The Ghosts of Winston Churchill

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Sir Winston Churchill’s intriguing relationship with the supernatural has been largely overlooked. The man who was voted ‘Greatest Briton’ in a nationwide poll at the turn of the century will forever be best remembered for his heroics during our darkest hour. When Great Britain stood alone against the tyranny of the Third Reich in 1940, Churchill’s dogged determination, superhuman spirit and rousing rhetoric rallied the nation against seemingly inevitable annihilation.

churchill statue

A Sense of Destiny

In his 2001 biography of Churchill, Roy Jenkins noted the great statesman’s vigorous sense of destiny. From an early age Churchill seemed certain that his life had a higher purpose and that at a critical moment in history, he would be called upon to robustly defend the national interest. Despite the calamity of Gallipoli in 1916 and of being dismissed as an anachronism by younger politicians prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill never lost this inner sense of purpose and commitment.

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Churchill’s generosity towards Gypsies is well known

A Sensitivity to the Supernatural

As an artist and accomplished author, Churchill was far more open minded and sensitive than is commonly assumed. Jenkins and other commentators have highlighted his respect for the Gypsies who would often pitch close to his ancestral home of Chartwell. Clearly the Prime Minister understood that it would be fortuitous to treat them with kindness and viewed their appearance as a good omen.

The British occultist Aleister Crowley also claimed to have suggested the PM make use of the ‘v for victory’ sign during the war. Several sources have indeed confirmed this to be true, and Crowley’s connections with the British secret services are now largely accepted. The mercurial occultist believed the sign to be symbolic of the god Horus who would help the British defeat Hitler. Whether Churchill spoke directly to Crowley is unknown, but his use of the sign became one of his defining war-time features.

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It was very unusual for a British politician of Churchill’s generation to adopt a sign. Did the Prime Minister accept advice from Aleister Crowley?

A Ghostly Visitation

Churchill wrote candidly about an extraordinary supernatural event which occurred at Chartwell after the war. Whilst painting, the ghost of his dearly departed father mysteriously materialised in the studio. According to the former Prime Minister’s account, his famous stiff-upper lip held firm and he felt no fear. He subsequently conversed with the apparition of Churchill Senior for several minutes – dutifully updating him on political, cultural and social events which had occurred since his passing. However, perhaps the great man’s composure could be attributed to an earlier esoteric experience. During a trip to the White House, Washington DC, several years before, Churchill claimed to have sighted the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.

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Chartwell in Kent where Churchill saw the ghost of his long-departed father.

Immortality

Churchill is now firmly embedded within the British national psyche – symbolic of cultural attributes such as the bulldog spirit and our sense of fair play. The ubiquitous spectre of Churchill may live on metaphorically, but there have been numerous sightings of his ghost since he exited the world stage in 1965. One of the most recent was at Queensway Underground Station in 2017 where Craig Cooper took a photograph of a peculiar misty apparition. Churchill utilised local tube stops in the Hyde Park area as bunkers during the blitz, and his formidable presence appears to still be looming large over anxious commuters and tourists.

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Craig Cooper’s mysterious photograph on the Tube. He also spoke of a strange ‘presence’. Source: mirror.co.uk

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer who is currently based in the UK. Visit his website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk

Feel free to email us any strange stories to: email@magician-midlands.co.uk

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Belmez Faces, Spain – La Casa de las Caras

Since the early 1970s thousands of inquisitive souls have paid a visit to an undistinguished house in Bélmez, Andalusia, Spain. The reason for their peculiar pilgrimage is truly fascinating and represents one of the most sensational supernatural stories of modern times.

The terrifying tale began in August 1971 when Maria Gómez Cámara witnessed what appeared to be a human face mysteriously materialising upon the concrete floor of her kitchen. She was so petrified that her husband and son forcibly removed the menacing visage with tools, and hastily re-concreted the area.

An innocuous house in Andalusia was the site of an incredible supernatural occurrence.

