All of Us Heal, None of Us Will Heal'
By Natalie Reid
[Note: The following article appeared in the November/December,
1996 (Volume 12, No. 6) issue of Venture Inward.]
Merle and Peter Maraun of Queensland, Australia,
sold their home last year and were moving. As they were packing,
the September/October Venture Inward arrived, and Peter started to read
it. As soon as he saw the article calling for psoriasis patients
for a "Temple Beautiful-type treatment/research program" in Virginia Beach,
he and Merle - who had suffered from psoriasis for over 40 years - were
as good as registered.
The psoriasis conference, sponsored jointly by
the A.R.E. and the Meridian Institute, began at a rented beach house in
November 1995 with nine participants and one "support person," Peter.
All of them felt that their participation was no accident.
From the person who "knew" that her boss wouldn't
let her leave work and didn't have the money to those who had never participated
in group programs, everyone had a story verging from the coincidental to
the nearly miraculous. By the end of the second session last March,
however, the individual stories - like the individual people - had become
part of a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. I am one of
those 10 people, and this is our story:
We feel bound by an almost inexplicable sense
of purpose, the differences in our ages, life experiences, and personalities
notwithstanding. As Pam Billicky of Willoughby, Ohio says, "I feel
very strongly that there was divine order in our coming together." Betty
Appleby of West Chester, Pennsylvania, observed that "there seemed to be
an invisible hand which was doing the arranging - call it by whatever name
Yet our differences are striking: A 64-year gap
separates the oldest from the youngest. We come from as near as Virginia
Beach to as far as Australia. Some of us have never been to college,
while two are writing graduate theses - and yet another is in middle school.
Whether retired or still working, none of the adults share the same line
of work. Even in terms of the psoriasis we are different, some arriving
covered from head to toe with angry scales, others with only small patches.
How then could we become a group with a purpose
that we believe extends beyond ourselves and the A.R.E.? The answer may
lie in our common commitment to learning about and healing ourselves so
that we might help others. That very commitment allowed us, for example,
to stick to what for some was a radical change in diet - "What, no potatoes!?"
As Deborah puts it, "This group is bringing into perspective the spiritual
journey of us as a group and as individuals and is the opening of a door
which no other organization could have opened. So indeed it is by
The bond we created transcended category as we
looked for patterns that might underlie our common diseases. When
chiropractor Carl Nelson pointed out the constant activation of our sympathetic
nervous systems (the "fightor-flight response") to the near exclusion of
the para-sympathetic system (the "relaxation response"), our after-hours
group discussions uncovered some common childhood experiences that clearly
could have caused what Dr. Nelson called "hypervigilance." That psoriatics
are constantly "on alert" fits with the Cayce readings, which often referred
to "right thinking" as essential to the elimination of psoriasis.
Among other things, therefore, we had to learn
to relax. Over the 12 days of the November conference, as we meditated
and talked, we grew in trust. The meditations came with the daily
schedule. But the late-night meetings - for gathering personal information
and working out differences - were our spontaneous creation.
Gradually, our differently constructed but commonly
held protective shells began to soften. The talkers began to listen
more; the shy, to find voices; the loners, to participate; the controllers,
to let the process unfold. Like a cosmic parent, the group we created
enfolded us in its arms and gave us a safe place to grow.
One example is Galen Deming, then only 12, who
had come to the conference reluctantly. But before the end of the
first week, he had moved into the beach house with us, engaging us as individuals
and participating with keen insight in morning dream interpretation sessions.
"I think it's important in life," he told us, "for everyone to come to
a place like this and make new friends." Given the age differences, he
could have seen us as surrogate parents or extended family - but
"friends" is exactly what he meant.
Deborah had a personal revelation: that we should
all pray for one another until the March meeting. As she shared her
thoughts during dinner, out popped the statement that has since become
our watchword: "Unless we all heal, none of us will heal."
The healing has begun - both the emotional and
the physical. The emotional healing often showed itself in incidents
of spontaneous, inexplicable tears. Mine occurred while we were drawing
something in conflict in our lives and placing the drawing into a kaleidoscope.
