Thursday, February 16, 2017

IX - Magnetism Used for Painless Leg Amputation in 1843

Dr. John Elliotson put his life and reputation on the line many time in support of the discipline commonly called Mesmerism or Magnetism.  He told that, “I should be untrue to myself if I should shrink for a moment from saying that I am a believer, and that I became so against all my preconceived opinions.”

John Elliotson, M.B., M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.S., was professor of the principles and practice of medicine at University College London, and senior physician to University College Hospital for many years early in the 19th century. He had a large and lucrative practice, wrote medical textbooks based on his highly-regarded knowledge, and was adored by his students at the associated medical school.

Life changed for him in many ways when Elliotson was introduced over time to animal magnetism by the Scottish chemist Richard Chenevix and later by the Frenchman Baron du Potet. By the late 1830s, Elliotson had become a devoted convert to mesmerism aka magnetism and used it to a greater and greater degree with patients. He also became a showman and promoter of magnetism. This eventually caused great distress among his colleagues and eventual loss of his position at University College.

In 1943 while relieved of medical school teaching duties, Elliotson started his own medical journal centered largely on magnetism and phrenology to add to his numerous other publications. He called it The Zoist, and wrote voluminously on his favorite method of healing.

The following episode – which occurred before the appearance of ether and chloroform anesthesia – is taken from his book entitled Numerous Cases of Surgical Operations Without Pain in the Mesmeric State.

Details of this particular case are followed by excerpts of records and commentary by Elliotson on responses of physicians and surgeons to the extraordinary operation – which themselves appear quite extraordinary.

A Surgeon and His Knife in the 1840s.

Last November 22 the Royal Medical and Chi­rurgical Society of London assembled to hear read an “Account of a Case of Successful Amputation of the Thigh, During the Mesmeric State, Without the Knowledge of the Patient,” in the district hospital of Wellow, Nottinghamshire. The mesmerizer was W. Topham, Esq., barrister, of the Middle Temple: the operator, W. Squire Ward, Esq., surgeon, of Wellow Hall. The patient was a laborer, six feet high and forty-two years of age, named James Wombell. He had suffered for nearly five years from neglected disease of the left knee, the interior of the joint of which was found after the amputation deeply and extensively ulcerated. “The slightest motion of the joint was attended by the most excruciating agony; his nights were almost wholly sleepless in consequence of the painful startings of the limb; his pulse weak and rapid; his face constantly marked with a hectic flush; his tongue foul; appetite gone.”

In truth, when Mr. Topham first saw him, on September 9, “He was sitting upright upon a bed in the hospital—the only position which he could bear—he complained of great pain from his knee and of much excitability and loss of strength from his constant restlessness and deprivation of sleep, for he had not, during the three previous weeks, slept more than two hours in seventy.”
On this day he was first mesmerized by Mr. Topham, and for thirty-five minutes. “The only effect produced was a closing of the eyelids, with that quivering appearance that so commonly results from the process, and though awake and speaking, he could not raise them until after a lapse of a minute and a half.”

On the tenth he was sent to sleep in twenty minutes. On the eleventh, “He was suffering great agony, and distressed even to tears.’’ Mr. Topham “commenced by making passes longitudinally over the diseased knee; in five minutes he was comparatively easy, and on proceeding further to mesmerize him, at the expiration of ten minutes more he was sleeping like an infant. Not only his arms were then violently pinched but also the diseased leg itself, without his exhibiting any sensation: yet his limb was so sensitive to pain in his natural state, he could not bear even the lightest covering to rest upon it. That night he slept seven hours without interruption.”

“On September 22, the patient was first apprised of the necessity of an early amputation. The communication seemed almost unexpected, and affected him considerably, and destroyed his natural sleep that night.”

The next day he was still “fretting, restless, and in consequent pain.” Yet he was put to sleep mesmerically in four and a half minutes.

Although in this mesmeric coma the sensibility to mechanical causes of pain was so far lessened that violent pinching and sudden pricking, of even the diseased limb, produced no evidence of sensation, and he lost all pain in his knee while this was in perfect rest, the exquisitely sensitive interior of the diseased joint was not proof against the torture of motion, which, however slight, agonized and awoke him.

At the time of the operation, October 1, it was found impossible, without such torture as aroused him from his mesmeric coma, to remove him from his bed to the table. Indeed, his coma was not so deep but that it was dissipated by attempting to converse with him, and in general it ceased spontaneously in half an hour, his waking being “slow and gradual and without the least start.”
Instead of being placed upon a table, he was therefore lifted with his low bed upon a temporary platform, and “he was soon put into the mesmeric sleep, although he was considerably excited by hearing the cries of another patient upon whom Mr. Ward had been performing a tedious and painful operation.”

He was then “drawn by means of the bedclothes beneath him toward the end of the bed.” Even this movement excited the pain and awoke him. But the pain soon ceased, and his limb being “raised about two inches from the mattress” by a surgeon present (Mr. Wood), who “rested the heel upon his shoulder and supported the joint with his hand,” he was mesmerized into coma again in four minutes.

Mr. Topham continued to mesmerize him for fifteen minutes and then informed Mr. Ward that the operation might be begun, and “brought two fingers of each hand gently in contact with the patient’s closed eyelids; and there kept them, still further to deepen the sleep.” This is a circumstance of no little importance to remember. Of all parts of the body, the eyes are the most ready receivers and transmitters of mesmerism.

The operation was now commenced. “Mr. Ward, after one earnest look at the man,” in the words of Mr. Topham, “slowly plunged his knife into the center of the outside of the thigh, directly to the bone, and then made a clear incision round the bone, to the opposite point on the inside of the thigh. The stillness at this moment was something awful; the calm respiration of the sleeping man alone was heard, for all other seemed suspended. In making the second incision, the position of the leg was found more inconvenient than it appeared to be,” and Mr. Ward, to use his own words, “having made the anterior flap…was under the necessity of completing the posterior one in three stages. First, by dividing a portion of the flap on the inside; then a similar portion on the outside. This proceeding, which was of course far more tedious and painful than the ordinary one, was necessary to enable me to pass the knife through under the bone and thus complete the whole, as I could not sufficiently depress the handle to do so, without the two lateral cuts.” Yet, notwithstanding all this, the patient’s “sleep continued as profound as ever. The placid look of his countenance never changed for an instant; his whole frame rested, uncontrolled, in perfect stillness and repose; not a muscle was seen to twitch.To the end of the operation, including the sawing of the bone, securing the arteries, and applying the bandages, occupying a period of upward of twenty minutes, he lay like a statue.”

Soon after the second incision, “a low moaning” was heard at intervals until the conclusion of the operation, that is, after the leg was off and while the arteries were tying and the bandages putting on, giving “to all present the impression of a disturbed dream.”

