Explanation of the Reiki symbols

The Reiki symbols are sacred healing symbols that help enhance the flow of life force energy. They are used for focusing and holding intention when giving treatment.


In the Western style of Reiki the symbols are seen to be very important. They are seen as an integral part of the system; indeed, for many people the symbols in Reiki, are the energy. However new information coming from Japan, and the experiences of some Reiki people, suggest that they might not be as necessary as was once thought.

Firstly, it is interesting to note that the 'attunement' methods used by Mikao Usui's Reiki Association in Japan (the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai) do not involve the use of symbols: the Gakkai's students are connected to Reiki, but the Reiki symbols are not used in this process.

Secondly, Hiroshi Doi - a member of the 'Gakkai who has brought their basic teachings to the Western world - says that Mikao Usui introduced the symbols into his Reiki technique for the benefit of his students. The story was that some students could just not accept that they could 'do this thing', and by giving them something concrete to use, they learned to focus and control the energy more easily.

Hiroshi Doi also says that the current 'Gakkai students do not use the symbols, though they are shown them out of historical interest. Mikao Usui no doubt chose the symbols very carefully, to represent different aspects of the energy, but the energy and the connection to the energy came first it seems.

So perhaps the message we should be getting from the above is that we may choose to use the symbols if we want to or need to use them, but they are not necessarily an essential part of the system, and if we feel that we can move beyond them, that is ok.

I have been in contact with a Moldovan Doctor (and Master) whose Reiki friends use Christian symbols to control and focus the Reiki energy; I also know a Moslem Reiki Master who uses Moslem prayers to do the same thing. From personal experience I can say that it is possible to produce the desired effect with the energy through intent only, whether that be distant healing or gearing the energy in the direction of mental/emotional balancing or physical healing.

For me there is a distinction to be made between the energy of Reiki, and any symbols that might be used to control and focus the energy in a particular way. Reiki is the energy, you are attuned to the energy, but there are many ways of directing the energy, by using symbols from Japan, from other cultures and through simple intent.


Symbols and Attunements.

Use the symbols to access the energy they represent directly, and the use of symbols from other cultures to direct the energy: Moslem prayers and Christian symbols for example. Here I want to talk about an exciting discovery for : you do not have to be attuned to the symbols for them to work for you!

It has always been a basic tenet of Western Reiki that the symbols do not work until you have been specifically ‘attuned’ to them, and all Western style attunement systems – as far as I can see – involve being attuned to symbols at First Degree, Second Degree and Master levels. However, no one really knew if you needed to be attuned to the symbols for them to work, because no one knew of a way to attune people without using symbols!

All that has changed with the introduction of ‘Reiju’ empowerments from Japan. Reiju is the way that the Reiki ability is conveyed to the students of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Mikao Usui’s Reiki Association), and within other traditional Reiki streams in Japan. Reiju is an empowerment that seems to derive from Tendai Buddhism, and within Japanese Reiki does not involve the use of symbols at First Degree, Second- Degree or Master levels. Now that we know how to connect people without using symbols, and without ‘attuning’ people to symbols, we can at last find out whether one needs to be attuned to a symbol for it to work for us.

I have experimented in three ways. Firstly, I have found that students attuned at First Degree level, using Western-style attunements, can produce noticeable effects in their hands when using the Reiki symbols. Western-style Reiki First Degree attunements use the Reiki symbols, of course, but you are not 'attuned' to them in the way that you are at Second Degree level.

Secondly, I have found that the symbols work just as well for First Degree students who are connected to Reiki using Reiju empowerments, and no symbols enter into this process at all. In fact, I have noticed that students attuned using Reiju seem to be more sensitive to the flow of attuned in the Western style.

Finally, I have been using the original Usui method to attune people to Reiki at Second Degree level, and this again does not use symbols: it uses a way of connecting students directly to the energies that the symbols represent. Students attuned in this way can use the Reiki symbols in just the same way, and just as effectively, as students attuned using the Western system… although they have not been 'attuned' to them.

So all this leads me to believe that once you have been connected to Reiki – symbols do not need to enter into this process – then the Reiki symbols will work for you, and you do not need to be attuned to them specifically. Not only that, but believe that any symbol will direct the energy in a particular way once you have been attuned to Reiki: Usui’s chosen symbols which come from Shintoism and Tendai Buddhism, but also symbols from other cultures and traditions, and channeled symbols too.

So the symbols generate different aspects of the energy, symbols from other cultures represent different facets of the energy, and you can – if you wish – move beyond the symbols entirely and use direct intent. Intent is a lot more important than we realize which is liberating!

© Taggart King, Reiki Evolution.