What’s all the hype with these rainbow wheels anyways?
When you hear the word “chakra,” what do you think of? This might be a new word to you in total.
Or maybe you think of those cool rainbow colored stickers we see on the the back of old Volkswagon vans, yoga mats, laptops, and iPhones?
–I mean… they are pretty darn cute aren’t they? And obviously marketable, because they’re everywhere!
From chakra clothing, and chakra jewelry, to mugs, bags, crystal sets, candle sets, herbal sets, essential oil sets, chakra headphones, chakra chromatherapy glasses… ya ya ya… You name it- you can get it with chakras stamped on it.
But what are these little rainbow wheels? And why do so many people love to acknowledge them so much?
What’s Your Experience?
Perhaps you’ve attended a yoga class where you’ve had your teacher “activate your chakras,” with a meditation or sound healing, catapulting you into the ethos where all of your existential problems were instantaneously solved in a 60 minute class. -BAM!
Or, maybe when that teacher started teaching about rainbow wheels of light spinning within your body, you were the one looking at everyone else like they were freaking crazy, and absurdly over spiritual…
I’ve felt both ways at times over the past decade. And both of those perspectives are totally fine.
I have been brilliantly blown away by some first hand experiences and psycho-physiological concepts involving chakras throughout the years. Especially within the archetypes. (Although some paths don’t incorporate them, I personally find them very accurate in comparison to basic human behavior. But that’s me.)
And I’ve also rolled my eyes at many others, thinking, “this holds zero historical evidence or relevance, where the eff did you come up with this?” -or- “has this just become another yoga marketing gimmick?”
At this point in my life, I’m ok with whatever perspective that people have, because even down to the neurological level of our qualias, we will all literally see and experience things differently no matter what.
Lately, I’ve been writing a curriculum for one of our Goddess Gatherings weekend retreats here called “The Turning of the Wheel: Chakras, Archetypes, and the Psyche,” with a main focus on cakras.
Yes- the original word in Sanskrit is cakra which translates “wheel,” ‘circle,” & Indo-European “turn.” It is pronounced with a “ch,” like “chocolate.”
This has been changed to the spelling “chakra,” in western societies for a few etymological reasons over time which I go over in the curriculum as well as having a way deeper lesson into all the translations and meanings…
Oh, how I love etymology and the history of linguistics- it helps translations tremendously! I will use cakra and chakra interchangeably in this blog just for name sake.
Anyhow… I’ve had a chance to really reflect and look at what I’ve learned over the past 10 years on the subject. Which is so much- in a million different directions- omg, it was so confusing for so long.
I’ll fill you in on a little tidbit of my journey in learning them to hopefully steer you in the direction of where you can continue to learn on your own path.
There are Many Paths of Chakras….. And They’re All Good.
I started off with the 7 Cakra System whilst in yoga teacher training which is pretty typical to this part of the world. Each cakra had a Sanskrit name, color, element, sound or seed mantra, organ affiliation, scent, etc. etc. etc, which all correlated to it’s subtle energetic properties.
I was so nervous to get it right and not screw up people’s cakras, thus, I would get things perfectly memorized so I could teach them confidently at workshops and teacher trainings.
-And if you think I would sway on that even in the least bit, like recommending Frankincense for anything but your muladhara cakra, or sniffing Jasmine when you already have an overactive manipura – you are sorely mistaken and I would have energetically smothered you with your own Gaiam chakra yoga towel for even thinking such things… Hmmfff.
I was good though. Seriously. I got booked a lot. I made sure I had my sahasrara wide open, my uddiyana bandha locked in place, and the empress archetype hyped so I could impress you with my sweet aura and confidence.
I weaved through the aisles of people speaking softly but powerfully, letting them know they can change their worlds when they chanted these tones of antiquity and squeezed their perineum.
I daintily whispered them lofty terms with loads of Sanskrit mantras, Vedic phrases, and chakric attributes so that it would show I had done the work.
All the while, I secretly looked down on anyone who displayed skepticism or the inability to blow their own chakric mind (lol) or not willing to push their limits in a vinyasa or raja class.
I didn’t see it at the time of course, but isn’t that the way hindsight usually goes? Lots of people admired me as a teacher because I had a lot of popular yoga information I to give, (and I was in great shape) but in reality, I was so judgmental, arrogant, and downright shitty at times.
I looked at seasoned yogis like gods, I would unknowingly pick up all the latest trends, and wouldn’t be caught dead in workout clothes from off brands or carrying a mat from K-mart. But nonetheless, I was sooo spiritual. What a riot….
Tip: Never give your teacher too much credit or put them on a pedestal- they’re on the same ride of identity as you are. They’re just better at covering it with good verbiage, high energy, and motivation. They struggle the same way you do at times in their own ways. Take comfort there!
Over the past decade, I’ve lightened up quite a bit I guess you could say. -Ha!
