Okay, had to admit defeat eventually and it wasn’t because I couldn’t make it work because I could I just wasn’t sure why?
I first encountered Reiki when a friend of mine who was at a monthly gathering of the esoterically minded mentioned having to employ a lot of rituals to distance himself from the ties that Reiki creates both between the Reiki Master who initiates and the clients who attend the clinics. At the time I really didn’t pass any heed because I was fairly new out on the esoteric scene and Reiki wasn’t synonymous with either witchcraft of magic so seemed nice and all but get to the juicy stuff already.
Nothing further was mentioned for some time until I started frequenting a holistic shop in North Dublin where the shop owner was also a Reiki practitioner. The guy was charismatic and all and provided some much needed expression at the time because he was deeply spiritual. Over time and much trust being developed I decided to step up and request initiation or attunement to Reiki. I had built up the notion that I might actually be a half-way decent healer and Reiki might help propel me further in my own spiritual development. By now I had met a few other witches, some initiated into traditional groups and others not, who had also been attuned or initiated into Reiki and were masters themselves.
Like Wicca (and pretty much every western tradition going) Reiki in the Western World is taught as a three degree system. First, involves 21 days of cleansing and learning to channel the energy Reiki makes use of. At this degree you might also start learning to familiarize yourself with the Seven Chakra system in your own aura as well as the hand-positions for healing. Now I say might because its not universal really. The first time around (I did First Degree twice) I was attuned and did nothing, nada, zilch. I was informed that in Second Degree I’d learn about the Chakras and since I had a pretty good idea of them he didn’t feel the need to make a big lecture out of it. My second Reiki Teacher had been and still is a close friend who actually gave us stuff to do during first degree. She was by far a better teacher (and I’m not simply saying that because she could read this blog :P) but I eventually had to admit that the problems with Reiki seemed to stem from me, at least this time around anyway.
My major issue with Reiki is it’s identity as a “one glove fits all” healing modality*. I’ve little doubt that this is because Reiki falls in what is predominantly the New-Age/Lightworker paradigmª. As such it seems to have developed the idea that the healing modality has self-regulating forces that guard and regulate the distribution of the energy. Another variant is that Reiki energy is sentient and as such can do no wrong. The problem with both approaches is that it negates true “adept-ship” within the system because no one need ever take charge or responsibility. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the days when the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn (OGD) relied on it’s Secret Chiefs but even more vague.
Another issue is with so much practice centered around bringing in or calling in energy for healing this means a habitual opening of the Chakras for energy work not simply a one-time deal. Many Reiki practitioners seem to by pass basic training sessions for energy centres as evidenced by my original teacher and having spoken to many long-term practitioners since they often don’t open centres after initiation as the mere act of calling in the Reiki energy opens the centres.
Overall I had a problem in that no one really knew what Reiki was doing once it was passed onto the person receiving the healing energy. There was a blind trust in that it was working on what it was meant to. In some reports I’ve heard of people with ADHD going for Reiki and since Reiki works on energy the solution was to add more energy to an already highly energised individual. I also wondered what effect Reiki was having on my mind. I noticed that a lot of Reiki practitioners I went to had to linger longer on my head. I never copped at the time but epilepsy is the firing of motor-neutrons in the brain… freaking energy! Being naturally sensitive myself I found myself “watching” the practitioner during these times and noticing that they’d be willing more energy in their instead of considering that I might have had enough. I must confess I am aware that a great many were intrigued by the sensations and thats why they lingered rather than moving along.
Another bug-bear of mine is the tendency for energy workers in the New-Age/Lightworker paths to rely on pseudo-psychological and scientific terminology to illustrate how the healing works and Reiki is by no mean exempt. Another aspect of this was to fill in the blanks in quasi-spiritual terms which simply weren’t relevant to those handing over money which I felt and continue to feel is unfair. If Reiki or any other form of energy healing had all the answers then we wouldn’t need to justify the movement at all as the results would speak for themselves.
Further to this was the misnomer that Reiki, still doing no harm, could be used on people without their knowledge or consent. In fairness to some practitioners and in particular my second teacher, they do often make it clear that Reiki should not be used on anyone without consent. Unfortunately, where there’s a will there’s a way. One trick to get around this “rule” was to use it on a piece of food or a beverage the person would consume. I’ve heard of some practitioners who being somewhat misguided have pursued people they felt needed healing via distance healing, so I have also wondered whether it was possible the some distance workers where using dowsing by pendulum to scry if the person wanted healing and getting a few yes’s and one or two no’s had influenced pendulum subconsciously (happens I’ve done it willingly!) to give the yes answer.
This brings me to another concept behind Reiki, in that it will flow wherever it needs to. In the early days I found the energy fluctuating and often building up in heat without an aim. The fundamental idea of being a Reiki practitioner is that you are a willing channel for the healing energies and give permission for it to work. Thing is if you give it permission to work then that is consent and frankly is just energetically messy.
For these reasons Reiki, a system with a lot of potential, became a no-go for me. Its not that Reiki or the Ki energy doesn’t work but that people behind it are even on their A-game only half-arsed. Perhaps it’s my Craft and ceremonial leanings coming out but I believe in responsibility for one’s actions.
modality* – 2 a particular mode in which something exists or is experienced or expressed.
• a particular method or procedure : they addressed questions concerning the modalities of Soviet troop withdrawals.• a particular form of sensory perception: : the visual and auditory modalities.• (in medicine, particularly homeopathy) a symptom or pattern that aids in diagnosis:: The modality of “worse with activity” is associated with Rhus Tox.
paradigmª – 1 technical a typical example or pattern of something; a model : there is a new paradigm for public art in this country. See note at model .
• a worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject : the discovery of universal gravitation became the paradigm of successful science.