There is only one thing that a Symbol is:

The term Symbol in Reiki is used to signify a particular flavor (or filtered form) of Universal Reiki energy. In other words, a Symbol is a very specific energy, a narrow band of an incredibly broad spectrum of healing energy.

What a Symbol is not:

A Reiki Symbol is not its name. It's not its sound. It's not it's drawing on the paper, or in the air. These are mnemonics; tools for remembering the particular flavor of energy. These are teaching tools. These are memory aids. These are convenient ways to talk about Reiki Symbols with other practitioners and being sure you're talking about the same energy. These are convenient ways to write a cheat sheet so you don't forget a symbol during an attunement. They're a convenient aid for making class handouts.

It is absolutely 100% possible that two people can channel exactly the same energy, with a different name, sound, and drawing.

Sometimes there may be an ancient written form or name associated with a Symbol (energy) that is channeled, that speaks to many people as "right," but that is more an ancestral or collective (un)consciousness comfort with a written symbol or name than the written form IS the Symbol (energy).

Most pages on this site will not bother arguing whether the Reiki Symbol is only the energy, or is the written or spoken form of the symbol. That's what this page is for. It is one of the dogmas of Open Source Reiki that a Symbol is energy, not a name or a drawing, and that names and drawings are only tools.

Reiki Symbols are not sacred hidden trademarkable things.

"Symbol" is a poor term for what a Reiki Symbol is.

Reiki Symbols have several components.

  • Memnomic devices
    • Name (sometimes the same as the sound-name)
    • Sound-name (think mantra)
    • visual drawing - the two-dimensional written dimension (think yantra)
    • kinesthetic drawing - the air-drawn version in 3D technocolor (for those that see energy)
    • flavor/feel - the energetic signature of the energy sensed by people in the way they best process information (visual, audial, pre-verbal, verbal, kinesthetic, etc.)

What the "Symbol" is: a specific channeled and filtered energy with a semi-sentient purpose

What the "Symbol" is not: proprietary, dogmatic, definite, sacred, unalterable

It is very easy to get caught up in the logging and defining of symbols, but some people simply create Reiki energies on the fly, while others "package" symbols with memnomic devices (such as a name and drawing, and a format in which it should be drawn, etc.) so that it can be passed on to others (usually via an attunement process, where the memnomics are encoded into the attunee at the same time as the particular energy "flavor/feel" is introduced to the person in question so that they can memorize the energy flavor, and reproduce it in the future).

Each "Symbol" is like a word in a language, which is also a symbol. The logging of symbols is good, because it allows us to utilize a common language of energy, passed from person-to-person much the way language is passed on in society, allows us to discuss particular types of energy and know precicely what other people are talking about, allows us to build "recipes" for constructs and programs in an elaborate language of symbolically represented energetic flavors. It gives language to magic.

The logging of symbols is bad, because it allows us to believe that things are static and new symbols can't be invented as new needs arise, that there is an "authority" from which these symbols "must" be passed (such as a mentor/teacher who passes along the symbols they know to us in an "attunement process"). That there are symbols that are "correct" and symbols that are "incorrect".

There are definitely symbols. There are definitely symbols used to represent energies that come to us from Reiki (the Universal Life Energy as promoted by Mikao Usui) as opposed to other sources. And there are equally valid non-Reiki symbols that people may find work with Reiki Symbols very very well. We can spontaneously come up with new symbols and memnomic devices to go with them, and add them to the growing library of symbols so that we can discuss them and build up a culture and constructs based on Reiki. However, we must keep in mind that this is all open to personal interpretation, misuse, alteration, expansion.

About Symbols, by Crisses, June 28, 2000, Reiki/OtherkinReikiList.

I can CHANNEL a visual-spacial symbol for something, but when I actually do attunements or healing, I rarely actually work with visualization. Sometimes my visualization is simply a trigger for the "sound/feel" or whatever of a symbol...the taste of the energy. However you want to look at it.

