Animal magnetism unmasked as just another trance state.
Let’s start with a case of active imagination:
About 2005, all there were still lists people could subscribe to according to their special interest. One day I went into an open forum called something like Real Voodoo Club (that is how it was spelled). On that forum was a guy who told stories of his prowess in casting magical circles and summoning demons when he was a member of the church of Set. He described such a summoning in colorful terms with its successful outcome of banishing the summoned from whence it came. I knew what the church of Set was. It was tiny offshoot of the Church of Satan, or at least founded by a former member of CoS. The CoS was a tiny organization itself with a lot of noise and a reputation for partying, more than serious studies of the subject. It looked like the church of Set was for people who wanted to cast spells instead of having repeated drug-laden orgies.
Who could take any of that stuff seriously? That young man had quite an imagination and he was a liar. I doubt anyone would disagree with me on that- except a devil-believing Christian. He had quite a supercilious attitude and a huge vocabulary, although the other thing he did on this list, was say filthy, disgusting things to anyone who challenged him for any reason whatsoever. The entire list is still open to the public if you know how to get there, through google.lists or something.
So, whenever I read or see, yet another version of the Salem witchcraft scandal of the 1690’s, I am always surprised all over again, that those people believed it. I really don’t see how the instigators did; they opportunistically used the contagion of hysteria from one girl to another, to further some political ends. And they allowed it to continue until they painted themselves into a corner of absurdity, and then it stopped. But that was after some pretty rich executions and land-grabbing.
It is obvious the girls were throwing fits of hysteria or just plain fits. Fit-throwing was practically an institution among females of the strictest Puritan and Calvinist sects, right up to the 20th Century when it got a new name or several of them according to the precise symptoms, in a new medical field, psychiatry. Group fit- throwing is still not unknown and most recently happened in the 21st century when some co-eds had a group freak-out that looked to the grownups that intervened, like the group hysteria of Salem.
But back to the belief in witchcraft- as it was expressed through the girls in Salem. The belief was that a witch could mentally influence people from a distance and make them do things like throw fits or make their livestock die. The operative words are “mentally influence people”.
Mesmerism, hypnotism and trance states
In Eddy’s day, mentally influencing people to do things- sometimes things they were unaware of- was also called at that time, “Mesmerism” or “animal magnetism”. Today it is called “hypnotism” and hypnotism is the art of using suggestibility of the people present, to create wanted effects. There is a kind of science of suggestibility, though it is still slightly disreputable to talk about publically, and hard to test scientifically. So-called hypnotism induces trances in the susceptible and can be used to plant ideas in a person, especially if the person is open to them. One modern understanding of hypnotism is that trances could be very light, to very deep, and it was the ones who fell into the deepest trances who were the most suggestible. The art of advertising has come out of the science of suggestibility and it weaves its artful magic every day, in every sponsored ad, on any media. If it creates a desire for the product, the spell has done its job, harmless as the presentation seems to the conscious mind.
The trances of charisma
Some people are very charismatic. The popular expression is that people ‘easily fall under the spell’ of charismatic people and as with any kind group gathering, the charismatic people get a lot of notice and usually do the singing, acting, dancing, or preaching, or selling political ideas in a charismatic new package. People love people with charisma. Some
Charismatics encourage fandom for many reasons.
Advertising rule #1. Repetition induces a light trance state, in which it becomes easier to make a connection to the susceptible, and sell the product to them.
The people who are conscious of how to use their charisma know that repetition of an entrancing presentation will take advantage of the trance states people fall into to sell an idea or a product or both. Repetition in ads creates tiny quick trances that repeat with every exposure. Repetition of something already known like the words of a song, or prayer, or public pledge, like the pledge of allegiance, become deeply engrained in the mind and immediately induce a trance state that accesses the material for each repeated utterance.
When someone puts a lot of utterances together and reflects on them, the focus itself becomes a trance state. A rosary, or memorized verses utilize this normal, practically unconscious, aspect of the human mind. That is what concentration is. It is cutting out all the extraneous stuff in the environment and concentrating on reading or writing or performing a memorized opera or ballet or play- or playing baseball, or praying or meditating, etc.
So we all know that a charismatic preaching of anything with a new point of view, whether it is political or religious, or historical in nature, will attract fans. Like a movie star playing a role attracts fans or a singer with a good voice or good song. Most charismatic people have good intentions, so nothing ever develops out of the brief entrancement but continued fandom and warm feeling for the object of their fandom.
Some charismatic people who think they are doing good by others through forming a new church, will have many fans who naturally become followers. Such charismatic figures often go through a stage of winnowing out fans who did not suit them while giving the followers passage in. This is like an auditioning process for a bank or ballet company and good choices are needed to build up the business to the satisfaction of the management. If the process stops there, the new institution will be well within the bounds of propriety. The charismatic leader will no doubt flourish and prosper as will the followers or employees. Charismatic people can succeed in every field and do.
Charisma and sheep
There is a darker side to charisma. Followers are generally followers by nature- often called sheep because they naturally flock up and are entranced by the shepherd. Sheep naturally let the shepherd dictate where they go, the charismatic is using traits found in the human sheep, as well as careful tools to control them such as hypnotism and suggestion, as a real shepherd uses whistles and dogs. Followers (as opposed to fans) are not generally critical thinkers, they go on what they are told, their fancies, and perceived intuitions. Followers usually make the best group trance subjects and learn the songs and literature of the movement by heart and happily go into trances while repeating them out loud or when praising their leader. Thus the words of the movement become their armor if put on the defensive, they trance out and repeat them to all on comers.
People suspend reality when they enter into trance states, by definition, so it is easy to convince “followers” in a deep trance, of almost anything. Just look at the things you don’t believe in, like Scientology, or the myths of the Mormons, or the superstitious -ness of the witch-hunters. When any of the members of these systems learn enough info, they have become thoroughly indoctrinated. entranced, hypnotized. And then when any part of the trance is invoked, the person slides into the full-on trance of that belief.
Christian Science utilizes many nuances of trance states from denial, repetition of the elements of belief. S&H is nothing but one long repetition of its elements. Especially the famed first edition, which was one long run-on trance state.
To sum up, the prayer of Christian Science uses the known mechanism of going deep within the self and healing false beliefs by replacing them with the correct understanding. This is a trance state. When people being prayed for are in a state of fear, they are in a trance state, it needs to be dissipated before spiritualizing thought can take place.
Since mortal mind overwhelmingly believes in vaccinations, antibiotics and insulin, eyeglasses, false teeth and more, these are not trance states, they are required “beliefs” to operate in a body. The Flock should bow to what is not demonstrable, except by maybe by the most spiritualized of the practitioners; but certainly not by a child or even the average Christian Scientist. MBE did not overcome death, she got older and older and more and more frail until her body gave out. Death is obviously something one overcomes somewhere else than on earth.
Trances states can be called anything from possession trance to hypnotism, to animal magnetism, to singing along with an advertising jingle, or saying a pledge in unison, but all trance states suspend the logical side of the brain while the repetitious part is repeating. Some trances are dignified, some are rowdy, but while singing and repeating texts is done, trance states are happening.
Further reading.: Books on hypnotism, Neuro-Llingustic Programming, indoctrination, and getting people out of cults.