Hints of future etheric force technology

From Anthroposophy

This topic page groups a number of related topics related to how the etheric formative forces can be applied in future technology.

In the second half of the 19th century, several scientists [see note 1] were on the verge of breakthroughs beyond the framework of the current physical-materialistic or mineral science. Their experiments brought to light new etheric formative forces currently unknown to humanity, but known by ancient cultures.

In this same period, several esoteric or spiritual scientific books of end of the 19th century [see note 2] contain hints of a new force, currently unknown to mineral science, but known in the ancient cultures such as those in the Atlantean epoch of the Egyptian cultural age of the current epoch. They make reference to passages in novels and/or the work of these scientists.

Decades later, also Rudolf Steiner gave a number of specific hints and references to an as yet undiscovered great force of nature. He covers the Keely engine, the Tyndall resarch into 'sensitive flames', and carries things further with the description of the so-called Strader apparatus. Certain of his students investigate (eg question by E. Pfeiffer) and go to work in this field (eg Wachmuth, Schiller).

This page groups some of these hints, both the base references of the period 1860-1900, and the consecutive coverage by Rudolf Steiner.


  • On this topic page and the coverage below, reference is made to the following:
    • Note [1]: scientists include
    • Note [2]: books include
      • P. B. Randolph: 'Pre-Adamite Man' (1863, written under the name of Griffin Lee)
      • Edward Bulwer-Lytton: novel 'The Coming Race' (novel, 1871)
      • Helena Blavatsky: 'Isis Unveiled' (1877) and 'Secret Doctrine' (1888)
      • C. G. Harrison: 'The Transcendental Universe' (1894)
  • To position in a historical context: spiritism (initiative or campaign) in the 19th century
    • The above fits into a timeframe where certain occult brotherhoods tried to bring into the Western culture certain beliefs through spiritism seances. There was a period when the greatest scientists of the age where concerned witnessing and investigating this, a.o. Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir Joseph Thompson, Lord Rayleigh, Michael Faraday. See eg the paper 'Michael Faraday's Researches in Spiritualism' in Further reading section below).
    • Rudolf Steiner described and exposed this extensively decades later. It appears this was part of a strategy to try and get general adoption and belief through support by famous scientists. In hindsight, one can see this as another tentative to de-rail from true spiritual science by established forces, as the age of Michael (1879) and the end of the dark age or Kali Yuga (1899) was approaching. The side-tracking of the theosophical movement was another such effort (influences on Blavatsky as a person and her writings, the Krishnamurti story, etc).
    • Nevertheless, one could imagine that certain souls were incarnating as part of this wave who were 'ahead of the curve' in terms of the maturity of culture as a whole. Rudolf Steiner describes many examples of how certain souls had correct intuitions about reality, but were unable to take the step from the materialistic culture to a spiritual scientific framework. Examples o.a. Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) or Hermann Grimm.
  • see also: Scientific research into the etheric formative forces

Topics on future etheric technology

Introduction - the third force

In his 1871 novel 'The Coming Race', Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803–1873) described the vital power called 'Vril'. Steiner confirmed this Vril to be the vital force that makes plants grow, and the same as what was known in the Atlantean culture as 'Tao' (see GA092 and GA093 references)

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (see Secret Doctrine reference below) stated that Keely tried to use this Vril power, known by the Atlantean cultures.

And in the Q&A of GA130 Rudolf Steiner makes reference to a third and as yet unknown force besides, to be discovered by science in the future.

This leads to speculations regarding this third force as the etheric force previously called Vril/Tao in the Atlantean culture, and how Steiner's hints relate to this.

Case 1 - Moral machine technology (RS hint 1)

Rudolf Steiner gave hints of a future technology that will be related to the level of morality of the person that will control the machine by individual powers. He made reference to Keely and his engine. We can call this 'moral machine technology': only people with certain moral qualities will be able to use these machines. (1906-01-02-GA093, 1906-02-12-GA097, 1916-12-18-GA173A). In summary these statements say:

  • "people will make use of the delicate vibrations in their etheric bodies as a driving force with which to run machines: people will transfer their own vibrations to the machines and those will be dependent on the human being"
  • "the future will have engines (that use the life force that makes the plant grow) and that are only set going by energies/vibrations coming from people, these vibrations depend an a person's moral nature. Keely's engine would only work when he himself was present, as the driving force to put the machine in motion originated in his soul."

Case 2 - Sensitive flames research (RS hint 2)

In another lecture, Rudolf Steiner linked the principle of the above to 'sensitive flames' (1916-11-12-GA172). The term used by Tyndall and Barrett in research papers in the period 1867-1877. However, 40 years before, clear hints were given by Helena Blavatsky in Isis Unveiled already in 1877.

Eugen Schiller took up this research in lab experiments based on Steiner's guidance (see reference below).

Morality and human breath and speech

The human exhalation is an etheric process (1924-09-14-GA318) and the astral and etheric components of the fine breathing process are very dependant to Man's morality or moral qualities and consitution (1915-01-03-GA275). The organs of speech exercise formative processes on the exhaled air in the activity of speech which is a process by the human 'I' which lives in the warmth body.

Case 3 - Strader machine (RS hint 3)

Dr. Strader is a character in Rudolf Steiner's Mystery Plays. For the scenery of those plays, Steiner made drawings of devices to be put on stage. The so-called Strader apparatus was the main device, but it was accompanied by three other smaller and equally enigmatic devices.

Steiner also gave very technical and detailed specifications for the design of the device called a 'Strader machine' to Oskar Schmiedel (who built them in the period 1912-13). The machine is clearly a prototype for a future force and technology, yet to be discovered. It's design is intriguing and unlike any machine currently known.

Hence it has been the subject of both study and speculations, for an overview see the 1991 addendum to the GA, and the Christoph Podak document (both in PDF in the reference section below).

Several people have done research into both Keely's engine and/or Strader machine, eg. Paul Emberson or Dale Pond.


Schema FMC00.295 shows illustrations of experiments by Barrett and Schiller


Lecture coverage and references


Here is a sequence to read the excerpts below:

  • First, 1906-01-02-GA093 and 1906-02-12-GA097 already link future new technology to the morality of a person.
  • 1916-11-12-GA172 then links this new technology and machines that are moral and not just objective, to sensitive flames. It makes the link explicit, already offered as a hint in 1916-10-30-GA171.
  • Now what is covered here also appears in other contexts, eg 1917-02-27-GA175 and especially 1924-04-26-GA353 describe the practices in alchemy or magic to use Man's personal powers to influence matter through will, feelings and voice - again with reference to sensitive smoke and flames.
  • The piece that coins the above together is contained in 1915-01-03-GA275 which explains how the moral is contained in the breath, not as physical but as etheric and astral.

For reference, Rudolf Steiner spoke of John Worrell Keely (1827 - 1898) on several occasions, a.o.

  • 1905-03-30-GA053
  • 1906-01-02-GA093
  • 1906-02-12-GA097 (see extract below)
  • 1916-06-20-GA169 (see extract below)
  • 1920-11-08-GA197

Source reference extracts

Some sources state that the discovery goes back to 1857 and Joseph Le Conte (with references to Govi, Tyndall, Barry and Geyer in the years that follow). Sensitive flames were noticed because they reacted to acoustic variations. These gas flames changed their shape according to the sorts of sounds and music that they were subjected to. Sensitive flames fall into a special category of reactive agents like Kundt’s dust figures and Cholodni’s watery acoustic images.

