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Occult Chemistry

Annie Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater claimed to have carried out a clairvoyant examination of atoms of all ninety-two naturally occurring elements, publishing their research between 1895 and 1933 in the theosophical magazines Lucifer and The Theosophist and in their book Occult Chemistry — Clairvoyant Observations on the Chemical Elements (Besant and Leadbeater, 1908, 1919, 1951).

Micro-psi Atoms. The ability to see invisibly small things is one of the eight siddhis or psychic powers, described in books on yoga. Described by Patañjali (circa 400 B.C.) in his Yoga S™tras as the ability to acquire “knowledge of the small, the hidden or the distant” (Taimni, 1965) it has the Sanskrit name of aŠim€. The name of “micro-psi” was given (Phillips 1980) to this ostensible form of remote-viewing of the microscopic world. Besant and Leadbeater professed to have been trained by Eastern Mah€tmas known to theosophists as the Masters Koot Hoomi and Djual Khul to develop this and other psychic powers by means of meditational exercises in kuïalinŸ yoga (for example, see the introduction to Leadbeater’s The Astral Plane [Leadbeater, 1963]).

To avoid prejudging the issue of whether they were atoms, the atom-like objects Besant and Leadbeater described with micro-psi will be called “micro-psi atoms” (MPAs). Focusing on samples of an element or (more commonly) several elements in a chemical compound or mineral, Leadbeater would investigate what he believed was one of its atoms, slowing down its motion with what parapsychologists would call “psychokinesis” and identifying the different types of particles and their arrangement inside the MPA. Besant ostensibly used another form of psychokinesis to disintegrate a similar MPA so as to examine the particles it released, ascertaining whether these were what they called “positive” or “negative” and recording the configuration of the “lines of force” binding together basic units of matter called aŠus or “ultimate physical atoms” (UPAs) (fig.1). Their colleague C. Jinaršjadšsa made notes and drawings and calculated how many UPAs each MPA contained from their counts of each type of particle and its UPAs.

Besant and Leadbeater initially examined MPAs of hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, as well as so-called “occultum” which they thought was a new element. By 1907, they had examined fifty-nine more elements, noting variations in the MPAs of neon, argon, krypton, xenon and platinum even though , at that time, scientists did not suspect that elements could have isotopes. (This developed only in 1912 when the English chemist Frederick Soddy and other scientists studied radioactivity.) In 1908 they published their book Occult Chemistry. A year later, twenty more elements were studied, including so-called “illinium” (promethium). From 1924 until 1932, Leadbeater published his micro-psi observations of purported molecules of various chemical compounds. Material published in 1932 included descriptions of the MPAs of so-called “element 85” (named “astatine” by science in 1940) and “element 87” (called “francium” by science in 1939). In 1909 Besant and Leadbeater had recorded an element which they called “masurium.” Leadbeater described it again in 1932, five years before it was detected scientifically and named “technetium.” Finally, in 1951 Jinar€jad€sa published in a third, enlarged edition of Occult Chemistry all the research material that had accumulated over thirty-eight years. This encyclopedic work contained descriptions of 111 supposed atoms, including fourteen isotopes, as well as the ostensible molecules of twenty-nine inorganic compounds and twenty-two organic compounds.

Connections with Science. Two correlations with facts of chemistry helped Besant and Leadbeater to identify MPAs:

1. MPAs were classified according to their shape into seven groups: spike, dumb-bell, tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, bars and star (fig. 2). Apart from the halogens, alkali metals and lanthanides, all elements belonging to the same group of the periodic table had MPAs with the same shape (Table 1). For example, the inert gases neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon in group 0 of the periodic table have star-shaped MPAs placing them in the star group, while the MPAs of trivalent elements in group III consist of an array of six funnels projecting from the faces of a cube, placing them in the cube group. Sceptics might argue that the two theosophists could have known sufficient chemistry to fabricate this correlation or that such knowledge influenced the form of what were merely hallucinatory visions of non-existent things. But this does not explain why some elements in the same subgroup of the chemists’ periodic table do not have MPAs with exactly the same type of structure found for those assigned to either the A or the B subdivisions of the micro-psi version of this table — a pattern of demarcation which would have been reproduced had the investigators, either consciously through fabrication or unconsciously through hallucinations, adhered strictly to chemistry. For example, Table 1 shows that magnesium and boron are anomalous in this regard. Also, why should group 1A element sodium be in the dumb-bell group, whereas all other 1A elements are in the spike group? This deviation from the orthodox classification is inconsistent with fraudulent observations and hallucinations conditioned by a knowledge of chemistry.

2. The so-called “number weight” of an element, defined by Besant and Leadbeater as:

number weight = number of UPAs in MPA/18,

was nearly always within a unit or two of its chemical atomic weight. For example, the MPA of carbon, whose atomic weight chemists then regarded as 12 contains 216 UPAs, so that its number weight is 12. Besant and Leadbeater claimed to discover that the UPA population of an MPA was approximately eighteen times the atomic weight of its element. But their (or perhaps Jinar€jad€sa’s) eventual discovery that MPAs of an element with slightly different number of UPAs must be isotopes should have made them realize that atomic weights per se cannot determine the UPA population of an isotope, because this number is the average of the atomic masses of all its isotopes compared with the standard atomic mass unit (at the time of the earlier investigations, this was the mass of the ordinary, neutral, hydrogen atom), so that an atomic weight does not refer to any one isotope. Sceptics might suggest that UPA populations were concocted according to this relationship of their proportionality to atomic weights in order to create an impressive connection with chemistry. But statistical analysis (Phillips, 1980, p. 62) of the population data published in the first edition of Occult Chemistry for the fifty-seven elements both examined up till 1908 and known to science then reveals that the population data Y are best fitted to atomic weights X by:

Y = (18.055 ± 0.014)X

which differs by about four standard deviations from the rule Y = 18X necessary to fabricate this data. This means that there is less than one chance in ten thousand that Besant and Leadbeater could have made up populations with the aid of the atomic weights listed in the scientific handbook they said that Jinar€jad€sa consulted whenever he compared these numbers with his calculated number weights. If they had been intent on fraud, this data would have shown much better agreement with the empirical rule that they claimed to have discovered. Fabrication cannot therefore account for the degree of approximation of the proportionality between UPA populations and atomic weights.

Nor could this rule have arisen from hallucinations that were causally unconnected to the examined chemicals. It might be argued that if, before they investigated a given element, the two theosophists had known what its atomic weight was, this information might have enabled their minds to manufacture hallucinatory MPAs embodying numbers of UPAs consistent with this rule. We are not told whether they did usually know this beforehand. However, a prior knowledge of atomic weights could not have been essential — as the hypothesis of hallucinations demands — because otherwise the rule could not have been obeyed even by elements like francium and astatine, whose atomic weights must have been unknown to the two investigators because their scientific discovery came years after these theosophists’ deaths. For francium, the difference between predicted and counted UPA populations is only 0.2%! Moreover, if they had merely experienced hallucinations, Besant and Leadbeater could not have anticipated five years before scientists suspected the existence of isotopes that an element such as neon had more than one type of atom. Nor could the numerous correlations between their observations and particle physics discussed in the book Extra-Sensory Perception of Quarks have arisen from hallucinations — except, that is, by chance. But there exist far too many significant connections with facts of nuclear and particle physics for this possibility to be even remotely plausible. Such arguments prove beyond all reasonable doubt that MPAs could not have been hallucinations.