I view it as a system with multiple mnemnomic devises, and it has triggers that work within that which works best for the practitioner. If we could write down/record the taste/smell/feel of the energy we would, but names/sounds and visualizations/symbols work well on paper, you know? So, we use names and symbols so that we're sure that other people attuned to the energies know which particular "flavor" we're discussing at a given moment.

However, the reason we're Channeling the symbols could be debated: I mean, I could draw a circle, call it Joe, and use that symbol and name to describe to a student of Reiki the energies we commonly associate with ChoKuRei, I guess...and maybe the student would just chug along with no problems healing the masses like a second coming of Jesus...but that's not the point. Somewhere, sometime ago (debatable of course) someone (or many someones/cultures if what I hear is right) had a system...and whatever logic went along with the names and symbols and stuff as was necessary at the time, and what we're trying to do is ask people who are experienced with this stuff to send us their knowledge on the system (thumb-points at Bob, perpetually behind my back reading over my shoulders) It...because why should we re-invent the wheel?? Someone(s) had an elaborate healing system, and it just needs tweaking and remembering to make it all work out ok.

Rialian, same list, same day

I tend to look at the symbols as encoded expressions of the energy form desired. Basic shorthand/equation that makes it easier to call up that particular energetic expression. Of course you do not NEED it to call on it....but it is helpful on occasion, and it is easier for a student to use the energies, and develop a relationship with them, if they have something concrete to interact with.

It also makes an attunement easier to do and to teach. When you get a really strong, steady relationship with the flows going, you CAN do the attunements without them....but I think giving the attunee something to work with, a basic starting point to develop their own relationship without too much interference, might actually make more sense....

Yes, the Chaos-Reiki Elf-Mage is playing with mental paradigms again....just nod and smile...(Smirk)

Crisses' response, June 29, 2000

A lot of what you say makes sense, but for instance, if one doesn't deal with energies in a visual way, what does the visual-encoding of the energy mean to you? (answer: Nada) Yes, they're good teaching devices. But for instance, although Larasee, Tian-Ta and Neresta have symbols, I didn't actually draw them when I attuned you. the important part isn't the drawing of the symbol, but the embedding of the energies the symbol represents into the subjects' aura-field so that they can... they can what? That's really odd...ok: so they can alter their aura/energy field to the resonance of that particular symbol. Wow. Okie. Thanks. LOL...inside-out stuff...if I just lost anyone, don't worry, I'm still kinda lost on this new thought myself.

Thus, the important (to my thinking) parts/segments of attunement are:

clear the area, you're about to do energetic surgery. Pumping the energies you're going to attune into the air is similar to innoculating the area or using lysol LOL...

Make sure the patient isn't going to be hurt on the operating table: enable life-support (ie: make sure their chakras are aligned properly so they can accept energies, make sure they're mentally, physically, psychicly prepared for what's going to happen to them, etc.) Activate your tools (energize your hands, poke your guides if they're sleeping, make sure you've had your first cup of coffee for the day, etc.)

Open up their basic aura-level defenses so that the practitioner can interact with them from within their aura. [this step probably freaks some people the heck out! It may be the major reason for some people apparantly rejecting attunements.]

infuse the subject with the energies in question through their crown and palm chakras. {I dare say this step is probably redundant, despite what the traditional practitioners think. But I'm going to study that further, as Chi'un Li (guide) showed me new attunement information recently and I need to explore it with him further...} [either it's redundant or not enough: there are three major entry/exit points for energies to/from the body: Crown, Palm and k-1/Yung-Chuan ("foot" or "root" chakra, not the root chakra at the base of spine/genetals/perineum, but the one that extends into the earthly energies, just as the crown is not really at the top of one's head but about a foot above it, extending into spiritual/heavenly energies...or UpperWorld? as the shamans might say...). I would hazard to say the Palm chakras are probably an extension of the Hara. But that will take some meditation/exploration.] this step enables the student to call on and use the energies if/as necessary, and is the step where the aura is also introduced to the energies. Typically people draw the symbols over the crown and over the palms, I dare say that drawing is optional, it's the energies that are important. Rialian seemed ok and I didn't draw stuff over him, when I attuned him.

