This week I learned that there are people who use bee venom to get relief from Lime disease and other illnesses. How does that work you ask? Well, you have a box of bees, pull one out with a pair of tweezers and “apply” the stinger to some pre-selected spot on your body..and then you do it again.. and again.. and again.
That was not the only thing I learned watching UNWELL, a series of documentaries about “wellness” trends on Netflix. One of the episodes was about a fasting camp where people go for a supervised 28 day water drinking session. Another was about essential oils and how clients consume them (yes, in their mouth) to heal all sorts of maladies. This did remind me that I had a box of oils for my diffuser that I had forgotten all about..so I dug the sucker out from the back of my bathroom closet and within no time, my bedroom smelled like peppermint..yum!
No, I didn’t drink it.
What struck me watching this docuseries was how profoundly desperate so many people are. Folks are physically sick, psychologically struggling or trying to overcome abuse or trauma. So many are lonely! So many are deeply vulnerable. So many are desperate to connect and feel like they belong.
And then there are the charlatans who prey on them and become amazingly rich doing so. I’m not saying bee venom doesn’t work, I’m just saying..Well, I don’t know what I’m saying.
In one scene a young woman is learning how to sting herself with a bee at a seminar. When it’s her turn to try, she is surrounded by eager participants who encourage her along. At the moment she finally stings herself in the back, the room erupts in applause. The girl then walks away to cry over the bee that died. (Yes, bees do in fact die when they sting.. it’s pretty gruesome actually if you want to look that up. 🤭)
I read once that we are living in a post ‘organized-religion’ era. Having watched this series I’d have to say it depends on what your definition of religion is. The innate desire to have faith in something (or someone) is actually alive and well and being channeled into organizations that promise healing, enlightenment, purpose and fulfillment. Many are led by people with “checkered” personal histories, suspect credentials and strangely “compelling” personalities.
So while traditional religion as we know it may indeed be fading, new organizations are taking their places offering a sense of belonging, health, enlightenment and raison d’etre to seekers all over the world. Spiritual groups, political groups, wellness groups (and facebook groups) are popping up everywhere with followers who are every bit as devoted as some of the most zealous religious types.
Some of these groups are worthy of trust..a good many, unfortunately, are not. You cannot watch this series without feeling bad for those who fall victim to the obvious frauds.