In the mid-70s, a supernatural idea was born from a self-proclaimed synesthete (someone who reads people’s auras to tell them of their personalities) named Nancy Ann Toppe called “indigo children.” According to her, this was a new wave of highly spiritually evolved souls reincarnating on Earth born with the purpose of starting a spiritual evolution for all humans. She identified them through their indigo aura, which she observed more and more child clients having. The concept was further developed by Lee Carroll and Jan Tober, and then gained some mainstream popularity in the 2000s by a popular psychic Doreen Virtue in her book The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children. Some celebrities began to use the phrase to describe themselves or their children, like Will Smith’s children for example. So what are the unique traits differentiating indigo children from their ordinary counterparts? The first chapter of Doreen’s book lays it out with a list of indigo symptoms: strong-willed, born in 1978 or later, headstrong, creative, prone to addictions, an “old soul”, intuitive or psychic, tendency to isolate, independent and proud, possesses a deep desire to help the world in a big way, wavers between low self-esteem and grandiosity, easily bored, diagnosed with ADD, prone to insomnia or nightmares, history of depression, looks for real friendships only, and easily bonds with other non-human living things (Virtue, p. 22). If somebody checks off at least 14 of the above 17 characteristics, then that person is in fact an indigo. This claim is certainly extraordinary because if proven to be true then it would change the fabric of understanding how the universe works. For one, that would prove that there is more beyond this Earthly plane and that souls do exist. The term “indigo” came from the indigo-like auras around these children, as purported by Nancy Ann Tappe. Indigo is the color of the third-eye chakra, which deals with all other abilities beyond the ordinary – psychic intuition, clairvoyance and out-of-body experiences. It is not the responsibility of the nonbeliever to convince us that such auras exist and that there is a color trend among a particular group of children to young adults. The burden of proof is on these parents and the respective authority figures of indigo children literature.
To Doreen Virtue’s benefit, she did include scientific research in her book to back some of her claims. For example, talking about the belief that indigo children have psychic abilities, she actually cites an Ohio State sociology professor’s research – “William MacDonald at the University of Ohio [presumably she meant OSU] found that children had the highest number of verifiable psychic experiences, compared to other age groups” (Virtue, p. 34). It does turn out that this was a legitimate survey done by him in 1995. She mentions a lot about what she sees as the correlation between attention deficit issues and being spiritually evolved. A Washington Post article does state that there has been a significant increase in children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD – about a ten percent rise in the last 20 years. However, one explanation of this could be that the criteria for ADD has changed or at least been more well known in the last two decades. A young girl who could have had ADD symptoms in 1975 may not have been targeted by her teachers or parents to investigate it, due to lack of knowledge it. Today, ADD/ADHD is commonly spoken of on mainstream television and between parents or schools. Even with these scientific studies that Doreen purports to go with her views, none of them give definitive proof of the existence of indigo children or more precisely that these children who exhibit these certain traits all have indigo auras. The scientific evidence to work against belief hardly exists because there isn’t really a clear way of falsifying this belief. That said, like Carl’s Dragon, this belief may not be a belief at all since it can’t be argued against. There are definitely societal contributions to this belief system. The biggest one I see here is the apparent disdain or at least distrust of the pharmaceutical and food industries in regards to what products children are ingesting. The perceived uniqueness of indigo children and the concept’s approach of straying from medications to treat autism and ADHD have created narratives in which “Big Pharma” is seen as a conspiring giant to create disorders and harm children further with their damaging vaccinations and harmful, body-altering medications. These parents are not wrong to think that greed and shadiness may play a role in prescriptions getting on the market with biased supportive research. Same goes from the food industry, where genetically-modified foods have been shown to bring about new allergies or illnesses to those that eat them.
This belief system of indigo children may very well have transpired and taken off in popularity from the amount of overly concerned parents are to protect their children from what they perceive as evil, opposing forces. Although there isn’t one cohesive group in person or online that each follower is a part of, there are large enough Facebook groups dedicated to the cause of raising an indigo children such as the “Indigo Children Group” with 95 likes or the “Indigo, Crystal, Rainbows, Starseeds, lightworker support group” which has over 12,000 likes. Looking at those group pages, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of activism or any specific concerns reported. Rather, a lot of the content is inspirational quotes and guides for healing, etc. I’m sure if I looked more extensively though I would find community posts about the dangers of GMO foods or why vaccination is wrong. All in all, there are 17 characteristics of an indigo set out by Doreen Virtue, wherein if a child has 14 of them then they are an indigo. Believers think these children were sent here in this carnation on Earth to bring about spiritual evolution to all humans, through dismantling current power structures that are harmful from government to medicine to the food industry. These children are special because they possess personalities and psychic abilities that are unusual but uplifting. These specific traits can be misconstrued in the eyes of medical professionals as having ADHD or autism. Parents’ believe indigo children do not need medication or even to be diagnosed because they are instead simply made of things beyond this Earthly plane and should be treated as extraordinarily.
Strauss, Valerie. “The Huge Issue That Most Autism Research Funding Ignores.” The
Washington Post, WP Company, 14 Dec. 2018,
Virtue, Doreen. The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children. Hay House, 2006.