The Chakras
Indian Tradition
Indian name
Root Support
Seat of Vital Force
Offer Wealth and Virtue
Thousand (bright, gold, love, fire)
Sense organ
Motor organ
Root (perenium)
Root of Genitals
Solar Plexus
Number of Petals
Color of Petals
Blood Red
Dark smoke
Dakini (Shakti)
Lakini (Lakshmi)
Sadashiva (Lingham)
Seed Sylable
Varuna (Apas)
Vayu or Akasha
Result, Achievement
Health and Understanding
Poetic powers and Yoga
Insight, Capacity
Rationality, Godliness
Speech, Knowledge
Crecent moon
Oval (Round)
Formless, Full moon
Region of mind round
Beyond Elements
Tejas (Agni)
The Chakras
in the Indian and the Western Mystery Traditions

The word "chakra" in Sanskrit means "wheel". The chakras are a part of our non-physical anatomy. They exist in and through the body and they do have a powerful interaction with the physical body.

There are usually considered to be seven main chakras, aligned along the central nervous system from the tip of the spine to above the top of the head. Each one has a physical correspondence with hormonal glands and a neural plexis. However, the chakra is not identical with the gland or neural plexis through which it has its physical expression.

Seen from the side, the chakras two through six appear to spiral into and through the body from front to back. The shape is rather like an hour glass lying on its side. The top chakra (number 7) spirals down into the top of the head. The bottom chakra (number one) spirals up into the coccyx/perenium area at the base of the spine.

The founder of Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner, was a natural seer. He could see the chakras. He said that the heart chakra is larger than all the others. He observed how it draws in some kind of cosmic energy, concentrates it down into its spiral, and then charges the blood in the heart with this energy. He related this phenomena with the Biblical saying, "... man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (Deut. 8:3) Steiner considered the cosmic energy he saw coellesing into the heart chakra and from there into the blood to be "words from the mouth of the Lord".

The chakras appear to be transformers; transforming subtle non-physical energies into energies that can be utilized by the body.

The Awakening of the Chakras

In India, the chakras are described as flowers, each with a certain number of petals. The number of petals corresponds to the number of subtle energy connections coming and going from each chakra. In India, these subtle energy channels are called "nadis". Each petal has one letter of the Sanskrit alphabet upon it. All fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are represented upon the petals of the chakra flowers.

Shakti, the primordial female divine energy, is said to lie sleeping in the root chakra like a coiled serpent. Through both the buffeting of physical plane experiences and later through the conscious application of spiritual practices, this sleeping "kundalini" energy arises through the chakras, awakening them one by one from bottom to top.

The chakras may be metaphorically described as buds of flowers. As they "open", various experiences and new awarenesses take place. The path of spiritual alchemy can be accurately described as the progressive opening of the chakras.

Students often ask if the opening of the chakras is sequential from bottom to top. The paradoxical answer is yes and no. The logical sequence of awakening is from the lower chakra through the higher ones. Just as we have observed in the stages of personal spiritual alchemy, one may be involved in several stages simultaneously. One may be active on stage three with respect to ones work and, at the same time, have stage two awakening experiences in the area of personal love relationships.

Most people are only aware of one alchemical stage or the activity of one chakra at a time. However, seen from the level of soul, we are all on all levels with all chakras active at all times. On the highest levels, all time is now and thus all spiritual processes are beginning, in process, and simultaneously complete. The answer depends upon from which level we are observing and are aware.

How does the awakening of the chakras take place? In the East, one learns to concentrate directly upon the location of the chakra. Visual meditation symbols (yantras) are looked upon and then visualized to assist this process. Particular words (mantras) whose sound vibration is said to correspond to the chakra are chanted aloud and then "listened to" internally. Breathing exercises such as "pranayama" and "the breath of fire" are practiced to fire up the process. This combination of techniques produces rapid awakening of the chakras.

However, such "forced" techniques do have inherent dangers. To safely perform this kind of "fast track" awakening, one needs to withdraw from worldly endeavors, eat a vegetarian diet, avoid emotional stimuli, practice celebacy, and have an advanced teacher (Guru) who can see the chakras and can advise you as to which practices to perform. The Guru will see the movement of subtle energy within your subtle bodies and change your daily practices accordingly. Otherwise, great imbalances can occur that can lead to mental/emotional imbalance and even insanity.

