Miracles, Magic and Medicine
Miracles are the joyful, unexpected, unexplainable outcomes for a dire situation or dilemma. They could be considered a form of magic to a degree because they cannot be explained by science or a natural occurrence. Magic can be defined as creating a result using unexplained methods, or by harnessing and manipulating the energy of the universe or the magnitude of natural ingredients here on Earth for the best outcome. Medicine is a branch of science that is meant to orchestrate diagnosis, treating, healing and prevention of disease and illness. Prior to the modern era, medicine was a mysterious entity, one not easily explained except by the few who administered it.
Miracles, magic and medicine are more closely related than many might think. They may even be connecting past, present and future treatment through mystery and wonder, while healing the body, mind and spirit at the same time.
Someone is given only three months to live because of a terminal illness. One month after the diagnosis, the individual is healed, healthy and free of any signs of the death-sentencing disease. How does that happen? There are many religious and spiritual people who call it divine intervention or a miracle. Others call it a phenomenon originating from a healer—or witch, perhaps—with positive energy, the metaphysical and magic. Still others would ask whether the patient changed eating habits or ingested something out of the ordinary, maybe an original smoothie made from random ingredients that have never before been combined. Does the “how” really matter as long as the outcome is positive and welcomed?
Imagine a modern day chemist surrounded by beakers and Bunsen burners aflame trying to combine precise chemicals and compounds for a new medication. There are plumes of smoke rising from one of the experiments. Maybe the chemist is reciting Shakespeare and chanting “bubble, bubble, toil and trouble”. In contrast, imagine that same chemist in 16th century Europe. Labeled a witch, the chemist would be put to death in a most gruesome manner. Five centuries later, this scene seems barbaric, but was a very common occurrence for centuries.
Prior to the licensure of doctors, healers were mostly women who used herbal remedies they learned through oral histories and teachings from elders, neighbors or from mother to daughter. Barbara Ehrenreich, a well-known American researcher, political activist and author, believes that these practitioners were doctors without degrees. They were known as Wise Women or White Witches. They were pharmacists, counselors and midwives and usually revered; at least one could be found where there was a settlement of people, or at least not far away.
Their knowledge led them to mix any number of remedies that could be eaten, sipped, applied or inhaled. Some of these plant medicines had to be heated or boiled in a cauldron, and sometimes they produced steam or smoke. Witches were plant-medicine doctors and pharmacists. Using the miracle of nature’s precise and unique vegetative ingredients for medicine became viewed as taboo, illegal and evil. This shift in thinking was happening during the same time that licensure to practice medicine became the expected. It must also be taken into account the impact that the rise of widespread religion practice had on these witch doctors.
With the influence of religious ideologies growing and the emergence of modern medicine spreading at the same time, the definition of healer changed. Women were left in the dust for the most part because they were denied the education needed to be licensed and women had little influence in the church. Any healer that continued to practice medicine without a degree or license was shunned by the institution, the ruling class and royalty.
Licensed doctors became the norm and the very first medical practitioners, Shamans, witches and healers, were labeled as evil and conjuring magic because it did not conform to the new normal. Throughout the religious community, miracles, the unexplainable occurrences, were welcomed and sought after. Many of the people initiating or performing miracles were revered, canonized and even deified. They were certainly not labeled witches because of their mysterious actions, yet herbalists and healers were.
It’s surprising that in an age where people can write a text to someone around the world on their phone, only to be received and read a fraction of a second later, that the notion of magic, miracles and plant medicine are still seen as far-fetched and outside of the norm. Have humans been programmed over the centuries to have this point of view? Miracles are magic because they cannot be explained. Plant-based medicines are miracles because they’ve healed the body, mind and spirit for centuries.
Plant medicine is making a resurgence throughout the U.S. It’s where the past is meeting the present. There are skeptics and naysayers that will continue to call it magic. There is fear in people that keeps them on the fence about trying natural plant medicine, rather than continuing down the pharmaceutical highway. In this present time, with technology and centuries of experience, plants are getting the validation they’ve needed through research and testing. Is this magic? Is it a miracle? Perhaps it is a little bit of each—a miracle, a wave of magic and a spoonful of medicine.
Miracles, magic and natural medicines are difficult to believe or explain, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist in reality. It’s how they are each defined by the individual. It’s a miracle that each plant on the planet has the precise and unique chemical composition that when combined, treat and heal illness and disease. It’s magical that the makeup of plants is identifiable. There are trillions of different plant combinations that can be produced, but only certain combinations are helpful and medicinal.
Practitioners of magic are perhaps tapping into the energy of plants and nature to help them discover the healing power of plants. They’re all medicine because they treat and heal the body, mind and spirit. Whatever the answer, there are still mysteries yet to discover on this planet and in the universe, and plants will play a vital role in the evolution of medicine.
J. Garnet, M.A., is an educator and freelance writer. Garnet’s studies have led him to the world of plant medicine and its many benefits. His work is centered on educating the public on alternative medicine. Connect at 520-437-8855 or Jeffrey@NaturalTucson.com.