Walter Bowman Russell (May 19, 1871 – May 19, 1963) was an American polymath known for his achievements as a painter, sculptor, author and builder and less well known as a natural philosopher and for his unified theory in physics and cosmogony. He posited that the universe was founded on a unifying principle of rhythmic balanced interchange. This physical theory, laid out primarily in his books The Secret of Light (1947) and The Message of the Divine Iliad (1948–49), has not been accepted by mainstream scientists. Russell asserted that this was mainly due to a difference in the assumptions made about the existence of mind and matter; Russell assumes the existence of mind as cause while he believes that scientists in general assume the existence of mind as effect. Russell was also proficient in philosophy, music, ice skating, and was a professor at the institution he founded, the University of Science and Philosophy (USP). He believed mediocrity is self-inflicted and genius is self-bestowed. The content of his public lectures and his writing about living philosophy place him firmly in the New Thought Movement.
Russell asserted that neither light nor heat flows from one point of space to another. He stated the same of electricity and magnetism; that neither is a flow varying as the inverse of the square of the distance according to Coulomb’s Law, but a reproduction as the inverse of the cube of space:
“Light only seems to travel. It is but one more of the countless illusions caused by wave motion. Waves of the ocean seem to traverse the ocean but they only appear to do so, for waves are pistons in the universal engines, and pistons operate up and down. Wave pistons of light, or of the ocean, operate radially and spirally inward and outward, toward and away from gravity. Waves of light do not travel. They reproduce each other from wave field to wave field of space. The planes of zero curvature, which bound all wave fields, act as mirrors to reflect light from one field into another. This sets up an appearance of light as traveling, which is pure illusion.
“The sunlight we feel upon our bodies is not actual light from the sun. What actually is happening is that the sun is reproducing its own condition on the earth by extending the reproductions out through cold space into ever enlarging wave fields until those reproductions begin to converge again toward our center of gravity into ever smaller wave fields. The heat we feel and the light we see is dependent entirely upon the ability of the wave fields to reproduce the light and heat, and that ability is conditioned upon the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. If there were no moisture in the atmosphere, our bodies would carbonize from the heat thus reproduced. One cannot consistently think of that heat as direct rays of the sun, for that same sunlight was intensely cold during its reproduced journey through the immensely expanded wave fields of space between the sun and earth. The light and heat that appear to come from the star or sun have never left the star or sun. That which man sees as light and feels as heat is the reproduced counterpart of the light and heat that is its cause. The rate of vibration in a wave field depends upon its volume. Vibration in a wave field means the pulse of interchange between its compressed core and the space surrounding that core. A slow vibration in a large wave field would cool one’s body, or even freeze it, while fast pulsing interchange in extremely small wave fields could burn one’s body.”
Russell and the New Age
The term New Age in its contemporary sense can be traced back at least to 1888. Walter Russell spoke of “… this New Age philosophy of the spiritual re-awakening of man … Man’s purpose in this New Age is to acquire more and more knowledge …” in his essay “Power Through Knowledge,” which was published in 1944.
Russell accepted Richard Maurice Bucke’s premise that not only the human body, but also human consciousness, had evolved in stages, that human consciousness periodically made iterative leaps, such as that from animal awareness to rational self-awareness, many millennia ago. Russell believed that humankind was on the brink of making another key, evolutionary leap in consciousness. The next cycle of human evolution, said Bucke, would be from rational self-consciousness to spiritual super-consciousness on the order of that experienced by sages, religious figures, and mystics of the past 2,500 years.
In 1947–48, Russell wrote: “This New Age is marking the dawn of a new world-thought. That new thought is a new cosmic concept of the value of man to man. The whole world is discovering that all mankind is one and that the unity of man is real – not just an abstract idea. Mankind is beginning to discover that the hurt of any man hurts every man, and, conversely, the uplift of any man uplifts every man” (Message of the Divine Iliad, vol. 2, p. 69). Russell’s predictions about what the New Age would bring included “a marriage between religion and science”. Russell appeared to believe that this “New Age” would begin in 1946, based on a vision he had in 1921.
The most extensive treatment of Russell’s ideas are found in his book, A Course in Cosmic Consciousness. Russell’s ideas have also been digested by others.