Friday, January 30, 2015

From the Archives: The Power of Healing

Posted by: Shawna Reppert
Veronica sez: Our scheduled blogger for today is under the weather so I searched the Archives and found this great post from Shawna Reppert, on the topic of healing. Seemed appropriate!

(And I loved the vrious healing scenes Aragorn did in LOTR.)

Healing is a common theme in fantasy and its precursor myths and legends.  In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn is hailed as king by an old woman in the House of Healing because the hands of the king are healing hands.  Earlier, Aragorn finally wins the trust of the wary hobbits on the way to Rivendell by healing Frodo after a wraith attack, although it takes greater power of Elrond to make him whole. Another old favorite of mine, The Silver Sun by Nancy Springer, also features a king-to-be as a healer.  In the Arthurian tales, the Fisher King’s entire land falls barren until his wound is healed.  In the Mabinogion, Bran the Blessed gives a cauldron of healing to his sister and the king of Ireland on their wedding day.  

Why this focus on healing?  The reasons are many.  First, and most obvious, is the inherent power of a healer and the drama surrounding circumstances in which we need one.  The healer, or doctor in modern times, is the most powerful person in our lives at the time when we are most vulnerable.  She literally holds the power of life and death in her hands.  We see the darker side of this power in the early tales of the Robin Hood legend, where a wounded Robin is either bled to death or poisoned (there are conflicting version) by a nun of a healing order in whom he has placed his trust. My folklore professor back in college said that tales that stand the test of centuries are those that reflect universal hopes and fears.  Anyone who has ever been wheeled into an operating room as the anesthetic takes hold knows that terrible helplessness.  Who among us hasn’t hoped for a wise and sympathetic doctor to make it better?  

Healers, by their very nature, hold special knowledge and special powers, which makes them perfect for the archetypical role of Wise Old Man/Wise Old Woman, there to provide aid and guidance.  (For more on this and other archetypes in writing, see Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey and The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.)  The healer king is practically its own archetype, a reminder that with power and privilege comes responsibility, a hope that those who rule act in our interests.  After all, what is more benevolent than a healer? 

Healing, and the need for it, can be a useful plot device.  The quest for healing or some healing talisman or potion can drive an entire story arc, or can force a character on a side trip where they will make an important discovery.  In my award-winning debut novel The Stolen Luck, trust between Loren and James only builds when Loren is injured and must rely on James for his healing.  

Healing can be a potent symbol supporting a book’s overall theme.  Fiction, with rare exception, is about change— the protagonist is not the same at the end of the book as he was in the beginning: wiser, braver, nobler, or in darker tales more jaded, more hopeless, more committed to evil.  Often, a character needs to be healed in a symbolic sense, and physical healing can echo or support that theme.  In my urban fantasy Ravensblood, Corwyn Ravenscroft, or Raven, is a dark mage who discovers he still has a conscience and is trying to find his way back to the light.  His soul is torn and in need of healing.  

Raven turns to Cassandra, his former apprentice and lover whom he misled and betrayed. Cass, now a Guardian,  magical law enforcement serving the elected council of the Three Communities.  She is doing everything she can to live down her past, and then her past turns up on her doorstep, begging for help.
Though Cass is still attracted to Raven, the anger and the sense of betrayal are stronger. Above all, she doesn’t trust him, and she fears that all her hard-won progress toward winning the respect and trust of her colleagues will be destroyed if she’s seen with him. Cass tells Raven that she isn’t about to be the same kind of fool twice, and sends him on his way.  

Raven, without other viable option and desperate to escape all that he is and was born to be, attempts to take his own life. But a mistimed suicide message brings Cass to his side while he still lives. She can’t deny his sincerity while she is kneeling in his blood, trying to stop the flow from his wrists.   Cass uses her own healing talent in attempt to save him, and when that isn’t enough, she enlists the aid of her aunt.  Ana is a healer and member of the Joint Council and had been one of Raven’s teachers in his youth.
Ana saves his life and offers him a chance at redemption by working for the Council as a spy against his master, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time.  Cass doubts whether they should trust him so far.

 Cass closed her eyes. “Okay, maybe at the moment he wants to leave William. But I know Raven. He loves nothing more than himself and his own power. How long will it be before that comes to the fore once again?”

Ana shook her head. “Remember what I taught you of healing? Knowledge and technique will get you so far, but ultimately you have to close your eyes and trust your instincts.”

The wind gusted, rippling the lake. Cass shivered. “We’re not talking about healing now, though.”

Ana smiled. “Aren’t we?”

Cass considered the question. Like many of her aunt’s teaching questions, it had many layers and more than one answer.

“Corwyn has been hurt, too,” Ana said. “He’s as confused and scared as you are.”

Cass snorted. “I don’t think he is capable of any of the above.”

Ana shook her head. “That’s your anger speaking. He has emotions, even if he refuses to admit them to himself or anyone else. You know that, or you would have never taken him as a lover.”

“I was young and stupid.”

Ana stood and put a hand on Cass’s shoulder. “You may have been young, yes. To my eyes, you still are. But you were never stupid. We lost Corwyn once to the dark. We have a chance to win him back. I, for one, am not willing to throw that away.”

So next time you encounter a healer or a healing scene in a book or movie, pay attention.  It comes from a long, rich tradition, and there may be more going on than you see on the surface.

P. S. from Veronica: Shawna has the sequel out now: Raven's Wing!

1 comment:

  1. Sound Healing therapy moves the patient closer to health, harmony and state of balance. There are number of frequencies which heal the illness in a natural and effective way which is known as Healing Sound. Listening to the specially recorded sound frequencies during your daily routine can create the positive changes which will enhance the quality of your life.


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