Test Tubes and Cauldrons

by Astralogical

Welcome to Test Tubes and Cauldrons, a podcast where we talk about the science behind spirituality! Astra, Fel, and Han are three occult practitioners with a love of science who are trying to do what everyone else is…make sense of the crazy world around us and our purpose in it! Hop into the discussions and try not to blow up a test tube or two!

Podcast episodes

  • Season 3

  • Episode 53: Epigenetics!

    Episode 53: Epigenetics!

    It's a science-heavy one this week, everyone! This week the hosts discuss the intriguing world of epigenetics, where nature and nurture collide. Can you change your DNA? What effect does the world have on our genetics, and on us as people? Does this have any spiritual consequences, as some people claim? Tune in this week to hear about the science behind epigenetics and our thoughts on how this somewhat contentious field has been appropriated by the spiritual world. RESOURCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY A great beginner page for genetics https://www.yourgenome.org/ A deep dive into the history of DNA structure and function https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/discovery-of-dna-structure-and-function-watson-397/ The classic 'smoking grannies' epigenetic study https://www.nature.com/articles/s41431-022-01081-2 && https://clinicalepigeneticsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13148-019-0631-3 The Dutch Hunger Winter https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2579375/ Trauma and heritability https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6952751/ Review article summarising how epigenetics can unify Lamarckian and Darwinian principles https://academic.oup.com/gbe/article/7/5/1296/605886

  • Episode 52: The Magnanimous Life of Dr. John Dee

    Episode 52: The Magnanimous Life of Dr. John Dee

    We are back with a long-awaited episode of our Occultists & Scientists series focusing on the life of John Dee and his scryer Edward Kelley. A renaissance man in every right, Dee was a physician, engineer, theologian, astronomer, cartographer, and magician - working with the angels to develop a unique system of angelic magic now described as Enochian. But this tale of the great magician has dark secrets…imprisoned for performing astrology, rumours of being a spy, hooking up with others wives, oh my! Perhaps like most magicians of his time, piousness was just a rumour. Join us as we soar to the skies and explore the magnanimous life of Dr. John Dee. REFERENCES: The Scientific Spirit in England in Early Modern Times (c. 1600): https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/225631 The Magic and Astrology of John Dee: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1057/9781137399472_8.pdf John Dee and the sciences: early modern networks of knowledge: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3778877/pdf/main.pdf The Mathematicall Praeface to Elements of Geometric of Euclid of Megara by John Dee: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/22062/22062-h/22062-h.htm At the crossroads of magic and science: John Dee’s Archemastrie: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/abs/occult-scientific-mentalities/at-the-crossroads-of-magic-and-science-john-dees-archemastrie/9D21A2FB0A2E33D9F4D2C0F85A7787E4 BOOKS: The Queen’s Conjuror: The life and magic of Dr. Dee by B. Woolley Enochian Vision Magic by Lon Milo Duquette The Essential Enochian Grimoire by Aaron Leitch

  • Episode 51: Prayer with Aiden the VVitch

    Episode 51: Prayer with Aiden the VVitch

    This week, TTAC are delighted to be joined by a special guest: Aiden aka @AidenTheVVitch In this episode, the hosts discuss all things prayer. How is prayer typically applied across different occult practices? Do you need to pray to be an occultist? Why are so many people ‘afraid’ of prayer? Is there any scientific evidence for prayer as a health intervention? And what’s the difference between prayer & spells, anyway? We hope you enjoyed this special guest episode of TTAC - let us know if you’d like to hear more from Aiden in the future! REFERENCES: Reviews of prayer as a health intervention - the good, the bad, and the (mostly) ugly: 1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10836918/ 2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12776468/ 3. The efficacy of "distant healing": a systematic review of randomized trials - PubMed4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11761499/ 5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16569567/ 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2802370/

