It happens every time without fail. You are sitting in your English class minding your own business when all of the sudden your teacher gives you a writing assignment. You start to panic. I have to write something? Isn’t English just one big spelling bee? Why can’t we just work on grammar exercises? Questions like these start to shoot through your mind like stray asteroids through outer space.
But after a while your panic level goes down. After all, it’s not like you’ll have to think about what to write. The teacher more than likely will give you a topic to go off of. So you start to calm down. But then the unthinkable happens. With an evil grin on their face your teacher mutters the dreaded words, “Choose your own topic” and you feel your blood freeze.
You start to panic again. What am I going to write about? It has to be HOW MANY pages long? Why couldn’t I have just stayed home sick today? Questions like these race through your mind as the teacher passes out the rubric for your creative writing assignment. As your teacher draws closer to your seat, you sink down in your chair, hoping that by some miracle the teacher will not notice you are there. But it’s no use.
After raising an eyebrow, your teacher places the rubric on your desk and moves on to the next row of desks behind you. You stare at the rubric with a blank expression on your face. Feeling quite sick to your stomach you ask yourself how you are you going to get out of this sticky situation.
Fortunately, there are seven rules of creative writing that can give you the tools to work through any type of writer’s block.
Rule Number One: Keep your hand moving
Even if you are not sure what to write about, keep your hand moving on the paper (or fingers typing on the keyboard.) This helps get the creative juices flowing. Start out by picking a random topic and go from there. You’d be surprised where your mind a little bit of effort can take you. If you are stuck on what topic to choose, start by writing about something simple like your day or your friends and family. After a while you will have enough material to start writing a story with. Remember that no idea is bad. The point of creative writing is to capture an original idea in a way that no one has thought of doing before. So keep your hand moving and let the words flow.
Rule Number Two: Use control
Be sure to keep the words you are writing on your paper organized so that you can understand what you wrote when you visit your computer to make a final copy of your work in your personal word processing program. When writing it also helps to make charts or trees about the subjects you are focusing in your specific pieces. Even when I am writing my fantasy novel series, I make relationship charts and make extensive notes to myself about the characters, kingdoms and other details of the book series that are relevant to the plot. When writing essays it helps to write your subject down and list everything you know about it prior to doing research underneath. This gives you organization and some tools to help your paper later on when you are comparing and contrasting the subject being discussed. Remember that organization is the key to being a successful writer.
Rule Number Three: Be specific
When you are writing down ideas for your piece of writing be sure to put as much details about what you are trying to say on the paper. So many times emerging writers have a great idea but they leave vague notes for themselves. When they go back to write their paper they find that they cannot understand the notes they took and the inspiration goes right out the door, along with all of the time and hard work they put into the piece. If you can remember to take good notes and keep good records of all of your ideas, writing your idea down on paper will be a piece of cake. It’s ok to make notes of your notes as well. Often times when I get an idea I will write quick notes and then write more specific notes underneath.
This helps me understand the direction that I want to take my piece of writing in and prevents me from having a case of “what-was-it-I-tried-to-write-itis.” When you come around to writing your paper, take your notes and describe the things in your story/ essay with great detail. Don’t leave the audience guessing at what you were trying to say; describe things in a way that everyone will understand what you are trying to get at. A successful writer writes in layman’s terms. Never assume your audience is all knowing; always talk to them like they do not know what is going on. Even if it’s as simple of a topic as bubble gum, be specific and don’t leave any details out! So remember; take good notes and when you write your paper be specific so your target audience knows what you are talking about!
Rule Number Four: Don’t think
One of the biggest errors that emerging authors make is that they get hung up on one topic which prevents them from progressing further in their piece of writing. If you get hung up on one specific area in your piece, inspiration will surely pass you by. Therefore, keep your hands moving. Even if the sentence or paragraph you write down doesn’t make any sense at all at least you have some material to edit and work with later on down the road. One way to get around writers block is to write down a list of things you want to include in your piece of writing and elaborate on each one. While this is not writing the actual story it keeps your hand moving and gives you inspiration so that when you write your final piece you will have lots of things to write about. Over thinking your piece of writing will only lead you down a road of confusion (and give you a headache) so remember; open your mind and let the words flow!
Rule Number Five: Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar
When you are writing down ideas for your rough draft, do not be a grammar Nazi!! If you get hung up on dotting I’s, placing apostrophes in the correct places and capitalizing certain words your inspiration will go right out the door. Therefore focus on the ideas you have and write them down before they pass you by! When you type your final piece in a word processing program you can run a spell check and do the editing then. You can even have a friend or family member look over your piece of writing to make sure all of the “kinks” are worked out of it. Until then, focus on the idea and heart of your piece of writing. A successful writer is one that is not afraid to spell a few words wrong for the overall integrity of their piece. Remember this and you will succeed in any writing goal you get out to accomplish.
