Reiki Meets Catholicism

Text: “My mom has been practicing Reiki for a long time. It is an energy healing practice from Japan, also known as hands-on healing. The practitioner places their hands on the patient and uses their own energy and emotion to either detect energy from the patient or transfer energy. My mom does it kind of casually, but she can sense tension and soreness on someone else’s body just by hovering her hands over them. Whenever she knows I’m nervous or tense, she hovers her hands over my shoulders and transfers healing energy into them. I’m not very knowledgeable in Reiki, but it’s a weird thing where you feel warm and tingly in the areas that you’ve had energy transferred into, and the tension does dissolve.” 

Context: My informant – a 21-year-old woman from Los Angeles, California – explained the role Reiki has played in her family and in the relationship she has with her mom. She explained to me that this was something she remembered her mom doing for her whole life, and she cannot doubt the healing power of it because she truly feels that it makes her feel better and it relieves a lot of tension in her mind and body. She went on to explain that her mom is also Catholic and comes from a Mexican family of witches, which she said is a weird mix because in Catholicism, “witchcraft is the Devil’s work.” However, her mom connects her beliefs and cultures because she believes that the healing properties that Jesus had were actually Reiki practices, or some form of it. My informant explained to me that the connection her mom made between Japanese and Mexican culture – along with the role of religion – has shaped her own beliefs regarding Catholicism, and she feels like it has made her feel a bit more connected to her own spirituality.

Analysis: The practice of Reiki within my informant’s family exemplifies a unique blend of cultural beliefs and healing traditions that bridge diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Reiki, originating from Japan as an energy healing practice, has been integrated into my informant’s family dynamics and relationship with her mother as a source of comfort and healing. Her approach to Reiki reflects a personal and intuitive understanding of energy healing, where she uses her own energy and emotion to detect and alleviate tension and soreness in others. This hands-on approach to healing underscores the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit within Reiki practice.

What stands out is my informant’s mother’s ability to reconcile her Catholic faith with her practice of Reiki, despite potential religious tensions associated with practices labeled as “witchcraft.” By interpreting Jesus’ healing miracles as akin to Reiki principles, her mother synthesizes elements of Japanese and Mexican culture with her Catholic beliefs, creating a unique and deeply personal spiritual perspective. For my informant, witnessing her mother’s integration of Reiki into her family’s spiritual and healing practices has shaped her own beliefs and sense of spirituality. The blending of cultural influences and healing traditions fosters a sense of connection to her heritage and spirituality, providing a holistic framework that embraces both diversity and personal growth.