That it arose from troubled dreaming I have no doubt, for in the mesmeric coma it is common for patients, after the lapse of a certain time, to dream and talk, and especially of anything which has just before strongly impressed them. Had it arisen from the operation, it would have occurred during the most painful periods—would have occurred, as it did not, exactly and only at moments of the proceeding most likely to be painful, whereas it occurred as much at moments when nothing was doing to give pain. The man could not have moaned from pain in spite of himself at moments when there was nothing to make him moan in spite of himself. It would have been increased, and indeed changed to a sudden and louder noise, whenever the end of the sciatic nerve was roughly treated.

For, still further to test his insensibility, Mr. Ward “twice touched” and, as he informs me, pretty roughly and with the points of the forceps, so that he in fact pricked “the divided end of the sciatic nerve without any increase of the low moaning.” Mr. Ward further informs me that he “once put his thumb roughly upon the nerve in taking the posterior flap in his hand to sponge, and also used the sponge very roughly.”

The mesmeric state of the patient usually lasted half an hour, and after this lapse of time, he “gradually and calmly,” as usual, awoke.

“At first,” said the surgeon, Mr. Wood, “he uttered no exclamation, and for some moments seemed lost and bewildered,”—a characteristic and striking phenomenon so familiar to mesmerists when any visible change in external circumstances has occurred while the patient was asleep. But, after looking around, he exclaimed, “I bless the Lord to find it’s all over.”

“He was then removed to another room, and following immediately,” Mr. Topham “asked him in the presence of all assembled to describe all he felt or knew after he was mesmerized. His reply was, ‘I never knew anything more and never felt any pain at all; I once felt as if I heard a kind of crunching.’” Mr. Topham asked if that were painful. He replied, “No pain at all.”


The following are quotes from Dr. Elliotson’s book [I have added italics to especially striking notes]:

Then Mr. Coulson [Surgeon] believed that the man had disciplined himself to bear pain without expressing his feelings.

Dr. Moore, a physician-accoucheur, living in Saville Row, immediately followed, and made no objections, but protested, in a loud voice and rapid manner, that really such a statement ought to have been accompanied by affidavits, and asked if affidavits before the Lord Mayor or some other magistrate had been made.

The next in eagerness to speak was Mr. Blake, a young surgeon. He urged that this man shammed, because persons often bear operations without expressing pain: and mentioned that he had seen a tooth extracted from a girl who was not, but pretended to be, in the mesmeric state, in University College Hospital, without any sign of pain, although she was strictly observed and even her pulse felt. Now he knew well formerly, for he was present as well as myself, that a friend of his, who counted her pulse during the extraction, declared to us all, truly or not I cannot of course say, that the pulse rose eight beats during the extraction.

Another young surgeon, named Alcock, followed in the same line of argument; not thinking that the absence of pain ever admitted of evidence, and discrediting the reality of the case because he had often seen persons in an ordinary state bear severe operations without manifesting the slightest pain.

Dr. James Johnson, the reviewer, and another doctor whose name I hear was Truman, followed in the same strain with the preceding speakers. Dr. Johnson added that he would not have believed the facts mentioned in the paper had he witnessed them himself.

Dr. Marshall Hall, some years ago, when my Demonstrations went on at University College Hospital, called mesmerism “trumpery” that “polluted the temple of science;” and now, being, like all the other opponent speakers, totally ignorant of the subject, and glorying in his ignorance, very consistently considered the present case to be one of imposition [imposture], because the poor man's sound leg did not start or contract while the diseased leg was amputated! The case, he said, “proved too much, or rather flatly contradicted itself” because the sound leg did not contract when the diseased one was cut. He asserted that,” in cases of insensibility in brutes, from intercourse of any portion with the brain being stopped by division  of the spinal chord, or from absolute decapitation, or from stunning by a blow upon the head, such an injury of an insensible leg as pricking it with any thing, lacerating, or cutting,—such an injury for instance as plunging a sharp instrument into the muscles,” (I sat next to Dr. M. Hall and those were his very words),” invariably causes both legs to contract; and, unless man differs from all other animals, the same must take place in the human being; and, as this man did not move his other leg, did not enact the reflex motions, he was no physiologist.”

Dr. Copland rose to oppose the motion on two grounds,—the character of the paper, and the publication of it by the authors without the permission of the society. He would allow no trace to remain that such a paper had been read. The president stopped his arguments on the first point, as the paper had been discussed at a previous meeting and thanks been voted for it. The deadly hostility of Dr. Copland to mesmerism is well known. But to-night he was particularly unwise. He protested that the paper ought not to have been read, because the author was not a medical man!—As though knowledge was ever to be despised from any source. Why one of the authors was a surgeon, though neither was a fellow of the society. I have heard papers read at the meetings of the College of Physicians (of which he rejoices to be a fellow) by persons not medical, once by the very reverend Dean of Westminster; and the society has of course no law as to who may be authors of papers: and several members of the society are not medical men. On this point he was set right by more than one member. He then contended that, if the account of the man experiencing no agony during the operation were true, the fact was unworthy of their consideration, because pain is a wise provision of nature, and patients ought to suffer pain while their surgeon is operating; they are all the better for it, and recover better! Will the world believe that such folly was gravely uttered? This will be remembered as a doctor's speech in 1842, when the doctor himself shall be forgotten.

Next post will be on a surgeon who did hundreds of painless operations without anesthesia in the same era.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

VIII - Anton Mesmer: The Great Physician and Healing Magician

Anton Mesmer was the greatest physician healer of the past 500 years even as he stands in a long line appearing over many centuries. Even with predecessors, the Doctor told that his discoveries and abilities came to him largely through his experiences with nature. Mesmer was a trained physician and held two if not three doctorates, but his most valuable knowledge came through his unusual studies and experiments. 

Starting with ideas gathered from Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes, Edmond Halley and Richard Mead, and experiments with the plain old iron magnet, Dr. Mesmer learned that he himself had more magnetic power than any piece of metal. In subsequent years, Mesmer shared his learnings and beliefs that all beings are magnetic to one degree or another. Herr Doctor Mesmer was exceptionally magnetic and powerful, charismatic and clairvoyant as well.

Thence, he became the greatest publicist and advertiser of magnetism that the world has ever known. Yet, his gifts and efforts were not universally recognized – in great part because they threatened the medical profession and orthodox authority.

Anton Mesmer’s most unusual work may have been done early on with a young woman in her 18th year who had lost her vision over night, but not as the result of illness, at the age of three. The evidence is abundant that the Doctor brought about the return of her sight – at least for a time. Her father, a Councillor of the Empress in Vienna, published some of his observations of Mesmer’s work during his daughter’s treatment in the writing which follows.

The following snippet was taken from a book [Pioneers of Spiritual Reformation] by Mary Ann Howitt Watts which includes a brief biography of Justinus Kerner, a German physician who wrote his own biography of Anton Mesmer. Kerner found this version of Herr Paradis’s published letter in Mesmer’s personal effects some years after the Doctor’s death.


This young girl, who had become a famous and highly accomplished pianoforte player, and who was protégée of the Empress Maria-Theresa, from her fourth year, according to the examination and belief of the most distinguished physicians in Vienna, had lost her eyesight from paralysis of the optic nerve.
Having experienced the treatment and mistreatment of numerous physicians, she was placed under the care of Mesmer, and recovered unquestionably—at least, for a short time—her eyesight through the use of his magnetic system.

