The Ultimate Guide To Healing With Reiki Symbols

The Ultimate Reiki symbol guide and directory is the most comprehensive resource for learning about all of the different symbols used in Reiki.

It’s a great way to get started with your own practice or deepen your understanding of this powerful healing modality.

There are 24 reiki symbols in total (scroll down for a complete list) and the 5 most powerful are:

  • Cho ku rei: The power symbol.
  • Sei he ki: The harmony symbol.
  • Hon sha ze sho nen: The distance symbol.
  • Dai ko myo: The master symbol.
  • Raku: The Completion Symbol


The history of Reiki is somewhat shrouded in obscurity and mystery, though research suggests that it has ancient origins.

Some reports believe it goes back at least one thousand years.

What is clear is that in the early 20th century Mikao Usui laid down the foundations of a healing tradition that is becoming ever more popular today.

At the time that Usui Sensei (as he is respectfully known) was developing and teaching his discipline, there were others offering their own teachings.

It is the Usui method that has prevailed, for a number of reasons.

In the century that has passed since then, dozens of alternative forms of Reiki have evolved, each with its own new developments and additions.

However, many who have studied Reiki to become practitioners and masters still believe that Usui Reiki offers the purest form.

It goes without saying that our modern world is very different from the one in which Mikao Usui lived and taught.

Traditionally, Reiki teaching was (and still often is) performed in person, with symbols and attunements given privately.

Usui Sensei used only four symbols, with a fifth added sometime later that only Masters had access to.

These symbols are considered sacred and powerful and were kept a closely guarded secret.

It used to be that the only way to learn them was to be given the symbols by a Master as you completed your teaching for the next level.

This practice was not to restrict teaching or exclude anyone from Reiki training.

It was to ensure that the symbols were respected and used correctly. Rightly or wrongly, these symbols are now freely available to all.

They have been printed in numerous books and appear on countless websites.

They can be accessed by anyone, within seconds.

Does this make them any less sacred? Some may think so, but others point out that these are simply two-dimensional drawings, powerless in their own right.

It is when they are used, along with the teaching and attunement, that they are activated and become powerful.

In 1995, Master William Lee Rand developed a form of Reiki with the help of his students called Karuna Reiki.

It is based on Mikao Usui’s methods but has added the extra dimension of self-improvement, oneness, and compassion.

It also puts more emphasis on working with angels.

While it doesn’t claim to be superior, it views itself as a purer form with a higher vibration.

Out of the many forms of Reiki available, Usui and Karuna are considered the most widely respected and used.

So, what are these symbols and how can they be used? What can we learn from them? How many symbols are there? This Complete Symbol Guide aims to answer all this, and more…

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Reiki Symbol
Reiki Symbol

What are reiki symbols?

Reiki symbols are hieroglyphs that are used to focus the energy of the practitioner in many different ways.

Each of the symbols represents something different and uses a specific set of mantras whose vibrations create the energy flow.

How many reiki symbols are there?

There are 24 different reiki symbols, they are used to focus the energy of the practitioner in many different ways.

Each of the symbols represents something different and uses a specific set of mantras whose vibrations create the energy flow.

List of all reiki symbols

Here is a list of all 24 Symbols:

  1. Sei he Ki: Harmony Symbol
  2. Cho Ku Rei : Power symbol
  3. Dai Ko Myo : master symbol
  4. Raku: The completion symbol
  5. Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen : Distance Symbol
  6. Shanti
  7. Halu
  8. Rama
  9. Kriya
  10. Harth
  11. Gnosa
  12. Lava
  13. Mer Ka Fa Ka Lish Ma
  14. Palm Master symbol
  15. Ho ka O ili ili
  16. Motor Zanon
  17. Amsui
  18. Om
  19. Shika so
  20. Tibetan Dai ko Myo
  21. Serpent of fire
  22. Dragon of fire
  23. Zonar

How can you use reiki symbols?

The purpose of Reiki Symbols is to amplify, purify, refine & direct the Reiki energy, by using a specific set of mantras that the symbols represent.

The Reiki symbols are also used to strengthen communication with the other side.

