The Amazing Story of the Clairvoyants Who Observed Atoms

Annie Besant (left) and C.W. Leadbeater, London, 1901, during investigations into Occult Chemistry.
From New Dawn Special Issue Vol 6 No 4 (Aug 2012)

In few, if any, science textbooks or records of Nobel laureates will you find the name of a bona fide and publicly acknowledged occultist or clairvoyant. This, however, is not because such individuals never contributed anything to the history of science. On the contrary, it is due to a profound hubris and acute myopia within the institution of Science that talented metaphysical pioneers have not been credited with scientific discoveries and insights that were ahead of their time. In this material, excerpted from Chapter 6 of my book The Grand Illusion (Vol. 1), we hone in on the startling work of two such metaphysicists in particular.

Occult Chemistry: Leadbeater and Besant

From 1895 to 1933, Annie Besant (1847-1933) and Charles Leadbeater (1854-1934), two of the best known theosophists and metaphysicians of the 20th century, conducted clairvoyant investigations into all of the then known elements and certain compounds in order to observe the so-called “fundamental building blocks” that composed them, as well as their general structure. This involved the apprehension of visual information at sub-microscopic levels far beyond the ability of the eyes to perceive. The term for this kind of clairvoyant perception today is micro-psi (Besant and Leadbeater referred to it as “magnifying clairvoyance”).

The initial investigations were collected and published in the first edition of Occult Chemistry in 1908 (the book was subtitled Investigations by Clairvoyant Magnification into the Structure of the Atoms of the Periodic Table and Some Compounds). A second edition of the 1908 material was issued in 1919. The sum total of Besant and Leadbeater’s clairvoyant observations of the chemical elements were collected and published posthumously in a third edition of Occult Chemistry in 1951.

An article entitled “Occult Chemistry” appeared in the Theosophical publication Lucifer in 1895 (the year Leadbeater and Besant began their collaboration) and was reprinted as a separate pamphlet in 1905. In it, three chemical elements, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, were clairvoyantly examined and their analyses presented tentatively to the public by Besant and Leadbeater.

Hydrogen, the first chemical atom selected for analysis, and possessing the lowest atomic weight, was found to be composed of eighteen smaller entities. Clairvoyantly it was seen to consist of six small bodies, contained in an egg-like form. According to Leadbeater/Besant, it rotated with great rapidity on its own axis, vibrating at the same time, and the internal bodies performed similar gyrations. “The whole atom spins and quivers, and has to be steadied before exact observation is possible,” they wrote.

The six little bodies are arranged in two sets of three, forming two triangles that are not interchangeable. Further, the six bodies are not all alike; they each contain three smaller bodies – each of these being an ultimate physical atom – but in two of them the three atoms are arranged in a line, while in the remaining four they are arranged in a triangle.1

The Ultimate Physical Atom (UPA)

Figure 1. The hydrogen “micro-psi atom.” The UPAs are the heart-shaped objects designated a plus or minus sign denoting either an inflow (minus) or outflow (plus) of energy. Stephen M. Phillips argues that each triangle is a single hydrogen nuclei and that the micro-psi observation has somehow bonded two together. The mid-sized circles are therefore quarks, and the heart-shaped entities sub-quarks. (Source: Occult Chemistry by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater.)
Figure 1. The hydrogen “micro-psi atom.” The UPAs are the heart-shaped objects designated a plus or minus sign denoting either an inflow (minus) or outflow (plus) of energy. Stephen M. Phillips argues that each triangle is a single hydrogen nuclei and that the micro-psi observation has somehow bonded two together. The mid-sized circles are therefore quarks, and the heart-shaped entities sub-quarks. (Source: Occult Chemistry by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater.)