Rule Number Six: You are free to write the worse junk in America (or any other country)
As a writer, you have the right to write the lousiest stuff around; just as long as you think it’s good. Don’t let anyone discourage your writing style; own it and work on making it the best style you can. This is not to say that you can’t take constructive criticism. One of the best ways to grow as a writer is to have people review your pieces and take suggestions on how to improve your story telling style or write more in depth. However if anyone ever tells you that you will never go anywhere with your writing just because you wrote something they don’t agree with, I say ignore them, and ignore them good! ANYONE can be a successful writer if they put their mind to it. Work hard and you can be all that you can be. So remember; write on! Don’t let anyone discourage you from meeting your writing goals! (Or deadlines.)
Rule Number Seven: Go for the jugular
When you are writing a piece of writing, go for the jugular! You might be asking yourself; what does that mean? Well, it simply means to take your topic or idea and write it in a way that it has pizazz and stands out. No one wants to read a boring history report. Jazz it up with little known facts about the time period! You can even draw pictures to aid you in your story telling. The important thing is that you keep your audience interested in your piece of writing. If you lose their attention in the first paragraph then your whole story is lost. Therefore, pull them in from the very first sentence and don’t let them go until you are done. Always leave the audience wanting more. If you can achieve this goal than you will be an excellent writer.
I hope that these seven rules will help you with your next piece of writing. Just remember; even if a writing project seems huge and out of reach you can tackle it by breaking it into pieces and taking on those small mini-tasks one at a time.
May 2012, Tuesday night, exactly 8:00 P.M. I met up with one of my friends at Hastings, a local entertainment store, to discuss plans for the weekend. As we were chatting in the book department a girl dressed from head to toe in anime paraphernalia walked by reading a Japanese comic book. This sparked a deep conversation between me and my friend about the anime genre and where it made its start. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any clear answers at the time, so much of what we talked about will not be written in this article.
This question did inspire me to go home the same night and find any information I could on the subject. While many websites had obscure sections about specific Japanese television shows or rock stars I could not find any that illustrated the history of the genre. Fortunately, while browsing the book section of Amazon.com I was able to find two books that looked like they could answer at least a few of the questions I had.
I ordered them the following day and eagerly awaited their arrival. A week later the books ‘Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.’ By Roland Kelts and ‘The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture’ By Mark Schilling came to my doorstep and I began to read. I couldn’t put either book down. When I finished my exploration into the realm of J-Pop Culture I was enamored by this interesting, and yet little understood cultural icon.
So, just where did this unusual genre make its start? According to Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica, many Japanese historians feel that the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima spurred this Cultural Revolution. The people wanted to forget the horrors of World War II so they turned to the media to help them cope with the trauma. With the introduction of Japanese media in the 1950s, programs debuted that were distinctly Japanese. These shows created an alternate reality where people could escape the tragic aftermath of the war. Through media, people were able to find a reinvented sense of self without losing their cultural ideals.
Mark Schilling, author of The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture explains that Anime (Japanese Cartoons) and Manga (Japanese Comics) were at the forefront of this revolution. Schilling continues by introducing one of the most important names in the industry; Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka is considered to be the father of these two subgenres. After reportedly watching Bambi 50 times, Tezuka made comics based on the film and sold them at a local comic stand. They became a local favorite almost overnight.
Tezuka eventually went on to create the Anime style we know today, by studying Tokugawa style art (traditional Japanese woodblock paintings) and Disney films. He started by selling his comics at local shopping centers and eventually formed his own animation studio known as Mushi Productions. He drew from the Japanese people’s need for escapism after the war and developed stories that dealt with post-apocalyptic themes that the general public could relate to.
Roland Kelts views Japan as a nation that has survived something like an Armageddon. Out of its ashes have emerged a people who are interested in stories that reflect their triumph over impossible odds. The Japanese people had their unique needs met through Tezuka’s work which was exotic enough to gain public interest and familiar enough for everyone to identify with it. It was an instant hit and the basis of every form of Japanese pop culture that followed after it.
While Mushi Productions became the iconic headquarters for televised anime series no one had attempted to take the genre to the big screen. Japanese Producer Hayao Miyazaki remedied this issue in early 1970s when he began work on forming a studio that would eventually take the beloved style of animation to theatres across Japan. By the 1980s Miyazaki had formed Studio Ghibli which in time became known as the ‘Disney Studio of Japan’ and eventually gathered international acclaim.
