One Reiki Journey
1. A group of cats is referred to as a clowder.
2. Cats spend about 70% of their lives sleeping.
3. A cat has 32 muscles in its ear alone, humans only have 6.
4. Having a pet cat can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by 33%.
5. Each cat has a unique noseprint, much like our fingerprints.
6. The Egyptian Mau is the oldest cat breed.
7. Cats can make about 100 different vocalizations, while dogs can only make 10 or so.
8. The oldest known pet cat was discovered in a grave that was 9,500 years old.
9. Cats can run up to 49 kilometers an hour for short distances.
10. Long haired cats were bred into existence about 100 years ago, prior to this almost all cats had short hair.
I first took Reiki Master training in May 2012 in Glastonbury, England ~ legendary as the Avalon of King Arthur, ancient sacred site of Goddess worshippers and Druids, crossed by powerful lei lines, bubbling with sacred springs, blooming with holy thorn trees, early centre of mystical Christianity and current magnet for anyone interested in spirituality and healing. It's a pretty magical place.
Having arrived the afternoon before the course started, I was eager to explore the High Street and especially to climb the Tor ~ the high holy hill on the edge of town. I ate lunch in one of the many vegetarian-friendly restaurants, peered in the windows of shops featuring stained-glass angels, healing crystals and esoteric books, and felt immediately, happily at home.
My whole time there felt like a constant series of little miracles, and I was about to experience the first: Fully caught up in the pulsing positive energy of the place, smiling my head off, I thought how much I would love to do some chanting while there. Not just quietly in my mind, which I do most of the time anyway, or even out loud on my own atop the Tor, but in a group of people, with music and intention. Now THAT would be perfect!
The hand-drawn map I had showed two possible paths from the town centre to the top of the Tor, and since one of them started right across the road from where I was staying, I chose that one. I walked up the little lane, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, right at the end, just before road became footpath, but a small ashram ~ an Indian traditional spiritual centre. And a poster on their noticeboard advertising Bhajans, the exact type of call and response devotional songs I was just wishing for! AND, it was scheduled on Friday night, the only evening that I knew for sure I had free. Jai Sri Krishna!
Now even happier and more at home, I climbed over the stile at the end of the road and continued along the path, winding up the hill among trees and fields of sheep. The next bit of magic arrived presently, in the form of an apple orchard in full bloom. A pretty sight, yes, but magic because the very word Avalon means Isle of Apples. It's true, I'm really here!
I was expecting a procession of pagan priestesses to appear around every bend. But if they were there, I couldn't see them. I did meet one young woman with swirly skirts and dreadlocks, but she was clearly deep in communion with the apple blossoms, so we just smiled and I continued on my way.
My way then came to a cow pasture, lovely dark animals peacefully grazing. There was a creature-proof gate, a sign indicating that this was indeed still the footpath to the Tor, and the path itself continuing through the pasture. So on I went, now out in the open and with a gorgeous view of the Tor and the recent Christian tower at the top, a mere 600 years old or so.
Up ahead of me there were two beautiful black cows standing directly on the path. Just as I started wondering how exactly I should deal with that situation, which way I should go around them, and just how far, they both looked up and took an interest in me. Something in the way the closest one was sizing me up made me take a more mindful look at all of them. Ah, not cows. City kid, here I was standing in the middle of a field of young bulls.
And two of them were headed straight towards me, apparently quite intent on finding out just what I was doing on their path, through their field. They seemed inquisitive rather than angry, and I've never been scared of animals of any kind, so I just stood where I was. My arms were hanging non-threateningly at my sides, palms towards them, offering love and Reiki. They were clearly accepting it, as the flow was very strong. They were very big. And very cute. One of them hung behind the other, like a shy little brother. Both had their heads tilted with curiosity.
The big brother had clearly never experienced Reiki before - nor perhaps a stranger dumb enough to stroll through his field. He walked right up to me, and just as dogs and horses often do, started sniffing my hands to find out what this Reiki stuff was, and just where it was coming from. It was quite a thrill sharing energy and having my hands snuffled by this gentle giant. Just a little more magic.
