Discussion on Mental Health and Paganism – Where are the Disabled Folks?

I saw an article the other day, in a free pagan magazine. Yay! It was about mental health and paganism. Wow! I was so excited!

Yay, yay, yay, I thought as I first saw the page-long article. Something interesting to read! Finally, some in-depth something on the topic!

Uh, yeah no. After a few sentences, then a quick skim-through, I was instantly depressed. Because apparently, just because we say ‘merry meet’, we’re a welcoming bunch. And the fact that we do fire gazing? Wow, that, like, taps us into ourselves and allows us to be grounded and shit. And the way we say ‘so mote it be’? Well, that allows us to accept things as they are. So, basically, (according to this author) we pagans are well equipped to deal with mental health issues because of these three things.

I was floored. What. The. Fuck.

This article, in my personal opinion, was like saying you get your vegetables from a pumpkin spice latte (Hint: there’s no pumpkin in most pumpkin spice lattes). I mean, really? Really? Not only was this a super-shallow discussion on the topic which failed to acknowledge SO MUCH of the discrimination that happens in neopagan circles, it felt like it was written by someone who had NO knowledge on the topic.

Now, maybe that person does have lots of insights and experience, but that their one article was just poorly written. Because really, it felt like a lazy slap in the face. It was just like a cotton-candied fluff of an article saying ‘don’t worry, it’s all fine, we’re the best, and here are my poorly-researched reasons as to why’.

Ughhh. Here, let me recap for you: most pagans don’t believe in medications, which are essential for most mentally ill people. Most pagans not only demonize psychiatric medication, but they also straight-out prohibit people taking certain medications from entering into their circles. Oh, and many pagans think mental illness ‘doesn’t exist’, so it’s all fake and we don’t really need clinical help. We should just, go trip out with a shaman or something and tada, we’re all cured. (this is a simplistic recap, by the way, but it would be a HUGE rant if I got into details about it).

I guess my point for this article is to vent, and to really say -> please don’t brush off this topic. It’s a real, vital, topic. It’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s meaningful and deep, and has repercussions for people’s mental health. To claim a hostile environment is, in fact, safe, juts because you haven’t experienced the discrimination as a non-mentally ill person is… flabbergasting? To put it nicely.

Also, why is it that there are so few wide-spread articles on paganism and mental illness from seriously disabled mentally ill peoples? Why is it that the articles I find are from people who had mild depressive bouts, not people who are schizophrenic to the point of a disability, crippled by anxiety to the point of a disability, or people with uncontrollable OCD? Why don’t we get people talking about their experiences as Wiccan or pagan in a psych ward?

It feels to me that our discussion, which should be written by very disabled and chronically ill people, is instead being discussed by abled and at best temporarily incapacitated people. Even the course I’m taking on self-healing at Woolston is not led by an ill person, but instead by an abled (to my knowledge) practitioner, and I find it shows in their approach. I really wonder how the discussion would look if we instead had all the disabled and chronically ill through mental illness folks sitting at this table. If you do have resources that are written my disabled folks, especially blogs and such, I’d love to read them. But for now, I’ll just grump and brood in my corner.

Self-Publishing and Mental Illness ~ A New Voice in History

Now I’m not going to jump up and down and scream that this is the first time that someone with mental illness has ever been published. I’m sure that’s not true. What I am sure about, however, is that this is the first time in history that people with mental illness have really, as a whole, had access to publishing.

Think of how, in history, publishing and getting printed has always been very strictly gate-kept. For something to be printed, it had to be something that people would think would sell, something that, quite often, had to ‘make sense’ and be considered socially acceptable. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, if women from the victorian era had been able to write or even blog about their experiences in the asylums, it might have turned heads and made the whole thing grind to a miserable halt faster than it did.

So what’s my point? This. That indie publishing is not only a chance for the marginalized to write and find each other, it’s a chance for the mentally ill to express themselves and find each other. This, I think, has a large part to play in the perceived ‘low quality’ that pervades the indie publishing scene.

I’m definitely not saying that people with mental illnesses can’t write. That’s not it at all. I’m saying that we speak uncomfortable truths, weirdness, and occasionally gibberish. None of this is suitable for large publishing industries. Just looking back on my own writings, I’m quite sure it’s too ‘bizarre’ and ‘out there’ and mentions suicide and death far too easily for a traditional publisher to even approach.

The thing is, mental illness is taboo. Our experiences and thereby, our stories, will be taboo. We frighten people, our experiences frighten people, and so our stories will be silenced.

But for once, for once, we have a chance to write and express ourselves. For once, we have a voice. This is extraordinary! This is a first.

And yet, this outlet, instead of being lauded for its diversity and potential for the mentally ill community, is being branded as ‘low quality’ and ‘sub-par’ and seen as silly.

There is a stigma related to indie publishing, one that I find to be very similar to being mentally ill. The fact is that indie publishing has some incredible authors in it, and some bad ones, just like traditional publishing.  One is just a system that is mentally ill friendly. The other is incredibly gate-kept and, by virtue of being the way it is, is gate-keeping at its best.

I’d like to say that indie writing is the future, but that’s not necessarily it. Gate-keeping tends to keep itself very much alive, and is adored by the masses. Those who succeed at traditional publishing will probably be adored by the masses. Furthermore, there is a whole host of neurotypical people who are exploiting the indie industry for their own uses. This isn’t a bad thing, but they are, whether they want to or not, bringing the ‘normal’ into a space that, in my opinion, could be dedicated to the ‘abnormal’. They are ‘normalizing’ what could be an ‘abnormal’ space.

I find it incredibly hilarious, in an ironic and sad way, that the only publishing method that is available to the mentally ill is being judged and used by neurotypicals. Now, granted, it wasn’t a dedicated space for the mentally ill. No one owns the indie publishing industry. But, I do have to say, I wish there was a space for the mentally ill to  publish their stories without being crowded out by the neurotypicals.

red rose on white book page
Photo by Nóra Zahradník on Pexels.com

A Publishing House for the Mentally Ill?

Hey everyone! So, originally I had a very boring post set up to post about how I don’t feel like writing Chaos & Kuryo’s story today. Real thrilling, I know. BUT! Then I was asked for a guest post about publishing and wham! Not only did I write up a post about self-publishing and mental illness (two of them, actually), but I had an idea! A very interesting idea, if you ask me.

Here it is: Wouldn’t it be epic (to say the least) if I was to start a publishing company dedicated to the fiction stories of people with mental illness?

I mean, hear me out. I know there are a bunch of writing collectives out there like ‘the mighty’ and ‘the bipolar writer’ blog. But where do we, the mentally ill, publish our fiction? Well, probably indie, you see. But that’s a space wherein there’s already a TON of neurotypicals out there, publishing stuff that neurotypicals want to read. So where is the space dedicated to the mentally ill people’s fiction?