Miyazaki himself became known as the ‘Walt Disney of Japan’ for the love he had for the characters and the films he created. Miyazaki was a true visionary of the genre. For the first time Japanese people could go to the theater and see original animated films that were not based on the series Mushi Studios produced. Each of the films became stand-alone masterpieces that pushed the potential of the genre to infinite possibilities.
Roland Kelts explains in his novel that Japanese producers recognized anime and manga were big sellers early on. During the creation of Tezuka and Miyazaki’s production companies, other animation studios began forming a marketing scheme that would engross the general public in the worlds of the comic and anime series being released. The marketing tool became known as ‘the Golden Triangle’.
Producers discovered that there were three main cores of the animation industry; the actual animation series, toys, and video games. The idea was that by releasing unique storylines and character information for any one of the genres, the companies could go back later and release toys, video games and other marketable products related to the original idea to the general public, giving the fans a reason to keep watching. The Golden Triangle was a big success and continues to be used as a marketing scheme in almost every production studio in Japan to this day.
Following the Golden Triangle marketing approach, Japanese pop culture took on a life of its own. Mark Schilling talks extensively about the Hello Kitty Phenomenon. Toei Animation studios came up with a show called “Doodling Kitty” which was shown in the early 1950s. From that show, two Japanese women created a national Icon known as “Hello Kitty” that has been used to advertise everything from bus tours to public radio shows.
Though originally used as a marketing icon similar to the Geico Gecko, the Hello Kitty characters became so engrained in the Japanese people’s lives that they eventually got their own television series, radio programs, music CDs, and even clothing lines.
Roland Kelts is baffled by a few Japanese pastimes. Gift-wrapping is one of them. People will sometimes spend more money on the gift wrapping materials than the gift itself. Gifts are expected to be opened slowly with care to truly appreciate the artistry and meaning behind the item received.
Strange and obscure as this seems to Kelts, production companies picked up on this tradition and started packaging everything from CDs, Toys, and DVDs to food, clothing, and even key chains with the same care and attention to detail. The marketing experiment was a success. Japanese consumers started buying products just to have the boxes they came in.
Serious toy collectors began collecting models, not only for the character or vehicle inside, but for the box they came in. The products themselves were made with care and had an impeccable similarity to the anime character (or other item) they were modeled after. Bandai came out with a machine earlier this year that makes exact replicas of the characters of their shows down to the number of wrinkles the character has in is clothing and the fingernail length.
Mark Schilling mentions often that Karaoke is a big deal in Japan. Though it’s decidedly different from the American version it is just as big. Unlike its American counterpart, Japanese Karaoke is only done around close friends. Nevertheless, it is just as famous (or infamous) as a sport as it is in the U.S.A. Various companies recognized Karaoke’s popularity early on and found ways to capitalize on the pop culture phenomenon. They formed special buildings where groups of friends (or business associates) could rent a room and sing along with huge televised screens. During these sessions, food could be ordered but otherwise the group would be left relatively undisturbed. The buildings became a huge hit and can be found all over modern Tokyo today.
Many Japanese pop singers have gotten their start from singing in Karaoke booths. Occasionally a talented young girl (or boy) will attract the attention of music talent agents working in studios located quite literally across the street from them. The young talents end up singing an opening song for an anime and often get contracted to do voice acting for the same show.
Most Japanese television studios, movie production companies, radio broadcasting stations and toy manufacturing plants make use of their intricate knowledge of the Japanese tradition to help promote its customs while forming a unique culture that stands on its own. This new culture, Japanese Pop Culture, infiltrates every aspect of life from grammar school icons to clothing lines.
Mark Schilling writes that even famous Tokyo clothing designer Nigo has used the public’s fascination with anime to help make clothing lines which have gained both local and international adoration. Using the Golden Triangle marketing scheme, companies are able to turn profits from the CDs, DVDs, toys, video games and other pop culture icons that they create. Both Shilling and Kelts agree that these are the elements that make Japanese Pop culture unique and will enable it to grow into an international phenomenon for years to come.
When I was young I wanted to be an Anthropologist. I could imagine myself living with an ancient culture halfway around the world, participating in spiritual rituals that would turn the stomach of an average American citizen. I sat in Anthropology 103 (Culture and Language) amongst forty anthropology major hopefuls a few years ago and listened to professor Rickli talk about this fascinating subject. While strange rituals were not addressed in her classroom lecture, I did learn a lot about the subject that I was not aware of before.
I consulted another expert, my friend Mike, who is educated in another field. Mike does not have a degree in Anthropology but he is the self-proclaimed King of Dungeons and Dragons. Dungeons and Dragons (also known as D&D) is a table top role playing game that has achieved legend status among gamers since its debut in the early 70s. If there was a new doctorate program offered at NAU in role playing games Mike would have already graduated from the university’s program with honors. After talking to Mike about my fieldtrip to anthropology 103 I realized that there are many fascinating parallels between the two topics.
