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See fairy rings.
Hahnemann, Christian Friedrich Samuel
Hand of Glory
A pickled and dried hand cut from one who has been hanged. It is used in casting spells and finding buried treasure, often in conjunction with a magic candle made from the fat of a hanged criminal.
Sir Walter Scott, in The Antiquary (1816), had a character describe it thus:
De hand of glory is hand cut off from a dead man as have been hanged for muther, and dried very nice in de shmoke of juniper wood.
Hanussen, Erik Jan
(Herschel Steinschneider, 1889-1933) He was born in Vienna, the son of Siegfried Steinschneider, an Austrian-Jewish traveling comedian. As a boy of fourteen, he toured with his father, learning the tricks of the variety artists and circus performers. Soon he was performing mentalism, specializing in making objects move, apparently by mind power (psychokinesis).
At the age of twenty-one, he made an abrupt change of direction. He became chief reporter for a newspaper calledDer Blitz, which had a reputation among the public of making its money by blackmailing celebrities. Apparently Herschel was suited to this kind of work. Then along came World War I.
Out of the army in 1917, he took the professional name Erik Jan Hanussen (written in a German book on his life, “van” Hanussen) and at that point he joined a small circus. In Kraków he published a booklet titled Worauf beruht das? (“What Is This Based On?”) which dealt with subjects like telepathy and clairvoyance and in the spirit of an exposé labeled them all as frauds. In 1920 he wrote and published (in Vienna) a second book, Das Gedankenlesen(“Thought Reading”), for the second time in print calling the idea of telepathy, clairvoyance, and mind reading a hoax.
Then, amazingly, he did an about-turn and threw himself into that very business, now treating it as if it were genuine; he claimed clairvoyant and telepathic powers. The Austrian police labeled him a swindler, but before they could proceed further, Hanussen went off to Czechoslovakia, which he now chose to claim was his homeland, but he was no more welcome there, soon being charged with using trickery and taking money under false pretenses.
By 1929 he was in hot water again and found himself in court charged with fraud, but the case against him was dismissed for lack of evidence. His own version of that episode in his life was somewhat different from the facts; asked about it later in his career, he said that he had appeared in court as a sworn expert witness for the state.
The newly emerged mentalist moved into the cabaret scene and then began giving public shows at major theaters. He had expensive full-color posters printed up and was soon playing to packed houses. The price of admission was almost double the regular price of a variety show, and Hanussen also gave very costly personal readings for his customers. On the stage he was a striking figure in stark white make up and a tail suit.
He went off to Berlin, and within a few months he had captured that troubled city with his tricks. He played a long run at the Scala Theater and was a celebrity. The news media built him into a major psychic figure, though from the descriptions given, the tricks he was performing were obviously derived right from extant conjuring sources.
He became Adolf Hitler's favorite Hellseher ("clairvoyant") and served the Nazis as one of their most vehement and savage anti-Semitic propagandists, even turning out a weekly newspaper for the party which trumpeted that theme. Though he had to convert from Judaism to Protestantism in order the join the party, Hanussen did so willingly.
He was moving in powerful company at that point, even working with the secret police. He became so influential that in 1931 the Berlin am Morgen newspaper, through its editor Bruno Frei, began a serious campaign to discredit him. Frei had discovered Hanussen's Jewish origins and declared him in print to be a “charlatan, deceiver, swindler and exaggerator.” The psychic immediately brought a defamation lawsuit against Frei and the publisher Kosmos-Verlag, and the investigation ceased, though the lawsuit went on.
By the end of 1932, Hanussen was living very, very well. He had a large mansion outside Berlin which was referred to as the "Palace of Occultism,” and everyone was talking about him. At a special-invitation party at this place in February 1933, the cream of Berlin society was present. Host Hanussen announced a séance, turning down the lights and seeming to enter a trance in which he announced his visions that Adolf Hitler would lead Germany to great glory, but that there would be several calamities before that moment arrived. He assured all present that Hitler would crush impending leftist attempts to disrupt the government.
Then the audience was stunned when Hanussen suddenly leaped to his feet and began screaming about a disaster involving a massive fire. He said that in a vision he clearly saw “a great house burning” — and when asked, he did not deny that it was the Reichstag.
The Hellseher, in his incautious ambition, had now became a great danger to the Nazi cause and had outlived his function of charming those dilettantes that the Nazis needed to finance their cause. It happened because his close association with top Nazis, particularly Propaganda Minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels, had given him some very specific and guarded inside information; he had prior knowledge of the party's secret intent to burn the Reichstag that very night as a “proof” to the German people that the Communists were trying to disrupt the government. Hanussen knew that the fire would be set within less than twelve hours, and he couldn't resist using that inside knowledge to demonstrate his prophetic powers before Berlin society, now at his feet.
The Reichstag fire took place the next morning in accordance with the Nazi plan. There was great public excitement at the apparent accuracy of the seer's vision of the event, and the Nazi brass took note of that fact. Hanussen went on with his plans for even greater notoriety and power, but he was secretly arrested and spirited away on March 24.
On April 7 a workman came upon his mutilated body in a shallow grave in the woods outside Berlin. He had been murdered, shot twelve times, on the same day he'd been arrested. Who gave the initial command for the murder has never been discovered, though papers recording amounts in excess of 150,000 marks owed to him somehow disappeared from the Palace of Occultism and were never found. The palace closed and never reopened.
His story continues to fascinate; in 1955 and 1988 two major motion pictures based on his life appeared. The screenplays were highly fictitious in both versions, a condition that also applied to a biographical treatment of another “psychic” that was produced in 1994.
A cult originated in 1948 by a mystic of Calcutta known as A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, born Abhan Charan De in 1895. It was introduced to the Western world in 1965, and by 1968 the first saffron-robed disciples were swaying down London streets chanting and ringing cymbals in a now-familiar orgy of magical bliss.
(Krishna (also, Kistna) is one of two incarnations of Vishnu, the Hindu god. The story goes that Vishnu plucked out two of his hairs, one white and the other black. The black one became Krishna. No one really believes this, but there it is.)
The object of the “Ha-re Krish-na” chant, repeated endlessly, is to bring to the attention of the world the teachings attributed to Krishna. The actual Krishna philosophy, as outlined in the Bhagavad-Gita, calls for an end to wars and for universal love and food for all. No modus for achieving these ideals is given. Except chanting.
The actual, complete chanted mantra used by the Hare Krishna disciples is:
Hare Krishna/ Hare Krishna/ Krishna Krishna/ Hare Hare/ Hare Rama/ Hare Rama/ Rama Rama/ Hare Hare.
It is repeated 1,728 times a day by each devotee, who keeps count by means of 108 beads carried in a pouch around the neck. There are sixteen “rounds” of 108 “sets” each. It is very boring.
(pronounced Hek-ah-tee) Hecate is the daughter of Perseus and Titan and the patron goddess of witchcraft in both Greek and Roman mythology. She goes about accompanied by two black dogs and the souls of the dead, and other dogs howl at her approach. Understandably.
See muscle reading.
(Hermes Thrice-Great) One name for a god also identified as the Egyptian deity Thoth. He was master of alchemical knowledge and wrote secret books on alchemy, astrology, and magic.
In 1455, a manuscript from the cultural center of Florence titled Corpus Hermeticum began to circulate among the intellectuals of Europe. The ideas expressed in this book — believed to have been written between A.D. 250 and 300 — had been mentioned even in manuscripts of the late Middle Ages, though knowledge of the written Greek language in which it had been preserved had been all but lost in those times.
It was said to be the compilation of the wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus. Scholars who regained the use of Greek promoted this treasured, arcane knowledge and it became prized as a privileged key to the occult. Printed copies of the Corpus spread throughout the civilized world for the next half century and appeared in the libraries of the intellectuals.
Mostly concerned with magic spells and other such trivia, it is of interest only as an example of early thought and philosophy.
See also Hermetic.
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
See Order of the Golden Dawn.
(a) The six-pointed star formed by extending the sides of a regular hexagon. Also known as the Star of David and used as the motif on the Israeli flag. Sometimes called the Shield of Solomon.
(b) A six-barred figure formed by combining two trigrams. For this application, see I Ching.
