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The Magic Pill

I saw an article the other week suggesting (recommending?) various things the magically inclined could be doing in response to illness (principally mental health related in this instance) that might not occur to, or be available to, the wider masses.
Aside with having serious concerns about some of the specifics of the article, it raised an interesting question for me as to whether, as magical practitioners, we are in a better or worse predicament than others are if we get poorly? I mean, after all, we know about what herbs are good for a sore throat and what crystals are good for a sore head and what meditations are good for depression so shouldn’t we just, like, be able to magic ourselves better? Even more, with an entire arsenal of spell-lore at our disposal, combined with our own brand of self-aware spirituality and continuous working toward balance, how do we even get sick in the first place, right?

It is perhaps ironic (?) that – based purely on personal experience and observation – a significantly large proportion of the magical population suffer from serious and chronic ailments of some sort of another (my view is that seekers looking for alternative solutions tend to be those who find magical paths rather than anything to do with paganism or esotericism per se!). And it also has a high proportion of people who want to be helpful. While I do mean that in the best possible way, it’s not therefore uncommon to hear ‘but if you just try this remedy…’ or ‘you just use that stone…’ or ‘you just cast this spell’ with the guarantee that all your woes will be behind you, or at least substantially improved.

As I say, while well-meant, this is usually not very helpful. Recommending people to take on new stuff while they’re in mire of any illness can be entirely counter-productive, especially if energy and concentration are issues. Most magical workings, even ‘fluffy magic’ can take up a great amount of both, and some may have already had to give up their ‘normal’ practices while their body and mind try to continue coping with basic functioning. I worry that it also creates an unfortunate (if unintended) pressure and suggestion along the lines of ‘if you just did this then you wouldn’t be having these problems’, as if the condition and / or its continuation is somehow the sufferer’s fault, and that they’re clearly not trying hard enough if they’re not doing all of the zillion things they’ve been recommended at various points to improve their own situation.

Now, all this is not to say you should not use magical means in the prevention, mitigation and cure of various ailments, or that A.N. Other should not recommend or suggest possibilities that may work in the circumstances. But issuing prescriptions may not be the sort of support and TLC that’s needed, and the best help is often to understand what the ‘patient’ feels like they need, even if it doesn’t accord with your own experience.

So next time someone shuffles up to you with the latest bout of Aussie flu, insufficient spoons or general lurgy, consider offering a tissue and some chocolate* before an edict of “magician, heal thyself”.

*Subject to individual preference, I speak for myself here!