Pagans employ many accepted healing modalities. They are herbalists, Reiki practitioners, massage therapists, chiropractors, and medical intuitives.
Recently, during a conversation touching on the legitimacy of Pagans as healers, I found that the notion of Pagan healing was humorously viewed. “Oh! You mean you wave your magic wand and ‘poof’?‚” someone commented. Even worse, some people still believe that Pagans derive their healing abilities from the Christian Devil, commonly known as Satan. Since healing is integral to many Pagan belief systems and magical practices, and since many Pagan healers are remarkable people who deserve appropriate recognition, the record needs to be set straight.
The word “Pagan” derives from the Latin “paganus,” meaning “country dweller.” However, the modern Pagan community includes a wide variety of people, with spiritual traditions that are quite diverse. Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Asatru, and modern Celts account for a large percentage of today’s Pagans. One description of modern Paganism is “a collection of diverse contemporary religions rooted in or inspired by indigenous traditions worldwide. Pagan religions are characterized by Earth-centered spirituality, belief in the interconnection of all life, personal autonomy, polytheism, and immanent divinity. Pagans value diversity, good works, living lightly on the Earth, individual freedom, personal responsibility, community service, gender equity, and spiritual development.” 
Some modern Pagan traditions do not recognize any Deities, while others incorporate spiritual components from Christianity, Native American cultures, Hinduism, Taoism, etc. Many modern Pagans worship Deities from pre-Christian pantheons. Goddess worship is also prevalent in many modern Pagan traditions; for example, Wiccans recognize the Goddess in Her triple aspect of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. None of this translates into the worship of Satan. Since most Pagans are not Christian, they do not worship Christian deities and let’s face it, Satan is the evil Christian deity. 
Many modern Pagan traditions encompass magical practice — not that of stage magicians, but rather the manipulation of energy, from whatever source that energy is derived. The terms “magic” and “energy manipulation” are interchangeable: each refers to the application of energy for a specified purpose. Most Pagan magic contemplates such goals as prosperity, abundance, fertility, protection, health, and well being. Pagans perform magic to manifest the things for which most people pray. And we pray for them, as well.
To find Pagan healers, one need not look very far. For example, the owner of The Sandwich Village Herb Shop, Michelle Tompkins-Regan, is a Gardnerian Wiccan with an extensive background in herbs and their healing components. She has translated her background and training into a prominent center for learning and healing on Cape Cod.
Her shop is a haven for followers of diverse spiritual traditions, and offers such workshops as aromatherapy, herbal certification, Shamanism, angelic workings, Wicca, mediumship, and spellwork.
Michelle views healing as vital to her spiritual tradition: “I feel that all good, sound, spiritual traditions have a healing aspect to them. We, as Pagans, are not any different. Whether it’s through prayer, sending energy, hands on healing, creating herbal elixirs, or writing down negative habits and burning them to release, etc. . . . it’s all beneficial . . . I try to live in a thankful and mindful way. It seems that a lot of people forget this aspect of everyday life.”
Another Pagan who shares a personal tradition with the community is Gene Chambers, owner of Incantations in Plymouth. Gene’s store features stones, oils, herbs, books, and various magical instruments and tools. Most of these items have a strong healing aspect. Like Michelle, Gene offers a wide array of classes, many with an emphasis on healing, such as Reiki and Shamballa. “My goal is to promote mental, physical, and spiritual wellness to the individual, whatever path that individual is walking,” says Gene, who subscribes to the shamanic tradition.
Andrea Lawson, the owner of Green Goddess Herbals in Falmouth, describes herself as a modern Pagan Woman and Witch. She worships within a polytheistic pantheon which includes feminine Deities, observes a calendar of holy days, lives by a code of self-responsibility, and heals herself and others through magic. Andrea has translated her personal path into a thriving business. Her shop contains herbs, spices, teas, and metaphysical items for use in the medicinal, magical, and culinary arts. Ritual is performed at the store, and the circles are open to those who request healing. Says Andrea: “Healing locally and globally is part of my vision for the store.” Smiling, she adds, “Being ‘out,’ being able to hold up our heads and to re-claim ourselves, is healing.”
