Blue Born | Some say Indigo Children are here to save the world. Skeptics say it’s New-Age hokum.
Amelia Rachel Noelle wasn’t at all nervous about walking toward the master of ceremonies during a “Visions for a New Humanity” conference held February of last year. Nor, at age 7, was she nervous about speaking before a crowd of 2,000 people gathered to discuss making peace a reality.
After a quick introduction, the emcee bent down to ask little Noelle the question everyone wanted to hear her answer.
“What can we do to bring about peace?” the emcee asked.
Without hesitation, Noelle spoke into the microphone and answered, in a matter-of-fact tone, “Each one of us needs to say this every day.”
“This” was a long, drawn-out sound effect. Noelle hummed into the large microphone dwarfing her face, then stretched it out into an “ahhhh” sound until she could no longer hold it. She repeated the action, this time with an “ummmm,” then drew it out again.
At least, that’s how Noelle’s mother, former Salt Lake City resident Heather Macauley, recalls it. She was taken aback when her daughter climbed up to the stage. And when her daughter answered the MC’s question, her jaw dropped.
“I had never talked with [Noelle] about meditation or anything like that before,” Macauley said by phone from her new home in Kula, Hawaii. It was during infant baths at barely the age of 3 that Noelle first began “toning,” as she did during her answer for peace. The quality of her meditative calls was enhanced by her perfect pitch.
“She is very perceptive,” Macauley says. In fact, Noelle says she can remember her own birth.
“[Noelle] knew that she was born under water, but we never really talked much about it. Then one day she told me, "I remember being born. I remember I could breathe under water,’” Macauley recalls. “What is so amazing is that after saying something like that, she’ll just go back to typical kid stuff.”
Some would say that Noelle, though, is not at all your typical kid. If you believe one New Age trend, she is of a generation of high-energy, precocious children that, some say, are sent to save the world. She is an Indigo Child, one of many, believers contend, endowed with a special set of attributes that may help bring harmony to the world.
The Indigo movement, as it’s called, started in the early ’80s, when Nancy Tapp wrote the book Understanding Your Life Through Color. In it, she described the coming of a “new universal age,” the Indigo Age. It heralded a generation born with a deep blue aura. At about the same time two Greeks, journalist Kostas Hardavelas and science-fiction author Ioannis Fourakis, posited that certain children of high intelligence and unique spiritual qualities born in or around April 1983 constituted a new breed of children destined for some vital mission in history. They called them “April children.”
While the tag line of “April children” never quite caught on, the number of people believing in the power and special attributes of auras has grown tremendously. So, too, has the Indigo movement.
There are numerous books offering parents help with raising such progeny if, in fact, you’re indeed raising an Indigo Child. The most popular title by far, and a seminal text for believers, is Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived. The authors, husband and wife self-help lecturers Lee Carroll and Jan Tober, argue that we are witnessing an evolution in today’s children.
Noel Sandberg'a sales clerk at Salt Lake City’s Golden Braid bookstore which specializes in titles pertaining to spirituality, metaphysics and New Age topics'said the title sells about 100 copies per year. “A lot of people come in asking for it,” she said. “Suddenly it seems like there’s a lot more interest in it.”
According to believers, most Indigo Children were born between the years 1975 and 1995. More important are the behavioral characteristics of these children. They’re explicit about their needs and wants, often to the point of displaying a sense of "deservedness" or even “royalty.” Long before the years in which most people mature, they seem to know exactly who they are and what they want. They often see their ways as better than other people’s and can come across as antisocial unless grouped with other, like-minded Indigo Children. They can be stubborn to the point of refusing certain requests and parental demands, unresponsive to authority or guilt mechanisms. Perhaps the hallmark of their behavior, and what makes them so intriguing to believing adults and parents, is their role as “system busters.” They seem to know better, or at least more creative, ways of getting things done.
Critics point out that many, if not most, children display these traits during most, if not all, of their childhood. Who hasn’t run across a child who can be stubborn, clear about their demands, sure of themselves or curious in their ways? Many child psychologists and psychiatrists would diagnose some of those traits as signs of attention-deficit disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or simply evidence that the child may be extremely gifted or intelligent for his or her age.
All such labels constitute a misunderstanding, believers contend. To slap these children with labels either harmful or misunderstood does them a disservice. More important, they say, is learning to approach, appreciate and nurture Indigo Children for who they are, not for what doctors and specialists might diagnose or recommend.
Carroll and Tober take these traits one step further, claiming Indigo Children can develop into four future types: humanists, conceptuals, artists and—the most rare—interdimensionals. Humanists will work with the masses, becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, executives and politicians. The conceptual will favor work with projects, becoming engineers, designers, pilots and military officers. The artists are, of course, the most sensitive and creative, becoming musicians and actors. Then there is the interdimensional Indigo Child, who will shed light on new philosophies and religions.
