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Said to be the teacher of Pythagoras, Abaris was a magician of Scythia, an ancient culture on the north shore of the Black Sea. He claimed to possess a golden arrow, given to him by Apollo, by means of which he could travel through the air and become invisible. It is not clear how this was supposed to be accomplished, but such details are unimportant in comparison with the basic claim.
Abaris is said to have lived without eating or drinking. This, coupled with the fact that his pupil Pythagoras is supposed to have stolen his golden arrow, must have resulted in a certain dissatisfaction with his life.
(also, Alchabitius) A tenth-century Arabian astrologer whose book on astrology, Alchabitius cum commento, was first published in Latin in 1473, and then in 1503 in Venice. The book is no clearer or more useful than any other book on the subject. It is merely old.
Known in various localities by names such as Yeti, Bigfoot, Meh-Teh, and Sasquatch, this unsubstantiated creature is said to be seven to ten feet tall, with feet twice the size of a human's, and with a noticeably disagreeable aroma. It has been reported in Tibet, Nepal, China, Siberia, Canada, and the U.S. Northwest.
In 1832, a report from the U.K. representative in Nepal described a hirsute creature who reportedly had attacked his servants. The natives called the beast “rakshas,” which means “demon.” This appears to be the first report of the Snowman made by a Westerner.
An impressive report was made by mountaineers who crossed a Himalayan glacier in 1951 and photographed giant footprints measuring thirteen by eighteen inches. However, tracks left in snow tend to enlarge when exposed to direct sun, and this may well explain many of the accounts of Snowman tracks, since smaller tracks of native animals tend to spread under warmth.
Other tracks found in Canada and the United States are the admitted results of hoaxers, even though the “experts” called in have sometimes validated the artifacts as genuine tracks of an unknown species. A short piece of movie film made in 1967 by Roger Patterson at Bluff Creek, California, appears to show a female Bigfoot casually walking away from the camera. The film has been hotly contested over the years and is the best of all the evidence ever offered.
It is possible that Patterson himself was hoaxed; the figure he saw and filmed might have been a person in costume. In the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, most viewers were not aware that the apes shown were actors in costume holding real baby chimpanzees. The 1989 film Gorillas in the Mist used actors in costumes that were totally convincing. The Patterson figure is nowhere nearly as good as those representations, though we cannot expect that a genuine Bigfoot must move like an ape, and it may very well move like a human dressed in an uncomfortable costume.
While the existence of such a creature is not at all impossible, two elements speak against it: First, there would need to be a very considerable number of them available to maintain the gene pool and to thus ensure survival of the species; it is difficult to imagine that a population of such a large animal could so successfully avoid detection. Second, the fact remains that to date, not one bit of material evidence (hair, skin, bones, droppings) of this creature has ever been produced, though a chimpanzee scalp was once offered and is still occasionally brought up by devotees of this fascinating legend.
While the actual origin of the word is uncertain, it has been said that it was the name of the supreme deity of the Assyrians, but it may also be an Aramaic phrase. It is a magical word often appearing on amulets, and was first mentioned by the third-century physician Quintus Severus Sammondicus. It is often seen in the configuration of a diminishing triangle:
It was believed that certain evils would diminish and vanish in the same way the word did. The word was often used by conjurors as an exclamation at the culmination of a trick. Now not so often employed, and in any case totally ineffective.
See also charms.
Abraham the Jew
(1362?-1460?) An alchemist/magician from Mayence, a town west of Koblenz, Germany. He came from a family of magicians and traveled through Austria, Hungary, Greece, the city of Constantinople, Arabia, Palestine, and Egypt, where he met and studied with a mentor magician, Abra-Melin. He finally settled in Würzburg, Germany, where he married.
He performed his wonders before Henry VI of England, Pope John XXIII (the first one), and Emperor Sigismund of Germany.
A tome supposed to have been written by Abraham titled The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, as delivered by Abraham the Jew unto his son Lamech, tells the reader how to “excite tempests,” have visions, “retain familiar spirits,” raise the dead and walk under (not on) water. Instructions on how to summon these convenient powers are followed by observations on “comedies, operas and all kinds of music and dances.” All these abilities are said to be attained by means of the kabala.
Abraham was intolerant of other magi, believing himself — and his hero, Abra-Melin — to be the only performers worth consideration. This is a common delusion among such folks.
Teacher of Abraham the Jew, which see.
Abrams, Dr. Albert
(1863-1924) The consummate quack, Abrams was a medical graduate of the University of Heidelberg (in 1893) who moved to the United States to become a professor of pathology at Stanford University, a post he held for five years. Then he developed a diagnostic idea he called “spondylotherapy” which consisted of striking the vertebrae with a hammer. This rather alienated him from his colleagues at Stanford, and perhaps from some of his patients as well.
Dr. Albert Abrams, the “dean of twentieth century charlatans.”
Abrams left Stanford and began teaching spondylotherapy to other physicians for a fee of $200. Next he originated the idea of diagnosing disease by means of a sealed, scientific-looking black box he called the Dynamizer. This device, he said, worked at any distance by analyzing a drop of the patient's blood and, he said, could even determine the religious affiliation of the patient! Many persons, including some doctors, believed him.
Soon, for a healthy fee, Abrams was broadcasting cures to his patients by radio waves through another quack device he called the Omnipotent Oscilloclast. Other varieties of these boxes were named the Biodynamometer and the Reflexophone. His customers actually took all this seriously and paid well for his services.
