Not so far out of the ballpark
A few months back in a Facebook group I responded to a discussion about the difference between experiencing alternate realities or other dimensions and just ‘going crazy’ – ultimately asking ‘what’s the line between doing this stuff and mental illness?’
How does someone who experiences alternate realities or other dimensions like hearing voices, seeing beings, encounters alternate realities/dimensions etc. still know they’re still sane.
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 I always ask them – in that moment you’re questioning your sanity, did you or do you know where you are?
If they can tell me they can identify where they are, what world etc then to my understanding they are quite sane.
If they respond with confusion or worse, a garbled response, I 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 pejorative. I’m not implying that here.)
To me, SANITY is the benchmark rather than anything else. A shaman, magician, occult worker can be completely ‘crazy’ and completely ‘sane’ at the same time.
As an example, sane ‘crazy’ can be about eccentricity. That level of 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 is outside the box.
Another point to mention is that the practitioner who is in a sane space are aware their practice, interactions, knowledge, awareness or information could reasonably be disbelieved or doubted by those around them. They are under no illusion about the veracity of their experience on face value. They have no assumption that others should or must believe them.
For me the line is around the impact on daily life. What impact does it have on your work? On your ability to function in the society you live in?
If your society is a 9-5, corporate culture, white-collar worker world, then your ‘crazy’ will look very different to performance artist who interacts across a variety of corporates, artistic environments and sustainable collectives off the grid. Do you have enough to eat each day, something enjoyable to do and experience, and some satisfying level of interaction with the fellow tribe of people around you? Or is your ‘crazy’ distressing, frightening or self-destructive?
If like me, you wonder if your sanity membership just expired, and you’ve been evicted from the game of sane – then it’s doubtful.
After knowing people who experience psychosis or other mental illness that causes real disruption to their lives, I’m convinced my experiences however odd or unexplained are not so far out of the ballpark.
5 July 2017