Category: Spiritual Motivational Articles

Reiki: An Unconditional Love



by Raven Keyes

(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)

I'm blessed to have spent the whole of my career as a Reiki master in venues one might label "the establishment," such as operating rooms with renowned New York surgeons, and even standing next to Dr. Oz. My book, The Healing Power of Reiki, chronicles some of my personal stories about what it's been like to bring Reiki into the mainstream. In it I describe giving sessions in the locker room of the New York Giants and behind the barricades of Ground Zero after September 11th, but there's one important story that didn't make it into the book. It was still in the process of unfolding when my final manuscript reached its turn-in date, and though I couldn't have imagined it at the time, the tale even now continues to unfold. What you are about to read has taken place over the whole of this year, a journey of hope, courage, strength, and love. With my heart wide open, I share with you the amazing tale of My Reiki Valentine.

When Cassandra and I first met, we weren't thinking about the fact that Reiki is unconditional love. When she walked into my office, it was because she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and her surgeon, Dr. Sheldon Marc Feldman, Chief of Breast Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, had sent her to me. From the beginning, Cassandra faced up to her illness with surprising gratitude. You see, she had no symptoms and found out quite by accident that she had cancer. It had been discovered when she was hospitalized for something completely unrelated. The cancer showed up in her blood tests, and before she knew it, Dr. Feldman, whose work is legendary, was performing biopsies. It was discovered that her disease was quite advanced. When he told her about the Reiki option, she readily accepted and we began a journey together that was quite "rich" as she has recently described it; rich in many ways, all of them extraordinary.

Because of the kind of breast cancer she had and the amount of disease present, it was decided by her doctors that she would undergo several rounds of chemotherapy before having surgery; this meant that she would be having eight chemo sessions, each three weeks apart. For all those months, Cassandra came to me on the Wednesday mornings before her Thursday chemotherapy session. She called it, "her one happy appointment."

To say Cassandra and I became friends is an understatement. We were warrior women together! Our conversations before and after sessions during her chemotherapy odyssey were extraordinary—it's incredible to get to know another woman's heart under these circumstances. It was during these talks that I was able to tell her that Reiki is unconditional love from the universe, the power that heals. She connected her own love to this truth. The Reiki sessions we had together were powerful—she saw colors, she felt sensations, she flew, she slept! Her side effects from the chemo were kept at a minimum. But what was truly remarkable from my point of view was that her spirits were always high and she was never distressed.

That is, except for when we got to the weekend before her surgery. With her chemotherapy rounds completed, her surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, February 14th—Valentine’s Day. All the plans were quickly put in place—her brother would fly in from the Midwest to care for her after the surgery and the flight he was able to get so last minute would have him arriving while she was still in the operating room. Her niece was coming to take charge of our personal belongings while we went into the mastectomy with Dr. Feldman, which would be followed immediately by re-constructive surgery performed by Cassandra's plastic surgeon.

On the Friday before the scheduled procedures, Cassandra was called and told that her pre-surgery blood test showed that her blood was too weak from all the chemotherapy and that the surgery might need to be postponed. She called me, very distressed to say the least. I promised her that I would do distance Reiki over the weekend with the intention of building up her blood. The distance healing session I conducted was very powerful for the both of us, and it worked like a charm. When Cassandra went in early on that Monday morning for a final blood test, her blood levels were improved enough for the surgery to go forward. So we had our date with destiny on the day of love.

I remember clearly the moments as the surgery got under way. I was sending Reiki into Cassandra with my hands placed across the top of her head while sitting on a stool next to the anesthesiologist; I was behind the sterile field clipped high above her head so I wouldn't have to see what was going on. I could hear Dr. Feldman quietly pointing out to another surgeon on his team that the size of the tumor was still quite large, in spite of the rounds of chemotherapy. He mentioned how important her next phase—radiation—was going to be. For the rest of the surgery, which was long because of all the plastic surgery that was required following the mastectomy, things went along as usual. It wasn't until the surgery was completely over that I got the scare of my life.

