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Within every living body, although on the subtle rather than the gross or physical level, there are said to be a series of energy fields or centres of consciousness, which in traditional Tantric teachings are called chakras [1]("wheels" , [2]) or padmas ("lotuses").  They are said to be located either along, or just in front of, the backbone, even though they may express themselves externally at points along the front of the body (navel, heart, throat, etc).  Associated with the chakras is a latent subtle energy, called kundalini in Shaktism, and tumo in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra.

Speculations and teachings concerning the chakras have occured independently in the religious, spiritual, yogic, and occult traditions of India, China, and the West.  Although having certain basic points in common, these also differ in many details.  So we have a number of different chakra-doctrines that have developed in different esoteric traditions to greater or lesser completeness.

click on the reference number to return to the point in the essay.

[1] a note regarding pronounciation.  It seems that just about everyone nowadays says "shar-kra".  The origin of this particular pronounciation is unclear, but the fact is that the Sanskrit word cakra is - depending on the accent - either pronounced "cha-kra" with the "a"'s like the "u" in "but", or "cho-kro" with the "o"'s as in "box".  So: "chakra", not "sharkra"

[2] The modern use of the term chakra - "wheel" - claims this is how they appearaer to yogic and clairvoyant perception, but there is no evidence that the tantrics considered or even experienced the chakras in this manner.

[3] Sometimes two lines of chakras are described - one for the front of the body and the other for the back.  See Barbara Brennan's work in this respect.


The ChakrasThe human energy system includes the seven chakras, which are the key regulators of the energies coming into and going out of the body. While the chakras are not a part of the physical body, they are connected to the subtle energy fields surrounding and influencing the body. Each chakra has a corresponding colour, and gemstone which resonates with its vibration, and they are:

Root Chakra - Red

Anchors your connection to the physical world. It is key in creating overall strength that supports the physical body.

Sacral Chakra - Orange

Represents creativity, sexuality and happiness. Aids with power and control in material matters.

Solar Plexus Chakra - Yellow

Centre for personal power, self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. The main "receiver" of first impressions.

Heart Chakra - Green

Centre of all chakras. Major focus is love, warmth, compassion and understanding.

Throat Chakra - Turquoise Blue

Is responsible for communication and self-expression.

Brow Chakra - Indigo/Royal Blue

Chakra of "intuition" helps to blend intuition with logic. Encourages spiritual outlook and perception.

Crown Chakra - Violet

The entry point of the life force - universal energy, which nourishes the body, mind and spirit.

Early doctrines regarding chakras
The Tibetan Buddhist Theory of Chakras
The Natha theory of Chakras
The Shakta Theory of Chakras
Radha Soami (Sant Mat)
The Theosophical Theory of Chakras
The Chakras according to Sri Aurobindo
The Rainbow Theory of Chakras
New Age Interpretations
Barbara Ann Brennan
The World Clock Model by Richard Haider

Parallels in non-Indo-Tibetan systems:

Taoist Concepts of the subtle Body and centers of Ch'i
Early hints of Chakras in Platonism
The Sufi Latifa
The Hesychastic Centres of Prayer
The Chakras and the Sefirot
Chakras, Sefirot, and Chinese thought

Associated Concepts

The Nadis
Subtle life energy - prana - vayu - ch'i - ki
The Serpent Fire - Kundalini - Tumo
The Circulation of the Light - Microcosmic Orbit


Meditating on and balancing the chakras
Some notes on Working with Chakra Energies and Energy Balancing
Energetic Pathways - The Chakra Figure 8s


Types of Chakras
Major and Minor Chakras
The Chakras and the Subtle Bodies
The Transpersonal Chakras
The Chakras and the kingdoms of nature
The Chakras and the astrological spheres
Chakras and the Evolution of Consciousness
The Chakras and Cosmosomatics
The difficulty of formulating a unified chakra science