By drawing them they transfer their power to where you need it.

If it’s you then you need to draw the symbol on the palms of your hand.

If you need to study, for example, draw the symbol on the book you are reading.

What can reiki symbols do?

There’s an answer to your question: “how”. In this case, you need to ask yourself what it is that you’re trying to achieve with these particular symbols.

Reiki symbols can help you with anything you want to do – simply ask your reiki to work on something, and it will.

Most people ask for healing while using them, but there are no limits to what can be achieved with these symbols.

The same goes for things like protection or love.

Their main task is to assist you in getting in touch with the spiritual world, where everything is possible.

Reiki symbols are very important tools in reiki.

They are carriers of energy that specifically will bring you to spiritually better things – near the level of higher beings.

What is the difference between an initiation symbol and a Reiki master symbol?

The difference is that one you can use yourself, while one you need someone else to activate.

A new student will obtain their first Master/initiating session at attunement.

Reiki Master Symbol

The Reiki Master will use the master symbol to activate the student, this is done for three reasons:

  • 1) it opens up your chakras and meridians so that you can readily accept reiki energy from any source
  • 2) it tells your body’s energy system what to do with the universal life force energy
  • 3) it gives your body’s energy system a positive expectation of what is to come.

Initiation Symbol

The initiation symbols are used for activating the student’s ability to give self-healing treatments.

Keep in mind, that even though the student may have the ability to perform reiki on themselves it does not mean they are fully qualified or have developed their reiki enough to work with others.

As a new reiki master/initiating master, it can take up to three years for you to be fully proficient.

The initiation symbol is the first of the symbols taught in reiki, this symbol is used to open up your chakras and meridians so that you are able to readily accept energy from any source.

Why do I need the master symbol?

The master symbol is used for three reasons:

  • 1) it opens up your chakras and meridians so that you can readily accept reiki energy from any source
  • 2) it tells your body’s energy system what to do with the universal life force energy
  • 3) it gives your body’s energy system a positive expectation of what is to come.
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Why do Reiki healers need symbols?

The simple answer is that they don’t need them at all.

They are there as an aid to keep the mind focused. Many Reiki Masters don’t feel the need to use them, except possibly when performing attunements.

In fact, Mikao Usui is now known to have not used symbols – or even attunements – for the majority of his students. Instead, he used a form of reiju – a Buddhist method of blessing to empower the student.

On occasions where he did use symbols, it was in cases where students were struggling to accept that they could actually receive and use Reiki.

And after Mikao Sensei’s death, with the spread of Reiki westward, the sense of secrecy, ritual, and mystery gave this alternative healing method extra appeal.

This feeling of ritual during attunement helps to reinforce the sacred nature of the initiation, strengthening the spiritual experience for the student.

Some Reiki practitioners also find the symbols a helpful tool in directing energies in a particular way whilst giving healing.

Through focus and intention, they either visualize or draw (or both) certain symbols – or a combination of them – to maximize the effect of the healing session.

It seems that the reliance on symbols is generally a development of modern, western forms of Reiki.

And while symbols aren’t absolutely necessary it’s a system that appears to be working well for a lot of people.

What are the symbols and what do they mean?

We encounter symbols every day, although we don’t always think of them as such.

Companies use symbols as ways of keeping their brand uppermost in our minds.

Symbols are used to assert identities, mark territories, give warnings, and so on.

We use them in communications to express our current feelings, in the form of emojis.

These symbols all have meaning but are themselves powerless.

It is us who gives them meaning.

It is our perception of what they represent that brings about a change in attitude or emotion.

And this translates into the non-physical world as vibration.

As we know, everything is energy, vibrating at different frequencies.

A two-dimensional shape written on paper is just that – it has no value or power.

The creation of that shape or symbol, when accompanied by a specific intention transforms that symbol into a multi-dimensional vibration.

And this vibration is what gives the symbol its power. The vibration is the symbol.

And each symbol offers a different range of attributes and qualities to enrich and magnify Reiki healing.

As mentioned above, Usui Reiki has 3 main symbols plus a fourth, more recent addition, that is reserved only for masters.

