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It’s important to remember, however, that what we see as occultism was the scientific establishment of its day, with exactly the same purpose as modern science – curing human ills and increasing knowledge.

From a Western point of view, the decisive moment in the history of hypnosis occurred in the 18th Century (coinciding with the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason).

He was also fond of dressing up in a cloak and playing ethereal music on the glass harmonica whilst this was happening.

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Hypnosis itself hasn’t changed for millennia, but our understanding of it and our ability to control it has changed quite profoundly.

The history of hypnosis, then, is really the history of this change in perception.

Recorded history is full of tantalising glimpses of rituals and practices that look very much like hypnosis from a modern perspective, from the “healing passes” of the Hindu Vedas to magical texts from ancient Egypt.

These practices tend to be for magical or religious purposes, such as divination or communicating with gods and spirits.

The work of Franz Mesmer, amongst others, can be seen as both the last flourish of “occult” hypnosis and the first flourish of the “scientific” viewpoint.

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