Alarmingly, several days later the same face reappeared. This time it was much more vivid and wore a hauntingly distressed expression. The family began to speculate that some sort of supernatural entity might be at work. News of the phenomenon quickly spread throughout the local community and the Mayor suggested that the flooring be carefully extracted for scientific investigation.

The mysterious happenings in Bélmez attracted international media attention, as well as the interest of scientists, clairvoyants and psychical investigators. More spectral images began to form upon the kitchen floor which further fueled speculation. Indeed, when the room was finally sealed off for investigation, cameras recorded the faces eerily forming upon the concrete by their own accord. An unseen spectral hand seemed to be fashioning the images from out of the ether! Microphones also detected unnerving disembodied voices and unexplained sounds around the house.

Scientists have conducted painstaking research into the strange faces.

Sceptics argue that there must be a logical explanation for the faces and it is merely a highly sophisticated hoax. As a result of the weird occurrences, Bélmez has enjoyed much welcome publicity and an increase in passing trade. The possible presence of a ghost can indeed bring many economic benefits to an otherwise isolated location and motivate the unscrupulous.

The house was built upon a medieval cemetery and clairvoyants believe witchcraft and sorcery was practiced in the area.

Nonetheless, no conclusive explanation has been presented to explain the mystery. One notable parapsychologist has even suggested that Thoughtography (the ability to transfer one’s thoughts onto a solid surface) may have created the images. Furthermore, several clairvoyants who have visited La Casa de las Caras (The House of the Faces) have all cryptically agreed that a tragic event associated with witchcraft occurred there during medieval times. Strangely, workmen who dug beneath the house unearthed the remnants of a cemetery dating back to this period. Could the spectral faces be a desperate message from the other side?

The Casa de Las Caras now functions as a museum. The address is: Calle Maria Gomez, 5, 23568 Bélmez de la Moraleda, Jaén, Spain.

The author of the article is David Fox. A professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit his website at: www.davidfoxmagician.co.uk. Follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/davidfoxmagician

 

Vincent Price’s Peculiar Premonition

A dramatic case of deja vu…

The great Vincent Price (1911 to 1993) achieved legendary status in classic horror movies such as Dracula, The Fly, The Masque of the Red Death and The Witchfinder General. He also famously provided the narration for Michael Jackson’s Thriller and was a colossus of the acting profession. However, for a man who became synonymous with the Horror genre, Price initially had very little interest in the paranormal. That was until a most peculiar event occurred in 1958.

A storm over New York delayed landing.

Price was flying to New York when a storm flared up causing the pilot to delay landing. As the aircraft circled high above the seething cauldron of dark clouds, the actor felt a curious urge to look out of the window. As he peered into the darkness, a sudden flash of lightning seemed to dance through the twilight and reveal a cryptic message which hung ominously in the sky:

 TYRONE POWER IS DEAD

Shocked and startled, Price asked the passenger beside him to look out and verify that the message was real. Bizarrely when they both looked out into the gloom, the sinister words had vanished. The performer was extremely perturbed and distressed by this weird event. Had he imagined this? Was it merely some sort of queer trick of the light? His mind turned to Tyrone Power himself (a close friend) and a terrible feeling of dread began to grip his entire being.

Hollywood star Tyrone Power

Power lived near Price in Los Angeles, and the two superstars had struck up a close and enduring friendship. Well known for his roles in classic movies such as The Mark of Zoro, Tyrone Power had established himself as one of Hollywood’s biggest box office draws, and was a household name the world over.

On alighting from the aircraft, Price frantically asked police and staff at the airport if they had seen the strange message in the sky. His inquiries were promptly dismissed and the actor was quickly ushered through the terminal. Even a fleeting consultation of the most recent newspapers on display did not yield any mention of Tyrone Power. Was he going mad? He was certain he had seen those terrifying words high above the Big Apple.

Vincent Price in one of his most famous roles as Count Dracula.

Later that evening Vincent Price checked into his hotel in central New York and had just about managed to forget the disturbing events of his journey. Suddenly in the lobby he spotted an old acquaintance from his early years in acting striding anxiously towards him.

‘Vincent, have you heard the news?’ inquired the man. ‘Tyrone Power died of a heart attack in Madrid tonight.’

