Tag Archives: science

Magic, witchcraft, and parenting

20 Feb
This sculpture is said to represent biology, physics, and chemistry. To me, it represents magic.

This sculpture is said to represent biology, physics, and chemistry. To me, it represents magic.

When my partner and I first started our relationship, we (half) joked about arranging a banner drop on the nearest college campus. A new Science Classroom had been constructed complete with an epic butterfly sculpture constructed from dyed test tubes hanging in the entrance. We plotted to unfurl a banner behind it reading, “Science is Colonized Magik.” I had just made the decision to stop taking pre-med courses and not attend medical school. Science and I had been real close, but then I remembered that my first love was with all things witchy (even before I saw The Craft) and no amount of chemistry or cadaver dissection could ever fill my life with the joy that magic did.

Years later, we’ve been talking about science a lot. Most recently, it was because we both took a Reiki I training. Reiki is a spiritual and healing practice. To me, it is a relationship I am building with the energy around me. It is hard to describe eloquently, but I know that when I am able to offer reiki, I feel like a wizard. When I am able to receive reiki, I feel benefits from it.

A few people have made snarky comments to me about how reiki never holds up in studies. And thus enters Science©. 

See, I love science–the study of the world we live in and the theories we use to try and explain it–because I am a mega nerd. I have my stethoscope tattooed on my arm and get profound excitement from physiology. However, I don’t believe science is the only way of looking at the world. There are many other lenses, particularly with regard to medicine and ecology, that I think do a better job. There’s also no way you can convince me that white dudes in laboratories were the first people to come up with these ideas.

Then there is the omnipotent Science©. This beast exists as an institution and is a frightening amalgamation of business, politics, and religion. Science© tests itself against it’s own theories, and always seems to come out with flying colors. However, Science© also expects all other philosophies to do the same.

For example, Science© develops pain medication, and then tests this medication based on it’s belief of what pain is, why people experience it, and what “relief” means. Science© passes. Next, Science© tests a traditional medicine (acupuncture, herbs, reiki, whatever)–a practice that operates on a totally different viewpoint about pain–using the same Science© standards. Surprise surprise, the traditional medicine doesn’t win. In a few years, when people with a lot of money start caring about the practice, Science© might be forced to acknowledge it, but until then, Science© wins.

With this pattern, we turn against our traditions. I think this comes from capitalism, colonialism, and a lot of other very unfortunate things.

When I was working in the healthcare field full-time, I got really into Science©For a brief period, I forgot how much I love plants, oils, stones, acupuncture needles, healing touch, and so forth. My skills as a healer decreased dramatically until I opened myself back up to the intuitive, traditional, and witchy parts of medicine. I had to remember that science (not Science©) has it’s place and can do amazing things–heart transplants, trauma resuscitations, and resolving once-deadly diseases among them–but there is a lot of space that science has not and will not cover.

When my partner and I were discussing reiki, I realized one reason I inherently trust traditional medicines and all of their woo is a part of the personal work I have done to change the way I look at this way of life compared to others. We are raised to believe that the one and only way to live the good life is to live the way that well off white people in the US and Europe do now. People in the past and in other places have it all wrong. Much of the disrespect for traditional healers is rooted in racism and patriarchy. We would like to pretend that white people have always been going to (male) doctors that are able to fix them better than anyone else. Traditional healers (often women and people of color) are seen as manipulative, greedy, unsafe, and negligent.

Leaving that mindset is not easy, but it is  an important part of decolonizing, or in my case transforming the colonizer part of my identity, and healing. I have gained a profound respect for elders and ancestors that came with my work on these areas. I have learned to trust their wisdom and turn to them.

Many people are making this transition. Now that highly addictive (and solely palliative) prescription pain pills are readily  available, many are visiting acupuncturists, massage therapists, yoga instructors, and spiritual healers. Traditions of growing food and herbs for wellness and healing are returning. Many in the birth field are looking to the traditions of midwives to deliver our babies safely after Science© has imposed practices that have given us abysmal rates of breastfeeding, maternal/fetal mortality, and various other horrors.

Becoming a parent pushed me to become even more witchy. The Unicorn opened up a lot of parts of me that adulthood works to close–imagination, playfulness, hope, optimism. All of those things are complimentary to magic. Also, I decided early on to try and come at this parenting game with a sense of intuition and capability. It helps me work through the feelings of fear and powerlessness that come up. It also gives me an opportunity to plan celebrations and traditions for our family that are rooted in the things I really love rather than the conventional holidays I am told to celebrate.

Maybe my dreams of a pro-magic banner drop won’t come true, but I have a feeling “Science is Colonized Magik” shirts for the family would also be pretty rad.

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