Monday, September 26, 2016

PORTAE LUCIS


Back in the 1980’s on one of my first trips to France I was invited to give a talk at the Pompidou Centre in Paris by an outfit called Les Philosophes de la Nature the brain child of  a charismatic character called Jean Dubuis, a scientist by profession but also an esoteric teacher with an emphasis on alchemy in theory and practice. I was quite amazed by what I saw and heard and regretted that my French at that time was not quite equal to learning all I would have liked.

Jean Dubuis has since passed on at the age of 90 but I have heard that much of his work, translated into English, has just been made available free on the internet courtesy of an organisation called Portae Lucis.

For details go to http://www.portaelucis.fr/GB/html/porte1.htm

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SONS OF HERMES - 30


The cabinet maker’s story

Henri Ravier was a 28 year old cabinet maker and joiner in 1870 when he was called to measure up a coffin for a seven year old boy. As he bustled about with his mate in the courtyard a couple of doctors emerged from the house discussing the death certificate.  

“Nothing could have been done to save the child.”

“Not even if we’d been called earlier. Do you agree with my diagnosis of meningitis?”

“I’m sure you’re right.”

“Anyway, the little glass of eau-de-vie that father Chapas gave us wasn’t bad was it!”

And so without further thought to child or grieving parents they left. No sooner had they done so than two young men hurried up.

“It took ages to find you. He must be dead by now. The doctor said he’d been in a coma. Do you know what that is?”

“It’s nothing, nothing! But we must hurry!”

They knocked at the door and a man opened up who obviously knew them.  

“Monsieur Claude, we’ve just heard the news and have come to offer our condolences.”

“That’s very good of you, Nizier. Come on in. He’s on the bed.”

Nizier Philippe also greeted Madame Chapas, who did not speak.

They mounted the stairs.  The mother passed them in the passageway and opened the bedroom door for them.

The 21 year old Nizier Philippe crossed himself and indicated the others to sit.  Then he presented Madame Chapas with a strange question:

“Are you willing to give me your son now?”

She answered “Yes” almost automatically.

Nizier stood before the child’s bed in contemplation for a few moments, and then said in a clear voice: “Jean, I bring  your soul back to you!”

Amazingly, the chalk white face of the body began to regain colour,  looked up at Nizier Philippe, and smiled.

The strange question Philippe directed at the child’s mother harked back a few years to when she had asked his help when her husband fell ill. On that occasion he had simply said “Go home and make him some soup and he will be all right.” And so it had occurred. But when asked how much she owed him he replied: “Nothing, but you can give me your son if I ask for him.” An enigmatic remark, all the more strange coming from a young Nizier Philippe who could have been no more than a teenager at the time.

No more was said until little Jean Chapas grew up. Like his father and grandfather before him, he sought the life of a waterman on the great rivers of the Rhône and  Saône. But having passed the necessary examinations – he would then have been aged about 20 and the year 1883 –  his mother received a message from Monsieur Philippe: “Tell your son to come and see me tomorrow, I need him.”

The informal apprenticeship he had thus begun as a spiritual healer was not an easy one. The boy put himself completely at the disposal of Monsieur Philippe but the first day passed with nothing for him to do. The same thing happened next day. Then on the third day he was sent on a few errands, to buy tobacco, some postage stamps, and deliver a prescription. Then little by little he was admitted to minor jobs at public meetings.

For several years he diligently performed all the tasks set him by Monsieur Philippe, some of which involved some kind of testing.  One day, for instance, Monsieur Philippe received word from a lady who was very upset by the loss of her hair. He told Jean Chapas to buy some lotion at a pharmacy and take it to her, and then meet him at a café where he would be waiting.

Jean Chapas found on his arrival that the woman was in complete despair and threatening to throw herself from the sixth floor of the building. For a whole hour he tried to reason with her, far beyond the time fixed for meeting Monsieur Philippe. Eventually he arrived, very late, to find his master still there, smoking his pipe but frowning heavily. Jean Chapas tried to explain what had happened but Monsieur Philippe cut him short and reprimanded him. He should have realised it would have been quite easy for him to have stopped the woman’s hysterics from a distance if he had been informed of them. So...“When I give you a time to meet me, be there!”

Eventually Monsieur Philippe, in the presence of his girl friend, gave him a kind of rosary he had fashioned, a cord full of knots, with the instruction “Take this for an hour each day to your room; and when you reach this knot here, you will be in the presence of the Holy Spirit.”  Presumably he did so, but he never spoke about it to anyone.

Eventually, in February 1894, after a decade of gradually increasing responsibility, Monsieur Philippe presented him at a public meeting with the words, “From now on Monsieur Chapas is charged to do what I have done up to now ...We are fishermen come to fish for those that would escape”. And the following year he announced that “from now on great powers are granted to Monsieur Chapas. Whom, however, he always referred to his as“the corporal!”  By all accounts – no light rank!

From Thursday 13th December 1894, Henri Ravier began to fulfil his mission of taking notes of  meetings and carried on through until 31st March 1903. They are not as comprehensive or systematic we might wish but the random jottings of a retired carpenter and joiner. There are about a hundred of them altogether, the first taken at typical public meetings but later moving on to events at practitioner classes laid on at the recently founded School of Magnetism. His sense of their importance is however revealed by his referring to himself as Jean-Baptiste Ravier.  He was one of a growing band who tended to regard Maïtre Philippe as a second coming of Christ.  Not a view that was shared by the man himself – although he had occasional apparent lapses as when he reportedly said that it had taken him several years to find a mother and father who had the single forenames of Marie and Joseph. I suspect a certain sense of irony in his make-up. But raising people from the dead was not in the gift of any old spiritual healer! And Jean Chapas died a second time in the typhoid fever epidemic of 1899 and was once again resuscitated by Nizier Philippe after a death certificate had been issued. Which led Jean Chapas, who also had an ironic sense of humour, to refer to himself ever after as “a dead man on leave”.

After a lifetime of continuing healing ministry, increasingly haunted by precognition of the coming 2nd World War, he eventually died a third and last time in September 1932, whilst fishing beside the Rhône. His master, also a keen fisherman,  had once predicted “Jean, you will just have time to get your coat and rod and follow me.” He arguably chose a good time to do it as the Holocaust gathered strength in Europe!

References: Confirmation de l’Évangile par les actes et les paroles de Maïtre Philippe de Lyon by Jean-Baptiste Ravier (Le Mercure Dauphinois 2005) and Vie et Enseignement de Jean Chapas, le disciple de Maïtre Philippe de Lyon by Philippe Collin (Le Mercure Dauphinoise 2006).

