Debunking New Age Woo

Astral Parasites, Chakra Balancing and Other “Occult” Nonsense

New Age woo is a convoluted mixture of eastern mysticism and pseudoscientific abuse of modern scientific research, primarily medicine and physics. This includes misunderstandings of crucial concepts such as energy, vibration, frequency as well as the flawed claim that diseases are caused by negative attitudes that attract bad things in life. This post will survey some contemporary discussions among New Age and “occult” circles on the Internet by looking at some of the topics discussed on the r/occult subreddit.

These range from being laughably absurd to being potentially hazardous for your health. It might be entertaining to read about New Age speculations about he next step in evolution, whether this or that spirit can make you more witty or people who think they are being followed by the number 13. However, it is very troubling to read about astral parasite delusions that causes self-harming, tarot cards against suicidal depression, or people wanting to find ways to protect themselves against astral rape or the negative psychic energy by the people around them.

Being infected with astral parasites?

One poster described a very disturbing situation where he or she had been dealing with several malicious astral parasites that had led to several hospitalizations and even to almost convince him or her to cut off a finger:

I have been dealing with at least 4 very intelligent, very cunning, and very manipulative astral parasites for about 2 years now. They’ve tricked me time and again into having me think they are actually here to help me and not harm me. Finally, after all this time I do realize their true nature, but I have no idea how to get rid of them at this point. I can go into much more detail about all this, but my first question is has anyone had full success in ridding themselves of these things? They’ve put me in the mental ward 4 times now, and the last episode they almost convinced me to cut off my pinky finger. You could say things are getting pretty serious. And the nightmares they give me are just absolutely horrendous. I made the mistake of trying to befriend them, to appeal to some consciousness they apparently don’t have. I’m also constantly fatigued just about every day now. Thanks for reading. All advice and any questions are very much welcome and needed.

Although it is hard to speculate and one should generally avoid making judgement of a psychiatric nature on the Internet, this may indicate some form of psychiatric condition involving delusions, such as schizophrenia. The delusions seem durable and fixed and this has been going on for multiple years with several stays at a mental ward. On the balance of the evidence, this is much more likely to be a psychiatric problem than anything involving supernatural “astral parasites”. Some comments with more information from the original poster explained that he or she was also suffering from nightmares and night-time paralysis.

Some commentators realized this and recommending the person to see medical help, both for the apparently delusions, but also because of a history of drug abuse. They also pointed out that this was likely a case of sleep paralysis.

However, some cranks proposed Jungian psychotherapy, meditation, that these entities were friendly and were just trying to help him or her perform astral projection, Christian exorcism or calling for archangels, devour them (or calling on stronger allies that can devour them), urging the person to read some “occult” books, using rune of banishing, or performing a rose cross ritual. These suggestions are highly likely to be ineffective and further dissuade the person from seeking real medical help.

Protecting yourself against “astral rape”?

One poster who believed in astral projection wondered if there was anything that was going to protect him or her against astral rape from some other astral traveler:

Like seriously. If an astral traveller just wants to sneak up on you at night and fuck you, unless you have a guardian spirit around or something you’re totally fucked? You can’t see them, you can’t outrun them, when you return to your body you can’t fight them. All the astral travellers are just like “ahum” like they expect people not to put stones on the traintrack.

Instead of pointing out that astral projection is probably not possible because the mind is just the function of the material brain rather than some kind of supernatural spirit, most commenters suggested that the original poster should “banish” more often, using dreams as self-defense, or sleeping with a snowflake obsidian. Another poster suggested that it could be due to flashbacks from previous rape being triggered by astral projection.

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To a reasonable and sensible person, the fear of being raped by an astral traveler during astral projection seems like causing yourself needless worry and anxiety.

Using tarot against suicidal depression?

