WOMEN, HEALERS AND CHURCHES
Warning and heads up, friends: This is a long post and it may trigger. No matter what our differences in beliefs, I STILL LOVE YOU.
I was in my bathroom last Wednesday morning, listening to the newly-released episode Motherhood Stripped – my interview with psychotherapist Erin Miller. In it, she details her mental/spiritual breakdown as a young mother.
It’s one thing to interview someone, when you’re in the zone of asking questions and taking information in that way. It’s quite another to listen after-the-fact, as a bystander. I listened with new ears – not just to the content in the podcast episode, but to what was coming through via my soul voice and the Spirit’s.
I knew that I needed to take on a controversial topic – like, immediately.
It’s something I feel super passionate about and cannot stay silent on anymore:
Women, Healers and CHURCHES.
It’s been gnawing at me since last month, when my church of origin, Mormonism – or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – updated its General Handbook (38.7.8) to reflect the following:
“Those who have health problems should consult with competent medical professionals who are licensed in the areas where they practice.
In addition to seeking competent medical help, members of the Church are encouraged to follow the scriptural injunction in James 5:14 to ‘call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.’ Priesthood blessings of healing are given by those who hold the necessary priesthood office. They are given when requested and at no charge.” (see 18.13) **18.13.1 “Only worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders may administer to the sick or afflicted.”
“Church members are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings. These practices are often referred to as ‘energy healing.’ Other names are also used. Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.”
“competent medical help” “scriptural injunction” “elders…him…him…him.” “necessary priesthood office” “no charge” “only worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders” “special methods” “miraculous or supernatural healing” “properly performed” “energy healing” “exchange for money”
There is so much here, in these broad strokes, issued by church officials and correlation committees.
Back to Erin Miller, a psychotherapist whose background is traditional Catholicism, detailing to me in the recording her mental/spiritual breakdown as a young mom. She’s sharing how, although traditional medical intervention had a marginal effect on her transformation, it was basically energy healing methods – Reiki, chakra work, crystals, yoga, meditation, breathwork – that were the only real and lasting catalyst to bring her back to her own body. Back to herself. Back to God.
This, we determined, is what actual HEALING is.
Erin is certainly not the first person to share this realization with me. Millions of the spiritually-sensitive and/or religious-minded are seeking out these methods and they’re experiencing marked improvement. They are self-nurturing, getting in tune with their own bodies and gaining confidence to become experts on aspects of their own wellbeing.
The thing is, these folks are typically not sharing their results and experiences openly, en masse. Oftentimes it’s because these outcomes are private or sacred, but usually it’s because they don’t want their mainstream, conservative friends to think they’re weird. So, these multiple thousands of instances of positive, high-vibe results never make it to the upper echelons of their religious leaders’ awareness. Usually it’s the radicalized, extremist quacks that get publicity, and then only because something’s gone really wrong. Yet, how many times does “competent medical help” go really, really wrong? Just as often – arguably more often – than holistic science-based methods.
This forces religious people, to a degree, underground, to continue to administer and receive alternative-based and/or “energy healing” practices. They continue to do it because it’s working.
Erin and I talked about how we need to normalize these methods, these ANCIENT FEMININE ARTS, these indigenous healing methods that have stood up to scrutiny and the test of time. They, alongside “competent medical help” can literally save lives. I would even go so far as to say that ancient tools and modalities heal minds and bodies as a standalone.
photo credit: Sue Ellen Parkinson
It was largely women who facilitated and informed Erin’s healing journey, and this has been my personal experience and countless others I’ve worked with as well. The “fruits” of these methods were so profound for Erin that she permanently stepped away from her clinical practice. It’s why I stepped away from my path to clinical psych work as well, over 15 years ago. It’s why I’ve focused my entire career on holistic psychology and mind/body wellness; on Mama Earth’s medicine. The science along with the “alternative.”
I have nothing against modern medical advancement (that would just be dumb) it’s just that there is SO MUCH MORE out there. I am convinced that ancient, nature-based methods are the “real” – and manmade, modern methods are the “alternative.”
