Every time there is some sort of larger happening in the world I see a call to “send energy”: to send prayers, intentions, or even do some type of energetic or spiritual work to be of assistance.

In this I see the best of intentions: a desire to be of service, compassion for those who are suffering, and a recognition of the enormity of situations and how they effect not only those involved, but all of us: human, animal, land, and spirit (and otherwise).

While I specifically am focusing on natural disasters here, some of these may not quite fit that description. School shootings, police, political, and justice issues, as well as things like wildfires started (either accidentally or on purpose) by an individual with far-reaching consequences would also have similar ethical considerations as I propose below.



The first thing to consider is that we should feel emotionality regarding the state of the world. If we do not feel grief, fear/anxiety, or some sort of existential disturbance on occasion regarding the state of the world, how humans interact with one another, how humans are utilizing or taking from the Earth with little understanding or regard for impact, it is likely that we simply are not paying attention.

What we consider “normalcy” in modern, Westernized society is a state of complete emotional repression as well as a general lack of awareness: a lack of regard or ignorance to anything that does not immediately create issues for the self.

This type of mentality creates huge problems. In spiritual circles, it is referred to as spiritual bypass, or the utilization of spiritual terms and thoughts to placate, anesthetize, or ignore reality.

Such bypass typically includes an incredible amount of privilege (ignoring societal issues that do not seemingly have a direct link to you always does), but for the individual who is bypassing, their lives and consciousness never truly expand… because what is repressed or ignored or shoved aside in us never truly goes anywhere until we look straight at it, and until we accept it as a part of ourselves.



Such emotions in the face of world events can feel enormous. They should. But the first thing I would suggest doing would be to extricate your personal shadow: the unlived, repressed, and unacknowledged personal pain in reaction to the situation from the authentic reaction.

This means that at the loss of considerable life, we should feel some degree of grief, anger, and every other emotion as an empathetic response.

Skilled empathy is like a guitar string, or like an orchestra warming up. Large events create a ripple effect, and it is natural that such events “tune” the rest of us in alignment with it (like said orchestra).

Sensitive individuals may not be aware that they are reacting to a ripple effect like this: that they may feel angry because of a school shooting, that they have a headache because of a severe weather pattern changing, or that they feel grief because of something going on half a world away.

But it is our tendency to not only react in terms of these ripples without conscious awareness, but also to utilize outer events in the world as a way to allow ourselves to live out our unhealed, unresolved, unlived, or unprocessed emotions, traumas, and other patterns.

We live in a world where any type of emotional expression is still considered pathological, and so a world event, such as a natural disaster, can allow for us to not only feel empathy for those involved, but also allow for a way for us to project our own shadows: our own unresolved fears, anger, and patterning, onto the situation.

We are unable yet to express our feelings or to truly know what lies unresolved within us on an individual level, on a personal level, and so we project considerable energy outward onto events like this.

On an energetic level, this creates energetics being sent into a situation that may not be helpful, and may best be resolved by a person willing to look within: to discern and separate what may be arising in themselves as a reaction to the event on a personal vs. a collective level.

Attending to our own pain, our own projections, is the type of work that truly has a collective impact. Each one of us that chooses to do so, rather than to blindly send our pain and reactivity into a situation that is already experiencing considerable pain, is doing some intensive work– not only for themselves, but also for our collective reality.



One thing to really pay attention to is our individual response to chaos, destruction, and darkness. We fear uncertainty, and a world event reminds us of all of the forces that we seek to ignore and deny in modern Western culture: death, darkness, emotionality, and uncertainty.

This is half of our nature, the “yin” half, the feminine, the darkness and chaos and wildness. Spiritual reality, the Other, the physical body, and the natural world are all a part of “yin”.

In our culture we prize “yang”: the mind, order, seeing and knowing the corners of things, the ego-mind which seeks to claim superiority or dominance over everything, including the natural world.

The impact of philosophies that have pervaded the West that suggest that the human mind is dominant over everything has caused for us to erroneously believe that our minds can dominate and control nature.

We are shown again and again that our efforts to tame our inner and outer wildness, to deny our instinctual responses and atavistic instincts, to think ourselves beyond such things, are relatively futile.

This type of mentality has caused for not only people to believe that the Earth and non-human beings are something to take from, resources to be utilized and claimed, but also the type of mentality and limited awareness that suggests that humans, and the human mind, truly is in control of the natural world.