But then I made my mistake. In offering Reiki to animals and inviting them to share our energetic space, we must respect their free will, and always allow them to decide if and where and when to initiate physical contact. Since the energy is equally effective hands-on or from a distance, there's no need to touch them at all, unless they put themselves into our hands. Well, cattle are domesticated animals, and here we were having a lovely time together and he had just touched me, quite a bit and enthusiastically, so I assumed that it was ok to touch him. I gently turned my hand up and around and tried to stroke his nose.
Leap-back-Stamp-Stamp-Snort! Head lowered.
Uh-oh. (No horns at least.) Not accepting any Reiki now.
We each took a few deep breaths. I started backing slowly across the field. We kept constant eye contact. After I'd gone maybe 3 metres/10 feet, he started matching me step for step, little brother close behind, escorting me out. The field seemed about a hundred times bigger than it had on the way in. They did not charge me, and once I was close enough to the gate, they stopped and just watched to make sure I was really leaving.
I was very grateful for this lesson in humility and respect for the boundaries of others. It could have been a much harsher lesson. And I still got to watch the last of the sunset from the top of the Tor, via the long way round.
Free Nelson Mandela
21 years in captivity, are you so blind that you cannot see? are you so dumb that you cannot speak? are you so deaf that you cannot hear his plea?
Free Nelson Mandela
I’m beggin’ you
That great song by The Specials got a lot of us dancing, made us aware of one of the greatest heroes of our time, and got many of us involved to whatever extent in a powerful world-wide social movement.
Nelson Mandela was actually in prison for 27 years for trying peacefully to end apartheid in South Africa. He was jailed in 1963 ~ the year before I was born ~ and released when I was 26 years old. My God. And there was so much oppression, injustice, killing. Was he angry or vengeful, as he went on to lead his country to democracy and become its first Black President? Not a bit of it. He, like my other great heroes, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, spoke only of non-violent resistance, of peaceful sharing, of truth and reconciliation.
Tonight ~ Thursday, December 5th, 2013 ~ Nelson Mandela died at age 95. End of an era.
The CBC radio announcer who informed me of the world’s great loss said that we would all remember where we were when we heard the news of his passing. I was at home in the evening after the vet assuring me that my little budgie Sunshine was going to be just fine. The night before I was commenting to a friend how I was teetering on the edge of fear and excitement, having just found out that I was probably soon to be laid off from my job of 13 years. Time to wake up, get out there and do something meaningful. Enough of this bureaucratic comfort, this security, these paid vacations. End of an era.
I heard the news of Mandela’s passing, and I put on Free Nelson Mandela and danced. I played Eric Bogel’s Singing the Spirit Home and cried. I found the Soweto Gospel Choir’s version of Shosholoza on iTunes and sang my heart out and danced some more.
I also gave a scheduled distance Reiki treatment to a coonhound named Poncho. We have been doing this regularly since meeting for an in-person treatment a couple of weeks ago. We always connect easily in the shining, healing energy that is Reiki. This time, when I opened my heart wide and reached out with Reiki energy to find him, I connected to him and to the hearts of almost every other human being on the planet. United in grief, yes, at the passing of such a great being from our presence, but the overwhelming emotion swirling around the world tonight is love. Love for him, and for each other for loving him.
Nelson Mandela united much of the world to work for peace and freedom. At the time I saw what he was doing as political activism, of the highest order to be sure, but not as a spiritual act. Now I see that getting people to feel and express emotional, intellectual and political solidarity with each other is the ultimate spiritual act. I believe it's called Oneness.
And now he’s done it again, but even bigger, even more important. Even more spiritual. He has united humanity at the heart. We have a great opportunity. We can take this connection we are feeling right now and turn the world in a positive direction, working together for the good of all, in goodwill and co-operation. In peace and love. End of an era.
Current South African President Jacob Zuma, in making the official announcement of Nelson Mandela’s passing, said that, “We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.” Strength and determination, moral courage, humility and forgiveness, love.
Let’s keep our hearts beating together, as they are tonight in honour of this great being we were so privileged to share our time on the planet with.
