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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A teacher and her legacy

Margaret Ann Case
Reiki Master Teacher

Margaret Ann Case (2008 photo)

By Janet Dagley Dagley

My first Reiki teacher, Margaret Ann Case, passed away February 18, 2010, after a valiant battle with cancer. Without Margaret Ann, there likely would be no Reiki Digest, so this week we're devoting the entire issue to her and her legacy.

It's a strange feeling to be writing Margaret Ann's obituary, not just because I wish so deeply that this task were not necessary, but because of another obituary I wrote several years ago during my training with her: my own.

The assignment wasn't quite that specific -- my classmates and I in her one-year Reiki master program were supposed to be envisioning our ideal futures, clearly stating our intentions about how we wanted to spend the rest of our lives. For me, that meant a fanciful description of what I hoped to have accomplished by life's end. (To give you an idea of just how fanciful it was, I made it to age 151 in perfect health and ruled a vast healing media empire that helped millions to do the same.)

The whole class, including Margaret Ann, roared with laughter as my classmate Nicholas Sweeney read my obit aloud -- since I was "departed," I couldn't exactly have read it myself. She told me later that she planned to ask her future master students to write their own obituaries, too. I hope that the experience did as much for them as it did for me. My ludicrous auto-obituary not only gave me and the others a good laugh, but it brought me such clear focus that it and the other dreams I envisioned during those long days in the sanctuary of Margaret Ann's classroom have guided me ever since.

As far as I know, Margaret Ann never wrote an obituary for herself, not even after she was diagnosed with metastatic cancer last summer. Even if she had, it would have described a life that lasted many more years and included even more accomplishments than fate allowed. She could not -- would not -- picture herself succumbing.

As founder and director of Reiki Arts Continuum in New York City, as well as director of the Reiki professional training programs at the New York Open Center, Margaret Ann taught the gentle healing art of Reiki to thousands over her 17-year career as a healer and teacher. She was also on the continuing education faculty of the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences in New York, and served as a member of the advisory board of In addition to her work with Reiki, she was also a registered polarity practitioner, interfaith minister, and spiritual counselor and healer.

Like many professional Reiki practitioners and teachers -- as well as Mikao Usui, the founder of this practice -- Margaret Ann had several other careers before she began working with Reiki. She was an opera singer, and she spent many years in the corporate business world. And like Usui, she was a lifelong spiritual seeker. She was also a lifelong student: one of the things I admired most about her was that years after her original Reiki training, when she discovered that newly discovered, more accurate information was available about Reiki history and practice, she went back to the classroom as a student and went through two additional master programs.

Margaret Ann made a point of helping her students get a solid foundation with daily personal practice by requiring them to keep a log of the time they spent doing self-care each day. A record of 21 straight days was necessary to earn a Level 1 certificate from her. If you missed a day, you had to start over, but even if you practiced just five minutes, that counted. Her program had quite a few requirements that were above and beyond those of most other Reiki teachers, and her students sometimes complained about that amongst themselves. Without those extra requirements, however, I would probably not have written that obituary or done so many other things that have benefited me, my family, my clients, my students, and my readers. One Reiki master friend of mine, upon listening to some of Margaret Ann's students complaining about all her extra requirements, interrupted and asked, "Just how does that harm you, exactly?" And he was right: those additional demands only helped us learn.

Margaret Ann believed that within the next decade or so, Reiki would achieve such recognition by the medical system that treatments and classes would eventually be covered by insurance, and she set out to help fill the ensuing demand by training as many professional practitioners as she could, and making them as professional as possible so that they could seamlessly interface with the conventional health-care system. Ironically, as a self-employed business owner, she could not get health insurance herself and was unable to go to a doctor for help when she first began having problems -- when it might have helped most. By the time she went to the emergency room last summer, her cancer had already spread. In one of the last conversations I had with her, she talked about her hopes for health care reform.

She didn't just teach her students Reiki -- she taught us about the ethics of bodywork, about spiritual healing traditions from many cultures, about establishing and nurturing a business, about counseling skills and professional boundaries. Her own rules and boundaries could be very rigid: once during the final examination class for her master training, she closed and locked the door on a student who returned a minute late from the lunch break. And she did not socialize with her students, not even for a quick lunch.

Margaret Ann had no children of her own, but she took on a maternal role early in life. At the age of 12, she had to take responsibility for her younger siblings when her mother was hospitalized, and that feeling of responsibility for nurturing and guiding others stayed with her.

When I began my master training with her, I believed that I was making a transition from one career to another, from journalist to healer. By the time the year was finished, I had realized that I wasn't going from one thing to another. I was gathering up all the parts of myself -- everything I'd ever done, everyone I'd ever been, everything I'd studied or dreamed of, into a far more focused, disciplined whole person.