I don’t think we have one, simply put. We’re just starting to have spaces to talk about getting better and expressing our experiences. Our fiction, as of yet, is still mixed in with everyone else’s.

But, here’s another thing. I’m quite sure that people with mental illness have pretty bizarre and interesting ideas, which would make for very unique and interesting stories that step out of the ordinary. I think this could really be a fun initiative!

Sad fact: I have no idea how to go about making this happen. Anyone, any ideas? How would one go about doing this? Is this something that anyone would be interested in participating in? Give me your thoughts!

close up photo of open book
Photo by Bilakis on Pexels.com

Step 7 ~ Make a Dedication

Now is the time where you will dedicate yourself to your healing path. A dedication can be very simple or elaborate, depending upon your abilities and what you feel will work for you.

In the past, I’ve always found it tempting to do great and elaborate rituals, yet I never found those to be useful for me, magically speaking. As a mentally ill person, I never had the mental resources to do more than plan out a ritual. Even that, depending on my state, could be too much. So instead I ended up doing very simple things, such as tying a red string to my finger to remember to use my service dog and to rely upon her instead of trying to be independent.

The point of this dedication is to mark the beginning of your healing efforts -> to yourself. You’ll want it to have two parts. One will be a large piece that will ‘contain’ and ‘radiate’ all the energy and hope you’re putting into this. It will serve to remind you or why you’re doing this, how you’re doing it, and what methods you’re trying to use. Hopefully it will inspire you and encourage you to keep going when the going gets tough. I’m thinking something like a large collage in your home, or even a shelf that you decorate, complete with the deities that you will call upon for healing, etc.But it can be as simple as a picture of a beach or nature or a deity. Whatever works for you.

The second part will be a small piece that you will wear upon yourself or carry with you, to remind you of the commitment you’ve made. It could be a simple bead, a ring, or even a string tied (not too tightly) to your finger. The idea here is a reminder that will accompany you tangibly through your struggles. Again, choose something that will work for you. Maybe an image of a bird, free and flying without fear. Maybe a meditating figure, serene and calm.

So once you know what images or objects, crystals, herbs, etc, you want to use as your two dedication pieces, how do you go about making them? Here’s how I suggest going about it.

  1. Design your objects. Take a few days to think on it, sketch it out, and sleep on it. Make sure it’s something that’ll be meaningful, but don’t worry about it not being ‘meaningful enough’. You can always redo this ritual later if you feel it’s not meaningful enough.
    • Pro tip: on the larger of the two objects, plan a space for you to place markers of your successes. It can be a hand to place flowers in, empty space to glue up pictures, etc. Just remember that you will have victories and that you will want to commemorate them, which will help you on your path!
  2. Pick a time where you will not be disturbed and feel calm and collected
  3. Gather all your materials to your work space
  4. Cleanse your space however your tradition dictates. If you have no tradition, I suggest wafting around your favorite burning incense (air and fire) and then to sprinkle salt water around (earth and water). I suggest doing this in a circular motion around the space you will be using, as much as possible.
  5. Summon your higher self, deity, mother earth, grigori, etc. Ask them for their aid in performing this ritual. Don’t summon an entire pantheon! Summon just those who you feel called to or who you think are necessary.  If you are unsure of who to summon at all, use a summoning like this “I call upon those spirits or beings who guide and love me, who wish to aid me in my healing path, to be here now and to aid me’.
  6. If you feel up to it, cast a circle according to your traditions/beliefs. If you’re not up to it, don’t.
  7. Meditate upon what you are going to make, and ask the spirits/higher self how they think it should be done. If you get sudden urges or ideas that seem particularly nice, it could be them speaking.
    • If your inspiration seems overly ‘weird’ or ‘out there’ or bizarre, just don’t do it. In my experience, these were not divinely inspired, just the result of my weird brain doing its thing.
  8. Calmly, thank the spirits for their insight and guidance. Trust that they are with you, and begin making your objects without judgment. Remember that this is not a beauty contest. It’s all about the result having meaning and power for you.
  9. When you are done (or done for the moment), consecrate the objects. Hold them in your hands (or hold your hands above them) and dedicate them to your healing.
    • For both objects you can say something like “I dedicate this ___ (object one and two) to aid me in my healing, to remind me of my path in healing, and to channel inner guidance to me when I most need it. Please __ (deities or higher self) bless and consecrate it to guide and strengthen me on my path to healing.”
    • If your tradition has specific ways to ‘bring something to life’, you can use those methods. Options are the ‘laying in darkness’ used by the nordic paths to then ‘birth’ the named object into the light, simply naming it and willing it to be awake and ready, or blessign it with the four elements, or burying it out into the earth to then be ‘birthed’  when you dig it up.
  10. Thank you deities/higher self and dismiss/say goodbye in whatever formal terms you wish to use. My favorite is ‘stay if you will, go if you must’. If you can’t remember phrases to save your life, a simple thank you and ‘I’m going to clean up now’ works fine as well.
  11. Clean your work space. Take the time to put everything away and clean up as much as possible. Don’t consider this a ‘chore’, but see it as part of the ritual, an essential sacred thing. Take it as a chance to see yourself putting order into your world.
  12. Now that you have your objects ready to aid and guide you, place them in their dedicated space. You will want to begin immediately keeping the smaller one near you and the larger one in its space in your home.
  13. Rest, relax, and return to normal space and frame of mind. Rest, eat ‘cakes and ale’ (something nutritious and something hydrating), and return to your normal state of being.
  14. Once you feel grounded and well, acknowledge what you have done. Take stock of it, and realize that now you are embarking onto your path of healing, officially. From this moment on, you are walking that path. Congratulate yourself mindfully.
  15. Declare your intention to heal to those around you whom you trust. You can call it ‘putting it out there’ into the universe. Share with them whatever you feel comfortable sharing, be it just your intention to heal, to including how you want to do it and even which healers or doctors you wish to see. Just let them know that you’re trying to heal. It may encourage them to support you in the future, or at least explain what you’re trying to do.

Step 6 ~ Make a Budget

Now this is a step that depends upon your location and what treatment method you’ve chosen. Say, if you live in Canada (like me) and choose to take conventional medicine (like me), you won’t have to pay for most of your medication. However, a budget is still an important thing to have. Suppose you want to also try a natural remedy, such as St John’s Wort (remember to not mix it with medication unless your doctor approves). And suppose, while going to the store, you’re suggested this awesome therapy from a local reiki teacher, and you see a flyer for a funky new kind of yoga and and and… you see where I’m going? Not only do you have to pick and choose your treatment methods, but you also have to set a financial limit.

This can be VERY IMPORTANT if you’re trying alternative therapies. They can get expensive very, very, fast. You can also be desperate and end up trying everything all at once (not recommended either).

