This is the introduction from my book, Awakening the BlueLotus: A Reiki Level One Handbook.

My first introduction to Reiki was in the form of a discussion with one of my first spiritual teachers back in the late 1980’s. She explained to me how healing energy was channeled through the hands of the practitioner and into the recipient, adding that it “could do no harm”. I was fascinated by the knowledge that the energy was passed by way of a controlled metaphysical experience in which specific symbols were used in order to “unlock” this healing potential from within. Because my teacher was not a Reiki teacher (and because the fees associated with Reiki classes at that time were so prohibitive, especially for a teenager) I was not able to learn this modality at the time, and settled for using other psychic healing methods that I was able to cultivate on my own.

Years passed, and I was perfectly happy in my own spiritual and healing practice. I would often hear about Reiki, but again the costs were a barrier. One day in May 1996, a Reiki teacher was scheduled to give an introductory class at the metaphysical shop where I worked. She set-up her materials in preparation for the class, but no one came. Feeling badly (and sensing that perhaps this was my opportunity) I decided to bite the bullet and pay the $100.

When the class began I became doubtful of her information, as she explained quite matter-of-factly that this was the healing method that Jesus performed, citing her beliefs as fact that he travelled to India in the infamous “lost years” and learned this ancient technique from the sages there. She also referenced an Atlantian connection, as well as cited Native American spirituality. I felt that I had fallen prey to another New Age scam; perhaps not intentional on her part, but one that purported to be something even though the evidence proved otherwise. I was disappointed.

As if to underscore my newly formed negative opinion, when it came time for her to pass the attunement, she was concerned that I was wearing a black shirt, saying that “Reiki has trouble going through black” (a charge that I have never heard before or since). I needed to remove my shirt for the attunement to work. (This from a spiritual system that purports to be able to send the energy without regard to space or time.) I internally rolled my eyes in judgment, convinced that this woman was nothing more than a flake if she believed in what she was saying, or a charlatan if she didn’t. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and decided to secretly judge her as well-intentioned but sadly misinformed.

Shirtless, I sat in preparation for the attunement, resigning myself to the experience which I assumed would be nothing more than an opportunity to close my eyes and contemplate my navel.

With my hands held in prayer, my eyes closed, I began to relax as she began her breathing exercises and placed her hands on my head. I began to drift, as she focused her breath on my crown and send energy (I could feel it!) into my head and neck… I was floating… blissful. Everything after that was a sweet blur; when it was finished I opened my eyes and everything seemed different. I could not (and can not) explain exactly how… I just felt… better. Happy. Relaxed. Content. I realized that my judgment was premature; her information might not have been the best, but the energy… What had transpired was a genuine energetic experience and no one was more surprised than I.

That night I forgot to do many things that are normally done to close the store (luckily I remembered to put the money away and lock the door!) and that feeling remained, although lessened, for several days after. I continued my own healing practice, now coupled with a few simple exercises and specific hand positions that were part of the instruction, and I noticed that while I didn’t feel that I was plugged into any different energy than what I had been accustomed to before, I did feel as if things just flowed more clearly; the energy seemed more available as if it was just a hair’s breadth away from flowing through me, something that I had not experienced before. I also seemed to be able to channel more energy than I had previously, so regardless of the fact that the energy itself wasn’t new, I felt that the whole “experiment” was a successful one.

About a year later I received my second level attunement from a friend. It felt different that time; less “blissful”, more manageable. At first it caused me to question whether or not anything had actually transpired, but again the proof was in the pudding; once more I felt “cleared” of obstacles that were preventing me from channeling more of the energy, and indeed it did feel as if my channel was again widened; the energy felt stronger when I actually went to use it. Again, a successful endeavor.

It was here also, however, that I decided to stop doing Reiki as a specific practice. Part of my decision was based in the fact that one of the symbols that I had been taught was very complicated. A Japanese kanji with 22 strokes in its making was not something that my brain felt it could memorize and so in classic sour grapes fashion, I decided that it wasn’t for me. And promptly discontinued working with the symbols and the traditional aspects of the work.

I did, however, continue to use what else I had been taught. The energy still felt clear and available, and the more I worked with it the less “specifically Reiki” it became. If it was all about plugging into and using “universal life-energy” then it seemed silly to classify the energy itself as specifically “Reiki” when I was using the energy practice for purposes other than what I had been taught, such as working with crystals or empowering herbs and candles. I decided that Reiki II was enough for me, and so that’s where I stayed for many years.

