The Cost of Spiritual Growth | My thoughts on paying for spiritual services


  Traditionally speaking, as iSangoma I'd be in a village somewhere near the mountains, grasslands, and rivers. I'd live on ancestral or familial land. I'd have a mud house as my personal space and a round temple space that housed the spirits or shrine, my muthi (medicine) collection from the forest, tools, and enough space to receive those seeking spiritual help.

I'd live a simple life, grow some of my own food, maybe sell some kind of handmade items from a self-taught or handed down skill that has been practiced for generations like basket weaving or I may do some work in the nearest town or city to manage my physical needs. And at random hours of the day people would just show up at my homestead. I'd offer them something to drink or eat, welcome them into the temple, hear their problems and consult the ancestors on how to mend it, then give them the prescription or ritual. If they offered me something I'd thank them but no one would be turned away for lack of funds or commodities to exchange. From time to time, I'd hold larger ceremonies for the community, feed their bellies and spirits for days and nights at a time. Some of those people would stick around and help around the homestead, serve, and give with joy whenever they can. I may even get involved in community politics to make sure spiritually my people are being justly taken care of. However, my whole purpose would be to serve and live naturally in alignment with the land and the ancestors.

This is how it was. This is still how it goes in certain areas. This is what I would choose for myself and for us all. I get why this is expected of me as a traditional healer because this is what the elders taught and it worked in a way where everyone was humbly taken care of. Most areas where our traditions are practiced were very impoverished, so service and gratitude are/were common as a form of exchange.

A lot has changed since these original protocols for seeing a healer were given: patriarchy, slavery, capitalism, globalization/modernization...and so much LAND has been STOLEN OR TAKEN away from indigenous people.

With all of that, I still hear people say that healers should not charge but even a lot of elders have adjusted because the energy we spend/invest in cultivating our gift in these times is GREAT {And the spiritual warfare is real}. You can't even put a value on what we truly do and all the ways we risk our lives and life force energy to serve the needs of the people.

The funny thing is we live in very strange times where our traditions aren't even valued and honored nor cherished as before. There are those who hop from one healer to the next, lack commitment, aren't service oriented, and could care less what happens behind the scenes to make all of this happen because they just want to get what they think they want. In addition, our traditions are taken by others repackaged and sold to the masses.

So let's be real here yall... A healer like me, in America, does not own land. There are so many private property signs that I can't even get to a forest to collect medicines for free like we would traditionally (with permission and in a sacred way from mama earth of course). In fact, there is an abundance of sage less than a few miles from me and it is illegal for me to collect it! I get it's a preservation issue because you know how exploitive people can get but it presents a challenge for those that would do so respectfully. Some apartments ban the lighting of candles and if your neighbors aren't into whole way of life can be a problem. AND...My cost of living is nothing like my great, great elders.

But despite all of this, my long term clients know that I do not turn anyone away, I do work for free when someone truly needs help and is dedicated to doing the work. I allow people to donate if they can't afford my rates, especially to people of color because this is our tradition and in these times returning to our sacred ways is vital to our well-being. One of my personal goals is to share traditional sangoma ceremonies completely the traditional way very soon.

On another note, the real deep transformative wisdom is obviously not readily available in our society, so I have had to travel, to invest, study, practice and to hunt down our wisdom traditions in an environment that does not physically, emotionally, mentally, nor spiritually support this. {There are no scholarships for this tradition :-P}. I paid for my own education in a sense just like any other person in their profession and have all rights to an exchange for my trade. We are all free to learn/heal on our own but we do not all wish to take the same time and path that I did. This is why we no longer farm and seek the grocery store. We live in a time of economics. That's just how it goes. However, I hold on as tightly to tradition as I much as I can and constantly work to bring it back.

I have been and still am on the side of the seeker looking to be healed or taught. I know what that is like. I have had every thought about it from this perspective. Over time, when I finally got the REAL help I needed I saw how invaluable the service to me was and even with just the level of gratitude I feel towards my healers...I could never walk away having exchanged nothing. I saw what my teachers and healers sacrificed to help me first hand and I will never question the fact that I had/have to give something in exchange again.

A part of me feels like those people who complain about having to pay haven't had real transformative experiences that always lead to gratitude. Some are rightly scared of being used and manipulated. It's all a strange dance but I felt the need to get some of these thoughts off my mind and heart.

I am deeply in love with this work and path. My purpose has always been to serve. I am a traditional woman. I am a modern woman. This is who am I am and the times I've been called to live in.

It is what it is until the collective consciousness chooses differently.


P.S. Do you have a space that can be used for traditional ceremony in service to our community? Let's make it happen so that we can all heal! Reach out.

P.P.S Our spiritual way of life isn't just about the monk life...we've built civilizations over and over again. We will build again.