“After a brief but powerful magnetic treatment from Dr. Mesmer, Fraulein Paradis began to distinguish the outline of bodies and figures brought near to her. Her returning sense of vision was, however, so extremely sensitive, that she could only recognise these objects in a room darkened by window shutters and curtains. If a lighted candle were placed before her eyes, although they were bound with a cloth doubled five times, she would fall to the ground like one struck by lightning.

“The first human figure which she recognised was that of Dr. Mesmer. She observed with much attention his person, and the various waving movements of his body which he made before her eyes, as a test of her powers of sight. She appeared somewhat alarmed, and said — ‘That is terrible to behold! Is that the form of a  human being?’ 

“At her request, a large dog, which was very tame, and a favourite of hers, was brought before her. She observed him with great attention. ‘This dog,’ she said, ‘pleases me better than man—at least, his appearance is more endurable to me.’ 

“Especially was the nose on the  human countenance repugnant to her. She could not restrain her laughter on seeing this feature. She thus expressed herself regarding noses: ‘They seem to threaten me as though they would bore my eyes out.’ After seeing a greater number of  human countenances, she became more reconciled to the nose. It cost her much trouble to distinguish colours and their names, and to calculate relative distances, her restored powers of vision being as inexperienced as that of a newly-born child. 

“She was mistaken in the contrast existing between different colours, but she confused the names of the colours, and this especially when she was not led to draw a contrast between the colours with which she was already familiar. Looking at black, she observed that that hue was the picture of her former state of blindness. The colour of black always excited in her a tendency towards melancholy—a condition, be it observed, to which she appeared predisposed during the course of her cure. She would frequently break forth into sudden weeping. Indeed, she was upon one occasion seized with so violent a fit of despair, that she flung herself upon a sofa, wrung her hands, tore off the bands from her eyes, drove every one from her presence, and, in fact, midst cries and sobs, comported herself in such a  manner that any great actress might have taken her as a model of dire melancholy and mental anguish.

“Within a few moments all was over, and she had regained her usual cheerful, pleasant frame of mind; only, however, within a short space again to fall back into her melancholy. A great concourse of relations, friends, and people of fashion, having presented themselves, owing to the report of the recovery of her sight which had been spread abroad, she was much annoyed. She once expressed herself to me as follows, regarding this annoyance: ‘How comes it that I find myself much less happy now, than formerly? Everything that I see causes me an unpleasant agitation. Ah! I was much quieter in my blindness.’

“I consoled her with the representation that her present agitation was only occasioned by her sensitiveness to the new spheres into which she had entered. The new condition into which she must feel transported by the recovery of her eyesight, would necessarily occasion an agitation entirely novel to her. She would undoubtedly grow as calm and contented  as other people, when she once became accustomed to her gift of sight. She replied that this was well, because, were she to experience continued agitation at the sight of fresh objects, she would rather have returned into the state of her blindness. 

“She repeatedly fainted when relatives or intimate friends were presented to her. The same thing occurred upon beholding the pictures of her two uncles, officers in the Imperial army, and towards whom she had always entertained a warm affection. She stretched her hand over the picture, in order to feel the features, but drew it back with surprise, her hand having glided over the smooth glass of the miniature. She imagined that the painted features would have stood forth like the features of a living person. The high head-dresses worn by the ladies here, especially those à la Matignon, are not at all to her taste, although formerly, during her blindness, she wore with pleasure her hair dressed in the same style.

“According to her fancy, the new-fashioned style of headdress is out of proportion with the size of the face; in which opinion she is not far wrong. She asked a lady  who was present to let her see her train, and how it appeared when she walked. But neither did she admire this fashion more than the head-dress. She says that this drapery sweeping behind is heavy. Thus strange are her remarks when she first observes objects. 

“Her newly-awakened sensations place her in the first stage of natural-existence; she judges without prejudice, and names objects from the natural impression which they make upon her. She reads the characters of persons from their countenances with remarkable accuracy. The reflections in a mirror caused her great astonishment. She could not at all comprehend how the surface of a looking-glass should catch up objects and represent them to the eye. She was led into a splendid room where there was a very large mirror. She could not satisfy herself with looking into it at herself. She made the most extraordinary bends and attitudes before it. She laughed much, observing that the reflection of herself stepped towards her as she approached the mirror, and withdrew as she withdrew. 

“All objects which she beholds at a certain distance, appear small to her, and they increase in size to her perceptions as they approach her. When with open eyes she dips a rusk in chocolate and lifts it towards her mouth, it appears to her so greatly increased in size, that she imagines that she cannot put it into her mouth.

“She was shown one evening, through the window, the star-bespangled heaven. She besought permission to go out into the garden, there freely to behold the sky. She was accompanied and led to the terrace of the garden. Here the spectators beheld a touching sight. She raised her hands in deep silence towards the glorious, gleaming heavens, probably uttering from the depths of her heart an ardent, silent thanksgiving. After a few moments, she exclaimed, ‘Oh, how earnestly do those stars gaze down upon me! Nothing in nature can be more glorious than this! If nowhere else, an ardent impulse of worship towards the Highest were felt by the human soul, here, where I stand, surely it must be felt, beneath this shining canopy!’

“She was then shown the reservoir, which she called ‘a large soup-plate.’ The trellis walls appeared to walk along beside her, and upon her return to the house the building appeared to approach her. Its illuminated windows especially pleased her. 

“On the following day, in order to satisfy her, she was again taken into the garden. She re-examined every object attentively, but not with so much pleasure as on the previous evening. She called the Danube, which flowed past the garden, a long, broad white stripe. She pointed out the places where she saw the river begin and end. She thought that with outstretched hands she could touch the trees growing in the so-called Prater-meadow, about a thousand steps on the other side of the river. It being a bright day she could not long endure looking around in the garden. She herself requested that her eyes might again be bound, as the sensation of light was too strong for her and occasioned dizziness. 

“When she now has her eyes bandaged, she does not trust herself to walk a single step without guidance, although formerly, in her blindness, she was used to move about confidently, without the assistance of any one in her well-known chamber. This new disturbance of her senses occasions her now, to use reflection when playing the piano, whereas formerly she was accustomed to execute the most difficult pieces with the greatest accuracy, conversing at the same time with those  who stood around her. With open eyes it is now difficult for her to play any piece. If her eyes are open she regards her fingers as they slip about over the piano, and misses, however, the greater number of the keys.”

The next post will be on magnetism used in a surgical case in the early 19th century, reported by Dr. John Elliotson in one of his books.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

VII - Father Gassner: The Healing Priest

Note: The following is second in a series of brief bios and vignettes intended to present the work of a number of healers from over the ages. You will see several were physicians, but others arose from different walks of life. Healing is more than a profession, much broader than medicine. It is a way of living in which all of us can participate to which I will eventually point. Such that to a greater or lesser degree Every Body Can Heal. The Force Be With You.

