The concept of energy and vibrations is at the heart of New Age and occult
beliefs, especially New Age and occult healing.* Directing, manipulating,
balancing, summoning or channeling an energy (or spirits or force) is found in
numerous practices usually termed as "alternative" healing. This also applies to
machines or gadgets that allegedly read your energy or diagnose based on
"energy" (under any name). Numerous websites and organizations offer to diagnose
and/or heal by reading one's energy, frequencies, or what is termed the energy
field. Many of these practices have even entered the medical world and are
covered by insurance companies.
Energy in these contexts refers to an unquantifiable unknown energy that is connected to spiritual beliefs about God and/or creation. It is not about vibrations, energy, or frequencies that have a physical and scientific basis, like electricity or radio waves.
I have defined three broad categories of practices that use the energy concept, from the more overt to the more subtle. I am not attempting to cover all practices, but only the most common or well-known, and I am focusing on the more subtle practices, especially for healing. Some listed here fit more than one category due to cross-over beliefs and according to how they are promoted by practitioners. These are rather fluid categories that frequently overlap, and are not meant to be rigid.
I experienced this kind of energy (before I became a Christian), including what is called chi, Kundalini, Prana, the life force, New Age healing, Vital Force, and psychic healing. These all are names for the same thing: occult energy. I had intimate real experiences with all of these via workshops, meditation, psychic healings, and Yoga.
The Three Categories
The first category includes blatant forms of energy manipulation in occult magic, spells to summon spirits, channeling of disembodied entities, automatic writing, Shamanistic healing (which involves spirit contact), as well as energy healing such as polarity and aura balancing, Reiki, and Healing Touch. The belief that spiritual advancement will raise one's vibrations or frequencies (a theme in James Redfield's bestseller, The Celestine Prophecy) is in this category as well.
A second category would be energy work that inaccurately intermingles science with spiritual views (seen especially in the misuse of quantum physics), falsely claims a scientific foundation, or seems to have a physical basis but actually is spiritually based. This includes acupuncture, crystal healing, Shiatsu, Yoga, Reflexology, EFT (Emotional Field Therapy, Thought Field Therapy), Tapping, Therapeutic Touch, Aikido, Qigong, and Tai Chi. Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Reflexology, EFT, Tapping, Aikido, Qigong, and Tai Chi are all forms of chi therapies and are based on spiritual beliefs in the invisible (and undocumented) energy called chi, also spelled qi or ki. However, promotions of Acupuncture, Reflexology, EFT, and Tapping are laced with scientific terms and claims although there is no scientific support for them. Tapping is done by tapping on specific points of
the body while repeating certain statements. Keep in mind that the terms "energy" or "chi" are not always used or acknowledged by practitioners or advocates of these treatments or practices.
A third area advocates practices that allegedly align, initiate, activate, trigger, or stimulate unquantifiable energies, energy fields, or vibrations. However, the terms and concepts are masked in benign, and often, pseudo-scientific, language. This includes more subtle methods such as Yoga, Bach Flower Essences, Aromatherapy as spiritual healing, aspects of some purported claims to healing using Essential Oils, and Homeopathy.
Many of the practices named above stem from a belief in the subtle body; that is, energy fields surrounding the body which are directly related to healing. These energy fields are not visible or detectable but form a large part of the body of New Age and occult teachings. References to meridians (allegedly invisible channels in the body through which chi flows) and the Hindu chakras (wheels of energy) are part of these beliefs.
An additional though distinct area would be spiritual practices attempting to sound scientific by redefining occult energy as physical or biblical. Teachings in this area are that faith is a force, that vibrations in words or thought can alter reality, and that one can exercise power to draw certain conditions to one's life via thoughts and words. These methods are occult in nature and are taught in esoteric belief systems.
The spiritual philosophies underlying these methods are explained in the following sections. The information presented should not be taken as an endorsement of these ideas, but rather an unmasking of their true nature.
The basis for many of these is Vitalism, explained here from a pro-Vitalism source:
Quote==The vital force exists in all living things as an innate non-material, intelligent presence that directs and informs the- organism on all levels. Similar to chi in Chinese Medicine or prana in Ayurveda, the vital force serves as a defense against disease and is frequently suggestive of a channel that is connecting us with the divine. Vitalism recognizes the relationship of the healthy spirit to the healthy body and Vitalist practitioners strive to treat on all levels: mind, body, and spirit.=="What Is Vitalism?" by Jon Carlson, Vitalist School of Herbology, http://goo.gl/xCrgU8
It is important to understand Vitalism and the concept of a life force or life energy since it is the root of many these beliefs, especially those that claim to heal. Vitalism attributes a divine power to creation instead of to the Creator God, or it views God's power as accessible in creation, or God is seen as the energy or force itself. In all cases, the life force itself replaces God, is identified as God or as the healing power of Christ, or is equated with the Holy Spirit. This force is unquantifiable, invisible, and non-measurable.
The principles of Vitalism match the pagan views of chi, Prana, Kundalini, Mana (energy in pagan Pacific Island cultures), and the forces used in occult healing. It is likely that Vitalism stemmed from Eastern and occult views of energy, as seen in the following excerpt.
