The following is a letter from one of the attendees at a recent Animal Reiki class conducted by Bill Stevens. Bill had posted earlier about the first visit to the Popcorn Zoo. This is an account of a return visit by the same two people.
Again I want to thank you for an amazing day at Popcorn Zoo and especially for asking that we be allowed to go into the enclosures to see Princess the camel and the mountain lions!
I know you tried to be with us as much as possible, but I wanted you to get the “inside” story according to me!!
Seeing Caesar the tiger strong and healthy’ still pacing, but chuffing and purring each time he reached the fence where we were standing. He seemed to rub his face against the fence to let us know how content he was. He did not mention feeling stressed about the noise of children to M at all this time;
The parrot in the cage at the office seemed sad, but he did not repeat his story about how someone “took” his wing, so he must have understood the last time we talked to him and explained to him that he was in an accident and it was injured and had to be removed;
There were 3 amazing highlights to our visit:
M and I were standing next to the indoor bird cages and she was giving Reiki to the small female white bird. She said she was not doing well and was taking in a lot of Reiki. One of the birds in that area was loudly squawking and we were telling him to be more quiet and that he was going to be ok. I walked around to the other side of the cages and one of the birds said “hello” – that was a shock because none of them were talking “out loud” before..then I walked around to see the squawking bird and he stopped and also said “hello” to me. Then I walked around to check on M and the sick bird and she was feeling much better and doing a little dance and also said “hello”. I was shocked! M said they talk when I am around.
When I went in with Carol to see Princess the Camel I was in awe of her size and a little intimidated! I have always loved camels and could not believe I was going to see one that close and with no fence! When Carol walked right up to her I was shocked because I had no idea she actually can touch her! Princess was lying down with her legs tucked under her and she still was the size of a car to me! Princess reached up her massive head and began to rub her huge head against Carol’s body while Carol rubbed her. I stood at a distance and was more than happy to just be there, but when Carol said I could come up to Princess and actually touch her I thought it was too good to be true! To actually have contact with such a huge, beautiful creature was humbling..that she would actually allow a stranger to touch her. I wondered if she remembered our animal communication session the last time I saw her! I told M that if she had stood up I would have passed out from sheer excitement of being that close to her!!!
Another highlight was when we were allowed to go into the inner cage of 2 of the mountain lions. The male (non dominant one) named Lance immediately ran up to the fence where M was kneeling down and began rubbing his face against the fence and making a lot of happy noises, He immediately began telling her how happy he was and how wonderful it was to be fed and that he is not hungry anymore, on and on..Then the dominant female Gwen came up – she had been hanging back as would be her dominant nature to check things out from a distance at first before approaching. When she came up to M she did the same face rubbing on the fence, but the male got a little possessive of his conversation he was having with M and slapped the dominant female a few times. It got a little tense and we backed away. It was amazing how the male was so happy to be able to find someone who could hear him talk that he was willing to show aggression against the dominant lion! He kept saying to M ”oh, you can hear me?” and then told her how happy he was over and over.
And the 3rd treat of the day for me was Pixie the little monkey! When we saw her the last time she was shy and told us she did not like children and if we could please throw the peanuts on the top of the cage so they fall down into the cage instead of throwing them against the front of the cage, where they bounce off sometimes and fall to the ground and she can’t reach them! She was very cute and sweet when we saw her then. But this time she gave us an amazing gift! We walked up to her cage and M called her name. She came running over and really did seem to be thrilled to see us! So much so that she sat down right in front of us and began to “perform”! She would raise her eye brows up and down and with her flat top that alone was adorable!! But she added a little tongue wiggle and placed both of her arms across her chest and stood on her hind legs and did a little dance which included ducking her head and putting it to one side and made a cute little noise. This performance went on and on and it seemed the more we talked to her the more she played!
At one point I called Brother Bill and asked him to come over to see her and as soon as Pixie saw him, she stopped everything and turned into a very normal little money and walked to the back of the cage and started grooming herself. She would not make eye contact and stayed there while we walked away. Later before we left I walked up to her cage and there was a girl there who was also getting a “performance” and Pixie continued to perform when I walked up so we started talking and it turns out the girl used to work at the zoo and knows Pixie well and continues to visit her when she can. She said Pixie does her act for people she knows and trusts, so she much have remembered M and I and that was our reward!