In this same discussion with Erin, I touched on my sister Shawna’s suicide. Shawna was a talented and beautiful 34-year-old mother of five who was so overcome with mental illness and self-loathing – so overwhelmed with the mentality of, “I’m sick, I’m broken, I’m a burden, there’s no hope for me, nothing is working” – that she saw no other “alternative” than to take her own life. She had at her disposal – and this is 2005 – only prescribed drugs, traditional talk therapy, and male priesthood blessings. She had the Handbook’s aforementioned “competent medical help” and “properly performed priesthood blessings.” She had “called for the elders” and the doctors and the clinical therapists for dozens of years. The dozen-or-so prescribed medications were having a backfire effect. The group and individual talk therapy offered a brief respite of mindset blocks and a temporary alleviation of symptoms. The priesthood blessings weren’t healing her, and she felt unworthy to connect to God, thus felt lacking in the “faith necessary” to be healed. When it came right down to it, Shawna couldn’t find or access HERSELF.
So, as I said, I’m in the bathroom, listening to my recording with Erin, thinking about Shawna. And then my thoughts turned to that addition to the Handbook last month.
Immediately my wise friend of many years, Wendi Jensen, came to mind. I texted her, standing right there at my bathroom sink and basically asked, “How would you like to do an impromptu podcast interview with me on energy healing?” She is the author of the incredibly thorough and insightful 500+ page book, The Healing Questions Guide: Relevant Questions to Ask the Mind to Activate Healing in the Body.
It was beautiful synchrony. She told me she’d been asked to go live that night to discuss the exact same thing – energy healing and the LDS Church’s new policy – on another podcast with Radio Free Mormon and Bill Reel. I had no idea! And thankfully, she was game to jump on with me the very next day.
We went super deep in our discussion…over an hour and a half long. Even after we shut off the recording, we talked almost another two hours.
Look, I’m not out to be blasphemous. I understand the sacred nature, to Mormons, of priesthood administrative ordinances and the power of prayer. But these are listed as the ONLY officially-sanctioned healing methods. These, along with “competent medical help.” This leaves no room for anything not ethically and spiritually male and traditional. Nothing alternative; nothing of Mother Earth.
It’s as if the male-led, official, canonized, codified practices are the only “real” way to move healing through bodies, and everything else is an imitation. In theory, this – if you look at it logically and at face-value, as many church members do – totally excludes the Feminine. Her gifts, her voice, her authority, and her power. These church policymakers are, in essence saying, “Hey – if you women want to pray over someone, that’s approved. But you are not authorized to speak out or do anything official when it comes to healing. Unless, of course, you’re a competent medical professional.”
Does anyone else see the disparity here? Worthy, ordained male priesthood holders and medical professionals as the main and/or only arbiters of healing?
The Handbook encourages members to “follow the scriptural injunction in James 5:14 to ‘call for the elders’.” I’m not bible-bashing or church-trashing when I say this, but I can totally tell women were not influential in the writing of this Handbook, just as they weren’t when biblical texts were being canonized at the Council of Nicea. The phrase, “scriptural injunction” is just one of many evidences of that.
Where do women and mothers fit under these guidelines? I don’t know about you, but when I’m in need of healing I want my mother. I want the influence of the Feminine; the nurturing, the healing, the warmth, the flow, the holding. I want the LOVE, which is ultimately what heals. There is nothing official or “laying on of hands” about it. Most of us women know this intuitively, that we have healing in our hands and in our voices and wisdom from our wombs. It’s just a shame there isn’t more safety in the religious space to fully express this healing and wisdom. It’s a shame, too, that we aren’t openly talking about our Heavenly Mother’s no-strings-attached and readily-accessible Holy Spirit in church, either. All of the men, women and children on the Earth just want our Mother. I can’t get started on that one…
“Priesthood blessings of healing are given by those who hold the necessary priesthood office. They are given when requested and at no charge.” (see 18.13) **18.13.1 “Only worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holders may administer to the sick or afflicted.”
Church members are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings.”
What this Handbook’s saying, in essence, is, “Hey church members, you can access the only effective healing mode via our worthy male Melchizedek priesthood holders, since healing needs to be properly performed… and we won’t even charge you. Those other pseudo-healing practices will, and they’re not as effective. So, beware of them.”
C’mon. Are we going to be this reductionist in our approach? What percentage of the population is going to get healed, by these standards? What percentage of the population qualifies as “worthy male Melchizedek priesthood holders” that are giving “properly performed” blessings to administer healing?
