In its training programs and work, the Foundation teaches and promotes only the positive, life-enhancing, and healing uses of shamanic knowledge.
Shamanic healers and practitioners of shamanic divination, please consider carefully what constitutes the ethical practice of shamanism. While the Foundation does not endorse or promote a specific set of rules, the following writings may help you to form your own guidelines as you study and practice shamanism, shamanic healing, and divination:
- Code of Ethics of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (PDF)
- Ethical Considerations in Shamanic Healing by Susan Mokelke, JD
- FSS Requirements and Standards for Practitioners of Core Shamanism (PDF)
- Unified Code of Ethics for Healers. The Council for Healing is a network of individual healers and healing organizations whose mission is to promote understanding of healing and advance access to healing.
In the US, many state and local governments have legal requirements for the practice of complementary and alternative (CAM) disciplines. More recent regulatory efforts focus on a broad range of spiritually-oriented practices combined under the heading of energy medicine. 2
Some states require unlicensed practitioners to register with a local or state authority in order to be exempt from prosecution for practicing medicine without a license. 3 (E.g., see Minnesota Office of Unlicensed Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practice) In addition, there may be other legal requirements outside of CAM that potentially apply to shamanic healing and shamanic divination. 4
Each shamanic healer/practitioner is responsible for knowing and meeting any legal requirements in his or her state or locality.5
Health Freedom Acts. In recent years, in the area of CAM practices, many public organizations at the state and national level have been established to promote legislation ensuring the individual's right to access CAM practices. The National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC) is one such organization whose mission is:
"To promote access to all health care information, services, treatments and products that the people deem beneficial for their own health and survival; to promote an understanding of the laws and factors impacting the right to access; and to promote the health of the people of this nation."
Under the auspices of the NHFC, state organizations have been created to promote health freedom legislation. While details vary, such legislation commonly requires CAM practitioners to provide clients with, at minimum:
- a clear statement of the nature of their practice and their training and experience;
- a declaration that their services are not licensed by the state nor are they licensed physicians;
- they cannot perform medical procedures, such as x-rays, surgery, prescribe medications or advise stopping medications. The client signs this "disclosure" (sometimes referred to as a "consent form" or "client bill of rights") and the practitioner keeps a copy on file.
For example, in California specific legislation (SB 577 - Bus. & Prof. Code 2053.5, 2053.6) has been enacted, which recognizes the professional legitimacy of alternative and complementary health care practitioners and healers, allowing them to be able to legally provide and advertise their services in California. The sponsors of the legislation, California Health Freedom Coalition, provide information and a downloadable "Compliance Package," as well as a template for a Disclosure Form that CAM practitioners can modify to meet the California requirements. If your state has a health freedom coalition, that is a place to start to find help on meeting the specific requirements for practicing shamanic healing in your state; most have templates available for required disclosure/consent forms.
Trade Boards. There is a recent effort to establish state trade boards to self-regulate energy medicine practitioners and avoid governmental regulation by those who have little knowledge of the fields they are trying to regulate. (See note 2 below.)
Resources. Here are a few resources that will give you a starting place for finding and understanding any legal requirements for practicing shamanism, shamanic healing or divination in your state or locality. (Note: Anything listed on the FSS site or other linked sites should be independently verified by doing an internet search of the legislation of the state in question. You can enter search terms such as: name of state, legislation, complementary and alternative medicine, unlicensed, and so forth. E.g., Ohio legislation complementary alternative medicine unlicensed.)
- CAM law blog by Michael H. Cohen, an attorney who practices, writes and teaches about complementary and alternative medicine, law, business, and ethics.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, general information for both practitioners and clients, part of the National Institutes of Health.
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Law by Lucinda E. Jesson and Stacey A. Tovino
- Laws Governing Energy Medicine Practitioners by Linnie Thomas
Working with animals. Similar issues with alternative healing and veterinary medical examiners are arising when using CAM to treat animals. "Opening the Door: Non-Veterinarians and the Practice of Complementary and Alternative Medicine," by Megan Schommer, Journal of Animal Ethics 2 (1): 43-52. ©2012 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. jstor.org/stable/10.5406/janimalethics.2.1.0043?seq=1
1. Disclaimer. The content herein is provided for information purposes only as a service to those seeking and practicing shamanic healing or divination. It is not legal advice or counsel. The information is provided only as general information, which may or may not reflect the most current legal developments. The Foundation makes no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information herein and does not endorse or sponsor any linked websites or their content. The Foundation does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice), which is provided on this website or any linked sites or incorporated into it by reference. The information is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the site undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. If you require advice in relation to any legal matter you should consult an appropriately qualified lawyer.
2. Energy Medicine.
Regulatory, Trade Board:
The National Certification Center of Energy Practitioners. NCCOEP was founded in 2018 as the result of a series of meetings within the energy practitioner associations, and training program communities. It acts as "test center dedicated to providing assessment of the energy practitioner and supporting the development of national standards for the energy practices, which result in trade boards for energy practitioners in each state." The idea is protection of the community of practitioners and clients, through self-regulation appropriate to the specific energy medicine discipline, as designed by those who practice it; not imposed on the practitioner by governmental agencies who know nothing about it.
National Association of Energy Practitioners (NAOEP, the "Alliance"): The Alliance, a 501(c)(3) educational organization, was formed in 2018 as a community of associations and training programs. Its purpose is primarily educational. "Our purpose is to share information about quality energy practices, educate the public on the styles of energy work, their use, the research on energy practices, and the limits of what a professional practitioner can do." Note: The FSS is a member of the Alliance, in an advisory capacity, for the specific purpose of providing accurate information about shamanism and the practice of core shamanism.
See FSS Statement/Response (PDF) paper regarding these organizations.
3. Credentialing CAM Providers. Understanding CAM Education, Training, Regulation, and Licensing.
4. Divination Practice. There are laws in some states, counties, and cities related to "fortune-telling." These laws may apply to clairvoyance (psychic readings), astrology, divination by the tarot, runes, tea leaves, palm-reading, and other forms of such practices, including shamanic divination. To find any laws or regulations in your area, do an internet search. For example, search: fortune telling laws (name of your city/county/state).
5. Licensed Providers. Shamanic practitioners who are also psychologists, marriage or family therapists, physicians, naturopaths, massage therapists or other licensed providers should be aware of the scope of practices within these fields and practice accordingly. There may be additional ethical and legal considerations that apply and each practitioner is responsible for knowing and meeting any legal requirements in his or her state or locality. Contact your licensing board.