The animals taught me a wild way to heal.
As a child growing up in South Jersey—when I didn’t have my nose stuck in a book—I could usually be found under the table with the dogs, outside communing with the willow tree, or curled up sharing secrets with the cats. The animals, the stones, the trees were my friends and companions, and reading fairy tales made this all seem quite normal.
From the time I was very young my favorite place to visit was the Philadelphia Zoo. My mother told me that I insisted that we visit ALL the animals, and that I would lead the way—I knew where each of them lived.
As I grew older a different picture began to emerge. One day, as I was leading a parade of my cat friends down the sidewalk, a boy on a bike stopped in wonder and blurted out, “What are you, some kind of witch?”
And I sadly realized that not everyone understood it was possible to communicate with animals and the natural world. I began to hide what I knew from others, and in putting my dreams away—I forgot about them.
“When the animals share with us who they are,
they also show us the way back to who we are.”
—Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing
Years passed, and all the light and joy that I had felt as a child wasn’t even a memory. Everything seemed grey, and I felt lifeless and without purpose. I desperately needed something to change.
It was 1995, and I was living in Worcester, Mass. Out of the blue I felt a pull to take a Reiki class. During the attunement process I felt the energy running through my hands and something deep inside me shifted, and suddenly I KNEW—to the core of my being—that I was a healer and that I would work with animals. I had emerged from the monochromatic gray of Kansas into the technicolor land of Oz—my true home—which I had been away from for far too long.
From that point on—with the assistance of the animals—I began to remember my childhood dreams and experiences, and my healing practice was born.
But the animals wanted more from me. When I look back I can clearly see the progression, but at the time I could only follow their step-by-step guidance. The animals insisted that one of those steps was to expand my early practice to include people—they said the connections between the people and the animals needed to be healed.
When my first human client got on the table for a Reiki session, my dapper black and white tuxedo cat Shaman totally surprised me by getting on the table with her and—completely uncharacteristically—laid down on her, stretching himself out so that he covered all her chakras from throat to root. He then looked at me, and said, “What are you waiting for?” I took my place and Shaman showed me how we could work together for the client’s highest good. Our client loved the teamwork, and a new healing paradigm was born.
Shaman also assisted with teaching the students. With his help, and that of second-in-command healer cat Saqqara, the core philosophies of Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing were created—equality between species, and animals as teachers and healers. Both of these fabulous healer cats are now in Spirit where they continue to offer guidance and inspiration.
Another part of my childhood dream manifested unexpectedly during a class I was taking in animal communication. I was supposed to be connecting with a domestic animal—instead I got this fox who would not go away no matter how many times I told him that he was not supposed to be there. Exasperated, I finally asked him why, and he calmly said, “You already know how to work with domestic animals. You need to practice talking to the wild ones.” I had no idea why I should do this, after all my healing practice was located in an urban area—who was going to bring me wild animals? But I said ok.
Not long afterward I went to the Philadelphia Zoo (yes, the same zoo I had so loved as a child). I was standing in front of the jaguar, who was pacing in his enclosure. He felt very agitated and stressed, so I asked if he would like some Reiki.
He came right up to the glass—I could have reached out and touched him if it had not been there. He settled down with his back to me (a great act of trust). I could look straight up his spine to his tense shoulders and neck, and watched in wonder as he settled into the energy healing and his muscles gradually relaxed.
And then Jaguar did something that changed the course of the rest of my life. He turned his head and looked directly into my eyes—something zoo animals seldom do. His gaze was soft, open and inviting, and I felt the world fall away. On a level deeper than I had ever felt before he allowed me to know him. I sensed acknowledgment and gratitude for the healing energy—and then—he greeted me as an equal. I was stunned, no animal had ever let me in this far. There was no barrier, no separation—we were one—and he was a healer, too.
From that profound encounter and a message from all the Zoo Animal Ambassadors, the first event was born that brought people and animals together in ceremony to co-create a new way of being.
Over the years I have encountered many animal teachers and healers—wild and domestic. At their request I continue to build bridges reconnecting the people and the animals through sessions, storytelling, photos, classes and events.
For more stories, check out Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism, featuring 45 true, heartwarming short stories about animals and their roles in my life and evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.
The animals want to share a wild way to heal. Please join us.
Rose De Dan and Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing
In practice since 1996, Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is a Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, animal communicator, and author of Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism.
Rose offers private sessions for animals, and teaches Reiki and shamanic classes, teleclasses, workshops and events. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her three cats, Sand, Manitou and Night Sky.
She began her Reiki training on the East coast in Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki in 1995, and became a Reiki Master Teacher and pioneer in Reiki for animals in 1996.
Additional training included the wisdom of Native American and North and South American medicine people, Tibetan Buddhist monks, T’ai Chi and Qigong instructors, and numerous animal teachers.
In addition to her shamanic training and Reiki certifications, Rose has a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from Clark University and a background in graphic design.
A former columnist for About.com’s “Ask An Animal Reiki Shaman,” Rose continues to write articles for her blog, newsletters and is in the process of publishing new books. She has also given numerous radio, TV and print interviews including feature interview “Healing Touch” in the Spring 2018 Health + Happiness issue of City Dog Magazine and “West Seattle’s Rose De Dan makes healing animals her business” interview in Westside Seattle.
Rose is also an avid photographer, blending her energy and animal communication skills to connect and establish a dialogue with the animals she photographs.
The resulting animal/nature art and stories are another way to spread the messages from the animals.
“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.”
——Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation