Spiritual healing doesn't come cheap. A survey by Virgin money reveals British women are spending £670 million a year on spiritualist therapies.

Yoga, reflexology, homeopathy, massage, psychic healing - it's all big business.

I recently read about a woman who spends £90 a week on a 90-minute crystal point therapy session. That's £360 a month.

Another pays a psychic coach up to £200 for an hour's telephone counselling and has forked out £3,500 for a course in something called metaphysical spiritual counselling.

Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. It just seems that to afford this kind of spiritual fulfilment you need to be a high earner, or married to one.

Surely the New Age philosophy is about letting go of material trappings, emptying your mind of the chaos of 21st century life and looking inward for answers.

Not without crossing lots of palms with lots of silver, it seems.

I once had a detox massage at a very posh London spa. I was covered in green paste made of seaweed, wrapped in foil and left in a warm room, soothed by lemon grass aroma and plinky-plonky music. I felt like a slowly cooking turkey, but it was incredibly relaxing.

Afterwards my skin looked great and I felt I was floating on air. It was lovely, but very expensive. To afford a treatment like that every month I would have to cut back on council tax, car insurance or food.

Who are these women who spend thousands on massages, manicures and psychics? Are they the same women who drive around - usually slowly - in those ugly great gas-guzzling four-by-four vehicles, literally looking down at everyone else on the road? Or who sit around in steam rooms complaining they have too much to do?

Who pays £200 to talk to someone claiming to be a psychic over the phone? Surely you can get the same for a tenner from one of those fortune tellers with sun-bleached photographs of Little and Large and Bernie Clifton hanging on their walls. Why should a psychic who charges loads of dosh be more accurate than any other?

And why spend nearly £100 on crystal point therapy when a half-decent bottle of wine costs a fiver? Forget lemon grass and plinky plonky music: my de-stressing treatment is a few glasses of red wine and Sex And The City on telly.

I should love to spend my days in saunas or having my nails done, but I've got something called a job which takes up a lot of time.

When did we start thinking it's perfectly acceptable to hand over ridiculous amounts of money for a short-lived dose of feel-goodness which we kid ourselves is some kind of spritualism?

This month is the 100th anniversary of the launch of the militant suffragette movement. In 1903 women were smashing windows, chaining themselves to railings, getting arrested and imprisoned, starving themselves and being force-fed - all in the name of campaigning for the right to vote.

I wonder what they would say if they could see how women spend their time today. What would Mrs Pankhurst make of metaphysical spiritual counselling?

There was probably more spiritual fulfilment in plastering Votes For Women posters all over a cabinet minister's car than there is in an hour's worth of crystalised-psychic-yoga-detoxing, or whatever.

Helen's column this week was written by Emma Clayton

Updated: 12:51 Monday, October 20, 2003