There was a sad moment when we were in the kennel and a very sweet looking younger yellow lab with cuts on his face was trying to tell M that a door hit him in the face, but she told me he was actually hit in the face with the door by his owner.. It broke my heart that he did not even know that his owner caused his pain, but I guess that is better for his heart in the long run. I hope someone takes him home soon…
So again, thank you for allowing us to go with you and your animal Reiki class. It was a privilege and an honor to be there.
An Awakening to the True Essence of Reiki
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.
— Anatole France
The animals at the C.A.R.E. Foundation in Apopka,Florida opened my eyes to a deeper meaning of this quote by AnatoleFrance. These sweet animals offered me the opportunity to experience a true connection with them, a heart-to-heart connection that was very powerful. When we truly connect or bond with an animal, we open or awaken our hearts and minds to the many teachings and lessons about life that the animals have for us. I have read this and heard this many times from my Animal Reiki teacher, Kathleen Prasad, but it was the animals at C.A.R.E. that offered me the opportunity to experience the power of this deep connection with the animals. I will be forever grateful to these animals (and to Kathleen) for helping me to understand the true essence of Reiki.
My Reiki journey has taken me down a path of growth which began in 2002 when I had my first Reiki treatment. This path has been like building a puzzle. After I completed my Reiki Master Teacher training in 2005, I lacked confidence and felt that I was missing some important pieces to this puzzle called Reiki. Many of these missing pieces became clearer to me when I began studying Animal Reiki with Kathleen in 2007, and again when I completed my Karuna Reiki© Master training in 2009. The puzzle began to fill in even more when I joined the Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA) in 2010, and learned the Japanese energy system and traditional Japanese Reiki meditations. But, I still felt that there were some missing pieces of the puzzle that I needed to be a more effective practitioner and teacher of Reiki for Animals.
One day, I received an email from Kathleen introducing her Shinpiden and Animal Reiki Teacher class at the C.A.R.E. Foundation. After some consideration, I was inspired that this class would be important for me to advance my Reiki journey. Not only would I have first-hand experience learning the traditional Japanese approach to Reiki, I would also have the opportunity to experience offering Reiki to wild animals. And my intention was that I would learn to be a better Animal Reiki teacher. I did experience all of these things as expected. But I gained so much more from this experience than I could ever have imagined; I finally understand Reiki. The animals at the C.A.R.E. Foundation taught me valuable lessons just by allowing me to share Reiki with them.
Lesson 1: Reiki is about creating a “connection” with the animal(s)
So often, I hear people ask “My animal has this or that issue going on; will you give him or her some Reiki?” I also hear many practitioners talk about “doing Reiki” on an animal (or a human). When I speak to a group about Animal Reiki, I am often asked if I will demonstrate Reiki on an animal. And for our Reiki Shares, we often talk about “Reiki trades”, where I give you some Reiki and then you give me some Reiki.
The lesson I experienced with the animals is that Reiki is so much more than these things. I have learned over the years that Reiki is not about “give” (practitioner) and “take” (client), and that we are not “doing Reiki” on an animal or human. Instead, we want to “Be Reiki” with the animal. As we sit with the animal, we are sharing a space of Reiki energy, a space of balance and harmony. This is not something we can demonstrate; it is something we must experience. It is like a two-way partnership. The more we invite animals in and connect with them, the more we can assist our animals and the more we can learn from them.
Amos is a fun and amusing Spider Monkey whose role is to provide entertainment at the sanctuary and at various shows. He shares an enclosure with another monkey named Rosie. Our exercise was to sit with the animals while doing one of the traditional Japanese meditations. So, I sat facing the enclosure with my chair at a slight angle. I invited both Amos and Rosie to join me in the space of Reiki energy. While Rosie did everything she could to disrupt what was happening, Amos expressed an intense curiosity in me and in the energy.
Amos started by coming to the front of the enclosure near where I sat, pushing himself into the fence and reaching out as if he was trying to touch me. After a few minutes he moved towards the back of the enclosure, and then moved forward again playing with his toys and showing off. He then moved back to the fence, leaning out and chattering at me. This ebb and flow of movement continued for 10 or 15 minutes. Towards the end of our time together, as I was sitting in meditation with my hands over my Hara, I suddenly felt a shift in the energy and looked up. There was Amos sitting on top of one of his toys with his legs crossed and his hands over his Hara staring intently at me. He was mirroring what I was doing. I looked at him, and felt this intense sense of warmth come over me, as we shared a space of harmony, of oneness, of Reiki. Amos created for me an amazing experience in connecting with an animal through Reiki. Thank you Amos!
