December 24, 1900 - December 11, 1980
Hawayo Takata brought Reiki to the Western world. While there are those now critical of her style and methods, her one greatest achievement is the transplanting of this gentle spiritual Eastern healing modality to the West. It stands as her gift to humanity.
Culturally she was well-suited to the task. Born into a Japanese immigrant family living in what was then the U.S. territory of Hawaii, she was raised with one foot in the American version of Western culture and the other foot in the Japanese version of Eastern culture. It was a bi-lingual and bi-cultural gift which would serve the diminutive lady well. Here's a brief summary of her autobiography as told to her students:
Widowed, heartsick, and frail by her mid-30s, she was in failing health
in Hawaii with a variety of serious abdominal ailments.
Seeking a cure she travelled to Tokyo for medical care where she was
scheduled for major surgery as some of her problems were potentially
life-threatening. At the last minute she cancelled the operation when
her intuition told her it wasn't necessary. She then asked the head
surgeon if there were somewhere she could go for a non-surgical
remedy. The surgeon gave her the address of the clinic run by
There she discovered Reiki. The Reiki treatments worked, and she was
cured of her serious ailments, which included gall bladder,
appendicitis, and a tumour. She stayed on to learn Reiki herself from
Dr. Hayashi, whom Mrs. Takata described as Reiki's Grand Master. In
1937 she returned to Hawaii in good health to set up a Reiki practice
which soon was taking up all her time.
But in 1940 she was summoned to back to Tokyo by Hayashi. The clouds
of war were on the horizon, and Hayashi (a Naval Reserve Officer)
knew he would be summoned to military duty, something he did not wish
to do as a peace-loving Buddhist and Reiki master.
Mrs. Takata says Dr. Hayashi announced that she would be his successor
as Grand Master (she by this time having been made a Reiki Master),
and he then peacefully made his transition (Reiki's expression for
passing on or dying).
Mrs. Takata returned to Hawaii, and for the next 30 years she taught
Reiki (first and second degree only) and put together a successful
clinic living a full and vigorous life.
Up until 1970, Mrs. Takata had not made any
Reiki masters, although scores of people had been trained as practitioners
by her. Apparently becoming aware of her advancing years and realizing the
torch needed to be passed on, she began training Reiki Masters between 1970
and 1980. The number varies depending on who is telling the story, but
apparently she initiated as many as 22 individuals as Reiki Masters during
her last decade.
In any event, while she claimed the title of Grand Master for herself
while she was alive, she did not declare a successor prior to her transition,
thus setting the stage for what has become the democratization of Reiki,
a process not without controversy.
Her legacy is mixed. Certainly those in the Western world who have had the
blessing of Reiki in their lives are grateful to Mrs. Takata for bringing
Reiki to our society. Yet she has been the recipient of posthumous criticism
in three major areas, her claim of Grand Master, her inaccuracies about the
history of Reiki, and her high fees.
Independent researchers travelling in Japan in the past 10 years have
discovered that it is quite unlikely Dr. Usui ever designated a successor
or even claimed the title of Grand Master himself. Apparently he did
initiate several Reiki Masters, of which Chujiro Hayashi was one, but
they were all equals. None was of a higher rank than others. Dr. Usui did
set up an organization to carry on the work of Reiki but he did not set
up a Grand Master system.
It is anyone's guess how Mrs. Takata came to claim to be the Grand Master,
given this background which she would have known about. Critics have not been
kind about her motives. In any event, her Grand Master claim certainly set
the stage for much controversy in the Reiki world today.
Her fee structure for Reiki training leaves many in the 21st Century
absolutely thunderstruck. She charged $10,000 U.S. to become a Reiki master
for those few she selected (this was in the 1970s). First and second degree
Reiki training was several hundred U.S. dollars each. The criticism is that
she was creating an elite club for the wealthy.
Her justification for her fees came from a part of the story of Dr. Usui
which she told.
In this part of the story
she has Dr. Usui coming down from the mountain after his epiphany experience
and going off to the beggars' quarters of Kyoto to heal the indigent.
Initially Dr. Usui has great success. The beggars are regaining their
health and returning to mainstream society. But after a while he noticed
many of the beggars returning to the beggars' quarters. According to Mrs.
Takata, Dr. Usui concluded that because the beggars had not paid for their
healing they had no incentive to stay well.
Thus the principle of an exchange of energy between practitioner and
client was then introduced into Reiki by Dr. Usui, Mrs. Takata said.