So before you pick out what treatment you want to start with, make yourself a functional budget.

Now, if you have trouble doing this, and you’re really not sure how much of what you should be spending where, call for help. Contact a friend, a social worker from the mental health clinic, or at the very least take a sample budget online and adjust it to your means.

But remember -> allocate a reasonable amount towards your mental health rehabilitation. You still need to eat. You still need to pay rent. You can only afford so much, and what you have is what you have. Be reasonable and honest with yourself.

Once you’ve made a budget, again, change your mind. Budgets are stressful, and you may not have a lot of money to spend on yourself. Try doing something free and fun to change your mind. Go to a local library, go for a walk, do some yoga, meditate or pray.

Step 5 ~ Gather Your Resources

Now that you’ve chosen your path of healing, you’re going to do some research. Consider it like a nature walk. Do you just up and randomly drive up to the side of a forest and begin slugging away at it, trying to walk through the thick and thin of it? Of course not (or at least I hope you don’t- it could be private property!). No. As a good pagan, you will first check our where you’re allowed to go and find some nice nature parks. Then you’ll maybe get a copy of a local flora and fauna book to better understand what you’ll be seeing. Then you get proper walking boots and socks and a hat and maybe pick out a crystal to guide you. All this to say -> you get prepared. Pagans are really big on intuition and ‘winging it’, but there’s nothing wrong or un-spiritual about planning. For those of us with mental illness, it can really help and make sure we don’t miss something obvious.

So, first things first. Get a hold of your trusty list of treatment options that you made last step. Grab a new sheet of paper and write them down in the order you want to do them, leaving plenty of space all around to write in your research. I suggest sticking the worst/most stressful thing in the middle, that way you end on a less stressful note.

Now, going down your list, research each option one at a time. Truth be told, this could take a few hours, even a few days. You want to be exhaustive.

But how do you do this? It’s easy to say ‘research’, but for me, that’s overwhelming. So let’s break it down.

Suppose you have are willing to see a doctor. Research on the local doctors. Do you have options with your insurance, or are you tied to a family doctor? If you already have a doctor, and you just have to make an appointment with them, then congrats, you’re done! If not, keep researching on which doctor you feel would best suit your needs.

Suppose you want to try only alternative medicines. Research which ones you want to take. Research what accredited people are near you, such as ayurvedic healers, naturopaths, etc. Write down their coordinates, availabilities, and approximate costs.

If you want to try group talks or similar therapies, research if there is any happening in your area, and consider calling a mental health clinic in order to know more about them.

Here’s a thing: don’t be afraid to call to get more information. If that’s too terrifying, get a friend to do it for you, or try emailing them. Whichever way, get as much pertinent information as you can.

A phone call, or email, could go like this:

“Hi, my name is ___ and I have ___ problems (such as anxiety or obsessions). I am currently researching on treatment options such as ___ (aromatherapy, reiki, etc) that you currently provide. I am wondering if you could tell me more about your services and how you could help me heal.”

One thing to consider, especially for alternative therapies and ‘spiritual’ practices such as reiki, is to ask them if they have any previous experience healing people with your condition. A simple way to phrase this is to say/write something along the lines of “I was wondering if you have any previous experience healing people with my condition, and if you could tell me how those experiences went.”

Again, you don’t need the nitty gritty details. But you do need to know whether they’ve dealt with anxiety/schizophrenia before, or whether they have no clue what to do with you.

Once you’re done with one point, move on to the next. In order for a point to be ‘done’, you should have gathered extra information specifically in regards to your condition (i.e., does the local health clinic offer schizophrenic talk meetings, does the reiki healer accept patients with your condition, etc) (except for a doctor, whose treatment plan will largely depend upon your meeting), gotten their contact method, and know where they are located. Once you’ve done this for your whole list, congratulations, you’re done for this step!

Again, take a breather. This may have been very stressful for you, and acknowledge that. It may also be confusing to have all this information. Acknowledge that as well. For now, don’t try and begin picking out who you want to see first or anything of the sort. Set it aside and forget about it until the next step.

I suggest you change your mind, cleanse your energy, and do a joyful spiritual practice. Offer thanks for the resources you’ve found!


Holocaust Memorial Day~ My Tiny Story

Here in Canada, it is Holocaust Memorial Day. This day hurts me, and I think it should hurt everyone. Not only is this a day of remembrance towards racism and ableism but it is also a day to mourn and be aware, to share our stories.

As some of you know, I live with mental illness. Schizophrenia runs in my family but I have mercifully not been touched by it. I do, however, dissociate into near-psychosis due to my stress disorders (a situation that is now much better than it was before!). I am what you could call a ‘compliant’ patient. I try my best and show positive results. My Grandmother on my maternal side was not. She was schizophrenic, and seen as dangerous. When it came out that she was schizophrenic, she was forcefully institutionalized and given electroshock therapy, among other things. Her newborn child was taken from her for a decade to be raised by relatives. Worse, she was forcefully sterilized. Now, this may not seem like a big thing to us nowadays, but she was a devout Catholic who wanted more children. For her being sterilized was a grand sin.

I know much worse things have happened to others, yet the suffering of my grandmother reaches me intensely. This woman suffered inside and out, being abused physically while being tortured by her own mind. I know much worse would have happened to her if she were in another country, yet it simultaneously blows my mind that there was forced sterilization happening in Canada, who is always portrayed as being on the ‘good side’ of history.

So, while we pray and think of all the Jews and those of ‘less desirable’ ethnicities who were murdered, I would like us to also remember those disabled folks who were murdered and sterilized as well. Myself, I will be praying for their souls to find peace today, and hope you will be too.

A Pagan Framework for Healing/Coping with Mental Illness ~ How to Help Out a Friend (Part One)

We’ve almost all been there. For me, I’ve been there multiple times.

We see someone we love, someone we care so dearly about, and they are not well. They’re not right in the head. They’re down spiralling. They’re isolating themselves. And you just don’t know what to do!

It’s immensely frustrating for those on the sidelines to watch someone fall ill, especially if you have no experience with the illness in particular. It can be so hard to not say ‘just pull it together, you’ve got this!’, even if you know that’s not the thing to say. Because you just want to help, to see them get better.

In a sense, I’m lucky that I have some experience with mental illness.  It makes me understand those who I’ve watched and am watching suffer. It gives me a framework, a reference point from which to understand what they’ve gone and are going through.

But say you’re a pagan, and they’re a pagan. That complicates things, yet gives you a unique vantage point to work with them on their illness. So here I’ve put together a list of five points as to how you can care for and support someone with/through a mental illness. I will work on making more posts, aiming for a total of twenty pointers/tips in all. Please let me know if these are useful for you, if you’ve tried them out, how they’ve worked, and if you’ve got ideas to add to the list. I love discussion, so feel free to comment.