Macaws and Cockatoos
Before C.A.R.E., I had not yet had an opportunity to share Reiki with birds. A grouping of macaws and cockatoos were most happy to provide me with this experience. I sat next to their enclosure with my chair pointed away at a slight angle, and then invited all of them to join me in a space of Reiki energy. My intention was to clear my mind, remove all expectations and just “Be Reiki” with these lovely macaws and cockatoos for 20-30 minutes. A couple of the cockatoos came forward right away and sat on the perch nearest me for the entire time while the other cockatoos moved forward and then flew back taking turns connecting with me and the energy.
At the same time, the green macaw Zazoo was climbing up and down the fence right beside me. Each time he was at about eye level with me, he would quietly say “hello” to get my attention. As I sat there “Being Reiki” with these sweet birds, the ebb and flow of their movement in the Reiki space was so peaceful; it felt like a well-choreographed dance. Their movements were so smooth and balanced; they were in perfect harmony. As we came to the end of our time together, I realized that all of the birds had settled into their chosen spot in the dance formation. We were all “Being Reiki” together, sharing a space of harmony and tranquility.
Lesson 2: Always invite the animals to join us in Reiki
When we experience Reiki I, we learn about the importance of self-treatments, and we learn to offer Reiki treatments to other humans. And those of us who experience Animal Reiki learn to offer Reiki treatments to animals. Self, humans, and animals – each treatment is distinct.
The lesson I experienced with the animals at C.A.R.E is that our daily meditations and practice and our treatments with other humans will be so much more powerful if we invite the animals to join us in Reiki. The animals are so much more deeply connected to the energy than we are, and they are so open to connecting with us and helping us. All we need to do is invite them in. If we sit with an animal and connect with an animal during our daily meditations, self-treatments and treatments with other people, the animals will help us to more deeply connect with the energy. When we regularly connect with animals by inviting them to join us in Reiki, we are not only assisting ourselves and/or another human, we are also supporting the animals in whatever they need. And to bring this full circle, the animals are helping us and teaching us valuable lessons. This really is a win-win-win!
One of our assignments was to pair up with another class member, sit with an animal and offer each other a head and shoulder Reiki treatment. My partner and I sat with Lola, a sweet North American Black Bear. As I began to offer Reiki to my partner, I invited Lola to join us in the energy. At first Lola sat back against a wood box in the middle of her enclosure checking us out and deciding if she wanted to be a part of what we were doing. Over the course of the treatment, as Lola slowly inched forward, I could feel her beginning to connect, the energy becoming warmer and warmer as the connection deepened. Lola eventually moved up closer and sat on a metal tube that was next to the fence in the corner. At some point, my partner and I traded places. As we continued, we could feel the energy becoming stronger and more intense. By the end of our time, Lola had climbed on the fence while sitting on the edge of her pool to get as close to us as possible. She was sprawled out almost as wide she could get and moving her head back and forth in delight. She had truly relaxed and let go; she was very content and at peace.
Thank you to Lola for this beautiful experience. By connecting with my classmate and me as we offered Reiki to each other, Lola helped us create a more open space of healing, of harmony, of balance that we were all sharing together. As our connection with Lola deepened so did our connection with the energy and with each other. By inviting Lola to join us in Reiki, we not only enhanced our human-human treatments, we also assisted Lola in whatever healing she needed at that moment.
I had so many similar experiences over the three days at C.A.R.E.; there were the tigers Pumpkin and Tigger, Sheene the cougar, Quinn the black bear, the red foxes Butch and Sundance, the tufted capuchins Andy and Dolly, the barnyard animals, the alligators, the pigeons, the tortoises and many others. My heart is filled with gratitude to all of these sweet creatures for being so open to connecting with me, and for teaching me the power of connection through Reiki. My heart and mind have awakened to the true essence of Reiki, and to the many ways that animals are our partners in our Reiki journeys.
Ann Noyce, Animal Reiki Teacher
Lions, giant tortoises, herds of wildebeest, eland, kudu & zebra as well as parades of elephants roam the dusty, semi-arid landscape of Addo National Elephant Park. Just an hour east of the coastal town of Port Elizabeth in the southeastern part of South Africa, it seems an unlikely place for any species to thrive. Indeed, it’s the home to the endangered dung beetle. During my visit I didn’t think to offer Reiki to the beetles, but I did have an opportunity to offer Reiki to one animal in need.