Holloway, Dr. Gilbert
A Spiritualist/clairvoyant who established the Christ Light Community in Deming, New Mexico, where he preached his ideas of metaphysics. Though he seldom made specific prophecies, in early 1968 Holloway confidently predicted that Hubert Humphrey would succeed President Johnson in the White House. Wrong.
Hollow Earth theory
In 1692, English astronomer Edmund Halley, after whom the famous comet is named, suggested the possibility that the Earth is hollow and that other civilizations might live there. The famous New England witch-hunter Cotton Mather, no genius by any standards, defended the Halley idea in 1721. It was developed further by John Cleves Symmes in 1818, and by a mechanic named Marshall B. Gardner in 1913. Gardner thought that the Earth was hollow, with a second sun inside to provide illumination.
A diagram illustrating the idea of how the Earth really is, according to the Hollow Earth theorists. A doubtful theory.
As bizarre as this idea was, it was improved upon (?) by Cyrus Reed Teed (1839-1908) in 1870. He was convinced that not only was the Earth hollow, but that we live on the inside of it. There is nothing at all outside, he said. The sun at the center of the Earth, said Teed, is invisible, but we see a “reflection” of it, and it is half dark, half glowing. Thus he explained day and night. The planets are
spheres of substance aggregated through the impact of substance through the dissipation of the coloric [sic] substance at the opening of the electro-magnetic circuits, which closes the conduits of solar and lunar “energy.”
Teed founded the town of Estero, Florida, and predicted he would fill it with eight million believers; he attracted two hundred. Since he had promised to rise from the dead and take the faithful to heaven with him, when he was killed by a Fort Myers marshal during an altercation, his disciples refused to bury him. After a week, when it began to be very evident to the senses that the man was not going to rise again, health officials insisted upon proper burial. His tomb, along with Teed, was later washed away in a hurricane.
During the Nazi rise to power in Germany, Teed's absurd idea attracted much favorable attention and was known as the Hohlweltlehre. There are numerous supporters of this idea, even today, in Germany.
The civilized world in earlier centuries was by modern standards a savage, brutal, and terrifying place. It is no surprise that offenses against religious laws and customs were especially severely dealt with.
The medieval Inquisition first came into existence in 1231, when Pope Gregory IX commanded this inquiry into the religious preferences and practices of everyone within his authority. In its early years it was mostly active in northern Italy and southern France.
In 1252, Pope Innocent IV authorized the use of torture to encourage extravagant and satisfactory confessions and valuable denouncements of others from the accused. Peter II of Aragon enhanced the effectiveness and novelty of the public trial-plus-sentence procedure known as the auto-da-fé (“act of the faith”) when he introduced public execution by burning alive at the stake. That process was referred to in official documents of the ecclesiastical courts as “relaxation.” It was witnessed by high church dignitaries and noble personages who applied long in advance for passes to attend such events. Executions were frequently delayed so that prominent guests might be accommodated.
Specific tortures such as the “strapaddo” and the “rack” were adopted and preferred by the Inquisition, along with methods of execution such as burning, strangling, and hanging, because they did not outwardly produce quantities of blood. This was to comply with a rule that said “Ecclesia non novit sanguinem,” or “The church is untainted with blood.” The fact that these procedures were also more agonizing and prolonged did nothing to detract from their appeal.
Coming into its fullest and most terrible effect with the appointment of Tomás de Torquemada as Inquisitor-General of the Spanish arm of the Inquisition in 1483, this holy office became inarguably one of the most horrid inventions of our species and was not likely to ever be matched until the blind, mindless mass slaughter of the Holocaust.
The Spanish Inquisition itself claimed three hundred thousand victims. This distinctly barbarous and terrifying arm of the holy office was established in 1478 by Pope Sixtus IV. In the Spanish version of the process, the accused went through a macabre trial which they seldom survived. In 1827, Juan Antonio Llorente, former secretary of the Inquisition in Spain, revealed the horrid truth of the judicial process that was used to place the accused on the bonfire:
Never has a prisoner of the Inquisition seen either the accusation against himself, or any other. No one was ever permitted to know more of his own cause than he could learn of it by the interrogations and accusations to which he was obliged to reply, and from the extracts of the declarations of the witnesses, which were communicated to him, while not only their names were carefully concealed, and every circumstance relating to time, place, and person, by which he might obtain a clue to discover his denouncers, but even if the depositions contained anything favourable to the defence of the prisoner.
