Do I always have to use the symbols?

reiki symbols in treatments use

So many Reiki rules!

In most Reiki lineages the Reiki symbols are taught on the Second Degree course, though some are taught one symbol at First Degree I believe.

A lot of rules have built up about what you can and can’t do with symbols, what you always must do, and of course these rules end up being contradictory.

The only rule that applies to Reiki is ‘there are no rules’ I believe, and what I’d like to do here is just run through a few ‘symbol rules’ that you can choose to ignore.

Draw the symbols over your palm every day or you’ll “lose” them

Some poor Reiki people are frantically drawing the three symbols over their palms every morning because if they don’t they’ll “lose” the symbols and won’t be able to use them any more.

I have to say that this is nonsense, and is something that most Reiki people will not be doing.

The symbols are graphical representations of different aspects of the energy, they are triggers that you can use to access and energy, to direct an energy, and you don’t even need to be ‘attuned’ to a symbol for it to work for you (but that’s another story).

Please don’t draw the symbols over your palms every day for fear of losing them.

You always have to use the symbols when you treat


Why would you always have to use the symbols when you treat someone?

You are attuned to Reiki, you have been working happily with the energy since your First Degree course, channelling it for your benefit and for the benefit of others, and suddenly someone does some mystical hand-waving over you and you can’t use Reiki unless you keep drawing out symbols?

That makes no sense at all, particularly when you realise that there are a lot of Reiki practitioners and Masters who have moved away from, or beyond, the use of the symbols and just allow the energy to do what it needs to.

The symbols are useful tools, a way of focusing your attention on and experiencing different aspects of the energy, but they’re not compulsory!

Try only using a symbol during a treatment when the symbol seems to ‘want’ to be used, when you feel it’s right to use in a particular hand position, when it ‘calls’ to you.

Go with the flow and let the energy guide you, so you’re gearing the treatment more towards the needs of the person you’re working on.

See what happens.

Always draw every symbol over each hand position

Oh dear, this would be so ham-fisted, to have to frantically draw out three symbols in every hand position you use when treating someone.

If you were taught to do this, I would like to suggest that you experiment, try out different ways of working that don’t involve this very busy, cluttered approach, and come to your own conclusions about what’s necessary.

It’s not a very Japanese approach, is it?

If you think about traditional Japanese arts they do pare things to the bone, leaving only the bare, elegant essentials.

Clutter-free Reiki is a much calmer, and potent.

Over to you

If you have been taught some of the rules and restrictions I mentioned above, please do experiment for yourself and come to your own conclusions about what’s necessary and effective.

You don’t need to slavishly follow all the instructions that you were given by your teacher; you can find your own comfortable approach with the energy.

Post a message below to le tme know how yoru practice has changed over time.

Want to find out more about Reiki symbols & treatments?

reiki book second degree manualsA whole load of info and advice can be found in the 110-page Reiki Evolution Second Degree manual. This isn’t just available to Reiki Evolution students: anyone can work with our manuals.

You can order a professionally-printed copy, or you can download your manual right now.

Here are the links that you need:

Reiki Second Degree manual

Reiki Second Degree eBook





Picture Credit: Ashley Van Haeften


18 thoughts on “Do I always have to use the symbols?

  1. This is the reason I chose Reiki Evolution for second degree and master levels. I studied level one with a beautiful healer but I was uncomfortable with the additions of angels, rituals, crystals which although symbolically meaningful, really gave me a sense of detracting from focus and flow. The symbols always proved a headache for me because my memory is largely focused on language and the interconnections it provides. I just cannot recall complex symbols which do not connect in any meaningful way for me. So I let them go and ask for the energy to be what is best for the purpose it is intended for. Clean, uncluttered, letting all else go but the sense of the energy flow. Nothing else is needed. Thank you once again Taggart for a wonderful explanation.

