According to Theosophists, the sense organs of the etheric
double that receive their name from their appearance, which
resembles vortices. Altogether there are ten chakras (visible
only to clairvoyants) but of these it is advisable to use only
seven. They are situated not on the denser physical body, but
opposite certain parts of it as follows (1) the top of the head,
(2) between the eyebrows, (3) the throat, (4) the heart, (5) the
spleen (where vitality is drawn from the sun), (6) the solar plexus,
and (7) the base of the spine. The remaining three chakras
are situated in the lower part of the pelvis and normally are not
used, but are brought into play only in black magic. It is by
means of the chakras that the trained occultist can become acquainted
with the astral world.
The Theosophical concept of chakras was adapted from the
ancient Hindu understanding of kundalini, a cosmic energy
believed to be latent in the human organism responsible for
sexual activity and also conditions of higher consciousness. The
Hindu mystics pictured kundalini as a coiled serpent situated
at the base of the spine in the subtle body. When aroused by
spiritual disciplines, which included breath control and meditation,
the energy darted up the spine in any of three subtle
channels, illuminating the seven major centers or chakras in
the body. These centers have been tentatively identified with
the major nervous plexi. The seventh chakra, known as the
sahasrara or ‘‘Thousand Petalled Lotus,’’ is located in the area
of the crown of the head. Many Indian yogis have described
blissful conditions of mystical consciousness resulting from the
arousal of kundalini and its successful culmination in the sahasrara.
This supreme experience is compared with the sexual embrace
of the god Siva and his consort.
Today, the idea of chakras is somewhat universal in occult
and New Age circles. There is some difference of opinion as to
the actual nature of the chakras and the experiences associated
with them but some uniformity as to their location. An early
identification with the nervous plexi of the body was made by
V. G. Rele in his book The Mysterious Kundalini The Physical
Basis of the ‘‘Kundali-Hatha-Yoga’’ According to our Present Knowledge
of Western Anatomy and Physiology (1939).
For comparative Chinese mysticism and meditation techniques
in relation to chakras, see the books of ‘‘Charles Luk’’
(pseudonym of K’uan yü Lu), notably The Secrets of Chinese Meditation
(London, 1964).
Avalon, Arthur. The Serpent Power. Madras Ganesh, 1950.
Reprint, New York Dover Pubications, 1974.
Gopi Krishna. Kundalini The Evolutionary Energy in Man.
Boulder, Colo. Shambhala, 1970.
Judith, Anodea. Wheels of Life A User’s Guide to the Chakra System.
St. Paul, Minn. Llewellyn Publications, 1987.
Leadbeater, C. W. The Chakras. Wheaton, Iill. Theosophical
Publishing House, 1972.
Rele, V. G. The Mysterious Kundalini The Physical Basis of the
‘‘Kundali-Hatha-Yoga’’ According to our Present Knowledge of Western
Anatomy and Physiology. Bombay Taraporevala, 1939.

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