Witchcraft and Modern Medicine: There’s Not Much Taboo In Hoodoo

medicine man

For some of you who have followed me for the past few years on The Pagan Circle, you know I have a very sick child at home. He has a chronic illness, Ulceritave Colitis, which is a form of IBS or Irratable Bowl Syndrome, except his condition seems to be unique in its severity. He has bouts of severe diarrhea, vomiting and bleeds out, dehydrates and weakens quickly, rapidly loses weight and his immune system is completely shot, so he cannot be around those who have something as mild as the common cold. What this translates to is that we spend a LOT of time in the hospital, getting monthly treatments for his condition, blood transfusions, and working to bring all of his levels up including his iron, protein, calcium, etc.  Ulcerative Colitis also historically causes Colon Cancer.

The reason I’ve chosen this blog topic is simple: Many of us live naturally, take herbal supplements and use home remedies when we are sick. Some don’t vaccinate their children (and in some states in the US, no one can tell you you have to). But where does the line get drawn in using those things, turning to Magick and seeking professional medical help? I think it’s important to discuss this, particularly because so many hospitals do NOT acknowledge our religion  (They don’t even acknowledge Wicca, which is a Federally recognized religion) when they ask you if you have a religious preference while they’re doing your intake, and self treatment, particularly where it involves children, could potentially get you in quite a bit of trouble, especially because we live in a day in age where a parents’ right to parent is being slowly stripped away by our governments, by school officials and by medical practitioners. Our beliefs and practices can, and often do get translated by these three groups into medical neglect.

When he first started having issues, many in the Pagan community advised me to have him take this or that, or perform this or that spell or ritual on him. I appreciated the advice, and the kind thoughts and words and prayers have not gone without a tremendous amount of gratitude. But the fact at the time was that I really didn’t know what was the matter with him, and I was scared out of my mind. At the time, tests were being done that could only tell me what he didn’t have, but none of them were successful in telling me what he did have. While I know herbs and their medicinal and magical uses like the back of my hand, I am also a firm believer that unless you know exactly what you are dealing with medically, you run the risk of causing more harm than you do in attempting to do good.

That being said, little progress has been made in my son’s condition and treatment, as far as traditional medicinal practices go, and I am currently seeking a second opinion, as well as outside holistic sources. But at his last hospital stay, I asked his physician about Periwinkle. She looked at me like I had six heads. She knew what the flower was, but admitted to knowing little about its medicinal benefits, (except that nothing is medically proven when it comes to herbs and they may interact negatively with the current medications a patient is taking and, blah, blah, blah… you know, the standard cop-out answer you get from someone who has spent years analyzing cells, dissecting cadavers and memorizing synthetic medications… {Nothing a call to the pharmacist to cross reference like you would with any other medications can’t handle if you ask me}) one of which is the treatment of inflammation in the intestines caused by conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and UC.

Despite the doctor’s hesitation to think outside of the box with herbal remedies (which honestly came as no surprise to me, so few of them are open to it, despite the fact that ancient magical practices and herbal apothecary and alchemy are what paved the way to modern medicinal practices and treatments) I am also from the school of thought that there is nothing this planet cannot provide us, including the flowers, plants and herbs to heal ourselves of various ailments. I believe, whole-heartedly that the use of magical and holistic practices and herbalism in conjunction with modern medicine could very likely heal and even cure everyone of everything one day.

Many medical practitioners today have forgotten that  modern medical practices used to be labeled as witchcraft. The use of “remedies” was looked down upon and discouraged, and even punished. If you were suffering some ailment it was a penance for something you did wrong. The use of minerals and herbs to heal the body was devilry. Even midwives were considered evil because the suffering of a woman in labor was placed upon all women for the punishment of Eve for her part in the “Original Sin.”

Traditional remedies, utilizing medicinal plant and animal products, have been used as treatments for human diseases and and medical conditions for millennia.  In recent years, (as of about 4 years ago to be precise) 60-80% of the word’s population,  mainly from developing countries, depend primarily on traditional medicines , folk remedies and home cures, as well as treatment from witches and other “Supernatural practices”, for their health care needs. In Western societies, complimentary and alternative medicine is gaining and increasing in its acceptance, although alternative medicine has yet to be included in the majority of any given medical school’s curriculum.

While scientific studies have have validated some some traditional remedies  for instance, by confirming the biological activity in plant extracts (the doctor can take that and smoke her pipe with it) the use of complementary and traditional medicines remains contentious among medical practitioners, and despite the scientific proof, there are still a good amount of doubting hold-outs.  **Rolls eyes**

The origins of medicine are closely linked to the supernatural. The primitive view of medicine had more to do with magick than with what is considered medicine today. Witchcraft, or the practice of magick, could be used to inflict illness or to take it away. Hippocrates and later physicians tried to separate medicine from magickal thinking, but the two remained connected until at least the 17th century. I applaud all those practitioners, holistic, witch, alternative medicine and the like, for lobbying hard to bring the two back together.

BUT, whenever using herbal remedies, it is always, always wise to read up on them as much as you possibly can before self prescribing. Honey for example, has SO many benefits, but it should never be given to children under the age of 5 due to the small amounts of salmonella in it. It’s little things like that, that could trip you up and land you in more trouble than you ever intended without doing the research or seeking the advice of a physician. I think what it all boils down to are two things: Common sense and there not  existing such a thing as being too careful, because you can never be too careful, especially when caring for an ill child or elderly loved one.

