How does someone who experiences alternate realities or other dimensions such as seeing inexplicable phenomena, beings, voices or encountering alternate realities/dimensions etc. still know they’re still sane?
A few months back in a Facebook group I responded to a discussion about the difference between experiencing alternate realities or other dimensions with being mentally unwell. The discussion was ultimately questioning ‘what’s the line between experiencing this stuff and mental illness?’
It’s a question I have asked myself many times.
While I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness, today when a fellow sorcerer, magician, witch, or occult worker (so many labels!) talks about these concerns, when they’re questioning their sanity, I always ask them:
in that moment, did you or do you know where you are?
If they knew where they where at time, or could identify their environment or surroundings, then to my understanding they are quite sane.
If they respond with confusion or worse, I begin to think it could be the effect or symptom of physical or mental illness.
I also believe that ‘going crazy’ doesn’t necessarily equal mental illness. I think all of us (shamans, magicians, occult workers etc) ‘go crazy’ at some level to do what we do. (I know this word ‘crazy’ can be a negative connotation. I’m not implying that here.)
To me, SANITY is the benchmark rather than anything else. A shaman, magician, occult worker can be ‘crazy’ and ‘sane’ at the same time. Or eccentric.
Eccentricity can be high or low. From my experience, eccentric people are pretty good at gauging what they can get away with by the standards of their society. Sane ‘crazy’ can also be about superstition (again on a continuum). It can be about thinking that’s outside the box.
For me the line is around the impact on your daily life. What impact does it have on your ability to function in the society you live in? on your work? in your relationships and engagements as a practitioner?
If the world you live in is a 9-5, corporate culture, white-collar worker world, then your ‘crazy’ will look very different to the performance artist who interacts across a variety of artistic environments and social collectives.
Does your ‘crazy’ sit alongside having enough to eat each day, something enjoyable to do and experience, and some satisfying level of interaction with your fellow tribe around you? Or is your ‘crazy’ distressing, frightening or self-destructive?
If like me, you wonder if your sanity membership has expired, and you’ve been evicted from the sane game – then it’s doubtful.
After knowing people who experience psychosis or other mental illness that causes real disruption and disorder, I’m convinced my experiences however odd or unexplained are not so far out of the ballpark.
5 July 2017