Thursday, September 08, 2016

SONS OF HERMES - 29


The Professor’s dilemma

An interesting note in a later edition of a biography of Maïtre Philippe by Papus’ son Philippe Encausse contains an account of an attempted validation of a miraculous healing. It involved  three doctors – a Professor Brouardel and Drs. Emmanuel Lalande and Gérard Encausse.

“The commission went to the house in la rue Tête d’Or where the thaumaturge worked, where there was the usual crowd. Professor Brouardel introduced himself and said:

‘It appears that you perform miracles sir. Well here we are, two colleagues and myself, ready to witness the fact...’

Philippe shrugged his shoulders. This kind of demonstration did not greatly interest him, but he agreed to do what they asked. He indicated the sick who were present and said ‘Choose any one you like...’

The commission put on the rostrum an enormous hydroptic who appeared to be at her last extremity. Her legs were like pillars, her torso like a tower and her arms like prize marrows, the whole on the point of bursting.

 ‘Can you see her all right’  Philippe asked the commission.

On their assent he said ‘There you are. It’s done!’

Her skirt had fallen around her ankles and there she stood, acutely embarrassed but thin and cured. There was not a single drop of liquid on the platform or anywhere else. A miracle? There was no other word for it. A miracle in all its incomprehensible simplicity.

Doctors Encausse and Lalande  began to prepare a statement on how they had examined the patient before and after, not taken their eyes off her for a second, and had witnessed her cure, of a kind that was not unusual where Monsieur Philippe was concerned. Both signed, but Professor Brouardel, without denying what he had seen (which would have been difficult in the circumstances!) refused to add his signature on the grounds that ‘he could not understand what had happened...’

With attitudes such as this, it is hardly surprising that Monsieur Philippe found it difficult to  obtain any official recognition of his powers. Although it should be said that Professor Brouardel had put himself into a vulnerable position in even agreeing to take part in this event, in that both his medical colleagues were committed supporters of Monsieur Philippe, so it is doubtful if much official credence would have been granted to their evidence even if the Professor had signed the document with his own blood! Whatever the witness of the ‘unqualified’ crowd who had gathered there, to say nothing of the patient herself.

Apart from Dr. Encausse’s track record as an occult populariser, Dr Lalande was a close relative of Monsieur Philippe, having married his daughter Victoire. Born at the end of 1868 he had turned up in Paris as a medical student in 1887 and become a member of  Papus’ circle, choosing the pen name of Marc Haven from the same source as Papus, the Nuctemeron of Apollonius of Tyana as quoted by Eliphas Levi (Haven being the name of the spirit of Dignity – or, perhaps better – ‘gravitas’.) Papus encouraged him to develop an interest in homeopathy and alchemy and in 1893 he became a member of the supreme council of the Ordre Kabbalistique de la Rose+Croix. He qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1896 with a treatise on the unlikely subject of the medieval alchemical doctor Arnaud de Villeneuve.

He had even met Maïtre Philippe a little before Papus, who before venturing to Lyons himself to meet his recent apparent inner plane antagonist, {see Sons of Hermes 22}, asked Emmanuel Lalande to go down first and report back. Which his young colleague did – an event that completely changed his life!

By September 1897 he had married Philippe’s daughter Victoire and found a position specialising in homeopathy at a local hospital. Then, as a family member, well qualified medically and esoterically, he formed a close partnership with Monsieur Philippe in his pharmacological enterprises, not only in their research and manufacture but their commercial exploitation.

It has to be said that he seemed somewhat bewildered by all this at first. In a letter to Papus he describes how the programme of laboratory work, even with a couple of assistants, was very hard, neither a bed of roses nor a sinecure. It was impossible to distinguish between good or bad results, and he just had to hope that he did not appear too much like an ignorant pig. “Beyond which, embracing buddhism, catholicism, anticlericalism, or christianity appears like a comedy of bumbling ignorance!”

An official report of one of their places of work describes a vast room, or laboratory, divided in two by a brick wall, in which, along with other bizarre or disparate objects were to be found  a vast furnace, alembics, retorts, carboys half filled with an unknown liquid, an electric grinder to reduce horns of cattle, bones, etc. to powder, from which a liquor called ‘heliozine’ was prepared, regarded by Philippe as an infallible panacea – especially against syphilis. It was also called ‘keratine serum’ and contained what he saw as “the angel who fought against major illnesses.”

Whether he invented it or followed an ancient recipe is not known but it involved at times someone watching day and night over an immense autoclave (a device for steam sterilisation at high temperatures and pressures). Some scattered details of this work are given in Lumière blanche (White Light) the memoirs of Marie Lalande – Marc Haven’s second wife after the death of Victoire in 1904. And Haven once remarked that success in preparation may well have required Monsieur Philippe’s personal involvement at some point.

Apart from this Maïtre Philippe continued with his apparently miraculous healing work, which could, on occasion, include local control of the weather!  Unexplainable in scientific terms it may have been, but it also put into the shade anything produced by the magical fraternity. Who seemed to take it all in good part however! It even pushed them, in various degrees, some completely, towards a mystical rather than a magical approach to spiritual dynamics.

We find therefore a strange divide in the approach, attitude and methods of Maïtre Philippe. On the one hand demanding a detailed scientific process and the other an uncompromising  religious faith. It is hardly any wonder that both scientific and esoteric worlds found it difficult to cope with him.

Marc Haven later wrote a book that compared him to the 18th century wonder worker Count Cagliostro: Le Maïtre Inconnu Cagliostro (The Unknown Master Cagliostro), sub-titled “an historical and critical study of High Magic,” seeking why each was regarded either as an anarchic charlatan or as divinely ordained and inspired. A recent work in English also worthy of mention is The Masonic Magician – the Life and Death of Count Cagliostro and his Egyptian Rite, by Philippa Faulks and Robert L. D. Cooper. (Watkins, 2008).

Monday, September 05, 2016

DION FORTUNE - THE OUTER PLANETS & THE TREE OF LIFE


DION FORTUNE

THE OUTER PLANETS & THE TREE OF LIFE

Such has been the interest in the extracts from Dion Fortune we used as reminders leading up to the coming Glastonbury seminar on 24th September that it would be churlish not to include this Addendum to her thoughts on the starry wisdom, taken from the same source.