Besides Reiki I am a practitioner of many other spiritual and magical paths, most notably the F(a)eri(e) tradition of witchcraft, which is a sorcerous path of soul development. In this system, working with energy is paramount, and I found that my previous training in Reiki was quite helpful in keeping things clear and strong for this work. As a teacher in that tradition I found myself teaching someone who wanted to exchange Reiki attunements for her classes and so I agreed thinking that at least I could “finish what I had started” so many years ago, even though I had no intention of teaching Reiki or even practicing it professionally. During the course of her training with me I received the Reiki I and II attunements, and then she promptly left the country for India to pursue another spiritual path there. I was destined, it seemed to remain at the second level. Just as well, as I still had no intention to teach.

A couple of years later my husband and I bought a metaphysical store in Walnut Creek, an affluent suburb in the San Francisco East Bay Area. Renamed The Mystic Dream, we saw it as an opportunity to connect many divergent spiritual paths to better serve the community and to allow our own spiritual practices to grow and evolve. It was shortly after taking over the shop that I began to have the dreams.

They happened every night for months and they were always the same: I was in a non-descript place and an older woman or gentleman would be showing me how to draw a symbol with the palm of their hand. It would appear over me as if painted by a calligrapher’s brush and then melt into me. Then I was asked to “paint” the symbol in the same way. I had never (consciously) seen the symbol before, but in the dream (and upon waking) I just knew that this symbol was connected to Reiki. I would arise in the morning and my hands would be buzzing, a common experience reported by Reiki practitioners. I felt the calling. I now was ready to take my practice of Reiki “to the next level”; I was ready to pursue Mastership.

Since I had previously scoffed at my ability to learn the complicated third symbol, I decided that I needed to immerse myself in it completely, but my notes from my Reiki II attunement were nowhere to be found. How could I learn the symbol without my notes?! I bought a copy of Diane Stein’s Essential Reiki which published many Reiki symbols (and caused quite a stir in the Reiki community because of it). I found the symbol in question, and began to practice, practice, practice, until I had it memorized. I worked with it energetically and it was immediately available; it was as if no time had passed at all. I was ready to take the next step.

I began to search for someone who was teaching the Master level and what I found was both confusing and amazing. When doing an internet search I learned that some Reiki Masters were offering attunements via long distance, something that I had not considered before. Once such person offered to do it for $20 and when I mentioned my lack of certificate for Reiki II I was told that I wouldn’t even need to have received the first or second attunements; he would just do the Master attunement for me regardless. I was intrigued, but also felt that the intimacy that is present when performing such a rite in-person was necessary for me, not to mention that I felt that I really wanted to earn it; to simply give me the attunement sight-unseen without regard to what work I had done before, smacked as a disrespect to the overall tradition, and so I decided to look elsewhere.

In my neo-Pagan community I met a man named Eddy Gutierrez who in addition to his work in various tribal and neo-Pagan traditions was also a Reiki Master. We had been fans of each other’s work in the context of Paganism but had only recently met at Pantheacon, a large convention for neo-Pagan practitioners in the Bay Area. I approached him and he said that he did not generally pass the Master/Teacher level as Reiki II was all most people needed to do Reiki professionally. He also said that his practice was closer to what might be seen as Japanese in that it was the practice that determined the Master and not one’s ability to pay for an attunement. He was open to visiting us to see if our practice and ability was sufficient to warrant the title. “If you are living as a Reiki Master then I will confirm and attune you as a Master.”

We spent a weekend together and practiced our various paths… magic, mediation, and of course Reiki. He tested us on the symbols, on our philosophies of how Reiki worked. He asked us what we knew of its history, and most importantly, he asked for demonstrations of our ability to channel Reiki in a session. Satisfied of our knowledge and ability he passed us the Reiki III attunements and certified us as Reiki Master/Teachers.

After the attunements, Eddy explained that our Reiki lineage was dual; since many practitioners have had additional instruction and attunements to various other symbols and practices it is not an uncommon experience. Someone in our “up-line” had been “re-attuned” so as to have access to these additional symbols which purport to have originated in Tibet. Eddy then instructed us in the use of the Master symbols, one of which was this Tibetan symbol, and “just happened” to be that mysterious symbol that I had been dreaming about. If I had needed confirmation that this was the right person to have chosen to complete my training, it was here in this revelation. I had the dream once more that night. And then they stopped. Moved from my sub-conscious to my conscious mind, the symbol was inside me and so the dreams weren’t needed anymore.

I have found great joy in practicing and teaching Reiki. I love being able to provide a student with “just that little piece” that enables their own spiritual practice to grow in new and unexpected ways. It has also informed my own overall practice and all the myriad of things that I do. It is with great pleasure that I offer this handbook for the first level of Reiki practice. May it help you along your path.