The History of Healing

Written by Patricia Bateman


As long as there have been human beings, there have been attempts to heal the sicknesses experienced by the human body.

In all recorded societies over the ages, there have been people who have used their healing knowledge and gifts to aid in the healing process. The oldest-known healing practices were found in Shamanism, possibly the world’s oldest religion. In the Shamanic healing practices, the shaman (healer priest) would enter into an altered state of consciousness and journey to non-ordinary planes of existence to obtain help for his sick patient.

Different civilisations developed different traditions of healing. There have been Indian yogis; in ancient Egypt, there was the tradition of the healer priest. China, Ancient Greece, Polynesian Kahunas and American Indians all have their separate traditions and methods of healing. The Essenes, a Jewish sect among whom Jesus of Nazareth lived and studied for years, lived around the Dead Sea in Palestine about 3 centuries BC and into the first century of the Christian era before they were destroyed by the Romans. The Essenes had very developed spiritual ideas and practised spiritual healing. The Cathar community in southern France continued the work of the Essenes until they were destroyed by the Catholic Church.

The early Christian church began by recognising faith healing but the later Christian Churches preferred not to discuss healing. Natural healers over the centuries were suppressed in Christian countries through witch trials and burnings and natural healers were described as evil people in league with the Devil. Laws were passed in several countries forbidding the practise of healing, which was equated with witchcraft. Despite these discouraging attempts to annihilate healers, healers survived.

All ancient healing practitioners shared similar ideas about the nature of healing: it was not possible to heal the body separately without reference to the mind and the soul. They recognised that the body was only the outward form of the non-visible spiritual being in which there existed an imbalance or disharmony at some level or levels of our energetic being and that the mind’s role in controlling our physical state was crucial.

Recognition of the mind’s role in regulating our health began to be recognised through the modern studies of psychiatry and psychology. In the late 19th century, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky founded modern Theosophy (the study of the mystical insights into our Divine nature as revealed by mystics over the ages). She taught among other things that the mind can cure the body. The 19th century interest in spiritualism led to a greater understanding of our spiritual nature and thanks to the Spiritualist movement and the teachings of the Christian Science Church, spiritual healing became an accepted practice. The New Age movement which began in America in the late 20th century popularised the idea of healing, or energy balancing, once again.

There have been many remarkable spiritual healers in the 20th century especially in the USA (Edgar Cayce, Joel Goldsmith, Caroline Myss etc.) and in the UK (Harry Edwards, Nan McKenzie, Ursula Roberts, Betty Shine, Matthew Manning etc.). The work of various healing organisations in the 20th century helped spread knowledge of the power of healing or energy balancing and courses were devised to train healers.

Famous Healers

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