The author of the article is David Fox who is a freelance writer and entertainer based in the UK. Visit David’s website at:

http://www.magician-midlands.co.uk

Magician Mystic Soldier Spy – The extraordinary life of Uri Geller

‘Nowadays even presidents, vice-presidents and heads of big agencies are opening their minds to accept psychic phenomena because they know it works.’ 

Uri Geller

Uri Geller needs no introduction. A household name the world over, the indefatigable Israeli has been amazing audiences for the past five decades. Minds are read, metal mysteriously bends, watches and clocks which have not worked for many years suddenly spring to life and impossible predictions are made which will soon come to pass. These are the hallmarks of the mild-mannered entertainer’s sensational performances. However, recent revelations of Geller’s involvement with secret intelligence agencies, most notably the CIA, have further enhanced his legendary status.

Oscar winning director Vikram Jayanti’s documentary The Secret Life of Uri Geller  charts the charismatic mystery man’s meteoric rise from humble origins to worldwide super-stardom. From an early age Geller developed a heightened sense of perception and an awareness of his psychic capabilities. After serving in the Israeli army during the Six Day War in 1967, he was invited by Mossad (the Israeli secret service) to demonstrate his preternatural talents. Hardened military men were perplexed by Geller’s telepathic abilities and he would later be called upon to assist the state of Israel during times of emergency. Subsequent CIA interest in his inexplicable aptitudes followed, and Geller was promptly summoned to the USA to participate in a rigorous course of scientific experimentation.

Uri Geller at the Stanford Research Institute circa 1973

It was during this intense period of investigation at Stanford Research Institute in California during the early 1970s that Geller would develop his reputation as a man of extraordinary capabilities. Scientists were amazed by his propensity to read minds, find hidden objects and successfully conclude experiments in remote viewing (observing objects, places and people many miles away by using the power of his mind). The experts were unable to discern any logical explanation for these seemingly miraculous feats and conceded that Uri Geller must possess some sort of extra sensory perception (ESP). These findings would eventually culminate with Geller being invited to assist with covert intelligence operations throughout the world.

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Salvator Rosa’s famous painting of Saul’s visit to the Witch of Endor.

Inevitably many will find such a disclosure difficult to digest. However, governments calling upon the aid of psychics and paranormal experts, particularly at times of crisis, is certainly not a novel concept. Since time immemorial, powerful leaders have sought to gain the upper hand against an adversary by invoking the mysterious forces of the unseen. Indeed, one of the earliest accounts of this practice is King Saul’s clandestine meeting with the Witch of Endor in the First Book of Samuel. The King sought divine inspiration prior to a major battle with the Philistines and was terrified by the witch’s ominous prediction. The next day the prophecy was fulfilled: the battle was lost and the King took his own life shortly afterwards.

Dr John Dee. The original 007 and confidant of Queen Elizabeth I.

Thankfully not all interactions between great leaders and soothsayers have ended in disaster. The reign of Queen Elizabeth I is now celebrated as a golden age of British history, and perhaps this can be credited in no small part to the travails of the enigmatic Dr John Dee. Highly regarded throughout Europe as one of the most learned men of his age, it is believed that Dee provided Shakespeare with the inspiration for Prospero in his final play The Tempest. He was a trusted confidant of the Queen and used the number 007 (later to be adopted by Ian Fleming for his fictional character James Bond) when serving as a spy for the Crown. Dee possessed a deep knowledge of the occult arts and was said to have conversed with angelic beings from another dimension. He foresaw the coming of a great British Empire and provided Sir Francis Drake with tactical advice on how to defeat the mighty Spanish Armada in 1588. It is said that he may even have used his magical powers to summon the storm which assisted Her Majesty’s fleet.

Aleister Crowley. Most people are still unaware of his work as a British spy.

