Building an Orgone Accumulator – Thinking Inside the Box

Now, before you roll your eyes, give this idea a chance.  “Be curious, not judgmental,” as Walt Whitman said.  As a culture, we exist primarily on assumptions.  We assume that UFOs are hokum, that ghosts don’t exist, that because meat is so nicely packaged it must mean the animal was nicely raised, that what they tell you on the news is “true,” and that diets work.

But you know, there are some days when I sit back and think to myself, “Why am I so against considering this a possibility?”  It’s like I’m automatically a skeptic.  However, on the other hand, I really like to believe in wacky stuff.  I want to believe that Ata is an alien, that the Patterson-Gimlin film is authentic, and that real people dig for and find buried treasure ALL THE TIME.


The trick is approaching weird stuff by releasing your skepticism, but also releasing your want to believe.  It’s not about objectivity (I hate that word–it never meant anything, did it?).  It’s just about being open.  And even if you’re the most curmudgeonly skeptic out there, there’s one thing in your brain that is really good at remaining open.  Your imagination.

And that is how I’m approaching the subject of Willhelm Reich’s Orgone Energy–as a curious and open guy giving orgone a chance.


Dr. Wilhelm Reich

Dr. Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst who trained with Sigmund Freud.  He believed that the atmosphere was full of a life energy that he called “Orgone.”  That energy, he claimed, controlled everything from the weather to your emotions to the way your body moves to the health of your sexual relationships.  The Nazis really hated Wilhelm Reich, and he fled to Norway and finally the United States, where his ideas were embraced by the counterculture and called “perverted” by the “pure.”


In the United States, Reich purchased a farm in Maine and turned it into a research center her called “Orgonon,” where he experimented with orgone and weather.


Reich with a “cloudbuster.”

He invented orgone accumulators–boxes that concentrated and conducted orgone to a sitting patient inside.  He claimed that these accumulators could regenerate essential life energy, cure and prevent some cancer, and break down “body armor” that caused unhealthy energy flows in our bodies, which were directly connected to our emotional, sexual and psychological health.  Reich believed that every neurosis and emotional state had a somatic connection.  Reich’s research became quite popular in the 1940s, and even caught the attention of Albert Einstein, who conducted his own experiments with orgone accumulators.  The problem was that a small group of vocal skeptics falsely believed that Reich was creating and experimenting with “sex boxes.”


Before long, the FDA was after him.

From Wikipedia:

Following two critical articles about him in The New Republic and Harper’s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a “fraud of the first magnitude.” Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated the injunction, Reich was sentenced to two years in prison, and in June and August that year over six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court, one of the most notable examples of censorship in the history of the United States. He died in jail of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.

It was a sad end to a revolutionary figure who survived Nazis, Puritans, and serious haters.  And while his research caught on again as the closed-minded thinking of the fifties blossomed into a more curious sixties and seventies, eventually Reich was forgotten by the mainstream.


Over the last couple years, I’ve researched Orgone, Reich, and accumulators.  I’ve read Reich’s remaining books, and The Orgone Accumulator Handbook. by James DeMeo’s, PhD.  Of course, I don’t claim to be an expert about any of it.  Admittedly, there is an element of aesthetic kitsch in all of this for me.  Then again, the deeper I’ve gotten into Reich and orgone energy, the more I respect his ideas, research, experiments, and rigor.  While I like to indulge in weird stuff, I don’t always like the way that indulgence can nullify the importance of thinking “outside the box.”

And so, I call all this my experiments thinking inside the box.  I decided it was time to build an accumulator of my own.  What follows is how I went about constructing the accumulator, based primarily off the instruction and plans in James DeMeo’s handbook.

I started with the materials, which included compressed lightweight firing strips, luan, formaldehyde-free fiberglass, steel wool, galvanized sheets…

August, 2013 003 (Medium)

I constructed lightweight wall frames.

August, 2013 005 (Medium)

August, 2013 004 (Medium)

Then came the bottom frame, which needed more support, the top frame, and the door.

August, 2013 015 (Medium)

August, 2013 016 (Medium)

To conduct orgone, the frames are filled with alternating layers of fiberglass (orgone absorbent) and steel wool (conductor).  I had to order a 20 pound reel of steel wool.

August, 2013 009 (Medium) crop

Alternating layers in the floor frame:

August, 2013 010 (Medium)

Next, I attached the galvanized metal to the interior walls.

August, 2013 019 (Medium)August, 2013 022 (Medium)

As you can see, the orgone box fits together by wood dowels.  I can take the entire thing apart in seconds.  To secure the box, I installed latches.

August 2013 2 003 (Medium)August 2013 2 004 (Medium)

I used shellac to finish the exterior.  Shellac is an all-natural resin finish, derived from the secretions of the female lac bug (no, I didn’t make this up).

August, 2013 028 (Medium)

Finished product–easy assembly.

August, 2013 025 (Medium)

August 2013 2 005 (Medium)

Folks, let the orgone accumulation begin.

August 2013 2 009 (Medium)

Right now, I have the orgone accumulator in our backyard.  But in a couple weeks, we’ll be packing it up on top of the Jeep and taking it to Burning Man with our Scamp, which looks like some kind of orgone accumulator itself.  In fact, I often call the Scamp “Into the Orgone.”

Summer 2013 013

Keep in touch to see how experiments in orgone go.

Finally, rest in peace, Wilhelm Reich.  Or actually… don’t.


Dr. Wilhelm Reich


11 thoughts on “Building an Orgone Accumulator – Thinking Inside the Box

  1. This is awesome. Orgone accumulators are fascinating. We’re renovating an airstream, and I’m trying to figure out how to make it a huge orgone accumulator, but it’s got the metal on the outside! Thoughts?

  2. Reich warned against living in aluminium sheathed structures like caravans or trailers and said they concentrated negative orgone or ‘oranur’. Aluminium coated insulation slabs used in loft spaces and in between floors were also considered potentially harmful. One should fully read the published material on orgone before embarking on accumulator construction. There are also a range of areas where the siting of an accumulator should be avoided.

  3. Thank you for the info what was the final cost and what have been your experience by useing it. Also do you know were one might one to experience the effects. Allen Shoup

  4. Excellent, thank you!!! I am in the process of sourcing all my materials required, however, I’m going to substitute the fibreglass insulation for natural sheep wool batting (of course if I can ever find any)… and I’m considering making my walls slightly thicker. Were you able to include the 6 layers of alternating fibreglass and steel wool? …that’s another thing I’m seriously battling to find, is, the steel wool in a roll, but, I’ll get there… Thanks again!!!

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