Johann Joseph Gassner (1727-1779) was a Catholic priest who caused much happiness among the ill and injured who came to him and much consternation to the authorities of the time. Gassner made relatively simple applications – exorcisms to his way of thinking – to bring about relief and healing of the needy. Thousands attended him and many were helped.

Gassner’s works, however, created worries among physicians, clergy, and government. The mass of evidence was in favor of the authenticity and effectiveness of the work that he did. But, such work prompted fears and worries over time among those in power. Eventually, Gassner was ordered to cease and desist from his healing works by the Emperor and the Pope.

The following article is drawn from Volume II of The History of Magic by the German physician and professor of medicine at Bonn, Dr. Joseph Ennemoser (1787-1854).

Gassner, a clergyman from the country of Bludenz, in Vorarlberg, healed many diseases through exorcism. In the year 1758 he was the clergyman of Klösterle, where, by his exorcisms, he became so celebrated, that he drew a vast number of people to him. The flocking of the sick from Switzerland, the Tyrol, and Swabia, is said to have been so great, that the number of invalids was frequently more than a thousand, and they were, many of them, obliged to live under tents. The Austrian government gave its assistance, and Gassner now went under the patronage of the Bishop to Regensburg, where he continued to work wonders, till, finally, Mesmer, on being asked by the Elector of Bavaria, declared that Gassner’s cures and crises, which he so rapidly, and wholly to the astonishment of the spectators, produced, consisted in nothing more than in magnetic-spiritual excitement, of which he gave convincing proofs in the presence of the Elector. Eschenmayer [Adam Karl August, physician and philosopher], in Keiser’s Archives, treats at length of Gassner’s method of cure.

Gassner’s mode of proceeding was as follows: —“He wore a scarlet cloak, and on his neck a silver chain. He usually had in his room a window on his left hand, and a crucifix on his right. With his face turned towards the patient, he touched the ailing part, and commanded that the disease should manifest itself; which was generally the case. He made this both cease and depart by a simple command.  By calling on the name of Jesus, and through the faith of the patient, he drove out the devil and the disease. But every one that desired to be healed must believe, and through faith any clergyman may cure devilish diseases, spasms, fainting, madness, etc., or free the possessed. Gassner availed himself sometimes of magnetic manipulations: he touched the affected part, covered it with his hand, and rubbed therewith vigorously both head and neck. Gassner spoke chiefly Latin in his operations, and the devil is said often to have understood him perfectly. 

Physical susceptibility, with willing faith and positive physical activity, through the command of the Lord was thus the magical cure with him. There were, in the year seventy, a multitude of writings both for and against Gassner’s operations. These appeared principally in Augsburg, and amongst them two are particularly worthy of notice; the first, under the title of “Impartial Thoughts, or something for the Physicians on the mode of cure, by Herr Gassner in Elwangen, published by Dr. Schisel, and printed in Sulzbach, 1775.” The other, “The Observations of an Impartial Physician on Herr Lavater’s Grounds of Enquiry into the Gassner Cures, with an appendix on Convulsions, 1775;” probably by the same author.

Dr. Schisel relates that with a highly respectable company, he himself travelled to Elwangen, and there saw himself the wonderful cures the fame of which had been spread far and wide by so many accounts both in newspapers and separate printed articles. “Some,” he says, “describe him as a holy and prophetic man; others accuse him of being a fantastic fellow, a charlatan, and impostor. Some extol him as a great mathematician; others denounce him as a dealer in the black art; some attribute his cures to the magnet, or to electrical power; others to sympathy and the power of imagination; and, on the other hand, a respectable party, overcome by the might of faith, attributed the whole to the omnipotent force of the name of Jesus.”

Schisel writes further, that he gave himself all possible trouble to notice everything which might in the most distant manner affect the proceedings of the celebrated Herr Gassner. Schisel, indeed, seems to have been the man, from his quiet power of observation, his impartial judgment, and thorough medical education, which qualifications are all evident in his book, to give a true account of the cures of Gassner, while he notices all the circumstances, objections, and opinions, which had been brought forward or which presented themselves there. He relates that Elwangen must have grown rich through the numbers of people who thronged thither, though Gassner took nothing for his trouble, and that the Elector on that account tolerated the long-continued concourse of people; that in March 1773 many hundred patients arrived daily; that the apothecary gained more in one day than he otherwise would in a quarter of a year from the oil, eye-water, a universal powder made of Blessed Thistle, (Carduus benedictus) and the incenses, etc., which Gassner ordered. The printers laboured, with all their workmen, day and night at their presses, to furnish sufficient pamphlets, prayers, and pictures, for the eager horde of admirers. The goldsmiths and braziers were unwearied in preparing all kinds of Agnus Dei, crosses, hearts, and rings; even the beggars had their harvest, and as for bakers and hotelkeepers, it is easy to understand what they must have gained.

He then describes the room of Herr Gassner, his costume, and his proceeding with the sick: — “On a table stood a crucifix, and at the table sat Herr Gassner on a seat, with his right side turned towards the crucifix, and his face towards the patient, and towards the spectators also. On his shoulders hung a blue red-flowered cloak; the rest of his costume was clean, simple, and modest. A fragment of the cross of the Redeemer hung on his breast from a silver chain; a half-silken sash girded his loins. He was forty-eight years of age, of a very lively countenance, cheerful in conversation, serious in command, patient in teaching, amiable towards every one, zealous for the honour of God, compassionate towards the oppressed, joyful with those of strong faith, acute in research, prophetic in symptoms and quiet indications; an excellent theologian, a fine philosopher, an admirable physiognomist, and I wished that he might possess as good an acquaintance with medical physiology as he showed himself to have a discrimination with surgical cases. He is in no degree a politician; he is an enemy of sadness; forgiving to his enemies, and perfectly regardless of the flatteries of men. For twenty years he carried on this heroic conflict against the powers of hell, thirteen of these in quietness, but seven publicly, and of these last he had now passed six months victoriously in Elwangen.

“Thus armed he undertook in this room all his public proceedings, which he continued daily, from early morning till late at night; nay, often till one or two o'clock in the morning. The more physicians there are around him, the bolder he was in causing the different diseases to show themselves; nay, he called upon the unknown physicians themselves. Scarcely do those who are seeking help kneel before him, when he enquires respecting their native country and their complaints; then his instruction begins in a concise manner, which relates to the steadfastness of faith, and the omnipotent power of the sacred name of Jesus. Then he seizes both hands of the kneeling one, and commands with a loud and proud voice the alleged disease to appear. He now seizes the affected part,—that is, in the gout, the foot in paralysis, the disabled limb and joint; in headache, the head and neck; in those troubled with flatulence, he lays his hand and cloak on the stomach; in the narrow-chested, on the heart; in hemorrhoidal complaints, on the back-bone in the rheumatic and epileptic he not only lays hold on each arm, but alternately places both hands, and the hands and cloak together, over the whole head.