The English occultist and self styled ‘Great Beast 666’ Aleister Crowley gained notoriety during the early twentieth century and revelled in his sobriquet of the ‘Wickedest Man in the World’. But was Crowley really so wicked? In recent years academics have begun to appreciate that he may in fact have been a misunderstood genius. Crowley was also a secret agent who worked with British intelligence during both world wars. Whilst masquerading as a German sympathiser in New York during the early years of World War One, Crowley secretly lobbied to ensure that the USA came into the war on the side of the British Empire. Crowley’s close connections with occult groups in Germany during the 1930s naturally made him a person of interest for MI5. The Nazi’s obsession with the occult is well documented and Ian Fleming (the creator of James Bond who then worked with British Naval Intelligence) contacted Crowley in order to entice Rudolf Hess (deputy Fuhrer and a man with a deep interest in the occult) to come to the UK. Hess’s ill-fated clandestine flight to Scotland in 1941 soon followed and was said to have had a devastating impact upon Hitler when he learnt of this betrayal. It is widely believed that Crowley used his mysterious influence to draw him to the UK in order to discuss possible peace negotiations.

The mysterious Wolf Messing who amazed Josef Stalin.

The cessation of hostilities in 1945 would pave the way for a new world order and the dawning of the Cold War era. A tense stand-off between the two major Super Powers naturally intensified the covert activities of intelligence agencies across the globe. The campaign to identify and utilise people who exhibited extra sensory perception and psychic abilities would unearth some exceptional individuals. One such person was the Polish entertainer Wolf Messing who came into the orbit of the KGB (the Russian secret intelligence agency). Messing had been amazing audiences throughout Europe for many years before being forced to flee to the USSR during the Second World War. His ability to influence the thoughts of others, read minds and cast accurate predictions became legendary in Soviet Russia. Josef Stalin was said to have been mesmerised by his incredible talents and it is widely believed that Messing assisted the KGB during the post-war years.

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Jonathan Margolis’ recent publication.

In the early 1970s Uri Geller was invited to a meeting with Wolf Messing in Berlin. The Polish master was clearly amazed by the young Israeli’s amazing talents as well as the fact that Geller is a distant relative of Sigmund Freud (who Messing had mesmerised alongside Albert Einstein many years before). The exchange shared between the two men will perhaps forever remain classified, but it is a great testimony to the respect Messing had for Geller that he chose to divulge the secret techniques he used to perform some of his incredible feats.

As the world enters an era of political uncertainty, Uri looks certain to remain very busy.

Thus, it could readily be argued that governments and leaders who do not take the powers of the unseen seriously do so at their peril. Indeed, with Brexit negotiations looming and some challenging times ahead, perhaps Uri Geller can expect a phone call from Prime Minister Theresa May very soon?

*Special thanks to Uri for his kind assistance with this article.

Recommended Reading

Uri Geller’s website: http://www.urigeller.com/

Uri Geller’s Little Book of Mind Power Uri Geller, Robson Books, 1998

The Secret Life of Uri Geller – CIA Masterspy?  John Margolis, Watkins Publishing London, 2013

The Queen’s Conjurer: The Science and Magic of Dr John Dee Benjamin Woolley, Flamingo, 2002

Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult Richard Spence, Feral House, 2008

Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin Tobias Churton, Inner Traditions, 2014

Wolf Messing: The True Story of Russia’s Greatest Psychic Tatiana Lungin, Glagoslav Publications, 2014

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional entertainer and freelance writer based in the UK. Visit David’s website at: www.magician-midlands.co.uk

Wolf Messing: The Man Who Mesmerised Stalin. Clairvoyant or Conjurer?

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‘The future shapes itself from the past and the present, and there are certain models or bonds between.’

Adolf Hitler placed a 200,000 Reichsmark bounty upon his head, Josef Stalin was mesmerised by his extraordinary talents, and Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein were baffled by his telepathic abilities. He gained an international reputation as a psychic entertainer par excellence and enjoyed celebrity status in the former Soviet Union. The legend of Wolf Messing continues to mystify and astound, but why are so few people in the West aware of this incredible individual?

