I think it’s fair to say that a decade or so ago, to share you were seeing an astrologer would have been taboo. Yet, now, your sun, moon and rising sign is a common conversation amongst friends and acquaintances.
For whatever reason, the benefits of “woo”—spirituality, mysticism and alternative medicine—are becoming popular tools in the modern healthcare and self-care toolboxes for many. And not unlike brushing your teeth, eating enough vegetables, physically exercising or even taking a bubble bath, they can help improve our well-being for the better.
“I think there’s actually an astrological explanation for the boom,” says Shaniel Wisniewski, owner and astrologer of Lucky Penny Astrology. “The planet Neptune is currently in Pisces. Neptune represents spirituality, mysticism, intuition—the divine, really. It has been there for about the past 10 to 15 years, which is really correlated to the boom that astrology and spirituality are seeing recently.”
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Shaniel suggests a natal birth chart reading from a professional astrologer for those interested in exploring how astrology, the study of the movement of the planets, can help them to optimize their life.
“I think a simple way to put it is, with astrology, it’s like getting the weather forecast for your life,” she says. “It helps people with greater awareness, with a higher consciousness: that they’re connected to something beyond themselves and that the events in their life aren’t random.
“A birth chart reading can feel like a remembering or a recognition of yourself and your soul that you’ve never before had put in words, but you’ve always felt in your heart. It also helps you narrow down your focus, your attention and know what to expect for the year ahead.”
Reiki, an ancient Japanese form of energy therapy, is an alternative medicine known for promoting relaxation and reducing stress and anxiety. During a session, using a gentle touch, a “universal energy” is transferred through the practitioner’s palms to encourage emotional or physical healing in the patient.
“Emotions are energies, we just don’t always think about them like that,” explains Rose Manzella, owner of Rose’s Reiki & More.
A certified Reiki master working with patients at her studio in West Seneca, Rose’s Reiki sessions are $75 and help to move out old energy to make way for the new—from trauma to chronic pain or even just a minor headache.
“When you’re sad, you feel really heavy, and when you’re happy, feel really light,” Rose says. “That’s the weight of those energies: the vibration that those emotions carry. So when we’re carrying those within us, Reiki helps us to let go of some of those denser emotions and process them. I want people to understand that Reiki is the ability of one human to show another human compassion and love. That’s where the real healing comes from.”
Yet, admittedly, Rose explains it’s not a cure-all or replacement for conventional medical practices. Nor should it be used as an emergency medical service.
Health & wellness
Toni Haugen, founder, licensed acupuncturist and herbalist of Queen City Health & Wellness echoes that sentiment at her functional medicine practice in downtown Buffalo.
“If you’re having a heart attack or if you broke your leg, don’t come to see me (first),” Toni says. “But you do come to see me if that leg isn’t healing, or you’ve had a chronic illness or disease, or if you want a reset with a change of the seasons.”
Specializing in traditional Chinese medicine, her general family practice offers acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha and herbs. And while the remedies may be different, Eastern and Western medicine have similar goals in mind—to keep us healthy. Just with different strategies.
“The biggest difference, a broad generalization here, is Western medicine is looking at a mechanized part of the body: ‘There’s this one section, there’s a disease here, how are we going to approach that?’ ” Toni says. “Then Chinese medicine is saying: ‘Let’s look at this entire system and how it all fits together.’ Culturally, I do believe that there is a shift into understanding the way that our minds and bodies and the cultures that we live in impact the ways that we’re feeling.”
Accepting out-of-network coverage for acupuncture, HSAs, flex spending, MVA and no-fault insurance, the small team at Queen City Health & Wellness looks to be as accessible to the community as possible—offering several free clinics a week at various Evergreen Health locations around the city via a grant, as well as corporate wellness programs featuring auricular (ear) acupuncture, a protocol that helps manage things like stress, anxiety and general pain.
101: Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM)
More about its five major categories.
- Spirituality (astrology)
- Creative outlets (art, dance, music)