My Father, the Witch Doctor

One day, back in the early 70s, my father suddenly discovered that he had the astonishing ability to talk to the dead and heal the sick (for real!).

By day, he was a successful interior decorator with clients ranging from the Presidents of Cuba and Haiti to assorted mobsters and the illicit rich. Mom was a brilliant, glamour-rama whose style lit up any room including when she was shaking the dice in some Havana casino.

Overnight, our Miami home became like Lourdes as people arrived with blind babies, in crutches or with bottles of medication only to leave seeing, walking and drug-free. Over the years, my father healed thousands of people, many of whom wrote testimonial letters detailing their cures. Needless to say, the presence of such a miracle man put a strain on our family. I wanted a normal dad who mowed the lawn and fell asleep in front of the TV. Mom wanted her old husband back who wasn’t distracted by disembodied spirits who suddenly appeared to give my father medical advice on how to handle a particular case or patient.

More startling, however, was the threat that my father posed to the established order. The FDA sent agents to harass and hopefully jail him, the police were constantly knocking on our door with complaints of “voodoo and witchcraft” and doctors had him thrown out of hospitals and threatened to have him arrested for “practicing medicine without a license” even though he never charged a dime for any of his healings. He felt that he given a special gift that was meant to be shared and not used to line his pockets.

My, how times have changed. Today, my father would most likely be on Oprah, have several grants from the NIH to study energy medicine and a thriving practice in several states as well as choice international locales, not to mention a flock of celebrity clients and devotees. It’s a shame that he had to spend so much of his time and energy fighting this idiotic harassment. All he really wanted to do was share his discovery with others so that we could all work toward a more enlightened form of medicine and healing that did not necessarily involve barbaric surgery and poisonous pharmaceuticals.

Today, you look in the phone book and there are actually people listed under the category of “healers.” Try searching on the internet and you will find more “healers” than shoe repair stores or dishwasher repair men. Forty years ago, no self-respecting “yellow pages” would take such an ad but that person would be quickly investigated. Something has changed. There is a major, yet quiet shift in how we think about maintenance and repair of our bodies. I know my father would be so pleased that we are moving toward a saner, more balanced approach to how we approach the human body.

What was different about my father is that the spirits were transmitting to him advanced healing methods that had never before been seen. For example, in conjunction with one of his spirit guides, he developed a healing method called “Projectors.” It’s a bit complicated to explain but he would mentally imprint a kind of psychic vaccine onto each one of these cards. He created over 400 different projectors to remedy various health conditions. Patients would sit quietly with these cardboard squares pasted to their forehead as they absorbed their unique healing energy. I remember my father warning his healees to not keep the projector on for longer than three minutes or they would overdose on the powerful, invisible energy flooding their body. Or, he might take his pendulum into the backyard and with the help of the spirits find a particular leaf or flower that would help alleviate the condition of his patient. His success rate was beyond impressive.

In his work my father saw the body as nothing short of an engineering miracle that cannot be duplicated by any human machine. If you think about it, we are basically a big plastic bag with a bunch of powerful chemicals sloshing around but somehow are able to process a zillion stimuli every second from the reflection in a piece of glass to understanding thoughts and words when someone moves their lips. Pretty sophisticated stuff.

When my father began a healing, he would use a small pendulum and an anatomy chart to quickly diagnose the “patient.” He didn’t need blood tests, X-rays or exploratory surgery to discover that there was small tumor on the kidney or a blockage in the left artery. Mind you, this was long before such inventions as CAT scans or MRIs. Without these miracle machines, doctors basically proceeded with an X-ray and then cut you open for a look. While my father was alive, there was a handful of doctors who would call him in secret, fearing they might lose their license if anyone knew that they were consulting with some guy and his pendulum to diagnose a difficult patient where all their training had failed. In minutes, he gave them the answer and another person was saved.

While the hooligans shouted “witch doctor” and tried to have my father shut down, he quietly persevered. Basically, he was light years ahead of his time and held in his hand the future of medicine where the energies of the body are addressed and harmlessly realigned without the harmful effects of radiation or needless surgery. If he had built a machine that did, then his work would have been accepted. But, a human being who could mentally send medication halfway around the world in a matter of minutes? Impossible. Never mind that we can now hook up a patient in Abu Dhabi to some electrical leads and a doctor in Dallas can instantly read their EKG. My father didn’t need the convenience of a machine, he was the machine.

Now, so many people say, “I wish I knew your father.” Unfortunately, he was dismissed and disdained while he was alive by those he wished to help and teach. What is most satisfying and surprising is that I have heard from many, many physicians that in learning about my father’s unusual work, they are rethinking how they approach medicine. Some are installing healing touch workers on their ward, others are admitting that medicine can only go so far and that successfully healing the patient may involve subtle and unseen spiritual methods and beliefs. While my father generated these ideas almost fifty years ago, they seem to be finally taking root and provide us with hope of a new day in medicine. I have no doubt that he is satisfied with our slow and incremental progress.

©2008 Philip Smith

Author Bio
Philip Smith is the former managing editor of GQ and an artist whose works are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Arts, among many others. He lives in Miami.