Walter J. KILNER
Walter John Kilner
Walter John Kilner, M.D. B.A., M.B. (Cantab.) M.R.C.P., etc.
(1847–1920) was a medical electrician at St. Thomas Hospital,
London. There, from 1879 to 1893, he was in charge of
electrotherapy. He was also in private medical practice, in
Ladbroke Grove, London.
He wrote papers on a range of subjects but is today best
remembered for his late study The Human Atmosphere. In 1883 he
became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians. In his spare
time he was a keen chess player.
The Human Atmosphere
In 1911 Kilner published one of the first western medical studies
of the "Human Atmosphere" or Aura, proposing its existence, nature
and possible use in medical diagnosis and prognosis. In its
conviction that the human energy field is an indicator of health
and mood, Kilner's study resembles the later work of Harold Saxton
Burr. However, while Burr relied upon voltmeter readings, Kilner,
working before the advent of semiconductor technology, attempted
to invent devices by which the naked eye might be trained to
observe "auric" activity which, he hypothesised, was probably
ultraviolet radiation, stating that the phenomena he saw were not
affected by electromagnets.
Glass slides or "Kilner Screens" containing alcoholic solutions
of variously coloured dyes, including a blue coal-tar dye called
"dicyanin" were used as filters in "Kilner Goggles" which,
together with lights, were held to train the eyes to perceive
electromagnetic radiation outside the normal spectrum of visible
light. After being so trained, one could dispense with the
apparatus. Kilner did not recommend merely viewing the subject
through these lenses.
According to his study, Kilner and his associates were able, on
many occasions, to perceive auric formations, which he called the
Etheric Double, the Inner Aura and the Outer Aura, extending
several inches from patients' naked bodies, and his book gave
instructions by which the reader might construct and use similar
Francis J. Rebman, a friend of Kilner supported his research in
A drawback to Kilner's method was the scarcity and toxicity of the
chemicals he recommended. Later, the biologist Oscar Bagnall
recommended substituting the dye pinacyanol (dissolved in
triethanolamine) but this dye is also not easy to obtain. Carl
Edwin Lindgren has stated that cobalt blue and purple glass may be
substituted for the dyes used by Kilner and Bagnall.
In 1920 a revised edition of his book was published under the
title The Human Aura. Kilner's work was well-timed for the heyday
of Theosophy and his findings were incorporated into Arthur E.
Powell's book The Etheric Double. Powell rightly made clear
that Kilner had expressly differentiated between his own work and
the clairvoyance and eastern systems of spiritualism.
In the British Medical Journal (BMJ) a review for Kilner's
research stated that although Kilner contended the aura is a
"purely physical phenomenon", evidence does not support this view.
Scientists from the BMJ attempted to replicate Kilner's
experiments but the results were negative. The review concluded
that "Dr. Kilner has failed to convince us that his "aura" is more
real than Macbeth's visionary dagger."
American scholar J. Gordon Melton has written:
"Kilner's research was largely dismissed by later researchers on
light and perception, and the results he reported were seen as
artifacts of the observer's own optic process rather than
reflective of any emanation being produced by the subject being
observed. These findings did not prevent the marketing of Kilner
goggles, advertisements for which appeared in Esoteric periodicals
as late as the 1970s." 
Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell has described Kilner's research
as pseudoscience, noting that he "uncritically accepted the
validity of non-existent N-rays and clairvoyant powers."
Kilner, Walter J., The Human Atmosphere, or the Aura Made Visible
by the aid of Chemical Screens, 1911, reprinted as "The Human
Aura" by Citadel Press, NY, 1965, ISBN 0-8065-0545
The Aura, by Walter J. Kilner. Introd. by Sibyl Ferguson. New
York, S. Weiser, 1973.
Raymond J. Corsini The Dictionary of Psychology, Psychology Press
Williams, William F. (2002). Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From
Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy. Facts on File Inc. pp. 176-177.
The Daily Journal-Gazette from Mattoon, Illinois. August 19, 1911.
p. 3. Rebman published a booklet on the subject The Human Aura: A
Brief Explication of Dr. Kilner's Discovery of Means for Observing
the Human Atmosphere. (1912).
Bagnall, Oscar. (1937). The Origin and Properties of the Human
Aura. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Company.
Lindgren, Carl Edwin. (2005). Capturing the Aura. Blue Dolphin
Publishing. p. 16. ISBN 978-1577330721
Powell, Arthur E. (1925). The Etheric Double and Allied Phenomena.
Theosophical Publishing House.
The Human Atmosphere by Walter J. Kilner. British Medical Journal.
Vol. 1, No. 2662 (Jan. 6, 1912), pp. 21-22.
Melton, J. Gordon. (2013). The Encyclopedia of Religious
Phenomena. Visible Ink. p. 17. ISBN 978-1578592098
Nickell, Joe. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons,
Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. Prometheus Books.
pp. 210-211. ISBN 1-57392-680-9
The Human Atmosphere
by Walter J. Kilner
THE AURA OF HEALTHY PERSONS
THE ETHERIC DOUBLE
THE INNER AURA
THE EFFECTS OF THE DIFFERENT FORCES UPON THE AURA
THE OUTER AURA IN DISEASE
THE INNER AURA IN DISEASE
THE USE OF THE COMPLEMENTARY COLOURED BANDS IN DISEASE
THE AURA DURING PREGNANCY
Process for the production of cyanopinacolone
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