The Mystery Behind Reiki Symbols and Their Meanings

Reiki symbols are potent characters that have been used since the founding of Reiki. Once activated, these symbols hold incredible healing energy that can tremendously impact people’s lives.

Reiki symbols can direct energy within recipients’ bodies to achieve specific effects, and the four main symbols are the Power Symbol, Harmony Symbol, Distance Symbol, and Master Symbol. Reiki also has supplementary symbols, such as the Completion Symbol, Shika Sei Ki, and Shika So.

Please keep reading to learn more about what Reiki symbols are, the origins of these symbols, and how to activate them. We’ll then discuss the four traditional Reiki symbols and some supplementary symbols used by some Reiki healers. Lastly, we’ll talk about the effects of combining symbols.

What Are Reiki Symbols?

Reiki symbols can direct Reiki energy in a recipient’s body to achieve a specific purpose. Each symbol has a different effect on the receiver. Reiki healers may use particular symbols on their patients depending on their ailments, energy blocks, or any other mental, physical, or emotional complications they may suffer.

Origin of Reiki Symbols

The first Reiki symbols were adopted by the founder of Reiki, Mikao Usui. Usui was a Japanese man interested in theology, psychology, and spiritual healing. He traveled worldwide to learn more about medicine and other healing practices.

In the early 1920s, Usui became a Buddhist monk. During this time, he traveled to Mount Kurama for a 21-day fast and meditation. While he was praying on the mountaintop, Usui became inspired and began the development of Reiki.

During this spiritual awakening, he also saw four symbols that would become a staple of Reiki healing. These include the Power Symbol (Cho Ku Rei), the Harmony Symbol (Sei Hei Ki), the Distance Symbol (Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen), and the Master Symbol (Dai Ko Myo).

It is unlikely that Usui was the first to create these symbols. Reiki’s followers believe that he acquired them from Zen Buddhism and other religious and healing practices throughout the eastern world. He may have encountered these symbols during his travels and felt inspired to use them for Reiki because of their healing potential.

Today, Reiki healers use a wide variety of symbols, not just the original four. However, most practitioners start by learning these original symbols before moving on to other ones. Usui’s symbols are foundational knowledge healers must know before achieving higher consciousness.

How to Activate Reiki Symbols

Reiki symbols do not have any power by themselves. They require a healer to activate them for them to be effective. For this to happen, Reiki students must go through an attunement ceremony.

Before this ceremony, students are given time to memorize and review the symbols. Then, during the attunement ceremony, the symbol’s energy is transferred from the Reiki masters to their students.

Now, whenever the students use the symbol, the same power flowing through them during the ceremony will be reactivated. Students no longer require their masters to be present to activate the signs.

There are three levels of Reiki healing. At the first level (Shoden), no symbols are received during the attunement ceremony. During the second (Okuden) and third (Shinpiden) levels, healers acquire marks of varying power levels. Once a Reiki healer successfully passes the third level, they become a Reiki Master who can use all the symbols they’ve been attuned to.

Symbols Used in Usui Reiki

In this next section, we will go over the shape, primary function, use, and mastery level of the four traditional symbols adopted by Usui.

Cho Ku Rei: The Universal Symbol

The Universal Symbol, also known as the Power Symbol, is Cho Ku Rei in Japanese, which translates to ‘place the power of the universe here.’

Attunement Level: Reiki students must reach attunement Level 2 before using this symbol.

Primary Function

The Universal Symbol is shaped like a coil. It is often called the regulator of energy because it can intensify or release energy, depending on how the coil is drawn.

If the coil is drawn in a clockwise direction, it attracts and increases energy. However, it will reduce or disperse energy if it’s bent counterclockwise. Because of its opposing effects, healers can use the Universal Symbol in various situations.

Uses for the Symbol

There are five main uses for this symbol. We will discuss them in detail below.