Sometimes, those who have had a sudden awakening, either through "forced" chakra awakening techniques, near death experiences or other causes, experience psychological imbalance. One can observe this effect in many spiritually active people who at times have great swings of emotion and uncontrolable outbursts. When such a person is "on", they may be very inspirational, have healing abilities, and transmit strong spiritual power. At other times, their emotions "get the better of them" and can wreak havoc upon themselves and those near to them.

Western techniques for awakening the chakras are better suited to people living active lives. The Western Mystery methods for awakening the chakras are indirect. Concentration upon the physical location of the chakras is not performed. Western techniques, when practiced correctly, avoid imbalance and lead to a great stability of character.

Conscious work upon the steps of Personal Spiritual Alchemy automatically brings the chakras into natural function as needed. Note here that direct concentration upon the chakras is not recommended.

In both East and West, the power of chanting or singing is used to stimulate the chakras and encourage spiritual awakening. Regular, even deep breathing is automatically activated through singing. The names of God and the Archangels are often used. Any uplifting spiritual song can have this function. Even if you think you can’t hold a tune in a bucket, do sing the songs that make your heart soar - even if only in the shower!

Intense prayer and aspiration to knowing the reality behind superficial appearances also stimulates the natural awakening of the chakras.

In advanced Western Mystery work, concentration upon the Tarot cards that correspond to each of the chakras, visualization of the corresponding color, and chanting the corresponding musical note is performed for awakening the chakras. Still, for safety, these techiques are learned and first practiced in the presence of an advanced teacher.

In general, the most profound effects upon consciousness are obtained by "stacking" various related stimuli. Use stimuli from each sense such as incense (smell), singing (sound, deep breathing), intense aspiration (desire consciously focussed), images and color (sight), bodily postures and movement (touch), and clear concentrated thought upon the chosen virtue. Using all of these together has the greatest transformative effect. For this reason, the Western Mystery Tradition makes much use of ritual in which all these factors are present.

The Nature and Function of Each Chakra

Learning about the chakras, identifying the imbalances and correcting them can free us from the effects of our memories, from our false interpretations of past experience and from the consequent negative expectations. This can greatly assist the process of personal spiritual alchemy and our health in general.

The basic issues of each chakra:
1. Root - survival, grounding,
2. Navel - reproduction
3. Solar plexus - Will, power
4. Heart - Universal love, Christ consciousness
5. Throat - Verbal communication, creative imagination
6. Third eye - Connection with all points in space
7. Crown - Universal consciousness

Chakra Color Element/Realm Kingdom Psychological/Spiritual
Root Red Earth Mineral Pleasure or pain
Navel Orange Water Plant Emotions
Solar Plexis Yellow Fire Animal Bodily "knowing"
Heart Green Air Human Empathy, altruism
Throat Blue Ether Angelic Inner hearing
Brow Indigo - Archangels and masters Inner seeing
Crown Violet, white - The Creator Full awakening to Source

The first chakra has its physical location at the base of the spine. This is the beginning point of the governing meridian of the acupuncture system. Some say the exact area is in the perenium, the beginning point of the central meridian. The basic issues of the first chakra are survival, security, being grounded, feeling safe. On this level, one seeks pleasure and avoids pain.

The second chakra is located about two inches below the navel at the "root of the genitals". Its main function is reproduction. Strong emotions are its expression.

The third chakra is located in the solar plexus area. The main issues of this chakra are personal accomplishments and dominance. It is characterized by a kind of bodily knowing.

Note that the issues of the first three chakras are those we, as humans, share with the animals. First of all, we need to see that we survive. For this, we need to breathe, eat, drink, excrete, sleep, have shelter and protection from danger. After these survival needs are more or less provided for, we become interested in mating. Next, we become involved in the struggle for social rank. These behaviours characteristic of the first three chakras are easily observed in all animals including humans.

The heart chakra stands in the middle between the three lower and the three higher chakras. Very few humans have attained much awakening of the heart chakra. When this chakra begins to become active, our concern shifts from "what’s in it for me?" to that which is for the good of the other. This altruism, at its highest expression, becomes identification with and intense love for the whole human species. Jesus of Nazareth was the first person in Western culture to attain to this "Christ consciousness". At this level of consciousness, his experience of self included all humanity. Thus what he lived in this state profoundly affects us all. His attainment opened the way for us to follow.

