By Stefan Stenudd
Stefan Stenudd
About me
I'm a Swedish writer and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written several books about lifeforce concepts and East Asian traditions. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching creation myths. My personal website: stenudd.com


Life Energy
The life energy exists in many traditions, such as qi (chi) in China, prana in India, pneuma in Ancient Greece, spiritus in Latin, and vitalism in philosophy. Here they are all explained.



Books by Stefan Stenudd:

Cosmos of the Ancients, by Stefan Stenudd.

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained, by Stefan Stenudd.

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Chinese classic, translated and extensively commented by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Other Websites:

Qi energy

The ancient Chinese life energy qi (chi) explained and how to exercise it. Click the image to visit.

Taoists

Taoism, the old Chinese philosophy of life, based on Tao, the Way. Click the image to visit.

Creation Myths

Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal. Click the image to visit.


Life Energy Beliefs. God gives life to Adam, by William Blake.

Life Energy Beliefs E

Life Force Ideas Around the World


The idea of a life energy, or life spirit, a vital force that flows through all living things, exists all over the world, in many cultures and from the distant past to the present. Here is a small encyclopedia of such beliefs - and of terms mistakenly believed to be such. An edited and expanded version of this is in my book Life Energy Encyclopedia.

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E

Paul Twitchell

Eck is the divine spirit according to the movement Eckankar, founded in 1965 by Paul Twitchell (1909?-1971, he was secretive about his birth date). Eck can be consciously exercised and accelerated, and is by nature a kind of guide to the heavenly. The word eckankar comes from the Sikh expression ek-onkar, ‘a true god’.

Ecstacy (from the Greek word ekstasis, astonishment) is a word commonly used for an overwhelming feeling of extreme joy or delight, making the mind incapable of reason and restraint. Historically, it has been used also for intense religious experiences. See also euphoria.

Ectoplasm (from the Greek ektos plasmos, which approximately means ‘emanated substance’) was the name of a thick white liquid that came out of the mouths of mediums in a seance, and took the shape of contacted spirits or their hands, in the Spiritism of the 19th century. It happened that such a liquid was mixed by the mediums themselves. There were differing recipes, such as the combination of soap, gelatine, and egg white.


Ectoplasm
Three out of seven photos from a seance in 1943, where ectoplasm emerges and forms into a spirit. The medium is Ethel Post-Parrish, and the spirit is Silver Belle, an Indian spirit guide to the medium.


Henri Bergson

Élan vital (French, approximately ‘life spirit’) was the name that the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941) gave the idea of an energy that is kind of the principle of creation, the driving force behind the evolution toward ever higher life forms. His thought that chemical and physical processes alone could not explain the appearance of life, is called vitalism (see this word) or neo-vitalism. Compare entelechy.

William Gilbert

Electricity (from the Greek elektron, amber, because this was used to induce electricity by rubbing) has because of its elusive nature been the source of many theories about how nature works, often connected to ideas about a life energy. Only by the end of the 18th century, electricity started to be understood and explained, but pioneering work was done by the English physician William Gilbert (1544-1603), who also introduced the name electricus, ‘of amber’. See also animal electricity, electricum, and imponderabilia.

Electricum was used in 18th century European thought as a name for the substance supposed to lie behind electricity, for example in the theory on animal electricity by the Italian physiologist Luigi Galvani (1737-98). See electricity.

Electrogravity is an expression used by the American physicist Thomas Townsend Brown (1905-1985) for a high voltage system that can create movement through an electric field, without reaction – also called X-force or the Biefeld-Brown effect. Paul Alfred Biefeld (-c.1940) was Brown’s mentor. Their work on this force started in 1923. Such a force would explain, among other things, how UFO vessels could accelerate freely to high velocity, and how interstellar travel could be possible. In 1926 Biefeld and Brown presented a sketch of a space-mobile working on this principle. The effect of this technique can also be described as antigravity (see this word). It has few similarities to qi. The term X-force seems also to have been used by the Englishman Leon Ernest Eeman, who around 1920 developed the machine Eeman Relaxation Circuit, to create a healing flow of this force. The method is also called biocircuitry.


Flying device using the Biefeld-Brown effect.
Flying device using the Biefeld-Brown effect. See electrogravity.


Elima are special songs in the Mbuti tribe in Zaire, which are used at female passage rites. The male equivalent is molimo. These singing rituals are believed to have great power. Elima is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, which is misleading.

