Permission: Omission or Commission?

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Welcome to the Reiki Blog Hop! A group of Reiki practitioners from around the world are all writing on the same topic, and linking to each other so you can hop around from blog to blog, reading all the different stories they have to share! Our topic, offered by Karen Sealey of Pure and Blessed Tarot, was “What do you consider to be good practices regarding consent in Reiki?”


Permission: Omission or Commission?

Sun in treesWhen I was in the 1=10 grade of Zelator in the Golden Dawn, I was having trouble with some of the Enochian rituals. I loved the other rituals, but didn’t like working with that material. But our assignment was to practice both versions. One day I decided I might as well give this material a try. I started working with it and it was actually going quite well. But I became overwhelmed with out-of-control emotions and frustration. This is something I have experienced throughout my life and have come to understand as my intuition telling me that someone is trying to manipulate me through energetic, mental, or emotional coercion, or that unwanted external psychic energy has entered my space.

Later, at our next group meeting, I found out that one of the leaders of the group had decided to do magic to help the newer people with their work. After some questions, it became clear that he had performed this alleged assistance the same day and time I had my negative experience of external control. I emailed him later privately and let him know I thought it was invasive and inappropriate to do magic for people without their knowledge or permission. His response, which shocked me, was that only Reiki required that a practitioner get permission before working on another who was not present. He said he didn’t know of any other traditions that did that. I took a break from the group shortly after this experience, not entirely because of this, but certainly partly because of it. I later rejoined, he left, and I worked through the remainder of the elemental initiations.

After this incident, I started becoming aware of authors who addressed the idea of doing magic work on others (and yes, contrary to the loud protestations of this 25-year old adept, the Golden Dawn tradition, like Reiki and most other traditions, does indeed frown on doing energetic work on others without their knowledge or permission). In addition to a fabulous quote from Dion Fortune (my notes from July 9, 2009, say, “quote from Dion Fortune” with no title or page), I also found this from Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero in Tarot Talismans, “If you continuously pray that a family member turns away from his or her own faith and adopts your faith, then you are interfering with his or her free will. If you want to create a talisman for other people, you’d better make sure that they want your help, even in a healing, otherwise you are interfering with their free will” (10-11).

What in the world can be wrong with wanting to assist in any way possible the healing of another?

It’s simply not up to us to decide what’s best for another person.

Frequently, illness, bad habits, and other unhealthy choices are crutches that prevent the person from devolving into even more negative expressions. Yes, these crutches are an excuse not to engage the difficult work of healing, but they also are the thread keeping the sick person from crashing to the bottom of the chasm. Like a wobbly Jenga tower, removing or “healing” an illness or bad habit can collapse the shaky support system.

So what? The faster we get to rock bottom the sooner we can heal.

But healing is a complex, private, and time-and-personal-resource-consuming process, and sometimes other things (like job, caring for others, basic security needs) come first. And even if bottom-of-the-pyramid considerations are taken care of, it’s still not our job to force someone to climb to the next level or to suddenly deal with their stuff. In order for proper healing to occur, people must choose it willingly and engage it consciously.

So what do we do?

If you want to assist another in their healing, don’t worry about them, heal yourself. Again. And again.

You’re not done yet.

The best way to support another is to reach deeper and deeper levels of health, leading to deeper layers of empathy, eventually discovering profound depths of compassion, and slowly revealing the clear, still presence of inner peace. Inner peace radiates like a great light to all around you, inviting them to follow your lead, let go of the wobbly supports, and start their journey. Yes, it’s true that the greatest work is to heal the world, but it’s easy to forget that the only possible way to do this is through our own perfect health of mind and body, reflecting the light of the spiritual Source of all. Don’t worry about anyone else until you’re done with yourself, which is a life-long process.

So, should I simply not work on others ever? Nah, of course not.

If they come to you and say, hey, I like where you are. How’d you get there? Can you help me? Then by all means teach them whatever it is that you’ve learned so far. If they’re drawn to you, you have something to teach them. Learning happens in cycles, and often contradictory cycles, and it can be extremely helpful for someone to work with another who is reasonably close to where they are, but has seen past the next curve. If you’re too far down the road, you might be working on lessons that are opposite to what the person actually needs at their stage of development.

