Were you taught the correct ‘Power’ Symbol: Variations on CKR

reiki symbol ckr choku rei

Reiki started simply

Reiki is very simple, you know.

You start working with energy at First Degree and at Second Degree you’re introduced to three symbols that you can use.

These symbols were taught to the Imperial Officers and a few others by Usui Sensei, and Dr Hayashi passed them on to Mrs Takata, who taught them in the West.

One of those symbols was CKR, perfect and complete on itself – see above.

So we started messing about with it, which is fine – experimentation is a good thing – but some of the experiments have become ossified in different lineages and passed on as ‘the’ way to do Reiki, rather than being taught as interesting variations.

Let’s have a look at some CKR variations

CKR with a spiral going the wrong way

There was only ever one CKR and it had an anticlockwise spiral.

If you’ve been taught one CKR and it has a clockwise spiral then you’ve been taught something that is quite different from what Usui intended.

Different shapes can be used to represent different aspects of the energy, and they will all frame the energy in a particular way, and if you want to frame the energy in the way that Usui intended then you do need to use the symbol that he taught.

Use two mirror-image CKRs, not one

There was only ever one CKR and it had an anticlockwise spiral, so if you want to use an additional symbol that is a mirror image of the original then that’s your choice, but please realise that this is not what Usui was teaching and most Reiki people don’t do this.

Certainly don’t feel that you ‘have’ to use these two symbols for Reiki to work properly because that simply isn’t the case.

Use CKR to put energy in and reverse CKR to take energy out

CKR is an image that you can use to represent or elicit earth ki, one of the two basic energies or aspects of our existence: earth ki and heavenly ki.

The person who you are working on will draw that energy to where they need it to go, and in the right amounts for them on that occasion. If you’re stepping in to decide for yourself that they need more energy or less energy, you aren’t really allowing the energy to do what it needs to do, unless you are doing this intuitively, in which case you’re working in partnership with the energy, and it is guiding you.

Usui Sensei didn’t teach two CKRs, one of them to take out energy; there was a reason for that: Reiki will do what people need to have done, and if energy needs to be released then plain Reiki will help a person with that without you having to use a specific symbol to achieve it.

If you are currently using a reverse-CKR to ‘take out energy’, you might try dispensing with that for a while and see what happens.

So if you want to use the variations on CKR then that’s your choice, but please know that while this is a way that you can work with Reiki, it is not the only way, other Reiki people work in a different way from you, and these variations were not part of the system that Usui taught.

Over to you

If you were taught some of these non-standard versions of CKR as “the” way that you should practise Reiki, may I suggest that you experiment:

  • Use the CKR that you can see on this page, meditate on its energy to get to grips with how it feels, how it affects you
  • Draw it over your palm to experience its energy
  • Use it in practice when you treat someone, flooding yourself and your client with its energy

How is what you’re doing different in quality or nature from what you were doing before?

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30 thoughts on “Were you taught the correct ‘Power’ Symbol: Variations on CKR

  1. Having some knowledge of sacred geometry would perhaps help people to realise that messing with some of the symbols is unwise and unnecessary. Sacred geometry has been around for a very long time, much longer than Reiki.

    CKR is a beautiful symmetric symbol and doesn’t need any help from us to improve on it’s simple elegance and power.

    1. It may be helpful to research the origins of reiki … “rei-ki” is the Japanese pronunciation the Chinese “Ling Qi” (Leeng-Chee”), short for Ling-Qi-Gong. Put the characters for reiki in a translator and translate to Chinese – they don’t change, they are the same, identical. Reiki = Lingqi, and Lingqi has been around “for a very long time” as one form of Qigong.

  2. i was reading a article a while ago on the direction of the ckr,and the magnetic circels of the earth ,in the west they go clockwise and in the east counter clockwise
    the ckr should be done in acording with the magnetic cirkels in the part of the world you are ,it somehow felt right and made sense to me
    with kind regards sabro
    at the present i use mostly kotodama,s instead of symbols

  3. Thank you for this article. My understanding is that Usui created the symbols to help those who were having trouble connecting with the energy. I’m not sure we even need the symbols if we have no problem with the connection.

    1. Hi Allen, the original system was all about getting to grips with the energies of earth ki and heavenly ki, and a state of oneness, and while most of the original students used either special meditations or chanted mantras to experience these energies/state, one or two were given symbols to use, including the Imperial officers. Usui seems to have altered his approach depending on the needs of individual students, so there was no one standard approach. The symbols were there to give you a way of fully experiencing those energies, and the ‘connection’ to the energy would have come through the empowerments they received from Usui.

  4. Meg Benedicte and many other spiritual teachers and healers use anticlockwise energy spin to release stubborn blocks. Your article, Taggart, makes so much sense to me.

