We often rely on titles to decide whose opinions and expertise we should honor, but how does that relate to the spiritual world? Titles are sometimes used to classify certain belief systems, or refer to certain training levels. They should be a useful way to determine who you can trust. Unfortunately, titles can be incredibly misleading.
It is important to note that while I go through and debunk some titles, I do not mean to insult those who hold these titles. Some may have worked very hard with many hard years of study for them. I myself have a long list of credentials, some I’m more proud of than others as some I’ve worked for others I haven’t.
I feel the need to do this article for those who aren’t educated about the vast array of titles. Always follow your intuition, ask questions where you feel necessary, and while titles can mean something, don’t let them be the only thing guiding you.
I was working on a client and they looked at me with awe as they told me that their other practitioner that worked with them was a reverend. I was surprised that much weight was given to that title. The general populace thinks of the reverend title as something that should be earned through years of training. At least a certain moral or professional standards.
The truth is that anyone can become a reverend in 5 minutes through certain free online websites. The sites do not do any background checks or have any requirements other then being able to fill out the forms. They are useful for people of alternative religions who would like to be able to marry people. I have my reverend title for just that reason.
Many people take this honorific title of reverend and make it into something big. It’s great for marketing, but people need to be aware there may be no real training, background check or substance behind that title.
Through one site you can also buy a certificate to certify you have your spiritual PhD in several fields. Again, you don’t need to be able to prove anything, just pay a small fee for the certificate. Perhaps some feel that it is less scammy to pay someone else to print out the certificate for them instead of printing it out themselves. In the end both technically hold the same validity.
That being said, some people do actually have training behind their spiritual degrees. This may include years of training. Quality of training can vary depending on the institution.
In reiki there is a 3rd level called Reiki Master. Master sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? But there is no set training for reiki masters. Some people who have this title went through expensive in-person or online training to learn it. Others went to a website with a picture that claimed they could be instantly attuned to reiki by meditating on the picture for a while.
Reiki isn’t dangerous normally. As long as the person is doing reiki and not shoving their own energy into you. Some feel that by using their will to shove their own energy into you that they are doing reiki. This can be a method of healing, but it is not reiki. Putting your own energy into someone else improperly can cause new or greater illness. Reiki is divine, intelligent energy flowing through the practitioner going where it needs and manifesting for the higher good.
Some reiki masters have been taught how to sense energy and about chakras. Others have not.
Technically one of my titles is Reiki Master Teacher. I don’t feel this title makes me a master of anything. It does however designate that I know Usui Ryoho Reiki, and can teach and attune people to it, and can channel energy on the most levels of a person. Even so I believe if someone’s intentions are pure, a level one Reiki practitioner can help people on more then just the physical level if spirit so decides.
This is a term that deserves, and will get, its very own article eventually. Shaman is a term that is thrown away in so many ways it’s not even funny. Often people assume shamanic practitioner is the same as shaman, it’s not. Some people decide to go down the shamanic path and instantly say they are a shaman. Shaman doesn’t necessarily mean Native American even though many assume that is exactly what it is. I’ve met many Native American’s who get mad if you call what they do shamanism.
Shamanism has been a part of worldwide cultures everywhere.
Many people following a shamanic path are not being true to any one path. They are following modern shamanism which is usually a combination of cultures. Often leaders of these paths are anthropologists who have lived with the people.
In other words there are tons of types of ‘shamans’. Many traditional shamans say that if you call yourself a shaman then you definitely aren’t one. I do cringe when I hear someone call themselves a shaman. I’ve been on a shamanic path for over 16 years as I began learning very young on my own, but I still don’t call myself a shaman. I have taken to using the term shamanic practitioner because it has different connotations and is more associated with someone who uses shamanic means to heal often using different methods from different cultures. I admit its difficult because the textbook definition of shamanism is someone who talks to spirits through altered states. So by that definition you really need to widen what is included.
This term is often abused for its hype, inherent instant respect, wow factor, and marketing purposes. Anyone walking a good path, will try to live through some system of morality and heart.
High Priest/Priestess/High Level Etc
Some forms of Wicca actually do have specific levels and training programs. The titles are earned. Other people just wake up one day and decide they are the amazeness and are a high something or other.
I once met someone who called themselves a High Priest. It was Lammas and I asked him what he did to celebrate that day. He informed me he only celebrated the major sabots that included Yule (Christmas), Samhain (Halloween), and Beltane (Fertility Holiday). He could not discuss intelligently any use of the basic Wiccan alter tools or hold up a discussion on what the sacred masculine was. Though he called himself a High Priest, he did not seem to know the basics. A title which should confer some sort of level of expertise in my opinion.
Another rather dismal experience, involved a woman who was a High Priestess. She may or may not have been very knowledgeable. She purposefully was not paying her bills, abusing drugs and was getting in trouble with the law regularly in ways that hurt others. I’m saying this because a title of respect, any title (Christian, Pagan or Otherwise) not just this one, does not mean they may necessarily be a moral or ethical person. This person had missed the part of the Wiccan Rede, “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.”
So What Can You Trust?
In the end, you need to listen and watch that person and try to decide for yourself. Use your own intuition. Ask questions if you feel the need.
Even if people have had classes and read many books they may not be experienced or good at actually dealing with other people’s issues or have a well-balanced spiritual knowledge. Book knowledge is different from hands on learning.
Just because someone can teach one basic thing, does not make them extensively knowledgeable in other areas. I have seen some who taught energy healing basics, but in their own energy healing practiced outright potentially harmful (to themselves and others) practices.
The thing to realize is that spirit is more than book learning. When I began my path, I concentrated on reading everything I could and going to every workshop I could afford. I read everything I could get my hands on like it was water that nourished me. There is nothing sinister about this way of experiencing and learning about the spiritual. It’s a great way to begin getting the basics or even advanced topics.
The thing is you can’t stop with book knowledge. Some very valid and talented healers were never book trained, but only learned from spirit.
This doesn’t mean you can trust those entirely either who say they are entirely spirit taught either. There are good and bad spirits, and people don’t always see them the way they are. Unfortunately being aware of a lot of misleading labels can be your best defense.
Spirit isn’t something you just learn about. To me it is a way of life and looking at the world. To truly learn and know spirit you must interact with it and form a relationship with spirit. It’s great if someone can tell you each chakra meaning and color, sound, pitch and other associations. But there is a lot of subtleties and uniqueness between people and often not just one truth. Try to find a practitioner whose truths echo your own, instead of someone who has the right theoretical title.
The relationship to spirit is crucial and that comes only through experience and time. It is also difficult and demanding. Some educational programs may cover this, some may not.
Because of the complexities with spirituality, you have to let people call themselves what they will. However, check with your heart, mind and spirit if you are going to be working with someone else or choosing a practitioner or teacher. Do not trust just because they gave a fancy title.