1989/03: Secret Live of Plants: Chapter 2 – Plants Can Read Your Mind

Plants Can Read Your Mind

While Backster was developing his experiments in the eastern United States, a heavy-set research chemist working with International Business Machines in Los Gatos, California, was challenged to give a course in “creativity” for IBM engineers and scientists. It was only after Marcel Vogel had taken on the job that he realized the enormity of it. “How does one define creativity?” he found
himself asking. “What is a creative person?” To answer these questions, Vogel, who had studied for years to become a Franciscan priest, began writing an outline for twelve two-hour seminars which he hoped would represent an ultimate challenge to his students.

Vogel’s own probings into the realm of creativity had started when he was a
boy, curious to know what caused the light in fireflies and glowworms. Finding little on luminescence in the libraries, Vogel informed his mother that he would write a book on the subject.


Ten years later Luminescence in Liquids and Solids and Their Practical Application was published by Vogel in collaboration with Chicago University’s Dr. Peter Pringsheim. Two years after that, Vogel incorporated his own company, called Vogel Luminescence, in San Francisco, which became a leader in the field. Over a period of fifteen years Vogel’s firm developed a variety of new products: the red color seen on television screens; fluorescent crayons; tags for insecticides; a “black light” inspection kit to determine, from their urine, the secret trackways of rodents in cellars, sewers, and slums; and the psychedelic colors popular in “new age” posters.


By the mid-1950s Vogel became bored with his day-to-day tasks of administering a company and sold it to go to work for IBM. There he was able to devote his full time to research, delving into magnetics, optic-electrical devices, and liquid crystal systems, developing and patenting inventions of crucial significance to the storage of information in computers, and winning awards which adorn the walls of his San Jose home.


The turning point in the creativity course which Vogel was asked to give at IBM came when one of his students gave him an Argosy magazine with an article on Backster’s work entitled “Do Plants Have Emotions?” Vogel’s first reaction was to throw the article into the wastebasket, convinced that Backster was just another charlatan unworthy of serious consideration. Yet something about the idea gnawed at his mind. A few days later, Vogel retrieved the article, and completely reversed his opinion.


The article, read aloud to his seminar students, aroused both derision and curiosity. Out of this ruckus came the unanimous decision to experiment with plants. That same evening, one student called Vogel to announce that the latest issue of Popular Electronics referred to Backster’s work, and included a wiring diagram for an instrument called a “psychanalyser,” which would pick up and amplify reactions from plants and could be built for less than twenty-five dollars.


Vogel divided his class into three groups and challenged them to repeat some of Backster’s accomplishments. By the end of the seminar, not one of the three teams had achieved any success. Vogel, on the other hand, was able to report that he had duplicated certain of Backster’s results, and proceeded to demonstrate how plants anticipate the act of having their leaves torn, react with even greater alarm to the threat of being burnt or uprooted—more so even than if they are actually torn, burnt, or otherwise brutalized. Vogel wondered why he alone seemed to be successful. As a boy, he had been interested in anything which might explain the workings of the human mind.


After dipping into books on magic, spiritualism, and hypnotic technique, he had given stage demonstrations as a teen-age hypnotist. What particularly fascinated Vogel were Mesmer’s theory of a universal fluid whose equilibrium or disturbance explained health or disease, Coué’s ideas of autosuggestion as they related to painless childbirth and self-betterment, and the postulates of various writers on “psychic energy,” a term popularized by Carl Jung, who, though he differentiated it from physical energy, believed it to be incommensurable.


Vogel reasoned that, if there was a “psychic energy,” it must, like other forms of energy, be storable. But in what? Staring at the many chemicals on the shelves of his IBM laboratory, Vogel wondered which of them could be used to store this energy.


In his dilemma, he asked a spiritually gifted friend, Vivian Wiley, who went through the chemicals laid out for her and said that, in her judgment, none offered any promise of a solution for Vogel’s problem. Vogel suggested she ignore his preconceived ideas about chemicals and use anything which might intuitively occur to her. Back in her garden, Vivian Wiley picked two leaves from a saxifrage, one of which she placed on her bedside table, the other in the living room. “Each day when I get up,” she told Vogel, “I will look at the leaf by my bed and will that it continue to live; but I will pay no attention to the other. We will see what happens.