“In many cases the disease appears immediately on being commanded, but in many he is obliged to repeat the command often, and occasionally ten times, before the attack shows itself; in some, but the fewest in number, the command and laying on of hands have no effect.

“The first class he terms the good and strong-faithed; the second those of hesitating and feeble faith; the last either naturally diseased, or pretendedly so, and unbelieving. All these attacks retreat by degrees, each according to its kind, either very quickly on his command, but sometimes not till the tenth or twentieth time, from limb to limb. In some the attacks appeared repressed but not extinguished; in others the commencement of a wearing sickness, with fever and spitting of blood; in others intumescence even to suffocation and with violent pains; others gout and convulsions.

“When he has now convinced the spectator, and thinks that he has sufficiently strengthened the faith and confidence of the sufferer, the patient must expel the attack himself by the simple thought of ‘Depart from me in the name of Jesus Christ!’ And in this consists the whole method of cure and confirmation which Gassner employs in all kinds of sickness which we call unnatural. Through these he calls forth all the passions. Now anger is apparent, now patience, now joy, now sorrow, now hate, now love, now confusion, now reason,—each carried to the highest pitch. Now this one is blind, now he sees, and again is deprived of sight, etc. 

“All take their leave of him, filled with help and consolation, so soon as he has given them his blessing, which he thus administers:— “He lays the cloak on the head of the patient; grasps the forehead and neck with both hands firmly; speaks silently a very earnest prayer; signs the brow, mouth, and breast of the convalescent with the sign of the cross; and extends to the Catholics the fragment of the cross to kiss; orders, according to the form of the sickness, the proper medicines at the apothecary's, the oil, water, powder, and herbs, which are consecrated by him every day; exhorts every one to steadfastness in faith, and permits no one, except those who are affected with defects born with them, to depart without clean hands and countenances full of pleasure.

“He excludes no single sickness, no kind of fever, not even any epidemic disorder.  May not the science of medicine, therefore, partly fear that it will soon be superseded by this moral theory?

“We may now inquire what diseases Gassner calls natural, and what unnatural? For instance, a broken bone, a maimed limb, or a rupture, are complaints with natural causes; but all such as are produced either by want of, or by a superfluity of the natural conditions of the body, are curable,—as the cataract, which he cures to the astonishment of every one. “We may give another demonstration. Two lame persons appear. One has the tendo Achillis or a nerve injured. He is healed, indeed, but the foot remains crooked. This is a natural lameness. The pious crooked man has no hope of assistance from Herr Gassner. The second has a similar shortness of the foot, but the cause of which was gout, wasting of the limb, or paralysis. This is unnatural lameness; and will be cured by Herr Gassner as quickly as the name of it is here written.”

“Here you have now the portrait of this new wonder physician of our great Herr Gassner,”—sic oculos, sic ille manus, sic ora ferebat [so the eyes, so that of the hand and face]. “How does it please you? Have you anything to object to the original, or to the picture?”

The author now puts to the physicians and to the academicians the question whether Gassner actually cured these diseases as related, and whether in his mode of cure there be a hidden magnetic, sympathetic, or magic power? How does he heal, and what circumstances attend the cures? This alone concerns the doctors. “The clergy may settle with him witch-trials, and whether the devil in so many ways can injure men. Whether the accusers of Herr Gassner, ‘ex lege diffamari [from law defamed],’ deserve punishment, or whether Herr Gassner ought to be considered guilty as a deceiver, is a question for the lawyers and criminal judges.” 

He then proceeds to answer these questions, with the admission “that he,” like many of his learned brethren, is somewhat incredulous, and often tolerably stiff-necked. “For,” says he, “it would not be creditable if I should take a thing for granted without cause, enquiry, or conviction.” 

To the first question, whether all those diseases were healed, he answers,— “Yes, I have seen it, with many persons of different religions, and particularly with two most experienced and upright physicians, one a Catholic and one a Protestant. With them I attended nearly all, both public and private opportunities, as eye-witness, and with the most perfect conviction. How! what will you say? A physician? Fie! for shame! Yes, I, a physician, and one, indeed, who has written a whole treatise on gout, sought from Herr Gassner help against the hell-torture. 

“Well, do not imagine that on that account I have ceased for a moment to be a physician; for I confess it now candidly, that I rather intended to test Herr Gassner than hoped to derive any cure from him. But a man that sees will not deny that it is day when the sun burns his neck; and a courageous physician will believe that he is ill when he feels pain. All those present, and the aforesaid physicians, fully testify that which we saw, and I myself, to my astonishment, experienced. 

“He who will not believe that Herr Gassner cures all kinds of diseases,—he who rejects the evidence of such impartial and overwhelming witnesses, I must either send as one dangerously ill to the water-cure, or, if that does not succeed, to the mad-house; or as a non-natural sufferer to the curative powers of Herr Gassner. But he requires believing patients!”

He now proceeds, in the tone of the opposing doctors, that, indeed, every physician has, according to his own statement, cured every kind of disease: some by electricity, and some by other means, by sympathy and imagination. Many also have enquired whether Herr Gassner’s crucifix, or the chain on his neck, or his half-silken sash, be not electric? Whether a magnet be not concealed in his cloak, or his hands be stroked with one, or be even anointed with a sympathic ointment! 

After he has circumstantially shown that none of these accusations will hold good, he comes to the conclusion — “that Herr Gassner performed all his cures merely by the glorified name of Jesus Christ, and the laying on of his hands and his cloak. But he gives the people oil, eye-water, and the like: he counsels them to use such things after the cure has taken place. He has, however, in order to make the blind see, no eye-water, nor oil to put in motion a paralysed limb; much less, powder and fumigations to drive out the devil.  He merely touches the joints of the lame; he rubs the ears and glands of the deaf; he touches with his fingers the eyelids of the blind; he draws the pains forth under his hands by a commanding strong voice. He commands them with the same power, with an earnest and authoritative voice, to come out and depart, and it takes place. Where, then, is the sympathy, where the electricity, where the magnet, and all philosophical acuteness?”

“Yes; but why then does he not cure all by the same means?”

“Ask your own consciences; enquire into the mode of life and the mode of thinking of your uncured friends, whether they come within the conditions required by Herr Gassner, and possess the three kinds of faith which we mentioned in the opening of this account of Gassner, and you may yourselves answer the question.

“Are you silent? You will then first open your thoughts to me, when you have experienced what has been the permanence of the Gassner mode of cure.

“Herr Gassner demands as a security against a relapse into the sickness, like St. Peter, a constant and perpetual conflict. Wherefore? Because the attacks of our invisible enemy are never ceasing.  He prescribes to every one how he can maintain himself in health without his aid; and I assure you on honour sincerely, that I have known many, very many, who have cured themselves of violent illness without going to or having seen Herr Gassner, but merely by following his book by my advice, and who still daily derive benefit from it. And I have never known one person who has relapsed into the old non-natural sickness who has not first deviated from the prescribed rules of Herr Gassner, or wholly abandoned them? Who, then, was to blame?”

