In the West, the most easily chronicled work of "modern" thought concerning the subtle energies starts with Dr. Mesmer. Please read the book by Adam Crabtree for a detailed accounting. This book reports on the use of "Animal Magnetism" for affecting a physiological cure which eventually is also used to affect a psychological cure as well. This work puts the use of the energy of one person to affect the health of another person at the center and relates how each generation has utilized this energy since the pioneering work by Dr. Mesmer.
Dr. Mesmer knew that his healing methodology involved an energy which he termed animal magnetism and which derived from himself could be applied passively or by the will to affect the energy of another for healing. This energy could reportably be stored (the Baquet) and transferred to other organic and inorganic materials. He reported utilizing the energy of trees and the Baquet for healing when he himself could not be present. Dr. Mesmer developed a series of techniques with the hands which today would be called energy smoothing. Also was involved the placing of the hands in strategic locations about the body for intuitively determined periods of time. He obtained some rather bizarre behavioral results as well as physical healings. In any case, he did obtain constructive results as did his many successors and followers. It is obvious that Dr. mesmer and his followers were practicing the western counterpart of Qi Gong (pronounced chee kung).
Dr. Mesmer stated that disease was the result of disharmony within the organism which could be balanced by animal magnetism. Dr. Mesmer had graduated in Medicine from the University of Vienna in 1776 CE. The Medical Faculty at the University of Vienna was one of the best in the Western world at this time. Dr. Mesmer's thesis was entitled, "Dissertation On The Physico-Medical Influence Of The Planets". His thesis was that the fluctuations in the Earth's gravity field affects man much the same way the Moon affects the tides of the Earth's bodies of water. Diseases were the result of disharmony within man to these tidal influences. As the reasoning of Dr. Mesmer progressed, animal magnetism could be used to help another to harmonize themselves to the rhythms of the planets. Dr. Mesmer was the first to propose that persons are tuned to the Geomagnetic Field (GMF) and the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) and that disruptions in resonance with those fields presaged disease.
The word "Animal Magnetism" was derived from the fact that a priest by the name of Maximillian Hell used iron magnets for healing and introduced Dr. Mesmer to their use. Dr. Mesmer soon found that he could achieve the same effect by using the "Fluid" which emanated from his hands and which he called "Animal Magnetism". This fluid was polarized according to the hand which emitted the energy. This fact is the basis for the so-called Polarity Therapy of today.
This pioneering work helped to set the stage for investigation of the Subtle Energies in the Western World and eventually the discipline of Astrobiology.