When we deal with spirituality it is inevitable to stumble upon the Chakra System. Imported and popularized in the West through the Theosophical Society at the end of the nineteenth century, chakras have become a reference point for thousands of practitioners.
It is undeniable that Eastern esotericism has been widely adopted and adapted in all Western countries. With the Chakra System becoming a fundamental structure for the inner development of the individual.
But why are there exactly seven chakras or lotus flowers? And what does their number of petals depend on? The answer lies in the relationship between Man—the Microcosm—and the Macrocosm.
In this article we are going to talk about chakras in relation to the planets of Astrology. And by looking at their movement in outer space, we are also going to understand why the chakras, by mirroring those movements, have just that number of petals.
Disclaimer: There is no Single System
Before starting I’d like to point out that the Chakra System is not unique. On the contrary, there are a lot of variants out there, and the familiar Seven-Chakras System is just one of them.
On top of that, we also need to take into account that some mystery schools address the chakras in a “descriptive” manner, others “prescriptive”.
“Descriptive” means that the system describes something that already exist, something which is part of the human occult physiology.
This description goes into detail, saying for example that the chakras are seven, that they are made in a certain way, placed in a given area of the body, and so on.
From this perspective, what spiritual practitioners are trying to do is developing something that’s already there as a potential. This is the perspective that I personally consider valid.
On the other hand, a “prescriptive” approach doesn’t look at the chakras as something already existing. It is us, through our discipline, meditations and visualizations that are literally creating them. In other words, we are prescribed a series of techniques to build them.
We are creating “subtle control centers” for a later use, and they are just the result of a technique. As such, they are not necessarily part of the human occult physiology. Nor do they have to be seven, or made in a given way.
As I mentioned, I do prefer to consider the Chakra System as descriptive rather than prescriptive. In fact in this article we are going to look at the human being as a Microcosm. And we are going to see how each chakra has a number of petals that mirrors the movement or the main features of the planets of the Macrocosm.
Chakras and Planets
Here’s the seven Chakras in relation to the Planets:
- The Moon: Mulhadara, the Four-petalled Chakra
- Mercury: Svadhishthana, the Six-petalled Chakra
- Venus: Manipura, the Ten-petalled Chakra
- The Sun: Anahata, the Twelve-petalled Chakra
- Mars: Vishudda, the Sixteen-petalled Chakra
- Jupiter: Ajna, the Two-petalled Chakra
- Saturn: Sahasrara, the Thousand-petalled Chakra
Digging into the system itself would go beyond the scope of this article. Here, we are mainly going to talk about the relationship between the Macrocosm and the Microcosm, understanding why the chakras are made like that.
As you can see the chakras are seven just as the planets, and they are ordered from the fastest (the Moon) to the slowest (Saturn). On top of that, the number of their petals is increasing. Please note that the two-petalled chakra is actually made of 96 petals, as we are going to see later on.
The Four-Petaled Chakra
The Moon corresponds in the Microcosm to the so called Root Chakra. This chakra is the subtle organ in the Astral Body (or more specifically Soul Body) that connects us to the Earth.
Its four petals corresponds to the main phases of the Moon, that in classic Astrology are assigned to the four qualities: hot and cold, damp and dry. Each possible pair of qualities corresponds to one of the Four Elements (see below).
According to Ptolemy:
- New Moon to First Quarter: Cold and Damp → Water Element
- First Quarter to Full Moon: Hot and Damp → Air Element
- Full Moon to Last Quarter: Hot and Dry → Fire Element
- Last Quarter to New Moon: Cold and Dry → Earth Element
We have already discussed about the relationship between the Sublunary World, the Four Elements and the Four Ethers. So check out this link to deepen the subject.
What we want to point out here is the relationship between this subtle organ with the Four Elements and Four Ethers that open down to the Earth Sphere (the Physical-Etheric World). Each petal of the chakra is connected to one of them.