  • Ask them their beliefs on mental illness in relation to their spirituality. Do they believe they are being punished by bad karma? DO they think this is a trial from the gods they must suffer through? Or do they believe it’s bad brain chemistry from past trauma, or just a bad genetic lottery? It’s not really terribly important for you to know the exact specifics of  what kind of theology they have going on, but more to know how they perceive their illness as a whole. This is important because their perception of it will determine their response to it. If they feel like it’s fated and there’s nothing they can do, they’re less likely to try and get better. If they perceive it as a challenge, maybe they’ll be more willing to surmount it. I’m not saying any belief is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, just that it has repercussions on how a person approaches their illness -> and that’s important for you to know.
    • This type of conversation is also important because it opens the channels of communication. If a person feels bogged down by their illness and doesn’t know who to turn to, taking an active interest in asking specific questions can show your willingness to help.
    • Asking specific questions like this one in relation to paganism helps not only open the channels of communication, it also gives the person a chance to sound off on you/use you as a bouncing board for their thoughts. Maybe they won’t have a specific ideology, and that’s ok. Maybe they’re confused. But if they haven’t thought about it already, it’s a good thing for them to figure out.
    • So how do you ‘do’ this? Don’t pop this question while standing in the doorway on your way out to work or leave. Sit them down in a quiet space with a cup of their favourite drink. Engage in some pagan chit-chat, just a little of ‘pagan’ talk to get them in their ‘pagan’ frame of mind. You can also ask them gently how they are doing, and then segway from there.
      • example: ‘Hey, I’ve been checking out rocks lately, specifically amethyst. It vibes with me so well… how have you been anyways? Feeling good enough to spend time with your rocks? … Really? Hey, by the way, I’ve been wondering how you feel your [mental illness] in relation to your path.’
    • If they have a variety of mental illness diagnosis, pick the least stressful/least serious one to ask about. If they are comfortable, you can build from there to ask about the more serious conditions. So for example if your friend has anxiety and bi-polar, breach the topic by asking about the anxiety, just to try and keep them calmer.
    • Specific questions that you can ask to try and keep the conversation going is their mental illness/symptoms in relation to: their godphone, their magic, their ritual practices, their relationship with the gods, their relationship with nature, past lives, future in the afterworld, etc.
    • If you are not particularly spiritually close, you may get vague answers. And that’s okay. It’s good to just have these conversations.
  • Take them for a nature walk. Pagans love nature, even revere it. Nature is soothing, calming on the mind, and being out of doors is recommended by doctors (I think, just flying off of memory here). Now, here’s the important point. Don’t just drag them out the door for a walk through the city. Take them to an isolated space where there will be few people.
    • Example: you drive to their place, pick them up in their parking lot as close to the door as possible. You then drive together (listening to soothing music and no road rage) to a mountain or a little-used park. You walk a little (not too far, the point is not exercise but mental rest) and sit a little.
    • What to do during the walk? Point out flowers, herbs, and trees. Talk about tree lore. Talk about the moment. How pretty this and that is. Don’t wildcraft and plan for future projects, as that can be overwhelming and lead to failure. Space out silence and conversation together so that it’s not entirely either one.
  • Bring them a hot meal. This cannot be overrated. Meals are necessary, and cooking is a chore. Good food requires money and energy. If someone you know is in a hard patch, bring them food because they might not be able to prepare it for themselves.
    • But what do you make them? Pick something they like, but also something nutritious and ‘grounding’. Root vegetables mixes with veggies.
    • Bonus points if the food is magically cooked and has herbs and properties in it you can talk to them about.
    • Let them know you are bringing it and coming over. Don’t just drop by unannounced. Give them a chance to prep and ‘put a face on’ to be able to present themselves nicely/socially acceptably towards you.
    • Inviting them to eat at your place can be fun -> If and only if they’re up to leaving their home/safe space. Don’t force them to leave. Offer to bring it to them and don’t force your company on them either.
    • This should go without saying, but respect their food choices. If they’re on a ultra vegan raw diet binge, respect it and work with what they’re willing to eat.
    • Example: Hey, I feel/felt like cooking today, so I made you/will make  a XXX, can I drop it off later?
  • Offer to accompany them on a grocery run, or to do their groceries for them. I don’t mean you paying for it for them, but rather you doing the legwork. Grocery stores can be immensely overwhelming for people with anxiety and sensory overload. Having to compare prices can be just the tip of the iceberg, nevermind all the jostling and baby crying. So offer to do it for them. This can be a huge relief for them. Call/text ahead to give them time to prepare a list and see if they want to go out or if they will just hand you a list.
    • Example: Hey, I’m going out for groceries later, need anything? Want to come along?
  • Walk on their left side in public spaces. This is silly, but practical. It’s where service dogs walk for a reason, which is that all people passing (at least in North America) will pass on the left side, as we walk on the right. By being on their left, you create a barrier between the person and the passing strangers. You can use this shielding method in a variety of ways, not just always sticking to their left. Just stand between them and the largest source of motion, noise, or people.

Meet Ranger!

Ranger card colour.jpeg

Now y’all are maybe getting downright sick of hearing about my novels, but don’t worry – I’m just getting started.

So meet Ranger! She’s the official main character of my current WIP that means oh so much to me. She’s a brain-fucker extraordinaire, a licensed ‘crazy person’ (she’s high-functioning schizophrenic), and my favourite badass. Not only does she suffer and rise above her mental illness, she rises above everyone’s mind games. She’s just the person no one knows what to do with because she’s unpredictable and won’t play their games – or will she? Sometimes she actually does, you know, just to mess with them.

She’s like my own private superhero, everything I wished I could be I guess. And I’m mildly terrified that I won’t do her justice. That her story is going to be a terrible flop and no one is going to understand what she’s all about. And that, well, will mean that I will have failed her.

I’m worried her mental illness will come across as a cry for attention and tokenization on my part instead of it being seen as an integral part of her character.

I have so much to worry about with her and her novel that it’s sometimes paralyzing. I really want to get her plot and character across – but I still don’t know what’s her driving force in the novel. What does Ranger want? Why does she mess around with people? Does she even know? It’s frustrating, but there’s so many unanswered questions in this novel. It’s so complex in subtle ways and all those subtleties are so important for me.

Anyways I’m done ranting here. Y’all have a nice day and if you have a moment, what do you think of my picture of Ranger? Do you like the style? I’m super fond of it and really like the ‘feel’ of it. I’ll probably keep the rest of the pictures for this novel in that style.

What the Shaman Does Not See in Mental Illness


Wow, this is a very long post. As I finish editing my comments, I find myself marveling at the length of my word document. So, as a courtesy to all of those who don’t have time or the mental capabilities to read almost six thousand words, here is a summary.