Karuna Reiki has eight but sometimes includes some of those used in the Usui tradition.

The following complete symbol guide explains what these are, their meanings, and how to use them.

The symbols of Usui Reiki

Power (Cho Ku Rei)

This symbol represents chi (energy) and resembles a coil. When visualized it acts as an on-and-off switch, allowing the practitioner to increase or decrease the flow of energy.

A deeper meaning of the Cho Ku Rei is ‘this is where to place the universal power’.

Although it can be used at any time during a healing session, it is particularly effective when opening or ending a session to seal off the energy properly.

It can also be used to increase the potency of the other symbols when combined with them.

The power symbol is extremely versatile. Here are some other possible areas where it can be helpful –

  • Draw this symbol in the air of the treatment room before a session to clear it of negative energy.
  • Draw or visualize the symbol to protect yourself and loved ones (and treasured items) from harm or negative influence.
  • You can clear negative energy from crystals by drawing the symbol on or over them.
  • Use the power symbol to ‘seal’ the energies within the patient at the end of a session, to stop them from flowing away.
  • Focus the Reiki energy on a particular part of the body using this symbol to increase its potency when targeting a particular problem area.

Cho Ku Rei is the first symbol taught during the 2nd level of Reiki training.

Completion (Raku)

This symbol is mainly used at the Master’s level. It is often referred to as the fire serpent – possibly a reference to its zig-zag lightning bolt shape.

The Raku or Completion symbol is drawn in the air with the hands (or visualized) at the end of a session to ground the practitioner.

This helps to seal in the energy that was awakened in readiness for the session.

It also allows the body to receive the benefits of Reiki and clears any negative energy that may have transferred from the patient to the healer.

Raku is often used by Masters when ending an attunement of a student studying the Master level.

Although it is not one of the traditional symbols, it has become a very powerful aid in helping students to integrate high-vibrational energy through their chakras.

The process of attunement at the Master level can be disorienting and the effects can last for up to 21 days.

Each of the chakra points is affected in turn, and it is thought that it takes about three days for each one to complete its transformation.

Using the Raku symbol aids the flow of these potent energies, helping the body to adjust more quickly.

The Completion symbol is usually drawn in the air, a downward zig-zag. When visualizing, any color can be used, although it is mostly described as violet or pink light.

As well as being used for attunement, raku has other benefits:

  • It is considered to be very effective at healing kidney stones
  • It has been used in the healing of blood clots
  • It can also be used to block negative people from your life (use your wisdom when doing this – Reiki should only ever be used for positive actions!).

This symbol, possibly Tibetan in design, was thought to have been introduced by Reiki Master Iris Ishirkuro, via her student Arthur Robertson.

It was Robertson who was largely responsible for encouraging the spread of Reiki from the 1980s onwards in the western world.

Distance (Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen)

This is also known as the ‘connection’ symbol as it is thought to link past, present, and future.

It is used to send Reiki energy over long distances.

It literally means ‘having no past, present, or future’, but also has another meaning; the buddha (or Christ) in me connects with the buddha (or Christ) in you.

Although practitioners accept that they can’t change the past, they are able to send energy through time and space to release someone from past trauma.

This is based on the proper understanding of karma (not the modern, limited understanding that someone ‘gets what they deserve’) and access to the Akashic Records – the records of each soul’s journey and the story of their life.

Reiki literally transcends the barriers of space and time.

The Distance symbol is helpful for the following:

  • Sending healing across a room in situations where a patient is not accessible or open to physical contact.
  • Sending healing over vast distances, anywhere in the world.
  • Sending healing into the future (even to yourself), in anticipation of potentially stressful situations such as hospital appointments, exams, and so on.
  • Healing issues with the inner child relating to emotional blockages.
  • Healing problems relating to past lives, transforming past traumas into learning experiences that allow a release from any effects felt in the present.

The symbol itself, which some say resembles a pagoda, is created from traditional Japanese kanji writing.

The healing energy from this symbol will work on the subject’s auric field and chakras, rather than the physical body.

If you intended the healing to target pain in a remote patient, then this may take longer to work as the energies slowly make their way through the patient’s body.