So while a lot of individuals who “send energy” or congratulate themselves for their minds and sheer force of will changing the outcome of a situation occurring, there is rarely a consideration that this is the same type of mentality that puts humans at the top of the pyramid, the mind as being in control of everything, dominant and separated from the natural world.



Our response to a situation like this is often our own projected fears regarding death. Part of meditative work, or any type of work that seeks to truly look within and know the self, is to eventually sit with forces like death, destruction, and uncertainty, and to recognize that these forces are not something to deny, to attempt to control, or to view as “bad”.

In recognition and acceptance of our own physical death, of the uncertainty of our existence, we can acknowledge the uncertainty, death, and destruction of all existence.

Not a pleasant thought, I realize, at least initially. But a recognition of the capacity to change, that we are all continually going through cycles of destruction and renewal in smaller and larger ways, can allow for us to not only accept and resolve these deeply held fears, but to stop looking at change, uncertainty, and death as things to be fought against.

The idea that our lives are governed by uncertainty and chaos and destruction and death as much as they are by order and static energies and life, that such forces intertwine and are intended to work with one another, that yin needs yang, and yang requires yin, can allow for us to eventually deeply sit with and accept all of the aspects of our being.



The real ethical consideration of “sending energy” into situations like this is an ideology of human supremacy and human outlook being “right”, being dominant, knowing what is best in situations such as these.

Shamans and spiritual workers are intermediaries: they have an awareness that there are much larger forces than themselves, beyond themselves, beyond their human mentalities and outlook.

A spiritual worker really should do some form of divination work prior to doing any type of energetic or spiritual work.

Divination allows for there to be a window in to larger forces governing the situation. It also, in some cases, allows for communication, that role of intermediary: an understanding that humans are not on top of that pyramid, deciding what should or should not be done, but an understanding involving humility and a realization that there are larger forces at play, perspectives and cause-effect as well as ripple effects that our human minds cannot possibly understand the totality of.

Such divination would allow for the spiritual worker to see that in one situation, praying for rain for a fire may be exactly the right thing to do; in another, it may say that despite your grief and psychological need to feel of assistance, that a fire is occurring for a reason.

Spiritual worker as intermediary works with the forces of nature, the elements, the land spirits involved, the spirits involved, to see what balance needs to be brought to a situation. 

This is beyond human need– it is a seeing of human as a part of things, not in control, not on top, not deciding what should be done so all others can fall into line– but a recognition of human as part of things, and seeing how one can be of assistance to much larger forces.

Without considering what the land wants, what the spirits of that land want, what the force of that storm of natural disaster might truly be accomplishing, there is not a consideration of enough depth or awareness to truly understand what would be of service, what could or should be the human element of assistance in the situation.



There is also a question of ethics in terms of mentality. One of the curious impacts of our separation over generations from both the spiritual and natural world is the type of mentality that arises from little immersion in it.

Put more simply, if you have never been to the state of Florida, and perhaps have only heard a few news stories regarding Florida, you may have very specific ideas about what Florida is like.

Your perspective would be considerable skewed because you have not had embodied, lived experience of traveling there, of seeing all of the hidden and wonderful, all of the unfortunate and dire, and everything in between, regarding Florida.

You may not even believe that Florida is real, if we are going to launch into the odd twists of the human mind.

So when I hear people expressing congratulations for changing a storm with their minds, even in a group, what comes to mind is a lack of awareness of individual (or even collective) will, and the impact or purview it has, the type of control and power that it has over reality.

When we do not have immersion in something, we tend to view things through our egoic faculties. Basically, we are dominant or superior, or we are completely at the mercy of something, with little nuance or room in between.

The classic joke regarding this was early in my career a woman told me in the same breath that she commanded Archangel Michael to do things and that she could not get her fifteen year old son to make his bed.

I in no way wish to make fun of such an individual, but to point out a common mentality that comes from not having the immersion with natural forces, or with the Other, to understand that as individuals we are truly capable of so much, but that we have a sphere of influence that only extends so far.

We both greatly overestimate as well as often greatly underestimate our power in equal doses.

We overestimate on a spiritual collective level, and underestimate on a personal level. We are capable of changing our habits, our beliefs, our responses to the world, our physical forms, but are typically too entrenched in trauma and conditioning to even have the awareness that we can do so, that our individual reality and way of being could be different than the pain patterns we have grown accustomed to.

