The Ancient and Modern Mystery
In my twenty years as a healer and teacher, the one question I can count on every new student to ask is "What's a aura?" From antiquity there has been a myriad of literary and pictorial descriptions of the aura. Sometimes it has been depicted as a luminous radiation surrounding the body. Frequently, it has been pictured as a kind of light around the head -- which some religious traditions call a halo. Most of us are familiar with paintings of haloed Christian saints. In earlier Chinese and Japanese art, a single and sometimes a triple halo surrounds the head of images of the bodhisattva or Buddha. In ancient Egyptian culture, the aura was often depicted as wings enfolding the body. In Native American tradition, the radiant aura of the buffalo has given rise to the legend of the white buffalo. When Matthew (17:2) describes the transfiguration of Christ, he says that Jesus's face "did shine as the sun," and "his raiment was white as the light." Luke (9:29)adds that Jesus's raiment was "glistering." This is a Biblical description of Christ's aura, which the Apostles Peter, James, and John were able to see when they were taken by their Master to a mountain just prior to his crucifixion.
People who are able to see auras have often reported seeing a kind of luminous radiation surrounding an individual, usually consisting of one or sometimes several colors. We now know that the aura, or auric field, relates to the electromagnetic field, which emanates from all matter. This field of energy, which usually extends five or six inches around the body, is outside the range of normal vision and in what is sometimes termed the realm of psychic sight. But even those who can't see the aura can still have an experience of it. The aura is what keeps us from bumping our shopping carts into one another in the supermarket. It's what allows us to sense another's presence in a darkened room, and it's what makes someone turn to look at us across a crowded room.
This implies that the aura is not just a reflection of light, as might have been assumed from the literary descriptions and paintings of old. It is an emanation, a luminous radiation, a field of light or energy that extends beyond the body to interact with our external environment. It is an energy system that keeps body and mind alive and healthy, and may in actuality create them.
The aura itself is generated by the spinning of smaller vortices of energy located within the body. Different religious traditions have called these subtle energy centers different things, but the word most commonly used is chakra from the Sanskrit word meaning "wheel of light." These seven chakras are who and what we are, what we feel and how we think and change. They are how we express ourselves and how we create. Although we as Westerners have no cognitive awareness of its energies, the chakra system is precisely the means by which we gain awareness. It is how we experience life, how we perceive reality, and how we relate to self, others, and the world, It is life itself.
As we explore the aura and the chakras, it is important for us to view our journey not as revolutionary, but rather as very traditional. Chakras, as well as auras and electromagnetic fields, are as old as the earth itself. The chakra system, in fact, is a part of the ancient and lost mysteries. And, in the end, the chakra system in our bodies is how we find our way back to the most ancient mystery of all -- God, the Oneness, the Omniscient.
The majority of what I know about the chakra system has come directly from my twenty years of experience as a healer and aura reader. As a young healer and psychic, when I would look at another's auric field, I would notice that some areas were darker than others, or that there were "holes" in the aura. I came to understand that those holes were indications of ill health or predictive of illness to come. When I put "energy" into a body and watched its movement, I observed that adding energy to one part of the body reveals how the body uses energy, and therefore how healthy it is. I watched people think, I watched them feel. I saw that these "patterns" correspond to their disease. From this experience I learned that we can suppress information in the body or in the chakra system, but we can never eliminate it. We can alter that information by the way we move or the way we think. Even if we make a slight change in behavior, it precipitates change in every other aspect of our lives. That was when I began to view the aura as a reflection of a person's entire well-being.
I had grown up seeing auras. Though some people consider psychic or "second" sight a spiritual gift, psychism runs in my family and was never considered a "gift." It was a "knowing" that allowed family members to assist one another in times of imminent disaster.
I was raised by my grandmother and great-grandmother, Nana. It was Nana who taught me to see auras around plants, although she never used that term. She would say, "Do you see the light? What color is it? Do you see that the light on the plant is increasing?" She told me that cuttings taken from a plant on which light was increasing would take root, but that cuttings taken from a plant on which light was decreasing wouldn't root. Then she'd have me do experiments in which I'd take cuttings from different plants, some with a full bright aura, others with a diminishing auric field, so I could discover for myself the truth of her teachings. So it was that in a very practical way I learned from Nana to "see" auric light and energy and to identify what was "full of light" as that which was also "full of life."
When I was six, Nana's husband, Mickey, died. But she continued to have communication with him. Nana's ability to see the light around plants had been viewed by the less psychic family members as a benign idiosyncrasy. But as Nana began to share with the rest of the family more and more of what Mickey was "saying," they became alarmed. Her conversations with the dead came to be viewed as an indication of increasing mental instability. Fearing my great-grandmother was having a nervous breakdown, the family had her hospitalized, and Nana was given electroshock treatments. When she returned home, she no longer conversed with Mickey -- nor did she take me into the garden anymore to see the plants. Witnessing what had happened to Nana, I decided that if I was to avoid her experience I had better forget about seeing any more light around plants. And, at the age of seven, I did.
Then, in my early twenties, I married and had children, who began to speak about the "colored fuzz" around people. Their ability to "see" auras restimulated my own. In order to raise them responsibly, I was forced to seek out the teachers who could help me make sense of our experiences. My studies not only helped me make sense of those experiences but introduced me to their practical applications. I was taught rudimentary healing techniques, which I sometimes practiced on my friends. I had no intention of becoming a healer, but, as the people I "treated" began to feel better and talk about it, I found that that's what I had become.
When people came to me, I would explain what an aura was and how I saw their disease, and so I developed a reputation as an aura reader, too. One day a woman phoned, identifying herself as a healer. She asked if she could bring a client to my home and requested me to tell her what I saw in the aura of the client as she worked. I was completely unprepared for what transpired that day. Rather than laying-on-of-hands, which was the healing method I had been taught, Emilie Conrad Dàoud used chanting and dancing in a very involved process. At the end of that process I told her what I had seen aurically. She then took that information to Dr. Valerie Hunt, who was at that time the Chairman of the Department of Kinesiology at UCLA. Dr. Hunt was researching the same process that we were, but from the viewpoint of a kinesiologist. Eventually I was asked to work in collaboration with both of them.
Dr. Hunt had received a grant to study Structural Integration, or rolfing (a technique for reshaping and realigning the body through deep manipulation). During the course of this project (which I will refer to throughout the book as The Rolf Study), we were able to measure the frequencies of the human energy field and discovered that these frequencies correlated with the frequencies of visible light. From that, we concluded that what science had been calling the human energy field, or the mind field, and what religious traditions had been calling the auric field were one and the same. Furthermore, the results of our research provided evidence that this large electromagnetic energy field is in fact generated by the smaller internal vortices of energy I mentioned earlier -- the chakras, the source of the human aura.
Around that same time, other scientists too were coming to the conclusion that the mind is not in the brain, but that it is an energy field in and around the body. New techniques such as Kirlian photography and biofeedback also pointed to the possibility of such a relationship. Wilder Penfield's The Mystery of the Mind, Karl Pribram's Languages of the Brain, Dr. Robert O. Becker's The Body Electric, W. A. Tiller's work, and the auric field research of Dr. Hunt all shed light on the connection between chakras, auras, and the mind. Similar, and in some cases more thorough, research had been in progress in the Soviet Union since the 1920s.
Our research at UCLA was significant on more than one level. It was perhaps the first attempt made in our country to examine an electrical manifestation, a magnetic field phenomenon, as connected to the healing process. Prior to that time, laying-on-of-hands healing had been viewed as a psychological, not an energetic process. Our research was important in that it was a meaningful attempt to correlate the body's natural frequency ranges with the spiritual world.
As a result of being involved with this research, I realized that in reading the aura I was looking at an aspect of mind, not in the intellectual sense but in terms of a definition that embraces all of consciousness -- the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual, as well as the intellectual. If the aura is an indication of a person's entire well-being, then the overall health of an individual is influenced by the way in which he or she lives his or her life. Thus, physical exercise, diet, meditation, and other spiritual practices, what and how we think as well as what we feel or don't feel, are all influential factors in determining how healthy -- or ill -- we are.
Health is generally defined as the absence of disease, but this is really an unsatisfactory definition. The word "health" means "wholeness." Health implies much more than freedom from disease. A complete definition of health must include vitality, appropriate feelings, clear thinking and reasoning, and a willingness to embrace change. Responsibility and creative self-expression, intuitive understanding and a vital spiritual life are also essential if we are to be whole and healthy. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus tells the multitude "Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14)and challenges them to let their light shine before men (Matthew 5:16). The light that shines forth from each of us -- the kind and quality of light generated by the chakras and reflected in the colors of our auric fields -- is a reflection of our state of health and our condition of wholeness. Thus, I came to understand that our definition of health needs to become "full of light."
