The story that follows details my personal experience of reiki. It is the reason that I have come to believe so very strongly that reiki healing is not compatible with the Christian faith. My story though – whether you believe it or not – is not the important part of this blog. The really important part is the sidebar with all the links to sites belonging to people far more articulate than me, giving information about the Christian view on reiki. Please do peruse the links and absorb the information in them.
Although I am a Catholic, I have included several links to sites belonging to members of other Christian denominations, as the belief that reiki is wrong is not exclusive to the Catholic faith.
When I married my husband, his oldest sister (I will call her Ann here, although that is not her real name) lived abroad – somewhere very exotic – so I did not even meet her until our son was a baby and she returned to the U.K. after the break-up of her marriage. Unfortunately, during the whole of the time I knew her Ann’s health was never all that good, as a result of a disease she acquired when living in the aforementioned exotic place. In a quest to find answers to her health problems, she became very interested in alternative remedies and therapies. She was always on (what seemed to me to be) weird and wonderful diets. And her latest ‘thing’ was always the one that was definitely going to cure all her ills, once and for all!
In August 1999, while my husband and I were in Greece celebrating our silver wedding anniversary, our daughter also visited Greece for the first time. You may well have heard of the island she went to – Skyros – because its holistic, New Age-ish holidays in an idyllic setting on a small Greek island have been well publicised since they began in 1979. By and large, our daughter had a good time there, despite most of the other people on the holiday being a good deal older than her. When she returned from her trip, she told us that she had been initiated into some weird kind of New Age healing therapy that we had never heard of at the time. By coincidence, shortly after our daughter’s trip, Ann also started to talk about this therapy with great enthusiasm – and was extremely surprised to find that our daughter had already become involved in it. Thus it was that we first came to hear about reiki – a therapy which, at that time, was not at all widely known.
Ann continued to be very enthusistic about reiki – and would sometimes use this therapy on various family members during get-togethers, although I myself was never offered it. We were all a bit puzzled by this strange procedure. All Ann did really was hold her hands over whichever part of the body needed healing, so it seemed pretty harmless. The recipients – my husband included – swore that the reiki treatment made the part of the body being treated (usually backs, shoulders. etc.) feel incredibly warm though.
In November 2001, when joining my gym for the first time, I discovered that my blood pressure was high and this sent me into a bit of a panic! As a result, my husband took me round to Ann’s for a bit of advice, as she was well known to be an expert on health matters. She put me on the blood group diet and swore that my BP would come down fairly quickly. She also gave me my first ever session of reiki. Unfortunately, neither the reiki or the diet (which I stuck to faithfully) had much effect on either my BP or my weight. All the diet did was upset my stomach really badly, probably because of all the soya included in it. After Christmas, I came off the diet altogether.
This was not the end of my problems by any means, because at the beginning of February 2002 I was diagnosed with cancer of the womb. The diagnosis was a shock to me, because I thought my extremely mild symptoms were just due to a return of a hormonal problem I had had in the early 90’s. As I had ignored these symptoms for a while (and cancelled my original hospital appointment in October to go away with my daughter and celebrate her 21st birthday with her at a health farm), I was at first convinced that the cancer must have spread: everything seemed very bleak and hopeless.
A reiki practitioner is said to often be able to pick up unknown health problems in the person they are treating, but Ann had never found any problem in my womb area. I have to say also that I personally never felt any warmth – or indeed, anything at all – during the sessions. Once I was diagnosed with cancer though, Ann tried to get us to agree to do a ‘Reiki 1’ course so that we would then all be able to give me reiki (she included my daughter in this, although she had already been initiated in Skyros, apparently just in case she had not been ‘done’ properly). To my great surprise, my husband agreed!
Now, at the time we really knew very little about the rights and wrongs of reiki, from a Christian/Catholic point of view. I knew that my husband, being from a very traditional Catholic family was a bit nervous of it, despite submitting to some mini therapy sessions at family gatherings! I, on the other hand, considered that I was this modern, forward -thinking Catholic who was not prejudiced about such things! I actually quite liked the idea of a coming-together of different cultures through this therapy. Ann – a Catholic herself, although sadly cut-off from receiving the sacraments as a result of her divorce – seemed to have no problem at all marrying the two. She told us that reiki is not itself a religion – and that there was a nun not too far from here who practised it (apparently true, although this was certainly not sanctioned by her fellow nuns). We were also told about a book which reported that the pope approved of reiki – although all reference to this fact was eventually removed from the book in question!
