The Theosophical Forum – October 1938

THE MYSTERY OF LIGHT — J. W. A. Croiset van Uchelen

The Third Logos, Mahat, becomes Manas in man, Manas being only Mahat individualized, as the Sun-rays are individualized in the bodies that absorb them. — The Secret Doctrine

In the older Theosophical magazines we come across articles dealing with the philosophy of sound, as well as of color. Meanwhile, our still limited knowledge on the subject of light and color has considerably increased.

Light and the Cosmic Fire Element enter into all ancient philosophies; for are we not the Flame-born sons of God, thrown off as sparks from the wheels of the Infinite? Yea, even the spiritual Sun behind the physical sun is one of these Flames, nor was its beginning greater than that of the Flame in the human soul.

The Holy Spirit is Fire. And the ever-burning lamp of the alchemists which burned for a thousand years, without fuel in the catacombs of Rome is but the symbol of the same spiritual fire within man himself which was carried by the Initiate in his wandering. (1)

All chemistry from which animal and plant life take their need for growth and development was deposited in the earth and water by the Sun. All life is sustained by the Sun through indirect absorption of sunlight in the body.

The so-called "primitive" races, in recognition of the God-sent powers of the Sun, offered their prayers to the rising and the setting Sun, the Solar Logos, as the millions of Mohammedans still do today when the call sounds from the minarets over the sands of the desert.

The ancients, much of whose knowledge has been lost, fully understood the influence of light and its colors; and strange stories remain of temples on older continents where the light of stellar bodies, linked to sound-waves, was utilized for healing purposes, in connexion with astrological influences.

The Egyptians, like the Chaldaeans and the Persians, and the Kabbalists before them, made a special study of color and were well aware of its relationship to sound and number. The Greeks utilized light-energy, and Herodotus about 450 B.C., wrote a book on the value of sunlight for skin diseases. Aristotle, who also wrote on color, realized the influence of light in the formation of the green color of plants. Light, as a healing agent was employed, we read, by the Roman physician Celsus, and by Galen, the physician of Marcus Aurelius.

Thus we shall find that this ancient subject linked to the mysteries, and always more or less pertaining to the healing art and priestcraft, once combined, has never entirely been forgotten. From time to time throughout history, master minds have turned to the subject of light and color, until, in later centuries, materialistic science began its search for knowledge of its physical properties.

It was at the end of the Seventeenth Century that the discoveries of Newton gave a new impetus to this research and the basis of spectrum analysis was laid. Still the mystery unsolved rests in the unanswered question: What is light?

Sir Oliver Lodge was well aware of man's limited mind when he spoke of light as "the mysterious messenger." Light, says H. Schellen, in his Spectrum Analysis, is the "vibration of a substance." Professor Tyndall speaks of the "sensation of light." Physicists defined it as "form caused by electro-magnetic vibrations," and so on. Dr. Pancoast defied them when he wrote: "A sensation could not cause the germ of a blade of grass to develop into a thing of beauty and utility; a vibration could not paint the rose, or shape and adjust its petals." He himself then speaks of light as a positive power, or force of nature, an actual and active manifestation of the creator, a vital energy that creates and destroys. That is to say, he distinguishes between the invisible energy of light and its visible representation, the light we see. (2) Today we vaguely speak of light as "a series of oscillatory frequencies perceptible to us by the senses."

Not only do we not know what light is (nor electricity, nor magnetism for that matter, although all these are believed to be different manifestations of the same cosmic force), but neither is the mystery of its projection understood. (Ignotum per ignotius!)

Three main theories have been propagated: Newton's emission theory, Huygens's undulatory wave theory (supplemented by what Pancoast calls the impulse and tension theory), and most recently Ghadiali's theory, depicting a gyratory spiral motion of photon emission, through the first ether medium. (Could the Ancient Wisdom perchance give us the clue? I hopefully ask a wiser student to attempt this.)

The emission theory holds that light is composed of minute particles of matter emitted by the radiant body; according to the undulatory wave theory, light is propagated by means of an all-pervading elastic medium — ether; but asked what this ether is, science failed to find the answer. It has to admit that the unsolved properties of such a medium could not be expressed in terms of units as used in matter; nor could it assume that so-called empty space has no physical properties, without upsetting the fundamental facts of mechanics. This medium might be of an unknown character therefore, but it cannot be "nothing." As Einstein (who, by the way, considers that "the geometrical properties of space render the hypothetical ether unnecessary") wrote: "Matter is real . . . motion, space and also time are real forms. Every attempt to deny the physical reality of space collapses in the face of the law of inertia. For if acceleration is to be taken as real, then that space must also be real within which bodies are conceived as accelerated." (New York Times, February 3, 1929)

The question remains, does the one theory actually and of necessity exclude the other?

