By Stefan Stenudd
Stefan Stenudd
About me
I'm a Swedish writer and instructor of the peaceful martial art aikido. I've written several books about qi and other lifeforce concepts. I'm also a historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in 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 H

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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H

Ha is a Polynesian word for the life force, which unites the soul, uhane, with the body. See also mana.

Hagion pneuma see Holy Spirit.

Halo (from the Greek halos, a disc around the sun or moon), also called gloria (from the Latin word for glory), is used as a name for the circular light surrounding the head, which has in art been used to signify sanctity. It does not mean that those persons were supposed to have an actual light around their heads, but it was a symbol of their spiritual elevation. Yet, it is possible that this phenomenon in art has inspired modern thoughts about aura (see this word). See also nimbus.


Icon of Mary and Jesus
Icon of Mary and Jesus. See halo.


Hamingja is a word in Norse tradition for a supernatural force or power, which could make its owner unbeatable and victorious, and give happiness. It could appear in the form of a female protective spirit. See also hugr and megin.

Hamr see hugr.

Hantu see badi.

Hasina is a word from Madagascar for a life giving force from the ancestors, which is unevenly divided between individuals and families, where royals are regarded to have the most. The quantity of hasina increased by age, depending on experience, but also on closeness to death. See also andriamanitra.

Healing is a term used for cures through other means than those understood by natural science, such as faith-healing and many New Age methods. Still, the word can also be used for cures through natural means. The former kind of healing exists in many cultures, and usually consists of some kind of force or energy transmitted from the healer to the healed. This force can originate in the healer or come from a higher power, so that the healer is a mere channel of it. The latter is the prevailing view among Christians, whereas the former is common among non-agrarian cultures. The ideas about the force transmitted are often very similar to life energy ideas such as that of qi.


Christ healing the sick, by Gustave Doré (1832-1883).
Christ healing the sick, by Gustave Doré (1832-1883). See Healing.


Heat is the most basic and tangible manifestation of energy, known and explored by humans since he dawn of our species, and therefore essential in the human world view. The fact that deceased persons get cold, links heat to life. Preparing food by heating it has probably in the past also been regarded as a way of inducing life force into it. The fact that heat can be felt at a distance from its source has added to the human ideas of a flow or radiation unlimited by bodies – quite in agreement with modern natural science. The properties of heat are likely to have contributed in several ways to ideas about a life force. It is even possible that some cultures originally regarded heat as equal to the life force. Furthermore, both fire and the rays from the sun (see these words) showed primordial man a distinct relation between heat and light (see this word), so that a source of heat was also expected to give light. But heat and light have not been regarded as identical, since heat can be experienced also in the dark, and spread to places light does not reach. Although the source of heat is often visible, its emanation is not. Since the emanation, the radiation, is beneficial, while its source can be as destructive as fire or unreachable as the sun, this must have inspired ideas about an invisible life giving force penetrating all. In natural science, heat is the result of particle movement, wherefore the absolute zero of 0° Kelvin (-273° Celsius) is a state of particle stillness. In modern physics, heat contains symbols as contradictory as those of the traditional relation between its emanation and its source: heat is a prerequisite for life, and also the foremost reason for the increasing entropy in the universe, the transition from orderly to disorderly energy that in the long run is expected to lead to the extinction of the whole universe. See also negative entropy and zero point energy.


Photo of he sun.
The sun, origin of all earthly heat.


HEF, Human Energy Field, is a collective name for life force in form of an aura (see this word), used in parapsychological research. According to John White and Stanley Krippner in their book Future Science, 1977, there are at least 97 cultures around the world with such a belief.

Heka/Hike is an Egyptian deity of the healing arts, who is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, because of the magical power that was linked to the deity. See also Ankh, seichim and sekhem.


Heka (Hike), Egyptian deity of magic and healing.
Heka (Hike), Egyptian deity of magic and healing, often depicted like this, as a combination of several deities.


Alexander L. Chizhevsky

Heliobiology is a term introduced by the Russian biophysicist Alexander L. Chizhevsky (1897-1964), for the sun’s (helio) influence on Earth biology. Some suggest instead the term bioheliology, or biocosmology, for any cosmic influence on Earth biology. Chizhevsky had theories about sunspot effects on the human psyche and on societal processes, so that civil unrest was supposed to coincide with increases of sunspots. In experiments made in 1919-1922 he also showed how a lack of negative ions in the air influenced bodies – something that many air cleaners today are equipped to counter. For his societal theories, the Soviet government sentenced him to 16 years in the Gulag.

