Interview With a Mesmerist

Lee Gerrard-Barlow

Lee Gerrard-Barlow

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to Lee Gerrard-Barlow, a practising Mesmerist living in England, about his art. Lee is an NLP Master, Hypnotherapist and Official Premier Trainer for “Magnetism” (i.e. Mesmerism). For those not aware “Mesmerism” pre-dates what is nowadays known as Hypnosis, and draws on rich heritage which is regarded with suspicion by skeptics, but is fascinating for students of the Mysteries.

First of all, what is the proper terminology for Mesmerism, and for people who practice it?

It was Franz Anton Mesmer who lived between (1734-1815 ) who popularised an Art that was actually known as ‘Animal Magnetism’ ,  thus his name became inextricably linked with it ,  passing into daily language right up to our times . The correct contemporary terminology is simply ‘Magnetism,’ or Magnetic therapy.

What are the main differences between Mesmerism and ordinary hypnosis?

There are fundamental differences between Hypnosis and Mesmerism ,  however , I should first mention that Hypnosis as we currently understand the term actually derives from studies of the methods of Magnetists who were active during the late 1800’s such as Charles la Fontaine , whom the Surgeon James Braid studied when Fontaine visited England from France . Braid then made a reductionist study of these methods and he was the one who named it Hypnosis, after ‘Hypnos’ the Greek god of sleep circa 1884. This of course started the common misperception of Hypnosis as actually inducing sleep, which is sometimes possible, but certainly not its aim. Braids methods were put into practice and gradually travelled to the U.S.A,   where they very much became what we now commonly understand to be modern day Hypnosis. This gives us a bit of background…

But the essential difference between Hypnosis and Mesmerism is that Hypnosis nowadays predominantly relies upon the spoken word and effecting the ‘mental plane’ as a process. Mesmerism is a method that deals with energetic polarities and both the lunar plane of energies as well as the more spiritualised plane of energy, if one chooses to be open to such. In this way it may be said to be loosely related to various oriental energetic practices. Magnetism is mainly a non-Verbal art, which produces profound trance states.

Finally, due to its non-verbal nature, it is extremely effective on animals, such as dogs, horses, amphibians and so on. This certainly is not possible with ordinary Hypnosis!

What kind of things can be achieved by Mesmerism, that can’t be done by Hypnosis?

As a practitioner of both of the disciplines of Hypnosis and Magnetism, I am of the opinion that both have their specific merits  but are used for different aims. Magnetism could be used to treat all the same issues as Hypnosis, however the approach would be through a completely different energetic and holistic approach. The opposite method however of attempting to achieve the same results with Hypnosis as with Magnetism is not a possibility. Arm levitation of course can and does occur with Hypnosis, but is done through a quite lengthy process of verbal suggestion. You will clearly see in some of my videos on you tube, or on my website, that this kind of thing happens without the use of words and without any suggestion whatsoever from the operator. The only active agent being the operators will to effect changes, which is done purely energetically. Mesmer believed that this was done via a kind of ‘magnetic fluid,’ which we could regard in a like manner to the concept of the ether.

The power to induce states is very, very swift with the combined use of Magnetism and Fascination , or the use of the power of direct eye contact through a kind of fixed magnetic or hypnotic ‘Gazing’ causing an immediate onset of trance state . This is a genuine hypnotic power that has been sadly lampooned and devalued in films and comedies. We teach many ways around these common misperceptions in actual practice. Experience of these realities on our courses will demonstrate its potent veracity.

The state produced during a magnetic session is actually a very lucid state, where the subject can be acutely aware and in a state of heightened ‘Presence,’ despite external appearances. Often an experience outside of the normal perception of time occurs, or a timeless state. A place where personal issues which often are the result of constant disordered thinking begin to collapse, and a feeling of freedom can kick-start the resolution of various inner conflicts, conflicts that have been the cause of imbalance in the individual.

Although magnetism is a therapy which appears to be applied externally, it is also actually a very important gateway for the practitioner themselves, for the production of internal states that can have even an initiatory value. These aspects of Magnetism are in fact of the utmost importance for the serious practitioner who is always ultimately a student of the mysteries.