In this article, the writer puts forth the idea that mental illness, especially schizophrenia, is actually a symptom of a spirit trying to ‘merge’ with the person. This desire for the spirit to do so is brought upon by the person themselves yearning for a connection with their ancestral ties. The person who the spirit chooses is supposed to be a ‘healer’ and a ‘medium’ and ‘sensitive’. Thus, the ‘shamanic view’ is to either ‘merge’ the person with the spirit or exorcise the spirit if it is harmful.

I disagree with this perspective very vocally. Bluntly, I call bullshit. As someone from a long line of schizophrenics and asylum-goers, as someone who has a mental illness themselves, I call bullshit. See? I can’t even stop myself from swearing in the summary. I swear a LOT in this article.

Why do I call bullshit? Why do I even bother with this article? Simply put, it was shoved in my face. Literally, someone in person told me to read it, super excited that it would help me. Cue rage. But then I had told myself it was just one person… and then I saw it cropping up all over online. Pagan pages, Wiccan pages, all over Facebook. And just when I thought the trend was over and it wasn’t virtually cropping up any more- I ran into someone who began preaching to me about the ‘shamanic views’ despite being on life-saving psychiatric medication that they could not get off of in order to be a safe citizen.

That’s when I realized that this article was destroying lives. It caused an inordinate amount of pressure on me. It convinced this poor lady that she should not be on the medication she is- and may cause her to try stopping them. And why? For the promise of some gold star when we die? Not even. We’re supposed to take some random person’s word for it because he’s a ‘shaman’. Whoop dee fucking doo.

Alright, so what’s my arguments? Read on…

Oh, right, here’s a summary for y’all. (But please do read the whole thing). I disagree spiritually with the concept of spirits ‘merging’ with human spirits. As a polytheist I believe spirits are independent, autonomous beings. Simply put, we do not merge. Furthermore, I disagree with his notion that there is ‘no spiritual framework’ in the ‘West’ to interpret psychic phenomenon, causing us to mislabel psychic activity as insanity. We have a plethora of psychics and psychic beliefs. My nugget of wisdom: psychic activity is not madness.

So here, ladies and gentlemen, is what I see as being wrong with “The Shamanic View of Mental Illness”, or rather… What the Shaman Does Not See in Mental Illness

(And yes, do not fear, there is lots more to be coming from me on this topic of shamanism and mental illness)

Stephanie Marohn
Waking Times

The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

Wait a minute, all? Bi-polar, depression, the whole range? Alright. This seems ridiculously presumptuous but fine. Let’s roll with this lumpy turd of an idea.

What those in the West view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.” The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm. “Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field,” says Dr. Somé. These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.

One of the things Dr. Somé encountered when he first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study was how this country deals with mental illness. When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to “nervous depression,” Dr. Somé went to visit him.

Whoa man. Is this whole article and perspective built off of psychiatric wards in the 80’s? That’s quite a while ago for an article that’s still being circulated in 2017. That’s almost forty years ago – a long time in the academic world. Because in case you didn’t know, psychiatric institutions have changed since the 80’s, with a ton of these changes being brought on by those with mental illnesses demanding these changes. So psychiatric wards now are changed by those with mental illness for those with mental illness. But hey, let’s keep reading.

“I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village.” What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop. This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation. As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself, “So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted.”

Oh. My. Gods. If all he knows about the complex medical system is one fucking visit into a psychiatric ward, then what does he really know? Ergotherapy exists. Psychologists exist and are available in schools, and there are therapists and hell, I even had a psychiatrist who was willing to work with me on my non-medication beliefs and told me which oils and natural remedies I could try. The ‘western medical system’ is far more complex than a bunch of people screaming in straight jackets.

Another way to say this, which may make more sense to the Western mind, is that we in the West are not trained in how to deal or even taught to acknowledge the existence of psychic phenomena, the spiritual world.

Stop! Hammer time. Wicca don’t exist, na na, na na, Catholic don’t exist, na na, na na. Ain’t got no spirituality, na na, na na.

Alright, seriously. As a Wiccan, as someone who was raised in a psychic environment and whose city boasts several well-running esoteric stores- bullshit. To claim that the ‘Western mind’ (thanks for lumping the vast multi-cultural experience of Canada into one gloop, dude) has no way to deal with the psychic world is to denigrate the vast field that is Western occultism and western esoterism. Catholics have mysticism, Wicca exists and… I could rant about this for days. Suffice to say that yes, we have ways to deal with the psychic world. We acknowledge it’s existence according to our own spiritual views.

In fact, psychic abilities are denigrated.

Alright, no. No, no, no. Psychic abilities are valued and looked up to. Tarot cards can be found in bookstores easier than candy. Mediums I know can charge exorbitant rates for their services. Those I know are highly respected members of their communities. Psychic abilities are not denigrated in Western Culture.

When energies from the spiritual world emerge in a Western psyche, that individual is completely unequipped to integrate them or even recognize what is happening.

Because Wicca don’t exist, na na, na na…. Alright I’ll stop. But seriously. When a spirit presents themselves to a Westerner, the Westerner can pop out a Tarot deck, knock on a medium’s door, pull out an ouija board, read some tea leaves, and so on and so forth. We are not unequipped.

The result can be terrifying. Without the proper context for and assistance in dealing with the breakthrough from another level of reality, for all practical purposes, the person is insane.

Wrong again! Many Westerners become successful mediums without ever being labelled as insane. In fact, those within the Western esoteric communities are reluctant to believe mental illnesses even exist (thanks to articles such as these). So no, a psychic is not considered insane. They are considered psychic, and praised for it.

Heavy dosing with anti-psychotic drugs compounds the problem and prevents the integration that could lead to soul development and growth in the individual who has received these energies.

Well. I am living proof otherwise, thank you very much. But don’t take it just from me. Take it from my grandmother too, who had murderous tendencies unless she was medicated, in which case she became a reliable and sweet homemaker. Oh, and also this random stranger I met who told me that they were bi-polar and getting messages to murder someone until they took their medication. How does medication that aids someone to become functional and balanced emotionally hinder them in any way? From ‘integration’ and ‘soul development’? I’m sorry, I developed during my mental illness the same way one develops from trauma. It wasn’t that the trauma itself was a good thing, and neither was the mental illness.

On the mental ward, Dr Somé saw a lot of “beings” hanging around the patients, “entities” that are invisible to most people but that shamans and psychics are able to see. “They were causing the crisis in these people,” he says. It appeared to him that these beings were trying to get the medications and their effects out of the bodies of the people the beings were trying to merge with, and were increasing the patients’ pain in the process. “The beings were acting almost like some kind of excavator in the energy field of people. They were really fierce about that. The people they were doing that to were just screaming and yelling,” he said. He couldn’t stay in that environment and had to leave.

