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In Sickness & In Health
Sickness and ill health can be a special problem for a magical person. Many believe that sickness is a kind of punishment for not having done things right; many have deep misgivings about 21st century style "cybernetic" health care based on physical and chemical interventions alone.
In this essay, Silvia Hartmann discusses the topic of "In Sickness & In Health" as it relates to a magical person.
In Sickness & In Health
During the time of writing this book it came to pass that after 50 years of absolutely unabating good health I fell over and was carted off to hospital.
I'd only been in hospital once before, during the birth of my 1st child, and never for any reasons relating to actually being sick, so it was an all new experience for me.
However, from my many magical friends over the years I was very aware of the deep incongruency that exists in 1st World westernized health care, and the life and belief of a magical person.
I've known many people who have been deeply disturbed by wrestling with whether to seek modern medical treatment or to follow their deepest heart felt beliefs and trust in nature and magical cures.
Many have felt that it was some kind of test of their faith in a greater Creative Order that they should say no to blood transfusions, to operations, to chemicals and drugs, to radiation treatment and all that technical medicine entails.
This is of course a real problem because such thoughts only increase stress on the totality system and make a difficult time of adjustment and processes of the physical body even more difficult than they might need to be.
How individual and deeply personal our lives really are doesn't become any more apparent or obvious than when sickness, disease, accident, pain, sickness and death come to call.
It is then that illusions crumble, and we have an opportunity for honest one-on-one time with the Universe and all the forces within it.
I can only offer you my observations on the topic; as with all things, this is your life, and eventually, it will be your death, and your soul's journey, in all ways, the journey that no-one can take for us, although there are many who would take it with us, and will support us, if we let ourselves be open to this.
To be honest, dear reader, I don't understand the concept of "being sick".
What does that mean?
How does one decide or declare that "I am sick"?
I think the idea of being sick gets formed in childhood, by observing others being sick and how this is being treated by people and society; and also, by personal experience.
For example, a lot of people today measure their idea of sickness by whether or not they would be "fit enough to go to school".
This may sound absolutely ridiculous if we're talking about a mature major magician who has just been diagnosed with a death threatening illness; but it's true.
I noted that when I was "sick" *I* wasn't sick all over.
For example, my hands were still working.
So was my heart, my feet, my mind and really, most of me - apart from one place in my body that was not happy and where things were going wrong.
This set me to thinking about what we mean by being sick, and what kind of instructions we are giving to ourselves, what limits we set on what can and cannot be done when not every single part of our bodies is running at maximum capacity.
I started to think about what I could do during this time of physical upheaval.
And the list just grew longer, and longer, and longer.
I certainly could think.
I could pray, talk, meditate, sing, hum, whisper, intone.
I could write, draw, sculpt, take photographs.
That was the tip of the iceberg.
Many other things could be done, albeit in smaller measure or shorter bursts, or just in different ways altogether.
I could still walk - not miles, but certainly a few steps.
I could do many things, if not nearly all of the things I would do when I am "healthy", if there was some common sense and judicious foresight employed.
For example, instead of washing up everything and cleaning the kitchen in one fell swoop, I could do a bit, rest, and then a bit more, rest again, and then a bit more, and soon enough, it would all be done.
So I started playing around with the ideas of sickness and how it might be not such a good idea to make a distinction, like a light switch on, or off, between being sick and healthy.
Perhaps the distinction we should be making was between being dead, or alive.
We have discussed at length in other chapters how what a magical thinks and believes in SHAPES THEIR REALITY.
This is never more essential than when we are supposed to be sick.
Waking up and thinking, "I'm sick ..." is just not very helpful on any level - even if in societal terms, that's what you are, stuck in bed, in a hospital, in a wheelchair, seemingly helpless and hapless.
At the very least, an instruction such as "I am sick" is going to depress your energy system, and that's the very last thing a person needs when they need to repair themselves or come to terms with different states of being and doing than they were previously used to.
So I stopped thinking that I'm sick, or wondering just how sick I was being at any time, and instead started asking myself, "Am I alive?"
Interestingly enough, the sicker you are, the easier that question is to answer - if you're in pain and great discomfort, it's pretty obvious, "Damn right I'm alive! And suffering like a dog, thanks for asking!"
But either way, there is NO DOUBT as to the answer to the question.
Yes, of course you're alive.
Very much so.
And being alive, you in your totality are still doing all sorts of things, all the time, and you have it in you to do more than you could possibly have anticipated by watching non-magical folk sinking into the stupor of illness, depression and hopelessness.
That is like a trance that can and must be broken.
You might be like I was just a few weeks ago - fit and healthy, a stranger to illness and malfunction of the body and you might think this is irrelevant, but there are many interesting lessons here for all of us, because this concerns not just sickness, it concerns LIFE itself and how we live it.
