Believing in Magic Again

Has Depression Made me Too Cynical to Ever Be Spiritual?

Photo by Emily Bauman on Unsplash

“You are all aware of the existence of portals to other dimensions?” my host asks us, as she prepares a meditation ritual to celebrate Buddha’s birthday. “What about time travel?” She explains that each person has multiple levels of self. The corporal self, the emotional, the mental, the spiritual, which has several levels. On one of them, Jesus lives, and on another, Buddha, and all the great spiritual leaders, too, are up on one of the higher floors of the tower block of dimensions that makes up the person we are.

I didn’t expect to land in such a spiritual place when I hopped on a bus from Delhi to the farm in the Himalayan foothills. I’m doing Workaway here — volunteering on the farm in exchange for food and boarding. When I arrive, a painted board greets me with the words “Welcome Home.” The farm is run by a Croatian-Indian couple. Kata found enlightenment in the form of a black-bearded man in orange robes, who came to speak to her in a vision. She didn’t know the man before, but later found out that it was Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the guru at the head of the world-wide movement Art of Living. Since then, she has discovered the world of Eastern spirtuality, and developed her own fusion-belief system which seems to be part way between ancient Hindu texts, and comic books about the Justice League.

On Buddha’s birthday, it is time for a special ritual, she tells us. One that involves visualisation. We all close our eyes, and let her guide us, onto a space ship shaped like a complicated polyhedron. The space ship spins, fast fast fast, and our spiritual selves go with it, landing in a beautiful valley, filled with the worshippers from around the world who are meditating for the same reason (since we can travel through time, time zones is not an issue, Kata explains.) Many religious teachers are also there, and Buddha floats in on a giant lotus. They bestow gifts on every person, and bless us. And then we hop on our spaceship, and go home.

As Kata guides us, I am bobbing between feeling like the whole thing is bullshit, and getting caught up in it all and going on a real spiritual journey. I am incredibly sceptical about all of this, and can’t help but feel slightly mocking. Yet I can’t deny that I feel strong emotions too. The things Kata is saying all speak to me a lot. I feel projected into this valley. I see the leaders, I see the gifts. I feel the flow of energy. It almost makes me faint.

As a kid, I was a big believer in magic, as all kids are. I brewed potions in my garden with my coven of sisters, fully believing, as we had been told, that gingers were witches.

I didn’t get my Hogwarts letter, and things went downhill from there. I became a cynical teenager, but still, deep down, I believed there was more to life than pure rationality.

It wasn’t until I went through my depression that I felt like my spirituality was truly squashed out of me. It’s a shame, because mental illness is when you need to believe in something spiritual, something beyond us, but at the same time Depression robs you of the ability to be able to see joy, to be able to imagine anything outside of a very grey reality.

Still, being here, surrounded by nature and believers, has made me think that I can reconnect with my spirituality. Looking into the mountains around brings a pure kind of joy, a feeling that even if this is all there is, it is deep and beautiful. That rationality itself might have more magic than we give it credit for.

Maybe that is enough.

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