Every day, everywhere in the world, people deal with sickness (both physical and mental), and must choose ways to address the illnesses from which they suffer. Some will go to doctors, take medicine, have surgery. Others will do nothing. Still others try a combination of prayer and medical attention. And some communities rely on religious, spiritual, and ritual healing methods that employ various techniques to heal their loved ones. Here, a renowned anthropologist takes the reader on a tour of the myriad spiritual healing traditions from around the world. Lessons from communities in rural Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, Europe, Israel, Russia, Africa, and the U.S. will provide a road map for readers as they navigate through the many traditions, rituals, and sacred mysteries of healing.
Eleven degrees south of the equator in Africa, members of a small, mud-hut village gathered around a little African shrine—just a forked pole—to heal a member of their community. Holy things were being done. Music played. The old medicine men sang, and everyone joined in. The crowd was intent on singing-out a harmful spirit from the body of a sick woman. Would the ritual work? Would the woman be healed? The stories and anecdotes found here will enlighten readers about alternative, non-medical approaches to healing a variety of illnesses through spirit and ritual. The stories, told from first-hand accounts in many cases, are fascinating and will move readers to a greater understanding of the role of religion and the spirit in the life of the body. Anyone facing an illness of any sort, or caring for a loved one, will find strength in these pages, and possibly new approaches that engage the mind, the spirit, and the body in the fight against sickness.