Formative forces

From Anthroposophy

The formative forces underlie the living development and form giving in nature's kingdoms, they are also called etheric or life forces.

The spiritual beings concerned in how these forces come into being, and how they function, are those from the elementary kingdoms. When these affect the Four kingdoms of nature on earth, they work in constellation with the Elementals of nature and the third spiritual hierarchy consisting of angels, archangels and archai.

The spiritual scientific framework is given in the Golden Chain section, see schema FMC00.142A below.

Besides working on Man, the three formative forces affect three different kingdoms of nature where they can be studied. Most focus is on the formative etheric forces in the plant kingdom, an overview of scientific progress in the last century is given below.


Schema FMC00.142A is lifts out one aspect from Schema FMC00.142


Positioning - the next lawfullness or physics

Historical perspective

There is an early document I wrote years ago in the essays section that shows how the zeitgeist is pregnant with intuitions, visions and discoveries of this new physics. The below furthers this into the more tangible and concrete.

  • On the vision side: one can not ignore the correlation between the vision of W.B. Yeats, the writings of Walter Russell, or the work of N.A. Kozyrev. It's just that their visions and writings were not so practical.
  • On the discovery side: Barrett, Reich, Keely .. those people did have intuitive guidance regarding their findings which were for them quite real
  • And teachings such as the lectures of Rudolf Steiner or C.G. Harrison allow to integrate all this, whereby Steiner gave many hints for both the theorethical mathematical framework as the experimental domain.
  • In the last century, work has been done in both these domains. This page provides a view on this.

Note it is important that one maintains a certain openness in this developing area, that can be compared with the development of modern physics from the 16th to 19th century. See also the section 'More pointers' below.


Although a lot of work has been done and is going on, and it requires in depth study to be able to grasp and position all that, we can list certain milestones in the work on the formative forces that provide foundations for others to build on.

On the experimental side: three milestones would be a) the Lily Kolisko experiments (1923) b) the various picture forming methods, and c) the work by Lawrence Edwards (1993).

On the mathematical and conceptual explanatory side then, look into the work of George Adams and Nick Thomas to apply a clear new way of thinking to bring the mathematical framework of projective geometry and path curves to the study of the etheric formative forces. Thomas' last book 'Space and Counterspace' (2008) proposes an amazing integrative framework that explains or could explain many things.

It's only when having studied this deeply that it is advised to go back and try to comprehend the writings of Walter Russell.

Mathematical framework

See: Mathematics of the etheric for a description of synthetic or projective geometry and path curves to describe the peripheral nature of formative forces and the concepts of 'suction' and 'counterspace'.

Experimental research

The table below gives an overview of different areas of research, their effects and applications. Some names are given as a starting reference if you want to do further personal study.

  • potentization (a.o. L. Kolisko)
  • picture forming methods (a.o. L. Kolisko, E. Pfeiffer, T. Schwenk, A. Fyfe, J-O Andersen, U. Graf, J. Baker, P. Doesberg)
  • plant forms in nature (a.o. L. Edwards, G. Calderwood, J. Blackwood, but also J. Bockemühl, W. Schad, E.M. Kranich and F. Julius)
  • effect of moon on crops and biodynamic agriculture (a.o. R. Hauschka, E. Pfeiffer, M. Thun, H. Spiess)
  • effect of zodiacal influences on plant growth (a.o. J. Schultz, S.Vetter, W. Findeisen)
  • water research and flow forms in nature (a.o. V. Schauberger, T. Schwenk, J. Wilkes)
  • (pan)eurythmy as movements of the human etheric body: eurythmy was as introduced by Rudolf Steiner in 1911, paneurythmy was introduced by Peter Deunov in 1922 (a.o. A. Stott)
    • not just as an art form but also therapeutic eurythmy
    • eurythmic effect on plant and crop growth (a.o. T. Baumgartner)
  • cymatics or the study of visible sound and vibrational phenomena (how sound waves generate special geometries, most known as Chladni figures) (a.o. Hans Jenny, A. Lauterwasser)

The above list is not exhaustive, there are other areas but these are less validated (to be regarded as more experimental than established).

And as this is just a listing without saying how it hangs of fits together, more context is given on this page with an overview on etheric research and the plant kingdom.

Regarding contacts today if you need a starting point, here are a number of teams doing research on the etheric with a broader scope (of course there lots of initiatives exist focusing on a single one of the above)

More pointers

Below follow some pointers to more research 'beyond traditional physics' into the field of the etheric formative forces. It comes with a disclaimer.

For some, it is not always clear whether certain work is a valid or a misguided approach. Therefore it is slighly unfortunate to have to list some of them here without further qualification nor judgement as a 'mixed bag' (the first last as an example of controversial much debated work). In any case each of them is interesting enough to be worth your personal investigation, if only as an exercise to practice your assessment skills and intuition.

Some follows leads or have been mentioned or hinted at by eg Rudolf Steiner (sensitive flames, Keely engine, Strader apparatus), others follow their own findings and intuitions (eg Reich, Kozyrev). The language spoken is often very different, and - as usual - people go out of their zone in this research. That may lead to some not very sensible aspects that erode credibility or allow for others to trash the whole work, but it doesn't mean they are not onto something.

  • sensitive flames research (a.o. W.F. Barrett, P.E. Schiller)
  • etheric energy research (a.o. E. Dollard, D. Pond, P. Emberson researching the work of Keely and Tesla, as well as the Strader apparatus)
  • weather engineering (e.g. T.J. Constable)
  • the work on orgone accumulators and weather research (Wilhelm Reich, Charles R. Kelley, James DeMeo)
  • the work on so-called torsion fields (as initiated by N.A. Kozyrev)


Where to draw the line? Running the risk of endangering or eroding credibility of all the above, it is true that there are other areas where one looks for explanations beyond the current scientific paradigms. An example of such is dowsing.


Related pages

References and further reading

Introductory reading list

The first 'modern - as in contemporary' book about the formative forces was probably Rama Prasad’s book ‘Nature’s finer forces’ (1889).

However below is a selection of introduction books: two each by Gunther Wachsmuth, Ernst Marti and Nick Thomas, and one by Iwer Thor Lorenzen. Lorenzen book has been translated in English by the FMC project, and the second book Wachsmuth partly - both awaiting publication.

Then there are also the following works by George Adams, Olive Whicher, and Lawrence Edwards.

Books etheric 3.jpg

Whereas some books get more technical, the one single book who is most readable and gives a complete introduction is the one by Adams and Whicher 'The plant between sun and earth'.