Abrams's various boxes were available for rental by would-be instant healers, but were thoroughly sealed up. The agreement was that the renter could not examine the innards of the device. When a few skeptics did open the boxes, they found simple wiring, a few resistors, a small motor that only made a humming noise, and nothing that could in any way perform a diagnosis or “broadcast” or even produce radio waves.
Investigators even sent Abrams drops of red ink in place of blood, but he was still able to find human diseases in the samples. A spot of chicken blood brought back a diagnosis of cancer, malaria, diabetes, and two different venereal diseases. The chicken, it appeared, had gone through an unusual existence in its life of just less than one year.
The American Medical Association called Abrams the “dean of twentieth century charlatans.” He died wealthy in 1924, leaving an estate of millions of dollars.
See also George De la Warr and Ruth Drown.
(also, Abracax or Abrasax) The supreme god of the Gnostics, pictured with the head of a king and with serpents for feet. Also, Abraxas is a Gnostic “word of power” and a divine name with magical significance. Vulgar rumor has it that it was once used as a trade name for a household cleaner made by Proctor & Gamble, but was quickly withdrawn from the market after Bible thumpers raised their usual din about Satanism.
A stone found in the gizzard of a capon, worn as an amulet, or charm, to bring courage, though due to surgical intervention, capons are not generally known for their courage. This is simply a concretion of various mineral substances, and can be defined as an avian pearl. Not in demand as a gemstone.
The (probably mythical) Chinese ruler known as the Yellow Emperor (Huang-ti, circa 2704 B.C.-?) is said to have brought the bow and arrow, writing, the water well, shoes, and the calendar to his subjects. It is said that he also wrote a medical manuscript, Nei Jing, that is still used by modern healers.
Repeating material that was considerably older, the book postulated a theoretical fluid/gas/plasma labeled qi (pronounced chee). The study of this substance or influence is known as qi gong (pronounced chee gung). The qi is believed to circulate through the body by means of pathways called meridians. There are twelve or fourteen major meridians. (Since dissection of the body was forbidden in the old Chinese culture, it was probably the veins and arteries that they occasionally saw following catastrophic accidents, which they mistook for these conduits for the qi.)
A great number of “acupuncture points” are specified on the body, and very fine needles, traditionally of gold or silver, inserted into these points on a properly oriented (north-south) patient and twiddled about rapidly between the fingers, are said to bring about analgesic, anesthetic, or curative effects.
One form of acupuncture uses only the ear, which is regarded as a homunculus. Needles are inserted into various specific parts of the ear that represent parts of the entire body. Dr. Lester Sacks of California has developed a staple-in-the-ear treatment that he claims will help patients lose weight, stop addictions, and serve in various other helpful ways. Many very fat addicts swear that this system works.
A form of the art in which finger pressure is substituted for the needles is known as acupressure, also called, “shiatsu.” This form is understandably more popular than the needle version.
An eighth-century French mystic who was fond of giving away parings of his nails and locks of his hair to his disciples and admirers. He said an angel had given him various holy relics, but it is not known whether those mementos included nail parings or locks of hair.
Adalbert always carried with him a letter from Jesus Christ that he said had been delivered to him by St. Michael. The church finally lost all patience with him for borrowing their miracles and threw him into prison, where he died.
In the Bible, the First Man. He was mated to Eve, the First Woman. Their sons were Cain and Abel. In a Talmudic legend, however, Adam's first wife was Lilith and she bore him demons. Parenthood, it seems, is an uncertain art fraught with various problems.
A Jewish physician, circa A.D. 300, who espoused the study of physiognomy (reading character from facial features) and wrote copiously on the subject in Greek. The first translation of his work (in French) was published in Paris in 1556, and then in a 1780 book titled Scriptores Physiognomoniae veteres. Perhaps by design, no portrait of Adamantius survives by which we might determine his own character.
(1891-1965) A traveling wine salesman of Greek origin who brought the subject of UFOs to world-wide attention with his wild tales of having traveled into outer space with extraterrestrials. Tales of his having oversampled his wares are not substantiated.
The Adamski books Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953), Inside the Space Ships (1955), and Flying Saucers Farewell (1961), which described civilizations on the planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn, are still in print in several languages and are still extolled by believers. This, even though we now know that the physical scenarios described by Adamski are quite impossible.
Facts seldom interfere with belief.
As a noun, the word refers to a person said to be skilled at using magical or occult powers as a result of studying various practical mystical techniques. Adepts are also known by great names like the Great White Brotherhood, Mahatmas, Rahats and Rishis. A chela is an apprentice to an adept. The profession is not taught at most centers of learning. Not yet, that is.
As an adjective, the word denotes one with the abilities of an adept.
(also, Adonai) A title substituted by the Hebrews for “Jehovah” to avoid pronouncing or even writing the latter word, which is supposed to be so holy and powerful that it brings punishment upon the one who utters it. No evidence exists that any such calamity visits a transgressor, and in fact the reader may repeat the word endlessly out loud without fear of penalty. However, people may think you strange, and no guarantees are given.
(1919- ) The Reverend Dr. Sir George King (none of the three titles are verified) says he was contacted in 1954 by The Master Aetherius — some sort of adept — from the planet Venus and was told to become the Voice of Interplanetary Parliament.
“Reverend” “Dr.” “Sir” George King.
