Reiki Symbols As Medicine: The Art of Usui Reiki, Its Symbols and Its Role As A Healing Treatment

reikisymbolsWhat is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese healing practice developed by the Japanese Monk, Mikao Usui, in 1922. It was, and still is, used as an alternative medicinal treatment. Named after its founder, Usui Reiki is the most commonly practiced form of Reiki. Reiki practitioners and followers believe that humans have a life energy force that soars through us and is the source of being alive. The higher your life energy, the more you can resist sickness and the more relaxed and stress-free you will be. The lower your life force, the more susceptible you are to illness and the more anxiety you’ll harbor. To correct low levels of life energy, Reiki practitioners use a “hands on” approach to healing. This means when healing, Masters transfer the energy harnessed from these symbols through their hands and then into the patient in need of healing. If the idea of energy as a healing property interests you, so might this course on Eastern Medicine and the psychology behind energy healing.

Reiki actually stands for the spirit of a higher power or God’s wisdom (Rei) and life force energy (ki). While there isn’t an inherent Reiki dogma, users tend to highly believe in spirituality and harmony.

Four Principles

Spiritual Discipline

A connection between human spirits is found throughout the practice and study of this treatment. Because of its close ties to spirituality this alternative medicine often becomes a path to spiritual enlightenment in addition to a cure of physical ailments.

Personal Development

As with each of us, students are challenged in their beliefs and values everyday as they pursue Reiki healing. As they develop their skills as a Reiki Master, they’ll discover qualities about themselves that had been buried before.

Mystic Order

The mystic world is connected by believers of the Reiki tradition which helps pursuers keep an open line of communication with the magic and mysticism of our universe.

Healing Practice

Reiki is a form of treatment that is prescribed through the hands and can be applied to the self or others.

Secret Symbols

Traditionally, Reiki symbols are a secret withheld only for students who reach a certain level of Reiki training. When a student reaches Reiki level 2 they will gain knowledge of, or have use for these special Reiki symbols. But in an age when information is widely disseminated over the internet – Reiki symbols have become public knowledge and this tradition may be less practiced. This doesn’t make their value any less important though. These symbols are regarded as sacred and holy to Reiki Masters and their craft. A student initiation, or attunement is done by a Master and is considered the first step to receiving the universal life force needed to practice Reiki. The levels are Reiki 1, Reiki 2 and Master level. As mentioned before, Reiki 2 is typically when the symbols are introduced. To get your Reiki 1 training, take this online course.

How symbols are used

There are varying understandings of how Reiki symbols work.  The first type attributes the symbols form to being the conduit to extract change or effect. The second belief is that these symbols are “charged” by holy proximity, rituals or certain people to create an effect. The third belief is that these sacred symbols are actually tools that enable the user to enact a spiritual effect or function. These views aren’t mutually exclusive they are just different perspectives on how these symbols operate within the Reiki healing practice.

These symbols are written and by doing so they power they hold is activated. Of course the symbol itself doesn’t harness electricity, but the person controlling the symbols form – does. In a typical healing session, the Reiki Master will focus all their concentration into the Reiki symbols. This energy will then be harvested to heal the patient. The use of the symbols acts as a gateway into higher levels awareness.


Naturally, there are critics of the Reiki traditions. It’s hard for some people to believe in energy as a healer, much like it may be hard for Reiki healers to believe in the benefits of pharmaceuticals. Often times Reiki healing practices are used in addition to other natural and alternative medicinal treatments. There really isn’t use arguing that Reiki does, or doesn’t work, as its ability to work is largely attributed to the mentality of the healer and user and not of the physical properties. You can think of it as a placebo effect, although I am not indicating that this is what Reiki is, it may help to be described in layman’s terms. In the placebo effect a patient is told that a certain practice will make them feel better. In a lot of cases, people given treatment that holds no inherent medicinal properties believe that they are being treated and their psychosomatic response correlates to this belief. Likewise, believers of Reiki believe that the ki or, life energy force, is healing even if to a non-believer it looks like palm rubbing and gibberish. Become a certified Reiki Master.

Four Main Reiki Symbols

Reiki has many symbols that are used as healing tools but there are four important symbols that are consistently seen and used. Note that Reiki symbols are derived from Kanji so you will see similarities.

Cho Ku Rei (pronounced choo-koo-ray) – The Power Symbol.

Place the power of the universe here. Essentially this power tool is the tool to help enhance the functionality of all the other tools. It keeps negative energy at bay and helps empower the user to be more effective, the tools to be more productive and the environment to be cleansed. Typically this symbol is used at the beginning of a session to ramp up the energies for healing, or at the end of a session to seal in the energy created. It can, however, be used at any point throughout a treatment as the healer sees fit. To do this, the healer can actually assign a function to the power symbol. Want to become a Level 2 Reiki healer? Get certified here.