Anthropology is the study of people. In the case of D&D, anthropology would be the study of all humans and humanoid races such as elves, gnomes, dwarves, and giants. There are four sub-divisions of anthropology; physical or biological anthropology, archeology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. The handout that Professor Rickli gave the class described each of the subdivisions in detail. The first discipline listed was linguistics. According to the handout, linguistics is the study of human languages.
When I showed the handout to Mike he grinned and said, “It looks a lot like the campaign charts in the player’s handbook.” He went on to inform me that in the D&D universe, a wizard may choose to study different languages of various cultures around the world of Fayrune to be able to cast spells that would otherwise be inaccessible to him. It reminded me of something Professor Rickli had noted in her lecture. She had said with pride, “Languages often times link cultural groups together and studying linguistic patterns can show where certain cultural groups originated.”
In the case of sorcerers, studying their language has revealed that they’re cultural group originated in the center of the game world of Fayrune and migrated outward through the intermarriage of other cultural groups over time. Professor Rickli mentioned that the field of linguistics is also a window into culture’s way of viewing the world. This made Mike clap his hands together in excitement. “It’s just like the cultures in the game,” he belted out unexpectedly. He added, “Dwarves for example have 2,400 words for rock and over 20,000 words for gem which shows the significance of mining in their culture.” The correlation was interesting. It made me ponder the next subfield professor Rickli had discussed. According to the handout (and the class notes that I took) physical or biological anthropology studies human (or humanoid) biological change over time.
When reading the D&D players manual I saw a passage about elves. It mentioned the distinctions between light elves and dark elves, the most noticeable difference being the color of their skin. This genetic difference is related to their adaptation to their environments. In relation to anthropology, it is possible that the light elves evolved to absorb more vitamin D into their skin through sunlight, hence why their skin is light and their complexion is fair. Dark elves tend live in warmer climates which caused their skin to darken and repeal harmful UV rays.
Archeology is the study of past cultures or material remains (the things people left behind). In the case of D&D, past cultures include ancient races of Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings that are no longer present on the world. Mrs. Rickli told me an interesting tidbit about this topic after class. She said with a hint of excitement in her eyes, “Something important to note about the study of past cultures is that the groups never just ‘disappear.’ Generally what you will see is a migration of those groups to other places where they set up a new, modern community.”
In D&D, the tribe of Amealites (ancient light elves) left their civilization and eventually became a separate modern race of light elves which is found frequently in Fayrune. This made me think of Professor Rickli’s words of wisdom. She had told me that ancient races DO NOT die out; they simply abandon old practices for new ways of life and form modern societies based on those new cultural systems. In the words of Professor Rickli, “One can think of it as cultural (non-biological) evolution.”
Cultural anthropology studies the learned behavior (culture), social structure, ideologies, dress, food, belief systems, and economies of human or humanoid civilizations. In the case of D&D, cultural anthropology would focus on ethnographic studies (written cultural studies) of different races such as the religious practices, food, dress and behavior of the goblins as opposed to those of the orcs. In the words of professor Rickli, “Cultural anthropology is very complex and is rich in applied anthropology, or the practical use of cultural exploration.” I imagined that an applied anthropologist living in the world of Fayrune might study a frost giant culture to obtain information on how to make their diet better which in turn will increase their population’s probability of living longer and passing their frost making abilities on to their offspring.
Looking at the handout Professor Rickli gave the class I saw that there are six main sub-fields within Physical anthropology; primatology, genetics, osteology, paleoanthropology, paleopathology, and forensic anthropology. The other side of the handout explained that Primatology studies living non-human primates. I gave Mike the handout to look over and he stopped when he got to primatology on the second page. “This reminds me of a campaign I wrote last year,” he said, as he fetched one of his notebooks out of a book bag by his kitchen counter.
He turned somewhere in the middle of the notebook and pointed to some notes he took from the Dungeon Master’s Handbook. “As you can see, I have researched D&D field scientists for many of my game settings. That’s how I know that rangers might track dire apes and study them or druids may attempt to communicate with dire apes to see their genetic connection to other races through learning about their migratory routes.” Dire is a word to describe something large in the D&D universe. It was an interesting parallel to draw between the two worlds. Although the comparison between the two topics was a bit farfetched, I couldn’t argue with the logic of a D&D God like Mike.
Scientists are a type of God that we seem to have an unhealthy fascination with in our modern society. They sit in labs tinkering with DNA strands, the building block of life, as if they were nothing more or less complex than building towers with a Lego set. This brings us to the next topic professor Rickli addressed in her lecture; Genetics. Genetics is the study of the DNA strand and related structures.
