The Reiki symbols are transcendental in their functioning. Whereas most symbols have an effect on the subconscious mind of the user, causing a change in one’s internal state, the Reiki symbols access the source of Reiki directly and signal a change in how the Reiki energy functions, independent of one’s internal state. While some teach that the symbols can only be activated in specific ways, the truth is that they can be activated in many ways. They can be activated by drawing them with the hand, by visualizing them, or by saying the name either out loud our to oneself. Intention is the main ingredient in activation and it is possible with awareness to activate them by intending to use them. In addition, others have been able to simply go internally upward and think of the energy of the symbol they want to use and gain access to it in this way without using the symbol.
The power and effectiveness of the symbols comes from the Reiki attunement that is given during a Reiki class. Before the attunement, the student is shown the symbols and given time to memorize them. During the attunement, the energies of each symbol come down and enter the student’s mind/body, linking themselves to the appropriate symbol in the student’s mind. Afterward, whenever the student uses the symbol, the same energies that they were linked to during the attunement are activated and begin flowing.
This linking or activation of the Reiki symbols during the attunement process makes use of the stimulus/response mechanism which is a dynamic part of the human mind. This process was demonstrated by the psychologist Pavlov in his famous experiments with dogs. By ringing a bell whenever a dog was eating, he established a stimulus/response relationship in the mind of the dog. After doing this many time, whenever Pavlov rang the bell, even when the dog was not eating and food was not present, the dog began salivating. During the Reiki attunement the energy of the attunement causes the Reiki symbol to become a stimulus and the particular energy the symbol represents which is present during the attunement becomes the response. However, because the attunement is guided by the Higher Power, and functions at a higher level of awareness, the stimulus/response mechanism doesn’t require the repetition normally necessary to establish a relationship between stimulus and response. It happens immediately. Then whenever you think of the symbol or use any other way to activate it, the energy that the symbols represents begins to flow.
The Reiki symbols have traditionally been kept secret. While secrecy is a way of honoring their sacredness, there are also metaphysical reasons for this. There is power in secrecy and this is also a way of maintaining a sacred connection with the symbols. Since the symbols have no real power without the attunement, it is better that they be kept secret until the class. In addition, if a person is shown a Reiki symbol without the benefit of the attunement that empowers it, they may incorrectly believe they have Reiki and not bother to take a class, thus missing the real experience of Reiki and losing the benefit of its healing power. While it is true that the symbols have been printed in some books, this does not effect the value that comes from an individual not showing the symbols they have received from their Reiki teacher to others. The value of sacredness will remain for anyone who continues to not show them to those who do not have the level of Reiki where those symbols are taught.