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Indigo Children: Spiritual Phenomenon or Infectious Scam?

Updated on March 2, 2013

This is a pretty dodgy one. I will start by admitting that I bought into this myself for a couple years while I was a teenager. The reality is that this is nothing more than a giant hoax and scam. That is not to say that all aspects of the New Age movement are poisonous to society, but it should be approached critically and skeptically. It is important to be educated on spiritual matters before buying into the hype that the internet is so good at fostering.

Another note: I do not believe all parties involved in this hoax have/had malicious intentions. Although I refer to the phenomenon as a scam, there are some who contribute to it in the full belief that they are doing the world good with their ideas and spiritual advice. That being said, let’s take a critical look at the indigo children phenomenon:

Where did it All Begin?

This all started with Nancy Ann Tappe, a parapsychologist who came up with the notion in the 70s after claiming to have started noticing children with indigo auras in the 60s. Her 1982 book Understanding Your Life Through Color catapulted her notions into the mainstream and it was further promoted by husband and wife Lee Carroll and Jan Tober with their book The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived in 1998. Conferences and films really began to pick up speed in the early 2000s. Long story short, there were a lot of people making a lot of money off of a lot of flimsy claims.

Why has it been so infectious? There is more than one answer, but they are all quite simple:

1) The Internet

It was in the 2000s that the phenomenon went viral in the digital realm. Forums, blogs, and chat rooms on the topic abounded and people were all too ready to jump on the band wagon.

2) Pretty much ANYONE can be an Indigo Child

If you approach them with a critical eye, you will notice that the typical traits of an indigo child are extremely vague and actually quite typical of children in general. Allow me to list a few and see if you can avoid automatically assigning a good number of them to any given child you know:

Strong will and independence

Confrontational / difficulty with authority

Little patience for school

Creative and sensitive

Intelligent and curious

A sense of purpose

In addition to easily applying to any given child, parents are particularly liberal when it comes to assessing their own child’s creativity and intelligence.

3) An Attractive Label

Parents have played a major role in the perpetuation of the indigo phenomenon. Fueled by the build-up in the 80s and 90s, and equipped with a plethora of interactive material on the internet, parents had everything they needed to buy into the hype. As I said, parents often overestimate how special their children really are. Because it is easy to fit almost anyone into the traits of an indigo child, that is exactly what parents do. By using the excuse that their child is more spiritually evolved than his/her peers, parents can turn their child’s attention problems, poor concentration, and difficult behaviour into proof of his/her spiritual, intellectual, and existential superiority. This is something parents are already predisposed to do.

4) Teenagers and Young Adults

Taking all of the above into consideration, add the stereotypical self-obsession and insecurity of this age group plus internet access, and you can understand the role they play in contributing to the perpetuation of the indigo child phenomenon.

Why Should we be Concerned?

Ultimately, the resounding implications of the indigo phenomenon are relatively minor. The biggest concern is for children whose parents would rather see them as extra special rather than special needs, in effect denying them the counseling and treatment they need for academic success and social integration. There is also a major risk of a superiority complex coinciding with the affixing of indigo child status. This can lead to social isolation and narcissistic tendencies. People who buy into the hype could end up spending a lot of money, but at least reading and visiting conferences are rarely a waste of time in and of themselves, no matter what the topic.

What Should We Do About It?

Since the dangers of the indigo child phenomenon are so minimal, I am inclined to feel little, if anything, needs to be done. I think the best course of action would be to continue countering the hype with common sense and critical articles like this one.


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    • profile image

      anon 2 years ago

      omg wow. Yes .. "what we need more of is genuine inner empowerment and not a flimsy identity from a so called psyhic." yesss!!

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 2 years ago from Canada

      This is precisely my issue with modern New Age spirituality. It is the reductive and misleading appropriation of complex psychological principles which have developed in the human mind over millions of years of evolution.

    • profile image

      elle 2 years ago

      Pretty much anyone has intuition (can see through lies, etc) and the "qualities" of an "indigo child" , people throughout millennia have. Everyone has the capability to have positive and discerning qualities regardless of someone's interpretation of their supposed aura color. the world is a challenging place, but what we need more of is genuine inner empowerment and not a flimsy identity from a so called psyhic.

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 3 years ago from Canada

      You are quite right about all of this. I consider it a scam because there are people who make money off of it.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 3 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      In my opinion, Indigo Children are just one more infectious delusion. I don't think it's a scam, just that people tend to want to feel special or feel their children are special. Such a strong yearning opens some people up to beliefs that match their desires, no matter how wacky.

      If you sit there staring at people and things long enough, you are bound to eventually see some odd things because both the mind and the eye are fallible and light plays neat tricks. I had a bad pair of glasses that gave everything an "aura" when I looked through my left eye. That lens wasn't correcting my astigmatism properly. It was a pain in the buttocks getting the glasses replaced but that's a whole different topic.

