By Michelle McLemore
First published in #78 Issue of Crazy Wisdom:
What’s in a Name? That which we call energy therapy by any other name would be esteemed the same. Or would it? History, Hollywood, and cultural bias has long pitted healing philosophies against each other and, in some cases, ostracized or executed (in some countries even today) for even a suspicion of one’s involvement with energy manipulation.
Educating myself (and my clients) about the different forms of healing practices has been important. Labels casually thrown about by family, friends, clients, and strangers have revealed ignorance, stereotypes, and my own squeamishness based on not wanting to misrepresent truth nor step on any cultural toes.
In the first year of energy training, the initial conundrum was to wrap my farm-girl, Catholic-raised mind around the fact that an average person—like me, like you—could provide pain relief and sometimes relieve all symptoms of illness for a client. The term “healer” and “healing” was used in classes. Healing, I could see and believe. But, to call myself a “healer”? That didn’t sit well. I made peace by defining myself as a healing “guide” since healing belongs ultimately to a client. My goal was (and is) to assist healing and then educate clients in building their own healthy proactive strategies. My internal conscious meter relaxed—or so I thought.
At some point I attended a group angel reading out of town. When the intuitive’s eyes lighted upon me, she quickly called out, “You are a healer. You need to quit being afraid of people calling you a ‘witch.’” In less than 30 seconds, this stranger had identified, called out, and dismissed a harassing thought. It was true. I was encountering accusing vibes from Christian friends and locals which made them hesitant to reap the benefits of a session. They had no context for understanding healing facilitated from a simple girl next door. So, I began pondering how best to educate fearful people that energy healing was not anti-Divinity?
Training and years went on. I chose to explain the science and research aspects. This helped turn an abstract concept into a more comprehensible idea. The best explanation, of course, was simply when someone tried a session.
Then, a new label arose. Several times in one year, I was appraised (each time by a stranger) and it was declared, “You have Native American blood.” Then, the individual would ask, “What nation?”
I stammered. “Mmmm, no. We’ve no genealogy support of that. Though, my husband is one eighth Cherokee.”
In each instance, the person was not deterred even momentarily in their stance. “No. You definitely have it in your blood.”
What to say to that? I’ve had training by indigenous teachers, but training does not suddenly change one’s genetics. Add to this a friend, familiar with my energy work, one day pronounced he believes I am a Shaman. Inside I recoiled slightly. I quickly clarified, I have not had appropriate training or teaching for that title. He scoffed and said my opinion didn’t match my work.
Time went on. Sessions and casual labels by others continued. My husband and a client friend, Dee, occasionally gave impromptu testimonials to folks. Both jokingly referred to the helpful “Vodoo” that I do.
One day Dee and her sixteen-year-old football player grandson came for his first appointment. They had just seated themselves at the dining room table. Normally, we’d begin reviewing the new client’s health history and set goals. But first, I felt I needed to make a distinction.
“Okay, before we get started, Dee, did you bring the chicken?” Both of their faces went blank with confusion.
“You know, for the blood sacrifice.” The young man’s eyes grew wider and his head jerked to look at his trusted grandmother. Dee was chuckling and shaking her head. “Okay. I get it now,” she laughed.
I broke into a grin and apologized to the young man. “And that’s one of the reasons this is not Vodoo. Everybody clear?” Color came back into the stocky boy’s face, and he began to breathe easier.
People psychologically create labels for others to help make sense of the unfamiliar and to categorize threat levels in society. It is the primitive brain’s normal strategy for safety of evolution. It is also where stereotypes begin. With new information, or repeat encounters with something or someone different, the advanced healthy brain should reinforce or revise its initial labels and concerns. With increased encounters, usually there is a decline in fear and a decline in the prejudice which are typical side effects. But, if someone doesn’t have encounters, they borrow what other people tell them or what they’ve seen from Hollywood, regardless of its accuracy.
Am I personally worried about being confused with a witch, a native American healer, or a Voodoo queen? No. But, my heart is also very clear on not claiming titles that do not fit what I do or who I serve. “Guiding” resonates with my heart. It will be sufficient regardless of how I do the job.
And for the record? Of all the nick name labels I’ve been given, I like “Jedi Master” best.
What is your understanding level of the various energy-moving modalities and religions? Can you match the type to its description?
__1. Healing Touch __4. Louisiana/Creole Voodoo
__2. Witchcraft __5. Shamanism/Native American healing
__3. Usui Reiki __6. Christianity
A. A three-level energy healing program passed down from a Buddhist monk who was given healing power during a meditation. Students are given a hands-on “attunement” in which the specific healing power is passed, or shared, between the teacher and student. Sessions focus on balancing the energy anatomy system using both light touch, hovering hands, and drawing symbols in the air or on the body to focus the healing.
B. A five-level specific energy healing program designed by American nurses and endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Association. Sessions focus on balancing the energy anatomy system, removing blocks, and using both light touch or hovering hands to balance chakras, clear meridians, and clearing the biofield.
C. A religious or mystical expert (male or female) in early societies who functions as a healer, prophet, and custodian of cultural tradition. Beliefs include respect of the land and an omnipotent deity. Healing practices include powwows, music, smudging, storytelling, sweat lodges, the pipe ceremony, and use of herbs.
D. A combination of Catholic saint reverence, a Christian omnipotent good–but distant–God-belief, calling upon deceased family/friends, and following or developing a kinship to an Iwa (a spirit). The connection or veneration helps channel the principles and energy of the Iwa into this world to help. The devotee might channel the Iwa so others can interact directly with the spirit.
E. A belief in one omnipotent God, a spirit able to heal as well as give power to heal and punish, and a demi-god son. An opposing evil entity is also viewed as powerful. Focused prayer to any of the three is believed to make physical and situational healing possible if aligned with the God-plan. Devotees can place their hands on the body of another and, with the additional thought or words, facilitate healing.
F. A practice incorporating an affinity for nature, casting spells, and performing rituals to impact people, situations, or the environment with intention; rituals often observed around seasons or cycles. Practiced with great variety across the world; may or may not include Wiccan beliefs of male and female deities, white or black magic (supernatural power).