As noted, in 1895 – when physical atoms were still thought to be the most basic unit of matter – Leadbeater and Besant observed in the early stages of their investigation that hydrogen was not a unity but was composed of eighteen smaller units. These smaller units they dubbed an “ultimate physical atom” (UPA), and later took to referring to them as “Anu” (singular and plural) – the Sanskrit term for this new entity. They had no way to determine the exact size of the UPA but they found it existed in two varieties: positive and negative (or Yin and Yang). The positive and negative aspects wound around each other in opposite directions (somewhat like the snakes on the caduceus, or the helical structure of DNA), forming the UPA.2

According to Besant and Leadbeater, the UPA was a very complex entity, with only its main characteristics provided in their diagram. “It is composed entirely of spirals, the spiral being in its turn composed of spirillae, and these again of minuter spirillae.”3 In addition to this reference to the subatomic fractality of “matter,” they correctly declared that the Anu was definitely not the electron. The spirals composing the UPA, if unwound, would actually be found to be circles or strings – twisted around on themselves many times to create the helical form depicted.

Oxygen was found to consist of 290 minor atoms and nitrogen of 261. Now, this is where it gets even more interesting. When Besant and Leadbeater divided the number of UPAs in oxygen by the number of UPAs comprising hydrogen (18), they arrived at 16.11, almost exactly the atomic weight of the oxygen atom (16). This procedure yielded the same precision with nitrogen, an even more complex structure than oxygen, and therefore much more challenging to apprehend clairvoyantly for the occultists. In fact, this uncanny precision continued right through the entire table of known elements of the time (minor human counting errors notwithstanding).

Although science had not identified such a thing as the ultimate physical atom, Besant and Leadbeater had identified this tiny entity as comprising physical atoms. Moreover, by using hydrogen as the standard (being the first element in the periodic table – itself being composed of eighteen UPA), they were able to ascertain the atomic weight of the elements by dividing the number of UPA they observed by eighteen. Should Besant and Leadbeater have been merely “delusional cranks,” we should not expect this kind of amazing result.

As a matter of fact, this ability to deduce the accepted atomic weights of the elements from the number of UPAs they observed was the only thing Occult Chemistry had in common with the chemistry of 1895.4

Noteworthy is the way the UPA was depicted by Leadbeater/Besant as being created by an upwelling of force from a higher-dimensional source – just as in the hyperdimensional physics advocated by Paul LaViolette, David Wilcock, Richard Hoagland, and others researching aether physics. (Those readers interested in the notion of an aetheric medium and its false elimination from mainstream science are referred to in my The Grand Illusion 1.) The models of physics on the cutting edge have been left with no choice but to incorporate other dimensions or ‘levels’ of reality to account for today’s scientifically observable phenomena. Furthermore, Leadbeater and Besant’s clairvoyant analysis provides intimate and detailed verification of the hyperdimensional torsion and/or spin forces embedded in the ‘aether’, which I write about extensively in The Grand Illusion 1.

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How They Arrived at the UPA

Leadbeater and Besant explained: “Any gaseous chemical atom may be dissociated into less complicated bodies; these, again, into still less complicated… [T]he fourth dissociation gives the ultimate physical atom. This may vanish from the physical plane, but it can undergo no further dissociation on it.”5 (emphasis added)

Note that in their description of the UPA is a hint of multidimensional behaviour (this becomes relevant shortly). Interestingly, in 1888, the co-founder of Theosophy (it was founded in 1875), Helena P. Blavatsky, pre-empting Leadbeater and Besant by at least seven years, explained in The Secret Doctrine that on the next higher plane (etheric), what then-current science considered an undecomposable unity would – to higher perception – prove very complex. Water, for example would feature “many other constituents” besides just hydrogen and oxygen.

As theosophists, Leadbeater and Besant would have anticipated the composition of the elements they clairvoyantly inspected (having obtained some hard-to-get samples via Sir William Crookes) to be much more complex than scientists of their time believed. They were right.

