I got triggered pretty hard by a friend posting on Facebook, that she was disgusted by the fact that an indigenous person was offering a training for money on native healing ways. She stated it in a way that concluded that healers are chosen, not trained and that training should somehow be gifted, leaving money out of the interaction.
It hurt me on so many levels. As a person who is perceived to be of white ancestry, who is a medicine person, who offers training in such things; I felt deep compassion for the person who created the offering. Being cut down by her own community based only on charging money for training. I know the courage it takes to step forward in this way, not to mention the time and energy it takes to hold space for people. The idea that you are not allowed to be compensated for your efforts if those efforts are spiritually based is a common idea. It has been present on my journey always. Yet, this time it got me hard.
I was so tired. Holding ceremony for weeks. Stepping forward to offer healing to the earth and the ancestors, neither of which have debit cards. I was tired and broke, which is always a bad combination.
This idea that in this time and space we currently occupy, AKA the United States 2017, we are supposed to be able to offer teaching in a traditional form is ridiculous. In a balanced and functioning society or tribe there would be at least 10 spiritual healers for every 200 people. Each with their own specialty, and offering support for each other, as well. The medicine person is a naturally occurring role in humans. There are always people born in all races with the innate qualities of heightened sensitivity to all the realms. Those people who are able to see and hear beings coming from other realms, as well as to take on another’s emotions, and who are able to perceive all that is esoteric and below the somatic. This natural occurrence of innate qualities that allow you to do the work of a medicine person occurs in all populations of humans.
In our society those innate abilities can create a hot mess of a person trying to navigate this world. Able to perceive every imbalance, wound, soul loss, and toxic ancestor hanging around other people while trying to function as a normal person. Without training this can be debilitating. The message that you are insane and too much for other people often becomes your own voice. This current time that we are living in, with all its imbalances, is a terrible burden for all of us. Yet, for the sensitive soul who has yet to learn to use their abilities as a gift, it can be a living nightmare of torment. The idea that you do not choose to be a medicine person is not true. You must choose to actualize your abilities into gifts. This choice requires training and focus. Just like any art form, tallent will only take you so far. In an unhealed society like ours, too often medicine people at some point learn to shut down their abilities completely or end up in the mental health system, or both.
Looking at our human relations, knowing that we are all connected. Even if our great grandparents battled we are the collective generation brought here to heal that. Each of us, every one of us. Keeping teachings of balance and harmony away from anyone at this time based on ethnicity is at odds with the goal of bringing healing to this earth. I honor the truth of the pain of appropriation. When your prayers are outlawed and your Gods stolen and sold to collectors, It makes sense to me that sharing with the decedents of the people who perpetrated genocide, rape and murder on your people might not be the first thing on the list of things to do. Yet, we do not live in the time before colonization. Trying to pretend that we should be able to function in purely traditional ways is harmful to everyone involved. Working together toward authentic and honored inclusion, collectively bridging cultural division and creating unified planetary healing is the calling of all of us at this time. This is not a dress rehearsal.
Then there is this issue of money. The idea that a medicine person is supposed to offer everything they have and take the time to teach another person how to do so without compensation is ridiculous and unsustainable. Are we supposed to work at McDonalds in order to support ourselves, praying and teaching and healing people in our spare time? This idea is a symptom of our imbalanced state, it is sick and wrong and pervasive. Ultimately it only creates more illness and imbalance. It is an idea rooted in a time where the traditional healer was held outside of the needs of worrying about physical needs. The needs of the healers were met by the community because the role they play was valued by their community. This community understood that healers work is outside of the physical world, and is all consuming. It does not leave time for the side job at McDonalds. This is a beautiful idea, and true in some cultures, unfortunately not ours.
To translate this idea into this time and space of urban living in 2017 just creates more imbalance for the medicine person. The message that you must take a vow of poverty in order to be spiritual is a message that only serves the broken paradigm we are collectively trying to heal. That conversation goes something like, “I would like to work with spirit, but you know, I like to eat, so that cannot be my main gig. I guess I will go sell my skills, abilities and gifts to the machine for money, then try to get spirit to work with me even though I am out of integrity within myself.“ This is a seriously out of balance idea!
Yet, prayer cannot be tied to capitalism. To try to fit spiritual healing into the western business model is another seriously out of balance idea. It is not that simple to unravel because our money, our means of consensually exchanging energy, is currently imprisoned in capitalism. This work must be beyond money, but right now money is how we exchange energy to stay in balance. It often seems impossible to translate spiritual work into monetary exchange. How much would you pay to heal your soul? How much do you pay to restore balance to your ancestors? How much would you pay to have the energy lines of the earth repaired? It must be beyond money. Yet we need money. After all the first requirement of being a medicine person, is to be an actual person. A person with a mouth, hands, and body that require care, food, and shelter. Our relationship with money is also too frequently heavy with karma; ancestral and personal. To come to a balanced place with money we must spend a good long time clearing that karma. Money in our society, maintains a link between our vital life force and everything we willingly exchange for that life force. The answer my Spirit friends gave to my cry of, "Is this true?", was that, "Yes, money is directly linked to your human physical needs. In this realm, money and time are linked. So, you charge for your time. Blessing it along the way. Offering a sliding scale for everyone. Allowing community support so, that you can do this work."
As I sat with this message I found some comfort, and a lot more to chew on. I am good with the time money piece. I have been charging $60 per hour for the purpose of easy math for a long time. This is extremely necessary when working outside of time and space to be able to return to an ordinary state of consciousness and figure out the money piece. I have always worked on a sliding scale. Yet, this idea of community support is still a bit foreign to me. I am a strong do it yourselfer. It is hard for me to even entertain the thought of how to allow others to be involved. In answer to how, my ancestors and Azrael Avey guided me to create a Patreon page https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2388325. It seems we already live in the future, and that future allows us to support each other easily. One example of the modern equivalent of traditional community support. This is a technological platform for community support. The answer to how the hell I am going to allow myself to be supported to continue walking this beautiful medicine path, offering support to all of my relations, not just the human ones. I invite any of my medicine people, artists, and creator friends to entertain the thought of creating a page for yourself. You can even tell them I sent you. Use this link https://patreon.com/invite/dqzxlr if you do because, then I too will get a little money that will translate into time I can spend serving those who cannot pay. I am being brave and putting this out there and giving it a try. I like it so far.
Thank you to my friend who I love very much for bringing this issue up for me to chew on, examine and reconsider my own relationship with balance. Thank you also to my friend Cassandra, who often helps me organize my words to be a better gift to all of you.
Josephine Thomason is an artist, healer, teacher.