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Hon Sha Ze Sho Zen is the last symbol given to initiates during the 2nd level training.

Harmony (Sei Hei Ki)

The accepted meaning for this symbol is ‘God and man become one.

It is connected with emotions and mental states, aiming to bring balance to the mind and body.

Western medicine is slowly accepting the fact that emotional and mental issues lead to physical ailments.

Many cultures and traditions have known this for centuries, and Reiki has helped countless numbers of patients to overcome their problems where modern medicine has failed.

The Sei Hei Ki symbol is used to balance the two halves of the brain to bring peace and harmony.

Here are some ways in which it can be extremely effective:

  • Helping with memory – if you’ve misplaced or lost an item, or are struggling to retain information for a test. Perhaps you just want to generally improve your memory? Draw the symbol in front of yourself and visualize the lost item. Write the symbol on pages of the book you are learning from to ensure that the words stay lodged in your mind.
  • Use the Harmony symbol to help break bad habits and addictions.
  • Increase the potency of your affirmations by writing them down and drawing the Harmony symbol beside them.
  • Unblock emotional trauma and release blockages in creativity.
  • Help to resolve relationship problems.
  • symbol you can relieve the stress or remove the emotional issues, and your headaches will diminish without the need for painkillers.
  • This symbol can be used to deflect negative energy away from you.

Sei Hei Ki is the second symbol given in the 2nd level of reiki training.

Master (Dai Ko Myo)

This is considered to be the most powerful symbol of them all. Strictly speaking, only Masters are permitted to use it.

The Dai Ko Myo encapsulates all that is Reiki, and it means ‘bright shining light’.

It represents pure, spiritual enlightenment, bringing the practitioner closer to God.

As already mentioned, this symbol is generally only used by Masters, and when attuning students.

They pass the energy down through the student’s crown chakra which aligns them to the vibration of this powerful symbol.

This is thought to interact directly with our ‘soul energy’, spontaneously healing on an emotional and physical level.

The Dai Ko Myo draws together the energies and aspects of the other symbols and essentially ‘heals the healer’.

The soul, upper chakras, and aura are healed by its power.

When this symbol is used, the initiate will find that their life will shift, as things that are not in alignment with their life purpose will begin to remove themselves.

The true power and importance of this symbol can’t be stressed enough.

It literally reveals our life purpose and gives us inner knowledge.

Other uses of the Master symbol include:

  • Amplifying healing power during a Reiki session.
  • It can be combined with the use of crystals to clear negative energy (and to empower the crystals so that they become ‘self-clearing!)
  • It is great at boosting the immune system and enhancing the effect of homeopathic/herbal medicines.

All of the above symbols can be combined to increase their power, whether during a ‘live’ session or when sending Reiki to someone far away.

One of the best ways to do this is to repeat the names of all the symbols three times as you visualize them.

Then, for example, hold a picture of the person you are sending the healing to (or picture them in your mind) and repeat their name three times.

If sending energy to yourself, perhaps for a future event about which you are anxious, repeat the symbol names three times as you visualize each one and request them to bring you peaceful, calming vibrations.

And when that event arrives you will find that you are focused and at peace, able to deal with the situation.

The symbols of Karuna Reiki

Om or Aum

A familiar symbol, connected with yoga and meditation.

This symbol is used to activate the third eye, to make a pathway to God, and to raise consciousness.

Om is thought to represent universal oneness, the source of all creation.

Even though it is extremely powerful it can be used without attunement.

It is helpful in purification, protection, and stabilizing auras.


This symbol is connected with all matters relating to the heart and the physical body.

It can help with emotional issues, relationship problems, and unconditional love.

Aside from this it also is used in cases of addiction and suicidal thoughts, bringing self-love instead.

It provides protection from psychic attacks and helps to fight against fears.

This makes it one of the most important of the Karuna symbols.


The chakra-opening symbol, Gnosa, puts you in touch with your higher self.

It clears out the cluttered mind, removing all negativity.

The conscious and subconscious minds are joined, which raises awareness.

This symbol can help with learning physical activity, such as certain sports or martial arts.

It is excellent for improving skills in communication, perhaps for research and studies.