  • Episode 50: Incense Oils and Perfumes

    Episode 50: Incense Oils and Perfumes

    In this episode, the hosts dive into the science of smell & the odiferous side of the occult Why is incense such a popular offering? Does an oil's odour reflect its properties? And what on earth does a saint smell like?! This episode features four case studies across different traditions to explore the seemingly-ubiquitous - but surprisingly diverse - role of fragrance in the occult. You can also expect to hear about science of smell & how odour can interplay with cognition. smell ya later x REFERENCES - Brief summary: the science of smell! // Sell, C. S. (2006). On the unpredictability of odor. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 45(38), 6254-6261. - Amazing book on the chemistry behind perfumery // Pybus, D. H., & Sell, C. S. (Eds.). (1999). The chemistry of fragrances (Vol. 17). Royal Society of Chemistry. - Olfaction and memory - how odour interplays with PTSD & emotion // Vermetten, E., & Bremner, J. D. (2003). Olfaction as a traumatic reminder in posttraumatic stress disorder: case reports and review. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 64(2), 202-207. && Zald, D. H., & Pardo, J. V. (1997). && Emotion, olfaction, and the human amygdala: amygdala activation during aversive olfactory stimulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 94(8), 4119-4124. - Tapputi, one of the world's first chemists (and perfume makers)! // https://arkeonews.net/the-3200-year-old-perfume-of-tapputi-the-first-female-perfumer-in-history-came-to-life-again/ - Odour in antiquity // https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10871/17556/GrantG.pdf - The role of scents in traditional Chinese religion // Habkirk, S., & Chang, H. (2017). Scents, community, and incense in traditional Chinese religion. Material Religion, 13(2), 156-174. - Osmogenesia & sensing the saints Saucier, C. (2010). // The sweet sound of sanctity: sensing St Lambert. The Senses and Society, 5(1), 10-27. && Harvey, S. A. (1998). St Ephrem on the scent of salvation. The journal of theological studies, 49(1), 109-128. - Amusing paper on 'oilers' with a lot in there about MLMs // Kieffer, K. G. (2021). Smelling Things: Essential Oils and Essentialism in Contemporary American Spirituality. Religion and American Culture, 31(3), 297-331.

  • Season 2

  • Episode 49: Conspiracy Theories & Magical Thinking

    Episode 49: Conspiracy Theories & Magical Thinking

    This week the hosts dive into the intersection between conspiracy theories and the occult, all the way from the wacky to the outright terrifying. This episode explores the basis of the psychological concept ‘magical thinking’ and how it relates to spirituality, as well as how this mode of thinking might help or hinder one’s practice. It also features a discussion on why conspiracy theories are unfortunately so prevalent in the occult world, how to spot them, and the potential dangers they pose if left unchallenged. REFERENCES: - Some degree of magical thinking is normal: Peters, E. R., Joseph, S. A., & Garety, P. A. (1999). Measurement of delusional ideation in the normal population: introducing the PDI (Peters et al. Delusions Inventory). Schizophrenia bulletin, 25(3), 553-576 - Stress might pre-dispose us to magical thinking: Keinan, G. (2002). The effects of stress and desire for control on superstitious behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28(1), 102-108. && Keinan, G. (1994). Effects of stress and tolerance of ambiguity on magical thinking. Journal of personality and social psychology, 67(1), 48. - The ‘dual model’ hypothesis of magical thinking & superstition - system 1 vs system 2: Risen, J. L. (2016). Believing what we do not believe: Acquiescence to superstitious beliefs and other powerful intuitions. Psychological review, 123(2), 182. - The basics – LSU’s guide to conspiracy theories: https://faculty.lsu.edu/fakenews/about/rumors.php - Historical connections between conspiracy and esotericism: Asprem, E., & Dyrendal, A. (2018). Close companions? Esotericism and conspiracy theories. In Handbook of conspiracy theory and contemporary religion (pp. 207-233). Brill. - You might also want to check out our earlier episode on bias!