When channeling energy, it says that you must present your holy symbol. But does this take a free hand? Do I have to put down a weapon/shield if both hands are holding something?

A cleric must be able to present her holy symbol to use this ability.

This was prompted by a question in the body of this answer.

Does "present" mean the use of a free hand?


1 Answer 1


Yes, you do

As clarified by Sean K. Reynolds (ex-developer at Paizo):

On page 66 of Ultimate Equipment, I see we have a holy symbol in the form of a tattoo on your body. Does this allow you to not need a free hand manipulating a divine focus when casting a spell?

Correct; that's the point of getting the tattoo. Of course, if you try to infiltrate an evil cult, you're gonna have some 'splainin' to do...

Here, his answer was addressing spells, but the tattoo works as a holy symbol to channel energy as well.

Holy Symbol, Tattoo In some religions, you are allowed to tattoo or brand your deity’s holy symbol onto your skin (typically the palm, back of the hand, or forearm) in a special ceremony. Thereafter, it functions like an actual holy symbol of your faith, and you may use it as a divine focus for spellcasting, channeling energy, and so on. The tattoo must be fully visible to use it in this way (it cannot be covered with a glove, gauntlet, or any other material). The listed price includes the cost of a simple brand or non-fading black tattoo; add appropriate tattoo costs if you want something more elaborate. Specifically damaging or erasing the tattoo or brand negates its use as an actual holy symbol.

Mr. Reynolds's post is linked every time this question shows up at Paizo's messageboards. But there are many other ways to avoid having a free hand to manipulate or present your holy symbol, such as the Birthmark trait, the Create Reliquary feat, and Iomedae's Magic Shield, the Blessed Hammer feat for followers of Torag, or even the Sacred weapon enchant, to name a few. The tattoo is merely another method that may be cooler.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm just not seeing the connection between this answer and the question. All I'm seeing is that A cleric with a holy symbol tattoo can present that tattoo to channel energy. This answer seems to be silent on using a traditional holy symbol… or is that, in fact, the point—that everybody who needs a holy symbol should just pay up for the ink? Can the answer make its connection to the question more explicit? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 11:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan the tattoo (and the reliquaries and birthmark trait) were created so you dont need a free hand to present your holy symbol, be that for spellcasting or for channeling energy. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 11:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That's…one way to look at it, I guess? However, those items don't actually say precisely that, do they? I mean, isn't it just as likely that the tattoo holy symbol was created so that the inked dude couldn't lose his holy symbol, or it was created because the author thought it would be cool? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 26, 2019 at 11:34

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