The result was the Aetherius Society, which met regularly at one time in Caxton Hall, London. It is now an international movement, holding regular meetings in which an entity known as “Mars, Sector Six” introduces the faithful to the Master Aetherius, who is, we are told, 3,496 years old, more or less. A journal, Cosmic Voice, is published by the society to bring news of the thriving civilization on Venus to the population of Earth.
George King says he has met Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, and Saint Peter, all of whom now speak to and through him. Another entity named Saint Goo-Ling is also heard from occasionally.
The society teaches that a race of intelligent fish living underwater on the far away planet Garouche are trying to suck the air away from Earth, thus killing all terrestrial life, but not the marine life; the undersea creatures, it is claimed, obtain their oxygen from the water, which is supplied from an unknown source. This naive view of basic biology is embraced by the society.
The fact that Venus cannot sustain a civilization (the surface being at an average temperature of 860°F/460°C, far above the melting point of lead) and the failure of King's confident prediction that mankind would never land on the Moon — among other claims and notions — has brought the wisdom of the Master Aetherius into some doubt, yet the society flourishes, perhaps because of these adversities, not in spite of them.
One of the favorite harmless but useless activities of the society is charging up devices known as “spiritual batteries.” This is accomplished by spending seven hundred “prayer-hours” standing before strange boxes and gesturing at them, being careful not to overcharge them, of course. The belief is that these batteries will hold their charges for ten thousand years.
In oriental mythology, the spirit of a dead person, often a demon. To be avoided.
Age of Aquarius
An acronym formed from “Aieth Gadol Leolam Adonai” (God is great forever), used by kabalists to invoke demons. Effectiveness not scientifically determined but doubtful.
(Antonio C. Agpaoa, 1939 -1982) Agpaoa is the quack who began the still-popular psychic surgery craze in the Philippine Islands, attracting thousands of persons annually to his center in Baguio, the most beautiful area in all the Islands. In some cases, he actually performed simple surgical services, removing cysts and draining infected areas; the rest, mostly very spectacular procedures in which his hands appeared to plunge into the body were the usual conjuring tricks.
On one occasion, Tony was being driven in his gold-plated Mercedes when he fell ill and asked to be rushed via private chartered jet to San Francisco, where his appendix was removed. When his small son also needed medical care, Tony took him to the United States for medical help, but the boy did not survive the hospital stay.
In 1968 Agpaoa visited the United States for the third time, performing his sleight-of-hand act for patients who paid well for the service. Then he was arrested in Detroit and charged with medical fraud. Choosing not to answer the charges, he skipped his $25,000 bail and fled back to the Philippines.
Agpaoa died in 1982 of what the Manila newspapers referred to as “rich living” and was interred in a glass coffin, for some unknown reason.
(Henry Cornelius Agrippa Von Nettesheim, 1486-1535) A noted German intellectual and mystic born in Cologne, Agrippa became a member of the court of Maximilian I, king of Germany, at an early age. Though otherwise an astute student, he became fascinated by an early form of numerology and the kabala, and he subsequently taught this idea at several universities. Strangely enough, he was opposed to astrology.
Cornelius Agrippa, a sixteenth-century mystic who had a great influence on the supernatural beliefs of his day.
At age twenty-four, Agrippa wrote a three-volume book, On Occult Philosophy, which attempted to reconcile natural phenomena and occult lore. His concept of religion seems to have been an amalgam of Christian, Neo-Platonic, and Kabalistic ideas. The book was not published for another two decades, finally seeing print in 1531.
One of Agrippa's genuine contributions to knowledge was the observation that a person's thoughts and attitudes can affect the physical condition of the body, a possible suggestion of what was to become the science of psychology.
Endless claims of valor on the field of battle, intimate acquaintance with royalty, diplomatic appointments, court positions, and heroic military accomplishments were made by Agrippa, and some may even be true.
From The Proportions of Man and their Occult Numbers from 'De Occulta Philosophia' Libri III, by Henricus Cornelius Agrippa (1533).
Tales of sorcery and general occult practices also surround the Agrippa legend. He is said to have used various methods of scrying and divination, to have called up spirits and demons, and to have a great black dog named Monsieur as a familiar. These rumors got him into major trouble with various ecclesiastic powers of his day, and he came into serious conflict with the Holy Inquisition. For this clash and for various debts he was imprisoned several times, but always managed to buy his way out.
He died poverty-stricken at the age of forty-nine in Grenoble, France.
See also Weyer, Johannes.
(also, Akasic records) The word akashic is derived from the Sanskrit expression akasha, meaning a theoretical universal medium of some sort. This can be loosely compared to what science once presumed was the “ether” or medium through which electromagnetic forces operated. These insubstantial substances are unsubstantiated.
The “records” are supposed to contain data on everything that has ever happened, is happening, or ever will happen in the entire universe, much like IRS records. This idea was adopted, preached, and popularized by H. P. Blavatsky as part of the Theosophy religion. Presently, the notion is reflected in the “holistic” view held by the new agers.
Many psychics have said they somehow obtained their information from these records, particularly Edgar Cayce and Rudolf Steiner. The claim is impossible to examine.
From the seventh century B.C. in the reign of Assurbanipal, these documents from the Royal Library of Nineveh are among the oldest purely magical writings known. They consist mostly of exorcisms against all sorts of evil. No more use now than they were then, but fascinating as historical records of Man's eternal fascination with such notions.
