Various esoteric sources have long suggested that human beings are capable of healing one another by utilizing the special energy potentials which are brought into each lifetime. This healing ability has had many names through the centuries, including laying-on-of-hands healing, psychic healing, spiritual healing, and Therapeutic Touch. Only in the last several decades has modern technology and the consciousness of enlightened scientists evolved to the point where laboratory confirmation of subtle energetic healing has been made possible.
Historical Look at Psychic Healing
The use of laying-on-of-hands to heal human illness dates back thousands of years in human history. Evidence for its use in ancient Egypt is found in the Ebers Papyrus dated at about 1552 B.C. This document describes the use of laying-on-of-hands healing for medical treatment. Four centuries before the birth of Christ, the Greeks used Therapeutic Touch therapy in their Asklepian temples for healing the sick. The writings of Aristophanes detail the use of laying-on-of-hands in Athens to restore a blind man's sight and return fertility to a barren woman.
The Bible has many references to the laying-on-of-hands for both medical and spiritual applications. It is well known that many of the miraculous healings of Jesus were done by the laying-on-of-hands. Jesus said, "These things that I do, so can ye do and more." Laying-on-of-hands healing was considered part of the work of the early Christian ministry as much as preaching and administering the sacraments. In the early Christian church, laying-on-of-hands was combined with the sacramental use of holy water and oil.
Over the following hundreds of years, the healing ministry of the Church began to gradually decline. In Europe the healing ministry was carried on as the royal touch. Kings of several European countries were purportedly successful in curing diseases such as tuberculosis (scrofula) by laying-on-of-hands. In England, this method of healing began with Edward the Confessor, lasted for seven centuries, and ended with the reign of the skeptical William IV. Many of the early attempts at laying-on-of-hands healing seemed to be predicated upon a belief either in the powers of Jesus, or the king, or a particular healer. There were other contemporary medical theorists who felt that special vital forces and influences in nature were the mediators of these healing effects.
A number of early researchers into the mechanisms of healing theorized on the likely magnetic nature of the energies involved. One of the earliest proponents of a magnetic vital force of nature was the controversial physician Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, otherwise known as Paracelsus (1493-1541). In addition to his discoveries of new drug therapies, Paracelsus founded the sympathetic system of medicine, according to which the stars and other bodies (especially magnets) influenced humans by means of a subtle emanation or fluid that pervaded all space. His theory was an attempt to explain the apparent link between human beings and the stars and other heavenly bodies. Paracelsus' sympathetic system may be viewed as an early astrological insight into the influences of the planets and stars on human illness and behavior.
The proposed link between humans and the heavens above was through a subtle pervasive fluid, perhaps an early construct of the "ether", which existed throughout the universe. He attributed magnetic qualities to this subtle substance and felt that it possessed unique qualities of healing. He also concluded that if this force was possessed or wielded by someone, then that person could arrest or heal diseases in others. Paracelsus stated that the vital force was not enclosed inside an individual but radiated within and around him or her like a luminous sphere which could be made to act at a distance. Considering the accuracy of his description of the energies surrounding people, one wonders whether or not Paracelsus could clairvoyantly observe the human auric field.
In the century following Paracelsus' death, the magnetic tradition was carried on by Robert Fludd, a physician and a mystic. Fludd was considered to be one of the most prominent alchemical theorists of the early seventeenth century. He emphasized the role of the sun in health as a source of light and life. The sun was considered the purveyor of life beams required for all living creatures on earth. Fludd felt that this supercelestial and invisible force in some way manifested in all living things and that it entered the body through the breath. One is reminded of the Indian concept of prana, the subtle energy within sunlight which is assimilated through the process of breathing. Many esotericists feel that by mentally directing the visualized stream of inhaled prana, healers may focus this etheric energy through their hands and into the patient. Fludd also believed that the human being possessed the qualities of a magnet.
In 1778 a radical healer stepped forward to say that he could achieve remarkable therapeutic success without the need for patients' faith in the healing powers of Jesus or himself. Franz Anton Mesmer claimed that the healing results which he obtained came through the enlightened use of a universal energy which he called fluidum. (There is an interesting similarity between the terminology of Mesmer's fluidum and the ethereal fluidium mentioned in Ryerson's channeled material, i.e. the substance of the etheric body.) Mesmer claimed that fluidum was a subtle physical fluid that filled the universe, and was the connecting medium between people and other living things, and between living organisms, the earth, and the heavenly bodies. (This theory is quite similar to Paracelsus' astrological concept of sympathetic medicine.) Mesmer suggested that all things in nature possessed a particular power which manifested itself through special actions upon other bodies. He felt that all physical bodies, animals, plants, and even stones were impregnated with this magical fluid.
