A while back I wrote my opinion on the variety and quality (or lack thereof) of psychics. I later received a message from a client asking if the “scam” part of the psychic profession also pertained to healers, spiritual teachers and shamans. My answer: an unfortunate but resounding, YES! Whether it’s intended or not, there are a lot of people who are in these professions for their own personal gain, even if they are unaware of it, and many more because it strokes their egos.
First, let me say that I have encountered and known some amazing healers, spiritual teachers and one person who was an actual Medicine Man on the Red Road (Native American tradition). He was called “shaman” by many but not by himself. He considers himself a humble part of the Earth and a seeker of truth.
But I’ve also encountered many, many more who want to be in the position of wisdom with a deep-seated need to be respected. Unfortunately, they have little knowledge and have not earned nor do they deserve the respect they crave. Yet in their journey to personal enlightenment, they involve others to believe in them and support them (including financially) while they’re really just on a “New Age” power trip.
Here’s a quote from “Aboriginal Men of High Degree” by the late Australian anthropologist A. P. Elkin published in 1993:
“…Medicine men…are of high degree; that is, men who have taken a degree in the secret life beyond that taken by most adult males – a step which implies discipline, mental training, courage and perseverance…they are men of respected, and often of outstanding, personality…they are of immense social significance, the psychological health of the group largely depending on faith in their powers…”
Who would not want to be considered courageous with an outstanding personality and as the core of a group? Especially with the consciousness changes happening now that can make us all feel lost in how we fit into this new paradigm. However, authentic individuals of this calling – not just men – usually start quite young or make a life work of the training, not take a weekend seminar or train once a weekend for a year.
With the awakening of the Aquarian Age on us, people are being drawn more and more to a spiritual path. Many get a hit of the incredible feeling that comes from not just connecting with our deepest selves, but with the higher energy of Nature in the guise of Devas, Animal Spirits or the Earth herself; or with Spirit in the guise of Guides, Angels or Ancestors.
If we’re not used to this connection, when it comes it is eye-opening and incredibly special. It is holy. Some people who experience this, having never experienced it before, are overwhelmed and feel themselves special. Special enough to want to pass that on, too often without the awareness of how to do that without pushing themselves or their beliefs on others.
Have you ever encountered someone who came to their religious understanding or spirituality as an teenager or adult? I’m talking about more than the re-born Christians. Anyone who experiences a soul awakening, especially as an adult, can tend to become zealous and want to share. Inadvertently, they try to “convert” others for their own good. Or in the case of this spiritual awakening, try to “teach” others when all they know is a glimmer of the whole.
Unfortunately, these days on the heels of the Piscean Age power-over energy, that enlightenment can translate to pumping up the ego instead of a humble understanding of how we all fit together. It can become a self-satisfaction that is obnoxious: “I know more, I’m more special, I’m looked on by Spirit more favorably than others because of our connection or what I was shown.” It becomes the answer to their personal questions instead of it bringing the knowledge that we are all special.
I’ve heard multiple times of the self-proclaimed “shaman” or spiritual teacher manipulating or demanding “his” people do this and that, always making sure he’s at the head of it all and adored for his knowledge and work. While people crave the Piscean Age normalcy of having a single male individual take the lead and tell them what to do and think and feel, all this cycle does is feed the ego of one and keep those who want to be led from awakening within.
Because we are used to 2,000 years of religious leaders being on a pedestal and RIGHT just by being in positions of power, we automatically assign a lot of faith and trust to people who present themselves as spiritual leaders. We are in the process of shifting that power-over mentality to the power-within and these self-proclaimed teachers are helping us, but not in the way we might think. Getting burned by a self-driven “holy” individual hopefully makes us begin to think for ourselves, to recognize what’s right for us and to trust our own instincts.
The best way to identify a genuine healer, spiritual teacher or shaman is egolessness. All of these “professions” offer spiritual service without the need for personal gain or ego-stroking. That doesn’t mean legitimate healers or spiritual teachers should give their services for free – even in older times these individuals were paid, usually in food. “Personal gain” here refers to self-importance, or “ego-gain”.
It’s equally important how this awareness is shared. It used to be that having a good message but no integrity could be accepted because the message was the point. No longer. The integrity of the message starts with the person who passes it on. Unfortunately, few want to devote their entire lives to learning that integrity. We’re still a fast-paced society, living in very accelerated times, so the speed of things holds sway: “I just had an awakening, I want to share it NOW because it will make me feel better, not wait until I know more.”
All this being said, there are a lot of holy individuals from the past who have reincarnated in this life specifically to help with the spiritual awakening. But anyone telling you they are one of those reincarnated teachers just confirms they are not. Those of high spiritual knowledge have no need to tell you. A Zen Master never says he is a Zen Master, he just IS and helps as he can. Oneness with all means oneness with self so ego isn’t even on the table.
Sidebar: The word “shaman” refers specifically to a priest of the Ural-Altaic peoples, not ANY medicine man from ANY tribe or tradition. There is a name for every holy person based on their indigenous culture. But “shaman” has become a catch-all title for anyone who practices healing or teaching a pseudo-native understanding of spirituality. Or thinks they do. When you hear someone call themselves “shaman”, they may not be as knowledgeable as they think they are if they don’t know they’re naming themselves incorrectly.
With love and gratitude…