Not long after my involvement with The Roll Study, I had an opportunity to put those research findings into practice and to learn even more, this time from the Native American culture, when I was asked to heal one of the Hopi tribal elders, Grandfather David Monongya. He was in Los Angeles to raise consciousness regarding the strip mining at Big Mountain, site of one of the first conflicts over the Hopi-Navajo tribal land. Grandfather David had cataracts. I laid hands on his body and very quickly moved to his head and laid hands on his eyes. He seemed to know exactly what I was doing. About the time I was actually beginning to accomplish something that I felt was healing, he said, "Oh, I see much better now. Please sit down." Of course I had not healed him, and in a manner of speaking, as it turned out, I ended up receiving a healing from him. He called to two or three other people in the house, and we listened for five hours as he related the Hopi prophecy. (See Appendix II for a summary of the Hopi prophecy.) I was stunned by the similarities between the story of the Apocalypse in Revelation and the predictions for the "end time" in Hopi.
I began to compare different cultures with different religious traditions as a way of finding other similarities in their teachings and sacred mysteries. The more I studied, the more I found varied cultural references to the chakra system. Shortly after my meeting with Grandfather David, I made a journey to the Holy Land. There I found that the chakra system as I knew and understood it meant something different once I was removed from my own culture and cultural heritage. I discovered that the light -- the aura -- and the meaning of the auric colors often differed from culture to culture. In Western society, people tend to think in yellow, daydream in blue, change in green, and get angry in red. While this tendency is not absolute, it is generally consistent. In traveling six hundred miles up the Egyptian Nile I never saw blue or yellow in the auras of Islamic people; I also noticed that aurically their thought process seemed to closely resemble that of the Native American people whom I had observed. Once in Israel, I again saw yellow auric fields, an observation that led me to believe that Israelis tend to "think" more like Europeans and Americans. From these experiences I began to comprehend why, in the Middle East, Israelis and Arabs do not seem to understand each other's way of thinking and why, on our own continent, the Native Americans and nonindigenous peoples fail to understand each other's ways. These observations led me to question whether or not the practices of different religions and particularly prayer positions change the auric colors. I especially began to wonder whether thought was something other than logic as we know it in the West.
Once I began to explore things in this way, it followed that if an entire culture's thought process was dominated by a particular chakra color, that culture would process reality through that dominant chakra. In other words, since each chakra has a particular "viewpoint," a culture would tend to "see" reality through the "eyes" of that chakra. Furthermore, because each chakra is directly related to a specific area of the body, certain positions and postures of the body would enhance the dominance of one or two colors while inhibiting others. In Islam, for instance, a Moslem bows on a prayer rug, with his knees on the ground. He then puts his forehead (more specifically, his "third eye") on a point that is usually a design on the rug. This posture directs focus to the area around the navel and around the forehead, making the second (orange) and sixth (purple) chakras dominant.
As one chakra center becomes predominant in a given culture, that chakra "colors" the values, assumptions, and prejudices of that society. This in turn often creates a prevailing one-mindedness or dogmatism. Such narrowness of vision has often determined the characteristics of a culture and the course of an era.
As far as I can tell, Native Americans are the only people who have a natural relationship with the chakra system that has not been dogmatized. As a result, they have not made any chakras right or wrong, good or bad, hot or cold, more important or less important. They have not had to make their world view fit that of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism. Whereas these religions have evolved priesthoods that have both written in and written out various ideas over the centuries, the Native Peoples have an attitude that all the chakra centers are good, valid, and important. These people, who, by their own accounts, have lived here for fifteen thousand years, have had a working knowledge of the body's energy system since that time. They also have maintained a tradition of practices, rituals and ceremonies that affect those energy centers.
I have been greatly influenced by the traditions and ways of these peoples. Furthermore, because of my ability to see the effect they have on us, I have been deeply moved to learn their ways and ceremonies and to include them in my work. I do not see these practices as being in conflict with anything else I know religiously. I view them as part of understanding religion. Like the Native Americans, I believe the energy field of the earth itself resonates up through our bodies, which is why I think it is natural for me to worship as a Native person would. Practicing religion with the plants, the herbs, and the animals that exist where I am makes me more connected and more ecologically responsible to the ground upon which I live, and I find the simplicity with which one can pray with what naturally occurs around him absolutely as it should be.
The more I studied Native American culture as well as the ancient traditions of the Egyptians and Greeks, the philosophies of the Hindus, and the religions of the East, the more I realized the potential value of the chakra system as a means of understanding life and energy and the symbolic relationship between them. As a young teacher of this material, I kept trying to find a textbook from which to teach. I found none. The few books available presented their own unique theories and ideas and were generally contradictory of one another. This book in many ways is an attempt to create a source that pulls those ideas together, and that correlates the wisdom of the ages with modern scientific thought, so that others may come to know the energy and light of life. In so doing, I had to face the fact that this material has no beginning and no end; it is evolving, a work in progress, as is the human race.
