Studies in Occultism by H. P. Blavatsky
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

Hypnotism, and Its Relations to Other Modes of Fascination

We are asked by "H.C." and other Fellows, to answer the several queries hereafter propounded. We do so, but with a reservation: our replies must be made from the standpoint of Occultism alone, no consideration being given to such hypotheses of modern (another name for "materialistic") Science, as may clash with esoteric teachings.

Q. What is Hypnotism: how does it differ from Animal Magnetism (or Mesmerism) ?

ANS. Hypnotism is the new scientific name for the old ignorant "superstition" variously called "fascination" and "enchantment." It is an antiquated lie transformed into a modern truth. The fact is there, but the scientific explanation of it is still wanting. By some it is believed that Hypnotism is the result of an irritation artificially produced on the periphery of the nerves; that this irritation reacting upon, passes into the cells of the brain-substance, causing by exhaustion a condition which is but another mode of sleep (hypnosis, or hupnos); by others that it is simply a self-induced stupor, produced chiefly by imagination, etc., etc. It differs from animal magnetism where the hypnotic condition is produced by the Braid method, which is a purely mechanical one, i.e., the fixing of the eyes on some bright spot, a metal or a crystal. It becomes "animal magnetism" (or mesmerism), when it is achieved by "mesmeric" passes on the patient, and for these reasons. When the first method is used, no electro-psychic, or even electro-physical currents are at work, but simply the mechanical, molecular vibrations of the metal or crystal gazed at by the subject. It is the eye — the most occult organ of all, on the superficies of our body — which, by serving as a medium between that bit of metal or crystal and the brain, attunes the molecular vibrations of the nervous centers of the latter into unison (i.e., equality in the number of their respective oscillations) with the vibrations of the bright object held. And, it is this unison which produces the hypnotic state. But in the second case, the right name for hypnotism would certainly be "animal magnetism" or that so much derided term "mesmerism." For, in the hypnotization by preliminary passes, it is the human will — whether conscious or otherwise — of the operator himself, that acts upon the nervous system of the patient. And it is again through the vibrations — only atomic, not molecular — produced by that act of energy called WILL in the ether of space (therefore, on quite a different plane) that the super-hypnotic state (i.e., "suggestion," etc.) is induced. For those which we call "will-vibrations" and their aura, are absolutely distinct from the vibrations produced by the simply mechanical molecular motion, the two acting on two separate degrees of the cosmo-terrestrial planes. Here, of course, a clear realization of that which is meant by will in Occult Sciences, is necessary.

Q. In both (hypnotism and animal magnetism) there is an act of will in the operator, a transit of something from him to his patient, an effect upon the patient. What is the "something" transmitted in both cases?

ANS. That which is transmitted has no name in European languages, and if we simply describe it as will, it loses all its meaning. The old and very much tabooed words, "enchantment," "fascination," "glamour," and "spell," and especially the verb "to bewitch," expressed far more suggestively the real action that took place during the process of such a transmission, than the modern and meaningless terms, "psychologize" and "biologize." Occultism calls the force transmitted, the "auric fluid," to distinguish it from the "auric light"; the "fluid" being a correlation of atoms on a higher plane, and a descent to this lower one, in the shape of impalpable and invisible plastic Substances, generated and directed by the potential Will; the "auric light," or that which Reichenbach calls Od, a light that surrounds every animate and inanimate object in nature, is, on the other hand, but the astral reflection emanating from objects; its particular color and colors, the combinations and varieties of the latter, denoting the state of the gunas, or qualities and characteristics of each special object and subject — the human being's aura being the strongest of all.

Q. What is the rationale of "Vampirism"?

ANS. If by this word is meant the involuntary transmission of a portion of one's vitality, or life-essence, by a kind of occult osmosis from one person to another — the latter being endowed, or afflicted rather, with such vampirizing faculty, then, the act can become comprehensible only when we study well the nature and essence of the semi-substantial "auric fluid" spoken of just now. Like every other occult form [force?] in Nature, this end- and exosmosic process may be made beneficent or maleficent, either unconsciously or at will. When a healthy operator mesmerizes a patient with a determined desire to relieve and cure him, the exhaustion felt by the former is proportionate to the relief given: a process of endosmose has taken place, the healer having parted with a portion of his vital aura to benefit the sick man. Vampirism, on the other hand, is a blind and mechanical process, generally produced without the knowledge of either the absorber, or the vampirized party. It is conscious or unconscious black magic, as the case may be. For in the case of trained adepts and sorcerers, the process is produced consciously and with the guidance of the Will. In both cases the agent of transmission is a magnetic and attractive faculty, terrestrial and physiological in its results, yet generated and produced on the four-dimensional plane — the realm of atoms.

Q. Under what circumstances is hypnotism "black magic"?

ANS. Under those just discussed, but to cover the subject fully, even by giving a few instances, demands more space than we can spare for these answers. Sufficient to say that whenever the motive which actuates the operator is selfish, or detrimental to any living being or beings, all such acts are classed by us as black magic. The healthy vital fluid imparted by the physician who mesmerizes his patient, can and does cure; but too much of it will kill.

