The Story of Alchemy and the Beginnings of Chemistry

by M. M. Pattison Muir

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Matthew Moncrieff Pattison Muir was born into a wealthy Scottish family on April 1, 1848 in Glasgow. He was encouraged through his upbringing in an interest in the natural sciences, and focused on chemistry. He did indeed become a chemistry professor at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge. By 1881, he became a Fellow, and then the head of the Caius Laboratory. His own research was focused on bismuth compounds. His facility for writing was prized, and he became famous for his textbooks, especially Heroes of Science: Chemists (1883) and History of Chemical Theories and Laws (1907).

This is a reprint edition with minor text and illustration imperfections.

 

The Occult World: Teachings of Occult Philosophy

by A. P. Sinnett

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Alfred Percy Sinnett (1840-1921), a journalist and Theosophist, wrote frequently to members of the Brotherhood of Adepts, an occult organization. The famous Mahatmas Koot Hoomi and Morya corresponded via mail with Sinnett, and Sinnett used parts of this correspondence to compose The Occult World. Together, along with others, they were building The Theosophical Society. Sinnett was friends with many of the leading theosophists and spent a productive time in India. The organization’s avowed object was at first the scientific investigation of psychic or so-called “spiritualistic” phenomena, after which its three chief objects were declared, namely (1) Brotherhood of man, without distinction of race, colour, religion, or social position; (2) the serious study of the ancient world-religions for purposes of comparison and the selection therefrom of universal ethics; (3) the study and development of the latent divine powers in man. The society has persisted through the decades and has branches or lodges scattered all over the world, some of which are in India, where its chief headquarters are established.

 

The Occult Arts: An Examination of the Claims Made for the Existence of Supernormal Powers

by J. W. Frings

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J.W. Fring opens by noting he is skeptical of any claims of the supernatural. He defines supernatural broadly, and dedicates chapters to a variety of manifestations, including alchemy, telepathy, palmistry, and hypnotism. Fring chooses to highlight multiple versions of the supernatural, broadly defining, it, and then offers some points to challenge beliefs in these manifestations. Those who are intrigued about the continuing belief in things strange will find this work both useful and controversial.

 

The Mysteries of the Head and Heart Explained: A Look at Phrenology and Mesmerism

by J. Stanley Grimes

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James Stanley Grimes was born in Boston on May 10, 1807. Although he wrote a tremendous amount, little is known about him personally. He married Frances Warner in 1832, but never remarried after she passed away in 1848. He graduated from Union College in 1840, went on to teach law the following year at Castleton Medical College. He quickly left law, focusing on writing on everything from natural selection, theology, and neurology but his focus became mesmerism and phrenology. He wrote extensively on issues of science, religion and human advancement as well.

The Mysteries of the Head and Heart is broken into three sections, with the first discussing phrenology, the second examining physiology and the third broadly looking at mesmerism. Some of his suggestions retain a certain possible validity, despite the controversial subject matter. One commentator notes, “In 1839 … Grimes — then living in Buffalo, New York and running a small group of phrenologists called the Western Phrenological Society — published a modification of Coombe’s phrenological system that [a] divided the organs of the brain into three groups (the ipseal, the social and the intellectual), and [b] added several new organs to the commonly-held phrenological model, including organs of chemicality, pneumativeness (merely having to do with breathing, alas), sanitativeness and (important for this discussion) credenciveness.”

 

Dr. John Dee: Elizabethan Mystic and Astrologer

by G. M. Hort

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This volume illustrates that, while as the saying goes, history is written by the winners, or at least predominantly by the successful, there is much to learn from the initially less successful. G. M. Hort’s account of Dr. John Dee is a different kind of biography as it paints him as a person that worked tirelessly, but in some ways never found success, and often times earned scorn instead. Despite the challenges he faced, the reader may conclude that Dr. Dee ultimately did fairly well for himself, becoming an esteemed mathematician, recognized occultist, and an erstwhile advisor to Queen Elizabeth I.

John Dee was born on July 13, 1527. While his father apparently never rose above being a “gentleman-server” in the Royal Household, the family did not want of food or shelter. Dee became an avid scholar, and very ingenuous, but his thoughtfulness and inventions were often linked to sorcery. Eventually he plunged deeper into his studies in the mysteries of sorcery and alchemy and (possibly) freemasonry. Hort gives a fascinating biography of the enigmas surrounding Dr. Dee and the times in which he lived.

 

Vampires and Vampirism: Collected Stories from Around the World

by Dudley Wright

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Dudley Wright’s fascinating work offers an academic treatment of the history of vampires. He traces the legend of vampires through history and around the world, making stops at Hungary, Britain, Russia, and various parts of what was then referred to as the Orient. He offers a collection of stories from these regions as well, so readers can draw their own conclusions.

Dudley Wright (1868-1950) is also an interesting character of note. He was born in England, and traveled throughout the world studying religions and other belief systems. He was a professional journalist and wrote for a variety of publications. He became the Assistant Editor of the Freemason and Masonic Editor of the Times of London, and other Masonic works. He spent a lot of his research on looking for a common thread to all religions, and wrote for numerous religious journals, such as Spiritual Power, the Homiletic Review, and the Bible Review. He flirted with various religious, including Buddhism and Catholicism, but he converted to Islam and ultimately returned to the Ahmadiyya movement.