Secondly, I believe the mind is a powerful thing. It allows us to imagine, create our realities by focusing and shifting our thoughts and turning those thoughts into energy to be sent out and manifested, hense the term “Mind over matter”. The trick is to truly believe it will work, especially when healing yourself or another. My son recently helped me erect an altar to Hekate where at least once a week he sits at it, reflects, meditates and asks her for her guidance and assistance in healing him (and so you all know, he is just 10 years old). He also asks me to do a smudging over him a few times a week before he goes to bed at night. It calms him, and within minutes he is sound asleep. My point is that even if at ten he doesn’t whole-heartedly believe it will heal him, and he hasn’t said whether or not he does, it brings him peace. And sometimes, that peace is all the body needs in order to be able to rest, allow the medications to do its work, and begin to heal itself.

So when using herbal remedies to treat something, keep in mind that there could be interactions and unwanted side effects on your regular medications in conjunction with the use of the herbs. Pregnant women and children should use the most caution. There are in fact, herbal birth controls and that would not be a good thing for a pregnant woman to be taking! When it’s concerning kids, children’s weight and general health should also be considered before using herbal remedies or supplements. As always with children a pediatrician should be consulted first to be sure the right actions are taken for their health, and if herbal remedies and magickal practices can be used in conjunction with their prescribed treatment(s) even better!

Sources for mathematical analysis, medical analysis and research on historical and medical information and reference may be credited to:

http://www.plosone.org/, http://dancingmooncoven.blogspot.com/, http://www.faqs.org/

Photo Credits:

http://artismyhustle.tumblr.com/

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About krystalmadison

Known as "The Witch of Sleepy Hollow", as a child, Krystal knew that there was more to this physical existence where black and white exist, that there was a gray area many still could not see. But she could. Even as a young child, Krystal was able to see and communicate with those who have crossed over, but at nine years old, a near-death experience thrust her head-first into a world that would make her realize that we really aren't alone. Visions became clearer and made more sense, the spirits that roam the earth would begin to seek her out to relay a message to a loved one she was simply walking past in a super market. She understood even then, that there was more to this life than just existing and believes that we don’t have to live with all the limitations we place on ourselves, nor fear our own mortality. A 10th generation natural born witch with close ties to Salem and New Orleans, Krystal comes from a long line of magickal roots, with grandparents who were Native American and Gypsy, and a mother who was a Santeria Priestess. In May 2012, she founded The Pagan Circle, an online social media community that has grown to 23,000 members world-wide. In May, 2013 the Pagan Circle website was launched. On November 15, 2012, she founded Pagan Parents Online, another social media resource for Pagan Parents. In May 2013, she launched Enchanted Hollows, an online store dedicated to offering hand-made, old-world alchemical and magickal products and in 2014, Deja-Vuduu. Her published works include articles and features in Inner Realm and Wisdom Magazines, and she has made appearances on Darkness Radio, Z-Talk Radio, HEX Education,30-Odd Minutes and other media outlets. Regularly volunteering her time to the Pagan Community, Krystal is also an Ordained Minister and High Priestess of the Raven's Wing Coven in upstate New York, and founder of The Council of the Serment Sacre' (Sacred Oath) the Corvin Method of Witchcraft, and Festival of Witches in Sleepy Hollow, New York as well as playing host to the weekly radio show, "Good Morning Goddess", and Nocturnas Paranormal Radio on Blog Talk Radio. You can visit her on her websites at: http://www.krystalmadison.com http://www.festivalofwitches.com http://www.hudsonvalleybeltane.com
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4 Responses to Witchcraft and Modern Medicine: There’s Not Much Taboo In Hoodoo

  1. Jenni says:

    Okay this may sound totally daft and you have probably already done a great deal of what I would suggest. My husband has the same condition and as a child he was often in hospital. There are pictures where he would look like a third world child with a swollen belly and bony frame. Everything irritated it and if we are not careful even today with what I make and the ingredients I purchase it can still cause him terrible pain and discomfort.

    Turns out a lot of children with this condition often have another 2 conditions attached that aren’t as easy to diagnose as the colitis masks a great deal. He had celiacs and lactose intolerance and the reactions to those products was making him sick and dramatically increasing the toxic effects of the colitis.

    A gluten and lactose free diet along with natural supplement to help re-build his immune system and keep it at a reasonable level made a huge difference but it was his mother who was the one who discovered this and it was her dietary changes that alerted the doctors to the other two problems.

    They told her not to persist with the herbal remedies for his immune system but she ignored them and he got not cured but better. I also continued with the herbal supplements but made my own from my the garden I use for ritual and herbal plants. The reason is two fold – I use ritual when preparing them and I can guarantee what is in them as there is often gluten as a binder in some supplements and even prescription medication so you have to check.

    If you have already covered this I apologise but if not it is definitely something to be addressed as my husband went two years with the ulcerated colitis before these other conditions were dealt with and it had a huge impact on his health and well-being in more than a physical sense. If you are interested I can send you the information re the supplement for the immune system and also the ritual if that is something of interest. May brightest blessings bring balm to you both.

    • Jenni, thank you. Doesn’t sound daft at all. He actually is lactose intolerant as well, so you were spot on with that. I’m currently working with another herbalist. Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts ❤

  2. Great blog post 🙂

    I definitely believe in mind over matter, and that the emotional state of a person contributes to their ability to heal.

    I hope your son’s condition gets better soon ❤

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