Llorente went on to explain that there were several options open to those who had been convicted and sentenced. To escape the torture which was usually used to extract a final confession — a confession was felt necessary to justify the execution — miscreants could admit to sins they had never even countenanced and win immediate death. In some cases, if the condemned wished to escape the horror of being burned alive, they could confess and then submit to strangulation before their bodies were consumed in the bonfire; when convicted heretics thus opted for a fireside confession, the spectacle was made far less entertaining for the witnesses.
In only one manner could death be avoided, and it was a fiendish method whereby the Inquisition perpetuated its own existence and obtained fresh fuel for its fires. By choosing to implicate other innocents and condemning them to the authorities, a victim could, under some circumstances, earn a commutation of his or her sentence to a long prison term, loss of property, and expatriation — if the victim survived the dungeon.
Though in France the Inquisition never attained the ferocity it displayed in neighboring Spain, it was only the border between the countries that protected the accused from the distinct possibility of the physical tortures of the ecclesiastical courts. Just across the Pyrenees, suffering and death were the rewards for the same transgressions.
Home, Daniel Dunglas
(1833-1886) His middle name, Dunglas, was an invented affectation, obviously an attempt to dignify his name by association with Scottish royalty; it does not appear on his birth certificate.
Home (pronounced Hume) was born in Scotland. He was adopted at age one by an aunt and they moved to the United States. Thrown out of school for treating his fellow students to demonstrations of “poltergeist” activity, which had just become internationally popular through the efforts of the Fox sisters in New York State, he developed a reputation as a spirit medium. At age twenty-two, Home went traveling to the United Kingdom, then to France, Italy, and Russia, performing as a spirit medium.
In 1858 in Russia, he married his first wife, a wealthy socialite. She died in 1862, but Home found that due to interference from her suspicious family, he could not inherit her fortune. Shortly after that, in the United Kingdom, he met Mrs. Jane Lyon, a very rich widow who was promptly advised by the spirit of her husband (through the mediumship of Home) to adopt Home as her son and to give him huge sums of money. This arrangement went on for some time, but it all backfired on Home when an English court convicted him of “improper influence” and ordered him to return the money.
D. D. Home had, and still has, the reputation of never having been exposed as a fake. Since he carefully controlled all aspects of his séance performances, never admitting those persons who might not behave themselves, and since accounts by witnesses of his feats vary greatly, this reputation would not be surprising. He actually was discovered cheating several times, though these events were not made public.
One of the features of his act was the playing of an accordion which was locked in a cage located beneath the table at which he sat. An “accordion,” in that day, was not what is usually pictured today; it was a concertina, a rather small bellows affair with a simple keyboard at one end. When Home produced music, it was said to be very thin and faint, in character with its purportedly etherial origins. But another possible origin is to be considered. Since a number of tiny one-octave mouth organs were found among Home's belongings when he died, and he wore a very full “soup-strainer” style mustache, it might be suspected that he was able to play the music by means of such an instrument hidden in his mouth. That suspicion is further supported by the observation that the only two identifiable songs reported to be played at a Home séance were, “The Last Rose of Summer” and “Home, Sweet Home,” the latter just possibly a pun on the part of the spirits or of the medium himself. Both tunes are limited to a range of nine notes, and both can be played on the small one-octave mouth organs.
The accordion-in-a-cage that played celestial music when influenced by Daniel Dunglas Home. His left hand, as shown, grasped the instrument by one end, and thus held, it apparently was still able to play, though the keyboard was at the far end.
The eminent British scientist Sir William Crookes declared Home to be genuine in 1871, but his own accounts show how careless his investigation was. He was also an intimate friend of Home.
The books Incidents in My Life (two volumes, 1863 and 1872) and Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism (1877) have been credited to Home, though it is now generally accepted that these books were written for him by his lawyer, W. M. Wilkinson, who later testified that he was the actual author.
D. D. Home appears to have suffered most of his life from tuberculosis, and he died at the age of fifty-three.
This claimed healing modus is included here because it is an excellent example of an attempt to make sympathetic magic work. Its founder, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1775?-1843), believed that all illnesses develop from only three sources: syphilis, venereal warts, and what he called “the itch.”
