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 Ad Seelt, and wrangled by yours truly, was “How does Reiki mesh with, augment, replace, or fulfill your spiritual or religious philosophy and practice (or lack thereof)?”
Reiki, Spirituality, and Religion
Reiki has always been a spiritual practice for me. And, in an interesting way, it helped me deepen my spiritual connection in my primary spiritual practice. But not through Reiki itself. The intermediary was a mala, and this is the story of how Reiki led to a mala that led to a deeper spiritual practice.
I first learned to detect and work with energy as part of my spiritual training in the early 90s. Learning to control and direct energy was a necessary step in learning spellcraft, magic, and ritual work, all of which could be subsumed under the core goal of personal growth and development, which led to deeper spiritual connection, which in turn increased the power of the magical work.
I had been doing magical work for twelve years when I had my first Reiki experience. Having over a decade’s worth of experience working to develop rituals that would produce strong currents of energy, when I felt that first sizzle of the Reiki symbols in my energy field, I knew I had found something powerful and functional. I immediately signed up for my first class. Over the course of several years I studied, practiced, exchanged sessions with other practitioners, and moved up to more advanced classes.
Meanwhile, the ritual work that I did also developed through ongoing work, practice, and exchange with other practitioners. Study of the tarot opened up the world of qabalah to me, and that in turn opened the door to ceremonial magic, a much more structured style of ritual work than I had previously been engaged in. There was less creativity involved—I worked established rituals rather than developing my own—but there was an extensive curriculum of study and practice. It was easy to achieve tangible results from work already tried and tested through a century of use.
Ceremonial magic, like the eclectic Neo-Pagan path I had followed before, focuses on controlling energy, and through that, controlling your environment and personal experience. Ritual work was complex, involving the props, movements, and words of a theatrical production, but also incorporating visualizations and the sensing, building, and directing of energy. Meanwhile, I was attending monthly Reiki Shares at which my silent manta was “empty channel”—Reiki was not about manipulating or controlling the energy, but simply receiving the flow and allowing it to move through us as the recipient’s body naturally pulled it and focused it where it needed to go. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was developing the balancing yin to the forceful yang of my ritual work.
Ritual work and magic could be downright exhausting, to the point that some people insisted it wasn’t done correctly if you weren’t tired afterwards. Reiki was refreshing and, because it worked with spiritual energy exclusively and not the practitioner’s own reserves, it never felt depleting. Reiki meditations were quiet, dependent on simple focuses and allowing the energy to fill you. Ceremonial practices were layered and complicated and involved actively forming the body’s energy into specific shapes and colors.
Hand in hand I practiced these two systems, moving up into higher levels in each one, never connecting them, always separate, different purposes, different intentions.
Until the day I decided to create a mala. I had recently been initiated into the Elemental Air level of of the Golden Dawn system (spring 2010). Out of the blue two things happened. I met someone who was a teacher of mantra meditation and started meditating with him regularly, and I started attending a new Reiki group that included jumon (mantra) chanting as one of the practices. After that I became interested in malas, and in the fall of 2010, made my first mala and began using it. I would use it for traditional Sanskrit mantras, Reiki jumon, and my own made-up chants. I learned to experience the mala work as very yin, open and receiving, like Reiki. I wondered what it might be like to do the Golden Dawn Middle Pillar Ritual using a mala—108 repetitions of each God name—instead of the traditional method of four forcefully vibrated repetitions. The Middle Pillar Ritual is like all ceremonial work—an active and focused building up of certain energy centers, creating them in particular colors and shapes and charging them with the power of Divine Names. I took my mala, and did the exercise with 108 repetitions of each name, gently, allowing them to work on me rather than me being in charge of the experience. This is the first time I tried integrating the two systems, and I loved the result!
From here I went on to more and more Reiki training, allowing it to become my main practice. Now I am missing the yang qualities of the ceremonial work, and like a pendulum, am swinging back that direction. This time I hope to be able to use my Reiki experiences to experiment with integrating yin components to create a more balanced practice.
If you’re interested in malas, check out my mala making class I offer on the first Sunday of December every year at Goddess Isis Books & Gifts in Englewood, Colorado.
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.