A little broken   4 comments

       This morning, I am reviewing the morning nurse’s report and I see that one of our psychiatric patients “thinks she has magic powers.  She said that she makes the sun come up.”  This woman is behind a locked door and I am sure will be offered medications to help her resolve her delusional thinking.  I’m safely assuming she has something else going on too; something that makes her a threat to herself or others.

This spurred me into an internal dialogue that I have had with myself many times over the years, particularly since I became involved in mental health and unrelatedly,  with the magical world.  How do we know, really, the line between magic and madness?  I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules for that.  All the gods know that trying to sort it out throughout human history hasn’t gone terribly well.  Perhaps in villages, the medicine man or other shamanic figure was what we would consider absolutely nuts by today’s standards, but his culture worked with that and his role in the tribe was important and respected.  For years the Catholic Church would try to impute spiritual causes to mental illness and cast demons out of people to make them well.  For that matter, modern churches still do it.  The Catholic Church has gotten hinky about exorcisms but the protestants sure don’t seem to hesitate.   My very very ill mother has been through more fundamentalist protestant “blessings” and ‘casting outs” and demon exorcisms to last three lifetimes and guess what ? She’s still mentally ill.  This is quite disappointing to her.   Then on the converse, modern medicine tries to name mental illness as the cause of spiritual experiences.  Sometimes, that is.  Not always.   About a year ago, a woman came to this hospital claiming she could talk to her angels and other spirit guides.  She could hear them.  I thought “Oh boy….they’re going to say she hears voices” but the doctor asked her some questions, found out that she happened to be Wiccan and that this was her belief system and it wasn’t hurting her to believe it.  After spending more time with her, he decided she might be depressed as all hell (and she was!) but she was not psychotic.  He left her spiritual beliefs alone, and dealt with what was truly interrupting her life which was depression.   There are other times that they will pursue a person’s spiritual beliefs if they think that they are damaging, such as the person who thinks that Jesus is telling them to eat glass. I guess that’s the line…when a person’s beliefs are going to kill them or cause serious harm to them or others.  I don’t know.  It’s not easy.  Common sense should apply but in this case, even that is a minefield.  It’s hard to reason through the unreasonable, where proofs don’t exist and truth is subjective.

Another memory springs to mind as I think about this.  I was leading my first public ritual about 6 years ago.  I think it was for Yule.  All sorts of people I didn’t know came.  For whatever reason, we were going around the circle offering one thing we are thankful for. One guy said (I kid you not) “I am thankful for the 13 young women who are living off-world right now, protecting the earth from being struck by asteroids through their telekinetic powers.”  Everyone just blinked at him a couple times.  I eventually said, “Okay, thanks!  Anyone else?”  Do I think asteroid guy was a little cracked?  Yep.  But what do I know? He was very earnest and he wasn’t hurting anyone.

I recently noticed that every person participating in my women’s spirituality group (some witches, some not) come with a  history of woundedness.  The wounds were acquired differently from person to person but I have yet to find anyone pursuing paganism, witchcraft or another alternative spiritual path that doesn’t have a background that is just a little less than Walton-esque.  This can be a strength or a challenge.   I have seen such people attributing magical causes to life situations they put themselves into because what they really need is counseling and not a spell.  However, I have also seen people successfully harness their wounds to build compassion, take care of what they need for good emotional health and weave their magic into their healing process and overall life.  It can go both ways.  I wonder sometimes, though, if there is something special, albeit painful, that happens when a person encounters suffering.  Does it open one’s soul more widely to Spirit?  I sometimes think it might.


Posted May 11, 2011 by Jessica in Uncategorized

4 responses to “A little broken

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  1. I wrote an absolutely brilliant comment, and then lost wifi connection as well as the brilliant comment! Ah well, what it came down to is that you’re dead-on right…on all the above…

  2. Fascinating post! Gave me goosebumps, and here’s why: my husband has a degree in Psychology, worked as a social worker in a respected mental health institution for years and years, and is now an RN in the psych annex of the emergency room. He and I have had MANY conversations through the years, about this very same thing – I have always questioned sanity vs. insanity, especially when hearing voices or having visions. I always thought I was bonkers for feeling/thinking that way. SO GLAD to hear that I’m not alone. Thank you for posting!!!

  3. I think about it a lot, actually. I think back to some of the craziest people on the planet and the amazing art, or writing, or inventions they contributed and I think, how do I know they weren’t being led by some spiritual force? If a person is truly “ill”, how are they contributing such powerful things to this world? It’s tricky, to be sure.
    Ironically enough, my husband was just hospitalized at a psych facility with severe anxiety and suicidal thoughts. These seem to be secondary to PTSD after his deployment. He never has been the same since he got home. That, I have a hard time attributing to Spirit. However, maybe he will learn to channel the wounds into something amazing in time. Maybe it will help him open up to whatever force is ready to work through him. In the meantime, I found that my own writing is almost like channeling, in my journal. There is stuff in it that I don’t remember writing. It seems like when I’m in pain, I’m more open. It’s a mystery. Human life is really amazing, even when it’s hard.

  4. I’m really glad that you wrote a post about this very subject.
    I constantly go through the “Am I crazy?” set of questions. I mean especially in the magical groups I am active in where spirit possession is a “normal” thing. I myself have never been possessed or “mounted” as they like to call it, but I came very close one time at a ceremony at my Godfather’s house. And to this day I question, “Was that real?” Or was that something my psyche was just creating or making up? I don’t mean to sound like I have no faith in what I believe, but I think for our own safety we have to be skeptics. These are things I still struggle with. Especially when spirits begin “talking” to a person. One of the best advice I ever saw was that a person should always have some form of confirmation. My personal belief is you cannot follow “voices” or “instinct” alone, you have to consult your spirits in some way to ask if this is correct. I have my cowries to ask is this “correct”, and my spirits (either my ancestors or Eleggua) will confirm it. The reason I brought this up is because there are so many negative spirits that roam around that try to influence us in some way. And not to blame everything on a “spiritual” basis but negative spirits like to have something to feed on, and pushing a person in to madness is also a way to always have a hold on that person. Obviously I also believe that psychological reasons also add to this, but you have to wonder sometimes which came first? Was the psychological damage so intense that it openned these doors for the negative to come in? Or was negative always there slowly chipping away at the consciousness?
    I just don’t know…
    Either way brilliant piece :3

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