(1832-1880?) A very rich Russian spiritualist and statesman who, with nothing better to do, brought mediums Henry Slade and Eusapia Palladino to Russia. At his urging, a Russian Scientific Committee was established to investigate spiritualistic claims, but it failed to produce any valuable work.
(1205-1280?) He was Albert of Cologne, a wellborn Christian philosopher and Dominican who for a short time served as a bishop. He defended the writings of Aristotle in accordance with church doctrine, wrote about and experimented with alchemy, and theorized on magic. It was rumored that he had discovered the philosopher's stone and that he could control the weather. He was a very prolific writer.
It was said that he had spent thirty years to produce what we today would call an android, a figure of brass in the shape of a man, with the power of speech. We are told that it was destroyed by St. Thomas Aquinas because its answers to his questions puzzled him.
Albert's actual and potentially useful work consisted of discussions of herbal remedies, the effect of which, because of the intellectual limitations of his time, he could not differentiate from magic.
Alchemy & Alchemists
Beginning about the year 100 and reaching its flower in medieval times, alchemy was an art based partly upon experimentation and partly upon magic. Early investigators of natural processes centered their search on a mythical substance they knew as philosopher's stone (the expression stone refers to any general mineral substance) which was supposed to possess many valuable attributes such as the power to heal, to prolong life, and to change base metals into precious metal — such as gold. This substance was eagerly — and understandably — sought after, and the rich folks of the day sponsored alchemists who promised them the stone in the same way that today's wealthy will court and support inventors of perpetual motion machines and those who claim mystic powers. Expectations of success were then, and are now, equally and perpetually futile.
The three general aims of the alchemists — transmuting base metals into gold, prolonging life indefinitely, and manufacturing artificial life — failed to be met. Very few alchemists obtained any success of any kind at all, but friar Nicolas Flamel (1330-1418) of Paris, who claimed to have found the secret of transmutation, is said to have died very rich. In the year 1400, the cautious Henry IV of England passed a law against the “art of multiplication,” which meant creating gold or silver by alchemy. If it took place, Henry wanted in on it. A subsequent Henry, the Sixth, took a different tack in 1455 when he granted four commissions to scoundrels who assured him they could produce all sorts of gold.
Nicolas Flamel, an alchemist who was said to have made wondrous discoveries, and who did die rich.
But along the way, alchemists made many genuinely valuable contributions to knowledge, though such fundamental discoveries as the chemical elements and the manner in which they form compound substances escaped them. Their basic “elements” were fire, air, earth, and water, and they believed that all substances were combinations of sulfur, mercury, and common salt, which they said were themselves composed of the four “elements.”
In modern times, there was great excitement among those who still clung to belief in alchemy when it was determined that all real elements are composed of the same particles (electrons, protons, neutrons) in different ratios; the immediate assumption was that the long-sought process of transmutation was at last possible. True, elements are now transmuted, an atom at a time, by high-energy bombardment with subatomic particles, but this is as similar to the notions of the alchemists as space flight by rocket is to attaining earth orbit on a pogo stick.
Eventually, when the nonsense and misinformation were boiled out of alchemy, it became chemistry.
See also elements and Paracelsus.
(mentalist, 1880-1954) Billed in 1900 as “The Man Who Knows,” Claude Alexander did a regular oriental-style magic act in the first half of his stage show, but regardless of the high quality of his conjuring, the audience was impatiently waiting for his question-answering second half.
Mentalist Alexander, “The Man Who Knows.”
Dressed in a turban and oriental robes, Alexander asked that questions be written out by his audience on slips of paper, which were then folded up, collected, and spread out on a table before the artist. He held each in turn to his forehead, appeared to divine what the question was, and then provided an appropriately veiled and provocative answer. In spite of the obvious fact that he was a conjuror and trickster, the audience ate up his every word and wanted more. This constitutes both a tribute to his skill and an indication of the great lack of judgment on the part of the spectators.
See also one-ahead method.
American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR)
Founded in 1885 in Boston by the psychologist William James to study and record supernatural, occult, and, particularly, survival-after-death claims, and modelled after the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London, the ASPR became independent of the SPR in 1905. It underwent many political crises and changed leadership and locality many times. The secretary in 1887 was Richard Hodgson, a leading investigator of psychic claims.
It is currently headquartered at 5 West 73rd Street, New York City, NY, 10023, and has an adequate library and study facilities where members pursue various chimera.
(from the Arabic hamulet, meaning, “that which is suspended”) A charm (which see) designed more for protection than for conferring power or strength, which is the function of the talisman. Now often made of plastic and sold in spooky shops or at airport souvenir stands to nervous passengers. Usually worn on a cord or chain about the neck.
There is a theory that thousands of years ago, civilizations from other star systems visited Earth and gave early Man information to assist in his development. The idea seems to be that folks used to be pretty slow-witted and had to have help to develop such clever stuff as the wheel, bricks, and cudgels.
Evidence has been offered by many writers, particularly by best-seller Von Däniken and none of it is convincing when the actual facts are determined and examined even casually. The theory is presently promoted by tabloid newspapers, sensationalist journals, UFO periodicals, and other fringe-science entities, but holds little interest for serious researchers.
Angels of Mons
On September 29, 1914, the London Evening News published a charming fiction story by Arthur Machen titled “The Angels of Mons.” The story told of the patron saint of England, St. George, appearing at the Battle of Mons, Belgium (August 23, 1914), in company with a troop of thoroughly English angels wielding longbows and raining arrows on the enemy, thus aiding the British troops in their retreat from that famous encounter.
