Reiki Symbols and How to Use Them: Essential Knowledge for Reiki Practitioners

So you’ve passed Reiki Level I and are about to crack the second level. You now have the privilege of learning the sacred Reiki symbols that will enable you to attune others to Reiki. In ancient times, the only way one could learn these symbols as if they were passed from one master to another, but today, anyone can study them independently.

The four major sacred Reiki symbols are Cho Ku Ray, Sei Hei Ki, Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, and Dai Ki Myo. There are non-traditional ones too. Practitioners activate them by visualizing them, drawing them, or saying their names out loud. A successful activation requires healers to manifest good intentions.

This guide discusses the major Reiki symbols, the non-standard ones, their meanings, and how they are used. Reiki symbols were supposed to be a secret in the old days, but when Reiki spread worldwide, they became more accessible. Here’s a rundown.

The Origin of Reiki Symbols

Reiki founder Dr. Mikao Usui developed the Reiki symbols to harmoniously cultivate ki—the universal life force energy—and serve as teaching instruments for his students. Taught during the Level II Attunement, the symbols are supposed to unlock the gateway to the higher self. They are rooted in Kanji, the Japanese writing system. Practitioners must draw or visualize them as they were introduced during their attunement.

Attunement is where spiritually guided Reiki masters pass on ki to their students. They do this by opening their wards’ crown, heart, and palm chakras energy centers that connect recipients of ki to its source. People who visualize these symbols instantly link to the life force, divesting them of all negativity.

In ancient Reiki tradition, masters believed these symbols were sacred and should be taught only to level II practitioners. This changed when Reiki spread to the modern world, spawning numerous variations. This should not be a cause for concern because the symbols’ genuine force depends on the intention of the invoker and the symbol, not the variation.

The Purpose of the Reiki Symbols

Reiki is an ancient healing practice rooted in the ideology that ki flows within and around living beings. When Ki is blocked or unbalanced, physical, mental, or emotional ailments occur. These are remedied by realigning Ki or redirecting its flow through touch. When the imbalance is corrected, the healing process begins. Reiki practitioners learn to do this in level I.

In level II, they learn symbols, enabling them to advance their practice using ki for a particular purpose. In other energy healing modalities, symbols affect only the subconscious, but Reiki alerts the body and spirit to how ki operates.

The Key Is in the Intention

Reiki, as a non-physical energy healing therapy, is not taught in the usual way but passed on from the teacher to the student during the attunement process. Reiki masters are expected to live harmoniously, but their healing practice’s success does not depend on their lifestyle, moral beliefs, spiritual forte, or intellectual prowess.

Patients do not need to believe in Reiki for it to work because the practice derives its strength from the practitioners’ intentions and the symbols they use.

Reiki practitioners use signs to heal and protect. These symbols connect people with unique healing frequencies to stimulate the life force energy. These are the symbols novices should familiarize themselves with to move their spiritual journey forward:

Cho Ku Rei

Cho Ku Rei

This power symbol, aka the Usui Power Increase symbol, has different meanings depending on the source. One of them is: “Direct the universe’s power here.” The Power Reiki symbol intends to magnify one’s abilities. That’s why it is compared to a light switch.

Practitioners usually begin a healing session with it because it is most effective at the start or the end of treatment. Connected to the physical body, it is used to intensify power. It draws energy from the surroundings and directs it to where it is needed. Practitioners draw this sign on themselves or their clients; they silently chant the symbol’s name to themselves three times.

A manifestation of Cho Ku Rei is the shape of a coil that expands or contracts to regulate energy. One may view the coil as a close field around the energy recipient or a body part to prevent negative energy from coming in and to keep positive ones from escaping. Another perspective on its shape is that of a funnel that can increase power and refocus it where necessary. When used in reverse, it can decrease the power and set it free.

How to Use

Visualize this symbol as a switch that, once activated, enables you to channel energy. This multi-purpose symbol has many uses: as a manifestation aid, an instrument for cleansing and purification, a tool for making other Reiki symbols more potent, an eradication of negative energy, spiritual protection, spot-on treatments, and a means to speed up healing. Practitioners should reverse this symbol when they’re using it on themselves.

Draw Cho Ku Rei on walls to lighten up rooms with stagnant energy. Draw it on business cards before an important meeting or activate it before an interview to secure the job. Activate this symbol to purify energy systems, expel negative energy from food, protect oneself from mishaps (an indication of impure energy), and revive relationships gone sour.

