Electromagnetism, Subtle Energies and Health
October 2017, last updated May 2021
1. Electromagnetic medicine: the past
2. Biolectromagnetic medicine today
3. Electromagnetic organisms
4. Electromagnetic environment
5. Electropollution (05/21)
7. Subtle energies and the ether
8. Prana, acupuncture and homeopathy
9. Beyond sledgehammer science
10. Global harmony
1. Electromagnetic medicine: the past
Ancient papyri indicate that the Egyptians used electric catfish in the Nile River to relieve pain. The ancient Greeks used these fish to numb the pain of childbirth and surgical procedures. The 1st-century Roman physician Scribonius Largus used live torpedo fish to treat gout (inflamed joints), and wrote that headaches and other pains could be cured by standing in shallow water near these electric fish. In the following century, Greek physician Claudius Galen applied electric fish to the skull to relieve headache. The use of live torpedo fish for headache and joint pain persisted throughout medieval Europe and was advocated by leading Muslim physicians.
The most powerful source of electricity was the enormous South American eel. After they were introduced into Europe in 1750, people flocked to be treated, especially those suffering from arthritis. The use of electric fish declined following the invention of the Leyden jar (which stores static electricity) and Volta’s primitive battery, which provided more accessible sources of electricity. Physicist Giovanni Aldini, Benjamin Franklin and others championed the application of stored electricity to treat severe depression and other psychiatric and neurological disorders. Electric induction coils were widely used for medical therapy during the second half of the 19th century, e.g. for treating abnormal heart rhythms. By the beginning of the 20th century, electrical devices were being used to treat a wide range of neurological, emotional and physical disorders, but there was fierce opposition from orthodox medicine because there was no compelling theory to explain how they worked.
The use of magnets for therapeutic purposes also goes back to ancient times. The Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine – traditionally said to have been written around 2600 BCE but now widely believed to date from around 300 BCE – mentions applying magnetic stones to acupressure points to reduce pain. Traditional magnetotherapy is still used in China today. Ancient Aryurvedic texts recommend the use of lodestones, as did ancient Egyptian physicians and early Buddhists. Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BCE) used lodestones to cure sterility, while Galen used them as a purgative. Magnetic rings and necklaces were sold in the marketplace in Samothrace around 200 CE to treat arthritis and pain.
In the 10th century, Persian physician Ali Abbas wrote in his Perfect Book of the Art of Medicine that lodestones could cure gout and spasms. The first major treatise on magnetism, written by Peter Peregrinus in 1289, stated that lodestones could be used to treat gout, baldness and arthritis, had strong aphrodisiac powers, and could draw poison from wounds. In the early 1500s, Paracelsus, the Swiss physician, alchemist, astrologer and philosopher, used magnets to promote healing and treat a variety of diseases, including epilepsy, diarrhoea and haemorrhage. In the early 17th century, Flemish physician Johannes Baptiste van Helmont, a leading follower of Paracelsus, and Robert Fludd, an alchemist and Rosicrucian, also used magnets to treat patients.
German physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) began treating patients with magnets in the 1770s. He reported curing a patient suffering from uncontrollable seizures and other nervous system complaints by feeding her iron filings and applying specially shaped magnets over affected organs. Mesmer soon concluded that his cures really involved the transfer of a subtle fluid or life force, which he named ‘animal magnetism’ (see section 7).
In the United States, magnetic therapy flourished in the second half of the 19th century.
Magnets, magnetic salves, and liniments were dispensed by traveling magnetic healers and were readily available at food and grain stores. By the turn of the century, mail-order catalogues offered magnetic soles for boots ... as well as magnetic rings, belts, caps, girdles, and other apparel that could cure anything from menstrual cramps to baldness and impotence. (Rosch, 2015, 17)
In the US, the widespread use of electromagnetic therapies came to an end after the publication of the 1910 Flexner Report on Medical Education, initiated by the American Medical Association. It labelled such therapies as abuses of medical practice and banned them from official use. This restriction remained largely intact until the end of the 1990s. Since then there has been a strong resurgence of bioelectromagnetic medicine.
2. Biolectromagnetic medicine today
There are several diagnostic applications of electromagnetic medicine. For example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures the body’s magnetic fields for the diagnosis of physical abnormalities, while the electrocardiograph, electroencephalograph and electromyograph record electrical heart rhythms, brain waves and muscle properties respectively. Electroconvulsive shock therapy has been used since the 1930s and is still the most effective treatment for severe depression, but no one knows how it works. Pacemakers and defibrillators have also been used for decades and have saved countless lives.
The past few decades have seen the development of devices for very low-intensity and low-frequency electric or electromagnetic stimulation. For example, in various countries specific electromagnetic devices have been approved for promoting the healing of bone fractures, and for treating liver and kidney tumours, sports injuries, osteoarthritis, pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
Most of these devices are nonthermal in character, meaning that they do not work by generating heat. There is in fact no clear understanding of how they work, and that is one of the reasons why it has taken so long for them to be even partially accepted by orthodox medicine. Paul Rosch, editor of Bioelectromagnetic and Subtle Energy Medicine, writes:
In addition to a lengthy history of quackery and fraud, another criticism that has hampered wider acceptance of bioelectromagnetic approaches is the inability to identify the mechanisms of action responsible for any benefits. ... How weak environmental electromagnetic energies as well as those generated internally can produce nonthermal biological effects, is not clear, as the absence of detectable heat exchange would appear to violate the laws of thermodynamics. (Rosch, 2015, 18)
Electrostimulation is still based on a trial-and-error approach; it is impossible to predict the optimal dose.
Bone and wound healing
It is now accepted medical practice to use weak electric currents and weak, pulsed electric and magnetic fields to enhance the healing of bone fractures. Pulsed electromagnetic fields are also used to enhance wound repair and healing (BioInitiative Working Group, 2012, section 17).
The currents used are remarkably small, even as low as tens of nanoamps (billionths of an amp; nA). There is no credible physical explanation for the positive therapeutic effects achieved. In the 1980s it was discovered that magnetic fields as weak as a few microteslas (millionths of a tesla; μT) were capable of affecting biological systems, and this is now known to be true of fields as low as 40 nanoteslas (billionths of a tesla; nT) (Liboff, 2015a). For comparison, the strength of the geomagnetic field at the earth’s surface ranges from 25 to 65 microteslas.
Electrical stimulation of the human brain for therapeutic purposes was first performed over 50 years ago, and there has recently been a sharp rise in its use.
The dramatic benefit of the technique in the treatment of severe movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease (PD), essential tremor, and dystonia, has spurred its use in a number of other disease conditions. These include epilepsy, chronic pain, and neuropsychiatric disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), treatment-resistant depression, and Tourette’s syndrome ... (Baxi et al., 2015, 213)
Several specific techniques are used.
Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is a form of noninvasive brain stimulation that applies an electric current across the skull. Nowadays, the electrodes are usually clipped to each earlobe, though some devices still direct the current across the temples. CES is used to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. It is less costly than other neurostimulation techniques, and can be safely used by patients at home. Unlike drugs, it has no adverse side effects or addictive tendencies. Older devices used frequencies ranging from 100 to 4000 hertz (Hz) and currents of up to 8 milliamps (mA), while more recent devices use frequencies as low as 0.5 Hz and currents as low as 100 microamps (µA).
While the exact mechanism of CES remains unclear, the same is true for pharmacological interventions used to treat mood disorders, and it seems likely that both have similar effects on neurotransmitters or other relevant mechanisms. (Kirsh & Marksberry, 2015, 194)
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an invasive and costly brain stimulation procedure which involves implanting a device in a targeted area of the brain or central nervous system. Frequently used noninvasive brain stimulation methods include transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS uses magnetic coils to produce powerful but brief magnetic fields that induce electrical currents in the brain (Kirsch & Marksberry, 2015; Roth & Zangen, 2015). In 2013 the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) approved deep TMS (dTMS) for drug-resistant depression in adults. In the European Economic Area, dTMS has CE marking for Alzheimer’s disease, autism, bipolar disorder, chronic pain, major depressive disorder, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, smoking cessation, and schizophrenia with auditory hallucinations.
There is evidence that dTMS can improve learning skills and memory. A 2014 study found that 20 minutes of dTMS resulted in an improvement in learning skills that lasted five hours. Oxford University researchers have demonstrated that dTMS can improve the maths skills of adults and of children as young as eight.
Electrodes are placed in a tightly fitted cap worn around the head that can be targeted to specific areas of the brain or applied generally, and are powered by an ordinary 9 V battery. ... The Air Force has been using it to reduce the time needed to teach drone pilots how to identify targets in radar images and the Department of Defense utilizes it to train snipers.
The Focus v1 is a transcranial direct current stimulator that uses a headband with electrodes that are placed over the right and left temples. It also claims to improve concentration and focus and can be purchased by gamers to improve their skills for less than $250. ... The amount of current delivered to the frontal cortex is only 2 mA, much less than a 9 V battery, but little is known about possible adverse long-term effects. (Rosch, 2015, 609)
Since such devices do not claim to diagnose or treat disease, they do not require approval by medical watchdogs. Some researchers have predicted that brain implants to improve cognitive skills will someday be as common as plastic surgery is today. This raises thorny ethical issues.
Ultrasound, consisting of mechanical vibrations above the threshold for human hearing (>20,000 Hz), is a less frequently used brain stimulation technology. High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) now has numerous applications, including treatment of benign and malignant tumours, neurological disorders and movement disorders (White & Jolesz, 2015). The acoustic energy of ultrasound waves is concentrated within a target area to deliver heat at depth without affecting overlying skin and healthy tissues.
Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) devices are among the most common forms of electrical (rather than chemical) pain relief, particularly in those suffering from acute, chronic inflammatory conditions. Many studies have demonstrated the ability of specific types of electric fields to effectively treat pain in those suffering from arthritis and fibromyalgia (Blank, 2014, ch. 14).
In 2014 the FDA approved Cefaly as the first transcutaneous nerve stimulator for preventing migraine
headaches in adults. It uses a battery-powered headband-like appliance that sits across the forehead. (cefaly.com)
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) involves delivering electrical impulses to the vagus nerve, often via a device placed under the skin on the chest wall. The vagus nerve is the neural superhighway, and is associated with many different functions and brain regions. VNS is mainly used to treat certain types of epilepsy and depression.
NEMOS is a noninvasive VNS device that received European Union approval for the treatment of epilepsy and depression
in 2010 and for pain in 2012. It stimulates the auricular branch of the vagus nerve via a discrete ear electrode. (nemos.uk.com)
VNS has been found to inhibit inflammation, and this has created interest in using this approach for treating inflammatory diseases, ranging from arthritis to congestive heart failure. Anti-inflammatory drugs, which often have undesirable side effects, could be replaced by specific types of vagal stimulation, which are more precise and much safer.
Electrochemical therapy (ECT) can be used to treat tumours. Electrodes are inserted into a tumour and the current arouses strong chemical reactions, causing tumour cells to degenerate and die. This treatment is simpler and loss costly than surgery, causes fewer complications and is just as effective in certain instances (Li & Xin, 2015). While ECT is effective in destroying cancerous tissue, its effect on normal tissue is much milder. In Europe in particular, ECT is increasingly accepted for routine clinical use.
Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields can also be used for treating cancer.
[T]he growth of cancer cells may be effectively blocked when exposed to low and safe levels of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, which are amplitude modulated at specific frequencies identified in patients with a diagnosis of cancer. This novel therapeutic approach is potentially paradigm changing as it appears to only affect tumor cells without collateral damage to noncancerous cells. (Pasche et al., 2015, 303)
Pulsating magnetic fields, too, have proved effective in treating various malignant tumours, as well as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid disease, discoid lupus and multiple sclerosis cardiomyopathies (Pallares & Rosch, 2015).
In less developed, ‘primitive’ societies, people tend to be relatively or wholly free of cancer. Paul Rosch describes cancer as a disease of adaptation to civilization caused by faulty intercellular communication and a lack of a feeling of control.
[T]he feeling of having little or no control is always distressful. That also happens to be a good definition of the cancer cell. It is a cell that is out of control because it does not communicate properly with its neighbors or the rest of the organism ...
Anecdotal, but irrefutable reports of cancer cures from shrines, faith healers, laetrile, coffee enemas, acupuncture, macrobiotic diets, and other alternative treatments are difficult to explain. There are numerous reports of cancer regression through the use of various stress reduction or mind altering techniques, including intense meditation, visual imagery, and hypnosis. Yet, like spontaneous remission, all these cures are extremely rare, and benefits are entirely unpredictable in any given patient. Here again, having a strong faith in anything the individual believes in that provides a sense of control might be the reason. [There are] numerous reports of reactivation of dormant cancer following an extremely stressful event, particularly the loss of a loved one ... (Rosch & Nordenström, 2015, 86-7)
Many lower forms of life are able to regenerate an injured or lost limb. Rosch suggests that cancer is ‘an attempt by the human organism to regenerate tissues and organs and even limbs, as lower animals are able to do spontaneously’. Studies show that the onset of malignancy often follows the death of a spouse or loss of some other important relationship, and he argues that this might initiate a similar stimulus to regenerate new tissue, but instead of serving a useful purpose as it does in lower life forms, it results in tumour formation and is potentially lethal.*
*G. de Purucker sets out a theosophical perspective: ‘[W]e should understand cancer better if we realized that all growths, malignant or benign, are physiological memories of the method of propagation which the early third root-race used unconsciously. Then such growths were normal and natural; now they are abnormal at best and malignant at worst’ (Fountain-Source of Occultism, 409). The early third root-race, consisting of very ethereal, nonselfconscious beings, reproduced by budding: vital cells were exuded from the outer parts of the body and collected together to form huge eggs. In some cases, these vital germs or buds, when freed from the control of the human life-essence, developed into other animal stocks, each cell being a storehouse of unexpressed types (see Evolution in the fourth round). The ability of some organisms to regenerate lost or injured body parts is a more limited manifestation of cells’ former power of self-expression (see Astral bodies, section 8). The ultimate causes of disease are our own thoughts, feelings and deeds in this and former lives (see Health and disease).
Seqex is a magnetotherapy device that administers customized, controlled, pulsed or variable electromagnetic fields at extremely low intensities and frequencies either over the entire body or locally. It is used to treat disorders and diseases of the muscular and skeletal system. (seqex.it)
SKY-303Y, a bioelectricity resonance unit. Bioelectricity resonance technology (BERT) is designed to correct abnormal bioelectric signals and apply the corrected signals to patients. Imbalance in muscular bioelectricity results in symptoms like muscle strain, stiff neck, lower back pain and similar afflictions. A frequency of 25, 50 or 100 Hz is chosen and a current of between 3 and 25 mA is applied using electronic pads on opposite sides of the diseased area. The device can reportedly be used for all diseases relating to the nervous system, muscular system, glandular system and immune system (Wang et al., 2015). (21who.com)
The SCENAR (self-controlled energo-neuro-adaptive regulation) device reads the resistance level of the skin and, when it recognizes an injured or diseased area, it delivers a tightly controlled dose of electromagnetic radiation, which stimulates the production of regulatory peptides or neuroproteins and elicits a healing response (energy-medicine.org). It was originally designed to help keep astronauts healthy during space flights. According to a survey among 3000 Russian medical practitioners, SCENAR is credited with: 79% improvement in the musculoskeletal system, muscle injuries, and diseases such as arthritis, sciatica, lumbago and osteoporosis; 82% improvement in many circulatory disorders, including strokes, thromboses and heart failure; 84% improvement in respiratory problems; and 93% improvement in eye conditions and diseases of the digestive tract (Philips & Philips, 2012).
That sunlight can help prevent and combat illness and enhance health has been recognized for thousands of years. Many ancient cultures worshipped the sun as a god, and used its full spectrum of light to treat physical and mental problems. In recent decades, on the other hand, there has been a concerted campaign to make people afraid of the sun. However, moderate exposure to sunlight can improve bone health, heart health and mental health, prevent many common cancers, alleviate skin disorders, and decrease the risk of autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Sunlight nourishes the body and regulates many of its biological rhythms.
In the 19th century, light was used to treat conditions ranging from inflammation and paralysis to tuberculosis. Towards the end of that century, it was discovered that light was an effective anti-bacterial agent and could also cure rickets (by stimulating production of vitamin D). Nowadays, light therapy is commonly used for treating skin conditions (e.g. psoriasis), sleep disorders, vitamin D deficiency, seasonal affective disorder and other types of depression. Blue light can successfully treat neonatal jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia) and reduce pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis, while red light can effectively treat migraine headaches (Liberman, 1991, ch. 4). Low-level near-infrared light can significantly improve wound healing; it increases the rate of tissue regeneration and reduces inflammation and pain (Ives & Jonas, 2015).
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves injecting a photosensitizing agent into the bloodstream that accumulates in cancer cells and destroys them when activated by light of a specific wavelength (Liberman, 1991, ch. 9). This technique has a higher success rate in treating localized cancers than conventional treatments. Its main limitation is that the light needed to activate most photosensitizers cannot pass through more than about 1 cm of tissue, which means that tumours that are too deep or large cannot be treated. PDT is also used for skin disorders and eye ailments.
Light-emitting diode (LED) technology was developed towards the end of the last century. The Celluma LED light therapy device uses three wavelengths of light to treat various disorders depending on their location and depth. The FDA has approved its use for acne, muscle and joint pain and stiffness, muscle spasms, arthritis, and compromised local blood circulation.
Celluma device. (theworkshopedmonds.com)
Hot lasers generate heat and are used to burn or cut tissues. Cold (low-level) laser therapy systems produce far less power and, like LEDs, are available in different wavelengths, each having different effects. Green lasers are used to heal surface wounds. Red lasers are used for surface conditions like burns, acne and hair restoration. Infrared and near-infrared lasers penetrate much deeper and can help heal muscle, ligament or even bone. In 2002 the FDA approved the use of low-level laser therapy for pain relief. Cold laser acupuncture (usually red) has the advantage that an acupuncture point only has to be stimulated for 5 to 50 seconds, compared with 20 minutes if a needle is used, and since the skin is not punctured there is no risk of infection (Rosch, 2015, 610).
Paul Rosch notes:
Permanent magnet and electromagnetic therapies are now riding the crest of a tidal wave of interest in ‘alternative’ and ‘complementary’ medicine. Unfortunately, charlatans, entrepreneurs, and misguided zealots with worthless devices and unfounded claims still abound. (Rosch, 2015, 18)
Abraham Liboff, a pioneer of bioelectromagnetics, writes:
These advances and opportunities [in bioelectromagnetic medicine] also have a dark side, providing new areas for quacks and charlatans that specialize in electromagnetic ‘cures’ to prey on the sick. For example, we have already seen devices based on ‘picotesla [a thousand-billionth of a tesla] stimulation’ marketed without regard to the need to shield or correct for more intense, local magnetic fields. Electromagnets directly purchased from physics supply houses have been touted as ‘molecular energizers’ to help combat brain cancer. (Liboff, 2015b, 383)
He goes on to refer to ‘nonsensical claims that diseased cells can be “blown up” at certain frequencies, or that the entire array of human disease is traceable to specific parasites, each of which has its own unique susceptibility to a given frequency’.