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Monday, January 2, 2017

VI - Valentine Greatrakes: The Irish Stroker

Note: My intention with this series of brief bios and vignettes is to present a number of healers from over the ages. You will see several were physicians, but others arose from different walks of life. Healing is more than a profession, and is much broader than medicine. It is a way of living in which all of us can participate. To a greater or lesser degree because Every Body Can Heal. 

Mr. Greatrakes makes for a good example and starter because he was a common man who was drawn to aid his fellows, especially for those with the king's evil [modernly thought to be tubercular infection of the glands around the neck]. 

(Valentine Greatrakes was an Irishman born in 1628 who attended free-school until the age of 13. He was a Lieutenant in Cromwell’s army in the 1650s. He left his service to become Justice of the Peace in his home county and eventually live as a landed farmer in Waterford County. The following is extracted from an article in The Alexandra Magazine, & Englishwoman’s Journal, January 1865.)

Greatrakes said that some four years after marrying, “I had an impulse or strange persuasion in my own mind (of which I am notable to give any rational account to another) that there was bestowed on me the gift of curing the king's-evil, which, for the extraordinariness thereof, I thought fit to conceal for some time, but at length communicated to my wife, for whether in publick or private, sleeping or waking, still I had the same impulse.”

Mrs. Greatrakes, who seems to have been a sensible matter-of-fact sort of person, did not encourage her husband in what she conceived to be "a strange imagination;" but soon an incident occurred that afforded her an opportunity of testing his powers of healing, for she, "being a person ready to afford her charity to her neighbours according to her small skill in chirurgery [surgery],” was in the habit of visiting and being visited by the sick poor of the neighbourhood, and on one occasion there happened to be a youth grievously afflicted with the above-named dreadful malady, which showed itself in his eye, cheek, and throat. 

This case Mr. Greatrakes literally took into his own hands, for with them he simply stroked the parts affected, and with wonderful success, for on the first day there was a great amendment; and desiring the parent to bring him to him again he many times repeated the stroking process, using no other means beyond each time offering up a prayer to God "for Jesus' sake" to heal the boy, and within a month he discharged him perfectly cured. 

At first the stroker confined himself entirely to the curing of this one complaint, but after a while other cases followed. His fame spread throughout the country and numbers flocked to him afflicted with ague (which was then very prevalent), fits, the "falling sickness," pains, aches, lameness, deafness, &c., "on whom (he says) I put my hands little thinking that the pains would skip from place to place till they did run out. And several, nay, most of all, diseases were cured, and those that came exceeding lame and had so continued for years (by their own testimony and that of others) went home well, rejoicing and praising God; at which the Lord knows my soul was wrapt up with wonder and astonishment, and my heart filled with thanksgiving to the Almighty and most merciful God." 

It is astonishing how quickly the stroker's renown spread itself through the land, causing people to come to him in such multitudes that the villages of the Blackwater could not contain them; so he was obliged to go to Youghal, where he devoted three days in the week to receiving all who came. This went on for some time, until such numbers came from England that the inhabitants of Youghal were struck with a panic lest they might bring infection into the town; so the magistrates requested him to leave the place, which he immediately did, returning to Affane, where he still devoted his time to the good of his fellow-creatures, laying his hands on all that came, whatever the diseases were, and (as he honestly says) some were cured, and some were not. His stables, barns, malt-house, &c., were filled with sick people, afflicted with almost every disease; yet, during all that time, neither he nor any of his family were ever infected by them. 

Bye and bye "his reverend and worthy friend," the Dean of Lismore, receiving orders from the Bishop and clergy of the diocese, who had heard of his cures done in an extraordinary manner, "cited him to appear before the court at Lismore," to which citation (he says) I gave obedience, and asked them what they had to lay to my charge. The answer of the court was, that I "effected cures in an extraordinary way," and they desired to know whether the report was true or not. To which I answered, that "that doubt might be easily answered by their coming one day to my house, where they might have ocular testimony of the truth in that particular, or they might satisfy them selves by several in the court, who, through God's blessing, were restored, by my laying my hands on them, from several diseases and infirmities which they formerly laboured under."

Here the judge asked Mr. Greatrake to produce his license for practising. Upon which he says, "My answer was that I knew no reason I had to take a license, since I took no reward from anyone, and that I knew no law of the nation which prohibited any person from doing what good he could to his neighbours." Notwithstanding, because Mr. Greatrakes had no license, and refused to take any (not receiving any profit from what he did), he was prohibited from laying hands on any for the future, which order he observed for two days; but, passing through the town of Capoqueen (Cappoquin), he saw a number of poor people, who had come to him out of England, and the sight of so much misery so moved his compassionate nature that he could not resist the desire to cure them, so he again fell to his former practice, laying hands on all that came to him. 

"Whereupon the Bishop of the diocese again sent for him, commanding him to lay his hands no more  on anyone in his diocese. But this remonstrance was as unavailing as the first, for Mr. Greatrakes told his lordship that he conceived he transgressed no law in doing the works of charity, and that he felt obliged thereby not to deny any man his help whilst God enabled him to do good. So he parted with his lordship and returned to his own house, where he persevered in his former practice, both at home, in Dublin, and elsewhere, until at length he was, at the request of the Eight Honourable the Earl of Orrery, persuaded to go over to England, to attend the Right Honourable the Viscountess Conway, who for many years had laboured under a most violent headache (which many of the ablest physicians in England and France had un successfully attempted to cure)." 

And (so he says) "I accordingly set out, resolving to land by King-Road, nigh Bristol, and so go to the habitation of my Lord Conway, concealed; but the wind falling short we were forced into Minehead, where I was so well known by many patients who had been with me in Ireland, that I could not conceal myself." 

Consequently he was thronged by sick people all the way until he arrived at Bagley, in Warwickshire, where he was received by Lord Conway, "with extraordinary favour and respect," but as far as Lady Conway was concerned his visit was futile, he "could not abate her pain in the least," and finding it incurable he resolved to return home immediately; but Lord Conway prevailed on him to stay with him at Bagley for three weeks or a month, during which time many hundreds came to him daily out of different counties, and many were cured of their distempers, and many were not. From Bagley, at the entreaty of the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Worcester, he went to that city, when, in their presence, he performed many wonderful cures. His stay at Worcester was cut short by an order from Lord Arlington, by command of his Majesty, to come to Whitehall. He does not seem to have been at liberty to speak of his performances at the Palace, merely mentioning that he quickly obeyed the order, and would after wards have returned to Lord Conway at Bagley, but he was prevailed on by Justice Godfrey and others to remain in London. There he took a house in Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, to which he repaired five days in the week, so that the people might not be disappointed in "hunting him up and down." 

