Scrubbing the House Right Down to the Vibes – NYTimes.com

0

It turns out that Bhakti Sondra Shaye does windows. She also scours microwaves, refrigerators, dishwashers and closets.


Recently, she arrived at my front door, swathed in a pale pink pashmina, brandishing an empty pink spray bottle. Slight and pixieish, she looked like a New Age fairy, as played by Anne Hathaway.

Ms. Shaye, 49, who has an M.F.A. in creative writing and practiced for years as a corporate lawyer, is no mere clutter buster. She is what is known as a space clearer. And she was there to perform a really deep spring cleaning of my apartment, beyond anything the vacuum might reach — way, way beyond. The dust bunnies were safe; it was bad vibes she would be Hoovering up.

Beloved by reality television show producers and Manhattan real estate brokers, space clearers like Ms. Shaye barely garner a raised eyebrow anymore. Running off the fumes of the big four religions, with a lacing of indigenous ritual and a dash of early 20th-century palaver — Madame Blavatsky by way of L. Ron Hubbard — the shamans and healers, mystics and mediums of the last century’s not-so-New Age have become indispensable exterminators for certain homeowners in New York and other big cities, who summon these psychic scrubbers to wash their apartments and town houses (as well as their offices and even some events) with ho-hum regularity. They get more publicity than most decorators and architects, and have armfuls of testimonials from brokers at companies like Core and Corcoran.

Uncertain times, it seems, call for unorthodox housekeeping — or “that extra advantage,” as Desiree Gruber, a founder of “Project Runway,” put it.

Jeff Sharlet, who has written extensively about faith and religion in this country (his last book, “Sweet Heaven When I Die: Faith, Faithlessness and the Country In Between,” came out in 2011), would argue that woo-woo ablutions are no longer merely a coastal practice. “It’s in many ways a small-town Midwestern phenomenon, a red-state phenomenon as much as a blue one.”

Fair enough. But why clean so, ah, thoroughly?

Why not? asked Dominic Teja Sidhu, 31, a curator, creative director and art adviser who said he calls upon Ms. Shaye for all his projects, including photo shoots, gallery shows and art installations. “It’s very affordable, the cost of a car service, and the money is going to such a good place,” he said. (Regarding the money: Ms. Shaye charges $50 for a project clearing, $250 for a remote home clearing and from $350 to as much as $1,000 for an on-site zhoosh of an entire house.)
 

Written By: Penelope Green
continue to source article at nytimes.com

NO COMMENTS

  1. Is anyone else petty enough to be offended by the use of ‘practiced’ when it should have been ‘practised’ to the extent that they can’t bear to read the rest of the article? No? Just me then.

    • In reply to #1 by headswapboy:

      Is anyone else petty enough to be offended by the use of ‘practiced’ when it should have been ‘practised’ to the extent that they can’t bear to read the rest of the article? No? Just me then.

      It’s an American, Webster thing. Color me civilized. Or is this a nuance that pertains to woo practices?

      If she can provide an effective service, cool. This reminds me of an article a while back where witch doctors are employed to break spells over sex-slaves, often the only thing that keeps them in bondage. If it’s not hurting anyone, I’m inclined to think it’s cool and possibly beneficial. If I had the the money to squander, witches would be a regular part of my entourage.

      I actually used the services of a witch on a project where the venue holder was concerned with resident spirits being disturbed by construction noise. I called some witch friends of mine who smudged the place and built a dollhouse in a crawl space for the ghosts to reside in,locked in on a pentagram. I enjoyed interjecting the feeding of the ghosts as a mundane part of our daily activities, assigning it as a task, “ahhh, shoot… did anyone feed the ghosts? The ghosts. Just sprinkle some tobacco or spill some coffee by the door, and uh, oh, don’t step in the pentagram… yeah ghosts, we had some witches in earlier, there’s a dollhouse, you’ll see it up there.”

      • In reply to #3 by This Is Not A Meme:

        I actually used the services of a witch on a project where the venue holder was concerned with resident spirits being disturbed by construction noise.

        Pseudoscience… it works, Witches!

        Steve

    • In reply to #1 by headswapboy:

      Is anyone else petty enough to be offended by the use of ‘practiced’ when it should have been ‘practised’ to the extent that they can’t bear to read the rest of the article? No? Just me then.

      In the US, you can use practice for noun and verb. In the UK, New Zealand and Australia (probably all British Commonwealth countries), you must use practice for the noun, and practise for the verb.

      • In reply to #20 by msloane:

        In reply to #1 by headswapboy:

        Is anyone else petty enough to be offended by the use of ‘practiced’ when it should have been ‘practised’ to the extent that they can’t bear to read the rest of the article? No? Just me then.