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Messing’s performances were legendary in both pre-war Europe and Soviet Russia

Messing was born in Poland in 1899 into a respectable middle class Jewish family, and from an early age he exhibited extraordinary talents: an uncanny ability to predict future events, divine the thoughts of others, and find concealed items. But it was Messing’s curious capability to inexplicably influence the actions of friends, relatives and neighbours which caused the most amazement. The eccentric young man eventually defied his parent’s wishes to become a rabbi and travelled west to Berlin to seek his fortune.

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Messing is said to have amazed both Einstein and Freud with telepathy.

Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Messing toured extensively with a circus and quickly established himself as a sensational showman. Audiences throughout Europe marvelled at what appeared to be genuine feats of telepathy, psychic ability and clairvoyance. His act was unique and clearly very different from that of a classic conjurer or illusionist. Indeed, Messing’s famous meeting with Freud and Einstein illustrates this fact. Both men were extremely curious about his purported ability to read minds and they set him a task. Freud would attempt to transmit a thought to Messing and he would then have to reveal this. The Polish man of mystery successfully completed the task by leaving the room, collecting a pair of tweezers, and returning to pluck a hair from Einstein’s moustache – which was exactly what Freud had ‘willed’ him to do! However, as Messing’s star was rising, so too was the tyranny of the Third Reich, and he was forced to return to his homeland.

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Hitler was said to be wary of Messing and the Nazis placed a bounty upon his head.

 ‘If Hitler declares war in the east, his death awaits him.’

Messing’s potent prediction did not endear him to the Fuhrer and, after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, he was hunted down by the Gestapo. Nonetheless, sanctuary would be found to the east and, after crossing the Russian border, Messing received a summons from the Man of Steel himself. Having escaped the brutality of Hitler, he was now faced with the prospect of a precarious meeting in Moscow with Josef Stalin. Mercifully, the Russian leader was deeply impressed and intrigued by his now legendary status – not to mention his captivating performances. He decided to set the Pole a task to prove he truly had the ability to influence the thoughts of others…

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Stalin was amazed by Messing’s extraordinary feats and apparent psychic abilities.

On a typically bitter Moscow morning, Messing answered a brusque knock on his apartment door to be greeted by the ominous figures of two secret police officers. He was then tersely ordered to rob 100,000 roubles from a bank using only his powers of suggestion and influence. Stalin had devised a seemingly impossible test. Nonetheless, never a man to shirk from a challenge, Messing accepted the task and promptly proceeded to relieve the bank of this massive sum. Somehow he managed to convince the teller that the blank piece of paper he presented was in fact an ‘official document’ which authorised the gargantuan transaction. Stalin was amazed and invited Messing to visit him at his dacha (country retreat) on the outskirts of Moscow.

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Stalin’s dacha was heavily fortified but Messing defied the odds and mysteriously appeared in the Soviet leader’s study.

One of the most heavily fortified places on the face of the planet during this period, and until his death in 1953 – Stalin’s dacha was an impregnable citadel. A perimeter fence was manned constantly, and no fewer than 300 agents of the NKVD (later to be the KGB) prowled the compound ensuring maximum safety for their leader. Indeed, Stalin seldom left his office in the heart of the complex and was profoundly bewildered when Wolf Messing mysteriously materialised in his study unannounced. The Soviet leader was in awe of the Polish wizard and demanded to know how he had achieved the unachievable. Messing calmly explained how he had used his powers of suggestion to convince Stalin’s guards that he was in fact Bera (the head of the secret police). Clearly they had believed him and some accounts state that this sensational feat would earn Messing a commission working for the NKVD. However, he would refute this claim in his biography in later life. Legend has it that he taught the officers of the Soviet secret police the dark arts of telepathy, mind-reading and psychological influence, but Messing dismissed this forcefully as nonsense to his biographer Tatiana Lungin.

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Messing had visions of Russian tanks entering Berlin during the early years of conflict and successfully predicted the date the war ended.