The Six-Petaled Chakra
Here’s the most fascinating aspect of the association between the Planets in the Macrocosm and the Chakras in the Microcosm. Most of them have a number of petals which mirror the movement of the associated planet.
Let’s take the movement of the planet from the Earth perspective (geocentric) as we usually do in Astrology. In the picture above, you can see the simulation of the movement of planet Mercury, traced in yellow. The twelve rays in light gray corresponds to the Zodiac Signs it crosses.
As you can see, Mercury traces three great petals in the sky. It’s easy to recognize in them the three retrograde periods that the planet perform across the year.
Now, if we double the number of petals traced by the planet in the sky, we’ll have those of the chakra. But why do we have to double them in number? Isn’t that a stretch? Not at all.
Rudolf Steiner explained that the spiritual practitioner consciously develops only half of the petals of each chakra. The other half is developed unconsciously, as an indirect result of the process. This is why we basically have one spiritual exercise for each petal.
The Spiritual Beings of the Hierarchies have been working on the human being, fully developing only one half of the petals. In ancient times, when mankind could still perceive the spiritual worlds, those petals were active. It’s what in Anthroposophy is called Atavic Clairvoyance.
That kind of clairvoyance is now lost, since we need to develop a new one, but this time in a fully conscious way. For this reason those ancient, already developed petals lie dormant, waiting for mankind to consciously developing theirs—the other half.
This is part of the human freedom: we need to become active part of our evolution, co-creators of our own subtle bodies. When we are going to do it, the ancient petals will reactivate spontaneously.
The Ten-Petaled Chakra
As you can see in the picture above, Venus traces a five-petalled flower in the sky in 8.5 years circa. Being the planet of love and beauty, no surprise that Venus draws a Rose—queen of all flowers.
Again, we need to double the number of the petals to get those of the chakra, obtaining 10 petals in total.
Another explanation that we can give for this operation, is the following. We need to take into account not only the orbit of the planet itself, but also the conjunctions of the planet with the Sun.
In fact Venus performs 10 conjunctions with the Sun as it traces the rose in the sky:
- 5 Inferior Conjunctions: an inferior conjunction (I in the picture) takes places when Venus is aligned between the Sun and the Earth.
- 5 Superior Conjunctions: a superior conjunction (S in the picture) takes places when the Sun is aligned between Venus and the Earth.
This explanation is only valid for the internal planets (Venus and Mercury) since only them can make these two kinds of conjunctions. Indeed Mercury makes six conjunctions with the Sun as the number of the petals of its chakra.
The Twelve-Petaled Chakra
Similarly to the Moon, the Sun never gets retrograde from a geocentric perspective. This means that the Sun can’t draw any petal in the sky. However, the relationship between the Sun, the year and the number twelve comes easy.
As we’ve taken the number four as representative of the Moon cycle, the number twelve represents the yearly cycle of the Sun through the Twelve Zodiac Signs.
This has to do with the relationship existing between the Sun and the Tropical Zodiac, as we’ve described in our previous article.
Being the Tropical Zodiac an emanation of the Solar Sphere, it makes sense for the Microcosm to mirror the Macrocosmic Sun into a subtle organ which has twelve petals.
This organ is the most important Chakra that as Anthroposophers we’re called to develop. It’s the Chakra of the Heart, and its development consists in Rudolf Steiner’s famous Six Exercises.
As a clairvoyant perception organ, this chakra allows us to perceive the feelings coming from other people and animals. It also develops true love of neighbor, and harmonizes the members of the Soul: thinking, feeling and willing.
The Sixteen-Petaled Chakra
As the Six Exercises belong to the twelve-petaled chakra, so the Eightfold Path of Buddhism corresponds to the sixteen-petaled chakra of the larynx. Again the indications given by the Gautama Buddha are just eight—half of sixteen. This has to do with the occult law about the development of the chakras we mentioned above.