        In the US, you can use practice for noun and verb. In the UK, New Zealand a…

        I once had to have my practice appointment cards reprinted because the printer confused practice with practise.

    • In reply to #1 by headswapboy:

      Is anyone else petty enough to be offended by the use of ‘practiced’ when it should have been ‘practised’ to the extent that they can’t bear to read the rest of the article? No? Just me then.

      An easy rule, “s” for a verb, “c” for a noun. You remember it by the only one that is pronounced differently, “device” and “devise”. Trouble is, no-one much younger than me ever did grammatical drills in childhood, so they don’t know the difference between verbs and nouns. That’s modern creative-use-of language English teaching for you!

  2. “It’s very affordable, the cost of a car service, and the money is going to such a good place,” he said.

    No. No it’s not. You could give the money to charity and actually make a difference in the world.

    Unbelievable. These people are like Skinner’s pigeons! I would laugh if it wasn’t so sad. This Bhakti Sondra Shaye is no smarter than a pigeon; spinning around and flapping her arms expecting an outcome that never happens. Oh humanity, why do you disappoint me over and over again?

    • In reply to #6 by Aztek:

      You could give the money to charity and actually make a difference in the world.

      It is charity. She wants to run around like a loon and go “woo woo wooo!” She gotta eat too.

    • In reply to #6 by Aztek:

      “It’s very affordable, the cost of a car service, and the money is going to such a good place,” he said.

      No. No it’s not. You could give the money to charity and actually make a difference in the world.

      The money is going to charity. At least, it is helping people who are deeply afflicted by serious mental health problems.

  3. This modern “Bewitched” seems to enable some folk to feel better about situations. If it’s harmless, and a healthy release from tension, then it ain’t no bfd.

    small town mid-west woo woo

    The other day I saw a Hummer that said “ghost hunters” in big letters on the sides. Couldn’t tell if it was a joke or not.

    • In reply to #13 by Peter Grant:

      Hi Peter,

      Argh!

      Perspicacious and erudite?

      It’s very affordable, the cost of a car service, and the money is going to such a good place …

      No reason to say “argh” to that, surely? My pocket would be a better place, but of course …

      Peace.

  4. Pathetic! Love the hand gesture though. Hope she is using Fairy liquid! Clearing out wallets I think. The usual ‘energy” nonsense. Just like expelling devils and so on. Easy stuff because, NO PROOF!

  5. Ms. Shaye, 49, who has an M.F.A. in creative writing and practiced for years as a corporate lawyer…

    What else would an ex-shiester (lawyer) who writes imaginary prose, do with her life, other than take full advantage of the gullible and get money fo’ nothin’. If only I could bring myself to play-act and had “practised” for years in the corporate world manipulating people, I’d have a new profession to try.

  6. I’m with This Is Not A Meme in that I’ve seen similar circumstances where people respond (perhaps as they would a placebo) to the woo better than they do rationality.

    Part of the problem is that some beliefs are more emotionally compelling than rationality. As a crazy person, myself, for example, I know that when I’m triggered I will find beliefs that the universe has attained agency and turned against me, even when I understand how ridiculous that sounds when I look at it rationally. It’s actually a case where the gambler’s fallacy is compelling, and that recent bad luck indicates that I’m in the middle of an unlucky run that is going to continue.

    In my own case, I know just to retreat from the world and take a break, and I’ll recover, and to cut myself slack for it. But others are not as self-aware about their own cognitive biases, and sometimes a bit of woo is what’s necessary to combat the crazy.

    My roommate tells of a ritual that was done because of the high levels of stress and contention between her and her cohabitants. The witch they hired put up some wards (essentially ribbons) and prescribed that the household eat a meal together to complete the exorcism. Even afterwords, she freely admitted, it was the psychosocial effects of the household unifying to a singular task of checking through the house (putting up the ribbons) and breaking bread together that cleared the air between them. The woo wasn’t necessary but to get people motivated to do it.

    Interestingly, here in San Francisco, that seems to often be the case, that the witches and spellcasters I know understand the naturalistic order of what they’re doing as well as the mystical order. Some people just need the show with their dinner.

  7. In reply to #1 by headswapboy:

    Is anyone else petty enough to be offended by the use of ‘practiced’ when it should have been ‘practised’ to the extent that they can’t bear to read the rest of the article? No? Just me then.

    “In the US, you can use practice for noun and verb. In the UK, you must use practice for the noun, and practise for the verb.”

    No matter how you color it, your neighbor’s house isn’t always the most civilized place to visit. Don’t have seizures over this one.

