“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a conscious and intelligent non-visible living energy force. This energy force is the matrix mind of all matter.” – Max Planck, developer of Quantum Theory
Every inhabited continent, and most islands, have a cultural relationship with subtle energy. According to these traditions, subtle energy is the omnipresent informational field; a force that functions as the primary energy that sustains all life.
Here are 8 terms different cultures from around the world use to name subtle energy, and how knowledge of this aspect of life has informed the way of life in these cultures:
Origin : Europe
We will start here, since this is probably one of the most popular terms for subtle energy in the Western world. Although the origins of the term “life force” are unclear, there are several notable researchers who have contributed to the science surrounding this topic. A few worthy mentions include:
Franz Anton Mesmer
In late 1700's, German-born Franz was among the first Europeans of modern times to recognize the presence of subtle energy, or what he called, Animal Magnetism. His surname is the root of the word “mesmerize” and his work is considered to be at the root of modern hypnosis. Although his methods were later disproved, people in modern times are able to access extraordinary states of consciousness through hypnosis including; out of body experiences, super-human strength, remote viewing, past life regression, and more.
Baron Von Reichenbach
Reichenbach, another German scientist, conducted research on what he called the Odic Force (named after the Norse god, Odin). This led him to the conclusion that there is both positive and negative aspects of subtle energy, and that one could exude this energy from the hands or forehead by force of will.
This Austrian doctor/author conducted his research in the early half of the 1900's. He coined the term “Orgone Energy” to describe subtle energy throughout his research. His theories have inspired crafts people of modern times to create healing, personal energy devices out of a material deemed orgonite, constructed based on his findings. Reich combined and expanded on the work of his predecessors and contemporaries, and was reportedly able to cure many patients; even those suffering from cancer.
Qi / Chi
Origin : China
Definition : vital energy that is held to animate the body internally and is of central importance in some Eastern systems of medical treatment and of exercise or self-defense.
Subtle energy is the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are three prime subtle energies, the first is Jing, the energy you are born with. Another, Shen, is the spiritual energy that you cultivate through mindful living. The energy you cultivate and spend most days is known as Qi, which is the universal force that is said to flow through all living things. To have proper Qi flow, is to experience strength, health, and vitality in the body.
Origin : India
Definition : a life breath or vital principle in Vedic and later Hindu religion : any of the three or more vital currents : the principle of life moving in the human body
What underlies all particles in the universe? The yogic answer is Prana. This energy is encoded with intelligence that informs it to shape and sustain all life. To engage this enlightening energy, one would practice pranayama, a set of yogic breathing exercises that allow the practitioner to cultivate and circulate prana energy.
Origin : Polynesia
Definition : the power of the elemental forces of nature embodied in an object or person
Mana is universal mystic power. The islanders say it flows through all things, and can be lost or cultivated through your life choices. To have strong mana, is to have strong personal presence, performance and authority. Sacred objects, and places in nature are said to possess mana as well.
Origin : West Africa
The Mande societies of West Africa acknowledge subtle energy as Nyama. This force is seen as impartial, pure power, the universal energy that inhabits all living things. Artifacts are created to help channel and willfully direct this energy for magical purposes.
Origin : Russia
Definition : a distinctive atmosphere surrounding a given source, an energy field that is held to emanate from a living being, or a luminous radiation
While the term “aura” originated as the Greek word for “breath,” in modern times it has been adopted to describe the energy field surrounding living things; largely thanks to the work of Russian researcher, Semyon Kirlian. Thanks to the technological advancements Kirlian made in 1939, we were able to see the difference between the subtle energy fields of healthy life forms, and those lacking energetic vitality. Since then, many new aura imaging capturing technologies have been made, that help us see and understand the role of subtle energy in our lives.
Origin : Mayan
The Mayan civilization also recognized subtle energy as the animating principal of life. Their views are held similarly to the Chinese system, that proper flow of this universal energy is fundamentally responsible for the health and well being of the body, and being blocked from this energy can result in illness. From ancient times, to the present, this tradition influences medical practitioners in maintaining and restoring well-being to their patients.
Alcheringa / The Dreamtime
Origin : Aboriginal Australian
There are many different words among the Aboriginal tribes of Australia to describe what has become known in English as “The Dreamtime”. Alcheringa, bugari, djugurba, wongar and ungud all point to the same meaning for the intricate spirituals beliefs of these tribes. Although the Dreamtime has many different components, an aspect includes the belief of oneness of spirit with the land.
People, animals, plants, and majestic locations in nature are said to house spiritual power. There have been tests conducted that show increased psychic abilities among the Aboriginal tribes, that some attribute to their lack of identity separation between themselves, and the environment.
There are many more terms for subtle energy in dozens of different cultures around the world! Click here to try one of our Subtle Energy programs. Feel free to share the graphic we created above, or share this article if you enjoyed it. We also invite you to join the discussion, and share your thoughts on subtle energy culture with us in our online forum.