The Tree and its traditional interpretation are very old. Evolution has moved on since the days when the symbolism of the Tree was established in the form in which it has come down to us, and three new planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, have been added to our experience of the solar system. It is significant to note that on the supernal level of the Tree are three Sephiroth, Daath, Chokmah, Kether, to which no planets are assigned. Exactly how these three newly discovered planets should be attributed to these three vacant Sephiroth is a matter of opinion in the absence of authority, and a great deal of experimental astrology will have to be done before the evidence necessary for a decision will have been gathered together. The most useful guidance known to me is afforded by the descriptions of these planets given by the well known American writer, Dane Rudhyar in his most valuable book ‘New Dimensions for New Men’. He does not, however, appear to be acquainted with the Tree of Life, so does not equate his system of astrology with its symbolism.

We may observe, however, that the planets are placed by tradition on the Tree in the order of their proximity to the Sun, Mercury, the nearest, being at the lower end of the range, and Saturn, the furthest, at the higher end; the Sephiroth left over at either end of the scale being filled in respectively by attributing them to Earth and the Moon and to the Zodiac and Space. The attribution of the Ninth and Tenth Sephiroth to the Moon and Earth respectively will be seen to be sound symbolism when we come to examine their significance in the Microcosm, which is man. If we carry the policy of the ancients a step further in assigning the planets to the Sephiroth in the order of their distance from the Sun, we shall attribute Uranus to Chokmah and Neptune to Kether. The nature of Uranus, as described by Dane Rudhyar, fits well on Chokmah, functioning in polarity with Binah, but traditionally Uranus is a space-god, and as such would naturally be attributed to Kether, nor is traditional symbolism lightly to be ignored. According to such symbolism, however, Neptune is the sea-god, and among the titles of Binah is that of ‘The Great Sea’. Nonetheless Binah is traditionally assigned to Saturn, and the symbolism works so well that the attribution can hardly be questioned. On the other hand, Neptune, though the Lord of Illusion in his lower aspect, and as such an infortune, is, according to Dane Rudhyar, the Lord of Ecstacy in his higher aspect, and the supreme ecstasy of Divine Union is given as the Spiritual Experience of Kether in the ‘Golden Dawn’ system.

Pluto is called by Dane Rudhyar the Sower of Celestial Seed, and Max Heindel in his system of esoteric astrology names him as the ruler of the subconscious levels of the mind. Astronomers have queried whether the comparatively small and very remote Pluto really derives from the Solar Nebula at all, or may have been drawn into its sphere of influence from outer space. All this fits well enough with the Qabalistic conception of Daath as a Sephirah on another plane of manifestation, as was taught by the ancient Qabalists, or as consciousness, as was taught in the ‘Golden Dawn’ in the days when I knew it. Those days were prior to the time when Freud’s doctrine of the unconscious mind had become a household word, and I think we should do no violence to the spirit of either Freud or the Qabalists if we equated Daath with subconsciousness instead of consciousness, for it is obvious that consciousness at such a primitive level as that of the Supernal Triad could hardly equate with what we know as consciousness today, but rather with what is for modern man subconsciousness.

I therefore give my vote for the attribution of Uranus to Chokmah, where its dynamic nature fits well as the opposite number of the static, feminine Binah, the Giver of Form, for the attribution of Neptune, Giver of Ecstasy, to Kether, the place where the vision of God face to face is seen*, and of the mysterious Pluto, ruler of the subconscious mind and Sower of Celestial Seed, to the equally mysterious Daath, wherein occurs the dawn of mind and the beginnings of the archetypal man, whose symbol is the five-pointed Star, its apex resting on Daath, its lower limbs on Netzach and Hod. The above attributions are only a matter of opinion, and I stand subject to correction, but they seem to me the most probably in the light of our present knowledge, though that is admittedly limited. If students will compare what I have to say in my ‘Mystical Qabalah’ with what Dane Rudhyar has to say in his ‘New Mansions for New Men’, they will find such data as is available and be able to try their own hand at team-making. It should be remembered, however, that all authority in occultism is not vested in tradition; that it is a living and growing system, and that there is no intrinsic reason why the present age, which is the dawn of a new epoch, should not produce seers of as great stature as those of old time, indeed of greater, for each one stands on the shoulders of his predecessors.

*Actually ‘Union with God’ as previously mentioned in paragraph 2 but the point remains valid. G.K.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

SONS OF HERMES - 28


The Martinist Order or l’Ordre Martiniste

Despite their close collaboration there were major differences of principle and practice between Maître Philippe and Papus. Apart from Nizier Philippe’s rejection of ‘animal magnetism’ as a curative agent, as opposed to Papus’ research into it, Papus maintained a keen interest in  initiatory societies and in particular with the possibilities of a revived Martinism. Philippe, on the other hand, tended to regard initiatory grades (real or imagined) as vehicles of   personal pride, as indeed they can well be. As Israel Regardie once remarked, whoever claims to be an adept is hardly likely to be one!

Martinism had its immediate origins in the philosophy and practice of Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin  (1743-1803) who had been a student of Martines de Pasqually, founder of a group called l’Ordre des Chevaliers-Elus Cohens de l’Universe  (Order of the Elect Priest-Knights of the Universe). There were many such groups in those days it should be said, covering a broad field from social through political to esoteric.

After Pasqually’s death in 1772 Saint-Martin felt it incumbent upon him to try to continue the work, at the same time modifying some of Pasqually’s ideas and methods, which he found somewhat demanding and complicated.

As Papus later put it: “According to the account of Saint-Martin himself, the master gathered his disciples in a room, no doubt purified by a previous operation, traced a circle in the centre and wrote in Hebrew letters within it the names of angels and appropriate divine names. These preparations astonished the young disciple to the extent that he cried ‘Do we need to do all this to contact God?’

Nonetheless he had no cause to regret these arrangements,  for communication was made with ‘psychic Beings’ giving startling proofs of the reality of their existence in the invisible world. Those  present became ‘illumined’; that is to say that, for them, the existence of the invisible world and the immortality of the soul became more certain than the existence of matter in the physical world. And scorning death, they were ready for anything in propagating and defending the doctrines dear to them.”

A feature of Saint-Martin’s system that played an important role in its development was that, as well as group meetings and initiations, individual members were permitted to confer personal initiations on whomever they chose. Whether or not those concerned lived up to it, (and who is to tell?) they had the right to use the letters S.I. after their names with a triangle of dots, signifying ‘Supérieur Inconnu’ (Higher Unknown One).

Whatever the merits or drawbacks of this system it formed the starting point for the Martinist Order as revived, renewed or invented ( however one wishes to regard it) by Papus. And all apparently the result of a happy coincidence. Augustin Chaboseau (librarian at the Guimet museum), Papus and a couple of friends were in the habit of dining together every Tuesday at a small restaurant on the left bank, and discovered by chance in the course of conversation that both Chaboseau and Papus had been privately initiated in this way, without having thought very much about it at the time, or even since. Chaboseau by his aunt, Mme A. de Boisse-Montemart two years before in 1886, and Papus back in 1882, when he was only 17 years old, by the writer Henri Delaage (1825-1882) who sought to pass it on before he died.

