I met with an African-American Babalawo (spiritual healer). He gave me a reading.
He said it is important to tell others about this practice because myths and scary stories abound. Sometimes traditional healing practices get a bad rap because people misuse the power and sometimes the stigma has more to do with race and class. That is, immigrant people of color who rely on ancestor healing practices for well-being incur ridicule by the mainstream (even though it works and may be cheaper than Western medicine).
The Babalawo told me that the reading would tell me what I need to hear (not necessarily what I want to hear).
He gave me sound advice about how to treat others. He said I was strong but that it was important to be diplomatic as well. Point well taken. I've been working on this for years :) He said too many people say hurtful things in the name of "just being real." He gave me a small rock dipped in honey to touch to my tongue with the prayer to sweeten my words in protection of self and others.
He confirmed that my research agenda to interview healers from around the world is my path. Traditional, cultural and spiritual practices that have been followed over thousands of years need no rigorous scientific testing to be privileged by the people who use them to heal or are healed by them. However, the National Institutes of Health funds scientific testing of these practices and herbs through research grants from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. These are the research questions that I wanna be asking!
Feeling lost is human. Transformation and healing is possible. I'm so grateful for the men and women who respond to the call (initiation) to practice. Life is full of beauty and struggle. During the struggle, it helps to know that our ancestors figured out ways to help. They got our back!