PHOTOS BY BRAYDEN OLSON
The author getting the shit wanded out of his lower back.
Three grown men recently gyrated their wands inches above my lower back while I laid facedown on a red couch. Every few minutes they asked me whether I was “feeling anything.” They were hoping that twirling stainless-steel tubes full of “granulated minerals” over my body would relieve an ailment that has caused me niggling yet constant nerve pain for years. It had no discernable effect on my discomfort, but hundreds of people across the world believe these wands contain a powerful healing energy.
My wanding experience took place inside a charming 100-year-old house in Mount Vernon, New York. The homeowner, 39-year-old Paul Saenz, had invited me there for a demonstration of the AMwand, one of the many wellness products manufactured by the multilevel marketing company Amega Global. Paul is a part-time musician, a father of two, and the founder of Resonance Technology Global, through which he sells products from Amega and other companies. He acquired his first AMwand (which retails for about $305) in mid-March and became an Amega distributor soon after.
Upon entering Paul’s house, I walked in on two men vigorously wanding a third in the living room. I watched and awkwardly asked a few questions about exactly what was going on before introducing myself. The first-time wandee was Mike Joyce, and the wanders were his older brother John (aka Juicecan) and his buddy Pers Van Kragg. When I asked Mike whether he sensed anything emanating from the wand, he claimed that he felt some “general tingliness” around his back and head. Mike interrupted him to explain that it was the “subatomic stimulation of cells.” This statement made me uneasy, and I casually drifted into the kitchen to meet the rest of the guests.
Paul and his wife, Cheryl, had gathered a small group of friends and acquaintances who had varying levels of interest in Amega and its products. Some already owned or had access to wands, which they unanimously praised. Of course, Paul was eager to demonstrate the wand’s myriad abilities. After a round of introductions, we moved to his backyard to conduct a wanded-wine taste test.
The wine, Paul told me, was the cheapest his wife could find, which supposedly would make the wand’s effects all the more apparent. He set two empty glasses on the patio table and filled them. Pers and Juicecan, both wand owners, claimed that wanding wine of any caliber enhances its flavor. Paul, who moments earlier was wanding a cigarette to remove impurities, chimed in and said that he wands just about every beverage: “I have tried it with wine, water, soda, and fruit juice. It kind of takes away that back-end bitter taste.” He then filled the two glasses with wine, pushed one to the opposite side of the table, and began twirling his wand in tight clockwise circles inches above the liquid inside the chosen glass. This lasted for about five minutes. After Paul was finished, I sampled the unwanded wine. It had the bouquet of poorly aged swill and coated my tongue with bitterness. I then drank from the wanded cup. It was subtle, but it did seem to be a
less acidic. In hindsight the improved taste could have been due to the powers of persuasion (and the fact that the second sip of any wine will taste better after the alcohol dulls your taste buds), but I was intrigued all the same.
Besides his involvement with Amega and other multilevel marketing firms, Paul is a project manager who oversees the construction of cellular communication towers and base transmission stations. He finds this ironic because the wand’s primary function is to repair the damage inflicted on our “bio-energetic fields” by devices that produce radio frequencies and other electromagnetic disturbances. According to an official Amega PowerPoint presentation, humans have “a bio-energetic field which consists of subtle organisms with energetic potential that gives strength and power to the biological field.” It also outlines the ten “body fields” that can benefit from a good wanding and states that “quantum physics has revealed that everything in the universe is energy.”
“We are getting blasted by the cell tower down the street, the wireless routers in our houses, and the cell phones in our pockets that we are putting up to our heads all the time,” Paul said when I asked about the detrimental biological effects of the communications revolution and the AMwand’s potential to rectify them. “Even if you have a Bluetooth device, you are still getting what they call ‘electro-pollution.’ It’s new to mankind in the last 50 or so years. [Before,] we didn’t really have these radio sound waves blasting our brains. It weakens the bio-energetic field, and the whole concept with Amega is to strengthen it.”
Paul Saenz and his astounding AMwand.
The AMpendant works a lot like the wand except it’s omnidirectional, is supposed to be worn by the user at all times, and doesn’t need to be twirled to activate its effects.
Amega and its AMwand entered Paul’s life a few months ago. Colleagues in a travel-based marketing business recommended that he check out Amega’s products, which they claimed were amazing and “unbelievable” in the best of ways. After reviewing Amega’s website and conducting some independent research online, Paul decided to take a chance and bought his very own AMwand. He received it a few weeks later and said that he noticed the wand’s effects on his body immediately. Within minutes, he was wanding everything in sight.
“I have a torn shoulder. The pain goes down to my hand,” Paul said about his first experiences with the wand. “I have gone to see acupuncturists and massage therapists—all that stuff—and none of it has ever worked. I wanded myself for three minutes the night I got it, and the next morning my pain went away.”
