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 M

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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M

Robert A. Monroe

M-field is an expression introduced by the American Robert A. Monroe (1915-1995) for an energy field with a kind of intelligence, permeating time and space, which is the creator of both life and all kinds of matter. The M-field also contains all the thoughts and emotions, since the dawn of time. People can sense this field in meditation and prayer. The name is possibly formed from the first letter of Monroe’s name. The ideas have many parallels to the Theosophy concept of akashic records (see astral light).

Magic (from the Greek mageia, the teaching of the mages) is human influence on the surroundings, with other means than the physically palpable. It exists in most cultures and is often surrounded by rituals, such as the invocation of formulas and words of magic significance, aimed at gathering power by which to accomplish what was intended. In many cultures, the invoked power has several similarities to life energy concepts like qi. Mages was the Greek name for a priesthood form Persia, believed to be versatile in wizardry. In the Middle Ages, the term had widened to include anyone working with the occult sciences.


The three wise men, mages from the east. From the Sagrada Familia.
The three wise men, mages from the east. From the Sagrada Familia.


Jan Baptista van Helmont

Magnale magnum (Latin for ‘the great great’) is an expression used by the Flemish chemist Jan Baptista van Helmont (1577-1644) for a power by which one could influence and cure people, even at a distance. He regarded it as a divine magical force that could be learned and mastered, an ethereal fluid, a universal soul, the impulses of which ruled all. It was present in humans, as well as in animals, plants, and minerals. See also gas, world soul, and wild spirit.

Magnetism is a concept often used in theories about a life force. The attracting force of magnets has fascinated people through history, and inspired many ideas about invisible magic powers. The modern knowledge of magnetic fields is often used as parables and models of explanation in theories about aura (see this word) and other types of radiation from living beings. See also animal magnetism, biomagnetism, dielectric energy, scalar electromagnetism, and vital magnetism.

Magneto-electricity see dielectric energy.

Magnetoism is a term for the life force used by A. Wendler circa 1920, according to Z. Rejdak: Paraphysies 5, 1971.

Mana is a Polynesian word for a magical or divine force that one can have more or less of, with which one can influence one’s surroundings. This force can be received from the deities through rituals, or be present at birth. It also has a negative expression, tapu, which can be a consequence of having too much mana. It is from tapu that the word taboo is derived. Every living creature has got mana, and someone dying can transmit it to another by blowing into the mouth or on the fontanel of the receiving person. Those who understand the most about the use of mana are the kahuna, carriers of the old secrets (huna, secret). Mana is often mentioned as a synonym to the life energy concept qi, which is not completely accurate. The actual life force, the Polynesians seem to have called ha (see this word).

Manitou is a word among the North American Algonquin Indians for the spirit, and for the life force – the driving force behind all life, and all human action. To be completely void of manitou is to be dead. To have it in abundance gives the ability to prolong one’s life, cure others, take the shape of an animal, or for that matter to accomplish deeds of great evil. It is also the name of a deity (Kitcki Manitou, Great Manitou), who rules Anasazi (the deities), the wind, and heaven. This deity might also be the creator of the world. Everything that contains manitou has a part of or is connected to this deity. Many other Indian tribes adopted the concept. Compare orenda and wakan.

The mantra Om.

Mantra are sounds used in Indian rituals and meditation, to awaken the kundalini and get the life energy prana to flow through one’s chakras (see these words). Usually, Sanskrit words are used, but the idea is basically that the sounds are the working forces. The most famous mantra is Om (Aum), which should be pronounced so that the sound seems to wander from the bottom of the abdomen up to the top of the head. See also tantra.

Matrix see psi plasma.

Mawu see mulungu.

Maxpe is the word for spiritual power among the North American Crow Indians. The word can also be translated to medicine. With this power one could gain success and health. The Crow used rituals filled with noise and singing to get in touch with maxpe.

Meditation (from the Latin meditor, ponder) is an exercise that does not necessarily involve the life force or a desire to awaken it, but this is indeed the purpose in some forms of meditation. In East Asian traditions, qi should flow freely through the meditating person, in order for the right state of mind to be reached. There is no pondering in Zen meditation, where the mind should be empty, but there are several Indian practices that demand a mental focus on something, like an image (tantra) or a sound (mantra). A nearby word is contemplation (from the Latin contemplatio, approximately ‘observe’ or ‘consider’), hard to differ from meditation, apart from the use of the latter specifically for the Indian and East Asian practices.


Meditating Buddha.
Meditating Buddha. Siddhartha Gautama decided to meditate until he reached the insight that made him Buddha.


Megbe is a word among Pygmy tribes in Africa for the life force that they believe to exist in the blood and the bones. At a man’s death, some of his megbe moves to his totem animal, and the rest of it into the mouth of his oldest son, who leans over his father at his last breath, for this purpose (compare mana). There may be a similar concept and practice for the women. Some persons can gather more megbe, and thereby achieve greater ability.

Megin is an old Norse word for power, which may have some similarities to certain aspects of the life energy, such as qi. The thunder god Thor had a belt, megin gjord (megin belt), that doubled his power when he tightened it. See also hamingja and hugr.


Thor. Painting by Mårten Eskil Winge (1825-1896).
Thor, the Norse thunder god, with his power belt Megin gjord. Painting by Mårten Eskil Winge (1825-1896). See Megin.


