When Kyle was ten years old, we were still living in Napa, and he went through a rough time on a couple of levels. One was that his father had just married a woman who did not treat Kyle very well, and the other was that (due to the lackadaisical attitude of his teacher) he was continually getting bullied by an older kid in school. The circumstances for both of these prevented me from being able to personally witness any of what went on, but I saw the effect that it was having on Kyle and I knew that I had to do something that would support and help him. Regular channels of communication were not working, so I decided to do what turned out to be the best thing I could have possibly done. I armed Kyle with his own support system and the knowledge that he could use it for his own benefit at any time, with any person, and in any circumstance.

As I have written in previous installments of Weaving the Magic Thread, I was very young when I was given the understanding about how energy works in the Universe. This understanding, and the ways of working with it on a personal level, was something that I had to figure out for myself. As life moved on, I became more proficient with my ability to work with the energy. As an adult, I could look back and see quite clearly times when knowing that the energy was there for me to access gave me the strength to persevere through some extremely trying circumstances.

I worked with energy in my own way for a couple of decades before I ever heard the word Reiki. The first person to mention it to me was Pema Chödrön, whom I knew under another name during the time I was living on the Sivananda Ashrams. For a couple of years, she was a dear friend and confidant for me; she played the role of older sister and sweet auntie in my life, and I loved to sit and talk with her. She left for India about the same time that Mike and I left Vrindavan ashram, and I was not ever expecting to hear from her again. Years later, when I was pregnant with Kyle, she called me to say hello as she was in the U.S. on her way to Nova Scotia. In the lengthy talk that we had, she mentioned that her daughter had been studying Reiki; she suggested that I check it out because that she thought that I would like it. As it turned out, it was a few more years before I was able to devote any time to the study of Reiki, and when I finally did, I was amazed at how I felt the energy become less overwhelming and more of a directed energy flow as I used it.

The system for using, understanding and teaching the connection with the Universal Energy was understood by a man in Japan named Usui Mikao, who was a renowned and skilled practitioner of the healing technique, Qi-gong. The system of energetic healing commonly referred to as Reiki is more appropriately called the “Usui System of Natural Healing” (in Japan, the official name is: Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho). Using the term Reiki to define the healing technique seems to be something that was done as The Usui System of Natural Healing was taught in the West. Rei is Japanese for “universal” and ki means “energy”, the same as chi in Chinese and shakti in Sanskrit. To be a student of Usui’s meant dedicating one full day a week to study at his side for two years, after which one could practice on his or her own. Usui kept up his practice and teaching, opening clinics in Tokyo and traveling to other parts of Japan, until he suffered a stroke and died at the age of 62 in 1926.

One of Usui’s students was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi. Dr. Hayashi became a well-known teacher of how to use Reiki, and he worked to refine the system of using and teaching Reiki. It is believed that Hayashi is the one who broke the system of healing into three levels and systematized the hand positions. There were others who studied with Usui, and they also took on students of their own. Hayashi was the one who, somewhat reluctantly, allowed Reiki to be taught to Westerners. The politics that have developed in this country around whose lineage is better, how much time is required to attain Third Degree training (some call it Master Level, others call it Advanced), and what constitutes a teacher are, perhaps, exactly what Hayashi feared in teaching Reiki to the Western culture. Personally, I know the study of Reiki is a deep process. To circumvent or shorten that process is to rob one’s self of valuable learning and growth. And, a shortened process means that the connection and empowerment probably aren’t as strong and beautiful as they could be. The real danger in short-cuts is that, as Reiki gets passed along, it gets weaker and weaker. And, it’s truly a shame that something so wonderful is not being understood to its full potential.

In the mid-1990’s, I had just completed my training to become a Reiki Master Teacher in what is my “American Lineage” when I was fortunate to meet a Reiki Master Teacher who lived in Tokyo and who had studied with another of Usui’s students in a way that was much closer to the source. I apprenticed with him and came back to teaching with a completely renewed perspective. It was the potential of Reiki that I saw as a support system for Kyle as he grew to discover his own potential, and I invited Kyle to be part of one of my first classes.

To say that he took to it like a fish to water would be not only trite, but would diminish the reality of what happened; yet, that is the image that comes closest to describing the natural flow of how he worked with the awareness of the energy as it moved through and around him. The other fish metaphor that comes to mind is the Eastern adage that a fish doesn’t know that it’s in water. I watched Kyle as he became completely connected to the energy in such an unadulterated way (pun not intended, but still significant!), and with such purity of spirit, that I knew that he was able to resource it without having to work through all the constraints that life had placed upon the adult students. I saw Kyle’s complete understanding of all that was energetically around him, even though at the time he did not have the vocabulary to express it. He wasn’t learning Reiki, he was learning himself, and I saw the trust that he had in his own knowing.

I have developed a “final exam” for my Reiki classes. At the very end of the class, I get on the massage table and receive Reiki from all the students at once. In this class, as I closed my eyes and received the Reiki, I felt the energy of all the students standing around me as human-sized flowers, and there was a beautiful butterfly fluttering in and out of them with a trail of light that looked like fairy dust. As we all talked later, I was told that all the adults had stood still around me and that Kyle was moving in between them to different areas of my body. Butterfly Reiki was born.

I was relieved that my intuition to teach him how to work with the energy had been correct. He had learned a way to work with his own inner knowing and strength that would support him through the tough times; more than that, he had a way to transform his way of receiving the energy of those around him and protect himself. He became more self assured and was able to take what control a ten year old could of his life. Kyle’s life did not change; he changed the way he lived it.

When Kyle was with me for the weekend and I had a classes scheduled, he willingly audited them. The students were consistently amazed and thankful for his insights; I knew that his apprenticeship with me had begun. A year later, he asked to take the second level of Reiki. This gave him the understanding of how to send energy over time and distance, and it became an important factor in our lives as we were forced to spend more and more time away from each other. When he came to live with me in Arizona, we taught First and Second Degree classes together on a regular basis. It was nearly a decade before Kyle asked to take the third level of Reiki. By that time, I was living in California again and he was in Colorado. Kyle received his Third Degree up in the mountains above Boulder as the two of us sat beside a flowing stream.

Over the years, we have continued to teach classes together as we have been able to schedule them, and he has been taking over more and more of the actual teaching. A month ago, Kyle taught the First Degree class for the first time on his own, with me only as his assistant. The pride that I felt was due to the fact that he overcame his insecurity over doing it all on his own. What I felt at the fact that he taught the class—was able to teach the class because of his innate knowing and his intuition—had nothing to do with pride. Pride is what the mother in me felt at watching her son accomplish something he’d set out to do. What I felt as his teacher, as an intuitive who has been able to see what this means for his own spiritual growth, that feeling does not have a name. Well, maybe it does. Butterfly Reiki.