Throughout the Park are posted signs along the paved roads advising – “Do Not Leave Your Vehicle”. While there is one prey species that live in the Park (lions), the rule of not exiting your vehicle is more a case of respecting the wildlife in their home, not necessarily for your own safety. They are used to seeing cars and smelling exhaust, but these are wild animals that have not had encounters with our species. The Park isn’t a zoo or even game reserve – it’s the native habitat for animals that live there. We just happened to have a nice view via the network of paved roads through the Park.
So we were shocked early one morning when we saw three people standing in a wide open desolate area, with not even a shrub nearby. Surely they were Park Rangers we thought from a distance. But as we pulled closer, we saw that these people were not in the green Park Ranger uniform. And there were several parked vehicles in the nearby parking area that was marked as a “viewing site”. The people were splattered with mud and were huddled together talking to each other.
We pulled over and got out the binoculars to get a closer look. They went into action bending over and trying to work at something. They stood up to confer again. Now we could see the long neck of an ostrich, the only part of bird visible. The rest of her body was buried in a mud hole. Again they tried to get traction in the mud as they gripped the ostrich from underneath each giant wing, and it looked like they might succeed as part of the bird emerged, but then it slipped back into the mud.
This was repeated several times but to no avail. The woman in the group ran back to her car and then went back to the mud hole with something. It was a pair of pants, which they put at the base of the ostrich’s neck and then wrapped a leg over each wing.
Ostriches live in herds of 5 or more, so this one had clearly been abandoned. How long had he been stuck? A grown ostrich can weigh anywhere from 150 – 300 lbs. My friend and I debated leaving our vehicle to go help those who were struggling to free the ostrich. I had on sandals so wouldn’t be much help in the mud. I decided to offer Reiki to the situation for the highest outcome for all involved.
While my friend recorded the action with her camera, I closed my eyes and silently drew the symbols and repeated their names to help me go into a quiet space and focus on creating an energetic connection to the ostrich. I quieted my mind and tried to be open with no expectations, focusing just on the energy and not any desired outcome. I set the intention for the highest good for the ostrich (and the safety of the people) and let go.
After about 15 minutes, my friend shouted “They did it!” As I opened my eyes (and abruptly ended the Reiki session), I saw the stunned bird take her first steps. She took off running a bit awkwardly with her mud-covered wings weighing her down. She was free!
Back at the camp later, we shared the story and chatted with others who had also been watching from their cars. While there was agreement that what the people did was heroic, there was debate about whether it was the right thing to do. Comments about survival of the fittest, interfering with the pristine order of nature, human intrusion leaving no part of the animal world untouched, breaking Park rules, and leaving nature alone were tossed about in judgment.
Unlike this analytical discussion, offering Reiki had provided me a direct energetic experience of the situation where there wasn’t a need to intellectualize it. I realized that there is no separation between “us” as people and the rest of nature – humans are a species of the animal kingdom, we are mammals, we are nature, we are all connected, we are all one.
The experience showed me how the Five Precepts interrelate with one another. Just for today….the individuals who rescued the ostrich weren’t concerned about the consequences of their action (getting muddy, breaking Park rules, being attacked by animals), they were focused on one thing – getting the ostrich out of the mud hole. There was no need for anger at their breaking the rules. There was no need to worry for their safety. They were being true to their way as individuals by showing compassion for themselves (by following their hearts) and the ostrich.
I was reminded of the integration of the Three Diamonds –earth, heaven and heart energy centers. The people were being flexible (not bounded by the imposed rules about staying in your car), yet firm (being practical and using a pair of pants to aid the rescue) and compassionate (taking action on the behalf of another being in need).
I appreciated the opportunity to observe the unique situation and to share Reiki during the rescue. But even more interesting to me is that my gratitude continues to grow as I reflect on the experience. Animals and Reiki – the gifts that keep on giving!
