Bookshelf: Magick of Reiki

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I love a good book and a cup of coffee (or Red Zinger tea as it was when I took the picture)

This past weekend I finished Magick of Reiki: Focused Energy for Healing, Ritual, and Spiritual Development by Christopher Penczak. It is a absolute must-read for Reiki practitioners in America, possibly everywhere else, too.

I originally picked up the book to learn more about the magick piece of it. Full disclosure, I began to study Reiki back in the late 1990s, and was attuned as a Master-practitioner in the Usui style in 2000. Reiki was the topic my Ph.D. thesis in 2011. Reiki is my jam, I use it all the time for myself and my family. For various reasons, it hasn’t been until lately that I’ve started to connect the dots between the Asian culture influences (Taoism, Zen, Meditation, Reiki) and the European cultural influences (Tarot, Magick, aromatherapy, crystals) within my overall energy work.

To put it in a food analogy, I was expecting to try a new dish, but instead got a big old bowl of really delicious and familiar comfort food.

My expectations were backwards. Rather than being a book about a Magickal practice that incorporates Reiki, this is a book about Reiki by a Reiki teacher that points out the ways that Reiki is similar to magick. Instead of a book nudging the limits of my magickal knowledge, I found a book that was, after all, right in my wheelhouse. Delightfully so.

Mr. Penczak’s description of Reiki is right on the mark in my experience. I respect the he way he approaches all the varied schools in Reiki. He deals insightfully and compassionately with some fairly hot button issues between them.

His attitudes toward a wide variety of topics within Reiki very much resonate with my own. His thoughts on extended symbols, individually given symbols, publishing symbols, Reiki guides, the use of intuition within Reiki practice and most of all the giant bugaboos about money and charging for lessons and treatments are all kind, wise and just exactly what the American Reiki landscape needs. For magick topics and learning, I plan to read his other books. Magick of Reiki may not be the best choice for beginner magick reading, but it is perfect for next-step Reiki reading.

This is a book for people who have had a taste of Reiki and are looking for a fuller, more empowered approach to their practice. I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone who has had any sort of Reiki attunement or training. This is next step elevation of existing Reiki practice through review of the basics and an overview of important advanced concepts.

It seems to me that the best non-fiction writing gives some nugget, some bit of wisdom that transcends its literal topic. The same is true here. Whenever similar ideas come from sources separated in place, time or specialty, it gives that idea a real gravitas. One might shy away from calling anything ultimate ‘truth’ but similar ideas from dissimilar sources makes any notion important to my mind.

Mr. Penczak emphasizes following one’s own intuition and feeling in incorporating different Reiki practices into our own, both generally and session by session as needed. Joanna DeVoe describes herself as a “spiritual magpie” following the same self-direction for her spiritual practices writ large, magick or otherwise. Benebell Wen, in Holistic Tarot, connects the universal life energy (the ‘ki’ in Reiki, the “chi” in Tai Chi) to the ability to do Tarot readings at a distance. Scott Cunningham, in Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, reminds us that “the feeling is the power.” Adam Savage, writing in Every Tool’s a Hammer hints at the same autonomy and independence of thought within the realm of creativity and making. Mr. Savage captures the core of it when he quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.”

Genius, as every superhero movies teaches us, can, however, go wrong. To believe your inner heart is genius. To to have an inkling that it can be useful to everyone is generous. To believe that the totality of your path is the one singular right way for everyone is arrogance.

That isn’t to say all singular traditions are arrogant or wrong. The wrongness comes in assuming that one specific tradition is the one true way for everyone be it within Reiki or Magick or making stuff. If there is a particular tradition or path that is right in its totality for you, by all means follow it. You must fo what you know to be right for you be that stick with a particular school or be that follow your inner heart.

There is common ground between the group and the individual.

Tradition is tradition. Method is method. Making your own way is a tradition and a method of its own. Magick of Reiki hints that using the best of what we know gleaned from all the varied schools of Reiki IS the tradition of Reiki just like Cunningham hints that the feeling of power IS the power within magickal practice. This notion seems at diametric odds to adherence to prescribed old ways. Think about trust. Trust runs deeply through both approaches. Trust is the tradition.

In order to follow one particular school of thought within Reiki (or anything else) it require trust of that tradition. It requires trust in the originators and the transmitters of the tradition. If you are on a more inner (read solitary) path, it requires a great deal of trust too….trust in your perceptions and in your ability to adapt as better information comes along. In practice, it is a yin-yang dynamic combination of both. If you follow a tradition, you have to trust your inner knowing to choose the right tradition out of the many that exist. It requires extroidinary trust in your inner heart to change traditions and personal practices if needs be. If you are solitary, you have to trust the outer sources of information that you in turn adopt and adapt.

Usui, Tibetan, Johrei, Karuna, Shamballa; whether you follow one tradition or draw from them all and more, trust is the tradition behind it all.

Other Bookshelf posts:

Sigil Witchery