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:

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.


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 N

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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René Prosper Blondlot

N-rays is an expression introduced in 1903 by the French physicist René Prosper Blondlot (1849-1930), for a radiation from just about all matter, which he claimed to have discovered. It got its name from Nancy, the city of his habitat. Later on, the radiation of his description was proven not to exist.

Nafs see ruh.

Nagi see ni.

Naran see ruach.

Nature’s healing force see vis medicatrix naturae.

Nefesh see ruach.

Erwin Schrödinger

Negative entropy is an expression from the book What is life?, 1944, by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961). He described living organisms as involved in a process toward increasing entropy (energy in such a disorderly form that it is no longer usable), with death as the optimal stage of entropy. Therefore, what each organism needs as a kind of nutrition is negative entropy, in such a way that it gains order from its surroundings. This cycle is one where orderly structures are consumed, having less order when they are disposed. All of the universe can be described as dynamics between positive and negative entropy. The shortened term negentropy is used by some. The expression is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, which is doubtful. See also free energy.

Neo-vitalism see vitalism.

Benjamin Ward Richardson

Nervous ether is an expression used by the English physician Benjamin Ward Richardson (1828-1896), who was particularly active with new means of anaesthetics (for example by using diethyl ether) and pain relief. Regarding nervous ether – referring to an ether in contact with the nerves and senses – he had in mind a substance or possibly an energy, which transferred impulses between the smallest components of the body, so that they could interact. Any closeness to life energy is unlikely.

Neshamah see ruach.

Neuric force (in French force neurique) is an expression introduced 1887 by the French physician Alexandre Barety (-1919), for an energy flowing through and out of the body, which he claimed to have observed on his patients.

Neutral force is an expression used in modern interpretations of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystic cosmology, for a creative force that was active at the birth of the universe. The traditional root of this concept is doubtful, since the neutral is next to impossible in a cosmology containing a supreme god. In this line of thought, there is talk about a positive, a negative, and a neutral force. The three of them are compared to the atom’s proton, electron, and neutron, and also to three spiritual aspects: the soul’s wish to share, the ego’s selfish desire to take, and the free will’s opportunity to choose between them. The expression is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, which is doubtful.

Neutricity is a term introduced by Jerry G. Gallimore (1940?-1988) for supraconducting properties of materials in room temperature, instead of temperatures close to the absolute zero that the laws of physics demand. He saw it as the combined effect of three energy forms – electricity, magnetism, and gravity. It is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to qi, which is doubtful. In 1975 Gallimore founded United States Psychotronic Association, an organization that researches the relation between consciousness, matter, and energy.

Neutrino field see gravity field energy.

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac

Neutrino sea is an expression for a form of ether consisting of uncharged particles in the cosmos, created by the nuclear reactions inside the stars. The theory originated with the English physicist Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902-1984), who raised the thought in a 1951 Nature article entitled “Is there an ether?” See also Kozyrev-Dirac emanation.

Ngai is the name of the creator deity of the Masai in Kenya. He was the husband of the moon and lived on a mountain top. Ngai gives each newborn human a protective spirit that leads them on after death. Ngai is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to the life energy qi, but this protective spirit is probably a better candidate. Ngai is also connected to heaven and the rain.

Ngewo see mulungu.

Ni is the life force among the Oglala Indians of the Dakota tribe. Ni is likened to breathing and the shadow. At death it leaves the body. The Oglala also have nagi, a soul-like part that remains after death, and sicun, one’s shadow, which is also a kind of protective spirit.

Nimbus is Latin for ‘rain cloud’ or ‘sky’. It was used in classical mythology for a cloud that a god could hide behind, when descending to Earth. For a long time, the word has been used in the meaning radiance or shimmer, an attractive emanation comparable to charisma and luster (see these words). See also aura.

The sun god Helios riding the sky on a nimbus cloud. From a Medieval calendar.
The sun god Helios riding the sky on a nimbus cloud. From a Medieval calendar.

Njom is the word for remedies against evil magic, among the Banyang people in Africa, an art given to them by their deity, performed with both herbs and magical rituals. It is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, which is doubtful.

Njomm is among the Ekoi Indians a magical force of vague but wide significance, which can protect against evil as well as cause harm. Njomm seems to have personality, and exists in several different types, with varying characteristics.

Noetic energy (from the Greek nous, thought) is an expression for an energy field of thought, independent of physical and biological laws. It belongs to a theory from 1999 by Tom Arnold about hypnoesis (from the Greek hypo, below, and noesis, thought), an initial and all-including consciousness, which preceded and created the world. Theories about noetic energy also exist in Theosophy and elsewhere, where meditation and other spiritual exercises are aimed to strengthen and develop this energy in humans, so that they reach higher levels of insight.

Nous is Greek for the thinking mind. It is sometimes mistakenly mentioned as a synonym to qi, which would rather be pneuma (see this word) in ancient Greek thought.

Ntoro see kra/okra.

Ntu means ‘person’ in the African language Bantu (ba marks plural). It is sometimes mentioned as a synonym to life energy such as qi, which seems to be incorrect.

Num is a word among the people of the Kalahari desert in Africa, for a healing force that can be brought forward by ritual dancing, where num is made to boil. It is heated until vaporized, whereby it rises up the body and exits through the neck. The trance that is induced by this is called kia.

Numen is a Latin word that suggests divine will or providence. It can also mean deity, or in its plural form numina the gods. It is sometimes mentioned as a Roman synonym to life energy such as qi, which is doubtful. The word numinous is used for something supernatural.

Nwyvre is an old word in Wales for energy and vitality, which the English druids used as a term for the life force, with the serpent as a significant symbol of it. They believed the life force to permeate all of nature, not just humans. See also wouivre.

Nyama is the word among the Bamana people in West Africa, for a force that is everywhere. Humans can learn to master nyama, and thereby get great power and abilities.

Nyambe see mulungu.

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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