    1. Hi Maria, Angels and crystals etc are lovely things to work with if you’re attracted to them, but they are not Reiki, are they, and shouldn’t be bundled with Reiki I don’t think. I agree that a simple, uncluttered approach can be a powerful way to work and often detailed rituals can get in the way. I’m glad that Reiki Evolution has felt like the right approach for you.

      1. Both of these messages have provided me much relief. Thank you so much, Maria and Taggart! I have been judging myself because I can’t recall them all and how to draw them when I perform Reiki, which made me doubt my skills as a practitioner (I am newly certified). I very much appreciate your time and thoughtful viewpoints. Have a lovely day! 😀

        1. Hi Nicole, well I think that you need to persevere in learning the CKR and SHK symbols which you might use when giving a treatment; if you are going to use them then you need to get them right and they are fairly simple to learn with a bit of practice. But do not feel that you *have* to use them.

  2. In my studies and training I’ve seen a lot of different symbols, drawn and written many different ways. Luckily for me, I found a clean, simple and uncluttered approach from the beginning, so I’ve never had or experienced all the many different angels, guides, crystals and chakras that so many other people use. I’ve nothing against any of the above methods they are just not for me. i sometimes use symbols or kanji and I sometimes use none, I sometimes use hands on and sometimes hands off. For me, it all starts with Kyo dake wa, Just for today, or the moment, not to follow your ego, but listen to what the energy is saying and requires. This is just my humble opinion and practice.

  3. I was taught second degree with much attention being paid to “use your ‘dominant hand’ for this and that. Would love to hear from your experience about this. Thank you.

    1. Hi Susan, if people feel better using their dominant hand, if they can work out what that might be, then they can do that. But you don’t need to use your hand to draw out a symbol physically: you can make little head movements (like you’re drawing it out with a long Pinocchio-style nose!) or you can see it being drawn out in your mind’s eye or you can even visualise it in it’s entirely, or with familiarity with the energy of that symbol, you can just go to the energy direct… or you can use a sacred sound, so there are lots of variations. Reiki doesn’t mind what you use, Reiki doesn’t care whether you use your dominant hand, or your other hand, or your nose, or none of those things, IMO. 🙂

  4. Hi Taggart
    Every time I read one of your emails it confirms that I am not being lazy with Reiki. I long ago gave up turning people over and I just ask for the most appropriate Reiki for the client. I rarely use symbols except when feeling urged in a direction. It always has a positive result.
    Thanks for all your confirmations

    1. Hi Trish, I’m glad you find my articles helpful, and reassuring! I think that Reiki is best applied simply and intuitively; complicated and rule-bound doesn’t necessarily mean more effective. 🙂

  5. Hi I just read your article I’ve been doing reiki for about 4 yrs after the first 6 mos I quit using the symbols and the is just fine I liked your article I find reiki seems to help wit a lot of pain also thx Jena s

  6. Hi I was taught a very structured Level 1&2 but found that I get as slightly more intense response from my clients when I use the symbols but have also found that I don’t need to follow the regime to the letter and since my Master programme with you I have a much looser style that allows my instinct to decide the flow and pattern of symbol use. Thanks for liberation my practice ?

    1. Oh, that’s good to hear, Louise. I think we should be wary of Reiki teachings that include “you should always” and “you should never” and “this is the way that you must do it” and “there is only one way to do this” 🙂

  7. Reiki is totally aware of what’s needed if we just stop thinking of what to do with a couple of centred breaths the answer comes through.

  8. Thank you for this. I find the symbols a distraction. They “get in the way” and make Reiki less enjoyable for me. I started Reiki 2 with a local teacher, as my lovely Reiki Evolution Reiki Master has moved far away?. I gave up halfway through the 2 days as the rapid repeating & muttered symbol repetitions as we learnt seemed pointless and cluttered up the peace.

  9. Thank Heavens for putting this out there about the use of the symbols….huge relief that I don’t have to fumble about drawing them every time!
    Have bought your Reki 2 and a coulpe of other books
    I did The Master Reiki a few months agao and my friends and family are benefitting from it …so pleased I can do this now…very grateful!
    Thank you

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