I ended up unexpectedly in an out of the way place last night. It was a community hall in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. The meeting was a ”convention on old cures”. About 150 country people gathered in the brightly lit hall, most of them elderly. I found myself trailing along as part of a raggle taggle video crew helping to film the event.
Over the course of a couple of hours people told stories of old cures they had received, or heard of, and there were a couple of healers present who had ”the cure”; that is, they had inherited some magical healing power down through the family line for gout or shingles or back pain, or bloat in a cow, for example. There were anecdotes of how a woman who comes upon an animal with a bloated belly must hit it three times with the hem of her skirt while chanting a casting out spell, or a man must do the same with the brim of his cap. An old men talked of the law of three magical things ~ if you have the cure, you must give those who come seeking help 3 things – 3 biscuits, 3 sweets, 3 stones or such like – and this will transmit the cure. There was a raucous moment when the facilitator asked if anyone knew the cure to have boys in a family where there were only girls and a withered old woman bawled out, ”Change the Rooster!”
The elderly wife of a Vicar whispered to me in the corner that she did not think there were enough of the true juicy details being told. She winked at me, and said that she knew I knew what she meant. Another old guy, with an accent so thick that his words had to be translated, gave a cure for High Blood Pressure. Take a cup of raisins, he said. Divide them equally between 3 containers. Take three lemons. On the first morning squeeze one full lemon into the first container of raisins and take it on an empty stomach. Repeat for the next two mornings. Keep the lemon skins and on the third day burn them while saying a prayer to St. Anthony.
But the drama of the evening unfolded when one old woman stood up and began to harangue the people, saying that their cures were black arts and that they came only from Satan. They were pre-Christian monstrosities, she said, and those who partook and those who cured were inspired by Satan, not God.
”Beware for your immortal souls,” she cried out, ”for you are being led astray!”
There was an awkward silence afterwards. This is a border area that has been riven for decades by terrible sectarian strife and violence, a place that has known much suffering due to divided creeds. After that woman sat back down, another girl, a girl with shining blonde hair, stood up and she said,
”There is no division here anymore. There is no black and white. There are Catholics and Protestants and Hindus and Buddhists and Shamans and Pagans and people of no faith at all in our community and we are all as good as each other”.
”This healing comes from the one power that unites us,” she said, ”and that power is Love.”
There was another moment of silence and then the room erupted in applause. The sense of relief was enormous. Neighbours smiled and gripped each others hands. The old world had collided with the new, and the new had guided the way to the future with its infinite light.
OM TAT SAT