The story was so attractive that it was distributed internationally and was soon being treated as fact. Some veterans of Mons even began saying that they had personally seen the angels at the battle.
Today the legend is still believed due to its uncritical, periodic revival and the restatement and improvement of the tale by journalists, and mystics cite it to prove the support of God for the Forces of Good.
The conviction that the life process itself has a measurable “substance” to it is common to many cultures. This term has come to be used, inaccurately, as a catchall one for the mystics' “life force,” anima mundi or “élan vital.” It loosely resembles the oriental idea of qi as well. The specific term was developed by Anton Mesmer to explain the force he believed was at work to bring about the hypnotic/hysterical effects he induced in his subjects.
This is a somewhat different though equally imaginary entity from that referred to by Christian Scientists as M.A.M. (for “malicious animal magnetism”) which their founder, Mary Baker Eddy, believed was poisoning her, transmitted into her body by her enemies. It appears that she adopted the idea from Phineas Parker Quimby, a “magnetic healer,” the originator of the wild theories upon which Christian Science is based.
The “soul of the world” idea accepted by mystics like Paracelsus and many others. It is an expression of the concept that there is a sort of all-pervading spirit that is the “vital force” behind all life and energy.
See also animal magnetism.
Egyptian hieroglyph, also known as the “looped cross,” representing the glyph for “life.” A large stone or metal figure of that shape was often shown being carried in the right hand of Egyptian gods. The smaller version is often worn as an amulet or charm, and is just as effective as any other such device.
A useless system for determining the future by tearing open living human beings and examining their entrails. The slightly more acceptable variety of this is augury, in which a bird is the victim. Anthropomancy, at least, is not known to be currently in use.
A philosophy developed by Hungarian architect/artist/occultist Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) that consisted of ideas very similar to those of H. P. Blavatsky, whose Theosophical movement Steiner had embraced in 1899. In 1902 he became secretary of the German branch of the Theosophical movement, but by 1913 he had broken with them and had formed his own group.
A true mystic, Steiner claimed, as Blavatsky had, to be able to consult the Akashic records. He discovered spirits of all sorts everywhere and determined whether they were beneficial or malevolent. He was a devout believer in astrology, a trait he shared with the German poet Goethe, of whom he was a great admirer. He edited Goethe's nature writings for publication.
Steiner's architectural designs, very distinctive indeed, are organic in appearance and can be found in many locations in Germany and the Scandinavian countries. The pleasant, natural lines and features of his designs are truly beautiful and appealing.
In 1919, he developed the Steiner Schools (in some parts of the world known as Waldorf Schools, named after the German brand of cigarette known as Waldorf-Astoria) to teach his ideas such as “bio-dynamic agriculture” and “eurythmics,” a method of dance intended to portray music by movement. His educational method encourages children to seek out nature spirits and to merely observe, rather than closely examine or test, situations. Steiner came up with the notion that humans live their lives in seven-year cycles, and his educational plan is geared to that idea.
To whatever extent the schools adapt Steiner's teachings on a more realistic and useful basis, the Steiner Schools treat retarded children through their clinics (known as Camphill Villages) that are supported by the system.
Apollonius of Tyana
(also known as Balinus, A.D. 3-98) A Greek philosopher/mystic, contemporary with Jesus Christ, who is said to have traveled as far as India in search of magical knowledge. He studied the ideas of Pythagoras and was credited with prophecy, raising the dead, invisibility, bilocation, and other miracles, and his disciples claimed that after his own death, he rose, alive, and ascended bodily into heaven. In Asia Minor, temples were dedicated to him as a minor god.
However, most of the detailed information on Apollonius comes from the writer Philostratus, and his rendition is generally believed to be pure fiction.
This is a claimed diagnostic technique also known simply as AK. It consists of having the subject stand with a test substance in one hand, while the other arm is stretched straight out from the side of the body. The operator places his palm upon the outstretched arm and presses down with a certain force, attempting to depress the arm and judging the degree of the force required to accomplish this effect. He then compares it with the amount of force needed to depress the arm when the test substance is not being held by the subject in the other hand, or when a “bad” substance is held.
It is claimed that when a harmful substance is being held, the arm depresses easily; when a beneficial or harmless substance is present, the force needed is much greater, since the body is now not weakened by the vibrations of the negative substance.
The effect observed is entirely due to the expectations of the operator, and this can clearly be shown by appropriate “blind” testing procedures, in which the operator is kept ignorant of the expected result. As evidence that the AK idea is pure sympathetic magic, it is enough to know that promoters claim that while refined sugar can be clearly shown in a very dramatic manner to be a “bad” substance by this method when actual sugar is placed in the hand, the same strength of effect is also brought about by simply having the subject hold a scrap of paper with the word “sugar” or the chemical formula C12H22O11 (sucrose) written on it in place of the actual substance. Believers in AK have no problem rationalizing the absurdity of such a claim.
In the United States, in response to our increasing demand for nonsense, expensive courses are now being offered to doctors and dentists in which AK is taught to them as a diagnostic tool, and many otherwise sensible medical professionals have taken these courses and have accepted the effect as genuine.
AK has been tested thoroughly, and has always been found useless.