It was Christmas Eve and I had been asked by my husband to go out and buy vegetables at 5am for our Christmas Dinner, as I drove to the supermarket I heard Christmas Carols playing, the roads were icy and I had a real feeling of happiness and Christmas Cheer. Fighting my way through all of the crowds I managed to purchase what I needed and afterwards sat in my car for a while reflecting on my mornings work . It was at this time I thought of Sue at Remus and wanted to send her a text wishing her Happiness at Christmas and to ask her how she was. I had been flat out at work for the last few weeks and had not been able to get to Remus to offer Reiki to the animals, and have to say I had been feeling a little guilty about it. Sue as usual was up very early and said that one of the horses was suffering really badly with Laminitis in the cold spell that we were having and may have to be put to sleep that morning.
Instead of making my way home I drove straight to Remus, I was the first one there and had time to marvel at the beauty of this place. The snow was deep in the fields as the sun glistened against the snow, I could hear the animals stiring in their pens waiting for their breakfast to arrive. The energy was calm, beautiful and serene. Sue arrived shortly after and we spoke about Bimbo, Laminitis can be brought on by the cold weather horses can get stressed and this can aggravate the condition. Bimbo also suffers with metabolic syndrome which can be caused by too much food and too much sugar in the food and being stabled too long. It is a syndrome which Remus Horse Sanctuary are experts at treating, understanding and have a great knowledge and depth in this field.
I entered the stable with Sue and saw Bimbo laying down, as he tried to get up he had difficulty moving his left back leg. I noticed high up in the corner of the stable a heater. I asked Sue about it and she said it had just been fitted recently to help Bimbo in the cold weather. In the stable too was Ruby another Shetland who is Bimbo’s pair bond. I am sure that in their life time they had spent very few days apart. Their relationship was strong and if Bimbo was to be put to sleep today Sue felt that it would not be long after that Ruby would follow as the shock to her system would be too much to bear.
I stayed with Bimbo and Ruby and offered them Reiki, the energy was very gentle. I often wonder, when the energy is so gentle if they are receiving the Reiki but always remember in my heart to ask that they receive what ever it is that they need at this exact moment in time. After a while Bimbo started to munch at his delicious breakfast and Ruby moved around the stable. I just felt that by filling the stable with Reiki energy each pony could choose. Some times when I offer Reiki, the reaction is so clear to see but often too the reaction is so very subtle. It is at these times that I have no place for ego as I think what’s best for Bimbo, it is just for me to ’Be’ and to trust that Reiki will go to where ever it is needed. After about half an hour a knock on the stable door, indicated for me to stop as the vet had just arrived. I said my goodbyes to Bimbo and Ruby and felt such sadness fill my heart. Leaving Remus that day, the reality of what they have to deal with on a daily basis hit me, the scale of responsibility and care of the animals is enormous.
Driving home, with everywhere filled with the magic of Christmas Eve I prayed for a miracle, I did not feel I was being greedy I just felt it so unfair for Bimbo to be put to sleep. As I entered my home laden with vegetable bags Sue phoned and said that Bimbo was able to fight another day. Yay! My angels where listening to me that day. I have been to Remus every week since and have offered Reiki to Bimbo and Ruby, always the energy is so gentle. Bimbo looks so much better, he will need to have an operation soon which Remus are trying to raise money for, but his future at this very moment in time looks bright.
by Caroline Thomas
I went to the zoo last week with two animal communicators who have extraordinary gifts. We visited Popcorn Zoo in Forked River, NJ spending time with an exceptionally compassionate man, John Bergman, who has been involved with the Humane Society for over thirty years and has helped create the zoo over this span of time as a variety of exotic and other animals came under his care.
I am completely indebted to the two animal communicators, who wish to be anonymous, for this brief submission and my sister, Agnes, who took pictures during our visit. I am going to let the conversations between the communicators and the animals tell their own story with an occasional picture. Enjoy!!
I am going to depict the conversations as received from Communicator M who is very attuned to what animals wish to communicate and Communicator K who has the gift to speak to the animal and be understood by them.
One of the first animals we met was the camel, Princess. It was a very hot and humid day and she had severe arthritis in her legs. She was just baking in the hot sun. And just looked totally thirsty
K: [Encouraging her to get some water] You must get some water for yourself. Get up and get some water!
M: You fetch me some water please.
K: No, I can’t get inside to fetch you water, you must get up yourself.
M: [Slight movement of the head looking over at the water.]
K: You need to do better than that. Go load up for the day. [All to no avail – effort just too much.]
An Emu was strutting up and down along the cage and we were wondering what she was up to.
M: I want the red box people. Where are the red box people? [No one in our party had any red box filled with popcorn.]