MPAs Not Atomic Nuclei. These qualitative and quantitative correlations with chemistry are impressive because neither can be plausibly attributed to fraud or to hallucinations. But other micro-psi observations seemed to be seriously discrepant with science, proving that Besant and Leadbeater were wrong in their belief that they had observed atoms and molecules. Incontrovertible reasons for rejecting the interpretation of MPAs as atomic nuclei are:

1) atomic nuclei are composed of two types of particles: protons and neutrons, whereas MPAs contain many different particles;

2) unlike atomic nuclei, which remain intact when atoms of different elements bond together in the molecules of chemical compounds, MPAs appeared in some compounds to be broken up, their major components becoming mixed with the components of other similarly fragmented MPAs;

3) according to Leadbeater, methane and benzene had octahedral molecules, whereas chemists already knew in 1924, when their observations were published, that the former is tetrahedral in shape and that the six carbon atoms in the latter are arranged at the corners of a hexagon. Worse still, he reported that, instead of the ozone “molecule” consisting of three whole MPAs of oxygen (as it would have done if MPAs were atoms or nuclei), it consisted of three objects, each of which was one of the two dissimilar halves of an oxygen MPA. The ozone molecule appeared to consist of 1½ atoms, not three atoms;

4) MPAs were observed in 1908 and 1909 for three transition elements (“X,” “Y” and “Z”) and an inert gas (“kalon”) which atomic theory does not allow to exist. Besant and Leadbeater could not have known this at the time because it was only after 1913, through Henry Moseley’s X-ray experiments, that scientists realized that elements are ordered in the periodic table according to their atomic number, not their atomic weights, making it impossible for elements to exist which are situated in the table between elements with consecutive atomic numbers.

The Quark Connection. No amount of special pleading can resolve the conflict between established, scientific facts and the investigators’ assumption that their clairvoyant faculty enabled them to observe atoms in an undisturbed state. For these and other reasons, there is presented in the book Extra-Sensory Perception of Quarks a radical reinterpretation of MPAs. The vital clue to the nature of MPAs is provided by comparing the hydrogen MPA (fig. 3) with the current scientific model of the hydrogen atom. This MPA is an egg-shaped ovoid enclosing two overlapping triangular arrays (“hydrogen triangles”) of three spheres enclosing groups of three UPAs (“hydrogen triplets”). The hydrogen atom consists of a single electron orbiting a proton made up of two so-called “up quarks” and one so-called “down quark.” Supposing that the hydrogen MPA were a deuteron (the bound state of a proton and a neutron), formed by collision of the two protons in the hydrogen molecule selected when Besant and Leadbeater examined hydrogen gas, the two different triangles would be a proton and a neutron, the hydrogen triplets would be up or down quarks and the UPA would be a constituent of quarks as yet undiscovered by high-energy physics. Although physicists call these hypothetical particles “preons” or “prequarks,” they will be referred to as “subquarks.”

This interpretation of the hydrogen MPAs explains why, according to Occult Chemistry, “Hydrogen atoms were not observed to move in pairs.” This certainly would have been noticed if MPAs had been atoms, because the hydrogen molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms. It would also account for the observation that each hydrogen triangle was “linked to each other across space by lines of attraction” for this would have been the nuclear force binding together the proton and neutron in a deuteron. It appears that, whenever Besant and Leadbeater examined a hydrogen molecule, their psychokinetic intervention caused its two protons to collide, turning one into a neutron which then fused with the other proton to create a deuteron with the emission of a positively charged pion — a reaction well-known to nuclear physicists. The two positive triplets and the negative triplet in the lower hydrogen triangle are consistent with it being a proton made up of two positively charged up quarks and one negatively charged down quark. Identification of the upper hydrogen triangle as a neutron is made uncertain by the fact that the uppermost linear triplet in figure 3 does not conform to the convention used by Besant and Leadbeater to depict positive and negative triplets, so that it cannot be ascertained whether it is a positive triplet (u quark) of a negative triplet (d quark).

If the hydrogen MPA contained the eighteen subquarks originally making up the nuclei of two hydrogen atoms, this suggests that the MPA of any isotope of an element should likewise have contained the subquarks comprising the protons and neutrons in two of its atomic nuclei. As these particles should each contain nine subquarks, the total number of UPAs predicted to be in an MPA formed from two similar nuclei, each made up of A protons and neutrons (the isotope’s so-called “mass number”) is: Y = 18A.

