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Alchemy is an ancient tradition, the primary objective of which was the creation of the mythical "philosopher's stone," which was said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver, and also act as an elixir of life that would confer youth and immortality upon its user. Alchemy can be viewed as a protoscience, a precursor to modern chemistry, having provided procedures, equipment, and terminology that are still in use. However, alchemy also included various non-scientific mythological, religious, and spiritual concepts, theories and practices.
The best known goals of the alchemists were the transmutation of common metals into Gold or Silver, and the creation of a "panacea," a remedy that supposedly would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely; and the discovery of a universal solvent. Although these were not the only uses for the discipline, they were the ones most documented and well-known. Starting with the Middle Ages, Persian and European alchemists invested much effort in the search for the philosopher's stone, a legendary substance that was believed to be an essential ingredient for either or both of those goals.
Modern discussions of alchemy are generally split into an examination of its exoteric practical applications, and its esoteric aspects. The former is pursued by historians of the physical sciences who have examined the subject in terms of proto-chemistry, medicine, and charlatanism. The latter is of interest to the historians of esotericism, psychologists, spiritual and new age communities, and hermetic philosophers. The subject has also made an ongoing impact on literature and the arts. Despite the modern split, numerous sources stress an integration of esoteric and exoteric approaches to alchemy. Holmyard, when writing on exoteric aspects, states that they can not be properly appreciated if the esoteric is not always kept in mind. The prototype for this model can be found in Bolos of Mendes' second century BCE work, Physika kai Mystika (On Physical and Mystical Matters). Marie-Louise von Franz tells us the double approach of Western alchemy was set from the start, when Greek philosophy was mixed with Egyptian and Mesopotamian technology. The technological, operative approach, which she calls extraverted, and the mystic, contemplative, psychological one, which she calls introverted are not mutually exclusive, but complementary instead, as meditation requires practice in the real world, and conversely.
Archaeoastronomy (also spelled archeoastronomy) is the study of how people in the past "have understood the phenomena in the sky how they used phenomena in the sky and what role the sky played in their cultures." Clive Ruggles argues it is misleading to consider archaeoastronomy to be the study of ancient astronomy, as modern astronomy is a scientific discipline, while archaeoastronomy considers other cultures' symbolically rich cultural interpretations of phenomena in the sky. It is often twinned with ethnoastronomy, the anthropological study of skywatching in contemporary societies. Archaeoastronomy is also closely associated with historical astronomy, the use of historical records of heavenly events to answer astronomical problems and the history of astronomy, which uses written records to evaluate past astronomical practice.
Archaeoastronomy uses a variety of methods to uncover evidence of past practices including archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, statistics and probability, and history. Because these methods are diverse and use data from such different sources, the problem of integrating them into a coherent argument has been a long-term issue for archaeoastronomers.
Archaeoastronomy fills complementary niches in landscape archaeology and cognitive archaeology. Material evidence and its connection to the sky can reveal how a wider landscape can be integrated into beliefs about the cycles of nature , such as Mayan astronomy and its relationship with agriculture. Other examples which have brought together ideas of cognition and landscape include studies of the cosmic order embedded in the roads of settlements.
Archaeoastronomy can be applied to all cultures and all time periods. The meanings of the sky vary from culture to culture; nevertheless there are scientific methods which can be applied across cultures when examining ancient beliefs. It is perhaps the need to balance the social and scientific aspects of archaeoastronomy which led Clive Ruggles to describe it as: "...[A] field with academic work of high quality at one end but uncontrolled speculation bordering on lunacy at the other."
Artificial Intelligence > Natural Language
Astronomy > Alternative Astronomy
Cryptozoology refers to the search for animals whose existence has not been proven. This includes looking for living examples of animals that are considered extinct, such as dinosaurs; animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported, such as Bigfoot and Chupacabra; and wild animals dramatically outside their normal geographic ranges, such as phantom cats or "ABCs" (an initialism commonly used by cryptozoologists that stands for Alien Big Cats).
The animals cryptozoologists study are often referred to as cryptids, a term coined by John Wall in 1983.