It encourages open-mindedness and helps to understand the reasons behind trauma and pain.

When used in conjunction with Rama (below) it can aid the higher self to manifest in the physical plane.


Rama is the symbol of joy and happiness, the combination of male and female energies.

It balances and cleanses all the chakras and helps with grounding. This symbol is used to cleanse crystals and to manifest goals in the physical realm.

It can be used with the Power and Harmony symbols from the Usui tradition to maximize healing. Rama can help to improve self-confidence, relationships, and responsibility.

When using this symbol the presence of the Archangel Gabriel can be experienced.

Zonar and Halu

An exceptionally powerful healing symbol, Zonar is a ‘spiritual anesthetic’.

It banishes shame and aids healing from emotional trauma – especially that connected with past lives or abuse.

Repeated cycles of behavior, including addiction, can be broken using this symbol.

It is good for increasing the power of healing over long distances.

When used with the Distance symbol from the Usui tradition, it affects the body on a cellular level, removing all traces of trauma.

Halu is linked with Zonar and is considered an amplification of it, which is why it is not listed separately.

In addition to all the attributes of its partner symbol, it helps to restore balance physically, mentally, and spiritually.

It is particularly effective in cases of sexual or physical abuse.

It can be drawn over the heart to provide a shield against psychic attacks.


This is a double version of the Cho Ku Rei above, representing masculine and feminine energies.

It is used generally for healing the human race and for physical manifestation.

Family bonds can be healed using this symbol, and desires can be manifested.

It aids people in getting priorities straight and is very good for grounding.

Kriya can also help to severe unwanted attachments.


An excellent symbol for setting goals, Iava teaches us that we are responsible for creating our own reality.

We control our past and future and are responsible for our emotions.

It helps us to encourage a deeper connection with nature.

It also keeps our ego in check and helps us to keep to our chosen path.


This is one of the most beautiful of all symbols, representing peace.

Fears and insecurities fall away when this symbol is used.

Shanti helps to cure panic attacks, nightmares, and insomnia.

It can be used to balance the chakras and improve clairvoyance.

A deep sense of calmness can be achieved as all anxiety is released.

Reiki symbols

How do I draw the symbols?

There are some schools of thought that dictate precisely how the symbols should be drawn.

Guides are available to show how each and every stroke should be precisely made.

If this suits you and you are happy to do so, then, by all means, learn them by heart.

What matters most when using symbols is your intention.

When groups of practitioners compare notes on a particular Reiki Master, they often discover that they were taught different ways of drawing the symbols anyway.

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To become distracted by a mere technicality during a session could affect the quality of the energy and healing you are transferring.

It is better to focus on your intention rather than worrying about the order of the strokes being perfect.

There are no limits as to the size of the symbols.

They can be described in the air as large or as small as you wish.

They can be drawn on paper with a pencil or pen.

They can be drawn over or on a patient using your finger.

Some sources recommend placing your index finger and middle finger together and squeezing them gently against your thumb.

This almost looks as if you are holding an invisible pen with which to draw the shapes.

It is also acceptable to draw them in the palm of your hand.

It pays to keep in mind that some patients may be wary or uncomfortable with some aspects of Reiki.

Though they have taken the step to seek help and healing, you don’t always know the circumstances or much about their background.

It may be that they have a problem with the use of symbols, whether on paper or being made in the air over and around them.

This is why communication with the patient is essential. If you feel that it may be an issue, then visualization is a better course of action and is just as effective.

In this instance, you can either imagine the shape hovering in front of you fully formed, or you can trace the outline of the symbol in your mind.

Can anyone use Reiki symbols?

As we have seen in this complete symbol guide, certain symbols are restricted for use only by Masters.

The other symbols are given during the 2nd level of Reiki training and initiation.

As noted previously, Reiki has evolved over the decades to accommodate new forms and disciplines.

Reiki is not governed by an overall body but relies on self-regulation, which is aimed at raising trust among the public.

There are various guilds, councils, and not-for-profit organizations that govern at some level, but the practice of Reiki is essentially open to anyone who claims to have received the training.