I am writing this text primarily for Americans, mainly for students of healing. If it serves its purpose, it will become obsolete. Those who study the chakra system will acquire an understanding of it and will then be able in their own individual ways to add to it the knowledge they accumulate through their own experience. This book is merely a foundation from which a greater structure is certain to arise.
It is my hope that those who read this book will find, as I have, support and validation for many aspects of themselves. My study of the chakra system has allowed me to develop many elements of my own being, without having to sacrifice one for the other. I have been able to embrace motherhood and the ministry, art and engineering; I have been allowed wholeheartedly and without conflict to live up to my resolution to pursue the spiritual in science and science in the spiritual.
In seeking the scientific in the spiritual, I have clearly been influenced by my early scientific background. I have searched for whatever validating "empirical" data I could find. Until recently, though, chakras have had little validation in the scientific world. Nevertheless, these powerful energy centers have been spinning, creating, and recording their symbolic reality since the beginning of time.
In antiquity, before science and religion were divided into separate, antagonistic camps, the chakras were an integrated part of daffy life. Not only were they an aspect of spiritual tradition and practice, but as a reflection of the natural laws of the greater macrocosm they were also at the root of the ancient sciences as well. The people of antiquity (the Egyptians, Chinese, Hindus, Greeks, and, in our own country, the Native Americans) knew of these phenomena, although they may have called them by different names. Furthermore, these peoples attempted to preserve and transmit this knowledge through teachings and sacred ceremony. Within that ceremony one was taught to quiet bodily functions and to silence the mind long enough to observe one's own internal silence, wherein one could become aware of the presence, reality, and power of the chakras, of the flows of energy moving through one. Then, when the Dark Ages descended upon the world, both the scientific and religious traditions of old were forced into the dark recesses of secluded rooms and secret chambers.
As each of the ancient civilizations was conquered -- the Egyptian, the Chinese, the Greek, the Roman -- vast libraries were burned and within the fires were consumed massive volumes of antiquarian and esoteric wisdom. It is no mistake that the period that followed was termed the Dark Ages. By the time the light shone again, science and religion had become enemies, and common knowledge of the chakra system had become an esoteric mystery.
These mysteries, however, were preserved by sacred priesthoods and transmitted to select initiates throughout the ages. In our own culture the Native Americans have preserved these ideas through oral tradition. Moreover, it was prophesied by nearly every ancient culture that there would be a future time when this "lost" knowledge would be rediscovered.
That which is a mystery shall no longer be so, and that which has been veiled will now be revealed; that which has been withdrawn will emerge into the light, and all men shall see and together they shall rejoice.
The future that was prophesied has come. This new age that is dawning is the time wherein the ancient mysteries shall be once more revealed.
It has taken thousands of years, but within this century scientists and spiritual seekers alike have once again begun to view the laws of nature and the laws of God as reflections of the same truth. It is this viewpoint that has allowed for scientific investigations into the nature of the chakra system and the aura and the relationship between them and the mind.
The "Mysteries" of the Chakras
As we have said, the aura or electromagnetic field that emanates from all matter usually consists of one or sometimes several colors. The colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and white, with variations in shades and mixes, but all have a luminous glow that comes from the life-giving energy that is the auric field.
These auric field colors are very specifically related to the chakras. My experience indicates that each chakra has four discernible characteristics that functionally affect the aura: color, size and shape, rotation or spin, and intensity (which is a function of the "openness" and thus the amount of energy that is produced by the chakra; although a chakra in actuality cannot be "open" or "closed," these terms are frequently used in discussions about the chakras in reference to the amount of energy actually being produced by any given chakra at any given time). It is out of these characteristics that the aura is generated. As a chakra spins, it produces its own electromagnetic field, which combines with the fields generated by the other chakras to produce what we call the auric field. The amount of energy produced by a particular chakra (or group of chakras) determines the color that dominates the auric field. Thus, in a person in a highly emotional state when the second chakra is dominant, the auric field is predominantly orange, while one who is in a state of high creativity (utilizing the fifth chakra) will generally have an auric field that is predominantly blue.
This auric field is also related to the mind. When most of us think of the mind, we immediately think of the brain. Recently, however, science has begun to postulate that the mind is not in the brain. Specifically, thought and memory seem to exist throughout the body, memory being logged primarily within the body's fascia or connective tissue. Furthermore, thought itself can also be described as a form of energy.