Sei Hei Ki

Sei Hei Ki

This emotional, mental, or addiction symbol (aka the harmony symbol) pertains to “The Key to the Universe.” Its general translation is “God and man unified.” The drawing of this symbol is a bird’s wing or a wave.

As this symbol soothes the mind, it is beneficial for improving cognition, treating psychological ailments, exorcising traumatic experiences, restoring equilibrium to the right and left portions of the brain, unblocking emotional hindrances, or eliminating negative energy.

Sei Hei Ki’s intention is balance; it promotes love and harmony, balances feelings, and connects the mind and body. This symbol is an essential ally in the fight against life’s obstacles.

How to Use

Draw this symbol on study material to aid in retention, pass a test, or boost your memory long-term. Draw it next to your written affirmations to make them more potent and force them to stick. You can also visualize it as an icon on your head.

Some healers use Sei Hei Ki to rid their patients of addictive behavior or bad habits, often caused by traumatic experiences or a negative outlook on life or oneself. Others use it to relieve headaches, which they believe spring from emotional or mental instability.

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

This Connection Reiki symbol, aka distance symbol or absentee symbol, encourages awareness, connection, and tranquility. Various translations include “The god in me salutes the one in you” and “Not having a past, present, or future.”

This symbol is used for spiritual linking, stretching power, healing karma, and distance-healing over space and time. It can be sent to anyone. Its intention is timelessness. Its personification is a shapeshifter, as it can traverse space and time.

How to Use

According to Gaia, Reiki practitioners can access the soul’s life data (called Akashic Records) through this symbol. That’s why they use it to purge the adverse effects of traumatic experiences when a patient goes into past-life regression, resulting in karmic healing.

Some also use this symbol to send Reiki into the future to preempt events, potentially leading to adverse outcomes. Reiki experts believe this symbol operates better on the surreal body than the physical body. They recommend invoking it daily to accelerate past and future healing.

Dai Ko Myo

Dai Ko Myo

Also known as the Usui Master Symbol, it is the most potent one used for healing, not just the physical body but also the spirit. Only Reiki masters can use it because it fuses the power of its three predecessor symbols, making it the core of Reiki.

The phrase has various translations. One is: “Supreme enlightenment.” Another is: “High Power of the Universe, illuminate me and be my ally.” The most sacred Reiki symbol, Dai Ko Myo, brings healers closer to the Higher Power because it intends spiritual enlightenment. The benefits of calling on Dai Ko Myo include achieving self-awareness and developing a solid spiritual practice.

How to Use

To invoke Dai Ko Myo, use any of these methods: visualize it, draw it in a series of characters, or use your third eye to draw it. To receive Dai Ko Myo, meditate on it. Doing so will nutrify and strengthen your body and soul, empowering yourself and enabling you to assist others.

Of all the major Reiki symbols, this one has the most transformative prowess because it produces the highest vibration levels. Masters use it to encourage wisdom and harmony and pass attunements during treatments and meditation. Use it to clear or charge crystals. Use it to help patients attain discernment, mastership, serenity, intuitive capacity, empowerment, spiritual healing, and psychic ability.

As it magnifies the healing power of all forms of Reiki, use it with other Reiki symbols to increase its effectiveness. Used alone, Dai Ko Myo revitalizes the immune system since it improves the flow of the life force throughout the body and clears blockages. Dai Ko Myo enhances their benefits in conjunction with homeopathic and Ayurvedic remedies.



We included Raku with the major sacred symbols because of its importance, but it is not part of the traditional Usui Reiki teaching. Raku is known as the Completion Reiki Symbol, aka the Tibetan Fire Serpent, which symbolizes the Kundalini energy in coils that look like snakes. Raku traces its origin to a self-mastery modality from Tibet. Reiki Master Iris Ishikuro passed the knowledge on to Arthur Robertson, who spread it to the west.

Raku is the final symbol Usui Reiki Masters learn. It represents ki flowing down the spine through the chakras. They use it at the final stage of attunement to secure energy in the seven chakras.

How to Use

Raku intends to ground and secure revitalized energy. It is used for chakra balancing, Kundalini healing, and hara (meaning “belly”) connection. In yoga, Kundalini refers to the female energy in a coiled form at the base of the spine. Draw Raku as a jagged lightning bolt striking the earth from the heavens. Visualize Raku as energy moving up from the bottom of the spine to cleanse the chakras.

