Lilly Kolisko was a youthful follower of German theosophist
Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Anthroposophical Society.
In the 1920s she began a series of experiments to test empirically
some of the claims made for the societys astrological
teachings. Among these teachings was the observation that certain
planets rule certain metals. For example, according to traditional
astrological wisdom, the Sun rules gold and the Moon,
silver. Other metals said to have rulers include mercury (Mercury),
copper (Venus), iron (Mars), tin (Jupiter), lead (Saturn).
Steiner taught that the rulership is especially in effect when
these elements are in liquid solution. To Kolisko, this teaching
suggested that during certain aspects of the ruling planet, especially
when it was involved in a conjunction with an additional
planet, the behavior of the metal might be altered.
To test this hypothesis Kolisko carried out a series of experiments
in which metallic salts were dissolved and the solutions
then allowed to crystallize on filter paper. Kolisko hypothesized
that if the position of the planets had any effect then the patterns
of the resulting crystals would be changed as the planets,
aspects shifted. She ran hundreds of tests and reported significant
results. Among the more dramatic were effects that occurred
during a conjunction of the planet Saturn by the Sun
and then the Moon. During the conjunction, called in astrology
an occultation, in which Saturn was behind the Sun or Moon,
the rate of crystallization was either significantly delayed or
blocked altogether. These experiments were recorded and
published in a series of publications released in the 1930s by
the Anthroposophical Society.
In the 1930s, Kolisko also conducted a series of experiments
to test the belief held by many farmers that planting should
occur while the Moon is waxing. She tested the growth of plants
sown both prior to the Full Moon (when the Moon is waxing)
and prior to the New Moon (when the Moon is waning). She
found that, in fact, those plants sown prior to the Full Moon did
grow more rapidly and in a more satisfactory manner when
sown just prior to the Full Moon as opposed to those sown prior
to the New Moon. These results were reported in her booklet.
The Moon and Plant Growth.
Koliskos results were reported as World War II (193945)
was beginning, and little work at replication occurred immediately.
However, two British scientists, J. Maby and T. Bedford
Franklin, did carry out some initial testing of the experiments
with plants. They reached negative conclusions published in
their book, The Physics of the Divining Rod, in 1939. Others
found negative results testing the results of the more important
findings concerning chemical solutions. However, during the
war years, Koliskos work was largely forgotten.
In the years since World War II, some attempts at verifying
Koliskos results have appeared. Anthroposophist Theodore
Schwenck, a scientist working at the Swiss Weleda Company,
found marked results with a solution allowed to crystallize during
the Mars-Saturn conjunction of 1949. This experiment
would be replicated in 1964. Over the decades, other members
of the society tested Koliskos thesis, with successful results
being reported primarily in various anthroposophical publications.
Although experiments with the fast moving Moon (that
moves through the entire zodiac every month) could be regularly
repeated, some of the more infrequent but longer lasting
Koestler Parapsychology Unit Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
conjunctions, such as that of Mars and Saturn, have been reported
to produce the more dramatic results, sometimes lasting
for several days. Thus in 1972, Nicolas Kollerstrom began
a set of experiments involving Mars, Saturn, and the Moon. A
decade later he was able to report marked results with solutions
of iron, lead, and silver. The Mars-Saturn effect always peaked
in the days immediately after the conjunction.
It can be argued that the Kolisko effect is as yet unverified,
having as yet received little attention outside of the Anthroposophical
Society, but at the same time, the amount of evidence
gathered in support of it remains impressive. It has also been
hypothesized that the initial inability of British scientists to replicate
her work with plants may be due to what is termed the
green house effect, the peculiar ability that some people
seem to have with plants; that is, it may be due to a psi effect
rather than an astrological one. Until more fully tested, however,
the Kolisko effect remains one of the building blocks for
those attempting to make the scientific case for astrology.
Davidson, Allison. Metal Power The Soul Life of the Plants.
Garberville, Calif. Borderland Sciences Research Foundation,
Kolisko, Lilly. Das Silber und der Mond. Stuttgart, Germany
Orient-Occident Verlag, 1929.
. Saturn und Blei. Stroud, Germany Privately published,
Kollerstrom, Nicolas. Planetary Influences on Metal Ion
Activity. Correlation 3, no.1 (1983) 3850.
West, John Anthony, and Jan Gerhard Toonder. The Case for
Astrology. New York Coward-McCann, 1970.