As the mass numbers of the most abundant isotopes of an element are usually within one or two units of its atomic weight, this explains why UPA populations of MPAs were found to be about eighteen times the atomic weights of their corresponding elements. In fact, as many as thirty-nine of the ninety-five MPAs listed in table 4.1 of the book for which this prediction is expected to apply have a population that is exactly eighteen times the mass number of (usually) the most abundant isotope of their corresponding element (fig. 4). It is obviously extremely improbable that as many as 41% of these MPAs showing no discrepancy with the prediction above could result from concocting populations that were approximately eighteen times the atomic weights of elements. Except for hydrogen, none of the atomic weights listed in the scientific handbook that was supposedly consulted is an integer, let alone one that is a multiple of 18, 47% of them differing from integers by 0.2 or more. They had therefore no reasons to make population numbers multiples of 18 or to believe that atomic weights should be whole numbers.

Statistical analysis of the data shows that the theosophists’ “working rule”

Y = 18X

fits UPA populations much less accurately than the one predicted above. This is highly significant, because it indicates that mass numbers, rather than atomic weights, determine UPA populations, so that the data could not have been fabricated as these nuclear parameters did not become known until after the physicist James Chadwick discovered the neutron in 1932 — at least fourteen years after most of the population data were published.

These and earlier arguments discredit the possibilities of fabrication and hallucination, leaving no conventional explanation of the proportionality between UPA populations and mass numbers as an alternative to the paranormal one.

Analysis of twenty-two MPAs in the 1980 book and fifty-three MPAs in the new book (Phillips, 1995) confirms beyond doubt that they consist of the subquarks originally belonging to two atomic nuclei of each element. They were therefore formed, prior to observation, by the nucleons in the latter disintegrating into free quarks and subquarks, which then strongly interacted with one another, forming new particles bound together by quasi-nuclear forces (MPAs are nuclear-sized, not atomic-sized). This can be the only possible explanation of why very often hundreds of positive and negative pairs of triplets of UPAs in each MPA, observed with remarkable accuracy by Besant when she broke it up into its constituents, correlate precisely with the requirements of the theory of MPAs, which uses no more than simple facts of nuclear physics, the quark model and the following predicted, subquark composition of up (u) and down (d) quarks:

u = X-X-Y, d = X-Y-Y,

where X is a positively charged subquark and Y is a negatively charged subquark. In fact, this composition is not assumed so as to make analysis possible but, instead, is deduced rigorously from the simple requirements (Phillips, 1995) that the two versions of the oxygen MPA recorded in the first and third editions of Occult Chemistry should contain the same numbers of X and Y subquarks.

If MPAs were artifacts of micro-psi observation, this would eliminate the scientific discrepancies mentioned earlier. The fragmented state of MPAs in some chemical compounds might actually be expected if the processes of transformation of pairs of nuclei into MPAs sometimes interfered with one another. Indeed, such fragmentation is strong evidence that MPAs must have been created prior to micro-psi observation. The problem of why certain “molecules” had shapes significantly different from what was known to chemists would cease to exist because these objects would not have been molecules at all. The four anomalous MPAs not corresponding to any known element must have been hybrids, formed from nuclei of two different elements with the same type of MPA. This explanation is supported by their UPA populations. For example the MPA of element X has 2,646 UPAs, precisely the number it would have if it had been formed from nuclei of the isotopes Ru102 and Os192 of, respectively, ruthenium and osmium — elements with similarly shaped MPAs.