One poster was struggling with suicidal depression and wondered to know why his or her suicide attempt did not work. He or she used tarot cards and wondered about the interpretation of the results in an effort to gain this understanding:

A few months ago I tried to off myself with a massive amount of blood pressure medication. It didn’t take and I found myself wondering why. After getting some help I now live in a homeless shelter for veterans run by catholics. I’ve spoken with the monsignor and he did what I expected and told me to avoid much of my pagan past.
Tonight, I couldn’t take not knowing anymore so I decided to run the tarot to see if I could get an answer. I used to be connected to Nox (or Nyx) but felt I wasn’t really getting any answers from her if even a response. When I asked my question “Why didn’t I die?” I drew the moon. So the question is, whom could that be indicating? Am I just freaking out over something I knew all along or maybe it’s not Nox at all but someone else? If anyone could help it would be truly appreciated. Being lost sucks.

There is some benefit of feeling that you belong to a community, but there is very little scientific evidence that tarot cards can give you any insights into your psychiatric condition. Without knowing the medical details, it is probably more likely that it was a dose issue or the person getting help in time. Tarot cards cannot tell you anything about the dose-response effect of specific blood pressure medications. Instead of relying on the “occult”, this person should get access to the best possible treatment for his or her condition, such as medication and therapy.

Chakra balancing?

One confused commenter had no idea what “chakra balancing” was and asked people on the subreddit for help. Having used Google, this person just found websites that did not appear credible.

Here is how one commenter decides to explain it:

Each chakra is associated a part of the body, which is seen as having particular functions that are analogous to things we do in our life. Our crown chakra connects to the higher self. The third eye is spiritual awareness. We speak from the throat. We feel with the heart. The solar plexus is the center of gravity, our balance. The groin is our creative energy, and our root chakra is where we are grounded within the observable world and the pervasive universal energy.

There is, of course, no scientific evidence at all that any chakras have any biological functions in general or cognitive functions in particular. We may use our vocal cords to talk, but this has nothing to do with chakras or any imaginary New Age woo. You feel with your brain and nervous system, not with the heart. The heart is a muscle that pumps blood around the body. The solar plexus is not necessarily the center of gravity, because that depends on your body shape, muscle mass and fat deposits. Balance also has more to do with the ear than the solar plexus. The “creative energy” (charitably interpreted as a cognitive function) resides in the brain, not in your genitals. Finally, there is no evidence for “universal energy” outside of physics and science.

So what happens when your “chakras” are “out of balance” and what can you do to “fix” this “problem”?

So these things are out of whack, it gives more power to some chakras more than others. If we are speaking without thought, we are favoring the throat chakra. If we are focusing on spiritual matters and ignoring the present reality, we may be favoring the crown and third eye chakra, but ignoring our root chakra. If we are depressed, we may be restricting the heart chakra. Balancing the chakras is a way to readjust your priorities through metaphysical means. You focus on each area and ensure it is receiving the energy it needs to contribute to our health and vitality.

This is vaguely reminiscent of prioritizing some parts of your life while ignoring others. But why do you need to bring New Age woo into it? Why use “metaphysical means” to readjust your priorities? Why not just do it with your brain?

Another commenter issued a stern warning about manipulating the energies of the universe:

Don’t go trying poking around in trying to raise energy, just do exercises for cleaning and awareness. Seriously, don’t fuck with forcibly pulling energy around. It will hurt you.

This person clearly do not understand the energy concept of how the movement and transformation of energy works. In most temperate climates, you are warmer than your surroundings and therefore emit energy to your surroundings. Digesting food produces heat energy. How this person distinguishes “forcibly pulling” energy around from other energy transfers seems to indicate that he or she literally think that energy is a conscious entity that can consent or be forced to do things.

Seeing the number 13 everywhere?

Another poster complained about seeing the number 13 everywhere:

It’s been like this for probably over 6 months. I’m not new to seeing numbers that I feel have meaning. For the past 4 or so years I’ve seen various numbers that jump out at me; some being variations of 33, 44, 55, 77 and 11. But lately I’ve been seeing just 13 and sometimes 33. Ive actually been calling it my “lucky number” just to be ironic. What does this mean?