Cryptozoology is not a recognized branch of zoology or a discipline of science. It is an example of pseudoscience because it relies heavily upon anecdotal evidence, stories and alleged sightings.
The coining of the word cryptozoology is often attributed to Belgian-French zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, though Heuvelmans attributes coinage of the term to the late Scottish explorer and adventurer Ivan T. Sanderson. Heuvelmans' 1955 book On the Track of Unknown Animals traces the scholarly origins of the discipline to Anthonie Cornelis Oudemans and his 1892 study, The Great Sea Serpent. Heuvelmans argued that cryptozoology should be undertaken with scientific rigor, but with an open-minded, interdisciplinary approach. He also stressed that attention should be given to local, urban and folkloric sources regarding such creatures, arguing that while often layered in unlikely and fantastic elements, folktales can have small grains of truth and important information regarding undiscovered organisms. Phantom cats (an example of living animals supposedly found outside of their normal range) are a common subject of cryptozoological interest, largely due to the relative likelihood of existence in comparison to fantastical cryptids lacking any evidence of existence, such as Mothman.
Crystallography is the experimental science of the arrangement of atoms in solids. The word "crystallography" derives from the Greek words crystallon = cold drop / frozen drop, with its meaning extending to all solids with some degree of transparency, and grapho = write.
Before the development of X-ray diffraction crystallography (see below), the study of crystals was based on their geometry. This involves measuring the angles of crystal faces relative to theoretical reference axes (crystallographic axes), and establishing the symmetry of the crystal in question. The former is carried out using a goniometer. The position in 3D space of each crystal face is plotted on a stereographic net, e.g. Wulff net or Lambert net. In fact, the pole to each face is plotted on the net. Each point is labelled with its Miller index. The final plot allows the symmetry of the crystal to be established.
Extraterrestrial life (from the Latin words: extra ("beyond", or "not of") and terrestris ("of or belonging to Earth")) is defined as life that does not originate from Earth. Also referred to as alien life, or simply aliens, these hypothetical forms of life range from simple bacteria-like organisms to beings far more advanced than humans.
The development and testing of theories about extraterrestrial life is known as exobiology or astrobiology; the term astrobiology, however, also covers the study of life on Earth, viewed in its astronomical context. Although many prominent scientists consider extraterrestrial life to be plausible, the scientific community does not currently recognize any verifiable evidence of such life.
In traditional belief, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely: The mode of manifestation can range from an invisible presence to translucent or wispy shapes, to realistic, life-like visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.
The belief in manifestations of the spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. It is not known for sure whether ghosts exist or not. Many believe they do exist from claims of sightings and evidence collected from technology designed for "ghost hunting". Although many believe they are fiction, that all ghost sightings are a result of overactive imaginations, pictures of ghosts are faked, and the evidence is a result from normal household activities, such as a furnace creating a electro-magnetic field which is believed to be a common sign of a ghost. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to appease the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary essences that haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life, though stories of the phantom armies, ghost trains, phantom ships, and even ghost animals have also been recounted.
Hypnosis is a mental state or imaginative role-enactment. It is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary instructions and suggestions. Hypnotic suggestions may be delivered by a hypnotist in the presence of the subject, or may be self-administered ("self-suggestion" or "autosuggestion"). The use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes is referred to as "hypnotherapy", while its use as a form of entertainment for an audience is known as "stage hypnosis".
The words hypnosis and hypnotism both derive from the term neuro-hypnotism (nervous sleep) coined by the Scottish surgeon James Braid around 1841. Braid based his practice on that developed by Franz Mesmer and his followers ("Mesmerism" or "animal magnetism"), but differed in his theory as to how the procedure worked.
Magic may refer to:
Magic (illusion), the art of appearing to perform supernatural feats using sleight of hand or other methods.
Magic (paranormal), the use of paranormal methods to manipulate natural forces, such as witchcraft.
Ceremonial magic, a ritual system of esoteric spiritual development using occult techniques.
Magick, a specific system of ritual magic deriving from the religious philosophy of Thelema.
Magic and religion, which may involve the intercession of deities or other spirits, such as prayer.
Magic in fiction, the treatment of magic in fictional works.