Many of Margaret Ann's colleagues and students have sent me their remembrances of her as well. We'll keep adding them as they continue to come in.

From E. Arecely Brown, program director at the New York Open Center:

Margaret Ann Case served as faculty member of the New York Open Center for almost a decade, providing the New York metropolitan area with the highest caliber Reiki System of Natural Healing Program available -- unique in its depth not only to the city, but to the Reiki Community at large.

Margaret Ann's integrity, faithfulness to practice and dedication drew hundreds of students to discover Reiki with her foundational courses and many continued on to her Advanced Reiki Practitioner Certificate Program, Reiki Master Program and Teacher Training program.

As a leader in the Reiki teaching community, Margaret Ann developed a system that not only produced a practitioner, it produced a healer, and this was her act of service to us all.

Bronwen and Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki in Sydney, Australia:

Margaret Ann was a delight. A strong, forceful personality that meant a great deal to many people. She taught Reiki with integrity and a strength of conviction.

One word stands out for us when we think of Margaret Ann - Vibrant.

Energy healer and crystal specialist Mika Nelson, founder of the Academy for Healing Arts in Hot Springs, Arkansas, was Margaret Ann's classmate in her first Reiki master training, and a longtime friend:

I have known on a deeper level Margaret ann was getting ready to leave, I have been in Brazil working with John of God, I was going to have a surrogate surgery for her, The entity's declined to do it, they gave her pills instead, I thought at the time she did not need a surgery, now I know why, she was already preparing,
Knowing and working with Margaret Ann since 93, we became close friends although in resent years , our conversations were mostly by phone.
Knowing her held a wealth of spiritual information that she was able to hold and release at any giving time, very few people had that wealth of info at their fingertips.
She has always been a kind person with the ability to be tough when she felt it would be for your highest good. But always Fair. She has dedicated her life to helping and lifting others into a realm so they may assist others.
Now I feel she has decided to do this on a Higher Level, so she can assist all of us in lifting us into Ascension . She has been close to God for a long time. and has chosen to be by his side in these ascending times as she had always planned. Her thoughts, her words and her actions, will live on through many that have studied with her or been involved in a healing with her. or just having a exchange of words and feelings with her. On a more personal level, she loved her family in Oregon, and was close with them, she loved Opera, and sang beautifully , she sang background with someone on this person's CD, but all you could her was her voice, It was angelic, like she.

Heather Alexander, founder of Brooklyn Reiki:

Its hard to know where to start when I try to describe the impact Margaret Ann Case has had on my life. I arrived in New York four years ago and didn't know a single soul but on looking for Reiki friends I found myself talking to Margaret Ann. I was soon regularly going for sessions and each week would lay on the floor at her Reiki circles listening to her wonderful guided meditations, so thankful that I had found somewhere to be peaceful in this crazy city. As the car horns and fire truck sirens blasted on outside - Margaret Ann gave me a haven.

The school that she built, Reiki Arts Continuum, also gave me a launch pad. A piece of solid ground where I could digest my life as it was then and start to turn it into what it is now - a much happier and healthier place. I know there are many, many people who rested on and grew because of Reiki Arts Continuum in the same way. And at the heart of it always was Margaret Ann. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for all her love and teaching - I would not be the person I am today if she had not come into my life. I miss her already but I also know that I will never be without her because she is a part of me.

Jean Bromage of Dancing Light Candles is a 2005 graduate of Reiki Arts Continuum:

As a healer, Margaret Ann showed me how to dance with my inner child and experience the joys of life more deeply. As a teacher, she built the foundation to help many people venture on a beautiful spiritual journey, a journey that helped me to step into my own personal power. As a friend, she offered me grace, compassion and humor. She is sent much love as she transitions to the next life, and the light she left behind for so many will not be forgotten.

Susan da Fonseca was a master student:

I was very sad to hear about Margaret Ann’s death. She and I had a lot in common – we were the same age, we both had studied Buddhism and meditation, and we thought a lot alike in many areas, and we both learned that we had cancer last year.

Margaret Ann was a great teacher for me and a mentor, helping me in various areas of my life – not only with Reiki. I learned a great deal from her and will be forever grateful that our paths crossed.

Claire M. Schwartz, founder of Miriam's Well Healing in Morristown, New Jersey, is a 2006 graduate of Reiki Arts Continuum:

I cannot imagine my life without Margaret Ann and her vision for what Reiki could be. Her commitment to a strong Reiki community and training excellent Teachers and Masters has left its permanent mark on us. She will always be where my Path began, and anything I accomplish in my practice will be because she started me out with strength, with brilliance and with heart. My gratitude to her is unending.