A month later, she asked Vogel to come to her house and bring a camera to photograph the leaves. Vogel could hardly believe what he saw. The leaf to which his friend had paid no attention was flaccid, turning brown and beginning to decay. The leaf on which she had focused daily attention was radiantly vital and green, just as if it had been freshly plucked from the garden. Some power appeared to be defying natural law, keeping the leaf in a healthy state. Curious to see if he could get the same results as his friend, Vogel picked three leaves from an elm outside his IBM laboratory; at home he laid them on a plate of glass near his bed.


Each day, before breakfast, Vogel stared concentratedly at the two outer leaves on the glass for about one minute, exhorting them lovingly to continue to live; the center leaf he assiduously ignored. In a week, the center leaf had turned brown and shriveled. The outer leaves were still green and healthy-looking. Most interesting to Vogel, the severed stems of the live leaves appeared to have healed the wounds caused by being ripped from the tree. Vivian Wiley continued her experiments and later showed Vogel the saxifrage leaf which she had kept green and alive for two long months while the control leaf was completely dehydrated and brown.


Vogel was convinced that he was witnessing the power of “psychic energy” in action. If the power of the mind could keep a leaf green way past its time, Vogel wondered what its effect might be on liquid crystals, an intensive study of which he was pursuing for IBM.


Trained in microscopy, Vogel had taken hundreds of color slides of liquid crystal behavior magnified up to three hundred times; when screened, they rival the works of a gifted abstract artist. While making the slides, Vogel realized that, by “relaxing his mind,” he could sense activity not visually revealed in the microscopic field.


“I began to pick up things at the microscope which eluded others, not with ocular vision but with my mind’s eye. After becoming aware of them,” says Vogel, “I was led by some form of higher sensory awareness to adjust the lighting conditions to allow these phenomena to be optically recordable to the human eye or to a camera.


The conclusion at which Vogel arrived is that crystals are brought into a solid, or physical, state of existence by pre-forms, or ghost images of pure energy which anticipate the solids. Since plants could pick up intentions from a human, that of burning them, for example, there was no doubt in Vogel’s mind that intent produced some kind of energy field.


By the fall of 1971, finding that his microscopic work was taking up most of his time, Vogel abandoned his research on plants. But when an article on this research quoting Dr. Gina Cerminara, psychologist and author of a popular book on the seer Edgar Cayce, appeared in the San Jose Mercury, and was wired by the Associated Press throughout the world, Vogel was besieged on the telephone for information, and was thus stimulated to continue.


Vogel realized that before he could observe with precision the effects on plants of human thoughts and emotion he would have to improve his technique of affixing electrodes to the plant leaves in such a way as to eliminate random electromagnetic frequencies, such as the hum of near-by vacuum cleaners, major sources of spurious data—or engineer’s “noise”—which could cause the pen recorder to drift on the chart, and which obliged Backster to conduct most of his experiments between midnight and dawn.


Vogel also found that some of the philodendrons he worked with responded faster, others more slowly, some very distinctly, others less distinctly, and that not only plants but their individual leaves had their own unique personality and individuality. Leaves with a large electrical resistance were especially difficult to work with; fleshy leaves with a high water content were the best. Plants appeared to go through phases of activity and inactivity, full of response at certain times of the day or days of the month, “sluggish” or “morose” at other times.


To make sure that none of these recording effects was the result of faulty electroding, Vogel developed a mucilaginous substance composed of a solution of agar, with a thickener of karri gum, and salt. This paste he brushed onto the leaves before gently applying carefully polished one-by-one-and-a-half-inch stainless-steel electrodes. When the agar jelly hardened around the edges of the electronic pickups, it sealed their faces into a moist interior, virtually eliminating all the variability in signal output caused by pressure on leaves when clamped between ordinary electrodes. This system produced for Vogel a base line on the chart that was perfectly straight, without oscillations.