The motto of homeopathy is “Similia similibus curantur” (“Like cures like”). It claims that doses of substances that produce certain symptoms will relieve those symptoms; however, the “doses” are extremely attenuated solutions or mixtures, so attenuated that not a single molecule of the original substance remains. In fact, the homeopathic corrective is actually pure water, nothing more. The theory is that the vibrations or “effect” of the diluted-out substance are still present and work on the patient. Currently, researchers in homeopathy are examining a new notion that water can be magnetized and can transmit its medicinal powers by means of a copper wire. Really.
The royal family of England adopted homeopathy at its very beginning and have retained a homeopathic physician on staff ever since.
The only concern of homeopaths is to treat the symptoms of disease, rather than the basic causes, which they do not recognize. Thus homeopathy correctly falls into the category of magic. And quackery.
Originally meant to refer to an artificial man that could be made or grown by alchemy. Now meaning any small representation of the human form such as may be found in a plant or mineral, or is described in various forms of quack medicine in which the ear, the iris of the eye, or the foot are said to represent a distorted human form.
See also acupuncture, iridology, and reflexology.
Honorton, Dr. Charles
(1946-1992) A prominent and respected parapsychologist, in 1979 the director of the Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton. That project was funded by millionaire James S. McDonnell, who also supported the “MacLab” in St. Louis where the Alpha Project took place. See psychokinete.
Dr. Honorton became very much involved in ganzfeld tests (which see) and published his first results in the 1970s. In 1990 he and his colleagues published the results of extensive tests of an automated nature which have met with the continued criticism of Dr. Ray Hyman.
(?-1647) In 1645 this English Puritan lawyer of Manningtree, Essex, took the well-paid title of “Witch-Finder General.” He toured England in the company of a team of assistants who were charged with searching the bodies of suspected witches for Devil's marks that indicated their involvement with Satan. He was spectacularly successful at his work and became responsible for the execution of a large number of accused persons during the brief year he served in the position. Estimates vary from about sixty to several hundred persons who perished at his hands.
However, his atrocious and senseless brutality finally stirred up enough opposition that the office was called into question and finally abolished.
Though the titillating legend has it that Hopkins himself was accused of being a witch, was subjected to one of his own tests, failed, and was hanged, he actually died peacefully at his home at Manningtree, near Ipswich.
A writer of the day said of his career:
Nothing can place the credulity of the English nation on the subject of witchcraft in a more striking point of view, than the history of Matthew Hopkins.
(1860-1931) An Austrian cosmologist who developed the absurd World Ice Theory (Welt-Eis-Lehre), which says that most of the matter of the universe is frozen water, which periodically drops into hot stars and causes explosions. There are other, equally odd aspects to his theory, which was very popular with the German Nazi party.
The astrological chart of the zodiac, done from a geocentric point of view, upon which the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets are located for a specific time and date. If that date is a person's birth date (or, indeed, even the “birth” date of a nation, company, idea, event, or animal) the chart is a “natal” horoscope, used by the astrologer to predict important characteristics of that subject.
Each astrological sign is said to confer certain general characteristics. The rising points of the heavenly bodies, their relationships to one another, and various other correlations are all believed important. Events in the subject's life, conditions of health, and fortune are said to be found in the horoscope.
Definitive, carefully conducted tests of the idea have shown it to be false.
The first written horoscope dates from 409 B.C., and it is a Mesopotamian specimen found among less that twenty known from that period.
See also astrology and zodiac.
Hot Foil Trick
A minor conjuring trick, not commonly used, in which a scrap of aluminum foil is crumpled and placed in the spectator's hand, then the performer suggests that it will become very hot. It does, since a chemical (often a dangerously poisonous mercuric salt) has been surreptitiously rubbed onto it to induce rapid oxidation of the metal, an exothermic reaction producing much heat in a very short time.
The trick is not in the repertoire of any reputable conjuror but has been used by psychics.
See cold reading.
(1874-1926) Born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary, Houdini made a fabulous reputation as an escape artist and magician, traveling internationally and earning top money in the field. His is probably the best-known name in conjuring.
