Before man could write words and letters he used drawings and pictures and symbolic graphics to illustrate and communicate meaning. There are many ancient symbols in Egyptian, Mayan, Christian, Japanese, Aztec ...in fact every culture has its history of powerful symbolism. Intention and use over and over again of the same written pathway ie symbol, gives immense and intense focus which once created is everlasting.
Traditionally the Reiki symbols were kept secret. They were only shown or given to those who had been initiated to use them. Power is maintained by secrecy and reverence, the more we use the symbol however the more evident the power becomes. Each Reiki symbol holds a slightly different healing power or energy and its only by working with them that we get to know and experience the differences. They are named as such, Cho-Ku -Rei, Sei-Hei-Ki , Hon -Sha ZE Sho Nen, and Dai-KO-MIO.
The Reiki symbols are given at the Second Degree, ie. the Reiki 2 course. They have their own particular meaning, energy and use. The symbols increase the healing energy that is available and also enable the Reiki Practitioner to send energy at a distance. The symbols are used in the treatment of clients and for self -treatment and in Reiki attunement of others by the Reiki Master.
Each symbol has a mantra that is verbalised on use. The mantra adds to the efficacy of the symbol and calls it into use. The symbols we see today in books and on-line are sometimes drawn slightly differently. Not every Cho-Ku- Rei is exactly the same etc. but we must use the symbols exactly as we are given them on attunement and not choose from one we may "prefer the look of. " The attunement gives us the ability to use the symbol and activates our ability to be a channel for the energy, of course some people are natural channels of healing vibration and Reiki only adds to this ability.
I found it very interesting to note that following my Reiki Master attunement a very psychic friend of mine could see the symbols on my throat and heart chakra and was able to draw them even though he had never seen them before!
We are not able to explain all of the mystery surrounding Reiki and how it works, similarly we cannot fully unravel all the mysteries of life. We can not ordinarily see the energy, the life force that we call Ki although its affects are all around us manifesting in the material world in the many beautiful life forms evident to us.The energy and intelligence that is behind a seed that sprouts and the dance and synergy of life is the life force that we all depend on. To be able to access this energy by the use of symbols and intent is a gift from the universe itself. Its almost as though the symbol is the container and amplifier of the universal life force we call Reiki, our body the channel and our heart loving intention.