I imagined after reading several of Mike’ game manuals that dwarves of one area in the world of Fayrune may vary greatly from dwarves in another region based on their adaptation to their natural environment. Reviewing the DNA strand may reveal that certain groups of dwarves have sickle cell anemia (or are carriers for the disease) while dwarves in other areas do not. The dwarves with sickle-cell anemia may live in a region that has an unusually high dire mosquito population. Because their blood cells are sickle shaped, mosquitoes are less likely to give them blood related illnesses. This is an example of microevolution, a small adaptation to the environment.
The next topic on the handout was the subfield of Osteology. Osteology is the study of human or humanoid bones. Every player starts out being level 1 in D&D. The more experience one get the more they powers and items they will receive. From my day with Mike and learning many things about the D&D universe I imagined that a paladin of 25th level may be interested in studying the bones of an orc grave site to determine what killed them in the past to be better prepared for an orc invasion in the future. Mrs. Rickli talked a bit about Paleopathology during her lecture.
Paleopathology is the study cause of death in ancient hominid or humanoid sites. A Bard of 5th level may be very interested to learn why his ancestors died in a certain region to know what steps to take if those certain diseases or illness rose again. He may learn songs that will counteract the illness with magical properties. Paleoanthropology is the study of ancient hominids or humanoids. A cleric of 15th level may be interested in studying the ancient remains of a civilization buried underneath their monastery to ensure that the past peoples are pleased and do not need a sacrifice of human blood.
Forensic anthropology is used in determining identities of humans or humanoids and their cause of death. She said with great enthusiasm, “It is used almost exclusively in criminal investigations.” Mike was excited when I mentioned this topic. “You know, this reminds me of a little situation I put my team through last Sunday.” While he did not go into much detail about what happened in the game, he informed me that a gnome shopkeeper may be interested in finding out whether or not his sister is still alive after being dragged away forcefully by a red dragon.
Gnome forensic investigators would take samples of his sister’s hair, blood, and any other gnome remains left at the crime scene to aid in the investigation. He ended his thought by saying, “Often times, I regret to say, red dragons swallow their victims whole so finding humanoid remains is a difficult task.” I wasn’t quite sure whether or not Mike was joking or serious when making the last comment. I didn’t want to offend my host so I didn’t bring it up. I will leave the information for the reader to ponder for themselves.
The next topic Dr. Rickli addressed in class was speciation. Speciation is genetic changes in populations over time resulting in the appearance of a new species or genus. From what I read in the D&D Player’s Handbook, I found that it is widely accepted that dragons evolved from basilisks, though the council of silver dragons to the north denies this scientific claim. In regards to speciation, I figured that this was due to a genetic change in one of their Dd allele pairings that ultimately made them more suited to living in their environment.
The topic of speciation led into the next topic of Macroevolution. Macroevolution is a change in a species at the level of speciation. Mike grinned. “In other words,’ he said, “the basilisk evolving into the various dragon races found throughout Fayrune is an example of macroevolution.” I couldn’t argue with that logic. Mike knows the laws of D&D better than Isaac Newton understood the laws of gravity. Mrs. Rickli turned to address the class after talking about Macroevolution. “Whatever you do, don’t confuse this with what I am going to talk about next!” The next topic she was referring to was Microevolution.
Microevolution is genetic alterations within populations that may or may not lead to speciation and often causes populations of a species to differ from one another. It seemed to me that an example of microevolution could be found with the Halflings from the Shar. Halflings in this area have a greater tolerance to milk than Halflings in other regions of Fayrune. This is because many of these Halflings keep domesticated farm animals such as dire goats, dire pigs, and dire sheep. Since they are accustomed to drinking milk (especially in their evening tea) their body has built up immunity to the harmful bacteria in milk, and thus has made a genetic alteration that allows them to digest milk better than Halflings in other regions.
Empirical evidence is tangible or physical evidence. I described the concept to Mike and he said, “Empirical evidence may be left behind in a black dragon cave where the bones of an unprepared knight remain. His bones may serve as a grim reminder to the community of what happens to those who forget to bring an acid repellant weapon to a fight a black dragon.” The metaphors that Mike came up with during our interview never ceased to amaze me. A part of me wished that there really was a D&D degree out there to award him for acquiring the amount of knowledge he had in such an obscure subject matter.
At some point I learned that theoretic anthropology focuses on publishing ethnographic studies about cultural groups around the world. I imagined that this artistic form must be practiced among many of the wizards that live in the world of Fayrune. According to what I learned from Mike, wizards like to study cultural groups in Fayrune and publish informative books about them but they rarely do anything to help the cultures they observe.
