- a Mysterious Turtle?!
Copyright © 2008 James Deacon
the years, I have come across several instances of supposedly
authorative and well-informed sources claiming that the word 'reiki'
(as in Usui Reiki Ryoho) denotes, amongst other things, something
'spooky' or supernatural; or that it refers to a ghost, or evil
spirit/demon; or alternatively, that it is an ancient Shinto symbol
of protection and good luck.
it would seem that such statements are simply due to misunderstanding
and confusion on the part of those making the claims.
In the English
language we encounter many sets of 'homophones': words which are
pronounced in the same way, yet differ in spelling, or in meaning,
the majority of cases, homophonic sets are limited to only two
words, for example:
Bare and Bear; Weak and Week; Heal and Heel; Be and Bee; Sea and
See; So and Sew, etc.
There are far fewer sets comprised of three words, for example:
I, Eye and Aye
Fewer still of four, such as:
Right, Rite, Write and Wright
in the Japanese language, we encounter several homophonic sets
containing many more words.
example is the word transliterated into the 'Roman' alphabet as:
Japanese can be written phonetically*, it is primarily
written using kanji (idiogramatic characters). Unlike the phonetic
system (which merely records the sounds of the words),
kanji are indicative of the actual meaning of the words.
people involved with the therapeutic/spiritual discipline that
is Reiki Ryoho are familiar with the kanji characters used to
write the 'reiki' part of the name, i.e:
the modern, simplified form:.
at a very basic level, these kanji refer to 'spiritual energy',
they also mean:
'aura' (i.e. the emanation of spirit around the body)**
and, as an adjective, also simply mean: 'Spiritual'
However, as mentioned, our word Reiki (as in 'Usui Reiki
Ryoho') is one of a set of homophones - and quite a large set
Other Japanese words transliterated as 'reiki', yet written using
different kanji-combinations, and having very different
There are also several words romanized as 'reiki' which are girls
names, such as:
which are non-gender specific names, including:
still which are surnames, e.g:
is the name of a mystical, supernaturally- possessed,
sword in the popular Japanese manga (comic book) series Tenjho
'Ghosts and Demons':
as mentioned in the title of this article, means 'mysterious
an ancient Japanese symbol / omen of Good Luck.
none of these have anything to do with the word reiki
as used to refer to the system of healing and spiritual development
as developed by Mikao Usui..
Japanese makes use of two phonetic systems - hiragana and
katakana. One is used to provide suffixes and prefixes
to kanji characters, and to write purely Japanese words, while
the other is used primarily on official documents and to write
words of foreign origin.
Thus, 'Reiki Ryoho' can also have the connotation of 'Aura-healing
The phonetic (katakana) form of the word 'reiki':
can be used in place of any of the kanji versions of the
word 'reiki' shown in this article; however, seen in isolation,
when the word is written using the phonetic form, it is impossible
to be sure just which particular 'reiki' is being referred to.