Alright, as the resident psychic crazy person, let me ask this. What kind of spirit tries to hurt someone? If it’s causing the person pain and they know that medication is there to help, why not simply find another way? Oh, and was he sure these spirits were there to help? Because negative/destructive spirits exist. Oh, and let’s just point out that he left. He literally walked into the psychiatric ward, saw stuff that frightened him and which he did not understand (spiritually or otherwise) and left. Once gone, he drew a whole lot of conclusions off this very small experience. Finally, as a psychic, I’m just going to put it out there that not all psychics are right. That’s it, yep, i’m going there. Peoples, just because a shaman says he saw a bunch of spirits doesn’t mean that they actually were there. Within the polytheist community this is called UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis). The spirits may have been there doing what he says, or they may have not been there. Or, as has happened often with other psychics I know, he may have projected his feelings onto the spirits and assumed they were doing what he thought ought to be done subconsciously, that is, remove the medication. I’m not trying to denigrate him, I’m just saying to take his perspective with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Personally, if I was to take a wild guess as to what was happening there, I would say the spirits were trying to adjust the medication to try and help influence the person’s illness. Because yeah, not all medication works all the time. So the spirits may have been trying to help, but they weren’t necessarily causing the illness. But hey, that’s my personal opinon. Let’s keep going.

In the Dagara tradition, the community helps the person reconcile the energies of both worlds–”the world of the spirit that he or she is merged with, and the village and community.” That person is able then to serve as a bridge between the worlds and help the living with information and healing they need. Thus, the spiritual crisis ends with the birth of another healer. “The other world’s relationship with our world is one of sponsorship,” Dr. Somé explains. “More often than not, the knowledge and skills that arise from this kind of merger are a knowledge or a skill that is provided directly from the other world.”

Uhm, okay. Why is he mingling the roles of a healer and a messenger? They’re kind of different specialties. Furthermore, this is all based upon his specific world-view. And as a polytheist, I believe that there can be many different world views, and many can be true and correct all at the same time- for different deities.His world-view may not apply to, say, Asatru deities or Egyptian ones. Just saying. Moving along…

The beings who were increasing the pain of the inmates on the mental hospital ward were actually attempting to merge with the inmates in order to get messages through to this world.

Allegedly this is what the spirits were doing. Allegedly. Not all UPG can be true, and we must take it with a healthy dose of salt. So allegedly, this is what the spirits were doing. My spirits have been quite content with my medication, and urged me to take it, thank you very much. … Also, ‘merge’, what are these spirits, body-snatchers? Spirits are not supposed to ‘merge’ with another soul. Every soul is unique and stands alone. This is his world-view, but certainly not mine. Spirits, according to me, do no such ‘merging’. They can stand by our sides and talk to us politely, thank you very much, they know how.

The people they had chosen to merge with were getting no assistance in learning how to be a bridge between the worlds and the beings’ attempts to merge were thwarted.

Well if these spirits were indeed there, why didn’t they try another method? Tarot cards? Crystal balls? Tea leaves? For crying out loud, spirits are intelligent, autonomous beings that can change their ways. If they saw that their efforts were landing their chosen humans into the psychiatric ward and plunging them into distress, why didn’t they stop?

The result was the sustaining of the initial disorder of energy and the aborting of the birth of a healer.

I just want to point out the dramatic language here. ‘Aborting of… a healer’. As if it is some sort of death for someone to get treatment and proper care.

“The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer,” [Again, this must be why we have n so thing as Wicca and esoterism here, (sarcasm)] states Dr. Somé. “Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention. They have to try harder.” The spirits are drawn to people whose senses have not been anesthetized. “The sensitivity is pretty much read as an invitation to come in,” he notes.

Waiiit a minute. So the spirit moves from one person to another. If the spirit leaves, then why isn’t the person cured after that? This makes no sense considering that mental illnesses are long-term conditions, not something someone cures themselves from like the flu. Furthermore, these spirits sound pretty damned rude, hopping from one person to another and trying the same old methods that they know produce harm. Spirits are intelligent, peoples! They can change their ways!

Those who develop so-called mental disorders are those who are sensitive, which is viewed in Western culture as oversensitivity. Indigenous cultures don’t see it that way and, as a result, sensitive people don’t experience themselves as overly sensitive. In the West, “it is the overload of the culture they’re in that is just wrecking them,” observes Dr. Somé. The frenetic pace, the bombardment of the senses, and the violent energy that characterize Western culture can overwhelm sensitive people.

Argl. Repeat after me. Sensitivity is not equal to mental illness. One is mental wellness, the other is mental illness. They are not the same thing. Period. Also, mental illness occurs across all historical periods and nations. It is not, as the author carelessly implied, a ‘Western’ problem. Yes, Western culture is not perfect but NO, it is not the root cause of mental illness.

Schizophrenia and Foreign Energy

With schizophrenia, there is a special “receptivity to a flow of images and information, which cannot be controlled,” stated Dr. Somé. “When this kind of rush occurs at a time that is not personally chosen, and particularly when it comes with images that are scary and contradictory, the person goes into a frenzy.”

No, it does not always cause a ‘frenzy’, thank you very much. What about catatonic schizophrenia? And of course, let’s focus only upon schizophrenia when there is a whole field of mental disorders out there.

What is required in this situation is first to separate the person’s energy from the extraneous foreign energies, by using shamanic practice (what is known as a “sweep”) to clear the latter out of the individual’s aura. With the clearing of their energy field, the person no longer picks up a flood of information and so no longer has a reason to be scared and disturbed, explains Dr. Somé.

The person is not always ‘scared and disturbed’! They can feel euphoric, ecstatic, ‘in tune’ with the universe!

Then it is possible to help the person align with the energy of the spirit being attempting to come through from the other world and give birth to the healer. The blockage of that emergence is what creates problems. “The energy of the healer is a high-voltage energy,” he observes. “When it is blocked, it just burns up the person. It’s like a short-circuit. Fuses are blowing. This is why it can be really scary, and I understand why this culture prefers to confine these people. Here they are yelling and screaming, and they’re put into a straitjacket. That’s a sad image.” Again, the shamanic approach is to work on aligning the energies so there is no blockage, “fuses” aren’t blowing, and the person can become the healer they are meant to be.

Yelling and screaming? This is stigma! It does not reflect many experiences of schizophrenia!

It needs to be noted at this point, however, that not all of the spirit beings that enter a person’s energetic field are there for the purposes of promoting healing. There are negative energies as well, which are undesirable presences in the aura. In those cases, the shamanic approach is to remove them from the aura, rather than work to align the discordant energies

Oh really? I would say any spirit causing harm and/or not being respectful needs to be removed! And can I point out that at this point, the theory is either to absorb the spirit or exorcise it? Can I point out that personally this has never worked for me, and that quite often when a person is having an episode there are no intrusive spirits present? If this theory were true, a good smudging/exorcism ritual would do the trick. Here’s a hint: it does not work that way. I have tried and no, smudging does not work any better than a placebo.

