The nature of atoms

From Anthroposophy


Contemporary mineral science focuses on the mineral element of the four elements, and studies nature in terms of forms matter and forces.

Spiritual science considers the four elements to be part of an spectrum of elements and ethers, as the result of an evolutionary proces whereby they make up an integrated force-substance framework. These representations, concepts of spectrum and framework, are a macroscopic shorthand language to describe the underlying spiritual nature, whereby various spiritual beings work together in such a way that their interaction and collaboration shows up, for our contemporary sensory waking consciousness, as physical matter, or as effects of physical forces on matter.

A major breakthrough in science was the discovery of the atom (from the Greek, atomos, meaning 'indivisible') as the smallest undivideable unit of matter that that still has all the properties of a certain physical material (which is called 'chemical element'). Atoms can bond together and combine into molecules, but cannot be broken down further.

The atom is thus seen as the fundamental building block of matter, and a cornerstone of physics and chemistry.

Spiritual scientific view

1 - Scope and positioning

The atom is the concept to denote the building block constituting physical 'dead' matter, meaning the mineral kingdom is one of the seven kingdoms of nature, of which four kingdoms of nature can be studied on the physical plane on Earth whereas the other three are the Elementary kingdoms in the higher worlds. With 'dead' matter is meant that the mineral does not contain higher functions such as the etheric living in the plant kingdom, or the astral living in the animal kingdom (and all of them also live in Man).

The mineral is thus most condensed substance in the current physical Condition of Form of Earth, as we are in the fourth and mineral Condition of Life, for more context see Three dimensions of evolution.

2 - Densification of mineral substance

Creation exists of spiritual beings, and spiritual beings only. Their aspects show in substance and force, a duality which is a consequences of the 'consciousness glasses' with which Man currently perceives, as explained in the Force substance representation (see eg Schema FMC00.172). This point is also illustrated on Cosmic fractal, eg Schemas FMC00.305 and FMC00.403.

The way how densification takes place along the 'descent' from the spirit world down to the physical world, is subject of what is called Homer's Golden Chain, for an introduction see Overview Golden Chain. The way this actually happens is part of the framework of evolution (and Three dimensions of evolution)

In this case we consider chemical elements, part of the mineral kingdom, with archetypes in the higher spirit world condensing to the lower spirit world where they receive form in the first sublayer 'continents'. See Schema FMC00.136 on spirit world, and FMC00.141 on Overview Golden Chain.

The archetypes of the mineral elements of physical matter are formed by the formative forces of the First Elementary Kingdom in the higher spirit world and the group souls of the minerals, see Schema FMC00.175A on The elementary kingdoms.

However, to appear in the physical world, they will be clothed by the astral and etheric .. and this is where the various ethers come in. The effect of chemical ether (or number ether) can be found underlying the different chemical elements of the periodic table as a reflection of the music of the spheres of the spirit world.


  • the truth about the atom: this site and topic page contends that ..
    • the true nature of the atom was first described in contemporary language by William Crookes (1832-1919) who described it as part of a scientific imaginative vision in 1886-87. These descriptions were referenced explicitly and consistently by both Helena Blavatsky in the Secret Doctrine published in 1888 and C.G. Harrison's lectures of 1893. Rudolf Steiner described the atom in descriptive terms as part of a broad spiritual scientific framework in various lectures in the period 1904-1924. Finally Walter Russell developed his own scientific framework and representation for this (after his illumination in 1921), published in 1926 in 'The Universal One' (or 'TUO'), which he developed consistently upto his other books in 1947 and 1953. So in summary: the period 1886-1926 is when this foundational block was developed, that provides a step-up from the mineral scientific framework to the meta-representation of spiritual science, and a paradigm shift that allows one to leave behind the strict materialistic thinking.
    • the information elements referenced above, with some extracts grouped on this topic page, and the page The two etheric streams, are the basis for developing an understanding. This requires deep study in order to develop the necessary understanding of the work of both Steiner and Russell.
  • the chemical ether brings the elementary chemical substances into being (1904-GA011), see also Schema FMC00.172 on Spectrum of elements and ethers
  • the concerted action of elementals and elementary kingdoms, orchestrated by the spiritual hierarchies
  • matter as 'evil', as the work of Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences

Inspirational quotes

1 - The first quote is by Rudolf Steiner in 1910-08-22-GA122 (SWCC)

It is pure fantasy to take the existence of atoms, as envisaged today, to be real. So long as atoms are looked upon merely as counters, or shorthand notes for what the senses actually show, we remain on solid ground.

If one wants to penetrate behind the sense-perceptible basis, then one has to rise to the spiritual, and then one reaches the living movement of a basic substance which is none other than the body of the Thrones, permeated by the activity of the Spirits of Form (SoF).

And how is that projected into our sense-world? […] In the act of making manifest what we call matter, it announces itself as the essential being of the Thrones; in so far as this basic substance takes on form, takes on shape, it announces itself as the external revelation of the SoF. […] They are the smiths, forging in their warmth element the crystalline forms of the different earths and metals, out of the formless matter of the Thrones.

This quote can be illustrated by FMC00.194 and FMC00.006A on Spectrum of elements and ethers, that shows that substance 'is' part of the body of the spiritual hierarchies. FMC00.006A shows how in Earth evolution the pairs of the Spectrum of elements and ethers were produced, and FMC00.194 shows how these are all embedded in eachother, and intertwine, as parts of the various hierarchies (and the result of previous planetary stages of evolution).


2 - The second quote by Walter Russell who writes (SWCC, full extract below):

Elements are not things; they are conditions. Produce a certain condition which is the pattern for hydrogen, or carbon dioxide.. and they appear from space into which they continually disappear when the conditions are favorable, exactly as apples appear as the solids of apples and disappear as the gases of apples when conditions favor each stage of each cycle. We wrongly think that elements are different substances and that each substance is permanently existent as such. Elements are but different conditions of light pressures. They are the raw materials for the fashioning of Creation’s images in the patterns controlled by light waves. They appear when the pressure necessary for their conditions appear and disappear when those pressure conditions cease. Every element in each octave occupies its own pressure position in its wave. Each element seems to be a different substance as the pressure conditions of each position in each wave of matter changes. However, it is not the substance that changes, it is the condition of the substance.

Schema FMC00.404A below offers an illustration of the above.


3 - From 1922-06-21-GA300B (see below)

... matter as simply a static process. If you have a piece of sulfur in front of you, what you really have is a static process. If I am standing here, and it is raining hard, then I have a process in which I am included. However, if I look at the cloud from a distance, it appears as an object to me. When I look at certain processes it is as though I were standing in the rain, when I look at sulfur, it is as though I were observing the cloud from a distance. Matter is simply processes that appear petrified.

4 - 1918-09-07-GA184

It is a great delusion to believe that the atoms and forces around us are the eternal. They are not the eternal; they are the temporal. That indeed is the fate of spiritual science, it has to contradict and refute a perception held by the present-day universal perception and view of science as an absolute certainty, and which is yet nothing but an Ahrimanic deception.


Matter as shattered spirit

Schema FMC00.582: provides a short description to the simple image of the left: physical matter arises due to the crashing of a spiritual wave that breaks up. Imagine for example a wave crashing on the shore with exhausted energy. This image is important to the worldview of spiritual science, as it offers the bridge between the physical material and the underlying spiritual. See also the concept of the Golden Chain.

provides a short description to the simple image of the left: physical matter arises due to the crashing of a spiritual wave that breaks up. Imagine for example a wave crashing on the shore with exhausted energy. This image is important to the worldview of spiritual science, as it offers the bridge between the physical material and the underlying spiritual. See also the concept of the Golden Chain.

Schema FMC00.582A: shows an illustration from the lecture and description of Schema FMC00.582, and shows Rudolf Steiner's sketch of the hydrogen atom (as viewed clairvoyantly) next to a modern picture of a hydrogen atom using a photoionization 'quantum microscope' (2013).

shows an illustration from the lecture and description of Schema FMC00.582, and shows Rudolf Steiner's sketch of the hydrogen atom (as viewed clairvoyantly) next to a modern picture of a hydrogen atom using a photoionization 'quantum microscope' (2013).