People eventually came with popcorn but she did not have an interest in them as they offered her popcorn.
M: Look at how pretty I am!!
As she continued to strut up and down along the fence.
M:Where are the red box people?
Seemingly she just wanted admiration from the Red Box People.
Next we visited a horse.
M: I want some carrots!!
K: I will go and find some carrots for you.
Later K told the manager about the horse’s wish for carrots who got in touch with one of his staff to get her some carrots.
M: My butt itches!
Bob the Macaw parrot was in a beautiful large cage at the office entrance and where the previous dedicated owner still visits him. He had often let him out of the cage when he was doing his work in the garden and one day the parrot had flown into a tool shed and somehow dislodged some tools which caused him serious injury and one of his wings needed to be amputated.
M: Things came crashing down. Things came crashing down. And they took my wing.
K: No one took your wing. When things came crashing down it injured your wing and it had to be amputated. This is what made you better.
Greta was a breeder who had all her puppies taken away from her and who escaped. She was brought to the attention of the Humane Society and John found it very difficult to catch her. It took many weeks and much patience. She was very distrustful of everyone. John kept her by his side in his office and she has become very attached to him.
M: She is afraid that you will leave her. When you go home at night she is very fearful that you will not return.
Later the Manager wrote us and told us Greta was feeling more comfortable every day. He had more staff walk her so that she would get use to others but still does not like to leave his side. But he did have her with another dog and she was able to keep her focus on that dog and-not where he was. Those things seem to be the key and-he thinks he has found her a forever home.
A chicken was walking around the zoo grounds looking for peanuts.
M: Where are the peanuts? [Looking for peanuts although it is making her feathers fall out.]
K: [Trying to give her popcorn.]
M: That’s popcorn. Where are the peanuts?
K: Referred to her as a rooster.
M: Quite insulted. [M tells K that she’s a chicken.]
K: Referred to her as a chicken
M: Still insulted. [Oops! She wants to be referred to as Miss Hen.]
K: Only when she was called Miss Hen, did she look at K.
Just three weeks previously the lioness, Nyla, had lost her companion, Porsche. She was seriously ill and when they decided to do X-rays and blood work to determine the extent of her illness and a possible way to treat her, she died in the process.
M: Porsche wants to thank you for letting her go.
M. Nyla just wants security and sameness – doesn’t want any changes right now. Does not want a new friend now.
Cesar is from the same family as Dante, another Tiger in the Zoo. He was in need of special care which he was able to receive at a sanctuary at Texas A & M before coming to the Popcorn Zoo where he continued to improve daily.
He is the youngest Tiger at the Zoo. Many kids were surrounding the fence where Cesar was and just being kids but Cesar was not happy with them. He began pacing up and down along the fence.
M: I don’t like things thrown at me. [Kids were throwing popcorn into the fence.]
M: Nervous at the loud, high voices of the children and was pacing because the noise stressed him out.
He began to eat the grass by the fence
M: I need to calm my nerves.
Another tiger nearby was inside on this hot humid day and we called for him to come out.
K: Come on out and take a a swim in the pool. There is a nice breeze out here.
M: It is cooler inside
At first we thought he had air-conditioning inside, but later found they had fans.
Later the manager John came out and called to him.
Amazingly he came right out and up to the fence.
M: You are on the wrong side.
There were two fences, an outside fence and an inside fence. John then took us between the two fences and Dante laid down and put his body right next to the fence where John could scratch his back and neck.
M: [He then purred.] Thank you very much.
After John left and we had come back out of the fence space between the fences some children began to mimic sounds of a tiger or lion roaring.
M: I don’t sound like that.
What a great day. We were all so grateful to all the animals and especially to John Bergmann, manager of the zoo. He was so helpful and gracious to us and wanted the e-mails of the animal communicators to keep in touch with them when needed. And what a validation of the wonderful work he has been doing in the zoo. No animals even hinted at any issues concerning their care.
I met Missy during my first month as a volunteer at Horse Haven of Tennessee. Following my volunteer shifts, I am able to do Reiki work with the horses that our barn manager feels would benefit. I had been primarily working with a Hackney pony, Napoleon, who had a severe mistrust of most people with the exception of our barn manager. He had been coming along nicely, so when a new group of rescue horses arrived, I began to work with them as well. The first horse I chose to work with was Missy. As I entered her stall, I realized that this was the type of moment I had most feared experiencing since starting my work at Horse Haven: she was severely emaciated, weak and blind in one eye. She openly welcomed me into her space. She had been munching on a large pile of hay, deeply contented. You could see some relief in her face to have clean water and probably what seemed to be a never ending supply of hay.
