Kraków’s chakra – healing or conflicting?

In the first half of the 20th century, under the influence of theosophy and orientalist interests shared by some Polish thinkers and writers, stories about “Kraków’s secret energetic place” emerged and developed – around the 1980s – into a widely known and consistent narrative about “the Kraków’s chakra”. Nowadays, all over Poland, popular discourses about Kraków associate this city with the presence of one of “seven earth chakras” (in this story, next to Kraków, other “sacred cities” are mentioned – as hosting six remaining earth chakras – e.g. Rome, Jerusalem, and Delhi or other “sacred places” as Mecca, Glastonbury, Egyptian pyramids etc.). Curious visitors, pilgrims, tourists, people seeking spiritual and bodily healing visit the Wawel hill in Kraków, where the chakra is believed to be located. As the Wawel hill hosts the most important monumental and symbolic buildings in the city– the Catholic Cathedral (with royal tombs) and the Royal Castle (with the royal historical treasury) – the location of the chakra and the healing practices that people try to perform in this public space trigger conflicting discourses and reactions.

On the one hand the Roman Catholic authorities reveal their concern with a new “miraculous place” emerging just next to a “traditional” pilgrimage site, famous from its various relics and still popular among people seeking religious healing (lately a new addition appeared in the cathedral with a reliquary containing drops of blood of the late pope,  St. John Paul II, once the archbishop residing in the cathedral).  On the other hand, managers of the Royal Castle State Art Collection seek to stop the development of the chakra cult, by limiting access to the area which is believed to emanate the strongest spiritual and healing power. Some art historians claim that the increasing popularity of the chakra might destroy the historical national monuments located on the Wawel hill, because devotees not only meditate on the spot (disturbing the Castle’s visitors) but also want to touch a wall located in one of the Castle’s courtyard corners.

Presenting all these conflicting and various discourses, this paper seeks to focus on grassroots healing practices related to Kraków’s chakra and the space of the Wawel hill. It will examine how, in practice, people combine the “official” Church-promoted miraculous powers attached to the Cathedral and national discourses concerning the royal heritage of the Wawel hill with their seeking for spiritual and bodily wellbeing related to their beliefs in the power of the chakra.