Reiki is an extremely popular modality of healing energy work within the New Age, Neo Pagan, Conscious, and alternative spirituality communities. Almost every seeker-type that I meet seems to be at least a Reiki I initiate…or has 3 friends that are. Some of the more orthodox Reiki practitioners balk at the sheer number of Reiki Masters and Practitioners running around, and bemoan the “decline” of Reiki. They cite unethical teaching methods - i.e. too cheap, too quick, etc, - that are admittedly a gross departure from the original Japanese system as the main culprit, and are quick to deride any who do not practice and teach according to their own strict standards. (These arguments mirror the ones often debated in many spiritual circles as to which traditions are more “real” and “valid” others). While I can sympathize with the traditionalists’ viewpoints on the subject, I think that they are missing a very vital key in the issue. Reiki, as a Western practice, is evolving. Whether or not one practices or approves of the new forms of Reiki that have surfaced, the vast variety of perspectives that have arisen under the label of Reiki is astounding and speaks loudly to the spiritual inspiration produced by this healing modality. I am fully aware of the fact that Reiki has always been taught, in the second and third degrees, to be a tool of transformation in the deeper emotional and mental levels of being. It has also always been recognized to induce trance-like states, in both the recipient and the practitioner, which can result in dream-like visions. The Buddhists who developed this system were more than aware of all this. So what is so revolutionary about Reiki being used in a way that smacks loudly of esoteric spiritual practice? It is the incorporation of unorthodox elements, such as smudging, drumming, crystals, therapeutic sound techniques, conscious creation of ritual healing space, and other tools of the practitioners of folk-magic and shamanic spirituality, applied in such as way that the visionary experience is welcomed and emphasized. A Reiki treatment can easily evolve into a full-blown ritual consisting of many complementary healing and spiritual elements, each chosen to heighten and intensify the internal processes. I’ve been a practicing alternative forms of spirituality since 1997, and have been rewarded by experiencing many different forms of psychic phenomena. While I am naturally mildly clairvoyant, I have seen some especially powerful things while in a Reiki induced trance-state. I’ve seen past lives, communicated with recipients’ Spirit Guides, and been taught indelible spiritual lessons all within the context of a Reiki treatment. In fact, almost all of my most vivid visions and psychic experiences have occurred while I was either giving or receiving a Reiki treatment. In all my experimentation with meditation and journey work that utilized drumming, dancing, gazing, or other methods of trance-induction, I have never been party to such dramatic, stunning and immersive imagery as I am when bathed in Reiki energy. My first real wake-up call to the power of Reiki as a tool self-discovery in a more overtly esoteric spiritual context was during a treatment I underwent. I had begun seeking more spiritually-minded therapies for a chronic illness. I had begun bi-weekly aromatherapy massage and Reiki treatments at a local spa run by a Wiccan. She and I had felt a strangely intense connection to each other upon our first meeting, and often I would drop by her spa just to chat with her about spiritual subjects. This particular day the regular Reiki practitioner was not in the office, and I was feeling a little disappointed as I had hoped to have an impromptu treatment. However my friend said that she was a Reiki practitioner and would be happy to give me a treatment just for fun. Her approach and execution of a Reiki treatment was very different from the ones I had become accustomed to receiving at the spa. She blended an oil to facilitate self-discovery and put it in the diffuser. As the soft, hypnotic music filled the air, the stimulating oils wafted over me and she began the treatment with a guided relaxation. Her voice trailed off and I was awash in the kaleidoscope of colors and free-associative thoughts that are a commonly reported experience during Reiki. When she reached the hand-position over my solar plexus chakra, my internal vision was shaped into a tunnel with movement at the far end. Curious, I mentally moved toward the scene and saw two young girls holding hands. They were dressed in 17th century Dutch clothing, and the surroundings suggested a small village. They weren’t facing me, but I knew that they were cousins and that I was the younger of the two. It was then that I recognized my older cousin was my friend! I was more than a little surprised by these realizations. At that point in my life I was relatively new to the more New Age or Eastern spiritual concepts, and while I had no reason to doubt the theory of reincarnation - I really rather liked the idea - I had no personal experiences to base belief on. I found this vision of the little Dutch girl