An examination of a case study of people who want to send unasked-for "magickal" healing. I was a victim of this where well-meaning people send me "Reiki" energy to heal my brain injury. I ended up being more harmed by the input of this energy healing.
"First, Do No Harm"
Since magickal healers are not considered to be a part of the medical profession, they do 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 magickal energy overloaded my injured brain, instead of helping to heal it.
Since then, I have urged people to ask me before doing any magickal 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 magickal healers have emphasized that sending unasked healing could be a violation of the Universe’s plans for the suffering individual. In her blog, Kelly Harrell, neo-shaman and author, cautions about the modern attitude, in 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.
The conclusion of these various healers is that the Universe may have planned for the sick person’s suffering. Therefore, the main task of the healer is to align the person with Will of the Universe. A healer does not dictate how the person heals, only the Universe. In concrete terms, in order to treat measles, you kill the germs, not cover up the rash. Doing magickal healing may only cure the rash.
When sending magickal 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.