With no surprise, the flower that Mars draws in the sky is much coarser and irregular than the one drawn by Venus. But in this case, we can’t take into account the distinction between superior and inferior conjunctions, because Mars is an outer planet. This means that only one type of conjunction is possible.
Every roughly two years Mars completes a cycle around the Zodiac, and performs a conjunction with the Sun. After 8 conjunctions Mars gets back to its initial position.
In Anthroposophy, the sixteen-petaled chakra is the second most important chakra to develop. This because it has to do with the extinction of the “thirst for life”, through which we overcome attachment—the basis of suffering.
As a clairvoyant perception organ, this chakra allows us to perceive thought-forms and the laws of nature.
The Two-Petaled Chakra
Jupiter corresponds to the two-petaled chakra of the forehead. This chakra is different from the others, and it is quite mysterious.
In the picture above you see a representation of this chakra as depicted by Charles Webster Leadbeater, a well-known and controversial member of the Theosophical Society.
In his book “Enlivening the Chakra of the Heart”, Florin Lowndes says that Steiner “pointed out that Leadbeater’s illustrations could well be used to augment his own descriptions“. I reached out to him by email asking for the source of the quote, but unfortunately he couldn’t find it anymore.
Trusting Florin Lowndes on this, we can see from Leadbeater’s illustrations what the two petals of the Ajna chakra really are. In fact they consist in two groups of 48 thin petals each.
This is indirectly confirmed by Rudolf Steiner, that describes the two petals (or rather, their development) extending down towards the arms, branching out in a kind of web, and encompassing the entire etheric body in a sort of network (Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, Ch. 5 – G.A. 10).
The correspondence with the physical planet Jupiter is still a mystery to me. Of course, Jupiter is the planet of thinking and the Conscious Soul, so the association with the forehead is pretty evident.
But the movement of Jupiter around the earth forms just 12 petals. And for some unknown reason we need to quadruple this number to match 48—half of the petals of the chakra.
We might be tempted to insert a numerological reasoning, being 4 the number of Jupiter (Chesed in Hermetic Kabbalah). But it would still be unsatisfactory. Please leave a comment below if you have any insight on the matter.
The development of this chakra, which in the Western Countries is quite advanced, concerns logical thinking and clarity of thought. We can develop it practicing the ability to discern truth from appearance, the essential from the unessential, and the permanent from the eternal.
The Thousand-petaled Chakra
While the four-petaled chakra opens us down towards the Earth and the Elements, the Crown Chakra of Saturn located on the top of the head opens us upwards—towards the cosmos.
The petals of this chakra are a thousand, or to be more specific 972 (or 960). These petals stream (or beam) upwards and connects us to the world of the stars. You can imagine each one of them as a thin cord, linking us to a star system, to the spiritual beings of the First Hierarchy.
The most fascinating detail about this chakra concerns the “inner circle of the crown”. As you can see in the illustration above (Leadbeater) we have twelve bigger petals, branching out in a thousand thinner petals.
In my opinion these twelve central petals correspond to the Twelve Constellations of the Sidereal Zodiac (which are not the twelve signs of the Tropical Zodiac).
As you can see there’s a clear connection with the Heart Chakra. Saturn is the door towards the stellar world of the Sidereal Zodiac, whereas the Sun mirrors down the Sidereal Zodiac into the Tropical Zodiac, as we have described in this article. For this reason both chakras have twelve petals.
Having a clear understanding of the Three Zodiacs, allows us to recognize how the same Zodiac Archetype that we find in the Macrocosm is mirrored in the Microcosm. In the Crown Chakra (Sidereal Zodiac) and Heart Chakra (Tropical Zodiac), respectively.
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I consider myself a free researcher in western spiritual disciplines, in particular Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy and the Neoplatonic Hermetic tradition. I have a three-year training in Astrology at the CIDA delegation of Trieste, the Italian Center for Astrological Disciplines. I graduated in Computer Engineering from the University of Trieste.