Most people who accept and understand basic cognitive psychology would instantly recognize this as New Age confirmation bias that make you see meaningful patterns in meaningless noise. If you think some number of important, you are more likely to be watchful of it than some other number, and are therefore more likely to notice it and forget all the other numbers that you are washed over with every day. A good way to test this is to decide a number in advance and then write down all the instances you see it or are reminded of it. At the end of an average month, it is going to be a lot of cases.

Next step in evolution?

People who hold New Age beliefs are probably not going to have a very good understanding of scientific concepts or models. Here is one such discussion about evolution:

One doesn’t need to be in the occult or spiritual to know our next step in Evolution is coming. You know it, we know it. It’s why most of you are here even though you may not have developed any magick. We know everything is not what it seems. Everyone is experiencing it, even if they do not recognize it. Our souls are going through growing pains, just like our bodies do. Most of our souls are reaching a point where we will either go with the program and evolve, or be cast out. This is not a bad thing, and the Gods are here to help us. But if you won’t stand up for yourself, by opening your chakras, then the Gods will not care for you. We need the gods help going through this process.

This, of course, has nothing to do with evolution. Evolution is a well-supported scientific model for the origins of biological diversity. It is not clear why “magick” or “souls” that are apparently going through “growing pains” have anything at all to do with it. Evolution involves the generation of genetic variation, selection and other mechanisms and has nothing to do with “opening your chakras”. Also, the opening poster questions why the capitalists would allow humans to spiritually evolve because cancer medication is expensive.

What spirit makes you more witty?

The final example to be examined in this post is a person who feels a lack of wittiness and wants to find a good spirit that can help him or her to become more witty:

I know there are goetia spirits that can teach you eloquent speech or philosophy etc.

I want to use magic to basically help me become funnier in a witty way versus knock knock jokes.

Any tips?

Edit: if settle for a really good charisma help.

Some commenters suggest abstaining from masturbation and sex, doing drugs, invoking a mercurial spirit, or the deity of Hermes in Greek mythology. In reality, this is probably a case of bad self-esteem.


These examples illustrate the deceptive nature of online communities devoted the the “occult”. They are packed with pseudoscience, vacuous New Age woo and dangerous medical advice to people who deserve the best available treatment for their conditions. However, in some cases, some of them were able to recognize that a person needed real medical help as oppose to “occult” nonsense.


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4 thoughts on “Astral Parasites, Chakra Balancing and Other “Occult” Nonsense

  • I am as about as skeptical as you are, maybe more so even, but I have soft spot in my view in New Age philosophies, as I think there are possible inroads to internal self observations embedded in these mystical belief approaches.
    There is a lower standard of proof, and a non-alliance with standard psychological theories that illuminate psychological processes that other more orthodox theories may completely miss, such the existence of chakras as they relate to modes of thought and perception.
    To dismiss it all as complete nonsense is a disservice to valid scientific investigation.

  • You describe yourself as skeptical, but then admit that you have a “soft spot” for New Age. That would suggest that you are not applying your skepticism evenly and consistently.

    There is nothing wrong with introspection or researching new psychological models, but nothing of that require dressing it up in mystical nonsense about “astral parasites” or “chakra balancing”. Indeed, this is probably a huge downside, because you have contaminated the scientific process by pseudoscience.

    New Age has been around in the west for around 50 years. It has delivered essentially no scientific insights in comparison with e.g. medicine or computer science. How long does it have to take before you abandon this non-starter?

  • A lot of this stuff is bunk that reads very much like a lot of psych patients with various issues trying to work through their issues and using their (relatively) shared beliefs as a tool to do so. In my opinion, thinking of cases where people “find their craft” or figure out how to finally “banish that spirit” or whatever as their version of “The Hair Dryer Incident” may be useful in figuring out what a lot of people see in this stuff.

  • It is tempting to dismiss it as mere symptoms of mental illness, but we should also remember that woo and pseudoscience like this exploits people not just on the level of belief but also on the level of money and time.

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