Different cultures have different rules about what is OK for a shamanic practitioner to do when offering their healing to others.
Shamanic healers who come from, or were trained in, a traditional healing system will sometimes find a clash between what they were taught is acceptable as a healer, and what they might have to do to bridge healing into a contemporary western culture.
There are two issues that tend to cause the most angst for such healers: charging money, and advertising their services.
This can feel like a big ethical dilemma for some shamanic practitioners. On one hand they do want to put there name out there, on the other hand they don’t want to violate the teachings of their traditions.
The Traditional Cultural Values
In many traditional cultures, shamanic healing was offered thru an exchange rather than by charging money. The person who needed healing would offer what they had. The offering might be food, or something they had made, in a similar way to what happens in a barter system.
With this type of system, it is offensive to require a person in need of healing, to come up with money before they can get the healing they need. If you value the community, you should not impede another from being able to get that healing, or turn it into a monetary situation. In addition, the entire community suffers because one of its members is out of balance. It is not just an offense to one person, it effects everyone.
It is also sometimes offensive to try to drum up business in the way of advertisers and marketers. If you are a good healer, then your work will speak for itself. It could therefore be a ethical violation to advertise what you do, or attempt to get more business for your self. This could turn sacred healing into… well, a business…
This is especially true for community ceremonies. Charging money for a ceremony such as a sweat lodge, can be highly offensive. I’ve talked to a few Native American individuals who have told me how it is wrong to do so. (I’m not sure if some small community donations are OK. But making a profit from a sweat lodge is definitely an issue.)
Healers who trained in certain traditional cultures, are trying to weed through such issues as… should I have a website? Is having a fee OK, or is donation only best?
Serving the “Western” Individual
As sacred as these values can be for those who are part of a traditional culture, with a strong community, these values do not always work so well if your trying to serve a western individual. For such individuals… unless you are part of a metaphysical or new age community, chances are much of your community isn’t aware of spiritual healing, and is unlikely to be able to direct you to a good healer.
Now that person may know they have a problem… he or she may know they need some kind of help. Not sure of what he is looking for, he may turn to the web. Or she might find an article in a yoga magazine, and locate her healer in the magazine’s healer directory. Without some form of public advertising, these individuals would be less likely to find the healing they are looking for.
A shamanic healer’s job is to bridge the healing to their client. In some cases that means serving the client by putting your information where that client can find it. Word of mouth still works surprisingly well. Often, people will stumble upon the information in unexpected way from other people they know. However, that doesn’t help the individual who is too uncomfortable to talk about it with others.
So while it is a good value, not to brag and talk yourself up as a healer. Its possible, even for a traditionally trained healer, that putting his or her information out there could be a form of service. If you are such a healer, only you can decide what is right, and what honors your healing traditions.
The Spirit of Charging Money
The other common issue was mentioned first… that of charging money for spiritual healing. I have heard a few staunch people (non-healers) say that a healer should never charge money… if they do, they aren’t a very nice person. That seems a little harsh to me… a healer deserves to eat and pay their rent.
Then there are certain traditional cultures which also say you shouldn’t charge for spiritual work. In some senses, this is true. Materialism and placing a dollar amount on everything, is the opposite to the foundations of spiritual healing. There is no ownership in a spiritual healing, it is a blessing to receive, not a purchase to obtain.
However, charging money doesn’t have to be an act of materialism. Every healing involves an exchange of energy. A individual needs to “show up” for the healing in some way. For some, showing up is as simple as being willing to face the unknown. For others, it involves putting in a certain amount of work or effort to balance out what they will receive in return.
The money earned, is a symbol of the work a person has put in to obtain that money. Through their own efforts they have collected and saved this money. That effort can balance the effort given by the spirit world. Sometimes, an individual may have done so much work, helping others, or working so hard on healing themselves, that the balance is there without money. There is no one right balance that works for every single healing.
Money can be an opportunity to create balance. It can help the person being healed feel like they have provided for him or herself. Paying can be an act of honoring the healing and also the healer. In some cases, the healer may need to respect the work enough to say it is worth paying for. In other words, if money is treated with the right spirit, it can be the right thing for that healing.
Having Access to Healing
Even though as a healer, you may need to honor your worth or the healing work, by saying its OK to charge money for what you do. You also have to consider access. Money should not form a barrier to someone getting healing. I think as healers, we are responsible to trying to make sure people seeking healing have access to healing they can afford, both in terms of dollars, as well as energetically.
For instance, I have found that because I see client’s in their homes, the energy balance of in-versus-out is different for different people. For some clients, a minimal fee is enough to balance out my effort in traveling to their home, and the work of bringing stones and crystals to set up a sacred space. In other cases, I have a sense that the balance is not there. Not because the person should be forced to pay more money. Rather, for that individual, they need to put a little more work into the healing process for the balance to be maintained. In this case, if the person drives to see a healer, that effort on their part is what is needed.
In my opinion, when someone has asked me for healing, I feel I am responsible for making sure they have access to healing “they can afford.” In these cases, I might refer a client to a healer with an office, a long distance healer, or even a student who is the right fit for that individual. If I had an office, I might adjust the healing I give someone to maintain the balance, where I might not be able to make that adjustment including a 30 mile round trip drive to their home.
This is not a dollar amount thing, but one of balance. There is a tipping point where, as a healer, you are “doing their work for them.” Its not about what a person deserves or what they are worthy of. Everyone deserves every bit of healing and love that is out there. However, a client’s ability to take ownership of their own spiritual journey, can affect what is appropriate for them at a given time.
Putting it in the Hands of the Spirits
As healers, we can’t always decide or be controlling about that balance. If I can’t give a client access to another healer for some reason, then I may go ahead with the healing, and trust that balance will be found for him or her in some other way.
In the end, charging money is one of the means to create an energetic balance between what the client is putting into the healing, and what the healer and the spirit world are putting into the healing.
If you are the client, the fee should not feel overwhelming or oppressive. If it does, you may not have the right balance with this particular healer.
For healers, there is some reflection involved to decide what honors everyone who comes to the healing space. What approach to charging money creates the best balance for you and your clients without interfering with your serving those clients in the best way?