Incantations are magical. There have always been magic words spoken by healers that invoke the power of the mystical to prompt and promote the belief that healing is within our grasp.
Today those words mostly appear scientific. When we see an actor playing a doctor on television, we expect them to pump out barely comprehensible jargon laced with drama to invoke the power of healing. Our belief in God is spoken of as our belief in science (1999).
The creation myths healers spin today take old concepts and wrap them in medical jibberty dash. Rather than looking at the tea leaves in left in the cup, for example, we untwist DNA to reveal the deeply coded messages of our creator. Rattling off phrases that start with science and seamlessly segue into belief makes the belief much more digestible to people who want to believe they are logical while they still crave the magic that healed their ancestors.
I believe in the power of shamans to motivate change by using the power of perception. I know that unless we commit to healing on an emotional level, we cannot really use the full power of transcendence in our own lives.
Merely poking holes in the practice of a healer does not prove that they can not and do not provide powerful healing with their tools. Their tools may have some intrinsic power, even if it is not magical, but the use of those tools may well invoke extrinsic power, the power of our mind to move beyond sickness and claim new ways of being.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Belief has always been at the root of healing.
Healers project their own power and authority because that projection is at the centre of taking others to scary places beyond their current state. The more we believe their capacity to invoke healing the more we can give ourselves over to their prescriptions, letting go of the old and making room for the new. When we see them as powerful we trust them to take us beyond our own fears.
To be effective as a healer, you have to believe in what you are selling, be it snake oil or science. Every healing technique is a blend of the two, a heady mix of proven effectiveness and hopeful belief. It is the balance in that mix which divides fakirs from doctors.
For the supplicant, trying to separate the mumbo jumbo from the practical magic is almost a pointless exercise. That may be the goal of double blind studies, looking for real effects beyond placebo, but it doesn’t play well in actual healing.
In a new show on Fox, “The Grinder,” an actor who played an unbeatable lawyer on TV (Rob Lowe) comes home to work with his real lawyer brother (Fred Savage). Together they try and find the balance between emotional theatrics and solid legal principle in creating success, with much tension and hilarity.
The joy of the show, of course, is how these approaches compliment and support each other. No either/or binary can be as effective as a blend between thought and emotion, between fact and belief.
Hard, repeatable science is good stuff. The process of science lets us separate the good from the bad in approaches.
Magic, however, even the magic of incantation, is good stuff too. Getting high levels of compliance with best practices always takes commitment and that commitment requires belief.
The art is always at least as important as the science, for the huge mass that is still intangible and unquantified can only be affected by art.
For someone who has always been a doubter, looking for the intention and techniques behind the surface — the smoke and mirrors — has always been part of my process. I needed to understand what was going on.
Watching closely let me understand the tricks, adding many of them to my own tool bag. Owning the claptrap means that I own my own response to it. Rather than being swept in by the pitch, swayed by the assertion of power and authority, I feel the sway while remaining an observer, always with an eye for what is just behind the curtain.
The simple delight of being swept away by belief, of surrendering my own agency for someone who announces belief with force, wrapped in beautiful claptrap isn’t something I have ever been able to partake. This creates a barrier between me and so many new age practitioners, who, while believing deeply in their practice, need others to also believe for maximum effectiveness.
This has challenged many healers who find me fascinating as I reflect them in a very different way from run of the mill clients, but also find me very difficult to pull in. I pose very interesting questions that show I am listening closely, but I don’t accept pat answers.
A comedy rule is “If they buy the premise, they will buy the bit.” IF the audience doesn’t enter into the reality offered, accepting the idea, there is no way they will ever get to the payoff.
We use our incantations — our claptrap — to sell the premise, to get others on side, to have them embrace the mindset. It’s a powerful tool of persuasion, of leadership, of healing.
And it usually works even if the words don’t have real, deep verifiable meaning. A bit of misdirection often helps people fake it until they make it, giving them the strength to make dreams become possible.
We all need a bit of magic, a bit of belief in our life, even if it is belief in our own hard boiled skepticism, calling out others on their bullshit.
Examine magic too closely, though, and it tends to disappear, taking with it the emotional energy to commit to transformation. Don’t examine it enough and you are left with sensation without consideration, thoughtless commitment.