Walter Russell's octave wave

Schema FMC00.404 illustrates Walter Russell's periodic table as a growing octave wave curve from which the chemical elements are generated. Note that whereas in the first version (left) he had upto the 10th octave, in later versions (middle) this was adapted and he sticked to nine. Further documentation on this change is available (on request).


Schema FMC00.404A puts the Russell periodic table in context for easier reading and interpretation. See also the downloadeable PDF document reference [1] in the Further reading section on the Walter Russell page, and the explanations of the foundational concepts such as 'double charged sphere' (pages 12-19) and 'wave field'. See also The two etheric streams that map Rudolf Steiner's explanations to the explanations in [1].


Periodic table - different views

Schema FMC00.404B compares two versions of the periodic table of chemical elements.

  • On the left a representation from 1997 by Eric Scerri from tables by Bayley, Thomsen and Bohr that shows a symmetrical tree structure with seven levels. This presentation seems to originate with Andreas von Antropoff in 1926, and was popular for some time.
  • On the right, Russell's table with the mapping of the seven levels on the left, showing an exact mapping. Notice the noble gases in green on the left, as the nodes on the axis of symmetry on the right. For explanation see also FMC00.404A and FMC00.404.

Schema FMC00.528 shows an alternative presentation of Russell's 'nine octave harp' model of the periodic table.

Below is life and the spiritual, with the four chemical elements Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Hydrogen (mapping to the four elements earth, water, air and warmth; and the physical, etheric, astral and spirit world influences) going from hydrogen (the most spiritual and physically rare) to Carbon (the most physically mineral of the four), see also Schema FMC00.467. They are supplemented with the two mediators sulphur and phosphorus, see Alchemy and Schema FMC00.163 and two catalysts Silicon and Calcium (in blue), see Schema FMC00.423 and Schema FMC00.423A.

Above, matter falls apart again, and desintegrates as in radioactive decay (see 1905-10-05-GA093).

Compare this Schema FMC00.404A showing the range or spectrum where chemical elements can occur. Rudolf Steiner describes this as the workings of the chemical ether expressing the harmony of the spheres in the spirit world into the ratios between the chemical elements (1904-GA011, 1911-10-01-GA130).


Schema FMC00.529 shows the periodic table in the style of a lemniscate, as conceived by Sir William Crookes in the period 1886-1888, and referenced by both Helena Blavatsky (1888) and C.G. Harrison (1893).

It is used here to represent a quote by Crooked (below left) as he realized the lemniscatory movement could be the way the genesis of the different chemical elements happened, and explain the relation between the elements (in red, purple, green). On the right are shown the position of the seven metals and corresponding planetary spheres (see also formative forces). Note that the metals are clustered on the different leaves of the spiral, consistently with how they lie on different octaves on Russell's nine octave harp view. See also Schema FMC00.530.


Schema FMC00.529A shows a 3D model of Crookes' vision of the genesis of elements and the corresponding lemniscatory spiral representation of the periodic table. The first address where Crookes presented this was in 1886 when he was 54 years old, papers in the following years. This model was built in 1898.


Schema FMC00.530 provides a comparative mapping, illustrating two quotes from Crookes' vision address on three different views on the periodic table. The left view is based on Andreas von Antropoff's presentation of 1926; middle and right respectively the nine stringed harp view and the spiral view, both by Walter Russell (1926)


Lecture coverage and references


Rudolf Steiner sends an essay Einzig mögliche Kritik der atomistischen Begriffe (Only possible critique of atomistic concepts) to Friedrich Theodor Fisher. The paper was only rediscovered in 1938.

1883-GA001 - Goethean science
  • Goethe Against Atomism
1886-09-02 - Crookes' Birmingham address to the Chemical Section of the British Association
1887-02-18 and 1887-04-16 - Crookes on 'Genesis of the Elements'

Scientific american Dec 2012

Nothing is so fascinating in science as an ingenious, but unproved, theory. Once proved to the dignity of a “law,” it becomes a thing to be learnt, and exchanges the charm of an uncertain denouement for the cold severity of a lesson. The strange revelations of modern chemistry in relation to the nature of the so-called elements have kindled among all scientific student!'! an intensely eager anticipation of the discovery of some simple scheme into which all the accumulated facts shall drop in natural connection, of the thread which links the myriad observations of patient explorers into a perfect chain.

“We cannot but feel,” said Mr. Crookes at the Royal Institution recently, 'oj that unless some approach to an answer to these questions can be found, our chemist-rv. after nil, is something profoundly unsatisfactory.elements perplex us in our researches, baffie us in our speculations, and haunt us in our very dreams. They stretch like an unknown sea before us, mocking, mystifying, and murmuring strange revelations and possibilities.”

Mr. Crookes detailed his speculations on the genesis of the elements at the last meeting of the British Association, and we then reported his address in full. He has lately presented his ideas again in rather more popular language to the fashionable world of science assembled in Albemarle Street, and many of the keenest minds in England are pondering his theory. A few weeks since, Sir William Thomson narrated to a similar audience his idea of the way in which the sun was formed some twenty millions of years since, by the rushing together of atoms in such quantity and with such force as to provide a source of heat for this solar system up to the present date and about ten million years longer.

Mr. Crookes takes us back a few steps farther. What was the condition before the atoms had themselves come into shape, if, indeed, they are not eternal, when creation was, in the expressive language of Scripture, “without form and void”?

Mr. Crookes assumes a condition which he designates “protyle,” the “proteule” of Aristotle, the formless stuff of the Book of Wisdom, the materia prima, the unknown and unknowable origin of matter, the “fire mist,” as Mr. Crookes himself happily, but vaguely, terms it.

Now suppose in the midst of this protyle the introduction of external energy in some form or other, and an internal action corresponding to cooling.

The energy has period of swell and ebb, and it forces the protyle to itself and to develop first the lightest of atoms, say hydrogen. These atoms would then be themselves stores of energy, kinetic from their internal motions, and potential from their tendency to coalesce with other atoms by gravitation or chemically.

Each new formation would tend to the formation of others by refrigerating the surrounding protyle, and we should get sets of atoms of regular progressive weight.

Now (without following Mr. Crookes in all the steps of his argument) see how these elements group themselves, and notice the regular ebb and flow of the formation. It is not necessary to continue the diagram, which is a modification of one first drawn by Professor Emerson Reynolds. It will be found complete in this journal for' September 25, 1886.

What is to be noticed is this: When energy first acted on protyle, its first accomplishment was the formation of the hydrogen atom. A few thousands of years later it had got as far as lithium; next came beryllium, boron, and carbon. So far, positive elements only had been created in regular progression of atomic weight and of valency.

Now the pendulum returns, the ebb set in, negative elements are formed until the center is reached, when a new impetus is given, and new creations result in similar order.

As the pendulum reaches a corresponding stage in each swell or ebb, elements of curiously corresponding characteristics result. So we have chlorine, bromine, and iodine; calcium, strontium, and barium; arsenium, antimonium, and bismuth found at corresponding points of the pendulum's swing.

A great deal of this theory is due to the labors of other chemists - Newlands, Mills, and Mendelejef especially; but Mr. Crookes has, no doubt, most ingeniously fitted all their observations into his comprehensive scheme. His own special contribution to his theory, however, is very striking. He has worked for many years on yttrium and its spectra. By the most delicate of tests he has shown that yttrium can be differentiated or fractionated into several varieties, all showing the true yttrium spectrum, but each with some marked differences of its own in the subordinate lines.

This observation is what led Mr. Crookes to imagine that the creation of yttrium was itself a work of time, of slow evolution, leaving its effects in trifling variations of the weight of the atoms, which altogether go to make up yttrium. If that be so, is it not possible too that the whole genesis of the elements is a very slow process of evolution?

The occurrence of sneii groups as manganese, iron, nickel, and cobalt, with their curiously similar chemical properties, all created apparently at close intervals, goes to support this idea. Much more will certainly be heard of this theory. We make no pretension of criticising it. Our design has been only to present its salient features in outline, leaving students who may wish to understand it more fully to refer to the emiment author's own words.

1888 - Blavatsky - Secret Doctrine Vol 1.

Ch. 12 is titled Ancient thought in modern dress, see internet link here, and references Mr. Crookes' Presidential Address at Birmingham.

