It’s a question that comes up often, but this time the person asking was a Reiki practitioner who is a student of shamanism, and shamanic Reiki didn’t make sense to her.
No wonder she was confused. Shamanic Reiki is an oxymoron, because while shamanism and Reiki are each valuable and useful, they are opposite approaches.
And both terms include diverse practitioners, so we need to take a broad view.
I love and deeply value shamanism. Truly, what’s not to love in nature medicine?
Shamanism is the traditional medicine that has developed in indigenous cultures around the world to address people’s needs to regain health and well being.
There are many flavors of shamanism because it is grassroots, sky-high medicine that has grown organically from the riches of the surrounding ecosystems — forests, deserts, steppes, etc.
Shamanism uses the medical model of diagnosis followed by an intervention to create a specific change in the patient. Shamanic practices are deliberate interventions targeting a very specific goal.
Shamans actively do something.
Reiki is a spiritual practice that encourages balance throughout a person’s system. Like all spiritual practices, Reiki has therapeutic benefits. Those benefits, however, are the by-products of the natural and comprehensive balancing that occurs rather than the result of a targeted intervention.
Reiki practice is passive. Reiki practitioners passively place their hands. It’s an offering that can evoke a response from within the receiver. As Reiki practitioners, we don’t actively intervene in the receiver’s system. We don’t have to work the way shaman have to work. I personally love that!
Targeting and results
Shamans target specific goals with their medicine. The results might be apparent immediately or take a while to unfold.
While people often make comments such as, “I get Reiki treatment for my migraines,” that’s a casual and misleading shorthand.
Reiki practice influences the whole system toward balance rather than targeting specific outcomes. People receiving a Reiki treatment may or may not get the specific result they hoped for after their Reiki treatment.
They will, however, feel better because when we are balanced, we feel better. A balanced system is not holding stress. And when we feel better, we function better and we make better decisions.
Which might lead you to choose to more Reiki treatment to help you stay balanced. And it might lead you to work with a shaman to address specific issues that unbalance your life.
Both shamanism and Reiki are as relevant today as ever. They are living practices. Different does not mean less than. It simply means different.
And different can be complementary. For example, someone who practices Reiki can place her hands on herself for support during a shamanic session.
Shamanism and Reiki each provide needed support to help us grow and thrive and recover from injury or illness. They are especially valuable today because conventional medicine doesn’t address our spiritual needs. Shamanism and Reiki practice can complement one another, and support patients undergoing conventional medical care.
But can shamanism and Reiki be combined into one practice? I don’t see how. Do you? Please leave a comment below.
Learning more about shamanism and understanding the difference between shamanism and Reiki practice can make you a better Reiki practitioner. It can also give you helpful techniques to add to your self care. And it will help you know when shamanic healing might be useful to you and how to choose a shaman to work with. Like Reiki practice, shamanism is unregulated, so you want to choose wisely.
I encourage you to make time to hear my dear friend Itzhak Beery. I met Itzhak in 2012 when we traveled to Guatemala with a mutual friend to attend the shamanic ceremonies marking the changing of the Mayan calendar. I think you’ll be as drawn to his huge heart as I am.
The shamanic global summit is an opportunity to learn from some of the finest shamans we have in our global community — for free! Click here to register.
*After publishing the above article, I was informed there is a book titled Shamanic Reiki. My article is in no way directed at that book, which I have not read, or the author. Rather, my article is the most recent discussion of a recurring theme which I have addressed in prior articles such as Japanese Pizza, about honoring both the diversity and the individual integrity of traditional practices.