Geopathic Stress relief is a New Age growth industry based on the idea that localised problems from plant decay, chronic human fatigue, skin problems, unemployment, suicide, noisome neighbours etc., are caused by negative energies emanating from the ground, often beneath the home. This is the current variation on a now-familiar theme which links a nebulous network of post-rationalist ideas known collectively as New Age thought with the land, in the form of mysterious subterranean energies. The theme emerged in the 1960s out of extant ‘ley’ theory, older myths of ancient ‘fairy paths’ as, writes W.Y. Evans Wentz in 1911, “magnetic arteries, so to speak, through which circulates the earth’s magnetism”, Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese system of rules oriented in relation to the flow of qi energies, and Aimé Michel’s notion of orthoténie, which proposed that UFO sightings occur in alignment with a system of lines that exists in relation to vast geometric shapes traced and centred on the earth, an idea suggested by Michel’s friend the Surrealist poet, writer and artist Jean Cocteau. (How stimulating that a myth that is so widely embraced was imagined into being by someone who sees life in terms of poïesis not patheia.)
The idea that these energies are somehow harmful seems to me to be a contributing factor to the problem Geopathic Stress experts claim to be able to diagnose and cure. So, did you see what I did there? I changed ‘pathic’ to ‘poetic’ and ‘stress’ to ‘flow’, a remedial move (or trick) that may be compared to how what is pejoratively dismissed as the ‘placebo effect’ is looked at differently, and becomes a more interesting research subject, when it is viewed in less negative terms as the ‘healing response’. Same thing, big difference.
Talking of words…
Ar, Ars, Art and Archaeology
According to one expert, Christopher Stevens – not the Associate Professor of Linguistics at UCLA but the one who writes for the Daily Mail – the etymological root of the ar sound in certain words – e.g., art and archaeology – relates to the penetration of compact soil in preparation for growing crops: to plough. By root, I mean not just Greek (aratron) or Latin (aratrum). Accordingly, the persistence of the ar sound in those languages in relation to arable farming, as well as Aromanian (where ar still means plough), and throughout the spread of Indo-European language suggests Neolithic origins. To briefly expand on this, the original meaning of dhr, which begat Dharma, was to hold firm without moving – conveying the idea that all power and identity is derived from land. So Dhr is related, at least conceptually, to another ar word: farm.
Or is this an example of apophenia, where we start with a compelling idea and then set about attributing ‘meaningful’ evidence to it in the form of false positives? Such as with ‘ley’ hunting, where a line drawn between distant points brings significance to other landscape features, generating intuited ‘revelations’ of meaning, intention and agency.
Perish the thought.