I looked Paul dead in the eye as he said this and several other seemingly insane statements throughout the evening (the wand helped him lose 15 pounds in about a month, he relieved his wife’s back pain with the wand, his 75-year-old Portuguese neighbor who needs a hip replacement could walk much easier after five minutes of wanding, etc.). I even asked Paul whether he had wanded his penis. He told me he hadn’t tried that yet but was eager to use a warming massage oil called Inflame, which is also manufactured by Amega. However, nothing he said or did—no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous it seemed to me—made me doubt his faith in the wand’s abilities. And he’s far from the only believer.
The AMwand was released in the US in January, and since then a steadily growing number of Amega associates across America have discovered that the wand and the company’s other products are capable of grand things. The short list of its supposed powers includes relieving various body aches and pains, stimulating the circulatory system, reducing the acidity of lemons, increasing the potency of food, alleviating migraines, and “energizing” just about any organic or inanimate object you can shake a stick at.
According to the company’s website, Amega Global was formed in Singapore in 2006 by a consortium of three companies: a wellness-product manufacturer, an investment firm, and a “people-development company.” Most of their products are made in Asia and Australia. If you were wondering, its founders came up with the name Amega Global because they wanted to create “a mega global company.” And if you’re to believe Amega’s distributors, the program has been a runaway success. Other Amega dealers told me that the AMwand produced approximately $42,000 worth of presales in December 2009, $885,000 in its inaugural month on the market, and an astounding $2.5 million in February. (More recent figures were not available at the time this piece went to print.) There is no way to ascertain whether Amega’s sales figures are legit. None of the emails I sent or voice mails I left for administrative members of Amega were returned. In fact, the only direct employee of Amega who would speak with me on the phone was a customer-service representative who told me they do not have a public-relations department and he did not have access to sales information; he advised me to send an email to a general address (which was never answered). Yet every distributor I spoke with was extremely enthusiastic about the products and claimed to be making a healthy supplemental or full-time income from their sales. In fact, many of the Amegans I contacted mentioned that the program has been so successful it’s spawned cheaper bootleg wands available on the internet (which, according to them, do not work).
Amega’s ultrasonic humidifier produced some tantalizing smells.
Paul wanding a glass of wine for a taste test.
I spent the rest of the night at Paul’s, wanding myself, water, and beers; sampling Amega’s DNA powdered food supplement (which resembled an Emergen-C packet); huffing AMized vapor emitted from an ultrasonic humidifier; and listening to testimonials from Paul, Pers, and others who claim to have relieved all sorts of pain with the wand. Someone (I promised not to say who) had the bright idea of wanding marijuana to “antioxidize it,” supposedly to enhance its taste and perhaps increase its potency. Two of the attendees wanded a ceramic bowl full of weed for a few minutes before packing a small amount into a bong, where it was wanded a second time. One of the guests prepped the bong, lit the weed, and took a rip. I asked him whether he felt more stoned than he did from unwanded pot. He wasn’t sure, but judging from his eyes he was
A few minutes later Paul decided it was time for my first thorough body wanding. He asked whether I had any aches or other ailments. I told him that I have mild sciatica. He then instructed me to take off my shoes, lie on the couch, close my eyes, and clear my mind of all thoughts. The next thing I knew Pers, John, and Paul were triple-wanding my back. As I said before, my back felt exactly the same after the wanding. I was relaxed, but napping on a couch for 15 minutes tends to do that to people. Paul told me that I might be experiencing some inexplicable blockages and that it could take a full day to feel the wand’s effects.
Unfazed by my declaration that the wand did nothing for my back pain, Paul asked Pers’s girlfriend, Bobbie Jo Mason, who claimed she had never been wanded before, to hop up on the couch and give it a try. Bobbie Jo has suffered from bone cancer for 13 years, which has resulted in three herniated discs and nerve damage to the left side of her back. She takes multiple forms of pain medication and has recently contemplated having a nerve stimulator implanted in her spine. She lay down on the couch while Paul, John, and Pers’s teenage son, Matthew (who, incidentally, had been intermittently playing the theme song to
on Paul’s upright piano throughout the night), began intently wanding her body. After a few minutes of mostly silence and concentration, they insisted that I grab a wand and join in. I felt like I was somehow violating Bobbie Jo but thought it would be even more uncomfortable if I didn’t play along.
Twenty minutes later, the wanding session ended, and Bobbie Jo relaxed on the couch for a few moments before slowly getting up. She was smiling. “My back feels great!” she said. “Before I could not bend down. I don’t even remember the last time I was able to touch my toes! I’m not kidding.” I asked whether she was a believer now, and she replied, “I would have to say yeah.”
I had suspicions that Bobbie Jo was a ringer, invited to the party in case I did not personally feel the effects of the wand. Still, I had no real evidence to prove that it was a ruse, and the chemo scars on her shoulders made it painfully obvious that she wasn’t fibbing about the bone cancer.