  8. Still to this day, I get “vibes” when I enter certain homes or interiors. I would get a “gut” feeling only to find out later that my thoughts/opinions about the owners/previous owners was absolutely correct. Today, I have come to better understand what I was experiencing. Whether people realize it or not we communicate aspects of our personalities by our choices. If someone can see the overall impression of a physical surroundings and then analyze the details of style, choices in design, cleanliness, organization, upkeep, and a multitude of other details (in the manner of a profiler) you can get a good understanding within a short amount of time. Someone who chooses gladiator sandals over flip flops tend to have a difference in personality. Someone who chooses a tailored navy blue blazer over a denim jacket is also expressing one personality preference over another. As a designer (and woman), I know that I do this subconsciously all the time.

    Take a look at the article again “a curator, creative director and art adviser who said he calls upon Ms. Shaye…” “who has an M.F.A. in creative writing …” “Desiree Gruber, a founder of “Project Runway,” put it.” Notice what they have in common? Here is how I see it. Many of these individuals who feel that something is amiss in their environment simply are not fully analyzing a situation to figure out what isn’t working. Is it the greenish cast coming from the lights? Is it the size and shape of the interior? Maybe there isn’t a proper color flow through out the room. Maybe the owner is having a challenge in their life and simply finding fault with everything around her except the thoughts and feelings that she is holding onto. It’s the classic case of thinking that there is a “ghost in the machine”–out here instead of fully analyzing a situation.

    Yes, of course there are also scam artists.

  9. I disagree. I used to help burglary victims, The sense of invasion of privicy remains long after the criminals have fled. Some sort of spiritual house cleaning, seems to help a lot of people. I fully accept that other victims are OK with just shrugging it off. This is a placebo effect, and it does bring comfort to some people. At least this woman is throwing in any religious baggage with her service. (well not too much).

    • In reply to #25 by old-toy-boy:

      I disagree. I used to help burglary victims, The sense of invasion of privicy remains long after the criminals have fled. Some sort of spiritual house cleaning, seems to help a lot of people. I fully accept that other victims are OK with just shrugging it off. This is a placebo effect, and it does b…

      Lots of people have house blessings when they purchase a new home. It can be performed by ministers, priests, or even groups. Usually many of these events are about setting a good intention rather than scrubbing away by vibes. It’s absolutely woo and if it’s free, it has the same depth as saying a prayer with a few more formalities. In the case of a violent event that occurred in the home. sometimes people need to be reassured and know that they are supported. This service takes place of this need. Perhaps in the future, people will start to acknowledge the core need that woo provides – and skip the woo altogether.
      It can become troublesome when woo gets into the hands of someone like Sylvia Brown who then starts making up names and personalities of dead people in order to charge astronomical prices for her phony services.

  10. The moderators are threatening free speech on this website! Even to disagree is with their decisions is met with the instant threat of being banned from discussion. They have deleted my post for containing the word ‘cant’, which cannot possibly be deemed offensive. and many other persons posts in addition. The moderator responsible for this seems very fascist in outlook, and is clearly unsuited to the position. Please see the post about Russian laws penalising insulting religion. It seems that the moderators would act the same if they were in power. I’ve been visiting this site for years; this is disgusting.

    Moderators’ message

    Yes, we remove comments containing or quoting “the C word” and will continue to do so.

    Our Terms of Use make it clear that moderation decisions are entirely at our discretion. Comments about those decisions are always deemed in breach of those same Terms and will also be removed. Acceptance of our Terms of Use is a prerequisite for posting on this site: if you are unwilling to accept them, please go elsewhere.

    We are not going to enter into discussion about this. Anyone who attempts to further derail this thread risks having their commenting rights removed without further warning.

    Anyone who attempts to further derail this thread risks having their commenting rights removed without further warning!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously, what kind of scare tactics are these?

  11. From the beheading of witches in Saudi Arabia, in a smooth continuum, to this spoilt fairy and her pretentious clients, witchcraft always seems to bob to the surface, like an inconvenient corpse.

    Homo sapiens?

    • In reply to #29 by Geoff 21:

      From the beheading of witches in Saudi Arabia, in a smooth continuum, to this spoilt fairy and her pretentious clients, witchcraft always seems to bob to the surface, like an inconvenient corpse.

      Inconvenient corpse — I will cherish that simile forever.

  12. Damn it – why the hell do I have to work so hard for my money as a nurse? I should just style myself as some kind of mumbo-jumbo touchy-feely “healing touch” woo-meister. Print up some business cards, start wearing flowing, garish clothes and jewelry, put up a website with plenty of nice-sounding, encouraging messages of how my wonderful blessed hands can cure your aches and pains and improve your sex life – and I’m made. No more trying to keep up with peer-reviewed research after a 12-hour shift on my feet arguing with doctors and dealing with difficult patients and frustrating paperwork. I can just make shit up and play “let’s pretend” – and make money, too!

Leave a Reply