  • Increases the energy flow of Reiki to a specific location of the body: If people have wounds or ailments in particular parts of their bodies, healers can use this symbol to increase the energy going to those locations. This encourages healing since more positive high-frequency energy is directed to the injured area.
  • Focuses Reiki energy on a specific intention: When people wish to share their preferences with others, they can use this symbol. For example, if someone sends their friend a letter, they can seal it with this symbol. The energy and intention the sender wanted their friend to receive will now be enclosed with the letter.
  • Brings peace to those in conflict: The Power Symbol grants people the ability to remedy conflict with others. To activate it, the person in conflict visualizes the symbol and focuses it on the person he or she conflicts with. Another option is to imagine the character between them. This will help relieve the tension and remove any anger between the involved parties.
  • Cleanses food, drinks, possessions, or spaces: To clear any unwanted energy from the items listed above, draw the Universal Symbol in a counterclockwise direction. This will release and purify the unwanted energy that has accumulated. If you are cleansing a space, draw the symbol in each corner of the room for the best results.
  • Protects travelers and belongings: Many people use this symbol for protection purposes. For example, it can be drawn over precious belongings to keep them safe. Others also use this symbol before a long journey to save the universe’s high-frequency energy wherever they go and keep unwanted energy away.

Reiki Symbols

Sei Hei Ki: The Mental/Emotional Symbol

The Mental/Emotional Symbol, the Harmony Symbol, resembles a wave on a beach or a bird in flight. It is called Sei Hei Ki, meaning “God and man become one” in Japanese.

Attunement Level: Reiki healers must achieve Level Two attunement before using this symbol.

Primary Function

The Mental/Emotional Symbol is all about harmony and purification. It is used for mental and emotional healing caused by various imbalances, including addiction, overwhelming emotions, relationship problems, memory issues, and more. It effectively brings deeply rooted matters to the surface so people can identify and release them.

Uses for the Symbol

The Mental/Emotional Symbol can influence your energy in various ways. We’ll discuss these in detail below.

  • Helps improve memory: For those who have trouble remembering information, the Sei Hei Ki can help. Individuals studying for tests or trying to remember new facts can place this symbol at the top of their notebooks to help them retain it for longer. People who have done this say it has helped them recall the information for weeks or even years after learning it.
  • Aids people trying to beat bad habits and addictions: People who struggle with drinking, smoking, sex, or food addictions can call on this symbol for help. Many bad habits arise from negative emotional and mental experiences. So, visualizing this symbol can help people release these past traumas to heal and no longer rely on their vices for comfort.
  • Eliminates headaches: Emotional or mental imbalances cause headaches and migraines. These can be remedied by visualizing the Sei Hei Ki. When people do this, it helps return their bodies and minds to equilibrium, thereby removing their headaches.
  • Assists with healing many physical ailments: Many physical issues arise from emotional or mental ones. While the issue itself may be physical, it can be made more harmful by emotional problems that worsen the pain. People can use Sei Hei Ki to remove unwanted emotional blocks, which helps the body heal physically.
  • Strengthening affirmations: This symbol can make affirmations more effective and significantly impact people’s lives. For those who write down their affirmations, drawing the Sei He Ki next to them will make them more vital than ever before.

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen: The Distance Symbol

The Distance Symbol is called Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen in Japanese, which means ‘having no present, past, or future.’ It is one of the most complex symbols in Reiki that is sometimes challenging for those unfamiliar with Reiki healing practices to understand.

Attunement Level: Healers can use this symbol once they complete their Level Two Reiki attunement ceremony.

Primary Function

The Distance Symbol can send the power of Reiki across time and space. It can send positive energy into the future or remedy past problems. While it cannot change past events, it can reframe them in the recipient’s mind so that they view them as learning experiences instead of as traumatic events without meaning.

Another unique ability of the Distance Symbol is its capacity to unlock the Akashic records, allowing Reiki practitioners to access their patients’ consciousness and view their past lives. Some people struggle with past-life issues, so being able to access them is necessary for ultimate healing.

Uses for the Symbol

There are two primary uses for Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen during a Reiki healing session. These include:

  • Prepares people for future events: Although what the future holds is uncertain, there are likely events on the horizon that could use positive Reiki energy. For example, suppose someone has an exam, a conflict with their spouse, or another potentially harmful event in their future. Sending Reiki energy to these moments fills these events with positive energy, making them less destructive.
  • Heals wounds caused by death, trauma, or bad relationships: As mentioned above, this symbol cannot change the terrible past events. However, for those who’ve experienced a loved one’s death, a terrible accident, or some other traumatic experience, the Distance Symbol can heal their hearts and help them find meaning and closure. Reframing these events will permit them to recover and learn from their past.