I used to be intriguing, but I still held on to my grain of salt…at least until the treatment ended. After closing the treatment, she quietly related to me that when she reached my solar plexus she had asked her guides to reveal in a gentle manner any important information they felt I needed to know. She said that she had felt herself visually pulled into a tunnel, where she observed the same two girls and knew herself to be one and me the other. I was floored! She had described the exact scene that I had experienced. My skepticism was gone and I had taken a big step forward in my own spiritual path. I had been given the evidence that I needed to embrace the beautiful doctrine of reincarnation. A frightened piece of my soul had been comforted and I had a new perspective on Life and its meaning. What made that treatment stand apart from the others I had, were elements that had helped me sink into the most receptive state possible, such as the guided relaxation. The diffused essential oils also helped prime my mind for allowing the inner meditative experiences. I have since adopted these elements as part of my regular Reiki treatment routine, and feedback from those who have undergone Reiki with and without this introductory relaxation/meditation phase and conscious conducive atmospheric creation have reported reaching the deep Reiki-trance state exponentially sooner than when the treatment is performed without it. These deep trances in which one journeys to various inner vistas are at the heart of the mystical Reiki experience. When supported with Reiki energy, even those who have not had intense spiritual training in skills such as meditation, visualization, and journeying can experience these types of visions that very often act as catalysts for spiritual insight and progress, as well as healing. Another Reiki treatment I experienced served to advance me along developmentally, this one by an amazing young psychic medium whom I had become acquainted with. He had recently been certified in Reiki and was taking any opportunity he could to practice. I had heard from a mutual friend that he worked closely with his spirit guides, and that she had experienced extremely intense visions while receiving a treatment from him. I was eager to see if there was a noticeable difference in his treatment than in the others I had received. He began my treatment by having me recite an invocation to Divinity asking for the Highest Good of all beings involved in the treatment. He recited this prayer several more times while he cleansed my aura, utilizing a clear quartz crystal point to remove psychic dust. He then began the treatment, and I’m still not one hundred percent sure, but I think he maintained a low hum throughout most or all of it. Within ten minutes I began to hear drumming. It became louder and louder until I opened my eyes to see if someone actually was playing a recording nearby. My eyes opened, but it was internally. I found myself standing in the middle of a Native American village. There were tents with smoke rising out of the tops, and women and children scurrying to and fro. There seemed to be a jubilant atmosphere, and I turned to find many men dancing around a fire holding weapons. A buffalo carcass was being cleaned nearby. Suddenly I heard the unmistakable cry of an eagle and I turned to where the sound was coming from. Off in the distance I could see it circling, and then begin to fly towards the village. Closer and closer it came, calling majestically as it did. All at once it swooped down in a dive straight at me! As I ducked to dodge the oncoming raptor, I must have flinched on the treatment table, as I was brought back to regular consciousness. I was really excited about what I had seen while being wrapped in the healing energies, even though I didn’t know exactly what it had meant. It had been the most vivid spiritual vision I had experienced so far in my spiritual path. Afterwards, he told me that during the treatment his guides had offered to share a vision of their village with both of us. He began telling me what it was like, and just as in the other treatment I had had, he described every last detail I had seen in the vision. What was most interesting for me was that he said that toward the end of the vision he had called in his Power Animal, Eagle, who had swooped down on me to bestow a blessing. I was almost in tears at this revelation. So many concepts that I was conditioned to be skeptical (and downright fearful of) by my fundamentalist Christian upbringing -Spirit Guides, reincarnation, shared visions - were being brought to life in a safe and nurturing way. These powerful, life-altering events were brought about through the magick of Reiki. It was within weeks of this that I began my own training as a Reiki practitioner. Another even more ritualized Reiki treatment I received was performed with the specific intent of evoking visions related to my spiritual development. I was still in the process of regaining balance that had been compromised during the long illness that had originally brought me to Reiki. It was clearly time to do some serious cleansing of