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  • Writer's pictureAngela Gallo

The Importance of the History of Reiki

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

A short history of Reiki and its evolution and why it matters...

Trees of Mount Kurama

In every Reiki class I’ve taken and every Reiki book I’ve read, there is a discussion about the history of Reiki. Not all Reiki teachers and authors give you the same story. At first, I found this confusing. Who was right? I’ve come to realize through my studies, and as I have taught my on Reiki classes, it's the lesson the history of Reiki teaches us is what's really important.

It’s important to understand Reiki refers to both the healing energy and the system of using the energy. The Reiki we know here in the West originated with a man named Usui Mikao, affectionately referred to as Usui Sensei (Teacher). Reiki was brought from Japan to Hawaii by Mrs. Takata, a student of Dr. Hayashi who himself was a student of Usui Sensei.

Usui Sensei had been meditating on Mount Kurama for 21 days when he spontaneously received Reiki. In his excitement, he began running down the mountain on a trail with many tree roots crossing the path. He stubbed his toe, tearing the toenail and bleeding. As anyone would, he stopped running and grabbed his toe in reaction to the pain. To his surprise, when he removed his hands, he discovered his toe had been healed. It was then he realized he had received a powerful healing energy.

Usui Sensei healed many people in the years following. He also attuned many people to Reiki. (When a Reiki Master attunes a student, they pass on the ability to channel Reiki to the student.) During these years, he developed the Reiki II symbols, refining his healing techniques. He treated patients while they were sitting in a chair and used his intuition to guide his hands during the treatment. One of his students was a medial doctor, Dr. Hayashi Chujiro. Before Usui Sensei’s death, he asked Dr. Hayashi to continue his work and the development of Reiki. Dr. Hayashi did so, developing series of hand placements to treat certain conditions. Although he also used his intuition in treatments, as a medical doctor he had the knowledge of anatomy and physiology to know what organs to treat and where they are located. His Hayashi Reiki Healing Guide enabled his students to treat ailments regardless of their ability to use their own intuition and without the need to know anatomy or physiology. He also developed his own method of attunements and teaching students as well as many of the Japanese Reiki techniques we use today.

Takata Hawayo became first a patient and then a student of Dr. Hayashi. With Dr. Hayashi’s assistance, she brought Reiki to her home in Hawaii. This was in the 1940’s. Due to anti-Japanese sentiments during and after WWII, Mrs. Takata made certain adjustments to the history of Usui Sensei and Reiki with the intention of making it more palatable to the Western mindset. She also recognized many of her students may not be able to access their intuition due to cultural conditioning. She therefore developed the standard hand positions for treatment common to many Reiki lineages. This enabled a practitioner to perform a complete Reiki session, treating the whole person. Mrs. Takata also developed the Usui Reiki Master symbol and a simpler attunement process.

This is a very simple version of the history Reiki. Usui Sensei, Dr. Hayashi and Mrs. Takata changed their techniques and systems of working with the energy of Reiki to adapt to their needs and the needs of their students and patients. We practitioners can adapt our techniques and systems to work with Reiki to meet our own needs and abilities. As we progress on our Reiki journey, we become more effective conduits for the energy. We may use the “original” Japanese techniques and we can also discover our own ways to work with the energy. There is no limit to how we use Reiki as long as it is for the highest and greatest good. Reiki can do no harm.

As we evolve in our use and understanding of Reiki, so Reiki makes higher vibrational frequencies of the healing energy available to us. In 2014, William Rand received Holy Fire® Reiki as well as a new method of attuning students to Reiki called Placements. In a Placement, Reiki connects directly to the student rather than being channeled through the teacher. As we continue to work with Reiki, so we evolve and so we are more open to the infinite energies available to us. The only limitations are those we place on ourselves.

For a more complete history of Reiki and the evolution of Holy Fire Reiki, please read these articles:


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