Believe it or not, there appears to have been another earlier clairvoyant ahead of the game. At a time when Isaac Newton (a Hermeticist, though not clairvoyant) was arguing that matter was composed of impenetrable atoms given motion by outside forces, Emmanuel Swedenborg taught that matter was made up of a series of particles in ascending order of size, each of which was composed of a closed vortex of energy which spiralled at infinite speeds to give the appearance of solidity.6

Two types of UPAs were observed by Besant and Leadbeater (see Figure 2), and they were identical in every way except “the direction of their whorls and of the force which pours through them. In the one case force pours in from the ‘outside,’ from fourth-dimensional space, and passing through the atom, pours into the physical world [‘male’]. In the second, it pours in from the physical world, and out through the atom into the ‘outside’ again, i.e., vanishes from the physical world.”7 (This was the “female” UPA.)

Figure 2: The Two Types of Ultimate Physical Atoms, Male and Female (Source: Occult Chemistry by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater)
Figure 2: The Two Types of Ultimate Physical Atoms, Male and Female (Source: Occult Chemistry by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater)

In agreement with present-day aether researcher Paul LaViolette, David Yurth states in Seeing Past the Edge that these two opposite or mirror image particles constitute what we now refer to as matter and anti-matter states.8 This makes sense in light of Leadbeater and Besant’s comments that the positive/male UPA flows its creative energy outwards into our reality while the negative/female (anti-matter) counterpart transmutes energy from our reality back into the aether.

Leadbeater and Besant said that if the higher-dimensional energy flow was stopped even momentarily, the whole manifest universe would disappear, “as a cloud melts away in the empyrean. It is only the persistence of that flow which maintains the physical basis of the universe.”9 LaViolette (among many others) has vindicated our two eminent occultists on this point, agreeing that without this constant flow,

the subatomic particles and energy waves composing our physical universe would gradually dissipate, disolving [sic] into a state of uniformity. What would remain would be the ever-present, vast, and unfathomable multi-dimensional consciousness, of which we are a part, and whose now featureless calm “surface” had once generated our beautiful physical universe.10

Physicist Nassim Haramein also supports this view, stating that, “without spin, none of reality can come to exist. All things spin!” Haramein agrees that “spin is fundamental to creation and objects that appear to be inanimate exist solely because spinning atoms within allow the objects to radiate, and hence, appear in our reality.”11 How did Leadbeater and Besant (and Swedenborg) know with such certainty so far in advance of science that our “physical” world’s source of origin is the aetheric medium’s spin dynamics?

Besant and Leadbeater described the ultimate physical atom as a sphere, slightly flattened, with a depression at the point where the force flows in, causing a “heart-like” form. “Each atom is surrounded by a field,” they wrote, “formed of the atoms of the four higher planes, which surround and interpenetrate it.”12 If this is accurate, then etheric, astral and mental particles are of increasingly large size (physicists are searching for these “super particles” without realising they have already been quietly discovered).

Leadbeater and Besant’s depiction of the UPA was fundamentally toroidal and way ahead of their time: “It turns incessantly upon its own axis, spinning like a top; it describes a small circle with its axis, as though the axis of the spinning top moved in a small circle; it has a regular pulsation, a contraction and expansion, like the pulsation of the heart.”13 Spin was first proposed in physics thirty years later by Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck in 1925 and was confirmed in electrons by Phipps and Taylor in 1927. The circular precessional motion described by the axis of the spinning UPA would later become known in physics as Larmor precession. Though the expansion and contraction (radial pulsation) described by Leadbeater and Besant is still unknown to physicists today, LaViolette points out that this description is quite plausible in the context of the ancient aether physics.14

The UPA’s spinning motion is common to globules in complex plasmas,15 and as we see in Chapter 9 of The Grand Illusion, many of Leadbeaters’ and other metaphysicists’ clairvoyant observations can be accounted for in light of plasma dynamics. For instance, when exposed to an electric current the UPAs, as depicted by Besant and Leadbeater in 1919, arranged themselves in physical rows of “particle chains” – just like globules in complex plasma, as illustrated by A. Piel et al.16 In this UPA formation the depression of one UPA receives the aetheric flow of its neighbouring particle and then passes it out through its own apex, and so on.

