A reiki master symbol may be used during a healing by a Reiki practitioner or during an attunement, which may be described as the first step in learning Reiki. The reiki symbols revealed to Usui Mikao at the end of his twenty-one day fast are referred to as Usui Reiki symbols. Other Reiki systems use different or additional symbols.
Some believe that Reiki symbols should be kept secret. Others will share the symbols easily enough, but will only explain how to use them after a student has paid a fee. Some Reiki masters charge for healings and attunements, while others teach that the power to heal lies within each of us and charge a fee for teaching a person to tap into that healing power. Charging a fee is actually a Reiki tradition.
According to legend, Usui Mikao originally performed healings for free in the poor sections of Kyoto Japan. Among other things, he used Reiki to help beggars find jobs, return to work and leave the life of begging behind. He was disappointed when he saw that many of the people he had helped eventually returned to begging. After questioning the beggars and meditating on the problem, he came up with a solution.
He believed that without attaching a fee to the service, the value of the treatments was not appreciated. It is easy to understand. Most people readily accept the responsibility of protecting an item for which they have paid a high price, but are less inclined to protect something for which they paid nothing. So, he closed his practice and began traveling throughout Japan teaching the Reiki healing system to others, with the understanding that Reiki power should not be given away for free.
Around the same time, he became aware that the reiki symbols revealed to him on Mount Kurama, after his long fast, were to be used for helping others to learn the system. The Reiki Master symbol or the Usui Master symbol was taught or given after a student had reached the Master level in his studies. Other Usui Reiki symbols were used by Master Mikao to help his students focus on different aspects of Reiki energy.
There is some disagreement among Reiki masters concerning the power of Usui Reiki symbols, but most agree that the symbols have no real power of their own. Even a Reiki Master symbol has no protective or healing value, unless a Reiki Master has „empowered“ that symbol. Even Master Mikao did not use the Reiki symbols revealed to him on the mountain, until he saw that the symbols allowed students to more easily focus their healing energy.