We have a special treat here at Writer’s Journey! Today’s post on magical realism was written by Karen Bonner, author of the young adult fantasy, Witching Moon. After her post, you’ll find the calendar for the blog tour.
From Karen Bonner:
Kids ran loose from sunup to sundown in the San Antonio neighborhood where my dad grew up. When he was nine, he crossed Santa Ana Street to visit a neighbor who treated him to ice cold Coca-colas from the icebox. One day the neighbor had an old friend visit him. As my dad guzzled his Coke, the neighbor’s friend noticed the warts on my father’s arm.
“Would you like to be rid of those?” the man asked, pointing to the pustules.
“Sure,” my dad said.
“Hold your arm out.” The man counted and pressed his finger to each wart. “They’ll be gone soon enough,” he said.
Within a week all eleven warts had vanished.
My dad, a man of science, has told this story a hundred times. He remains confounded by the healer to this day but swears that the events are true.
Faith healers, holy rollers, and ghost stories were part of my childhood. I was reared in the south where Spanish moss drips from river oaks and the ceilings of front porches are painted “haint blue” to to confuse the ghosts, or haints, into thinking that the pale blue ceiling was part of the sky so they wouldn’t cross the threshold. I assumed this magical way of thinking was a southern quirk, but all cultures embrace folk lore, superstitions, and mystical creatures.
In Iceland roads are rerouted to protect Huldufolk, or hidden people, and their elvish communities hidden in the rocks and fields. In China the Pixiu, a winged lion statue, can be seen in many homes warding off evil spirits and attracting wealth.
Who hasn’t been in a crowd and heard their name called only to turn and recognize no one, or felt an icy chill run up their spine when they were all alone in a strange place. We all have eerie experiences that can’t be explained. A surgeon friend of mine told me of a patient who came to him and insisted that he biopsy her left breast. Her mammogram and ultrasounds were clear, there was nothing that warranted a biopsy and the surgeon couldn’t feel a lump, but the woman insisted that she knew a tumor was present in her breast. He told her insurance wouldn’t cover the procedure, but she didn’t care, she would pay cash. The surgeon biopsied the breast where the patient indicated was a foreign growth and sent to tissue for biopsy. The pathologist found a microscopic cancerous tumor in the breast tissue, too small to detect by mammogram.
Magic, superstition, and the surreal surrounds us. We simply need to keep out mind and hearts open to experience the mystic.