A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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ii               MAGIC HEALING IN THE PRE-CHRISTIAN ERA            63
temples, chief of which was that in Epidaurus. Here the sufferers came in crowds from the most distant parts after long and arduous travel. On arrival, hoping to predispose the god in their favour, they laid valuable offerings at the entrance to the temple and plunged into the cleansing waters of the fountain. After these preliminaries they were admitted to the porch and had to pass one or more nights there. Not until after this period of probation, spent in public prayers and in listening to eloquent exhortations, was the sick man at length allowed access to the interior of the temple. Passing inside he would see two large stelae, upon which were inscribed records of various cures, set up in the porticoes. There he would also see the magnificent statue of Asklepios made of ivory and gold. The god was represented as sitting, holding a staff in one hand, while the other hand rested on a serpent's head emblem of sagacity and longevity and a dog crouched at his feet. Here the sufferer would offer his prayers, beseeching the Saviour God to heal him. He would take part, too, in public praise and worship until, finally, in a state of excitation and expectation, he would go to sleep on the skin of an animal he had sacrificed, or on a skin with which he had been provided for the purpose. Then would the son of Apollo appear to him in a vision, attending to his particular ailment, and would either demand further sacrifices or effect a cure.
No doubt a dream suggesting a cure would be effective in bringing one about. Similarly, suggestion by the priest while the suppliant was in a relaxed condition would be very beneficial. Such psychological factors, which are now recognized and consciously manipulated, would then have been equally as valuable, though not so scientifically applied. ' We have proof', says the sober critic Galen, ' at the temple of Asklepios