Reichenbach, Baron Karl von

Reichenbach, Baron Karl von (1788–1869)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Reichenbach was a well known Austrian industrial chemist who, in 1858, claimed to have discovered certain radiations coming from animals, crystals, plants, and magnets. He said that these emanations could be seen and felt in the dark by sensitive subjects, especially if they first acclimatized themselves for two or three hours. Reichenbach stated that the north end of a magnet would emit a blue glow while the south end would give off an orange hue. He also associated warmth with the south end and coolness with the north. The same conditions existed with crystals and with parts of animals. The human body was seen as orange and warm on the left while blue and cool on the right. Reichenbach’s work Physico-Physiological Researches was translated into English in 1850.

Reichenbach postulated a quasi-magnetic emanation or fluid which he called Odyle, Od, or odic Force, which radiated outward in varying degrees from all objects. Over a period of five years, he worked with more than 100 people, pursuing his theories. Those working with “animal magnetism” welcomed his work as complementary to theirs, though Reichenback did not work with hypnotized, or mesmerized, patients. This all developed into a whole study of what is more generally termed the “aura.”


Gauld, Alan: Man, Myth & Magic: Magnetism. London: BPC Publishing, 1970
Podmore, Frank: Mesmerism and Christian Science. (1909) New York: University Books, 1963
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