It seems that over the course of years the practice, at any rate with the Chaboseaus, had become almost something of a family tradition. While Papus  said that apart from the letters S.I. and a triangle of dots, no arcane knowledge was passed on to him, due to lack of time apparently, but as a somewhat confused teenager he might not have appreciated it anyway.

On a broader front the system would almost certainly have been responsible for the spread of various forms of Martinist philosophy and practice as the ‘free initiators’ transmitted the ‘Sacrament’ of their Order through France, Germany, Denmark and particularly Russia during the 19th century.

In their biography of Papus the academics Marie-Sophie André and Christophe Beaufils cast their doubts on Papus’ claim to this initiation, but I am quite prepared to accept it. Apart from the fact of Papus’ basic rough and ready honesty, it has that ambience of unlikelihood that tends to go with coincidental facts that come up with from time to time in esoteric matters. I could match it with some even more unlikely! And it certainly produced results, for within three years l’Ordre Martiniste was founded.

What I also find convincing is the remarkable charge that it put into Papus himself, as shown by a trilogy of books he produced in 1895, 1899 and 1902,  called Illuminisme en France 1774-1803. They are detailed and scholarly works, with much first hand evidence from letters of the three characters who originated what became the Martinist movement – Martines de Pasqually, Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin and Jean-Baptiste Willermoz (who did much to develop a Masonic form of the system).  In these books one senses a sea change and greater depth and discipline in the writing of Papus. So it was not entirely the influence of Maître Philippe that was responsible for what some regarded as Papus’ religious reorientation in the latter part of his life. The experience of running an ambulance unit on the Western Front may well have had something to do with that.

Certainly from his detailed quotations from Pasqually’s esoteric instructions to his students  we realise something of Saint-Martin’s concern about complication. Nor does there seem to be much differentiation between magic and mysticism.  Most of the invocations are taken from standard prayers of the Roman Catholic church. The requirements are very detailed, to be performed in a rigorous and formal way within a complex system of magic circles and six-rayed stars, that can take at least two hours to perform, much of the time prostrate, and with particular regard to the positioning of a large number of candles, accompanied by the preparation of a complex mixture of incense. The occasions close to the Autumnal and Vernal Equinoxes are on days calculated from the rising or setting of the moons of March and September. And when it comes to formal group rituals a high standard is obviously expected, as can be judged from the catechisms of each degree, which in the lowest, of Apprentice, consist of 99 questions and answers, some of them quite detailed, that will need to have been committed to memory. There follow the degrees of Companion, Particular Master, Elect Master, Grand Master (also called Great Architect), Grand Elect of Zorobabel, (or Knights of the East).  The latter character, Zorobabel, for those unfamiliar with the Old Testament, was leader of the chosen people on their return from exile and the rebuilding the Temple.
In much of this we find ourselves involved with an Old Testament based symbolism that can have a secular (such as restoration of the monarchy amongst others) as well as a spiritual interpretation. There was continuing controversy during the 19th century, with Eliphas Levi as well as Papus each involved in turn, as to whether Masonry was an esoteric or a secular system. Indeed the latter seemed the majority view in France, with the words Grand Architect of the Universe being formally abandoned by a leading authority.  A pretty big baby being poured out with the bath water in the esoteric view!

The newly formed Ordre Martiniste seems to have got under way in 1887, when a few S.I. initials start to appear behind names and rumours of a lodge meeting and by 1891 a Supreme Council of a dozen members was in place, with the familiar names of Charles Barlet, Chamuel, Paul Sédir, Jules Lejay, Montière, Stanislas de Guaita, Paul Adam, Jaques Burget, Maurice Barrès and Josephin Péledan, the latter two soon resigning and replaced by Marc Haven and Victor-Émile Michelet; and of which Papus was elected President for life.

 A life that came to an end in 1916.

 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

SONS OF HERMES - 27


The Life and Words of Monsieur Philippe

In 1899 Alfred Haehl of Strasbourg read in l’Initiation  an article by Papus called Le Père des Pauvres (The Father of the Poor), a moving panegyric of M. Philippe yet without naming him. Feeling a compelling urge to get to know this apparently superhuman being, he went to see Papus in Paris, who received him cordially and promised to take him to Lyons to visit M. Philippe.

The meeting took place in M. Philippe’s laboratory at 6, rue du Boeuf, from which M. Philippe emerged, a middle aged man of quite ordinary appearance apart from a luxuriant moustache, who radiated a feeling of welcome, along with the surprising words, expressed as between old friends, “Ah, there you are! And about time!”

Papus had arranged lunch with four other guests at a restaurant in town at which a canapé of thrushes was served as a speciality, but which M. Philippe politely declined to eat, saying quietly that men were not meant to eat birds. On being challenged by a woman guest, that it did not seem to stop him from eating beef, he replied that if he ate it, it was because it was permitted. So no vegetarian, but with definite rules as to what was appropriate or not.

At two o’clock they went to his house at 35 rue Tête d’Or where he held a public meeting each day in a hall on the first floor. It was furnished with long wooden seats with room for about eighty people, the light filtered by pale yellow curtains at the large windows.

The place was full of people from all levels of society, including the sick and infirm. A respectful silence fell when M. Philippe entered, who closed the door so that they would not be disturbed by latecomers. He now addressed in turn all who were present, who told him their problems or those of friends or relations whom they represented.

He was heard to say to one old lady “Is your cat better?” who replied, “Yes, and I have come to thank you.” At which M. Philippe addressed all present, “Do you know what this lady did yesterday at ten o’clock? She prayed for her cat and now it is better.” The old lady nodded and everyone laughed. Nobody knew what she could have done at home the evening before but it seemed that M. Philippe did!

Continuing his consultations  he stopped before a man of a certain age and before he could open his mouth told him “Heaven grants what you wish.” Then turning to all, added, “Do you want to know how this gentleman obtained what he desired so quickly? It was because he made such a brave effort to correct his failings.” 

Going from one to another, he had a word to say for each. To questions about their suffering or difficulties he replied kindly with an imposing authority and encouraged the sick to offer their hands to him to be comforted or cured.

To one person he said: “You husband is going to be better, so give thanks to Heaven.” To another, “Your child is cured, but you need to pay. Not in money but by saying nothing bad about your neighbour for a day.”