Mr. W. Crookes, F.R.S., supported the view in his address to the Chemical Section of the British Association, of which he was President (at Birmingham, 1886).


A few lines at the very close of his lecture on the Genesis of the Elements - two or three sentences - showed the eminent Scientist to be on the royal road to the greatest discoveries.

1890 - Steiner: Atomism and its refutation
1893 - C.G. Harrison

See: The two etheric streams#.5B2.1.5D - C.G. Harrison .28lectures.2C 1893.29

Harrison quotes William Crookes (1832-1919) on his scientific 'vision' of the true nature of matter in space and time, based on 'protyles', "the stuff of which atoms are composed".

In a lecture given a year later at the Royal Institution, he pictures

"the action of two forces on the original protyle, the one being time, accompanied by a lowering of temperature, the other swinging to and fro like a mighty pendulum, having periodic cycles of ebb and swell, rest and activity, (but) it is evident a third factor must be taken into account. Nature does not act on a flat plane ; she requires space for her cosmogenic operations, and if we introduce space as the third factor, all appears clear . ...

Let us suppose the zigzag diagram (Professor Emerson Reynolds') not drawn upon a plane but projected in a space of three dimensions, what figure can we best select to meet all the conditions involved ... , inasmuch as the curve has to pass through a point neutral as to electricity and chemical energy twice in each cycle ? ...

A figure of eight (8), or lemniscate ... fulfils every condition of the problem.

If we project this figure in space, we find, on examination, that the points of the curves

  • where chlorine, bromine, and iodine are formed come close under each other ;
  • so also will sulphur, selenium, and tellurium ;
  • again, phosphorus, arsenic and antimony,
  • and, in like manner, other series of analogous bodies.

It may be asked whether this scheme explains how and why the elements appear in this order ?

Let us imagine a cyclical translation in space, each evolution witnessing the genesis of the group of elements which I previously represented as produced during one complete vibration of the pendulum.

Let us suppose the one cycle has been thus completed ; the centre of the unknown creative force, in its mighty journey through space, having scattered along its track its primitive atoms - the seeds, if I may use the expression, which are presently to coalesce and develop into the groupings now known as lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, fluorine, sodium, magnesium, aluminium, silicon, phosphorus, sulphur and chlorine.

Note: Crookes spoke (in this lecture describing his imaginative vision of a lemniscate) of a vibrating pendulum. Walter Russell called his alternate form of the period table the nine-stringed harp.


.. the other kind of ether which brings the elementary chemical substances into being. This ether will be called the chemical ether.

see Schema FMC00.172 on Spectrum of elements and ethers


makes the link between the physical atom as frozen electricity, and electricity and human thought


lecture called: The Atom as Coagulated Electricity

quote A

We are living now in the epoch of evolution that may be called the mineral epoch; and our task is to permeate this mineral world through and through with the spirit within us. Think of what this means. You are building a house. You fetch the stones from a quarry and hew them into the shapes required by the building, and so on.

What are you inculcating into this raw material obtained from the mineral kingdom?

You are inculcating human spirit into the raw material. If you construct a machine, you have laid the spirit that is part of you, into that machine; the actual machine does, of course, perish and become dust; not a trace of it will survive.

But what you have done, what you have achieved, passes into the very atoms and does not vanish without a trace. Every atom bears a trace of your spirit and will carry this trace with it. Whether an atom has at some time been in a machine, or has not been in a machine, is not a matter of indifference. The atom itself has undergone change as a result of having once been in a machine, and this change that you have wrought in the atom will never again be lost to it. Moreover, through your having changed the atom, through the fact that you have united the spirit in you with the mineral world, a permanent stamp has been made upon the general consciousness of mankind; just so much consciousness goes with you into the other world.

Occult science well knows in what way the human being can perform selfless actions and how greatly his consciousness will be enhanced by them.

Certain men, who have been deeply imbued with this knowledge, have been so selfless that they have taken steps to prevent even their names from going down to posterity! An example of this is the work entitled Theologica Deutsch. Nobody knows who wrote it. On the outside there are only the words: The man from Frankfurt. He, therefore, was one who took care that his very name should be unknown. He worked in such a way that he merely added something to the objective world without asking for honour or for the preservation of his name. And here let it be said that the Masters, as a rule, are not personages known in history; they sometimes are embodied in historical personalities — when it is necessary; but in a certain respect this is a sacrifice on their part. The level of their consciousness is incompatible with work for themselves, and preservation of a name does, after all, involve this. It is difficult thoroughly to understand this rule but it will now be clear to you why the aim of the Freemasons is to work in the world in such a way that their deeds are hidden in social organizations or charitable institutions. For selfless deeds are the real foundations of immortality. In the outer world we see the reflex of such deeds. They need not necessarily be of great account. If someone gives a coin to a poor man, this may be an unselfish deed; but only to the extent that it was absolutely selfless does it find its way to the sphere of immortality — and very few deeds are selfless to this degree. An act of charity may be extremely egoistical when, for instance, it gives rise to a comforting feeling. Charity very often springs from selfish motives. If a poor man living among us has no meat at Christmas and we feel bound to give him some in order that we may feel justified in eating our own Christmas dinner — that, after all, is egoism. In the Middle Ages it would have been impossible to say who had built many of the cathedrals or painted many of the pictures. It is only in our epoch of civilisation that people have begun to attach such value to the human name; in earlier epochs, more spiritual than our own, the individual name was of less importance. Spirituality in those days was directed to reality; whereas our epoch adheres to the delusion of thinking that what is a mere concern of the moment should be preserved.

quote B

All progress is the result of involution and evolution. Involution is the in-taking, evolution the yield, the out-giving. All states and conditions of world-existence alternate between these two processes. When you see, hear, smell or taste, you breathe nature into yourselves. The act of sight does not pass away without leaving a trace behind. The eye itself perishes, the object seen — that too perishes; but what you have experienced in the act of sight, remains. It will not be difficult for you to realise that in certain epochs it is necessary to make such things understood.

We are going forward to an age when, as I indicated recently, men will understand what the atom is, in reality. It will be realised — by the public mind too — that the atom is nothing but coagulated electricity. The thought itself is composed of the same substance.

Before the end of the fifth cultural age, science will have reached the stage where Man will be able to penetrate into the atom itself. When the similarity of substance between the thought and the atom is once comprehended, the way to get hold of the forces contained in the atom will soon be discovered and then nothing will be inaccessible to certain methods of working.

A man standing here, let us say, will be able by pressing a button concealed in his pocket, to explode some object at a great distance — say in Hamburg! Just as by setting up a wave-movement here and causing it to take a particular form at some other place, wireless telegraphy is possible, so what I have just indicated will be within Man's power when the occult truth that thought and atom consist of the same substance is put into practical application.


see also: Radioactivity#1905-10-05-GA093A

humanity transforms every atom on earth .. in the past, atoms became more and more solidified, now however they are becoming increasingly separated. Radioactivity did not exist in earlier times and could therefore not be discovered. It has only existed for a few thousand years, because now the atoms split up more and more.


see more context on Occult atom

If we meditate on the atom, what strikes us is that it is a very tiny thing. Everyone knows that this small thing called the atom has never been seen through any kind of microscope, no matter how sophisticated. Yet occult books give descriptions and pictures of the atom. Where were these pictures obtained? How can one, as an occultist, now know anything about the atom? Now just imagine it to be possible to make an atom grow continually bigger and bigger until it was as big as the earth; one would then discover a very complicated world. One would perceive many movements, different kinds of phenomena, within this small thing. Keep in mind this analogy of the atom being enlarged to the size of the earth. If it were actually possible to enlarge the atom to that extent, we would be able to observe every single process in it. Only the occultist is in a position to enlarge the atom so much and to contemplate its interior.


The first elementary kingdom gives minerals their form, their atomistic forces of attraction and repulsion come from the group-I's (see also L19 of GA094, 94-19)


What we call chemical action, is projected into the physical world from the music of the spheres in the spirit world. In the combination of two substances according to their atomic weight, we have a reflection of two tones of the harmony of the spheres. The numerical ratios in chemistry express the numerical rations of the harmony of the spheres.



... Invisible forms, not forms of space, were first given to man by the Spirits of Form at the beginning of his earthly evolution. And now we must at the same time bear in mind that not only we ourselves but all outer objects that come to meet us, and of which we are aware in the outer world by means of our senses, are nothing less than an external expression of an inner spiritual. Behind every external material thing in space we have to look for something similar in kind to what lives in our own soul. Only, of course, we do not encounter it with the outer senses; it is behind what the outer senses offer.

How can we now represent an activity out beyond that of the Spirits of Form, beyond what they create as not yet spatial form?

When this activity goes further — beyond will, wisdom, movement, form — still further beyond form, what happens then?

That is the question. You see, if a process in the universe has come as far as Form — which is still altogether in the realm of soul and spirit, and is not spatial at all — if the process has advanced as far as this super-sensible form, then the next step is only possible through the form, as such, breaking up. And that is exactly what shows itself to esoteric knowledge.

When certain forms, created under the influence of the Spirits of Form, have developed up to a certain point, then they break to pieces. And if you now fix your mind upon these shattered forms, if you think of something that arises through the breaking up of forms that are still super-sensible — then you have the transition from the super-sensible to the sensible and spatial.

Broken-up form is matter. Matter, as it occurs in the universe, is for the occultist nothing more than form broken, shattered and split asunder. If you could imagine that this chalk were invisible and yet had this characteristic parallelepiped form, and if you were then to take a hammer and strike the chalk smartly so that it crumbled into a lot of little pieces, then you would have broken up the form. Supposing in the moment in which you broke up the form the invisible were to become visible — then you would have a picture of the origin of matter. Matter is spirit that has developed as far as form and then burst and broken into pieces and fallen together in itself.

Matter is a heap of ruins of the spirit. It is extraordinarily important to grasp this definition. Matter is a heap of ruins of the spirit. Matter is, therefore, in reality spirit, but shattered spirit.

[chrystal structure - visualization by image of wave crushing]

When you come to think it over, my dear friends, you will perhaps say: “Yes, but we have spatial forms such as the beautiful crystals; in the crystals we have very beautiful spatial forms — and now you say that all matter is ‘a heap of ruins of the spirit,’ is ‘shattered spirit.’” Let me give you a picture of it. [drawing]

  • Think of a falling cascade of water [see diagram (a)]. But imagine it is invisible, you do not see it.
  • And here (b) you put an obstacle in its way.
  • When the water strikes here (b) it scatters into drops (c).

Now we are imagining that the cascade of water is invisible, but that what is broken up becomes visible. Then you would have here a cascade shattered in pieces, and would have a picture of the origin of matter.

But now you must think away this obstacle down below, for it does not exist; if it did we should have to assume that there was already matter there. You must imagine it in this way. Without there being any such obstacle you have matter — spiritually, that is, supersensibly — you have matter in movement. In the act of assuming form, it is in movement; for movement precedes form. There is not anything anywhere but is permeated by the deeds of the Spirits of Movement.

And this movement, this form, arrives at last at a point where it becomes, so to say, exhausted and splits asunder in itself. We must so grasp it that we have, to begin with, something streaming out which is entirely soul and spirit. Its impetus is limited, it comes, as it were, to the end of its energy, is thrown back upon itself and thus breaks to pieces. So wherever we see matter we can say: Behind this matter lies a super-sensible, which has come to the limit of its activity and there split up.

But before it split up it still had — inwardly and spiritually — form. And when it shattered the spiritual form went on working in the separate scattered ruins. Where it works strongly, then, after the breaking and scattering, the lines of the spiritual forms continue, and in the lines they then describe we can still trace an after-working of the spiritual lines.

There you have the origin of crystals. Crystals are reproductions of spiritual forms which through their own impetus still kept their original direction but in the opposite sense.


What I have here sketched for you is very nearly exactly what occult observation finds in the case of hydrogen. The origin of hydrogen is as though a ray rushed out from eternity, became exhausted and flew asunder; but we must draw it as if here the lines overshot themselves and so kept their form.

[drawing] This is what hydrogen looks like to the clairvoyant observer. There is something like an invisible ray coming from endless world distances and finally breaking — like a ray which flies asunder.

In short, matter everywhere can be called broken spirituality. Matter is indeed nothing else than spirit, but spirit in a broken-up condition.


There is still another difficult idea which I must place before you, which is connected with what I said at the beginning of the lecture. I said that within the soul and spirit itself we have to distinguish between an outer and an inner.

Now it is of such contrasts that all space dimensions are really composed; so that everywhere where you have a dimension of space you can think of it as proceeding somewhere or other from a point. That point is the “inner,” and all the rest is the “outer.” For the plane, the straight line is an inner and all the rest an outer. Space is, therefore, nothing else than something that originates together with matter when spirit is shattered and thereby goes over into material existence.

Now it is extremely important to understand the following.

Suppose this breaking-up of spirit into matter happens in such a way that the spirit breaks, shatters, of itself, without having come up against any kind of external obstacle that should cause it to split up and shatter. Imagine that the breaking-up takes place, so to say, in the void. If spirit breaks into the void then mineral matter results. Thus spirit must first of all actually break up in itself from out of spirit: then mineral matter arises.

But now suppose you do not have a process that takes place in the universe in such a virginal way; suppose you have a breaking that takes place out of the spirit but finds a world already prepared; a breaking in pieces that does not take place into the void but, for example, into an etheric corporality that is already there. As I said, if it develops into the void the result is mineral matter. But we are supposing now that it develops into an already present etheric corporality. Thus the spirituality splits up and breaks into an etheric body, and the breaking material and the etheric body are already present and prepared. Not into the “virgin soil” of the world but into the etheric body, spirit breaks and becomes matter. And when this is the case plant matter originates.

Now yesterday we came across a peculiar etheric substance.

You will remember what we wrote on the blackboard. We found an etheric body which outweighed the astral substance, which, so to say, overshot the astral substance. And we said that that was due to Luciferic influences which had been brought to bear upon Man. But we found something more.

We found also physical corporality which had a preponderance over etheric substance, that is to say over the etheric body. As a matter of fact, we found that first, did we not? I want you now to give your attention for a moment to this remarkable connection that we found in the badly combined organisation of Man — a connection between the bodies which is really entirely due to Luciferic influence. There, where the physical meets with the etheric body and the etheric body is everywhere diverted by the preponderance of the physical body, we have, not a condition where spirit breaks and scatters merely into etheric substance as such, but where it rushes into a bodily condition that is certainly etheric, but which is outweighed by the physical. And when spirit breaks into such a substance, then nerve substance, nerve material, arises. Spirit streaming into etheric corporality that is overweighed by physical corporality gives rise to nerve matter.

We have now three stages in materiality.

  • First, the ordinary mineral matter that we come across in the sense world.
  • Then the matter that we find in the bodies of the plants;
  • and, lastly, the matter that we find in the body of man and of animals, and that arises owing to the presence of irregularities in these bodies.

Now think of all we should have to do if we wished to reckon up all the various conditions that give rise to the manifold kinds of matter in the world!

We saw yesterday what a number of irregularities can occur through the Luciferic influence.

  • We saw, for example, how the etheric body may outweigh the astral body. When spirit rushes into an astral body of this kind, that is, into an astral body which is outweighed by an etheric body, then we have muscle matter. This is why the matter of which nerves and muscles are composed has such a strange and unique appearance; you cannot compare it with anything else. It is because in both cases the matter comes into existence in such a complicated manner. It will help you to form a true picture if you think of the different results you obtain when you take some molten metal, and first let it spurt up into the air, then into water and then, let us say, into a hard firm substance. In a like complicated way do the various kinds of matter in the world arise. My main purpose in all I am telling you today is to show you into what depths of existence we have to descend if we want to investigate these things at their, foundation.
  • Consider, for instance, a condition that takes us still further into matter; consider the irregularity brought about where the I outweighs in its I-ness the astral body, when you have spirit spraying and dispersing into this condition, the result — but only after long détours — is bony matter. .

It all depends ultimately, as you see, on the conditions under which the matter sprays up and scatters when it arises out of spirit. Keep well in mind what I have told you, even if you have not been able to follow every thought in detail. You will have grasped the main point, which really comes to this: that we have to look upon matter always and everywhere as spirit that is splitting up and scattering, but that there can also be something already there which opposes the breaking spirit. And according as this or that meets it, the spirit will spray out into something different; and thus arise the various configurations of matter — matter that composes nerves, muscles, plants, etc.


Atoms are simply the forces of Ahriman.


The whole of atomism has validity only on the physical plane, and to a limited extent in the elemental world, but none in the spiritual world.


If materialistic views continue to persist for several generations more ... people will actually see little grey atoms vibrating as an atomic whirl, not because they exist, but because they will have trained themselves to see them. See also 1922-07-15-GA213


The cause of atomism lies in the human nature: atomism is a projection into space of the process that the astral body is touching the nerve-ends, which does not come into consciousness.


discusses atomism, the reductionism of the human mind

The world of atoms outside is nothing but a projection of the nervous system. We project ourselves into the world and thus think of it as consisting of atoms, and our nervous system as composed of many individual ganglion-globules. Science will always tend to atomism for it originates in nerve sustance. By contrast, mysticism, religion etc come forth from the blood and do not look for the divide but always for unity.

See also 1920-03-21-GA312 where the atomistic approach in anatomy is described in a scientific-historical context. This is also in 1920-03-02-GA321 where the Florence academy of 1657-1667 is described as the cradle of materialism and phenomena were divested of anything extraterrestrial but only look for explanation of physical phenomena in the things themselves (ai in the forms of atoms and molecules).


The fact that allmost no element has an integer atomic weight points to the fact that the atomic weight oscillates or trembles around an average, and with it also the whole periodic system.



Earthly mineral substances are not to be explained by means of atomic or molecular forces but by the effect of cosmic forces (metals by certain constellations of the planets).


is on memory and imagination .. and how the tendency to explain phenomena using sense-perceptible auxiliary constructions such as atoms "destroys the imaginative capability"


in faculty meetings with teachers

In physics — this is something I was able to thoroughly try out in my teaching — it is very good for children at this age when you present them with the newest discoveries in physics, for instance, wireless telegraphy and x-rays, including such things as alpha, beta, and gamma rays. These are things you can use to awaken further interest in the children.

There is a question about atomism.

Dr. Steiner: A number of friends have conveyed that feeling to me. You certainly cannot deny that what you yourself are working upon will color your teaching. I believe that you will find the proper nuances if you present this material somewhat historically. I also believe that it would be good to begin the story where all the polemics about structural formulas, both pro and con, begin.

Atomism was something different prior to Van’t Hoff ’s chemical symbols. I believe that you need to work through all Kolbe’s polemic against symbolic chemistry, since this polemicizing has, in a sense, placed the entire problem on developments in chemistry. You can show this precisely. You have all said a great deal against atomism, but you have not been able to say as much against it as Kolbe.

You can put all this into perspective only when you include the most modern aspects. You need to include the phenomenalism introduced in the work of Pelikan and Kolisko. You would make no impression if you simply mentioned Kolbe’s name. Kolbe said that in order to continue in chemistry, Van’t Hoff mounted the Pegasus he apparently borrowed from the veterinary institute in Berlin. You need to include that.

When you discuss what I just mentioned above, you do not even need to speak about atomism. It is particularly unnecessary when discussing this subject. On the other hand, you could also speak a great deal about alchemy. There you have the opportunity to present far-reaching observations that you may not, however, clothe in vague mysticism.

With Marconi’s telegraphy, you can address the connection of the brain with the cosmos through a simple, but exact and broad, presentation of the coherer and then describe the brain as a kind of coherer in connection with the cosmos. In this case, you can illustrate something that occurs materially and then go on to point out that the processes within the brain are only initiated by the physical human being. Here, you have a possibility of awakening a broader perspective.

In chemistry, it is necessary to develop basic chemical concepts such as acid, salt, and base as completely as possible, so that the students then know what an alcohol or an aldehyde is. The more traditional topics, such as separating organic and inorganic chemistry require less attention. I believe that is what we should include in a survey of the material. I do not believe it is correct to develop chemistry on the basis of material. It is better to develop the process and then bring in matter and metals so that during the instruction a feeling arises that matter is simply a static process. The children should have a picture of matter as simply a static process. If you have a piece of sulfur in front of you, what you really have is a static process. If I am standing here, and it is raining hard, then I have a process in which I am included. However, if I look at the cloud from a distance, it appears as an object to me. When I look at certain processes it is as though I were standing in the rain, when I look at sulfur, it is as though I were observing the cloud from a distance. Matter is simply processes that appear petrified.

It is important at this period of life to teach about cells in natural history. That need not be done in such great detail, but you could take characteristic plants from the lowest up to the monocots. Begin at the lowest and go upward. You should also mention the dicots and draw parallels between flowers and mushrooms. Be sure to take into account the mycelium and the formation of spores. When you discuss the formation of stems, you should take the mycelium into account, also. Bring teleology, that is, the relationships of the various parts of a organism, into a reasonable relationship. Be sure to discuss interactive relationships, not just the purely causal. Treat the theory of cells in a cosmological manner.


compares Greek atomists such as Democritus and their view of atoms with that of the 19th century (also in GA018)


On the necessity that a science of atomitisation, desintegration, reduction to microscopic parts, a science of the dead had to come about .. that now has to advance to the point where the spiritual in nature can be found again.

Also on the infertile quarrel on atomism in Die Drei.


It matters little whether or not modern speaks of atoms or not, what matters is that when it does, it speaks of them, it regards them as velocity changes. That is what counts.


.. we make the atoms, while we electrify them, the bearers of evil, not only the bearers of the dead. We make them the bearers of the dead, while we allow them to be atoms generally, and imagine matter atomistically.


discusses a quarrel concerning atomism (are there atoms or not) settled in the magazine 'Die Drei'.


People can be lead by ahrimanic beings out of nature into occult captivity if they form atomistic ideas on nature.


Atomism arose as a result of the tendency that arose at the end of the middle ages to build up a whole from single parts, instead of the opposite way

1 - Bubbles in the ether


The courage shown today so admirable in regard to external issues must be extended to the inner life. In this respect modern man is far from courageous. He draws back from all aspects of spiritual reality with the consequence that so many human beings experience inner dissatisfaction and insecurity. Very much has to be done it is true, before distorted ideas give way to sound ones. Nowadays there is, for example, still a preoccupation with atomic theories, even though the earlier crude form has given way to ions and electrons.

The modern view is that everything consists of atoms. Many are of the opinion that everything can be traced back to minute atomic structures. Matter is thought to consist of the tiniest of particles; i.e., atoms. And many scientists, in fact most, endow matter with force so that the particles of matter are supposed to attract and repel one another. At this point investigations come to an end. The 19th Century will be seen as a significant period in mankind's evolution: the time when the universe was explained as a structure of matter and force, a view that has been given classical expression in innumerable works. This example shows the extent to which ideas must be readjusted before it is possible to evaluate what is needed now. Let us hold on to the fact that there are those whose speculations are mainly concerned with matter; they imagine that the world consists of atoms.

How does this view compare with what spiritual science has to say? Certainly natural physical phenomena do lead us back to atoms, but what are these atoms?

They reveal what they are at the moment the very first stage of spiritual perception has been attained. At the stage of imaginative perception atoms reveal what they truly are. I have spoken about this in various connections many years ago in public lectures. Those who speculate on matter come to the conclusion that space is empty and atoms whirl around in this empty space. Atoms are supposed to be the most solid entities in existence. That is simply not the case, the whole issue is based on illusion.

To imaginative cognition atoms are revealed as bubbles and the reality is where the empty space is supposed to be. Atoms are blown up bubbles. In other words, in contrast to what surrounds them they are nothing. You know that where bubbles are seen in soda-water there is no water. Atoms are bubbles in that sense; where they are the space is hollow, nothing is there. And yet it is possible to push against it; impact occurs precisely because, in pushing against hollowness, an effect is produced.

How can nothing produce an effect?

Take the case of the space, practically empty of air, within an air-pump; there you see how air streams into nothingness. A wrong interpretation might imagine the empty space in the bulb of the air pump as containing a substance that forced in the air. That is exactly the illusion prevailing in regard to the atom. The opposite is true: atoms are empty — yet again not empty. There is after all something within these bubbles. And what is it? This is also something about which have already spoken: what exists within the atom bubbles is ahrimanic substance. Ahriman is there. The whole system of atoms consists of ahrimanic substantiality. As you see this is a considerable metamorphosis of the ideas entertained by those who theorize about matter. Where in space they see something material we see the presence of Ahriman.

Maximilian Rebholz - The nature of matter

writes in his essay 'The nature of matter' (translated from unpublished typoscript, ca 1948)

version a

In the cycle The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature (GA136), it is shown how a material planet actually arises. From the sun, which in reality emanates space by transferring the cosmic forces from the non-spatial into the etheric spatial, the Spirits of Form work in such a way that each one forms his ether sphere, and these all have their common center in the sun. These ether spheres are in reality the planets of our solar system. But now Ahrimanic Spirits of Form from the cosmos throw themselves against the activity of the normal Spirits of Form that emanates from the sun, and at the periphery of the ether sphere, they produce an invagination, which appears to us as the physical planet. Where we see this planet, there is actually a hole in the ether sphere of the normal Spirits of Form that is filled with Ahrimanic forces.

What is true of the physical planet as a “hole in the ether” on a large scale is equally true of every atom of matter on a small scale. The atoms also appear as “holes in the ether” to the imaginative vision that perceives the ether.


version b

In the cycle The Spiritual Beings in the Heavenly Bodies and in the Kingdoms of Nature (GA136), it is shown how a material planet actually arises. The cosmos of the normal Spirits of Form would consist only of variously extended etheric spheres, all centered in the sun. These etheric spheres are really the “planets” of our solar system. But now Ahrimanic Spirits of Form throw themselves against these from outside and cause invaginations on the periphery of the etheric spheres, which appear to us as the physical planets. Where we see these, there are in truth holes in the etheric spheres of the normal Spirits of Form that are filled with Ahrimanic forces.

This description in GA136 is also important because it shows us on a large scale what has to be thought of an “atom” on a small scale.

Dr. Steiner also called atoms “holes in the ether.”


How does this view compare with what spiritual science has to say? Certainly natural physical phenomena do lead us back to atoms, but what are these atoms? […]

To imaginative cognition atoms are revealed as bubbles and the reality is where the empty space is supposed to be. Atoms are blown up bubbles […], in contrast to what surrounds them they are nothing. You know that where bubbles are seen in soda-water there is no water. Atoms are bubbles in that sense; where they are the space is hollow, nothing is there. And yet it is possible to push against it; impact occurs precisely because, in pushing against hollowness, an effect is produced.

[… A]toms are empty — yet again not empty. [… W]hat exists within the atom bubbles is ahrimanic substance. Ahriman is there. The whole system of atoms consists of ahrimanic substantiality.

Imaginative clairvoyance first perceives only the supersensible, etheric-astral realm but not yet the subsensible, which, as all matter, is perceived by imaginative clairvoyance as a hollow space in the ether. The comparison with water bubbles is quite valid: for in these, too, is air, which is only not seen.

2 - Double charged sphere and hole

As a hypothesis, assume that Russell's 'double charged sphere' and 'double charged hole' are eachother polar opposites in space and counterspace, as explained in the teachings by Rudolf Steiner and Nick Thomas.

Anonymous - Notes on the Works of Walter & Lao Russell

From the document 'Notes on the Works of Walter & Lao Russell' (anonymous author), PDF downloadeable on the Walter Russell topic page.

page 33-34 on 'Fundamental Particles & Chemical Elements'

The Doubly Charged Sphere (and its inverse partner, the Doubly Charged Hole), in the most basic sense, constitute a fundamental particle. Because these entities pulsate, being made of a union of Male (+) and Female (+), there is no such thing as a "singly charged particle". "Electrons", "Protons", etc. are variations upon its structure.

The cyclic regeneration of such small entities would probably produce what appears to be a continuous "popping in and out of existence" on the smallest levels of scale (the general concept usually being referred to as "vacuum fluctuations", "zero point energy", and a multitude of other names within science).

To describe the transition of these "subatomic" entities into chemical elements, Walter and Lao produced a periodic table . We will attempt to give a brief synopsis of its features. To begin, let's turn the periodic table on its side. Notice that it is one of the spiral helices of The Octave Wave as shown earlier, except the Wave-Fields and Doubly Charged Spheres are growing in size exponentially.


All things, including elements, grow from the inside-out through the inert gas that centers them starting in the first octave. The Still Magnetic Light is thus the "nucleus" of the atom on the deepest level. The seemingly different elements are only the changing pressures around it, so they too are variations of the Doubly Charged Sphere.

This sphere cycles through The Octave Wave, continuously changing form as it does so. By the time it becomes a Carbon atom in the third octave, it is a "true sphere". All atoms before it and after it are prolate and oblate, respectively. Its Wave-Field also becomes a perfect cube. The Wave-Fields of other elements are skewed when they are prolate or oblate, and this shows up within their crystal structures.

Walter Russell

Furthermore, Walter Russell himself writes on chemical elements:

[Elements of matter are not permanently existent]

Elements are not things; they are conditions.

Produce a certain condition which is the pattern for hydrogen, or carbon dioxide, or sodium chloride, and they appear from space into which they continually disappear when the conditions are favorable, exactly as apples appear as the solids of apples and disappear as the gases of apples when conditions favor each stage of each cycle.

... Hydrogen is the most plentiful substance, which the sun generates in its outer atmosphere, and the most plentiful of our outer atmosphere beyond twenty miles. Also, our oceans are inexhaustible storehouses of voided hydrogen, which can be regenerated to active hydrogen.

Water, air, hydrogen, and oxygen are not things; they are conditions of the light of the sun and the dark of space from which they sprang.

... Hydrogen flames leap for thousands of miles into the sun’s atmosphere, yet there is no hydrogen at all upon the sun’s surface until the time of its leaping into flame. If the amount of hydrogen which explodes from the sun’s surface in one week existed upon the sun, there would be no sun. It would explode. The sun generates hydrogen and burns it simultaneously.

[Elements are but different conditions of Light pressures]

We wrongly think that elements are different substances and that each substance is permanently existent as such.

Elements are but different conditions of light pressures. They are the raw materials for the fashioning of Creation’s images in the patterns controlled by light waves. They appear when the pressure necessary for their conditions appear and disappear when those pressure conditions cease. Every element in each octave occupies its own pressure position in its wave. Each element seems to be a different substance as the electric pressure conditions of each position in each wave of matter changes. However, it is not the substance that changes, it is the condition of the substance.

Voidance and re-creation is one of the simplest and most obvious principles of Nature. I cannot imagine how it has escaped discovery during the centuries. Oxygen, for example, is voided when you breathe it in. You produce a condition that calls for the pattern of carbon dioxide, and oxygen, as raw material, is as voided as though it never was. Iron, likewise, voids oxygen and oxygen voids iron by rusting. And so it goes all down through the octave waves.

the last paragraph makes the link to Transmutation of substance

3 - Force substance representation


In 1905-08-GA091 Rudolf Steiner put forth the representation that the reality we perceive is a balance and tension field between force and substance. See Schema FMC00.172A on Force substance representation.

The 1919-GA038 quotes, in that context, make it clear that forces are one side of the coin, and matter is another side of that same coin .. hence the 'viewed in a one-sided way'.

1919-GA038 Q&A

Answers to six questions about some basic concepts of natural science

II. … One cannot say that force has an effect on matter, since matter consists merely in the affects of the force-rays when they meet.

I. … The contents [of atoms] are the results of force-directions meeting each other - e.g., directions of force.


Force is the revelation of spirit viewed in a one-sided way.

GA reference unknown (mentioned by M. Rebholz, see footnote 241)

Everything that can be the object of external investigation somehow has in itself

  • the element of the Luciferic, the externally luminous,
  • and of the Ahrimanic, gravity.

Ahriman is also the spirit of gravity.

4 - Matter as 'evil', as the work of Luciferic and Ahrimanic influences

The above title can come across as a bit shocking, but requires a correct understanding and positioning.

Man perceives light and physical substance with the physical senses thanks to the Luciferic 'infection' and luciferic spiritual beings in Man and our solar system, whilst the same time the ahrimanic spiritual beings make for matter and physical substance itself. Hence, the physical material reality Man perceives and studies with mineral science is the work of luciferic and ahrimanic influences.

Note, in a similar vein, that Rudolf Steiner also stated that there is no evil above the spirit world, in the budhi or nirvana planes. Evil only exists in the lower planes, and is a result of a 'design choice' for our solar system. As explained on War in heaven, the 'non-regular' spiritual beings were given their rightful mission in the evolution of our solar system during the Old Moon stage of evolution. Hence, whereas the regular-developed spiritual beings would have delivered a different spiritual version of Man and the 'I' (see more on this in 2.1.1 and 2.1.3 in this Q&A), we now live on Earth with sensory waking consciousness plunged into a physical material world with good and evil and the counterforces of hosts of beings of Lucifer, Ahriman and Sorat. As discussed a.o. on Fall and redemption - original sin and grace, it is part of Man's spiritualization, and the future stages of evolution of our solar system, to redeem this situation.

Maximilian Rebholz

From Rebholz:

Dr. Steiner having supposedly once said (according to Carl Unger):

There is no matter; there is only evil.

Plotinus also understood matter as “evil,” regarding which Otto Willmann makes this beautiful remark:

In Plotinus, too, one can think of the bound Ahriman when he says that evil is cast in golden shackles [the veil of the etheric] so that the gods and human beings do not see it, or when they see it, they immediately remember the images of the beautiful by which it is bound.

(Geschichte des Idealismus [History of Idealism], Volume I, page 667, addition in square brackets by Rebholz) Adolf Arenson pointed out once,

Matter came into being through the supersensible archetype of cold, through hate. All matter is the product of hate.


[1] - The story of progressive insight on the nature of the atom

Personal introduction

2023-06-04. This is a personal story, and at the same time it is not. I would not write this if I would not deem it to be relevant (or important).

The story of what is on this page is an important cornerstone for the worldview connection between the contemporary materialistic worldview of mineral science, and that of spiritual science. In the early 21st century, consciousness is seen as the major big question .. but a century ago the major questions of that worldview were on the table: the nature of the atom, the origin of the cosmos, etc. Mineral science came with answers and eventually settled for a certain view and paradigm.

Flashback to the mid eighties, when at university I was happy to be able to study advanced chemistry courses on orbital theory based on mathematical modelling and quantum physics. For an introduction see: Fast forward to 2020, when revisiting this after having studied the work of Rudolf Steiner and Walter Russell, see The two etheric streams. With schemas such as Schema FMC00.404A I tried to make some key connections, whilst at the same time looking for a bridging connection with contemporary science - see Schema FMC00.404B. In the latter schema I used a representation of the periodic table by Eric R. Scerri (1997).

Then however, re-reading Harrison's 1893 esoteric lectures (some ten years after I had first read these), I was struck by his phrasing when he makes explicit reference to certain wordings in a lecture by the then-world-famous scientist Crookes. One a personal note, I would like to add here as a parenthesis that when reading this quote, I 'saw' and made a drawing of a lemniscatory spiral and positioned the seven metals on the leaves. This was before discovering any graphical presentations later on. Nice feelings arise when finding things in the world after one has first seen them oneself.

Now what is striking in Harrison's quotes is that Crookes spoke as from a vision he had had, he used the description of a world pendulum referring to a lemniscatory motion when describing how matter could have come into being.

Everyone who has read Harrison knows that, just like Steiner and Blavatsky, all these spoke from a source of wisdom which is a class beyond the insights that come from normal mundane waking consciousness and intellectual thinking. In other words, one can better take it seriously when a hint is dropped so explicitly. Correlating Harrison's description with Russell's model shows beautiful correspondence, whilst being also consistent with Steiner's teachings.

Only a bit later I found that Harrison was not the first to expose this key into the open, as Blavatsky had actually done the same in a chapter of the Secret Doctrine (see above). And again with explicit wordings as she writes: "A few lines at the very close of his lecture on the Genesis of the Elements - two or three sentences - showed the eminent scientist to be on the royal road to the greatest discoveries." There are more places like this in the Secret Doctrine where hints are dropped with an explicit emphasis, another such example is on: Hints of future etheric force technology. For those who want to hear and understand right, this is all that is needed to know one is on the right track here to something important. In this case something that, at that time, the whole world of science was investigating as a major mystery of life and creation. So the esoteric guidance dropped hints all right, but they were words in the wind and as we will see, today some 100-140 years later, it was water under the bridge .. though, not fully invain. And that is exactly the story of this Discussion Note, commenting to what's on this topic page.

Harrison and Blavatsky's references allow to trace the relevant source documents by Crookes, his two addresses of 1886 and 1887, and two key papers of 1887-1888. On today's internet, one can find back the original text in PDF (see link below in Further reading section), and even a small extract of another publication, republished in Scientific American of 2012.

Some further internet searching quickly brings up more:

  • first: representations of Crookes model, both his own 3D model and a 2D presentation by Edward Mazurs (see Schemas FMC00.529 and FMC00.529A)
  • secondly: it appears that the periodic table from the Encylopedia Brittanica and the article by Scerri 1997, as shown in Schema FMC00.404B, was devised already by Andreas von Antropoff in 1926, and actually was quite popular for a while at that time. Note: in his book 'Strahlende Materie' (1979), Georg Blattman shows how this structure contains a natural growth with each row going from 1, to 3, to 5; to 7 elements.

Bringing all the above together, we have an updated set of old materials from several sources that can be juxtaposed and studied:

  • the Crookes lectures and original descriptions, but especially with the specific phrases extracted and commented upon by Blavatsky and Harrison. These provide focal points for where to look, or what elements to highlight for imaginative contemplation.
  • the two representations by Russell (see Schema FMC00.530), as foundational material to link to Crookes' view and the von Antropoff seven level view of the periodic table.

The schemas try to do just this and in order to convey it in a simple way graphically, we start by looking at two elements:

  • the statement of Crookes on how certain elements lie next to eachother
  • the position of the seven metals

Interestingly, also note the comparison shows correspondence between the octaves in Russell's harp representation and the lemniscatory cycles in Crookes model.

Some reflections in a historical context

  • For people who have read and studied Rudolf Steiner's work and his description of the importance of the leminiscatory movement (eg 1921-GA323) a link is laid out here between Harrison who stressed this law of the lemniscate already some 30 years before Steiner, and a 'traditional scientist' who came to this also by himself (well, see next note below)
  • If we search references to Crookes in Blavatsky's first book Isis Unveiled published in 1877, we see Crookes' name is referenced all over the book (and appears 75 times) but purely in the context of his interest and research in spiritism. Research shows that Crookes was very intensely researching spirits in the period 1871-1875, so this correlates. Crookes was a renowed scientist of high caliber, and became world famous later .. receiving many honours, including the 1907 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, President of the Royal Society and a knighthood.
  • Several decades later, Rudolf Steiner explained how Crookes may be called victim of, or was unconsciously used as part of an initiative of spiritism or spiritualism to misdirect humanity on a large scale away from true spiritual science. Furthermore Steiner also mentions Isis Unveiled was inspired by Christian Rosenkreutz, and Blavatsky also clashed with groups aiming at using spiritism for egotistic purposes.
  • My hypothesis is as follows: that Crookes received inspiration of his vision through a certain (and not identified, potential) intervention, in other words that he was given this vision of the true nature of the atom, something that was fully down his street as a scientist. Indeed, Crookes then went out and put his full reputation at stake to give important addresses on the 'genesis of matter' in 1886 and 1887, he wrote papers in 1887-1888, and continued to position and defend his model and view. In other words he put this out in the world. This then allowed Blavatsky and Harrison to reference the model and comment on selected literal quotes, as they do in The Secret Doctrine in 1888 and lectures of 1893 respectively. With the above, a timeline can be reconstituted that has a reasonable logic to it, to the degree it is put forth here as an hypothesis with high probability. This is why we call Crookes model a vision.
  • Maybe .. (depending on the above), Crookes may potentially be in the category of scientists together with Kelly, Tesla, and Russell .. that were quite ahead of their time, and made great discoveries .. but which eventually humanity and science was not able to understand, assimilate, incorporate .. for a variety of reasons.
  • Note, also an option is he was mislead with this vision, that it would be a sidetrack from spiritual realities and truth (see Leadbeater with occult chemistry presentation of atom, memories of atlantis, etc). We believe this is not the case, on the basis that (and also of how) Harrison referenced Crookes' vision in 1893.

