(Spiritual) Healing by Faith

H.P. Blavatsky

Isis Unveiled, Volume 1, p. 216 - 218 (title by online editor)

Healing, to deserve the name, requires either faith in the patient, or robust health united with a strong will, in the operator.  With expectancy supplemented by faith, one can cure himself of almost any morbific condition.  The tomb of a saint; a holy relic; a talisman; a bit of paper or a garment that has been handled by the supposed healer; a nostrum; a penance, or a ceremonial; the laying on of hands, or a few words impressively pronounced — either will do.  It is a question of temperament, imagination, self-cure.  In thousands of instances, the doctor, the priest, or the relic has had credit for healings that were solely and simply due to the patient’s unconscious will.  The woman with the bloody issue who pressed through the throng to touch the robe of Jesus, was told that her “faith” had made her whole.

The influence of mind over the body is so powerful that it has effected miracles at all ages.

“How many unhoped-for, sudden, and prodigious cures have been effected by imagination,” says Salverte  “Our medical books are filled with facts of this nature which would easily pass for miracles.” §

But, if the patient has no faith, what then? If he is physically negative and receptive, and the healer strong, healthy, positive, determined, the disease may be extirpated by the imperative will of the operator, which, consciously or unconsciously, draws to and reinforces itself with the universal spirit of nature, and restores the disturbed equilibrium of the patient’s aura.  He may employ as an auxiliary, a crucifix — as Gassner did; or impose the hands and “will,” like the French Zouave Jacob, like our celebrated American, Newton, the healer of many thousands of sufferers, and like many others; or like Jesus, and some apostles, he may cure by the word of command.  The process in each case is the same. 

In all these instances, the cure is radical and real, and without secondary ill-effects.  But, when one who is himself physically diseased, attempts healing, he not only fails of that, but often imparts his illness to his patient, and robs him of what strength he may have.  The decrepit King David reinforced his failing vigor with the healthy magnetism of the young Abishag; (I Kings, I. 1-4, 15) and the medical works tell us of an aged lady of Bath, England, who broke down the constitutions of two maids in succession, in the same way.  The old sages, and Paracelsus also, removed disease by applying a healthy organism to the afflicted part, and in the works of the above-said fire-philosopher, their theory is boldly and categorically set forth.  If a diseased person — medium or not — attempts to heal, his force may be sufficiently robust to displace the disease, to disturb it in the present place, and cause it to shift to another, where shortly it will appear; the patient, meanwhile, thinking himself cured.

But, what if the healer be morally diseased?  The consequences may be infinitely more mischievous; for it is easier to cure a bodily disease than cleanse a constitution infected with moral turpitude.  The mystery of Morzine, Cevennes, and that of the Jansenists, is still as great a mystery for physiologists as for psychologists.  If the gift of prophecy, as well as hysteria and convulsions, can be imparted by “infection,” why not every vice?  The healer, in such a case, conveys to his patient — who is now his victim — the moral poison that infects his own mind and heart.  His magnetic touch is defilement; his glance, profanation.  Against this insidious taint, there is no protection for the passively-receptive subject.  The healer holds him under his power, spell-bound and powerless, as the serpent holds a poor, weak bird.  The evil that one such “healing medium” can effect is incalculably great; and such healers there are by the hundred.

But, as we have said before, there are real and God-like healers, who, notwithstanding all the malice and skepticism of their bigoted opponents, have become famous in the world’s history.  Such are the Curé d’Ars, of Lyons, Jacob, and Newton.  Such, also, were Gassner, the clergyman of Klorstele, and the well-known Valentine Greatrakes, the ignorant and poor Irishman, who was endorsed by the celebrated Robert Boyle, President of the Royal Society of London, in 1670.  In 1870, he would have been sent to Bedlam, in company with other healers, if another president of the same society had had the disposal of the case, or Professor Lankester would have “summoned” him under the Vagrant Act for practicing upon Her Majesty’s subjects “by palmistry or otherwise.”

But, to close a list of witnesses which might be extended indefinitely, it will suffice to say that, from first to last, from Pythagoras down to Eliphas Levi, from highest to humblest, every one teaches that the magical power is never possessed by those addicted to vicious indulgences.  Only the pure in heart “see God,” or exercise divine gifts — only such can heal the ills of the body, and allow themselves, with relative security, to be guided by the “invisible powers.” Such only can give peace to the disturbed spirits of their brothers and sisters, for the healing waters come from no poisonous source; grapes do not grow on thorns, and thistles bear no figs.  But, for all this, “magic has nothing supernal in it”; it is a science, and even the power of “casting out devils” was a branch of it, of which the Initiates made a special study.  “That skill which expels demons out of human bodies, is a science useful and sanative to men,” says Josephus. (Josephus: “Antiquities,” viii., 2.)

The foregoing sketches are sufficient to show why we hold fast to the wisdom of the ages, in preference to any new theories that may have been hatched from the occurrences of our later days, respecting the laws of intermundane intercourse and the occult powers of man.  While phenomena of a physical nature may have their value as a means of arousing the interest of materialists, and confirming, if not wholly, at least inferentially, our belief in the survival of our souls and spirits, it is questionable whether, under their present aspect, the modern phenomena are not doing more harm than good.  Many minds, hungering after proofs of immortality, are fast falling into fanaticism; and, as Stow remarks, “fanatics are governed rather by imagination than judgment.”


§ “Philosophie des Sciences Occultes.”