After coming up with this metaphor I realized that I was just as enthusiastic about D&D as Mike. If my English Major didn’t work out I could always become an anthropologist and teach lectures using D&D as a metaphor. Perhaps the purpose of this paper is to prepare me for a future career in studying the cultural significant of D&D in the game and the effect on its players. On second thought, perhaps I ought to keep my day job. The next topic professor Rickli discussed seemed a bit above my level of knowledge in anthropology or its overall relationship with the world of D&D.
Dr. Rickli explained that applied anthropology seeks to help cultural groups by observing the daily practices of the people. I recalled that sorcerers are more apt to try to help cultural groups by studying them than wizards. The reasons for their behavior are still unknown. Every cultural group in the world of Fayrune has a creation story. Professor Rickli talked to the class about creation stories and said that “Many of these cultures see their creation story as the ultimate answer to the universe and reject the theory of natural selection and evolution for this reason.”
I imagined that in D&D terms that there was probably a council of alchemists that have debated this topic for thousands of years and have yet to come up with a point of view that satisfies all of the races in the fantasy world. For the purpose of the particular class I attended, we will say that evolution and natural selection are theories and the best way to describe the world of Fayrune that alchemists (fantasy-based scientists) have come up with so far. These theories may be later disproved by hotshot wizards attempting to boost their magical careers.
Professor Rickli told the class that the theory of evolution and natural selection has been formulated through the scientific method. According to the handout, the steps of the scientific method are as follows; observation, formation of a hypothesis, testing of the hypothesis, and the reaching of some form of conclusion. If the conclusion shows that the observation was wrong, a new hypothesis must be formed and the process must be tested again following the same process. Mike told me that a good example of this rests with the breeding customs of griffins.
Druids observing their mating rituals made the mistake of assuming that they practice incest. Further testing using the scientific method showed their hypothesis to be wrong. Griffins are not incestuous in any way. It only appeared that brothers and sister were mating, due to the lack of migration to other areas of Fayrune during the mating season and the similarity of male and female griffins within certain geographic areas.
After sitting in Professor Rickli’s class I had a strange feeling of accomplishment. I felt that I walked away from her lecture learning things about humanity that helped broaden my own understanding of cultural practices around the world. If anything, Mike helped me appreciate the dedication that gamers have to D&D. He encouraged me to look for the fascinating parallels between D&D and the real world in other aspects of my life.
When you think about it, life is a big role playing game. It’s not how many items you have, how smart you are, or your physical strength that gives you the winning hand in life; it’s how willing you are to adapt to the game you are playing and how much effort you are willing to put into achieving that winning hand. This concept can be applied to both the area of studying humans and engaging in something as simple as playing D&D.
An article about the seven energy centers of the body.
You have probably heard people mention chakras before, in meditation class or even among friends. I have researched a lot into the subject but I never found any articles that felt like they were relevant to me. Then one day while browsing through YouTube I found a guided meditation video about unlocking chakras. I decided to give it a try to finally understand what the big deal about chakras are all about. I am glad I gave it a shot.
It is funny that one eight minute video gave me more understanding and knowledge than half of the stuff people try to explain in books or internet articles. Hopefully this article will help you understand a little more about chakras as well, in an easy and fun way that you can share with others.
Put very simply, chakras are energy centers that form at key places in the body. They collect at seven major areas of the body and form a rainbow spectrum from the feet to the crown of the head. If you can remember the colors of the rainbow, you can remember the colors and positions of the seven chakras.
The Seven Chakras:
The seven chakra colors and positions are as follows:
Red Chakra: Root/ Base chakra. Its position is at the base of the spine. Energy is drawn up from the ground through the feet and legs. It is the root of your being and establishes the deepest connections with your physical body, your environment and with the Earth. Muladhara is the most instinctual of all chakras – it is your survival center. Your fight and flight response is initiated from this chakra. This is your primal, animal nature. The energy of Muladhara allows us to harness courage, resourcefulness and the will to live during trying times. It connects us with spiritual energies of our ancestors, their challenges and their triumphs. It represents the connection with life.
Since Base Chakra carries our ancestral memories, basically everyone experiences challenges or blockages within muladhara. War, famine, natural disasters, and any events that threaten our basic survival, are all recorded within energies of the first chakra.
These memories are imprinted in the subtle body and are passed down from generation to generation creating unconscious generational patterns. It is our work to take responsibility for our own lives and bring to light that which is unconscious.