That light has solidity is borne out by the radiometer developed by Crookes (who also demonstrated the fluorescence and phosphorescence of matter), as well as by the phenomenon of refraction. For we know that when a light-beam strikes a prism, upon entering this heavier medium it bends toward the perpendicular by reduction of velocity, taking a second bend in opposite direction when it leaves the prism and enters a lighter medium.

Light, according to Ghadiali, starts as a circle with dual polarity, the third aspect being formed by its forward motion (which therefore becomes "a progressive spiral oscillatory motion"), and it is in this spiraling gyration that the root of the seven colors is to be found, because, as we are reminded philosophically, no exoteric circle can manifest which does not hold within itself the seven circles from the unmanifested plane. The Sun therefore does not shed light, but light is the converted energy sent forward, translated as light by our sensory organs, after it passes through impediments such as the atmosphere. Color, thus understood as "a divisional part of light," depends for its frequency on the position where the white light spiral is utilized; or, in other words "the amount cut off in degrees from the circle (really spiral) of the white light determines the color."

Colors therefore cannot be filtered, as we filter a sediment out of water, for if this be true, he reasons, then a white light beam, after passing through a so-called yellow filter, should possess none of the other colors; so that when this yellow beam in turn is thrown on a green filter, it should either stay yellow or not pass at all. Experiment proves however that a new color is formed, combining both the yellow and the green, namely lemon.

It is the coloring matter in the glass, he holds, which determines the axial polarity of the full beam, twisting it around (as shown in Faraday's experiments on polarized light), a second so-called filter causing another corresponding twirl to take place, and so on, until the particles (photons) forming the emission are exhausted. (3)

Turning to the most recent discoveries in regard to light and color-energy, we find its application, again primarily in the healing art (apart from the commercial use of ultra-violet rays in a number of industries).

Strangely enough the first renewed impulse focussed the attention upon the invisible rays on either side of the spectrum — now being utilized in the form of diathermy, infra-red, ultra-violet, X-ray and radium radiations — rather than on the visible spectral rays themselves. Yet, could sound reasoning lead us to believe that the visible rays lack healing powers ascribed to the burning, ultra-spectral waves? Or, as Sir Oliver Lodge put it: "Would it be logical to have a sun visible to man and only those rays helpful which are not visible?" And so once more the attention came to be directed toward the healing power of the visible (color) rays of Light.

Often people speak, or think, of sunlight as "just light," forgetting that in this light the radiant spectral colors are contained — whatever theories may be involved — these being varied colors of diverse chemical potencies. And as is well known today, every color coincides with certain chemical elements in the body and has its purpose in the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of man. To state it otherwise, colors are certain definite oscillatory frequencies by which plant, animal, and man alike are sustained.

Not only is sunlight indispensable for the maintenance of life, but as Dr. Crile set forth in The Phenomena of Life, oxidation of compounds, stored in plants, causes the release in animals, including man, of solar-radiation in the form of electric and radiant energy.

Experiments in various universities of late have demonstrated — what has long since been known to color-therapists — that the different wave-lengths of visible light (colors to our eyes) differently affect the growth and behavior of plants; thus Dr. E. Karrer of the Smithsonian Institute found that the greatest growth in length was in plants illumined by the orange-red part of the spectrum; the lowest growth was observed in plants grown under the blue-green divisions of the light. Seedlings will bend towards the blue light and away from the red, and so on.

Light means life, and this relationship is a process of photosynthesis, whereby carbon-dioxide in the air is made into carbohydrates of plants which in turn provide food for man and beast. (4) Food, in other words, is bottled sunshine whereby the spectral rays are absorbed and re-radiated in proportion to, and in accordance with, the chemical constituents the foodstuffs contain. Yet the fact that the value of our food, digested, assimilated, built into tissues, etc., depends upon this disengagement of solar-energy (or color-rays) within the body, may still be a new viewpoint to many.

Today's chemists are well aware of the fact that the green pigment of plant leaves, called chlorophyll, or concentrated sunshine, has been given to patients with high blood-pressure, anemic or digestive disorders, with beneficial results. As Professor Buergi of Berne expressed it: "The sunshine caught is passed on in the form of blood-life for the human being." And Dr. Schertz wrote: "This pigment appears to be Nature's laboratory for converting energy into matter." Now the direct treatment with color-rays produces the same beneficial results, but with greater specific precision, for the very reason that chlorophyll did not absorb any particular ray, but all colors of the spectrum; whereas in color-therapy the diminished energy is reinforced by the specific colors required!

That green light has a soothing effect on the eyes we all know, but why the blue ray will cure burns and relieve pain, for instance, is less known — this process being the result of the oxygenating character of the blue-ray emanation. This very fact also explains the results obtained with the injection of methylene blue (nothing but a blue dye) in cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. All elements have a predominant color-emanation (as revealed by the Frauenhofer lines), upon which their potency depends and through which they act upon the human body.

