Last modified July 8, 2007 by Nik

Vortex patterns and Flow

Some brief notes on Vortex patterns and Schwenk’s theory of flow

Water–quintessential formlessness–mysteriously

As current research delves into hidden properties that might account for
water’s “memory” capacity, groundbreaking water studies by German naturalist
Theodor Schwenk, who died in 1986, are due for wider recognition. Schwenk
saw rhythmical spiraling as the essence of water’s nature and key to its
ability to support life. In his 1965 illustrated book Sensitive Chaos,
Schwenk sought to meld a study of fluidity with ideas from German spiritual
teacher Rudolf Steiner.

As long as water is viewed as simply H20 in bulk, its full significance may
be missed. Schwenk was the first to show the contrast between “living
water”–found freely flowing in nature–to “dead water” coming from a faucet
or sewage treatment plant.

Water “wants”; to undulate and spiral–witness the snakelike form of most
waterways. Schwenk provided many examples of how body organs, as well as
other shapes in nature, are formed by vortex flow.

Water’s ability to cleanse and restore itself is also dependent on movement,
according to Schwenk. At the same time, this may also be a means by which
water records external information. As it unfolds and folds back in on
itself in a vortex, innumerable individual layers are created. A vortex less
than an inch across may creates enough layers to equal the surface area of a
thick book with its pages spread out flat.

Schwenk viewed water, covering most of the earth’s surface, as the planet’s
“sensing skin.” In the 1950’s, Schwenk carried out experiments that
anticipated current research. Water samples were “potentized” (vigorously
shaken) at different times of day and during solar eclipses. Seedlings
germinated in the different samples grew differently. The effect held for
water stored up to two months.

The healing effects of natural waters, he suggested, may be due to a natural
potentizing process occurring continuously in nature.

The absence of bacteria and undesirable chemicals from tap water does not
make it either beneficial or “alive.” Schwenk’s now famous test, the
drop-picture method, established a new criterion by which to judge drinking

“Living water,” coming directly from a spring or mountain stream, shows the
most clear and complex patterns. In tap water, even technically “pure” and
potable, these “rosette” forms are less developed. In polluted wastewater
the patterning is scarcely visible.

Recently, for example, researchers from Schwenk’s Institute for Flow
Research and the University of Freiburg found a striking decrease in
complexity at the point where a Black Forest stream became polluted. The
trademark rosette image disappeared entirely from the drop-pictures, but
returned a few miles downstream.

At the points where the pictures became the most complex, the researchers
also found the greatest biodiversity and numerical balance between the
species. In the polluted areas, primitive and inactive organisms were
unusually prevalent.

John Wilkes drew on Schwenk’s work to invent “Virbela
flowforms.” Each flowform spins water from one level to the next in special
rhythms. Three large flowforms have been incorporated into the natural
sewage treatment system in the Swedish town of Jarna. Studies indicate the
flowforms are effective at oxygenating water, and stimulate plant and animal

Warning of looming ecological problems, Schwenk called for a renewal of
“water consciousness:” “The reverence for water that people once felt as a
matter of course, and that was reflected in the way they treated it, must be
reacquired today and actively applied.”

John Wilkes: Emerson College
Institute for Flow Research: Stutzhofweg
Water Research Institute of Blue Hill,
Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water and Air: Rudolf Steiner Press,