Although in scientific terminology energy is strictly defined as "the capacity for doing work," I use it throughout this book to denote the various frequencies and magnitude of oscillations within a dynamic electromagnetic field -- in the form of either potential or kinetic energy.
Kinetic energy is energy in movement within either a static or dynamic electromagnetic field. A field is considered static until the intensity of either the electric or the magnetic field is varied. A dynamic electromagnetic field consists of oscillations of a specific frequency or wavelength; a more complex field may have several frequencies. In a dynamic field, the magnitude of the oscillations determines the intensity of the field, or the amount of energy being carried in the field. The frequency and wavelength determine the "color" of the propagation. (Propagation is a term used to describe the extension or transmission of sound waves or of electromagnetic radiation through air or water. I So when we refer to the energy moving from chakra to chakra, or through the body, it is understood that this energy is being carried by moving electromagnetic fields. When we refer to "color of energy" (or, sometimes, frequency), we mean the color of the energy or chakra, as defined by the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation being emitted at that location, as perceived by those who have second sight.
The sum of potential and kinetic aura is always constant. The law of conservation holds that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Thus, energy cannot be extracted from or added to an electromagnetic field without a corresponding change in the field. A thought then can be referred to as a potential or static electromagnetic field pattern. On the other hand, the thinking process represents a continually changing or dynamic electromagnetic field. As thought changes from a static to a dynamic field, it imparts energy to and receives energy from the thinker during the course of the thinking process. When the process ends, the resultant thought is stored (a memory) as a static electromagnetic field pattern in the auric field. Clearly the mind, the aura, and the electromagnetic chakra system are inseparably interrelated.
Perhaps, as past sages and most Eastern and mystery religions have believed, history is not linear but cyclical. Even Pythagoras and Plato, themselves initiates of the mystery schools, embraced this view of history as well as the cyclical evolution of mankind. If this is so, then ancient wisdom and modern scientific thought are not as far apart in the time-space continuum as we may have once believed. In the words of Fritjof Capra:
A dramatic change of concepts and ideas has occurred in physics during the first three decades of the century. Still being elaborated in our current theories of matter, the new concepts have profoundly changed our world view from the mechanistic thinking of Descartes and Newton to a holistic and ecological view....It is...not surprising that the new vision of reality comes very close to the views of mystics of all ages and traditions and, in particular, to the views held in the spiritual traditions of India. Ten years ago, I was amazed to find the most striking parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism. These parallels can now be extended with equal justification to biology, psychology and other sciences. We now can say, with considerable confidence, that the ancient wisdom of the East provides the most consistent philosophical background to our modern scientific theories.
Astrologically, the age of Aquarius is reputed to be the age of the common man. When in the ancient world it was foretold that this age of Aquarius would be the time when all the ancient "lost" mysteries and their importance would be revealed to the common person, a seed of hope for the future of the planet was sown. Now the season of harvest has come.
It is significant that one of the last two discovered planets, Uranus (called the "erratic revolutionary"), was first sighted not by a scientist viewing the stars from an observatory on high, but by a simple curious stargazer observing the heavens through his own domestic telescope. Esoteric knowledge that was lost in the flames that consumed the great library of Alexandria is being rediscovered within the laboratories of modern science. Things that were mysterious five thousand years ago in Egypt are now being taught to children in their first physics class.
"The secret mysteries of the People," foretold the Hopis a thousand years ago, "shall be made known when the sons of White men wear beads and long hair. The truth of these Sacred Ways shall be revealed when the Eagle lands on the moon." Any of us who remember the sixties and NASA's moon flights know that these events have already come to pass.
If the ideas contained within this book are difficult and challenging, it may assist us to remember that others before us were likewise challenged. Perhaps, most importantly, it would be worth our time and energy to think about what the rediscovery of these ideas could mean for us both personally and globally. These ancient, now reborn, mysteries may very well provide the kind of wisdom we need to guide us through the fears, disease, and darkness of a nuclear world into a new age of hope and understanding, health and light. The very survival of the race may depend on the ability of each of us to embrace new ways of thinking and being and to adopt both a traditional and revolutionary path.
It is my hope that you will view this book with a sense of exploration, as an adventure into your own personal undiscovered realms. I would also hope that at the end of the journey you will have begun to grow in health and fulfillment because you will have come closer to embracing the totality of yourself with love and understanding.
Let us begin now to unravel some of these ancient and sacred mysteries.
Copyright © 1989, 1991, 1994 by Rosalyn L. Bruyere