This is a revised version of a previously written essay.
I don’t believe that we can automatically emulate mental health or physical health professionals. I believe that model has much to teach us, but many of us don’t have the educational background or emotional detachment.
Most of us are muddling through the universe trying to do our best. And our best has some colossal screw ups in it that a professional model doesn’t have much compassion for. I understand why the professional model has little compassion; it’s to protect those who can’t protect themselves.
But sometimes that’s not the client. Sometimes, that’s the worker.
We should have an ethical framework for our practice. I do. But it is developed over time through getting dirty and making mistakes.
Many of us were either taught in a pagan/Wiccan/ceremonial magic context where boundaries and ethics were situational and not shared by everyone or wight/ancestor/deity taught. In my experience, gods, ancestors and wights have a much different perspective on ethics than we do.
So here are my basic guidelines.
1)There are intense feelings that occur between worker and client. You are sharing energy and experiences that are painful, sorrowful and transformative. It creates a bond. But it is your responsibility as the worker to know that bond is NOT romantic in nature. And I know this from personal experience, if you try to turn that bond into a romantic relationship, you will not be happy. Pity kills love just as surely as if you stabbed it through the heart.
2) There are some people that you just can’t help. Not because they are bad people or you are a bad worker, but because there is some sort of energy between you, good or bad. Rather than get elbow deep in the problem and find you are stuck, take a step back when some one comes to you for work, meditate on it, ask your gods, ancestors, wights or spirit/animal guides if this is what you should be doing. If any indications come back to you in the negative, refer, refer, refer. That’s why you have a network of colleagues, even if its only your local Pagan Meetup.
3)If you get stuck in a dual relationship(and it happens, despite your best intentions), ask for help to get perspective on it. It doesn’t mean you are a horrible person. You made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. The sooner you confront that mistake and work out how to make it right, the less damage you will do, to yourself as well as your client. If the person you go to for perspective gets self-righteous with you about your mistake, go talk to someone else.
4)Get help yourself. It’s easy for us to blame ourselves when things go awry. We assume because we are the workers, we should never make mistakes.We do. So own up to it, work to make it right, learn from it and MOVE ON. There is nothing sadder than a worker that has crippled themselves or stop working because they made a mistake that they are too ashamed to work out. We try to treat our clients with the utmost compassion and care. We need to treat ourselves with the same.
But what if you are both energy workers that are trading work back and forth?
This one is more of a grey area for me.
We live in a society where finding a person that doesn’t think we are totally and completely whackadoo is difficult and fraught with the twin perils of scientifically based disbelief and spiritual apathy.
So that other person or people we find as helpmate and lover usually works with or for energy/spirits/gods/ancestors/wights also.
My current beloved is a ceremonial magician, Reiki Master and massage therapist.
He teaches me as much as I teach him.
Dual relationship? It could be construed as such.
Your mileage will most certainly vary.