Readers of Johannes Greber's Communication with the Spirit World may be mystified by what is meant by "odic energy."  First of all, the word "od" was coined by a chemist named Karl von Reichenbach who lived during the 19th century.  Von Reichenbach had discovered an energy so subtle that it required certain conditions and certain persons to "view" it.  He called this subtle energy "od" (pronounced "ode") or "odylle," after the Teutonic god Wodin (Odin).

These are images of Karl von Reichenbach:

And this is the original German edition of his work on od and an English translation:

Since von Reichenbach's early experiments with odic energy, scientists have updated his research and have made similar observations to von Reichenbach's.

One is encouraged to review this recent research into odic energy in a rather large monograph by an M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Princeton University trained Physicist, Claude Swanson, whose picture is seen here:

Swanson's book is entitled:

Life Force, The Scientific Basis: Breakthrough Physics of Energy Medicine, Healing, Chi and Quantum Consciousness (Tuscon, AZ: Poseidia Press, 2010; second printing 2011).

 This book throws light on what Greber was told by the Spirit about "odic" energy.  This book also serves as a much needed response to the skeptics who often shun anything of this nature as "just mere pseudo science" or "humbuggery."  Swanson reviews the work of von Reichenbach as well as the recent researches of Russian scientists and their work on "torsion," the Russian term for "odic energy."  From now on, Swanson's work has finally provided both the scientific and skeptical communities with a work that demands attention and scrutiny other than simply passing it off as hogwash or a "pseudo scientific" attempt to justify belief in the existence of spirits, healing, and auras.  Swanson's work shows that "belief" has nothing to do with his program on odic energy.  Swanson gives real, observable, and replicable evidence for this otherwise "elusive" (i.e. subtle) energy.  The existence of spirits will no longer be an article of belief in the near future.  Swanson's book gives us an insight into the "vital force" of the ancients and the energy required for spirit manifestations and materializations in modern-day prayer circles who meet for the purpose of spirit communication.  From an early Christian perspective, Swanson elucidates after all what was meant by "the power of the holy spirit."  That "power" is the so-called odic energy that Swanson chronicles in his book.  It is the vital force that is required for humans to live and it is the force that ceases once the spirit has exited the physical body upon physical death.

Swanson's book is meant for the lay person.  He uses very little mathematics and technical jargon from his Physics background.  Nevertheless, Swanson's book requires patience for it deals with a topic that even Swanson considers is "on the fringes" of science.  Swanson's book attempts to explain a force in nature that is the basis for spirit manifestations.  Ancient Greeks, Romans, as well as Jews and Christians, were aware of a force necessary for the manifestation of spirits.  They often identified this force as simply "power."  Note the phrase "power of the Holy Spirit."  They did not seem to possess any sophisticated knowledge about this power, other than it seemed to be present in various manifestations when spirits would communicate through mediums or materialize in bodily form.  Sometimes this power was described as a "cloud" or as a "fire."  Note that the Hebrews were led about in the desert by a "pillar of cloud" by day and a "pillar of fire" by night.  In daylight, condensed odic energy looks like a cloud and at night it looks like "fire."  Note also Moses and the "burning bush" which suggests that the burning bush incident took place at night; the bush was never consumed by fire because what looked to be fire was the color of odic energy in the dark.  Recall the "tongues of fire" in the Acts of the Apostles 2 when the holy spirits manifested.  The only kind of light that the ancients had experience with was fire, and so when they saw odic energy at night, fire was the closest thing that they could identify it by.

The Neo-Platonist Iamblichus in his work On the Mysteries describes odic energy around inspired mediums as "fire" also.  Iamblichus notes:

"he who draws down a certain divinity, sees a spirit descending and entering into some one, recognizes its magnitude and quality, and is also mystically presuaded and governed by it.  But a species of fire is seen by the recipient, prior to the spirit being received, which sometimes becomes manifest to all the spectators, either when the divinity is descending, or when he is departing. . . . if the presence of the fire of the divinities, and a certain ineffable species of light, externally accede to him who is possessed . . . what sense . . . can there be in him who receives a divine fire?  Let such, therefore, be the divine indications of true inspiration from the divinities" (On the Mysteries 3.6).

Iamblichus describes the manifestation of odic energy during a sitting for spirit communication as a "species of light" or "fire."  This is the very description we read for the presence of odic energy during spirit communication in the Old Testament (the burning bush) and the New Testament (tongues of fire).

