What Reiki is Not

What Reiki is Not



Last week, a woman “Liked” my Winged Horse Healing Facebook page and promptly posted a spam message advertising retreats that she offers where, according to her, the horses are the Reiki masters.

After I got over my brief flash of annoyance that a so-called Reiki master (which she claimed to be as well) would spam another professional’s page, I got to thinking about this notion that horses, any animals, can be Reiki masters.

Eleven years ago, my sweet dog Elika came into my life. I was told that she was mine (although, at the time, I didn’t want a little, white dog) and that she would assist me with healings and with my Reiki classes. She came to me two weeks before I taught my first class and has taught every class with me since then. She is an amazing teacher. I cannot imagine teaching without her.

My Nikos, the bay Thoroughbred who was my equine partner for six years, the being who led me to this work and who told me that Elika was mine, was a masterful teacher. With the most subtle movements of his body, barely noticeable, he could redirect a student’s focus.

Nikos also assisted me with healings when he was alive and continues to do so although he passed from this earth six years ago. Elika assists me with healings every day. My horses, Tara and Fuersti, assist me with healings and classes as well.

But my beloved animal companions are not Reiki masters.

Some years ago, a friend came to my house for an overnight retreat. She was going through a rough time and just needed to get away to the country to catch her breath. She was anxious and ill at ease when she arrived, and so I suggested she go upstairs to the guest room and take my Elika with her, that she spend a little peaceful time while I began preparing dinner.

She didn’t come back down for nearly an hour. When she did, she said that Elika had followed her into the room and insisted on sitting in her lap, and then lying on her chest. (Elika is not, by the way, a lap dog.) When my friend, who is a Reiki master, came downstairs for dinner, her mood was lighter; she was smiling; she was less anxious; she was hungry. She marveled aloud at Elika’s healing power.


My Co-Teacher & Healer, Elika


Animals have a tremendous capacity to heal. An animal lover yourself, you already know this. Our beloved animals are especially gifted at healing emotional wounds. And, if we listen, they are powerful teachers as well.

But they are not Reiki masters.

A few years ago, I met a man who owned a martial arts school. He was well respected in the community. Several of my Reiki students had been taking classes from him for years. He told me that he, like me, did Reiki. I asked him what level he had studied to. He said he’d never taken a class, that he’d taught himself. I told him he wasn’t doing Reiki. He—the person who had never taken a class and who could not explain to me what Reiki is—disagreed. Oy.

My point here is not to be grouchy—really. My point is that there are many, many paths to healing. Each of us has the capacity not only for self-healing but to assist others in their healing process. Each of us can lay our hands, or our heads, on the body of another being and bring peace.

Too often, Reiki is used as a generic term for “energy healing.” But Reiki is a specific spiritual practice. It is not a religion; people of many faiths are Reiki practitioners. But it is a practice that involves an attunement by a Reiki master for each of the three levels, that involves an understanding of the Reiki precepts (or principles), and that—most importantly—involves a commitment to daily self-healing. It is through this daily practice that the practitioner truly comes to understand the beauty and power of Reiki.

If everything is Reiki, then nothing is Reiki. True Reiki practice is then both misunderstood and cheapened.

And so, while the animals are powerful teachers, powerful healers, and while I cannot imagine conducting a class without them—one can see that they are not Reiki masters. They have their own path, their own method of healing, one that I would dearly love to understand but that I will, for now, have to be satisfied with having experienced.


I hope you will be moved to share your thoughts.

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If you would like to learn more about Reiki, this page on my website is one place you could begin: https://wingedhorsehealing.com/?page_id=828





4 Replies to “What Reiki is Not”

  1. Hi Pam,

    This is an excellent article. I think you’re right that the term Reiki is incorrectly applied in a very broad sense to any kind of energy healing. I also agree that if it’s “everything” it’s “nothing”. I’m guessing the intent behind that explanation is to broaden its appeal and make it feel more inclusive and less, er, “occultish”. I also worry when I read or hear about “self taught” Reiki practitioners–they may indeed be doing some form of healing but it isn’t Reiki and if something goes sideways as a result of the healing, the entire healing modality gets a bad rap.

    On a more light hearted note, I must admit that visualizing horses, dogs, or cats as Reiki masters teaching classes and giving attunements to human students did make me smile, if only because we so often underestimate the various intelligences of animals.

    This article was also a great reminder that I need to make giving myself Reiki every day a priority. It’s too easy to think “Oh, I’m so busy, I don’t have x amount of time to spare” but “x” amount of time will pass by anyway, so it’s a better investment to the put time into my spiritual and physical well-being–she says as she’s suffering through a miserable flu brought about by trying to burn the candle at both ends for too long.

    1. Thank you, Sue.

      I think the public is better served by Reiki practitioners being clear about what Reiki is. It is a spiritual practice. It is vibrational healing that relaxes and balances the body, and allows the body’s own healing power to kick into gear.

      I love the image of the animals doing attunements 🙂 As I said, my animals, especially my Elika, are instrumental in my classes. Elika always chooses a student to work with. She stays by that person for most of the day. I have no idea how she chooses; I have never asked her because it does not feel like it is any of my business.

      My Nikos, who passed over six years ago, also chooses a student. Invariably, a student will say that a calm, loving presence is standing behind her or him. It is always Nikos.

      They have tremendous teaching and healing ability. It’s just not Reiki.

  2. I second what Sue said…I, too, am guilty of not always making self Reiki a priority…I know in my heart it has to become second nature … like brushing your teeth everyday:)….as you know, Pam, but other here may not, I believe with all my heart that having Holly in my life brought me down the path to meeting you and ultimately the journey with Reiki. I never under estimate the power or intelligence of animals in any form…they are wise, have no pretense and are willing to teach if we are willing to listen…thanks again for another great article….

    1. Thank you, Nancy.

      While a full daily Reiki session is best, a little bit of Reiki is better than none. You can place one hand on various areas of your body as you drive. You can take a piece of your lunch hour to work with the precepts.

      I agree that the animals are miraculous. I would not be doing any of this work without them; I would not have met all the amazing people I have met, all of the amazing creatures.

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