Raku’s purpose is to open up the body to receive Reiki’s blessings in the same way as savasana at the end of a yoga session aids the body in absorbing the benefits of the tradition. Practitioners use Raku to remove negative energy they may have absorbed from patients.

The Non-Traditional Reiki Symbols

Some symbols of modern-day Reiki are not derived from Dr. Usui’s original curriculum. See the reasons for their existence below. If you wish to learn more about the non-standard symbols, consult a Reiki teacher who can attune them. Nina Paul outlined these symbols in her book Reiki for Dummies:

  • Reversed Cho Ku Rei—Healers use this with the traditional format to manifest a positive outcome.
  • Tam A Ra Sha—The symbol of equilibrium, it balances and releases energy. It relieves pain when drawn over affected areas.
  • Tibetan Dai Ko Myo—This is an alternative to the traditional format, which some healers prefer.
  • Zonar—This symbol heals ailments from patients’ previous lives by working through time.
  • Antahkarana—Different divisions of Reiki use this as a healing and meditation instrument.
  • Harth—This heart symbol deals with issues concerning empathy and love.
  • Om—Certain Reiki branches use this Sanskrit symbol, borrowed from Eastern practices like yoga, to conduct initiations. Om symbolizes the sound of the universe.
  • Halu—Used for matters of love and equilibrium, it intensifies the Zonar symbol.

How to Use Individual Symbols

Reiki healers activate symbols by envisioning them, chanting their names silently or loudly, depending on the situation, or drawing them. For the healing to proceed in an orderly manner, healers need to invoke proper intentions from the symbols.

These are some ways to activate Reiki symbols:

  • Draw them using the fingers
  • Draw them using the middle of the palm
  • Draw them using the third eye
  • Visualize them
  • Chant the name of the symbol three times

Practitioners can pick the activation technique they prefer. What’s important is their intention. They should mark the symbol on their hands and then visualize or redraw the symbols on their patients’ hands, crown chakras, and areas that need healing.

How to Use Multiple Symbols Simultaneously

Practitioners are not restricted to using Reiki symbols one at a time. They can also use several that complement one another. For example, you can use several symbols to transfer ki to a sick patient from a distance. While holding a picture of your patient, visualize the first three symbols three times each and say their name three times.

Some healers use several symbols simultaneously by sending energy to future events that worry their patients, such as laboratory test results or the outcome of a competition. Visualize the major symbols and chant their names three times each while asking them for positive vibrations on the event day. The anticipated result is that when the events finally occur, patients will be better able to deal with whatever comes their way.

Reasons for the Variations in Translation

According to Steve Murray, the author of Reiki, The Ultimate Guide—Learn Sacred Symbols & Attunements Plus Reiki Secrets You Should Know, Reiki practitioners and masters discover after training that they have been attuned to Usui Reiki Symbols with additional lines, lines that are different, and those that move in opposite directions.

Historians attribute the variations in Reiki Symbols to the ancient tradition of verbally teaching Reiki. For centuries, Reiki teachers prohibited their students from writing down lessons. So the transfer of knowledge was done from memory, resulting in the symbol variations. Since the advent of Reiki in the New World, its symbols have been properly recorded, reigning in additional variations.

Apart from the historical reason, some Reiki masters have intentionally modified the Reiki symbols to personalize their version. Variations have sprung from masters’ desire for their formats to be unique and to reflect their beliefs. Also, other Reiki masters have instructed their wards to implement adjustments.

As for the variations in the Reiki symbols’ interpretations and translations, these were the result of the text has gone through many languages from the original. Acknowledge the interpretation your teacher passed on to you if you are comfortable with it, but you don’t have to practice it if you are not. Be open to learning other interpretations. Continue your Reiki education. Who knows? You might feel more attuned to new ones.

Reiki masters ensure there is no right or wrong approach to this. Again, what’s important is the intention of the symbol’s meaning.

Final Thoughts

As you familiarize yourself with the different Reiki symbols, you’ll find that regularly using them improves your physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being. You’ll also discover that your focus will change to reflect them as you get acclimatized to their intentions.

If you read this guide out of curiosity and have yet to experience a Reiki treatment, try one. Better yet, learn the practice by taking lessons or consulting a Reiki master. You’ll then better understand the symbols and use them in your daily life. Here’s to a profound existence in mind, body, and spirit.

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