Note that the ancients were wrong in calling this manifestation "fire" because it was not true fire at all.  This is a good example of the position that we moderns are in today relative to our knowledge of the odic force.  We are really no more advanced in our knowledge about odic force than the ancients were with regard to the nature and reality of this subtle force in nature.  Apparently, such a sophisticated knowledge of od was not necessary in order for people to successfully communicate with spirits.  Among the Christians, the main prerequisite for being visited by God's holy spirits was love and harmony among the members of the group, nothing more. Basic knowledge of meditation and prayer was also necessary.  Meditation techniques were well known to ancient folk.  Beyond this, there does not seem to have been any sophisticated knowledge of how spirits were able to manifest among ancient folk.

Let us consider an example.  Imagine that someone has no knowledge of how a car is able to run, function, and move you from point A to point B.  Nevertheless, what would be necessary for you to tell him how to operate the car?  You would say: "Mash this pedal and it goes faster, mash this pedal down and it stops.   This is the steering wheel.  It controls the car's direction, and, by the way, this gauge here tells you how fast you are going.   Now you understand how to drive.  Just practice a little bit and you will be ready to take it on the road by yourself."

Notice that this explanation leaves out explanations of the catalytic chemistry taking place in the converter, the complex thermodynamics and pyrochemistry of the combustion process, and the details of the non-resonant dissipative kinetic energy absorption in the suspension system.  Neither does it deal with the non-laminar turbulent fluid flow occurring in the exhaust system, or the (hopefully) laminar flow inside the intake manifold.  All mention of the piezoelectric injectors is omitted, as is the huge topic of how the sensors and the onboard computers work.

NOW: Would hearing several days of these explanations, of which the driver would not understand a single word, help him or her to drive the car any better and more safely?  No, it would not.  Likewise, a sophisticated knowledge of odic energy was not necessary for those who communicated with spirits.  The ancients, for instance, were perfectly adept at communicating with spirits, just as one can drive a car perfectly well without any more know-how than a Driver's Ed. course.  Johannes Greber was once told by the Spirit who communicated with him that a knowledge of the nature of the odic force would drive humans mad.  It would be akin to explaining to a child the mathematics required to calculate the laws of motion, the orbits of planets, and the chemical bonds of gases.  Historically, sitters during a prayer service who sought communication with God's spirits had little to no knowledge about the physics behind the odic energy that they liberated from their bodies in order for the spirits to manifest and speak.  The only real prerequisite for communication with God's spirits was love and harmony among the sitters.  Hence the thrust of the Scriptures is love.

BUT, this is where Swanson's book becomes useful.  If it can be demonstrated by scientific verification under laboratory conditions that can be duplicated elsewhere that such a force known by the term "od" actually exists, then less negative skepticism arises against the notion of spirits and their communication with humans.  In other words, scientific evidence for spirits, and hence, another dimension of reality, what some call the afterlife, opens a whole new vista in the field of Physics, and, frankly, in all of the humanities.  A greater understanding of the existence of the odic force will give us a better understanding of nature itself, as well as who we are as spirit beings temporarily housed in physical bodies and the nature of the physical world's relationship to the spirit worlds beyond.  Swanson's findings will also help explain the healings that occur by the "laying on of hands" and explain the phenomena that accompany prayer services such as the materialization of spirits and the lights, mists, and clouds that are sometimes seen around the medium during such prayer services.

Swanson's book gives us some insight into details of odic energy that are akin to giving the details of how a car operates, details that go beyond the mere knowledge of driving a car.  But he does so in a way that is not too technical for the lay reader.  His book should be especially appealing to mediums and participants in prayer services and healing services, and to readers of Johannes Greber, Communication with the Spirit World of God: Its Laws and Purpose

The following narrative about the odic or "vital" force is by Dr. James A. Scarborough.

The Vital Force in Physics Class

Traditional physics knows of four different forces that control the universe and all that is in it.  Two of these forces, called the nuclear strong force and the nuclear weak force, do not extend their reach outside of the nucleus of the atom, so they are irrelevant for this discussion.  Of the two other forces, gravity is familiar to everyone as the cause of weight and as the force that keeps moons in orbit around planets and planets in their orbits around the sun.  The remaining force, called the electromagnetic force, incorporates both electrical and magnetic phenomena and explains all of chemistry, biology, engineering, lightning, weather, cloud formations, and almost anything else that can be named.