How to use Cho Ku Rei:

The healer can say Cho Ku Rei repetitively to call the energy to place, draw the symbol on paper with a utensil, or draw the symbol in the air with their hands. It can even be said silently in your head with similar results. Here are some example scenarios when this symbol can be used:

  • For spontaneous treatments

  • Spiritual Protection

  • Food nourishment

  • To aid manifestation

  • To empower other Reiki symbols

  • To cleanse negative energies

Sei He Ki (pronounced Say-Hay-Kay) Mental/Emotional Symbol

God and man become one. The bond between the body and the mind is inseparable. A physical ailment often times is related to a mental disturbance and likewise the opposite can be true. This symbol directly links the brain and the body as one, as being the source of ailments. Aside from Reiki traditions this belief is becoming prevalent amongst conventional doctors alike. This symbol is often used to heal patients suffering from mental disorders or illnesses, whether temporary or chronic, and can help fix imbalances between the left and right sides of the brain. Emotional development is crucial to our overall health and this symbol is a responsible remedy for this development.

How to use Sei He Ki

This mental and emotional symbol will be used by healers if the patient is suffering from mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, PTSD, nervousness, or anger. Specifically is can be used to:

  • Treat addictions to drugs like alcohol, opiates and nicotine

  • To aid in weight loss

  • Improve memory and retaining information (for school or personal purposes)

  • Help you find misplaced items (draw the symbol with the missing item title)

  • Use this symbol in direct or distance healing for fixing emotional troubles

Hon Sha Se Sho Nen (pronounced Hon-Sha-Zee-Show-Nen) Distance and mental symbol

No past, no present, no future. This symbol is essentially the bridge that connects the soul and the body. It can be used in distance healing, regardless of time and space. In other words, a healer who wishes to treat a patient who is not present can utilize this symbol to create and send energy anywhere, anytime. It’s also used by some as a karmic healing tool. Hon Sha Se Sho Nen can access the Akashic Records, or the records of the soul. It’s worth mentioning that this symbol is not meant to be used to resolve a specific problem, like a headache. It is, however, intended to heal whatever needs healing. So don’t put limitations on what this symbol is capable of.

How to use it:

You can visualize this symbol, draw it in the air with your hands, while you picture the person you wish to send the energy to. You can also use a photo, a piece of clothing or personal belonging to the person – or even just a name.

  • Send treatment to patients far away, or attunement

  • Send Reiki to the future to help support certain tasks or circumstances

  • Use this Reiki symbol to reach the past and release traumas


    Traditional symbol                           Contemporary Master symbol

Dai Ko Myo (pronounced dye-ko-me-o) The Master Symbol

Considered the most important symbol by many Reiki Masters, Dai Ko Myo awakens the patient to a new sense of strength and wisdom. This symbol is used to heal the soul and bring about enlightenment and a profound sense of connectedness. The Master symbol can ignite significant life change and heal diseases at the source. As a tool, the Master symbol helps to nurture your soul and physical body while it encourages you to do the same for others. This is the most commonly used symbol and can only be used by Reiki Masters.

How to use it:

This can be used under all circumstances, but only by a Master.

Raku (pronounced Ra-Koo) The Completion Symbol

This is the final symbol in the Usui system of Reiki. It’s used as a divider between the teacher’s aura and the student’s aura during the final stage of attunement (or initiation). This symbol’s energy is a force to be reckoned with so it should be used carefully and with precision. The symbol is a lightning bolt that should be drawn from the heavens to the ground, as if “grounding” the energy.

How to use it:

Place the energy or the symbol itself between the Master and the student during the final stages of initiation.

I’ve mentioned that you can visualize the symbol, write the symbol, trace the symbol, or speak the symbol. These are all valid ways of “activating” the symbols power and can be adjusted to the needs of the situation and person. Apply the energy harnessed from the symbols to your patient by going to the problem area (a headache, backache, etc.), the client’s hands/palms, or the clients crown chakra.

Another Reiki symbol you might hear referenced is Tamarasha.

Tamarasha (pronounced Tam-a-ra-sha) The Balancing Symbol

This Reiki is not of the Usui tradition of the above symbols. The Tamarasha is of Egyptian origin and can be included in the Seichim branch of Reiki. Some people who practice Usui Reiki will not use symbols from other Reiki influences. This symbol is known for providing balance and unblocking the energy chakras so energy can continue to flow evenly throughout the body. To activate this symbol you need to trace it over the source of pain. By holding this image in your mind you are increasing the flow of energy can again, heal pain at the source.

Reiki is a very powerful tool when used by the right people and for the right intentions. As a medicine, it’s widely known by alternative prescribers but not so widely accepted by conventional doctors as a viable treatment method. Learn more about how to become a Reiki practitioner in this 1st degree training.