Tyndall and Barrett (1867 and 1874)

William Barrett was assistant to John Tyndall (Professor of Natural Philosophy) at the Royal Institution in the mid 1860s and became fascinated by flames. as he noticed that high-pitched sounds seemed to have a peculiar effect on gas flames.

Barrett wrote as follows in an 1867 paper on “sensitive flames” (see references below)

“At the sound of any shrill note, the flame shrank down several inches, at the same time spreading out sideways into a flat flame” [see picture from Barrett’s paper below]. It made Barrett think of “a sensitive nervous person uneasily starting and twitching at every little noise.”

In 1874 several publications by Barrett on 'sensitive flames' appeared in the journal Popular Science (New York) and Nature (London), see references below:

(1)  Letters to Editor, Nature (03 December 1874) - Sounding and Sensitive Flames by A. S. HERSCHEL  (Abstract)

In a letter which I have just received from Dr. A. K. Irvine, of Glasgow, my attention is drawn to a short abstract of some of his experiments with Barry's sensitive flame, which appeared in the English Mechanic of Dec. 15, 1871, a few months previously to the appearance in the Journal of the Franklin Institute, and in the American Journal of Science, of the description, referred to briefly in my last letter (NATURE, vol. xi. pp. 6 to 8), of Mr. Geyer's researches on the acoustic properties of the same flame, some particulars of which Dr. Irvine appears also to have noticed independently. The few lines in which his observations are recorded corroborate so fully the character and mode of action of the flame as now pretty perfectly established, that a short extract from them will scarcely be without interest, from the satisfactory support which it offers to the accounts and explanations that other investigators of this flame have elsewhere given ii graphic terms of its appearance.

(2)  Letters to Editor, Nature 11, 45-47 19 November 1874) Sounding and Sensitive Flames, II (Abstract)

Another example of a highly sensitive flame was recently described to me which seems to show that air-currents flowing through gauze at a proper speed are sensitive without the intervention or simultaneous superaddition of a flame. A special kind of Bunsen burner was made with a spiral mixing tube coiled in an inverted cup, at the centre of which is a small chamber covered with wire-gauze at the foot of a short tube or flame-pipe. The gas is admitted by a single jet passing through a cap of wire-gauze covering the conical opening of the spiral tube, the object of this cap of gauze being to distribute the air in its approach, and to protect the gas-jet from ignition. The gas-flame burns with a small bright green cone, surmounted by a larger envelope of pale reddish flame, and it is intensely hot. The green cone indicates combustion of the most complete explosive mixture of air and coal-gas, and when the burner is properly adjusted it can only burn on the top of the flame-tube, where it finds the additional required supply of oxygen; but it descends to the wire-gauze at the foot of the tube if the air-supply exceeds, or the gas supply falls short of the right proportion. In some of these burners the slightest noise of the kind that commonly affects sensitive flames causes the cone of green flame to retreat into the tube and settle on the wire-gauze at its foot, whence it rises again immediately to the top of the tube, when the sound ceases. The explanation seems to be that the air-current entering the mixing-tube through the outer gauze cap is in a sensitive condition, and that when thrown into disturbance by the external sounds, it is more quickly seized and is drawn into the mixing tube more rapidly by the gas-jet than when it is flowing over the jet in a tranquil state. The inventor of these burners, Mr. Wallace, assures me that some of them exhibit the most sensitive of sensitive flames, and that he has more than once thought of sending one of them as a most singularly effective illustration of such flames to Prof. Tyndall.

Blavatsky - Isis Unveiled

In Isis Unveiled, there are 65 references to the 'great physicist' Tyndall, who worked on the border of (physical/materialistic) mineral science and spiritual science. Below follow two quotes which show just how much is given away. This is also the reason why Rudolf Steiner could afterwards give these hints, as the information had already been made publicly available to the world.

In Chapter 5 (on 'the ether, or astral light'), after an introduction on one primal force and its many correlations, is the subtitle 'Tyndall narrowly escapes a great discovery'. This gives away that Tyndall was on to something big, a very important breakthrough discovery.

In the text, the below extract follows after coverage of the telephone for distance communication. (SWCC, Shortened for readibility Without Change to Content)

quote A:

.. in the presence of such wonderful discoveries of our age, and the further magical possibilities lying latent and yet undiscovered in the boundless realm of nature, and further, in view of the great probability that Edison's force and Professor Graham Bell's telephone may unsettle, if not utterly upset all our ideas of the imponderable fluids, would it not be well for such persons as may be tempted to traverse our statements, to wait and see whether they will be corroborated or refuted by further discoveries.

.. in connection with these discoveries, we may .. remind our readers of the many hints to be found in the ancient histories as to a certain secret in the possession of the Egyptian priesthood, who could instantly communicate, during the celebration of the Mysteries, from one temple to another, even though the former were at Thebes and the latter at the other end of the country; the legends attributing it, as a matter of course, to the "invisible tribes" of the air, which carry messages for mortals. The author of 'Pre-Adamite Man' [P. B. Randolph] quotes an instance .. He found good evidence, he says, during his stay in Egypt, that "one of the Cleopatras sent news by a wire to all the cities, from Heliopolis to Elephantine, on the Upper Nile."

It is not so long since Professor Tyndall ushered us into a new world, peopled with airy shapes of the most ravishing beauty.

He writes: "The discovery consists in subjecting the vapors of volatile liquids to the action of concentrated sun-light, or to the concentrated beam of the electric light."

The vapors of certain nitrites, iodides, and acids are subjected to the action of the light in an experimental tube, lying horizontally, and so arranged that the axis of the tube and that of the parallel beams issuing from the lamp are coincident. The vapors form clouds of gorgeous tints, and arrange themselves into the shapes of vases, of bottles and cones, in nests of six or more; of shells, of tulips, roses, sunflowers, leaves, and of involved scrolls.

He tells us: "In one case, the cloud-bud grew rapidly into a serpent's head; a mouth was formed, and from the cloud, a cord of cloud resembling a tongue was discharged."

Finally, to cap the climax of marvels, "once it positively assumed the form of a fish, with eyes, gills, and feelers. The twoness of the animal form was displayed throughout, and no disk, coil, or speck existed on one side that did not exist on the other."

These phenomena may possibly be explained in part by the mechanical action of a beam of light, which Mr. Crookes has recently demonstrated. For instance, it is a supposable case, that the beams of light may have constituted a horizontal axis, about which the disturbed molecules of the vapors gathered into the forms of globes and spindles.

But how account for the fish, the serpent's head, the vases, the flowers of different varieties, the shells?

This seems to offer a dilemma to science as baffling as the meteor-cat of Babinet. We do not learn that Tyndall ventured as absurd an explanation of his extraordinary phenomena as that of the Frenchman about his.

Those who have not given attention to the subject may be surprised to find how much was known in former days of that all-pervading, subtile principle which has recently been baptized The Universal Ether.

quote B:

If the Abbe had been versed in Eastern philosophy, he would have found no great difficulty in comprehending both the flight of the lama’s astral body to the distant lamasery while his physical frame remained behind, or the carrying on of a conversation with the Shaberon that was inaudible to himself. The recent experiments with the telephone in America, to which allusion was made in Chapter V. of our first volume, but which have been greatly perfected since those pages went to press, prove that the human voice and the sounds of instrumental music may be conveyed along a telegraphic wire to a great distance.