John Joyce wands his younger brother Mike.
A few days later, I emailed Paul to see whether I could borrow one of his wands to casually try it for a few days in more familiar surroundings. He graciously agreed. I had the wand for about a week and followed the included instruction manual, which outlined different exercises to clear the bio-energetic field of whatever bad junk might be floating around in there. I extensively wanded myself, my girlfriend, coworkers, my friend’s dog, food, wine, liquor, beer, and even my computer. All that I experienced was a tired wrist. After reading something on a message board about how the wand may not work on everyone, I decided it was time to contact distributors outside of Paul’s sphere to see what they had to say.
One of the distributors I spoke with was 71-year-old Jack Herd, a chiropractor located in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. I requested an interview with him after randomly googling Amega representatives in the States. He told me that he had recently run into a patient while attending church who said her knee hurt so bad that she was worried she wouldn’t be able to make it to work the next day. “I told her to come to my office,” Paul said. “I had loaned the one wand I had at the time—I have three of them now—to a massage therapist, so I called him over. He came to the office and wanded her for four minutes. She jumped out of the chair and said all the pain was gone. Then she immediately sat down at my computer and ordered one.”
Like Paul, Jack has been involved with numerous multilevel marketing programs throughout his life. In fact, just about every Amega salesperson I spoke with had been climbing pyramid-based companies for quite a long time. And like Paul, Jack believed that the wand was capable of tapping into a heretofore-inaccessible source of energy.
I also spoke with Ronnie Lane, a 67-year-old full-time Amega rep and amateur blues musician who signs his emails “Have Fun & Keep Rockin’.” Ronnie said that he was one of the first people to sell aloe vera in the US during the late 60s, and he was very optimistic about the potential of Amega’s product line, which can “self-demonstrate itself within three to ten minutes.” He told me about his friend Chuck, an older gentleman who uses his health problems as a crutch for attention. “When I went to see him in the nursing home I had to have a long, straight, heavy-duty talk with him,” Ronnie recalled. “I said, ‘Chuck, you know you like to flirt with these nurses and they give you Vicodin and pain pills and you’re going to all these doctors and going through chemotherapy and your whole life is revolving around being not well.’ Then I said, ‘I can’t promise you that this wand is going to do anything, but you have to have an attitude, you have to have a belief system that makes you not want to be here the rest of your life.’” Ronnie then wanded Chuck for 25 minutes. Three days later Chuck went in for a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Ronnie claimed that Chuck’s PSA level had lowered by 100 points and the doctor was amazed.
The top North American Amega distributor is a man named Sam Adams. According to every “downline” distributor I interviewed, he introduced the AMwand and Amega’s other products to the continent earlier this year and created most of the early YouTube videos and websites about Amega. Now he is at the top of a perpetually growing pyramid. He did not return multiple phone calls, so Sam remains semi-mysterious. However, Ronnie directed me to a YouTube clip where Sam explains how he discovered Amega while in the Philippines during a trip to a place called the NURA Energy Wellness Centre, a facility that offers “the holistic solution to preventive care, stress management, personal wellness, and youthing [sic] process.” I was not able to verify the specifics of the relationship between NURA and Amega, but they share many executive-board members and advisers and both sell products infused with AMized Fusion Technology. After his trip, Sam was blown away by NURA’s business model and products, and the rest is now history.
According to Amega’s literature, the AMwand operates on the principals of zero-point energy, a phenomenon of quantum physics discovered by Albert Einstein and Otto Stern in 1913. Put simply, zero-point energy is an invisible, underlying sea of subatomic energy that remains even when all other energy in a system has been spent. Amega’s products are reportedly infused with zero-point energy via the company’s secretive and proprietary AMfusion technology process (no one I spoke with had any idea how the procedure worked, and some said they had heard it took up to 20 hours to create one wand). The procedure was supposedly developed over a 15-year period of biophysical research. Proponents of the AMwand claim that it can focus this energy in a way that clears the body’s bio-energetic fields of distortion and reminds its cells “where they came from,” which prompts the wanded area to return to a healthier, homeostatic state. Amega’s wares range from energized pendants to bracelets, food products, skincare creams, a “gas discharge visualizer” that can detect and diagnose disturbances in an individual’s bio-energetic field, aromatherapy systems that infuse the air with AMized vapor, and other energy-enhancing paraphernalia.
After the wanding, Bobbie Jo claimed she could touch her toes for the first time in years.
Lorcan Folan’s RF meter found that the wand wasn’t emitting much of anything.
