Reiki, Paganism and the Spiritual Path
Article ID: 14583
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Ryan Hatcher
Posted: August 14th. 2011
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I'm sure many of you know of, have heard of or even practice Reiki. But for those who are new or vaguely aware of it, allow me to explain:
Reiki (pronounced ray-kee) as a word means “spiritual energy” or “spirit energy” and “ki” is the Japanese equivalent to the Chinese “Qi” and the Indian “prana”, and means energy, or breath. As energy, Reiki is the spiritual energy of the universe that gives life and existence to all things, Wilhelm Reich called it Orgone. It is the fifth element, the upper-most point of the pentagram, the spiritual force of vitality that is the source of all and the energy magic users weave in their craft.
As a system, Reiki is a Japanese method of healing and spiritual development that utilizes the life force energy of the universe for these purposes. The practitioner becoming a channel for this energy through a series of energetic initiations or empowerments known as 'attunements' allowing the energy to flow through the practitioner and through their hands for healing purposes. There are typically three levels: first degree ('shoden' in Japanese, meaning 'first teachings') , second degree ('okuden' meaning 'inner teachings') and third degree, sometimes called Master, or teacher (or even master/teacher) ('shinpiden' in Japanese, meaning 'mystery teachings') .
I briefly mentioned already how Reiki and Paganism have an entwined relationship; they both utilize the same metaphysical energy. The energy we mould, focus and direct in our magical work comes from a source. I feel we can all agree on the concept of a universal source of energy, whether you'd like to call it Spirit, The All, God/dess, Heaven and Earth, or simply the Universe. Whichever term you use, the source is the eternal fountain of this vital energy. It produces it and is made of it and it truly is everything. We tap into this source of energy (which is part of us anyway) and draw energy from it in whichever way we choose to, consciously and unconsciously whenever we work magic for whatever reason.
I'm sure many if not all of you have experienced a physical sensation of this energy appropriate to the context you were using it in. From this same source of energy the Reiki practitioner draws energy from with the intention of healing (Reiki focuses a lot on the idea of intention. We place our hands on someone with the intention to heal as opposed to giving them a hug, or a good smack! The best way of describing it is focused will in and unfocussed way, meaning that we keep in mind what we aim to achieve, the healing, but it isn't kept constantly in mind as willing the energy to heal something specifically might not be in the best interest for the recipient of the energy) the recipient who draws the energy through the practitioner like a straw (unconsciously, energy osmosis if you like) and the recipient's energy, mental and/or physical bodies use it to heal what is most urgently in need of healing.
You may find it difficult from this comparison so far to draw any viable parallels, and there are two I wish to focus on: The energy used and the idea of intention/focused will. At the second and third levels of Reiki training the practitioner is given symbols to work with (some incorporate them in the initiation/attunement, but it's not necessary) with various intentions (there's that word again) and energies connected to them, depending on whom you talk to. As far as I see it, from the point of view of a pagan and witch, one symbol is for connecting with earth energies, grounding, centering and focusing the practitioner and their personal energy, another for connecting with heaven/sky energies, opening their mental and psychic faculties, and promoting an air of harmony, another is for connecting to others so you may allow the energy to flow to them over a distance, (and allegedly through time as well) as well as opening their heart to compassion and a sense of oneness and the final symbol is for the spiritual energy itself, connecting to it and surrounding yourself with it.
A close comparison could be the invoking pentagrams of Earth, Air and Water and the Hexagram or the invoking pentagram of spirit active. Now, these symbols are supposedly only workable by people initiated into the Reiki system. I feel this is because those who are often initiated into Reiki have no background in metaphysics and so wouldn't know how to use a symbol. However, witches, pagans and magic workers, we know how symbols work and how to use them creatively don't we? And we already have a connection and flow of this energy, if only during circle work. So, since these symbols are easily available via a search engine, I suggest that, should you wish to experiment with the Reiki symbols in you circle and energy work, then do so by all means!
As I have already mentioned, Reiki has a spiritual side, beyond healing, symbols and initiations, which is unfortunately being neglected in the west. This spiritual side consists of meditations and energy cleansing techniques and probably most commonly known, the five Reiki principals or precepts.
Just for today:
Do not anger.
Do not worry.
Be kind to others.
This is a basic translation of the Reiki precepts (gokai (gok-eye) ) from Japanese to English, and the founder of Reiki, Mikao Usui (a lay-priest of Tendai Buddhism) , recommended sitting in the morning and evening, forming the namaste or prayer mudra (known as gassho in Japanese) . To many, the gokai may seem like fluffy bunny trash about being happy and light all the time. Well, yes, there is that about it, at face value, but there is a deeper way of looking at it. The gokai aren't a suggestion to suppress any negative feelings and be smiley, wonderful and somewhat maniacal, it's suggesting that we try to live our live in a way that is best for us and for others.
Anger and worry stimulate adrenaline and cortisol stimulation in the body, which in the long-term weakens the immune system. Anger and worry also reduce serotonin levels promoting depression and anxiety and aggression issues. Nothing wrong with a philosophy that encourages you to say “oh well, it doesn't matter that much” and to question “why am I angry?”
Along with the “Just for today” the gokai encourage mindfulness, awareness of the moment and awareness of ourselves. Being grateful is more than just saying “Thank you” for your burger, it's about being grateful for all life has given you, blessings, tests and lessons and acknowledging them as such. Working hard, is partly self-explanatory, but also working hard in everything, including your own development, on all levels. Being kind to others is also self-explanatory, but can also be taken to mean all living things, and as well as being kind you can be generous, compassionate, caring and loving towards all other things. Following these will not only make others see you differently it will enrich your life and the lives of those you encounter.
So, use the symbols, connect to the energies and work the gokai into your lives. I'm sure you won't regret it.
The Magick of Reiki - Christopher Penczack
The Reiki Sourcebook - Frans and Bronwen Stiene
The Japanese Art of Reiki - Frans and Bronwen Stiene
Witchcraft for Tomorrow - Doreen Valiente
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