THE 'POWER' SYMBOL:
VARIOUS DIFFERENT FORMS
© 2007 James Deacon
the years since Takata-sensei's passing (in 1980) numerous variations
of the four Usui Reiki symbols have come into being in the West.
reason for this is primarily due to varying levels of calligraphic/artistic
skill on the part of different students attempting to reproduce
the symbols they have been shown.
particularly in the case of the DKM and HSZSN - these two 'symbols'
actually being phrases written in Japanese characters - the numerous
variations of these symbols we find in books, manuals, handouts,
and on the internet, are pretty much all due to poor attempts
at writing the original kanji characters. In the main, these 'alternative'
versions of the symbols have come into being as a result of people
who were not familiar with the rules of Japanese calligraphy,
attempting to replicate the symbol-forms shown to them by their
teachers, who in turn had often made imprecise copies of the symbols
as presented by their teachers, and so on...
it must be said, some individuals have made a conscious
decision - for whatever reasons - to modify various elements of
the symbols [presumably in an attempt to make them 'fit' with
their own views, perceptions, and personal interpretations of
the symbol's significance - interpretations which often have little
if any connection with the original significance]
Of the four symbols, the CKR - formed of one single continuous
line - is technically the simplest to write ,
yet it is this one that has suffered the most from intentional
1936, Hawayo Takata learnt the CKR as part of her level 2 Reiki
February 1938 she was certified as a Reiki Master, and over the
next 42 years passed on the CKR to a great many students as part
of their level 2.
discussion with several of those people Takata-sensei's
certified as Reiki Masters in the 1970's, and also a number
of other people who received level 2 training from her,
we know the CKR looked like the image shown here:
just in case further supporting evidence is needed, we have
Normally Takata-sensei did not allow students to keep copies
of the symbols (Partly in an attempt to ensure that the
students actually made a concerted effort to learn to draw
the symbols from memory) 
However, Virginia Samdahl, (the first of the '22' to be
certified as a Reiki Master) did keep copies of all
three of the level 2 Reiki symbols actually drawn in class
by Takata-sensei herself.
Yet within a few years of Takata-sensei's passing, we began
to see the first of many 'alternative' CKR's appearing.
the most familiar of which is the reversed or 'mirror- image'
As would also happen with other symbols, several students
who had no concept of the original meaning/significance
of the CKR
- and had, it seems, no inclination to bother attempting
to research such things, began overlaying their own personal
symbolism on the CKR
- symbolism often drawn from disparate spiritual or esoteric
traditions: European, Indian, Native American, etc, etc
folk seem to have decided that the CKR was a mystic spiral
Some saw it as a 'goddess spiral'
- or a depiction of a maze or labyrinth
Others decided that it depicted a coiled serpent with its
head raised - representing the kundalini
Others still wanted it to be a stylsed Hindu svastika
And so on.
where down the line, one of these people with no real understanding
of its place within the Reiki system decided that the original
CKR symbol was 'unbalanced'.
And in an attempt to 'correct' this imagined imbalance,
added the 'mirror image' version.
It was not long before some began teaching that this was
the newly-rediscovered other half of the 'true' CKR
- and further, that both 'halves' had to be used in tandem.
The version shown here comes from Tera Mai Reiki as taught
by Kathleen Milner.
However, the first proto-version of the ' mirror image '
seems to have originated (albeit unintentionally)
with one of Takata-sensei's master-level students:
a practitioner of Johrei Healing
(- an outgrowth of the Shumei religion),
had introduced a new symbol into her Reiki practice. 