Skeptics of all this aren’t hard to find. Elizabeth Cashdan, a professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, is quick to point out what she sees as the most obvious flaw in Carroll and Tober’s theory. Talk about children’s behavioral traits must take into account environment, the causes influencing or bringing about certain behaviors. Traits do not somehow miraculously manifest themselves because of some aura.
“Anyone making an argument like this should remember that a trait will not evolve, no matter how desirable or 'advanced,’ unless it enhances the individual’s inclusive fitness (through enhanced survival, reproduction, or reproductive success of close kin),” Cashdan says. “Natural selection is a tough and unsentimental process and doesn’t always favor things we might like.”
Dr. Fred Reimherr, a psychiatrist at the Mood Disorders Clinic in Salt Lake City, also holds the concept suspect. “The idea of the Indigo Child is inconceivable,” he says, adding that most of the criteria used to identify an Indigo Child could describe most any child.
Part and parcel of the Indigo movement, too, is a large dose of New Age philosophy and belief that, for most people, might require more than a little suspension of disbelief. Carroll, after all, has claimed that he received and learned about the very idea while channeling conversations with “a love-filled and empowering angelic being” named Kryon.
Unpersuaded by critics, believers turned out in great numbers last January to support the latest media on Indigo Children: The Indigo Evolution. The documentary premiered at more than 500 small theaters and community centers and was directed and produced by peace troubadour and writer James Twyman. Co-producing and co-directing was filmmaker Kent Romney.
“When I first heard the term Indigo Child I thought, ˜blue kids?’ and once I learned what it really meant, I was a skeptical journalist,” Romney says. “I thought it was all a bunch of New-Age, spiritual mumbo jumbo.”
Romney was there for every shot and interview in the documentary, gaining perspective from more than 200 interviews across the globe.
“I spoke to people from Europe, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Brazil and the United States and when you talk to these kids, there’s a clarity in their eyes, an awareness of who they are. It is hard to explain. They have inner guidance; an extra sense that lets them turn inward and follow their intuition,” Romney says.
The Indigo movement has gained significant momentum, with its own annual event “World Indigo Weekend,” books and articles such as The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children, and even feature fiction films such as Indigo, the story of a grandfather who gains valuable insights from his Indigo Child granddaughter.
Reimherr remains doubtful. “These are unusual ideas without any scientific basis. People have to understand that science is based on thoroughly tested theories. This theory has no scientific evidence,” he says.
Romney believes there’s no evidence they do not exist. “Sure there are no definitive scientific studies to prove that this exists, but there’s also none that prove it doesn’t,” he says. “That’s just it, there are no studies. Period.”
The strong divide between followers and mainstream physicians aside, those who’ve seen the phenomenon firsthand say they won’t return to their previous incredulity.
“'Indigo’ is just a label,” Macauley says. “We have a generation of children, I don’t care what you call them, coming into the world with knowledge of who they are and what they are here to do.”
Her daughter Noelle featured in the documentary, knelt down at a shore with her hands pressed to the earth. She exemplifies most all the signs of an Indigo Child, with no questions about who she is and what she wants, and with an advanced creative capacity. She swims with dolphins and has a natural feel for calming animals.
After just a few minutes of conversation with Analee Falk, she says she’ll have to call back.
“The oldest just got her driver’s permit and needs help navigating the I-80 interchange,” Falk said.
The “oldest” is her 15-year-old daughter, Alexa. She and her sister, Natalee, 13, are like most teenagers. They attend school, play guitar and listen to music. Few teenagers, however, listen to music they’ve written themselves. They’re Indigos, and featured in Romney and Twyman’s documentary.
The Falk sisters have been writing and playing music in Farmington since the ages of 8 and 6. They began singing even earlier. “I thought all little kids could sing like they could,” Falk says. “At the time, I was a flight attendant. I knew nothing about the music or the music industry.”
As toddlers, the sisters memorized song lyrics together. It wasn’t long before someone who recognized the girls’ talent recommended they take private lessons. Falk took the advice, taking her girls to an instructor. “The teacher came to me and said that the girls have a four-octave range and are harmonizing perfectly together. I had no idea what that meant,” Falk says.
What that meant was that Alexa and Natalee were good. So good, in fact, that they won competition after competition with their singing talents. The turning point was a national competition in Las Vegas, with a grand prize trip to Nashville for a recording session and production of a CD. The Falk sisters took the competition by storm, beating out all other competitors.
To sidestep shelling out royalties for singing someone else’s song, they would have to create their own music and lyrics. Eight-year-old Alexa got to work, composing a full-length song in the car on a one-and-a-half-hour trip home from her grandma’s house.
From that pivotal moment, the girls have been busy writing and performing their own songs, appearing on the Jenny Jones Show and in feature articles in American Girl and Girls’ Life magazines. They have written five smash hits for performers in Brazil and are the youngest songwriters ever to be signed with Warner-Chapell Music Inc.
