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Saw the word "chatoyance" in the comments to someone else's post, and… - sauergeek — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Mar. 31st, 2017|12:44 am]
Saw the word "chatoyance" in the comments to someone else's post, and this came to mind:

Chatoyancy is a form of divination using cats' eyes. Practitioners initially used the eyes of deceased cats. There are some records of chatoyancers killing cats to acquire their eyes, but in fragments of letters from that era, they determined that killing the cat for its eyes ruined the divination. The practice of chatoyancy was initially codified by an unknown author in the now-lost Quod Visus Cattus[1].

Some time before 981, a chatoyancer[2] found that a cats-eye gem worked as a usable if inferior substitute for an actual cat's eye with the notable advantage of not having to find a dead cat first. This discovery caused a schism among chatoyancers, separating those who insisted upon using only true eyes of cats, and those who thought that the gem was acceptable. The latter faction was by far the smaller of the two, as the cost of a suitable gem was often beyond the reach of practitioners. Some letters between practitioners of this period, debating the merits of gems, survive. Many critics denounced the use of chatoyantic techniques on gems as a bastardized form of lithomancy.

A second codification of chatoyancy appeared in or around 1304: Libro Modi Videre Sicut Feles Verax[3]. This codification dismissed all forms of chatoyancy other than those involving the eyes of an actual cat. It is notable in its speculation about the use of the eyes of living cats, which in turn spurred a number of experiments -- all failures -- in the immobilization of cats to use their living eyes for divination. However, practitioners of various other forms of chatoyancy continued divination through their preferred method during this period, though no codification of other forms is known.

Roger Bacon's publication of his Opus Majus in 1267 led to an increasing use of the scientific method. While many disciplines, including chatoyancy, adopted Bacon's methods, improvements in science reduced the need for all forms of divination. Most practitioners of chatoyancy -- and divination in general -- were reduced to essentially parlor magicians. Many charlatans claimed to be able to see the future through various methods, with chatoyancy being one of the more esoteric. While the practice of chatoyancy did not die out in the era of science, fewer and fewer true practitioners could be found.

The salvation of the practice of chatoyancy came from an unexpected source: William Morton's demonstration of the use of ether as an anesthetic in 1846. Further demonstrations of other forms of anesthesia, especially in veterinary medicine, has led to successful demonstrations by modern chatoyancers of the use of the eyes of living -- if anesthetized -- cats for highly accurate divination.

Many recent works on chatoyancy[4] speculate that the reason live, anesthetized cats provide such accurate divination is that the divination operates on the dreams of cats. These speculations have led to various experiments[5] on naturally sleeping cats in an attempt to use their eyes for divination without waking them. While these attempts have so far been unsuccessful, investigation continues.

Today, likely more than half of the veterinary specialists in cats are chatoyancers. The active scientific investigation into the theory and practice of chatoyancy should hone its accuracy in the near future. There are numerous avenues of research in the field for dedicated investigators, and the employment opportunities are predicted to grow at least over the next decade. Chatoyancy is a thriving method of divination with a bright future.

[1] Quod Visus Cattus initially circulated in the area of what is now Switzerland as several copies of a small handwritten manuscript in the early 4th century CE. The last known copy was lost in the great flood of Grenoble in 1219.

[2] Believed to have been the Welsh chatoyancer Dafydd ab Gethen, member of the court of at least Maredudd, and author of the widely discredited De Divinatione Feles Oculos in Varias Incideritis.

[3] The author is not named on any extant copy. However, most known copies of, or references to, the book are found near Buda. The author is suspected to be noted chatoyancer Ilona Budai.

[4] See, for example, Seeing With Cats Eyes by Rumiko Watanabe (Elizabeth Gundersen, translator); Dreams of a Cat by Arthur Jones; and Chatoyantic Inquiries by Giselle Marley and DeShawn Robertson.

[5] Every issue of The Journal of Chatoyancy through #44, except #8 and #21, contains at least one such paper. The publishers dedicated both issues #20 and #38 entirely to experiments on naturally sleeping cats.

This entry was originally posted at http://sauergeek.dreamwidth.org/48106.html.

[User Picture]From: motomuffin
2017-03-31 01:45 pm (UTC)
Well that was fascinating. :-)
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