views updated May 14 2018


Occultist Éliphas Lévi, in his book Transcendental Magic (1896), defines insufflation as follows:

"[It]" is one of the most important practices of occult medicine, because it is a perfect sign of the transmission of life. To inspire, as a fact, means to breath upon some person or thing, and we know already, by the one doctrine of Hermes, that the virtue of things has created words, that there is an exact proportion between ideas and speech, which is the first form and verbal realisation of ideas. The breath attracts or repels, according, as it is warm or cold. The warm breathing corresponds to positive and the cold breathing to negative electricity.

"Electrical and nervous animals fear cold breathing, and the experiment may be made upon a cat, whose familiarities are importunate. By fixedly regarding a lion or tiger and blowing in their face, they would be so stupefied as to be forced to retreat before us.

"Warm and prolonged insufflation recruits the circulation of the blood, cures rheumatic and gouty pains, restores the balance of the humours, and dispels lassitude. When the operator is sympathetic and good, it acts as a universal sedative.

"Cold insufflation soothes pains occasioned by congestions and fluidic accumulations. The two breathings must therefore be used alternately, observing the polarity of the human organism and acting in a contrary manner upon the poles, which must be treated successively to an opposite magnetism. Thus, to cure an inflamed eye, the one which is not affected must be subjected to a warm and gentle insufflation, cold insufflation being practised upon the suffering member at the same distance and in the same proportion.

"Magnetic passes [moving the hands over something, e.g., an afflicted part of the body] have a similar effect to insufflations, and are a real breathing by transpiration and radiation of the interior air, which is phosphorescent with vital light. Slow passes constitute a warm breathing which fortifies and raises the spirits; swift passes are a cold breathing of dispersive nature, neutralising tendencies to congestion. The warm insufflation should be performed transversely, or from below upward, the cold insufflation is more effective when directed downward from above."

(See also mesmerism )


Lévi, Éliphas. Transcendental Magic. N.p., 1896. Reprint, New York: Samuel Weiser, 1972.


views updated May 14 2018

insufflation (in-suf-lay-shŏn) n. the act of blowing gas or a powder, such as a medication, into a body cavity.