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Observations placeholder

Baron de Reichenbach – Seeing in the dark, the vivid nature of the aura



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Fluid of Magnetizers; Precise account of the experiments of Baron de Reichenbach on its physical and physiological properties. Paris Carré, 1891 [as quoted in Albert De Rochas D'aiglun - The Exteriorisation Of Sensibility, An Experimental And Historical Study]

Take a sensitive in the dark, take a cat, a bird, a butterfly, if you can get one, and several flowerpots. After a few hours of darkness you will hear him say curious things: the flowers will come out of the darkness and become perceptible; first they will come out of the darkness of the general darkness in the form of an isolated grey cloud; later lighter points will form; at the end each flower will become distinct, and the shapes will appear more and more clearly. One day I placed one of these vases in front of Mr. Endlicher, a distinguished professor of botany, who was an average sensitive; he cried out with astonishment mixed with fear: "It is a blue flower, it is a gloxinia." It was indeed a Glocinia speciosa, var. cœrulea, that he had seen in absolute darkness and that he had recognized by its shape and colour.

But without light, nothing can be seen in the dark; it took the presence of light to see the plant with such evidence that not only the shape, but also the colour could be recognized. Where did this light come from? It came out of the plant itself, which it illuminated: germs, anthers, pistils, corollas, stems, everything appeared finely illuminated; one could even see the leaves, although they were darker. Everything seemed like a sweet incandescence: the reproductive organs were the brightest, then the stem and finally the leaves.

Your butterfly, your cat, your bird, all will appear the same in the dark, some parts of these animals will become bright. Soon the sensitive will declare that he sees you yourself.... Focus his attention on the hands; first they will have a slight resemblance to grey smoke, then they will look like a silhouette on a dimly lit background, finally the fingers will appear with their own light; he will see on each finger a shiny extension, which may sometimes appear as long as the finger itself. When the first astonishment relating to the luminous faculty of all men, which has remained unknown until now, has passed and you want to direct your sensitive person's attention to the detail of these lights, you may hear him say with a new surprise that the colours in the different parts of the body are not similar; that the right hands shine with a bluish fire, while the left hands appear red yellow and consequently the left hands appear darker than the second; that the same difference exists for both feet; that even the whole right side of your face and even the whole body is bluish and darker than the left which is reddish yellow and appears significantly lighter than the other. (Letter 5.)

I made my first test on magnets with Miss Nowstuy in Vienna in April 1744, and then repeated it hundreds of times with other sensitives in the camera obscura. - At each end of the magnetic bar there is a bright, burning, smoking and sparking flame, blue at the North Pole, yellow red at the South Pole. - If you place the rod vertically with the South Pole up, the sensitive will tell you that the flame is growing. If the magnet is of sufficient strength, the flame will rise to the ceiling and produce a luminous circle of 1, 2, up to 3 feet in diameter, so clear that the subject, if sensitive enough, can describe the details of the ceiling. But, I warn you, do not neglect any of the precautions I have indicated to you to obtain absolute darkness and prepare your sensitive person's eyes for hours; otherwise he would see nothing, you would work uselessly, and the accuracy of my statements would run the risk of an undeserved suspicion. (Letter 4.)

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items


Activities and commonsteps



Sensory deprivation