"Please advise me on the difference between working with spirit guides, using crystals such as crystal wands and other forms of 'divination'. I do question whether they clash with God's will for mankind, as according to the Bible it is a sin."
What a lovely and deep question.
First of all, crystal healing is not divination, nor is it necessarily tied to working with spirit guides, although in many spiritual traditions the healer contacts ancestors, deceased teachers in the spiritual lineage into which he or she has been initiated, angels, and other spiritual guides during the healing.
From my studies in this area, I can say that at its most basic level, healers use crystals to store, focus and transmit Universal Life Force Energy. Healers deliver this energy as needed into the physical, etheric and astral bodies of the distressed individual seeking a healing.
The purpose is to restore the balanced flow of life force energy that exists when a human being is in a healthy state of being.
This type of healing has been used by shamanistic healers of all indigenous people since prehistoric times, and is the foundation of the Chinese, Japanese and Hindu branches of medical science.
Universal Life Force Energy is called by different names in different places and traditions around the world. The Hindus call it prana or shakti or kundalini, the Chinese call it chi and the Japanese call it Reiki. In the Christian tradition, this energy is synonymous with the energy of the Holy Spirit, which overshadowed and infused the apostles on Pentecost, and gave them the powers of speaking in tongues and of healing.
-John 20:21: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
-Titus 3:5: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing (or filling) of the Holy Spirit.
-Romans 8:31: If God is for you, who can be against you?
If the Spirit of God is in you…what sickness has a chance?
-John 16:23: Ask the Father anything in my name and you shall have it.
I have written extensively about this energy and how it is used for healing in several articles.
Second, "What is Reiki?"
Third, "Reiki and the Zero-Point Field"
As you will see in these articles, the use of crystals for healing is not dependent upon the use of spirit guides, although spirit guides may be involved.
Vibrational healing, or energy healing, can be found in every religious tradition on every continent around the world.
I mentioned the work of Christ's apostles in doing healings. Christian prayer groups and Christian ministers have a long history of healings through prayer.
In the "Archives of Internal Medicine" in 1999, W. Harris reports on "A randomized controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes of patients admitted to the coronary care unit". This twelve month study of hospitalized heart patients showed patients had fewer adverse effects and shorter hospital stays when they were prayed for. Those who offered prayers were not professional healers. They simply needed to believe in God and to believe that God responds when you pray to Him to heal the sick. Those offering prayers were Protestant, Catholic and non-denominational.
I grew up in the South of the US, where evangelical and Pentecostal denominations proliferate, and I can tell you that there are many churches in the US where laying on of hands by Christian ministers takes place on a regular basis.
These ministers are proud of their Holy Spirit healings, and their congregations benefit greatly from such spiritual healing practices.
Some of these Christian ministers and healers contact saints, spiritual guides, angels, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, and even the Lord Jesus Christ, healing in His Name.
Is this a form of divination or using "spirit guides" that is forbidden by the Bible?
I doubt that Christian ministers and healers who perform laying on of hands would agree with the opinion that spiritual healings are forbidden by the Bible.
You may or may not know this, but Protestant ministers and Christian healers in Latin America, Asia and Africa commonly perform spirit healings, prayer healings, contact spirit guides, and use vibrational or energy healing techniques in their daily work. The Brazilian healer John of God is a prominent current example of such healers.
You can read about healing from the perspective of an Australian Christian minister who performs hands on healings.
I have known many Christian New Age ministers and healers who use crystals for healing, sometimes with the help of spiritual guides. They also do not believe the Bible forbids such healing.
Don't forget that the famous 20th Century Christian mystic Edgar Cayce contacted spirit guides, gave readings, healed and revealed past lives to his clients.
In Lynne McTaggart's book, "The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe", she points out that over 150 medical and scientific studies have been done on healing through prayer, laying on of hands, energy healing, shamanic healing, and secular forms of laying on of hands.