I began to let the Reiki flow from the corner of her stall. She stopped her munching to shift her stance in my direction, and as the minutes rolled by she began to lower her head into a relaxed position. After some time, she approached me and put her head right into my hands. This was a new experience for me, because Napoleon had exclusively preferred to experience Reiki without contact. Missy directed my hands to her blind side, clearly wanting to feel the Reiki near her blind eye and on this side of her head. After a while, she stepped forward and leaned into me so I could place my hands on her chest and shoulder. She gradually repositioned herself, even actually turning around, so I could place my hands on the sharp prominent bones of her spine and hind quarters. It was in this very moment, while working with such a trusting and beautiful though severely neglected soul, that I realized that the Reiki was lifting me up and far away from my fear and sorrow. The Reiki was allowing me to hold the light for Missy, creating the healing space that she desperately needed. It was even more amazing in that I felt almost a forgiveness pouring out of her heart toward human kind and to those that had abused her. She could see so far beyond this, even in her weakened condition, to allow another human to share her space, remaining fully open to the experience that unfolded between us.
I thanked Missy for giving me the privilege to create a healing space for her with Reiki and for the healing that I received as well. As I said good bye to her, I was already looking forward to our next session the following week. I did distant Reiki work with her on the following two days and felt a connection with her and acceptance of the Reiki treatments. The following Sunday when I arrived for my weekly shift, my heart dropped when I saw that her stall was empty. I frantically sought out my shift leader, who sadly informed me that Missy had colicked on Thursday night and despite all efforts to save her, she died around midnight that night. She was surrounded by the volunteers on duty that night that stayed on to assist the veterinary team. She died peacefully, surrounded with the love and caring that had been absent from her life for far too long. I still think of Missy to this day and feel so blessed to have known this beautiful spirit, even for such a short time. Her memory will remain with me always.
I received the most wonderful story from a Reiki colleague Martha Wewer, who volunteers regularly at Carolina Tiger Rescue in North Carolina. I am so pleased to present this story to all of you. It is an amazing lesson in animal awareness of the energy, and the connections and trust that can be created, even with wild animals. A big key to Martha’s success here, is her respectful approach, which all animals appreciate. Working with these incredible animals, Martha is also learning the important lesson in letting go of our expectations and learning to trust in the energy. Enjoy reading this heartwarming story!
With Animal Reiki Blessings,
Kathleen Prasad, SARA President
You Do Reiki on WHAT?!?
By Martha K. Wewer
I started volunteering at Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, NC because my husband, Tim, took a position as an intern animal keeper at the facility. This wonderful non-profit sanctuary is dedicated to saving big and small cats while educating the public of the natural history and plight of these amazing animals. During his orientation the animal curator, Kathryn, had mentioned to my husband that there was a volunteer who did Reiki on the some of the cats. Tim was thrilled and told Kathryn, “my wife does Reiki and loves animals! Maybe she could help!” Of course I was beyond thrilled, I mean, who wouldn’t be? I would be spending time with tigers! Then nervousness, anxiousness and doubt set in. How would I approach this situation? (Carolina Tiger Rescue has a strict “hands-off” policy with the animals; even the ones who have been reared at the facility are not to be touched out of respect for the animal and the safety of the volunteer). What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I didn’t help the animals enough? What if it had been too long? What if I was too emotionally drained to be of any use?
About a year and a half ago, a personal tragedy in mine and my husband’s lives caused me to be angry, sad, anxious, and depressed. I lost faith in myself and the universe around me. I had even walked away from Reiki. Every new opportunity in my life now was colored by my intense grief. But I was so excited to spend even a minute at the Rescue that I swallowed my fears and trusted in myself and the Reiki.
Tim decided that the two animals who would benefit most from twice weekly Reiki sessions were Nitro Tiger and Reagandale Ocelot. Nitro Tiger (and his enclosure mate, Apache Tiger) came to the Rescue in April of this year from a junkyard in Kansas. Upon arriving at the Rescue, it became obvious to the keepers that Nitro was blind. Despite his rough start in life and his disability, he would “chuffle” (a tigers way of saying “hello” – sort of a low, quick purring noise) at the keepers. Nitro seemed to know he was safe but he was still fearful and anxious at times, particularly when the pickup trucks used to deliver the food would drive past his enclosure. He would begin to pace frantically and turn in circles, clearly in distress. The goal was to provide healing to Nitro in hopes that he would become more and more comfortable in his surroundings.