The Hermetic philosophers taught, as we have seen, that the disappearance from sight of a flame does not imply its actual extinction. It has only passed from the visible to the invisible world, and may be perceived by the inner sense of vision, which is adapted to the things of that other and more real universe. The same rule applies to sound.

As the physical ear discerns the vibrations of the atmosphere up to a certain point, not yet definitely fixed, but varying with the individual, so the adept whose interior hearing has been developed can take the sound at this vanishing-point, and hear its vibrations in the astral light indefinitely. He needs no wires, helices, or sounding-boards; his will-power is all-sufficient. Hearing with the spirit, time and distance offer no impediments, and so lie may converse with another adept at the antipodes with as great ease as though they were in the same room.

Fortunately, we can produce numerous witnesses to corroborate our statement, who, without being adepts at all, have, nevertheless, heard the sound of aerial music and of the human voice, when neither instrument nor speaker were within thousands of miles of the place where we sat. In their case they actually heard interiorly, though they supposed their physical organs of hearing alone were employed. The adept had, by a simple effort of will-power, given them for the brief moment the same perception of the spirit of sound as he himself constantly enjoys.

If our men of science could only be induced to test instead of deriding the ancient philosophy of the trinity of all the natural forces, they would go by leaps toward the dazzling truth, instead of creeping, snail-like, as at present.

Prof. Tyndall’s experiments off the South Foreland, at Dover, in 1875, fairly upset all previous theories of the transmission of sound, and those he has made with sensitive flames bring him to the very threshold of arcane science. One step further, and he would comprehend how adepts can converse at great distances.

But that step will not be taken. Of his sensitive — in truth, magical — flame, he says :

The slightest tap on a distant anvil causes it to fall to seven inches. When a bunch of keys is shaken, the flame is violently agitated, and emits a loud roar. The dropping of a sixpence into a hand already containing coin, knocks the flame down. The creaking of boots sets it in violent commotion. The crumpling or tearing of a bit of paper, or the rustle of a silk dress does the same. Responsive to every tick of a watch held near it, it falls and explodes. The winding up of a watch produces tumult. From a distance of thirty yards we may chirrup to this flame, and cause it to fall and roar. Repeating a passage from the Faerie Queene, the flame sifts and selects the manifold sounds of my voice, noticing some by a slight nod, others by a deeper bow, while to others it responds by violent agitation.

Such are the wonders of modern physical science; but at what cost of apparatus, and carbonic acid and coal gas ; of American and Canadian whistles, trumpets, gongs, and bells. The poor heathen have none such impedimenta , but - will European science believe it - nevertheless, produce the very same phenomena.

Upon one occasion, when, in a case of exceptional importance, an 'oracle' was required, we saw the possibility of what we had previously vehemently denied — namely, a simple mendicant cause a sensitive flame to give responsive flashes without a particle of apparatus. A fire was kindled of branches of the Bealtree, and some sacrificial herbs were sprinkled upon it. The mendicant sat near by, motionless, absorbed in contemplation. During the intervals between the questions the fire burned low and seemed ready to go out, but when the interrogatories were propounded, the flames leaped, roaring, skyward, flickered, bowed, and sent fiery tongues flaring toward the east, west, north, or south ; each motion having its distinct meaning in a code of signals well understood. Between whiles it would sink to the ground, and the tongues of flame would lick the sod in every direction, and suddenly disappear, leaving only a bed of glowing embers.

When the interview with the flame-spirits was at an end, the Bikshu (mendicant) turned toward the jungle where he abode, keeping up a wailing, monotonous chant, to the rhythm of which the sensitive flame kept time, not merely like Prof. Tyndall’s, when he read the Faerie Queene by simple motions, but by a marvellous modulation of hissing and roaring until he was out of sight. Then, as if its very life were extinguished, it vanished, and left a bed of ashes before the astonished spectators.

Quote C describes how Tyndall, who put forth a theory of a so-called 'fire-mist', was just confronted with clear facts but lacked further spiritual intuition, so was expression things in the material science of the day (SWCC)

One of the cleverest productions of Professor Tyndall's pen is his caustic essay upon 'Martineau and Materialism'. ...

He quotes this question from Mr. Martineau:

"A man can say 'I feel, I think, I love'; but how does consciousness infuse itself into the problem?"

And thus answers:

"The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought and a molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not possess the intellectual organ nor apparently any rudiments of the organ, which would enable us to pass by a process of reasoning from one to the other. They appear together, but we do not know why.

Were our minds and senses so expanded, strengthened and illuminated, as to enable us to see and feel the very molecules of the brain; were we capable of following all their motions, all their groupings, all their electric discharges, if such there be; and were we intimately acquainted with the corresponding states of thought and feeling, we should be as far as ever from the solution of the problem, 'How are these physical processes connected with the facts of consciousness?' The chasm between the two classes of phenomena would still remain intellectually impassable."

This chasm, as impassable to Professor Tyndall as the fire-mist where the scientist is confronted with his unknowable cause, is a barrier only to men without spiritual intuitions.

Quote D


There is also an interesting phrase after quoting from 'The Antiquity of Magic' by Vaughan, Thomas (1622-1666), published as 'Magia Adamica' under the name of Eugenius Philalethes

We .. turn to the 'Magia Adamica' of Eugenius Philalethes (1650) .. and find him quoting from Trismegistus in the following terms:

"Hermes affirmeth that in the Beginning the earth was a quackmire or quivering kind of jelly, it being nothing else but water congealed by the incubation and heat of the divine spirit; cum adhuc (sayeth he) Terra tremula esset, Lucente sole compacta est."

In the same work Philalethes, speaking in his quaint, symbolical way, says,

"The earth is invisible . . . on my soul it is so, and which is more, the eye of man never saw the earth, nor can it be seen without art. To make this element invisible, is the greatest secret in magic . . . as for this faeculent, gross body upon which we walk, it is a compost, and no earth but it hath earth in it, . . . in a word all the elements are visible but one, namely the earth, and when thou hast attained to so much perfection as to know why God hath placed the earth in abscondito, thou hast an excellent figure whereby to know God Himself, and how He is visible, how invisible."

Ages before our savants of the nineteenth century .. a wise man of the Orient thus expressed himself, in addressing the invisible Deity:

"For thy Almighty Hand, that made the world of formless matter."‡

followed by the comment:

There is much more contained in this language than we are willing to explain, but we will say that the secret is worth the seeking; perhaps in this formless matter, the fire-Adamite earth, is contained a 'potency' with which Messrs. Tyndall and Huxley would be glad to acquaint themselves.

For origin and comments on the quotes, see the book Isis Unveiled.

What is described here is that what we perceive as solid Earth is a rendered illusion for our contemporary sensory waking consciousness, also called 'maya' (see also the topic page Cosmic fractal). The description of the Early stages of Earth can also be found as described by Rudolf Steiner as the etheric Earth, followed by the fluid jelly Earth. What lies underneath the current solid mineral Earth are elemental beings and etheric formative forces, see also Schema FMC00.142 and variants on Overview Golden Chain. What is holding it all together is described on: The two etheric streams

Helena Blavatsky in 'The Secret Doctrine vol. 1.'

also discusses Keely.

The following extract comes from Georg Unger's lecture (of 1963, see Further reading section below) who covers this passage with comments included here.

