That's not God. That's Crazy.
One of the biggest questions I have to folks in the pagan community who are part of the 'Woo woo I see spirits everywhere and the dead chat with me over my morning coffee' segment of the pagan populace is this:
Is that really a spirit/the Goddess, or might you need medical attention?
That's a question that Aldo Bianchini might have wanted to ask well before he went to church this past Sunday. The 46 year old man was in the middle of a church service at St. Andrea's in Viareggio when a voice told him it would be a good idea to tear his own eyes out. And guess what he did.
Go ahead... Guess.
In front of 300 people, and God I suppose, he tore his own eyes out with his bare hands. Because a voice from the beyond told him to.
When first responders showed up to the scene, they found Bianchini calm and lucid. Just in case you wanted to know, while they found his eyeballs, they were not able to reattach them.
Gino Barbacci, the doctor who treated Bianchini, said it would have taken superhuman strength for a person to gouge their own eyes out and added he had never seen anything like it in 26 years of medical practice.
This guy is not a pagan. He's a Christian. But, this story highlights some dirty laundry of our community. I realize that as pagans we're supposed to be completely ok when somebody tells you that the Ronald McDonald statue came to life and gave you the secret ingredient to the Special Sauce. We're supposed to be just fine and dandy when you claim to be in constant contact with your great great great great great great great great great great grand pappy from the old world who tells you how to go about your daily life. I am - as a proud pagan folk in 2011 - supposed to be accepting and supportive when Lady Merryweather Picklebum talks about how she went camping in the woods and the trees spoke to her and she had sex with an elf.
But, I am told I am not a good pagan, that I don't have enough - or the right kind of - faith, that I am just plain overstepping my boundaries when I suggest that that same person might want to seek professional help.
There is a difference between a chemical imbalance and spiritual experience. And, no, I do not believe we should encourage folks to speak to the voices they're hearing or give credence to what those voices are saying until they have been checked out by a licensed therapist.
Do I believe that the dead can communicate, that the Divine can give us messages, that there are nature spirits and they might actually want to chat on occasion? Sure. I believe in a whole mess of stuff. But I also firmly believe that when God tells you to kill your children (there's at least half a dozen cases in the last 10 years of that) or rip out your own eyes or burn things...that's not God. That's not any God. It's not a demon or an angel or a Super Mega One-of-a-Kind Faerie Dude. It's a cry for help. A need for medication and therapy.
You might not think it's harmful if the voices only tell you that you look skinny in those jeans or that your new haircut looks amazing. But, what happens when that same, trusting voice starts to veer into a realm of the dangerous?
Why does that make me a bad pagan? And why is the pagan community so willing to go along with the crazy, because we have to accept everybody and everything? It's absolutely time that we stood up for sanity.
Here's my proposal: If you think you're speaking to the Great Ravioli Monster in the Sky, do me a favor. Go to a therapist. Tell them what you're experiencing. Let them check you out and make sure that you're not crazy, or at least that your brand of crazy doesn't make you a danger to yourself or others. Then, keep talking to whatever it is you're talking to.
What do YOU think about people hearing voices?
Love and Lyte,