Waking up the patient is the responsibility of the anesthesiologist. Once Cassandra's surgery was over, everyone prepared to transfer her to post-op, but she wasn't waking up. Long minutes were passing without her coming around. The operating room cleared out of all personnel, except for the anesthesiologist, who called for another doctor to assist—and me. The doctors were shaking Cassandra with force, over and over, calling her name, and still she wasn't waking up. Their conversation was terrifying to me: "I didn’t give her very much narcotic; I don't understand this," said the one who had overseen the operation. "Maybe she had a stroke on the table. I think I'll give her a shot of…"

"No, not yet," said the other doctor.

This was the moment in which I found I had overcome my aversion to seeing blood. I marched right through the blood on the floor, took Cassandra's hand, sent Reiki through her palm, and called to her. "Cassandra, come back. The operation is over," I implored. I held my breath. "Raven," she croaked as her eyes started to slowly open. I cried. Cassandra has a memory of this. She remembers that she heard people calling her, but she didn't want to come back, because she felt she still had things to do in that other place where she was. It was my voice, and the love we have for each other, that brought her back. And, of course, the power of the unconditional love that Reiki is. I can't imagine I'll ever have a more heartfelt Valentine's gift—the gift of Cassandra’s life continuing on as part of mine!

There were complications involving the radiation treatments, but eventually they were done and Cassandra recently received a clean bill of health from all of her doctors.

Cassandra told me that she was "taken" with Reiki and that she wanted to study it, so we began her Reiki training together; she just recently took the final step in her Reiki studies. This past weekend, she completed her training with me and is now a Reiki master herself. I have no words with which to express what this means to my heart. And I can't begin to imagine how many people Cassandra will help, as a survivor of breast cancer, filled with the healing power of the unconditional love that is Reiki.

Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2012. All rights reserved.


Magick and Reiki: When Two Paths Become One


by Mickie Mueller

(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)

The first time I ever heard of Reiki, I was at a local pagan festival. I was helping out a friend with his shop's booth for the weekend. Before we packed up to go home, I did some quick shopping for thank you gifts I wanted to give the family members who had cared for my kids for the weekend. I found some lovely, inexpensive citrine crystal pendants at one of the booths and decided to purchase one for my mother-in-law. The woman who sold it to me asked if she could Reiki it for me. I had seen the sign and books on the subject around her booth all weekend. I didn't really know what Reiki was, but it seemed right, so I said, "Sure, why not."

She held the crystal in both hands silently and after a moment she exclaimed softly, "Oh, this crystal is drawing a lot of energy." The she pointed out that the hair on her arms was standing on end. I was very interested. After handing the stone back to me and I made my purchase, she asked me if I did any energy work. I told her, "Yes, I do. I practice Wicca." She replied, "No, dear, I mean energy work. Wicca is not the same thing." I left feeling a bit confused. I worked with energy all the time, as most Wiccans do. My curiosity was peaked about this Reiki.

Later that evening, the gift of the crystal cinched it. As my mother-in-law put the crystal on, the hair on her arms stood up. Hmm, what exactly is Reiki? She wore it to a job interview that day, and secured a new job. Ok, now I needed to learn about Reiki. I picked up a book on the subject, Reiki for Beginners by David Vennells. I discovered that in addition to learning techniques from books, a Reiki attunement must be passed through by initiation from teacher to student and next thing you know, I was taking classes at my local new age store. As I was quite broke at the time, my mother covered the fee with the promise that someday I would teach her, which I eventually did! I have learned a lot about Reiki since then, becoming a Reiki master/teacher myself, and one thing I have learned is that while, yes, Reiki is not exactly the same as the energy we normally use in magickal ritual, the energies are very compatible and work very well with an Earth Based Faith such as Wicca.