Throughout the past century, many hucksters and loons have touted devices that supposedly tap into zero-point energy in some capacity—mostly perpetual-motion machines and mystifying objects that operate without an outside source of energy. Most of these claims undermine the basic laws of physics. In the interest of public awareness, I decided that a scientific analysis of the wand was in order. I contacted renowned and somewhat controversial astrophysicist Bernard Haisch. He and collaborator Alfonso Rueda have conducted extensive research on zero-point energy and developed a theory to explain the origin of inertia, a theory that may someday be used to power spacecraft. Haisch is extremely open-minded for a guy who tries to unravel the secrets of quantum physics on a daily basis. He is intrigued by UFOs and in 2006 authored
The God Theory: Universes, Zero-Point Fields, and What’s Behind It All
, which attempted to reconcile traditional religious beliefs with scientific logic.
Before our interview, I emailed Bernard a short explanation of the AMwand and provided links to the websites of various Amega distributors. When we spoke on the phone, he quashed the operating principles of the wand (at least scientifically) in one fell swoop: “It’s a complete scam. Trying to measure zero-point energy is a very subtle thing. You can do it in a scientific laboratory. You can produce some very, very subtle effects of the atomic spectra and things like that. But the very idea that you can affect it with a wand is a scam, and the idea that it could have some effect on the human body is also ridiculous. It’s like saying, ‘I’ve got a wand that modifies gravity. I’m going to wave it over your head and it will cure your disease.’”
I asked Bernard why he thought companies like Amega and their consumers have latched onto a very complex and difficult-to-measure aspect of quantum physics. “‘Zero-point energy’ has become kind of a buzzword in New Age circles, which tend to use it to describe all sorts of things,” he said. “It’s God, it’s consciousness… I’ve seen all sorts of allusions. In physics it’s a very well-defined concept and it has none of those properties. People either don’t understand it or they do and they try to fool other people with it.”
After attending the party and speaking to other Amega enthusiasts across the country, I was getting culty or, at the very least, severe groupthink vibes from the entire operation. Pyramid schemes, especially ones that are based on health and wellness, are creepy enough, but it was deeply troubling that none of the distributors or Amega fans I interviewed had any clue how the company’s products work past the catchall terms of “zero-point energy” and “AMized Fusion Technology.” Mostly they would just repeat what was stated in the literature. The whole thing felt like Amway with a little bit of Scientology-esque esotericism thrown in for good measure. Regardless, every single wand distributor and admirer I met was extremely nice and seemingly well intentioned.
Another point of serious concern arose when I was conducting further research on Amega and their wand after Paul’s party. I discovered the Quantum Pendant, an energized medallion made by a Malaysian company called Cosway and advertised as offering many of the same benefits as the AMwand. Last October, customs officials in Hong Kong analyzed the pendant and found that it contained thorium-232 and uranium-238 at high enough levels to cause erythema and seriously increase the risk of skin cancer. Following this revelation, a total of 2,835 Quantum Pendants were promptly seized from a chain store. What’s more, an almost identical product, called the Scalar Energy Quantum Pendant, is readily available from Amazon for $29.99. FusionExcel, the company that makes this version, claims that Cosway’s radioactive pendant was an unlicensed, counterfeit knockoff.
This development made me worried that my wanding festivities had left me energized with melanoma, so I immediately began searching for someone with access to a Geiger counter who would let me use it on the wand. Thankfully Lorcan Folan, head of the Department of Physics at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, came to the rescue. Or rather, I came to his office where he had his Geiger counter ready and waiting to tell me whether I had been waiving a radioactive stick across my body for the past week.
He flipped on the counter, waited a few moments as it warmed up, and perversely waved it over the wand. My asshole clenched as I eyed the meter. “Well, it’s not radioactive,” Lorcan said. “That’s good.”
I smiled and finally relaxed. On the way to Lorcan’s office, I had remembered something Paul had said about the wand’s energy being measurable in terms of megahertz. I asked Lorcan whether he had anything that could test this claim. He did and went to fetch an RF meter. I watched as he held it next to a microwave oven that was on and the needle jumped. The wand, however, did not seem to be emitting anything of the sort. “It’s safe to say that nothing is coming out of that,” he said. “It’s not even magnetic.” I thought about trying to crack it open to see what was inside, but given that this thing was not emitting any kind of frequency, it would be irrelevant.
While the AMwand may not be magnetic in the electrically charged sense, it undeniably possesses a powerful attraction of another sort. In a little less than six months, hundreds and possibly thousands of Americans have come to believe that the wand is a marvelous creation that can ease their health concerns and provide a significant source of income. It is working for some people, even if their hopes and dreams are founded on pseudoscience and lies. Although I remain dubious about the wand’s abilities and Amega’s business philosophy, it is impossible to refute that some sort of magic is at work. It appears that I’ll just have to live with the fact that I’ll never know whether it’s outright trickery or something truly mystical that I’m too stubborn to accept.
Rocco filmed his wanding experience for VBS.TV. Watch it—it will cleanse your bio-energetic field.