Schema illustrations

Schemas FMC00.529 and FMC.530 above illustrate the elements highlighted by Blavatsky and Harrison from Crookes' vision address.

In summary, study shows the correspondence in the hints, models, descriptions given by:

  • [A] - Rudolf Steiner's explanations
  • [B] - Walter Russell's model and descriptions
  • [C] - the von Antropoff representation
  • [D] - Crookes lemniscatory spiral model - with commentaries by Blavatsky and Harrison



  • It is a remarkable coincidence that Russell's and von Antropoff's work both date from 1926. And, note on the side, also William Butler Yeats book 'A vision' dates from 1925 (see my Essay of 2014, will be added here The two etheric streams#.5B2.3.5D - William Butler Yeats .28A Vision.2C 1925.29)
  • Crookes' vision is remarkable, because he speaks here of matter arising from the spiritual, and puts it in an evolutionary context that corresponds to Steiner's description of the evolution of the Earth and the Book of Genesis (see also Iwer Thor Lorenzen's excellent work on this). Crookes' descriptions of 1886, fourty years before 1926, seem to say he 'saw' it as a grand vision, as if he had a dream, but it's as if he couldn't really express it very well, he really sketches an imaginative picture.
  • It is worthwhile to read about Walter Russell's enlightenment experience in 1921 and how he had those periods throughout his life (see Walter Russell#Lecture coverage).
  • This page is about representation in physical dimensions and thoughts in Euclidean space, the 'receiving end', so to speak. More important, in order to contemplate what is going on in the etheric, is to consider a projective geometry counterspace (see Mathematics of the etheric). And of course the two worlds are connected, with different 'laws' in each, which is why nature displays certain patterns as a result, such as spirals, symmetries, platonic solids (see eg John Blackwood's 'Geometry in nature'). The best or actually only foundation the author knows of, is by Nick Thomas in his two books on the etheric (see: Scientific research into the etheric formative forces#Introductory reading list). There Nick Thomas discusses the chemical ether in context of the wave function of quantum physics, and lays out an interesting model whereby he explores this idea that the physical and higher worlds are linked through certain laws, and how this linkage can explain many phenomena in physics. Given the intrinsic complexity this is not taken along on this page or wiki (yet).


To recap, first personally. In 2014, for certain reasons to do with spirals, I already brought [A] and [B] together with an essay on a blog in 2014 called 'The second lawfullness'. Putting it on this website, this was updated with what is now oa on the The two etheric streams topic page, see eg Schema FMC00.404 and variants (though (re [C]) at this point not knowing von Antropoff was the basis of the illustration referenced from Scerri 1997). Then in 2023 a new insight brought [D], starting from Harrison, then looking up Blavatsky, doing the research on Crookes and the historical background described above to coin things together. Personally it is a significant anecdote too that I drew the lemniscatory spiral to position the seven metals before seeing Crookes' version afterwards via internet research.

My view is that hereby a number of pieces of a puzzle fall together, whereby one consistent picture emerges about the nature of the atom and chemical elements. This picture has been 'given to us' via different sources of spiritual science, working through a number of individuals.

The consistency, correspondences, the grand beauty of the explanation, the links and coincidences are enough to write a book. Which I will not do. Someone else maybe ought to. My wish is that this page may bring others to 'see' and to share in the beauty of understanding, and the joy of discovery and insight.

To conclude: as described above, this 'physical receiving end of the story' will always be only part of the story, the emanation of the activity of the Golden chain .. the other higher part above being the etheric counterspace and its forces as influences from the spiritual beings in the spirit world.

[2] - Various notes WIP

2.1 - How to write a simple statement about the atom?

  • Force and matter are two sides of one coin, and it plays between the normal euclidean physical space and the etheric counterspace: gravity and suction. That is why there are Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Dirac's wave equation: one cannot 'freeze' an electron or photon to take a picture with a 'matter only' camera from a materialistic perspective that wants to see a particle. Alternatively, physics wants to test if 'the nature of the thing' is a wave and then indeed the energy component and wave behaviour is found. See also the GA091 lectures referenced on Force substance representation. This duality is expressed in Dirac's wave equation, and from it follows the concept of antimatter. The term 'antimatter' is a typical exponent of the 'matter'-ialistic contemporary mineral science that takes the view that everything must exist of matter in space. In this case mineral science went as far as to mathematically derive the opposite, but what reality should one philosophically link to this mathematical concept of antimatter? Calling it antimatter is really saying nothing more than that we have an action like suction instead of gravity. See Rudolf Steiner's concepts of suction and counterspace in context of describing the lawfullness of the etheric, see eg Mathematics of the etheric#Rudolf Steiner.27s indications
  • Rudolf Steiner mentions that the atom is really an empty bubble with hollow space (etheric counterspace). This continuous popping in an out of existence is also what Walter Russell explains with the double charged sphere. Everything in his framework or cosmogeny is based on the threefoldedness of a still point, a male and a female. However whereas Rudolf Steiner stopped after dropping hints in lectures, and the scientific courses, Russell carried things further and developed his own framework or representation for this.

2.2 - Explorative draft - Regarding Russell's octave wave and period table, see Schema FMC00.404B and Schema FMC00.528

  • Observe on the left the seven levels, whereby intuitively one sees the first highest three levels being 'simple', and the four lower levels much richer and more complex, heavier elements.
  • Now see Schema FMC00.379 and the explanation of the etheric formative forces working from the cosmos and after reversal and reflection also with additional influences from Earth (explanation most probably by Rudolf Steiner, as published in the book by Wachsmuth (1927)).
  • Question: Is it possible to find back the 3 and 4 for seven levels that are also in Walter Russell's octave wave? Consider intuitivelythat we distinguish the first three levels, and the four levels afterwards. On Russell's Nine-stringed harp this corresponds to (octaves 3+4+5) and (octaves 6+7+8+9).
    • Octaves 3+4+5 map to three levels 1+2+3 of 7, and are the levels of life. The five elements hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, silicon make up organic chemistry and 98% of nature's kingdoms.
    • Octaves 6+7+8+9 map to four levels 4+5+6+7 of 7. Observe the three levels 4+5+6 contain the seven metals corresponding to the seven planets and/or the etheric formative forces. On the highest level 6: gold, mercury, lead (sun, mercury, saturn), then on level 5: silver, tin (moon, jupiter), on level 4 iron and cupper (mars, venus).
    • Is there a difference between these two groups? Consider FMC00.379 again: the plant is part of the Earth, it is an example of organic chemistry, of a living kingdom of nature. The schema text says that the growth of the plant is carried by three breath rhythms of influences reflected by/from the earth.

Related pages

References and further reading

  • William Crookes
    • address to the chemical section of the Britisch Association, Birmingham meeting of 2 Sep 1886, dealing with the nature and origin of the so-called elements
    • Genesis of the elements - Royal Institution (18 feb 1887)
    • La Genese des Elements (1887)
    • Die Genesis der Elemente (1888)
    • Elements et meta-elements (1888)
  • Andreas von Antropoff (1878-1956)
    • 'Eine neue Form des periodischen Systems der Elemente' (1926, article in 'Zeitschrift für angewandte Chemie')
    • Wandtafeln des periodischen Systems der Elemente (1926)
  • Ernst Bindel and Arnold Blicke:
    • 'Das Periodische System der Elemente als Schöpfungsurkunde' (Die Drei No. 18 of 1948)
    • 'Zahlengesetze in der Stoffeswelt und in der Erdenentwicklung’ (1952)
  • Edward G. Mazurs (1894–1983)
    • 'Types of Graphic Representation of the Periodic System of Chemical Elements' (1957)
    • 'Graphic representations of the periodic system during one hundred years' (1974)
  • R van Romunde: 'Materie en straling in ruimte en tijd'
    • Band 1. Een bijdrage tot de fundering van een natuurkunde op fenomenologische grondslag (1970)
    • Band 2. Geluid, electriciteit en magnetisme. (1979)
  • Primo Levi: The periodic table (1984 in EN, original in IT 1975 'Il sistema periodico')
    • collection of twenty-one short stories named after the periodic table in chemistry
  • Eric Robert Scerri:
  • Philip Stewart
  • Hayley Bennett: The art of the periodic table (2019)