 ‘The war will end on 9th May 1945’

Messing was famous for his predictions, but the one he made in Novosibirsk on 7th March 1944 would cement this reputation. The war did indeed end on the day he said after the cessation of German military operations at 23.01 on 8th May 1945. He had also spoken of having visions of Russian tanks in Berlin throughout the early years of Operation Barbarossa. Messing was now celebrated as a national icon, and would also gain a reputation beyond the Iron Curtain, proudly claiming prominent post-war admirers such as Mahatma Ghandi and Marilyn Monroe. Stalin’s favourite psychic continued to tour and amaze audiences until his death in 1974.

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Wolf Messing claimed to have the ability to see the future and that science could not currently explain this.

Messing’s phenomenal life-story is surely just as astonishing as the incredible feats he is reported to have performed on-stage. There are many Russians today who still believe that he was a true mystic who was blessed with some sort of preternatural power. However, sceptics would argue that his act consisted of effects which are very much the stock-in-trade of mentalists and magicians. Indeed, contemporary entertainers readily convince audiences that they can predict future events, read minds and influence actions. Was Wolf Messing genuinely a man with a wonderful psychic capability? Or was he merely a highly talented magician/mentalist who managed to dupe one of the most powerful dictators the world has ever known? To this day much of his life remains a mystery and there are said to be secret KGB files concerning his famous talents which have yet to be disclosed to the public…

For a documentary click the link: Wolf Messing Psychically Robs a Bank.

The author of the article is David Fox. A professional magician and freelance writer who is based in the UK. For more details, visit his website at: http://www.magician-midlands.co.uk

‘Wolf Messing: The True Story of Russia’s Greatest Psychic’ by Tatiana Lungin is available from Glagoslav Publications

Harry Price: Dweller on the Threshold

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‘Harry fought a long, lone battle against, on the one hand, the Victorian educated scientists who derided the occult and, on the other, fanatical believers in spiritualism whose favourite mediums he exposed as frauds.’

Dennis Wheatley

Harry Price (1881 to 1948) is remembered today as perhaps the most famous ghost hunter and psychical investigator of all time. The intrepid scientist’s study of Borley Rectory in Suffolk, purported to be ‘The Most Haunted House in England’, from 1929 until his death brought him international recognition and cemented his reputation as a colossus within the field of occult research. Nonetheless, this extraordinary figure became an object of both acclaim and disdain during his lifetime. Some commentators viewed Price merely as a sensationalist who sought publicity by courting the supernatural, whilst others championed him as a genuine truth seeker – selflessly dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of the universe.

Indeed, Price’s commitment and dedication to the investigation of preternatural phenomena cannot be understated. He founded The National Laboratory for Psychical Research, compiled one of the largest libraries of the occult in the world, and was one of the first scientists to apply a rigorous and methodical approach when testing the authenticity of psychics and hauntings. Price utilised state-of-the-art technologies such as pressure sensors and infra red photography in his quest into the unpredictable and inhospitable shadow realm of spirits, poltergeists and demons. His capacity and appetite for conducting painstaking research – in often freezing and isolated locations in the dead of night – has set the bench mark exceptionally high for all psychical explorers. In Borley Rectory alone Price recorded no fewer than sixty different types of supernatural occurrence.

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Borley Rectory in Suffolk – The Most Haunted House in England.

 

Contemporary ‘ghost hunters’ frequently pay homage to Price’s considerable influence and achievements, but few are actually aware of his background in the art of conjuring and legerdemain. A lifelong member of the prestigious Magic Circle, his interest in this amazing art form began at an early age when he witnessed a performance of The Great Sequah in Shrewsbury market place. The young Price was mesmerised by the magician and this profound experience clearly catalysed an inner yearning for the mysterious.

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‘The Conjurer’ by Bosch. Magic and the Occult have always been closely linked.

 

Thus, like the great Harry Houdini (who successfully debunked numerous fraudulent psychics in the US), an understanding of the art of magic allowed Price to deduce what secret artifices or methods, if any, were being deployed by supposed soothsayers and mediums during his research. The story of the famous ‘spirit photographer’ William Hope is well documented and is an example of one of Price’s many skirmishes with Spiritualists who normally felt threatened by his research. The scientist was more than aware of how accomplished magicians can surreptitiously ‘switch’ objects, undetected by audiences, in order to achieve startling outcomes. This was precisely what Hope was doing with the photographic plates, and Price quickly concluded that his ‘spirit images’ were actually frauds. Indeed, this damning revelation set the tone for most of Price’s investigations into Spiritualists and clairvoyants. He attended hundreds of séances and was rarely convinced by the authenticity of the spectacle. Lifelong friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes – but himself an ardent Spiritualist) frequently expressed his anger at Price’s findings and urged him to be more sympathetic towards individuals of a psychical disposition.