In the chapter called “The Coming Power,” after a vague assertion that sound is a terrible occult force, we find the following (p. 606) [quotations and page-numbers are from the third revised edition of 1893]:

And if all this appears too unscientific to be even noticed, let Science explain to what mechanical end physical laws, known to it, are due the recently produced phenomena of the so-called Keely motor. What is it that acts as the formidable generator of invisible but tremendous force, of that power which is not only capable of driving an engine of 25 horse-power, but has even been employed to bodily lift the machinery? Yet this is done simply by drawing a fiddle bow across a tuning fork, as has been repeatedly proven. For the Etheric Force, discovered by John Worrell Keely, of Philadelphia, well-known in America and Europe, is no hallucination. Notwithstanding his failure to utilize it — a failure prognosticated and maintained by some Occultists from the first — the phenomena exhibited by the discoverer during the last few years have been wonderful, almost miraculous, not in the sense of the supernatural but of the superhuman. Had Keely been permitted to succeed, he might have reduced a whole army to atoms in the space of a few seconds, as easily as he reduced a dead ox to that condition.

On the next page:

In the humble opinion of the Occultists, as of his immediate friends, Mr. Keely was, and still is, at the threshold of some of the greatest secrets of the Universe; of that chiefly on which is built the whole mystery of physical Forces ...

The rest of the chapter consists mainly of long quotations from the writings of Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore. A theosophical discussion is followed by the remark that although Keely's opinions are considered “unscientific,” they are “quite orthodox from the spiritual and occult point of view.” Then comes a revealing passage (p. 609):

Occult Philosophy divulges few of its most important vital mysteries. It drops them like precious pearls, one by one, far and wide apart, and even this only when forced to do so by the evolutionary tidal wave that carries on Humanity slowly, silently, but steadily, toward the dawn of the Sixth Race mankind. For once out of the safe custody of their legitimate heirs and keepers, those mysteries cease to be Occult: they fall into the public domain, and have to run the risk of becoming curses more open than blessings in the hands of the selfish — of the Cains of the human race. Nevertheless, whenever such individuals as the discoverer of Etheric Force are bone, men with peculiar psychic and mental capacities, they are generally and more frequently helped, than allowed to go unassisted, groping on their way; if left to their own resources, they very soon fall victims to martyrdom or become the prey of unscrupulous speculators. But they are helped only on the condition that they should not become, whether consciously or unconsciously, an additional peril to their age: a danger to the poor, now offered in daily holocaust by the less wealthy to the very wealthy.

A footnote to this passage is not without interest because of the analogy it suggests with the fate of Strader:

The above was written in 1886, at a time when hopes of success for the “Keely Motor” were at their highest. Every word then said by the writer proved true, and now only a few remarks are added with regard to the failure of Mr. Keely's expectations, so far, a failure now admitted by the discoverer himself. Though, however, the word failure is here used, the reader should understand it in a relative sense, for, as Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore explains: “What Mr. Keely does admit is that, baffled in applying vibratory force to mechanics, upon his first and second lines of experimental research, he was obliged either to confess a commercial failure, or to try a third departure from his base or principle, seeking success through another channel.” And this “channel” is on the physical plane.

Blavatsky then repeats her own remarks at the Philadelphia centenary exhibition, when she had said that it was beyond Keely's power to contribute anything that lay outside “the capacities inherent in his own particular make-up.” After further praising him highly, she continues (p. 611):

It is just because Keely's discovery would lead to a knowledge of one of the most Occult secrets, a secret which can never be allowed to fall into the hands of the masses, that his failure to push his discoveries to their logical end seems certain to Occultists. But of this more presently. Even in its limitation this discovery may prove of the greatest benefit.

After quoting some further extravagant assertions by Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore, Blavatsky continues:

The Occultists are ready to admit all this with the eloquent writer. Molecular vibration is, undeniably, “Keely's legitimate field of research,” and the discoveries made by him will prove wonderful yet only in his hands and through himself. The world so far will get but that with which it can be safely entrusted. The truth of this assertion has, perhaps, not yet quite dawned upon the discoverer himself, since he writes that he is absolutely certain that he will accomplish all that he has promised, and that he will then give it out to the world; but it must dawn upon him, and at no very far distant date.

In dealing with the question why Keely was not allowed to cross a certain frontier, Blavatsky returns to this theme (p. 614):

It was because that, which he has unconsciously discovered, is the terrible sidereal Force,

  • known to, and named by the Atlanteans Mash-mak,
  • and by the Aryan Rishis in their Astra Vidyâ by a name that we do not like to give.
  • It is the Vril of Bulwer Lytton's Coming Race, and of the coming races of our mankind.

The name Vril may be a fiction; the force itself is a fact, as little doubted in India as is the existence of the Rishis, since it is mentioned in all the secret books.

Then comes a vision of the future, terrifying because of its unnoticed warning of the atomic bomb, although this, after all, has no direct connection with Keely's discovery:

It is this vibratory force. which, when aimed at an army from an Agni-ratha, fixed on a flying vessel, a balloon, according to the instructions found in Astra Vidyâ would reduce to ashes 100,000 men and elephants, as easily as it would a dead rat. It is allegorized in the Vishnu Puranâ, in the Râmâyana and other works, in the fable about the sage Kapila whose “glance made a mountain of ashes of King Sagara's 60,000 sons,” and which is explained in the Esoteric Works, and referred to as the Kapilâksha — Kapila's Eye.

In the rest of this chapter there is nothing new.

If the passages quoted are brought together and considered symptomatically, in the sense recommended by Rudolf Steiner in such cases, the impression is confirmed that Blavatsky at least suspected the presence of occult purposes behind Keely's activities.

The tone of the account bears the hallmark of the “conservative” or “right wing” section of the occult movement. It was here, according to Rudolf Steiner, that a feeling of responsibility prevailed towards the revealing of occult truths; while the “left wing” consisted of occultists who for various reasons of their own were in favour of the widest possible publicity.

One gets the impression that Blavatsky either is not allowed to say, or does not wish to say, or perhaps has no knowledge of, anything very definite; but through her words glimmers the fact that Keely's results were not permitted to lead to a premature disclosure of certain capacities.

C. G. Harrison: 'The Transcendental Universe' (1894)

after discussion the effects of prayer:

Is it so unscientific to think that where the wishes of a whole community are concentrated on a certain object, they may perhaps set free forces which are not without influence on the magnetism of the Earth? .. through vibratory coincidence.

In a footnote the author adds:

If Keely's ‘motor’ should ever become an accomplished fact, who can say what wonderful results the application of the law of vibratory coincidence might not have in the future?”

Before the above passage, Harrison drops a veiled hint. Owing to the connection which he claims to exist between rain, atmospheric moisture and earth-magnetism, the following remark is made:

“What after all is magnetism? It is a form of energy. But will-power is also a form of energy. Are our scientists concerned to prove that between these two forms of energy there is no such common factor, as is agreed exists between magnetism and other forms of energy such as warmth, electricity, etc?

