Written by Doug Crouch

The Vortex in Nature

Vortex’s, with their spiraling 3-dimensional flow, evoke a sense of power and awe from the child in the bathtub watching water drain to the farmers in the Plains of the states seeing the aftermath of a tornado.  The hurricanes and typhoons that shape our coasts and inland

credit to sean-heavey
credit to sean-heavey, a tornado image

areas with their intense energy pulsations are wonderful examples how nature uses these pulsation to manage succession and disturbance.  By packing so much inward spiraling energy, vortex’s whip out with a lashing form often like in the cases of tornadoes and hurricanes.  The energy seems to be perpetual, combining with other motions of the earth, to form a centrifugal force.  This energy is one that spins from out to in and creates energy, has a silent and cool core, and waste of energy is minimal.  On opposite, and how we power many things like cars, is centripetal energy, which is moving in to out.  This anti-pattern of motion can be seen in the car wheel which takes explosive energy, rather than implosive like a vortex, and powers the axle of the wheel to turn the tire.  This motion creates friction, noise, and heat and requires continual energy input to maintain velocity.  This is why the perpetual motion machines derived by many require the usage of the vortex in combination with other patterns to keep the energy moving after only a small energy input at the beginning to kickstart the system.

Thus to complete the sequence from previous articles, natural movement is not in straight lines, but in spirals, or spiraling vortices.  And it’s not just water or air that uses this form, but also I have observed it in many trees including the Californian Redwood, one the worlds most awe

Vortex in action on this 2D spiral seen hitting exactly where et redwoods are located
Vortex in action on this 2D spiral seen hitting exactly where et redwoods are located

inspiring trees.  Growing on the cool temperate Pacific Northwest Coast of the states, this tree withstands amazing feats to grow to such a size and exist for thousands of years.  This area receives hurricane like storms (seen left)  from time to time yet it has figured a way to anchor itself for thrivability.  The tallest ones, observed by myself on a backpacking trip in 2005 while living in the region of Redwood National Park, grow to be over 370 feet (112 m).  It uses a cork screw vortex it seems in its growth and seen in this slide below picture left to reach such a physics defying feat.  The trees create such a sense of reverence and grandeur that their existence alone is something worth fighting for and it was their destruction that really helped to propel me outwardly into the world to find

DNA Art representation
DNA Art representation

solutions; my path finding in Permaculture and applying this design science. And it doesn’t stop there, just as with many of the other patterns we have examined in this chapter, from the macro there is the micro. Our DNA, held in spiraling vortices, hold a key component to our existence and it reaches far beyond just holding genetic information.  The true role of DNA beyond the materialistic, scientific explanation is one of philosophical debate matched with scientific investigation.  It is one that looks at how DNA are receptors of energy, as Dr Gregg Braden hypothesizes, and may indeed explain our ability to feel people’s energy.  That might sound a bit hippie but at some point in every normal persons life they will have walked into a room and felt a bad vibe from someone and expressed it or naturally gravitated to someone they resonated with.  Our DNA can help to facilitate this exchange of energy; waves through our watery bodies shall we say.  Their ability to pack information in, connect to cosmic energy, and decode the energy around us from people to place is a remarkable construction and application of the vortex. Thus these vortices are like antennae with their ability to pick up energy.