How much, furthermore, is it known that green radiant-energy, like chlorine, is a germicide? And here let us note a report by Drs. Chambers and Flosdart, of the University of Pennsylvania, in the "Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine," in which it is stated that high-pitched sounds oscillating at 8,900 vibrations per second are able to destroy streptococcus hemolyticus by blasting the germs. "So powerful is the vibration," the report goes on, "that it overcomes the cohesive strength of water, tears the molecules apart and leaves vacuum spaces, or vacuoles, which look like bubbles." During the process light is also evolved. Now if oscillatory frequencies at 8,900 per second have this effect, what, one may well ask, must be the effect on germs, when bombarded with the green spectral ray, the oscillatory frequency of which is given as of over 584 trillion per second?

It should be remembered that in dealing with the human physical vehicle, we are dealing with an organism built up of chemical constituents. And all these elements have a certain wave-length of energy incorporated in them, which act as direct resonators, so to speak, for outside energy of the same wave-length when poured into them from the sun or an artificial source.

It is not difficult to see therefore how a disproportion of the body constituents, manifesting itself as disease, may be restored by administering the color-waves corresponding to the depressed elements (in other words, by reinforcing diminished energy); while on the other hand, in case of a surplus of an element, the antagonistic wave will reduce its activity by interference. The astonishing results obtained with these cold color ray treatments, in diseases of all kinds, are less astonishing when these principles are understood.

That only spectral colors of the proper oscillatory frequencies should be used to obtain a chemical action in harmony with natural processes and the energy emitted by the sun should be obvious. On the other hand, it must be clear that by mixing these rays with gases (often of a poisonous character, like carbon, or mercury vapors) the natural laws of color therapy are violated to the extent of nullifying the effect of the spectral rays and their potential chemical and vibratory action, as such. If we accept the rationale of diagnosis and treatment by electricity, radio waves, etc., the value of the use of color-rays is self-evident, for whether vibrations, or oscillatory frequencies, are expressed as electricity, heat, light, color, sound, etc., it is now well known that these are all manifestations of the One Universal Energy, or Force, conducted, it is believed, through different media.

A demonstration of this inter-relationship, between heat and sound for instance, also was made at the University of Pennsylvania, when an egg was coagulated by audible sounds, while other experiments showed that by use of sound-vibrations ethyl acetate could be broken down to produce acetic acid, and starch to a slight extent was decomposed to produce glucose; etc.

In its pure form, color-therapy (by use of prismatic, or spectro-scopically adjusted beams of colors) is a natural system of healing, akin to the forces of life — solar energy. And although as old as antiquity, it is only in recent years that the use of color in the field of the healing arts once more has come — to stay — to benefit a suffering humanity. (5)

That in color-therapy the physical body is affected through the direct influence the colors exercise upon the auric vehicle, thereby also bringing the forces of the vital vehicle into play, is a truth that perhaps only those whose minds are trained in Eastern philosophies can fully appreciate — and therefore it is seldom publicly mentioned.

Light and heat are atomic phenomena, more ethereal, infinitesimal, than crude chemical action. Medicine has combined solids into various chemical compounds; in color-therapy the more ethereal emanations of nature are combined and transmuted to meet the requirements of an organism becoming more finely attuned.


1. See M. P. Hall's Initiates of the Flame. (return to text)

2. A view close to that held by Theosophical thinkers and corresponding to Ghadiali's theory where he speaks of colors as mathematically sub-divided parts of the circle of white light — the visible energy of the invisible cosmic energy. (return to text)

3. The colors themselves seem to corroborate these views, for is it not true that colors are only apparent — according to the illumination of an object — and not inherent in a body? Hence if the illumination changes, the object is changed also. Photograph a many-colored butterfly through different color lenses and the resultant pictures show seemingly entirely different insects. This proves, Ghadiali holds, that it is the light that causes the appearance and not the spangles of the creatures themselves. A similar view is held by Prof. Haldane, who disillusions us about the "blue" of the sky! Illusion again — Maya. (return to text)

4. Professor Dhar writes in his The Chemical Action of Light: "The phenomenon of carbon assimilation by plants, which makes life possible on this planet is fundamentally photo-chemical in action. Moreover it is this phenomenon which converts the radiant energy of the sun into potential energy. . . ." (return to text)

5. This is not a mere form of speech, for in many instances treatments with these cold color-rays have brought relief, or produced a cure, after such cases had been given up as "hopeless," when failing to respond to "ordinary" treatment.

For those who doubt that we are entering a color-age, we copy a few headings showing the attention bestowed upon this subject in various fields:

"Guests at a party got sick because of Green and Red Lights." "Piano plays Music in Color on White Disk." "Light beam stopped by whirling disk plays chords." "Cathode tubes color ads with brilliant light." "Plants grow without soil in artificial garden with artificial sun." "Sunlight used to drive small motor." — And so on. (return to text)

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