Then stopping before a crippled man, “Will you all pray for this person and promise to say nothing bad about anyone for the next two hours?” All replied: “Yes!” and after a moment of recollection he told the invalid to walk round the room, who stood up and to the amazement of all walked round without help or crutches, with cries of joy and gratitude from many as the tears ran down their faces.

That evening Alfred Haehl decided not to accompany Papus back to Paris but resolved to make his home in Lyons.

Next day, at two o’clock, he hastened to witness more cures by the “Father of the Poor”, who invited him upstairs after the meeting as he dealt with his mail. This was by the surprising method of throwing the letters unopened into the fire place. But as if to prove that he already knew their contents, he suddenly quoted, word for word, a conversation Haehl had had three years before with a colleague in the precincts of a factory of which he was a director.

“How could you know what was said three years ago and 500 km away, before we had even met?” Haehl wanted to know.

M. Philippe replied quite calmly “Because I was there.” He did indeed seem to have the possibility of awareness over space and time when he chose to use it.

Many desired to conserve as many words as possible of M. Philippe which Alfred Haehl decided to collect and put into a book. The result was Vie et Paroles du Maitre Philippe published by Dervy-Livres of 6, rue de Savoie, Paris containing hundreds of classified entries  ranging from 1889 to 1905.

Although it is arguable that was not so much what M. Philippe said, as what he did, in his remarkable life, that was important. In the various remarks attributed to him he was at pains to point out that many applied only to particular cases, and indeed specifically warned that at any meeting “one may only hear what one needs to hear.” Thus quoted extracts from private conversations could be incomplete or distorted, including a few questionable general prophecies, such as a reversal of the poles of the Earth being likely to cause major climate changes, or the likelihood of a Chinese invasion of the West via the newly opened Trans-Siberian railway.

Thus there can be no claim that his fragmentary statements constitute “the teaching of M. Philippe” for he never expressed an elaborate intellectual doctrine. He often said that our knowledge consists only of images and our mentality a mirror, adding “Whoever could love his neighbour as himself, would know all.”

What one finds in his words time and again with luminous simplicity is the need to try to express  in daily life the great evangelical precepts of prayer, humility and faith. Not that he was a particularly dedicated church man, any more than most of his neighbours. What seemed to make him stand apart was the immense good will that he radiated, and the ability to put  certainty into hearts that was stronger than all reasoning.

 This can perhaps be summed up in one statement of his among many, with a warning to those who might become too adulatory – which included some of Papus’ fellow magicians:

“Some of you think that I am Jesus, or like him. Do not deceive yourselves. I am merely the Shepherd’s dog and the least among you. If someone asks why I keep saying that, it is because in fact I am very small, and because of that God answers my prayers. As for you  who are far too big  – that is why God may not hear you.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

DION FORTUNE - INITIATION AND THE STARS


INITIATION & THE STARS

DION FORTUNE

Issued as a FINAL reminder of the Dion Fortune seminar at Glastonbury on 24th September 2016.

For programme and booking details see Company of Avalon website.

The following text is taken  from  letters to students by Dion Fortune in 1942/3. Also published as part of ‘Principles of Hermetic Philosophy’ by Dion Fortune & Gareth Knight (Thoth Publications 1999).

Astrology was originally an occult or secret science, and so it will always remain in its profounder aspects until the dawning light of human progress reveals to all men what in the past was only understood by initiates; such understanding depending not only upon the communication of secrets but upon the power to see their significance when communicated. I have long stood out against secrecy concerning the data and philosophy of occultism, but have never advocated the broadcasting of the methods of its practical application of hygiene for a working knowledge of first aid and homely remedies are one thing, but operative surgery is another. The same analogy applies to occult science in its theory and practice.

It is exceedingly difficult in these days, when so much has been revealed, to know where to draw the line between what is advisable and what is not in indicating the practical application of the esoteric teaching. I have been very frank in the past, especially in my Mystical Qabalah, wherein I gave the real esoteric teaching in its fullness, believing that only those who were fit to do so would be able to avail themselves of it. This is perfectly true so far as unaided students are concerned; but this book has been made extensive use of in other schools, both in England and in America, not only without acknowledgement, but with the students sworn to secrecy. It has been reproduced verbatim on a duplicator and issued as a secret correspondence course in America at a hundred dollars, and in this country it has been used as the basis for an esoteric school with which I should not care to have my name associated. In consequence of these experiences I do not feel able to do more than indicate the practical possibilities of esoteric astrology, reserving the actual methods for more guarded communication to suitable persons  who can be relied upon not to abuse them. Those who have occult knowledge or spiritual intuition will no doubt be able to glean much from these pages, and to their gleanings that are more than welcome; but I would point out that psychic work requires a trained mind and ritual work requires as trained team.

The natural, or uninitiated man is represented by the symbol of the five-pointed star, point upwards, upon which he is conceived as extended. The five-pointed star is also the symbol of the elements. This indicates that the natural man is a creature of the elements. As the planets and the zodiacal signs are classified under the elements, we have in this glyph a complete symbol of esoteric  astrology provided the student knows the attribution of the rays, which he will do if he is an initiate, and which it is improbable he will do if he is not an initiate.

The symbol of the adept is the six-pointed star on which he is crucified, not extended. This is an important practical point in the handling of magnetic force. The six-pointed star is composed of two interlaced triangles, and the grade of the initiate is symbolised by the degree to which these triangles are superimposed, the upper triangle representing the individuality, and the lower one the personality. In the unillumined man, the triangles are represented as point to point, and the process of initiation in the Mysteries consists in preparing the personality to be a vehicle for the manifestation of the individuality. This is done by bringing the aim of the personal life into alignment with the aim of the higher self, and making the personality a miniature replica of the higher self. The personality is a projection into the planes of form of a small portion of the higher self for the purpose of evolutionary development through experience. The Divine Sparks, which are the nuclei of the spirits of men, do not issue simultaneously into manifestation from the Great Unmanifest, but are breathed forth in successive impulses of manifestation, so that some are older and some are younger; the elder, other things being equal, are the more evolved.

But things are not always equal, and during the long aeons of evolution some souls press ahead and some fall to the rear in the evolutionary process, and by the time the marching column of evolution has rounded the nadir, what might be termed the geological age of a soul does not always afford us much guidance as to its stage of development. The fact remains, however, that the Divine Sparks come into manifestation during different Ray Phases (see The Cosmic Doctrine) and are indelibly stamped with the type of that Ray, which will always remain the basic type of the individuality, though in the course of evolution they must learn the lessons and acquire the experience of all the Rays in turn in order to become fully evolved   in their many-sided development. The fact that there are twelve Rays indicates that they will correlate with the twelve Signs of the Zodiac, but it is not possible to discern the fundamental Ray type of the higher self until a high grade of initiation is reached, and the revelation is not made in any temple built with hands. It is possible, however, to discern the Ray type of the personality in a given incarnation, and this is indicated by the Sign through which the Sun is passing at his birth.