In Occult Chemistry Leadbeater refers to the UPA as having a certain level of apparent consciousness, and our best occultists and mystics (and scientists) all seem to agree that the universe is indeed conscious at all levels. It is interesting, as Jay Alfred points out, that David Bohm’s research into plasmas yielded the observation that electrons in a plasma configuration began to act as if they were part of a larger, interconnected whole, so much so that he frequently had the impression that the electron sea was “alive.” Mircea Sanduloviciu and colleagues have even created plasma spheres that can grow, replicate and communicate, fulfilling most traditional requirements for biological/living cells.17

The links between consciousness and the spiralling energy inherent in the multidimensional fabric of the cosmos are increasingly being elaborated on by modern science. It is interesting to note some of the parallels between modern toroidal models and the fundamentally toroidal model Besant and Leadbeater described during their clairvoyant investigations. While Wilcock states that the aether’s substance naturally forms itself into a spherical formation because of the near-uniformity of the aetheric pressure on all sides, as well as the fact that it is the most ‘harmonic’ shape, he acknowledges that changing energy densities in the aether can cause these spheres to warp to some extent. For instance, they may stretch and flatten to create a donut-like shape, otherwise known as the torus, a model employed by Wilcock, Haramein18 and string theory.

Occultists’ Vindication Arrives Via Dr. Phillips

In the late 1970s Stephen Phillips, then a physics graduate student at the University of California, happened across some of the diagrams from Occult Chemistry. Contrary to what we might expect of most physicists, he took a serious interest in the material, and the end result was a major technical validation of the data obtained by Leadbeater and Besant.

Dr. Phillips discovered that “Besant and Leadbeater’s clairvoyant descriptions of the chemical elements are completely consistent with the Quark, Quantum Chromodynamic and Super-String theories of modern subatomic physics.”19 This he detailed in depth in his 1980 book The Extra-Sensory Perception of Quarks, in which Phillips reconciled Occult Chemistry with modern physics. Because of his work, “Occult Chemistry now stands as a glittering testimony to the validity of Besant and Leadbeater’s claims.”20

To clarify, a UPA’s ‘whorls’ are the ‘strings’ of modern string theory. Phillips suggests, based on comparisons between the occultists’ whorls and the ‘strings’ of string theory, that “[a] whorl is a closed, 26-dimensional, bosonic string (the reported presence of spherical ‘bubbles in koilon’ in 7th-order spirillae imply that whorls extend beyond the sixth, compactified dimension, so that they must be 26-, not 10-, dimensional strings,)” and also that “[t]he UPA is a subquark state of a superstring composed of ten strings, i.e. the superstring is itself a composite object.”21

Thus, Phillips has reinterpreted Besant and Leadbeater’s observations to be not those of atoms, but of subquarks and quarks. The notion of quarks was only introduced into modern physics decades later in 1964 by Gell-Mann and Zweig.22 Quarks are the building blocks of so-called ‘elementary’ particles, and are generally accepted as existing by the scientific community today.

However, Phillips’ model is actually a subquark (or composite quark) model. In it subquarks make up quarks, quarks make up elementary particles (protons, etc.), elementary particles make up atoms, and so on. Thus, Phillips has identified the UPAs as subquarks, and, as Donald DeGracia reports in Beyond the Physical: A Synthesis of Science and Occultism, he calls his subquarks “omegons” to indicate they are the final and smallest form of physical matter (omega is the final letter of the Greek alphabet). Phillips shows, through rigorous quantitative procedures, that “the sub-quark combinations predicted by his model are almost in exact agreement with the detailed structures presented by Besant and Leadbeater.”23 He has successfully correlated the structure of the UPA with superstring models: the UPA itself is the ‘superstring’ of modern subatomic physics.

