Traditional Western religions (for these purposes, we’ll say those based out of Jerusalem) have generally contended that the body is to be denied or subdued in favor of the spirit. In contrast, Ancient Indian and Chinese systems sought to balance spirit and body to create inner harmony. From China we get the energetic flow called “Qi” (or “chi”) and from Ayurveda and Yoga we have the chakras – centers that exist in our energetic field that reside near physical centers.
But from within the New Thought Movement from around the turn of the last century came the idea that there is wisdom in all of the world’s religions, and that our bodies are more than just vehicles for our spirits, but have spiritual lessons to teach.
Between 1909 and 1930, Charles Fillmore, co-founder of the Unity movement, brought together physiological locations in the body with spiritual principles to identify 12 Powers or abilities that each of us has within us. These are not merely spiritual ideals, but wisdom that comes from these body-brains.
Fillmore studied the world’s religions and worked with scholars to harmonize his deep metaphysical studies of the Bible with the evolution of humanity. While Unity students and several authors have been using and building upon these teachings, producing several volumes of written work, they remain relatively unknown to the general public.
The 12 powers unfold in an order designated by Fillmore in regards to our spiritual evolution that parallels the order in which Jesus called his disciples to him. But we are using these powers, in different combinations, all the time. As neutral as electricity, this form of energy can be used positively or negatively, and can be directed toward purely physical, emotional or spiritual levels of application and expression.
The colors you see were added within the last few decades by the late Rev. Joel Baehr from Unity of Mesa in Arizona, and have been incorporated into Unity’s teachings.
Let’s first look at the 12 places where you can turn to your body’s wisdom for guidance by region from head to toe!
In the head, you’ll find 6 of the 12 powers: Faith, Imagination, Understanding and Will; and just above the neck, Mastery and Zeal.
Faith is represented by royal blue and is located in the Pineal Gland in the center of the brain. Between the ears and the eyes, and between the creative right and mathematical left hemispheres, Rene Descartes in the 17th century believed it was the seat of the soul.
Imagination is depicted by light blue, which marks a point between the eyes. Fillmore describes it as, “The point of expression for a set of tissues that extend back into the brain and connect with an imaging or picture-making function near the root of the optic nerve.”
Understanding is marked by gold spot, located in the front brain. You can think of it as the place where the lightbulb is plugged in. You know, the one that appears above your head when you have one of those “a-ha” moments!
Will is the silver dot, the power to say yes. In the book Your God-Given Potential: Unfolding the Twelve Spiritual Powers, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann explains, “The ganglionic focal point where the will is developed is in the middle of the forehead, very close to the seat of understanding in the front brain.”
The National Institutes of Health tell us that the Frontal lobe, where these reside, “regulates decision making, problem solving, control of purposeful behaviors, consciousness and emotions.”
Purple denotes the location of Power and Mastery, just at the root of the tongue, the center of the throat. Fillmore wrote, “The power center in the throat controls all the vibratory energies of the organism. It is the open door between the formless and the formed worlds of vibrations pertaining to the expression of sound.” The formless realm of thoughts, ideas and intentions find their entry into the world through this place.
Orange represents Zeal, passion and enthusiasm. Its location is at the base of the brain stem, in the medulla oblongata, where spine meets brain at the back of the neck. This area is known for controlling those vital forces that happen automatically, like breathing and circulation.
Love, shown in pink, is actually focused in the back of the heart, and works closely with the Wisdom center at the solar plexus, which is a dense center of radiating nerves located behind the stomach but in front of the aorta. The home of gut-instinct and intuitive knowing.
Strength is in the lower back, shown in spring green. Located between the ribs and the hips at the bottom portion of the Sacrospinalis muscle. Merriam Webster says it “arises from the iliac crest, the sacrum, and the lumbar and two lower thoracic vertebrae” from there it goes up the spine to the neck. It’s the location where perseverance and endurance can be found.
Order is shown in Olive Green, located behind the navel. Before birth, it’s our connection to nourishment and cleansing. After birth, we control these from within. This is where control shifted from outside of us to inside, representing our physical, emotional and spiritual development.
Release is depicted by russet, located in the lower abdomen. It illustrates the need to eliminate that which no longer serves us, to release things that aren’t nourishing us anymore.
Red is the color that marks the location of the Life center, in our generative, reproductive organs. Even if we never have children, this is the part of the body that is designated for the creation of life, and quite honestly is where some of our most life-affirming urges are centered.
And now, the order that these powers unfold, according to Charles Fillmore:
Faith (royal blue, center brain, Peter) - spiritual confidence, belief.
Strength (spring green, lower back, Andrew) – stability, perseverance, endurance.
Wisdom (yellow, solar plexus, James, son of Zebedee) – discernment, intuitive knowing.
Love (pink, back of heart, John, son of Zebedee) – the ability to harmonize, unify.
Mastery/Power (purple, root of tongue, Philip) – the ability to master our own thoughts and feelings.
Imagination (light blue, between the eyes, Bartholomew) - envisioning, conceptualizing.
Understanding (gold, front brain, Thomas) –comprehension beyond appearances.
Will (silver, front center brain, Matthew) – choice, deciding, determining.
Order (olive green, behind navel, James son of Alphaeus) – proper sequence, organization.
Zeal (orange, base of skull, Simon the Canaanite) – enthusiasm, passion, motivation.
Release/Elimination (russet, lower abdomen, Thaddeus) –letting go of old or negative thoughts, emotions and beliefs.
Life (red, generative organs, Judas) – We can choose to make the most of our precious life force!
Malayna Dawn is the co-host of “Pop Conscious: Where Pop Culture and Spirituality Unite!” on Unity Online Radio. An internationally-published freelance writer and author of a spiritual adventure novel, Echoes Across Time, she shares her fascination with world culture, pop culture and spirituality at: www.popconscious.com.