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Pranosophy: Anthroposophic Pranotherapy


Sandro Parise

“In the flow of cosmic life, I recognize myself. The Cosmos is in my heart, and I am in the heart of the Cosmos!”

Steiner on Pranotherapy

To introduce the anthroposophical conception in the field of pranotherapy, we can start with a quote by Steiner on pranotherapy and one on the spiritual meaning of hands.

Pranotherapy and Love

What is the only means that must act more vigorously for the luciferic element to be removed in the right way? What has been contaminated by the luciferic element of our Earth? Love! Therefore, only with the contribution of love can we have real help so that the karmic element can be carried out in a proper and just way. In conclusion, for everything that in this direction becomes a cause of illness we must see in Love, which has been damaged in the soul by the luciferic influence, an element to which we must add something. We must infuse love so that the flowing act of love can be a help. All those therapeutic acts that are based more or less on so-called psychic therapeutic processes have this character of love added. What is used in one form or another in psychic therapeutic processes is related to the contribution of love. It is love that we instill as a balm in the other man; love must eventually be brought back, and it can also be. It can be brought back to love when we set simple psychic facts in motion, when we induce another man perhaps even to put his depressed soul in order. All this must have its impulse in love, from simple therapeutic processes to what today, often in a profane way, is called “pranotherapy”. In reality, what is communicated in this way by the therapist to those who are to be treated? If we want to use an expression of physics, we have an “exchange of tensions”. What lives in the therapist, especially certain processes in the etheric body, due to the fact that it enters into a certain relationship with those to be treated, is brought into a kind of polarity with what has to be healed. A polarity is provoked just as when in a more abstract sense a polarity is provoked in another way, when a kind of electricity, the positive one, is provoked and in a certain way the other corresponding one, the negative, is presented. Polarity is provoked. The phenomenon is to be understood in the highest sense as an act of sacrifice. It provokes in itself a process that is not only aimed at having a meaning in us, otherwise it would only provoke a process, but in this case it must be directed in order to provoke in the other a polarity with respect to it. This polarity, which naturally depends on the fact that the therapist and the person to be treated are in some sense put in relation to each other in order to trigger that process, is in the highest sense the immolation of a force that is nothing other than the force of love transformed, an act of love in any form. The affective agent in such psychic therapies is the force of love, one will always have something that cannot lead to the right goal. But the processes of love do not always need to take place only in such a way that man is fully aware of them in the usual daytime consciousness; they also take place in the other subconscious layers. Even in what can be regarded as the technique of the healing process, in the same way as, for example, the hands move, as technically they are inserted into a system, even in all this there is already the fact that the processes of love are a reflection of a sacrificial act. So even where in a therapeutic process we do not immediately see the nexus, where we do not see what is done, there is nevertheless an act of love, even if it is absolutely transformed into a technique. – Rudolf Steiner, Le Manifestazioni del Karma, Editrice Antroposofica, 1999, pp. 207-208.

The ether of the Cosmos is the vital force that descends from the celestial heights into Nature, into minerals, plants and animals. Not so for the man of today, who in the frenzy of everyday life must consciously return to this free flow of cosmic forces. Thus, individual life finds itself separated from cosmic life, creating an imbalance. However, it is only in this detachment that man finds his individual consciousness, and it is through consciousness that he must return to cosmic life.

He finds harmony in the flow of the ether, the nexus between man and Cosmos through the treatments of pranotherapy.

From the encounter between the understanding of the energy of Anthroposophy and Pranotherapy comes Anthroposophical Pranotherapy or Pranosophy. Pranotherapy is an energy therapy based on the use of man’s vital body, also called the etheric body. In the West it was known in the eighteenth century as animal magnetism and only later became known as biomagnetism or more commonly Pranotherapy, from the Indian word “prana” which means “breath of life” or “life force”. It is also called “bioremediation”. In our western culture prana is called “ether”, from the name of the force that medieval alchemists had identified as the foundation of the four elements, otherwise known as Quintessence. The ether coincides with life, being the foundation of vegetable, animal and human life, but in its more and more subtle forms it permeates the whole Cosmos.