We also tend to drastically overestimate what we can do on a spiritual level because of our separation, because we have not gone through the steps to create communion, spiritual relationships, and to move beyond the threshold to the Other to truly experience forces and energies far greater than ourselves.



So let’s say that the human mind was capable of changing the pathway of a storm. As someone who has been doing spiritual work for a long time as well as has interacted with some truly lovely, dedicated individuals who also have done spiritual work with an attitude of regard and seriousness, I will say that the type of mind who can accomplish such things is the type of mind that has had dedicated practices for a lengthy period of time.

Meditation is mental training, and to wield the powers of the mind takes considerable time, skill, as well as typically, a natural talent or some type of real need to do so.

Spiritual work also takes considerable time and skill to develop. Spiritual relationships with forces and spirits in the role of intermediary, to develop an in-depth relationship with the Other to have an impact or effect or successful immersion in it, takes decades.

Even with the most naturally talented, those who genetically have gifts, or those who have had transcendent experiences that offer perspective, those talents need to be nurtured and cultivated so they can be utilized properly. Even if you are incredibly talented and gifted violin player, you might actually need to practice some to compose or play something of beauty and worth.

Our minds are naturally untamed, and to tame them, to move beyond the basic egoic impulses, to look at the conditioning that confines us, takes questioning and sincerity and honesty over time.



But let’s say a group of individuals all did this and all could impact the path of a storm. They have not done divination or looked at what should be done in the situation beyond human mentality: they simply want to assist, and to do so through their human perspective.

Such a mind would not be capable of such things, but for ethical considerations, let’s say they could.

If there is no consideration of larger forces, of ripple effects, the moving of that storm, even if it spares some lives, may have an impact that the individual or group is unaware of.

It may be creating further devastation and loss of life due to it moving– either immediately or as a ripple effect in the future.

It may be another thing that creates division– the belief that human mentality is dominant, and what the human mentality wants should be what happens, creating further division and separation between human mind-ego and nature, creating yet again more consequences for the Earth, and for the forces and energies and lives on that Earth, because there is no insight beyond what individual humans, or a group of humans, or what the ego-mind, seeks to do to help.



One of the unfortunate effects of spirituality arising in the West is the idea of passivity. The idealism of doing nothing, of feeling nothing, as if all is right in the world.

That we should not react, or even assist, those in trouble. That we should only look within, and if everything is right in our individual bubbles, that means that everything is right in the world, or that individuals are living out their “karma” or other notions that give permission for people to not see or acknowledge others, or to further shame individuals who require assistance physically, mentally-emotionally, or spiritually into a “bootstrap” mentality.

If we do not acknowledge that spiritual concepts of oneness mean that if all is not right within the world, if all is not right with our neighbor, or someone half a world a way, that all is not right within ourselves, we are missing out on some of the most significant teachings regarding oneness.

That our response should be to acknowledge and tend to others in whatever way possible– both internally as well as through positive, concrete action in the world, whenever we have the individual energy and capacity to do so.

I can assure you that all is not right in the world, and that we need individuals who are ready and willing to look at things with nuance, to be a part of things, to move beyond the separations between themselves and their feelings, their pain, the natural world, the spirit world, their physical bodies.

To do deep healing work so that pain and unhealed trauma is not projected outward, creating more pain and trauma in our collective reality.

To truly be of assistance. The type of concrete assistance that creates a positive ripple effect. While we may wish to help whatever the latest large news event is, someone assisting at a pet shelter, or assisting homeless individuals, simply smiling and bringing a bit of kindness into the world, expressing sincere gratitude, can create incredible ripples in our reality.

Someone also doing their inner work until they no longer are in a cycle of creating more pain in our reality (gossip, lack of kindness, desire to create more pain for individuals or groups, seeing other individuals or groups as “other” rather than seeing their humanity) creates ripple effects that will impact the individual life in a concrete way, but also the world, including whatever world event is currently in the news, in ways that the mind simply does not have the capacity to fully imagine.

Or if there is a deep need and desire to directly send energy, or to be of assistance in a spiritual nature to whatever world event is in the news, considering yourself as a part of things, rather than at the top of the pyramid, and working with skills and awareness so that we can truly listen, truly be a part of things, rather than dominating the conversation or deciding to do things based off of our own psychological needs, or even the sincerest of desires, is truly necessary to be of assistance.


Mary Mueller Shutan is a spiritual teacher and author of several books, including The Shamanic Workbook 1 and The Spiritual Awakening Guide.