[This statement receives its explanation in our answer to Question 6, when showing that the vibratory experiment shatters a tumbler to pieces.]

Q. Is there any difference between hypnosis produced by mechanical means, such as revolving mirrors, and that produced by the direct gaze of the operator (fascination)?

ANS. This difference is, we believe, already pointed out in the answer to Question 1. The gaze of the operator is more potent, hence more dangerous, than the simple mechanical passes of the Hypnotizer, who, in nine cases out of ten, does not know how, and therefore cannot will. The students of Esoteric Science must be aware by the very laws of the occult correspondences that the former action is performed on the first plane of matter (the lowest), while the latter, which necessitates a well-concentrated will, has to be enacted, if the operator is a profane novice, on the fourth, and if he is anything of an occultist on the fifth plane.

Q. Why should a bit of crystal or a bright button, throw one person into the hypnotic state and affect in no way another person? An answer to this would, we think, solve more than one perplexity.

ANS. Science has offered several varied hypotheses upon the subject, but has not, so far, accepted any one of these as definite. This is because all such speculations revolve in the vicious circle of materio-physical phenomena with their blind forces and mechanical theories. The "auric fluid" is not recognized by the men of Science, and therefore, they reject it. But have they not believed for years in the efficacy of metallo-therapeuty, the influence of these metals being due to the action of their electric fluids or currents on the nervous system? And this, simply because an analogy was found to exist between the activity of this system and electricity. The theory failed, because it clashed with the most careful observation and experiments. First of all, it was contradicted by a fundamental fact exhibited in the said metallo-therapeuty, whose characteristic peculiarity showed (a) that by no means every metal acted on every nervous disease, one patient being sensitive to some one metal, while all others produced no effect upon him; and (b) that the patients affected by certain metals were few and exceptional. This showed that "electric fluids" operating on and curing diseases existed only in the imagination of the theorists. Had they had any actual existence, then all metals would affect in a greater or lesser degree, all patients, and every metal, taken separately, would affect every case of nervous disease, the conditions for generating such fluids being, in the given cases, precisely the same. Thus Dr. Charcot having vindicated Dr. Burke, the once discredited discoverer of metallo-therapeuty, Shiff and others discredited all those who believed in electric fluids, and these seem now to be given up in favor of "molecular motion," which now reigns supreme in physiology — for the time being, of course. But now arises a question: "Are the real nature, behavior and conditions of 'motion' known any better than the nature, behavior and conditions of the 'fluids'?" It is to be doubted. Anyhow Occultism is audacious enough to maintain that electric or magnetic fluids (the two being really identical) are due in their essence and origin to that same molecular motion, now transformed into atomic energy, (1) to which every other phenomenon in nature is also due. Indeed, when the needle of a galvano- or electro-meter fails to show any oscillations denoting the presence of electric or magnetic fluids, this does not prove in the least that there are none such to record; but simply that having passed on to another and higher plane of action, the electrometer can no longer be affected by the energy displayed on a plane with which it is entirely disconnected.

The above had to be explained, in order to show that the nature of the Force transmitted from one man or object to another man or object, whether in hypnotism, electricity, metallo-therapeuty or "fascination," is the same in essence, varying only in degree, and modified according to the sub-plane of matter it is acting on; of which sub-planes, as every Occultist knows, there are seven on our terrestrial plane as there are on every other.

Q. Is Science entirely wrong in its definition of the hypnotic phenomena?

ANS. It has no definition, so far. Now if there is one thing upon which Occultism agrees (to a certain degree) with the latest discoveries of physical Science, it is that all the bodies endowed with the property of inducing and calling metallo-therapeutic and other analogous phenomena, have, their great variety not withstanding, one feature in common. They are all the fountain heads and the generators of rapid molecular oscillations, which, whether through transmitting agents or direct contact, communicate themselves to the nervous system, changing thereby the rhythm of nervous vibrations — on the sole condition, however, of being what is called, in unison. Now "unison" does not always imply the sameness of nature, or of essence, but simply the sameness of degree, a similarity with regard to gravity and acuteness, and equal potentialities for intensity of sound or motion: a bell may be in unison with a violin, and a flute with an animal or a human organ. Moreover, the rate of the number of vibrations — especially in an organic animal cell or organ, changes in accordance with the state of health, and general condition. Hence the cerebral nervous centers of a hypnotic subject, while in perfect unison, in potential degree and essential original activity, with the object he gazes at, may yet, owing to some organic disturbance, be at the given moment at logger-heads with it, in respect to the number of their respective vibrations. In such case no hypnotic condition ensues; or no unison at all may exist between his nervous cells and the cells of the crystal or metal he is made to gaze at, in which case that particular object can never have any effect upon him. This amounts to saying that to ensure success in a hypnotic experiment, two conditions are requisite; (a) as every organic or "inorganic" body in nature is distinguished by its fixed molecular oscillations, it is necessary to find out which are those bodies which will act in unison with one or another human nervous system; and (b) to remember that the molecular oscillations of the former can influence the nervous action of the latter, only when the rhythms of their respective vibrations coincide, i.e., when the number of their oscillations is made identical; which, in the cases of hypnotism induced by mechanical means, is achieved through the medium of the eye.