Having eliminated random influences, Vogel began a new round of experiments in the spring of 1971 to see if he could establish the exact moment when a philodendron entered into recordable communication with a human being. With a philodendron attached to a galvanometer which produced a straight base line, Vogel stood before the plant, completely relaxed, breathing deeply and almost touching it with outspread fingers. At the same time, he began to shower the plant with the same kind of affectionate emotion he would flow to a friend. Each time he did this, a series of ascending oscillations was described on the chart by the pen holder. At the same time Vogel could tangibly feel, on the palms of his hands, an outpouring from the plant of some sort of energy.


After three to five minutes, further release of emotion on Vogel’s part evoked no further action from the plant, which seemed to have “discharged all its energy” in response to his ministrations. To Vogel, the interreaction between himself and the philodendron appeared to be on the same order as that evoked when lovers or close friends meet, the intensity of mutual response evoking a surge of energy until it is finally expended and must be recharged. Like lovers, both Vogel and the plant appeared to remain suffused with joy and contentment.


In a botanical nursery, Vogel found that he could easily pick out a particularly sensitive plant by running his hands over a group until he felt a slight cooling sensation followed by what he describes as a series of electrical pulses, indicating a powerful field. Increasing the distance between himself and the plant, Vogel found, like Backster, that he could get a similar reaction from it, first from outside the house, then from down the block, and even from his laboratory in Los Gatos, eight miles away.


In another experiment, Vogel wired two plants to the same recording machine and snipped a leaf from the first plant. The second plant responded to the hurt being inflicted on its neighbor, but only when Vogel was paying attention to it! If Vogel cut off a leaf while ignoring the second plant, the response was lacking. It was as if Vogel and the plant were lovers on a park bench, oblivious of passers-by until the attention of one lover became distracted from the other.


From his own experience, Vogel knew that masters of the art of Yoga, and teachers of other forms of deep meditation such as Zen, are unaware of disturbing influences around them when in meditative states. An electroencephalograph picks up from them quite a different set of brain waves than when the same persons are alert to the everyday world around them.


It became clearer to Vogel that a certain focused state of consciousness on his part seemed to become an integral and balancing part of the circuitry required to monitor his plants.


A plant could be awakened from somnolence to sensitivity by his giving up his normally conscious state and focusing a seemingly extra-conscious part of his mind on the exact notion that the plant be happy and feel loved, that it be blessed with healthy growth. In this way, man and plant seemed to interact, and, as a unit, pick up sensations from events, or third parties, which became recordable through the plant.


The process of sensitizing both himself and the plant, Vogel found, could take only a few minutes or up to a half hour. Asked to describe the process in detail, Vogel said that first he quiets the sensory responses of his body organs, then he becomes aware of an energetic relationship between the plant and himself. When a state of balance between the bioelectrical potential of both the plant and himself is achieved, the plant is no longer sensitive to noise, temperature, the normal electrical fields surrounding it, or other plants. It responds only to Vogel, who has effectively tuned himself to it —or perhaps simply hypnotizes it.


Vogel now felt confident enough to accept an invitation to make a public demonstration with a plant. On a local TV program in San Francisco, the plant, coupled to a pen recorder, gave a live illustration of varying states of Vogel’s mind, running from irritation at an interviewer’s questions to quiet tracings established when Vogel was in harmonious intercommunication with the plant. For the producer of ABC’s television program You Asked for It, Vogel also demonstrated the plant’s response to his or another person’s thoughts, including a sudden release of strong emotion on command, followed by the act of his quieting the plant to normal reactions to its environment.


Invited to lecture to audiences who had heard of his experimentation, Vogel said unequivocally: “It is fact: man can and does communicate with plant life. Plants are living objects, sensitive, rooted in space. They may be blind, deaf, and dumb in the human sense, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are extremely sensitive instruments for measuring man’s emotions. They radiate energy forces that are beneficial to man. One can feel these forces! They feed into one’s own force field, which in turn feeds back energy to the plant.