Alex: Crazy in the USA, Healer in Africa

To test his belief that the shamanic view of mental illness holds true in the Western world as well as in indigenous cultures, Dr. Somé took a mental patient back to Africa with him, to his village. “I was prompted by my own curiosity to find out whether there’s truth in the universality that mental illness could be connected with an alignment with a being from another world,” says Dr. Somé.

in the Western world as well as in indigenous cultures” what- are we fundamentally different and he needed to prove we were similar?! This is ridiculous.

Alex was an 18-year-old American who had suffered a psychotic break when he was 14. He had hallucinations, was suicidal, and went through cycles of dangerously severe depression. He was in a mental hospital and had been given a lot of drugs, but nothing was helping. “The parents had done everything–unsuccessfully,” says Dr. Somé. “They didn’t know what else to do.”

With their permission, Dr. Somé took their son to Africa. “After eight months there, Alex had become quite normal, Dr. Somé reports. He was even able to participate with healers in the business of healing; sitting with them all day long and helping them, assisting them in what they were doing with their clients . . . . He spent about four years in my village.” Alex stayed by choice, not because he needed more healing. He felt, “much safer in the village than in America.”

To bring his energy and that of the being from the spiritual realm into alignment, Alex went through a shamanic ritual designed for that purpose, although it was slightly different from the one used with the Dagara people. “He wasn’t born in the village, so something else applied. But the result was similar, even though the ritual was not literally the same,” explains Dr. Somé. The fact that aligning the energy worked to heal Alex demonstrated to Dr. Somé that the connection between other beings and mental illness is indeed universal.

Or rather, as someone who also traveled to Africa (Uganda) to try and heal, here’s another version of what happened. Mental illnesses have ups and downs. Calmed by the slow pace and less rigorous life style that was void of any past triggers, Alex relaxed. The flare of symptoms may have gone down to an unnoticeable level regarding such a lifestyle. My symptoms seemed lesser in Uganda, because less was expected of me. My confusion was far less noticeable because I was no longer expected to do math. The slower pace of life also allowed me more time to do my things, which again made my confusion seem less present. Did my symptoms go away though? No. They seemed better because the framework against which I was held was looser. This is what I believe happened to Alex.

After the ritual, Alex began to share the messages that the spirit being had for this world. Unfortunately, the people he was talking to didn’t speak English (Dr. Somé was away at that point). The whole experience led, however, to Alex’s going to college to study psychology. He returned to the United States after four years because “he discovered that all the things that he needed to do had been done, and he could then move on with his life.”

The last that Dr. Somé heard was that Alex was in graduate school in psychology at Harvard. No one had thought he would ever be able to complete undergraduate studies, much less get an advanced degree.

Oh Mah Gawds! A person with a mental illness succeeding! Quick, that must mean he is healed! Because there is no such thing as a successful or academic person with mental illness! Or… er… he is a successful person with a mental illness? There are lawyers who are schizophrenic. It doesn’t make them any less sick, it just means they are coping well. Read between the lines here people. Alex’s flare went down (as can happen with mental illnesses, there are ups and downs) and he went on to being successful. Was he ‘cured’? There is no mention of him no longer having schizophrenic symptoms. He was simply successful. Did he still hear voices and have delusions? Very possibly.

Dr. Somé sums up what Alex’s mental illness was all about: “He was reaching out. It was an emergency call. His job and his purpose was to be a healer. He said no one was paying attention to that.”

After seeing how well the shamanic approach worked for Alex, Dr. Somé concluded that spirit beings are just as much an issue in the West as in his community in Africa. “Yet the question still remains, the answer to this problem must be found here, instead of having to go all the way overseas to seek the answer. There has to be a way in which a little bit of attention beyond the pathology of this whole experience leads to the possibility of coming up with the proper ritual to help people.”

Longing for Spiritual Connection

A common thread that Dr. Somé has noticed in “mental” disorders in the West is “a very ancient ancestral energy that has been placed in stasis, that finally is coming out in the person.” His job then is to trace it back, to go back in time to discover what that spirit is. In most cases, the spirit is connected to nature, especially with mountains or big rivers, he says.

In the case of mountains, as an example to explain the phenomenon, “it’s a spirit of the mountain that is walking side by side with the person and, as a result, creating a time-space distortion that is affecting the person caught in it.” What is needed is a merger or alignment of the two energies, “so the person and the mountain spirit become one.” Again, the shaman conducts a specific ritual to bring about this alignment.

Alignment? Merging? What is this, a case of possession?Ancestral spirits are ancestral spirits, nature spirits are nature spirits. To merge with spirits is like an invasion of the soul. I completely disagree on this from a personl, UPG perspective. And yes, that is personal, but yes, I am still going to disagree on this point. I find it silly. I believe spirits are distinct, autonomous, and do not merge. Period. Energies can be exchanged, but that is not the same thing as ‘merging’ as he so speaks of.

Dr. Somé believes that he encounters this situation so often in the United States because “most of the fabric of this country is made up of the energy of the machine, and the result of that is the disconnection and the severing of the past. You can run from the past, but you can’t hide from it.” The ancestral spirit of the natural world comes visiting.

Well great, this should not be a problem for Wiccans, who are used to dealing with the natural spirits, invoking them and … whta’s that? Wiccans still have mental illnesses? Mental illnesses were there in ancient times when we were mythically (Pseudo-historically) ‘in tune’ with nature? Oh, bummer. So I guess it’s not about nature then, is it?

“It’s not so much what the spirit wants as it is what the person wants,” he says. “The spirit sees in us a call for something grand, something that will make life meaningful, and so the spirit is responding to that.”

Way to blame the fucking victim. What he basically said is ‘you wanted it, so you got it’. Wow. Thanks dude. Here’s an idea: STOP BLAMING VICTIMS. Plenty of people try and reach out to nature without calling a mental illness upon themselves. If this were true then every spiritual person would be having a mental illness, which is simply not the case!

That call, which we don’t even know we are making, reflects “a strong longing for a profound connection, a connection that transcends materialism and possession of things and moves into a tangible cosmic dimension. Most of this longing is unconscious, but for spirits, conscious or unconscious doesn’t make any difference.” They respond to either.

WOW! Just when I thought it couldn’t get better! More victim blaming iced onto the cake!

As part of the ritual to merge the mountain and human energy, those who are receiving the “mountain energy” are sent to a mountain area of their choice, where they pick up a stone that calls to them. They bring that stone back for the rest of the ritual and then keep it as a companion; some even carry it around with them. “The presence of the stone does a lot in tuning the perceptive ability of the person,” notes Dr. Somé. “They receive all kinds of information that they can make use of, so it’s like they get some tangible guidance from the other world as to how to live their life.”