Caution is certainly called for, but it works both ways: the history of science clearly shows that theories and claims published in peer-reviewed journals are not necessarily correct, and that theories and claims that peer-reviewed journals refuse to publish are not necessarily false.
3. Electromagnetic organisms
All organisms are electromagnetic. There are electric currents in every cell and coordinated currents throughout the body. Electric currents generate electromagnetic fields of varying frequencies, amplitudes and wavelengths. The body emits ultraweak photons, often called biophotons. Normally they are emitted in a symmetrical pattern, but this is not true for individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Death is commonly defined as a flatline electrocardiogram or electroencephalogram – i.e. no electrical activity in the heart or brain.
Organisms’ electrodynamic field – named life-field or L-field by Harold Saxton Burr in the 1930s – changes slowly, increasing in strength until adulthood is reached and then gradually declining with age. The fields are maintained by electric currents in the body, forming closed circuits. These fields were confirmed by various researchers, including Robert Otto Becker (1923-2008), who also documented changes in electric polarity during wound healing and limb regeneration in animals and humans.
L-fields of humans and salamanders. (Becker & Selden, 1985, 95, 98)
Electric potential changes at the cut end of the stump after amputation in a salamander (top),
which regenerates its amputated limb, and in a frog, which does not. (Becker & Selden, 1985, 73)
Becker realized that electromagnetic fields, when used with the correct polarity, at the right time and place, and at the extremely weak levels characteristic of living organisms, can help heal wounds and fractures, and even regenerate severed fingertips and nerves. But exposure to inappropriate electric fields is likely to cause abnormal growth and cancer (see section 5).
According to orthodox biology, communication within the body takes place at a chemical/molecular level. Signal molecules – such as hormones, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides or pheromones – are believed to move about randomly until they bump into a receptor site with an appropriate shape, much like a key fits into a lock. This theory faces a major problem:
The random meeting between hormone and receptor, or enzyme and substrate, taking place in a sea of other randomly moving molecules, has a statistical probability approaching zero ... Under these conditions, the simplest biological event or step in a metabolic pathway or regulatory process should require some thousands of years to take place. [But] living processes are simply too fast and too subtle to wait for molecules to wander around aimlessly until they happen to bump into the right targets. Electromagnetic or vibrational signaling is not only physically possible; it is the ideal mechanism for the rapid and precise communications taking place in living systems. For this model, electromagnetic resonance, not shape, is crucial. One can envision a web-work of electromagnetic signaling processes extending throughout the body, enabling the coordination of a wide diversity of functions and processes. (Oschman & Oschman, 2015, 465)
There is strong evidence that insects’ antennae act like radio antennae and detect the electromagnetic signals produced by vibrating pheromone molecules (sex attractants). The zigzag flights of moths and butterflies may be a scanning process, using direction-finding antenna arrays. The molecular frequency model for the sense of smell (olfaction) implies that a similar class of vibration receptors is at work in olfaction, hearing and vision.
A moth’s antennae (top) resemble a log-periodic antenna.
Why is a moth attracted to its destruction by a candle flame? It turns out that a candle
produces infrared emissions corresponding to the emissions of pheromone molecules.
A ‘free radical’ is any atom or molecule with a negative charge, due to its having an extra electron. Free radicals of the oxygen and nitrogen species might play a key role in atomic-level signalling within and between cells, in addition to chemical reactions between biomolecules.
In their brief lifetimes, free radicals are sensitive to imposed magnetic fields, including microwave fields. Free radicals are involved in normal regulatory mechanisms in many tissues. Disordered free radical regulation is associated with oxidative stress diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, coronary heart disease, and cancer. (Adey, 2015, 28)
Water, too, appears to play a vital role in electromagnetic communication. Gerard Pollack (2015) discovered that, in addition to its solid, liquid and vapour phases, water can exist in a fourth, liquid-crystalline phase, also known as exclusion zone (EZ) water (H3O2). It enters this state by absorbing infrared energy from the environment. Such water carries a negative charge and acts like a battery to supply energy to cells. By volume, two thirds of our cells’ content is water, and most of this water is liquid-crystalline water.
Research by Mae-Wan Ho (2015) shows that ‘all the liquid crystalline molecules in the cells and tissues of the body are aligned, and more importantly, moving coherently together’. In fact, ‘the entire organism is electrically polarized from head to tail, behaving optically as a single uniaxial crystal, like quartz’ (99). This allows molecules and cells to communicate by means of electric and electromagnetic signals, by resonating to common frequencies. She argues that liquid-crystalline water embodies and generates organisms’ electrodynamic life field. It also enables ‘proteins and nucleic acids to act as quantum molecular machines that transform and transfer energy at nearly 100% efficiency’ (93).
Some exaggerated claims have been made about the electric L-field. Burr believed it could explain morphogenesis – i.e. how a developing organism acquires its specific form. Since the L-field is generated by a physical organism, it clearly cannot provide a blueprint that explains how a developing organism acquires its shape. In the theosophical tradition, the template for the physical body is provided by the astral model-body (see Astral bodies). Ho suggests that the morphogenetic field is ‘written’ in liquid-crystalline orientation patterns. But what determines those patterns in the first place?
According to the emerging electromagnetic paradigm, illness results when the electromagnetic fields of living things are disrupted, and balance can be restored by applying electromagnetic fields with intensities far below levels that would produce heat. As already noted, electromagnetic fields can either heal or harm. The health effects depend on whether static or changing fields are applied, the intensity and duration of exposure, and in the case of alternating fields, the oscillation frequency. As Paracelsus recognized, dosage is a key factor: ‘Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.’
4. Electromagnetic environment
Life forms on earth have evolved in a specific electromagnetic environment. The earth has a slowly migrating static magnetic field. There are also much weaker, oscillating, low-frequency electromagnetic fields arising from two main natural sources: thunderstorm activity in the tropics; and – to a lesser degree – solar magnetic storms. Schumann resonances are electromagnetic standing waves that exist between the surface of the earth and the inner edge of the ionosphere, 75 km up; they are excited by lightning flashes, of which about 50 per second occur worldwide. Resembling an atmospheric heartbeat, the resonances range in frequency from 3 to 60 Hz; the strongest peak is at 7.8 Hz, with others at around 14, 21, 26 and 33 Hz. Evidence suggests that humans and other organisms synchronize their biological rhythms to the Schumann frequencies.
Electromagnetic waves (shown in blue, green and red) created by lightning
flashes circle around the earth, creating the Schumann resonances.
Given that the total geomagnetic field intensity ranges from 25 to 60 microteslas (μT), it’s hard to see how biological systems can be affected by changes in this field of 0.2 μT or less connected with solar/geomagnetic activity. Nevertheless, the strong correlations between these terrestrial and solar factors and human health and behaviour suggest that they can. This supports many ancient cultures’ belief that their collective behaviour can be influenced by the sun and other external factors and cycles.
Increased solar activity can disturb the biological rhythm of humans and exacerbate existing diseases. However, deviations are observed for some individuals, which can be due to the individual’s adaptive ability. Increased solar activity and geomagnetic activity is also correlated to a significant increase in heart attacks and incidence of death, myocardial infarction incidents, a 30%-80% increase in hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular death, depression, mental disorders, psychiatric admission and suicide, homicides, and traffic accidents. Birth rates were observed to drop and mortality to increase during increased solar and geomagnetic activity (GMA), and migraine attacks can be triggered. Persinger and Halberg have independently shown that war and crimes were correlated to GMA. ...
On a larger societal scale, increased violence, crime rate, social unrest, revolutions, and frequency of terrorist attacks have been linked to the solar cycle and the resulting disturbances in the geomagnetic field. ...
Solar activity has not only been associated with social unrest, it has also been related to the periods of greatest human flourishing with clear spurts in architecture, arts and science, and positive social change. (McCraty & Deyhle, 2015, 414-5)
Changes in geomagnetic conditions appear to most strongly affect the rhythms of the heart and the brain. To explain how solar activity can exacerbate certain medical problems, it has been suggested that changes in the geomagnetic field caused by solar storms disorient our hormonal systems and disrupt our biological clock (Liboff, 2015c).
There is mounting concern about potential adverse health effects resulting from ever-increasing exposure to electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by mobile phones and other wireless communication devices, and to electric and magnetic fields produced by power lines and electrical devices and equipment. Some people suspect a link between electromagnetic field exposure and their health problems, ranging from mild to debilitating.
Mobile and cordless phones emit radiofrequency (including microwave, MW) electromagnetic fields (EMF) and also extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields from the battery. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B)’ (2013). It classifies extremely low-frequency magnetic fields, too, as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’, while static electric and magnetic fields and extremely low-frequency electric fields are ‘not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3)’ (2002).
