I used to picture a healer as someone who came with a few feathers, a crystal or two, and a whole lot of bullshit including a high price tag to boot.
A healer was in my mind a somewhat impotent role, as I’d never encountered anyone with real healing abilities. I’d met those who were laying hands and doing energy work, and it all seemed rather placebo to me. It was feel good stuff. I even went so far to study some of it, I’d realised some of it I was doing intuitively anyway and the studying of that which was taking place intuitively didn’t really resonate with me, but nonetheless I was searching so I looked in many places for something that had value, but found everything I examined somewhat insipid. I didn’t have huge faith in my own abilities either, they seemed mild, I wasn’t convinced I was able to do that much. It was disappointing. I tried to visualise white light as hard as I could and channel it with as much willpower as I could muster. It never seemed to do much though. I blamed my lack of connection and questioned the validity of the technique.
And then I encountered plant medicine and I realised what real healing was, and what it meant to be a healer.
One of my encounters with a healing facilitator helped me realise the powerful nature of a true healer. In an Ayahuasca ceremony, the healer made it clear to us that if we needed any help, she would come and sing for us personally. I chose to take her up on this offer, expecting a song that would comfort me in my darkness I was experiencing.
Little did I know that her song was designed to pull me deeper and deeper into those dark recesses of my soul, there was no mercy for me! I realised that this powerful healer was not there to comfort me, but to work with the medicine to show me what I needed to see, and for me to get through hell the only way to get out was to go through it. And I emerged, I broke through into the light, shell-shocked but grateful and with a deep sense of redemption and healing. That was incredible healing. I had faced myself with courage and with support that did not pander to my ego, did not seek to comfort me, and sought to assist me in reaching my highest potential.
And so I came to understand what the role of a healer really means, and as time went by, my own healing path unfolded before me and so I find myself attempting as best I can to share what I have learnt in the hopes that this too may assist you.
- The power of the healer and what healing really is all about
A healer is not a touchy feeling kind of profession. A healer is a powerful and somewhat scary responsibility.
To facilitate healing one must understand life, and to understand life, that means spending time getting to know death. To break through our darkness, we have to embrace our vulnerability, go into the very depths of our pain and suffering and embrace the lessons that await us there. To find healing, we have to push through the eye of the needle, walk through the dark tunnel and keep on pushing through until we break through. The only way through is through. And sometimes there is no through, there is only acceptance, and the acceptance is the healing. These are hard but powerful teachings and the healer has to not only learn them personally, but be able to guide others down these roads to grace.
- The wounded healer
To step into our responsibilities as healers, we have to begin by healing ourselves. I do believe one cannot be a true healer unless one is a wounded healer who has either healed or is in the process of healing one’s own self.
I was impressed to find this brilliant entry on Wikipedia regarding shamanism.
“The wounded healer is an archetype for a shamanic trail and journey. This process is important to the young shaman. S/he undergoes a type of sickness that pushes her or him to the brink of death. This happens for two reasons:
- The shaman crosses over to the underworld. This happens so the shaman can venture to its depths to bring back vital information for the sick, and the tribe.
- The shaman must become sick to understand sickness. When the shaman overcomes his or her own sickness s/he will hold the cure to heal all that suffer. This is the uncanny mark of the wounded healer.”
The wounded healer, I believe, will specialise in the illnesses that they have suffered themselves and assist others to find healing from these disorders.
- The healer is merely a facilitator
When working with plant medicines, we can too easily fall into the trap believing that we are the healers and are providing the healing. But the truth is the healer is inside each and every one of us, we are our own healers. The role of the healer is as the healing facilitator, the healing facilitator does play a very necessary role but is not indispensable. The healing facilitator can read the map, point the way and provide support on the pathway to wellness. The healing facilitator may, at times, act as a conduit for spirit, but the healing facilitator does not have powers of their own.
As a doctor is powerless without their medicine, so a healer is powerless without theirs. So the true doctor is really the medicine. And when working with plant medicines and spirit, the plant medicines and the plant spirits are providing the guidance for both the facilitator and the person who is seeking healing.
The healing facilitator holds the space for healing, but the word healer is deceiving as the true healer can never be external. True healing requires us to come to certain realisations within ourselves, the work of healing is achieved by the one that is being healed and the choice to be healed lies with the one that requires the healing.
- The modern day healer
Today’s healers come in different shapes and sizes. They may choose to be pure traditionalists, or they may deviate and embrace a variety of traditions. They may be initiated by other shamans, or initiated by spirit. How does one recognise a healer who is working in integrity?
The healing path is a path of selflessness. Whilst this does not mean that a healer should live the life of a pauper, a healer is called to service. Energy exchange must take place when healing takes place, else the work of the healer is not respected and the healing that is received is not taken seriously. Healers have a right to be respected, however healing services should be made accessible wherever possible. Healers who are interested in self-promotion and financial gain I believe may be more interested in themselves than acting in service of the calling they have received.
Embracing different modalities can assist a healer. For example, studying psychology can be realy useful. Counselling techniques including an understanding of a code of ethics and a formal or informal peer review mechanism are really valuable tactics for a healer to stay centred and grounded.
But the real power of a true healer who is working with plant medicine does not come from the healer themselves. The power of the healer arises when the healer acts as a conduit for the medicine that is flowing through them to assist. A healer surrenders to spirit and allows spirit to guide. When we work from our own abilities, our egos simply get in the way. But when assisted by spirit we are far more effective to provide guidance and hold space for those who are receiving healing from spirit. We never arrive in terms of our spiritual destination, we are always on the path. And it is equally important for any healer I believe to spend equal amounts of time doing self-work in order to heal and ground themselves. Just as a psychologist is required to remain in therapy, so too should a healer remain connected to the plants and spirits in order to ensure we stay on the path, grounded and centred at all times.
- The healing path calls all of us to step into our true potentials
When we is called to a spiritual path, it is not a calling that can be ignored. But with it come incredible blessings. Connection to spirit is the greatest gift, and it does seem the more healing work we do, the more healing we too receive.
All spiritual paths are lifelong journeys. We will always be healing our own hearts, our bodies and our spirits. There will always be those who are seeking healing. And our planet is in need of our assistance.
It is a double edged sword to understand your calling. Whilst a spiritual path is incredibly beautiful and magical, there are consequences should we ignore our calling. “How selfish are we to think that we came here for ourselves?” This was an insight I received working with medicine, and it really spoke to the very core of me.
I ran from my path for many years. I became very ill. Now I understand that my illnesses were lessons I had to overcome, and I am now better equipped on my path to assist others as a result. I wouldn’t change it now, even though at the time it was very difficult. I realise so much of the suffering I created for myself because of my fear and self-doubt. This too is a lesson I can now share with others. And so the healing path and its lessons unroll before me.
I am extremely grateful for this path, it is not what I imagined, it is more than I ever imagined, and it is incredibly fulfilling. As any spiritual path realised, I feel my soul ignited with passion because when we step into our true alignment in whatever form it may take, the universe conspires to assist us as our path unfolds before us. This is how it is when each and every one of us steps into our true potential.
And each and every one of us are healers in our own ways. Some are artists. Some are storytellers. Some are singers or musicians. Poets. Visionaries. Custodians. Matriarchs. Caretakers. Gardeners. The roots, the leaves, the branches.
Each of us are part of the greater organism and each of us has a crucial role to play in the healing of not only ourselves, but our communities, our consciousness and Gaia.