When it is the “river energy,” those being called go to the river and, after speaking to the river spirit, find a water stone to bring back for the same kind of ritual as with the mountain spirit.

“People think something extraordinary must be done in an extraordinary situation like this,” he says. That’s not usually the case. Sometimes it is as simple as carrying a stone.

You know, that does sound like a lovely ritual. But what do we do if it doesn’t work?

A Sacred Ritual Approach to Mental Illness

One of the gifts a shaman can bring to the Western world is to help people rediscover ritual, which is so sadly lacking.

WOW, again. As if Muslim, Catholic, Neo-pagan, Wiccans, and Buddhists have no rituals whatsoever. That’s it y’all, shamans hold the key to the spirit world, they’re the only ones who know the truth, even though academically we can’t even agree upon what a shaman even is, and they all believe vastly different things and perform vastly different rituals. Just- bullshit. Alright? There’s plenty of rituals in the Western world, and no, we do not need shamans to guide us. We have our priests, priestesses, Imams, and monks.

“The abandonment of ritual can be devastating. From the spiritual view, ritual is inevitable and necessary if one is to live,” Dr. Somé writes in Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community. “To say that ritual is needed in the industrialized world is an understatement. We have seen in my own people that it is probably impossible to live a sane life without it.”

Sane?! Wow, this is just a *teensy * bit discriminatory. So what if some of us are leading ‘insane’ lives? And atheists, are they insane? Atheism is not a mental illness, thanks. The hollowness of a lack of religion is not the same thing as a mental illness. Plus, people have fully functional religious lives AND serious mental illnesses. The two are not exclusive!

Dr. Somé did not feel that the rituals from his traditional village could simply be transferred to the West, so over his years of shamanic work here, he has designed rituals that meet the very different needs of this culture. Although the rituals change according to the individual or the group involved, he finds that there is a need for certain rituals in general.

Argh. Again, we have rituals.

One of these involves helping people discover that their distress is coming from the fact that they are “called by beings from the other world to cooperate with them in doing healing work.” Ritual allows them to move out of the distress and accept that calling.

All the mentally ill are healers? Or just the schizophrenics? Also- what if this fails? Plenty of people have tried the ‘spiritual’ path of integrating with their mental illness’ symptoms. It fails. Spoiler alert to my whole blog: been there, done that, no success. Not even a shred thereof, and I can channel energy and be pretty damned psychic. So what then? Here’s the problem with this world-view: it does not allow for the reality that I (and many others) experiences of spirituality NOT being the answer to mental illness and that medication allows us to lead normal lives. That’s why this view is flawed, y’all. It’s not a case of the ghostbusters, it’s a case for medication.

Another ritual need relates to initiation. In indigenous cultures all over the world, young people are initiated into adulthood when they reach a certain age. The lack of such initiation in the West is part of the crisis that people are in here, says Dr. Somé. He urges communities to bring together “the creative juices of people who have had this kind of experience, in an attempt to come up with some kind of an alternative ritual that would at least begin to put a dent in this kind of crisis.”

Uhm… there is a lack of ‘coming of age’ markers in Western culture… but this has nothing to do with mental illness. Mental wellness maybe. Illness though, no. Big difference y’all.

Another ritual that repeatedly speaks to the needs of those coming to him for help entails making a bonfire, and then putting into the bonfire “items that are symbolic of issues carried inside the individuals . . . It might be the issues of anger and frustration against an ancestor who has left a legacy of murder and enslavement or anything, things that the descendant has to live with,” he explains. “If these are approached as things that are blocking the human imagination, the person’s life purpose, and even the person’s view of life as something that can improve, then it makes sense to begin thinking in terms of how to turn that blockage into a roadway that can lead to something more creative and more fulfilling.”

Ermahgerd! A basic ritual format! Did he not notice that this is performed commonly within Wicca? Did you really not notice the heaps upon heaps of Western esoteric practitioners chanting ‘let the negativity go, embrace the light’? Or did you just think Westerners had no actual spiritual practices…. Oh right, that’s the flawed basis for this article.

The example of issues with an ancestors touches on rituals designed by Dr. Somé that address a serious dysfunction in Western society and in the process “trigger enlightenment” in participants. These are ancestral rituals, and the dysfunction they are aimed at is the mass turning-of-the-back on ancestors. Some of the spirits trying to come through, as described earlier, may be “ancestors who want to merge with a descendant in an attempt to heal what they weren’t able to do while in their physical body.”

“Unless the relationship between the living and the dead is in balance, chaos ensues,” he says. “The Dagara believe that, if such an imbalance exists, it is the duty of the living to heal their ancestors. If these ancestors are not healed, their sick energy will haunt the souls and psyches of those who are responsible for helping them.” The rituals focus on healing the relationship with our ancestors, both specific issues of an individual ancestor and the larger cultural issues contained in our past. Dr. Somé has seen extraordinary healing occur at these rituals.

Okay Westerners, NEWSFLASH! Ghosts exist! Oh wait what? You already knew that? You all know someone who sees ghosts? Okay, nevermind then.

Dude! How many times do I have to say that Westerners have their own beliefs? That Catholics have prayers for the dead in purgatory, that many mediums will channel ancestors and bring in the white light for angry ones and what have you? It’s there! We even have TV shows about mediums, for crying out loud!

Taking a sacred ritual approach to mental illness rather than regarding the person as a pathological case gives the person affected–and indeed the community at large–the opportunity to begin looking at it from that vantage point too, which leads to “a whole plethora of opportunities and ritual initiative that can be very, very beneficial to everyone present,” states. Dr. Somé.

Here’s a different perspective. Denying the biological roots and victim-blaming is bad enough. Do we need to get the whole community involved? In that case, it becomes bullying and may cause an unhealthy amount of pressure upon the person. We need to realize that mental illness exists. We need to give the mentally ill support, yes, but also some fucking privacy. It’s no one else’s business how my day goes. It’s my own choice if I want to talk about my hallucinations. Does that mean anyone else in my community is impacted by my private biological affairs? NO! We would not say the same thing about recognizably biological illnesses, so why inflict this view upon those with mental illness who already suffer from peer pressure to perform as well as neuro-typical people do?

Excerpted from:  The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia Chapter 9), and The Natural Medicine Guide to Bipolar Disorder (Chapter 10). Stephanie Marohn.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to replace medical care.  You need to consult your doctor regarding any change in your medication. The author and publisher disclaim any responsibility for how you choose to employ the information in this books and the result or consequences of any of the treatments covered. 

My Disclaimer: Here’s another idea- if your article is urging people even subliminally to get away from their precious and life-saving medical care- then maybe it doesn’t need to be published. K, thanks, we suffer enough discrimination already, we didn’t need it to be shoved in our face from so-called ‘spiritual’ people.