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History

Raphael’s Handbook of Divination

Raphael had a particular fondness for publishing little handbooks full of tables used for divination. In his Raphael’s Book of Fate: Whereby all Questions may be Answered Respecting the Present and Future he offered handful of different methods of divining the future, most of which used a standard playing deck, some reckoning, and some cross-referencing […]

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History

Raphael’s Astro-Geomantic-Prophetic Practices

Robert Cross Smith, better known as Raphael, The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century, was a rather prolific publisher. For a short time he published a journal with the autobiographical sounding title The Straggling Astrologer. After about six months of losing money, he ended that project. He followed it with a thick tome, The Astrologer of […]

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History

New Tool for Treating Mental Illness, ca. 1817

The NY Times recently reported on “A New Tool in Treating Mental Illness: Building Design.”1 Looking at a couple of mental health facilities in California, one recently completed and one still under construction, the article highlights some of the building and design innovations found at these institutions: private rooms with nice views of the outside, […]

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History

A glow-in-the-dark world

A short notice in the Phrenological Journal from April, 1879, reports on the self-luminous properties of calcium sulfide. A Prof. Morton from the Stevens Institute of Technology had analyzed the material painted onto the faces of self-luminous clocks and discovered that it was just a “sulfide of calcium.” The compound absorbs light when exposed to […]

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History

The Sun Center Publishing Co?

I stumbled across a letter (ok, more accurately put: I stumbled across a scan of a letter) from 1911 sent to an R. A. Bell in Montana: This brief note suggests so many interesting projects, not the least of which is: What on earth was this course, New Lessons in Physical Regeneration? Who was The […]

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History

Lead-A 19th-C. Public Health Issue

The June 1879 issue of The Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated contains the following brief notice: Already in the 19th century we had a sense that lead was a health hazard, particularly in water pipes. Given our on-going problems with lead in our drinking water, Santayana’s aphorism — “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to […]

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History

Interesting Planetary Diagram

The standard geocentric model assumed that the planets were arranged out from the center, the earth, according to the period of revolution. On this assumption, the shorter the period, the closer the planet was to the stationary, central Earth.[1] Claudius Ptolemy ensconced the order in his Syntaxis (commonly know as his Almagest) sometime in the […]

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History

Religious Paintings and Mental Health

A brief notice in the American Journal of Insanity from January 1856 highlights once again therapeutic importance of ambience especially for treating insanity: Gift to the Maryland Hospital A beautiful oil painting has been received at the Maryland Hospital for the Insane, with the following note addressed to the Medical Superintendent: Baltimore, 27th September, 1855 […]

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History

The Pulse, Buildings, and the Therapeutics of Design

Maiken Scott hosts the excellent “The Pulse” on WHYY here in Philadelphia. Each episode explores “stories about the people and places at the heart of health and science.” Or, put another way, each week she spends a delightfully informative hour examining some constellation of issues where health and science interact with and inform (or could […]

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History

Ghosts and the Society for Psychical Research

Sometime in the mid 1770s the German scholar Georg Christoph Lichtenberg predicted with a certain degree of optimism: Our world will yet become so intricate that it will be as ridiculous to believe in a god as it is nowadays to believe in ghosts.[1] Although Lichtenberg investigated electrical phenomena and is credited with discovering “Lichtenberg […]