The American Indians, says Vogel, were keenly aware of these faculties. When in need, they would go into the woods. With their arms extended, they would place their backs to a pine tree in order to replenish themselves with its power. When Vogel began to demonstrate plants’ sensitivity to “states of attention” different from the supposed awareness which most humans like to call consciousness, he discovered that the reaction of skeptics or hostile observers could produce strange effects on him. By paying attention to negative attitudes emanating from an audience, Vogel found he could isolate the individuals emitting them and counter their effect with a deep breath, learned in Yoga
instruction. He would then switch his mind to another mental image just as if he
were turning a dial to a different setting.


The feeling of hostility, of negativity, in an audience,” says Vogel, “is one of the main barriers to effective communication. To counteract this force is one of the most difficult tasks in public demonstration of these plant experiments. If one cannot do this, the plant and therefore the equipment will ‘go dead’ and there is no response until a positive tie can be reestablished.“ It seems,” he says, “that I act as a filtering system which limits the response of a plant to the outside environment. I can turn it off or on, so that people and plant become mutually responsive. By charging the plant with some energy within me, I can cause the plant to build up a sensitivity for this kind of work. It is extremely important that one understand that the plant’s response is, in my opinion, not that of an intelligence in plant form, but that the plant becomes an extension of oneself. One can then interact with the bioelectric field of the plant, or through it, with the thought processes and emotions in a third person.”


Vogel concluded that a Life Force, or Cosmic Energy, surrounding all living things is sharable among plants, animals, and humans. Through such sharing, a person and a plant become one. “This oneness is what makes possible a mutual sensitivity allowing plant and man not only to intercommunicate, but to record these communications via the plant on a recording chart.” Because his observations indicated there was an interchange, even a commingling or fusion of energies when plant and man commune, Vogel wondered whether an exceptionally sensitive individual could get into a plant, as was reported of the sixteenth-century German mystic Jakob Boehme, who, as a young man, became illumined and described being able to see in another dimension.


Boehme said he could look at a growing plant and suddenly, by willing to do so, mingle with that plant, be part of the plant, feel its life “struggling toward the light.” He said he was able to share the simple ambitions of the plant and “rejoice with a joyously growing leaf.” One day Vogel was visited in San Jose by Debbie Sapp, a quiet, self-effacing girl who impressed Vogel with her initial ability to enter into instant rapport with his philodendron, as established by his  instrumentation.


When the plant was entirely calm, he asked her, point blank: “Can you get
into that plant?
” Debbie nodded assent, and her face took on an attitude of quiet repose, of detachment, as if she were far away in another universe. Immediately the recording pen began to trace a pattern of undulations revealing to Vogel that the plant was receiving an unusual amount of energy.


Debbie later described what happened in writing: Mr. Vogel asked me to relax and project myself into the philodendron. Several things took place as I began to carry out his request. First, I wondered exactly how I could get inside a plant. I made a conscious decision to let my imagination take over and found myself entering the main stem through a doorway at its base. Once inside, I saw the moving cells and water traveling upward through the stem, and let myself move with this upward flow.


Approaching the spreading leaves in my imagination, I could feel myself being drawn from an imaginary world into a realm over which I had no control. There were no mental pictures, but rather a feeling that I was becoming part of, and filling out, a broad expansive surface. This seemed to me to be describable only as pure consciousness. I felt acceptance and positive protection by the plant. There was no sense of time, just a feeling of unity in existence and in space. I smiled spontaneously and let myself be one with the plant. Then Mr. Vogel asked me to relax. When he said this, I realized I was very tired but peaceful. All of my energy had been with the plant.



Vogel, who was observing the recording on the chart, noticed an abrupt stop when the girl “came out” of the plant. On later occasions, when the girl “re-entered” the plant, she was able to describe the inner makeup of its cells and their structure in detail. She specifically noted that one of the leaves had been badly burned by an electrode. When Vogel detached the electrode, he found a hole almost all the way through the leaf.


