A Divine Plan, When Illness Reveals Hidden Purpose

Abstract: Spiritual counselors believe there is a divine plan within our human existence. Working with divinity in the here-and-now this heavenly process helps resolve the pain of the past. This article gives those in the service of divinity a guide to discover the hidden destiny that illness covers up.


In Plant Spirit Shamanism a book by Ross Heaven and Howard G. Charing, readers learn of the strange ‘sin eaters’ of old. Sin eating was once a healing tradition of the Celtic people. According to Ross Heaven, “A sin eater would be employed by the family of a deceased person, or sometimes by the church, to eat a last meal of bread and salt from the belly of the corpse as it lay. By doing so, it was believed, the sins of the dead would be absorbed by the sin eater himself, and the deceased would have clear passage into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

In this healer-priest-medicine man role, sin eaters provided a sinless passage into the afterlife for the departed. As one might imagine, society basically shunned these individuals as they considered them impure due to their calling. Sin eaters could be considered healers and lived away from their villages in obscurity. In their isolation, sin eaters lived much closer to the mysteries of the divine. They were skilled in medicine, spiritual doctoring, and spirit world communication-translation. In the latter, they brought messages of forgiveness, hope, and specific instructions from loved ones who had already passed into the beyond.

Today, we call these medicine people who serve humanity through the translation, service, and knowledge of the spirit world intuitive coaches, shamans, mediums, priests, and trans-personal mental health counselors. They view healing through a psycho-social-spiritual perspective. In the earliest shamanic traditions, traumatic life events always had a spiritual cause. We don't have to wait until the afterlife to gain insight into the purpose of this lifetime. We can use the process of life review to help us discover the hidden meaning of illness now.

Identifying Hidden Illness as Destiny Calling

For those of us who serve in these important roles as healers, how can we identify a client’s hidden life purpose or destiny inside an illness? This phenomenon may be overlooked sometimes, but different forms of illness may sometimes be a call from spirit to live out a unique destiny. The wounded healer may be a tired or exhausted phrase, but still worthy of mentioning as we explore the original progression of modern medicine. For example, let’s look to mythology for an ancient representation of this. Modern medicine uses the symbol of the Asclepius’s staff to represent healing and medicine. The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation,

"I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods ..."[1]

If we go back even farther and see who influenced Asclepius we find, Chiron the centaur. Chiron was struck in the thigh by one of Heracles arrows which was poisoned with the blood of the Hydra. He was also the master of the healing arts. Even though he had trained many students in the art of healing, he could not heal himself. Thus, the iconography of the wounded healer as teacher was born. In the respected Greek tradition of tragedy, this powerful irony leads many healers to identify with Chiron, Asclepius and other masters of medicine who found healing as a vocation.

How to Find the Divine Plan in a Life Review

First, take life experience into account. We use everything we’ve learned in our lives up until now.  

Step One: Help clients flesh out their powerful defining moments by drawing a timeline of life events. Go through the life review on paper and draw out or use images to help the client construct their own story. Certain patterns will emerge. Look for archetypes, symbols, and universal themes in the story.

Step Two: Hold sacred space to allow clients to creatively process their experience by expressing their meaning. For example, if a client uses words to communicate freely have them type up, hand write, or tell you their full story including what purpose they discovered.

Step Three: How did illness show up? When and where on the timeline of events? Was it connected to other people or life challenges? If it was early in life and the client may have limited memories about what happened it is helpful to allow them to process what memories are connected to childhood illness.

Step Four: As coaches, we may have experienced personal loss through illness. If this is the case we allow the divine in ourselves to come out and greet the client where they are - encouraging them to accept their divine purpose. This is the synergistic healing property of the spiritual counseling relationship.




Reference: Farnell, Chapter 10, "The Cult of Asklepios" (pp. 234–279)

Image: The Education of Achilles by Chiron' fresco from Herculaneum, 1st century AD (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples).

About the Author: Courtney Marchesani is a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and the creator of Intuitive Soul Language. Her newest book, Feeding the Trauma Spirit, How to Nourish the Hidden Body is available now on Amazon

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Comment by Courtney Marchesani on May 12, 2017 at 11:14am

Thank you both, blessings!

Comment by Kathy Custren on May 11, 2017 at 10:47am

Hi, Courtney (and Lisa!)  - thanks very much for reducing to fit the guidelines. This is being forwarded to the publishers for use in a future edition. ~ Blessings! 

Comment by Courtney Marchesani on May 10, 2017 at 11:50am

Hi Lisa,

Yep, it was long! I shortened it up including the abstract down to fifty words.

Thank you:)

Comment by Lisa Shaw on May 10, 2017 at 10:43am

Hi, Courtney. Thanks for the submission.  However, the new magazine guidelines keep article length under 800 words.  Can you do some trimming down to between 600 and 800? Then I'll gladly forward to the publishers. Also, we now require a 50 word abstract before the article. Thanks so much

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