Quote==While many Vitalist scholars credit the Greek physician, Hippocrates, as the founder of Vitalist philosophy, the fundamental principles of Vitalism were intrinsic to all traditional cultures. The shamanistic traditions demonstrated this through the thoughtful integration of diet, herbs, music/chanting, ritual, laying on of hands, etc. was simply a way of life that preceded recorded history.== Carlson, "What Is Vitalism?"
Vitalism played a big role in the New Thought Movement (a movement denying the essentials of Christianity but which claimed to be Christian) and in the rise of many "natural" healing concepts proliferating today. Phineas Quimby and Anton Mesmer believed they had accessed the "Christ power" in healing. This became a staple of New Thought healing and eventually the New Age. Here is one example of such healing found randomly online:
Quote==The loving energy of Christ is always present in my healings. I was introduced to the Christ Force Healing technique in 1997.==Website of Jeffrey Allen, http://goo.gl/oF6AM5
This healer, Jeffrey Allen, describes the various disembodied guides who aid him in healing. His account is not unique but is actually typical. Spirit guides (fallen angels) are always a part of energy healing and are even referred to by Reiki and Healing Touch practitioners as well as other energy healers and workers.
The Vital Force and Illness
The "Vital force" or "life force" is a foundation for the original principles of Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Naturopathy, Bach Flower Remedies or Flower Essences, and many other alternative healing modalities. Vitalism was a popular notion in the 1800s and early 1900s and undergirded many alleged purported healing techniques now classified as alternative. The healing principle is based on the unseen and unknown "vital force," the same concept in all occult and pagan healing:
Quote==In the Vitalist paradigm, all disease is seen to originate as a pattern of disharmony in the vital force. Over time, unchecked distorted patterns begin to manifest on the material level, giving rise to physical disease. In practice, physical manifestations may be treated and symptoms relieved but underlying energetic patterns must also be addressed to create true, lasting healing.== Carlson, "What Is Vitalism?"
A specific example which reflects Vitalism can be found in the original teachings of Chiropractic, founded by D. D. Palmer, who had studied Mesmerism (hypnosis and New Thought healing):
Quote==There exists a Universal Intelligence which brings organization to all matter, and maintains its existence;
*All living things have inborn, or Innate Intelligence which adapts universal forces and matter for use in the body;
*Every living thing has ALL the Innate Intelligence it requires to maintain its life and optimal health;
*Health is the expression of the Innate Intelligence through Innate Matter, via Innate Energy;
*When there is interference with the transmission of Innate Energy, the result is a decrease in the expression of Innate Intelligence, which chiropractors call dis-ease (not to be confused with disease!).=="The Original Beliefs of Chiropractic, http://goo.gl/IBQLKa
Specific Examples of Energy Work/Healing
The use of breath is important in Yoga because directing the breath is equal to dealing with Prana, believed to be the divine breath of the universe. This is why what is called breathwork (Pranayama) is given such an emphasis in Yoga. What is called breathwork is designed to initiate the rise of the energy coiled at the base of the spine, Kundalini. The occult nature of Yoga is quite clear, and so it is not surprising that Hatha Yoga was only taught in India by gurus to those who sought them, and that occultists were the first ones to use Yoga in the West.
Acupuncture is based on belief in a universal force, chi, which supposedly permeates the world and courses through the body in invisible channels called meridians. Illness results when the chi is blocked, thus causing imbalance in the yin and yang energies. Needles are used at various points, not connected to the location of pain or illness, to supposedly unblock the alleged chi. However, there is no concrete evidence for the existence of meridians or chi, and no accepted scientific explanation has been found to support acupuncture as of this writing.
Homeopathy products are the result of at least two completely illogical concepts, founded by Vitalism devotee, Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). The first one is that a product is diluted over and over almost to the point that nothing of the original substance is left in the belief that this will make it more effective; this is called potentization.
Secondly, there is the belief that the water or liquid used for dilution will retain the "memory" of or be "imprinted" by the energy of the product when the product is vigorously shaken in the liquid. The energy of the product is supposedly impressed on the liquid through repeated shaking (called succussions).
Essential Oils originate in Bach Flower Remedies, which is based on Vitalism. About its founder, Edward Bach (1846-1936), we read:
Quote==Though both the nature of flower essences and his philosophical approach to healing clearly place Bach in the Vitalist tradition, he did not often use the term "vital force" in his writing. Instead, he espoused the importance of treating "the personality of the inner man" and spoke of "the spirit of man." The application of flower essences became a way to suffuse this spirit of man with "beautiful vibrations of our higher nature"; thus dispelling the disease pattern.==(Carlson)
Vibrations in the essence of plants are believed to align with vibrations in the "spirit" of a person and activate healing powers, and/or balance the person"s "life force." There is no scientific or physical basis for this; it is purely Vitalistic spirituality. Other claims use pseudo-scientific language.