However, please note: the only way Phillips could get the numbers generated by his theory to match the actual observations of Besant and Leadbeater was to infer that when they were observing the subquark structure of an atom, they were not observing one atom but two atoms that had somehow fused together – as a result of their interference with and observations of these entities – to create a diatomic arrangement. This might have resulted from the spreading of the particles’ wave packets/de Broglie waves caused by the mental stabilisation of the particles by the theosophists, removing the uncertainty in their momentum, therefore increasing the uncertainty of their spatial locations.

From a slightly different angle, the procedure, in effect, may have ‘teased out’ some of the inherent non-locality of the particles’ de Broglie waves/wave packets in time-space or ‘reciprocal space’ so as to influence their locations in space-time:

[E]ach particle would become so delocalised that there would now be just as much chance of finding it near an adjacent atomic nucleus as there was in finding it in the much smaller space occupied by the nucleus prior to its coming under observation… their wave functions would eventually overlap significantly, leading to a non-vanishing probability of their mutual strong interaction.24

The clairvoyantly observed structure of micro-psi atoms (MPAs) consisted of two overlapping triangular formations, with each triangle containing nine UPAs, while the contemporary view of hydrogen is of a lone electron orbiting a nucleus of one proton. However, from the viewpoint of modern quark theory, that lone proton is actually an arrangement consisting of three quarks. Phillips further claims that each quark is in turn made up of three subquarks, meaning the hydrogen atom consists of nine subquarks. Because in Besant and Leadbeater’s hydrogen there were two triangles each of nine UPAs, Phillips’ conclusion is that each triangle must correspond to an atom of hydrogen as understood by modern science, meaning that the hydrogen structure observed by Besant and Leadbeater was actually made up of two atoms of hydrogen.

In the end, there are far too many correspondences between what Besant and Leadbeater observed and what is now scientifically known about subatomic behaviour, to dismiss their work.

The shapes they described, the fact that they observed isotopes… before isotopes were widely recognised in science… and a host of other relevant observations; all of these are ideas that were completely unknown to the science of their day.25

The table on page 62 provides a partial overview of Leadbeater and Besant’s clairvoyant observations as compared with subsequent scientific discoveries.

“Some micro-psi anticipations of scientific discoveries and ideas.” Note: Brendan Murphy’s comments in italicised brackets. (Source: Stephen Phillips, Extrasensory Perception of Subatomic Particles, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 9(4), 489–525, 1995.)
“Some micro-psi anticipations of scientific discoveries and ideas.” Note: Brendan Murphy’s comments in italicised brackets. (Source: Stephen Phillips, Extrasensory Perception of Subatomic Particles, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 9(4), 489–525, 1995.)

As DeGracia points out, Phillips has shown that to comprehend the finer points of Occult Chemistry one requires an advanced understanding of modern physics. Besant and Leadbeater described the quantum nature of physical matter in 1895, exactly as science would thirty years later and more. How did they know about quarks and subquarks so far in advance of their official scientific discovery?

To gain some comprehension of how controversial the terrain we tread here, the existence of sub-quarks was only recently scientifically accepted, and even then not unanimously. Yurth reports that in the 1990s an armada of 450 scientists confirmed the existence of sub-quarks with an “unprecedented” level of scrutiny, and still physicists at the American Physical Society, MIT, Princeton and Columbia University succeeded in suppressing the publication of the research data in such mainstream publications as Scientific American, Physics Letters, Physics Review and Nature.26 Thank goodness for free scientific enquiry, eh?

Regardless, Besant and Leadbeater were obviously capable of perceiving the fundamental nature of matter using occult means, the siddhis. According to Leadbeater, there is a tube-like structure that protrudes from the Ajna, or third-eye chakra of the etheric body, and it is by means of utilising this tube as an organ of vision that one can exercise micro-psi. As we can see, there is good reason to believe him. This psi faculty/ability is one of the siddhis Patanjali wrote about in his Yoga Sutras circa 400 BCE.