This is a hotly debated topic. While the industries concerned emphasize that there is no conclusive proof of harm, evidence pointing to adverse health effects continues to accumulate. Peter Blank (2014) writes:
Long- and short-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation can harm DNA in your body, leading to cell death and cell mutation. These effects are seen across the EM spectrum – not just from ionizing radiation like ultraviolet and X-ray, but also from non-ionizing radiation including cell phone MW transmissions and even the extremely low frequency EMF from power lines. (ch. 4)
Multiple separate studies indicate significantly increased risk (up to two and three times normal risk) of developing certain types of brain tumors following EMF exposure from cell phones over a period of many years. One review that averaged the data across 16 studies found that the risk of developing a tumor on the same side of the head as the cell phone is used is elevated 240% for those who regularly use cell phones for 10 years or more. (ch. 1)
[L]evels of EMF thousands of times lower than current safety standards have been shown to significantly increase risk for neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease) and male infertility associated with damaged sperm cells. (ch. 1)
For an overview of the scientific literature and a detailed assessment of the risks, see the BioInitiative 2012 Report.
Children are at greater potential risk than adults because of their thinner skull bones, and the higher conductivity and sensitivity of their developing brains. Regarding the risks of mobile phone use, the European Environment Agency writes:
There is sufficient evidence of risk to advise people, especially children, not to place the handset against their heads: text messaging, or hands-free kits lead to about ten times lower radiation levels, on average, than when the phone is pressed to the head. (eea.europa.eu)
In addition to maximizing our distance to EMF-emitting devices, personal EMF exposure can be minimized by turning WiFi devices off when not in use and using wired connections rather than wireless ones where possible.
The large-scale Interphone study (2000-2012), initiated by the IARC and partly funded by industry, examined whether there was a link between mobile phone usage and four types of cancer: glioma and meningioma (brain tumours), cancer of the parotid gland (a type of salivary gland), and schwannoma (tumours of the acoustic nerve). It concluded:
Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation. (interphone.iarc.fr)
The study had serious flaws. For example, it looked at only four types of cancer, whereas scientific research has linked radiofrequency and microwave exposure to many types of cancers (including leukaemia, melanoma and lymphoma), as well as other negative health effects. It covered a period of only 10 years, whereas brain tumours can take up to 25 years to develop. It excluded children (a high-risk group), and adults up to 30 or aged 60 and older. It was restricted to cell phones, which means that individuals who used cordless phones did not count as having been exposed, even though they face similar risks. People in rural areas were underrepresented in the study, but they are exposed to the most powerful electromagnetic radiation from their phones.
Studies on animals show that ants lose their ability to forage when exposed to radiofrequency signals such as those from wireless equipment like mobile phones and Wi-Fi routers, and can die (Cammaerts et al., 2013; Cammaerts & Johansson, 2014). Electromagnetic fields have been found to interfere with the ability of birds and bees to navigate (Blank, 2014, ch. 1). Electromagnetic fields also impair the reproduction of fruit flies (Margaritis et al., 2014).
Unlike ionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays, radiofrequency waves cannot break chemical bonds or cause ionization in the human body. Nor are the exposure levels high enough for them to cause tissue heating. The mechanisms involved in any carcinogenic or other adverse effects must therefore be nonthermal. For example, radiofrequency electromagnetic fields can increase free radical activity in our bodies, which could lead to DNA damage.
It is noteworthy that the wireless industry has not been required to do any premarket testing or postmarket surveillance on the health effects of its products. The US government no longer funds research into this issue. Peter Blank writes: ‘The wireless industry funds studies that produce results in line with their interests, and attacks and defunds those scientists who produce results contrary to their interests’ (2014, ch. 8). One survey found that 27% of industry-funded studies demonstrated that radiofrequency exposure has a biological effect in humans, whereas 68% of independently funded studies found such effects. A review of 23 studies examining the link between mobile phone use and tumours concluded that the 10 higher-quality studies showed an association, while the lower-quality studies did not. The latter studies failed to meet scientific best practices and were primarily industry funded (Blank, 2014, ch. 8).
150 years ago there was no mains electricity and the only high-voltage phenomena were lightning discharges. 100 years ago mains electricity using alternating current was in its infancy but it is now ubiquitous. The childhood leukaemia peak at ages two to four which emerged in the US in the 1930s correlates with the spread of residential electrification in the first half of the 20th century (Milham, 2015). This pattern remains absent in areas of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, where people are not exposed to electromagnetic fields from the power grid. Draper et al. (2005) found a 70% increase in childhood leukaemia in England and Wales for those living within 200 metres of 275 and 400 kV powerlines, and a 23% increase for those living 200 to 600 metres from the powerlines. They stressed ‘the uncertainty about whether this statistical association represents a causal relation’.
A major form of electromagnetic pollution associated with the power grid is said to be ‘dirty electricity’ – high-frequency voltage transients which are superimposed on the mains frequency of 60 Hz (in the US) or 50 Hz (in Europe and much of the rest of the world). Dirty electricity is caused by equipment that interrupts the electrical current flow, generating a voltage spike. This includes light dimmers, energy-saving light bulbs (CFLs), smart meters, wireless equipment, and electrical devices in the home and on the grid that have a switch-mode power supply (i.e. most modern electronic equipment, such as computers, copiers and air conditioners, and all transmitters, including cell towers). Dirty electricity is distributed throughout a building on the electric wiring. It radiates into the living environment and interacts with the body. Links have been claimed with many different health and wellbeing effects, and there is a growing industry selling measurement and filtering equipment (emfanalysis.com).
A 2016 study of peer-reviewed literature on dirty electricity (DE) concluded: ‘The available evidence for DE as an exposure affecting human health at present does not stand up to scientific scrutiny’ (De Vocht & Olsen, 2016). Some researchers, however, blame dirty electricity for the current epidemic of diseases of civilization, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes (Milham, 2015). The Old Order Amish in North America, who live without electricity, have less than half the cancer incidence of the US population and about half the type 2 diabetes prevalence as other US citizens. Cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and suicide are also less common among the Amish. Of course, this fact alone does not prove that electrification is the main cause.
Some individuals are more susceptible than others to electromagnetic field exposure and report symptoms like fatigue, restlessness, sleep problems, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, digestive disturbances, rashes, tinglings and burning sensations. This is known as electrosensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS); the latter term implies that we are all electrosensitive to some extent. According to the World Health Organization:
A survey of occupational medical centres estimated the prevalence of EHS to be a few individuals per million in the population. However, a survey of self-help groups yielded much higher estimates. Approximately 10% of reported cases of EHS were considered severe.
There is also considerable geographical variability in prevalence of EHS and in the reported symptoms. The reported incidence of EHS has been higher in Sweden, Germany, and Denmark, than in the United Kingdom, Austria, and France. (WHO, 2005)
In Sweden, EHS is considered a physical impairment and recognized as a disability. However, most countries tend to treat EHS as largely psychosomatic rather than an ‘allergic’ reaction to electromagnetic fields (powerwatch.org.uk).
Most safety regulations set ‘safe’ levels of electromagnetic exposure that are up to thousands of times higher than those that have demonstrated negative health effects in scientific studies. This is because they assume that levels of nonionizing radiation that do not cause heating in human tissue are safe. They fail to consider nonthermal health effects, multiple simultaneous exposures, and cumulative exposures over a lifetime.
5G (fifth-generation wireless communication technology) will use high-frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum in the radiofrequency range (600 MHz to 90 GHz), including millimetre waves, in addition to the currently used 3G and 4G microwave bands. Rubik & Brown (2021) write:
Focused pulsed beams of radiation will emit from new base stations and antennas placed close to homes and schools whenever persons access the 5G network. The system requires significant densification of 4G as well as new 5G antennas that will dramatically increase the population’s wireless radiation exposure both inside structures and outdoors. In addition, up to 100,000 satellites are planned to be launched into low earth orbit to achieve a global wireless network.
Rubik & Brown note that COVID-19 began in Wuhan, China, shortly after the introduction of city-wide 5G, and ‘spread globally, demonstrating a statistical correlation to international communities with 5G antennas installed’. They conclude from their extensive study of the scientific literature that RFR may contribute to COVID-19 as a toxic environmental cofactor. They also state:
No scientific analyses of the health effects of 5G have been done, and none are currently planned by the industry. 5G networks would expose the public to RFR [radiofrequency radiation] at an unprecedented scale. With the planned ‘internet of things,’ the entire environment of our planet will be drastically changed by unnatural, digitally pulse-modulated microwaves and millimeter waves with power densities trillions of times above the natural background. The long-term effects of this global experiment on humans and the biosphere are unknown.
5G also poses a threat to civil liberties since it will strengthen the state’s digital surveillance capabilities.
There is a continuous flow of electrons from the sun to the earth’s ionosphere, and from there to the earth’s surface via lightning strikes. As a result, the earth’s surface has an abundance of electrons that give it a negative electrical charge. For much of human history people have walked barefoot or used footwear made of animal skins, and slept on the ground or on animal hides. Being earthed or grounded had various health advantages.
Through direct contact or through perspiration-dampened and electrically conductive animal skins used as footwear or sleeping pads, the ground’s abundant free electrons were able to enter their bodies, which are electrically conductive. Through this mechanism, every part of the body can equilibrate with the electrical potential of the earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, cells and molecules, and providing a key ingredient needed for the operation of the immune system. (Oschman et al., 2015, 429)
Our modern lifestyle has increasingly separated us from contact with the earth’s electrical field and free electrons. Traditional leather soles made from animal hides have largely been replaced by shoes with insulating rubber, plastic or composite soles. We no longer sleep on the ground. Our houses have insulating floors made of wood or acrylic, and carpets are made from synthetic materials that are nonconductive and can cause buildup of harmful static electrical charges on our bodies. Other lifestyle changes include the rise of fast-food, computers and mobile phones, and spending more time indoors.