Appreciation to my dear friend Tara ~ yes, the goddess, but cleverly disguised in human form and currently living just outside Edmonton ~ for pointing out that the first week of June is Pet Appreciation Week.
Many shelters celebrate by offering reduced adoption fees, especially for older and otherwise 'less adoptable' animals, including those with known health issues, behaviour problems requiring some extra patience to help resolve, and the black ones, apparently. This is amazing to me, as I think black animals ~ dogs, cats, horses, bunnies, everyone ~ are amazingly beautiful!
In fact, last time I was looking to adopt cats, I was looking for two, and I wanted them to be older ~ partly because of their mellower energy and partly because I knew they had a harder time finding a home ~ and for one of them to be black. I was looking on rescue websites, and saw photos of dozens of beautiful black cats needing loving homes, but none reached out to me ~ until I saw Benji.
This was Benji's 'Adopt-Me' photo (by Toronto Cat Rescue), and one look at this glowing boy and my heart just filled up with joy: I had found my cat! I was a little dismayed to find out that he was FIV+, diabetic in remission, and had some injury or stiffness to his lower back such that he wasn't flexible enough to clean himself all the way back, and his tail followed him around limp as if it was pinned on like Eeyore's.
However, after a little research into FIV, which is nowhere near as terrible as the human equivalent HIV, I figured I could handle all that, as every time I looked at his picture my heart swelled up with love again. So I went to meet him, and he greeted me so happily and with such instant recognition that I knew we had connected energetically, and he was, indeed, My Cat. (And that was before I took any Reiki training!)
I ended up getting three cats that day, not the intended two, all rescued strays, older, FIV+ and with another health issue each. They have turned out to be the most spectacular cats I have ever known, and well worth the extra care that has been necessary to get them as happy and healthy as possible. Benji's diabetes is still in remission three years later, his back supple and flexible, his tail active and snaky, and after dealing with his dental issues ~ a common result of FIV ~ he has had no further health challenges. We cuddle and play, and the cats all love each other too.
And it turns out that having pets provides a significant number of health benefits to us as well, so even more to appreciate! For links to some great articles on the subject, see Tara's latest post in Kali's Kitchen:
So I deeply appreciate my pets ~ past and present and of many different species ~ for their love and companionship, their wisdom and teachings, and the connection they give me to the other beings in our world. We are indeed all one consciousness, in such varied and beautiful forms.
Thank You Thank You Thank You!
I was a participant in a workshop. We were chanting ancient sacred mantras in Sanskrit ~ which I like to do a lot ~ singing our hearts out, raising our vibrations and increasing our energy levels. Aaaahhh...
What made this workshop different was that after we had gotten ourselves all blissed out and fired up, we were handed a series of questions designed to channel all that fire and bliss into identifying, and then taking, some concrete steps towards finding and fulfilling our true purpose in this life. And hopefully making the world a better place in the process. The idea was to invoke and be filled up with Divine energy, and then let the Divine guide us in the practical living of our lives.
Imagine my surprise when the first thing I wrote under Next Steps was "Take Reiki I training." It was truly like someone else had guided my hand. Never before had it even occurred to me to do that! I had received Reiki treatments and liked it very much. I had been impressed ~ and helped ~ by some intuitive information that the Reiki Master had picked up about the relationship between me and my injury during the first treatment. But to become a practitioner myself? This was new. And it wasn't just an idea; it was an imperative, a must!
So I decided to contact the practitioner I knew to see if she was still teaching. But no need to even do that. As I was putting on my coat at the end of the workshop, a fellow participant asked how he could assist me on my path. I asked if he was a Reiki Master, and he said no but his friend was and would I like him to email her right then. Ok.
That was December 2010. I took Reiki I in January and Level II in February.
In mid-March my beloved cat Jeannie was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
We are taught that Reiki can be used not just for relaxation and stress release, not only for profound physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual healing, but as a source of Divine guidance in all aspects of our lives. I believe it. When the vet told me the test results, and that the cancer had already spread throughout her body by the time I found the lump in her throat, I understood perfectly why I had so suddenly and urgently needed to practice Reiki. And I knew that Reiki ~ spiritually guided life force energy ~ had reached out and touched me before I even knew I was in need of it. And we really needed it.
