Glastonbury | Life | New Age

Reiki (The Woo Chronicles)

By on March 2, 2018

I trained in Reiki and I still think it’s woo.

Reiki – It won’t heal you. But it might make you feel better.

Like so many things that claim to have an ancient and noble past, Reiki is actually fairly modern, having been invented by Mikau Usui in 1922.  I trained as a practitioner of Reiki circa 2001 and was told a pretty way-out story about how he discovered Reiki through a strange mystical experience.  I did ask at the time if this involved mushrooms. It didn’t go down well. Whether this story was indeed the case, or merely the teacher’s own interpretation of the events, remains unclear.

The central beliefs of Reiki are as follows:

  • There is a universal, never-ending energy that can be channelled for healing.
  • Anyone can access this energy providing they are ‘attuned’ by a Reiki Master.
  • Energy flows through the hands when the practitioner places them on or near the patient.
  • Energy is intelligent, diagnosis is not required, energy automatically diagnoses, treats and heals the patient.

There are 3 levels of Reiki.  Each requires a different level of attunement.  You can expect to pay hundreds of pounds in order to become a Level 3 (Master) Practitioner.

  • Level 1 – learn 12 hand positions on the body through which you can channel the Reiki energy.  You are just a conduit for the energy.  If your hands feel hot – it’s working.
  • Level 2 – you learn the special ‘secret’ Reiki symbols, distance healing and healing by “listening to your inner voice”.
  • Level 3 – Reiki Master.  Usually over a year to learn.  You learn to embody Reiki Energy and attune and teach others.

I have particular issues with the claims of distance healing:

Some Reiki practitioners also claim that their practice can be carried out from a distance, thus obviating any contact save you sending the nice man or lady your credit card number while he or she heals you from across an ocean.


Reiki is not based on any form of rational science – it is the epitome of woo – all clinical research has shown that it probably won’t do you any harm, which is probably its only saving grace.  It is not an effective treatment for any medical condition at all.  All of the evidence for Reiki is anecdotal, there is no objective scientific evidence that Reiki actually works, or is any better than just getting a good old-fashioned massage. It is extremely relaxing and in that way, at least, Reiki can and does make people feel better.

Overpriced & Unregulated

Reiki hand positionsI achieved Reiki II in 2 weekends. If I’d been willing to give up a year of weekends and pay out a lot of money, I could have become a Reiki Master myself, set up courses, a therapy centre and start charging for treatments.

I later discovered that the symbols and hand positions were ‘secret’ so people could charge a lot of money for sharing them.  Of course, had I been a tad savvier I would have saved all of that hard earned cash and just learnt the hand positions and symbols online, printed off a load of certificates, made up a lineage and called myself a Reiki Master.

Unethical? Yes. Illegal? Nope.

Currently in the UK we have voluntary self regulation for complementary therapies i.e. it is not compulsory. It is the person doing the Reiki who is regulated, not the Reiki itself, i.e. it is how they work and their interaction with the public.

The UK Reiki Federation

I’m not sure what credentials they have to actually regulate anyone but you can, of course, join (for a fee):

We are an independent federation of individuals who have been attuned to Reiki, with the objective of providing support and guidance to Reiki Professionals and to the public, with particular reference to education and training, and the public practice of Reiki.  (UK Reiki Federation)

This is obviously a group of people who care deeply about what they do and want to make this safe for everyone, especially the public.  They work closely with another organisation – The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

We were set up by the government to protect the public. We do this by providing a UK register of complementary health practitioners. Protection of the public is our sole purpose.

We set the standards that practitioners need to meet to get onto and then stay on the register. All CNHC registrants have agreed to be bound by the highest standards of conduct and have registered voluntarily. All of them are professionally trained and fully insured to practice.


The key wording here is, ‘registered voluntarily‘. That said, the  CNHC at least tries to provide a standard and a way of checking up on various practitioners, but this is a voluntary process. If someone chooses not to register, they can still practice Reiki if they want to.  Also, it is not clear what powers the CNHC have if you don’t meet their standards- they can throw you out I guess, but they have no legal right to stop you plying your trade.

Both groups essentially seem to be made up of good people who believe in this stuff and want to stop people from preying on the vulnerable.

I’ve known several Reiki practitioners who pride themselves on giving good quality, low-cost sessions to people without making outlandish claims so I know these people do exist.  Often these are people who have a deep-seated sense of service to the community. Sadly there are always the bad apples and some people are being charged – sometimes a lot of money – based on claims that something will ‘heal’ them when it won’t and this is, by definition,  preying on the vulnerable.  Far better to just say that it won’t heal you but an hour of blissful relaxation and having the complete focus of another person might do you the world of good.

It is worthwhile noting that the Advertising Standards Authority (in the UK) will give you a damn good slapped bottom if you make any kind of medical claims for Reiki, and rightly so.  However you might choose to market it, scientific it ain’t and at present, it remains yet another example of pseudoscience; basing an entire industry on the healing powers of a Universal Life Force which cannot be shown by any empirical means to actually exist.

It’s just my opinion!  Read my disclaimer!

