I had a strong dream message when I woke this morning to look up Greek Orthodox Religion and Spiritual Healing. In the journal of Nursing Management (2012, 20, pp. 1058-1068) I found an article about Health-related religious rituals of the Greek Orthodox Church. [1]

The article talks about relatives of critical care patients and of the patients themselves wanting to be supported in their spiritual beliefs, practices, customs and rituals within health care settings, particularly for people who are in critical care. The types of rituals that were important included using blessed oil and holy water, the use of the relics of saints, holy icons and the offering of names for pleas and pilgrimages.

The study concluded that through the rituals, relatives and patients experience a sense of connectedness with the divine and use the sacred powers invoked by the rituals to promote the healing of their relatives. The study identified that care providers should recognise, respect and facilitate the expression of spirituality through the practice of religious rituals by patients and their families.

In his book The Life of a Galilean Shaman, Pieter Craffert, carefully extrapolates what he calls the Shamanic Complex. Pieter argues that shamanism is not a religion but an identifiable pattern of religious practices and beliefs. Pieter argues that it is a globally distributed and very ancient pattern of practices based on the human potential for experiencing alternate states of consciousness [ASC]. [2]

According to Pieter, once one is aware of the shamanic complex, which includes experiences of visionary, ecstatic, possession and out-of-body experiences, it is remarkable how many indications of ASC can be identified in the Bible, particularly in the Life of Jesus of Nazareth and the Apostle Paul. Jesus was portrayed as a teacher, healer and prophet who mediated between the human and divine worlds.

All human beings are socialised and embodied in different cultural systems with different religious experiences and the practices and experiences of Jesus of Nazareth and St Paul were no different. They were shaped by the Isrealite religion, which was filled with the visionary and prophetic experiences of Moses. [2]

Shamanic experiences may seem strange and alien to modern Western minds but Western Religions have their origins in these cultural traditions. The Greek Orthodox Churches are descended from churches which the Apostles founded in the Balkans and the Middle East during the first century A.D. and they maintain many traditions practiced by the ancient Church. [3]

According to modern mystic Caroline Myss, the most powerful way we can enter into a deeper state of consciousness and receive divine grace is to meditate or pray. [4] When you act from a place of love, when your words come from your heart, Caroline says that “all prayers are heard and answered” .

In the extreme critical care situation caused by the Coronavirus, it is even more imperative to understand and respect these traditions. In situations where families or religious ministers cannot be present it is important to recognise that the power lies in the sacredness of the ritual itself and in the health care worker present offering themselves as a vehicle or vessel for healing, both physically and spiritually.

It is time that we realised that fragmented approaches to healing that dominate modern day disciplines such as medicine, psychology and religion, need to come together to give hope to people who may feel helpless and powerless in the face of sickness and death. We are each descended from long standing traditions where the physical and spiritual were understood to be connected but today they are often in conflict.

Each one of us has the ability to bring healing to a moment when we understand that the mind, body and soul are not separate. Healing means to make whole – to bring about wholeness or holiness – it is about bringing peace to chaos. This not only involves actions of love through commitment and competency to one’s chosen field but also in being willing to have faith and trust in the sacred powers of prayer and ritual.



[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_Orthodox_Church

[4] https://www.myss.com/the-power-of-meditation-and-prayer/