Initiation into the Lesser Mysteries is of the nature of mass production, in which souls go through the curriculum in the same way that a car goes through the works on the assembly belt. Personal attention is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage because Temple working is team working and initiates at this stage of their training have to master a system and acquire the habit of team-working, get their spiritual and  psychological corners rubbed off, and acquire an all round development; with this end in view, the square pegs have to take their turn in the round holes for a season. A specialised development is not to be undertaken too early because it will inevitably be a one-sided development. Consequently the mystic has to gain experience by working as an occultist, and the occultist, as a mystic; the pagan has to learn the significance of Esoteric Christianity, and the Christian gain experience of the Nature contacts.

When it comes to the Greater Mysteries, however, the position changes, and account has to be taken of the personal horoscope when initiating. The position of the Sun in the horoscope will indicate the line along which the spiritual development should take place, the natural line, and this must be taken in to account in planning the work of the Greater Mysteries. There is no such thing as mass production here; the Greater Mysteries are concerned with the cosmic forces, and every individual must approach them from his own standpoint. According to his astrological make-up, so will he react to the cosmic forces, and so will they react to him. It must not be thought by this that the workings of an adept are limited to his well-aspected factors; he must learn to work with all the cosmic factors in order to complete his training, but he will find it desirable to take into account the way in which the different factors are aspected in his horoscope if he is to work to the best advantage or avoid a rough passage through the badly aspected ones.

The Moon may be taken as representing the evolutionary past of the soul, and its relationship to one or another of the planets may give an indication of the nature of past initiations if the person concerned has been upon the Path in past lives. Each planet represents a psychological factor in the soul of man, and each factor was personalised by the ancients as a deity. “Once an initiate, always an initiate” – if a soul has once entered the Mysteries, it will come back to its Tradition in each successive life. The different Mystery Traditions represent different cults, and the cults represent different avatars of the same factor at different epochs. If the Moon in a horoscope is particularly well aspected to one of the planets, it may be assumed that the subject was an initiate of the particular cult personalised by the deity associated with that planet; we have thus a good starting-off place for the recovery of the memories of past incarnations, and the recovery of these memories is an important part of the work of the Greater Mysteries.

The Rising Sign indicates the destiny of the subject in a particular incarnation, but destiny should be given the Eastern significance of Dharma and not the Western significance of Fate. That is to say, it represents the lessons to be learnt in that incarnation. They can be learnt quickly and well by the application of intelligence, or they can be learnt slowly and with many mistakes, even as can arithmetic. In any case, they have to be finished before adepthood can be attained. It is for this reason that initiation nearly always precipitates all outstanding karma and is followed by a series of crises in the life of the neophyte.

The whole superficial reading of a horoscope, the reading that is commonly given by the uninitiated astrologer, concerns the karma that has to be worked off, and the dharma, or experience that has been gained, before the subject is ready for adepthood. Consequently, such a reading only applies to the once-born, the passive objects of evolutionary processes; as soon as a soul comes on to the Path it is no longer so much driftwood in the stream of life, but is developing powers of self-propulsion and self-direction, and the interpretation of the horoscope, therefore, must undergo profound modification. The influences therein indicated are no longer determining factors but the instruments of the operation. It is well known that there is no braver or more dangerous adversary than the timid person who for once has brought his courage to the sticking-point; so the ill-aspected factor in the map of the once born may be the point of energy in the horoscope of the twice born. But as the process of initiation is one that goes on through a series of grades, it is not possible to lay down any definite rule for adjusting our calculations, and experience is the only indicator. Cumulative experience, however, can be a pretty accurate indicator.

It is the common practice of those who seek guidance from the stars to tell the astrologer nothing save their birth date and sex, and to be greatly impressed when they are told correctly things they already knew only too well. The quarrelsome person, who learns that his Mars is aspected in such a manner as to account for his quarrelsomeness is greatly gratified and goes on his contentious way rejoicing. His quarrelsomeness is adequately accounted for, there is nothing to be done about it, and he is comforted in the endurance of the painful consequences by the knowledge that the stars are responsible. “The woman tempted me, and I did eat,” said Adam, as if the Temptation and the Fall were synonymous terms.

This fatalistic attitude towards astrology should be discouraged by every device of publicity and admonition. We are not drifting logs on the sea of life, at the mercy of wind and tide, but ships with rudder and sails, and the only condition that could preclude all progress on our part is a dead calm; an adverse wind serves a well-designed ship almost as well as a favourable one, for by the skilful interaction of rudder and sails, use can be made of it in a series of tacks. The power to make use of an unfavourable wind is the criterion of design in boat-building; the better the lines of a boat, the closer she can lie to the wind.

So it is with the souls of men. Anyone above the status of the village idiot has some power of spiritual locomotion even under the most adverse aspects. If astrology is used as anything save an instrument of diagnosis, it is the most pernicious of human inventions. Having learned the conditions under which we must needs operate, our immediate task is to deal with them, not to lie down under them.

An initiated astrologer works on a map in the same manner as a psychoanalyst works on a dream – he uses it as an indicator of conditions beyond the immediate range of consciousness. For the full value to be obtained from a delineation, astrologer and subject should study it together, and the astrologer, if he is also something of a psychologist, as he has need to be if he is to fulfil the function he both could and should fulfil, will show the querist how his life history illustrates his reactions to his natal horoscope and the passing configurations of the heavens. The querist brings to the study his knowledge of his own history, the astrologer casts maps for the outstanding dates, and together they study the reactions of the soul to the influences of the stars until the pattern of the life begins to appear.

A diagnosis can then be made in psychological terms, the apparently  random effects of chance and change being correlated with the underlying causes of subconscious motives and those in their turn explained in terms of astrological influences. Such an analysis, and subsequent correlation in terms of another science, are not a mere tying on of labels, but serve the same purpose as the Rosetta Stone on which the same record was engraved in Egyptian hieroglyphs, the hieratic writing, and Greek, thus enabling the riddle of Egyptian civilisation to be read; for Greek was a known language, and from the clues it supplied the hieroglyphs could be deciphered. Astrology and the psychology of the unconscious mind are equally interpretive if the same problem is stated in terms of each and then compared. Psychology shows what its significance may be in terms of the individual’s aims and tendencies, and astrology shows its significance in relation to the cosmic background of evolving life and God’s purpose for man. It is notorious that the power to heal, in fact, depending more than anything else on the personality of the psychotherapist and comparatively little on his system, save in so far as he is a thorough-going Freudian, in which case his power to minister to a mind diseased is small and his power to damage it still further considerable. So also is his power to earn money. A thorough-going Freudian is, fortunately, rare in this country.