Reiki and Magick Complement Each Other
Reiki is a healing modality, and it is deceptively simple and simply powerful. The first thing you learn to do with Reiki is healing. The hands are placed in positions that correspond with the chakra positions around the body and energy is transferred from the Universal source through the hands of the practitioner to the recipient. The wonderful thing about using Reiki for healing versus other methods that we as Wiccans and Pagans might otherwise use, is that we do not "take on" anything from the person we are doing work for. It allows us to do more healing and deal with severe illnesses that we couldn't do otherwise because Reiki flows from the hands into the body, and never the other way around. I have talked with many Wiccans who do healing work but report that it knocks them down for awhile afterwords. This doesn't happen with Reiki. In fact, giving a Reiki treatment can be good for the practitioner as well as the client. Distance healings can also be done with a Reiki II degree, and can be incorporated into a Wiccan healing ritual with great success! I charge my teas, healing candles, even herbal remedies and medications my family takes with Reiki.

I have learned on my own to use Reiki in most of my magic, I have found that Reiki turbo-charges my magick! I use it to help me cleanse my circle, as the energy has a purifying quality. It is also very beneficial when consecrating ritual tools. It can cleanse an item of any nasty vibes that might have built up and fills it with life force energy. Reiki can fill herbs with life force energy as well, allowing the herbs to reach their full potential. In addition to charging my candles with my magickal purpose, I also charge them with Reiki to add extra oomph to my spell work. I even carve them with both magickal and Reiki symbols. When I am at work or somewhere where I can't just do magick easily and a situation pops up that I know requires some kind of spiritual intervention, I use Reiki. Quite simply, I write the situation or problem on a slip of paper and excuse myself for a few minutes to the restroom or other quiet place and using the distance symbol, I send Reiki to the situation. You see, Reiki can only be used for the higher good, so it easily fits right in with The Rede, in harming none. I continue to send Reiki until I get a chance to do some magick. Sometimes Reiki has already ironed everything out by then! Reiki and magick are used together to cleanse and charge my stones, protect and bless my home, I have used them together for so long now, they seamlessly integrate with each other for me.

Following the Path
I have wished in the beginning of my Reiki studies that someone had been able to tell me how to use Reiki with magick. My Reiki master wasn't Wiccan, and nor was anyone from my class. I had read in many books that Reiki was complimentary to any form of spirituality but no specific ideas about my chosen path were given. After many dead ends, I just started to experiment and found success. I felt that the woman at the festival didn't give the use of energy in Wicca enough credit. The fact is, I don't think that she knew, being of a more New-Age background. Her comment did, however send me on a journey to learn Reiki and to discover the similarities and differences between the energies I use. For that, I thank her. Along the way, I have discovered that there are a lot of magick users that incorporate Reiki. And I even recently discovered a book on the subject, Magick of Reiki by Christopher Penczak! Through his book, I have learned even more theories about Reiki. His book included so many new ideas for integrating Reiki with magick and some new Reiki symbols I have been experimenting with. I'm sure I will always be learning with both Reiki and magick. After all, if we are wise, we never stop learning and trying new things.

Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2005. All rights reserved.


Using Reiki Magick


by Christopher Penczak

(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)

Reiki is the power to heal using "universal life force." Reiki itself is a system of natural healing coming to the west from Japan. A trained practitioner of Reiki healing has the ability to channel pure life force—what is known as ki, chi, or prana—and gently allow the recipient to absorb this life force. The recipient's own body can use the energy to heal, gently removing any blocks to health and increasing the flow of life force to areas that are ill or injured. Reiki also works on the energy bodies. Healing can occur on an emotional, mental, or spiritual level. Reiki differs from other forms of energy healing, because the recipient is said to be in charge of the transfer of energy. The recipient's "higher self" or "body wisdom" controls the flow, preventing any overload from too much energy. The Reiki practitioner is like a straw, the recipient sucks energy through the straw, and just like having a drink, when you've had enough, you stop drinking. The recipient cannot "choke" or overload on the healing energy.