I had a wonderful mystical experience at a moment of deepest distress.
I was very scared, in a lot of pain and thought I was going to die any moment. My mind was flailing around, desperate for something to hold on to, not wanting to fall into an abyss of darkness and despair.
At which point I heard a voice and it said, "Find something to love."
It was a true turning point in the deepest part of the night.
I thought of something to love, and the first thing that came to my mind was raindrops on the window, with the light behind them, sparkling them like diamonds.
The very second I connected with that and loved it, something turned - quite physically, noticeably, like a huge energy waterwheel slowing down and starting to spin the other way, bringing refreshing moisture, bringing healing, bringing hope and all good things that had not been there in my moment of desperation, back to me.
I thought of more things to love then, and loved more things. First it was nature, then it was my children and my friends, then it was my work and my life, and finally I got round to loving my body and especially the parts that were having trouble and needed lots of love to keep up the good fight.
There, I must have fallen asleep.
When I woke up, the world was a different place and I remembered the lesson of the dark night with incredible gratitude.
And I understood where I and so many others had been going wrong.
We are brought up to think that when you're sick, you're helpless and you need healing from others.
You are to all intents and purposes like a bucket into which healing needs to be poured and that's what is going to make you well.
But that's only partially true, and without the other side of the coin, namely the power of the INDIVIDUAL engaged, that big waterwheel that started to spin in the other direction when I started DOING SOMETHING, namely loving something, over half of the true process of healing is absent.
The way out of the sickness trance is to GIVE SOMETHING.
Especially when you think that you have nothing left to give - because that's the big mistake we've made, that's the big fault in our thinking about sickness and healing.
Even a person who is totally comatose still has a spirit, and that spirit can still be asked to bless you, if you're the healer, to engage that movement OUT OF helplessness and INTO flowing healing energies through your entire mind, body and spirit.
It is in asking the "sick" person to give whatever they've got to give is where the tide really turns.
And the sicker you think you are, the more important it is for you to seriously start loving things, blessing things, GIVING SOMETHING, even if it is one weak thought, to set that process in motion from your end that brings if not physical healing, then a form of SPIRITUAL HEALING that is quite priceless.
It is right here that we reconnect our physical bodies with the most spiritual aspects of ourselves and breach that divide between the physical, and the energetic - a divide that in truth, exists nowhere but in the heads of men.
This isn't difficult, and I found it did something amazing.
When I was finally taken to hospital after the revelation of that special night, I was taken as a magical person.
I WAS myself - a magical person and I didn't lose that.
I didn't lose it through being processed like a factory chicken in the hospital. I didn't lose it in my dealings with the people who worked there and did their best under the circumstances. I didn't lose it throughout the various interventions, many of which I would rate as being probably not that helpful, and certainly not the best that could be done.
Whenever things got tough or scary, I simply focused on what I had to give - there were many things that needed a touch of loving and of blessing, so many invitations in the hospital to give a little something magical to the grounds, the building, the many spirits roaming there, the people who work there and the people who suffer there ...
Perhaps if more magical people were to allow themselves to go through these processes rather than rejecting them so wholeheartedly (although I certainly understand why someone would choose to take that course of action, and I would NEVER EVER tell another magical person what would be best for them, for only they and their guardians can know that!) then perhaps these places such as hospitals would start to change.
Perhaps these places and the people who work there NEED LOVE AND BLESSINGS above all else to start moving THEIR big waterwheels into a direction of true healing and beyond just physical repair, where they seem to be stuck at this time.
Perhaps it is of the essence that we understand that every single time we can manage a loving, we are changing the world for the better - and at the same time, doing the right thing for ourselves, engaging our own healing powers in the right way, and what will the outcome of that be in the long run?
I cannot say.
The fact is that I saw so powerfully in the hospital ward just a few days ago HOW BLESSED WE REALLY ARE.
We have all the worlds, all of nature.
We have a great creative spirit which we can feel in our own bodies and something that we believe in.
We have guardians and guides, the beauty of crystals and the power of herbs and plants, the glory of sunsets and the sense of a soul's journey that doesn't cease when the physical body takes its final breath.
Just for one moment, imagine what it would be like to be ill in hospital - AND NOT TO HAVE ANY OF THAT.
The sorrow is overwhelming.
The compassion is overwhelming.
And from that, by all means let a sense of gratitude and blessing emerge from the very center of your being that you have this magic, that it has come to you somehow, and that you have been blessed with living in a totally different world to those who can't see and feel and experience as we do.
YOU are a blessing.
YOU are a blessing even if you can't walk around, if you're in pain, if you're in a coma.
Your spirit will continue to love and bless YOU, every part of YOU and through YOU, all those around you like a wellspring nourishes all around itself in a barren desert.
In sickness and in health, it is the greatest gift of all.