There appears to be some blowing of violet breath stuff here (both at the crown and palm steps), like a stroke of energy to seal stuff in. this part feels to me like icing on a cake: not all cakes need it, but it's nice. I think it was added in by the tibetan and middle eastern/tantric cultures...{the intellectual benefits of a tibetan monk reiki guide}. I have a tendency to forget this step. Maybe it's because I need to work on my throat chakra (yah, hard to believe eh? But then, how many of you have heard from me via voice?)...but I personally think it's mainly because it's one of the flashier trendier steps added in to the basics.

Regardless, a method of sealing stuff in is necessary...the redundancy of the affirmations and violet breath is there, both steps do this. One could probably do it in other ways as well. Suffucing a person with the right kind of energies might kinda work like a gentle ironing on wax, to melt it and seal it with the person's aura, etc. Someone's poking at my head that there's actually a symbol that's specifically for sealing in attunements properly... Oi...stay tuned. (Down boys!)

Then you release the deathgrip on their aura that you have, putting everything back into its natural state, and separate the attunement cords that join you to your student during the attunement. Generally I've seen this being done with a final violet breath...I think there are about 5-6 different seals in the current attunement pattern (seal at crown, hands, base of neck, shoulders (sometimes twice) and then at the final closing of aura...)...that's a lot...I think that there shouldn't be that many necessary...but that's personal opinion.

Crisses is well on her way to make up an entirely new Criss-attune system. Not without enough egging-on from her guides, of course.

I already participated in one dual-attunement with Chi'un Li via an out-of-body attunement on someone who doesn't pay taxes (a Japanese emperor, long dead, long story). Li just stepped in and did the attunement with me like "Oh, geez, haven't you guys figured out by now that having ONE person "trash-punch" attune someone to 500 symbols just isn't gonna happen?" It seems that if it were necessary/desireable to attune a person to the entire suite of symbols/energies, one would do it with a massive group (10 practitioners who were doing 50 symbols each, or 20 doing 25 each, or whatever). Each person would choose a "set" or more of symbols to attune the subject to (we already have a few "sets": Usui symbols, Karuna symbols, Railenne symbols...I'm working on making my own "set" too... lol...or eventually we can divvy them up into symbol families regardless of whom channeled them)...and then they'd tag-team or do two-attuners to one-attunee at a time... I think THAT is where the multiple energy entry points became necessary. 3 practitioners could attune at the same time if access to feet, crown and hands were used simultaneously...I think Li is saying that practitioners of the same...monastic class? were usually used, because they would not interfere with each other, having similar beliefs/signatures/etc. and faith in each other as a brotherhood. But that's getting too hokey for me :) lol. I mean, I have no idea how we'd emulate that in current western society...poor Li, scratching his bald pate again...

Why channel more symbols?

You don't gotta USE a great variety of symbols, but there are at least 500 of them to be had (according to Usui) and my guides tell me that some current symbols are serving double-duty in a clumsy kinda way...Dai-Koo-Mio or Dai-ko-Mio? are for different things, and good at the opening of intensive healing sessions, etc. (I have certainly experienced how effective that is myself...) but the attunement sealing is supposed to be more a delicate operation than a brute force thing...not that DKM is entirely brute force...but it's kinda like hooking the fan up to the Hoover Dam instead of a household 110 outlet. Sure, it probably works...but...!

The point here is that there are appropriate uses for types of symbol energies, and once the language of symbols becomes more subtle, it will also possibly be more eloquent. You can use the word "pretty" to describe something beautiful, but you also might want to choose the word "exquisite" to be more specific.