(incorrectly, aport) A substance or object said to be transferred from one physical location to another without passing through normal space-time. The process of “beaming up” in science fiction would satisfy this definition — so far, an entirely mythical notion.In spiritualism, an apport is any object or substance brought into the séance room by apparently supernatural forces. Even scents perceived by the sitters are said to be evidence of apports. Lamar Keene, a reformed spiritualist from the Florida area, said of this “evidential” material: I just bought cheap stuff from the local stores, took off the stickers and took it in to the séance. It didn't need any sleight-of-hand at all. I just threw it all up in the air when the lights were out, and the sitters scrambled to get some of it. Everyone was happy!
See also asport.
Aquinas, St. Thomas
(1225?-1274) A remarkable Christian philosopher known as Doctor Angelicus, who expressed himself extensively on theology, metaphysics, and mysticism. His Summa Theologica is one of the basic writings of Christianity. As with all such important historical figures, a certain mythology has developed about his life story, and certain sections of the Summa Theologica are the work of writers who took over when Aquinas died before completing it.
See also Devil and witchcraft.
Arcanum, The Great
The mysterious, all-encompassing “secret” that is said to explain and permit all magical forces, powers, and knowledge to be achieved. Not known to have been revealed to anyone, as of this writing.
It is popularly believed that there are only two orders of angels: ordinary, standard angels, and the archangels, sort of super-angels. Ah, but dutifully poring through the Bible, we find there are actually nine varieties. In ascending order, they are Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Powers, Witnesses, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. So there! In the Bible, however, only two references are made to the higher rank. At one point, Michael is called an archangel, and later it says that at a certain moment, “the Lord shall descend from heaven . . . with the voice of the archangel.” It is thus unclear what the rank means, though archangels are doubtless just as real as regular angels.
In the Koran, four archangels are listed: Gabriël, in charge of revelations, Michael, the warrior, Azraël, who brings death, and Azrafil, whose only function appears to be standing by with a huge horn to sound the Last Trump.
In the Bible, archangel Michael is described as a militant sort who slays a dragon, is called a “prince,” is in charge of human virtue, and is in command of nations. A busy angel.
See Association for Research and Enlightenment.
(1918-1971) Brazilian José Pedro de Freitas took the name Arigó when he achieved fame in 1950 as a native healer. He claimed to be able to operate on the human body without making incisions, though in some cases he did use a simple, unsterilized pocketknife. Arigó said he had the spirit of “Dr. Adolfus Fritz” whispering in his right ear. This German “medical student” is supposed to have died in the 1800s, though there is no trace of evidence that such a person ever existed.
Arigó would hand out illegibly scribbled prescriptions to his patients. The only person who could read these was his brother-in-law, who fortunately owned the local pharmacy and thus filled all prescriptions produced by Arigó. A medical team headed by Dr. Andrija Puharich, admittedly unable to understand the prescriptions, issued a statement saying that Arigó — an uneducated man — had never made an error in the issuing of a prescription or in the name of a registered trade name of a drug. That incredible statement was offered as proof of the validity of Arigó's claims.
Though it was reported that patients felt no pain or discomfort when operated on by Arigó, Puharich's own films show them reacting very strongly to incisions to excise simple boils and lipomas.
Arigó was convicted in Brazil of the illegal practice of medicine in 1957, was then pardoned, and was again convicted in 1964. He died in a truck accident at the age of fifty-three.
Although commonly used as a designation for the end of the world, this name actually applies to a real geographical location in Israel near Mount Carmel, about five miles from the coastal city of Haifa. It was the site of several important battles in ancient history.
According to the predictions of St. John in Apocalypse, a battle between good and evil will take place there at some unspecified time, producing a river of human blood “to the height of a horse's bridle” for a distance of two hundred miles. Assuming that (a) all the blood were to be drained from each victim's body at the same moment, that (b) the “river” is only ten feet wide and does not flow at all, and that (c) the horse is rather small, it would mean that some three hundred sixty million persons would have to be slaughtered during this battle, all simultaneously. Since the area cannot itself hold that number of persons standing shoulder to shoulder, it appears that St. John's figures are poorly arrived at. But perhaps that is one of the properties of a miracle.
A private pilot who reported that on June 24th, 1947, he had seen nine “crescent-shaped” flying objects while in his private plane near Mt. Rainier, Washington State.
Kenneth Arnold, whose 1947 sighting started the UFO craze.
He also described them as shaped like “boomerangs,” and said that their motion was similar to that of a saucer skipping (or skimming) when thrown flat across the water. The media simplified the motion description into a more attention-grabbing headline: “flying saucers.” This started the UFO craze, which has generated millions of words of fantasy fiction and is still very much with us, like the common cold.
A Hermetic magician of the twelfth century, often confused with Apollonius of Tyana. He is said to have lived more than 1,025 years, at which age he wrote The Art of Prolonging Life. His own longevity was claimed to be accomplished by demonic aid. Sure.
Probably a totally mythical warrior/monarch/hero of Britain who is said to have reigned about A.D. 500. Arthur's legend is closely tied to the equally imaginary magician Merlin.
There is some chance that the Arthur story may be based on that of a former Roman soldier, or on his eventual successor named Artorius. However, this area of early English history is quite uncertain, and much of it appears to have been created to satisfy prominent myths.
See Arthur (King).
An adept or saint who teaches from another astral plane of existence by means of direct voice messages, dreams, or visions experienced by mystics. A doubtful premise.
In Benin, formerly Dahomey, spirits that live in the forests and grant magical powers to humans.
