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Mesmerism is a word coined in the 18th century to refer to Franz Anton Mesmer discovery of the "animal magnetism" and its use. This "life energy" or "fluid" is believed to reside in the bodies which all living beings have running through them, and which could be manipulated for healing or other purposes. This magnetism in "animate" beings, is believed to be distinct from the magnetic force shown by some minerals.

In Europe and the United States the theory became the basis for treatment of illnesses based on movements of the hands near the body accompanied by strong intention of the operator. Some of the practices and concepts related to animal magnetism were used in Hypnotism, Spiritualism, New Thought, energy healing, and Parapsychological research.

Theosophical view

Memsmerism can be used both as a healing technique and as means to transfer thoughts or even produce a kind of hypnosis.

A brief fragment ascribed to H. P. Blavatsky explains the mechanics of the healing method as follows:

The mesmerizer throws out his own Auric Fluid . . . through the etheric double, on his patient; he may thus, in the case of sickness, regularize the irregular vibrations of the sufferer, or share with him his own life-force, thereby increasing his vitality. For nerve-atrophy there is no agent so curative as this, and the shrivelling cell may clairvoyantly be seen to swell up under the flow of the life-current. The pranic current flows most readily from the tips of the fingers, and through the eyes; passes should be made along the nerves from center to circumference, with a sharp shake of the fingers away from the patient and the operator, at the end of the pass. The hands should be washed before and after the operation, and it should never be undertaken unless the mind is quiet and the health strong. The loss of vitality should be made good by standing in the sun, with as little clothing on as possible, breathing deeply and slowly, and retaining the breath between each inspiration and exhalation as long as is convenient, i.e., not long enough to cause any struggle or gasping. Five minutes of this should restore the pranic balance.[1]

In one of his letters, Master K.H. emphasizes the need for concentration while performing this operation for it to be effective:

How often the clairvoyants reproach the magnetiser for taking their thoughts off the subject under consideration? And the mesmeric healer will always bear you witness that if he permits himself to think of anything but the vital current he is pouring into his patient, he is at once compelled to either establish the current afresh or stop the treatment.[2]

Another application of this technique allows the operator to impress his thought into the mind of the subject. In this instance, again, concentration is necessary. The same Master explained:

Do not you see the same thing in ordinary mesmerism — the maya impressed upon the subject's imagination by the operator becoming, now stronger, now feebler, as the latter keeps the intended illusive image more or less steadily before his own fancy? . . . Put into a mesmeric subject's hand a sheet of blank paper, tell him it contains a certain chapter of some book that you have read, concentrate your thoughts upon the words, and see how — provided that he has himself not read the chapter, but only takes it from your memory — his reading will reflect your own more or less vivid successive recollections of your author's language.[3]

See also

Additional resources




  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1982), 362-363.
  2. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 117 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 399.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 117 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 399.