Illness and Healing
This week’s Pagan Blog Prompt is ‘Illness’. The questions for this week’s prompt are:
How do you deal with illness?
Does being sick hinder your magic work?
Do you employ magic to make yourself healthy again?
What about others? Do you work magic to heal other people?
I don’t know what others have written about for this topic; I try to write my post first, then go read so that I am not influenced by what I’ve seen elsewhere. I actually have several takes on this topic that I want to cover.
One is mental illness. I have dealt with clinical depression and anxiety issues since I was a teenager. I didn’t seek treatment for my depression until it became unbearable after my children were born. I was affected by postpartum depression and it escalated to the point that needed to begin taking medication. I was also unaware that my anxiety issues were so severe until my doctor prescribed an anti-anxiety medication last year. It was like the world changed for me. Some might wonder how I could ‘not know’ that I was sick – but when that is your norm, your simply unaware that other people don’t experience the world the way that you do. When your perception is tainted by illness, and then suddenly, with proper treatment, your perception is totally altered, it’s a truly amazing thing.
Considering my mental state for quite some time, I would have to say that yes, dealing with metal illness did – and still can – hinder my practice. For me, practicing my craft requires a mental state that is calm enough to look outside of my own head. When I am not properly tending to my illness, I get so wrapped up in my own issues that I have a hard time reaching into the ether. Christianity taught me to ‘throw my burden on god’, but I always felt like using deity as a crutch was essentially just not dealing with your problems. It is this aspect of my faith that I consider myself more of a ‘secular’ pagan – the belief in my own ability to pull myself up by my bootstraps an take care of things.
That’s not to say that I don’t call upon the healing energies available to me, because I do. I have employed the creation of sigils, mantras and chants that call healing and promote calm and peace, and candle spell work for similar healing. But I also recognize that in addition to calling upon those energies, I must also take a more mundane and practical action in order for things to improve. Relating this to mental illness, this means recognizing that only relying on deity to fix my mental state is not enough; I also am ill enough to require outside intervention and it is necessary for me to take steps outside of spirit to heal myself.
When I am sick with a virus or something like that, I tend to sleep through as much of it as possible. I am thankfully, very rarely sick, so working magic while ill hasn’t come up very often. It does affect my practice, in that I don’t do much of anything when I am sick, though now that the issue has come up, I will file this away for future reference and maybe try to do a healing spell to see if it helps.
The second aspect is illness in my family; specifically, when my children get ill. Thankfully, this is somewhat of a non-existent state of being. My children are very rarely ill. I attribute much of that to being what some would term a ‘crunchy granola Earth-Mama’ type of parent. I breastfed my babies, they remain unvaccinated, and we use naturopathic (meaning a system or method of treating disease that employs no surgery or synthetic drugs but uses special diets, herbs, vitamins, massage, etc., to assist the natural healing processes. Not to be confused with homeopathy.) remedies and complimentary naturopathic preventative care as our primary method of dealing with illness. We don’t eschew modern medicine; we just prefer to call upon our doctors as a last resort. Considering the first half of this post, those two ideologies may seem in juxtaposition, but they work quite harmoniously for me.
We haven’t had a situation in which the children required magical intervention for illness, but we do employ meditation and various grounding techniques when things are stressful. We regularly take time out, light a candle and incense and Breathe together; we consider this to be ‘practicing’. If they were ill, then I would employ magical intervention and assistance for healing in addition to whatever else I thought was necessary.
One area that I do employ magical aid for healing in is for friends and people who are not under my direct care. With my children, I am directly responsible for their care – medical and otherwise. It is my call to treat their illnesses or injuries with whatever I have available to me. When my friends become ill, I don’t have any sway over their practical care. Truly, the only option I have available to me is magical in nature. This may be something as visible as bringing food or get well tokens, or invisible as working a healing spell or asking divinity for support during my friend’s illness and healing process, or more complex, such as creating a healing spell candle to gift to my ailing friend.
So what about you – how do you feel about illness and healing with regard to your practice? If you’re participating in the Pagan Blog Prompts link-up, feel free to comment with your link, if not, and/or if you’ve enjoyed this post, check out the Pagan Blog Prompts site and read about how others handle the issue of illness.