Testing the Pagan Prescription: Using a Randomized Controlled Trial to Investigate Pagan Spell-Casting as a Form of Noncontact Healing

Charmaine Sonnex, Chris Roe, Elizabeth C Roxburgh

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This research investigates the healing practices of modern Paganism using a randomized controlled trial. Paganism is a burgeoning belief system in the United Kingdom, within which healing is a key aspect. However, Pagan spell-casting practices have received little attention from distance healing researchers. This study aims to address this gap in the literature. Design: This study utilized a randomized, double-blind, delayed intervention design. Settings/Location: Research took place at the University of Northampton. Subjects: Forty-four participants (30 females, 14 males) were recruited using snowball sampling (mean age = 24.30; range = 18-55). Procedure: Participants were randomly allocated to either Group A or B. Participants made written requests to the practitioner about changes they would like to see in their lives and provided a photograph and personal item to be used during the intervention. Participants attended meetings once a week during which they would take part in a guided body scan meditation before completing a quality-of-life measure. Healing practices were conducted for Group A between weeks 1 and 2 and for Group B between weeks 2 and 3. Outcome Measure: Well-being was measured using the 26-item WHOQOL-BREF. Results: Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) showed a significant, positive change in general health from weeks 1 to 4 (F = 4.02, p = 0.025, η2 = 0.149). Separate analysis of variances of the four WHOQOL domains showed significant improvements across the study in the physical and psychologic domains only; there was no significant group difference on any of the outcomes. Conclusion: All participants showed an increase in health and well-being domains directly related to their spell requests. However, there are no group differences to suggest that the spell-casting intervention was responsible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-225
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date24 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2020


  • Healing
  • RCT
  • paganism


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