Rudolf Steiner


Die Chinesen sind ein Rest der atlantischen Rasse der Mongolen. Wenn wir bei den Chinesen das Wort TAO hören, so ist das für uns etwas schwer Verständliches. Die damaligen Mongolen hatten einen Monotheismus ausgebildet, der bis zur psychischen Greifbarkeit, bis zum Fühlen des Geistigen ging, und wenn der alte Chinese, der alte Mongole, das Wort TAO aussprach, so fühlte er das beim Aussprechen. TAO ist nicht «der Weg», wie das gewöhnlich übersetzt wird, es ist die Grundkraft, durch die der Atlantier noch die Pflanzen verwandeln konnte, durch die er seine merkwürdigen Luftschiffe in Bewegung setzen konnte. Diese Grundkraft, die man auch «Vril» nennt, hat der Atlantier überall genutzt, und er nannte sie seinen Gott. Er fühlte diese Kraft in sich, sie war ihm «der Weg und das Ziel»."

internet translation

The Chinese are a remnant of the Atlantean race of Mongols. When we hear the word TAO among the Chinese, it is something difficult for us to understand. The Mongols of that time had developed a monotheism that went as far as psychic tangibility, as far as feeling the spiritual, and when the old Chinese, the old Mongol, pronounced the word TAO, he felt it when he pronounced it. TAO is not "the way", as it is usually translated, it is the basic force by which the Atlantean could still transform the plants, by which he could set his strange airships in motion. This basic power, which is also called "Vril", the Atlantian used everywhere, and he called it his God. He felt this power in himself, it was "the way and the goal" for him.


quote A

What is today called socialism exists only as an abortive and impossible experiment, as a final, I may say desperate, struggle in a receding wave of humanity's [development]. It cannot bring about any really positive result. What it sets out to achieve, can only be achieved through living activity; the pillar of strength is not enough. Socialism can no longer be controlled with inanimate forces. The ideas of the French Revolution — liberty, equality, fraternity were the last ideas to flow out of the inanimate. Everything that still runs on that track is fruitless and doomed to die. For the great evil existing in the world today, the dreadful misery that expresses itself with such frightful force, that is called the social question, can no longer be controlled by the inanimate. A Royal Art is needed for that; and it is this Royal Art which was inaugurated in the symbol of the Holy Grail.

Through this Royal Art, Man must acquire control of something similar to the force which sprouts in the plant, the same force that the occultist uses when he accelerates the growth of a plant in front of him. In a similar way, a part of this force must be used for social salvation. This power, which is described by those who know something of the Rosicrucian mysteries — as for example did Bulwer Lytton in his futuristic novel Vril, is at present still in an elementary, germinal, stage.

In the Freemasonry of the future, it will be the real content of the higher degrees. The Royal Art will in the future be a social art.

[nothing is lost across CoF and CoL]

Again, I have to tell you something which will seem fantastic to the uninitiated, on account, I may say, of the comprehensive, all-embracing range of the idea. What man prints as a form deriving from his soul on the matter of this Earth Round is eternal, it will not pass away. Even though the matter thus given form outwardly decays, what the Royal Art has given form to, in pyramids, temples and churches, is imperishable. What the human spirit has given shape to, in matter, will remain present in the world as a continuing force. That is completely clear to those who are initiated in such matters. Cologne's Gothic cathedral will, for example, pass away; but it is of far reaching significance that the atoms were once in this form. This form itself is the imperishable thing that will henceforth participate in the ongoing evolutionary process of humanity, just as the living force that is in the plant participates in the evolution of Nature! The painter, who paints a picture today, who prints dead matter with his soul's blood, is also creating something which will sooner or later be disposed in thousands of atoms. What has imperishable and continuing value, what is eternal, is that he has created, that something from his soul has flowed into matter.

quote B

What is expressed by the Tau is a driving force which can only be set in motion by the power of selfless love. It will be possible to use this power to drive machines, which will, however, cease to function if egoistical people make use of them.

It is perhaps known to you that Keely invented a motor which would only go if he himself were present. He was not deceiving people about this; for he had in him that driving force originating in the soul, which can set machines in motion. A driving force which can only be moral, that is the idea of the future; a most important force, with which culture must be inoculated, if it is not to fall back on itself. The mechanical and the moral must interpenetrate each other, because the mechanical is nothing without the moral. Today we stand hard on this frontier.

In the future machines will be driven not only by water and steam, but by spiritual force, by spiritual morality. This power is symbolised by the Tau sign and was indeed poetically symbolised by the image of the Holy Grail. Man is no longer merely dependent on what Nature will freely give him to use; he can shape and transform Nature, he has become the master craftsman of the inanimate. In the same way he will become the master craftsman of what is living.

quote C: on triangle of hexagram It is worth studying the notes about this lecture at the end of the German volume. The stenographic notes by Seiler include comments on the drawing made of a hexagram (appearing in the six different source texts for this lecture on which the GA version of the lecture text is based), but only on one triangle is commented:

With the form of the triangle, the occultist in the middle ages expressed the symbol of the Grail, the symbol for 'the awakening of mastery in/of the Living'

The sixth source text for the lecture contains yet another phrase, relating to the above (and both probably reflections of what was said by Rudolf Steiner):

This form of the triangle is the divine symbol of the Holy Grail and also the symbol of 'the awakening of mastery in the Living'. This is the Christ force, described as Vril in Zanoni's book. It is currenly in an elementary seed-state, and she will be what the royal art of the future will have as true content for the high grade. Man has to achieve/gain it all by himself, without asking too many questions.

The two phrases above are not clear, but source text 1906-01-02-06-01 (PDF download here of DE original for reference: 1906-01-02-06-01) sheds light on this as it provides a more extensive explanation then what was published by the GA.

Freely translated, it says that

The forces that can be found in the living, and also in the force of thought in Man, are represented by a symbol.

Both in as far as it is expressed in the Gods and their influences (triangle down), and in its expression in human nature as a striving to rise to the Gods (triangle up), and the union of both is the symbol of the Holy Grail (hexagram).

The triangle represents the force that has to develop or be awakened in every individual human being, a pilgrimage expressed through the figure of Parsifal.

See also the Schemas on The two etheric streams, such as FMC00.324, FMC00.088, FMC00.051.

Further notes are on the Tau-sign, described as a cross with the mineral kingdom ommitted.


Today we have come down to the physical level in every respect. If there is no moral development to go hand in hand with civilization at the physical level, physical achievements are destructive.

[Moral machine technology (Keely)]

Moral development will enable humanity to generate energies that will be very different from those that are now to be found at the physical level. Keely set his engine in motion with vibrations created in his own organism. Such vibrations depend an a person's moral nature. This is the first hint of a dawn for a technology of the future. We will have engines in the future that are only set going by energies coming from people who have moral qualities.

Immoral people will not be able to set them going. Purely mechanical mechanism must be transformed into moral mechanism.


for full lecture, see: Group souls of humanity#1907-12-27-GA101

[Future mastery of the laws of the etheric]

Even when it comes to plants, Man rightly says that he cannot understand life itself with his intellect. The time will come when Man will understand plants in the same way he understands minerals today; then he will also be able to construct the plant as he constructs his cathedrals and houses and his machines according to the laws of the mineral kingdom today. They are all laws of the mineral kingdom that permeate the I. Science is waiting for its ideal of producing living beings in the laboratory to be fulfilled. It will not be able to do this unless mankind has reached a certain necessary level of moral development. It would be terrible if mankind were able to do this today. Just as a watch is made today according to mineral laws, as a house is built, so in the future Man will create living things according to the laws of life. But then he will have to be able to imprint life itself on the living. Anyone who will then be standing at the laboratory table will have to be able to transfer those - let's call it: vibrations that are in his own etheric body - to what is to be enlivened. If he is a good Man, he transmits the good; if he is a bad person, he transmits the bad.