It is not often that a sick soul possesses within itself the necessary energy for its own healing. In the days when I worked at a clinic for nervous disorders, it was very noticeable that the students benefitted enormously from a knowledge of psychology applied to their own problems, but the patients benefitted little. The students, being more or less normal and in good psychological health, were able to help themselves by making practical application of their knowledge; but the patients, being abnormal and sick souls, were at the mercy of the conditions that had wrecked them.

We need a technique which shall enable us to apply a counterbalance to the unbalanced elements in a horoscope and so bring them into equilibrium. To Saturn as gaoler must be opposed the energy of Mars as breaker of bonds or Jupiter as giver of good gifts. Having determined the nature of the problem wherein adjustments need to be made, the initiated astrologer “places it on the Tree”; observes to which Sephirah or Path it refers, and then determines what influences should be invoked in order to supply what is lacking or check what is over-active. This being correctly discerned, his knowledge as an initiate should then enable him to prescribe the appropriate rite, talisman and meditation to bring through the compensating force and redress the balance.

DION FORTUNE

Sunday, August 14, 2016

SONS OF HERMES - 26


Faith or magnetic healing?

“An ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory” was a favourite saying of Dion Fortune’s and bearing in mind Monsieur Philippe’s views on the subject, and he was a practitioner par excellence with no high views of animal magnetism as a universal medicine, I had a vivid and somewhat painful demonstration of what seemed to be animal magnetism being passed off as something higher in my youth. It came about by getting rather too close to a popular healer who, to judge from his literature, felt pretty sure that it was courtesy of the Holy Spirit that he operated. I am not too sure about that. But his movement carries successfully on, so I suppose cannot be all bad! {What follows  comes from ‘The Circuit of Force’ by Dion Fortune and myself (Thoth Publications 1998) – p.138}

Invited to a meeting of his, which took place in a packed church, I happened to be introduced to him just before the event. In what may well have been his usual practice, he grasped my hand strongly, and fixed me in the eye with a powerful gaze with the verbal affirmation “God bless you” or words to that effect. Such was the intensity of his gaze that I felt an instant tingling in my brow at the point that is usually regarded as the ajna psychic centre. This passed away however and I took my seat at the back of the church.

Before the healer began the laying on of hands to the sick he began to walk up and down the aisles of the church making sweeping movements of his arms and hands as if drawing in some form of power from the congregation; then he proceeded with his healing of individuals before the altar. As he did so, I began to feel myself getting weaker and feeling increasingly unwell, as well as intensely emotionally irritated, particularly at the repetition and tone of his repeated “Thank you, Father” which he got all the patients to say after he had laid hands on them. Eventually I was sufficiently distressed to leave early and having fortified myself with a hot drink at a nearby café, went on home.

The next morning however I woke to find I had a most uncomfortable point of irritation right between the eyebrows. What is more, the discomfort increased as the day wore on until it was very painful indeed at about midday, after which it decreased in intensity until the sun went down. The next day the same thing happened, the pain coming and going with the light. On the third day I sought medical advice and the doctor diagnosed it as sinusitis, dispensed an inhalant but implied that the only thing to do, short of an operation, was to grin and bear it. However, the problem wore off over a matter of days and I have fortunately never been bothered with it since.

It was a salutary demonstration to me, however, of the reality of some forms of the unseen and also a warning that some alternative healers may have little idea of how and what they may be doing in the course of their empirical healing practice. I imagine no harm came to most people to whom this particular healer projected his magnetic handshake but to a young initiate sensitised by meditation and magical ritual methods it plainly broke a temporary hole in the etheric vehicle, so that I was being literally vampirised in the church, with physiological repercussions following on.

Anecdotal evidence may not cut much ice in scientific circles but is none the less convincing to those who bear the brunt of the actual experience. It certainly convinced me that although doctors may write off much alternative healing as an application of the placebo effect, it was more than a placebo that hit me between the eyes on that particular night.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

SONS OF HERMES - 25


 Somnambulism and Animal Magnetism

Given the sharp differences of opinion with regard to animal magnetism that were somewhat fudged  in the founding of the School of Magnetism at Lyons, it seems worthwhile to make a brief survey of its development over the previous hundred years. What we have to say is a digest of our survey of the subject in The Circuit of Force (Thoth Publications 1998) which in turn had its source in Théories et procédés du Magnétisme  by Hector Durville, teacher of the subject in the 1890’s.

We tread on shifting sand on any scientifically based evaluation of the Unseen. Despite all attempts at an ‘objective’ approach, the assumptions and the evidence, the questions asked and the answers  given, vary from generation to generation. Great excitement arose toward the end of the 18th century when Benjamin Franklin channelled electricity from the atmosphere by the highly dangerous method of flying kites in a thunderstorm, and when Walsh found that electric shocks were given off by certain forms of deepwater fish. Then Galvani made the sensational discovery that dead frogs’ legs could be made to twitch by the discharge of electricity. In a spectacular experiment he connected a limb from one of his specimens to a lightning conductor on the top of his house at the height of a storm, to show the dead limb violently twitch each time there was a lightning flash. It seemed that electricity might be the source of life, and it was but a short step of the imagination to Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein where a monster was brought to life from various disparate body parts.

More controlled experimentation became possible when Volta invented the electrical battery, and this led in turn to the discovery that magnetism was part of the same phenomenon. When an electric current passes through a wire it produces a magnetic field at right angles to the direction of flow. If the wire is then wound into a coil the effect is greatly amplified, and will magnetise a soft iron core placed inside it. Thus was the electro-magnet discovered and by whirling coils in a magnetic field Faraday invented the generator and electric motor.

What we now take for granted as simple experiments in school physics were, two hundred years ago, fascinating researches upon the very borders of life, and they attracted a considerable following, amateur and professional. These interests also embraced other subjects perceived to be on the frontiers of spirit and matter, such as mesmerism, animal magnetism, ‘odic force’ and communication with discarnate spirits and associated phenomena.

At much the same time an Austrian doctor, Antoine Mesmer (1734-1815), attracted attention by effecting cures by what he called ‘animal magnetism’. He established a successful practice in Vienna but faced with hostility from the church and fellow medical practitioners, moved to Paris where he was patronised by high society and began to publish works on the history and practice of ‘animal magnetism’.