“I don’t like to label the girls as anything,” says their mother. “It was when we were competing that I first heard the term Indigo. Several people told me, 'Your girls are Indigos.’ After hearing it over and over, I finally asked what it meant. I was never into visiting the Golden Braid or anything like it.”
But after learning about the Indigo ideology and phenomenon, Falk thought the similarities were a little more than coincidental.
“My girls are gifted. They came into the world knowing what they were supposed to do. They are very spiritual, not religious, but spiritual,” Falk says. “God gave them this talent to share with the world.”
Their web site says the sisters aren’t interested only in becoming stars. Their real agenda is “to use the power of music to help this planet evolve.”
Not all Indigos have such bright futures. Proponents worry that too many stray off the beaten path and experience problems in school. They’re sometimes chastised and often medicated'the worst fate that can befall them, according to believers. And a common thread among Indigos is that they’re often diagnosed with attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder.
Indigo Children, the Difficult Side
LaDawn Wind, 29, remembers sitting quietly in her seat at a round melamine table in a preschool classroom as, one by one, several teachers and counselors described the problems her son Jake, then 3, was experiencing.
“They told me how he didn’t behave. They said he was disruptive and even violent,” Wind recalls. “ They told me he definitely had ADD and that he might even be a highly functioning autistic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 4.4 million youth age 4 to 17 have been diagnosed as having ADHD. As recently as 2003, it was estimated that 2.5 million youth in the same age group currently take medication for the disorder. Wind knows the pressure to medicate all too well.
“They said right away that my son needed to take Ritalin,” Wind says. “He’s 3 years old! What 3-year-old isn’t running around all over the place?”
Randy Dow, a licensed clinical social worker and program manager at Salt Lake Valley Mental Health, says that ADD and ADHD are more prevalent now than in years past, but he attributes this increase to the fast-paced world we live in. “What we have seen is that people are more aware of the symptoms of ADHD today. It may also be a result of our environment. There are more stimuli and everyone is multitasking. Classrooms have more students, also. This means more stimuli for a child to feed on and less one-on-one attention with teachers.”
Opinions about treating the condition vary. Sometimes medication works. Sometimes it does not. Sometimes one-on-one counseling is the solution, and sometimes a combination of counseling and medication works.
ADD and ADHD are not always synonymous with the traits of an Indigo Child, but believers in the Indigo movement believe one is often mistaken for the other. “It’s not that every child with ADD is an Indigo, but many Indigos have the same qualities that people with ADD or ADHD possess,” Romney says.
Regardless, some Indigo believers say it’s time we define certain children by a new set of criteria, rather than let conventional medicine and psychology call the shots.
“Some say these children are psychic; some say that they have ADD,” says Macauley. “The problem is they are trying to make these kids line up to the system, when the system needs to be lining up to the children.”
Wind was told her son must line up to the system: Place Jake in a special-needs classroom or don’t come back. At this point, she was ready to pull Jake out of preschool all together but ultimately decided to keep him in preschool even if it meant he would be in a special-needs class. “Couldn’t it be that they needed to change the way they did things?” Wind asks.
Though Wind still doesn’t agree that her son has ADD or ADHD, she thinks it is very possible that he is an Indigo.
“Jake has an obvious sense of self. He knows exactly who he is and what it is he is going to do. He is overly emphatic,” Wind says. “It’s hard to tell for sure if he’s an Indigo, but when he starts school next year we’ll know.”
She plans on enrolling her son in conventional kindergarten this fall, hoping that Jake’s new teacher will recognize that her son likes to sing and work with his hands, rather than focusing on the fact that he’s an active child who craves attention.
Whether or not some parents believe their children meet the criteria of “Indigos,” critics and some health-care professionals worry that this new movement is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to classify certain children as unique or special at the expense of less-flattering labels that may warrant serious attention.
One book, The Skeptics Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions and Dangerous Delusions, put it bluntly: “The main thesis of The Indigo Children is that many children diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are actually space aliens.”
Whether or not you believe the hype, documentary filmmaker Romney is convinced of the phenomenon after working on his film. “I’ve got to tell you there’s something happening. Something is happening,” he says. “[Indigos] are here to be our mirrors. They’re here to show us who we are.”
Macauley, too, is what you might call a true believer. “We’ve been sent a whole generation of children with a lot of potential, and the question is whether or not those gifts are going to be nurtured,” she says.
Noelle continues to surprise her mother, re-emphasizing her mysterious, if not mystical behavior.
On a white sheet of paper with a black marker, Noelle drew a heart shape with a zigzagged line down the middle. She added a human-like figure moving out of the top of a heart, like a genie exhumed from a lamp.
“I asked her what the picture was of,” Macauley says. “She said, 'When you die, your heart breaks and God comes out.’”
This article was originally featured as a cover story in the Salt Lake City Weekly.