In "Medical Hypotheses", in 1982, R.N. Miller published the results of a "Study on the Effectiveness of Remote Mental Healing", which examined a group of 96 patients with high blood pressure.
A number of healers gave mental treatments and a statistical analysis performed after the healings showed that the blood pressure of those patients treated by healers improved significantly, compared with those in the control group.
The healers employed relaxation techniques, each getting in touch with a Higher Power or Infinite Being, then used visualization or affirmation, and gave thanks to the spiritual power invoked. Four of the healers attained a 92.3% improvement among their total group of patients.
In "The Western Journal of Medicine", in 1998, F. Sicher and E. Targ report on "A randomized double-blind study of the of the effect of distance healing in a population with advanced AIDS". Forty religious and spiritual healers participated, including Christian healers, evangelicals, a Native American shaman, a Chinese Qi Gong master, a Jewish kabbalistic healer, Buddhist healers, and healers from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing Light. Some healers worked with light energies, colors, vibrations, visualizations, meditations, tones, singing and ringing bells, and a few with crystals.
During the six month trial period, 40% of the control population died. All ten of the patients in the healing group had become healthier according to medical evaluations.
This and similar scientific studies indicate that spiritual healings are authentic and that different forms of spiritual healing, taught in different religions and spiritual traditions, can be effective in relieving human suffering and in healing the sick.
Your question raises an important point, however. It is very important, in my opinion, for healers and spiritual aspirants to understand the responsibilities inherent in their work.
When healers and spiritual aspirants embark upon the difficult and lengthy journey towards the Divine, one of the universal components of such a journey, celebrated and described in all spiritual traditions, East and West, is the work of subjugating the egoistic personality to a Higher Principle, whether it be described as the soul, the Holy Spirit, Christ Consciousness, the Higher Self, the Buddha Mind, Brahma, Atma or some other source of transpersonal wisdom and love.
I have described this journey and its difficulties and rewards at some length in the first part of my book on love, "Back to the Garden: Cultivating Love in Our Lives", and especially in "Self-Love: The War Between the Ego and the Higher Self".
When a spiritual aspirant or healer begins to achieve success in subordinating the egoistic mind to higher spiritual principles, there is always a danger. The danger is that the aspirant may drop all mental defenses, and open to all and sundry influences in the spiritual world.
There is no doubt that there are spiritual influences that can be detrimental to humanity's spiritual progress, and that the aspirant must take steps to safeguard against them.
Surrounding oneself with light, practicing love in all one thinks, says and does, centering one's consciousness in higher chakra centers, the practice of mindfulness, and close contact with a living spiritual teacher who has the ability to aid one on this difficult spiritual path are all important, and are touched upon in "The War Between the Ego and the Higher Self".
Personally, I feel that those who practice divination or channeling as trance mediums who allow themselves to be taken over by spirit guides are taking a risk, and that their work must be carefully evaluated. As Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them."
Personally, I take full responsibility for messages and healing energies I transmit from transpersonal sources, from spiritual worlds. I do not claim to speak for spiritual guides, I do not issue messages in their names, nor claim that I am the medium performing healings being done by spiritual teachers and guides. I take responsibility for my actions.
I take care to remain conscious and watchful, observant and mindful, while performing all these types of operations, and in this way to safeguard myself and others.
I would suggest to you that it is very difficult to generalize about the spiritual practices and healing work being done in the many beautiful spiritual traditions on this planet, and to apply general rules such as "this is forbidden by the Bible," especially because the rules governing those practices differ so widely among Christian sects and across religious and spiritual traditions.
The Bible is subject to many interpretations and thus it is dangerous to set oneself up as the arbiter of Biblical meaning. Although fundamentalists tend to believe the meaning is self-evident, that is an index of their faith in their church and their clerical hierarchy, rather than a fact of life.
