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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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