The king of the demons in Hebrew mythology, with three heads, goose feet, and a snake's tail. He can reveal to men the hidden treasures of the Earth and can make them invisible. His queen is Lilith.
See also Adam and Satan.
The opposite phenomenon of apport. In this case, objects already present at the séance will vanish. Often it is valuable objects that vanish in the dark room and are not seen again by their owners.
See American Society for Psychical Research.
Association for Research and Enlightenment
(ARE) Headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the ARE was founded in 1931 by Edgar Cayce (1877-1945). It is dedicated to perpetuating Cayce's teachings on spiritual healing, reincarnation and other notions. The center boasts a comprehensive library and a conference center associated with Atlantic University. The ARE promotes herbal remedies, baths, and fasting as methods to cure ailments, in the manner prescribed by Cayce.
Said to be a duplicate of the human physical body, but composed of much “finer” matter than the denser, “real” body. It is supposed to experience the feelings on behalf of the physical body, and to communicate these matters to it. It leaves the physical body during sleep, or as a result of trauma such as injury or drug use. This notion appears to satisfy most of the questions about dreaming, death, or hallucination, without offering any proof or appeal other than the convenience of such an invention and the resulting lack of requirement for applied thought and/or research.
One of the fuzzy “places,” levels, or dimensions said by occultists to exist in parallel with the real world. A plane is often inhabited by demons, spirits, or other unworldly entities. Oz and Wonderland may be equivalents.
Traveling out of the body via astral planes, a notion probably derived from the experience of highly colorful and memorable dreams.
See astrology, horoscope, and zodiac.
The actual beginnings of astrology are lost in history. From the Old Babylonian period (1800-1700 B.C.) we have the first records of attempts to correlate such simple, basic problems as famine, death, or war with the positions of the stars and planets. These records were kept over a wide range of territory, from what is now Turkey to Iraq and Iran. The “Venus Tablets of Ammisaduqa,” recording the motions of the planet Venus, were themselves copies of earlier observations made in the time of King Ammisaduqa, tenth ruler of the First Dynasty of Babylon, circa 1626 B.C.
In the earliest times, omens derived from astronomical observations were applied solely to the rulers or to matters of public welfare; it was some time before other, ordinary individuals were permitted, by law, to have forecasts made for them. In Rome, astrology was so popular at one period that Caesar Augustus (63 B.C. - A.D. 14) forbade its use as too dangerous to the proper conduct of government.
Astrology was, in its beginnings, a genuine search for knowledge — an attempt to find, in the configurations of the stars and planets, some meaning for humans that might enable them to ascertain something about the future, as if that future were written, obscurely but gloriously, in the heavenly patterns that nightly present themselves to observers.
Only five planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — were known to the early observers. Since they were named after gods and were believed to represent the actual bodies of the gods, the movements of those objects against the background of mythical figures represented by the constellations seemed important. It was that relationship of god to “sign” that was the basis for the notion that the fortunes of humanity were to be found by examining the night skies.
There were two divisions to astrology at first. Horary astrology dealt with measuring motions of the stars and planets and thereby predicting their configurations. This division eventually grew into astronomy. Horary astrology was essential for performing the second type, judiciary astrology, the popular aspect that offered — and still offers — predictions and trends to the clients.
Such a notion is seductive because it seems to make life simpler. It attributes everything from interpersonal relationships to the destiny of nations to the stars. It appears to eliminate the understandable confusion offered by life, confusion created both by the advances of new technology and by highly specialized knowledge that are beyond the reach and comprehension of the average person, and it seems to remove the need for personal responsibility, handing it all over to fate but allowing a glimpse into the future that might provide some advantage.
A medieval illustration of the correspondences between astrological signs and parts of the human body.
Today, though we now understand much more about the true nature of the starry universe, many individuals still cling to the medieval notion that earthly events in their individual lives may be predicted from observations of the skies performed by experienced — and perhaps inspired — practitioners of astrology.This belief even extends into governmental offices, as in India, where in all walks of life astrology is taken quite seriously, to the point that a prominent Indian science adviser once complained to the American ambassador to India that a primary problem for his department was that they lacked a sufficient staff of competent astrologers. Even in the U.S. White House, a president and his first lady were actually arranging their official and personal schedules in accordance with the calculations of an astrologer who was retained by them. Prince Charles of England, a devout believer in many strange matters, has had his birth sign (Scorpio) worked into the design of his crown that he wears as Prince of Wales.
Astrology has invariably failed to meet not only the practitioners' expectations, but any other simple test of the most basic effect, though the contrary is widely claimed by the believers.
“Sun Sign” astrology — the kind that is found in the newspaper columns — may say that for one-twelfth of the entire population of the world, today is “a good day to pursue new fashion ideas” or that another twelfth of humanity will find this a day to “act boldly on property investments.” These probabilities would apply whether the reader is a Maori lawyer, an Irish fisherman, or a Peruvian geologist.
Opinions on astrology have been offered by persons all through literature and the arts. The philosopher/physician Maimonides (1135-1204) in his Responsa I, said, “Astrology is not a science; it is a disease.” Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540), a papal adviser, wrote:
How happy are the astrologers if they tell one truth to a hundred lies, while other people lose all credibility if they tell one lie to a hundred truths.
The Italian pundit was flying in the face of his boss, who was, along with so many of his fellow popes, dependent on resident astrologers to provide him with advice.
