How To Be a Practicing Pagan with a Chronic Illness

Guest Author: Nobby
First Published at the Witches’ Voice on August 1st. 2010
Reposted with the author’s permission.

I have a chronic illness and all the healing magic, alternative medicines, herbs or conventional medicine can’t make a lick of difference. My illness, while chronic and incurable, is also non-life threatening which is good. but does mean I’m in constant pain and always suffering from differing levels of fatigue.

This can make it difficult to be active in pagan life. Camps and gatherings are often too much to cope with. Going for a hike is right out. A simple walk in a park can be draining even with the use of a walking stick. At times meditation is difficult. Trying to focus can be an immense struggle when you’re in constant pain and exhausted no matter how much sleep you get. It can even be difficult to do things like a tarot reading because you can’t hold the meanings together in your head.

Physical restrictions due to a chronic condition can make it difficult to feel as if you’re connected with the Goddess (or Deity or general energy or nature etc) . Conducting rituals indoors because cold weather makes your pain worse, you can feel cut off from the Earth and it’s energies. You can feel cut off from other Pagans and the community at large because it’s difficult to get out and get to meetings. And because the level of pain you’re in is unpredictable, it often means you have to cancel plans at the last minute.

This can be disheartening. You can end up feeling like you’re not a proper Pagan.

Well you are.

Illness isn’t something that should steal your faith from you. There are things you can. As in every other part of your living with a chronic illness, it can mean cutting back on what you do to save your energy.

Magic and ritual take energy… energy you need to eat, do the essentials and keep going. This means it can be hard to find the energy to do ritual. My suggestion is to do what you feel capable of.

Here are some suggestions of what might work:

1. A daily short meditation (guided meditation CDs might be helpful here) . Even if it’s just sitting quietly and counting your breaths up to 10 and then back to 1. This might not be possible for everyone but it’s a good place to start.

2. Tarot: If you’re struggling to hold the different meanings in your head and connect them, try writing it down. If writing it down doesn’t help, try cutting back the number of cards you’re using. Instead of doing a Celtic Cross spread, try doing a three-card spread. If the three card spread doesn’t work, trying just pulling one card by itself.

3. Buy fresh food when you can. Seasonal food, too. This might help feel a connection with nature and the seasons. It’s a bit Pagan 101 but still, eating a salad and thinking about how it came from the Earth is a good simple way of reconnecting to nature.

4. Talk to other pagans online. Okay, you can’t go out to moots but that doesn’t have to stop you from connecting with others. Online resources are good and many and varied out there.

5. Read mythology books. If you can’t get out and be physically active in paganism, research doesn’t hurt …Look at it as ‘reading stories’ rather than ‘serious research’. Less stress on you but the stories will still sink in.

6. If you have herbs in the house for cooking then you have herbs in the house for magic. You can use cheesecloth (or old pantyhose or tights) and string or twine to make herbal packages either for your drawers, to hang over windows and doorways, or even to put in the bath. Rosemary, sage, and cinnamon, and nutmeg can be used and herbal books or websites can tell you the best usage of herbs. This is easy and, in my case, makes me feel active by doing magic for my home. (And can be done in a chair and as quickly or as slowly as you need to with lots of breaks)

7. When doing a ritual, keep it short, keep it basic and (if needed) write it down. My rituals usually go along the lines of: Call elements. Welcome spirits. Prayer to the Goddess. Song. Thank the Spirits and the Goddess. Banish Elements. Nap.

8. Listen to Pagan music. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been uplifted and helped by listening to the words of others. I especially recommend Kellianna and S.J. Tucker but there are many, many excellent Pagan songsters out there. It’s worth the investment.

These are just some of the recommendations that some might find useful but I recognize that, for some people, even this list is too difficult. To those, I would say try a breathing meditation on and off as you are able. It is the simplest way to try to connect.

Lastly, when you’re feeling disconnected it can be hard to trust the messages from the Goddess or the God. I think what’s needed there is faith… Faith in yourself and in your Deities and in your own abilities and judgment. If you had an experience that felt real to you when you were having it, trust that feeling! Try to remain in a positive frame of mind. Listen to the inner voice that tells you that you can get through this day… and then another day after that.

Chronic illness shouldn’t rob you of what you need to carry you through. And you are not less of a Pagan or less of a person simply because there are certain things you cannot do.

Visit Nobby’s profile at www.witchvox.com/vn/vn_detail/dt_pa.html?a=uspa&id=240215www.witchvox.com/vn/vn_detail/dt_pa.html?a=uspa&id=240215

Her blog Angry Girl Ranting is at angrygirlranting.blogspot.com/

About Tara "Masery" Miller

Tara "Masery" Miller is a Neo-Pagan panentheist Gaian mage living in the Ozarks with her husband and pets. She's also a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. She is the editor of Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul which you can find at Immanion press. www.immanion-press.com/info/books.asp She has a minor is religion from Southeast Missouri State Missouri State University with an emphasis in mysticism. Masery has lead various groups over the years and organized Pagan Pride Day events. Her magic and author page is at www.taramaserymiller.com


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