The contemporay holistic healer Barbara Brennan goes into some detail regarding the chakras. In this she is following the Theosophists like Leadbeater, Alice Bailey, David Tansley and many others. Like them, she adopts the Tantric model of seven chakras but modifies it quite drastically, the chakras being no longer organs of yogic consciousness but rather etheric (and astral, and mental...) vortexes (see above illustration), which serve as transformers that receive and process cosmic energy, as well as enabling expression and healthy functioning of the individual's own consciousness and psycho-physical make-up. Barbara Brennan's unique contribution is to have not one but two rows of chakras, arranged in pairs located at the front and rear. These are given specific psychological characteristics, the front ones being associated with Feeling, the rear with Will, and the upper three with the Intellect. One is reminded here of the psychological triads of Steiner and Gurdjieff, and even more of the Kabbalistic idea of left and right columns of Mercy and Severity - here transposed front and rear, and the supernal triad of "intellectual" sefirot (as explained by the occultist McGregor Mathers and others). The following table lists the psychological associations of each of these chakras in more detail (as well as links to respective pages):
click on swirl (left side of table)
to go to page for that chakra
||Crown Center||Integration of total personality with life, and spiritual aspects of mankind|
||Forehead Center||Capacity to visualize and understand mental concepts.|
||Mental Executive||Ability to carry out ideas in a practical way.|
||Base of Neck||Sense of self, within society and one's profession.|
||Between Shoulder Blades||Ego will, or will towards the outer world.|
||Diaphragmatic Center||Healing, intentionality towards one's health.|
||Sacral Center||Quantity of sexual energy.|
||Coccygeal Center||Quantity of physical energy, will to live.|
||Throat Center||Taking in and assimilating.|
||Heart Center||Heart feelings of love for other human beings, openness to life.|
||Solar Plexus||Great pleasure and expansiveness, spiritual wisdom, and consciousness of universality of life. Who you are within the Universe.|
of love for sexual partner
giving and receiving physical, mental and spiritual pleasure.
The parallel with Kabbalah mentioned above appears to be not very significant and purely coincidental - in as much as anything in esotericism can be "coincidence" - perhaps "archetypal convergence" (a term coined by the Neo-Sabbatean teacher Yakov Leib) is a better definition. Of greater relevance is the connection with the centers of concentration used in the Microcosmic orbit, as defined by the modern-day Taoist master Mantak Chia (below, left).
diagram from Mantak and Maneewan Chia Awaken Healing Light of the Tao (Healing Tao Books, 1993), p.170.
Here once again we have pairs of chakras at the front and rear of the body, as well as one at the top and one at the bottom (giving the symbolic four elements and associated cardinal points, as well as any number of associated correspondences one may choose to add).
It does not take much imagination to realise there is some connection here, a rather more significant example of archetypal convergence. Certainly there are differences - Mantak Chia specifically states that these are centers of concentration, not chakras, although they do correspond to specific acupuncture points (which writers like David Tansley and others in turn associate with minor chakras). There are no etheric vortexes in the Taoist version, little or no psychological associations, and there are more centers. Moreover, the microcosmic orbit, as it's name indicates, is a a dynamic conception involving the circulation of Ch'i energy.
In the formulation of Barbara Brennan, although front and rear chakras are paired, there is no conception of a circulation of energy in a microcosm orbit that Mantak Chia speaks of, nor is reference made to the Inner line of chakras as represented in tantric yogic iconography. However, the distinction between Will, Feeling, and Mental Centers is significant, and would seem to correspond pretty much to Mantak Chia's distinction between the rear ascending yang governor channel (= will) and the descending front yin channel (= feeling). I would suggets here that both are describing the same realities, with the centers often in exactly the same locations, albeit from different points of view. The circulation of ch'i is a higher movement over the vortex in- and out-take of cosmic energy. One could even bring in Kabbalah here as the macrocosmic equivalent. My understanding is what are described here are what I have termed the "Secondary chakras" - i.e. the energic (whether vortex or circulating) activity of the organs of the etheric bodies. By studying phenomena like chakras, auras, nadis, etc, we understand more of the nature of the subtle body.