Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wilhelm Reich, nature religionist

When I wrote Her Hidden Children, I gave three pages to Wilhelm Reich, because I felt that his unconventional ideas on the body, sexuality, and life energy had as much to do with the intellectual underpinnings of American Paganism as did, for example, the anthropological theories of Sir James Frazer ("sacred kings" and all that).

Reich was all but burned as a heretic, but now his ideas are getting a second look as his papers are unsealed.

Physician-scientist Wilhelm Reich, best known for his claims of a cosmic life force associated with sexual orgasm, died in federal prison, and the government burned tons of his books and other publications and destroyed his equipment.

But half a century later, a small number of scientists and other believers are working to advance the European-born psychiatrist's work on what he called "orgone energy" - a theory largely forgotten in the scientific mainstream.

"Personally, I think it's going to be a long time before all of his work is understood and recognized," said Reich's granddaughter, Renata Reich Moise, a nurse-midwife and artist in the coastal town of Hancock.

If you live in New England, visit the Wilhelm Reich Museum. Rent a cottage and try some orgone experiments.



Blogger Inanna said...

Chas - I was surprised and delighted to find the pages on Reich in your book. I've never known anyone to make the connection between Reich and contemporary U.S. Paganism before. I'm a student in a healing arts program largely based on Reich's ideas, and I'm the only Pagan I know of in the school. My work there has informed my Paganism beautifully - and vice versa. When I got to the part on Reich in your book, I thought, "of course, but I've never heard anyone say it before."

Have you thought about writing a paper to draw out the connections between Reich's ideas and American Paganism that you begin to explore in HHC?


7:33 AM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

Actually, Inanna, there was more in an earlier draft on Reich, but I cut it down because it seemed to be going off on too long a tangent.

A paper ... maybe some day. Thanks for the idea.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Copper Asetemhat Stewart said...

I discovered Reichian "orgone generators" a few months ago and have been experimenting to see if there's anything to it. I suspect there's something...

On a synchronous vibe, I wrote about Eros and included Reich just yesterday! (at http://paganmonist.blogspot.com). I was delighted to see Reich's name pop up in Google Reader this morning!

10:59 AM  

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