It was at that place that he became acquainted with his great friend and patron, the Honourable Robert Boyle (chemist and physicist best remembered for Boyle’s law), who would not credit a mere report, but being a man of well-known talent and learning himself, he wished to be an eye-witness to what was done; and we find that Mr. Boyle together with many other honourable, learned, and worthy persons, were continually present when Mr. Greatrakes performed his wonderful cures, and in referring to the mass of testimonies of those who received benefit from the stroker's touch, we find many (nay, most of them) signed not only by the individual who had been cured, but by the Honourable R. Boyle. Albertus Otto Faber, MD. M.E.S.; Ja. Fairclough, M.D.; Sir William Smith, Bart.; Sir Abraham Cullen, Bart.; Sir J. Godolphin, Bart.; Ben. Whichcot, D.D.; E. Cudworth, D.D.; Geo. Eust, D.D., and Dean of Connor; Sir Nathan Hobart, Knight, a Master in Chancery, and many others, who witnessed the effect of Mr. Greatrakes' healing power, and willingly gave testimony of it wherever they went.

For more of the story, go to

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Monday, November 28, 2016

V - The Future is Now

An earlier article in this series posed the wonderment of What Might Have Been in the political world. It soon moved to wondering about possibilities in the world of health and healing.

The past is gone, but we may yet learn from it for the betterment of all. When we do not, as often is the case, we pay the price. As Santayana said, “Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We all know that story in surveying personal moments and passages in our own lives. We can find larger examples in the political, military, and international arenas. 

It should be evident, though often unfortunately not, that we are only beginning to make real discoveries in science and medicine. This despite the fact that some researchers and writers believe all the great discoveries have been made. Sometimes, it seems that that might be true. What major contributions have our universities brought forth in recent history? 

Often we are re-learning things long known in centuries and millennia past. Columbus re-discovered the continent of America. Galileo's pronouncements on the Earth circling the Sun only repeated the teachings of ancient Greeks, Persians, and Indians. Einstein, as bright as he was, parroted what great philosophers of old dictated on the energies which stand within all of creation.

What may be even more important for health and well-being are the simple, long-held facts that human beings are ultimately energy in motion. How little have the learnings of the century past in physics penetrated into modern medicine.

Human illnesses appear more often than not when that energy-in-motion is impeded. Then, your physician tries to treat your discomfort with his pills and your surgeon which his scalpel. But, he or she is really acting like a carpenter trying to manipulate a tack with a sledge hammer. 

It can be done, but often ends up in a mess. Thus explaining in part the reasons for so many side-effects, unnecessary procedures, and waste in medicine. When something goes wrong, the patient pays for the next try physically and financially. 

Dis-ease and diseases persists despite proclaimed technological advances. Their names have changed. So have the way they are approached and attacked (treated). People live longer, but often not so well considering all the pills they take and operations to which they are subjected. 

The human race is yet laden with so many inexplicable illnesses. You name a disease and its cause is likely unknown and its treatment less than effective.

Such brings us back to olden times when real healers walked the planet. Unfortunately, they were frequently and basely misunderstood. Then mistreated, and often worse.

I write of the new/old approaches to healing in the likes of Jesus and Apollonius, Paracelsus and Mesmer. All four healed far and wide without labeling of diseases or producing protocols for healing. No diagnoses, no radical therapy. No pills and no knives. And, no ill effects. They simply offered the gift of health much like we are used to offer gifts of goods or money to others who are in need.

Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy - a much maligned methodology, was on the right trail when he said, “There are no diseases, only sick people.”

Anton Mesmer put it a bit differently, “There is only one disease and only one cure.”

Those two quotes, especially the latter, might boggle your mind for a while as they have many scholars and skeptics over the ages. Why then do we need physicians, and so many specialties?

In coming posts, we will explore the works of some of the great healers of the ages - most especially Anton Mesmer. The works that were and might have changed the world to a large degree. 

Yet, they may still do so when re-discovered and shared generously.

Avante. Towards renewal, rejuvenation, and recompense.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

IV - Mesmer and Me: Recompense

We left off with the story about being told of “doing my real work in the back room” in San Francisco in the 19th century. 

Although the veil was lifted about that work in 1977, I had very little idea about the hints I received. To me as probably most people who scratch the surface of such things, mesmerism and hypnotism were and continue to be synonymous.

Over the years, I got clues that hypnosis sometimes can be more harmful than helpful to those who come under its influence. Medical training including psychiatry courses never mentioned either mesmerism or hypnotism.

So, it has taken almost forty years for Dr. Mesmer and his animal magnetism to come back to me. Better late in the game than not at all. Researching my most recent book Phenomenon, on the life of Helena Blavatsky, I found repeated reference to Mesmer and his work - indications that our forebears missed an opportunity to recognize not only healing possibilities but also to gain deeper understandings of the how our world really works. 

Modern medicine still doesn’t know how aspirin works, what makes the heart to beat, what happens when we go to sleep at night, etc. My esoteric studies with Helena Blavatsky led to those with Anton Mesmer which have more immediate implications and life-changing potentials for those who are open and ready to receive them. I have been fascinated, amazed, astonished, enlightened and practically thrilled to uncover this long forgotten treasure.

Let me give a very brief overview of what I have (re)discovered while I leave the details and stories and phenomena for later:
• Hypnosis and mesmerism (or animal magnetism) come from the same roots but are very different in application as well as in results. Hypnotism uses words and suggestion; magnetism when properly done needs neither of the two.
• Dr. Mesmer himself was the re-discoverer of works done over the ages by great numbers of healers who had profound effects on their fellows in previous epochs. 
• Mesmer’s real claim to fame is that he brought the idea and opportunity, potential and practice of magnetic healing before the eyes of thousands and thousands of the public in the 18th century.
• He made his own discovery, studied, researched and put forth his animal magnetism to his patients and colleagues, scientists and physicians most directly in Austria and France and points in between.
• Anton Mesmer had an extraordinarily keen mind, observing spirit, radiant hand, and clairvoyant eye which guided his studies and work. 
• Many, many were healed and even more were relieved of their ills simply by the touch - although it was a different kind of touch than you might imagine.
• He added inventions of magnetic apparatus which allowed for aiding numbers of sick and injured at the same time. 
• Mesmer’s teachings were spread widely in Europe before the French Revolution, but lost traction for various reasons including obstruction by medical politics and the great turmoil of the period. 
• Mesmer’s magnetism was resurrected in the 19th century especially in England, but never took firm hold to gain a foothold in any medical institutions. 
• Scholars and physicians of the old schools did not understand Mesmer’s simple but subtle work and feared that the dominant, but weak medical paradigm might be swept away by the healing hands of Nature. They used all kinds of tactics including ridicule and slander to prevent this opportunity from spreading Mesmer’s doctrine and implementation of this simple method of healing.

Many times in his several writings, Anton Mesmer spoke that his major desire was for his discovery to touch humanity. His greatest reward would be to know that he had done something which would benefit the whole of humankind.

This writer believes that Mesmer’s recompense is long overdue, that the 21st-century may be able to understand what he was trying to share, and that the gift of healing can be shared much more widely in the coming days.

Let the reader beware that such a gift may not be happily or even grudgingly accepted by the powers that be. Especially as the medical machine has created a vast business and bureaucratic system which portrays that it alone has the knowledge and ability to deal with human illness and injury.

