on the whole ‘Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it’ experiment – in short, I probably came out more skeptical than when I started. And I 100% do not recommend any therapies to do with John of God.
“Is this the one where a ghost might touch your bum?” said Steve.
“Not quite, but yes it is the one you’re thinking of.” I’d been warned that I might feel spirits working on my insides during the session. This was a good thing as far I was concerned – I wanted proof.
The session in question was an energy healing using a crystal bed from John of God — a medium and psychic surgeon from Brazil. It was the first I’d heard of him but it turns out he’s quite the spiritual superstar and widely acclaimed as the world’s greatest living healer.
Millions of people travel to visit him, and he’s particularly famous for his rudimentary operations, which are said to have cured people of all sorts of ailments, from cancer to blindness. He has no medical training and says he has no memory of any of the procedures – they are the work of more than thirty spirit entities that are channeled through him.
In search of glitz
Tamara, a warmhearted American with a sunny smile, had spent time with John of God in Brazil and bought back the crystal bed, which is said to be a portal for the spirits that surround him. I met Tamara at the Energy 101 workshop and knew this was perfect fodder for the ‘Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it’ experiment, so booked myself a session. Plus I was intrigued to know what a crystal bed looked like.
Disappointing is the answer. I’d imagined some sort of elaborate jewel-encrusted bed worthy of a palace, but instead what I found looked more like a set of chakra-coloured disco lights (I bet that’s an idea that’d sell well in Ubud. I can see the flyer now ‘Balance your energy while being bathed in the light of seven chakras at our Kundalini Rising Rave…) I digress. Back to the session.
I lay down on an ordinary bed in Tamara’s house while she arranged the crystal lights above me — each coloured crystal pointing to its corresponding chakra on my body. Now all I had to do was lie there, eyes closed for an hour-long Savasana while the travelling spirits did their work. Tamara was also in the room, sitting in meditation. She often receives information during the session, a sort of reading of your current energetic state.
Hands in my belly?
The challenge in this — as with any meditation — was staying present and not letting my mind run wild, anticipating or providing a running commentary of all sensations. My digressions were aplenty but I did finish the session in a deep state of relaxation. I hadn’t, however, felt any hands picking at my organs. In fact, I hadn’t felt anything particularly noteworthy — at least nothing obvious.
Tamara felt differently. “You’ve got a lot going on there,” she said. “Are you aware you have fairy spirits with you?” Fairies!! Tell me more, I thought.
Trauma in childhood, a journey to Bali to work through it, a need to let go — she intuited things that have become so familiar to me that it’s hard to know whether or not they’re painted on my face. But I was encouraged by her accuracy, and found myself lapping up her reading eagerly.
The dangers of diagnosis
This is one of the dangers of a therapeutic setting. There’s something delicious about being “diagnosed”. The mind spends much of its life in a battle of “who am I’s?” and “I am this” so a voice to settle that duel is latched upon. Finally, someone who recognises you and can tell you how to improve! It’s hard to resist. And it can be a good thing — if the therapist is right — but they won’t always be, and they may not be on point about every single thing. Discretion is necessary, or you could easily find yourself misguided at best, or paranoid at worst.
As I scribbled down Tamara’s reading, I wondered how much of it might be true. She cautioned that I may have an intolerance to dairy and soy, and could be suffering from a minor bacterial infection, suggesting colodial silver as a remedy, and zinc to support my adrenals. Could John of God’s spirit guides really have told her these intimate details about my insides? I’ve suspected a dairy problem for a while, and my stomach has been sick, but was that a lucky guess? It’s not as if Bali Belly or lactose intolerance are uncommon phenomenons.
“Play more. It seems as though a part of your childhood was taken from you. Reclaim it. Have fun.” This is a similar conclusion that my therapist in London came to after 12 months of weekly visits. It’s familiar advice and Tamara was spot on in her judgment, but, as with Jana, the question is the same: Where does this advice come from? Intuition, spirits, God?
I left Tamara’s house with no greater or lesser faith than when I arrived. Nothing overt had happened to make me believe in John of God’s crystal bed, but nothing had caused me to discount it either. All I have is my own intuition and for now it says that this particular therapy is not for me and I struggle to believe that the light bed itself is anything more than a prop. I do, however, like Tamara and will return to her for an energy healing without the bed.
I want to know more about those fairies.