Otherkin are a community of people who identify themselves as non-human in all but outward form, contending that they are, in spirit if not in body, creatures traditionally associated with mythology or folklore. Belief in otherkin is related to the changeling concept.
The therian, vampire, and draconic subcultures are related to the otherkin community somewhat, and are considered part of it by most otherkin, but are culturally distinct movements of their own despite some overlap in membership.
Some may claim to be able to shapeshift mentally — meaning that they may experience the sense of being in their particular form while not actually changing physically. The existence of Otherkin is variably explained as being made possible through reincarnation, having a nonhuman soul, ancestry, or symbolic metaphor.
Otherkin identify with familiar creatures from mythology, folklore and religion along with various terrestrial animals: angels, demons, dragons, elves, fairies, sprites, aliens.
The oldest Internet resource for otherkin is the Elfinkind Digest; a mailing list started in 1990 by a student at the University of Kentucky for "elves and interested observers". Also in the early 1990s, newsgroups such as alt.horror.werewolves and alt.fan.dragons on Usenet, which were initially created for fans of these creatures in the context of fantasy and horror literature and films, also developed followings of individuals who identified as mythological beings.
On 6 February 1995, a document titled the "Elven Nation Manifesto" was posted to Usenet, including the groups alt.pagan and alt.magick. On Usenet itself, the document was universally panned and considered to be either a troll or an attempt to frame an innocent party. However, enough people contacted the original author of the Elven Nation post in good faith for a planned mailing list to spin off from it.
The modern otherkin subculture grew out of these elven online communities of the early-to-mid-1990s, with the earliest recorded use of the term otherkin appearing in July of 1990 and the variant otherkind being reported as early as April 1990.
Out of Body Experiences
An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is an experience that typically involves a sensation of floating outside of one's body and, in some cases, perceiving one's physical body from a place outside one's body (autoscopy).
The term out-of-body experience was introduced in 1943 by G.N.M Tyrrell in his book Apparitions, and adopted by, for example, Celia Green and Robert Monroe as a bias-free alternative to belief-centric labels such as "astral projection", "soul travel", or "spirit walking". Though the term usefully distances researchers from scientifically problematic concepts such as the soul, scientists still know little about the phenomenon. Some researchers believe they have managed to recreate OBE in a laboratory setup by stimulating a part in the human brain. One in ten people has an out-of-body experience once or more commonly several times in their life. OBEs are often part of the near-death experience. Those who have experienced OBEs sometimes claim to have observed details which were unknown to them beforehand.
In some cases the phenomenon appears to occur spontaneously; in others it is associated with a physical or mental trauma, dehydration, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, use of psychedelic drugs, dissociative drugs, or a dream-like state. Many techniques aiming to induce the experience deliberately have been developed, for example visualization while in a relaxed, meditative state. Recent (2007) studies have shown that experiences somewhat similar to OBEs can be induced by electrical brain stimulation (particularly the temporoparietal junction). Some of those who experience OBEs claimed to have willed themselves out of their bodies, while others report having found themselves being pulled from their bodies (usually preceded by a feeling of paralysis). In other accounts, the feeling of being outside the body was suddenly realized after the fact, and the experiencers saw their own bodies almost by accident.
Some neurologists have suspected that the event is triggered by a mismatch between visual and tactile signals. They used a virtual reality setup to recreate an OBE. The subject looked through goggles and saw his own body as it would appear to an outside observer standing behind him. The experimenter then touched the subject at the same time as a rod appeared to touch the virtual image. The experiment created an illusion of being behind and outside one's body. However, both critics and the experimenter himself note that the study fell short of replicating "full-blown" OBEs.
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure. Paranormal phenomena are distinct from certain hypothetical entities, such as dark matter and dark energy, only insofar as paranormal phenomena are inconsistent with the world as already understood through empirical observation coupled with scientific methodology.
Thousands of stories relating to paranormal phenomena are found in popular culture, folklore, and the recollections of individual subjects. In contrast, the scientific community, as referenced in statements made by organizations such as the United States National Science Foundation, maintains that scientific evidence does not support a variety of beliefs that have been characterized as paranormal.
Weather Phenomena > Drought