The chakras in European mystical societies

Many of the ancient mystical systems of Europe referred to man as the microcosmos – the miniature universe. Consciousness was called the macrocosmos – the greater universe. The microcosmos is a reflection of the macro-cosmos. To show man’s relationship with consciousness the macrocosmos is often shown as being contained within the microcosmos of man’s body. That is, the wise mystics depicted the chakras within the human framework. The essence of all the practices of these mystical and pagan societies was to merge with the macrocosm and the microcosm. The keys were the chakras.

There is a beautiful symbol used by the ancient Kabbalists. It is the double triangle of Solomon, where two triangles are interlaced to form a hexagon (this is, incidentally, one of the symbols of the anahata chakra). The upper facing triangle (apex upwards) represents the macrocosmos, the white Jehovah, or the lord of the light. The downward facing triangle apex downwards) represents the microcosmos, the black Jehovah, the lord of reflections, or man. This symbolizes the interrelationship and identification of man with consciousness. It is said that seven creative powers or rays emanate from the upper white Jehovah (consciousness). These are the different levels of awareness associated with the chakras arising from the fountainhead, the sahasrara. These seven rays diverge from the source, giving rise to the universe of multitudinous names and forms. Then these divergent rays are converged and brought to focus in man. We leave you to work out the meaning and implications behind this symbolism.

The number seven was always regarded as a very important number in mystical societies. The Pythagoreans regarded it as the number of spiritual life because man is controlled by the seven celestial spirits. These are the chakras. The Pythagoreans represented the number seven by a geometrical cube, that is, the six surfaces and the mystical seventh point in the centre. The six faces are the chakras and central point is sahasrara, the core of them all. It is said that the number one lies in the centre of the cube and that it represents the real nature of man. This one is the realization of sahasrara, unity or the totality of all things. Reflect on this and try to understand what it means. If you get a logical answer then discard it. For the meaning is beyond the realm of logic.

Is it merely a coincidence that the Bible (Genesis) says that creation took place in seven days? Or that there are arbitrarily seven days in a week? Or that Shakespeare mentions the seven ages through which man must pass (As You Like It – act 2, scene 7)? These could have originally been direct or symbolic references to the chakras. Also seven is the number of man in numerology. There are many reasons for this, but one of them could be that the essence of man is represented by the six chakras and sahasrara.

In the middle ages, Johan Gitchel, a disciple of the great mystic Jacob Boehme, drew and circulated various charts in his Theosophical Practice illustrating the different chakras. Hell is depicted as being in the region of the mooladhara chakra; that is the normal low awareness level. The charts depict that man has to gradually solve and overcome his problems in order to progressively open up the chakras.

Similar symbolism was used by Ptolemy in his so-called concept of the solar svstem. In modern times the ptolemaic scheme of the planetary system has been ridiculed by modern astronomers, for it shows the earth as the centre of the solar system around which all the other planets, including the sun. rotate. But this misses the whole point. Ptolemy was not referring to the material universe. He was interested in the levels of awareness of man and used his planetary scheme as a convenient symbol. His seven planets are the chakras and the centre of his universe, the earth, is the sahasrara. The ptolemaic scheme is really an indication or map of levels of awareness. One has to pass through the different spheres of chakras (planets) to reach the centre of one’s being. The earth represents this centre. It is sahasrara. The ancients called it the ‘crvstallinum primum’, the crystal heaven.

All the systems depict divinity in human form. In the context of the chakras, it implies that man has the potential to transcend individual limitations. Each and every man and woman is a symbol of something much more. The physical framework is that which is visible, the chakras depict that which is invisible. They are the junction between ‘that’ and this’, between the limited and the unlimited.

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