May the Great Spirit she served welcome her.

Nicholas Sweeney of Phoenix Wisdom Healing in New York City was also my classmate in the Reiki master program (he was the one who read my obituary aloud):

No matter how challenging I thought Margaret Ann could be at times, her presence certainly prodded me on to be more, see more and do more in alignment with my own soul-purpose. She was a deeply compassionate and emotional woman who was dedicated to service and teaching. Though I am sure there were depths to her that I will never know, I feel one moment with her gave me a glimpse into her inner private life and perhaps some of her own sense of mission. We were meeting after one of her Reiki 1 classes, and I was receiving mentoring from her about my work as a budding teacher. We were talking about how amazing it was to see the transformation in everyone after only two days of class. Margaret Ann became very emotional as she said to me that it was a gift to be able to watch transformation happening right before our very eyes.

I met Margaret Ann during a time in my life when I truly needed a strong guide over rough waters and into a new and calmer sea. I can't imagine having made that journey without her.

Master student DyAnne Irby, a classmate of mine in New York City:

Even seeing her w/ the illness, it never occurred to me that Margaret Ann would stop being around. In my mind she will always be a solid presence, a quiet strength, a woman of great caring and compassion.

Master student Fernanda Gonzalez in Boston:

Dear Margaret Ann, thank you for midwifing my gift of transformation, and of true healing. I love you and hold you and your teachings in my heart. I am forever changed by your presence and thank you for your continued guidance from the other realms.

Teacher training student Lori Russo:

My heart is very heavy at this moment. I had just seen her in January beginning my Teaching Training. It looked hopeful that she was getting better. I have been out of town for the last 5 weeks and so I am a bit in shock. Margaret Ann was such a huge catalyst for me as well. It was through her Spiritual Teaching and Mentoring that put into perspective and practical application of many Spiritual Ideas, that used to feel intangible. She opened many doors in my mind and heart to explore so many different spiritual possibilities.And have the courage to do so. I feel so much gratitude to have had her in my life.She had such strength, conviction, honor, integrity and deep love for her work and all of her students, I feel deeply honored to have been one of many who were touched by her.

Student Eileen O'Mahoney:

Dearest Margaret Ann,
I see you, confidently and lovingly, stepping forward into the arms of All That Is,
I hear the singing of Angels as you are welcomed home to where you began your great journey,
And I feel joy that you are at peace, having let go and allowed yourself to unite with all that you are.

Margaret Ann's family in Oregon issued this statement today:

Our dear Margaret Ann passed away peacefully Thursday, February 18 at 11pm. Family was by her side.

I know you feel as we do that we were all blessed to have had her loving spirit in our life. The family is finding peace in knowing she is now at ease and her spirit is free from physical pain.

On behalf of the family, we know you are with us in thoughts and prayers of healing.

In touch,
The Elmer Case Family

She may not have written her own obituary, but Margaret Ann did leave us with many of her writings. Many of them are still available on her web site, and this one, which she used as a greeting on her home page, is one of my favorites:

"May the sun radiate the fire of your spirit
May the moon reflect the beauty of your soul
May the earth reveal the vitality of your being
May the sky fill with the vision of your dreams
May the wind whisper the wisdom of your sacred self
May the stars sing the music of your song, and
May the rainbow illumine always with the love of your heart."

A memorial service for Margaret Ann Case will be held later this year in New York City. To send condolences to her family, click here for more information.


Blogger Lauren-Elizabeth said...

thank you everyone who wrote this about my aunt margaret she was truley an amazing women and i know she would have love this and all the nice things you said and remeber i know she will always be in my heart and i hope she will be in yours.

thank you allot
Lauren-Elizabeth G.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The links to Margaret Ann's website lead to a heating advertisement now. So sad really.

1:27 AM  
Blogger Marie Simons said...

I am saddened to hear of Margaret Ann's passing. I took my reiki Master course with her and loved every minute. With her encouragement I went on to practice Reiki in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. Because of what she taught me, I have been living a life filled with new experiences, connections with beautiful souls I would otherwise have never met, and new friendships that will last a lifetime.

I was looking for her to take here teacher's training course because I'm starting a private practice. I am sad to have missed the opportunity to learn from her.

She will always be a guiding light, I learn new things from what she taught me constantly. Her lessons were filled with levels of understanding, layers. It's like she presented her knowledge to me with the secret magic of a Disney movie, one that is great fun for kids, and the stuff that goes over little heads is great fun for adults. As I grow as a reiki master and I retread her thoughts ans materials, I keep learning something new.
I have been blessed with wonderful reiki teachers, Micharl Soto, April Lefner, and Margaret Ann. We will all miss her.
Namaskar my friend.

3:39 AM  

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