Dr. Erika Bourguignon, professor of anthropology at Ohio State University, refers to astrology as “a pseudoscience and a divinatory art,” and John Maddox, editor of the science journal Nature, has commented on astrology as it was dealt with in his publication:
. . . one of the things we have published on astrology a few years back was a very carefully done study in California with the collaboration of 28 astrologers from the San Francisco area and lots of subjects — 118 of them altogether — and lunar charts were made by the astrologers. It turned out that the people couldn't recognize their own charts any more accurately than by chance. . . . and that seems to me to be a perfectly convincing and lasting demonstration of how well this thing works in practice. My regret is that there's so many intelligent, able people wasting their time and, might I say, taking other people's money, in this hopeless cause.
(Sir Maddox was referring to the project of Dr. Shawn Carlson of San Diego, which tested astrology and was reported in Nature.)
Though the Sun enters the sign Aquarius once every year, the new agers announced that in the 1960s the world entered the Age of Aquarius, though it is not clear, as with most notions of these folks, just what that means.
The formal though perfunctory opposition of religion to astrology originates with the possibility that if one's fate is already determined in the stars, sin cannot exist because it is thus not a voluntary action. This is explained by some astrologers by the statement, “Astrology impels but does not compel.”
A form of astrology that says that each planet governs the life of a person for a certain number of years is known as “alfridarya.” “Asterism” is a variety that deals only with the fixed stars, ignoring the Sun and planets.
Though astrologers in general only claim to be able to predict the coming of disasters, those in Cambodia (called “horas”) are believed to also be able to avert them.
See also horoscope and zodiac.
The genuine science that developed from astrology. Astronomy deals with the stars and planets and everything about them, such as their relative motions, composition, and distance. The Earth is included only so far as it enters into the cosmic scene as a planet. Astronomy has a long history of dependable, accurate forecasts, placing it among the royalty of sciences.
The black consecrated knife used, particularly by Western witches, and by others, to trace out the magic circle for invoking demons.
In his 1882 book Atlantis, the Antediluvian World, onetime lieutenant governor of Minnesota, U.S. congressman, and senator Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901) revived interest in a fabulous “lost continent” first described by Plato (circa 427-347 B.C.) as having existed in the Atlantic Ocean area “beyond the Pillars of Hercules” (the Strait of Gibraltar) over ten thousand years ago. The reference is found in both of Plato's dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. The entire continent, about as large as Europe, along with its highly developed civilization, was destroyed in a night and a day by an explosion and resulting tidal wave, said Plato.
The story, which Plato said originated in Egypt, just may be based on an actual cataclysm such as the one suggested by evidence discovered at the island of Santorini, north of Crete. It appears that about 1500 B.C. there was a volcanic explosion that should have decimated the area, and though that event does not satisfy the geographical location, copying errors might account for the differences. No evidence exists for a mid-Atlantic continent, and in fact we now know much more about the actual topography of the ocean bottoms, and Atlantis is simply not there
It is interesting to note that Donnelly was also the genius who developed the notion that by examining Shakespeare carefully for a secret cipher, he had proven that someone else — Sir Francis Bacon — wrote the bard's work. It is a favorite crackpot idea still pursued by dilettantes who have tired of other fashionable conspiracy schemes.
See also Bimini road.
A tool for prophecy, the word derived from the Latin avium garritus, meaning “speech of birds.”
While prophecy in general often makes use of substances and objects such as dice, Tarot cards, or sky clouds to determine the future, augury is most specifically concerned with the appearance and arrangement of the revealed entrails of unfortunate birds, as well as the flight patterns of the more fortunate ones.
In the latter system, the augur (the person who has this specialized wisdom) marks out with a wand the area of the sky in which he has chosen to observe the flight patterns, then divides that area into two left-and-right segments. If the birds fly to the left, it's bad news; to the right, good. When the omens appear satisfactory, the augur utters “Addixit,” Latin for “All right.”
Augury is not at all a satisfactory process and is particularly unpopular with birds.
See also anthropomancy and divination.
One new age claim that has received a great deal of attention involves the notion that humans are surrounded by some sort of a glow or “field” that is invisible to all but gifted psychics. The aura is of variable size, quality, and color, and occurs mainly surrounding the head, according to the aura seers.
The variables are said to be indications of character, health, and emotions. Colors are particularly important:
•Pink means affection.
•Bright red means anger.
•Dark red means passion and sensuality.
•Yellow means high intellectual activity.
•Orange means selfishness, pride, and ambition.
•Brown means greed.
•Green means many, many different things.
•Blue means religion and devotion.
•Purple means psychic ability and occult power.
In representations of Christian and Buddhist saints and other holy figures, the halo shown probably indicates the aura. When it surrounds the whole body, it is known as the aureola.
Numerous tests of the existence of this phenomena have proved negative.
A claimed phenomenon similar to that of the Ouija board. The operator holds a pen or pencil which is then said to move independently across a sheet of paper and write out messages from other living persons, from deceased persons, or from unknown discarnate entities.
This idea has been popular with spiritualists from the beginning of that religion, and one Swiss spirit medium named Hélène Smith (née Catherine-Elise Müller, 1863?-?) even invented an entire written language which she used to relate details of Martian civilization to her sitters. Psychologist Theodore Flournoy examined Mlle. Smith's claims and found that this language was very similar to French, using the same syntax. Mlle. Smith's native tongue was French.
Also known as “psychography.”
See also ideomotor effect and planchette.
See Bermuda Triangle
See philosopher's stone.