But there is a sentence in occultism: the knowledge of the White Lodge, which is called the secret of life-generation, is not handed over to mankind before Man has learned the secret of sacramentalism. 'Sacramentalism' is an expression of the fact that human action must be imbued with moral perfection, with holiness.

Only when the laboratory table where he carries out his work becomes an altar for man and his action sacred will he then be ready for this knowledge to be handed over to him. Think of the people of today with all their materialism - how far is their laboratory table from an altar today!


is called 'Future Jupiter and its beings'

Now our question concerning the beings who will reach the human level on Jupiter is connected in very truth with the deepest questions of man's Earth evolution.

There is something in our Earth evolution that has always been a philosophical problem, namely the relation between man's moral behaviour and his natural existence.

As an earthly being, man has to decide to what extent he is the kind of being who is ruled by his instincts, has to obey and satisfy them, and is at the mercy of his instincts and their satisfaction, because the laws of nature simply insist on their being satisfied. That is one side of human nature. In this respect we say, ‘We do these things because we have to. We have to eat and we have to sleep.’ But there is another realm of human conduct on this earth, a realm in which we cannot say ‘must’, for it would lose its whole significance if we were to say ‘must’ here. This is the wide realm of ‘shall’, a realm where we feel that we have to follow a purely spiritual impulse as distinct from instinct and everything arising out of ourselves on a natural level. ‘You shall’ never speaks to us from out of our instincts but directs us in a purely spiritual way. ‘You shall’ comprises the realm of our moral obligations.

There are some philosophers who cannot find any connection between what is implied by the ‘you shall’ and ‘you must’.

And our present age that is almost bogged down in materialism, especially where moral life is concerned, and will get more and more bogged down, would like to turn all the ‘you shalls’ into ‘you musts’. We are heading for times where, in this respect, the turning of ‘you shall’ into ‘you must’ will be blazoned forth with a certain amount of pride, and actually called psychology. Terrible aspects present themselves if we look at what has begun to develop in the field of criminal psychology. It is already evident that the human being is being conceived of in such a way that people do not ask whether he has overstepped a ‘you shall’, but try to prove that he was driven to one or another destructive act out of the necessity of his nature. Strange experiments are on the increase to define crime merely as a particular case of illness. All these things arise out of a certain materialistic lack of clarity in our times, regarding the relation of ‘you shall’ to ‘you must’.

What does this ‘you shall’, or in other words the categorical imperative, actually signify within the whole framework of human existence? Whoever obeys the ‘you shall’ is known to carry out a moral action. Whoever does not obey the ‘you shall’ commits an immoral action. This is of course a trivial truth. But now let us attempt to look at ‘moral’ and ‘immoral’, not only with regard to the external maya of the physical plane, but with regard to the truth and what is actually behind physical maya.

Here the moral element corresponding to the ‘you shall’ appears to initiation science as something that hits you in the eye, spiritually, to put it rather crudely. If you look at a person — these truths which the materialistic outlook detests have to be told sometime — if you look at someone in certain temperature and weather conditions — you see this even better in horses, but we are not speaking about horses now — you will see him breathing out, and the breath becoming visible as vapour in the air. Obviously as far as materialistic science is concerned, this breath a person exhales, disperses and dissolves and has no further significance.

But it has significance for a person who follows up the phenomena of life with initiation science, for he sees in the patterns of the breath the exact traces of the moral or immoral conduct of the person. A person's moral or immoral behaviour can be seen in the steamy breath, and the breath of a person who is morally inclined is quite different from the breath of a person who is inclined to immorality. You know, with regard to various things in the human being, the more delicate qualities can only be seen in the more delicate parts of the etheric and astral aura.

Man's moral and immoral nature (in the ordinary sense of the word) is actually visible in the etheric-astral content of the steamy breath. The physical part of it dissolves. But what is incorporated in it does not dissolve; for it contains a genie, which, in the case of steamy breath, has a physical, an etheric and an astral part, only the physical is not earthly, just watery. Something that has an extremely differentiated form can be seen in this breath.

Deeds which arise out of love show something quite different from deeds which are done out of enthusiasm, a creative urge or the urge for perfection, for instance. But in every case the form in the breath reminds one of beings that do not exist on earth at all as yet. These beings are a preparation for the ones that will reach their human stage on Jupiter. Their forms are very changeable and will pass through further changes in the future, for these beings are the first advance shadow images of the beings who will reach the human level on Jupiter.

In a certain way we also owe our existence to the exhalation of the Angels on Old Moon, and it is one of the moving experiences of spiritual life to know that Future Jupiter human beings of the future will evolve out of what we breathe out in present ages. If we turn to the Bible with such knowledge in mind, and read the opening words, we can tell ourselves, ‘Now we begin to understand what is meant when it says that the Elohim formed earthly man by breathing into him.’

I will confess that I would never have understood the part about the Elohim breathing the living being of man into his mouth and nose, if I had not known beforehand that the breath of earthly human beings also contains the first germinal beginnings of the beings who will become human on Jupiter. But Future Jupiter human beings can only arise from the kind of breath that owes its existence to deeds that obey the ‘you shall’, and which are therefore moral actions.

Thus we see that through our earthly morality we take a creative part in the whole cosmic order. It is indeed a creative power, and we can see that spiritual science gives us a strong impulse for moral action by telling us that we are working against the creation of Future Jupiter human beings, if we do not act in a moral way on earth. This gives morality a very real value and makes its existence worthwhile. Our human conduct is very strongly formed by what we acquire through spiritual science, especially as we become acquainted with real secrets regarding the cosmos.

I have already made references to similar things and mentioned at various times that language also symbolises man's own future creativity. I do not wish to dwell on this today though, but just wanted to show you, to begin with, what significance moral behaviour has in the whole of the cosmos.


.. the other pillar, the Boaz pillar, also finds historical expression in our age. It too represents one-sidedness. We find it in the exclusive search for the spiritual in the outer world. Some years ago, this phenomenon appeared in America with the emergence of the polar opposite to Tolstoy, namely, Keely. Keely harbored the ideal of building a motor that would not run on steam or electricity, but on the waves we create when we make sounds, when we speak. Just imagine that! A motor that runs on the waves we set in motion when we speak, or indeed with our inner life in general. Of course, this was only an ideal, and we can thank God it was just an ideal at that time, for what would this war be like if Keely's ideal had been realized? If it is ever realized, then we will see what the harmony of vibrations in external motor power really means. This, then, is the other one-sidedness, the Boaz pillar. It is between these two pillars we must pass through. There is much, indeed very much, contained in symbols that have been preserved. Our age is called upon to understand these things, to penetrate them. Someday people will perceive the contrast between all true spirituality and what will come from the West if the Keely motor ever becomes a reality. It will be quite a different contrast from the one between Tolstoy's views and what is approaching from the East. Well, we cannot say more about this.

and again from 1916-06-20-GA169 quote taken from GA265 (p368, 2007 edition)

Keely, whose ideal it was to construct a motor that was not powered by steam or electricity, but by the force that human beings engender in sound waves of their voice and speech. Consider an engine that is so constructed that it can be set in motion by vibrations a person produces by speaking or by soul activity in general. ... when vibrations synchronize to produce outward mechanical energy


Speaking spells into fumingations the column of smoke took on certain shapes spiritual beings were able to enter.

