I have imagined for some years writing about “What Might Have Been.” The idea has been politically focused.
What Might Have Been - If John F. Kennedy had avoided assassination, if his brother had not been gunned down. If Martin Luther King Jr. had continued his ministry. If such acknowledged great leaders had persisted into old age or even just a few more years, wouldn’t America be a different and better place today? And, wouldn’t that have spread positive effects to the rest of the world?
What if we had found different ways to live besides fighting wars in placed like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. What if America and Russia learned to just take care of their own business?
Those scenarios might have promoted some relatively happy endings in fact or just in imagination.
But, the imagined writing seems really too far afield from most of my experiences and studies to ever eventuate. Maybe somebody else will compose those stories, some day. Maybe they have and I have just missed them.
In any case in recent years, I have received the gift of discovery and re-discovery of healing works accomplished over the ages by a number of truly great men. Surely women did much of the same kind of work, but as far as I know their names have been lost to posterity.
But, stories of the wonders worked over centuries by great healing humans persist in many places to be told and retold. This is especially so now since many writings, cached in libraries around the world and only available in the past to scholars who could travel widely, are now digitized and freely accessible through websites like books.google.com, archive.org, gallica.fr and several others.
These three are my usual sources which have given me access to dozens [potentially thousands, but I am selective] of books to study about extraordinary healing personalities, methods, and cases which cover particularly the last few centuries.
I had already dipped to greater or lesser degrees into the lives and works of the ancients and of Jesus and his disciples. Coming into the second millennium, I recently have gotten expanding pictures of Paracelsus and Van Helmont, Greatrakes and Mesmer, Elliotson, Esdaile, and Newton. That is JR Newton rather than Isaac.
Maybe this is the place to briefly tell the stories of these Great Healers and to begin to give suggestions of how they did their works.
Jesus and disciples
Have you ever wondered how Jesus healed? Were they all miraculous, or are the methods he used still available? Well, the short answer is that he used many methods according to the need of those who met him and asked his aid. Sometimes, they didn’t even ask. As when the woman with the issue (hemorrhage) of many years reached out to him. She was instantly healed as “virtue” was drawn from Jesus to the woman.
A miracle! Yes, because it was and still is generally not understood. No, because the “virtue” was merely a shooting forth from the radiant aura of the Great Physician to fill in the void in the force field of the depleted woman.
This mechanism is surely the main one which Jesus used actively and directly with the sick and lame. It is also the one which he taught his disciples, telling them to share with those in need that the healing force might refill them, relieve their weakness, and make them whole - at least for the time.
Paracelsus and Van Helmont
Paracelsus was a renowned physician and healer of the 16th century. Interestingly, he is often regarded as the progenitor of chemical medicine. But he was really a largely misunderstood alchemist who was able to use whatever means be needed to raise up and heal the needy. His greatest tool was in his conscious connection with Nature and his ability to funnel its forces where and when required.
Paracelsus burned medical books in Basel and told physicians and students to look to Nature for answers rather than to the ancient palaver of Galen and others. He healed many princes as well as paupers mostly by the power of his presence and the radiations of his being.
Van Helmont lived in the next century and drew upon the teachings of Paracelsus. He too is largely remembered as a purveyor of chemicals and iatrochemist. Again, he was misunderstood even as he healed many with his hands during the plagues of his time while dozens were dying at the hands of ordinary medicine.
Greatrakes and Mesmer
Valentine Greatrakes was an Irish merchant of 17th century who observed his wife’s healing works at the same time many suffered the King’s Evil and other ghastly diseases of the time. He sensed the call to heal. His wife scoffed for a time.
His work was as a Stroker. [Seems a fitting occupation for a man named Greatrakes.] He stroked people’s bodies with his hands producing thousands of healings. Many, many were relieved and healed in Ireland. He eventually traveled to England at the request of a nobleman whose wife was ill. He was unsuccessful in her case but aided many others while the chemist Robert Boyle looked on in amazement.
Anton Mesmer was an 18th century Swabian physician who made his own separate discovery through the gift of a mind inquiring into the wonders of Nature. He taught that all beings emanate and transmit currents of magnetic fluid. That fluid was capable of healing, relieving and preserving humans and animals. Mesmer tried to share his discovery in Vienna, but was met with disbelief and denial despite the amazing cures and phenomena he produced.
Eventually, he moved to Paris where he demonstrated greater wonders. The people were enthralled and thrilled. The scholars and physicians were scared. They did everything they could to suppress, slander, and destroy his potentially universal healing work.
Elliotson and Esdaile
John Elliotson was a highly respected professor of medicine at the London College in the middle of the 19th century until he took up Mesmerism (aka animal magnetism). He also did amazing things, healed many incurables, and got attention from a wide spectrum of the society. It appears that Elliotson like Mesmer was too public about his work and brought down the wrath of his peers.
Elliotson eventually resigned his teaching positions and worked independently while producing a journal of magnetic healing [The Zoist] for a dozen years. All manner of medical, surgical, religious, and healing folks as well as grateful patients gave great praise to him. But, the powers that be did not abide his efforts. They feared to be put out of work. Elliotson’s healings and teachings were soon lost because there was no system or organization to fill his shoes and his ideals.
James Esdaile was a surgeon contemporary with Elliotson who was assigned to duty in India. At a loss to treat his patients humanely when they needed drastic surgeries, he ventured to begin work with animal magnetism. He had only heard and read about mesmerism, never seen it practiced. A native assistant had seen the process done a time or two without success.
So, Esdaile set himself and helpers to work magnetizing patients prior to surgeries. Sometimes, the process was strung out over several days. But, a large swath of patients were anesthetized with mere passes of the hands over their bodies. (This was before the advent of ether and chloroform.) Esdaile was able to remove all manner and sizes of tumors with little blood loss, no pain and no memory of the operation retained by the patient, and rapid recovery after surgery. The British government set him up for a time with his own hospital devoted to using magnetism. Sadly, the very successful experiment was lost in the shuffle and kerfuffle of the times when Esdaile gave up India to return to his native Scotland.
Newton and Olcott
James Rogers Newton was one of the most recent of the great healers of the ages. He was in middle age before he determined he had the gift. Something told him he had a work to do. Newton gradually put his hands and faith into action.
He eventually relieved or healed thousands with methods similar to Greatrakes and Mesmer. He worked often with one sick person at a time. But he also stood before hundreds on occasion and produced healings at a distance in the midst of larger crowds.
Newton’s work which occurred in America in the late 19th century was and is well-documented from reports of newspapers all across the country and during visits to Great Britain.
Henry Steele Olcott’s healing career was short-lived at little more than a year’s length during his time in India in the 1880s. It appears that his work was intended to be more of a demonstration of the potential for healing with the touch than a specifically founded mission.
Colonel Olcott was founding President of the Theosophical Society. While he traveled around South Asia promoting the Society and indigenous religions, he was struck by the medical needs of many whom he encountered. Why not offer the gift of magnetic touch? He had studied it, but never put it into practice until he was fifty years old in a foreign land. Many successes followed.
These extraordinary healers and many other ordinary ones doing extraordinary things are the starting point for our journey into a wider world of possibilities than most people dare imagine. We will pick up the thread next time as I share some fascinating bits and pieces from own healing journey which - after 40 years - I trust will be of aid to people in need in the coming days.
Post comments below and/or send them to theportableschool at gmail dot com.
Be well, Robert
Post comments below and/or send them to theportableschool at gmail dot com.
Be well, Robert