After all, during the Inquisition, when the Bible was only available in very rare, hand-written manuscripts in Latin, Greek or Aramaic, the Roman Catholic Church reserved reading the Bible and interpreting its message for the highest office holders of the Church hierarchy, believing that the average priest and lay person was incapable of interpreting its true meaning.
Then Martin Luther made the Bible available in the vernacular, the language of the people, and many copies were printed on newly invented printing presses. This allowed all priests and laypeople access to Scripture. They could read the Bible and interpret its meaning for themselves. This advance in openness provided the foundation for modern day Christianity.
The conflict about whether lay persons could interpret the Bible as they wish, and between Biblical interpretations and the religious laws and rules founded upon those interpretations, as promulgated by various Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church, became the basis for hundreds of years of religious warfare in Europe.
The Christian civil wars in Europe also pitted reformist followers of Martin Luther Cathoics who believe that relics of saints can have healing properties and that devout lay people can contact saints in heaven, who can then intercede on their behalf, for healings and in other circumstances.
Those who contact saints in heaven in their meditations and prayers and who use relics for healing are also engaging in spiritual healings that involve contacting spiritual guides and teachers, are they not?
And are we to believe that their prayers and their meditations are not only invalid, but sinful? This argument still rages in Christian theological circles, but my belief, as an Interfaith Minister, is that for Catholics these practices can have tremendous value. Buddhist and Hindu priests, monks, healers and lay people also venerate spiritual saints, guides and teachers and their relics, and these traditions also speak of healings and spiritual benefits from these practices. I believe them to be proper pathways to the Divine.
It is also true that the indiscriminate sales of indulgences and relics in the Middle Ages constituted an abuse almost as pernicious as the tragedy of the Inquisition, and like all such practices, the use of relics and prayer and veneration of saints must be done so as not to lose a sense of proportion, to falsely elevate such high spiritual beings into gods or goddesses.
The religious warfare between the Catholic church and Protestant reformers had no positive outcome for anyone involved in the exercise, except perhaps the crowned rulers and nobility of European countries, both Catholic and Protestant, who used the wars as an excuse to consolidate power in their own greedy hands.
In an attitude similar to the Roman Catholic inquisition today, there are Christians who would force all Christians to bend the knee to their interpretation of the Bible. Some Christians believe that the Bible prohibits divination, healings using crystals, and communication with spirit guides. Some of these Christians believe that only their interpretation of the Bible is valid and that other interpretations are steeped in sin, invalid, and pernicious. They see those who offer other interpretations as their enemies, enemies who must be subjugated and controlled, dominated and overcome.
This is a tragedy for Christianity, and for all spiritual aspirants.
We can easily see the tragic results of fundamentalist religious zealotry in the world around us today -- particularly in the advocacy of jihad and in the more extreme proponents of the war on terror who see the Muslim religion as a demonic influence and their own militaristic adventures as a just and righteous religious crusade.
My belief is that tolerance is a key spiritual virtue in every religioustradition, and that every spiritual path leads to the Divine.
"If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass,or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
. . .Charity is patient, is kind; charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth." Corinthians, 13:1-6
Every spiritual path is beset with snares, difficulties and obstacles, and so every spiritual aspirant has a responsibility to offer consolation, loving support and positive reinforcement to those on the path, no matter what their religious affiliation or spiritual tradition.
In short, I would counsel you to be cautious concerning the bona fides of any teacher, healer or spiritual aspirant, especially those who make inflated claims for their own powers or who claim to speak on behalf of exalted spiritual lineages and personages. With these caveats in mind, here are some good guidelines for picking a spiritual healer.
On the other hand, I would suggest that you remain open to the beautiful teachings and healing energies available in the many splendid spiritual traditions and lineages alive in the world today, and make tolerance the keynote of your spiritual practice.
In this way, you can be sure to advance on your path.
"Now you are the body of Christ. . . And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors, after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the grace of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But be zealous for the better gifts. And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way." -- 1 Corinthians, 12:28-31
Love and Light,