Some researchers believe that the modern disconnection from the earth’s surface could be a major factor in the recent dramatic rise in stress-related chronic illness, immune disorders and inflammatory diseases. There are many reports of earthing alleviating autoimmune disorders, reducing cardiovascular risk, improving sleep and reducing pain (e.g. from injuries or arthritis). Sleeping grounded increases the levels of melatonin, the most important hormone produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin supports the immune system, promotes deep, restful sleep, slows cell damage and ageing, improves energy and may even inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Grounding the body appears to reduce inflammation because the electrons from the earth that enter the body have an antioxidant effect, neutralizing free radicals at sites of inflammation.
Left: If you are standing outside on a clear day, wearing shoes or standing on an insulating surface (like a wooden or vinyl floor or asphalt), or sitting in a car with rubber tyres, there is an electrical charge of some 200 volts between the earth and the top of your head. Right: If you are earthed or grounded, your skin and the earth’s surface form a continuous, negatively charged surface with the same electrical potential; the top of the head is at 0 V, and the positively charged area is pushed up and away from the body. Any person, animal or plant in direct contact with the earth creates this shielding effect. (Oschman et al., 2015, 436)
In addition to walking outside barefoot, there are grounding shoes and flip-flops available to connect people walking on natural terrain with the earth. Another earthing method is to place a grounding sheet on a bed or a grounding pad under the feet or wrists, and to wear conductive straps around the ankles or wrists. Grounding essentially eliminates the ambient voltage induced on the body from common electricity power sources and can reduce the potential consequences of electropollution in offices.
7. Subtle energies and the ether
‘Subtle energies’ has different meanings. It is sometimes used to refer to physical energy fields (e.g. electromagnetic waves) that are very weak, but it can also refer to ethereal, nonphysical grades of energy-substance. This includes a life force, known by different cultures, traditions and researchers under a variety of names: e.g. ka (ancient Egypt), pneuma (Greece), spiritus/anima (Rome), prana/ojas (Hinduism), lung (Tibet), qi/chi (China), ki (Japan), nephesh (Judaism), animal magnetism (Franz Anton Mesmer), odic force (Karl von Reichenbach), élan vital (Henri Bergson), and orgone (Wilhelm Reich). Some researchers believe that the ‘corona discharge’ of living organisms and inanimate objects revealed by Kirlian photography (high-voltage, high-frequency electrophotography) may be a manifestation of this life energy (see Astral bodies, appendix 2).
All mystical traditions and religious philosophies recognize the existence of subtler realms, which are invisible to our normal senses, but not to the inner eye of a seer or even an undeveloped psychic. In the 18th and 19th centuries most scientists accepted that there was an ether of subtler substance underlying the physical world, which helped explain light, heat, electricity and magnetism.
However, the ether went out of fashion among mainstream scientists with the rise of relativity theory and quantum theory in the early 20th century (see Space, time and relativity). Instead of trying to understand physical matter-energy as manifestations of a subtler level of reality, orthodox scientists now try to understand them in terms of mathematical abstractions that exist only in their imaginations: e.g. zero-dimensional point particles, one-dimensional strings, and ‘probability waves’ that magically ‘collapse’ into physical particles whenever we make an observation (see The farce of modern physics). However, individual scientists have continued to explore the notion of an ether.
According to the theosophical tradition, or ageless wisdom, the ether of physics corresponds to the three highest states of matter on our physical plane (the lower four being: solid, liquid, gas and plasma), and it is merely the borderland of the endless planes of reality that lie beyond – all of which are composed of consciousness-substance of different rates of vibration, and occupy (and in fact compose) the same boundless space (see Worlds within worlds).
Nowadays, many researchers who accept that subtle energies are required to explain psychic phenomena and certain types of healing reject the concept of an ether as obsolete, and try instead to explain subtle energies by invoking extra dimensions of the physical world, or quantum entanglement, i.e. instantaneous ‘nonlocal’ connections ‘beyond space and time’ (see Psi wars). In fact, many researchers are looking for ways to explain acupuncture, homeopathy and manual healing methods without appealing to subtler, nonphysical energies of any kind; they prefer to invoke conventional electromagnetic fields (including the universal quantum field) and bioelectricity (Mayor, 2015).
Investigation and application
Swiss-born occultist and physician Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493-1541), popularly known as Paracelsus, anticipated many elements of modern conventional and alternative medicine (Wood, 2004). He is known as the founder of iatrochemistry (chemical medicine) and the father of pharmacology. Standing in the theosophic tradition, he held that, in addition to our physical body, we have an ethereal ‘sidereal body’, through which our higher, spiritual nature works. He also recognized a universal life force, the spiritus vitae or archaeus, which he described it as an ‘inner alchemist’ that maintains and repairs organisms in a dynamic fashion.
He spent much of his life wandering around Europe healing the sick and gathering information from people of every walk of life. He performed seemingly miraculous cures on many patients who had been pronounced incurable by leading doctors, a fact testified to by Erasmus. He used a variety of healing methods, including magnets and talismans. In his remedies, he applied the ‘law of similars’ or ‘like treats like’ – a principle known since ancient times (e.g. to Hippocrates) and forming the basis of modern homeopathy. Like all ancient cultures, he recognized correspondences between the macrocosm (universe) and the microcosm (individual). H.P. Blavatsky describes Paracelsus as ‘the greatest occultist of the middle ages’, ‘a clairvoyant of great powers’ and ‘a distinguished alchemist’ (Theosophical Glossary, 248-9).
Viennese doctor of medicine Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1814) drew inspiration from reading Paracelsus, and in the early 1770s he began treating patients with magnets. He soon came to the conclusion that a magnet was merely a medium through which a healing fluid acted. He found he could also achieve cures simply by touching or moving his hands over his patients or staring into their eyes. He called this subtle force ‘animal magnetism’, which he distinguished from mineral magnetism. He believed that animal magnetism was subject to the influence of the heavenly bodies and worked through a subtle, universal, all-pervading fluid (the ether). Mesmeric healing was believed to remove blockages and restore the balanced flow of animal magnetism within the body.
From 1773 to 1778 Mesmer travelled around Europe demonstrating his new methods in various places from Switzerland to Bavaria. In 1778 he set up practice in Paris, and over the next few years his fame and the number of patients he treated grew rapidly. Charles Deslon, Doctor Regent of the Faculty of Paris, became his first student and later a partner. In 1784 they treated 8000 patients. To treat groups of patients, Mesmer used a baquet, a vat 6 or 7 feet in diameter, containing glass fragments, gravel, stones, sulphur and iron filings, and filled with water – which were charged with animal magnetism. From the top of this tank projected metal rods which patients pressed against afflicted areas of their bodies, triggering the mesmeric ‘crisis’, during which they sometimes suffered convulsions, spoke in strange voices, or fell into a cataleptic state or coma. Mesmer would walk around fixing patients with his intense gaze and sometimes stroking them with his ‘magnetized’ wand. The poor were allowed to use one of his baquets free of charge, but seats around the other baquets had to be reserved far in advance and cost about the same as an opera ticket (Turner, 2006; Bivins, 2007).
An example of Mesmer’s baquet. (cabinetmagazine.org)
Later versions of the baquet also contained a Leyden jar, which meant that the projecting rods could deliver a powerful electric current. Mesmer stated that ‘the magnet and artificial electricity have, with respect to diseases, properties common to many other agents presented to us by nature’ and that ‘if the use of these has achieved some useful results, they are due to animal magnetism’ (Mesmer, 1779).
Mesmer’s success in curing everything from deafness to paralysis infuriated the medical establishment, and in 1784 he was investigated by a commission of leading scientists. It declared that it could find no evidence of a previously unknown subtle fluid and that any cures must be entirely due to his patients’ imagination. The French Société Royale de Médecine concurred in a separate report, but one of its committee members acknowledged that Mesmer’s methods were effective and that some kind of subtle fluid may play a significant role in maintaining health; he pointed out that imagination could not explain why some patients went into convulsions if a rod or finger was pointed at them from a distance of six feet even when they could not see it. Mesmer, however, was branded a quack and a charlatan, and his popularity began to wane. (See Isis Unveiled, 1:171-7; Blavatsky Collected Writings, 12:214-28; King, 1992, ch. 2; Inglis, 1992, ch. 16; Mayor, 2015.)
H.P. Blavatsky says that Mesmer rediscovered the ‘magnetic fluid’ in humans, and that the Order of Universal Harmony, which he founded in 1783, taught not only animal magnetism but also ‘the tenets of Hippocrates, the methods of the ancient Asclepieia, the Temples of Healing, and many other occult sciences’. She also says that the Council of Luxor ‘selected him – according to the orders of the “Great Brotherhood” – to act in the 18th century as their usual pioneer, sent in the last quarter of every century to enlighten a small portion of the Western nations in occult lore’ (Theosophical Glossary, 213-4).
Mesmer’s clinical practices had nothing to do with hypnotism, in which the hypnotiser subjects a person to his or her more powerful will. However, some of Mesmer’s followers did use hypnotism. In 1843, Scottish physician James Braid sought to clean up mesmerism’s tainted reputation by changing its name to hypnosis (after Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep). He postulated that mesmeric manifestations were due to a mental force, not magnetism or a mysterious fluid. Nowadays ‘mesmerism’ is widely confused with hypnotism.
