Reiki has crossed my path lately.
That’s not entirely accurate. Reiki IS my path. Or at least a good chunk of it. Or one thread of the braid of it. It’s hard to describe. So let’s back up a few years.
I’ve been told that it is good to re-introduce yourself every now and then. Let me reintroduce you to the Reiki side of Tao Craft.
You know the Tarot part well, even if you have been following along just a short time. Ebooks and mala style meditation beads part of things are pretty self-explanatory for sale ko-fi shop and Etsy shop respectively.
It may seem a little odd to have Tarot and Reiki living in the same cyber space. Reiki and Tarot are actually connected at a fundamental level. The Venn diagrams of Reiki, Tarot and magick overlap so much as to practically be a circle.
It might not make sense at first glance. I mean, sure, Tarot is so associated with all the various forms of magick and witches that it is pretty much assumed that if you read Tarot you are a witch and vice versa. But Reiki? What does Buddhism influenced love, light, and lotus flowers have to do with Tarot and magick craft?
As the name TaoCraft implies, it has a lot to do with it. Whether you use eastern or western terminology, Taoism and Tarot, Magick and Reiki all spring from the same basic substrate of universal energies.
As a quick explanation in terminology, Reiki specifically means a method of energy wellness developed in the 1920s by Micheo Usui of Japan. Other methods of energy healing have come to be called Reiki just like the brand name band-aid has come to be used interchangeably with any adhesive bandage. Some newer energy systems identify as being derived from Usui’s work and so identify as a type of Reiki like (if memory serves) Karuna Reiki and the like. Other energy styles and systems may have started with Reiki but split off to differentiate themselves entirely from the traditional Usui system and take on wholly different names. That can happen on an individual or organizational level and doesn’t imply that the system is any better or worse than Reiki, just that it is a different thing all together. In addition to that you have other energy systems that have always been separate and distinct from Reiki since their inception. As I understand it, Johrei is a similar but religious Japanese discipline that grew in parallel to Reiki during the 20th century.
To be clear, whenever I say Reiki (pronounced “ray key”) I specifically mean the Usui system. I use “energy healing” or “energy wellness” as an umbrella term for all similar healing and wellness practices.
My training and certification is in the Traditional Usui style. I studied first and second level training with Karon Mellon of Sewickley PA in the mid 1990s then repeated these levels and progressed to the master-practitioner level under Master Thom Beardshall of McMurray Pennsylvania in 2000.
I don’t feel particularly drawn to teaching Reiki outside of writing about it. I’m a practitioner and, like Tarot, my strong suit is distance work. For the past four years since the TaoCraft Tarot rebranding, I’ve been focusing on distance Reiki and developing what I call “Sending Stones” distance Reiki sessions. I do call it Reiki because it is a Usui method distance session in accordance with my training BUT with the added embellishment of holding a selected stone or crystal to enhance the ambiance and enjoyment of the session. This is no different than the way many Usui practitioners embellish in-person sessions with music, incense, candles or aromatherapy.
There is so much more to say about Reiki. Far more than any one blog post can cover. So I’ll give you a little homework instead.
To see what the Reiki part of TaoCraft looks like, just click the Reiki tab at the top of the page on the blog, or in the menu if you are viewing the website on a mobile device. There are lots of updates planned, so I hope you’ll follow the blog or podcast to hear about those as they happen.
Based on all I’ve learned over the years plus my personal experience learning Reiki, I am firmly in the camp that says the only way to learn in person and over time. Humans don’t flip switches. It’s not like installing the latest update to you phone’s operating system. Human physiology and psychology takes a little time to fully integrate to a new outlook. It takes time to fully incorporate and keep new energies and new thought habits and new habit-habits. Our eyes are not our only sense. You need to have the tactile experience of feeling energy and the change in your hands. The attunement … I’ll call it a ritual for lack of a better word…is a powerful initiation that must be experienced first hand.