However, none of these four recognized forces seems capable of explaining everything that is observed.   In particular, the phenomenon of life seems to require yet another force, one which we might call the “vital force.”  As a result, a number of scientists over the past century have proposed such a force that accompanies living things, both plant and animal.  In addition, the book by Johannes Greber*, along with various other metaphysical works, proposes the existence of this vital force .  Various cultures around the world have given names to this hypothetical force, names such as prana, kundalini, odic force, chi (or qi), bioplasmic energy, vital force, life force and others. 

We should expect several effects due to the existence of such a force.  We quickly find that we must give serious consideration to events that are usually consigned to the tabloids and generally put into the category of imaginary, hallucinatory, and so on.  Further, the door is opened to other dimensions of existence, the reality of ESP and various psychic phenomena, the existence of auras, and the transfer of vital energy from one person to another.   There are a great many experiments currently reported that put these phenomena squarely in the realm of reality.   A thorough discussion of many of these can be found in the book by Swanson**.

The existence of a life force means that there should be an array of higher and lower energy levels of that force.  These would technically be called quantum levels by physicists, but in everyday language we might refer to them as other space-time dimensions.   Accordingly, the universe should be a multi-dimensional creation.   There has been recent scientific interest in the concept of parallel universes and other such theoretical constructs, but these are different from quantum levels of life energy as proposed in this short article.  There is Biblical precedent for a multidimensional creation.

The ancient Pharisees believed in seven heavens, or, in our modern technical language, seven dimensions of space-time higher than Earth and the physical universe.  They believed that God dwelt “above the highest heaven.”  Paul, the quintessential Pharisee, reported that he had been taken to the third heaven on one occasion (II Cor12:2)    It is perhaps significant that Jesus never changed this belief, especially since he remarked about certain other ideas that “if it were not so, I would have told you.” 

Electric charges in motion produce electromagnetic radiations, carrying the names of radio waves, TV waves, microwaves, and so on according to their frequencies.  Reasoning by analogy with electrical forces, we would expect odic energy to have a radiation component.  This attribute would open the door by which future Einsteins might eventually produce a scientific explanation of thought transference, ESP, and certain other phenomena.  There are already numerous experimental results from studies in these areas (see Swanson**).  The analogy with electricity can quickly be stretched beyond its breaking point.  For example, electrical forces can be blocked out, or shielded, whereas forces such as gravity, and apparently the vital force, cannot be blocked.  Furthermore, the drop-off in the strength of electrical fields as we move farther from a charged object does not seem to occur in the case of odic forces.  Most of all, the odic, or vital, force responds to the conscious intent and will of the source.  No other force known in nature responds to human mental intent.  

Psychic phenomena, such as ESP, clairvoyance, and others, are common in the Bible.  For example, Elisha saw his servant surreptitiously accepting payment for the healing of a leper although the servant was at a distance from Elisha and not visible by ordinary sight (II Kings 5:26).  Elisha’s gift of clairvoyance was put to use on another occasion when he spied on the Syrian king, who was at war with Israel.  That king was informed by his advisors that, “… Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom” (II Kings 6:12).  Among examples in the New Testament, Nathanael was psychically seen by Jesus although Christ was not physically present.  “Before Phillip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”  (John 1:48)

Auras could result from sufficient vital energy that they become visible.   This compares with the electric field that surrounds an object bearing electrical charge.   For centuries, artists have portrayed saints and other religious figures as having golden haloes about their heads.  Other circumstantial reports ascribe auras to the entire body.  Many people have claimed the special ability to see auras, and a great many metaphysical books have been written on that subject, but scientific proof of the existence of auras is lacking.

A few occasions have been reported in which the aura was powerful enough that ordinary people could see it.   When Moses descended from the mountain after his audience with God, his face had a glow about it.  This so frightened the Hebrews that they required him to wear a veil for a couple of months until the excess energy had dissipated and was no longer visible (Ex 4:29-35).    When Jesus, accompanied by Peter, John and James, was on the mountaintop in the proximity of God, the source of all life, the energy radiating from Christ was clearly visible.   Jesus and his garments glowed a radiant white.  This is the event commonly referred to as the “transfiguration” (Mark 9:2,3).