Therefore, though the difference between hypnosis produced by mechanical means, and that induced by the direct gaze of the operator, plus his will, depends on the plane on which the same phenomenon is produced, still the "fascinating" or subduing agent is created by the same force at work. In the physical world and its material planes, it is called MOTION; in the worlds of mentality and metaphysics it is known as WILL — the many-faced magician throughout all nature.

As the rate of vibrations (molecular motion) in metals, woods, crystals, etc., alters under the effect of heat, cold, etc., so do the cerebral molecules change their rate, in the same way: i.e., their rate is raised or lowered. And this is what really takes place in the phenomenon of hypnotism. In the case of gazing, it is the eye — the chief agent of the Will of the active operator, but a slave and traitor when this Will is dormant — that, unconsciously to the patient or subject, attunes the oscillations of his cerebral nervous centers to the rate of the vibrations of the object gazed at by catching the rhythm of the latter and passing it on to the brain. But in the case of direct passes, it is the Will of the operator radiating through his eye that produces the required unison between his will and the will of the person operated upon. For, out of two objects attuned in unison — as two chords, for instance — one will always be weaker than the other, and thus have mastery over the other and even the potentiality of destroying its weaker "co-respondent." So true is this, that we can call upon physical Science to corroborate this fact. Take the "sensitive flame" as a case in hand. Science tells us that if a note be struck in unison with the ratio of the vibrations of the heat molecules, the flames will respond immediately to the sound (or note struck), that it will dance and sing in rhythm with the sounds. But Occult Science adds, that the flame may also be extinguished if the sound is intensified (vide Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, 606 and 607). Another proof. Take a wine-glass or tumbler of very fine and clear glass; produce, by striking it gently with a silver spoon, a well-determined note; after which reproduce the same note by rubbing its rim with a damp finger, and, if you are successful, the glass will immediately crack and be shattered. Indifferent to every other sound, the glass will not resist the great intensity of its own fundamental note, for that particular vibration will cause such a commotion in its particles, that the whole fabric will fall in pieces.

Q. What becomes of diseases cured by hypnotism; are they really cured or are they postponed, or do they appear in another form? Are diseases Karma; and, if so, is it right to attempt to cure them?

ANS. Hypnotic suggestion may cure for ever, and it may not. All depends on the degree of magnetic relations between the operator and the patient. If Karmic, they will be only postponed, and return in some other form, not necessarily of disease, but as a punitive evil of another sort. It is always "right" to try and alleviate suffering whenever we can, and to do our best for it. Because a man suffers justly imprisonment, and catches cold in his damp cell, is it a reason why the prison-doctor should not try to cure him of it?

Q. Is it necessary that the hypnotic "suggestions" of the operator should be spoken? Is it not enough for him to think them, and may not even HE be ignorant or unconscious of the bent he is impressing on his subject?

ANS. Certainly not, if the rapport between the two is once for all firmly established. Thought is more powerful than speech in cases of a real subjugation of the will of the patient to that of his operator. But, on the other hand, unless the "suggestion" made is for the good only of the subject, and entirely free from any selfish motive, a suggestion by thought is an act of black magic still more pregnant with evil consequences than a spoken suggestion. It is always wrong and unlawful to deprive a man of his free-will, unless for his own or Society's good; and even the former has to be done with great discrimination. Occultism regards all such promiscuous attempts as black magic and sorcery, whether conscious or otherwise.

Q. Do the motive and character of the operator affect the result, immediate or remote?

ANS. In so far as the hypnotizing process becomes under his operation either white or black magic, as the last answer shows.

Q. Is it wise to hypnotize a patient not only out of disease, but out of a habit, such as drinking or lying?

ANS. It is an act of charity and kindness, and this is next to wisdom. For, although the dropping of his vicious habits will add nothing to his good Karma (which it would, had his efforts to reform been personal, of his own free will, and necessitating a great mental and physical struggle), still a successful "suggestion" prevents him from generating more bad Karma, and adding constantly to the previous record of his transgressions.

Q. What is it that a faith-healer, when successful, practises upon himself; what tricks is he playing with his principles and with his Karma?

ANS. Imagination is a potent help in every event of our lives. Imagination acts on Faith, and both are the draughtsmen who prepare the sketches for Will to engrave, more or less deeply, on the rocks of obstacles and opposition with which the path of life is strewn. Says Paracelsus: "Faith must confirm the imagination, for faith establishes the will . . . Determined will is the beginning of all magical operations. . . . It is because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, that the arts (of magic) are uncertain, while they might be perfectly certain." This is all the secret. Half, if not two-thirds of our ailings and diseases are the fruit of our imagination and fears. Destroy the latter and give another bent to the former, and nature will do the rest. There is nothing sinful or injurious in the methods per se. They turn to harm only when belief in his power becomes too arrogant and marked in the faith-healer, and when he thinks he can will away such diseases as need, if they are not to be fatal, the immediate help of expert surgeons and physicians.


Contents


FOOTNOTE:

l. In Occultism the word atom has a special significance, different from the one given to it by Science. See editorial, Psychic and Noetic Action, in the two last numbers. (return to text)