Re John Tyndall experiments


Certain people now already see how smoke that unfolds becomes sensitive, and images sound, just as flames themselves image sound; here lies the beginning of a new knowledge


Thus, everything will be excluded that has no relation to human nature, and by this it will be possible to bring about something quite definite. Just imagine what a truly good person who has reached an especially high level of morality will in future be able to do. He will construct machines with signals that can be governed only by individuals like himself. Evil minded people will produce quite different vibrations when they make these signals, and the machine will not respond.

People already have a faint inkling of this. It is not without purpose that I have called your attention to certain individuals who study flames dancing under the influence of definite tones. Further research in this direction will reveal the way to what I have just indicated. We might, indeed, say that it is the path back to those times when an alchemist who only wished to stuff money into his pocket could accomplish nothing, whereas another, who wished only to set up a sacrament for the glory of the gods and the welfare of humanity, would be successful.

In a sense, so long as what arose from human work bore the aura of the emotions and joys that men transferred into it, it was not accessible to the kind of influence that I have just described. But to the extent that the products of vocational labor can no longer be produced with special and absolutely necessary enthusiasm, what thus flows away from men and streams forth from them can become a motor force. The truth is that through the fact that individuals can no longer unite their emotions with the world of machinery, they, in a way, restore to this world the purity that arises from or serves their labor.

In the future it will no longer be possible for people to bestow the warmth gained from the enthusiasm and joy derived from their work on the things produced. But these things themselves will be purer as they are put into the world by workers. They will also become more susceptible to what will emanate from, and be predetermined by, man as a motor force, as I have described.


Today machines are designed and obviously these machines are something objective; but this will not always be the case.


Mankind is now faced with having to solve certain quite specific problems. This applies, above all, to something I have already spoken about, which is connected with today's much-admired technology — a consequence of natural science — which is also much admired by spiritual science. In the comparatively near future, this much-admired modern technology will reach a final stage where it will, in a certain way, cancel itself out.

In contrast, something will come into being — I have mentioned it in passing here — which will enable people to make use of the delicate vibrations in their etheric bodies as a driving force with which to run machines. Machines will exist which are dependent on people and people will transfer their own vibrations to the machines.

People alone will be capable of setting these machines in motion by means of certain vibrations stimulated by themselves. People who today see themselves as practitioners of science will, in the not too distant future, find themselves faced with a complete transformation of what they today call the practical application of science; for the human being is to be tuned in with his will to the objective sphere of feeling in the universe.


In these mysteries there was still a consciousness of the connection of the earth with the whole universe. At that time it was customary for suitable persons to be subjected to a definite psychical process — but this could no longer be done today. They could then, during a certain number of days - in winter - be sent to certain definite localities, there to serve in a sense as receiving stations for the universe, the supra-earthly universe, and to receive what it is able to communicate to the earth at such times, if the times could provide a sufficiently receptive receiving-station.

Our present Christmas time was then not precisely the most important time, though approximately so but the exact time does not signify for the moment. Let us assume the time to be between the 24th December, and the early days of January. This season is one in which, through the special position of the sun to the earth, the universe conveys something to the earth that it does not at other times. At this season the universe speaks in a more intimate way to the earth than at other times. This is because the sun does not unfold its summer-force at this time; the summer-force has in a certain respect, withdrawn.

Now, the leaders of the ancient mysteries took advantage of that time to make it possible in certain organised places with the help of specially prepared persons, to receive the inner secrets of the universe, which came down to the earth during this intimate dialogue.

This may be compared today with something certainly much more trivial, yet the two can be compared. You know that what is known as ‘wireless telegraphy’ rests upon the fact that electric waves are set in motion, which are then further transmitted without wires, and that in certain places an instrument called a coherer is installed, which, by its peculiar arrangement makes it possible for the electric waves to be received and the coherer is then set in action. The whole thing depends entirely on the arrangement and formation of the metal filings in the coherer which are then shaken back into place when the waves have passed through it.

Now, if we assume that the secrets of the universe, of the supra-earthly universe, pass through the earth at the special time alluded to, it would be necessary to have an instrument for receiving them; for the electric waves would pass by the receiving-station to no purpose, unless the right instrument attuned to receive them were there! Such an instrument is needed to receive what comes from the universe.

The ancient Greeks used their Pythia, their priestesses for this purpose; they were trained for the purpose and were very specially sensitive to what came down from the universe, and were able to communicate its secrets. These secrets were then later on taught by those who perhaps, had long been unable themselves to act as receivers. Still the secrets of the universe were given out. This, of course, took place under the sign of the holy mysteries, a sign of which the present age, which has -no longer any feeling for what is holy, has no conception. In our age the first thing would obviously be to ‘interview’ the priests of the mysteries!

Now, what was above all demanded of these priests? It was necessary in a certain sense that they should know that if they made themselves acquainted with what streamed down from the universe for the fructification of earth-life, and especially if they used it in their social knowledge, they must be capable, having thereby become much cleverer, of establishing the principal laws and other rules for government during the coming year.


.. Once this has been grasped, other ideas will become more real than they are at present. We will not now enter into a discussion on alchemy, but remember that what the old alchemist had in view was that his conceptions should not remain mere ideas, but that they should result in something.

When he burnt incense while holding his conception in mind or giving voice to it, he tried to put sufficient force into it to compel the smoke of the incense to take on form. He sought for such ideas as have the power of affecting the external realities of nature, ideas that do not merely remain within the egoistic part of man but can intervene in the realities of nature.

Why did he do this?

Because he still had the idea that something occurred at the Mystery of Golgotha which intervened in the course of nature: that was just as real a fact to him as a fact of nature. You see upon this rests a very significant difference which began in the second half of the Middle Ages, towards our own fifth age which followed the Graeco-Latin epoch.

At the time of the crusades, in the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth, and indeed in the sixteenth century, there were some special natures, principally women, who devoted themselves so deeply to mysticism, that the inner experience resulting therefrom was felt by them as a spiritual marriage, whether with Christ or another. Many ascetic nuns celebrated mystical marriages. I will not enter into the nature of these inner mystic unions today; but something took place in their inner being which could afterwards only be expressed in words. In a sense it was something that subsisted in the ideas, feelings and also the words in which these were clothed.

In contrast to this, Valentine Andrea, as the result of certain conceptions and Spiritual connections, wrote his Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz. This chymical — or, as we should say today, chemical-marriage is also a human experience, but when you go into the matter you find that this does not only apply to a soul-experience but to something not merely expressed in words, but which grips the whole man; it is not merely put into the world as a soul experience, for it was a real occurrence, an event of nature, in which a man accomplishes something like a natural process. Valentine Andrea in The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz, meant to express something that was more permeated with reality than the merely mystical marriage of Mechthild of Magdeburg, who was a mystic.

The mystical marriage of the nuns only accomplished something for the subjective nature of man; by the chymical marriage a man gave himself to the world. Through this, something was accomplished for the whole world; just as something is accomplished for the whole world by the processes of nature. This is again to be taken in a truly Christian sense. Those who thought more real thoughts, longed for concepts through which they could better lay hold of reality, even if only in the one-sided way of the old alchemists — concepts through which they could better grasp reality, ideas in fact which were really connected with reality. The age of materialism has at present thrown a veil over such concepts; and those who today believe they think aright about reality are living in greater illusion than these despised men at the time of the old alchemists, who strove for concepts which should help them to master it.


