The Occult Side of Nature: An Invisible Physical


Helena Blavatsky

ALWAYS ready to argue for the existence of an invisible physical world, within visible matter, the writer of The Secret Doctrine, Helena Blavatsky, was ever adamant.

She continually challenged the scientific materialistic beliefs of her day. In her monumental work, The Secret Doctrine, she wrote an introduction which included the following declaration:

“The aim of this work may be thus stated: to show that Nature is not ‘a fortuitous concurrence of atoms,’ and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe — to rescue from degradation the archaic truths which are the basis of all religions and to uncover, to some extent, the fundamental unity from which they all spring.

Finally, to show that the occult side of Nature has never been approached by the Science of modern civilization.

(The Secret Doctrine: Vol. 1:vii Preface)

Madam Blavatsky frequently took up the cause of a universal, invisible and intelligent medium supporting the visible physical universe. This “invisible physical” she maintained, is critical to understanding Occult Science detailed in The Secret Doctrine.

Universal Matrix

Establishing this occult science in her seminal work,  Mme. Blavatsky asserted that: “The whole issue of the quarrel between the profane and the esoteric sciences

depends upon the belief in, and demonstration of, the existence of an astral body within the physical, the former independent of the latter.

“The astral body is itself an aspect of the real inner body,” Robert Crosbie, the Co-Founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists wrote: 

“… which has lasted through the vast period of the past and must continue through the far distant future. This astral body is the prototype, or design, around which the physical body is built, and which, considered from the point of view of the powers, is the real physical body. Without it the physical body would be nothing but a mass of matter — an aggregation of smaller lives.” 


Astral Medium

Our Real Senses

“It is the astral body which contains the organs, or centers, from which the organs have been evolved in accord with the needs of the thinker within,” he continued. “The real senses of man are not in the physical but in the astral body. The astral body lasts a little over one lifetime. It does not die when the physical body dies, but is used as a body in the immediate after-death states.” 

After The Secret Doctrine was published it would not be long before modern frontier scientists would begin to take up Mme. Blavatsky’s assertions in earnest using established scientific methods of inquiry. Seven important experiments suggesting the existence of an invisible astral matrix were initiated during the initial decades of the 20th and 21st century.

Even Mme. Blavatsky admitted:

It is gratifying to see how scientific imagination approaches every year more closely to the borderland of our occult teachings.

Thus the subtitle of this blog, i.e. “Ancient Thought in Modern Dress,” is taken from a phrase used by Mme. Blavatsky in her Volume 1, page 572 of The Secret Doctrine.

Water Has Memory

Scientific Experiments

Experiment 1: In the 1920s Harvard University psychologist William McDougall did experiments for 15 years in which rats learned to escape from a tank. The first generation of rats averaged 200 mistakes before they learned the right way out; the last generation 20 mistakes. McDougall concluded that, contrary to accepted genetic science, such acquired knowledge could be inherited, (related to Sheldrake’s “morphic field” and “The Hundredth Monkey” effect).

The scientific researcher Rupert Sheldrake used this concept in developing his principle of “morphic resonance,” a reimagined version of the Astral Light, the universal matrix of Theosophy in which all the universal prototypes are stored.

Experiment 2: In later efforts to duplicate McDougall’s experiments in Australia, similar rats made fewer mistakes right from the start. Later generations of rats did better even when they were not descendants of the earlier rats. This wasn’t genetics at work. It was something else. Nobody tested it further.

The Blue Tit

“Experiment” 3: In the 1920s in Southampton, England, a bird called the blue tit discovered it could tear the tops of milk bottles on doorsteps and drink the cream. Soon this skill showed up in blue tits over a hundred miles away, which is odd in that they seldom fly further than 15 miles. Amateur bird-watchers caught on and traced the expansion of the habit.

Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) drinking cream from the top of a milk bottle

Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) drinking cream from the top of a milk bottle

It spread faster and faster until by 1947 it was universal throughout Britain. In a parallel development, the habit had spread to blue tits in Holland, Sweden and Denmark. German occupation cut off milk deliveries in Holland for eight years — five years longer than the life of a blue tit. Then, in 1948 the milk started to be delivered. Within months blue tits all over Holland were drinking cream, a habit that had taken decades to take hold before the war. Where did they get this knowledge?

Alter Egos

Experiment 4: In the early sixties psychiatrists Dr. Milan Ryzl of Prague and Dr. Vladimir L. Raikov of Moscow hypnotized subjects into believing they were living incarnations of historical personages. Such subjects would develop talents associated with their alter egos. A subject told she was the artist Raphael took only a month to develop drawing skills up to the standard of a good graphic designer.


Rupert Sheldrake, PhD

Experiment 5: In 1983 the radical biologist Rupert Sheldrake showed two difficult-to-discern patterns to a group of test subjects to establish a baseline for how easily the hidden picture in each could be recognized. Next, he showed 2 million viewers of British TV what one of the hidden pictures was. He then tested thousands of people all over the world. By significant percentages, they recognized the image shown on television; the percentage recognizing the control picture didn’t change.

A Telepathic Cat

Rupert Sheldrake

Knowing vs Guessing

Experiment 6: Psychologist Dr. Arden Mahlberg of Madison, Wisconsin, created a variation of Morse Code that should have been no harder to learn than the standard variety. Subjects learned the real code much faster than his invented one, not knowing which was which.