Critics of Mrs. Takata usually have no difficulty with
the principle of an exchange, it's the amount of money she demanded that
is the difficult point. That no independent research has been able to
verify the "beggars' quarters" chapter in Dr. Usui's life story
has not helped either and has led to further questioning of Mrs. Takata's
Yet it still leaves the question of what sort of person
was she really? This is where astrology can answer a few questions about
her personality which the posthumous critics have missed.
One of Mrs. Takata's sympathetic biographers, Helen J. Haberly (who knew
Mrs. Takata personally), provides us with Mrs. Takata's birth data in her book,
Reiki, Hawayo Takata's Story.
Haberly lists the birth data as sunrise Dec 24, 1900, in Hanamaulu, Hawaii.
After only a small amount of fiddling about on my computer, I came up
with 6:47 am for sunrise, which would be plus or minus about 10
minutes -- good enough for what we will be doing here.
Using that data (December 24, 1900; 6:47 AM Standard time;
Hanamaulu, Hawaii; 22N00 159W21), we can construct Mrs. Takata's natal chart.
Click here to see it.
Elsewhere on this website you can read my
take on computer-generated astrological reports, but there are
times when they do have a limited use. This is one of them. The Indra
Report from Cosmic Patterns' Kepler software is one of the few around
which can give a good psychological profile.
What sort of person was Mrs. Takata, really? We shall start with this:
she was a double Capricorn with Moon in Aquarius. Now read a few excerpts from
her natal report in the Indra report:
"...There are some times when you
take advantage of others by not clearly facing your own drives and needs.
This is prevented by coming to terms with and overcoming your own
insecurities; for when the security instinct powers you unconsciously,
you make some limiting and limited decisions. It is to your credit that
you always learn from these experiences and your integrity grows as you
"...You are idealistic and wish to help others but
you don't always accurately see what others need, nor are you always able
to evaluate where your sacrifices will have importance or effect. The gentle
and giving side of your nature expresses itself most strongly when you are
in love. When this quality is impersonalized enough to create a higher value,
you enter the arena of working for the upliftment of humanity. Through this
you experience a profound happiness...
"...You have good intentions in your dealings with
others, but for all this you still make mistakes...
"...Your vitality and endurance are strong and
unstoppable. You are physically active and have inspirational qualities
that give your nature some leadership qualities. You are going somewhere
and wish others to follow you...
"...working with symbols can be important on your
"...Your mind is idealistic and very subtle. You think
in symbols and often see the implications of objects and actions rather than
the things themselves. You are open and psychically receptive and should have
relatively undisturbed periods of insulation. Contemplation and meditation can
be natural adaptational mechanisms for you...
"...You can be a tireless worker and powerful promoter
of a cause...
"...You have good interactions with foreigners and may
be very inspired to spend time in foreign countries...
"...You have quite a temper and your anger will be a
stumbling block in life until you have handled it. You hate being trapped and
act quite selfishly when cornered. This is overcome when you corral your
emotional energy and find some peace of mind...
"...You anger others who could help you. It isn't that
others just misjudge your actions (which they do) but, people perceive an
inherently selfish side of the way you make choices...
"...Your values and aims in life are lofty and require
you to set a very high personal standard. Living up to this standard gives you
optimism and growth. Unless you are very well integrated (where your actions
and values always agree) you will shuttle between two courses of action, the
higher representing the real you, and the lower symbolizing your past. You are
prone to a duplicity; your ideals are persevered in a higher abstract realm
while less lofty characteristics determine the course of events in your
"...Your tendency to exaggerate, overindulge or
overcommit yourself gets you in trouble until you adopt the philosophy of
life that "you get out of life what you contribute." At this point
you stop trying to get something for nothing and your financial picture
becomes much more stable...
"...You are engaged in one of life's
deep struggles. Your higher and lower selves fight for control of your
actions. You are not generally able to secure steady forward motion along a
progressive path until you willfully and consciously renounce everything
that gets in the way of your highest ideal. This is not easy and will
require many attempts before success comes about. Personal progress is
sure though, as soon as you see your higher ideals as a direct extension
of universal principles to advance for the entire society."
So we come to the conclusion that Mrs. Takata
was very much a human being like all the rest of us, having her strengths,
weaknesses, contradictions, and vision as we all do. Before any of us gets
too critical about what she did or did not do, let us first look in the mirror
and go to work on the person we see there.
A zip file with the full report in ASCII format of Mrs. Takata's natal
chart is available for free download. It's
a fascinating read. Mrs. Takata was quite the lady.