Nitro the Tiger
My second “client” was Reagandale Ocelot, who was born at the Rescue. She suffered an injury as a kitten that damaged her left front leg, causing her to limp and stumble while running, climbing and jumping – all things that ocelots do a lot of. The goal with Reagandale was to provide some relief to her arthritic leg and increase her quality of life.
I had read through The Animal Reiki Handbook and practiced on myself, Tim and our dogs but let me tell you, when the day came to head out to the Rescue, I was still nervous. As we approached Reagandale’s enclosure, I took a deep breath, placed my towel on the ground in front of her, sat down, and asked her permission to begin. I recited the 5 Reiki principles, placed my hands palms up on my knees and began the session. In a matter of a minute or so, my hands got so warm! I was tempted to open my eyes and see how Reagandale was reacting but I resisted. One of the most wonderful things about Reagandale is she purrs…loudly…and intensely. I could practically track her by the noise she was making and boy, she was active! She would sit in front of me at the fence, run up her ramp to her perch, climb onto her den box…
Martha offers Reiki to Reagandale
After 15 minutes or so, I didn’t hear her purring anymore so I opened my eyes. She had retreated to the back of the enclosure so I took that as a sign from her that she was done with her Reiki treatment. I thanked her and got up. Tim had been observing us and he was amazed. He had never seen Reagandale so active! In subsequent sessions, keepers and staff would observe my Reiki treatments with Reagandale and they would say the same thing, she was definitely livelier and more energetic then they had ever seen her.
We headed over to Nitro’s enclosure. I sat cross-legged on my towel in front of the enclosure and asked his permission begin. I could hear Nitro pacing back and forth in front of me. Like with Reagandale, I could track him with my ears. I was concentrating on his fear and anxiety and hoping that by sending him waves of love, he would settle down. I heard Nitro continue to pace and then he stopped. Nothing. No noise. I opened one eye and there he was, all 400 pounds, right in front of me, pawing at the ground. There was no aggression, just curiousness…I knew he couldn’t see me but he knew I was there (for the record, tigers don’t rely heavily on their sense of smell and I had been instructed not to wear anything scented so he wasn’t just smelling me). We continued that way for the rest of the session – Nitro would move in and out of my direct line of “sight,” stopping to paw at me occasionally. Finally, after about 20 minutes, he moved to the back of the enclosure and lay down. I took that as a sign that he was done and thanked him and got up. Tim looked at me in wonder and said he had never seen Nitro paw at the fence like that. I left the Rescue that day, just ecstatic.
Martha offers Reiki to Nitro
Over the course of the past 3 months, I have been volunteering with Nitro and Reagandale twice a week. I would love to say that Nitro is no longer fearful of the trucks or that he has stopped pacing but that is not the case. There are days when Nitro wants nothing to do with me and the sessions are short. Other days, he will lie down in front of me during the session and it will last 25-30 minutes. I can report that an unexpected benefit of my sessions with Nitro is that shy and protective Apache, Nitro’s enclosure mate, has become more and more present in our sessions. He had been rarely seen outside of his den box with the exception of meal time, but during my sessions with Nitro he will often lie down several feet from us and watch me. Only 2 weeks ago, I sat down to begin work with Nitro and Apache stood up in his den box, looked directly at me and walked straight to where I sat, put his face right in front of mine, and began to “chuffle.” It was the most unbelievable experience to have a 400 pound tiger walk directly at you, staring you in the eyes.
Martha offers Reiki to Apache
My experiences have been the same with Reagandale as with Nitro. Some days my hands are so warm from the energy she is taking and other days, while she’s friendly and purring, she doesn’t seem to need the energy as much. My ego wants to “cure” them, to “fix” them both and I get frustrated that there is not some more obvious break though that I can point to and say, “I did that!” However, I’m trusting in myself again and trusting in the Reiki. I know both animals are taking from our sessions what they need, when they need it and using in whatever way they need to. While I struggle with my desire to make everything “perfect” for these cats, I remain unbelievably grateful to have the opportunity to try.