The Energy of Chakras
Unit 3 - Master Your Energy E-course.
We describe here different models of the chakra system, as a tool to explore and transform the inner self.
The chakras hold different vibrations of energy, each frequency bearing unique characteristics. The chakra system is a model of our consciousness, a map to navigate the inner self, a tool for healing and transformation. The map is never the territory, it is only a guide for our experiencing. We will describe here a few core traditions interpreting the chakra system, as a support for your own journey of self-discovery.
THE CHAKRAS SYSTEM IN THE VEDAS
The chakra system as described in the Vedas is very effective. This is because of its simplicity. There are in fact only a few symbols and mantras which describe the chakras, leaving the task to the disciple to perceive and learn about them through their own meditative practice.
The Rishis, divine Self-realized ancient sages, transmitted their knowledge orally until it was recorded in the Vedas, the oldest Sanskrit scriptures of Hinduism. In the original Vedas there are 108 Upanishads (meaning to ‘sit nearby’ the master), containing many concepts and practices. The 20 Kundalini Yoga Upanishads are about the chakra system. The original symbolism transmitted by the Rishis is very essential and much of the interpretations came later through many generations of yogis and disciples.
In the Vedas the main symbol for each chakra is the Lotus, represented in every chakra with different numbers of petals. The lotus is a plant deeply rooted in mud, swimming in water, emerging to receive sun light and flowering into the sky. Similarly, all four elements are needed, earth, water, fire and air (Chakra 1-2-3-4), for the personality Self to open up and flower, embracing the high vibrational field of the upper chakras (5-6-7). The famous quote ‘No Mud, No Flower’, as referred to the lotus, reminds us that for spirit to manifest we need grounding.
The 1st chakra (Root chakra), the 2nd chakra (Sacral chakra) and the 3rd chakra (Solar Plexus chakra) connect us with earth, water and fire as the more material grounding elements. The 4th chakra (Heart chakra) is in the centre of the energy body. Its element is air, moving us to a lighter and more spiritual vibration of energy. Its symbol is a six pointed star, uniting an upward pointing triangle and a downward pointing triangle. The upward pointing triangle represents the first three earth chakras. The downward pointing triangle represents the upper three heaven chakras. The heart chakra contains the energies of all 6 chakras, indicating a dimension of wholeness and unity.
The 5th chakra or Throat chakra is associated with the element of ether or space, as the unified field of energy containing the blueprints of all lifeforms. The 6th chakra or Third Eye chakra has no element and only the image of a lingam of light, as a solid form containing pure energy. The 7th chakra or Crown chakra is represented by a 1000 petals lotus symbolizing infinite consciousness, a place where the individual Self merges completely into the universal Self.
The Vedas also include divine archetypes for some of the chakras. In the earth chakras (Root, Sacral and Solar Plexus chakra) we find the 3 aspects of the Hindu Divinity: Brahman the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer and Shiva the Destroyer. We need these energies of creation to establish solid grounding for the human experience. Shiva is still in his human form in the elemental 4thand 5thchakras (Air and Ether). In the Heart Chakra Shiva is pictured as blessing in all four directions whilst he is half male and half female in the Throat chakra, to become light in the Third Eye and pure consciousness in the Crown chakra.
The two main energies described in the Kundalini Upanishads are the feminine deity Shakti and the masculine deity Shiva. Shakti means energy and its symbol is the Snake. Shiva is pure consciousness and its symbol is the Lingam. Whilst Shakti is Form, Shiva is the Unmanifested. Kundalini means coiled and Kundalini Yoga is about awakening Kundalini Shakti (coiled energy), as fire at the root chakra. The fire then rises up piercing each chakra until it merges with the pure light of Shiva at the 7th. When Shakti dissolves into Shiva, pure consciousness pervades the whole body and the Individual Self merges into the Universal Self. This is called Samadhi and it is the enlightened state of the Yogis.
Energy flows through the physical body in channels called nadis. There are three main nadis running along the central axis of the body: the Ida channel (shakti feminine energy) flowing on the left of the spine, the pingala (shiva masculine energy) on the right and the sushmna in the centre. The Ida and Pingala both twine along the sushumna, starting as one in the root chakra and uniting again in the third eye, whilst the sushumna continues to the crown chakra. Each chakra has in fact a female and a male essence, which are qualities of energy more than gender related aspects.
(For you reference see below a summary table of the Vedas Kundalini Upanishads symbolism)
THE ELEMENTS IN THE CHAKRA SYSTEM
The correlation between the elements and the first 5 chakras belongs to many traditions and is generally maintained in the modern New Age interpretations of the chakras.
Reclaiming Wicca Celtic shamanism works with a medicine wheel based on the five elements, starting with the East-Air and moving to South-Fire, West-Water, North-Earth and Centre-Spirit. Through rituals and meditations, the elements are invoked for healing and manifestation. There isn’t a direct correlation between the chakras and the medicine wheel but the teachings on the elements are very useful.
We will follow the Vedic connection between the 5 elements and the first 5 chakras and draw inspiration from the Reclaiming tradition for the understanding of the frequency of each element.
The root chakra is associated with the element of earth, representing our primal connection to nature, the world and our body. The earth is our mother, nourishing and holding humans and animals on its lands, mountains, hills, forests and deserts. We are earthlings, our body belongs to the earth, which shares unconditionally all its wonderful fruits, for us to live in joy and beauty. When we are in harmony with the earth element, we feel safe and rooted, knowing we belong. We love and respect our bodies and all nature and feel deeply loved back.
