Mission: To dissolve barriers between realms and pull the stars within reach for all who desire to touch them.

(In the 34 years since this article was published, millions ofReiki healers have been initiated all around the globe.)

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
 Rumi

virginia samdahl interview

Reiki: An Ancient Art

By Jonna Rae Bartges

(Psychic Dimensions Magazine; September 1978)


The totality of creation is imbued with universal life energy – swirling electric masses of power waiting to be tapped into and focused.  In this vast reservoir of strength rests the potential for the perfection of the human body, and the force which is the key to Reiki healing.  The following is an exclusive interview with Virginia W. Samdahl, the first occidental to obtain the rank of Reiki Master in 2,500 years.  Mrs. Samdahl was interviewed as she taught a class in Reiki healing at the National Southeastern Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship Retreat at Guilford College in August of 1978.


For thousands of years, the Reiki method of natural healing was a mystery to the western world.  The secrets of the practice lay buried in the Sutras, forgotten even by the Zen Buddhist monks who once practiced the system.


Reiki (RAY-key), the Japanese words for Universal Life Energy, is transferred from Master to student through the meditation and touch of the Master.  After the transfer, the student is then able to heal without altering his state of consciousness by gently placing his hands on the patient.


A Master’s touch kindles the Universal Life Energy which lies dormant in every person and allows the healing force to pour through the student’s hands and restore the body to its original perfect state.


So simple and efficient was the system that its Eastern practitioners eventually abandoned it, finding that Reiki given away made beggars of people.  Once a person had been given perfect health through the touch of a Reiki healer, the person began to expect that the necessities of life would likewise be given to him, with no effort on his part.  An exchange between the healer and the healee was necessary for the system to be truly effective. So the monks, realizing that the world could not yet understand the law of exchange, abandoned Reiki.


It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the system was rediscovered by Dr. Mikao Usui, president of the Christian University in Osaka, Japan.  During a graduation, a student asked him why Christianity did not teach its ministers to heal.  After all, every master who walked on Earth knew the secrets of restoring perfection.  Usui couldn’t answer, but the question spurred him on to an international search into the roots of every major religion to discover why the greatest schools of religious thought did not instruct students in the specifics of alleviating pain and suffering.


After years of intensive research and meditation, Usui rediscovered Reiki through a blinding flash of insight.  As he ran down a mountainside after his sudden realization, he stubbed his toe and immediately healed it when he grasped his foot.  Then he instantly healed a young girl’s toothache by gently holding her face in his hands.  And his next miracle was healing a Bishop at a Zen temple after the holy man had suffered a gall bladder attack.


Drunk with joy of his new and powerful knowledge, Usui made the same mistake the monks centuries earlier had done – he began healing indiscriminately, never asking for an exchange.  Usui was horrified to discover that after people were miraculously healed, they became beggars, just as the people had done in the time of the ancient monks.


But instead of abandoning the Reiki method in this age, Usui carefully began selecting students and teaching them both the Reiki system and the necessity of an exchange between healer and patient.  And this time, Reiki began a slow but steady growth.


Meanwhile, in the United States, healers worked with spiritual and psychic disciplines to fill in the gaps left by orthodox medicine.  Virginia W. Samdahl, a Park Forest, Illinois wife, mother and active member of Grace United Protestant Church, was experimenting with healing through prayer.  She found that whenever she was puzzling over a Bible verse, she would suddenly get “a super-duper wide screen production, like Ben-Hur, with all this stuff going on in Technicolor and hearing in my mind what was really meant by this passage.  I thought it was pretty nifty; it never occurred to me that this was psychic.”


With the help of some friends who gave her free reign in their metaphysical library, Mrs. Samdahl began developing her awareness and found that she was naturally being drawn in the direction of psychic healing.  She wasn’t always satisfied with the results.


“As I used and taught various healing methods, it was all very well to meditate and change your brain waves and get them down to 10.5 cycles per second so healing could take place and contact the mind of the healee and do all this stuff, and part of the time it was very effective.  But part of the time nothing happened, and I would blow wide open and say, “Why, why, WHY is nothing happening?  Father, there’s got to be a better way!’”


And the better way began when Mrs. Samdahl met Reiki Master Hawayo K. Takata of Honolulu.  Then, in 1976, after three years of study and practice, Mrs. Samdahl became the first occidental to obtain the rank of Reiki Master in 2,500 years.


“Reiki is the most remarkable and most wonderful healing method I have ever encountered, and I have been in the healing ministry for many years,” Mrs. Samdahl explains.  “I can count on Reiki to work every time, and I cannot say that for any other healing method I’ve ever heard of, or used.”