Vogel has since tried the same experiment with dozens of other people, having them go into a single leaf and look at the individual cells within it. All gave consistent descriptions of various parts of the cellular body down to the detailed organization of the DNA molecules. From the experiment, Vogel came to the conclusion: “We can move into individual cells in our own bodies and, depending on our state of mind, affect them in various ways. One day, this may explain the cause of disease.”


The ability to go into a plant and analyze what part of it is hurt was demonstrated on TV film on Good Friday, 1973, when Vogel and Dr. Tom Montelbono, who had been working with him for over a year, were filmed during plant experimentation by a TV production team from CBS. It was highly embarrassing to both researchers that the plant seemed not to respond. Vogel asked Montelbono to see if there was something wrong with the electroding. Instead of tampering with the electrodes, Montelbono, to the astonishment of the CBS technicians, sat where he was and after a moment’s concentration announced that damaged cells in the upper right-hand corner of the electroded part of the leaf were shorting the electrical circuit. In the presence of the TV men the electrodes were removed and the leaf was found to be damaged exactly where Montelbono had said.


Because Vogel knows that, among all humans, children are the most “open-minded,” he has begun to teach children how to interact with plants. First, he asks them to feel a leaf, describe its temperature, consistency, and texture in detail. Next, he lets them bend leaves and become aware of their resilience before going on to pet the leaves gently by stroking their upper and under sides. If his pupils take pleasure in describing to him the sensations they feel, Vogel asks them to take their hands away from the leaves and try to feel a force or energy emanating from them. Many of the children instantly described a rippling or tingling sensation.


Vogel noticed that those children who felt the strongest sensations were wholly engrossed in what they were doing. Once they felt the tingling, he would say: “Now completely relax and feel the give-and-take of the energy. When you feel it pulsing, gently move your hand up and down over the leaf.” Following his directions, the young experimenters could easily see that, when they brought their hands down, the leaves fell away. By continued repetition of this motion, the leaves would begin to oscillate. With the use of both hands, the experimenters could actually get a plant to sway. As they gained confidence, Vogel urged them to move further and further away from the plant. “This is basic training,” says Vogel, “to develop an expanded awareness of a force which is not visible. The awareness established, they see they can operate with this force.”


Adults, according to Vogel, are much less successful than children, which leads him to surmise that many scientists are not going to be able to repeat his or Backster’s experiments in laboratories.

  • If they approach the experimentation in a mechanistic way,” says Vogel, “and don’t enter into mutual communication with their plants and treat them as friends, they will fail. It is essential to have an open mind that eliminates all preconceptions before beginning experiments.

Indeed, Vogel was told by one doctor working at the California Psychical Society that he had had not a single result, though he had worked for months. The same is true for one of Denver’s most renowned psychoanalysts.

  • Hundreds of laboratory workers around the world,” says Vogel, “are going to be just as frustrated and disappointed as these men until they appreciate that the empathy between plant and human is the key, and learn how to establish it. No amount of checking in laboratories is going to prove a thing until the experiments are done by properly trained observers. Spiritual development is indispensable. But this runs counter to the philosophy of many scientists, who do not realize that creative experimentation means that the experimenters must become part of their experiments.”

This highlights the difference in approach between Vogel and Backster, indicating, perhaps, that Vogel is establishing a type of hypnotic control over his plants, whereas Backster says that his plants, left strictly alone, will quite normally react to their environment.


Vogel says that even when a person can affect a plant, the result is not always a happy one. He asked one of his friends, a clinical psychologist, who had come to see for himself if there was any truth to the plant research, to project a strong emotion to a philodendron fifteen feet away. The plant surged into an instantaneous and intense reaction and then, suddenly, “went dead.” When Vogel asked the psychologist what had gone through his mind, the man answered that he had mentally compared Vogel’s plant with his own philodendron at home, and thought how inferior Vogel’s was to his. The “feelings” of Vogel’s plant were evidently so badly hurt that it refused to respond for the rest of the day; in fact, it sulked for almost two weeks. Vogel could not doubt that plants have a definite aversion to certain humans, or, more exactly, to what those humans are thinking.