Holism (from the Greek holos, whole) is the idea that parts of a whole cannot be completely understood or explained other than through the perspective of the whole. It also implies, particularly in modern use of the word, that the whole is what rules the laws for the parts, and not the other way around. A consequence of this is the idea that through the whole, each part of it is linked, so that a change in one part influences every other part. An opposing perspective to that of holism is reductionism, where the whole is explained as a consequence of the laws of its smallest parts, such as in quantum physics.

Holy (from old Scandinavian hälig, not to be harmed) is a concept that belongs to the Western tradition of thought, especially the Christian one, but is often applied also to phenomena in other cultures – with doubtful results. When someone or something is holy in a Christian sense, a reverence is supposed, which might not be the case in other cultures. What may be the case is a charge of some magical power that sometimes has similarities to qi. Another word, more frequently used about non-Christian phenomena, is sacred. It implies some form of devotion, usually ritualized, and ideas that those things or persons sacred have a value far above that of ordinary things and people. In most cultures in the world, and through history, the ancestors have been regarded as sacred in some way.

Holy Spirit (also Holy Ghost, in Latin spiritus sanctus, in Greek Hagion pneuma, in Hebrew ruach hakodesh) is an expression for a part of the Biblical God’s nature, often described as his breath, by which he blows life into his creatures, and fills chosen people with a healing power and inspiration (see these words). In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit appears to be something distinctively separate from God himself, but in the New Testament as interpreted by Christian thought, the idea of the Trinity unites God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, into one being. In this unity, the Holy Spirit represents God’s active force, the energy by which his decisions are acted out. In most appearances, the Holy Spirit is a life-bringer, such as the breath by which God injects life into Adam in Genesis 2, and the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of Matthew making Mary pregnant with Jesus. This life giving function of the Holy Spirit brings it close to the nature of life energy concepts like qi. See also ruach, soul and spirit.


The Pentecost. Painting by Anthony van Dyck, 1618.
The Pentecost. Painting by Anthony van Dyck, 1618. The Holy Spirit is a dove, descending on the Apostles.


Homo Vibra Ray Instrument.

Homogeneity vibration is a con­cept introduced by the American chiropractor Ruth Beymer Drown (1892-1963), for a treatment with radio technique (see radionics) and homeopathic principles. She constructed a machine, the Homo Vibra Ray Instrument, which was supposed to radiate the same energy that it was to cure, similarly to how homeopathy uses small quantities of poisons to counter their damaging effects. See also pre-physical energy.

Horme (Greek for ‘driving force’) is a term within Hormic psychology, a theory from the 1920's by he British-American psychologist William MacDougall (1871-1938). Horme is a driving force in living creatures, linked to instinct and survival, which can explain any aspect of the human psyche. Sometimes hormic energy is seen as a parallel to life energy such as qi, but this has little to do with the theories of MacDougall.

Hormic energy see horme.

Huaca/waka/guaca is an expression from the Inca Indians and their predecessors in Peru, which approximately stands for having a measure of divinity or sacredness. It can be true for object, buildings, and the spirits of the ancestors.

Hugr is an old Norse term for spirit, thought, and wish, but also for a spiritual power that a human can use for magical deeds, in which hugr flows from that person. It could be compared to consciousness, or thinking as a force. In Norse belief, there was the body, lik, its life force or soul, vördr, a kind of astral body, hamr, which might be comparable to the subconscious or the emotions, the thought power hugr, and the divine spirit, önd, which permeated the universe. See also hamingja and megin.

Huna see mana.

Yull Brown

Hydroxy, also called Brown’s gas, is a method, by electric treatment of water, to get a gas of hydrogen and oxygen, which is believed to be an effective energy source with particularly good properties. It was developed during the 1970's by the Australian based electrician Yull Brown (1922-1998), assisted by Todd R. Knudtson. The latter is sometimes pointed out as the originator of a qi-like energy concept called pure non manifest energy, but he has rejected this. Instead he claims that Brown’s gas is completely clean, and a sort of compound of matter and energy with very special capacity. Still, it seems to be far from a synonym to life energy concepts like qi.


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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