Quote==There does not appear to be a rational scientific basis for this therapy. It is described as working by releasing neuro-chemicals, balancing hormones, stimulating the immune system, reducing toxins or influencing psycho-neuro-immunology; little explanation or scientific evidence is offered. Others claim that benefits depend upon balancing the bodies' vital energy, cosmic energy or life force. Gattefosse stated: 'Essential oils can be used to balance the energy flows of the body in a similar way to acupuncture.'==("Aromatherapy," Christian Medical Fellowship in the UK, http://goo.gl/GV7Jrf)
While there are legitimate uses for some Essential Oils in cleaning and for fragrance, and for some minor treatments such as the anti-fungal properties of Tea Tree Oil, the Essential Oils market is infused with New Age views and terminology. Products are illegitimately promoted not just for healing serious diseases but as treatment for serious anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, low self-esteem, and other personal situations. Disturbingly, there is also an attempt to disguise the New Age ideas with Christian language and/or biblical references in order to give these beliefs a Christian legitimacy.
An example of the pervasive influence of Vitalism masquerading as Christianity is in the popular book, Healing Oils of the Bible, by David Stewart. I was told by many Christians this was a Christian book, and many refer to it to substantiate invalid views about oils and the Bible. However, I read the book and found it to promote views totally contrary to Scripture, as well as false and unsubstantiated claims. Indeed, many of the statements in this book are strong echoes of Bach's Vitalist beliefs. This startling statement is found in the first page of the Introduction:
Quote==These oils are the vital fluids of the plants that are their life blood.....Essential oils contain life force, intelligence, and vibrational energy that imbues them with healing power that works for people.==(See CANA article on this book on the Sola Sisters blog at http://goo.gl/Yt9pNq)
Why Are There Results?
Why do some of these methods seem to work? This can be due to: the placebo effect, which has accounted for 33% or more of good results in testing with controls; to the desire to believe in the remedy; to the self-limiting nature of the illness or pain; and/or to the patient's use of conventional treatments prior to, during, or after the alternative practices.
Many of the conditions treated with alternative therapies are hard to diagnose, difficult to treat, and are only detected subjectively by the patient/client. In some cases, the illness may be diagnosed (likely inaccurately) by the alternative healer and then allegedly "cured."
What about Bible passages about God's breath and how the Lord sustains the universe?
Most references to God's breath are pointing to God as the creator of man and of all life. This does not mean that in having breath we literally possess anything organic from God because God is distinct from His creation. In fact, being Spirit, God does not literally possess breath; it is poetic imagery. Teachings that God's breath is the vital force or life force are Pantheism, or Panentheism. Pantheism is the view that God is creation and creation is God. Panentheism states that God is in creation and creation is in God, though God also transcends creation. However, in truth, no part of God's nature intermingles with or penetrates creation. God is omnipresent but is entirely distinct from His creation.
"It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their host." Isaiah 45:12
"Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?" Isaiah 66:1; also see 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; Psalms 139:7-10; Jer. 23: 23-24; Acts 17:24
Many point to Colossians 1:17 as evidence for a force in nature to be God or part of God (or Christ):
"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
Again, no part of God can reside in nature; otherwise, that would be a Pantheistic or Panentheistic god, and therefore, a false god. Nor is anything in the created world sacred or divine. The notion of nature as sacred makes sense in the New Age worldview but not in the biblical one.
Colossians is relaying that God sustains all by His power. But this power is not organic or part of nature, nor is it something we can channel, manipulate, balance, manage, summon, or access for healing. Attempts to do this are contrary to who God is and to Scripture. Manipulating or channeling energy is occult healing and more akin to sorcery.
The practices using energy explained in this article are occult in nature. They are not valid scientifically, medically, logically, or biblically.
*Note on the occult and occult healing: The occult is a set of practices involving reading hidden meanings in ordinary images or in natural sources, the attempt to receive information or aid from disembodied beings, and/or manipulation of unquantifiable forces or powers. The three broad categories are divination, spirit contact, and sorcery. Healing is one of the most common occult activities but these methods are counterfeit to true healing. New Age healing is, in actuality, based on occult healing principles.
Information on Vitalism and some of its most famous advocates
Pacific Island beliefs in Mana and how it became a part of Warcraft
Process of Homeopathy and the "imprinting" on water
==Samuel Hahnemann believed that this was a key part of the homeopathic practice and that it would "release dynamic forces from the diluents which were preserved and intensified with subsequent dilutions". In modern homeopathy, it is this process that is said to impart water memory upon the solvent.== http://goo.gl/jHZPkK
The Christian and Energetic Medicine by Elliot Miller
Christian Critique by Marcia Montenegro of Healing Oils of the Bible
Articles on Alternative Treatments from CINAM
How should a Christian view Homeopathy?
Christian Medical View of Chiropractic
Sola Sisters blog on Homeopathy and alternatives
Bach Flower Remedies
The Christian and Essential Oils (with links)
A Christian medical evaluation of Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
Warning on spiritual marketing of Essential Oils
The Healing Gods by Candy Gunther Brown
Examining Alternative Medicine by Paul Reisser, Dale Mabe, and Robert Velarde (has good material on life force energy)