Vortex Pattern Application

Thus how we apply the Vortex can be simple because vortex’s love to perpetuate themselves.  One of the greatest applications of this is the revitalization of water.  When pumped (centripetal motion) and sent through pipes, water moves in a fashion it doesn’t like, in fact that some say it is so degrading to its vibrational quality that it then dies.  But how to bring it back into life is to bring the vortex back into its memory as water holds its memory of how to spin inward on itself (centrifugal energy), which is so often seen in the eddies of streams and rivers. Thus manufactured water spinning devices based off of Viktor Schauberger’s work and his water-vortexconstant fascination and application of the vortex can be purchased like the picture above left on the slide below.  I owned one at one time and enjoyed the taste and refreshment of the water seemingly jumping back to life.  We also have used it before in Portugal, seen in the picture below left on the slide below, with simple glass bottles.  Furthermore, in the states we were taught about tornadoes through attaching two plastic bottles together and a piece that would unite the two bottles as to not lose the liquid.  One of these bottles was filled before this union piece was put on and we would then attach the two and turn it upside down and with a small sweeping spiral motion the vortex would ensue.  The water would be quickly sucked downwardly in this beautiful form and after the initial manual input the vortex would remain until the water was completely sucked through.  Thus you can improve water quality by using two water containers and fitting them together for later easy removal and doing this same thing.  In Portugal we used green glass wine jugs and bit of garden hose in between to produce the healing vortex inside.  When I was teaching PDC’s at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, USA,  one of my students after seeing this presentation put this to test in a homework assignment.  She did a taste test with her friends of normal tap water, the tap water spun in this fashion in plastic, and one also done in glass.  The results were clear that the tap water had the least desirable taste and the water spun in glass had the best. Thus by using this vortex energy the water was brought back into life and the taste test not only proves it on a physical level but on the vibrational level in part because of our DNA receptors.

These are both great home scale applications but Schauberger was already trying to figure out how to correct the low quality of drinking water that was coming from pipes in Austria in the early 1930’s when cancer was quickly on the rise in Vienna.  In the olden days it was wooden water pipes, fashioned together like very long wine barrels, that delivered water throughout the city.  However as cities grew in populations with the onrushing of industrial society, pipes were turned into metal and lost their ability to breathe and keep

Flow forms inducing a vortex
Flow forms inducing a vortex

high water quality flowing.  The deadening of water and pathogens building inside pipes comes in part from a phenomenon in physics known as laminar flow. One could say its analogous to the dead energy of square water tanks covered in the egg pattern article.  With that Schauberger employed the wave pattern to break up this laminar flow and create multiple vortex’s spinning in varying directions to reduce the laminar flow as seen in the diagram above right on the slide above. This gave the water a more natural flow through more vortices thus it aided in reducing the need for chemicals like chlorine to kill the pathogenic buildup that flows all the way through each and every pipe of grid-tied water.  I suppose it’s also similar to the work of Theodore Schwenk, that built off of Schauberger’s understandings, with his creation of flow forms that we covered in the core model pattern article.  It does employ vortex’s as well to bring further potential to the water and compost combination of biodynamic farming.  Schauberger’s work with water pipes was also about that, bring a vibrational quality to water through emulating its travels through the earth’s caverns before it popped out as spring water.


Schauberger’s theories have led to later inventions such as the vortex microhydro electric power station that uses this same idea of centrifugal power generation instead of centripetal.  Normal pelton style energy production from falling water comes from a wheel

Green School in Bali's application of the vortex generator
Green School in Bali’s application of the vortex generator

being turned, again like a car and has energy lose in the motion of creation itself.  However Austrian engineer Franz Zotlöterer’s design application employed the vortex in creating a sort of perpetual motion to deliver power from falling water through a vortex.  Much waste goes into our normal power production systems and while hydro-electric power is being touted as clean energy in lots of places in the world there are dams coming down in the Pacific Northwest of the States because of the habitat destruction.  Thus more of these smaller vortex power stations could help to supply electricity by essentially increasing edge through more frequent application of this type instead of megaproject dams. The vortex is but one pattern in nature and the fractal of other patterns on top of it to leverage it is where human ingenuity needs to go to solve our dirty energy crisis.

The Estuary of the Elwha River in Washington states Olympic National Park after several dams, including the largest ever removed, and the resulting habitat creating sediment. 75 miles of Salmon habitat runs wild again of rate first time 100 years. credit http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140826-elwha-river-dam-removal-salmon-science-olympic/
The Estuary of the Elwha River in Washington states Olympic National Park after several dams, including the largest ever removed, and the resulting habitat creating sediment. 75 miles of Salmon habitat runs wild again of rate first time 100 years. credit http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140826-elwha-river-dam-removal-salmon-science-olympic/

Written by Doug Crouch

Header art by Sien Verpoest

2 thoughts on “Vortex

  1. Pingback: Vortex | TreeYo Permaculture

  2. Pingback: Vortex Pattern | A Permaculture Design Course Handbook

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