In the 1840s Mesmer’s work came to the attention of a prominent young German physical chemist, Karl von Reichenbach, the discoverer of creosote and paraffin. He began working with sensitive young women who were to some degree clairvoyant and could perceive the energy surrounding a powerful magnet. The north pole of a magnet seemed to emit a blueish flame associated with a cool feeling, while the colour streaming from the south pole was yellow-reddish, associated with warmth. He called the energy concerned odyle, od, or the odic force. The sensitives also saw colours around certain crystals and experienced a range of sensations when touching them. The odic force was particularly strongly associated with living things. Despite thousands of well-documented experiments, his findings received a frosty reception from conventional scientists, so he abandoned paranormal research and returned to chemistry and metallurgy, but too late to save his reputation. (See King, 1992, ch. 3; Milton, 1994, ch. 5.) H.P. Blavatsky calls the odic force an ‘auric or magnetic fluid’ or ‘auric light’, which emanates from and surrounds all animate and inanimate objects in nature (Collected Writings, 12:210, 396, 526).
Massage and other manual therapies have existed in all cultures, and are closely allied to ‘mesmeric’ or ‘magnetic’ healing, in which the healer transfers bioenergy to the patient and manipulates the patient’s own bioenergy. In the late 19th century, the founder of chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer, was originally an ‘energy healer’ or ‘magnetic healer’ in the tradition of Mesmer, as was the founder of traditional osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still. Still reasoned that manipulating bones and joints helped the body function at an optimal level and enhanced its ability to heal itself. Palmer found that physical manipulation of a patient’s body (especially the spine) produced better results than the simple ‘laying on of hands’.
Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) trained as a doctor in Vienna and became a prominent member of the psychoanalytical movement. In the 1920s he joined the communist party, preached free love, set up street clinics offering sex therapy to working class people and fell out with Freud over matters of doctrine. He left Germany just as the Nazis began burning his books, and moved to the United States. He believed he had discovered a universal form of nonelectromagnetic, etheric energy – which he named orgone energy (Lucca et al., 2012). He held that it could be concentrated in metal-lined enclosures, or orgone accumulators (ORACs), and that the orgone concentration could be increased by surrounding the inner metal box with several alternating layers of conductors and insulators.
In 1956 the Food and Drug Administration obtained a court injunction which ruled that orgone did not exist, that all books and journals containing detailed discussions of orgone should be destroyed, and that related devices should be dismantled or destroyed. The FDA proceeded to incinerate all of Reich’s books mentioning orgone. Reich was later imprisoned for contempt of court, and died in jail in 1957. The FDA continued to burn his books until the early 1960s.
One of Reich’s key discoveries was that the temperature above the top of an ORAC was significantly higher (by up to 2°C) than in the ambient air. In 1941 he discussed this with Einstein, who reacted by saying that, if true, this thermal anomaly would be ‘like a bombshell in physics’. This is because according to the second law of thermodynamics, heat energy is only supposed to dissipate – not spontaneously accumulate. Einstein confirmed the temperature difference, but later dismissed it as an artefact caused by normal indoor convection currents. Reich easily refuted this, but Einstein wasn’t interested. A rigorous replication of this experiment was reported by Canadian scientists Paulo and Alexandra Correa in 2001. They verified that even under the most disadvantageous conditions, a small but significant thermal anomaly persists, pointing to the existence of an anomalous flux of nonthermal energy (see Space, time and relativity).
By building on the work of Reich, and on earlier discoveries by Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the Correas (2001, 2003, 2006) have developed a detailed model of a dynamic ether (aetherometry) and various technological applications. According to aetherometry, the two main components of the ether are:
- Electric radiation, which instead of being monopolar (like electrons and protons) is ambipolar (meaning that the electrical charge constantly oscillates between positive and negative); it propagates as longitudinal waves (whereas electromagnetic radiation consists of transverse waves), and can travel faster than light. The sun does not emit electromagnetic radiation, but ambipolar radiation, and photons are transient etheric vortices produced when matter particles shed this energy. Tesla also discovered this type of electric radiation, and referred to it as alternating current of high frequency.
- Latent energy: nonelectric energy with antigravitic properties, loosely known to chemists and meteorologists as ‘latent heat’ (whose true nature remains unexplained by orthodox science). This is responsible for the temperature anomaly discovered by Reich.
In the late 18th century, Luigi Galvani, a pioneer of bioelectromagnetics, performed a number of experiments that led him to conclude that nerves were conduits for ‘animal electricity’, which he distinguished from artificial electricity (generated by friction) and natural electricity (e.g. lightning). He found that applying an electric current produced by a Leyden jar or electricity generator to the legs of a dead frog caused its muscles to contract. Furthermore, this twitching occurred even if its legs were not directly connected to the source of the electricity. On one occasion, for instance, the leg of a dead frog twitched when an assistant accidentally touched its sciatic nerve with a scalpel at the same instant that a spark leaped from one of the electrical machines being operated across the room. In another experiment, frog legs were suspended from an iron railing with brass hooks during a thunderstorm and the muscles were seen to contract during a lightning flash (Becker & Selden, 1985, 62-4; corrosion-doctors.org).
Some of Galvani’s experiments.
The Correas (2002) argue that the latter cases are explained by the fact that sparks discharged at a distance by a generator or by lightning emit ambipolar radiation, which was picked up by the assistant’s body or the iron railing and conducted to the frog via the scalpel or the brass hooks, causing a burst of electrical activity in its nerves and muscles. Official science, however, has focused ever since solely on the role of physical (‘massbound’) charged particles and electromagnetic fields and has systematically ignored evidence for the role of etheric (‘massfree’) ambipolar electricity in the pulsatory activity of living systems.
The Correas (2002) contend that ambipolar radiation also plays a role in Kirlian photography. No ‘bioplasma aura’ appears in a Kirlian image if the process is carried out in a vacuum. The ambipolar radiation emitted by the Kirlian induction coil interacts with the ambipolar electric field of the object being photographed, but no light can be produced and captured on film unless there are matter particles available to capture the radiation and release it in the form of photons.
8. Prana, acupuncture and homeopathy
Prana and yoga
In Hindu philosophy vital energy is called prana, of which there are several types, each with a different bodily function. The various pranas, or vital essences, are streams of psycho-vital-astral substance. G. de Purucker writes:
Even in mediaeval Europe – which of course drew its ideas from ancient Greek and Roman writings – pretty much the same conception of the human body, as being an entity infilled with vital spirits and with humors, prevailed until a relatively recent time, when these were rejected by medical science, which laughed at the superstitions of our forefathers. Nevertheless, these vital spirits and humors corresponded, however imperfectly, to the pranic fluids of ancient Hindu teaching – considered to be both ethereal essences and physical humors. From early mediaeval times up to the recent present, medicine consistently taught that normal physical health in the human body was maintained when these vital spirits and humors were operating in equilibrium, and that disease and even death were products of their malfunctioning. (Fountain-Source of Occultism, 556)
Prana flows through the body in channels known as nadis. Yogic texts mention 72,000 nadis, but this is because every artery, capillary and vein can be called nadis of the blood. There are three main nadis for vital energy: sushumna, ida and pingala. The sushumna runs through the centre of the spine, beginning at the chakra at the base of the spine and ending at the chakra at the top of the head. The ida and pingala also begin at the base of the spine. They are commonly said to wind around the sushumna like a helix, crossing at the chakras, with the ida ending at the left nostril and the pingala at the right nostril. Sometimes they are said to terminate at the chakra between the eyebrows but to be connected to the left and right nostrils (Staples, 2015). Purucker states that the spinal column is ‘the foundation of the pranic vitality of the body, driven by the kama [desire principle] of pingala and more or less controlled by the higher manasic [mental] or directing attributes of ida’ (Fountain-Source, 462).
The seven chakras (‘wheels’) are energy centres or vortices in the astral model-body and form part of the subtle energy system located along the sushumna. Although they are not physical structures, they correspond to the location of various organ or glandular systems or nerve plexuses. Different writers assign them different locations. A typical list is the following (Staples, 2015):
- Muladhara: located at the perineum and corresponding to the coccygeal nerve plexus and the organs of elimination.
- Svadhisthana: located at the genitals and corresponding to the sacral plexus and the reproductive organs, kidneys and bladder.
- Manipura: located at the navel and corresponding to the solar plexus and the liver, gallbladder, spleen, small intestines, stomach, pancreas and adrenal glands.
- Anahata: located at the heart and corresponding to the cardiac plexus and the heart, lungs and thymus gland.
- Vishuddha: located at the throat and corresponding to the laryngeal plexus and the trachea, throat and thyroid gland.
- Ajna: located in the brain between the eyes and corresponding to the cavernous plexus and the pituitary gland.
- Sahasrara: located at the crown of the head and corresponding to the pineal gland.
The ajna chakra is sometimes called the ‘third eye’. However, the third eye is actually associated with the pineal gland and the seventh, crown chakra. The pineal gland is all that remains of the third eye that, according to theosophy, was possessed by the ethereal third root-race. In some lower vertebrates the pineal gland still has a well-developed eyelike structure, while in others it functions as a light receptor (see Sex and sexuality, section 7).
Symbolic representation of the nadi and chakra model. In yogic texts, the chakras are referred to metaphorically as
lotuses, and each chakra has a certain number of petals, with the crown chakra being described as a thousand-petalled lotus.