my psyche and outdated coping programs. My mother, who had been involved with a Core-Shamanism group for 6 years felt that a series of neo-shamanic healings & journeys might help shed light on my remaining issues and hopefully present some help in the form of Spirit Guides, Teachers, or maybe even the discovery of my Power Animal. She set up a crystal vortex that was meant to facilitate deep personal discovery and healing. I stood within the crystals while she smudged herself and then me and the space. I participated while she invoked the four directions, and then turned on a CD of shamanic drumming. I lay down and closed my eyes, trying to drift into the sound between the drumbeats. She laid her hands onto my body and began the flow of Reiki into me. When she felt the impulse she would pick another one of her crystals and use it to energetically cleanse an area of my body. The room was electric with the pulse of the Reiki and crystal energies. Before I knew it I heard hoof beats. I found that I was sitting on a beach by a small fire and off to the Northwest, there was a herd of wild stallions…and they were headed my way. I was excited and hopeful. I had always had a deep love of horses and had a large collection of very realistic model horses as a child. It would certainly make sense if Horse was my power animal. As the horses approached they began jumping over the fire and me. I yelled over the pounding hooves “Are you my Power Animal?” I had been told to ask any animals that presented themselves this question, and that they would answer whether they were or were not. The horses all kept up their frantic pace, seeming to ignore me in the meantime. Finally the last horse reared up in place. “Are you my Power Animal?” I asked again. “No. Breathe. And Run”, was the only answer I received. He galloped off after the rest of them. While the exact meaning of that cryptic message was not clear at the time, I return to that lesson and find that it offers great wisdom in situations where I need it the most. It echoes the mindfulness teachings of Buddhism, reminding one to stay present in the moment and not to be attached to the past or future. Without the supportive energy of Reiki, I do not think that those experiences would have been possible for me at those particular points in time. I have had plenty of other clairvoyant experiences since then, but none with the depth of intensity of those supported by Reiki. I strongly believe that Reiki can be a launching board into transformational visionary experiences for those who do not have a natural aptitude for clairvoyance, or who find meditation or shamanic journeying difficult. The specific trance-state induced by Reiki seems to allow more immediate freedom of the inner-self and safer access to visionary dimensions of perception. I believe that this is due to the nature of Reiki itself. It is said to be the pure energy of Creation – chi, prana, ki, etc. In many ways Reiki is the sentient Pure White Light of Divinity becoming the exact frequency of healing that we need without overwhelming us. As we progress and become ready, the Light of Reiki expands opening us up to more intense and meaningful experiences. This can be said for Reiki all on its own; however when combined with other methods of spiritual development that resonate with us it can help one catapult, in a safe, effective and efficient manner, to the places we most need to go. While it may not look much like the Reiki practice that blossomed out of Japan, or the Reiki practiced in clinical settings, it is no less powerful or important. Reiki could easily take an honored place among the psychic tools for self-exploration and development for those within the Ascension Paradigm (otherwise known as the New Agers), NeoPagans, and other open-minded spiritual seekers. We need only listen to our intuition and follow the tides of this blossoming new evolution. It seems that we are asking the right questions and treading into the territory of bringing Reiki into a whole new era of practice. If it feels right, and it harms none, let the evolution continue! I've taken the leap in designing several unique Reiki-based healing rituals in my own practice. These combine elements of sacred space and altar creation, vibrational atmospheric attunement, crystal energy, essential oil blend diffusion, flower essences, sound healing through therapeutic soundscapes and chanting - all supported with Reiki healing energy - focused on specific spiritual healing themes, such as Awakening the Goddess Within, Archangelic Communion, Chakra Balancing, and more. It is my wish to facilitate others' spiritual journeys of internal exploration, transformation, and healing. By utilizing all the tools that we are familiar with to create a new synergy, perhaps we can channel higher amounts of Light into this world to work towards Planetary and Universal Healing. I invite all Reiki practitioners who feel the call to begin (consensually) experimenting with the incorporation of non-traditional ritual elements into their treatments. I’m sure you will find that it will open the door to many unexpected possibilities.