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Like the Great Houdini, Price’s knowledge of magic helped him ‘debunk’ fraudulent mediums.

Nonetheless, in the midst of a seemingly incessant tide of fraudulence and deceit, Price did encounter some incredible individuals who genuinely appeared to possess exceptional extra sensory talents. The most notable is perhaps Ms Stella C who, unlike the majority of clairvoyants and mediums, did not accept money for conducting séances and was not interested in forging a career in this field. Price and others observed the occurrence of genuine telekinetic phenomena in her presence, and she also incredibly predicted (with an uncanny accuracy which startled even Price) what would appear on the front page of The Daily Mail several weeks in advance.

Price was further led to speculate that it may be ‘highly probable’ that some individuals actually can communicate with the deceased. A séance in 1930 with the clairvoyant Mrs Eileen Garrett, who was not a Spiritualist, provided some of the most extraordinary results ever obtained in the field of psychical exploration. Garrett claimed to be in communion with Flight-Lieutenant H Carmichael Irwin, the captain of the doomed R101 Airship which had tragically crashed in France two days earlier. All the crew and passengers had been killed, but the psychic was accurately able to relay intricate details about the sequence of events which led to the fatal accident. Specialised technological information about the airship itself, of which Garrett could not possibly have known, were also provided. Price contacted the RAF with his findings and they concluded that 70% of Eileen Garrett’s account was exactly precise, 20% was ‘most likely’ and the remainder was rather confused.

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The medium Eileen Garrett recounted intricate details of the R101 disaster.

Such examples of Price’s work reveal that as well as earning a reputation as a sceptical man of science, he did have a sensitivity towards psychics and was prepared to reveal instances of what appeared to be genuine ‘supernatural’ phenomena. Indeed, his feud with fellow magicians the Maskelynes would reveal how he was often prepared to defend psychics who he believed were genuine. Nevil Maskelyne had long claimed that his brother Clive could duplicate all types of ‘supposed spiritual phenomena’ a medium could create in a séance. However, Price challenged this statement and alleged that he had witnessed events in séance rooms which even the most accomplished of conjurers would struggle to produce.

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Magicians can amaze audiences with seemingly ‘psychical phenomena’.

Enigmatic and complex, the life of Harry Price is arguably even more perplexing than the mediums, spirits and poltergeists he documented along the way. It is intensely intriguing when a talented and highly intelligent individual is drawn to devote his entire life to the study of a fringe subject such as the occult. They run the risk of being ostracised, condemned and ridiculed by their peers. So why did Harry Price decide to embark upon such an atypical and arduous journey which would ultimately lead him to the bowels of desolate dilapidated mansions, the icy spectral solitude of cemeteries, and the sinister sultry environs of fraudulent medium’s séance parlours? Was he merely a deluded moonstruck eccentric shying away from the harsh realities of life? Or should we celebrate him as a heroic pioneer who conducted invaluable research into an area which has been largely ignored or overlooked by many of the greatest minds over the centuries?

 

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Psychical researchers can easily become objects of ridicule. Why did Price choose this path?

For an interview with Harry Price click the link: Harry Price Interview YouTube.

A radio production about Price’s life: Are You There Harry Price?

The author of the article is David Fox, a professional magician and freelance writer.

www.magician-midlands.co.uk

Harry Houdini – Spiritualism or Swindle?

