The healer

Malcolm’s had a rotten week.  Shingles.  It sounds such a jolly complaint, doesn’t it?  But it’s not.  It began last Saturday with a sore area at the back of his neck.  A couple of hours later, he retired to bed, his whole head a boiled orange-red and covered in flattish blisters.  The caricature Englishman who fell asleep on the beach for several hours at Costa del Something never looked this bad. He ate nothing – not a morsel – for two whole days, and was prey to dismal and depressing thoughts and feelings whenever he wasn’t asleep.

On Monday I called the doctor.  But as the news of his illness got out, the emails and phone calls started to tumble in. ’He must see a healer’, our French friends insisted.  When ill themselves, some of these friends choose the kind of alternative therapies that make homeopathy seem mainstream, while other scurry down to the surgery demanding packs of pills at the first hint of a sneeze.  Whatever their usual preference, they were united in believing that only a healer could help.  And the doctor had admitted he could do little for Malcolm.

One friend came up with a specific suggestion.  The mother of her childhood friend is a healer of shingles sufferers, and so successful that doctors often send their patients to her.  Malcolm had nothing to lose, so he got in touch.  Every evening for 3 days he’s been at her house at 6.00 for a short session.  She’s rubbed hard at his troubled skin with one hand, while making sweeping movements with her other.  Sessions last 10 minutes or less, but even after the first time, the improvement was noticeable and swift.  Now, after the third, his skin is almost normal and he feels fine,  but she’s expecting him to treat himself for a few days with poultices of olive oil, or olive oil, egg yolk and lemon juice.

Healers turn out to be very common indeed here.  They have the gift of treating a single complaint, and they receive this gift of healing from another practitioner. They often work in very different ways .  The mother of a friend worked in a way Malcolm wouldn’t have recognised. At sundown, she would briefly carry the sufferer on her back, back-to-back, whilst saying prayers in her Béarnaise dialect.  She had received her gift when she herself was suffering from shingles, and having treated her, the healer passed on his skills.

What unites all these people – men, women, young, old, garage hands, housewives, teachers, highly educated or largely untaught –  is their sincerity, and their real ability to effect change for the better in the sufferer.  A true healer will not ask for payment, but most grateful sufferers offer a gift, which could well be money. It’s not necessary for the sufferer to have faith that the treatment will work, merely a willingness to be open-minded and give it a go.

We’ve both been astonished by the huge fan-base for healing in a country where patients routinely expect doctors to prescribe medication for any complaint, however trivial.  At choir last night, discussing Malcolm’s experience with everyone there, they all nodded sagely and encouragingly.   ‘Il n’y a rien que ça’.  And it’s true.  Doctors seem to have little joy treating shingles, which seems to persist for weeks in the unfortunate sufferer’s body despite antibiotics and other potions.  Healers seem to deliver on their promise to have the thing sorted in under a week

24 thoughts on “The healer”

  1. How fascinating! And yes indeed – poor Malcolm, but in the right place to be treated! I charm warts by the way – or at least I used to, with success….. I did find I couldn’t do it so well for myself, and on the whole the patient had to be a believer……..


    1. Wow! Another hidden talent Jonet: I wish I’d known you back when I lived in Leeds. I was plagued by a couple of warts for several years. Did someone give you the gift, or did you just find you had it?


  2. That’s very interesting I hope Malcolm is on the mend, here doctors may prescribe antivirals for shingles and stay vigilant for a while yet, I’m glad he met the right people, xxx


  3. My mother had shingles and it’s no joke at all. It’s fascinating to read about the healers. I don’t think we have anything like that here. I mean, there are tons of “alternative medicine” practitioners, but there’s something so…I don’t know, trendy and opportunistic about them. They’re not folk healers. They’re closer to snake-oil salesmen.

    So glad your healers are real, though, and that Malcolm is feeling better. Shingles are rough.


      1. Oh, I was just talking about the ones that “practice” around where I live. I have no doubt that there are those healers that can tap into generations of knowledge. I also believe that there is energy that we put out and pick up from each other, and some people are just more aware of that energy, maybe can even manipulate it to a certain extent.

        I just think that none of those people are here in the NY Tri-State area 😉 Or if they are, they are very low profile and you’d only know of them through word of mouth. But the ones who pretend to be the “folk healers” or practitioners with little “boutique healing centers” on the main streets of the wealthiest towns? Shysters.


  4. I am glad that Malcolm is on the mend, although I never had shingles I know many that have had them. Sometimes these healers know the old remedies that worked before all these medicines with side effects took over our lives.I often wonder how much we could have learned about healing from the American Indian Nations.


  5. Like everyone else I’m glad Malcolm is on the mend. Andrew had shingles a few years ago and was given some very expensive tablets by the doctor. They worked but ere quite aggressive. Your healer sounds much more gentle.


  6. hello M&M – glad you found a healer, there are quite a lot in the South and some of them really successful – kee going well, lots of love and suhshine, sans on my feet…/ AnnA


  7. Sounds like witchcraft to me…. But anything that works is good.

    Glad Malcolm is on the mend. Hope the cheese didn’t make it worse..


    1. The cheese was wonderful thank you. We didn’t start it for days as Mal was so off his food and I didn’t want to scoff the lot. And he’s better. If I ever get shingles in the UK, I’ll be on the first plane back here to see that healer of Mal’s. Did you get your recycling bags?


      1. No, we couldn’t find the place. Drove around, but everywherethat looked potentially likely was shut. We’d be grateful if you could get us some. We’ll have a better look next time we’re over, at Easter.


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