This being true, Vogel considered it possible, one day, to read a person’s thoughts through a plant. Something of the sort had already taken place. Vogel had asked a nuclear physicist to mentally “work” on a technical problem. As the man was cogitating, Vogel’s plant registered a series of tracings on the recorder for 118 seconds. When the tracing fell back to base line, Vogel informed his scientist friend that he had stopped his train of thought. The friend corroborated. Vogel wondered if he had actually captured a process on a chart via a plant. After a few minutes, he asked the physicist to think of his wife. When the physicist did so, the plant again recorded a tracing, this time for 105 seconds. It seemed to Vogel that, right before him in his living room, a plant was picking up and passing on a man’s mental impressions of his wife. If one could interpret such tracings, could one not know what the man was thinking? After a break for a cup of coffee, Vogel almost casually asked his friend to think once more of his wife in the same way he had thought of her before. The plant registered another 105-second-long tracing very similar to the first. To Vogel this was the first time a plant seemed to have recorded a similar thought spectrogram and duplicated it.


“By pursuing such experiments,” says Vogel, “we may have a means of technically identifying energies coming from the human mind, translating them, and feeding them back into an as yet undeveloped device. A whole evening of thinking may be made explicit.”

Entertaining a group of skeptical psychologists, medical doctors, and computer programmers at his house, Vogel let them look over his equipment for hidden devices and gimmicks which they insisted must exist, then asked them to sit in a circle and talk so as to see what reactions the plant might pick up. For an hour the group conversed on several topics with hardly a response from the plant. Just as they had all concluded that the whole thing was a fake, one of them said: “How about sex?” To their mutual surprise, the plant came to life, the pen recorder oscillating wildly on the chart. This led to speculation that talking of sex could stir up in the atmosphere some sort of sexual energy such as the “orgone” discovered and described by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, and that the ancient fertility rites in which humans had sexual intercourse in freshly seeded fields might indeed have stimulated plants to grow.


The plant also responded to spooky stories told in a darkened room lit only by a red-shaded candle. At certain points in a story, such as: “The door of the mysterious cabin in the forest began slowly to open,” or, “Suddenly there appeared around the corner a strange man with a knife in his hand,” or “Charles bent down and raised the lid of the coffin,” the plant seemed to pay closer attention. To Vogel, this was evidence that a plant can measure “figments of the imagination,” being converted to energy by the group as a whole.


Dr. Hal Puthoff, a physicist at the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, invited Vogel and five other scientists to witness the effects he was getting by hooking up a chicken egg to the electro-psychometer, or “E-meter,” developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. The E-meter’s function is almost identical to that of the psychoanalyzer which Vogel had first used with his seminar students. Puthoff attempted to demonstrate that the egg wired to the E-meter would respond when another egg was broken. He broke three separate eggs, but nothing happened. After asking Puthoff if he could try, Vogel put his hand over an egg and related to it exactly as he had learned to relate to his plants. In one minute, the needle on the E-meter’s galvanometer dial began to move and finally “pinned.” Vogel backed ten feet away and got gyrations from the needle by opening and closing his hands. Though Puthoff and several others present tried to do the same, all failed.


The needle’s movement, once thought to be affected by resistance on the skin of humans attached to electrodes, is known as Galvanic Skin Response, or GSR. Since plants have no skin, in the human sense, the term for the effect on plants has been changed to Psycho-Galvanic Response, or PGR. “The PGR,” says Vogel, “exists not only in plants, but in all living forms. The directive action of the mind focuses this energy and, on command, releases the force in a series of pulses which can pass through glass, metals, and other materials. No one yet knows exactly what they are.


In Russia, a psychic called Nina Kulagina can turn the needle of a compass without touching it but she has to do it with her hands near the compass; more impressive feats have been demonstrated at Stanford University, especially by the remarkably sensitive Ingo Swann, who attributes his success to techniques he learned in Scientology. With nothing but his will power, Swann has been able to affect a mechanism in the university’s most thoroughly shielded “quark” chamber, buried deep underground in a vault of liquid helium, impenetrable to any known wave length of the electromagnetic spectrum, astonishing the academic physicists who watched him perform what they considered to be an impossible feat.


