Pagan Studies

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At A Distance


I don't know how many of you have been in this scenario. After dinner and drinks with friends, the topic of discussion veers away from deep occult mysteries to all the things that you could do if you didn't have ethics. This is not a blog post about ethics and morals, though I may cover that topic in the near future. So during one of these less serious discussions, a friend pulled up a website on their laptop for distance Reiki attunements. One merely had to download a few PDFs and study them, schedule a Reiki attunement/initiation, and pay your money via PayPal. By the way the site in question offered these services up to the level of Reiki master. I have no way of knowing if the person who was offering these services was sincere or a charlatan, but for the purposes of this post it does not matter. After much fun was had with some of the cheesier elements of the website, it was solemnly declared that it seemed legit, and then we all cracked up. After the laughter, we proceeded with a real conversation about why this particular sort of long distance initiation doesn't work.

There's a fairly standard model in many esoteric systems that describes the human energy field as consisting of layers that go from the densest being the physical body up to some varying number of layers that end at the boundary between the individual's energy and that of the universe. Without giving away anything that is supposed to be kept secret or private, in a true Reiki attunement there are specific symbols that are implanted into the practitioner's energy field. It is also part of the standard model of ethereal anatomy that the lower, denser layers, are the ones that do the heavy lifting in magickal and energetic work. In order for the symbols to be implanted, the lower subtle bodies of the initiator have to be in close physical proximity to the person being initiated. Here's the catch, the denser the subtle body is, the more it resembles the physical form, and the less flexible it is. Therefore, the denser subtle bodies cannot stretch very far away from the physical body. So for an attunement/initiation that requires alterations to the lower subtle bodies, the initiator must be physically present.

Aside from the technical difficulty related to the mechanics of the subtle bodies, there are many other reasons why important initiations and rituals work better with people gathered together. Our emotions and our physical senses have an important role to play in the effectiveness and integration of initiations and rituals. The impact of being supported and challenged by people who have taken the time to be present for a ritual is enormous. There is also a great deal of community building and weaving of connections that can only come when we can hear the intake of each other's breaths and feel each other's touch. I don't think that I need to elaborate on why a few downloaded PDFs are no substitute for real training to prepare for an initiation.

There are a multitude of spiritual and magickal workings that can be done from a distance that include but are not limited to: healings, spell work, cooperative efforts of separate individuals or groups, rituals held on the astral, etc. In fact, most of the covens in my Tradition have astral temples that among other things are used to do rituals when the members can’t physically gather together. Every full moon, I have at least two physical rituals that I take part in, as well as an ongoing working with teachers from other Traditions the takes place at a specified time in an astral temple. By the way, the ongoing working takes place in an astral temple that was first constructed when all of us could gather together physically. 

Clearly I'm not opposed to astral ritual or workings at a distance, but I think it is important to consider the limitations before proceeding. My next post will be about how to improve the efficacy of distance and cooperative workings. I think there is a great value in analyzing any meditation, working, or ritual that you are about to do through whatever system, or working theories of magic, that you may have. Just because you can visualize something does not mean that it will work. One of the principles that we adhere to within our Tradition is that students have to be taught why something works, not simply how to do it. If you have thought through the process, and the mechanism of action, then there is a better chance that you will have good outcomes.  There is also a better chance that you will not waste your time or your money on something with little to no probability of succeeding.

The incident I mentioned at the beginning of the blog, happened last year. What prompted me to write this today was an email in my inbox. The email offered to make me a shaman, worse yet a shamanic healer, through the power of PDFs, an appointed time for an empowerment, and PayPal. Caveat emptor and blessed be.


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Ivo Domínguez, Jr. is a visionary, and a practitioner of a variety of esoteric disciplines who has been active in Wicca and the Pagan community since 1978. He serves as one of the Elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan syncretic tradition that draws inspiration from Astrology, Qabala, the Western Magickal Tradition and the folk religions of Europe. He is the author of Keys to Perception: A Practical Guide to Psychic Development, Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans, Casting Sacred Space: The Core Of All Magickal Work; Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine; Beneath the Skins with other books in the pipeline as well.


  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    Well said. I have had students of the Craft online, but initiations? Those happened in person. I think you can do Reiki healing long distance certainly but not initiations. Nope, not buying it. :D

  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    Initiation is an experience. It's something that needs to occur in person. You can teach some things online via pdfs, etc. I do, but the real learning occurs when people apply what they are learning to their lives and practices.

  • peggy levasseur
    peggy levasseur Tuesday, 11 February 2014

    Great Blog. I get one of these offers occasionally on my e-mail. I am blessed to be in a tradition that teaches us the right way.

  • Abbathoniah
    Abbathoniah Saturday, 15 February 2014

    You know I think I got ripped off on those "live" sea monkeys I ordered too. ;)

  • Abbathoniah
    Abbathoniah Saturday, 15 February 2014

    You know I think I got ripped off on those "live" sea monkeys I ordered too. ;)

  • Michelle Simkins
    Michelle Simkins Friday, 21 March 2014

    Thank you for articulating this. I've always felt that distance attunements and initiations seemed off somehow, but have never been able to explain why to myself or anyone else.

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