Saturday, 12 October 2019

Thank You Wanja Twan

Last month Wanja Twan, who initated my Reiki master Martha Sylvester, died peacefully, surrounded by family and pets, after a long life dedicated to the teaching and practice of Reiki.  Wanja was born   This is how I heard the story of how she came to learn Reiki:
Kate and Wanja at Reiki Alliance Conference 2006
in Sweden in 1934 and emigrated to Canada in her 20s, settling in British Columbia.

Wanja heard about the 1st degree reiki class, at a difficult time in her life.  Her second husband had unexpectedly left her (he said he was “too happy”!), leaving her with 6 children to raise and a farm to run on her own.  Searching for something to help her, she opened a book called “We Are All Healers” at random.  There she read about a woman named Hawayo Takata, who said she could teach people how to become healers.  Shortly after this Wanja heard that Takata was coming to the local area to teach 1st degree Reiki.  

She wanted to attend the class, but there were various issues restraining her from making the decision to go.  Being able to afford the fee of 150 US dollars was one. However, when she went to the drawer where she kept the deposits for the weaving workshops she ran in her barn, she discovered that someone had sent her $150 in US dollars – exactly what she needed for the Reiki class.

She was still concerned about leaving the younger children, but one of the older children volunteered to care for them and encouraged her to go.  So at the last minute Wanja made up her mind and went.  As she entered the house where the class was being held, a small Japanese-looking lady dressed in a bright Hawaiian dress was coming down the stairs opposite the door.  She looked at Wanja and said “Aha, I knew you would come!”.  This lady was Hawayo Takata, who initiated Wanja into Reiki in 1978 and as a master in 1979. 

Wanja’s practice was often informal and completely integrated with daily life.  Reiki treatments might happen on the kitchen table, with the children and animals all around.  Reiki was also used for improving bread that was being baked and many other daily uses (including dispersing clouds on a dull day!).  Wanja had a deep connection with the unseen world and Nature.  She had an understanding of the spirituality implicit in Reiki.

Kate, Wanja and Martha in Leamington Spa!
I was fortunate to meet Wanja on a few occasions when the was in the UK and at a Reiki Alliance conference in the USA (she was a founder member of the Reiki Alliance).  We first met in London when I was a very young master full of questions.  I would ask her a question and she would respond: “Well I don’t know, but…” and then give a profound answer.  

One of her teachings was that Takata encouraged her students to be grateful for the healing gift of Reiki.  Wanja developed a ritual for the end of treatments to honour this.  She would encourage us to place our hands on our heart and repeat 3 times “Thank you for this healing”.  It is not part of the official Usui Shiki Ryoho form, but it is a something I maintain to this day in my own practice.

I am grateful to Wanja, without whom I might not have Reiki in my life!  Thank you Thank you Thank you Wanja, my Reiki ‘grandmother!