The Chakras and the Orishas
The human body consists of several different parts, and the physical bones, organs, and muscles only make up one of them. There is also the energy body. It is important to take care of the energy body and keep it in balance, just like the physical body. When it is out of balance, we can suffer negative effects on our lives and our health.
Chakras are energy centers within us. The word comes from Hindu tantrism, and each of these energy centers corresponds to a color, a symbol, and aspects of our lives and our physical and mental health. If a chakra is blocked or unbalanced, techniques like massage, crystal healing, or even a special diet can help. African spirituality also recognizes the concept of energy centers, and each one corresponds to a deity.
The Root Chakra
The root, or Ground, chakra deals with surviving and primal energy. It yields the fear that sends us into fight-or-flight mode to survive a crisis, but can also be blocked by fear. When we are afraid, we are not able to improve ourselves and act with wisdom. Unblocking the root chakra means understanding and submitting to our fears, discarding the ones that do not help us survive, and moving forward.
Ogun is the ruler of the root chakra. Ogun is the Orisha of iron, the metal that makes our blood red and forms the tools humans use for survivial. Some consider Shango to embody the root chakra. He wears red, and personifies the irrepressible power and drive to survival.
The Sacral Chakra
The sacral chakra deals with intimacy, sexuality, sensuality, and reproduction. It is the seat of desire. It is governed by water, and so is strongly tied to our emotions. When it is blocked, we may feel possessive over our lovers, lack compassion, and become preoccupied with fulfilling our physical desires. Unblocking the sacral chakra means freeing ourselves from base emotions and shame. Feeling guilt after doing something wrong helps us learn to do better. Feeling shame helps no one.
As a water chakra, it is governed by Yemaya. As the mother of saltwater rivers, she governs the fluid of the womb. She brings things from the unseen world into reality, and so embodies releasing negative emotions to allow us to live our best lives.
Some consider Mami Wata the Orisha of the sacral chakra. She embodies abundance and pleasure, the characteristics of an unblocked chakra.
3. The Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus chakra governs confidence, control, inner strength, and vitality. When blocked, we may feel angry, impulsive, or timid. Unblocking this chakra means letting go of false pride, giving of ourselves, and working to create a positive identity.
Since this is a fire chakra, is it governed by Shango. He is power and vitality, and embodies the self-assured nature of an unblocked solar plexus chakra.
4. The Heart Chakra.
The heart chakra governs love for ourselves and others, compassion, and forgiveness. When blocked, we may feel grief, or fear opening up to other people. Unblocking this chakra means seeking our balanced, healthy relationships, exercising self-compassion, and allowing our hearts to open to others.
This chakra is governed by Oshun. She is the Orisha of the sweet water, the goddess of love. When she left earth and took all of her waters with her, life withered and died. A life without love -- for yourself and for others -- is no life at all.
5. The Throat Chakra.
The throat chakra governs communication. It is the seat of our ability to express ourselves. If the creativity and impulse of the lower chakras do not have an outlet, we can become frustrated and lie to ourselves. Unblocking this chakra means speaking our truth, even if it frightens us, and opening ourselves to reason and logic over pure emotion.
This chakra is governed by Obatala. Obatala represents purity, calmness, and a dedication to the truth. When we have the courage to speak the truth, we can experience this calm, too.
6. The Third Eye Chakra.
The third eye chakra governs psychic awareness, intuition, and our sense of insight. When it is blocked, we fall prey to illusions. We may consider ourselves cut off from the rest of the world. Unblocking this means dissolving this illusion, and allowing ourselves to experience interconnectedness.
Orunmila rules this chakra. He governs the concept of omniscience, the state of being all-knowing. Orunmila speaks to priests during divination, granting them some of his knowledge.
7. The Crown Chakra.
The crown chakra is the seat of inspiration and higher consciousness. If the root chakra connects us to the earth, the crown chakra is what connects us to the divine. It needs the lower chakras unblocked in order to function, but can become blocked by excessive earthly attachments. Unblocking this chakra means recognizing the divine in ourselves and those around us.
This chakra is embodied by Ori. Ori is the divine self, destiny, and spiritual intuition. When we are balanced and all of our chakras are open, we can grow into our destiny.
Living a physically and spiritually healthy life is about balance. Working with the Orishas can help us bring about this balance, opening our chakras and allowing us to live our best lives.