Menstruation has in many cultures been regarded with some anxiety, particularly by the male population. A menstruating woman was unclean, in some cultures even feared to have detrimental power – again by the men. Blood (see this word) is filled with symbolic values, and so is the blood of menstruation, signifying a dangerous power that should be avoided. Menstruation is evidence that a conception has not taken place, implying a male shortcoming, which may explain the traditional male aversion toward it.

Mental locus see multipolar energy.

Meridians see acupuncture and qi.

Metaphysics (Greek for ‘after physics’) is a term for theories about reality that work with assumptions beyond those well-known and accepted by natural science. The term is derived from Aristotle’s writing, in which this subject followed his treatment of physics. See also magic.

Micro-vibrational physics see radiesthesia.

Microzyma see somatid.

Mind is a mystery unto itself. The sense of having an I, and the power of thought, have bewildered human beings as far back as we have records of human speculation. The mind dwells in the body, but feels quite incorporeal, as if of another material completely. Also, it seems not to be bound by the limitations of the body. This mystery may have inspired ideas about spirit, soul, and other traditional concepts relating to what realities might hide behind and inside the visible world. See also spirit.


The brain, illustration by Thomas Willis, 1664.
The brain, illustration by Thomas Willis, 1664.


Alexander Gurwitsch

Mitogenetic radiation is an expression used by the Russian biophysicist Alexander Gurwitsch (1874-1954) for an ultra-weak UV radiation from all living cells, which he discovered in 1923. He thought that this radiation has many important functions in the life process, for example in cell division. Oxygen plays a role in this radiation, which is also described as biophotons. See also biofield.

Miwi is the term for soul or spirit among the Aborigine in Australia. The creator deity Biami exhaled miwi over the world, so that life could appear. See also churinga and kurunba.

Mogya see kra/okra.

Molimo see elima.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Monad is an old Greek idea about an optimally undividable unit, which has been described in different ways by Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and other philosophers. The Neoplatonists used monad as a term for god – the monad of monads. It has also been used as a synonym for the atom. The one to develop the concept the furthest was the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), who regarded the monad as the smallest particle, out of which everything material and spiritual was constructed. To Leibniz, the monads were eternal and impossible to influence. Each of them was unique, but still each could give an image of the whole universe. Some monads even had a kind of consciousness, for example those who made up the human soul. Leibniz claimed that all monads could be called souls, but that it would only make sense for the ones with feelings and memory. He also used the word entelechy (see this word) for them. Monad is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to the life energy qi, and there are some similarities but also huge differences.

Mon-emanation might be a faulty word for Kozyrev-Dirac emanation (see this expression). It is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to the life energy qi.

Rupert Sheldrake

Morphic field is a theory introduced in the 1980's by the English biochemist Rupert Sheldrake (1942-), who among other things studied the telepathic ability of animals. Morphic fields function as sort of plans for autonomous bodies, such as living creatures – all the way from cellular level to complete societies and ecosystems. Sheldrake sees these fields as explanations to telepathy, and to what is called the “hundredth monkey” theory, which states that if enough individuals of a species learn something, this knowledge will appear in others of the same species. The expression morphogenetic field was introduced in the 1920's, and is still used by evolution biologists for cells responding to biochemical signals by forming organs and such. Morphogenesis, birth of form, is from the Greek morphe, form, and genesis, birth.

Morphogenetic field see morphic field.

Moxi burning see acupuncture.

Mugua (approximately ‘soul’) is a life principle among the Lemhi Shoshone Indians in Idaho, which is situated in the head. At death, it leaves the body in a cloud shape to become dzoap, a spirit.

Vasily Lensky

Multipolar energy is a concept from the 1980's introduced by the Russian scientist Vasily Lensky, who also talks about mental locus (locus is Latin for place), which is a kind of mental space, consisting of an inner, an outer, and a neurospace. Whereas energy is normally bipolar, like the positive and negative charge in electricity, multipolar energy has three or more poles. It affects the brain, which Lensky regards as a multipolar complex.

Mulungu (from a verb with the meaning ‘to fit’ or ‘to order’) is in East Africa a common name for the highest deity, an omnipotent and ever-present creator. Thunder is his voice, and lightning his might. He rewards the good and punishes the evil. This deity has many different names among African tribes, such as: Leza, Nyambe, Ngewo, Mawu, Amma, Chuku/Chukwu. The tribes describe this deity slightly differently. Mulungu is also the term used by Christian Africans for the biblical god. The word is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to qi, which is vague, but stems from the fact that this deity is also seen as a force that permeates the world and its creatures.

Paracelsus

Mumia (Latin for mummy, referring to medicine made from embalmed corpses) is a term that the Neoplatonic Paracelsus (1493-1541) used for a healing “balm” of the body, attached to the blood, which in man could do good or bad. Also the animals had mumia, of a kind that could be detrimental to human reason, wherefore he advised against eating predator meat. To Paracelsus, mumia was a kind of magnetism or radiation, which could be transmitted from one body to another in a practice similar to healing by hands. See also archaeus.

Mundus imaginalis see world of ideas.

Mungu is a Swahili word for god. It is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to qi, which is doubtful. See also mulungu.


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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