It appears that this life energy has some parallels with the behavior of electricity and electrical fields.   A person may acquire electrical charge in various ways, perhaps by friction due to sliding leather-soled shoes across a carpet in cold weather.   The resulting charge buildup can cause sparks to be emitted when the person transfers charge by reaching for an object. In an analogous way, it seems that people carry various amounts of odic charge, depending perhaps upon their state of physical health and their spiritual attunement.   Upon touching another person, some of this excess energy can be transferred.  The Bible alludes indirectly to vital energy transfer, as happened when a woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed.  Jesus asked who touched him, for he felt an energy go out of him (Luke 8:43-46). 

This transfer of energy could explain why the Apostle Paul instructed his followers to place their hands upon the ill while they pray for them in order to enhance cures.  When Jesus touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law, her fever immediately left her (Matt 8:15).  After Paul was struck blind by his encounter with Christ on the road to Emmaus, Ananias laid hands on Paul days later and restored his sight (Acts 8:17-19).  Years afterward, Paul was summoned to minister to Publius, who was lying in bed with fever and dysentery.  Paul “laid his hands on him and healed him”  (Acts 28:8).   There are several other Biblical examples of positive results that followed laying on of hands (for example, see Luke 5:18 healing of a leper; Mark 6:5 healing of various sick people; Acts 6:6 consecrating men to the service of their congregations; Acts 13:3  blessing Saul and Barnabas before they leave on a mission trip).  (Also see I Tim 4:14, Acts 19:6, Heb 6:2 for other effects).

It is well-known that hugs and caresses with other humans, or even with pets, produce a variety of positive effects, such as lowering blood pressure, calming the nerves, increasing resistance to infections, and others.  In the same vein, people seem to know intuitively that touch produces positive effects.   For example, the first thing a mother does with a crying baby is to pick the infant up and hold it close to her chest.  A natural reaction to a downcast friend is to place a hand on a shoulder, or even to give a hug.  It is apparent that it is difficult to separate the positive effects due to odic energy transfer from those due to psychological factors.    

During a physics class, we had finished discussing the four known forces when the discussion digressed into the speculative possibility of a life force.   The large class was composed of students studying for nursing degrees, so the concept of therapeutic touch was relevant.  Toward the end of the discussion, I was using the electrical analogy in talking about transfer of odic energy.  I asked a lady on the front row to stand and act as a mannequin for me to use in demonstrating my explanation.  She stood facing me with her back to the class.  Taking her right hand in my left hand, I explained that the mere act of touching probably transfers energy from one person to another.  At that point, we both felt an electrical tingling in our contact hands.  I felt a strange sensation, as though my hand was expanding to about twice its normal size.

Then I mentioned that the process would probably work better if there were two points of contact, similar to the way a flashlight battery works if we complete the circuit.  While still holding her hand in mine, I placed my right palm on her forehead while talking in order to “complete the circuit.”  At that moment, we both felt an intensified tingling in both points of contact.   She lost her balance and swooned backward into her chair.  I helped her down so that she was unhurt.

Similar events allegedly happen regularly on televised programs in this country.   Although I reserve judgment as much as possible, I am skeptical of nearly everything that I see in this regard.  Much of it seems staged, the rest of it seems unnecessarily theatrical, and there is always the suspicion of a financial motive.  In addition, the participants in this process have powerful forces of suggestion and expectation that surely influence the results.  What I have seen on TV has been generally unconvincing.  At the same time, some of it might be valid, as I cannot read the inner motives of the people involved.   Nevertheless, I am more easily persuaded when the effects happen directly to someone I know well or to me personally, so that I know that nothing bogus is going onThe discernment is much easier in that case.

In this experience in my classroom, I had not the slightest idea that anything like this would happen.   Both the student and I were quite surprised at the demonstration of odic energy transfer.  Thanks to the help of the Spirit, the point had been well made.

* Communication with the Spirit World of God. Johannes Greber.   First published in 1932.  Several later editions exist.  Available on Amazon.com.  Available for reading at no cost at http://www.communicationwithgod.info/

**  Life Force: The Scientific Basis.   Claude Swanson, Ph.D., 2009.  Poseidia Press, 2nd Edition.    ISBN: 10-0974526142, ISBN:13-978-0974526140