It would be rather egotistical to think that only humans are capable of heart awakening. It seems possible that caeteans (dolphins and whales) and a few other higher mammals may have made more progress in this area than most humans. Some animal communicators tell us that dolphins and whales have great love for humanity and desire to teach us the lessons in love that they have learned.

Barbara Brennen teaches that while the portion of the chakras extending out the back relates to the will aspect, the portion that extends out of the front relates to the emotions. She says that many people have awakened the will aspect of the heart chakra and therefore think that their "hearts are open". However, the front portion of the heart chakra is, as yet, fully opened in only a very small number of people.

The fifth chakra has its physical location in the area of the throat. The basic physical function of this chakra is in verbal communication. The higher function has to do with the mystery of sound in the act of creation. Remember that in the Bible, God speaks the universe into existence. "And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light." (Gen. 1:3)

The fifth chakra has also to do with the function of creative imagination; of visualization. A hint to those who want to persue this idea further: Divine creation comes about through the combination of visualization and sound vibration.

The sixth chakra has its physical location between the brows in the pituitary gland. The pituitary is the master gland. It produces a large number of hormones and thereby chemically directs the function of the other hormone secreting glands. Spiritually, the function of the sixth chakra is in giving us access to information from sources far away from the physical body. All supersensory perception is received through this chakra. When the sixth chakra is awake and active, distance melts into a great "here". There is still awareness of being a separate self perceiving. The spiritual perception is "the vision of God, face to face".

In India, the seventh chakra is called the "thousand petaled lotus". Its physical correspondence is with the pineal gland, located between the four lobes of the brain. The chakra itself is said to be located well above the head. When the highest chakra is awake and functioning, time and space dissolve into oneness. This is the state described as "cosmic consciousness". In this state, there is no longer a perceiver. There is only the one I AM, the Source. Those who have experienced this state say that they felt like there were "everywhere and all the time".

The Chakras and their Effect upon Health and Spiritual Awakening

The physical body is not the only body we have. Esoteric traditions state that the physical is the flower of a plant that has its roots in what we call Source. The physical is simply the most dense of our many bodies, of our many vibratory levels of existence from the most subtle to the most dense. The physical senses function in the physical body. We also have more subtle senses that correspond to our more subtle bodies. Between our physical bodies, and our Source self are many levels of progressively subtle substance. The state of health of the physical body is a result of what occurs in these more subtle levels.

The meridians that we know from acupuncture (Traditional Chinese Medicine) seem to be a non-physical phenomena that has a direct effect upon the health and functioning of the body. As successful treatments to the chakras have a profound effect upon the meridians, it appears that the chakras have a higher, more global effect than the meridians. In functional priority, chakras affect meridians which affect the functioning of the body.

Subtle energy imbalances result in negative emotions, negative expectations, negative patterns of behavior and finally in physical illness. The negative emotions that cause disease are created in response to the memories we have of past experiences. In past experience of fear or pain, we drew false conclusions that we still believe. In India, these false impressions are called "samskaras". The beliefs these impressions engendered (and the training we received from our parents or other caretakers) are the causes of our being in bondage.

Our beliefs have a profound effect upon the functioning of the chakras. If we do not believe that we have spiritual natures, or hold any beliefs that are not true, this will cause certain energies needed for our health and development not to be received and processed correctly by the chakras. We will then have a "deficiency" of needed "spiritual nutrients". The result will be less than optimal functioning – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.

Because of the grip of our false beliefs, most of us tend to expect that tomorrow will be as bad or worse than today. Expectations are creative! We get what we expect. This principle can prove our most hellish visions to be right or, when used in reverse, can prove our most heavenly dreams to be true.

The basic work of stage two of Spiritual Alchemy (awakening) is to identifying our impressions and beliefs. In stage three (separation), we sort through them. We identify and gather the correct ones and junk the false ones – replacing them with beliefs more in harmony with truth and more conducive to our success and happiness. Thus the process of Spiritual Alchemy, performed correctly, corrects the beliefs that have been negatively affecting the functioning of the chakras.
Note that in the Western Mystery Tradition, the heart center is activated before the reproductive chakra. This is shown in the diagram below.
Solar Plexus