Dai Ko Myo: The Master Symbol

The Master Symbol is Dai Ko Myo in Japanese, which means “great shining light,” “great luminous shining,” or “great enlightenment.” This symbol encaptures the essence of Reiki.

Attunement Level: Students must become Level Three healers to use the Dai Ko Myo symbol.

Primary Function

The Master Symbol is the most powerful in Reiki. It encompasses all other symbols’ power and is the most complex symbol to draw and attune. It brings clarity, enlightenment, and intention to those who use it.

It also helps people understand their real purpose in the world, permitting them to dive into their hearts and souls’ deepest depths. It can heal every aspect of a person, including their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves. Most people who receive this symbol feel a closer connection to God. They also feel a deeper understanding and appreciation for the universe.

Uses for the Symbol

Listed below are the five primary ways healers can use the Dai Ko Myo to improve their students’ and patients’ energy:

  • Enhances students’ connection to universal energy during the attunement ceremony: Reiki students at every level receive this symbol from their masters during their attunements. It helps improve the relationship between the healer and the energy of the universe. It also encourages healing and enlightenment, making the students more proficient healers and energy guides.
  • Heals the spiritual soul: The Master Symbol functions on the highest vibration, which is on a spiritual level. This symbol can heal the spirit. Once the spirit is healed, everything else repairs itself automatically, including a person’s emotional, mental, and physical troubles.
  • Helps people achieve enlightenment: For those seeking more transcendent intuition and self-awareness, the Master Symbol is very effective. It helps people understand themselves on a more extraordinary level and encourages self-love. If this symbol is used enough, it can help people understand the spiritual world and achieve enlightenment.
  • Increases other symbols’ effectiveness: When combined with other Reiki symbols, it boosts their energy.
  • Boosts immune function: Dai Ko Myo is often called an immune energizer because it enhances the immune system and increases energy flow throughout the body. It also increases the effectiveness of medicines, homeopathic cures, and herbs that can further improve immunity.

Additional Symbols Used in Reiki

This section will delve into three symbols used in Reiki that Usui did not adopt. Although these symbols weren’t initially developed for Reiki, they are still instrumental and can encourage healing when used correctly.

Raku: The Completion Symbol

The Completion Symbol, also known as the Fire Serpent or Raku in Japanese, is shaped like a zig-zag. Many believe it represents a lightning bolt striking down, indicating a session’s completion.

The Raku is thought to be a Tibetan symbol. It was first used for Reiki healing by Master Iris Ishiguro. One of her students, Arthur Robertson, acquired this symbol from her and brought it to the West. Today, this symbol is commonly used by Reiki practitioners. Even though it is not one of the original four, it is still viewed as a powerful emblem with a lot of healing energy.


The Completion Symbol is most commonly used to ground people after completing a Reiki session. It is also effective at helping people absorb the healing energy of the session into their seven chakras. Many people view Raku in the same way they view savasana in yoga. Both are used to seal the benefits that were received during the session.

Uses for the Symbol

  • Grounds energy during an attunement ceremony: This symbol helps students feel grounded and stable after the ceremony. This is crucial because receiving new power can be overwhelming if nothing is done to counteract its effects.
  • Separates the energies of masters and students during the attunement ceremony: When masters transfer over the power of a symbol to their students, they want to sever the ties between them once the process is complete. This permits the students to access the symbols without the masters independently. Raku is beneficial for severing the relationship. It can quickly and easily break things in half like a lightning bolt.
  • Helps people feel grounded in everyday life: Even people who do not study Reiki can use this symbol to help them. People need to envision it or draw it on paper to use the symbol. This will give them a feeling of groundedness and connectedness with the earth.

Shika Sei Ki: Heart Chakra Healer

The Shika Sei Ki symbol is less commonly used than the Raku and is not taught by many Reiki schools.

While this symbol’s exact origins are unknown, it is thought to come from old Reiki teachings. Many believe this symbol was meant to be kept a secret. That’s why so little is known about its beginnings.


The Shika Sei Ki is most commonly used on the heart chakra, the fourth chakra in the body. The heart chakra impacts our ability to love others and our relationships. This symbol can affect the heart chakra by removing unwanted energies from it. It can also increase the heart chakra energy and make it more potent if it isn’t functioning as it should.

