Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ichabod Crane - A Halloween Memory

This Halloween, I was thinking back on all the scary stories and movies I have seen over the years and while there were many, none stand out more than the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

The story isn’t gory, just scary, but why I love this story so much is because my grandmother would read it to me from a large book she had. Even the name of the school teacher, Ichabod Crane, sent shivers down my spine when she read it to me.

For those of you who don’t know who Ichabod Crane is, he is the school teacher in the story who is attempting to woo Katrina Von Tassel. There is another rival for her affections, Abraham "Brom Bones" van Brunt, who tries to humiliate the schoolmaster, but cannot compete with Crane’s social skills at a party.

Ichabod Crane asks Katrina Von Tassel to marry him but the proposal is refused. Upon leaving the party, Ichabod meets the Headless Horseman who is believe to be a Hessian solider who lost his head in the Revolutionary War when he was hit by a cannon ball. Ichabod runs for his life across a bridge and …. Did you think I was going to spoil it for you?

The Legend of Sleep Hollow is the Night Before Christmas for Halloween. It’s a must read. I will be reading it this Halloween from the same book my grandmother read from when I was a child.

Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Frida Kahlo!

Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist, was born on this day in 1907. I have always admired Frida Kahlo, not just for her paintings, but for what she endured in her life time. Her paintings, which are a majority of self-portraits, reflect the physical and emotional pain she endured from her accident as a teen, her tumultuous marriage to Diego Rivera, and her three miscarriages.

Kahlo’s physical challenges began at the age of 6 when she contracted polio which caused her right leg to be thinner than her left. At the age of 18, she suffered numerous debilitating injuries when the trolley she was riding in crashed. Kahlo suffered a broke spinal column, broken collarbone, broken ribs and pelvis, 11 fractures to her right leg, her right foot was crushed and dislocated, and her shoulder was dislocated. In addition, a broken iron handrail pierced her abdomen and uterus which resulted in her inability to have children. These injuries plagued her entire life. Bouts of extreme pain would confine her to bed for months.

Ironically, Kahlo didn’t start to paint until after her accident as a way to pass the time. I often ponder the plan the Divine has for us when I read of a story like this where one’s true calling is found in the mist of despair. Kahlo continued to paint and one recovered sought the guidance of the famous mural painter Diego Rivera. Soon their friendship blossomed into a love affair despite his reputation for womanizing
Frida and Diego were married on August 21, 1929 when she was 22 and he was 42. It was Rivera’s third marriage and Frida’s first. Their marriage was plagued with heartbreak as well. Rivera continued to womanize and eventually had an affair with her sister. She had many affairs throughout their marriage as well. They were divorced in November 1939 largely due to his affairs and violent temper. Frida and Diego didn’t stay apart for long, however, and remarried in December 1940. They remained married until her death on July 13, 1954.

Frida communicated her physical pain, her anguish over losing 3 children, and the hurt of Diego’s cheating through the brutally honest imagery of her portraits. Whenever I look at her paintings, I see part of myself. I would highly recommend the movie Frida. It is one of my favorite movies and is a brilliant depiction of Frida’s life.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reiki – The Right Way or the Wrong Way?

My grandmother had her own way of doing things from washing dishes to folding wash clothes. Many of her methods actually were learned from her mother or she developed them over time as something that worked for her. One visit, after dinner, I was cleaning off the table and was washing the dishes. This mundane task was just something that needed to be done and I put no more energy in it than was necessary. In the middle of my task, my grandmother came into the kitchen and was upset because I was washing the dishes the wrong way. She pointed out the amount of soap I used as being too much, the sponge I used was not the right one, and the dishes weren’t getting clean. I was exasperated and she taught me how to do dishes her way. I was mindful of this ever since but only used her method when I was washing her dishes not my own. Does this sound familiar?

reiki9The right way or the wrong way to wash dishes doesn’t seem to be an important task that you would worry about whether you were doing correctly or incorrectly. As long as you reach the end goal of having the dishes clean, little else matters. Focusing on psychic development, spirituality, and healing, however, there is a great concern as to whether something is performed correct or incorrectly. How do we know what is the true correct way? There are two ways that I have found that work in conjunction with each other; they are intuition and researching the topic.

One area of healing and spirituality that I have found to be quite confusing and controversial is the rules regarding Reiki. Reiki is a form of natural healing where the Reiki  Practioner allows the Universal Life Force or energy to flow through the them and into the palms of their hands so that the energy can be sent to the person requesting healing . This energy allows the person to relax, de-stress, and helps the body heal naturally. Becoming a Reiki Practioner requires that you are attuned by a Reiki Master Teacher. The learning of specific symbols and attunements of the Reiki Practioner opens them up to be a clear channel for the energy.

There are several controversies regarding Reiki.

  • Secrecy of Symbols - Several Reiki Masters teach that to preserve the respect for the system, the Reiki Practitioner is not permitted to share the symbols with anyone.

  • Money – The cost of learning and receiving attunements also varies. It was the belief of one of the founders of Reiki that the cost of the level 3 should be no less than 2 months wages. Some masters charge $10,000, some charge $800 - $1500, and some masters charge a nominal fee.

  • Length of Time to Learn Master Level – The amount of time to learn the master level ranges from becoming an apprentice for a year before earning your certificate to earning your certificate in one class. The amount of time appears to be determined by the Master.