.. today, people have no idea of the power of speech. The power of speech was enormous in earlier times, also in Egyptian times. Imagine you have a fire that produces a lot of smoke. If you blow into it you change the shape of the smoke cloud. Flowing lightly you can make it rotate. So you are able to change the shape. Just blowing will not do much. But if you start to whistle a tune, which means continuous blowing, you shape the smoke and flames according to the content of the tune. The ancients knew that matter changes if you speak into it in some way, and especially if you use particular words.

They had speices with which to embalm their mummies and they did not work with them the way we would today. They would be saying something as they did their embalming. It was something like: 'Whoever approaches my body shall suffer death'. They would ue an intonation and a choice of words that made matter obey, and this power therefore entered into the material of the spices they used in embalming. This lives in there. People cannot believe this today, but it is true. ... The material has absorbed the power of these words and still contains this in its substance.

[continues to describe the ritual of lighting incense and speaking prayers and sending thoughts into the incense smoke]

Paul-Eugen Schiller (1920s)

Paul-Eugen Schiller (1900-1992) was an anthroposophist and a physicist who worked during the 1920s as an assistant at the research laboratory in Stuttgart on tasks set by Rudolf Steiner. Later, he moved to the Goetheanum, where he established a simple physics laboratory and devoted his life to developing Steiner's indications related to electricity, earthly magnetism, heat radiation, sensitive flames, etheric formative forces, the four ethers, resonant oscillation.

Schiller was following suggestions from Rudolf Steiner, leading, for example, to research on gases at low temperatures and high vacuum. Steiner told them,

You will tend to produce conditions at the Sun’s center, where matter is annihilated and exists in a negative state; similarly with space. Spectrum analysis was used in these experiments, but for ‘true’ results, the spectroscope would need to be modified.

On electricity, Steiner told them,

We do not know electricity, except by its effects.... In origin, it is an astral force.

He set up a simple physics laboratory where he worked for several years, working mainly on Steiner’s indications about the (influence of the voice and music on) 'sensitive flames'. His experiments with flames were to show the action of the chemical or sound ether, working through the human voice or music instruments such as the violin.


Schiller writes (see The Schiller file, references below)

In a conversation that I had with Rudolf Steiner in company with Dr. von Dechend, we asked whether it was possible to find a more sensitive reagent for the spiritual and physical forces lying in the forms of human speech. After a moment of reflection he said:

"For that you must work with the sensitive flame".

In this and further conversations he gave us a deep insight into the unique position taken up by the element of warmth in the transitional region between soul-life and the physical in nature. He described how heat processes in the human body are bound up with inner soul-spiritual activities, the organic connections between consciousness and temperature, and also the formative processes which the organs of speech exercise on the exhaled air warmed through the activity of speaking. He reminded us of Tyndall's discovery where the fine alterations in freely burning gas flames caused by noises, sounds and words had been observed in the same places and then advised us to concentrate our thoughts and experiments in this direction.

See the Discussion area for a parsing of the above statement with links for further study.


Note: this topic page was started for the 'sensitive flames' topic, but later also Keely and Strader were added. Hence the contents could be reorganized onto multiple pages.

Schiller statement

The statement in the references above is worth parsing as it is the most specific statement we have on Rudolf Steiner's guidance on this topic.

  • The element of warmth in the transitional region between soul-life and the physical in nature
  • Heat processes in the human body are bound up with inner soul-spiritual activities,
  • the organic connections between consciousness and temperature,
  • and the formative processes which the organs of speech exercise on the exhaled air warmed through the activity of speech
    • see the 1915-01-03-GA275 lecture reference above as a starting point.
    • Continue by putting this in context of the fine breathing process described in 1924-09-14-GA318 which ao explains that the exhalation is not just a passive human process but fully happens in the fluid etheric (element water) and contains the activity of the etheric body
    • As well as an understanding of warmth in Man's breathing in 1924-09-17-GA318 see eg Schema FMC00.294.
  • When someone speaks, the etheric body of the listener mimes the vibrations of speech of the speaker; if one makes a eurythmical movement, the etheric body of the other mimes this movement in resonance; -> one must investigate how far an I movement can be transmitted to a machine by means of resonance .. so that a lever arm, for example, of this machine mimes the I movement

Related pages

References and further reading


  • Rudolf Steiner: 'Was ist ‹mechanischer Okkultismus?'
  • Ehrenfried Pfeiffer: 'Gedanken eines anthroposophischen Pioniers der moralischen Technologie'
  • Georg Unger: On mechanical occultism (lecture 1963, published 1964)
  • On wikipedia

Spiritism in 19th century

  • Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906)
    • Der Spiritismus (1885)
    • Die Geisterhypothese des Spiritismus (The Ghost Theory in Spiritism; 1891)
  • Charles Mercier: 'Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge' (1917)

Sensitive flames

  • William Fletcher Barrett
    • “Note on ‘sensitive flames’”, Philosophical magazine, xxxiii (1867), 216–22, p. 218.
    • The effect of inaudible vibrations upon sensitive flames (Nature, 3 May 1877)
    • The "Bridge Which is between Physical and Psychical Research", Sensitive Flames, and Spiritualism
    • On the Threshold of the Unseen (1917)
  • A. S. Herschel: 'Sounding and Sensitive Flames (5 November 1874)
  • William Winson Haldane Gee (1857-1928) - article in Nature 1878
  • Walter Le Conte Stevens: 'Sensitive Flames and Sound-Shadows' (Popular Science Monthly Volume 36 November 1889)
  • G. B. Brown: Sensitive Flames (in Science Progress in the Twentieth Century (1919-1933); Vol. 26, No. 104 (APRIL 1932), pp. 672-674)
  • Schiller Paul Eugen (1900-1992)
    • 'Untersuchungen an der freien schallempfindlichen Flamme' (Akustische Zeitschrift 1938,1)
    • 'The Schiller File: Supplements to the Collected Works of Rudolf Steiner
  • Theodor Schwenk: Sensitive chaos (2014, first in DE 1962, first EN in 1965)
  • Richard Noakes: 'The Bridge Which is between Physical and Psychical Research: William Fletcher Barrett, Sensitive Flames, and Spiritualism' (2004 article in History of Science, vol. 42, p.419-464)
  • Johanna Zinke, Armin Husemann, Peter Nantke, Rainer Patzlaff: 'Luftlautformen sichtbar gemacht. Sprache als plastische Gestaltung der Luft.' (2001)
  • Serge Maintier: 'Speech - Invisible Creation in the Air: Vortices and the Enigma of Speech Sounds' (2016)

Keely engine and Strader apparatus

  • Clara Bloomfield-Moore: Keely and His Discoveries (1893), available freely here in PDF and here in TXT
  • Walter Johannes Stein: 'John Worrell Keely und Gideon Spicker im Zusammenhang mit der Strader-Gestalt in den Mysteriendramen Rudolf Steiners' (Der Europäer, Jg. 1, Nr. 6 (April 1997))
  • Der Strader-Apparat - Beiträge zur Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe (Nr 187, Michaeli 1991)
  • Wolfgang Peter: Die dritte Kraft (Europaer 2001)
  • Paul Emberson
    • 'Vom Keely-Motor zur ‹Strader-Maschine'
    • 'Zwei Arten der Technologie der Zukunft'