Perhaps the most unique aspect of the method is that the student learns to heal himself first, then members of his family, then others, in that order.


“I’ve seen healers who are in worse shape than the people they’re trying to help,” Mrs. Samdahl laughs.  “That never happens with Reiki.  Reiki healers are healthy, happy, wonderful people.”


Since the revival of Reiki by Dr. Usui, there have been medical documentations of incredible healing through the gentle Reiki treatments.  The principle behind the method is to heal the cause of the ailment, thereby eliminating the effect.  Accident victims respond almost immediately to the touch of a Reiki Healer.  Diabetes, blindness, heart ailments, allergies, brain tumors, gall stones or high blood pressure are gradually healed through a series of treatments over a period of days, weeks or months.  The treatments are effective even for patients who have absolutely no faith in the method.


The only cases where Reiki cannot be counted on to heal, says Mrs. Samdahl, are TB, hernias after age eight, and advanced stages of cancer.


“The pain of cancer can be reduced greatly or completely alleviated, but it must be caught in its early stages for the patient to have a total recovery,” says Mrs. Samdahl.


Even with her many experiences of seeing a patient respond to Reiki before her very eyes, Mrs. Samdahl says that she has never gotten over the thrill of helping to restore a person’s health.


“I believe that there is only one great Creative Force in the universe, which I call God,” she said.  “It is from this source that the Universal Life Energy is made available to us, for in order for us to be whole and to perform God’s purpose for us here, we must be well.  He has made this energy available to us, so we can be as He meant us to be, perfect in body, mind and spirit.


“I never say that I will heal a person. I make it very clear that I am not doing anything – that God is doing it.  But I do say that I feel the God power will help you, and hopefully, you might be healed.”


An ordained minister with the Ministry of Christ Church, Mrs. Samdahl has had no trouble incorporating her practice of Reiki into her orthodox Protestant church.


“When I first got into the metaphysical movement about 15 years ago,” she said, “I was so frustrated I was ready to leave our church.  But then I decided to stop banging my head against the wall and start tunneling.  And now when I hear these little pearls drop out of the mouths of my fellow parishioners, the same things I’ve been saying for years, I think, ‘Ha!  Gotcha!’”


“It’s so important for me that I remain in my church and bring these concepts, which I consider to be truth, back to my church.  For me, Reiki and orthodox religion go hand in hand.  I won’t consider myself a faith healer because according to some definitions, that takes a great deal of faith, either consciously or unconsciously, in the mind of the healer.


“I consider myself and all Reiki healers to be psychic healers.  We heal with a power that we don’t totally understand, and it doesn’t take any faith.  All we have to do is touch.


”Mrs. Samdahl wonders if Jesus Christ might have been using Reiki since He, too, effected healing through a gentle touch.


“If we would realize our divinity, our ability would increase, knowing no bounds,” she explains.  “Christ realized his full divinity at the moment of birth, and we go to the grave refusing to admit ours.  That’s the main difference between Christ and us.  Christ said, ‘I am the light of the world, and you are the light of the world, so we are the same.’  I never thought it was right that Christ was so far away.  What good is He if you can never get to Him?  People in my Methodist church where I was raised always had Him so far away.  I think that’s where we fall down in our healing ability no matter what method we’re using; it’s our lack of understanding of our own divinity.  Of course Christ had such a great ability because He was such a pure channel.  All He had to do was reach out and touch.”


Since Mrs. Samdahl became a master in 1976, three other Americans have studied and practiced to achieve that title. (NOTE: Mrs. Takata initiated a total of 22 Reiki Masters during her lifetime.)


Mrs. Samdahl holds classes the last week of each month at her home to initiate students into the first or second degree of the Reiki method.


After 15 people in an area decide to study Reiki and contact Mrs. Samdahl at her home in Park Forest, she travels to the region to conduct the class.  She has initiated about 4,000 Reiki healers in two years, and hopes that thousands more will become interested in the method as word of Reiki spreads.


In accordance with the principle of a proper exchange, students are expected to pay $125 for their transfers and induction into the first degree.  Immediately after a student receives the first of four transfers, he is able to direct the Reiki healing through his hands.


Although she is a very important New Age figure, bringing the ability to heal to thousands, Mrs. Samdahl remains humbled and candid about her role.  She despised sickness and wanted to do something about it, she explains, and now that she’s found the key, she shares her knowledge and her abilities with all who want to listen.


"Reiki is such a joy to use,” she smiles.  “I treat myself while I read or watch TV.  The whole thing is really fun; it’s such a zinger to see all of this stuff happen.”