So, that means that we always need permission to do Reiki. Got it.


It doesn’t quite work that way.

So far, this whole article has been about addressing specific needs for healing. We never get to choose for another what part of them gets healed. But, we can always shine that light of our own healing, continually inviting others onto the path.

That’s what Reiki is. Although there are many styles of Reiki that focus on discovering and releasing specific imbalances within the body, the traditional, more spiritually-based styles of Reiki I work with (Usui Reiki Ryôhô through the International House of Reiki lineage [URR/IHR] and Komyo Reiki) actually discourage those practices.

What??!!?? I thought Reiki was a healing modality.

Yes and no. Reiki Ryôhô is a spiritual practice that works with spiritual energy and which has healing as a side effect. The techniques for working with that energy are many and varied. But philosophically, the traditions I work with stress striving to work from a place of spiritual oneness, or non-duality.

As soon as we make an assessment of “more energy here,” “less energy here,” “sickness there,” or “health here,” we have broken unity into duality. On a practical level, this needs to be done—broken leg is different from whole leg. But when working on an energetic level, this need to analyze becomes optional. Energetically, both broken leg and whole leg desire to regain/retain wholeness (and therefore, needless to say, broken leg needs to be set on a physical level).

But energetically, we are working with the whole, perfect, spiritual body. I frequent have Reiki clients ask me about some chakra block or other energetic imbalance their previous Reiki practitioner mentioned. Unless the problem is severe, chances are I didn’t feel it, because I was maintaining focus on working from a place of spiritual oneness, which is wholeness and perfection. In this system, we strive to experience spiritual Unity as best and brightly as we can, and simply allow that energy to be present for the recipient’s body to pull and direct as it sees fit.

A common analogy for this is letting the sun shine. Frans Stiene says, “Does the sun ask permission to shine?” If the sun is shining and you don’t want to be in the sun, you move to the shade or put on a hat. The sun does its thing and you respond to it as you see fit. It never says, this part needs more light, this part needs less light. As practitioners, we are like the sun—we shine our Reiki light, and the recipient either pulls their lawn chair into our warmth or they grab their sunglasses and a scarf. Their choice.

And the sun will shine because that is its nature. Even if it’s too hot or too bright. It is what it is and does what it does. And as Reiki practitioners, our job is to release healing and engage revealing—not fixing or changing, but simply shining the bright light of our own true nature. Our true nature is that part of us that most perfectly reflects the truth and unity of Spirit, a place of wholeness and health, of compassion and peace. And if they want to step into the shade, it’s their choice. And if others take off their Ray-Bans and step a little closer, they naturally start to shine from their own connection to Source. No permission needed.



Joy Vernon has been studying energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years and has been practicing Reiki since 2003. She is a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher in the traditional Japanese Usui Reiki Ryôhô lineage through the International House of Reiki, studying under the IHR Founder Frans Stiene. She is also a certified Komyo Reiki Shihan (Teacher) and studied under Komyo Reiki Kai Founder Hyakuten Inamoto in 2011 and 2013. She leads the Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup and is a member of Shibumi International Reiki Association and the Healing Touch Professional Association. Joy is also a Certified Professional Tarot Reader. For more information, please see her website.

© 2016 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit

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  1. It’s appalling to think that someone working within the Magical (or should that be Magikal ways?) decided to just ‘help’ without checking with the new guys to start off with. I am a great believer in leave your ego at the door and work from source…

    I have had that experience, the HP did it to me in the Circle at the time of my ceremony, so you’ll most likely pick up a little bit of retro-passive aggressive (btw sorry if you have).

    I also find myself in alignment with your philosophy with regards to Reiki, when I send it I simply state “As long as the other person wishes it, if they don’t then put it to use elsewhere on the earth please and thank you” – I love your eloquence in describing it 🙂

  2. Yes we must work on our self and get us in a good spot to do healing with others. If we are great then others will see that greatness and want to have it as well or ask for it to enter into their life. Great piece.

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