'White Light', this new symbol was a stylised
version of a five-character piece of calligraphy sacred
to Johrei and the Shumei 
proto-version of the reversed CKR is simply the
final character of this 'new' Reiki symbol
Kathleen Milner and others had begun teaching the use of the 'obverse'
and 'reverse' CKR's in tandem, some folk, possibly unaware of
this particular invention, yet still having become aware of the
existence of a 'mirror-image' CKR, began using the 'obverse' and
'reverse' symbols independently - claiming that one version
was to be used to ''put energy in'' and the other, to 'draw energy
out' (though, it seems there was never an absolute consensus as
to which version of the symbol was to be used for which
yet other folk, there were mutterings about how, both 'obverse'
and 'reverse' versions were identical in effect, though which
particular version of the symbol you should use depended on where
you were in the world: if you were in the Northern Hemisphere,
supposedly you should use one version, if in the Southern Hemisphere,
the other version (apparently it has something to do with the
story about water going down the plughole in a different direction
in either hemisphere...)
Then somewhere even further down the lineage-line someone,
on hearing that originally there was only one CKR, decided
to revert to traditional practice - decided to go back to having
only the original single CKR - but not knowing which was
the original and which the mirror-image, discarded
the wrong one...
as having promoted the use of the 'CKR tandem'
as depicted above, the Tera Mai system also had a variation
on this theme:
this time with each CKR having an outward turning
beyond the simple 'mirror image' CKR's, several other folk have
made other modifications to the original symbol.
depicted above, the original CKR as taught by Takata-sensei had
three and a quarter turns to the spiral section.
folks were aware that Takata-sensei had said of CKR:
"Choku Rei is very easy ... nothing to think about, even
if you make three circles or five circles*,
it doesn't matter**"
[ * i.e. three or five turns in the
spiral. **i.e. it will still have
the desired effect]
so, there were those who began to experiment with adding
more turns to the spiral.
Some seemed to believe that the more turns you added, the
more 'powerful' the effect, or some such notion
- and it actually got to the point where people were attempting
to use CKRs with as many as 40 turns in the spiral...
Other folk chose the 'less is more' route and,
reduced the number of turns.
category we can probably include
both versions of the 'CKR tandem' used
in Tera Mai (above), as they each have
only three turns to the spiral
modifications to the CKR included simply altering the direction
of the horizontal line at the top of the symbol
both obverse and mirror image versions:
there were versions with both
the altered direction of the horizontal line
and reduced numbers of turns to the spiral element
- again, on both obverse and mirror image versions:
Other folk preferred their CKR's with long 'necks'..
majority of these 'alternative' CKR's originated with Reiki
practitioners in the US, a few had their origins in the UK,
and a couple, I believe, in Germany.
the mid/late 1990's, several of these modern 'alternative'
CKR's were not only being taught and used by Reiki practitioners
in West, but had also actually been imported into Japan
as a result of Japanese nationals, returning home having learnt
Reiki while visiting or living in Europe or the US, or alternatively,
as a result of a growing number of Reiki Teachers from the West
teaching courses while visiting Japan.
Even today, some of these modern, Western, alternative CKR's are
still being taught by a few Reiki Teachers in Japan.
many of the students attending these Reiki courses are Westerners,
who have specifically chosen to train with Japanese teachers,
in order to learn authentic Japanese-style Reiki, with authentic
Japanese Reiki Symbols....
Takata-sensei spoke of 'writing' the symbols rather than of 'drawing'
It would seem that, (as is the case today), back when Takata-sensei
was teaching there were a great many people who, if given the
chance, rather than making the effort to learn and integrate the
symbols into their consciousness, would prefer to rely on 'prompt
sheets' to help them draw the symbols - even when actually treating
clients. [Sometimes, I cannot help but think that many who say
they no longer use the symbols - claim they have transcended the
need for symbols - are simply attempting to mask the fact that
they never actually bothered to learn them in the first place...]
Interestingly, in the original calligraphy - which can be translated
as: "Great Shining Light of the True Kami (/God)" -
the first three kanji are the familiar "Dai Ko Myo" of the
Reiki master symbol
Additional Note (2012)
 It has recently been suggested that Iris herself may not have actually utilized the "White Light" symbol as a Reiki symbol per se.
the symbol was certainly shared with her student Arthur Robertson, who
taught it and included it in some versions of his manuals.