The essay below, written for general readers, is the script for a short film called Reich the Rainmaker. It is on the astonishing case of Wilhelm Reich and his theories, later proven correct, about an unseen energy connecting earth and sky which is crucial for the creation of rain. Reich’s work was sweeping in its vision and depth, although by tragic and presumptuous ignorance, it was ordered burned by the U.S. government in 1947.
I will publish a link to the film in the next few days.
Enjoy, my friends.
In the fluid realms of thought whose waters so many philosophers, mystics, and psychologists have navigated lies the enigma of Wilhelm Reich – a man whose pursuit of the unseen forces of life led him to the conception of unusual ideas.
Wilhelm Reich was a loyal student and follower of the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, but sailed beyond the conventional ideas of psychoanalysis into the turbulent seas of what he called orgone energy. This energy was a ubiquitous life force, reminiscent of the ancient concepts of prana or chi. In his own time, Reich called orgone energy “the primordial, cosmic energy” and said that it was “universally present and can be demonstrated visually, thermically, electroscopically and by means of Geiger-Mueller counters” (“The Function of the Orgasm”). The crux of his theory was a belief in a tangible, measurable force that underpins life itself.
Reich first met Sigmund Freud in 1919 and soon became a student and colleague of Freud. Starting his career as a psychoanalyst in Vienna, Reich soon joined Freud’s inner circle, and was deeply influenced by Freud’s theories, particularly those related to the libido and sexuality. Their relationship, however, was not perfect.
In one of his books, Reich describes meeting Freud. Both men were studying sexuality in medical school, and Reich approached Freud. Reich’s description of Freud in these encounters is very specific:
Freud was different, whereas the others played some kind of a role, he did not put on any airs. He spoke to me as a completely ordinary person. He had bright intelligent eyes, which did not seek to penetrate another persons eyes, but simply look at the world in an honest and truthful way. I had been apprehensive in going to him but I went away cheerful and happy. From that day on, I spent 14 years in intensive work in psychoanalysis.
It became evident that theoretical and ideological differences between the two men would emerge, and these led Reich to eventually part ways with Freud. Their differences marked a significant point in Reich’s career, as he moved further away from traditional psychoanalytic circles and into his unique blend of psychoanalysis, biology, and physics, which confused Freud.
In the end I was severely disappointed in Freud, fortunately the disappointment did not lead to hatred and rejection . I am happy to have been his student for such a long time without having criticized him prematurely and with complete devotion to his cause.
Soon Reich developed his own theories, and one of these was the concept of orgone energy, which the scientific and academic worlds viewed with skepticism. Many of his ideas were dismissed as unscientific, and Reich became marginalized within the mainstream scientific community. Despite this, however, Reich and his theories found resonance among artists, writers, and those exploring the fringes of conventional thought. His lasting cultural impact has been the modern acceptance of an unseen life energy, illustrating how ideas that challenge the status quo can inspire discussion across various disciplines. Even though Reich’s fascination with an unseen life energy was not easily accepted by scientists of his own day, the idea itself is not new. It is part of the quest for deeper understanding that is already present throughout much of ancient and medieval thought.
There are echoes of Reich’s ideas about orgone energy in the mystical philosophies of ancient civilizations. The Greeks spoke of ‘pneuma’, the breath of life; the Chinese of ‘qi’, the vital force that flows through all things. These forces, like Reich’s orgone energy, spoke to a deeper understanding of the universe, and an interconnectedness that transcends mere physical existence.
In the crucibles and scrolls of alchemists there are records of a quest that lasted for centuries. They recognized the world as being composed of four fundamental elements – earth, air, water, and fire. But additionally, alchemists believed in a fifth element, more fundamental than the other four, and from which we derive the word quintessential – the fifth essential element. This quintessence or fifth element was said to be a pure form of matter that embodies life itself, and it bears a strong resemblance to Reich’s orgone. The old alchemical texts were shrouded in symbolism and secrecy, and often ventured beyond the material to the spiritual, seeking a unifying principle that binds the cosmos together. Similarly, Gnostic texts, with their emphasis on inner spiritual knowledge and the divine spark within, provide a spiritual ancestor to Reich’s search for a universal life energy.
As time marched into the Middle Ages, these ancient and Gnostic ideas found new expression in the works of medieval alchemists and mystics like Paracelsus and Hildegard von Bingen, who explored the convergence of the spiritual and physical worlds, the same theme that defines Reich’s orgone theory. Their texts and teachings, though veiled in allegory and metaphor, continued the pursuit of an essential, life-giving force.
