Franz Anton Mesmer and Dave

June 23, 2006

Joseph Mesmer practicing animal magnetism

Franz Mesmer practices animal magnetism on a a patient while friends look on.

[Here is the next installment in a continuing series called the spirit highway, about people and concepts found along the way.]

Somewhere along the way, I read that it is a good thing to channel one’s own sexual energy into one’s higher spiritual and/or psychic power. Being terrified of coming out of the closet as an undergraduate I embraced this lofty goal. It also helped with my music studies: avoiding sex does wonders for a whole variety of endeavors.

I discovered a biography on scientist Franz Anton Mesmer who posited a concept of “animal magnetism.” He also theorized that the body had other kinds of fluids in it that would get blocked, and only a person with animal magnetism could help unblock the flow. It had something to do with aura massage. Everyone supposedly has an aura: some are healthier than others and can be used to heal, or mesmerize those with sickly auras.

A ha! Spiritual truth! or is it spiritual science? I must find out whether I have animal magnetism (growls). I need a willing volunteer. [Ding dong; the doorbell rings, and in comes Dave.]

“Dave! old buddy old pal, I have a proposal for you.” I was fairly certain Dave was not gay, but knew he would humor me for my experiment. “I need you to lie down on my bed, arms at your side and close your eyes.” He obliged without question. My animal magnetism was throbbing, er, welling.

“I’m going to try to hypnotize you without touching you” I told him confidently. I got onto the bed, and straddled him. “Uh uh, keep your eyes closed.” Then I got down to work. There was electrical energy shooting out of my finger tips, and with that energy, I began to massage his aura from the top of his head (the crown chakra) to his navel (the navel chakra) without (drat!) touching him. I did this for maybe 15 minutes and then stopped. He cracked one of his eyes and said “Is that it?” I asked: “are you hypnotized?” He said, “no, I don’t think so but that was very relaxing.” I unmounted, thanked him for his help, shared a cigarette and he left.

It turns out Mesmer was very likely a fraud. Louis XVI commissioned a team of experts (including Benjamin Franklin) to investigate Mesmer’s claims — they were found to be false.

I figured this out myself. I had animal magnetism alright: I was just barking up the wrong tree.

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