Anyway, my husband agreed to Ann’s suggestion and we enrolled on a 2-day reiki course which took place in a house somewhere right out in the Sussex countryside. As I indicated before, I was surprised that my husband agreed – I think that he was really very unsure, but agreed to it for my sake. Remember, this was a very hard time for all of us because of my recent cancer diagnosis – and we were really very much rushed into this thing, without truly having time to think about it in great depth.
The day before the course started, I heard that my cancer did not appear to have spread – so I was in a very calm, happy mood on the day of the course. We spent the first morning just talking and getting to know the other people. Hubby asked lots of questions about the source of the ‘power’ behind reiki – but wasn’t really happy about the vague answers he was given. Ann (by then training to be a reiki master herself) obviously had a vague idea about it coming fron God – although belief in God is definitely not a pre-requisite of doing the course. Anyone and everyone can become a reiki practioner!
I think we probably were most concerned when we learned that the course involved a set of four attunements during which the reiki master who was performing the ceremony traced symbols over our heads while we held our hands together as if in prayer. We were not shown these symbols, or allowed to know what they represented (although, if you google them, you will be able to see them on various sites). I myself was still on a high following my scan results of the day before and remained calm and peaceful, although my husband was very nervous and recited the prayers of the rosary throughout the attunements. I personally am very bad at saying the rosary, it is a very difficult prayer: I do believe though that it is a very powerful prayer for times of trouble and especially powerful against any kind of evil. (You may have heard of the rosary as a repetition of the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer, but in fact the main object of the rosary is to meditate on different events in the life of Christ whilst repeating the prescribed prayers. I am not very good at doing both things at once, which is why I find the rosary so hard).
Anyway, I cannot remember whether it was during the first or second attunement, but there we were all quietly lined up on our chairs awaiting our turn. My husband was not next to me, but when it was his turn I suddenly became aware of a big disturbance and heard him shout out “No, no.” I had no idea what was going on, but saw that he then sat down on a sofa while the rest of the people were dealt with. Afterwards, I went straight over to him and have honestly never seen him look so pale and awful. Later I found out that he had had a strange experience indeed during the attunement: he had seen a very, very vivid image of Christ on the cross. What he said was most notable about the image was the fact that he saw copious amounts of blood dripping down from Jesus’ body. He said it was a very horrible, powerful image of Christ’s terrible suffering.
Now, many people reading this will no doubt conclude that the image was conceived from my husband’s imagination as a result of his fear. No doubt the usual things about Catholic guilt and repression will come out. My view is that, although my husband was definitely nervous about what was happening, he is not somebody who would imagine himself seeing visions or similar things. I believe that he actually saw what he said and did not imagine it.
The reiki experts will actually tell you that having some kind of religious experience during the reiki initiation process is by no means at all unusual- and that such experiences are very varied and relate to the candidate’s own personal belief system. So, presumably a Hindu might see the elephant god and a Buddhist might perhaps see a few buddhas floating around! For a Christian though, seeing that awful image of Christ with the blood dripping from him so copiously is really never going to endear a Christian to the practice of reiki. Surely it doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to see that? I say this because, sadly, my husband’s sister could never really understand this and it caused problems in their relationship until the time she died. But I am jumping ahead of myself.
You might find it hard to believe after what I have told you, but we actually continued the course to its end, even going back again for the second day. Frankly, I cannot really believe now that we did so! There were a number of things at play here: my husband was anxious not to scare my daughter and – to be honest – we really couldn’t take in what had happened. It was beyond our comprehension – especially coming so soon after my cancer diagnosis, when our minds were all at sixes and sevens anyway. My husband did try to ring up a couple of priests on the Sunday morning, before the second day of the course – but frankly the responses he got from them were pathetically uninformed! (One was more interested in the fact that he was missing his breakfast!) And so, we completed the course.