In Aphorism 3.26 of the Yoga Sutras (c. 400 BCE), the earliest known treatise on yoga, its author Patanjali refers to a particular siddhi in which a yogi can gain “knowledge of the small, the hidden or the distant by directing the light of a superphysical faculty.”
In Aphorism 3.26 of the Yoga Sutras (c. 400 BCE), the earliest known treatise on yoga, its author Patanjali refers to a particular siddhi in which a yogi can gain “knowledge of the small, the hidden or the distant by directing the light of a superphysical faculty.”

One more interesting thing about sub-quarks highly pertinent to our occult leitmotif: the sub-quark’s track looks the way it does because in our space-time continuum the particle exists and then does not exist, exists and then does not exist. The discovery of the sub-quark constituted the very first scientifically verified instance of multi-dimensional behaviour in a measurable physical entity: “…in the rarified environment of the particle accelerator, the sub-quark exists-disappears-exists-disappears with a consistent, repeated, predictable frequency pattern…”27

Leadbeater and Besant stated that the UPA – like the sub-quark today – could vanish from its plane but could undergo no further subdivision. It is truly the most fundamental aspect of physical matter at our density level. The scientific verification of Leadbeater and Besant’s observations clearly indicates the human ability to peer into domains non-existent to our ordinary senses and science’s conventional equipment – domains our most fundamental known ‘particles’ (standing wave structures) venture rhythmically in and out of. Yurth comments that this brings us “literally to the Edge of creation.”28 Do pause and let all of that sink in for a moment.


Our occultists are quantitatively and qualitatively vindicated from almost every conceivable angle. (I cover more angles than we have space for here in The Grand Illusion 1.) If we accept Phillips’ conclusion that ultimate physical atoms (UPAs) are sub-quarks rather than atoms, as Leadbeater/Besant once thought, then it is from dedicated occultists that we have obtained the first and possibly most accurate and detailed depictions of them and the aetheric medium that spawns them. On top of that, we must credit the initial discoveries of several isotopes to Leadbeater and Besant.

Overall, the interrelated combination of clairvoyant observations, string theory, and ‘anomalous’ research findings that the Standard Model cannot explain – but which aether models easily incorporate – is too powerful to ignore.

Brendan D. Murphy’s website is

This article was published in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 6 No 4.
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  1. Annie Besant & Charles W. Leadbeater, Occult Chemistry: Clairvoyant Observations on the Chemical Elements, 1919
  2. Annie Besant & Charles W. Leadbeater, Occult Chemistry, 1950
  3. Ibid
  4. Donald DeGracia, Beyond the Physical, 109
  5. Besant & Leadbeater, 1919
  6. See Victor Zammit, A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife, Ch. 2,
  7. Besant & Leadbeater, 1919
  8. David Yurth, Seeing Past the Edge, 252
  9. Besant & Leadbeater, 1919
  10. Paul LaViolette, Subquantum Kinetics: A Systems Approach to Physics and Cosmology
  11. Nassim Haramein, What is the Origin of Spin?,
  12. Besant & Leadbeater, 1919
  13. Ibid
  14. Paul A. LaViolette, Genesis of the Cosmos, 238-9
  15. Jay Alfred, Our Invisible Bodies, 49
  16. Ibid., 50
  17. Ibid., 65-8, 133-4
  18. See for Haramein’s model
  19. DeGracia, 110
  20. Ibid. See also Phillips
  21. Stephen Phillips, Extrasensory Perception of Subatomic Particles, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1995, 489-525
  22. Ibid., 110-11
  23. Ibid., 111
  24. Phillips, 1995
  25. DeGracia, 113-5
  26. Yurth, 255
  27. Ibid, 54-5
  28. Ibid, 55

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About the Author

Brendan D. Murphy is at the ‘coal face’ of consciousness research. He is author of the highly acclaimed The Grand Illusion: A Synthesis of Science and Spirituality – Book 1, and co-founder of Global Freedom Movement (GFM) and the GF “Truthiversity,” the first-of-its-kind online alternative education portal and community hub ( He can be reached at for book orders, DNA activation, or interviews.

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