Callings, Tradition and Non-Tradition, Apprenticeship and Mastery
A calling likely to be present in many of the readers of this blog is in the direction of energy healing. Like any calling, it has its own particular features and presents you with the need to cultivate specific qualities. Let’s look at the path that leads from an initial interest or attraction to energywork to a mastery of the skills of an energy healer, keeping in mind all that has gone before about how a calling and one’s spiritual gifts are nurtured.
Much of energy healing practice is self-taught, but not all of it. The learning of energy healing necessarily places a lot of emphasis on the experiential and non-traditional modes of gaining knowledge and experience. The education of a healer consists of input from many different sources, however, including traditional ones. Traditional learning comes from what has been handed down from past generations, from the accumulated lore and wisdom of our human culture. Each time you have learned something from another person, or taught someone something, you have engaged in tradition, and chances are that what is handed on to you today was most likely built upon the efforts and realizations of those who went before those who taught you.
In this day of online correspondence courses in which you might never lay eyes on your teacher, it is easy to forget that there was once a time when the teacher-student relationship was regarded as the very vehicle for learning not only the external skills, but also the interior contours of a calling. Traditional paths of learning, in which an apprentice works directly with a master, continue to this day in many skilled trades.
Traditionally, a person entering a skilled trade spends years as an apprentice at the knee of a master, actually living in the master’s house, sometimes doing household chores in addition to the rigors of learning the trade. The apprentice lives in close proximity to the master and a bond forms between them. The idea was that there was something to be gained by being physically near the master, something that becomes invested, little by little, energetically, in the apprentice. The skill being imparted is not merely a transmission of information or technique, but of a certain virtue and state of consciousness, passed wordlessly from teacher to student. The student is exposed to all phases of the craft, from its spirit and origins to its technical nuts and bolts, secrets and tricks of the trade, and the business of doing business. When apprentices fall ill, or need to rest, some old traditions understood this as “the craft entering the apprentice’s body.” Mastery is not an overnight process and the notion of a student “getting it” in a two-week crash course is rather absurd. The master transmits to the student the tradition of a lineage to which he or she belongs, either formally or informally, along with personal variations and adaptations. Past teachers and practitioners who have labored in the same fields are invoked to help the student understand that she is partaking of a tradition, that she is part of a community.
At some point in the life of the apprentice—in some traditions after having produced an apprentice piece—a moment comes when the master says, “you are ready.” It is time to leave, or be kicked out of, the nest. Traditionally, the apprentice in this stage of development is called a journeyman. The student is no longer directly under the wing of the master. As the name implies, she takes off into the world and tries her wings, gains invaluable direct experience, hones her skills, makes all the necessary mistakes, sees where she is, and where she ain’t, in her own mastery. It is a time for ripening. The student is then admitted to the guild and becomes a full member of the lineage, sworn to uphold its tradition and rules. Traditionally, the way of becoming a master is to be acknowledged by others who have achieved mastery. It takes one to know one. Token of this step is a masterpiece.
“We are more endangered by too much energy too soon than by too little too late, for we understand too little the wise use of power.”
The earliest teaching story I can remember about what can happen if subtle energy domains are opened prematurely involved a sorcerer’s apprentice named Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney's Fantasia was released in 1949, the same year I and many of the members of my slightly post-traditional generation were born. In it was a wonderfully detailed cartoon and music sequence based on Goethe's poem Der Zauberlehrling, “The Sorcerer's Apprentice.” It captures the classic situation of the spiritual neophyte.
The story is this: no sooner does the sorcerer go to take a nap, leaving his wizard's hat temptingly behind, than his apprentice decides that he will try his hand at "commanding the spirits." A little power goes immediately to his head, of course, and we watch an ego-inflated Mickey drift off into a grandiose dream in which he is directing the heavenly bodies. When he comes crashing back to earth, he is helplessly adrift in the chaos he has unleashed, frantically thumbing through the magician's handbook for an incantation that will subdue the spirits which he had invoked.
I think the gods showed remarkable foresight in getting to us early with this teaching
This series on phases of learning energy healing will continue. In my next posting, I'll go into the "tooling up" phase that is a natural beginning place for most of us.
A little announcement:
On December 7th, 2017 and again on January 11th, 2018, I will be hosting a 2-hour, easy-access online workshop called "7 Essentials for Experience-Based Energy Healing." Click here for details.