I have not mentioned the experiences of my daughter and myself during our own attunements. My daughter described having a very strong feeling of something happening to her – and the reiki master remarked that ‘something big’ was going on in her head. I think he believed that she was going to make a great healer. My reaction to my attunements was actually very interesting though: although I kept the great feeling of peace that was with me throughout the day, I decided to pray and – as an insurance policy I suppose, just in case reiki really was suspect in some way, I said the name of Jesus 3 times because I suddenly recalled that I had heard that this was very powerful against evil. Up to the point when I said ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’ I had felt nothing at all, except for a continuation of my feeling of peace. I swear to you that I had no belief or expectation that the recitation of these words would have any effect at all, so I was really surprised when I became aware of a feeling of something coming to an abrupt halt in my head. It was actually one of the strangest things I have ever felt – because, how could something come to a halt when I had not been aware of anything happening in the first place? I remained peaceful and unworried though – and, in spite of my husband’s experience, I wanted to continue with the course. I had cancer, I wanted to be cured…… and the feeling of peace stayed with me.
So, we continued to the conclusion of the course and my husband had no further strange experiences during the remaining attunements. All three of us were fine, although one of the other girls (now training to be a reiki master herself, I believe) had to rush out to the loo at the end to be sick (again, apparently a very common occurrence). We were then invited to practice our new gift on each other. Everything was fine, although I really did not know what I was doing when I tried to practice reiki; I felt nothing! I somehow got the impression – through a look that passed between the reiki master and Ann – that he had a degree of doubt about whether I had been initiated properly. I have no real proof of that though.
In the week that followed, all three of us began to test out our new skills – even my husband, who very much scared a guy at work who ran out of the room when he felt the heat from my husband’s hands (the memory of this now quite amuses my husband – not least because this particular guy ended up in prison for swindling both their workplace and a few of his colleagues out of substantial amounts of money – but I digress!). Gradually though, the events of the weekend began to be absorbed and the doubts grew more and more, especially for my husband. At the time, he was attending an inter-denominational prayer group at work. My husband was the only Catholic there. The group was run by a lovely lady (who sadly died a year or so ago) and when my husband told her about the reiki, she was very dubious about it. She suggested that they all pray for a sign – and immediately every single person in the group started to experience an overwhelming feeling of nausea.
This proved to be the final straw for my husband – who immediately started to contact priests, monks, anybody he could find who might know something! As for me, I was by then not at all sure what to think, but I decided that I didn’t want the hassle of carrying on with something my husband was now so much against. ” And anyway,” I said to God, ” I want to do the right thing. I don’t even want to risk the possibility of doing something that might be against You.”
It is hard to describe the moment I made that decision to have nothing further to do with reiki. Somehow, I knew immediately – without doubt – that I had made the right decision. There weren’t exactly trumpets blowing and bells ringing and no mystical voice came from the sky to tell me that I have made the right choice – but all these things might just have well have happened to me! All I can say is that it was a moment that I will always remember – and one that left me absolutely certain that reiki is not compatible with Christian beliefs. If you believe that God never ‘speaks’ to us then you are wrong! He does – but in His own way!
My husband eventually managed to find a priest who knew a little about these matters (but only because he himself was involved with Spiritualism in his youth.) We visited his church and went through a ceremony which involved him placing his hands on each of our heads individually and praying over us. Interestingly, our daughter had a similar reaction to this as she had to the reiki, feeling that something big was happening in her head. She said that she did not want the priest to remove his hands from her head. Anyway, we believe that the ceremony removed all our new reiki powers (although the reiki people will tell you that reiki is for life and nothing can ever remove it.)
As I indicated earlier, my husband’s sister Ann was not at all happy about what had happened. I think really that she never forgave us for rejecting her beloved reiki and her subsequent relationship with my husband was always a little strained. As for Ann herself, she contracted breast cancer just a couple of years later and unfortunately she chose to refuse all conventionl treatment, opting for reiki and other alternative therapies. Sadly, none of these helped her and she died in August 2007.