Vogel stresses that experiments with plants can be extremely dangerous to those who do not have the ability properly to alter their states of consciousness. “Focused thought,” says Vogel, “can exert a tremendous effect on the body of a person in a higher mental state, if he lets his emotions interfere.” No one, says Vogel, who is not in sound bodily health should become involved with plants or any other kind of psychic research. Though he has not been able to prove it, Vogel feels that a special diet of vegetables, fruits, and nuts, rich in minerals and proteins, allows the body to build the kind of energy necessary for such work. “One draws energy at high levels,” he said, “and this requires good nutrition.


Asked how the higher energies, such as thought, might operate on the physical bodies of living organisms, Vogel says he has now begun to speculate on the strange properties of water. As a crystallographer, he is interested in the fact that, unlike most salts, which have one crystalline form, core samples of glacier ice have more than thirty different forms. “Uninitiated persons, when first looking at them,” says Vogel, “could conclude that they were observing as many different substances. And they would be right in their own way because water is a real mystery.


Vogel makes the prediction, which he stresses is as yet far from established fact, that since living things all have a high water content, the vitality of a person must be in some way related to the rate of respiration. As water moves around the body and through its pores, charges are built. Vogel’s first clue about his postulate on water came from the fact that some “psychics” have lost several pounds of body weight during sessions in which they expended vital, or psychic, energy. “If we could weigh a person doing psychic research on a sensitive scale,” suggests Vogel, “we would find that there is a loss of weight in each case. It is a water loss, as it is in persons who go on crash diets.”


Whatever the future brings, Vogel believes that his research with plants can help man to the recognition of long-ignored truths. By developing simple training kits, which he is presently designing, he thinks he can teach children to release their emotions and watch the effects in a measurable way.


They can thus learn the art of loving,” says Vogel, “and know truly that when they think a thought they release a tremendous power or force in space. By knowing that they are their thoughts, they will know how to use thinking to achieve spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth. “This is no machine to measure brain waves or any gimmick to help people to become seers or mystics,” Vogel insists, “but one to help children to become simple, honest human beings.”


Asked to sum up the importance of his research with plants, Vogel replied:

  • “So much of the ills and suffering in life comes from our inability to release stresses and forces within us. When a person rejects us, we rebel inside and we hold on to this rejection. This builds a stress which, as Dr. Wilhelm Reich showed so long ago, becomes locked in as muscular tension, and if not unlocked, depletes the body’s energy field and alters its chemistry. My research with plants indicates one pathway to deliverance.”

For Marcel Vogel, plants have opened new horizons. The vegetal kingdom seems capable of picking up messages of intent, benign or malicious, that are inherently more truthful than when translated into words—a talent which all human beings may share but which they have momentarily occluded.


Two young Californian students of humanistic psychology and Hindu philosophy, Randall Fontes and Robert Swanson, have now pursued Vogel’s quarry into unbeaten ground. Using sophisticated equipment lent them by the IBM researcher, they have made a series of discoveries so surprising that despite their youth they have been granted funds and equipment by established universities to further probe the mysteries of plant communication.


Fontes’ and Swanson’s first discovery came virtually by accident when one noticed that the other’s yawning was being picked up by a plant in the form of energy surges. Instead of ignoring the phenomenon as improbable, the two students followed up the clue remembering that in ancient Hindu texts an exaggerated yawn was considered a means by which a tired person could be recharged with vivifying shakhti, a postulated energy filling the universe.


With the help of Dr. Norman Goldstein, a professor of biology at State University in Hayward, California, Fontes went on to discover an electrical potential traveling from cell to cell in the ivy philodendron which gives a strong indication of the presence of a hitherto unsuspected simple nervous system.


As a result, Fontes has been invited to direct a project at the Science Unlimited Research Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, on the effects of human consciousness on living organisms. Meanwhile, Swanson is cooperating in the setting up of a parapsychologically oriented counseling center at the John F. Kennedy University in Martinez, California, where one of Swanson’s goals is to determine just which people affect plants telepathically and which do not.