This raises the possibility of exploitation and abuse of the system, which, sadly, does happen.

It also means that the quality of teaching can be watered down, leading to standards being lowered and certain practices accepted that would not have previously been approved.

There are healers or practitioners who are happy to use symbols, and for others to do so, without attunement. There are others who would recommend that attunement is not only necessary but vital for their proper use.

Although people can view restrictions and regulations as being ‘elitist’ in some way, it is more about keeping Reiki pure.

The whole aim of Reiki is to bring healing to the world.

There are websites that claim that it is impossible to do harm with Reiki.

The anecdotal evidence would suggest that this is untrue – at least on the part of the healer.

These are potent energies, both negative and positive.

They are not something to be taken lightly.

When used correctly, with the proper guidance and training, it is beneficial to both patient and the healer.

Using it without this invites spiritual, mental, and even physical damage.

So, who can use Reiki symbols? It depends on who you ask. But if your intentions are pure and your only aim is healing, then the sensible application of these symbols would probably do no harm – attuned or not.

Then again, if you are dedicated to following the Reiki path and wish to make a serious commitment, then you probably won’t object to abiding by the preferred method of training and attunement.

Are there any other symbols?

Over the decades, many other forms of Reiki have emerged, each with its own additions.

Some of these new additions include a lot of extra symbols. A good proportion of Reiki purists prefer to limit themselves to the symbols above (and even to just 3 or 4).

It is human nature to take an idea and evolve it into new forms.

There are far too many new symbols to include in this Complete Symbol Guide, as it would extend for several pages.

Though the idea may at first seem controversial, there are Reiki healers who incorporate symbols from their own faiths into their sessions.

There are reports of Christians using the symbols of Christianity, and Muslims using prayers (not symbols, but effectively mantras), each using these tools to frame and guide the energies.

Despite any objections, the intent is to heal, which is the aim of Reiki after all.

Although Reiki isn’t connected with any religion, those who practice it – whatever their faith – should surely be able to use the tools available to them.

Anything that assists a healer in improving themselves and their energy can only be good for us all.

Are reiki symbols necessary?

Reiki healing is not dependent on symbols.

The symbols can be used to enhance the experience and help you remember what reiki is about.

If they are so easy, why bother with them?

The main reason for using a symbol during healing sessions is that it creates an instant connection with something greater than yourself

How long does it take before you can ‘feel’ reiki symbols?

The experience is different for everyone.

Some people feel the presence of a symbol immediately; others don’t feel anything until they’ve been using a particular symbol for weeks

Do reiki symbols work?

Yes. The symbols don’t have any power themselves.

What they actually do is just to help you get in touch with your spiritual side – where everything is possible.

In the spiritual world, there are no limits to what can be achieved.

A person without a higher connection would have a hard time accessing these possibilities

How long do you hold a reiki symbol?

That too is up to you.

Some people like to repeat the same symbol for days or weeks while others move on after the first healing session.

The only way to know which method works best for you is to use them and see.

Reiki symbols

Do reiki symbols work on animals?

Yes, animals especially respond well to reiki healing energy. Whenever you’re around your pets try laying hands on them or draping a symbol over their bodies.

Reiki works through the skin, so if you don’t have direct contact with an animal, the symbol is a good alternative.

Can you feel reiki symbols working?

Some people can and others cannot.

It’s similar to feeling tingles when your mobile phone rings or noticing that the lights in a room have come on by themselves.

You may not be able to detect it at first, but if you are attuned

to the reiki energy, there will come a time when you feel it.

How long do reiki symbols stay in your aura?

The symbol stays in your field of energy for as long as you want it to be there.

Some people like to keep them on until they fade away, while others switch the same one several times a day.

When to use reiki symbols?

Whenever you need a little help or feel like using them.

They can be used before bedtime, for meditation, before starting a difficult project, to soothe pain, and much more.

Where do reiki symbols come from?

They were created by Mikao Usui in Japan over one hundred years ago.

He was an uneducated man who had no idea that his humble system of healing was a gateway to enlightenment and higher consciousness.

He never intended for Reiki to be used as a tool for personal development but as an effective method for treating disease.

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