I’m no mathematician, but bear with me. There are 16.5 million Mormons. Newest research indicates that roughly 40% are active (6.4 million). Only about ⅓ of that 6.4 million are temple-attending/temple worthy families (we’ll say 2.2 million). Who knows how many of that 2.2 million are deemed “worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders” but let’s shoot extremely high and estimate there are a million who qualify. How many of those one million Melchizedek priesthood men are out there giving “properly performed” blessings to heal the world? Hard to say, but even if every active, temple-worthy Melchizedek priesthood bearer was out there, one million strong, there are 7.8 billion people in this world, and these priesthood bearers make up .01% of the population, or one-hundredth of one percent. Even if all 16.5 million Mormons were active, worthy Melchizedek priesthood bearers out administering “properly performed priesthood blessings” – it’s a drop in the bucket. Mormons only make up .2% of the population, or two-tenths of one percent of the world.
As for the “competent medical professionals” in the world – it’s even less. There are only 15 million of them, on the high end, which is .19% of the world’s population.
“Church members are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings.”
Shouldn’t people who are told mountains can move with their faith be “seeking out miracles”? ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING AND NOT GETTING BETTER. If you’re in a world of hurt – and billions are – you’d go to the ends of the earth and see virtually any facilitator who could alleviate your pain.
Do we honestly believe that healing can’t come spontaneously from other sources – as in, anyone, anywhere, everywhere? Does God the Father and God the Mother really hold back Their healing powers and discriminate by person, location or MODALITY? They will heal wherever there are suffering minds, hearts and bodies, is my feeling…and it’s free. It’s called GRACE.
When a church makes declarative statements, like “Church members are discouraged from seeking miraculous ____[anything]” that’s a big red flag in my soul. Isn’t ALL healing miraculous? Why should church leaders and correlation department committees dictate where, what, and with whom I seek out my miracles? I’m a big girl.
“…These practices are often referred to as ‘energy healing.’ Other names are also used. Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.”
What about the trained practitioners in these “energy healing” modalities? Energy healing was specifically singled out with a sweeping nuanced statement as non-legit by church policymakers. And that’s just ignorant, I’m sorry.
Everything holds a vibration and a frequency. EVERYTHING IS ENERGY. Energy is LIGHT, it’s physics, it’s quantum mechanics – it’s science. The Light of Christ, the Power of God, and the priesthood power by a pure-hearted deliverer – the Love of a MOTHER – it is all ENERGY HEALING. What other way can healing come into the body but by the quantum carriage of energy?
One of the things Wendi said in our interview together hit home: Women, empaths, intuitives and healers know and understand that energy has no boundaries. It does not honor religious limitations.
And the “other names are also used” part? How ambiguous can you be? You’ve just dismissed entire fields and technologies you know absolutely nothing about!
“Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.” I don’t know any alternative practitioner who “promises healing,” just as I don’t know a “competent medical professional” who would dare make that claim, either. This statement is a slam for all practitioners who have not only felt, but have HEEDED the actual call from God to help suffering souls. They have BRAVELY stepped outside the highly bureaucratized medical establishment and have sacrificed to make the investment in their time, money and resources to get trained and credentialed. Just like any experienced professional, they have every right to charge money for their services.
We can pay “competent medical help” but not anyone else for healing? Why is a religion that is claiming to be Christ-centered and Spirit-based requiring hard, fast medical SCIENCE before they categorize it as legit and worthy of compensation?? Geez. We cannot compartmentalize healing this way, we just can’t.
Where this gets personal:
This is not something I’ve really put “out there” but I am certified in a modality called Perfect Healing. Through the Holy Spirit – and what I’ve come to know to be Sacred Feminine tutelage – I’ve honed and fine tuned this work to be done in my own way, with my own spiritual gifts. I’ve been at various modalities and forms of “energy healing” and energy psychology since 2006, the year after I lost my sister to suicide. I was a 30-something mother of young children searching for real solutions to break generational patterns. My sister Shawna wasn’t the first young mom in my family lines to take her own life. I’ve also had a 32 year-old aunt commit suicide, who, in her suicide letter, asked my parents to raise her 3 year-old son. And they did.
