The five lower chakras, from the root to the throat, are nourished primarily by the Earth and known as Earth Chakras.
Imagine a tree whose roots go deep into the ground, drawing nutrients from the Earth and carrying them up the trunk to the highest branches. Just like a taproot reaching into the moist, rich places in Mother Earth, the first chakra supplies us with essential nutrients. It grounds us and is the foundation on which our luminous energy system rests. It is also the gateway to the feminine, extending luminous filaments down our legs into the biosphere. The properties of the first chakra are:
Body Aspects: Physical foundation; elimination of wastes; rectum, legs, feet; testosterone and estrogen
Instinct: Survival, procreation
Psychological Aspects: Feeding, shelter, safety, ability to provide for oneself
Glands: Ovaries and testes
Seeds: Kundalini, abundance
Negative Expression: Hoarding, predatory behavior, mindless violence, chronic fatigue, birth trauma, abandonment issues
First-chakra drives are primary and instinctual. We seek shelter. We forage for food. We strive to survive even under the most adverse situations. We procreate. These urges are fundamental instincts. In the same way that we can hold our breath but we cannot command our body to stop breathing, we cannot override our instinct to survive.
This energy center corresponds to the first seven years of life. The traumas experienced in these early years, including birth and prenatal trauma, are recorded in this chakra, forming psychological complexes that stunt later development.
An unbalanced first chakra manifests in feelings of scarcity and lack. Even those who have a great deal may fear loss of their possessions, and build fences to protect what they own from their neighbors. The compulsion to overeat or to hoard money or toys is one of the negative expressions of the feeding instinct. We can never get enough to satisfy us.
An individual operating out of the first chakra is in a state of primary fusion with the world. He is absorbed by the senses and engages the material world exclusively. He believes that the world owes him something and that those around him should recognize that he is special. He becomes self-centered and narcissistic. He cannot experience authentic love because he cannot put himself in the place of another; he is unable to “walk a mile in another person’s moccasins.”
With a clear first chakra, the mentality of scarcity disappears. We come to realize that nothing is lacking and that we live in abundance. But intellectual understanding is not enough, we must know with every cell in our body that we are being cared for and sustained by the Universe.
Testosterone and estrogen are the hormones associated with the first chakra. Laboratory studies show that testosterone elicits two primary responses in the human male: sex and aggression. When women are given testosterone injections they complain that they cannot stop thinking about sex. An imbalance in the first chakra can exacerbate the effects of testosterone, causing a man to confuse the two instinctual impulses of this hormone. When that happens, he begins to hurt the woman he loves and eventually destroys the intimacy in his love relationship. Estrogen, which is produced by the ovaries, induces powerful feelings of nurturing, desire for relationship, and mating. Imbalances in the first chakra can result in a woman’s overwhelming concern for security in her relationship at the cost of her autonomy.
Tribal cultures perform first-chakra rites of passage to celebrate a youth’s coming into manhood or womanhood. The ceremony encourages the youth to release the parental bonds holding him to his mother and father. During the ceremony, the youth claims the Earth as the mother who will never leave him and the Heavens as the steadfast, reliable, enduring father. This ensures that the young person will continue to be parented, but now by powers greater than his biological mother and father. The youth is now able to participate in ceremonies and offerings to Heaven and Earth, therefore maintaining a conscious connection to these cosmic parents. Lacking these rites of passage into puberty, Westerners are spiritual orphans. We struggle through life feeling motherless and fatherless, and later find that we do not know how to be dependable parents.
There are remarkable positive attributes of the first chakra. Its survival instincts ensure the continuation of the species: They drive us to mate and bear children, and allow humans to persevere under the most adverse of conditions. In Sanskrit the first chakra is called muladhara, meaning “foundation.” Our energetic house must be built on a strong footing. In yoga, this chakra is thought of as the home of Kundalini energy. Its symbol is a coiled serpent asleep at the base of the spine.
For the shaman, this is the primordial serpent who swallows its own tail, Ouroboros, and portrays an unconscious state of self-absorption. To the Amazon peoples this power is represented by the sachamama, the water boa. In North America, it is illustrated by the rattlesnake. As we clear the imprints within the first chakra, the Kundalini energy is awakened. The primal serpent uncoils, and its feminine energy moves up through the chakras. Shamans in the Americas, India, and Tibet have long believed that it is through the power of the primal feminine that all creatures move, live, procreate, and flourish. It’s no surprise that the serpent was the one to bring us the fruit of the tree of knowledge in Genesis. Its energy, which lies dormant within each of us, is the energy of the Earth and the heartbeat of the mother planet.