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Glastonbury | Life | Video

Reality vs Delusion

By on November 26, 2017

Living in a town where I hear these arguments all the time, often from people who claim to be “keeping it real” I really felt the need to share this excellent video on.  Reality may not be pleasant, but it sure beats being delusional and blaming the victim.

First written in 2013

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Stalking – Or How Not to Find a Soulmate

By on November 22, 2017

Ok, so I accept that some weeks you have to have wacko-Wednesday.  Somehow or other I got embroiled in this strange conversation with a man about the use of psychic self-defence in cases where someone has been forced to “sever a soul connection.”

For those of you who are blissfully unaware of these concepts a couple of definitions:

A soulmate (or soul mate) is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity. This may involve similarity, love, romance, intimacy, sexuality, sexual activity, spirituality, or compatibility and trust. (Wikipedia)


A Soul Connection is said to be the deepest, most meaningful connection, with the meeting of souls over many lifetimes.

You get the drift.

GlastonburyThis particular person was convinced he had a soul connection with his soulmate over the course of many, many lifetimes.  Apparently, this was confirmed by a charlatan expert in the area of past life regressions and the recovery of memories from our long past lives. There was, in fact, a whole backstory involving marriages, attempted suicides, and so on.  All very romantic I’m sure until one day it all took a turn for the worst when following a trip to an ancient stone circle the woman informed him that “Archangel Michael has severed our soul connection”.

To most people that would say “go away” very loudly but no, instead he moved to the town in which she lived and joined several clubs of which she is was a member.  She runs away from him if she sees him in the street.

Now apparently, this is all about reconnecting with his soulmate and his love with whom the charlatan expert had probably taken a lot of money to “confirm” he was “meant to be” with.  At this point, it all started to get even more creepy.  But I think it illustrates the point that sometimes telling people what they want to hear for money can have some pretty serious consequences.    Including it seems a form of new-age stalking.

What’s sad is that he cannot see that this is not love….love is reciprocated.  If someone loves you and wants to be with you they don’t run away from you in the street and destroy their own social life just to avoid you.




Originally posted in 2014

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Glastonbury | Paganism

Belief, Delusion or Money Making Opportunity?

By on September 13, 2017

I just want to be clear at the outset here that this blog is not aimed at any one individual, neither am I opposing people charging for ‘spiritual’ services. The mainstream religions all have a fee system for certain services and I don’t see why Paganism should be any different.

If someone wants to spend half an hour being entertained by a Tarot or Rune reading, they want to learn a set of skills, enjoy a relaxing Reiki session or gain some new insight or information about a subject someone is well versed in then I think it is reasonable that they pay for that and for the persons time. Such services can have benefits on multiple levels; a service is received, information imparted and social contacts and connections are forged.

I know that ‘healing’ services can be a bit of a moot point with some, however giving someone a personal treatment which leaves them with a greater sense of well being is laudable, and providing that no one is  claiming results that they can’t give then I believe it is reasonable that the recipient expect to reimburse someone for the time and energy they are taking either financially or through a mutually beneficial exchange.

The thing I find harder to accept is the attitude that people can say and do whatever they like with no consideration to the effect that has on others and at times specifically with the intention of making sometimes quite large sums of money out of people who are often quite vulnerable.

Personally I care not one jot if you want to believe you are a direct descendant of Buddha, the Virgin Mary, Merlin, King Arthur, the Faerie Queen or a pink unicorn. I don’t care if you think you are from Atlantis, an alien with extra DNA, an Ascended Master or the reincarnation of Jesus. Frankly, if you want to live a fantasy that’s your prerogative and all the time you are not doing anyone any harm then please do carry on. It lends some extra charm to the town that we all enjoy.

If however it starts to impact on other, often vulnerable people then I believe the line has been crossed. If people offer services based on claims which can simply not be substantiated with the sole purpose of parting people from (sometimes rather large sums of) money, then I think it becomes everyone’s business and everyone’s responsibility.

It’s all very well to live and let live but how long is it OK to simply remain silent and support things which could be called unintentionally delusional at best and duplicitous at worst?  Part of most Pagan beliefs is that of ‘service’ – service to one’s community, to the land, to the Earth and to Gods and Goddesses (in some cases). How is it of ‘service’ to anyone when we fail to challenge what could be construed as taking advantage of folks who come here seeking some meaning or deep truth?

I know plenty of people in town who have refused to give services to people, which has ended up costing them in lost revenue, on the basis of ethics so this is not something that happens across the board.  But some of the ridiculously outlandish claims (accompanied by the proportionate fees) coupled with some dodgy pseudo science to back it up with that get advertised in and around the town  seemingly with impunity can sometimes beggar belief.  Some of these are simply hilarious, but others could actually have some quite negative effects.

It is disheartening to observe that when anyone challenges  such claims or asks for an explanation instead  of just accepting ‘their truth’ at face value it can often be portrayed as oppressive, negative, nasty and in some cases akin to hanging or burning witches (I kid you not). To make any remark even in a fun or amusing way is potentially to court controversy in Glastonbury in a way that you would not experience anywhere else.

Truth is not an absolute. Often people believe strange stuff – I’m pretty sure I do as far as other people are concerned.  The difference is that I accept that these are just my beliefs and I am not expecting people to pay me huge sums of money to perform feats of metaphysical derring-do on the basis of these beliefs.




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