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The Victorian Occultist Accused of Killing Men With Her Mind
29-10-2019, 08:05 AM
Post: #1
The Victorian Occultist Accused of Killing Men With Her Mind
Claude Bernard dead! Claude Bernard dead!” Anna Kingsford hysterically cried one February afternoon as she arrived to a notice on the gate of the Paris École de Médecine informing of the funeral of the great physiologist. Overcome by emotion, she asked to be seated as she recounted the events of the previous December, 1877. Using her knowledge of the occult, Kingsford said, she had summoned a “spiritual thunderbolt” to strike him down.


At the time, Kingsford was a few years into her medical degree at the prestigious school. Defiantly pursuing her ambitions despite Victorian hostility toward women in medicine, she was on course to become one of the first British women to qualify as a doctor. The avowed vegetarian didn't just want to become a practitioner; she also wished to gain credibility for her crusade against vivisection, a practice which tortured helpless animals in the name of scientific progression.

Kingsford threw herself right into the lion's den. The École championed the practice and Professor Claude Bernard was Europe's primary proponent of vivisection at the time. (He was once served a divorce by his wife after she returned home one day to find he had vivisected their pet dog.) In an article for The Heretic, Kingsford described her anguish when she learned that the horrific screams coming from an École lab were the dying cries of dogs as they were dissected alive. “With tears of agony,” she wrote, “I prayed for strength and courage to labour effectually for the abolition of so vile a wrong, and to do at least what one heart and one voice might to root this curse of torture from the land.”
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