Energy (esotericism)

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Spiritual practices and ideas often equate life energy with the breath.
Energy medicine - edit
NCCIH classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Mind-Body Intervention
  3. Biologically Based Therapy
  4. Energy Therapy
See also

The term energy is used by writers and practitioners of various esoteric forms of spirituality and alternative medicine to refer to a variety of phenomena.[1][2] There is no scientific evidence for the existence of such energy.[1][2][3]

Therapies that purport to use, modify, or manipulate unknown energies are thus among the most contentious of all complementary and alternative medicines. Claims related to energy therapies are most often anecdotal, rather than being based on repeatable empirical evidence.[3][4][5]


Concepts such as "life force" and "élan vital" emerged from the debate over vitalism in the early 20th century and later inspired thinkers in the modern New Age movement.[1][2]

As biologists studied embryology and developmental biology, particularly before the discovery of genes, a variety of organisational forces were posited to account for their observations. German biologist Hans Driesch (1867-1941), proposed entelechy, an energy which he believed controlled organic processes.[6] However such ideas are discredited and modern science has all but abandoned the attempt to associate additional energetic properties with life.[6]

Despite this, spiritual writers and thinkers have maintained ideas about energy and continue to promote them either as useful allegories or as fact.[7] The field of "energy medicine" purports to manipulate energy, but there is no credible evidence to support this.[3]

The concept of "qi" (energy) appears throughout traditional East Asian culture, such as in the art of feng shui and Chinese martial arts.[8] Qi philosophy also includes the notion of "negative qi", typically understood as introducing negative moods like outright fear or more moderate expressions like social anxiety or awkwardness.[9] Deflecting this negative qi through geomancy is a preoccupation in feng shui.[10] The traditional explanation of acupuncture states that it works by manipulating the circulation of qi through a network of meridians.[11][ISBN missing]

The idea that some kind of "negative energy" is responsible for creating or attracting ghosts or demons appears in contemporary paranormal culture and beliefs as exemplified in the TV shows Paranormal State and Ghost Hunters.[12]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Energy Fields of Life". 1999-03-25. Retrieved 2016-05-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Smith, Jonathan C. (2010). Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 268–274. ISBN 978-1-4051-8122-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "energy - (according to New Age thinking) - The Skeptic's Dictionary". 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2014-05-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Some Notes on Wilhelm Reich, M.D". 2002-02-15. Retrieved 2014-05-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Reiki". 2000-12-01. Retrieved 2014-05-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Vitalism". Retrieved 2014-05-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Jonas, WB; Crawford, CC (March 2003). "Science and spiritual healing: a critical review of spiritual healing, "energy" medicine, and intentionality". Altern Ther Health Med. 9 (2): 56–61. PMID 12652884.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Latham, Kevin (2007). Pop Culture China!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. 285. ISBN 978-1-85109-582-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Bryan W. Van Norden (March 2011). Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett Publishing. p. 98. ISBN 1-60384-615-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. George Leonard (1998). Asian Pacific American Heritage: A Companion to Literature and Arts. Taylor & Francis. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-203-34459-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Lawson-Wood, Denis; Lawson-Wood, Joyce (1983). Acupuncture Handbook. Health Science Press. p. 133.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Fahy, Thomas (2010). The Philosophy of Horror. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. p. 77. ISBN 0-8131-2573-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links