  5. Hi Taggart and everyone!

    I have another set of CKR variations that I was taught in Hawaii of all places in 1990. Both clockwise and anticlockwise, but anticlockwise was srictly tro be used for putting Reiki in water and then drinking it! This was by a direct student of arthur bRobertson who inbtroduced so many changes to Takata’s system and called his systemn Raku Kei, later rebranded as Tibetan Reiki although its mostly Chinese Taoism! I played with these 2 symbols nusing them both simultaneously for giving Reiki to baths and especially when engaged in active healing in my 3 fave forms, nbamely swimming dancing and lovemaking..lots of life force and energy in these!! Now I am a devoted Master Student of Phyllis Furumoto and in both Reiki Alliance and UK Reiki Association, AND AND not but I still do this but I dont always teach others to do the same! But I do like and support Taggart’s encouragement to play with the symbols and be creative, adapt them to ur needs and create ur own rituals where appropriate! Takata said not to be too “Holy Holy”! Much much more important this than stoopid fearful Reiki Regulation and a perfect Reiki pox on all fear full control freax, especially the one or more than one inside us all!! Reiki is love in action, imo!!!! Paul xxx

  6. As understand it Japan was south of the equator, water spirals down the plughole in an anticlockwise direction, whereas north of the equator it drains clockwise, so I think that is down to the individual which way they use the symbol, I don’t draw any of the symbols now, I just think of them, invoke the names of all the symbols & I have the energy in my hands.

    1. Hi Chris, I agree that once we are familiar with an energy we can work with it direct rather than using an intermediary to access it, whether that be a symbol or a chant or whatever. And I also think that people should find their own comfortable way with the energy. I think the water rotating down the plughole thing is a bit of a myth and I don’t believe that there was any thought of this when Usui introduced the symbols into his system; they seem to have been existing symbols appropriated into his teachings. I believe that if we want to access what he was intending then we need to use the specific symbols that he taught but we have the freedom to choose and my article was all about trying to let people who were taught non-standard symbols (and perhaps didn’t realise they weren’t the original ones) see what Usui had taught.

  7. We often need tools on a learning journey. CKR gives a simple, precise, effective tool to use whilst finding our feet, developing and growing with this beautiful energy. How wise was audio Sensei. ?

  8. I have only ever used CKR in its anticlockwise form. I use it as you suggest but have also used it for space clearing to flood positive energy into an area. I also use it when I experience mental or physical blocks such as with decision making and even mechanical breakdowns. I either make the symbol with my finger or imagine it forming over the stubborn item such as a starter motor or PC. It seems to be successful! As ever your crisp pragmatic approach suits me very well and is unmuddled or cluttered by complications. After all positive energy is about the simplest thing there is. We practise it by sending love or prayers all the time even those of us who don’t practise or believe in reiki. Thanks Taggart for refreshing or knowledge and skills.

    1. Hi Vince, I’m glad that you like this approach. Dogma just ties your hands behind your back, I think. 🙂

  9. Working with the symbols the way we were taught and also by experimenting in an intuitive way can reap many rewards.

    With My first Reiki teacher I was taught how to use the CKR in the original form as above an also in it’s mirrror image form. The mirror image form was to be used to ‘remove negative energy and pain’.

    Whilst a simple Reiki session works effectively to remove ‘negative ‘ energy and pain anyway, one particular day many moons ago I was working with a client who had fallen down the stairs at home and broke his neck. He was left paralysed and in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Even though this gentleman was paralysed he still encountered a great deal of pain. One day he told me he had been experiencing terrible pain in his knees and asked me if I could try and help. I had always worked very ‘passively’ as a Reiki practitioner. Stepping to one side of myself and letting the Reiki do it’s thing.

    I thought I would try a more ‘active’ approach this time. As I had been asked a particular request I thought I would try the reverse CKR on his knees. To my amazement I started to see spirals of energy fly out of his knees like little Catherine wheels. ( This was with my inner vision)… These spirals of energy spurted out from his knees very very quickly. At the end of this particular session the gentleman spun around in his wheelchair and said OOh Sharon my knees feel fantastic!

    So I learnt a great deal on this particular day,
    1) I can work both passively and actively during a Reiki session without letting my ego take over.
    2) The reverse CKR, where ever and when ever it was introduced within some Reiki lineages, DOES actually work!!

    My Reiki practice is a constant learning experience and I work very intuitively…when it comes to the CKR there’s just a really natural flow to either spiral anti-clockwise or clockwise. My whole being ‘becomes’ the symbol without me trying to create it and it often flows both clockiwse and anticlockwise with no effort from me, as and when needed. 😀

    1. That’s very interesting, Sharon. I believe that the best way to work with Reiki is to let the energy guide you in terms of where you rest your hands, how long you stay in a particular position, and what aspect of the energy – if any – you emphasise (whether that means using a symbol or a chant or whatever).

