I have a great passion for Reiki and an equal passion for horses. Combined, this makes for a formidable and powerful healing tool. I have integrated my equine, Shiraz, into my own healing, healing and teaching clients and students and in facilitating spiritual/healing day retreats. Here is my story… which I hope would be an inspiration for many.
My daughter has been horse riding since she was six years old. Sitting alongside the training arenas was wonderful but I had an urge to learn to ride too. Then, at 42 (which is now more than 15 years ago) I finally found the courage to learn to horse ride. Needless to say, this brought I whole new dimension and passion into my life. My horse trainer and riding instructor used to say that one never recovers if you contract “horsenitis”… This is absolutely true!
Supported by our passion and dedication to horse riding we eventually were afforded the opportunity of owning our own horses. Again, the dynamics changed as owning a horse is quite different than merely riding them. Unlike a bicycle, you cannot put a horse into the cupboard and forget about it if you are not feeling up to investing time and effort into your newfound hobby. It is pretty much a matter of come rain or snow or Covid, you HAVE to make time to spend with your horses.
Not being interested in competitive riding I opted for natural horsemanship training and riding. This is an amazing way of building a bond with your horse. It also means that you do not need to be riding to be able to spend constructive and meaningful time with your horse.
Being able to do a significant amount of in-hand work with my horse, Shiraz, resulted in a human-horse relationship that was healing for us both. Shiraz was a neglected workhorse and needed just as much healing as I did after my NDE in 2017. We supported each other in the process of our own healing and reached a point where, both being wounded healers, we are now able to support others in their healing.
I teach Reiki up to Reiki Masters level with an additional specialized course in Animal Reiki. The practical part of the Animal Reiki course is taught primarily with Shiraz – who by the way has granted me permission to make use of him in these practical teaching sessions. Some of the other horses at the stable yard are also included in the practical part of this course, particularly when aspects such as asking permission, beaming, and dealing with abused animals through Reiki are covered. A good understanding of animal communication and “reading” an animal’s body language and other signals form an integral part of this practical experience that my students are exposed to.
Regular Reiki healing sessions with Shiraz have benefited his healing tremendously and today he is a well-balanced horse, able to support the others (animal and human) in their healing. This has brought us to a space where Shiraz has been attuned (again, only after granting permission) to Reiki. He has been involved in many healing sessions on a one-on-one basis as well as group sessions during our Day Retreats being able to hold space for clients and participants.
Horses are able to hold space for healing without any judgment. Through their behaviour, they do, however, truthfully mirror unhealed and blocked parts of the humans they encounter. Allan Hamilton calls horses “divine mirrors” as they reflect back the emotions you put in – if you put in love and respect and kindness and curiosity, the horse will return that.
Equine-assisted psychotherapy is a highly effective and widely used healing method. With this in mind, I now offer equine-assisted Reiki sessions to clients within which both Shiraz and I are able to hold space and channel Reiki healing to the clients.
Being out in nature at the stable yard where our horses are stabled is beneficial for healing in its own right. To further support healing sessions, the lunging arena which I use for these equine-assisted Reiki sessions has an activated Rose Quartz grid and it is cleansed regularly just as I would my healing room.
I regularly spend time with Shiraz in-between healing sessions, teaching sessions, and day retreats to ensure that he is energetically in a good and balanced space, willing and able to participate in the equine-assisted healing activities. It is also an essential (and primary) component of my exercise regime, self-healing, grounding, and embracing my inner child. Being with Shiraz is good for body, mind, and spirit – for me and for him. And it is a great honour to be the custodian of such a magnificent creature… and teacher, being reminded of the words of Amber Senti: “The horse, with beauty unsurpassed, strength immeasurable, and grace unlike any other, still remains humble enough to carry a man upon his back.”
Article by Thea van der Merwe
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Thea van der Merwe, Ph. D. is a nationally and internationally trained holistic energy, certified and experienced Master Reiki Practitioner, qualified in Usui Reiki, Reijukido, Karuna® Reiki, Karuna Ki Reiki, Crystal Reiki, and Gendai Reiki. She obtained the title of Shihan (full master/teacher), the highest level in Gendai Reiki Ho. Besides her greatest passion which is Reiki, Thea is also a spiritual shaman, healer, and teacher, offering readings as a way of accessing spiritual guidance. Her journey of personal discovery, growth, and healing started back in 2005 when she was personally in need of healing and searching for something more than what conventional medicine and therapy could provide. Thea is currently nationally and internationally registered with the South African Reiki Masters Association and The Reiki Healing Association respectively – both professional associations for the local and global Reiki communities, working to promote the wide-reaching practice and healing effects of Reiki throughout the world and where the primary philosophy is that together, we can do so much more. You can get into contact with Thea van der Merwe at viterra.co.za, which is her website, and at facebook.com/viterrahealing on Facebook.