Wilhelm Reich, nature religionist

When I wrote Her Hidden Children, I gave three pages to Wilhelm Reich, because I felt that his unconventional ideas on the body, sexuality, and life energy had as much to do with the intellectual underpinnings of American Paganism as did, for example, the anthropological theories of Sir James Frazer (“sacred kings” and all that).

Reich was all but burned as a heretic, but now his ideas are getting a second look as his papers are unsealed.

Physician-scientist Wilhelm Reich, best known for his claims of a cosmic life force associated with sexual orgasm, died in federal prison, and the government burned tons of his books and other publications and destroyed his equipment.

But half a century later, a small number of scientists and other believers are working to advance the European-born psychiatrist’s work on what he called “orgone energy” – a theory largely forgotten in the scientific mainstream.

“Personally, I think it’s going to be a long time before all of his work is understood and recognized,” said Reich’s granddaughter, Renata Reich Moise, a nurse-midwife and artist in the coastal town of Hancock.

If you live in New England, visit the Wilhelm Reich Museum. Rent a cottage and try some orgone experiments.