Andrea is currently organizing a Pagan-friendly recovery program. For me, this is good news. I once attended a more traditional 12-step program which included an acknowledgment of “God.” My acknowledgment of my “Goddess” was not well received. I was bluntly told that I must conform.
Andrea’s comment about being “out” as a Pagan and a healer reflects the worry some Pagans in the healing community still feel that negative stigma will attach to them, thereby hindering their healing professions. A Wiccan friend and Reiki practitioner I approached for this article declined to comment, citing a negative backlash which her young business simply could not absorb. Several others whom I approached also declined discussion in this article. Apparently, fear runs deep in the Pagan community, despite the fact that such Pagan traditions as Wicca/Witchcraft, Druidry, and the Asatru have been legally recognized as religions meritorious of First Amendment protection.
Personally, I have participated in many Pagan healings over the years. Usually, this magical work is performed during Pagan ritual. In St. Louis, I was part of a Wiccan coven. One member was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. At her request, the coven performed healing rituals for her in addition to her conventional medical treatment. Over a year’s time, serial MRI’s indicated that the brain tumor was shrinking until suddenly, it was just gone. This amazed her physicians, who had anticipated shrinking the tumor, but had not counted upon its complete disappearance.
I have also been fortunate to receive Pagan healing magic personally. In 1998 I was hospitalized for lower extremity cellulitis. In the hospital, my coven performed ritualistic healing magic for me and I received Reiki from several Pagan practitioners. (According to Dr. H.O. Mathewson, Reiki therapy is now being recommended by the Pain Management Center of Cape Cod Hospital to selected patients!) My mother, a Pagan woman and one of the strongest healers I have ever known, oversaw my entire recovery process, which included routine medical care and ritual and magic devoted to healing. The end result was a recovery which amazed my physicians.
Pagans employ many accepted healing modalities. They are herbalists, Reiki practitioners, massage therapists, chiropractors, and medical intuitives. All forms of energy manipulation are available to the Pagan healer: herbs, stones, shamanistic journeying, Deity intervention, prayer, celestial energies, sound (such as drumming, singing, chanting, etc.), symbols, ritual, breath work, meditation, visualization, chakra and aura manipulation, and good old-fashioned “laying on of hands” for healing. This should sound quite familiar to members of the Wellness Community. Many healers advertising in this journal employ these very same methods!
Like any ethical practitioner, Pagan healers work only at the request and approval of those requesting the magic. I am routinely asked to send healing energy, to light candles, and to perform rituals for those who need healing. I try to comply with these requests; however, I always counsel that those who show symptoms of illness – whether mental or physical – seek conventional diagnosis and treatment. Energetic healing, magical healing, ritualistic healing – whatever you want to call it – should be used to supplement other healing modalities.
Finally, what about fees? Obviously, folks running a business must behave like they are in business and charge customers. As for Pagans who are healing privately, I have never heard of a group or individual conditioning their healing work upon the payment of a fee.
Modern Pagans defy the image of the ugly hag whose workings are paid for by bartering first born children (Rumpelstiltskin) or one’s voice (The Little Mermaid). This was the stuff of myth, fairy tale and to some extent, religious propaganda. Today, we Pagans are an educated, culturally diverse people with mundane lives. We are your neighbors, in fact. We have worked hard to manifest a personal and global vision which includes tolerance and respect for ourselves and our practices. Our vision includes healing, both of the self and of the world in which we live. “Poof,” indeed!
See www.PaganEdNet.org. Regarding “What is a Pagan,” see Eilers, Dana, The Practical Pagan. Franklin Lakes, Career Press/New Page Books (2002), at pages 17-32.
Regarding Paganism and Satan, see Higginbotham, Joyce, and River, Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions, Llewellyn Publications (St. Paul, Minnesota, 2002).
Regarding the legal status of Paganism in this country, see Eilers, Dana, Pagans and the Law: Understand Your Rights. Franklin Lakes, Career Press/New Page Books (2003).