G. de Purucker (who places the fifth chakra in the forehead between the eyes, and the sixth in the pituitary gland) writes:
[T]hese seven chakras are the foci or knots or condensations of the seven differently functioning pranas or vital streams in the human physical vehicle, each prana having its respective chakra. Although only five pranas and six chakras are named exoterically, actually there are ten or even twelve pranas in man’s constitution, and they find their respective outlets or functional organs in ten or twelve seats in the human body. (Fountain-Source, 461)
Pranayama is the control of the movement of prana through the use of breathing techniques, the main ones being long deep breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and fast breathing. In combination with various postures, pranayama can reportedly clear the energy channels of any blockages so that energy may flow along the sushumna. Kundalini, the highest form of prana, is said to flow through the sushumna and to normally lie dormant at the base of the spine. Rousing kundalini so that it rises up the spine is a practice associated with the achievement of higher states of consciousness, but should only be undertaken under the guidance of a teacher.
There is a lot of emphasis in New Age circles on opening the chakras, awakening kundalini and gaining psychic powers through hatha and tantric yoga practices, particularly through pranayama and concentration on the chakras. However, there is a risk that such techniques may disturb the flow of pranic forces, with adverse effects on physical and mental health. The safest way to open the chakras is by living a pure and ethical life (see Yoga and enlightenment).
Yoga was originally designed as a path to spiritual enlightenment; yoga literally means ‘union’, i.e. union with our spiritual-divine self. The physical exercises alone can certainly help people relax and combat stress. There is firm evidence that this limited form of yoga can help with back pain, chronic pain, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In the US, yoga is being offered at places like cancer centres, while the Department of Veterans Affairs includes yoga in its post-traumatic stress disorder treatment programmes.
Chi and acupuncture
The first known written reference to acupuncture as a therapeutic method in China dates from the 1st century BCE, but its roots can be traced back over 5000 years. Acupuncture still forms the basis for medical care in China and is integrated into many of its hospitals employing Western medicine. It is also widely practised in Japan and North and South Korea.
According to Taoist philosophy, a subtle energy called qi/chi (pronounced: chee) flows through certain pathways in the body. There are 12 main channels or ‘meridians’ (jingluo), and qi takes one day to flow through them all. There are also eight ‘extraordinary vessels’ connecting the major channels and the organ systems; the governor vessel meridian corresponds to the sushumna. Illness occurs when the flow of qi is blocked or there is a disturbance in the balance between its complementary yin and yang components.
The Chinese character for qi represents breath or vapour rising over rice. As well as denoting
vital energy, qi can also denote the air or ether filling the sky, or the basic substance of all creation.
Yang and yin represent complementary, interdependent opposites. For example, they correspond, respectively, to light
and dark, male and female, spirit and matter, heaven and earth, sun and moon, day and night, hot and cold, fire and water.
There are 361 acupuncture points associated with the 12 regular channels and eight vessels, as well as numerous additional points derived from clinical experience (Ergil, 2015). The areas around acupuncture points are particularly rich in nerve bundles and small blood vessels. The Chinese word xue, which is usually translated as ‘point’, actually means ‘hole’. Acupuncture points or holes are locations where qi can be influenced by the insertion and withdrawing of needles, the application of heat (moxibustion), massage, electrical currents, laser, or a combination of these methods, with a view to restoring proper energy flow and good health. The Chinese term for acupuncture (zhen jiu) means ‘needle moxibustion’. Moxibustion, an apparently older practice, involves burning dried, powdered mugwort leaves either on or close to the skin. The Chinese also have a system of massage, manual acupuncture point stimulation and joint manipulation – known as tui na.
19th-century acupuncture chart. (bl.uk)
When circulating in the body, qi can cause sensations of heat or tingling. There is a close connection between qi and blood; blood is considered to flow with qi and to be conveyed by it. Similarly, blood (and plant sap) can be seen as condensed prana (Fountain-Source of Occultism, 463).
Qigong (chi kung) is similar to yoga in many ways. It includes a broad set of practices, including postures, slow movements (e.g. tai chi), rhythmic breathing, meditation, massage and non-contact treatments aimed at regulating the movement of qi in the body. It is practised for the purpose of martial arts training, recreation, relaxation, healing, or spiritual development. Internal qigong focuses on self-care and self-cultivation, while external qigong involves treatment by a therapist or qigong master who directs or transmits qi. The latter practice resembles many other energy therapies that use gentle hand techniques to help repattern a person’s energy field and accelerate healing – such as reiki, healing touch and therapeutic touch. Such methods have been shown to promote wound healing, reduce pain, alleviate anxiety and stress, promote relaxation, and enhance a sense of wellbeing.
Scientists have been unable to verify the existence of qi, yin, yang, meridians and acupuncture points by physical means. Some researchers have proposed that qi may be the same as electromagnetic energy, with yin and yang being negative and positive electricity respectively (Rosch & Nordenström, 2015). Acupuncture points and channels are sometimes said to be areas of lower electrical resistance than the surrounding skin, but there is no consensus on their electrical properties (Niemtzow, 2015; Ergil & Ergil, 2015).
Puncturing the skin with needles has measurable neurophysiological effects, and acupuncture’s ability to control pain is at least partly due to the fact that it triggers the release of opiates. However, some experiments indicate that an acupuncture needle is just as effective when it is merely held over the appropriate point, without puncturing the skin (Micozzi, 2015, ch. 2).
Acupuncture has been used in Europe since the 1780s. It has proved effective for the following conditions: adult postoperative and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting; postoperative dental pain; addiction; stroke rehabilitation; headache; menstrual cramps; tennis elbow; fibromyalgia; myofascial pain; osteoarthritis; low back pain; carpal tunnel syndrome; and asthma (Ergil & Ergil, 2015). Its effectiveness for treating acute and chronic pain is widely recognized in the West and has been confirmed by several systematic reviews (e.g. Dalamagka, 2015). Acupuncture is also a comparatively safe therapy.
The Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA) technique is an auricular (ear) acupuncture procedure developed in 2001 by then Air Force Colonel Richard Niemtzow MD. The technique uses semi-permanent needles 2 mm long that can stimulate an ear point for three to four days, providing pain relief before they dislodge. Ear acupuncture or auriculotherapy works because different groups of cells in the ear represent different parts of the body. BFA employs five points in the ear, which are needled in a particular sequence.
BFA acupuncture points. Omega 2, for example, is known to be very effective for
headaches and pain in the neck, upper shoulder, and upper and lower extremities.
BFA is applied if the use of opioid painkillers is too risky or if current medications and other therapies are not working. Hundreds of American military physicians and Special Forces have been trained in the technique. It is the most popular and successful ear acupuncture technique for pain in the US military, and has changed the opinions of many sceptical healthcare providers. A 2011 study of wounded soldiers being evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan found an average 30-46% reduction in their pain one hour after treatment with BFA. The technique is anecdotally effective in about 85-90% of pain cases. $5.4 million was made available to develop a BFA programme across the armed forces and the Department of Veterans Affairs (Niemtzow, 2015).
Homeopathy was developed by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, at the end of the 18th century. It is based on the law of similars: a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure sick people with similar symptoms. Homeopathic medicines are made from plant, chemical, mineral or animal sources. To increase their potency, the original material is diluted many times, and is shaken vigorously (succussed) after each dilution.
Homeopathy quickly spread to other countries, owing to the impressive results achieved in treating 19th-century epidemics such as cholera, typhus, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever and influenza. Today, over 200 million people worldwide use homeopathy on a regular basis. Homeopathy is included in the national health systems of several countries, e.g. Brazil, Chile, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (hri-research.org). A 2011 report commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health concluded that homeopathy is clinically effective, cost-effective and safe (hri-research.org).
A systematic review by Mathie et al. (2014), which analyzed only the highest-quality randomized controlled trials, found that homeopathic medicines prescribed during individualized treatment are 1.5 to 2.0 times more likely to have a beneficial effect than a placebo (sugar pill). Homeopathic remedies have proved effective in treating, for example, childhood diarrhoea and ear infections, upper respiratory tract infections, allergic reactions, influenza, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, vertigo, and side effects of conventional cancer treatments. A homeopathic medicine can prevent E. coli diarrhoea in piglets – which are unlikely to be influenced by the placebo effect (hri-research.org).
The main reason why orthodox medicine dismisses homeopathy is that the liquids used to make many homeopathic medicines are diluted by factors many orders of magnitude greater than Avogadro’s number (6.023 x 1023, defined as the number of units in one mole of any substance); dilution factors of 1060 and 10400 are routinely used. This means that, theoretically, the liquid should no longer contain any molecules of the original substance and should therefore have no biological effect. Or as a prominent US journal put it: ‘If homeopathy is correct, much of physics, chemistry, and pharmacology must be incorrect.’
In 1988 Jacques Benveniste, a prominent immunologist, reported in a study published in Nature that white blood cells called basophils, which control the body’s reaction to allergens, can be activated to produce an immune response by solutions of antibodies that have been diluted to such an extent that no antibodies remain. The water molecules appeared to retain a memory of the antibodies that they had previously been in contact with, but only if the water was violently shaken after each dilution. Three other labs replicated Benveniste’s results before his article was accepted. Benveniste had also agreed that a committee could visit his own lab to replicate the experiment, but instead of being composed of scientists, it consisted of Nature’s editor and ‘The Amazing Randi’ – well-known debunkers of anything ‘heretical’. Not surprisingly, the experiment failed, and Nature published another paper accusing Benveniste of self-delusion, and denying the validity of the ‘memory of water’.
Benveniste’s government laboratory was shut down and his funding was cut off, but he continued his research at DigiBio, a Paris-based company funded by homeopathy supporters, until his death in 2004. He proposed that biomolecules communicate by emitting low-frequency electromagnetic signals. He reported that he was able to record these signals digitally, and that by playing them back to cells in the absence of the molecules themselves he could reproduce their biochemical effect (spiritofmaat.com).