As I looked into the light and saw the symmetry, I burst into tears.
Another person started crying openly during group meditation again for
"no reason" - and still another while the group walked a labyrinth.
Many reported having this tearful experience during hands-on healing with
the Glad Helpers Prayer Healing Group at the A.R.E. They cried, some said,
from the sheer force of the spirituality.
As for the physical, those with severe cases were
cautioned that the psoriasis might get worse before it got better and might
heal "from the top down." But just as we have different degrees of
psoriasis, we have different styles of healing.
Galen had the insight that since a "leaky gut"
is often connected with psoriasis, we would start "clearing" on the abdomen,
with the scales on the extremities the last to go. For both him and
another person, that's exactly what happened. First, their psoriasis got
worse. Then it started clearing on the stomach, and the healing spread
Another began clearing "from the bottom up." Others
reported clearing "repeatedly"; every time stress brought the psoriasis
back, sticking to the diet or to the meditation practice cleared it yet
again. Some developed psoriasis in places they'd never had it before
- but then most of those lesions disappeared, along with many of the old
We have discovered individual triggers and cures.
One person stays clear as long as she avoids beets. Another can heal
herself by sheer will. Others have to maintain the acid /alkaline
balance that Cayce frequently mentioned in his readings. Some say
stress is their main culprit, some say diet, and some say both. We
see again why Edgar Cayce gave readings for individuals rather than for
One of the most dramatic reports comes from Betty,
whose psoriasis disappeared entirely within a short time of her return
home. When her son died suddenly three days before Christmas, she
gave herself over to the twin processes of grieving and of taking care
of herself, letting the diet fall by the wayside for lack of energy.
Her emotional healing is still continuing. But her spiritual healing
is intact - and the psoriasis has never returned.
Our 76-year-old Australian belle, Merle, also
healed almost completely, after suffering from "head-to-toe" psoriasis.
Her one flare-up came four to six weeks after she had eaten oysters, but
disappeared soon thereafter.
In my case, the psoriasis healed dramatically
during the November meeting. New lesions later appeared, then gradually
disappeared. Allergy prevents me from using some of the best Cayce
remedies, such as saffron tea, but the rest of the diet and meditation
program keeps me improving.
As of this writing, four people have healed completely.
Although those with the most complex cases involving greater degrees of
"leaky gut" and larger areas of scaling are taking longer to heal, all
of us are definitely healing.
Because most of us have been or still are caretakers
of others, the unusual centrality of our needs and welfare gave us not
only the physical but the spiritual freedom to begin healing. Everything,
from meals to art therapy, was organized in advance.
Gabriela Drinovan cooked wonderful meals for us
at the beach house, and she and Kieth Vonder0he, our tireless facilitator
and caretaker, did all the shopping - often with lists full of separate
requests. We felt blessed by the safe environment that the A.R.E.
provided. For some of us, it was the first safe haven in our lives.
Kieth lived with us, organized us, and did everything
from making sure that those with food allergies were accommodated to getting
us to our activities on time. He is a natural listener and mediator,
and we felt his presence as a blessing. No matter how many hats he
had to wear he wore them well.
Similarly all the professionals who worked with
us were more than superb; they were dedicated, receptive, and open.
As Pam puts it, "Everything we brought to them they took as gifts."
Had any organization other than the A.R.E. sponsored
this program, most of us would probably not have participated. As
Pat Blair Funk of Ashland, Virginia, says, "Everyone having a connection
with the A.R.E. made a big difference in the make-up of the group and was
important in my wanting to attend. While 'leaky gut' is at the root
physiologically, and therefore the need for a special diet, I believe that
feeding the injured spirit, as we did and do for each other, and as did
all the beautiful souls who helped on the project, is just as much a part
of the healing."