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve charged money for this specific sacred work, but I have absolutely zero blocks about doing so, as I feel directed. I paid money and left my family and the continental US to get trained in it. Also, I run a global wellness biz, have lots of kids and produce a self-funded weekly podcast. My time is precious and I shouldn’t feel guilty about charging for my time. I often do my healing work as a service, charging nothing, when the Spirit directs. I have a deep inner knowing that Christ-energy is at the heart of it because of the pure intention I have going in, the way I invite the Spirit, and the humble, pure-hearted, often DESPERATE mentality of the one I’m seeking to be a conduit to help out. I do not promise healing nor do I believe I’m the source of it. I don’t know how it works on the other side of the veil – but it seems that certain souls are put on my path by God and Goddess and by angels, guides and ancestors. I don’t take it lightly. These people are edified, I am edified, their ancestor(s) show up on occasion, who are edified – and we all rejoice together because core things shift. The tree bears good fruit. I don’t do it a lot, but when I am a willing vessel, doing this work, it can be powerful. Not because of me, but because of what comes through me. It’s “energy” – it is Light – by the scientific and spiritual definition. I’m not seeking or even wanting individual clients for this – this is not a plug! Just sayin’, I’ve got sacred, personal experience with this.
Back to healing gifts and healing work:
I talk to so many Mormon women and those who identify as religious from various organizations who say that they give their own kind of blessings, as mothers or as healers, under the radar. Why do we feel like we need to shy away from expressing this and talking about it to religious hierarchy?
Females in the early days of Mormonism weren’t so closeted. Right on the church’s official website it says this of Zina Huntington Young:
“Blessed with the gift of healing and limited medical training, Zina helped the sick and delivered countless babies.”
It’s nice they’re saying she was blessed with the gift of healing – that’s not something you hear any of the Brethren or their committees mentioning to women these days – but what the writers of the church website are neglecting to mention is that Zina didn’t just “help” the sick. She gave hands-on-heads healing blessings. And she didn’t just “deliver countless babies.” She gave ritual anointing blessings to women during childbirth. There’s so much history on female healers in the early days of Christianity and in Mormonism; it’s a very interesting deep-dive. Suffice it to say the healing gifts of women have been white-washed and correlated out of LDS curriculums and publications. It’s like it never happened in LDS history, even though it went on for almost 100 years. What matters today is that the permission is no longer granted.
Many Mormons revere Eliza R. Snow, who was sealed as a wife to the first two prophets of the LDS Church – Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Both leaders revered her as a prophetess. She said:
“Is it necessary for sisters to be set apart to officiate in the sacred ordinances of washing, anointing, and laying on of hands in administering to the sick?
“It certainly is not. Any and all sisters who honor their holy endowments, not only have the right, but should feel it a duty, whenever called upon to administer to our sisters in these ordinances, which God has graciously committed to His daughters as well as to His sons; and we testify that when administered and received in faith and humility they are accompanied with all mighty power.
“In as much as God our Father has revealed these sacred ordinances and committed them to His Saints, it is not only our privilege but our imperative duty to apply them for the relief of human suffering. We think we may safely say thousands can testify that God has sanctioned the administration of these ordinances by our sisters with the manifestations of His healing influence.” (The First Fifty Years of the Relief Society, 515-516)
Maybe the day will come when churches aren’t afraid of women classifying themselves as healers. Maybe the day will come in the Mormon church when non-Melchizedek priesthood members can safely claim they have healing gifts and live without shame in practicing them.
I’m not on a crusade for women getting ordained to the “priesthood” as much as I am about women claiming the Ancient Feminine Arts and being modern priestesses and healers by birthright. I say, let’s get out of the Dark Ages and into the new era of healing. Minds, bodies and souls are in torment! These gifts are NEEDED and no one should be shamed for expressing them.
As I state in the interview with Wendi, there will be many faithful LDS people who will read that statement in the Handbook and not touch anything “energy” with a ten foot pole. They won’t go near a non-medical practitioner who could potentially help restore the quality of their life or even save it. And that is beyond sad.
If you’re an active Latter-day Saint (Mormon) and you’ve made it this far without thinking I’m a heretic for daring to state the obvious to the correlation committee who authors the Handbook, I hope you’re with me on this. I hope you can see that I’m more about offering the invitation to the patriarchy and their correlation committees to actually LEARN FROM WOMEN AND ENERGY WORKERS IN THE FIELD than to issue blanket statements that marginalize a very large percentage of the church’s – and the world’s – population.