The sacral chakra is associated with the element of water. About 70 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered and up to 60% of the human body is water. Water represents many qualities, which we need to embrace for our well-being. Water brings abundance and life along ancient rivers. Water is nourishment for the soil when it rains and for the children in the living womb. Water is cleansing and refreshing. Water is connected to movement, change and playfulness. Water is the stillness of the oceans’ depths and the surrender and flow of the currents.
The solar plexus chakra is associated with the element of fire. Without sunlight there would be no life on earth. Solar energy powers the whole eco system and warms up our bodies. Fire is pure energy, creating life and keeping our vitality. Our inner fire gives us power and strength, our bright spirit initiates passion and focused action. Fire allows transformation of physical matter into energy, and in the same way we can use it to burn all our suffering and conditioning and transform the energy into life exuberance.
The heart chakra is associated with the element of air. Air is connected to the breath and to receiving deeply the gift of life in our bodies. Fresh clean wind oxygenates our brain and keeps our mind clear and perceptive. Power birds as eagles, spreading their wings and soaring high, inspire a sense of freedom and higher perspective. Air is associated with higher mind and vision and connects us to life. When we are in harmony with this element our mind is calm and clear, and we are open to receive deeply the breath of life into our being.
The throat chakra is associated with the element of space or ether. To understand this element, it helps knowing that the universe is 1% matter and 99% space. The emptiness contains everything. We interact continuously with the etherical web which surrounds the earth, the planets and all things and bodies. By connecting with the ether element, we are able to easily transmit and receive in the universal field. The ether is our vehicle for self-expression, like a radio-station receiving and transmitting vibrationally.
THE CHAKRA SYSTEM IN INCA SHAMANISM
The Inca were energy healers who worked with the chakras to transform personal, ancestral and karmic blockages in the way for us to fulfill our highest destiny. They mapped the world of energy and consciousness according to a unique medicine wheel, based on the 4 cardinal directions (South-West-North-East), each one holding a specific governing principle and symbol. In their rites they transmitted the frequencies of the four directions in the first four chakras. The symbols of the four directions are: Serpent in the root chakra (South), Jaguar in the sacral chakra (West), Humming Bird in the solar plexus (North) and Eagle in the heart (East). With Serpent we learn to walk in beauty and harmony on earth. With Jaguar we become fearless luminous warriors. With Humming bird we start our hero’s journey of self-empowerment. With Eagle we envision our destiny and become co-creators with Spirit.
Like other shamanic traditions the Inca mapped the spirit world or consciousness field in three worlds: the Underworld, the Middleworld and the Upperworld. In the Underworld we heal the past and embody power. In the Middleworld we receive guidance for our ordinary life. In the Upperworld we look for inspiration for our life and future. Three luminous guardians guide us in each world and they resides in the upper three chakras: the Underworld guardian in the throat chakra, the Middle world guardian in the third eye, and the Upperworld guardian in the crown chakra.
Connecting to the energy of these spirit animals and spirit guardians helps us journey within in a very magical way, for transformation and to receive soul guidance. In the lower three chakras we heal our past, our ancestral line and our karma. We connect here to nature and the earth spirits. In the heart and upper chakras we dream our world into being. We connect here to the star people and light beings. In our hero’s journey we aim to become whole, reclaiming all those soul parts lost because of wounding and severance from Spirit, to realize that we are all connected and able to co-create harmoniously with life.
(For you reference see below a summary table of the Inca Shamanism Medicine Wheel)
THE CHAKRA SYSTEM IN DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY
In her book Western Mind, Eastern Body A. Judith' maps the chakra system from a psychological developmental perspective. In this model each chakra represents a different stage in life from birth to adulthood, in which we express specific identities, needs and resources. The work offers much complexity of information, which I will simplify in order to understand how traumas in each developmental stage can create negative emotional patterns blocking the flow of energy in the body.
In the first chakra we enter manifestation. From birth to 12 months we learn connect to our body and build our physical identity. As we depend totally on others for survival and love, our first experiences will determine how safe and accepted we feel. Earth represents stability and grounding.
In the second chakra, at 1-2 years old, we embrace movement and start exploring with our senses. We develop attachments and explore our feelings, in order to build our emotional identity. We enter water, which teaches us about flow, joy and pleasure.
In the third chakra, at 2-4 years old, we develop our sense of Self, our ego Identity. Through action and will we learn to assert ourselves and become independent. We embrace fire, the masculine attribute for determination and power.
In the fourth chakra, at 4-7 years old, we move from the self towards the other. We are creating our social identity outside the family. We are learning about relationships, unconditional love and self-acceptance. Air symbolizes the discerning mind needed in this delicate phase.
In the fifth chakra, at 7-12, we develop communication skills and our creative identity. The stage is about asserting our right to speak and be heard, as a mean for self-expression. Ether is the realm of sound and vibration, through which we spread our message into the universe around us.
The sixth chakra is connected to Adolescence, when we learn to perceive beyond our senses and understand the world through abstract symbols and imagination. We develop here our archetypal identity. Light is the element of this chakra and represents the ability to have vision.
The seventh chakra is connected to Adulthood, where we develop our spiritual identity, as an expanded sense of Self beyond the personality. Thought is the element of this chakra, as our ability to discern knowledge and in its broad sense of pure consciousness.
(For you reference see below a summary table of the Developmental Psychology Model)
VEDAS - KUNDALINI YOGA UPANISHADS
From the work of Swami Tadatmananda
INCA SHAMANISM - MEDICINE WHEEL
From the work of A. Villoldo “The Four Winds Society”
ANODEA JUDITH - DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY MODEL
From the book “Western Mind, Eastern Body”