Mesmer did not concern himself much with details of medical physiology but kept to general principles. He compared the human body to a magnet, which was also, in its way, capable of acting upon other bodies at a distance. To maintain the body in a state of health it was necessary for its internal magnetism to be in a state of equilibrium. Disease was a condition found when these forces were unbalanced.  He considered the left and right sides of the body to be of opposite polarity, like the arms of a horseshoe magnet, and the hands of the magnetic healer were looked upon as conductors of magnetism of the appropriate polarity. Human and animals bodies were the most powerful source of magnetism, followed by growing vegetation, whilst iron and glass were the most effective conductors.

His methods were very simple, mainly concerned with ‘magnetically’ touching the patient, either with the hand or with a wand of glass or metal. Sometimes he treated patients individually, sometimes assisted by a ‘chain’ of healthy people linked in a circle about them.

He treated patients in groups, assisted by various reservoirs of magnetism, of which the ‘baquet’ is best known, a large container of magnetised water with which he could treat fifty or sixty people at a time. The baquet was a very large basin containing a number of bottles of magnetised water which were submerged under more water, or else buried in some conductor such as powdered glass, iron filings or sand. Thin iron rods protruded from the baquet, which were used to touch the affected parts of patients. A long cord attached to one of the rods could enable those about the baquet to wrap it around the affected part of the anatomy. They could also form a ‘chain’ about the baquet by linking thumbs with each of their neighbours, (the thumbs being considered important magnetic conductors), although the power could be increased if they sat in a close chain with thighs, knees and feet touching so as to form a continuous circle for the flow of magnetic fluid.

An early disciple of Mesmer, who simplified his theories and improved some of his practices, was the Marquis de Puységur (1751-1825), a distinguished soldier in his youth, a colonel at the age of 27, rising to brigadier general, who resigned his commission during the French revolution and returned home, where he gave refuge to many who were fleeing from persecution.

He was well read in the physical science of his day, understood the physical manifestations of electricity, and regarded animal magnetism not so much a circulation of invisible fluid but more a state of vibration. His experiments convinced him that the head and solar plexus were the parts of the human body most susceptible to magnetic emanation, and particularly the eyes. An important contribution of his was the discovery, in 1784,  of ‘magnetic somnambulism’ with its unusual powers.

He did not describe many detailed techniques of magnetic passes because he considered thought and will to be of greater importance. He also realised that magnetic practitioners varied in their ability, although this might be dependent upon the training and instruction they had received. Like Mesmer, he used auxiliary equipment, including the baquet, but preferred the use of trees, which he said already contained their own power, that could also be augmented by human magnetism. His favourite was a great elm tree in the grounds of his mansion with cords fixed to the branches, hanging down to the ground, which the sick could wind about themselves.

Whilst the most dramatic effects that Mesmer attained were through nervous crises, which he believed got rid of morbid elements within the organism, de Puységur did not think such crises indispensable. He considered the true curative state to be, on the contrary, a calm and tranquil one, that he called ‘the magnetic state’ or ‘lucid somnambulism’. This was completely different from ordinary sleep, and included response to suggestion, even telepathic suggestion. He could thus inspire happier thoughts by means of silent mental commands, or induce a patient to make dancing movements by silently running a song through his head. It was not long before anasthaesia was discovered and a remarkable facility whereby sick somnambulists could describe the means for their cure.

Another important figure was Deleuze (1753-1835) librarian of the Museum of Natural History. He did not live far from de Puységur’s country establishment, where he found several people, one of whom was sick, formed in a chain. He joined the chain, soon saw the patient fall asleep, and did so himself.

On returning home he tried magnetising himself, obtained satisfactory results, and henceforth devoted himself to the study and practice of the subject. He was the most cautious of early writers on magnetism as he concentrates on fact and observation rather than speculative theories, and wrote up either what he had seen himself or received from those he considered trustworthy.

 He was a disciple of Puységur insofar that he believed neither in human poles nor the influence of the stars. He thought Mesmer’s theories obscure, too complicated and not in agreement with several physical principles; and although he admitted that a universal fluid might be the cause of major phenomena he could not accept that anyone had the power to direct it over great distances. He differed from de Puységur by insisting on the paramount importance of the will, which he considered could obtain results without the need for belief. Both attached great importance to the somnambulistic state, or what would elsewhere be called trance.

He particularly advised that magnetism be practised only between members of the same sex on account of other sympathies that might be aroused by the process, and should it be necessary that a man magnetise a woman he prescribed detailed rules of conduct. He also recognised that different objects could be magnetised, acting as storage conductors and producing magnetic effects upon those with whom they were in rapport. These included linen or cotton handkerchiefs, leaves from trees, and plates of glass, gold or steel, which placed at a seat of discomfort could ameliorate it.

 One of the most successful 19th century successors to these three pioneers was Jules-Denis, Baron du Potet de Sennevoy (1796-1881) more succinctly known as du Potet, whose career as a magnetiser began in spectacular fashion in 1820 at the Hotel-Dieu hospital as we have already described.

Another great 19th century figure was Charles Lafontaine (1803-1892) who travelled all over France giving public demonstrations and curing the sick. In 1841 he came to England where he met Braid, the discoverer of hypnotism, before returning to France in 1848 and thence on to Italy where he was granted a sympathetic audience by Pope Pius XI who helped and encouraged him.

He contributed little to theory but was convinced of the emission of a magnetic fluid closely akin to physical magnetism. He eschewed supernatural theories and believed the will to be an important part of the ability to magnetise - although not in the sense of imposing one’s will upon the patient.

He attached great importance to the somnambulistic state and describes it as a mode of consciousness that is not sleeping nor waking nor dreaming. The somnambule enjoys the full use of faculties, often greater intelligence, more delicate perceptions and sometimes faculties not ordinarily possessed, such as seeing at a distance without help of the eyes, prevision of events, knowledge of hidden things and an instinct for remedies.

Throughout his travels giving public demonstrations in France, England, Italy and Switzerland he was a great populariser of magnetism. His theories were admirably simple, free from all metaphysics and  resting only on physical laws. His demonstration that the will of the magnetiser was not imposed on the patient gave the lie to fears of the abuse of power such as imagined in the dark figure of Svengali in George du Maurier’s novel Trilby in which a beautiful girl becomes the somnambulistically gifted slave and automaton of the villainous magnetiser.

On a lighter note the novel is also an excellent, if sometimes sentimentalised, description of the general atmosphere of young idealistic and artistically gifted bohemian and student folk – of whom George du Maurier was one – and also Papus and his friends – in Paris of the 1890’s.