One of the reasons I asked Wendi to be my guest is because of her Facebook post right after the December 2020 Church policy/addition to the Handbook.
I’ll bullet point some of her highlights:
“TO MY FELLOW LDS ENERGY HEALERS AND LIGHTWORKERS.
- For an ever-growing body of LDS women who have accessed their healing power, their gifts, and their voice, Please –DO NOT SHRINK from the new policies of the LDS Church discouraging members from Energy Healing.
- When will you get tired of defending your right to develop your God-given gifts, your training, your research, your heart’s path?
- When your dormant gifts began to groan in your bones, in your organs, and in the halls of your soul you were being asked to AWAKEN. To suppress and deny your own emergence will only cause you depression, disorder, and confusion.
- To any healer who has suppressed their gifts through patriarchal attrition I implore you, it is time to RISE UP!
- You are needed NOW more than ever before. How long are you going to wait for the brethren to give you permission to practice what God has declared as your birthright? You are called to serve NOW! Do not doubt it!
- Trust your voice. Do not let your voice be silenced into submission. Do not betray yourself or the pathway you have been on so you can stay safe in the confines of indoctrination.
- Do not retreat from your path, rather, double down. Strengthen each other. Don’t let your sister’s light go dim. Don’t let your own light go dim.
- You may not feel the need to leave the religion, but you must learn to trust that you have the gifts and the right to discern between truth and error. If your path does lead you out –don’t be afraid.” – Wendi Jensen
As I am wrapping up this post, Wendi just passed along a Lisa Torcasso Downing blog article, “Energy Healing and the Update of the LDS General Handbook”, dated Jan 18, 2021. Lisa writes, in part:
“It [The Handbook]specifically targets ‘energy healing,’ even suggesting, to my mind, that energy healers who charge are grifters at best, practitioners of priestcraft at worst. The line is drawn, not in the sand as Jesus drew, but in the semi-permanent ink of a patriarchy that thrives on plausible deniability. Crossing the Church’s line has costs.
“..It’s befuddling to LDS energy healers that the church which encouraged them to seek, develop, and use their spiritual gifts with faith now wants to rid itself of their faithful use of their healing gift. No one should be surprised when resentment rises between the male authoritarians of the Church and the women who are its spiritual backbone.
“…Clearly, when LDS women are denied the same path of spiritual development that men walk, we will create our own way. When we are told that our spiritual gifts are dependent on male priesthood, we prove it wrong. LDS energy healing isn’t rebellion. It’s recognition that women don’t need a priesthood permission slip to amplify our spiritual gifts.
“This update won’t kill the LDS energy healing movement any more than the excommunication of Kate Kelly killed Ordain Women, but it will push believing female practitioners and participants further underground than they already are. Or out of the Church. Any policy that chips away at the use of spiritual gifts by women also chips away at the Church’s relationship with God, who both gave these women the healing gift and the desire to use it. The more LDS priesthood holders denigrate the holy work women manage to do in spite of their restrictions, the more these LDS women must exclude them.”
Find Lisa’s full awesome article here.
I’ll wrap it up, although there is so much more to say. I am not going to be shying away from conversations that open up the pathway to grant women their voices, visibility, authority, spiritual gifts and power within and outside the space of religion – Mormon or other. This is 2021, for crying out loud, not 1621.
It’s just TIME.
I took this photo at a gathering of my yoga sisters last year, right here in Utah, supporting one of the sisters who was moving into her own place after an excruciating divorce. There are crystals and essential oils, there are sage and palo santo sticks, and there are some soulful, peaceful women enjoying high-vibration music and gloriously affirming words of love to our suffering sister on the other end of it. There are a hundred more settings like this I’ve been in with church-attending and non-religious women.
I know I’m not alone when I say I am no longer waiting for permission from anyone but my Creator and Creatress – right here in real-time, speaking to my own mind/heart/soul – to explore and express ENERGY and HEALING and MOTHER EARTH’S NATURAL WORLD via Her Ancient Feminine Arts. I believe that my all-intelligent, all-knowing, all-embracing, all-encompassing Parents of the Multiverse not only granted me this divine go-ahead, They were the Ones who led me to all of it – and created all of it – in the ever-loving first place.
You can listen to it on my Women Seeking Wholeness Episode 108: “Women, Healers, and Churches” on all podcast platforms and on my website.