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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Attuning animals: Yes or no?

Beth Lowell writes:

When I took my first Reiki workshop, I told my teacher that I wanted to practice Reiki for animals. She thought that was kind of a cute idea, but encouraged me to work with humans. As I pursued my study of Reiki specifically for animals, I was relieved to find a large and supportive community in various online groups whose members live and practice all over the world. One thing I never learned about though, was attuning animals.

The subject of attuning animals started to crop up here and there, and then more and more – usually as a casual remark that was part of an aside to whatever topic was being discussed. I didn’t know what to make of this. I asked around about it. I heard that many people attuned animals for a variety of reasons, but that it was still a controversial practice, even in the animal Reiki world.

From what I read on Google, it seems almost mainstream. I googled ‘attuning animals to Reiki’ and found several links that talked about it, described the process and even offered classes in which participants could bring their animal companions so both could receive attunements. So I was just curious – whether you practice Reiki on animals or not, what do you think about attuning animals? Have you ever attuned an animal?

To contribute your thoughts on this topic, add a comment to this post on our web site, or email 


Blogger ReikiWoman said...

thanks for posting. I love to practice on animals. I especially enjoy doing Reiki on my cat. He loves it. I also do crystal healings on him as well. I am so glad this forum exists and we can share our stories.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the results of this poll! I’m wondering if this topic is not of interest to most Reiki practitioners, if it truly is so controversial that no one wants to voice their opinion – or if it’s just been a busy week. That’s life in cyberspace!

Since I posed the question, I’ll be happy to weigh in. When I first heard about attuning animals, I’ll admit, it conjured up visions of some Merlin-like sorcerer and woodland creatures with mystical powers. I couldn’t make sense of it. But, I couldn’t let go of it either. So I asked people who’ve been doing Reiki and working with animals far longer than I have, and whose opinions I trusted.

The answer, as I mentioned, was that yes, many people attune animals for a variety of reasons – mostly, though, attunement is for animals who have inherent healing qualities. Most of us have known animals like this at some point in our lives; a dog or cat, maybe a horse who seemed to sense when we were down, or who just made us feel better - even when there was nothing “wrong”. Animals like these can be certified therapy animals, or they can do the job without any certification. The other week an article in a local newspaper told of a doctor’s dog who passed away. The dog spent his days in the waiting room, working miracles with the people there just by being himself.

As my study of Reiki and my work with animals deepened, my understanding of the attunement process and the emotional capacities of animals evolved. Reading the words of people like Sharon Callahan and Andrew Harvey solidified and clarified my beliefs.
I believe that given with the proper intention, attunements can do no harm. That being said, I have not been in a rush to attune either of my dogs. I believe that sometimes animals can view even the best of human intentions as an intrusion, and I’d like to be sure that it’s the right thing to do. It may never be the right thing to do for me and my two dogs – and I’m perfectly fine with that.

In closing, I’d like to share one of my new favorite quotes. This one is by Henry Beston:
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, we greatly err. For the animals shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings. They are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing said...

Hi Beth, I have finally written a response to your question, but it evolved from a short comment into an article. You can read "Reiki Attunements for Animals" on my blog at

Keep up the great work!

Rose De Dan
Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Beth Lowell said...

It’s difficult to express well the extent of one’s feelings for animals. To admit to being an animal lover is often perceived as an open invitation for derision, and in some circles, to confess to being a bit nutty, someone who is unable or unwilling to relate to humans, or someone who really wanted a child but for whatever reason does not have one so they went out and got a cat or dog instead. (This is untrue of anyone I know who chooses to live with animals.) I don’t know why it is but sometimes talking about animals in a way that accords them love and respect actually turns many people off.

I can’t help but wonder if this prevailing attitude, well known to “animal lovers”, is why no one responded to the question of attuning animals on either side, until now. Apathy toward animals indicates to me a spiritual deficit, and has greater implications on ecology and the health of the planet. Rose’s well written post has changed the question from should we or shouldn’t we attune animals, to why on earth wouldn’t we.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Beth Lowell said...

I am posting this comment in all places where the discussion of attuning animals is taking place - on the Reiki Digest, on Rose De Dan’s blog and on my own. I’ve been thinking about this more as the comments have been rolling in and I’ve come to a conclusion of sorts. It was Rose’s clear and simple explanation of what an attunement is that so struck me about her post on this subject. I think that perhaps that there is not a backlash against animals, but I think they serve as a great catalyst in this discussion. I think the problem lies within the perception of what an attunement is.

As I mentioned in my first comment back in October, I too, thought it was odd when I heard about animals being attuned. I was taught Reiki in very simplistic and broad terms by my first teacher, and I accepted everything she said at face value, although I was not always able to connect the dots or explain Reiki well to others. I’m not saying that she was a bad teacher; in fact I think she is highly dedicated and an extremely effective Reiki practitioner who happens to teach Reiki in the same way that she was taught. I do think, however, that as Reiki got passed down and changed over generations, that much was lost. I’ve spoken with others who have studied Reiki across the country who have shared similar experiences.

Perhaps a discussion on what an attunement means to people will shed light on people’s attitudes about attuning animals.

4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Beth,

I just came across this page and perhaps "why no one responded to the question of attuning animals on either side, until now." is because people simply haven't seen it?

I have been using Reiki for 7 years now, every day on animals.

What prompted me to look into being attuned was the desire to help my old dog and she was the first recipient of Reiki from me.

I didn't get to try it on myself for a few hours because she needed it.

Attuning animals wasn't something that occurred to me until a couple of years later once I'd learnt to use a computer and had access to the internet. My first reaction was surprise but when I thought about it, why not IF they wish it. Animals are actually such great natural healers anyway I suspect there's really no need, but some do wish the attunement.

I had intended that when I had my master attunement, my dog would be my first attunee, but she decided very different - she insisted on being attuned WITH me :-) She is, however, the least compassionate Reiki Master I know with infirm dogs ;-) I have to remove her and just send Reiki back to the poor dog who has been trying to get to me for his/her Reiki fix.

I think as long as the animal wishes it, yes, attune them, and I presume that if you tried to attune an animal who did not wish it, it simply would not happen.

I suspect that attuning animals may be an extension of the human "thing" about trying to make everyone the same? They are fantastic healers without us interfering and attuning them as my first two dogs showed me. The one who is a Reiki Master is the least interested in healing I have lived with, a paradox of life :-)


8:16 AM  

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