My other degrees and areas of study eventually led me on a never ending quest of researching deeper into psychology, religions, social justice, history, and mythology all across the world looking for cultural threads including cakras.
-By the by, cakras are very comparable to religions and philosophies. Most branches of belief have a common understanding and good intentions, but so many different perspectives.
I say bring all of the understandings to the table for discussion instead of trying to convince others yours is the right path.
Let’s Look at a Few Differences:
Some philosophies especially those deriving from Hinduism believe there are four cakras attached to the elements, earth, water, fire, and air.
Others like Tibetan philosophy or a conventional Tantrik (also spelled Tantrick and Tantric depending on your lineage) say there are 5, according to their own set of elements, and related to more of the toning and seed mantra aspect. These put little to no emphasis on the psycho-social aspect, rather the deep seeded layers of actual petals on each cakra and it’s meaning. A beautiful system for the science of sound, I truly appreciate it.
The 7 cakras of Indo-European thought link mainly with their attributes behaviors and have even more elements (including ether, time, and space). Select Native American cultures have a system of 10, where with the Hopi Indians and Mayan Merkaba, they own more complex systems and intergalactic. These ones are all fascinating as well.
New age philosophies mainly have between 9 and 14, leading more into the multi-dimensional realities and emotional attachments, while some Asian philosophies equate them to 12 or 14, have different physiological intricacies but hold very similar underlying messages.
Some paths believe there are no colors even attached to the cakras- isn’t that enlightening? And many even place them in different spots of the body depending on the lineage. -Fabulous
So everyone has their view on the systems. That’s the most important thing you should know. What everyone agrees on though for the most part, is that our minds and our bodies are linked.
It’s really that simple…. And that complex.
Seeing chakras through our own lens.
Remember that no matter what, we will all see things differently. So whether you go by ancient Vedic, Chinese, Indian, North or South American, or most other places in the world, (including the 9th dimensional Arkadians apparently, wow- i know) you will find something relating to the subtle energetic field and perceive it in your own way.
It will most likely be called something different and go by a different set of philosophies, but try not to lose sleep figuring out which one is right. I think they all ring a bell of truth just like any other religion, myth, or tradition.
What works for you? And what are you looking for?
Are you deeply ingrained in music, vocal toning, chanting, and vibrational healing? Well you should probably learn more about cakras from that point of view and philosophy.
Are you looking to meet your emotional needs like those of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, or Erickson’s Psycho-Social Theory of Development?
Then learn more on the understanding of archetypes, basic human behavior, and how emotional stress affects the physical body.
Each path has a little bit for all of us, so we shouldn’t get too caught up in who’s right or wrong. Learn a bit about them all so you can decipher what is right for you.
Don’t want to get weird with it at all and prefer to see them as pressure points? Fine by me. Wanna dip your toes into the world of woowoo and blow your mind like a natural pranayama D.M.T trip? That’s fine too.
From experience I can tell you that you have the choice to do either. And you have the choice to decide which path, theory, belief, philosophy, and perspective is for you.
I think I’ve gone through just about every stage of “what I need to do to really cleanse my cakras,” so I say you do whatever you need to do.
You can even cover your walls with chakra tapestries while wearing your new Lululemon chakra t-shirt with matching chakra jewelry, while carrying your chakra yoga mat, in it’s new chakra yoga bag, on the way to your chakra yoga class.
If that’s what makes you feel alive and constantly reminded of your rainbow wheels, I support it. And I get it. –You do you!
Or it may even be just reading about them in your pajamas over coffee or meditating quietly and recognizing where you are struggling in life both physically and mentally- that’s more my thing these days.
For me in my background, I resonate deeply with the archetypal and psychological philosophies as well as the physiological. But my view is most likely going to differ from yours.
I have degrees in counseling so I am more likely to reach for archetypes and the psyche. (Which I could go on about all day and probably will in a series of blogs- it’s a very wide topic.)
I also have multiple certifications in different aspects of physiology from yoga and personal training background to corrective exercise specialist, fitness and nutrition specialist etc, so I can grasp the concept of how using certain muscles can create energy within your body.
So know in advance those will be automatic biases from me. It’s goo to know who you are learning from!
I am so excited to share the curriculum coming up in a few weeks at “The Turning of the Wheel: Chakras, Archetypes, and the Psyche!”
We will dig way deeper into our psyches, subtle energy systems, physiology of the human nervous system, multi cultural etymology and worldviews, the cakras, Jungian psychology, Joseph Campbell mythology, goddesses throughout history, art, yoga, dance, ooooooooh, I cannot wait!
I always look forward to our Goddess Gatherings! If you have never been to Archaic Roots Dome Home and Farm, you are in for a real treat!
May you be inspired in your research!
(And don’t forget to research who you are getting your research from as well.)