Beth Lowell posed the question Attuning Animals: Yes or no? in the online publication The Reiki Digest on October 30, 2008.
I thought about answering but shelved responding for later. I was very busy, and surely others would reply.
It came back to the forefront of my mind today in relationship to a recent ruling by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committee on doctrine where their group denounces Reiki.
Reading that brought back memories of when, as a teenager, I had broken away from the Catholic Church. Up until that point I had a strong love of the religion I had been raised in from birth, so strong that I had seriously considered becoming a nun.
As a teenager I learned the true history of the Catholic Church, which historically is one of persecution. Disillusioned I rejected both organized religion and spirituality. I never returned to organized religion, but taking training in Reiki in 1995 restored my connection to universal energy and love, and my belief in a spiritually based world.
Reading the article about the stand of the Catholic Bishops confronted me with the real reason I had not immediately written in response to Beth Lowell’s question, and that reason had little to do with my being so busy, and everything to do with fear of persecution.
In checking back to Beth’s article I discovered that only one person had left a comment but that comment only focused on the benefits of Reiki sessions for animals, something very different from offering attunements to animals.
What’s the difference? When taking a beginning class in Reiki, a student receives a series of attunements by a Reiki Master Teacher that opens their energy channels, connecting them up to the universal life force energy known as Reiki. The process of attunement to the Reiki energy offers personal benefit to the student as well as the ability to facilitate the healing Reiki energy for people and animals.
Experiencing the healing energy of Reiki in a session also helps to balance and calm, but the recipient does not leave with the ability to carry that energy forward and offer it to others. In my Reiki classes students are taught how to offer Reiki not only to people, but also to animals and plants. And in Master Level training I teach my students how to do attunements for animals as well as people.
Why would I do this, you might ask?
When I took my Reiki Master Teacher training in 1996 in Massachusetts there was no mention of attunements for animals, and it never occurred to me to ask about them. My Master Teacher was a nurse who worked in a local hospital and she taught many nurses and a few doctors the art of Reiki for their patients.
In my Level 1 and 2 Reiki training with a different teacher there was only a passing reference to the fact that Reiki could benefit pets, there was no mention of how to do sessions for animals, never mind any mention of attunements for them.
It was not a human teacher but the Reiki energy itself that reawakened me to my dashed youthful dreams and sense of spiritual connection. It happened during the first attunement in Reiki that I received in my Reiki Level 1 class. Suddenly I could feel energy coursing through my hands, and a new level of awareness washed through me along with great love and joy as I connected fully with the Reiki energy. Simultaneously I reconnected with myself and knew in the core of my being that I was born to be a healer and that I would work with animals.
From that moment on I was in love with Reiki and all its many benefits. It transformed my life in a very positive fashion and—when I opened a practice in 1996 soon after my Level 2 class—that of many of my clients (human and animal) and students. I named it Wild Kingdom Reiki and to the best of my knowledge, it was the first Reiki healing practice for animals on the East coast.
Not long after finishing my Reiki Master Teacher training I began to feel pulled toward offering Reiki attunements to the animal companions that shared my life and my practice. I did a lot of soul searching about that desire, no one talked about it in the Reiki community, none of the books I had read mentioned anything about it, yet the pull would not go away.
With a great deal of trepidation I offered it to my animals and they accepted, and they enjoyed the process. I mentioned what I had done to no one in the community, I was afraid that people would shun me, after all, who was I, this newly trained Reiki Master to bring something new into the tradition?
And I probably would have kept quiet indefinitely if it had not been for an elderly dog named Abbie.
My friend Joanne Wilson called me one day, in tears, because they had made the decision to put their canine companion of many years to sleep. She and her husband felt that Abbie’s quality of life was no longer good enough to justify their keeping her in her ailing body just because they loved her—that she had reached the point where she was suffering. She had developed hot spots all over her body which she tried to scratch constantly, she didn’t move around much, and when she walked she would often lose control of her bowels, and would hide in embarrassment. She no longer wanted to do any of the fun things she used to love to do, like going for rides in the car. In short, she had no joy in daily living.
I felt that pull again, and found myself offering to come over and build Abbie a Bridge of Light and offer her some Reiki. Joanne, a fellow Reiki practitioner, told me that when she offered Reiki the dog would walk away. I replied that I would ask her permission and if she did not want any I would respect her decision.
When I arrived Abbie was accepting of my presence, and I asked her if she would like to receive a Reiki attunement. She was uncertain what that was so I explained that it was an energetic process that would reconnect her to the universal life force energy, and that it might help her feel better and could assist her in getting ready to leave her body or in healing. She was willing to give it a try and so I began the attunement process. During it I suddenly felt a weight lift off her, but had no idea what it was, and kept going with the attunement until it was complete. Abbie seemed quite content, and I left.
I received a call from Joanne the following day, and fully expected to hear her tearfully tell me that Abbie was gone. Instead Joanne joyfully explained that they had cancelled the euthanasia process because Abbie was outside playing like a puppy! She further added that Abbie had asked to go for her first car ride in two years. I was speechless, and amazed.
As the days unfolded Abbie’s hot spots healed up and she no longer had issues with her bowels. And from the time of the attunement on Abbie enjoyed receiving Reiki sessions, which she never had before. Her quality of life, and joy in life, continued for another six months until her body simply wore out.
With Abbie’s response to her attunement I acknowledged that it was time for me to come out of the Reiki closet and begin offering this to my animal clients where appropriate. It was made very clear to me by the Reiki energy that if I was not supposed to offer Reiki attunements to animals then Abbie would have had no response. Instead, with her miraculous and positive response to the Reiki attunement, I received validation that the animals needed and wanted the attunements. They, too, were spiritual as well as physical beings.
From that point on I began offering it to my animal clients within the context of a healing session (always asking their permission), and began teaching the process to my Reiki students (there are some adaptations to the attunement process necessary when offering it to animals).
And I mentioned it in passing from time to time in the articles that I wrote over 11 years that were eventually collected into the book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism. Animal Reiki attunements were very important to the healing process for the dog, AJ, in “Freedom from Fear,” and to the many animals injured during a pet store burglary in “When You Care Enough.”
But I realized that I had never fully stepped out and said bluntly, publicly, yes, I do attunements for animals. Some part of me was still in hiding.
I have no idea how many other Reiki Masters may do attunements for animals that may also be in hiding. I am now very aware that the needs of the animals and the world are greater than my personal fears. Perhaps others may read this, and be inspired to speak up so that the world can know that animals are spiritual beings deserving of—and responsive to—Reiki attunements.
So, I now consciously and fully step forward and declare, “YES, I do attunements for animals, and they can be very healing.” And I also offer them to trees, but that is a story for another time!
Postscript: Currently, I only teach the attunement process for animals to my Reiki Master Teacher students. If interested, check Calendar for listings of upcoming Reiki classes.
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©2009 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved. www.reikishamanic.com
A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.