Common wisdom teaches us that low, slow burning fires last the longest. That isn’t to say that doing all three levels of Reiki training in one weekend will cause them to flame out and go away. There is, however, a difference in quality. To put it in culinary terms, it’s like the difference between a cheap fast food hamburger and a slow smoked brisket. It’s like the difference between warming up a can of beans and pot of authentic New Orleans red beans that have been bubbling away in a slow cooker all day. Once attuned always attuned seems true. Achieving an enduring high quality experience of Reiki in your life (whether you treat others or not) needs a sweet spot of time between level attunements. The goldilocks zone of time between attunements seems to be 7 to 21 day. It’s enough to adapt and embrace and use and live your new energy level from the last attunement, but no so much time that your attention fades and you start to lose readiness for the next attunement.
But that’s just me. Like Tarot readers and Magick practitioners, there are as many schools of thought about it as there are people living it.
That being said, I don’t encourage anyone to learn Reiki in a single weekend or solely from books or videos. The makers of the world will understand this part: Sometimes you just have to get your hands on it and DO something to really, really understand. That is even more true for something like Reiki that you don’t just know, that you don’t just DO, but can become a way of life.
Doing and living implies continuation, movement and change. Just like science and mainstream medicine, there is always something to explore, improve and learn in Reiki too. That’s where books come in.
Back in the day, when I was studying for my Doctor Doofenschmirtz style remote learning Ph.D. with Clayton College of Natural Health, Reiki: Universal Life Energy by Bodo Baginski was the first book they assigned for the energy medicine class. It is a classic and a good read if for no other reason than Bodo Baginski is probably one of the coolest, most Hobbit like author’s names I’ve ever seen.
After that, I suggest anything and everything by Walter Lubeck and Frank Arjava Petter, especially as one moves from second level to master or master-practitioner levels. Once you have a basic understanding and basic attunements these books increase your level of proficiency. Reiki Fire and Petter’s books are particularly important for those who come into Reiki under the Takada lineage and who are very invested in the Christianized version of Reiki History. While this version was utterly necessary in its time, and may well be the only thing that preserved Reiki in a time of great bigotry and the internment of Japanese American citizens, it is equally important for we 21st century practitioners to know and understand Reiki’s actual, documented, Buddhist roots.
Christopher Penczak’s Magick of Reiki from 2004 is number one on my personal list of must-read Reiki books, but only if you have an established foundation in Reiki, magick, or both. While it is an engaging, absorbing, clear, easy to understand read, the real heart of the subject matter is a bit esoteric. I didn’t discover the book until fairly recently, so I’ve only engaged with it from an experienced practitioner’s point of view. Even after all these years, I gained much from it, especially on the magick side of the equation where my experience and learning is less.
His explanation of physical versus spiritual Reiki is a crucial utterly essential understanding for any Reiki practitioner, especially here in America. I urge anyone interested in Reiki to read this book if for nothing else but the page explaining this important concept.
Count me on the spiritual side. My dissertation argues that Reiki does indeed have physical benefit BUT through the mechanism of the mind-body connection and through mitigation of the detrimental effects of psychological stress. When Reiki improves stress it improves all the physical things that the stress was making worse. Reiki does have physical benefit, but not in the mainstream allopathic mind set of ‘do this to fix that’. Reiki works in the holistic model of improving total functioning and wellness, not just ameliorating a single symptom or isolated disease process. Reiki shifts the mind part of mind-body wellness from a detrimental stress mode into either a neutral or supportive role, in essence getting stress out of the way so that the body’s natural healing abilities can function at their best. If you are interested in the statistics and references, Reiki and Relaxation is the ebook friendly pdf version of my dissertation.
Having a clear idea of the kind of Reiki you want to practice improves your practice.
Again, I work from a spiritual/emotional healing point of view with my Reiki practice. In the beginning, because of my medical background, I tried to work from the physical model and bring Reiki into the mainstream.
It doesn’t work. You wind up whittling away so much of Reiki in order to fit that square peg into an unyielding juggernaut of a round hole that after a while it does a disservice to both the client and to the practice of Reiki writ large…
to be continued