Since magical healers are not considered to be a part of the medical profession, they still need to be informed of the ethics of informed consent. When someone is in distress, it is common for their friends to send Reiki (and other forms of healing energy) without asking the person first. Simply because these friends have good intentions does not mean that the Reiki will alleviate the person’s distress. For example after my traumatic brain injury, I received unasked-for energy healing. My friends thought that they were helping me, but they did not know that the brain has its own energy fields. Their magical energy overloaded my injured brain, instead of helping to heal it.
Since then, I have urged people to ask me before doing any magical healing. For me, I view sending unasked-for healing to be a violation of my person. My doctors and I know what is better for my recovery than the “do-gooder” healer. Many casual workers of energy healing believe what they do is benign, but do not consider that they need to grant the distressed person their own agency. An important part of my recovery is to take back my own power in deciding my treatment. Wintersong Tashlin, activist and shaman, calls the practice of sending unasked-for energy to be “benevolent harm.” It takes away the person’s consent, and makes the sender the final arbitrator in the recovery process.
Moreover, several magical healers have emphasized that sending unasked healing could be a violation of the Universe’s plans (or the Fates) for the suffering individual. In her blog, Kelly Harrell, neo-shaman and author, cautions about the modern attitude of Western medicine that every broken thing must be fixed. Because of this attitude, the desire of the healer to cure the illness becomes more important than the “Highest Outcome” for the client. The Universe may decide that death is the answer for ending the person’s pain. She says that an ethical healer must be a part of “All That Is the Universe,” since the healer’s job is to connect “the Universe” with the client. The ethical healer balances “the Light” and “the Shadow” of the Universe to achieve the best outcome for her client.
In “The Art of Wiccan Healing,” Sally Morningstar, a Wiccan healer, writes that it can be morally wrong to interfere with a person’s suffering. She explains that “the Law of Karma” governs how people are supposed to experience their life. To send unasked healing could subvert a person’s Karma (Fate). The Universe decides what the Highest Good is for each person, and that may include suffering.
Raven Kaldera, a Northern-Tradition shaman, discusses this doctrine of Karma from a Northern Pagan point of view. In his book, “Wyrdwalkers,” he explains that everyone is interconnected within the “Well of the Wyrd” (Web of Life). If he interferes with someone’s Wyrd (Fate), he may weaken other Threads in the Tapestry (Web) of Life. Therefore, it is not the healer’s place to end the pain, without checking with the Gods first. The Norns (Fates) may have dictated that the person has to work through the pain.
When sending magical healing, many novice healers believe that they do not cause distress. However David Feinstein, clinical psychologist and energy-healing ethicist, points out that energy sent to alleviate pain does impacts the body. (I experienced this phenomenon with my brain injury.) Feinstein stresses that this flooding of energy overwhelms the emotions of the distressed person. This energy will often break through emotional blocks that the person may not be aware of, thereby causing a traumatic breakdown. Feinstein counsels that the most ethical approach is to do the healing in a structured setting with the recipient understanding the risks.
The other thing that novice healers may forget is that the sender and receiver are connected by an “energetic cord”, since this is how the energy is send and received. If the sender is not careful, they could end up syphoning off the receiver’s energy later on. It can also happen in reverse with the recipient depleting the sender. For these reasons, Wintersong Tashlin adds that the energy body is just as inviolate as the physical body.
The Eden Energy Medicine Institute has an ethics committee to outline their code for energy healers. One section from this ethics code states that, “EH practitioners closely monitor their needs to be liked, to be admired, to achieve status, and to exercise power.” The Ethics Committee explains that these needs interfere with the healer’s discernment and judgment. Also the Committee stresses that these desires prompt the healer to make unrealistic claims of effectiveness, which in turn raises the client’s expectations. To avoid this from happening, the healer should be mindful of their own hidden desires.
Clarifying these desires is necessary. John Coughlin, author and occult magical practitioner, suggests asking yourself the question: “Are you sure the intent of your decision is from vested interest or ulterior motive?” He continues, “Are you helping your friend for purely selfish reasons?” Therefore, Coughlin counsels before you offer any type of magical healing, you need to be crystal clear about your motives.
As for me, one friend suggested doing a healing ritual where they would ask me on the astral plane. She believed that if I consented astrally, then she could send magical healing. This ritual was problematic since I was in a coma and unable to consent. Moreover, according to John Coughlin, contacting people on the astral plane is difficult even for the experienced magical healer. He stresses that this option is the “the escape clause” for doing magical healing without the recipient’s permission. This is how I received unwanted energy which harmed my brain.
Coughlin, John, “Magical Ethics and Pseudo-Metaphysics.” 2004. Web. http://www.waningmoon.com/jcoughlin/writing/pseudometaph.shtml.
—-, “Ethics Code for Energy Healing Practitioners.” Eden Energy Institute. 16 September 2010. Web. http://innersource.net/em/images/downloads/EEM_Ethics_Code.pdf.
Feinstein, David, Douglas Moore, Dale Teplitz, “Addressing Emotional Blocks to Healing in an Energy Medicine Practice: Ethical and Clinical Guidelines.” Energy Psychology 4:1. May 2012. Web. http://efttappingexpert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Feinstein12.pdf.
Harrell, Kelly, “Intentional Insights: Q&A From Within.” Web. http://www.intentionalinsights.com/.
Kaldera, Raven, “Wyrdwalkers: Techniques of Northern-Tradition Shamanism.” Asphodel Press: Hubbardston, MA. 2006.
Morningstar, Sally, “The Art of Wiccan Healing.” Hay House: Carlsbad (CA). 2005.