Elixir (from Arabic al-iksir, probably from Greek xerion, medical powder) is a term traditionally used for a substance supposed to cure all ills, or even sustain life forever. The term was also used by the Medieval and Renaissance alchemists for philosophers’ stone, a substance believed to change metals into gold. See also longevity.

Eloptic energy is a theory from the 1940's by the American engineer Thomas Galen Hieronymus (1895-1988), about a healing energy that combines the properties of electricity and light. Thereby the name, which is a compound of the words electricity and optics. He built machines to receive this energy. He is also reported to have imagined a raw material for creation, logoital plasma, the energy of which was the origin of eloptic energy.

Emanation see radiation.

Emerald Tablet is a short mystical text, according to legend composed by the deity Hermes Trismegistos (‘Triple great’), but probably composed around 200-300 CE, which is central in alchemy. Here is the text in its entirety, from a 12th century Latin version of it: True, without falsehood, certain, most certain. What is above is like what is below, and what is below is like that which is above. To make the miracle of the one thing. And as all things were made from contemplation of one, so all things were born from one adaptation. Its father is the Sun, its mother is the Moon. The wind carried it in its womb, the earth breast fed it. It is the father of all works of wonder in the world. Its power is complete. If cast to earth, it will separate earth from fire, the subtle from the gross. With great capacity it ascends from earth to heaven. Again it descends to earth, and takes back the power of the above and the below. Thus you will receive the glory of the distinctiveness of the world. All obscurity will flee from you. This is the whole most strong strength of all strength, for it overcomes all subtle things, and penetrates all solid things. Thus was the world created. From this comes marvelous adaptions of which this is the procedure. Therefore I am called Hermes, because I have three parts of the wisdom of the whole world. And complete is what I had to say about the work of the Sun. See also telesma.


The Emerald Tablet, as imagined by Heinrich Khunrath, in 1606.
The Emerald Tablet, as imagined by Heinrich Khunrath, in 1606.


Empty waves is a theory about energy waves that exist without being possible to observe, by the French quantum physicist Louis de Broglie (1892-1987). Any resemblance to the concept qi is not likely, although they are sometimes mentioned as synonyms.

Albert Einstein

Energy (from the Greek energeia, active) originally referred to the activity of living creatures, their ability to act without outer influence. Therefore it was in its initial use not far from life force ideas. The modern scientific perspective on it is mainly the opposites mass and energy, where Albert Einstein (1879-1955) showed the relation between them in his famous formula E=mc2. The energy (E) found in mass (M) is in the proportion of the speed of light (c) in square – in other words a whole lot of energy. The formula also indicates that energy can transform to matter, and the other way around. This is in line with many beliefs about a life force or aura permeating all of cosmos. Within New Age, the term energy is very often used for all kinds of speculations and theories about other influences on life and health than the ones confirmed by natural science.


Hydrogen bomb cloud, from a Christmas Island test in 1958.
Hydrogen bomb cloud, from a Christmas Island test in 1958. The invention of the atomic bomb, and later the hydrogen bomb, introduced a new and terrifying perspective on energy - and faced mankind with the sudden ability to eradicate its own civilization.


Hans Driesch

Entelechy (from the Greek en telei echo, to be in perfection) was to Aristotle (384-322 BC) the inherent purpose that governed a creature’s development – in humans their souls. The term was used similarly by the German embryologist and philosophy professor Hans Driesch (1867-1941), who claimed that life cannot be explained solely by chemical and physical processes. This standpoint is named vitalism (see this word). Compare élan vital and monad.

Ether see quintessence.

Ether body see life ether.

Etheric field see dielectric energy.

Edgar Cayce

Etheronic force is an expression used by the American medium Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) and his followers, for a radiation or vibration that can be stimulated with prisms and high temperature. It can be either healing or damaging.

Euphoria (from the Greek word euphoros, healthy) is a word commonly used for extreme joy, an overwhelming feeling similar to inebriation. In Christianity, it also signified a divine reward for saintly acts. See also ecstacy.


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Books

I have written two books on the subject of life energy: Qi: Increase your Life energy and Life Energy Encyclopedia. This website has material from the latter. Here are the two books:

Life Energy Encyclopedia, by Stefan Stenudd.
Life Energy Encyclopedia

Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

QI - increase your life energy, by Stefan Stenudd.
Qi - Increase your life energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with several very easy exercises to awaken, increase, and use it, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Stefan Stenudd