Celestial Body: Saturn
Musical Note: C
Seed Sound: Lam
Food Type: Proteins, Meat
Animals: Elephant, Ox, Bull
Stones: Garnet, Hematite, Tourmaline
Essential Oils: Vetiver, Patchouli, Sandalwood
Flower: Indian Paintbrush
Main Focus: Physical Existence
Right: To Have
Orange Chakra: Sacral Chakra. Its position is the pelvic area. It is your passion and pleasure center. While the Root Chakra is satisfied with survival, the sacral chakra seeks pleasure and enjoyment. The gift of this chakra is experiencing our lives through feelings and sensations. The second chakra is the center of feeling, emotion, pleasure, sensuality, intimacy, and connection. The energy of this chakra allows you to let go, to move, and to feel change and transformation occurring within your body. It allows you to experience this moment as it is, in its own fullness. It represents order.
The main challenge for the second chakra is the conditioning of our society. We live in a society where feelings are not valued, where passion and emotional reactions are being frowned upon. We are being taught not to “lose control”. And we get disconnected from our bodies, our feelings.
Celestial Body: Moon
Musical Note: D
Seed Sound: Vam
Food Type: Liquids
Animals: Fish, Alligators
Stones: Coral, Carnelian, Moonstones
Essential Oils: Jasmine, Geranium, Orange Blossom
Main Focus: Emotions and Intimacy
Right: To Feel
Yellow Chakra: Solar Plexus Chakra. Its position is the midsection. Located between the navel and solar plexus, is your power center – your Core Self. While the Sacral chakra seeks pleasure and enjoyment, the third chakra is all about who you are. The gift of this chakra is sensing your personal power, being confident, responsible, and reliable. The third chakra is the center of your self-esteem, your willpower, self-discipline, as well as warmth in your personality. The energy of this chakra allows you to transform inertia into action and movement. It allows you to meet challenges and mover forward in your life. It represents wisdom.
The main challenge for the third chakra is to use your personal power in a balanced manner. What does that mean? It means consciously harnessing the energy of the solar plexus chakra. It means being proactive rather than reactive or inactive.
Celestial Body: Mars, Sun
Musical Note: E
Seed Sound: Ram
Food Type: Carbohydrates
Animals: Ram, Lion
Stones: Topaz, Citrine, Tiger’s Eye
Essential Oils: Basil, Ginger, Bergamot
Main Focus: Power and Identity
Right: To Act
Green Chakra: Heart Chakra. Its position is the chest. It is the wellspring of love, warmth, compassion, and joy is located at the heart center. Anahata moves love through your life. It is the center of your deep bonds with other beings, your sense of caring and compassion, your feelings of self-love, altruism, generosity, kindness, and respect. Anahata is an integrating and unifying chakra – bringing to wholeness – as such, it is your healing center. Indeed, most spiritual traditions recognize love as the ultimate healing force. The energy of Anahata allows us to recognize that we are a part of something larger, that we are interconnected within an intricate web of relationships extending through life and the universe. Anahata allows us to recognize and get in touch with the sacred and fundamental truth that runs through all of life and connects everything together. It represents love.
The “way of the heart” or the “path of the heart” is living your life from this energy center of love. It means living your life with loving kindness and compassion towards others. It means that your heart is open to others and you inspire kindness and compassion in others. You create safe and supportive environment.
Celestial Body: Venus
Musical Note: F
Seed Sound: Yam
Food Type: Vegetables
Animals: Antelope, Dove
Stones: Jade, Emerald, Rose Quartz
Essential Oils: Rose, Benzoin, Eucalyptus
Flower: Wild Rose
Main Focus: Love and Connection
Right: To Love
Blue Chakra: Throat Chakra. Its position is the center of the throat. It is the fifth chakra and it is the first of the higher or spiritual chakras on the “chakra ladder”. This chakra is located in the region of neck and shoulders and its color is blue. The gift of this chakra is accepting your originality, expressing your authentic voice and speaking your truth. The energy of this chakra allows you to seek knowledge that is true, beyond limitations of time and space, beyond cultural and family conditioning. The main challenge for the fifth chakra is doubt and negative thinking. When you gain and verify your knowledge through meditation and direct experience, then doubt and negativity are removed. It represents power.
The “way of the Throat Chakra” is the way of inspired creativity, seeking and sharing of the truth. It is the way of standing up for what you believe, saying no when you need to, and being open and honest in what you say.
Celestial Body: Mercury
Musical Note: G
Seed Sound: Ham
Food Type: Fruit
Animals: Elephant, Bull
Stones: Sodalite, Celestite, Turquoise
Essential Oils: Hyssop, Clementine, Blue Chamomile
Flower: Desert Larkspur
Main Focus: Self Expression and Life Purpose
Right: To Express
Indigo Chakra: Third Eye Chakra. Its position is the center of the forehead. It transcends time. It is located at the brow, above the base of the nose. The gift of this chakra is seeing – both inner and outer worlds. The energy of this chakra allows us to experience clear thought as well as gifts of spiritual contemplation and self-reflection. Through the gift of seeing we can internalize the outer world and with symbolic language we can externalize the inner world. The energy of Ajna allows us to access our inner guidance that comes from the depths of our being. It allows us to cut through illusion and to access deeper truths – to see beyond the mind, beyond the words. It represents imagination.
