In the 2nd degree the knowledge of the 1st degree is applied in a self-actuated, self-responsible fashion. The teacher stands back and the student gains a measure of both freedom and responsibility. With the granted responsibility, greater mysteries are revealed to the student. In a firearm's analogy, the unloaded gun is given bullets. The separation between student and teacher lessens, and at times they seem to be equals. In some traditions a person is able to teach their own 1st degree students. All but the greatest mysteries are revealed at this level as the teacher shifts from task-master to mentor. The teacher does still keep an eye on the student. Alignment to the intentions of the tradition is constantly tested through both obvious and subtle tests. A student's progression can be slowed or halted if they cannot show that they will handle the responsibility of the 2nd degree. If the 1st degree is analogous to High School, the 2nd degree is analogous to College. The material is more powerful, the teachers can almost be the student's peers, but there is still a hierarchy between the student and those who are the teachers. With this separation, the student could almost go home and forget they were in training for a tradition. They could relax at times, comfortable in the fact that the path was watched over by their elders.
In my Reiki 2nd degree I learned about emotional healing and long-distance healing. I was expected to practice both, and to show reverence to the ethics of both. While I knew almost as much as my teacher, I could not indoctrinate others as Reiki practitioners. While I was a fully functional Reiki practitioner, I was not the gate-keeper for the tradition. My elders, the Master Reiki practitioners, held the keys to accepting and promoting others in the healing art.