By Susan Reintjes
Third Eye Publishing, 202 pp., $16.95
"Since I had been exploring spiritual practices, I decided to ask for a past life to help me heal my eating issues. At the time, I was reading Shirley MacLaine's book Dancing in the Light ... " (From Third Eye Open, p. 153).
Those averse to hearing about discarnate beings, harmonic convergences and clairvoyance brought on by the millennial acceleration will have trouble getting through Susan Reintjes' Third Eye Open. Those averse to UFOs and dolphins mentioned in the same paragraph will have trouble getting past the first page of the introduction.
Reintjes is a psychic healer and counselor living and practicing in Chapel Hill. The book is well-written and flows smoothly, but it's instantly apparent her psychic abilities intersect a little too suspiciously with her personal coping mechanisms. Whether you believe in psychic phenomena or not, the self-published Third Eye Open's instructions to release our psychic awareness are a little too embarrassingly simplistic. Were you abused as a child? Body image issues? Do these visualizations, tell yourself you love yourself and you're healed.
In the end of chapter four, "Time for the Child," Reintjes says, "War and violence are the expressions of the anguish of lost innocence ... When we each know and love the inner child, we will not be capable of violence to ourselves or others."
Okay, that's a great sentiment. If only it was true. But what about those whose inner children are assholes?
Chapter six details how to be your own psychic, using methods such as emptying your mind to write down weekly predictions. (You're reminded that the mind is symbolic, so you might have to search for interpretations to some of the meanings if they don't seem obvious at first.) To discover where we might have lived during past lives, Reintjes encourages us to sit in front of a world map, close our eyes and allow intuition to tell us which countries to circle.
Reintjes spends much of the book finding meaning in coincidences (known as apophenia in skeptical circles), detailed excessively from her own life. She's struck by a barracuda while snorkeling in Hawaii, and interprets it as a shamanic blow meant to dislodge fear trapped in her ribcage, where her masseur had told her the day before her departure that she needed shamanic surgery. A bat flying a loop-de-loop closer to her house than she'd ever seen leads Reintjes to write: "I realized that I had equated a financially generous man with a sexually controlling one." (Don't ask.)
Last year after a spate of people remotely connected to bioterrorism or biological research died, The New York Times Magazine did a story on coincidences or, as mathematicians would say, statistical odds. As one mathematician said, with 280 million people in the United States, "280 times a day, a one-in-a-million shot is going to occur.''
Everything in life seems to be a cryptic message or psychic act--from a rash of flat tires to stopping smoke alarms with emotions. A cigar is never only a cigar for Reintjes, and she offers several symbolic interpretations for maladies associated with the physical and inanimate: frozen pipes represent frozen or stuck emotions; lower back pain could indicate lack of support as a child. Taking the mind-body connection this far does injustice to its hard-won establishment in our society.