Kolisko Effect

Kolisko Effect (Kolisko Experiments)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Kolisko effect refers to modifications in the behavior of metallic solutions during certain aspects—particularly during conjunctions—involving the planet traditionally said to rule the metal involved. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy (an offshoot of Theosophy), taught astrology in many of his lectures, including the astrological principle that the Sun, Moon, and planets rule certain metals. Traditionally, the Sun has been thought to rule gold; the Moon, silver; Mercury, mercury; Venus, copper; Mars, iron; Jupiter, tin; and Saturn, lead. Steiner claimed, among other things, that as long as substances were in a solid state, they were subject to the forces of the Earth, but if they were in a liquid state, the planetary forces came into play.

In the early twentieth century one of Steiner’s students, Lilly Kolisko, began a series of experiments designed to demonstrate this link empirically. While her experiments were diverse, Kolisko’s basic technique was to prepare solutions in which particular metallic salts had been dissolved and then record the pattern that these solutions made when they crystallized onto filter paper. Her hypothesis was that major aspects involving the traditional seven planets (which included the Sun and Moon) would affect the corresponding metal and thus modify the resulting patterns. Kolisko reported marked success. Particularly memorable are experiments during which Saturn was occulted (eclipsed) by the Sun or the Moon. During these occultations, the crystallization of lead salts was either delayed or completely obstructed. These experiments and others are recorded in Kolisko’s Workings of the Stars in Earthly Substance, Das Silber und der Mond, and Saturn und Blei.

While some researchers have reported negative or mixed results in attempts to replicate Kolisko’s experiments, others have reported success. Theodore Schwenck, in a laboratory of the Swiss Weleda Company, found that the crystallization pattern of a relevant solution was markedly influenced by the Mars-Saturn conjunction of 1949, an experiment that was replicated by Karl Voss in 1964. In 1967, another anthroposophist, Agnes Fyfe, published a paper in which she reported that the precipitation of carefully prepared iron-silver solutions was delayed during the half hour following exact conjunctions between Mars (ruler of iron) and the Moon (ruler of silver). Beginning in 1972, Nicholas Kollerstrom began a series of experiments involving conjunctions and other aspects between Mars and Saturn, the Moon and Saturn, and the Moon and Mars. He succeeded in experiments where the metals used corresponded to the planets involved in the conjunction. He also found that Mars-Saturn conjunctions (which are less fleeting than aspects involving the transiting Moon) produced especially marked effects that typically lasted several days. He also found that the peak influence of conjunctions involving planets other than the Moon always occurred after the conjunctions were exact, as if the effect of the disturbance in the Mars-Saturn “energies” was delayed in reaching Earth.

These studies do not exhaust the list of researchers who have successfully replicated Kolisko’s experiments. Needless to say, the Kolisko effect stands out as an interesting phenomenon that merits close examination by anyone attempting to either support or debunk astrology from an empirical perspective.


Davidson, Alison. Metal Power: The Soul Life of the Planets. Garberville, CA: Borderland Sciences Research Foundation, 1991.
Fyfe, Agnes. “Uber die Variabilitat von Silver-Eisen-Steigbildern.” Elemente der Naturwissenschaft 6 (1967): 35–43.
Gettings, Fred. Dictionary of Astrology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985.
Kollerstrom, Nicholas. “Planetary Influences on Metal Ion Activity.” Correlation 3, no. 1 (1983): 38–50.
Kolisko, Lilly. Das Silber und der Mond.
Kolisko. Saturn und Blei.
Kolisko. Working of the Stars in Earthly Substance.
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