As a teacher of Reiki I have spoken to many students over the years concerning offering Reiki energy for the highest healing good of the client, while letting go of attachment to outcome. And as a Reiki Master I have also learned a great deal from my students and clients—but my greatest teachers have been animals.
Several years before I became a Reiki practitioner, I adopted a black and white kitten that I eventually named Shaman because he seemed to be able to see and respond to spirits (something I could not do at the time, nor had any desire to, either).
Two years later I was asked to foster a five-day old grey and white tiger kitten that had been found under a tarp on someone’s porch, next to his dead sibling. He was cold to the touch and near death.
My vet literally revived him from the dead and asked me to raise him. Two days later the little guy underwent hernia surgery—and my vet gave him a 50/50 chance of survival.
After surviving all that he became my kitten, and I named him Saqqara after the oldest pyramids in Egypt. I felt that any cat who had survived that many challenges needed a long life name since he had probably used up more than a few of his nine lives before even being able to walk.
When I opened my Reiki healing practice in 1996, it became clear that Shaman was not like my other cats. He would jump up on the table and work with my human clients, focusing on certain areas, and guiding me in the sessions. Since I had been guided to attune all of my animals to Reiki, Shaman among them, he was clearly facilitating Reiki energy with intention. And eventually Saqqara joined Shaman on the table for the sessions.
Over the years we worked together, mostly as a trio, sometimes as a duo. When not working with clients both of them would assist and guide the students in my Reiki classes. They each had a very highly developed sense of energy and awareness of each client’s needs, and I listened and learned as much as I could from both of them.
As Shaman began to feel his age and illness took its toll, Saqqara gradually took over the bulk of the work. When Shaman eventually crossed into Spirit at almost 17, it became just the two of us.
Two years later, Saqqara was diagnosed with cancer. I was quite upset, but did my best to offer him whatever support I could, both personally as well as from other professionals.
He received acupuncture (which he loved), Chinese herbs, shamanic work, acupressure, and craniosacral. When I suggested we request the support of the Reiki community, which consisted of many of the students he had helped teach, I felt resistance. So I scheduled a session with fellow animal communicator and Reiki Master Polly Klein for validation of the message I was getting.
Saqqara said that he declined to ask the community because too many people had an agenda. His illness had taken a toll on his energy, he felt fragile and asked that he receive Reiki from only one person—me.
With some concern I realized that Saqqara had offered me a real challenge. When I stress to my students the importance of intention—always offering Reiki for the highest healing good of the client, and of the need to let go of attachment to outcome—I ask them to examine their feelings, and suggest that if they are too close emotionally then it is wise to ask for help from others. As the only Reiki practitioner working with Saqqara my skills and teaching were about to be put to the test.
As we made our way through veterinary tests, medicines, and the ups and downs of cancer, I kept my intention focused on what Saqqara needed whenever I sent Reiki to the situation, or to him. I offered Reiki to myself daily for physical and emotional support, and had healing sessions with other professionals to assist me in letting go of any need to hold on to Saqqara, last of my healer cats.
His illness progressed rapidly, and all too soon quality of life became an issue. The tumor near his left lung was causing breathing difficulties. Finally Saqqara clearly stated that he was ready to be assisted out of his body. He was adamant that he wanted to be at home—no more trips to the vet—so a home visit for euthanasia was scheduled for the following day.
At 7:00 p.m. the night before, his breathing suddenly became much worse. A vet friend was able to deliver a medication that helped, but the hours passed slowly. The nightmare cycle of labored breathing, injection, and some easing—took its toll on both of us.
While I watched Saqqara struggle to breathe, the whites of his eyes showing at times, I could feel my heart break just a little bit more each time. I feared that Saqqara would die as my father had from cancer—his lungs drowning as he struggled for one more breath.
During that long night I used all my knowledge as a healer to support Saqqara. From a Reiki standpoint I re-attuned him, built a Bridge of Light in case he should cross before the morning appointment, sent Reiki to the situation, and kept the energy flowing.
Despite his struggle he declined an emergency trip to a clinic so that he could be let out of his failing body sooner, but at 4:00 a.m. he had a bout so severe that I overrode his objections and called my neighbor for a ride—but Saqqara rallied once more and we cancelled the trip.
By the time the vet arrived mid-morning I had said everything I needed to say to Saqqara, and he to me. He was ready to go. With all the fighting he’d had to do to make it to morning, I expected the euthanasia to be a very peaceful and easy process.
We had opted for gradually easing him out of his body—the first injection would put him to sleep, and the second injection would release him. As I held space, he received the first injection. I felt a mixture of joy that he would no longer suffer, and sorrow in letting him go. As the drug took effect Saqqara seemed more comfortable, but he did not go to sleep.
After waiting, a second injection of the same drug was given; Saqqara got up and moved around a bit, and resettled himself. Again, we waited for the injection to take effect—and waited, and waited. Finally Saqqara drifted off. At this point the vet felt that Saqqara was finally in a deep sleep, but reading his energy I was not so sure.
The final injection was given, and against all odds, and to the vet’s amazement, Saqqara STOOD UP and took two steps forward. As he collapsed, I caught him in my arms and eased him down. Gradually, finally, mercifully, his breathing slowed and stopped.
As I watched Saqqara’s spirit leave his body I sensed peace, but knew that we would need to talk.
I arranged to speak with him again through Polly. Saqqara told me that he did not suffer during the injections but that he felt very drugged. I knew that something was not quite right, so I asked him why it took him so long to leave his body when it was what he had desired and needed.
His answer was very clear. He told me that while he felt drugged, he was also highly energized. He gently suggested that truly letting go of attachment to outcome also meant letting go of my need to have the Reiki ease his breathing. In future I needed to be less focused, and to simply allow the energy to flow.
And I realized that while I had let go of my need to keep him in his body, I had not let go of my need to control how he left it.
That realization led to a deeper one—while I had done quite a bit of self-healing around my father’s death, another layer of that loss had been brought to the surface—as Saqqara had known would happen when he offered me the opportunity and the challenge.
In dying, as in living, Reiki Master Saqqara gifted me with one more teaching.
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©2010 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved. www.reikishamanic.com
Think Outside the Cage
A pioneer in Reiki and shamanic healing for people and animals, Rose De Dan has seen firsthand the profound healing impact of this work on the lives of others. A Reiki Master Teacher, mesa carrier in the Peruvian Q’ero tradition, and animal communicator, she teaches classes and workshops for those interested in learning more about energy medicine.
Rose is also author of the acclaimed book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism, and creator of Animal and Reiki Art. As an animal shaman, she views her role as a healer as one of building bridges between people and animals, and of empowering them to reconnect with Pachamama, Mother Earth.
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