Can symbols help healing?

What is health? What heals? Does our superstitious use of little symbols and talismans play a part in talking our unconscious into getting better? 

snowflake Laura Eades 2015

Little snowflake, I like you. Laura Eades 2015

Things crop up, again and again. Little symbols, or motifs, or wotnot. Theatre is full of these little themes. And I like to appropriate them in my life too – symbols give hope, and the sense of constancy, security, a touchpoint. I mean, it’s not that different from pictures really. Just getting beyond the mind to the other bit. I think my unconscious likes them, believes in the image more than any rational persuasion.

For example…

When I was intending to write a novel, my friend gave me a doll’s house book, that fitted perfectly into one of those scripture-holder necklaces that I’d brought back from India years and years before. Or now, I’m thinking about a future house, and my friend gave me some brooches with houses on, so that really pleases me.

And the other day, I found a tiny clothes-peg with a white rose on it, still hanging from my neckscarf where I’d put it when my daughter was in hospital at the end of last year. It was a little get-well talisman from two Spanish women, clowns. It served its purpose!

(So I picked it up and wore it again! Then I forgot I was wearing it and it raked my baby’s hairless head as I gripped her, and she cried fully, silently, then at full volume, so that wasn’t very mystical, more mistake-ical).

I dug out this: A post from the children’s ward of the hospital

This is the last bit, for now (I hope!), of my Reflections on Hospital series but you can read the rest here.

Last night me and my baby daughter met hospital clowns in the corridor. They talked some wonderful life-enhancing nonsense to us, and decided that my 6-month-old was in fact a snowflake on account of her white cardigan and white bandage-material ‘hat’ (meant to stop the intravenous line – into a vein in her head – getting jogged). That was actually very complimentary because that bandage was far from white as snow.

She flew and wiggled. She looked. And they gifted me a tiny clothes peg with a little rose on it, which cheered us up, since hospital is a little same samey and kind of earthbound too.

My Snowflake is under a bit of physical pressure right now, with a lung infection to overcome. But I can see her disposition is healthy. She’s always up for clowns, or any other giggles.

What is health?

Self-sufficiency. Comfortable body. Moving freely. The body’s systems all looking after it, without any medicines or machines, so that you can be anywhere and your body is already equipped.

And the other thing. Healthy energy. If a body at ease is the result, the energy is how it comes to be so. The thing you can’t measure. The life shining through. What homoeopaths call ‘the vital force’ – the urge to be alive; the liveliness of the life force expressing itself. We try to talk to her life force by holding tight to the little clothes peg, and smiling, and remembering the clowns, and calling her Snowflake.

Snowflake wiggling. Her smile. Her laugh when you blow hot air into through her bodysuit into her tummy. Her eyes looking dark and shiny. A sense of relaxation when you stroke her legs. Her eagerness to catch the eye of someone else in the room to communicate. Her active curiosity about the light fitting. A little extra energy to practice a rocking movement whilst sitting. Talking and chatting. Delirious excitement when I bring her some dangly toys in bed (she must have been very bored!). The fight in her that complains about shitty experiences like eyedrops or inhalers, even though they come around so regularly.

What is healing?

Mamma is healing. Cuddles and being held. Snuggly duvet. Sleep. Real food with naturally bright colours. Sunshine on the skin. Home, ideally, your familiar things that give you a feeling of safety.

Laughter with the clowns. The little clothespeg, giving us a compass point of some kind, something a bit beyond the bald science of these walls.

* * *

I know, I know, it’ll be crystals next and all sorts. What do you think? Click on the pale grey dot with a plus sign under the blogpost to open the comment thread.

* * *

Read more on Illustrated Guide to Life: