Walter Russell

From Anthroposophy

The work of Walter Russell (1871-1963) is known to relatively few people, and hardly or not understood or appreciated in today's 'scientific' world of materialistic or mineral science.

In 1921 Russell wrote Message of the Divine Iliad in a state of inspiration without any changes from start to finish. His first major scientific work 'The Universal One' followed in 1926 after this period of visionary enlightenment or intuitive insight. He refers to this special experience of ‘illumination’, but also the fact it’s almost impossible to find words to describe it afterwards. In a later phase of his life he also wrote ‘The Secret of Light’ (1947) and ‘A New Concept of the Universe’ (1953), as well as a ‘Home Study Course’ in the same period (1950-52).

His work in general is not exactly easy to read. Writing style and terminology, along with his particular and personal scientific approach are rather demanding: one has to be willing and able to read over and through all this, and study - intuitively beyond purely intellectual - in order to grasp the framework that is laid out. Although he refined his language and descriptions over the decades, the Russell scientific framework is overall very consistent. To ease the entry, several people have written introductions and notes to the life and work of Walter Russell (see ao [1] below).

This Russell scientific framework shows striking and consistent correspondences with the teachings of Rudolf Steiner in his scientific courses and other lectures.


  • Russell's periodic table, and comparison with the seven level representation by Eric Scerri (1997, see further reading below)
  • Russell's 'octave wave', the number 9, and the universal heartbeat (rhythmic pattern of 4)
  • Russell's 'voidance principle' - see also Note on Cosmic breathing

Inspirational quotes

.. when our knowing exceeds our sensing, we will no longer be deceived by the illusions of our senses


.. the cardinal error of science is shutting the Creator out of his Creation

Lecture coverage

Just as with Rudolf Steiner GA lecture references are used, but also for the main books OES for Outline of Esoteric Science, or KHW for Knowledge of the higher worlds, also Walter Russell's three main scientific books are used with the following acronyms:

  • 'The Universal One' (1926), or 'TUO'
  • The Secret of Light” (1947), or 'TSL'
  • ‘A New Concept of the Universe’ (1953), or 'NCU'
Walter Russell in 'The Story of My Illumining' (1950)

renders an account and explanation of the illumination experience and inspirational awareness that developed throughout his life. When Russell was fourteen years old, the disease Black diptheria seemingly destroyed his throat and cut off his breathing. Doctors pronounced the illness fatal with a prognosis for death.

Then came the great Light which had come to me in my first illumining and I arose from my bed to the great amazement of my weeping parents and to the doctors who found that throat functioned as properly as though it were perfectly healed.

Russell spent several weeks drawing and writing about the basic nature and structure of the universe. He sketched out the basis for the structure of atomic, solar and stellar systems, as well as the connection between sound, light and matter. His family thought him mad and fit for a mental institution, but the family doctor disagreed. The physician did not comprehend the complex thoughts that Russell was committing to paper, but he knew that Russell was definitely not crazy.

From that moment on, I fully knew that God had a purpose for my living to manifest Him by a life of demonstrating the power of Man who knew God in him and worked knowingly with Him. This I fully knew, but I did not fully know of the transformation of unfolding Man into his next Cosmic Age until the seventh full illumining of 1921, when my years were seven times seven. Up to this time my cosmic severances were forty-three.

Usually the cosmic illumination has a duration of a few minutes or hours, leaving an aftermath of a few day, but no matter how brief it is, it completely transforms one into another higher being. My usual period through life has been about ten days following the first intensive few hours, but this 1921 period lasted for thirty-nine days and nights, beginning on May 10th and ending June 19th.

The illumination into Cosmic Consciousness is an entirely spiritual experience and is the ultimate goal of all mankind, which completes the unfolding of the Man-idea on earth. All down through Man’s unfolding it comes gradually to all people. Every inspiring thought which comes to you is a partial illumination. The geniuses of the world are those who have had the greatest number of spiritual inspirations.

Jeronimo Canty in 'The Book of N'

.. I must briefly introduce the reader unfamiliar with the life and work of Dr. Walter Russell to this great renaissance man of the last century. As I quote him often and borrow from the artwork of this master of all that he approached, the reader should know at least a bit about the man. Born in 1881, Russell had a very spirited nature and curiosity about all things around him. On the occasion of his birthday each year and especially each 7th year, he would experience an intense inner awakening and spiritual visions that carried him on throughout his 93-year life.