As a practicing witch, I use healing magick in my life all the time. I was interested in learning how Reiki and magick were the same and how they were different. Although there are many traditions and teachings of magick, anyone can learn to use it. With some very basic knowledge, or even by closely following a spell recipe book, you can have successful results working magick without a lot of training. Magick is a method of speaking your intentions to the universe, and by using the symbolic language of ritual, you can speak your intention very easily. Tried and true ritualists know magical theory well enough to design their own rituals and spells, but anybody can learn a few basic techniques. Traditional spells become traditional because they work for a variety of people and get recorded in someone's spell book.

To practice Reiki, technically you must be initiated into the tradition. To do this, you must receive what Reiki Masters call an attunement (so called because your body is attuned to the natural flow of universal life force energy) through a ritual and variety of symbols. There are a variety of healing energy techniques that are similar to Reiki, but without the attunement, you are not practicing Reiki. The benefit of doing Reiki healing specifically is all the safeguards that come with the system. Not only will you never overload the recipient, but you cannot take on the illness of the recipient. The flow of energy is one way. Other forms of energy healing do not have these built-in benefits.

I know quite a few witches who get initiated into Reiki to supplement their magical energy. These witches use Reiki not just for healing, but also for many purposes. They use Reiki energy to charge candle spells, to consecrate herbal potions, and to cast the magick circle. The Reiki energy will flow wherever it's needed, not just into the body of one who is ill.

I've also found those who are versed in magick, but not initiated into Reiki, using the symbols associated with Reiki in magick. Originally the symbols were kept secret from the uninitiated. They were passed on and memorized, with few written copies preserved. Later, when Reiki became more mainstream, the symbols appeared in books and online websites. Now anybody can find them.

Although these symbols were kept secret to prevent people from using them without an attunement into Reiki, some believe they were kept secret so Reiki teachers could charge huge amounts of money to reveal the secret symbols in class. Lore about the danger of using them when you are not attuned to Reiki grew, and tales of how the Reiki symbols were misused in Egypt or Atlantis became a part of the teachings. Personally, I think they can do no harm. They convey healing energy that is guided by the higher self of the recipient. I think the danger is in thinking if you know the symbols, you have been attuned to Reiki, and have all the safe guards to do healing work with others. Someone using the symbols without an attunement may mistakenly use their own personal energy to heal, and become sick, taking on the illness of another. Or they might overload the recipient with too much energy. That's the only danger.

The benefits of using the symbols, even without having an attunement, can be great. I've given clients symbols written on paper to meditate on after a healing session. The names of the symbols can be used like mantras, to evoke their healing power personally into you. I even know someone who, before coming to a workshop, read my book, Magick of Reiki and found the symbol Cho Ku Ret from the Seichim Reiki traditions, which is used to heal inanimate objects. Her car broke down and she used the symbol on it, drawing it and chanting its name. Her car started back up again and she got to my workshop on time. I found that quite amazing.

I think chanting the names of the Reiki symbols in meditation is one of the easiest and safest ways to work with them if you are not attuned. Different teachers pronounce them slightly differently, so do your best and see what effect each has on you.

  • Cho Ku Rei: increases energy and power in general
  • Sei He Ki: for emotional and mental balance
  • Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen: to heal karma, healing the past
  • Di Ko Myo: to connect with the higher self
  • Raku: for grounding
  • Nin Giz Zida: to align the chakras, to active energy
  • Zonar: to heal on a multidimensional level
  • Shanti: creates a sense of peace
  • Gnosa: clears the mind
  • Cho Ku Ret: heals inanimate objects and helps make connections to rituals tools and crystals.
  • Lon Say: creates a sense of love

Explore working with Reiki through chanting. If you find the energy it evokes speaks to you, explore learning more about Reiki, researching the symbols, and even taking a class with a certified Reiki teacher to become attuned to it yourself.

Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2005. All rights reserved.