      I think sometimes people see something that they've never noticed before and assign deeper meaning to it unconsciously. If someone else has already assigned some BS meaning to that phenomenon, one that resonates with their deepest desires, they are likely to pick it up.

    • kndashy41 profile image

      Dana Ayres 3 years ago from Houston, TX

      Purple auras?! Sounds more like she had a "purple haze!" Interesting stuff. Never heard of it, though, till now.

    • profile image

      taryn 4 years ago

      I am an indigo. .. I detect lies and see through people and know their heart and intentions... reading ur article. I feel like telling you.... what right do u think u have to make ussumptions such as " the indigo scam" isn't it just like any other beleif or idea that millions have? Why u getting so annoyed by it all? Have u spoke to nancy? Lee? Jan? So what ur saying really is they are all liars and they made it all up because they wanted money? Or do u believe they had good intentions? Say if they did make it up....wld that b a bad thing? Most people who realise they r indigo like me are very skeptical. ... im scorpio asc so im pretty much like a coppa 24/7 lol anywho I am slightly confused what ur intentions are.... to me its all good having ur opinion no probs but to make assumptions when u have no idea.......well lets just say.... negative energy there mate... fair enough if u can't relate or watever course it wld b hard for anyone who isn't indigo to fully understand because u do not know how it feels to b indigo. Tell me what ur beliefs are? Do u think what u believe is 100% correct or do u hav no beleif on life?

      I believe what ever 1 believes fully in their heart is quite possibly true... who knows the truths? Who cares.... each to their own im sure it will all work out the way its meant too.... people will learn to trust their own judgment but also be respectful to alls opinions and if people r honest and hav good intentions. I respect u voicing ur beliefs on the matter jus thought id giv ya my opinion on u and ur ways. Who is anyone to say another is wrong or right? No one is better or worse, each an every single human has a purpose every thing will be what it is... or maybe they don't maybe it wont. Anywho all is well take care and I hope u will be enlighten ed and see things differently u will then b a lot happier in life xoxox

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 4 years ago from Canada

      There is nothing wrong with being critical and down-to-earth.

    • profile image

      Jo 4 years ago

      You are what's wrong with this world

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Yeap, believe it or not, there are quite a lot of people over my place here that abuse religion for money sake. There is even one that serves as a high ranking police. And no one dares to touch him even-though they know he is a scammer.

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 5 years ago from Canada

      It's so easy because there is no way to scientifically disprove it. If someone claims to be psychic and see auras, what defense science, logic, and reason have against that?

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Spiritual stuffs/things are something that people can and easily take advantage of. It doesn't matter what is their intention but people do buy into such stuffs easily.

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you. Yes, the whole thing really is ridiculous. I'm an open-minded person, but I just don't buy this one. I also feel it does a lot of harm for ignorant parents to raise their children on this pedestal just because of something they read online.

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 5 years ago from New Jersey

      I guess part of it depends upon if you believe sensitive people can actually read children's auras? Even if you accept that as fact, it would be a leap to categorize all indigo aura children into a common category, but people could try.

      If indigo children are confrontational / difficult with authority and

      have little patience for school, I'm not sure why having an indigo child would be desirable? Those are some very bad traits for children to have, as they grow into adults. I wonder if criminals have higher rates of indigo auras? Those traits seem common with criminals.

    • The Unlearner profile image

      Jo 5 years ago from Isle of Wight UK


    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 5 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for reading. I think the most important thing for people to remember that this all started just because one woman claimed to start seeing indigo auras in the 60s. I hope more people take up deconstructing the history and evolution of this kind of thing rather than giving themselves over to, my favorite word for it, the hype.

    • The Unlearner profile image

      Jo 5 years ago from Isle of Wight UK

      Now I would say that I am a very open person, and would consider myself to be mindful, and a progressive thinker, but when I heard this term being used among some of my wannabe hippy friends, I started question them. At first, I was intrigued and curious to find out what indeed was meant by the term 'Indigo child'. I found that these so called children, seemed to be continually placed on pedal stools by parents who were seeking some kind of special label for their child. My children were often referred to as indigo's/crystals or rainbows, and I have to say, that I found it quite infuriating . I don't doubt that certain high functioning, talented, and gifted children ( which in my opinion is all children) are unusual to mainstream science, but I don't think it is helpful for the new-age-band-wagon to put some much misinformation out there.

      Really enjoyed reading- thank you

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for your comment. That is my ultimate conclusion as well. This hub was inspired by my activity on WebAnswers. This is the kind of answer I gave people asking on the subject and I was met with some very indignant responses. Perhaps my attempt to counter the hype isn't really "leaving them alone", but I really couldn't help but put out my critical opinion on the whole thing.

    • JimTxMiller profile image

      Jim Miller 5 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

      Someone somewhere is going to be playing the Pied Piper and dreaming up schemes to separate the gullible from their money. I agree with leaving them alone. The less attention given to such hoaxes the better.