Magician David Fox explores…

Houdini 1

‘What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes’

Harry Houdini, 1874 – 1926

It was a dark and dreary mid-winter evening several years ago in Derbyshire. I had been invited to entertain guests at a corporate function in the distinguished setting of Breadsall Priory. The evening was going very well, and my repertoire of card magic, illusion, and sleight-of-hand was clearly having a positive impact on the proceedings. An opportunity soon presented itself for me to conduct some mind-reading and psychological routines (known as ‘Mentalism’ in magical parlance).

In one such effect I invite an audience member to think of someone they know well. It could be a family member, friend or work colleague. In this instance the lady in question happened to think of someone who had recently passed on. Needless to say, when I later revealed the person’s identity, the participant thought something supernatural had taken place.

As magicians we are well aware of the possibility of creating powerful effects which will leave a profound and lasting impression upon an audience. Indeed, magic and the supernatural have long been inextricably intertwined. The priests of ancient Egypt often used the art to mesmerise and frighten their subjects. In more recent times the case of the great French magician Robert Houdin (from whom Harry Houdini took his name) is well documented. Houdin managed to scare a group of tribal insurgents in Africa by using a simple magical effect in order to quell colonial insurrection. It is for this reason that the contemporary prestidigitator must be responsible and respectful when entertaining any audience.

Houdini 2

On hearing the word ‘magic’ we automatically think of Harry Houdini. This sensational individual needs little introduction and, almost a century since his death, he continues to amaze and inspire both magicians and lay persons the world over. Houdini helped to raise the profile of magic considerably throughout the early twentieth century with his wonderful stage performances and death defying stunts. His boundless charisma, formidable work ethic, and strength of personality, all combined to create one of the world’s first international superstars. However, most people are unaware of Houdini’s close association with spiritualism during the latter stages of his life.

On losing his beloved mother, Houdini began to ponder the possibility of an after life throughout the 1920s. Like many vulnerable souls who find themselves in such a time of emotional turmoil, he sought solace in mediums who had become more prevalent around the industrialised American towns since the ‘Occult Renaissance’ of the late nineteenth century.

Sadly, Houdini was bitterly disappointed by the séances he attended, and quickly developed the point-of-view that spiritualists, and those that claimed to be in league with the dearly departed, were merely charlatans. Thus, he set out on a moral crusade to disclose, or ‘debunk’, the fraudulent activities of such persons. Houdini’s revelations are masterfully presented in his 1924 work entitled ‘A Magician Among The Spirits’. The great magician demonstrates much of the chicanery utilised by purported spiritualists in order to extract hard-earned cash from the unwary.

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Spiritualism grew in popularity from the mid nineteenth century onwards.

But what of Spiritualism? Can we fully accept Houdini’s warnings, or is there really some kernel of truth in the possibility of communicating with the deceased? Adherents of the multitude of contemporary Spiritualist churches which exist throughout the world would refute his accusations. Indeed, one commentator has calculated that there are currently over thirteen million followers of this faith throughout Europe and North America alone. Perhaps like many belief systems Spiritualism has attracted its share of charlatans over the years, but are there mediums amongst its ranks who possess a genuine ability to contact the dead?

The eminent philosopher Carl Jung appreciated that human beings possess a subconscious desire to believe in some form of higher force, or divine purpose, to life. The prospect of living a meaningless existence with no prospect of an afterlife is, to say the least, frightful. Many magicians often scoff at those who readily accept the existence of spirits, but in my humble opinion this is a rather arrogant stand-point to assume. Granted, given a sympathetic enough context, we can create effects which may appear to defy reality.

A variety of elements combined that wintry evening all those years ago in Derbyshire such as the gloomy weather, dim lighting, and the fact that we were on the site of a medieval abbey which is rumoured to be haunted, to create an effect of almost supernatural proportions. However,  there are indeed many things which contemporary science in all its wisdom still cannot fully explain such as: premonitions, photographs and recordings of unusual phenomenon, and telepathy.

As for Houdini, he promised to send a coded message to friends and family after he shed this mortal coil. To date, we are still waiting to hear from the master…

David Fox is a professional award winning magician who performs his unique brand of magic throughout the world.

Visit David’s new Corporate website at: www.davidfoxcorporatemagic.com

Telephone number: 07946 686 258