During his early medical research in Vienna, Mesmer discovered that placing a magnet over areas of the body afflicted with disease would often effect a cure. Experiments with patients who had nervous disorders often produced unusual motor effects. Mesmer noted that successful magnetic treatments frequently induced pronounced muscle spasms and jerks. He came to believe that the magnets he used for therapy were mainly conductors of an ethereal fluid which issued forth from his own body to create subtle healing effects in patients. He considered this vital force or fluid to be of a magnetic nature, referring to it as "animal magnetism" (to distinguish it from mineral or ferromagnetism).
Through his research, Mesmer came to believe that this subtle energetic fluid was somehow associated with the nervous system, especially when his treatments would often cause involuntary muscle spasms and tremors. He hypothesized that the nerve and body fluids conveyed the fluid to all areas of the body, where it animated and revitalized those parts. Mesmer's concept of fluidum is reminiscent of the ancient Chinese theory of ch'i energy which flows through the meridians, feeding the vital force to the nerves and tissues of the body.
Mesmer realized that the life-sustaining and regulating actions of the magnetic fluidum were integral to the basic processes of homeostasis and health. When the individual was in a state of health, he or she was considered to be in harmony with these most basic laws of nature, as expressed by a proper interplay of the vital magnetic forces. If disharmony occurred between the physical body and these subtle forces of nature, sickness was the end result. Mesmer later realized that the best source of this universal force was the human body itself. He felt that the most active points of energetic flow were from the palms of the hands. By placing the practitioner's hands on patients for direct healing, energy was allowed a direct route to flow from healer to patient. Because of Mesmer's influence during this revolutionary period in French history, the technique of laying-on-of-hands, otherwise known as "magnetic passes", became quite popular.
Unfortunately, many scientific observers at the time considered Mesmerism to be merely an act of hypnosis and suggestion. (To this day, many scientists still refer to hypnosis as "mesmerism", thus the origin of the term "mesmerized".)-?
In 1784, the king of France appointed a commission of inquiry into the validity of Mesmer's experiments in healing. Among the commission were members of the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Medicine, the Royal Society, as well as the American statesman-scientist Benjamin Franklin. The experiments which they devised were constructed to test the presence or absence of the magnetic fluidum which Mesmer claimed was the healing force behind his therapeutic successes. Unfortunately, none of the tests devised by the commission were concerned with the measurement of fluidum's medical effects.-?
The conclusion of this prestigious commission was that fluidum did not exist. Although they did not deny Mesmer's therapeutic successes with patients, they felt that the medical effects which Mesmer produced were due to sensitive excitement, imagination, and imitation (of other patients). Interestingly, a committee of the Medical Section of the Academie des Sciences examined animal magnetism again in 1831 and accepted Mesmer's viewpoint. However, despite this validation, Mesmer's work never achieved widespread recognition.
As more recent laboratory investigations into the physiological effects of laying-on-of-hands have confirmed the magnetic nature of these subtle healing energies, researchers have demonstrated that Mesmer's understanding of the magnetic nature of the subtle energies of the human body was centuries ahead of his contemporaries. Direct measurement of these energies by conventional tools of electromagnetic detection are as difficult today as during Mesmer's time.
Mesmer also discovered that water could be charged with this subtle magnetic force and that the stored energy from bottles of healer-treated water could be transmitted to sick patients by way of metallic iron rods which the patients would hold in their hands. The storage device which was used to relay healing energy from the charged water to patients was known as the "bacquet". Although today many consider Mesmer to have been a great hypnotist, there are few who really understand the pioneering nature of his research into the subtle magnetic energies of healing.
Modern Investigations into Psychic Healing
Over the last several decades scientific investigation into the medical effects of laying-on-of-hands healing has shed new light on Mesmer's findings. In addition to confirming the actual exchange of energy between healer and patient which Mesmer and others suggested, researchers have demonstrated an interesting similarity between the biological effects of healers and high-intensity magnetic fields. The energetic fields of healers, although magnetic in character, also demonstrate other unique properties which have only recently begun to reveal themselves to scientific inquiry.
Recent experiments by Dr. John Zimmerman with highly sensitive SQUID (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device) detectors, which can measure infinitesimally weak magnetic fields, have found increased magnetic field emission from the hands of psychic healers during healing. Yet these same, barely detectable healer-fields had powerful effects upon biological systems which could only be produced by treatment with the high-intensity magnetic fields.