Normally the ego governs the astral body, which means that the soul processes are under the control of the thought processes: negative thoughts generate a negative soul state, on the contrary, positive thoughts. In turn, the astral body governs the etheric body, which means that the vital processes are under the control of the soul processes: when the soul state changes, the vital state of the body or a part of it changes accordingly. The more the pranotherapist is able to control his thought processes, the more he will control the mood and therefore the emission of prana in the form of heat from his body and especially from his hands.

Thus I, astral and etheric, are linked by a causal psychosomatic relationship: the mental state generates the state of mind, and this still generates the vital state. In pranotherapy the ego guides the polarization of the etheric body through the process of astral imagination: the pranotherapist during the treatment forms inner images that act as catalysts of the flow of prana. The images woven in this way exert targeted control over the etheric matrix so that it can be restored to balance.

Pranotherapy is based on the polarity of the etheric body of the human being, which thus has a negative and a positive pole:

  1. The left half is negative, feminine, lunar and receiving;

  2. The right half is positive, male, solar and radiant.

Thus it follows that the etheric body functions as a magnet with a double polarity. The more there is a potential difference between the two etheric polarities, the more the body is able to emanate prana especially from the center of the hands, in the form of heat. In general, when the pranotherapist radiates prana from his etheric body, his body temperature increases. However, the body can also cool down, especially when the receiving hand is used to absorb the energy imbalance present in the treated person.

As a result, the pranotherapist uses his hands as instruments:

  1. Right hand: it is used to irradiate prana;

  2. Left hand: used to absorb prana.

The parts of the body that undergo a Cold Disharmony are irradiated with ether; while prana is absorbed in the parts of the body that undergo a Hot Disharmony. The harmonic ideal that guides pranotherapist is the balance of the vital force that is expressed in a balance of body temperature.

Pranotherapy and Reiki

Pranotherapy and Reiki are both energy methods that use ether, often described as if there was a profound difference between them:

  1. In Pranotherapy the polarity used is internal to the etheric body of the pranotherapist who therefore behaves like a magnet and with this double polarity operates specifically on the polarity of the etheric body of the applicant;

  2. In Reiki the polarity used is external to the etheric body of the Reiki practitioner, the radiating pole is the Cosmos, the receiving pole is the whole etheric body of the applicant, while the practitioner is a mediator.

In the same way also the modalities of use are often differentiated:

  1. Pranotherapy is more suitable in the case of a known imbalance in the physical body, and has a specific action. In this way it joins the practices of conventional medicine in restoring health. The pranotherapeutic treatment is usually carried out between operator and client.

  2. Reiki is indicated for a general treatment of the body even in the absence of imbalances, leading to a meditative state that brings general well-being. In addition, Reiki treatment can also be followed in groups.

A further difference that is emphasized concerns the accumulation of “slag” during the treatment:

  1. In Pranotherapy there would be the accumulation of waste that from the client’s etheric body passes into the practitioner’s body and therefore should use techniques to recover and cleanse the etheric body.

  2. In Reiki, as you become “channels” of the universal etheric, there would not be this accumulation and therefore it would be necessary only a practice of centering, the so-called “heart centering” and the release at the end of the Reiki practice.

However, according to an anthroposophical understanding it is necessary to overcome this division, since it is artificial and linked to a partial understanding of the etheric forces. In fact, the human etheric body is never completely detached from the cosmic or universal etheric body that continuously flows from the Sun. It is the stars that radiate ether in the cosmos. So that all the etheric substance woven in the cosmos derives in the last instance from the Cosmos itself and is then individualized in the most varied forms, suitable for the different waves of life, whether they are at the evolutionary stage of planets, spiritual beings, human beings, animals, plants or minerals.

Consequently, on the basis of this understanding of the ether, the clear distinction between Pranotherapy and Reiki is fictitious and is closely linked to the tradition of which it is part and in the furrow of which it is formed. It is therefore a prejudice or, as they say, a “limiting conviction” linked to the specific tradition that does not allow to overcome prejudices against one or the other energy therapy. From the point of view of the Science of Spirit, there is always a co-participation of the etheric body of the practitioner which becomes through the cosmic ether by means of an act of love, as indicated by Steiner himself.

