Roughly 7 years ago when I was 16 I was diagnosed as having epilepsy. I’d been having ever so small jerking movements in my arms for a year prior to that, to which most people told me that it was “just nerves” and that “everyone got them from time to time”. Because I was sitting my Junior Certificate at the time I pressume people thought I was being overly sensitive and emotional. Eventually the jerks were witnessed by my aunt who pointed them to my parents and we started seeing our GP about them. During my 4th Year at secondary school I had a tonic-clonic seizure. My arms jerked but didn’t stop and suddenly my left arm began to raise involuntarily above my head. I let out a scream and began to see things in tunnel-vision. When I woke up there was a lot of commotion and someone pushing my head down. When next I woke up I found myself at home feeling very confused. A few months later I was formally diagnosed.
I later researched what epilepsy was. I learned that the best definition available is that epilepsy is a low threshold level for seizures. Indeed it’s likely that everyone would have at least one seizure in their life. We don’t know the cause of seizures only that they occur between a miscommunication between motor neurons in the brain. That sense of déjá vú is actually down to a seizure in which the brain is trying to communicate a visual image. Epilepsy is as unique to the person as a thumbprint. When being categorised doctors usually look for types or classifications of seizures. There are different triggers to epilepsy, mine is cognitive abilities, such as; math’s, puzzles, etc.
You may be wondering why I titled this Epilepsy & Naturally Sensitive People, since I was a child I’d been naturally sensitive. I would later find out it runs in my family. I don’t mean a Craft family before people get their hopes up but a psychically sensitive family. As my Craft work progressed I began to notice sensitive experiences or moments. When people hear that I have epilepsy and I have sensitivity to boot there is a tendancy to romanticise the reasons for epilepsy. The most common idea is that epilepsy is the spirits speaking through a natural shaman. This is tricky since many shamanic cultures would be cautious with information gleamed from a shaman in an epileptic seizure because the nature of the spirits is unknown. In ceremonial circles there are theories that epilepsy arises from a weakness in the sphere of sensation (aura). While interesting theories one and all it is impossible to verify and “cure” epilepsy with this information alone.
There have been many myths regarding not just the why of epilepsy and sensitivity but also on how best to cope with it. I MUST state this emphatically: there is no cure for epilepsy magically or medically. As stated above we know the physical processes behind epilepsy but not the cause. All anticonvulsants used for epilepsy simply supress the tendancy to have seizures. There has been some measure of notice given to people regarding brainwaves particularly in meditative states. I cannot comment fully on these cases because I’ve been meditating since 12 years of age and never really noticed a correlation in my own personal epilepsy and that of meditation. For this same reason some people have commented that cannibis has had a similar effect. If so I would suggest laying of the pot (doesn’t react well with medication anyway!) and slowly introducing a more active form of meditation such as Tai Chi or yoga.
My reasons for addressing the idea behind “ancient mystical cures to epilepsy” is that it’s come to my attention that some fringe groups of questionable motivations and history are claiming to have “magickal secrets” for curing epilepsy. One friend intimated that the Golden Dawn held mantras that suppressed seizures. First as many will be aware the Golden Dawn is a Western Tradition that doesn’t really rely on mantras which are Eastern in origin. The G.’.D.’. is a Hermetic Tradition primarily. I suppose the mysterious nature of the G.’.D.’. allows for such abuses but whether one is Initiated Wicca (BTW) or ceremonialist please remember that these are Mystery Traditions designed to nurture the individual not to provide a cure to life’s woes and illnesses.
If you or another person in your Coven or Temple has epilepsy perhaps dedicating some time to learning seizure recovery and First Aid is possible. A reputable group will ask members to disclose their medical conditions and illnesses not to “weed out” weak members but forewarned is forearmed for people. While I have never witnessed myself in a seizure I have witnessed others and different forms of epileptic seizures and each time I find myself startled. I include a brief guide to seizure recovery which is not a replacement for a First Aid course and I would also ask people to be aware I am writing specifically of epileptic seizures. As such it is vitally important a person does not assume that any seizure is specifically an epileptic seizure.
Seizure Recovery Guidelines:
- When someone begins seizing take note of the time. It is important that the period of seizing does not exceed 4 mins as this can be dangerous for the heart.
- Remove any obstacles that may cause injury to the person and cushion their head.
- Do not restrict their movements while in a seizure. This includes placing anything in their mouth since they cannot swallow their tongue there is nothing that doing this will accomplish.
- When they come around, place them in Recovery Position. This prevents the person rolling into another seizure.
In terms of personal safety during rituals I have spoken to others in magickal groups to gleam their experiences since I did feel that my epilepsy was somehow mixing with my natural sensitivity. The best advice I got also rang some home truths, for many people magick becomes an intellectual pursuit even during Circles and Rituals. This isn’t the ideal mindframe to be in. Better that a person relaxes into the flow of the ritual and saves the “post-mortems” for after the ritual. When looking at this concept I can start to see how my own epilepsy might be triggered in situations that are cognitive in nature while simultaneously being sensitive.