The “way of the third eye” is seeing everything as it is from a point of “witness” or “observer”, or from simply being mindful – moment by moment. It means examining self-limiting ideas and developing wisdom that comes from a perspective that transcends the duality of good or bad, black or white. It means seeing and helping others to see the deeper meanings of the situations in their lives.
Celestial Body: Neptune
Musical Note: A
Seed Sound: Om
Sense: Intuition/ ESP “6th Sense”
Food Type: Beauty (Visual Feast)
Animals: Owl, Butterfly
Stones: Opal, Azurite, Lapis Lazuli
Essential Oils: Rosemary, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang
Main Focus: Clear Perspective and Psychic Ability
Right: To Perceive
Violet Chakra: Crown Chakra. Its position is the top of the head. It is the seventh chakra and it is at the top of the “chakra ladder” which starts from the Root Chakra that grounds us on the Earth and progresses upward to the Sahasrara which connects us with the universe and the Divine source of creation. Sahasrara is located at the crown of the head. The gift of this chakra is experiencing unity and the selfless realization that everything is connected at a fundamental level. The energy of this chakra allows us to experience mystical oneness with everyone and everything in nature. There is no intellectual knowing at the level of seventh chakra, but there is serenity, joy, and deep peace about life. You have a sense of knowing that there is a deeper meaning of life and that there is an order that underlies all of existence.
The “way of the Crown Chakra” is the way of going beyond the limits of your own ego. It is the way of transcending the ego and knowing that all of creation is interconnected at a fundamental level. A level that some call the “Akasha” or “Zero Point Field”, or just “The Field”. This is the fundamental level of connection. It represents understanding and will.
Celestial Body: Uranus
Musical Note: B
Seed Sound: Silence
Sense: None (Beyond Senses)
Food Type: Fasting
Animals: Elephant, Ox, Bull
Stones: Diamond, Amethyst, Clear Quartz
Essential Oils: Myrrh, Violet, Frankincense
Main Focus: Connection to Spirit and Wisdom
Right: To Know
Now that you are familiar with the colors, the positions, and representations of what each chakra stands for now I can talk about how this knowledge can be applied to yoga, meditation, tai chi, reiki, and other activities which utilize energy manipulation in various ways.
Chakras and Meditation:
In the case of meditation, visualizing the opening of each chakra starting from the red, root chakra at the feet and working your way all the way up to the violet crown chakra at the crown of the head helps to get the energy centers flowing. For each chakra I like to picture that I am unlocking a door of that color which helps to let the energy flow out of it and activate the next chakra in the line.
Meditation is a great starting point before you move on to using the chakras in yoga, tai chi, reiki, or other energy manipulation activities. It is good to have all seven chakra points activated before you attempt to use the energy centers of your body in various ways.
Chakras and Yoga:
When applying chakras activation to yoga, first meditate and activate the chakras one by one. Guided meditation can help with this. Make sure to clear your mind, take deep healing breaths so that you are relaxed and focused. Listen to meditation music if you need something going on in the background to help focus your mind.
Once the chakras are activated, proceed to do the different yoga positions while focusing on the chakras that pertain to the area you are stretching. For example, if you do a yoga tree pose, the focus is on the movement of the arms. The arms are in line with green heart chakra, so focus on the chakra and think of subjects pertaining to love while in that position.
Chakras and Tai Chi:
When applying chakra activation to tai chi or other energy centered martial art forms, first activate the chakra centers with meditation. Then decide what chakra you want to use as an energy focus to enhance your tai chi move. You can use any chakra center but I like to use the third eye indigo chakra and violet crown chakra to focus energy with as they are the highest energy points in the chakra line.
Chakras and Reiki:
When applying chakra activation to reiki or other energy centered healing forms like crystal healing, first activate the chakra centers with meditation. Then decide what chakra you want to use to focus its energy on the area of the body that needs to be healed. You can either determine this by the chakra’s location, for example if someone has an injured foot, so you use the red base chakra to heal the injured foot, or the chakras identity, for example someone has a problem finding inspiration so you use the Indigo third eye chakra to help channel inspiration energy to the person.
A final thing to note is that when it comes to chakras you shouldn’t limit yourself. There are endless ways to use the energy centers of the body which just takes imagination and practice on your part.