Uses for the Symbol

The Shika Sei Ki influences the heart chakra’s energy in several ways. Some of these include:

  • Focuses energy in one area: If a healer needs to focus loving energy on one location of the body, they can use the Shika Sei Ki to direct the energy towards the area.
  • Balances energy in the heart chakra: When the heart chakra is unbalanced, people find it hard to love others and themselves. One way to remedy this is with Shika Sei Ki. Drawing this symbol over the recipient’s bodies will make them feel at peace with themselves and others and return their ability to love and be loved. It can also achieve emotional balance and heal past relationships’ wounds.
  • Makes spaces more inviting: Drawing this symbol in a room can make the space feel more loving and warm for visitors. It can also help release unwanted energy from the area.
  • Helps relieve sadness: Reiki healers can use this symbol on patients experiencing depression, anger, or other negative emotions. It will help them heal and can replace their bad feelings with loving ones.
  • Relieves arterial and cardiovascular health problems: Some Reiki healers have found that this symbol can encourage the healing of several heart-related ailments, including tachycardias, arterial hypotension and hypertension, myocardium inflammation, and more.

Shika So: Throat Chakra Healer

Like the Shika Sei Ki, the Shika So is a less popular symbol that isn’t taught at every Reiki school. It is only incorporated into some Reiki healers’ sessions.

The Shika So is thought to have originated from old Reiki teachings. Like the Shika Sei Ki, many Reiki followers believe this symbol was kept a secret.


This Reiki symbol is usually used on the throat chakra, the fifth chakra in the body. The throat chakra influences people’s communication skills and ability to communicate ideas. The Shika So can balance the throat chakra to promote proper functioning. It can also help fix an imbalanced throat chakra, returning it to its highest level of functioning.

Uses for the Symbol

Below, you will find five ways Shika So Symbol can influence the throat chakra.

  • Improves public speaking abilities: Some people struggle with speaking to others or addressing crowds. For many, these situations cause intense anxiety that inhibits their communication skills. Drawing this symbol on their speech or visualizing it in their heads helps relieve their worry, permitting them to speak quickly.
  • Enhances communication between couples: Many couples struggle to communicate with their partners and find it challenging to express their emotions and meanings. Using the Shika So on, one or both partners can open up their throat chakras, permitting words to flow freely between them.
  • Encourages open communication in locations that display its symbol: Drawing this symbol and putting it in four corners of the room makes the area feel open to communication, speech, and understanding.
  • Releases trapped emotions: Sometimes, people hold emotions inside, which can negatively impact their healing. Using this symbol helps them to express these trapped feelings. This is very therapeutic, often making them feel like a great weight has been lifted.
  • Heals throat-related issues: For people with ailments in the throat region of their body, the Shika So can help. Some conditions it has been shown to improve are coughing, tonsillitis, cervical spondylosis, parathyroid insufficiency, laryngitis, and more.

Using Multiple Symbols at the Same Time

Reiki practitioners can harness the powers of multiple Reiki symbols simultaneously. To do this, they must be attuned to all the symbols they use and be aware of the combined effects the symbols have. This is typically more complex than doing one symbol since the healer has to harness multiple symbols’ energies and apply them correctly.

There are many reasons why healers may choose to use multiple symbols simultaneously. Some potential uses may include the following:

  • Sending Reiki energy to someone sick: Combining the effects of Sei Hei Ki, Cho Ku Rei, Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, and Cho Ku Rei are potent for healing the sick. To do this, the healer must say the names of the symbols three times while visualizing the ill individual or looking at a picture of them.
  • Sending Reiki energy to a future event: While the Master Symbol can do this by itself, incorporating the other symbols can intensify the good energy transmitted to the future moment.

Final Thoughts

There are four primary symbols used in Reiki. The founder, Mikao Usui, adopted these. Each symbol has a distinctive effect on the recipient’s mind and body. These include:

  • The Universal Symbol
  • The Mental/Emotional Symbol
  • The Distance Symbol
  • The Master Symbol

Reiki healers also use some additional symbols. However, these are less popular and not taught in traditional Reiki schools. One exception to this is the Completion Symbol, which most healers use even though it was not one of the original symbols.

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