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Wilhelm Reich, M.D.: Unleashes Energy from Substance


[From Dr. Wilson : Wilhelm Reich, M.D., conducted experiments and made observations that ended up convincing him that he was observing some kind of energy that had been contained within inanimate matter. An accidental change in one experiment led to an incident that I consider to be a pivotal event in history:]

“In January 1939, one of my assistants was demonstrating the incandescence experiment to a visitor in the laboratory in Oslo . By mistake, she took the wrong container from the sterilizer and instead of earth she heated ocean sand to incandescence. After two days a culture had started to form in the bouillon potassium chloride solution which, when inoculated on egg medium and agar, yielded a yellow growth. Under the microscope this new kind of culture appeared as large, scarcely motile, pockets of energy glimmering with an intense blue. The culture was ‘pure,’ i.e., it consisted of only one kind of formation….These bions received the designation SAPA (sand packet). They possessed properties of extreme interest.

The effect of the SAPA bions on rot bacteria, protozoa, and T-bacilli was much more powerful than that of other bions. Brought together with cancer cells, they killed or paralyzed the cells even at a distance of approximately 10 microns.”

Reich was aware of a radiation phenomenon that possessed unique properties…The room where the SAPA bions were kept needed constant ventilation, with the windows open, or else workers suffered headaches. The air became “heavy,” and metal objects became highly magnetized. Experimenting with photographic plates, Reich found that even the control plates in the room without the culture became fogged like the others, as if the energy were present everywhere.

Reich transferred his cultures to a dark basement, where, once his eyes adapted to the darkness, he saw the room not as black but as a grayish blue. “I saw fog-like vapors, streaks of blue light, and dots darting about. Light of a deep violet color seemed to come from the walls and the objects around the room.” (25) After two hours, Reich was able to see “quite distinctly a radiation from the palm of my hand, the sleeves of my shirt, and (looking in the mirror) the hair on my head. Gradually, the blue glimmer surrounded my body and objects in the room like a hazy, slow-moving, gray-blue luminous vapor.” (26) …He was impressed that he had stumbled upon an energy with extremely high biological activity. What was the nature of this energy, and how was it to be measured?

“One day the idea ‘sun energy’ suddenly occurred to me, providing a simple solution which sounded absurd only at first: SAPA bions had originated from ocean sand. But ocean sand is nothing more than solidified solar energy. The incandescing and swelling of the sand had released this energy once again from its material state.”

Reich called the energy orgone…because the energy was absorbed by organic matter. He decided to contain the radiation by building a box with metal on the inside to reflect and hold the radiation and with organic matter on the outside to reduce or prevent the transmitting of the radiation to the outside. With the culture placed inside the box, Reich “was able to distinctly observe blue moving vapors and bright, yellow-white streaks and dots of light. The phenomena were confirmed by several persons who served as subjects in repetitions of the experiment.”(31) Reich was surprised when he saw the same phenomenon when the box was empty after having been thoroughly ventilated and cleaned. Other boxes constructed in the same manner produced the same visual effect.

In 1940, during a summer trip to Maine , Reich observed the flickering of stars and began to question the validity of the concept that the stars flickered because of the diffusion of light. He looked at the sky through a wooden tube, and at last his understanding of orgone energy fell into place.

“I began to look at individual stars through a wooden tube, at one point unintentionally aiming the tube toward a deep-blue spot in the sky between the stars. I was amazed to see a lively flickering followed by flashes of fine rays of light in the circular field or the tube. The phenomenon gradually faded as I moved the tube in the direction of the moon, being the most intense in the darkest portions of the sky between the stars. It was the same fine flickering and flashing, with dots and streaks of light, that I had observed so often in my box. I inserted a magnifying glass in the tube to enlarge the rays. Suddenly my box lost its mystery. The phenomenon had become quite understandable: the radiation in my culture-free box originated in the atmosphere. The atmosphere contained an energy of which I had no previous knowledge.”

…Reich came to see that what [scientists] had once called ether, which fills space and exists universally, was the all-pervading, observable, and demonstrable energy he called orgone. The alchemists also knew of the blue ether, the lapis aetherius, the Philosopher’s Stone, considered to be the same phenomenon. In one of his most powerful passages in The Murder of Christ, Reich saw man in a trap. “The trap is man’s emotional structure, his character structure,” (33) which man is born into and inherits from the culture. Alchemy also saw the world of matter as a trap. Mercurius entrapped in the world of impure sulphur can be released by the power of the sun, by SAPA bions, and by the soul released from the material prison through alchemical art. Reich, with his sense of connection to nature, certainly had glimpses of the unus mundus. His knowledge of himself, however, the unio mentalis, remained flawed.

Some people may object that I describe Reich as coming into a spiritual orientation when for so many years he was atheistic, and they may prefer to dismiss his last ten years as primarily the product of his emotional breakdown…To call Reich spiritual when most of his life was spent in opposition to a life-negating mysticism might contradict a basic tenet of his thought. But Reich himself was in the business of reminding people that their bodies express unconscious feelings and images that contradict their rational presentation of themselves. So it was with Reich himself. His blind spot was in the area of his own fervent intuition and movement to a spiritual framework, which he could partially acknowledge in his last years.

It is possible that, in time, we will discover that alchemy was indeed a symbolic process that transformed the inner heart of [people], but also that alchemy put us in touch with the blue ether, the energy of the universe. We may also discover that Wilhelm Reich, as he claimed, confirmed through scientific means the reality of the blue ether, calling it orgone.

Quotes cited by John P. Conger in Jung & Reich: The Body As Shadow were from books by Wilhelm Reich: The Bion Experiments on the Origin of Life; and The Cancer Biopathy [vol. 2 of The Discovery of the Orgone]