Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology (Encyclopedia by Leslie Shepard

By Leslie Shepard

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AIC See American Institutes for Research Ailuromancy Divination through superstitions concerning cats. For example, a black cat crossing your path is a bad omen in the United States and Germany, although usually regarded as lucky in Britain. Owning a black cat is also believed to be lucky. A cat washing its face or ears, or climbing up furniture, is said to indicate rain; if the cat washes its face in the parlor, it may indicate visitors. It is a widespread belief that killing or mistreating a cat will bring ill fortune.

Throughout Europe, he said, the positive alchemical doctrine had many adherents at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth. Reportedly, a ‘‘vast association of alchemists’’ called the Hermetic Society, founded in Westphalia in 1790, continued to flourish in the year 1819. In 1837 an alchemist of Thuringia presented to the Société Industrielle of Weimar a tincture he averred would effect metallic transmutation. About the same time several French journals announced a public course of lectures on hermetic philosophy by a professor of the University of Munich.

Figuier’s friend urged him not to condemn these exponents of the hermetic philosophy for their metaphysical tendencies, for, he said, there are facts in our sciences that can only be explained in that light. If, for instance, copper is placed in air or water, there will be no result, but if a touch of some acid is added, it will oxidize. The explanation is that ‘‘the acid provokes oxidation of the metal, because it has an affinity for the oxide which tends to form’’—a material fact almost metaphysical in its production, and only explicable thereby.

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