Richael Faithful is Freed Bodyworks' Shaman-in-Residence. We asked Richael to share their thoughts on all things energy work, from misconceptions to favorite herbs, plus a few fun facts that might surprise you.
I was born in Sibley Hospital in DC. Then we moved out to northern Virginia when I was 5 or so. I don’t claim DC native because I wasn’t raised inside the District, but I’m local.
How did you get into shamanic work?
It had been three or four years since I realized that what had initially began as Reiki practice was no longer Reiki. When I finally left full-time legal practice to commit to deepening energy healing and my creative practice, that’s when I met my teacher Rose Khalsa, and I was introduced to the foundations of shamanic practice through working with her. About halfway through a yearlong apprenticeship, it became very clear to me that, not only was this a home for my energy healing, but it was a way for me to connect ancestrally to the Black shamanic tradition in the US.
What’s the biggest misconception about shamanic healing that you want to clear up?
One I get often which I find the most troublesome is that I’ll have people tell me that I can’t identify as a shaman because I’m not indigenous (as in American Indian). It’s especially striking to get that from white people. So, to the Freed community, if you’re white, do not ask me that question. There is a shamanic tradition that relates to healing in every culture. They exist for a reason. And they continue to exist for a reason.
Another way in which people think very small is around the relationship of these practices to religious institutions. Many of these practices have predated modern churches and modern religions, and many modern religions have integrated a lot of these practices. Especially with Conjure!, there are a lot of people who are really afraid of it, especially if you grew up in a more conservative Black church. As powerful as any majik is toward nefarious ends, it has so much healing capacity. There is still so much more to learn about how we can be made whole through it.
What do you wish clients knew about your sessions?
Accessibility is the most important thing to me. How I speak, the location of where we do this work, religious or spiritual background, ability, and definitely in terms of money. So I often tell folks, if you want to get healing work done, we’ll find a way to do it. I’m most committed to supporting people who don’t tend to have access to this kind of care, to people who are invested in doing work around justice, as well as folks who tend to be more vulnerable and who have survived violence.
What’s the most challenging part about being a shaman?
It’s not. It’s such a gift to do it. If there are challenges, it’s simply around people who want to be told what to do. A good healer is not going to claim to solve your problems, rather they are going to support you in a discovery process. For folks who do want those answers, I’m probably not the one to fix your life. But I’m very happy to support and witness it.
What’s the most inspiring part about being a shaman?
Oh, so much. When you do energy work, you are able to experience the highest levels of people. You get to feel and see their highest selves. Because you are able to experience everyone’s essence so closely, you kind of fall in love with everyone you work with. It’s such an intimate experience. It’s unrivaled.
What do you say to folks who are curious about energy work but are not sure if it’s for them?
Just try it.
What do you say to folks who say energy work doesn’t exist?
Just try it! This is important - I have a healthy dose of doubt, and that’s a real critical part of my own faith in this process. If there is ever a point where I feel like I know everything or it all makes sense, it is not a place where I want to be.
What's your favorite herb?
Everyone has their own power elements, power herbs, power stones, power animals. For me, I have a strong relationship with myrrh, salt, cocoa, and a really strong relationship to rosemary. I also work a lot with rose. And copper. At this iteration of my work, those are the ones I have a close connection to.
How does your lawyering connect to your healing work?
I’m a very conceptual person, but learning law and the practice of law really made me be a lot more precise and exacting. And I think that’s really important when you are doing majik. Little things matter a lot.
What’s your preferred superpower?
I really wish I could sing better than I can.
What book did you read most as a child?
Harold and the Purple Crayon.
What’s your patronus?
A platypus. They don’t see well with their eyes, so they navigate the world through electromagnetic sensory. For me, as a tactile person who works energetically, that makes sense. I’d been drawn to the platypus since college, when I adopted it as my animal and put it on my business card. Because I had a business card in college (laughs)!
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