Book Reviews

We Are All Energy Workers (A Book Review)

In The Women’s Book of Healing, Diane Stein presents both theory and practice for developing our natural skills to project healing energy.

In the theory, physical dis-ease (Stein used hyphens to emphasize the tendency of the being toward wellness) is the manifestation of energetic imbalances in the psychic layers that surround it. Those layers focus the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our lives. As Stein explains, the layers also host one or more chakra energy centers, each chakra having a corresponding color in the rainbow. Red is the color of the body, progressing outward to purple at the highest spiritual layer. Beyond that is the transpersonal layer, which as the source of all colors is white.

Obviously much of this is metaphorical – concepts built over milennia that humanity uses to access energies that reach all the down to subatomic realities. For that reason, there are some inconsistencies. As Stein testifies in discussion of practice, healers that honor the intentions of the “Goddess” can dispense with the metaphors.

Stein explains not only how to use the metaphors for healing, but how to heighten sensitivity through meditative practices. That begins with the ability to see the psychic layers as auras. Next comes color visualization as the healer scans upwards through the chakra centers in the physical body. In remote healing, dis-ease is imagined as blotches on the psychic layers. “Tinker Woman” work describes the development of personal healing metaphors (stapling cuts closed, putting in faucets and drains for blockages).

Laying on of hands is more abstract, dealing directly with energy flows. The book ends with chapters on crystal work, building and enhancing the color metaphors at the beginning of the book.

The resources of the earth is emphasized throughout as essential to grounding energies, thereby avoiding transference and to ensuring that both parties (healer and healed) are not left open to harmful invasion.

In talking about these methods, the book is generally light-hearted and generous. According to Stein, the ethic of the woman healer is to work without compensation. Respect for the autonomy of the dis-eased is emphasized again and again.

Where most fault is to be found is in Stein’s militant feminism. Matriarchy is good, patriarchy is evil. Conflation of patriarchy and allopathic medicine is rampant. Both serve to suppress women’s self esteem, seeing their bodies and intentions as foul and inferior. Male practitioners are recognized, but their contributes are cast as “finding the Goddess within.” Conversely, Stephen Harrod Buhner (The Lost Language of Plants) reports that many country doctors were intuitive herbalists.

I have reached out to Stein with the observation that the ethic she mandates is modern. Allopathic medicine (surgery and medicine) was pursued in part to guarantee that both patients and doctors were protected from psychic entanglements. Negative intentions can be projected in both directions. I know that a tender of money justifies abusive rage in clients that don’t receive the benefits they expect. But how else is a practitioner to stay alive? And how can we believe that those dependent upon their craft might not be moved to extort money from their clients?

The slipperiness of this slope is evident in one particular practice offered by Stein. This is the use of an imaginary “healing bag” to store negative energies collected during visualizations. These can be splotches on the aura or pools of negative energy. The practice, at the end of the session, is to imagine the bag burning up along with its contents.

But how did those splotches originate? Stein tends to the perspective that they all originate from patriarchal abuse, but I have met dragon ladies that fail to honor Stein’s ethic. Just as a healer can remove blotches, the dragon lady can tear pieces out of the souls of her victims. Those pieces never integrate properly, and so manifest as blotches that generate dis-ease in the dragon lady. Is it right to remove them and burn them up? Or should they be returned to their point of origin?

This contextuality is not acknowledged by Stein. It is non-trivial. Priests talk about predators the “lie with their whole being.” This is a practice used by abusers to hide their intentions behind the façade of victimization. (Their victims, after all, will naturally fight back against them.) Peering past that façade is safe only for practitioners that have progressed past the use of metaphors to work directly with the underlying spiritual forms.

When I was in graduate school, I met a massage therapist at a bar in Boulder. He troubled me with his difficulties clearing the negative energies he accumulated while working with Wall Street bankers. I finally told him “Look, don’t be an enabler.” Reading Stein’s work, I am concerned that she is unwittingly creating a culture of enablers. That concern is reinforced by the way my skin crawls every time she inveighs against “the patriarchy.” Damn it, Diane, their wives profit from that system as well.

So put away the hatred, and write a book that offers useful metaphors for transforming negative associations in the psychic layers. I’ll offer my own system in the near future.

And for those that wish to use the beautiful metaphors and practices collected by Stein: make sure that you know your clients well. To do otherwise is prideful, and leads down harsh and painful roads.