According to Wikipedia from 1580 to 1630 an estimated 50,000 “witches” were executed in Europe. 80% were women and most of them over the age of 40. Witch hunts went on over an extended period from 1400 right up until the mid-1700’s when laws were passed making it illegal. Historical consensus is that these “witches” were for the most part innocent. The result of mass hysteria, fear, weak central governments and individuals abusing their local positions of power. Horrendous torture techniques were used to extract confessions and usually resulted in accusations levelled at other members of the community too.
It was a horrific time for women, and has a devastating energy impact on women today, particularly those of us involved in healing. Men were also tortured and executed, but what it has left in the female psyche, more than the male (in my opinion), is a fear of speaking out and being seen.
I went through this fear many years ago, and I still make light of what I do as not that important (ie. Don’t be threatened by me, it’s not a burnable offence). As if an echo in my memory reminds me not to be too brazen, too outspoken, or too noisy.
I was struck by this at the last UK Reiki Federation conference, pre-covid, when all the keynote speakers were male. Yet Reiki is pre-dominantly female. I estimate 70% of Reiki practitioners, teachers and users of Reiki are women. Yet when you think about Reiki teachers (teaching now), those who really make some noise, you will probably be able to name more men than women. William Rand, Frans Stiene, Arjava Petter, Torsten Lange. Yes of course there are well known female Reiki Masters too, Pamela Miles, Penelope Quest, Kathleen Prasad. But if I can name 4 popular males, statistically I should be able to name at least 10 equally popular women. Personally, I can’t, can you?
Why are we so quiet? And this is not just the Reiki field, think of any healing field and you will see 70% of the participants are female, and the people leading the workshops are 70% male. Even Esther Hicks channels "Abraham", lol!
This just doesn’t make sense.
Fear of persecution is not just from the Witch Trials. Over the centuries women who stick their heads up over their kitchen sinks too assertively are liable to get them chopped off. In Victorian England you could be sent to a mental asylum for “hysteria” if you behaved aggressively, independently, or sexually. The list of reasons cited for admission include “asking for a divorce”, “egotism”, “overeducation” and “novel reading”. Hmmmm, and you wonder why we prefer a low profile?
Throughout history abuse of power, control and the use of fear has been used as weapons to suppress and undermine individual freedoms. Abusing power and mass fear mongering is still very much a topic of debate today. I was inspired to investigate the Witch hunts when listening to an Eckhart Tolle talk warning about getting “infected” by mass beliefs. He cited Pol Pot in Cambodia and the Witch Trials, but he could have mentioned any number of crazy moments in human history, including the invasion of Ukraine today.
As I was listening to Eckhart's talk I saw that although abuse of power continues, the use of fear changes. It's much harder in this day and age to whip a crowd into a frenzy about a little old lady brewing herbal tea in her cottage. Women have survived, and in many ways reached equality in many areas of life.
The reason for exploring this topic is twofold:
We need to keep up with the times and stop harbouring old, if deep-seated, trauma in our collective womanhood.
We need to step into our collective power and wield influence to counter-act these ongoing abuses of power.
History is important in understanding where these deep-seated fears come from. But there are many things that evolve. Humanity, in general, has progressed. Women are no longer legally burned at the stake. You will not be incarcerated for having a Masters Degree in Engineering, or for disobeying your husband.
It’s time to update your energy field and enquire more deeply into any fears you may have in speaking your truth. On the surface you may fear judgement of family members, friends, peers, but is this really true? Does it really matter to you if your friend from school ‘poopoos’ your Reiki practice? Or is it more deep-rooted than that? An echo or ancient fear of torture and execution?
When I published my first book on Reiki in 2010 I was terrified. Apart from the usual fear of judgement that seemed understandable, I was also aware of a totally irrational fear of persecution. On a logical level I knew it didn’t matter if people didn’t like what I wrote. All through my Reiki teaching I have come across plenty of skeptics and some of them in-my-face rude. It always startles me how some people can become so aggressively invested in your opinion and lifestyle, but apart from finding them mildly ignorant and arrogant, it hardly bothered me. So why the terror now? In the end I figured it was more to do with the increased reach. Instead of teaching and reaching small groups in a small geography, publishing a book means you increase your reach and have potential for more geography. A book is also like a manifesto, a statement of personal truth, a loud noise.
In reality my book did not cause any ripples, I was not institutionalised or burnt at the stake. People don’t care that much – they have bigger things to worry about. Conspiracy theories have moved on, and so have the fears. It was a great learning for me.
Other teachers and healers with much more to offer than me often ask me how I find the courage to get on screen and just ramble about my thoughts. I credit it to my book publishing. It brought me up to date. I peeked over my kitchen sink and there was no angry mob. We are hundreds of years in the future, still stuck in the energetic trauma of 1700.
There are no shackles to fear, no judgment can result in persecution. I know we still have a long way to go until equality is normal, but we are not persecuted any longer. We can emerge from our hiding places, we can speak our truth, we can make some noise.
The second reason for exploring this topic is to claim our influence and power.
There are now more women in Universities than men, there are more women in the healing arts, in the caring professions, in teaching. We are truly shaping the future generations. This is important as it shapes the views and thinking of both young women and men. We are mothers, we are carers, we are teachers - what are we sharing? Are we sharing our courage to speak out, our right to express ourselves, or are we modelling hiding, submission, fear? Why is it so many women are still fearful of speaking out? What has been modelled, in such an outdated way, for the past 100 years?
Most of us have total control over our own lives. Yet we act like we don't. We still act like victims, too afraid to speak, too afraid to be heard, undermining our influence and power. We model this for our daughters, we judge other women, we look up to men, we give them unearned influence.
This is not an anti-men piece, men with confidence and courage to speak out should be rewarded. If they are the ones putting up their hands to speak at conferences, to publish books, to command large auditoriums then good for them - they deserve their popularity.
This is a piece on reclaiming your own power, if you feel like you haven't done so already. It is safe now. Speak, sing, laugh, write, record, paint, express yourself in your fullness, your beauty, your wisdom. Share yourself with the world. Model your courage for your daughters, for those in your family, your community. We hold so much more influence and power than we realise. We can right the wrongs, we can highlight abuse, and crazy mass fear mongering. We can stand strong, and illuminate, and heal.
There is a secret witch in all of us wanting to roar, and dance, and get naked under the full moon. Let us read novels, and be over-educated, and divorced.
When you express yourself and bring your energy up to date you model this for others. When enough women release the trauma, it will dissolve back into harmony for all of us.