Still at the same time, the medical system always falls back on the healing power of Nature - vis medicatrix nature - to support its pills and operations. The healing power of nature really needs very little of medical and surgical intervention. Particularly since such often gets in the way of Nature’s own efforts.

Let the public and the patient recognize that healing comes from within and that the Nature within them is connected with that in all living beings. The abundance of health in another can relatively easily bring restoration to you in many cases. You can do the same for another in need of healing.

Anton Mesmer brought to public light the gift of Nature for use in the hands of human beings. This is the simple, yet profound message that I apparently studied almost two hundred years ago. [Do understand, I had a different body and name, and lived in a distant land and spoke another tongue.]

But in the interim, I forgot all about Mesmer and Nature and the Gift. [The Angel of Forgetfulness does that to us each time we return into bodies at birth.] And it has taken forty years since I received the first hints in the message of William David about the work to be done. Ah, better late than not at all.

So, I have begun the work in earnest after studying far and wide in the traditional and alternative medical fields and in the arena of life. Now in recent years, I have dived into the “mountains” of material on Mesmer and animal magnetism and comparable disciplines. I have read and studied and read some more. It would be impossible for one person in one lifetime to research all that has been written on the subject. In the decade of 1778-1787 alone, the French National Library collected 14 files of 1000 pages each on the subject. 

But, I have been working hard on the subject and have much to share. Join me in learning about the Healing Gift we all possess and can quickly learn to contribute towards the healing of others. As we do so, we will help Mesmer receive his recompense as we go about the work of Sharing the Health.

The next post will be about the Future of Healing.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

III - Mesmer and Me

I write this note with a little trepidation while I ask the reader to be open-minded. The phenomenal healings which will be presented in later posts will be challenging to the modern viewer even as they were to many over the ages. So too, may be the following scenario. Take it as a possibility if not a fact. I still wonder about these experiences myself.

But, I also believe Shakespeare got it quite correctly when he said, “There are more things in Heaven and in Earth than are found in your philosophy, Horatio.” [For whatever it may be worth to the reader, I am of the firm conviction as many others that Shakespeare was the pen and theater name for Sir Francis Bacon. The evidence is rather mountainous in support of the claim.]

My fellow Horatios, read my personal story about healing and history. Consider the possibilities!

The setting for a key moment in my life is San Francisco, California, in the spring of 1984. I had been practicing medicine for nearly seven years when I decided to follow a woman friend from Arizona to California. She had introduced me to Steven, a holistic physician, who was open to me joining his practice. At the same time I was planning to associate with him, I was imagining doing house calls to expand beyond the mundane aspects of medicine.

When I applied to the California Board of Medical Examiners for a license, they wrote back saying, “If you have been out of medical school for more than five years, you will have to submit to an oral examination.”

“Oh, shit!” was the brief dribble that came out of my mouth on reading those words. I had never failed a written exam in my life, but struggled on a number of occasions with performance exams. And, I never had to sit or stand for any such during my medical school days. That practice was common in olden times, but not in the present age as far as I am aware.

Nonetheless, I went ahead with the process even while I spent the interlude of a few weeks working on the manuscript of my first - unpublished - book. I thought the examiners were looking to weed out others than myself and I didn’t crack a book. Testing was supposed to be on Emergency Room issues. I had little such experience in many years, but did not pay much heed to the warning. 

The day of the exam I set out early to drive 100 miles to San Francisco. My car had a flat tire on the way. I arrived to join the other applicants wearing sweater while they were all dressed in suits and ties. The signs were inauspicious. 

The process was short but not sweet. Two sets of two examiners decided I should try again three months later. I was bummed, but proceeded with the plan for the rest of the day.

I had an airplane ticket to return to Arizona to co-lead a workshop on the Chakras which are somewhat distant from modern medical interest. When I got back to Phoenix and shared the news, friends patted me on the back and said, “No problem. Just bone up. You can get past this to be a regular doctor in California.”

Aye, there was the rub. I never was a regular doctor anywhere including California.

While biding time before going to the airport to fulfill that engagement, I took myself down to the beach at the Presidio of San Francisco where I had spent a year in training at Letterman General Hospital in 67-68 before going to Vietnam. While I moped along the sand, I was reminded of a moment spent with an extraordinary man in Houston, Texas, in the in-between time. 

While finishing medical school there in 1977, I had found Mr. William David at the Esoteric Philosophy Center. All during medical training I had been studying and dabbling and investigating beyond the confines of regular doctoring. I took one course in Sound, Vibration and Color with Mr. David. But, I got most from two private sessions as he drew forth information for me from the Akashic Records. [Look it up if you haven’t heard of them.]

I can see his wonderful beaming, bespectacled, balding round face right now. David had a warm, gentle, engaging manner. But, he loved to laugh and make jolly. On my second consult with only days before graduation, he leaned back, closed his eyes and took some deep breaths. He was wide awake but not fully present as he seemed to search above, within and around himself for some thing.

William David
I found this photo on the Net

Eventually, he asked me for questions. But mostly, he just tuned into who I was and where I was going. I had told him little more than that I was going to a medical internship in the Army at Fort Benning.  

Mr. David first made some off-the-cuff comments about Army bases and opportunities. I remember him distinctly saying about my beliefs with regard to upcoming internship, “You can do it. But, don’t talk about it.” Well, I didn’t fully follow his suggestions and was put on probation within the first months of my training at Martin Army Hospital. 

David continued by touching on a lifetime he said I experienced as surgeon during war. Eventually, he went on to tell me that [in the 19th century], “You were trained as a physician in France. But, you studied after Mesmer and learned his methods. At some point, you traveled to America and settled in San Francisco. You had some real disappointments there. The medical officials would not accept your credentials from France. So, you set up some kind of apothecary shop and did your real healing work quietly in the back room. Do you realize, you are repeating some of that now?”

Well, I realized but little of what spoke. Because I got in trouble right out of the chute once I started my internship. I did get through it. I learned to keep my mouth shut and be more circumspect by the end of the year. But, one year postgraduate medical training was enough. I went on to finish my Army obligation as a Flight Surgeon for three years at Fort Riley Kansas.

For years, I carried this knowledge or awareness or possibility that I had been a hundred years past a physician from France, who moved to San Francisco and had to do his real work behind closed doors. I have come to believe that I am not unusual in having to repeat things from previous times, and even lifetimes. 

Anton Mesmer (age 72)
portrait by Charpentier

But, there were really two parts to the story - at least two parts - that Mr. David told me. He mentioned Mesmer. Well, who was Mesmer? Wasn’t he that man who started the process to create hypnosis?

Yes and No. In any case, I missed a big clue way back in 1977. The name of Mesmer would appear here and there from time to time. Mesmerize is a relatively common word which finds its way into many vocabularies and conversations. I must have used it over the years, but I was practically oblivious of Dr. Mesmer and what it really means to mesmerize until …

The next post will provide The Rest of the Story, or at least as far as it has unfolded in the last few years and months. It will be called Recompense.

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