Chakras can be viewed as “gateways” in the body through which subtle energy flows. These gateways, or nodes, are also points at which the subtle (or astral) body and the physical body are connected. When energy flows freely through the chakras, all is well, but blockages can lead to dis-ease.
Overview and Meaning
The word chakra comes from ancient Sanskrit and means “wheel” or “disk” with the implication of spinning or turning. According to Hindu tradition, the energy of the body is regulated by seven major and twenty-one minor wheel-like energy vortexes or chakra points located along a meridian. Chakras are visualized as wheels that spin quickly in a healthy body or as flowers that open to reveal balanced energy.
The body energy that the chakras regulate is called the chi or prana. Energy enters the body through the crown chakra and flows down through the other energy centers. Blockages in the chakras cause this energy to become stagnant in certain areas of the body and this is believed to cause illness. These blockages can be cleared using various means, including meditations, acupuncture and acupressure.
Many Western Magickal traditions, including many Wicca and Witchcraft traditions have adopted the chakra system into their practice, incorporating “opening” and “closing” of the chakras into ritual, to ground and center and to protect against psychic attack, (A good example of this is illustrated in the book The Inner Mysteries: Progressive Witchcraft and Connection to the Divine by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone.) though this practice is met with growing controversy concerning cultural appropriation.
Those cunning folk called to be healers use chakras in the manner more typical of Eastern tradition.
There are seven primary chakras, each corresponding to the areas of the body in which they exert energetic influence, such as over specific organs, nerve bundles, and the endocrine system.
Note; there are many other chakras in the body and the etheric field around the body, but here we focus on the seven primary ones.
It’s said that when the chakras are balanced and healthy, they’re “open,” which gives way to optimal health in mind, body, and spirit. But when energy stagnates in any of the chakras, they become blocked, resulting in various physiological and emotional symptoms and dis-ease.
The notion of chakras alludes to the idea that human life exists simultaneously in two parallel dimensions—in the physical body and the non-physical “spirit” body. They suggest that we are both material and spiritual energy concurrently.
Although the concept of chakras is most prominent in the esoteric practices of Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism, numerous spiritual traditions recognize their essential role in existence.
These energy centers transcend any religion, spiritual tradition, gender, social class, caste system, etc., as they are gateways to higher states of consciousness and are something we all possess. It’s false to think that working with the chakras is a form of “cultural appropriation.”
Activating the chakras for wellness and spiritual insight can include, but is not limited to, the following practices:
- mental focus
- creative visualization
- yoga postures
- pranayama (breathing techniques),
- engaging the bandhas (internal body locks that redirect energy)
- the use of crystals
- sound healing
- energy healing
- the reciting of mantras
- chi gong
- tai chi
The Chakras and Kundalini Energy
The chakras are intrinsically linked with the activation of kundalini energy. This practice involves arousing the “sleeping” serpentine energy, which resides in the root chakra at the base of the spine. Once activated, the kundalini uncoils and rises to the crown chakra, and spiritual awakening can occur.
This feminine kundalini energy is the basis for spiritual practices in Hinduism and Tantra. It relates to “shakti,” divine feminine energy, personified as the goddess (the feminine dimension of the Godhead).
Shakti is the feminine, creative, primordial cosmic energy that regulates all physical functions. According to yoga and Ayurveda, prana, or shakti, flows through energic pathways called nadis, similar to meridians.
The chakras align along the body’s primary nadi, the Sushumna, the central energetic channel through which prana flows.
Passing through the spinal cord, the Sushumna unifies all the chakras and is the path of ascent for kundalini energy. On the sides of the Sushumna are two other vital nadis—the Ida and Pingala.
The Ida, on the left side, carries feminine, yin, lunar energy. The Pingala flows masculine, yang, solar energy on the right side. Ida and Pingala currents intersect in the center of the Sushumna and crisscross between the chakras, causing them to spin like gears.
Chakras, Spirituality, and Witchcraft
In a spiritual context, the chakras are said to be portals between inner and outer worlds and are direct access points to Source energy. This pathway to the divine is an essential component of witchcraft, where invoking God and the Goddess for spellwork, healing, and protection requires a clear and unobstructed path.
All who engage in magickal workings can also benefit from starting from a place of equilibrium. The process of balancing the chakras (on yourself and on others) is the same as manipulating energy for magick.
Energy must flow freely to achieve one’s desired outcome. Furthermore, bodily and psychic diseases can be healed by addressing and rebalancing the chakras—for which a properly cleansed and charged witch’s wand can be a valuable tool.
It’s important to note that the chakras, all corresponding to colors of the rainbow spectrum, relate to the model of the “rainbow bridge,” an energetic gateway between earth and “heaven”. This divine pathway is said to connect humans to the spiritual realm and plays a vital role in “ascension.”
The Chakras and the Physical Body
The chakras correlate to particular body systems (such as nerve bundles, organs, and the endocrine system) relative to their location.