He trained briefly as an artist in Boston and carried on from there to become an internationally renowned portrait artist (drawing the likes of FDR, Edison, Sam Clemens and others), sculptor (with works today in museums around the world), architect (creating the first condominium apartment and studio building in NYC), designer of roads (the Bronx River Parkway), poet, musician, and so on.

At the age of 49, he had a breakthrough experience around that auspicious birthday (7×7) while visiting at the home of friends at Yale in New Haven. They thought he had lost his marbles at first, as he ceased to communicate and embarked on a writing and graphic art frenzy, which upon examination appeared to be divinely inspired. Being intelligent sorts, they took care of his needs and cut him loose. Astronomical charts, chemical elements arranged in musical format, on and on, and all backed up with a voluminous tome of Whitman-esque poetry (The Divine Iliad) written in old-high English with thee and thou. The man was clearly up to something special. Throughout this period he required total attention to his basic needs.

40 days later he reported having seen the movement of the planets in their synchronized orbits, the movement of the lithosphere beneath the oceans, the mechanical operation of disc brakes and cone clutches within the Earth, and other such cosmic things. Upon his return to NYC, he resumed the presidency of the Society of the Arts and Sciences there and worked along side the greats of his time such as Edison and Tesla, the latter whom he befriended.


[1] - Note about Russell's framework or cosmogony

About Walter Russell's contributions, why they are not so obvious, and how to grasp and appreciate them.

  • Russell received visions and was making drawings in another state of consciousness (it is likely it was the highest level of 'inspiration') and his materials are to be read both on a macroscopic level (the logoi, solar system) and a microscopic. The latter is our intellectual distinction, but one can observe the same 'multidimensionality or multiplicity of meaning' in the Book of Revelation where also a statement is valid and can be read on multiple levels.
  • However Russell uses his own language that is personal artistic and may come across as a bit weird-funny if one hasn't studied Russell's framework or cosmogony. As a consequence, many people can't make sense of it. But again, is this not just as much the case for the imagery in the Book of Revelation?
  • Just like the Book of Revelation, it requires a whole process for the reader/student to come to decipher the images and what is said here, and few people have done that and led it to a good end. Two examples are Tim Binder (see Fulcrum magazine, and 'In the wave lies the secret of creation') and the anonymous person who wrote the PDF document (see Further reading section below), but they are rare exceptions. The qualitative secondary literature is relatively speaking limited and poor.
  • Nevertheless, one can 'easily' feel and see that what Russell writes about is the same as what Rudolf Steiner explains in the scientific courses (for example the Astronomy course) and other lectures on the etheric and what is called (on this site) the Cosmic fractal. 'Easy' here depends on one's lifelong interest and affinity with cosmology, chemistry and physics.

Related pages

References and further reading

Walter Russell

  • The inspiration:
    • Message of the Divine Iliad (inspired work written in 1921, published as two volumes in 1949 and again in 1971)
  • Three main books
    • 'The Universal One' (1926), or 'TUO'
    • The Secret of Light” (1947), or 'TSL'
    • ‘A New Concept of the Universe’ (1953), or 'NCU'
      • The Cosmic Plan, originally printed in 1953 as the Russell Cosmogony, has been republished by the University of Science and Philosophy under the above title 'A New Concept of the Universe: A Brief Treatise on the Russell Cosmogony'
  • Other writings
    • The Russell Genero-Radiative Concept (1930)
    • Atomic Suicide?” (1957)
    • Home Study Course

Various authors

  • [1] anonymous (unknown author): Notes on the Works of Walter & Lao Russell (PDF downloadable)
  • Glenn Clark: 'The man who tapped the secrets of the universe' (1946)
    • I recommend to read this concise but inspiring booklet to gain an appreciation of Russell as a special person and true polymath: he was not just the author of a unified theory of physics and cosmogony but also a painter, sculptor, philosopher, etc.
  • Timothy A. Binder: 'In the wave lies the secret of creation' (1995)
  • Charles W. Hardy: 'A Worthy Messenger' (2011)
  • Jonathan V.L. Kiser: 'Condensed decoding of The Universal One' (2020)
  • Jeronimo or Jerry Canty
    • The Book of N (The holoscene quartet volume 1)
    • Holoscene” (formerly “Spiral, Lord of Creation”)

On the internet

Various sources

  • Eric Scerri: The evolution of the periodic system (American Scientist, Nov/Dec 1997, p 546-553)
    • seven level presentation of the periodic system adapted by Eric Scerri from tables developed by Bayley, Thomsen and Bohr