This very elusive nature of the etheric fields is such that scientists today still have difficulty in measuring their presence, as did Benjamin Franklin in Mesmer's day. It is only through observation of their secondary effects on biological (enzymes), physical (crystallization), and electronic systems (electrographic scanners) that science is beginning to amass evidential data on the validity of etheric energies. One indirect indication of the presence of the healing/ etheric field is through its effect on increasing order within a system, i.e., its negative entropic drive.
A number of researchers have come to understand this negatively entropic property of healing energy. Dr. Justa Smith's research suggested that healers have the ability to selectively affect different enzyme systems in a direction toward greater organization and energy balance. By speeding up different enzymatic reactions, healers assist the body to heal itself. (This is also one of the great unrecognized principles of medicine. Doctors are only successful healers to the degree that they are able to use drugs, surgery, nutrition, and various other means to assist the patients' innate healing mechanisms to repair their own sick bodies.) Healers provide a needed energetic boost to push the patient's total energetic system back into homeostasis. This healing energetic boost has special negatively-entropic, self-organizational properties that assist the cells in creating order from disorder along selectively defined routes of cellular expression.
An experiment was devised to test this negatively entropic property of the energy of healers. In Oregon, a multidisciplinary team met with Olga Worrall, a spiritual healer who had participated in Dr. Smith's studies of healers, magnetic fields, and enzymes. They wanted to test the hypothesis that healers enhance an organism's own ability to increase order. They speculated that a healer might also affect the self-organizing properties of a special chemical reaction known as the Belousov-Zhabotinskii (B-Z) reaction. In the B-Z reaction, a chemical solution shifts between two states, which are indicated by unfolding, scroll-like spiral waves in a shallow petri dish solution. If dyes are added to the solution, one observes an oscillation of colors from red to blue to red. This reaction is a special case of what is known as a "dissipative structure". (Ilya Prigogine won the 1977 Nobel prize for his Theory Of Dissipative Structures," an innovative mathematical model which explains how systems like the B-Z reaction evolve to higher levels of order by using novel connections produced by entropy or disorder.)
Since the B-Z reaction is considered a self-organizing chemical system, the research team wondered if the healer could affect its entropic status. Worrall was asked to try to affect a B-Z reaction. Following treatment by her healing hands, the solution produced waves at twice the speed of a control solution. In another experiment, the red-blue-red oscillation in two beakers of solution became synchronized after Worrall's treatments. The conclusion of the research team was that the healer's field was able to create greater levels of order in a non-organic system along the lines of negative entropic behavior. These results are consistent with the other studies like Dr. Smith's which showed that healers (such as Olga Worrall) could cause UV-damaged enzymes to reintegrate to their normal structure and function. Enhanced growth in plants and faster wound healing in mice are other examples of the healers' effect on increasing the organization and order within cellular systems.
The diverse range of experimental data on the biological effects of healing is supportive of the hypothesis that a real energetic influence is exerted by healers on sick organisms. The biological systems examined in the previous experiments were all non-human in nature. Animal, plant, and enzyme systems were utilized in hopes of removing any influence of suggestion or belief on the part of the test subject. Having validated the existence of a real therapeutic energy exchange between healers and nonhuman subjects, one is left to wonder about what actually occurs between healers and human patients.
If one accepts the fact that healers are able to induce measurable effects in living organisms, then one must ask important questions about the nature of healers in general. Are healers merely an elite group of humans in our society who possess a rare gift at birth? Or is healing an innate human potential which, like any other skill, might be enhanced by learning? If so, how does one go about teaching healing to others? Could healing be taught to individuals in the health-care professions to amplify their academically derived medical skills with natural energetic methods of therapeutic interaction?
These questions have only recently begun to find meaningful answers. The growing impact of such issues reflects an undercurrent of subtle change in the evolving health-care field.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Sun Bear & Co. / InnerTraditions Inc.
Vibrational Medicine: New Choices for Healing Ourselves
by Richard Gerber.
This bestselling combination of ancient wisdom and new physics is a definitive introduction to traditional and alternative health care for modern times. Dr. Gerber presents an encyclopedic treatment of energy fields, accupuncture, Bach flower remedies, crystals, radionics, chakras, meditation, and particle physics.
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About The Author
Dr. Richard Gerber practices internal medicine and is a very popular international teacher. Vibrational Medicine: New Choices for Healing Ourselves is the culmination of twenty years of national recognized research into alternative medical diagnosis and treatment and has become the definitive text for energetic medicine.
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