At a writers group last night, we used chakra imagery and themes for writing exercises. I responded with this article to review the symbolism in the imagery used. Edited for the scenario.
I thought it would be useful to share a few things about the symbolism of chakras. There are a few features of chakra images you may run into that will make more sense with a bit of background.
Essentially, underlying our physiology – the circulatory, nervous and lymph systems – is a maze of energy channels or nadis. Prominent ones are described as meridians in Asian and Mayan cultures. At nodes of the channels are energy points, what they use in acupuncture and such. What feeds this system are 7 primary energy centers or chakras, each with different qualities to sustain the different resolutions of our being. (physical, emotional, mental, etc.)
Some people will describe more than 7. This is because they are including secondary centers such as the feet. But the primary ones run in a row up the spine to the crown of the head. All the other ones arise from these. There are also ones that may be counted above the head but these are the same 7, unfolded at higher resolutions. (that’s a whole other discussion)
You will often see the 7 chakras portrayed as having a specific colour, running in a rainbow from deep red at the root to deep purple at the crown. These colours are symbolic, used in visualization. The actual energy centers or chakras are spinning vortexes of energy (Chakra means wheel) in a rainbow of colours that varies by person and chakra. Just like auras.
Another way to connect with chakras is using sounds or “mantras”. Some images have a stylized Sanskrit letter for the vowel of that chakra. Some people “tone” to help enliven or balance the chakras.
Images may also contain geometric symbols or layered geometry in what are called “yantras”, a kind of simple mandala. They are symbolic representations of the underling geometry that can be contemplated. When objects are formed, vibration is structured in subtle geometry. This gives direction to the flow of energy and orders the fields that structure matter. This is what Buckminster Fuller referred to as All-Space filling Geometry. The “Platonic solids.”
Many images are edged with flower petals. Each chakra is said to have a certain number of petals, starting from 4 at the root to 1,000 on the crown. To understand this symbolism, we have to explore other aspects of chakra expression.
In front of (or above) the energy vortex is what some might describe as a flower-like form. This opens into the petals symbolized in many chakra images. When opened, the chakra is ready to flow energy and express it in the world.
When people talk of closed or blocked chakras, they may be referring to the floral aspect or be referring to the flow of energy. The chakras themselves are always active and never hindered by anything individual. But they often become encrusted so their light is masked and the channels become restricted by our resistance. Uncovered, chakras are capable of expressing both their primary energy and a much higher energy of the divine.
Behind the vortex is a disc that serves as a ‘root’ structure. This connects to all the pathways up the back.
One may also read descriptions of chakras as spaces, particularly the heart. This is because the vortexes are also doorways into the larger “space” of awareness that energy expresses. The heart center has a more direct connection to the divine than the crown but the crown has to open and the divine descend for that to fully express.
There are a number of secondary descriptions you might run into describing things around the chakras, different angle views and so forth.
It’s useful to avoid too literal an imagery around chakras. Remember they are quite subtle, arising before everything except your soul. This is why symbolism is so often use to connect with them. But taking it too literally gets in the way of direct experience.
It’s also worth noting that chakra experiences are secondary things that will arise naturally. There’s no reason to focus on them or focus on opening them directly. They will open as a natural consequence of expanding awareness.
Hope this takes away a little of the mystery.