As Reich saw it, “Orgone energy is the life energy” and “it fills all space and is everywhere” (from his research study, “Cosmic Orgone Engineering”), and it is from this foundational theory that his cloudbuster emerges.
The cloudbuster, as envisioned by Reich, was a device designed to manipulate orgone energy in the atmosphere to induce rain. It was a physical manifestation of his theoretical work, a bridge between the esoteric realm of orgone and tangible, meteorological phenomena. The machine itself consisted of a set of hollow tubes, which were connected to cables that led into water, which he believed would absorb orgone energy.
Reich’s method of operation for the cloudbuster was rooted in his understanding of orgone energy’s properties and behavior. He posited that droughts and other weather irregularities were the result of stagnant or blocked orgone energy in the atmosphere. By pointing the tubes towards specific areas of the sky and grounding them in water, Reich believed the cloudbuster could unblock this energy, allowing it to flow freely and thereby catalyzing the formation of clouds and precipitation. “Orgone energy charges the atmosphere and gives it the potential to form clouds and precipitate rain,” Reich explained in his longitudinal report, “Contact With Space.”
For Reich the cloudbuster was an attempt to apply esoteric theories to practical problems, blending the world of psychoanalytic theory with the down-to-earth matters of meteorology. But the cloudbuster also intrigued several unusual persons not afraid of controversy over a device such as this, which could apparently draw on orgone energy to induce rainfall.
One such person was Trevor James Constable, who expanded on Reich’s work with the cloudbuster. Constable’s own application of the cloudbuster was innovative and unconventional, blending Reich’s theories with his own unique ideas. Constable was particularly interested in Reich’s assertion that this energy could be harnessed to affect weather patterns. Constable’s fascination with this idea led him to experiment with the cloudbuster in various ways, going beyond Reich’s original scope. He made significant modifications to the original cloudbuster design. But he went further than this.
Constable also believed that his version of the cloudbuster could disperse clouds and combat what he viewed as atmospheric pollutants. His adaptations often involved the use of new materials and configurations, which he believed would enhance the machine’s effectiveness.
Constable conducted numerous experiments, particularly in the desert regions of the southwestern United States, claiming significant success in inducing rain. He documented these experiments with meticulous detail, although his methods and results were often met with skepticism by scientists.
Undiscouraged, Constable expanded on Reich’s ideas, introducing the concept of etheric energy, which he believed was a key component in weather phenomena. This idea harked back to the older, pre-modern concept of the ether, a substance once thought to permeate the universe. Constable postulated that this etheric energy could be manipulated to create or disperse cloud formations, and described this energy, as well as his cloudbuster machine, in a book devoted to photographs of UFOs taken by him.
Constable built several versions of the cloudbuster, and confirmed its rainmaking abilities in public demonstrations as well as in drought-stricken areas of the world, much to the surprise of skeptics present in these events. Numerous reports and newspaper articles immediately confirmed the appearance of rain and the satisfaction of authorities who had hired him to bring water to specific areas in need of it.
In one case in Malaysia, a drought was so severe that it dried up the lake leading to a large dam. Local residents believed that an evil force was preventing water from reaching the area, since it had been raining steadily nearby. Hired to help in this crisis, Constable sold his services to the local government on a contingency basis – no rain, no payment. He then installed the cloudbuster and in less than one month, sufficient rain came down as to fill the entire dam, which was 28 meters in depth. This work was repeated in Santa Barbara, Maine, and other parts of the United States.
In 1947, articles critical of Reich had appeared in several American magazines. These articles did not seek scientific verification of his work, and were full of inaccurate information, and soon after, Wilhelm Reich became the subject of legal action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which deemed his work completely fraudulent, and ordered him to halt the sale of his devices and related materials. Nine years later, Reich was found guilty of defying this order and received a two-year prison sentence, and virtually all of his writings, weighing over six tons, were destroyed by court order. Reich passed away in prison due to heart failure, approximately a year after his incarceration.
It is profoundly ironic that Constable’s success in proving Reich’s theory as a real rainmaker was not helpful to Reich himself earlier on, and so it is both tragic and fortunate that Constable was later to show the world that Reich’s theories about orgone energy connecting the power of the earth and sky were correct.
Reich, it seems, was more than a modern thinker, he was a real rainmaker, accomplishing what alchemists, gnostics, and ancient Greeks had dreamed of.