Jordan S. Gruber conducted this interview with Anodea Judith via e-mail in mid-February, 1999. Anodea is a therapist, a Priestess, a noted author and expert on chakras, and an all-around wonderful person. You can find you can find the original text at www.Enlightenment.com.
e.com: To someone who doesn’t know anything at all about Chakras, how would you describe what they are in just a few sentences?
Anodea Judith: In my books I describe chakras as organizational centers for the reception, assimilation, and transmission of life energy. They are spinning vortices of energy, generated from the core of the body at the major nerve ganglia. The word “chakra” literally means wheel or disk, and like a floppy disk, each center contains habitual patterns, or “programming,” that enables our life force to interact with various kinds of energy, such as physical, sexual, emotional,mental, or spiritual energies. If we have “bugs” in our program, then we can have trouble dealing effectively with one or more of these important levels. Then we have to do the work of “getting the bugs out” so our life flows more smoothly at that level.
I also think of chakras as chambers in the temple of the body. Within each of these chambers, we handle various aspects of the human experience, briefly described as: survival, sexuality, power, love, communication, intuition, and understanding.
Metaphorically, chakras are the inner psychic gears that move us along the journey of life! If we want to get up to speed, we need to work our way through the gears.
e.com: What is the simplest and easiest way for someone to become aware of, or make use of, their own Chakras?
Anodea Judith: The simplest way is to tune into the part of your body where a chakra is located. When you feel butterflies in your belly due to nervousness, you are feeling your third or power chakra. When you fall in love, you feel energy in the heart chakra. When you have an orgasm, you are feeling the second chakra. These are very simple, everyday experiences. There are also more subtle mystic experiences one can have.
Once you learn the system, you can then practice the exercises associated with each chakra to help open, relax, and tune in more deeply to that particular center. I have found this can bring about changes in one’s life accordingly. At the very least, it makes the need for those changes more prominent! For instance, as one works through blocks in the throat, their creativity flourishes. Opening the second chakra can deepen one’s sexual connection. People’s finances improve when they learn to ground properly. I’ve seen this happen so many times I wish I could get a commission! These are real and tangible results. They don’t happen every time, but often enough that I amaze myself at the power of the system if it is regularly practiced.
e.com: Is it possible for an ordinary person to see Chakras? Do you yourself see Chakras? Are the sorts of patterns that were seen early on by such famous “psychic visionaries” as Leadbeater scientifically verifiable in any way, that is, is there any way of proving what the different Chakras look like?
Anodea Judith: I believe we see chakras all the time, but don’t realize it consciously. We can see when someone has an open heart, even though we don’t see the actual chakra. We can tell if someone is grounded, or if they collapse their torso around the third chakra, and act like a wimp, or swell at third chakra into what I call the bully belly. All this gives us information about the chakras.
This, of course, is quite different from a clairvoyant vision of the chakras, as illustrated in Leadbeater’s book “The Chakras” (1927). I took training in clairvoyance 20 years ago, so I can see chakras if I choose to look from my inner eye. What I see is metaphorical images that tell me about that person’s energy. In my workshops, I can generally get people to begin seeing chakras in just an afternoon, using simple exercises. It is not so difficult.
Back in the 70’s I did readings at psychic fairs, and got to witness the chakras from a large cross-section of the population. By telling people what saw, I could find out if I was accurate, and thereby do a fair amount of field research on the typical ways people block their energy. That, in conjunction with my therapy practice, has given me much of the material I present in my books.
As for the scientific aspects, Rosalyn Bruyere has done some interesting studies. She placed silver chloride electrodes over the subject’s major chakras while the subject was getting rolfed. Simultaneously, a psychic sensed the energy. The electronically generated wave forms she recorded correlated with the changes in color observed by the psychic. (She describes this Rolf study in her book, Wheels of Light.) The nerve ganglia are obviously there and the field in front of them is measurably more active. You can even observe this yourself, using a pendulum. But I don’t believe there is a standard way that chakras should look. Instead, they are fields that allow an infinite variety of individual expression, like the human face.
However, a scientific validation of higher concentrations of energy in the location of the various chakras tells us absolutely nothing about how to open these centers and experience their fruits. It just gives us intellectual reassurance that there really is something to the system. Its real value is its archetypal framework.
e.com: How did you, yourself, first become convinced of the reality and utility of the Chakras?
Anodea Judith: I have always had a proclivity for perceiving patterns. I first became aware of the chakras as a profound seven-leveled archetypal pattern running through all of existence — the physical world, the psychological, spiritual, and even historical, based mostly on the elements which are (from bottom to top): earth, water, fire, air, sound, light, and thought. It was later, as I underwent training in clairvoyant reading and various kinds of somatic therapies, that I began to really sense the presence of the chakras in the human body.
In my work as a bioenergetic therapist, the aim is to free a person from constricting blocks in the flow of their life force. I have found that the blocks a client complains of in his or her life (such as poor communication skills, lousy relationships, persistent fears) generally show up in the body in the areas relating to those chakras. Fear, for instance, always shows up in the legs in some way. Grief in the heart, and so forth. In the same way, illnesses in the body, such as digestive disorders, weight problems, asthma, or headaches correspond to psychological issues in the various chakras. Asthma, for example, is related to the breath, while the element air corresponding to the heart chakra. Digestive disorders relate to a third chakra fire imbalance.
e.com: Some, like Castaneda in his books, or trance-channeled entities like SETH or Bartholemew, or modern masters like Bill Eichman, have said that the Chakra system, while valuable, is actually a vast oversimplification, and that, in actuality, surrounding our bodies is a swirling, whirling, multicolored, rapidly chaning, energy body that is shaped like a cocoon, and has many more than just 7 centers. How do you resolve this notion with a system that is specifically based on 7 energy centers?