In this it is certainly necessary that the etheric body of the operator of energetic techniques, be it Pranotherapy or Reiki, must be as balanced as possible and therefore capable of transmitting the ether in the most objective way possible, approaching as much as possible the ideal of the “unconditional gift of an act”, an act that in itself has no value for the physical world and therefore, paradoxically, assumes the maximum value for the spiritual world. In this consists the purification from the luciferic selfishness that would like to make of every act a gesture of its own, sprung from the “goodness” in which the ego wants to recognize itself in order to judge its own selfishness.

In fact, every act of pure love is worthless for the physical world because it completely escapes Lucifer’s egoistic logics and Ahriman’s materialistic ones: in this way, and only in this way, the act becomes capable of breaking the chains of karma.

The Washing of the Hands

It is a reality that there are people who wash their hands often and willingly, and others who do so less willingly. Such a seemingly entirely trivial fact is in fact related to the highest knowledge. At the gaze of the clairvoyant, human hands are indeed prodigiously different from all other limbs, including the face. From the fingers come out and shine far away, in the space all around, shining forms of the etheric body, which now extend with a faint sparkle, now in a pungent way, penetrating the space. Depending on whether the man is happy or afflicted, his fingers radiate differently, and in a different way radiates the back of the hand compared to the palm. For those who can observe the spiritual aspect, the hand, with its etheric and astral components, is a truly wonderful structure. But everything in our environment, even when it is matter, is the manifestation of the spirit. Therefore, matter is to be thought with respect to the spirit like ice with respect to water. If you will, it is denser spirit. Therefore, if we relate to a given substance, we relate to the spirit in the substance. Each of our contacts with matter is actually Maya, as far as matter is concerned. Verily, it is the spirit with which we come into contact. Knowing now how to observe life with finesse, the way we come into contact with the spirit through water, when we wash our hands, is such that it must be said that the frequency with which we wash our hands has a great influence on our disposition of spirit as a whole. There are natures that have a certain predilection for washing their hands; if they are dirty they can do nothing but wash them. These are natures that have (or obtain) a certain relationship, in a very determined way, especially with their environment, which is not then reduced only to matter; it is as if subtle forces begin to act on man when he establishes the relationship described between his hands and the element of water. Such people will already show us in life that in some way (and certainly in a healthy sense) they become more delicate, more sensitive natures, for example, they notice with greater finesse if there is a person in their vicinity who is brutal or of good character, while those who tolerate that their hands are dirty are really even in life coarser natures and in fact show that they erect something similar to walls between themselves and the more intimate relations in their environment. It is so, and if we want we can also see it ethnographically. We travel through countries and try to observe people. It is possible to say that here or there the hands are washed more. Let’s analyze how the relationships between people are, how completely different, in countries where hands are washed more, the friend is with the friend, the acquaintance with the acquaintance, compared to countries where people build a wall by washing their hands less often. These are things that count as a natural law. […] The clairvoyant conscience is shown how the soul-spiritual part subtly penetrates the hands. This is true to such an extent that a very special relationship is established between water and hands. – Rudolf Steiner, Digressions on the Gospel of Mark, Editrice Antroposofica, Milan 2001, pp. 129-130.

Methods associated with Pranotherapy:

  1. Relaxation Techniques: four-step breathing and emptying the inner space to gain confidence in exploring the inner space of the soul and at the same time to disconnect the body from the frenetic rhythms of everyday life;

  2. Guided Meditation: allows the soul to explore both its inner space and travel through the celestial spheres to discover the archetypes that act in Nature, Man and the Cosmos;

  3. Aromatherapy: heat and light condensed in the essential oils of the Plant Kingdom, increase the body’s ability to circulate blood and at the same time act as natural antiseptics, purifying the etheric body;

  4. Chromotherapy: the colours of the soul allow to restore harmony with extreme precision. Warm colours act by stimulating the inner activity, in the opposite way to the cold colours that calm it.


In order to avoid misunderstandings remember that Pranotherapy has nothing to do with Medicine, only the doctor can diagnose and treat psychological pathologies. The Pranotherapist deals with the maintenance of the well-being of the person, as well as with disharmonies present in the absence of organic or psychic pathologies. That of the Pranotherapist is a free profession within the holistic disciplines governed by Law No. 4 of January 14, 2013.

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