Experiment 7: Gary Schwartz, Yale professor of psychology, selected 24 common 3-letter words in Hebrew and 24 rare ones, all from the Old Testament, all in Hebrew script. For each word, he created a scrambled version (as, in English, one might do by scrambling “dog” to spell “odg”).

Then he rearranged all 96 3-letter Hebrew words (half real, half fake) in a random order and showed them, one at a time, to subjects who didn’t know Hebrew. The subjects were just told these were Hebrew words and were asked to guess the meaning of the word in English by writing down the first English word that came into their head. After guessing each word, they were asked to estimate, on a zero-to-four scale, how confident they felt in their guess.


Gary Schwartz, PhD

Professor Schwartz then discounted all subjects who got any guesses rights (since that meant they may have known some Hebrew). Then he analyzed the confidence ratings from subjects who’d gotten every answer wrong. Not only was the confidence significantly higher with the real words than with the false words (regardless of subjects, words, or experiments), but the common words got higher confidence scores than the rarer words.

Finally, Schwartz repeated the experiment telling the subjects that half the words were real and half were false and asked them to guess which was which; the results of that were purely random. The patterns the subjects had recognized unconsciously, they could not recognize consciously.

Monkey’s hand is stuck.

What is going on here?

Sheldrake has hypothesized a field of morphic (“pattern-related”) resonance in which patterns of knowledge, structure or behavior of a certain kind of thing (whether a salt crystal or a human mind) become increasingly embedded as a “habit,” an ingrained pattern of information which influences and is accessible to other members of that category of thing. In commenting on the rat experiments, Sheldrake said:

“If rats are taught a new trick in Manchester, then rats of the same breed all over the world should show a tendency to learn the same trick more rapidly, even in the absence of any known type of physical connection or communication. The greater the number of rats that learn it, the easier it should become for their successors.”

A minority of biologists have been suggesting the possibility of morphogenetic (form-generating) fields for decades. Sheldrake’s unique contribution has been to create a testable hypothesis regarding such fields. Despite the fact that it seems to violate all broadly-accepted principles of science, the experimental evidence is rapidly mounting that, indeed, something of this kind is at work.

The Global Consciousness

Habit Fields

Sheldrake has ventured some guesses as to the relationship between morphogenetic fields and our individual memory and intelligence. He suggests that our brains may not contain memories and knowledge, per se, but may be devices for tuning in to relevant sections of the morphogenetic field for human memory, much as a radio tunes into radio waves.

Our own personal memories would naturally be more accessible than those of other people or cultures (since, in morphogenetic resonance, like resonates with like), but theoretically the memories of every human (and other entities?) would be available to anyone capable of tuning in.

Sheldrake further wonders if natural laws are the evolving habits of the physical universe. An increasing number of scientists are believing that, ever since the Big Bang, the contents and processes of the universe have been evolving, and are evolving still.

The Body Matrix

Universal Mind

Sheldrake feels it is an act of incredible faith to believe that all the laws governing the universe are so eternal and immutable that they existed prior to any of the contents of the universe. It is much more “natural” to believe that the readily-observable evolution of life, culture and our own selves are merely manifestations of an evolutionary tendency deeply embedded in the very nature of things. [I.E. the Universal Mind of Theosophical teachings?]

[Sheldrake doesn’t seem to like the idea of eternal universal laws underpinning physical evolution. Occult science differs, however,  and proposes the presence of conscious guidance from highly developed hierarchical entities who take an active interest in the development of the natural world and humanity in particular.]

“In short: We are all learning. Not just we people — but we, everything in the universe. And our learning is shared. That’s the bottom line of Rupert Sheldrake’s work.

“We can’t get much more co-intelligent than that.”


(Above excerpted from: The Co-Intelligence Institute)

“Time is Only an Illusion”

“Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced; but ‘lies asleep.’ The present is only a mathematical line which divides that part of eternal duration which we call the future, from that part which we call the past.

“Nothing on earth has real duration, for nothing remains without change — or the same — for the billionth part of a second; and the sensation we have of the actuality of the division of ‘time’ known as the present, comes from the blurring of that momentary glimpse, or succession of glimpses, of things that our senses give us, as those things pass from the region of ideals which we call the future, to the region of memories that we name the past.  . . .

Salvador Dali

“Even so of persons and things, which, dropping out of the to-be into the has-been, out of the future into the past — present momentarily to our senses a cross-section, as it were, of their total selves, as they pass through time and space (as matter) on their way from one eternity to another: and these two constitute that “duration” in which alone anything has true existence, were our senses but able to cognize it there.” 

Jordan Peterson “atheism and belief,” with Rupert Sheldrake

The meteoric rise of Dr Jordan B Peterson has brought a revival of interest in religion and spirituality. He is embarking on a series of high profile public events with leading atheists like Sam Harris. Rupert Sheldrake is a rare combination – a scientist and a spiritual renegade and has been debating atheists for decades. What does he make of Peterson, and what tactics does he think Peterson should use in his upcoming debates?

Rupert Sheldrake first came to public prominence with his book ‘A New Science of Life.’ His most high profile recent work was a deconstruction of the philosophy of scientific materialism, called the Science Delusion in the UK, and Science Set Free in the US.  And his most recent book is Science and Spiritual Practice. 




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