Attending the conference helped us cope differently
with - and feel differently about - our psoriasis. When we were saying
our first goodbyes in November, in a group embrace, Mary Miller said, "Thank
You, Lord, for this psoriasis." She went on to express her gratitude that
her body chooses to exit its toxins through her skin, causing surface distress,
rather than lodging them in an internal organ and causing life-threatening
disease. Her heartfelt prayer struck everyone with its truth.
Each expression of gratitude moves all of us deeply.
From Pam: "The conference made me realize that the scales on my skin do
not lessen my beauty." Betty says, "I had always felt so alone before."
Adds Pat: "I never once during the 12 days thought of us separately as
a group of psoriatics but as a group of beautiful, sensitive, individual
Interestingly, while we were originally encouraged
to bring a support partner, most of us came alone. As Pam says: "We
were forced to communicate with each other more when feelings and discomfort
came up instead of withdrawing to a familiar support source. We had
to create our own safety and support among the group." (One person had
a unique "intermediate" experience - that of having her local spouse attend
some activities but not others. The balance worked very well for
Peter's presence - he was the lone adult male
- added "an element of humor, caring, and acceptance," said Pat.
Peter, who by his own admission has the self-confidence to handle anything,
says simply, "By March I believe we had all bonded." And we had.
Between November and March, many of us went through
personal upheavals: deaths and terminal illness in our families, marital
separations, personality changes. Phone lines hummed and letters
were exchanged as we spiritually nourished one another with love, compassion,
and support. Most of us agree that at moments when sficking to the
diet seemed just too much work, we would think "but I promised the group"
- and the moment would pass.
Meanwhile, we told Kieth that we wanted fewer
scheduled activities for the March session and lots of time to talk.
And by March, more than barriers had disappeared: our faces actually looked
different. "You look softer" was repeated so often that we began
to believe it.
For most of us, the conference was a wake-up call
for changing the direction of our lives. Peter and Merle, for example,
are starting an Edgar Cayce healing center for psoriasis in Queensland.
Although we initially came to the conference expecting help with psoriasis
(which we indeed received), we returned this October knowing that we are
We also agree that even though we can put into
words the nature of our personal transformations, the deeper meanings elude
us. Says Galen: "I learned how to deal with people better - but it's
not really explainable." Others cite being "freer in speaking of my knowledge
of spiritual truths" or the increased ability "to apply subtle, fragile
discernment more frequently in my choices." But, almost to a person, the
most common response to the question of change echoed what one person said
most succinctly: "I have changed but cannot say how."
Perhaps Pat says it best for everyone: "The experience
at Virginia Beach has not only helped me diligently adhere to the healing
program, but has helped me handle other difficulties better. It is
almost impossible for me to say how I have experienced the spiritual and
emotional support from the group .... I can only say that it has stayed
with me and helped sustain me."
It surprises none of us that the Edgar Cayce readings
show the physical, mental, and spiritual as entwined. Perhaps the
deepest of the group realizations was that as we heal the flaws or wounds
- in the spiritual and emotional body, we almost automatically heal the
physical. We call the healing by different names. One says
that she is a stronger person, another that she copes better on certain
levels, a third that he is no longer frightened by what used to frighten
him - and we heal.
During our second session, we agreed unanimously
that we needed a third, even though Merle and Peter would be present only
in spirit. We feel that this meeting will yield the necessary data
and insights for completing our goal: to be of service not only to every
psoriatic but also to the A.R.E. and the Meridian Institute.
Because we believe that our being the first of
the A.R.E. research groups is no accident, we are committed to fully examining
our lives and our souls in the interests of others. We see this commitment
as an honor and a privilege. (Pam Billicky of Willoughby, Ohio; Mary Miller
of Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Natalie Reid of Southboro, Massachusetts,
offer ourselves as contact people for anyone with psoriasis.)
We in this psoriasis group have all been givers
- rarely askers, almost never takers. Although giving is blessed,
having difficulty with receiving, or with believing that one has a right
to even ask, interrupts the natural flow of life's physical and spiritual
energies. As a result of the psoriasis conference, we are all learning
trust - in self and of others - at the deepest of levels. Because
all of us are healing, all of us will heal.