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You have questions about chakra history and your offerings? You’ve come to the right place … so did I!

Updated: Apr 1





You love working with the chakras [skt. cakra),  it connects you to spirit and yourself in a profound way.  It’s helped you in so many aspects of your life and you love offering that healing to others.   However … you’ve heard some conflicting things and you want to make sure that your sharing it authentically and with appreciation.

 

I hear you!  It’s challenging and there is sooooo much history to it. The books are many and huge!   Not only do you have to digest new knowledge i.e. that there are many ways on not one core one.  You have to figure the sources (and their validity) and how, if at all, this changes the way you are of service.

 

Whilst I am the biggest advocate for lineage and authenticity, I strongly ascribe to the evolution of spiritual modalities and that teachers and practitioners should, whilst still honouring the past, share from a place of passion and not prescription.  All truths are true from lens through which you are looking.

 

So to give you pause for pondering I have pulled together some of mine for you..


No#1. Be prepared to be surprised by new knowledge…


I apologise in advance if this is the first you’ve heard of it, because this blew my mind when this first came to my attention, it was the wildly different from what I’d been taught.   The core modern charka system as we know it today i.e .with 7 chakras and rainbow colours is about 50 years old with its beginnings about 100 years ago.


Both the number of chakras and the rainbow system had many different forms before the model we know today became established.   In the ṣaṭ cakra nirūpaṇa, which is the precursor for our 7 chakra model the solar plexus is dark blue.

“Above I, and at the root of the navel, is the shining lotus of ten petals, of the colour of heavy laden rain-clouds.  Within it are the letters ḍa to pha of the colour of the blue lotus with the nāda and bindu above them …" verse 19

No#2 - Because you can’t escape the past.


If you avoid academics and philosophy like the plague, if you would rather feel than think,  then you’re unlikely to want to immerse yourself in texts.  That being said, a little investigation goes a long way, even it only serves to validate what your sharing is in alignment with you your heart and you want to offer from a newer model.


The history of the chakras matters, not because you HAVE to know it  in order to include chakra work in your offerings,  but because the past informs the present.  Knowing that the chakra system is a multifaceted ever evolving model means you can share with confidence regardless of the model variation or philosophy that you chose to adopt, there has never been one way that we (in the west) adopted or adapted.


The chakras are so mainstream now it’s unlikely that your students and clients haven’t heard of them, which is amazing but because people are more curious and ask more questions, and it’s great to be able to speak to this with confidence into your sessions.


No#3 - It can be kind of challenging.


When, in 2016 I chanced across two articles, the first of which spoke  to the ‘historical truths’ of ancient wisdom v modern practices the-real-story-on-the-chakras, I don’t mind admitting it took me a moment! And I questioned if everything that I’d been teaching was ‘wrong’ all this time and this kicked off a huge philosophical deep dive for me.


It can be uncomfortable to question your established thinking, but when you flip that, it is both daring and ambitious and shows bold vulnerability.  It’s important to remember that this is about expansion and not replacement of knowledge.




No#4 - Ultimately it is illuminating.


Expanding your knowledge of the past of the chakra systems is like going from black and white into colour.  We are not comparing traditional versus new age or authentic to inauthentic, quite the opposite. What you come to discover that, actually,  there has never been a fixed point in chakra or just one chakra system it has always been in evolving.

 

Whilst spiritual practices will always be something handed from teacher to student, it’s also true that these will always change with time.  You take 100% of what’s given to you and then you add yourself to it.  When you create something that is in alignment with both the teaching and your inner truth it vibrates in a unique way, an ‘aha moment’.


No#5 - Evolution is natural.


Just like yoga poses the chakra models are many and have evolved over the centuries, there has never been just ‘one way’. 


This is of just a handful of moment from chakra’s history.  Take a look at it with soft focus and don’t get stuck on the detail, let yourself feel it and not try to wrangle it (is speak from experience!)


Selection of Ancient Past Models

  • 9th – 12th C. Many texts, many models

  • 14th Century, Śiva-saṃhita alternating gold & red 9 wheel with white

  • 16th Century, Sat cakra nirūpana the six plus 1 model

  • 16th Century, 12 Chakra model (of uncertain origin)

 

Some moments of chakra introductions in the west

  • 1850 - 1900      Articles on the Chakras start to appear in the west.

  • 1897, The Secret Doctrine by Mme Blavatsy. associations with the western musical scale, alternate colour theory, auras, endocrine system.

  • 1918, The Serpent Power by Woodroffe.  Establishes the 7-chakra model

  • 1927  The Chakras by Leadbeater. Alternative colour principles

  • 1920s – 30s Birth of colour healing, chromotherapy

  • 1930s +   Human characteristics, English name equivalents, one-word descriptions

 

Some Modern Day Developments

  • 1977, Dychtwalds June Yoga Journal article, establishes the rainbow system

  • 1970 -80’s, Chakras enter the mainstream through celebrities. 

  • 1987, Wheels of Life by Judith, codifies new charka elements.

  • 1990’+   Association with other elements i.e. crystals start to emerge

  • 2000 onwards multiple new chakras appear in new age practices etc.


No#6 - Cakra (chakra) versus Chakra (shakra)


Hopefully the above underpins the idea of the chakras as a multi-system and ever changing. You can almost thing of it as the funnelling of the past into an expansion of the present.



The approaches are many, with the new not seeking to replace it's predecessors. How they are used today are different from how they were used in classical yoga. employing different practices to achieve the same results.  Where a yogini might use a bjia mantra for the third chakra a spiritualist would use a crystal, a sound healer would use a bowl. In one sense there is a clear distinction between eastern tradition and western esotericism. In another they have not only braided together but are now indivisible.


That being said you might find it helpful to think if them as separate eastern traditional and modern western terms i.e.  cakra (chakra) versus chakra (shakra).   The latter having been in the English language long enough (100 years +) to establish it as a separate word representing newer practices.  It can help when thinking about your offering.


No#7 - So what do I offer?


Before you start crafting your offering ask yourself

 

  • What is intention for my community

  • What chakra model best achieves that

  • How do the teachings compare to your (inner) truth

  • What elements of chakra teaching vibrate for me the most?

  • How can I best share with appreciation and integrity.

 

There is a lot of 'source amnesia' when it comes to chakras history. That is to say, given it's wanderings through the centuries it's not as straight forward as give gratitude to a specific lineage or reference a specific text unless we are teaching from that place. But... we can acknowledge chakras origins in yoga's ancient text and the part we play in it's journey from the rainbow and beyond. If you come from a place of reverence, appreciation and service you won’t go far wrong.


Click here for details of my upcoming The History of Charkas workshop and other offerings.




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