The next major development came in 2009, when Noble Laureate Luc Montagnier and his team reported that some bacterial DNA sequences were still able to induce electromagnetic waves at high aqueous dilutions; again, the samples needed be vigorously shaken (‘vortexed’) for the electromagnetic effects to be present. The team proposed that aqueous nanostructures form in the samples during the dilution process and are responsible for the electromagnetic signature (avilian.co.uk).
In a 2010 interview, Montagnier was asked about homeopathy and stated: ‘What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.’ He called Benveniste a ‘modern Galileo’, and added: ‘I am told that some people have reproduced Benveniste’s results, but they are afraid to publish it because of the intellectual terror from people who don’t understand it’ (huffingtonpost.com).
Using electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction and atomic spectroscopy, a team of Indian scientists has confirmed that certain homeopathic remedies made from metals still contain nanoparticles of the starting materials even at extremely high dilutions (Chikramane et al., 2010).
On the basis of findings such as these, Shahram Shabhabi (2015) suggests that highly diluted homeopathic remedies contain aqueous nanostructures that produce ultra-weak electromagnetic waves; when resonated by electromagnetic waves produced by adjacent tissues, higher-energy electromagnetic waves are produced, which are assumed to be very similar to at least some of the waves produced by molecules of the original (undiluted) substance. How these waves have a beneficial effect has still to be explained.
There are many uncertainties and unknowns in this attempt to explain homeopathy in terms of purely physical mechanisms. The ‘memory of water’ has not been fully explained, just as no one has convincingly explained our own memories in terms of ‘memory traces’ in the physical brain. (In fact, conventional science cannot even explain why the two gases hydrogen and oxygen become liquid water at room temperature.) From a theosophical standpoint, memories are imprinted on the subtler energy-substances that interpenetrate our physical world.
An alternative explanation of homeopathy is that the subtle energies of homeopathic medicines stimulate our natural self-healing ability by acting directly on our subtler bodies (see Vaccination and homeopathy, section 9). This is in line with Hahnemann’s own point of view. He believed that the physical body is animated by a ‘spirit-like vital force (dynamis)’, which reigns supreme when a person is healthy, but causes disharmony and disease if it becomes ‘pathologically untuned’ and disturbed. He argued that the potentization of homeopathic remedies refines and ‘spiritualizes’ them, enabling them to enhance the vital force (Gray, 2013).
9. Beyond sledgehammer science
Orthodox scientists often adopt a sledgehammer approach in their efforts to unravel the secrets of nature. To understand what matter is made of, they spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year conducting experiments with ever more powerful particle accelerators, in the hope that if they smash matter particles together violently enough, they’ll increasingly merge into one and regain the unified state that supposedly existed just after the mythical big bang. However, there is not a single realistic mainstream theory of what electrons and protons actually are, and scientists are unlikely to become any wiser by studying the debris produced by smashing these particles together at ultra-high energies.
Another example concerns nuclear fusion. According to mainstream science, the only form of nuclear fusion possible is thermonuclear fusion, or ‘hot fusion’, which requires extreme temperatures and pressures to force two positively-charged nuclei to merge. All efforts to harness hot fusion as a source of energy have so far failed, despite billions of dollars being thrown at the problem. At the same time, orthodox scientists have been very reluctant to accept evidence for ‘cold fusion’ or low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR), which appears to involve a subtler process similar to that used by a catalyst. Moreover, since the 1960s various researchers have established that in plants, animals, humans and even minerals, common elements can be transmuted into heavier or lighter elements without the need for extremely high temperatures and pressures. Nature apparently has gentler ways of achieving transmutation and other nuclear reactions than the violent methods that mainstream science is so obsessed with (see The energy future (New energy); Mysteries of the inner earth, pt. 2).
Experimenters like Nikola Tesla, Wilhelm Reich, and Paulo and Alexandra Correa have shown that it is possible to knock gaping holes in the edifice of orthodox science with relatively simple, small-scale experimental setups involving electroscopes, Tesla coils and orgone accumulators. The results of such experiments point to subtler grades of energy-substance underlying the physical plane. Mesmeric healing, acupuncture and homeopathy are examples of medical treatments that manipulate our own subtle energies in a gentle manner to promote healing, and stand in stark contrast to the modern fixation on using ever greater quantities of powerful, toxic and dangerous drugs to mend the body.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-ray or gamma-ray radiation to shrink tumours and kill cancer cells (and neighbouring healthy cells), causing a variety of side effects. As explained above, low-frequency electromagnetic fields and weak electric and magnetic fields can also have biological effects, both beneficial and harmful, and much remains to be learned in this respect. To truly understand electricity, magnetism and electromagnetic radiation, scientists will have to make a concerted effort to study the ether – the gateway to the astral, mental and spiritual worlds that lie beyond.
10. Global harmony
Research shows that when people experience negative emotions, such as anger, frustration or anxiety, their heart rhythms become more erratic and disordered, whereas when they experience sustained positive emotions, such as appreciation, love or compassion, their heart rhythms become more ordered and coherent, and there is also greater coherence between their heart rhythms, respiratory rhythms, blood pressure oscillations and the brain’s alpha rhythm activity (8-12 Hz). This occurs because all these subsystems are vibrating at the resonant frequency of the system as a whole (McCraty, 2015).
Heart rhythm pattern of a person making an intentional shift from a state of frustration to a feeling of appreciation by using a positive emotion refocusing technique. There is an immediate shift from an erratic, disordered heart rhythm pattern to a smooth, harmonious, sine-wave-like (coherent) pattern. (McCraty, 2015, 128)
Coherence at the social and global level arises when the relationships among individuals are synchronized and harmonious. Rollin McCraty writes:
Anyone who has watched a championship sports team or experienced an exceptional concert knows that something special can happen in groups that transcends their normal performance. It seems as though the players are in sync and communicating on an unseen energetic level. A growing body of evidence suggests that an energetic field is formed between individuals in groups through which communication among all the group members occurs simultaneously. ...
Improvements in clinical status, emotional well-being and quality of life have also been demonstrated in various medical patient populations in intervention programs using coherence-building approaches. (2015, 129)
The heart’s electromagnetic field can be detected by nearby animals or the nervous systems of other people. In one experiment, when a mother focused attention on her baby, her brainwaves synchronized to the baby’s heartbeats, even though they were not in physical contact. In another experiment, a woman sat in a corral with her horse, without touching it. When she consciously shifted into a coherent state, the horse’s heart rhythm shifted to a more ordered pattern. McCraty suggests that ‘the electromagnetic energy generated by the heart acts as a synchronizing force within the body, a key carrier of emotional information, and a mediator of bioelectromagnetic communication between people’ (2015, 138).
McCraty & Deyhle (2015) postulate that ‘the earth’s magnetic fields are carriers of biologically relevant information that connects all living systems’ and that there is ‘a global information field that connects all living systems and contributes to a type of global consciousness’.
[A]s humans have brain and heart frequencies overlapping the earth’s magnetic field resonances, they are not only receivers of biologically relevant information, but they can also couple with the earth’s magnetic fields and thus feed information into the global field environment. (420)
[A]s enough individuals increase their personal coherence, it can lead to increased social coherence (family, teams, organizations), and as increasing numbers of social units (families, schools, communities, etc.) become more coherently aligned, it can in turn lead to increased global coherence, all of which is facilitated through self-reinforcing feedback loops between humanity and the global field environment. (422)
This theory is rather narrow as it deals only with what is happening on a physical level. Mind and consciousness cannot be reduced to electrochemical activity in our brains or to electromagnetic fields. A wide range of paranormal and mediumistic phenomena and evidence for reincarnation point to the existence of inner, subtler levels of reality, including subtler elements of our own constitution. Attempts to explain away some of these phenomena in terms of quantum physics are contrived and unconvincing (see Psi wars). Electromagnetic connections between people are a reflection of the connections that exist on more ethereal levels.
In theosophy, the astral plane or ‘astral light’ is said to comprise several spheres of increasingly ethereal matter surrounding and interpenetrating the physical earth. Its higher reaches merge into the akashic or spiritual realms. The astral plane is sometimes called ‘nature’s picture gallery’, as it contains a record of everything that has ever happened on earth. It records thoughts, emotions and deeds of every conceivable quality and forms part of humanity’s collective consciousness.
Humans’ astral model-bodies and lower minds are composed of astral substances of various grades, while our reincarnating soul and spiritual-divine self are composed of more refined substances. Our minds attract ideas, thoughts and images from the general thought-atmosphere or memory-field of the earth, and send them out again in modified form. Thoughts, emotions and desires are elemental energies that assume a particular form and persist for a period corresponding to the intensity of the originating thought. Groups of humans – families, nations, races, and religious, social and political movements, etc. – build up collective thought-forms, some of which may assume a powerful life of their own.
The connections and communications taking place on subtler levels of reality help to explain the behaviour of societies of termites, ants, wasps and bees, which have been likened to superorganisms. They help to explain the behaviour of shoals of fish, flocks of birds, and herds or packs of animals, whose coordination sometimes defies explanation. And in human society they throw light on such things as crowd behaviour, panics, fashions, crazes and cults.
As Hippocrates once said: ‘There is one common flow, one common breathing. All things are in sympathy.’ Through kind words, selfless deeds and uplifting thoughts, everyone can help to elevate humanity’s collective consciousness and contribute to a more peaceful, harmonious and healthy world.
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