Online Reference For Body, Mind & Spirit

Term: Magnetism


An invisible force that is seen throughout the universe, it is created by the movement of electricity found in elementary particles of the atom. All materials are affected to a greater or lesser extent by magnetism. This is most obvious in permanent magnets with their pull on metals and especially on each other. Most magnets are "bipolar." That is, they have two aspects for attraction, usually known as the north pole and the south pole. That the north attracts the south, and vice versa, has resulted in the saying that "opposites attract;" however the magnetic energy is still the same.

Because magnets pull metallic items to them, magnetism is considered to be a mystically "receptive" force (as opposed to electricity, which is said to be "projective"). Some people, wishing to avoid the concept of gender in describing energy, use the term "magnetic" to describe receptive or archetypically "feminine" energies, while describing projective or archetypically "male" energies as "electric."

Magnetism's influence on "non-magnetic" materials is subtle but existent. As a result, some traveling healers used magnets to supposedly heal people. One, a Jesuit priest and professor of astronomy at the University of Vienna was named Father Maximilian Hell (1720 – 1792). He used steel plates and claimed that if they were placed in a certain way on a naked body, they could cure diseases. His practices were followed by Franz Anton Mesmer, who used plates and rods of metal, calling the energy "animal magnetism." Once, when he didn't have his tools available, he got the same results using his hands. He concluded that the energy came from him, and now called his practices "Mesmerism."