  • Acceptable Lineage - The original guidelines for learning Reiki was that in order to officially declare you a Master, the Master must be able to trace their Master back no more than seven levels.

  • Lineage Importance – The importance of lineage is also a topic of debate. I have read authors who say that a Reiki Master’s lineage is not important. Other authors have said having a lineage is required before you can officially declare yourself a Master.

  • Attunement Procedure – Performing my own research, I came upon several different types of procedures to administer attunements. For example, at one point in the attunement, symbols are drawn into your hands by the Master attuning you. I’ve read several variations of this such as slapping the palm of your hand to put the symbols in your hand chakras, simply drawing the symbols without slapping them into your palm, and another method was simply to say the symbol names and envision them going into the palms. In more than one manual, it was mentioned not to worry about whether you perform the attunement exactly as written because your intention and Reiki Guides will ensure that attunement would be delivered perfectly.

  • Distant Attunements – In addition to the variation of attunement methods, there is also a debate about whether Distant Attunements are acceptable. Within the practice of Reiki, distant healing is taught where the student can send Reiki energy across miles and time to a person, place or situation. Many believe that based on performing distant healing, that distant attunements would also be acceptable. Master Reiki attunements are now offered from numerous individuals via the internet.

  • Types of Reiki – The internet is now overwhelmed with hundreds of different types of Reiki. Psychic Reiki, Spirit Reiki, Violet Flame Reiki, and Angel Reiki are just a few to have emerged based on the original Usui Reiki. The validity of these types of Reiki is often in question since they are very easy to become attuned to and manuals and certificates are freely attained through the internet.

Authenticity in my work is extremely important to me which is why, being a Reiki Master myself, I researched different methods and read several different books about Reiki. I struggled with many of the topics of controversy; trying to find what I felt was the correct way and remaining open to trusting my intuition. My research led me to discover that the first Masters of Reiki made their own changes. Each took the teaching and instituted their personal guidelines for teaching and even passing attunements.

Regardless of all the differences in opinion, there is one aspect of healing that is at the core of Reiki and that is Intent. My intuition led me to embrace the concept that whatever I felt was correct was correct simply because my intention is based on authenticity, honesty, and love.

My soul searching and intuition has allowed me to develop a very clear path in regards to how I teach and practice Reiki. I’ve taken each area of controversy and further commented on each but with my own perception and belief.

  • Secrecy of Symbols - Respect of Reiki and its symbols must be inherent in the person. I don’t feel that secrecy demands respect. The power to use the symbols relies upon the attunement of the individual. usui

  • Money – Charging a great deal of money to teach and pass Reiki attunements is not being Reiki. Reiki is a gift for all, not for the ones who can afford it. I believe that there should be an exchange of energy which is money, but the cost should be manageable for everyone.

  • Length of Time to Learn Master Level – Mastery in any art, whether it be a medical doctor, painter, author, or consultant, for example, takes time. Think about when you graduated from college. You took classes in your chosen field. You received your degree. You are full of the knowledge to start your career, but you’re not a master yet. Your next step is taking that knowledge and applying it. Attuning to being a Reiki Master is able to be done in one class, however, the Master should always support the student after the attunement as they learn to pass attunements to others.

  • Acceptable Lineage – Think of this. Reiki continues to be passed on to people around the world who continue to focus on healing themselves, their loved ones, and the world. Several hundred years from now, will it even be possible to trace a Reiki lineage back 7 levels? No. I don’t believe it matters how many masters have gone before you. Reiki never gets diluted.

  • Lineage Importance – The most popular question I hear when people get together to talk about Reiki is: Who was your teacher? I’m not sure if people want to see if they were attuned by the same person or if the name of your master determines if you are authentic or not. I don’t believe your lineage is important. What is important is how you take what you have learned and apply it. A Master teaches you and attunes you but it is what you do with that that counts.

  • Attunement Procedure – The standard attunement process is what I follow, however, I allow the Divine to guide me. I agree that intention is the key and that my Reiki Guides will ensure that the attunement is done perfectly.

  • Distant Attunements – Distant Attunements should only be used as an exception rather than a rule. The feeling of receiving an attunement in person is something that should not be substituted, but I realize that there are some instances where people cannot come together.

  • Types of Reiki – Working with Angels, Spirit Guides Faeries, Animal Spirits, and Ascended Masters in my psychic work, I also invite them to assist whenever I am giving a class or Reiki session. I believe the basics of Reiki healing can be amplified by connecting with your guides. In regards to the different types of Reiki, exploring the different energy that you can call in to assist the receiver of the Reiki is wonderful, but I am cautious about the power of all of these Reiki systems. Maybe it is because they are now listed in the hundreds and you can log onto a person’s website and for a certain amount of money purchase a designated number of types of Reiki. Certificates and Manuals are included. You can explore the different energies that are offered, but as long as you are attuned to the traditional Reiki system, you can simply call in the help of the energy you want to assist your client.

The conclusions that I have arrived upon through my research and soul searching may not be what you believe and that is perfectly fine. I would never impose my beliefs upon anyone. I do feel that every Reiki Practioner and Master should meditate upon the areas of controversy and determine what is right for them. I would also recommended personally reading as many books as you can on Reiki. I guarantee that when you compare different author’s work you will find just as many differences as you will find similarities. Remember that using your own discernment is what is most important.