What happened to the tradition of Mesmerism, after the rise of Hypnotism began in the mid-nineteenth century?

The Tradition of Mesmerism has always been alive, however, in its most interesting forms it became the province of a few very closed esoteric groups on the continent, where its practice was preserved, perpetuated and developed in the spirit of experimentation .

How different is contemporary Mesmerism to what Franz Mesmer himself would have practiced?

In our time, a few other practices have been added as the result of further research and development, some of which was due to the previously mentioned ‘secret magnetic schools.’  However in the school of Dr [Marco] Paret and myself (ISI-CNV –  Arcana Therapies ) we teach fully all of the early methods , as well as new discoveries that have arisen through deep experimentation . It is here important to say , that even at an early period in Mesmerism when one of Mesmer’s students Puysegur was practicing , that there were some divergences in practice and philosophy, thus producing three distinct approaches , being  the ‘Mesmerians,’  the Psychofluidists and the Spiritualists .  We cover all of these approaches in our school.

How is Mesmerism used today?

Today many practitioners use Mesmerism as an addition to Hypnotherapeutic methods that they have already trained in, and producing greatly enhanced results. Also it has been used on the continent, particularly in Italy by stage Magicians, again with stunning results.

Here I must stress that Dr Paret, and I , have been the primary protagonists of the current resurgence of interest in this subject , and it is very easy to trace the majority of those who are currently practicing publicly to have been either directly trained by Dr Paret , or by one of his students.

Imagine a client comes to you to be Mesmerised. What might they expect during a Mesmerism session?

The Subject can easily experience any of the following :

A heightened state of Physical Presence and awareness. A sense of timelessness, inner guidance. A sense of harmony and well-being. An inner security that is able to place troubling issues into a harmonised perspective. The Ability to re-create the inner state reached in oneself at will subsequent to the session. Clarity. Rewards similar to deep meditation, in a fraction of the time.

How did you personally first get involved in Mesmerism?

I had been involved in a long term study of N.L.P and this led me into its origin in Hypnosis, this in turn led me to deeply study Hypnosis and its own origins which I discovered to be Mesmerism or magnetism, I was then very happy to find that magnetism was directly connected to my long term interest in the esoteric and Hermetic traditions of the continent. I truly felt that I had completed a circle and had reached a much deeper understanding and appreciation of traditions which had always been a source of inspiration for me. Synchronously at the same time as I was researching Mesmerism I met Dr Paret at a seminar in London in 2008 and have been studying deeply with him ever since then .

How would one go about learning Mesmerism?

Dr Paret runs courses at the main university ISI-CNV in Nice, in France and also in Italy where the full length teaching is given. I am the primary representative of these teachings for England and I teach the fundamentals of three vital aspects of the teaching over three days. The next course is held in a beautiful setting in Guildford close to Gatwick Airport and London on the 23rd , 24th and 25th October 2015 . Obviously if you are reading this after this date further courses will be listed on my website.

Imagine someone who is already a trained hypnotherapist. How would they find trying to adjust to the practice of Mesmerism?

It is very easy to adjust to Mesmerism, as it is a very natural method. Mesmerism may be considered a stand-alone therapy as it can work very well as a self-contained practice. However, due to the fact that it is the very ‘root’ of the contemporary forms of hypnosis, the practitioners of hypnosis can easily find parallels that link to what they already do. A teacher I had in contemporary Hypnosis once told the whole class that , for some reason , if you use rhythmic ‘passes’ over the subjects body while doing verbal hypnosis that is results in a much deeper and more effective trance induction . Actually, this touches on the point I made earlier, that Braid actually threw out the baby with the bathwater when he made his reductionist system and dispensed with some of the more effective aspects of Magnetism. It’s funny… we need to put them back where they belong and get better results.

Finally : Can you recommend any resources ( books , websites, etc), that readers of my blog could use to find out more about the subject?

Yes of course.  Here are a few that will be of immediate use for the beginner.


Schopenhauer : “On The Will In Nature / Animal Magnetism and Magic” .  

Interview podcast with Lee Gerrard-Barlow:




The Zoist  (Elliotson) :

Oswald Wirth: “The Imposition of Hands.

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