      1. Hmnn. I think intention is one thing, and a very powerful thing within Reiki, and using a symbol is another. Using a symbol frames the energy in a particular way, based on what the symbol is and how it is drawn. Why would you draw a symbol one way while intending that it elicits a different energy based on a differently-drawn symbol? That seems to make no sense. It’s like using CKR and intending that it elicits the energy of SHK. Why would anyone do that?! I think that the drawing of the symbol solidifies your intent: that you want the energy that the symbol elicits.

  10. Thank you for the clarification on this symbol. I have so far only used the anticlockwise spiral as I was taught and I find that it works well for me.

  11. Thank you for this article.
    I received Reiki instruction from different masters and have practiced with numerous people over the years, near and far. I’ve been attuned more than once by different masters, the most powerful being someone who lives over 2,000 miles from me.
    I noticed that people do tend to add or subtract things and sometimes it makes me nervous. One thing I learned was that the symbols are not to be displayed out in the open and I tend to put the symbols underneath things, such as the carpet in my Reiki room, the lid of my Reiki box, etc. even when I really wanted to make giant posters and hang them on the walls. I teach my students that the symbols shouldn’t be displayed openly. I mentally draw symbols on the people I treat if they are not practitioners and I check for acceptance of rejection from people I treat randomly. It is my understanding that treating people without their permission is a no-no, but I send the symbol out first seeking permission. I state all this so that you understand that symbols are important to me, personally.
    I have heard that it “doesn’t matter” whether or not the symbols are drawn correctly as long as the chant is present while drawing or visualizing drawing the symbols.
    I’ve heard that it is the intent that matters most.
    Still, when it comes to CKR, I learned the counter-clockwise method first, and with specific instruction that it should be counter-clockwise. I have found that it doesn’t “feel” right to me when I experiment with the direction or order of the symbols.
    At the same time, I have practiced with people who don’t believe in using symbols at all yet I definitely can feel their energy when it’s sent. An example was when a practitioner I know well sent energy from three hundred miles away to a group of people who practiced regularly with her and knew her energy well.
    The bottom line for me is that everyone has to be true to their own beliefs about the symbols. “Today I will do my work honestly,” means that we must be honest with ourselves and we can only do that by following our own heart once we learn to let it lead.

    1. Dear Anne, well symbols do not *have* to be used to send Reiki or treat people: just because you have been taught them does not mean you are obliged to use them all the time. After all, at First Degree students use no symbols and they can treat and send distant healing perfectly well. I agree that intent is very powerful with Reiki, though if you use a variation on an original symbol, you are eliciting a variation on the energy: different symbol = different energy. I don’t agree that the symbols need to be hidden or that they are ‘sacred’ in some way: a variation on SHK, for example, (as I recall) is plastered all over temples in Japan. For me, they are graphics that elicit a particular energy, and it is your personal connection to Reiki, or the energy, that is special, not a shape that you use to emphasise one aspect of it. 😉

  12. Hi Taggart, thanks for another illuminating article. I love your simplicity. I think it is important to remember that the symbols are not isolated, they are part of a language, Kanji, and have specific ways of being written to communicate their meaning, just like letters do in a word and a word in a sentence in any other language. You would not write “Power” as “Rewop” would you? No, it would not mean the same thing. So maintaining the original symbol the way the symbol is written normally would make perfect sense. To write it another way, creates a different symbol with a different meaning and therefore a different energy…and that might just be meaningless gibberish, such as Rewop.

    1. Exactly, Beth. A different symbol creates a different energy. If someone wants to do that, then fine, but they should remember that Usui chose the symbols to represent a particular set of energies and if we diverge from that then we aren’t using the energies of his system. It’s the same with mixing symbols together and sticking them on top of each other: if you do that then you are creating something different from what Usui was teaching, so we need to do that deliberately. What dismays me is when teachers pass on variations of the symbols as ‘the’ symbols (probably unknowingly, half the time) so students never get to experience the energies that Usui intended.

  13. “These symbols were taught to the Imperial Officers and a few others by Usui Sensei, and Dr Hayashi passed them on to Mrs Takata, who taught them in the West.

    One of those symbols was CKR, perfect and complete on itself – see above.”

    Hello Taggart, in my knowledge and what I came across in my learnings with Jikiden Reiki and being a Jikiden Reiki Practitioner, the above CKR symbol was not taught by Mikao Usui Sensei.The CKR symbol is changed/amended version of the original symbol. As Jikiden Practitioners, we can’t reveal the symbol but definitely I can point you towards the book – This is Reiki by Sensei Frank Arjava, wherein he talks about the original, authentic reiki. Or Light on the origins of Reiki by Tadao Yamaguchi.

    1. Hi, and thank you for taking the time to point me towards what is taught within Jikiden Reiki.

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