The endocrine system is a set of organs and glands that regulate hormonal functions and produce and secrete hormones that impact all aspects of our health. Each chakra corresponds physiologically with an endocrine gland.
For example, the “third eye chakra,” which symbolizes a mystical invisible eye in the middle of the forehead, energetically overlaps with the pineal gland—a pea-sized gland in the shape of a pinecone located in the center of the brain.
The pineal gland has long been linked to spiritual insight and awakening in numerous traditions and religions, including Catholicism.
The early Hermeticists postulated that the endocrine gland associated with that particular chakra had something to do with the spiritual and physiological functions attributed to that chakra.
These early astrologers and alchemists further concluded that the chakras give meaning to corresponding levels of consciousness and are essential to physical and spiritual realities.
The Seven Primary Chakras and Their Associations
Muladhara, or root chakra, lies at the base of the spine. It’s the home of Kundalini energy, which journeys up the spine to activate the other chakras. This first chakra is associated with the dense, tangible, material world of matter and our survival instinct. It also keeps us connected to healing earth energies. Its associations include:
- A four-pedaled red lotus
- Meaning—”root support”
- Body parts—anus, rectum, colon
- Endocrine gland—the gonads (ovaries and testes)
- Planetary ruler—Saturn
- Universal principle— gravitation
- Core issues—security, survival, instinct, trust, fear, grounding
Swadhisthana, or sacral chakra, embodies polarity and the primal flow of lifeforce energy. It relates to pleasure, erotic emotion, and the primal yearning to merge. It also represents the waters of creation, the dual nature of existence, and yin and yang energies. Through it, one expresses their longings and desires and experiences pleasure and sensation.
- A six-pedaled orange lotus
- Meaning—”one’s own place”
- Body parts— sacrum, hips, pelvis, prostate, sexual organs
- Endocrine gland—the adrenals
- Planetary ruler—Mars
- Universal principle—polarity
- Core issues—creativity and sexuality
Manipura, the solar plexus chakra, represents our power center and the divine spark of consciousness. This energy center is associated with the digestive fire in the body and our will and self-discipline. Through this chakra, we radiate our sense of purpose, strengthen our resolve, and burn through blocks. Manipura is also correlated with self-confidence and our “gut feeling.”
- Ten-petaled yellow lotus
- Meaning—”lustrous gem”
- Body parts—the belly, stomach, spleen, and digestive system
- Endocrine gland—the pancreas
- Planetary ruler—the Sun
- Universal principle—combustion
- Core issues—power, the ego, and our sense of purpose
Anahata, the heart chakra, is said to be a link to the spiritual world. It represents the mystery of love and relationships. Neither a “lower” nor “upper” chakra, Anahata is said to be the intersection between “heaven” and earth energies. Through this realm of the heart, one embodies love and compassion and can sense that everything is connected.
- Twelve-petaled green lotus
- Meaning—”unstuck, unhurt”
- Body parts—heart, lungs, and chest
- Endocrine gland—the thymus
- Planetary ruler—Venus
- Universal principle—equilibrium
- Core issues—love, emotional healing, bonding, relationships, mental health
Vishudda, the throat chakra, symbolizes communication and the etheric realm of sound and vibration. Through this chakra, we express our truth, share our opinions, and are heard. Community building and family relationships are built and strengthened through meaningful communication and conversations, enhancing our quality of life. We speak our dreams and goals into existence, manifesting our desires through self-empowerment.
- Sixteen-petaled blue lotus
- Body parts—throat, tonsils, esophagus, vocal cords, neck,
- Endocrine gland—the thyroid
- Planetary ruler—Mercury
- Universal principle—vibration
- Core issues—communication, self-expression
Ajna, the third eye chakra, is said to be a portal to cosmic insight. Also known as the “mind’s eye,” it’s associated with telepathy, clairvoyance, psychic powers, and prophecy. The Ajna chakra is a center of intuition and is a pathway to self-knowledge beyond the material world. It’s where the concept of Drishti, or intense focal point, comes into play in yoga practice.
- Two-petaled lotus
- Meaning—”to perceive and to command”
- Body parts—eyes, brain
- Endocrine gland—pineal gland
- Planetary ruler—the Moon
- Universal principle—luminescence
- Core issues—intuition, awareness, insight
Sahasrara, the crown chakra, is said to be the center of spiritual enlightenment and cosmic consciousness. It’s our connection to our higher self—our soul—and it represents transcendence. People who are more balanced in this chakra (considered extremely rare) are said to be highly evolved and may be able to achieve miraculous feats in life, and nirvana in the afterlife.
- Thousand petaled lotus
- Color—pure white light
- Body parts—the head, brain, nervous system
- Endocrine gland—pituitary gland
- Planetary ruler—Jupiter
- Universal principle—consciousness
- Core issues—spirituality, cognition