Confirmation of the String Model. Besant’s description of the lines of force holding UPAs together provides further evidence for the objective character of these micro-psi observations because it is consistent with the string model version of quantum chromodynamics, the theory of the strong force holding quarks together. According to this model, quarks exist in three “color states” and are sources of “color flux” analogous to the magnetic flux or lines of force around a magnet. Physicists have proposed that space is filled with an invisible, superconducting medium called the “Higgs field.” This squeezes the color lines of force emanating from quarks into narrow bundles of flux (so-called “strings”) threading vortices in the ambient Higgs field. A quark is simply the end of such a string. Subatomic particles made up of three quarks (“baryons”) have been conceived of as either circular strings (fig. 5) or Y-shaped strings with quarks at their ends, while subatomic particles called “mesons,” consisting of a quark and an antiquark (the antimatter version of a quark), are regarded as single strings, one end of its ends being the quark and its other end being the antiquark. Compare this picture with strikingly similar diagrams in figure 5 taken from Occult Chemistry. They depict Y-shaped configurations of three lines of force, each ending on a UPA, circular configurations and single lines of force with a UPA at each end. The fact that UPAs are subquarks, not quarks, is not problematic because some physicists have speculated that the constituents of quarks exist in “hypercolor states,” a generalization of color states for which basic ideas of the string models can be extended. Besant’s observations prove conclusively that subquarks are bound together in quarks by Y-shaped strings, or bundles of “hypercolor flux,” — the very “lines of force” linking the three UPAs in a free hydrogen triplet (quark) that she depicted in hundreds of diagrams in Occult Chemistry.

The UPA as Superstring. In the book ESP of Quarks and Superstrings (Phillips, 1995) the UPA is identified as the subquark state of what string theorists call a “closed superstring.” This hypothetical string-like object can exist only in ten-dimensional space-time, so that superstring theory requires six of the nine spatial dimensions to be extremely minute or “compactified.” One of the models for the compactified space that theorists have considered is the “six-dimensional torus.” This can be imagined as the six-dimensional version of a doughnut. But many theorists believe that superstrings derive from more fundamental so-called “bosonic strings” which can exist only in twenty-six dimensional space-time. The whorls of the UPAs have been identified as these closed, “bosonic strings” and the six higher orders of spirillae, said by Leadbeater to constitute each of the 1,680 1st-order spirillae of a whorl, have been interpreted, as the toroidal winding of a bosonic string about each of the six circular dimensions of a six-dimensional torus. This identification has the exciting implication — yet to be discovered — that a superstring is a composite bundle of ten bosonic strings. Leadbeater’s description of the UPA is therefore remarkably compatible with the string picture of matter (Occult Chemistry even uses the word “string” as a metaphor in referring to whorls!), and it confirms the six-dimensional torus model (or, perhaps, some generalization of it) of the infinitesimal, compactified space predicted by superstring theory.

Conclusion. Fabrication, hallucination and coincidence are neither viable nor plausible explanations of the huge degree of consistency now demonstrated between thousands of details about fifty-three MPAs, facts of nuclear physics and the well-established theory of quarks. Nor can they account for the striking parallels between observations recorded in Occult Chemistry and aspects of superstring theory and the string model of strong forces. There is no more plausible explanation of this congruity than that Besant and Leadbeater accurately observed the subatomic world with ESP.


Besant, Annie and Leadbeater, C. W. (1908). Occult Chemistry (1st ed: Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India).

Besant, Annie and Leadbeater, C. W. (1919). Occult Chemistry (2nd ed: Theosophical Publishing House, London).

Besant, Annie and Leadbeater, C. W. (1951). Occult Chemistry (3rd ed: Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India).

Leadbeater, C. W. (1963). The Astral Plane (Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India).

Phillips, Stephen M. (1979). Composite Quarks and Hadron-Lepton Unification, Physics Letters 84B 133 - 136.

Phillips, Stephen M. (1980). Extra-Sensory Perception of Quarks (Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Ill., U.S.)

Phillips, Stephen M. (1995). ESP of Quarks and Superstrings (New Age International, New Delhi, India).

Taimni, I. K. (1965). The Science of Yoga (Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India.)


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