Anodea Judith: The argument over a definitive number of chakras is a common one. Basically, a chakra is a vortex of energy, and there are an infinte number of them. San Francisco is a vortex of energy; so is a convention hall. In the body, there are chakras in the hands and feet, and many people postulate chakras above or below the body. The system of seven chakras is ancient and profound, and maps so conveniently onto the physical body, through the nerve ganglia and endocrine system, as well as metaphysical levels of reality, childhood developmental stages, periods of history, etc., that I find it to be a basic road map for the journey of consciousness.
This does not deny that other vortices of energy exist, but if you try to make a system out of every swirl and eddy, you become hopelessly bogged down in excess complexity. To me, a profound spiritual system needs to be elegant and simple. The seven chakras contain that elegance.
e.com: How does your forthcoming book differ from and improve upon your previous Chakra classic, Wheels of Life? Is this more like an update, a substantial revision, or a new book entirely? What experiences have you had and research have you done since the publication of Wheels of Life that made you want to do a new version of the book? (you may want to reword this based on the answer below.)
Anodea Judith: I was quite young when I wrote my first book, WHEELS OF LIFE (it came out in 1987). I was totally in love with the chakra system, and had an intuitive gestalt understanding of it. In the 12 years since its release, I have had the privilege of working with thousands of students and clients, who have taught me much about the human condition and deepened my understanding of the chakras, as well as how to teach about them. I have done more research into yoga philosophy, and read more of other people’s works in the subject. I feel the new edition is a more mature version, with new art, a new cover, and more inclusive of recent information.
THE SEVENFOLD JOURNEY, written with Selene Vega, was taken from our decade of co-teaching the 9-month Chakra Intensive. When our handouts got more numerous each year, we decided to make a book of it. EASTERN BODY, WESTERN MIND, my most recent book, contains the psychological material I have gleaned from my 22 years in private practice.
e.com: You have many interests other than the Chakras, including yoga and neo-paganism (you are a Priestess of the Church of All Worlds, whose website can be seen at www.caw.org). How do you tie in all of these interests in your book and in the way you present Chakra education?
Anodea Judith: I find that people in today’s world are hungry for the sacred. In my workshops I use yoga, guided meditation, movement, art, dance, and ritual to bring someone into an experience of the sacred within themselves AND a connection to others at the same time. This brings transformation! It makes it real for them, instead of going home with a notebook full of intellectual knowledge that never gets applied. I try to bring this into my writing, by sharing personal stories, and writing with compassion for the human condition.
e.com: You give Chakra intensives and seminars all over the world. What are your workshops and intensives like? (see above) When you co-teach with Selene Vega, is that a very different experience than teaching by yourself?
Anodea Judith: The workshops are all experiential. They are, as Diane Conn Darling has said, a “get up on your hind legs and do it” kind of experience. They are deeply psychological, but that exploration is grounded in the body. They are deeply spiritual, but that experience is grounded in the Self.
I love teaching with Selene. We have worked together for 15 years and it flows very smoothly between us, as we created a lot of the material together. I believe it is easier to hold a container for a large group with a co-teacher. When I teach alone I have more freedom to veer from the class plan, and with Selene present there is more support and containment. I also have some very good assistants, such as Nini Gridley, who has worked extensively with the chakras.
e.com: What about the Chakras are you able to communicate to someone in a weekend or in a week that they would not be able to get by just reading your book and doing the exercises in the book?
Anodea Judith: The actual experience in their body, and the feeling of watching a group go through the discovery process together. However, if they faithfully practice the exercises in the book, they will get results. But being in a group doesn’t allow you to get stuck or put it away because it’s inconvenient. It takes you through to the other side.
e.com: What is the best way for someone to practice the exercises in your book? Most people just read through, and don’t really seriously attempt to do the exercises, found in most self-help books. Have you found any way around this for people who are serious about practicing on their own?
Anodea Judith: The books are most helpful as a manual for applying the understanding, once you have it. If someone takes a workshop, they have the book to remind them of the exercises, or in SEVENFOLD JOURNEY, they can recreate the experience with a class or study group of their own. The chakra system is vast and deep, and just reading the book will give you a basic understanding that will illuminate problem areas. It is not so important that each exercise be practiced as you read along as it is to have tools to use to counteract problems, once you’ve identified them. This way you then have some means of addressing them.
e.com: Have you thought about any additional multi-media forays that might take place over the web? Might there be a way for people to experience the truths of the Chakras via the internet?
Anodea Judith: My son Alex, who is a computer graphics wizard, and I have talked about creating a 30-minute animated graphics film based on the chakras. About 15 years ago I did this as a slide show, using two projectors and a fade unit. The technology is now outdated and we are hoping to find time to create some interactive media that brings at least sound and image to one’s experience. But the trouble with the internet is it doesn’t get you into your body!
e.com: Moving beyond the Chakras right now, as a therapist, priestess, and teacher, what would you say are the primary things that people can do to have a better, more balanced, and more productive life experience?
Anodea Judith: I don’t believe we need a lot of elaborate, painful, and time-consuming practices to enjoy what life has given us for free. I do think we need to stop turning away from the earth, stop separating mind and body, and stop going against our own natures. I believe that inherent within each of us is an archetype of wholeness that will take us home if we can allow it and trust it. If we have a model that reflects balance and integration (such as the chakra model, which incorporates spirituality AND the body), then we have a better shot at letting this wholeness emerge.