Jeannie passed from her body in the wee hours of the morning on June 28th. That three and a half month journey was one of the most intense, difficult and beautiful experiences of my life.
Jeannie, Benji and Dudley had all come to live with me the previous August, adult cats rescued from life on the streets and living in foster homes when we met. They were all special beings, not 'just cats' at all, and we quickly became quite the happy little family. Jeannie was very affectionate on her terms, but also quite a suspicious kitty, knowing full well that if you came to grab her it probably meant that you were either going to Do Something to her, or take her Somewhere Else, so earning her love and trust was quite a project. By March she was making no secret about her intense and overwhelming happiness here. Clearly this was the best life she had ever had.
She seemed perfectly happy and healthy for the first couple months after the diagnosis, and I let my social life pretty much disintegrate in order to spend as much happy time as I could with this bright, bouncy, delightful little being. That time was full of joy and purrs and cuddling on the couch. I got to read a few great books, including Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth and the Dalai Lama's Advice on Dying ~ great timing, those ones. And of course I gave her as much Reiki as she wanted, which was at least an hour each day, sometimes much more.
Then she got quite suddenly sick and tired. My wonderful vet prescribed a pill that could maybe buy us a few more days, weeks or even months. Jeannie responded instantly, literally bouncing back to excited happy life an hour after the first dose. This brief reprieve lasted just over two weeks, and then the final decline ~ and the most beautiful part ~ began.
Jeannie's health deteriorated noticeably every day, but her love, peace and grace never once wavered. She did have one moment of utter abject terror, just before the final decline began, when I was trying to catch her to cut her claws (she was getting stuck on things, and too weak to detach herself). But of course she knew she was sick, and that sick cats get Taken Away. I felt terrible causing her so much fear and anxiety for the sake of a manicure.
Reiki provided the communication bridge we needed. Once I understood why she was so terrified, and that her only wish was to stay At Home, I was able to reassure her that this was her Home Forever, and that I would not take her Away unless she asked me too. Then she relaxed immediately and completely into the process of letting her body go. She continued to be joyful every time she saw me, and to purr when I touched her until the growth in her throat made it physically impossible just a few days before she left. She was never scared, never angry, never sad, and never appeared to be in any pain. I hope and pray that I can be as graceful, loving and peaceful when my time comes.
She went twelve days without any food at all, never craving or complaining, and the last two days with no more than a sip or two of water. We were basically camping out on the kitchen floor because she was too weak to go anywhere. Jeannie and Benji loved each other very much, and he kept her company when I wasn't able to be there. We shared lots and lots of Reiki every day, and she hung on as long as she could because she was too happy to die, right up to the last night when I tucked her in and she fell asleep content with her head in my hand.
Neither Reiki nor I could cure the cancer. But that never seemed to be the point. As animal Reiki specialist Kathleen Prasad said in a recent article,
"Just because we die doesn't mean we didn't heal."¹
We are all going to die ~ or at least our bodies are. It is the manner of our death that should concern us, and how much we can heal ourselves and others before our time comes. And for that Reiki can help so much, in so many ways.
Wishing Jeannie and all of us peace on our journey.
Om Bolo Cat-Guru Jeannie Rani-Ki, Jai!!!
¹ Kathleen Prasad, "Animal Reiki Sessions and Your State of Mind",
Reiki News Magazine, Spring 2013, p. 33.
Hello. My name is Marci Burgess, I'm a Reiki Master Teacher, and I really love animals.
This blog, my first ever, will be about my Reiki journey ~ what has happened to me, from within and from without, and how I've felt and thought about it, and acted on it, or not. I offer these experiences so that you may be inspired as I have been. And perhaps so that you may avoid certain less than wise actions and reactions.
And it will be about animals, my connections with them, and the ways in which Reiki keeps deepening and strengthening those connections.
I look forward to hearing back from you, kindred spirits, animal lovers, Reiki practitioners, healers, spiritualists and visionaries.
We are all creating the future. May it be one of Healing for All Beings.
See you in the Light.