Placebo Effect and Magic

In my last blog post I mentioned my new “Bell Chimes In” series on YouTube, with episode 1 on Deity. Here in episode 2, I chime in about magic and the placebo effect. I couldn’t decide which title would be better for SEO, “Placebo Effect and Magic” or “Magic and Placebo Effect.” I settled on the one you see in the title.

Also, I need to make a note to myself to never make YouTube videos when I’m having a bad face day. Argh.

Before launching the “Bell Chimes In” series, I told myself over and over, “Every video must be under 10 minutes.” The debut video (episode #1)? 15 minutes. Goddammit. So then I said to myself, “That’s fine, okay that’s fine, you’re okay…just keep the max at 15 minutes from now on, with an aspiration for 10.”

Second “Bell Chimes In” episode? 20 minutes. Sigh. Even more perplexing is I thought I finished the video at the 16:30 mark, except the very next day what do I do… I wake up, put on some makeup, and yammer on some more.

Sentience (Qi vs. Shen)

In the video I ascribed sentience (and life force) to Qi, and divine connection to Shen. The conversation on Jing, Qi, and Shen was used to explain magic, by the way, so we could then have a proper conversation on magic and the placebo effect.

I think I should acknowledge here that people have differing views and disagreements on how exactly to define or even distinguish Qi and Shen. Some would say Shen is sentience, though in the video I associated sentience with Qi. If you want to talk about sentience, then I might say Qi is earthly, physical sentience, whereas Shen pertains more to the soul, the spirit, something more supernal that’s still part of you. Both Qi and Shen, and Jing as well, altogether, ultimately, are what give us sentience.

Also, there are disagreements among traditions as to what constitutes a sentient being. Are only humans sentient beings? Are animals sentient beings? Are trees and plants sentient? Getting into the realms of magic, how about a tulpa that you summon or if you enliven a figurine with a tulpa spirit… is there anything there that constitutes sentience, albeit on a magical or psychic plane? Tough questions to answer. Each is a dinner-long philosophical debate unto itself.

Recipes Referenced in the Video

At timestamp 11:29 in the video, I make reference to a recipe for a home remedy to ward off colds, fevers, chills, and common winter aches that can also be rehashed for a spell. I didn’t go into the how-to details since that’s not what the video was about, but if you’re interested in the specifics, here they are.

  • 3 cups of clean, filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (raw, unfiltered)
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon plus some lemon zest
  • 3 inch x 1 inch piece of ginger root, peeled (if you’d like, slice it into even smaller pieces before adding to the pot)
  • 1 tiny pinch of cayenne
  • Honey or maple syrup to taste

In the above listing, the honey/maple syrup is purely so you can actually stomach this drink. If you’re hardcore, go without the sweetener. I, however, always add in a generous tablespoon (sshhh… if not more…) of honey.

Bring cold water to boil on the stove, then once it’s boiling, add the ginger, pinch of cayenne, and sweetener. Reduce the heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it steep off the heat but still in the pot for another 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how strong you want the ginger infusion. If you’re really sick, let the ginger infuse for the full additional 15 minutes. Then drain. Discard the ginger bits.

Squeeze in the juice of the lemon, just a little bit, and the vinegar. If you’re a snowflake like me, then taste-test to see if you need to add even more honey. (I always need more honey.) Plus, it’s okay. Honey’s good for sore throats. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

That’s a home remedy to help boost your immune system. It doesn’t just work on me. I have had visiting friends and family who came down with a bad cold while here and I administered to them a constant stream of this healing tea thing and I swear to you on all things holy, their colds, fevers, and chills were gone overnight. (Placebo effect at play? Sure. If you say so.)

Taking pretty much that same list of ingredients (we’re doing this purely for comparative value, by the way), we can craft a spell for the metaphysical equivalents to boosting your immune system, warding of colds and fevers, and reducing inflammation. The metaphysical equivalent would be to increase your magical ability to fight off a hex and to dispel the beginning signs of a hex taking effect over you, and to oust malefic energies that have started to seep into your system.

  • Holy water
  • White, black, or red candle
  • Vinegar (I like to use black vinegar if using a black or red candle; white vinegar if using a white candle; red vinegar if using a black or red candle)
  • Lemon
  • Sizeable chunk of whole ginger root (same size as the one pictured in the video, at around time stamp 11:40)
  • Cayenne pepper

First, light the candle to invoke Divinity or petition a specific divine energy to come through. In less religious terms, use a lit candle as a strong conduit for Shen energy to come through for you.

Combine the holy water, vinegar, and lemon juice. Channel greater Shen into the mixture so that in effect becomes consecrated and empowered for cleansing. Take a clean (preferably brand new) washcloth or sponge, dab into the mixture, and cleanse your entire body, head to toe, with the mixture. Per Chinese metaphysics, there is a Trinity of Fire formed between your third eye chakra point, and the two opposing points of your shoulder blades where your lymph nodes are, so I’d focus on those points during your wash.

I would then slice the whole ginger root in half, horizontally, so it forms in effect a sandwich, the top of the ginger root the top sandwich piece and the bottom of the root the bottom sandwich piece. On Fu talisman paper, I’d inscribe the following oracle bone script sigil noted below, which essentially is two phrases, one on the right (top and bottom glyphs), and on to the left column (top and bottom glyphs). The right says “cure me” (full definition and meaning more nuanced, with many layers of meaning and used precisely here to dispel a hex) and the left says…err… “retaliate against you/send this malefic energy back your way” (I know…how can just two characters say all that…well, in Chinese, it can). The “me” and “you” is not just about subjects but it’s also instructions for the direction certain energies are to be sent.

After inscribing the above onto a sheet of paper, pressing into the paper through the ink with intention, emotion, and (hehe) personal Qi and Shen, sprinkle the cayenne pepper (if it was a whole pepper, dry it, then grind it up with mortar and pestle) into two lines, one line a column top down for “cure me” and a second parallel line top down in a column for “send this negative energy back to you.” Sandwich the paper between the two slices of ginger root. I then tie it all together and bind it with red twine. Keep this anywhere in the home for three consecutive days and nights, and then just toss out with the trash.

Again, the primary purpose for the foregoing wasn’t a how-to instructional. It’s to illustrate what I was talking about with regard to spell-crafting. Spell-crafting is methodical, deliberate, and follows a certain logical rigor if you know what you’re doing or you can understand what it is that a practitioner is doing. I mean, heck, my father is an actual legit scientist, and yet a non-scientist looking in on what he does would sure think it looks like woo-woo spell-casting.

Chime in On the Placebo Effect and Magic

What is your perspective on the placebo effect and magic? Inquiring minds want to know.

5 thoughts on “Placebo Effect and Magic

  1. I welcome the invitation to think more deeply about this. As a clinician and Reiki practitioner, there are documented cases wherein those not believing in the efficacy of Reiki, still improve and receive benefit. Also, patients given anti-cancer meds are encouraged to visualize their meds as objects for their defense against the disease, such as visualizing meds as thousands of tiny knights on horseback seeking out and battling the disease “enemy.” I’ve administered placebo meds ordered by physicians and seen the resulting relief of pain and return of peaceful comfort to allow the whole body to recuperate. As always, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  2. Benebell this is such a cool and informative video. Thank you that I can be a part of the conversation. The medical profession has always down played natural healing witches sorcerers, etc. Money, Money, Money, money And this discussion proves they are still doing it today. Also speaking of intention the bible shows us Jesus using intention when he fed the crowd using the boys lunch with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Another example is when he picked up dirt and spit on it and rubbed it on the blind mans eyes and when it was washed the man was able to see. No, I am not Christian, but I do love and respect the ascended masters. How do you feel about this I would love to know. Much love to you, you have very interesting videos,etc. Blessed be

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  3. I think you did a wonderful job explaining the current research on the placebo effect. I also agree with your conclusion: that while some of spellcraft’s efficacy can certainly be attributed to placebo, science still doesn’t explain everything in observable phenomena, especially where spirituality is involved. Appreciated the loving nod to science’s mystical roots. Indeed, where would we be if people never attempted magic at all?

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  4. If something works for you, does it matter whether it was the placebo effect or not? I don’t believe visualization alone can cure illness, for example, but dedicating the time to meditate on illness could lead to you making healthier choices for the rest of the day, which in turn helps you feel better. Benebell, your approach to magic as a means of setting intentions really resonates with me. I wouldn’t use your immunity boosting recipe and then lick a subway pole and go without sleep for three days, expecting it to work. But while assembling the ingredients I would spend some time thinking about ways in which I can look after my health better. Forgive me if I’m not making sense here – it’s difficult to get my brain working on Monday mornings. 🙂

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