The escape act that Houdini himself developed was inspired by an act he saw in 1887 when he was just thirteen years old, an act based on that of the famous Davenport brothers. The budding young magician who was to revolutionize the art of conjuring realized that the performers were freeing themselves in order to carry out their clever deceptions, and he decided to make it clear to his audiences that what he did was accomplished solely by dexterity and skill. That he never failed to do.
Late in life, following the death of his mother in 1913, Harry Houdini developed a serious interest in spiritualism and the question of survival-after-death; he turned his attention to the claims of the then-burgeoning spiritualist trade and investigated many of its popular stars. Houdini conducted successful and effective investigations of fakers in the field and published his findings in such books as The Right Way to Do Wrong (1906), Miracle-Mongers and their Methods(1920), and A Magician Among the Spirits (1924).
Late in his career, Harry Houdini went on the road exposing spiritualistic frauds by means of a full-scale stage show. His answer to the question, incidentally, was “no.”
At one séance in which he tried to establish contact with the spirit of his mother, he was astonished to hear her speaking English, a tongue she had never used. The medium was unfazed. “In Heaven,” she reported, “everyonespeaks English.” This rationalization was rejected by Houdini.
Before his death, the great magician arranged a secret code which he said he would try to transmit to his wife Bess after his death. He had hardly taken his last breath before mediums all over the world began trying to guess the secret. The correct code was provided by medium Arthur Ford (which see) but the feat was not convincing to those who knew the facts behind it.
The code itself consisted of the word Rosabelle, the title of a song that Bess had been singing when their first meeting occurred at Coney Island, New York, and the word believe. A ten-word “mind-reading” code was also involved.
(1930-1981) Known professionally as Dr. Faustus, Hoy was an ordained minister who opted to follow mentalism instead. He invented many clever and original mental effects and later in life decided to represent himself as a genuine psychic. He sold horoscopes and other “magical” equipment.
Hubbard, Lafayette Ronald
(1911-1986) A science fiction writer who founded the religion known as Scientology, based on his theory of Dianetics, the subject of one of his science fiction stories. Dianetics was a sort of pop psychology idea that claimed everyone was aware of the outside world immediately after conception, was affected by that experience, and could be treated by “auditing” procedures supervised by proper experts.
A person who had passed through the entire therapy was known as a “clear” and was said to have total recall and other superpowers, as well as being free of illness. The first of these persons displayed at a press conference by the Hubbard staff failed simple tests rather dramatically; the standards for the status of “clear” were dramatically reduced at that point. (Parapsychologist Dr. Harold Puthoff (see Uri Geller) is both a Scientologist and a “clear.”)
Editor John Campbell, Jr., said, in a 1950 article in Astounding Science Fiction, that Hubbard had cured him of chronic sinusitis through Dianetics, but up until his death twenty-one years later, he continued to take medication for the condition, constantly sniffing from an inhaler. Campbell always endorsed Dianetics enthusiastically.
Incredible claims and statements were Hubbard's trademarks; a 1963 bulletin to his followers announced that he had visited heaven 43,891,832,611,177 years, 344 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds from 10.02½ P.M., Daylight Greenwich Time, 9th May 1963.
Since Daylight Greenwich Time is like saying “Eastern Standard Pacific Time” and the rest is mathematical nonsense, the import of this statement escapes most persons.
Hume, Daniel Dunglas
See Home, Daniel Dunglas.
(1711-1776) A Scottish philosopher who taught that all human thought processes are the product of mechanical/chemical systems in the brain. James Boswell declared him “the greatest writer in Britain,” and in recognition of that fact, the Roman Catholic church in 1761 placed all of his writings on the Index of Forbidden Books.
Hume's Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (1748) contained what has become known as his “Essay on Miracles,” in which he stated that because of its definition alone, “a miracle cannot be proved by any amount of evidence.” (The piece was retitled in 1758 “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.”)
More frequently, he is quoted as saying:
It is more likely that testimony should be false, than that miracles should be true.
(Pieter Van der Hurk, 1911-1988) A Dutch psychic who claimed that at age thirty he fell three stories from a ladder onto his head while painting. Miraculously, he not only lived through the fall, but he also found that it had made him psychic.
Discovered by parapsychologist Dr. Andrija Puharich and wealthy patron-of-psychics Henry Belk, he was brought to the United States, where he began performing before live audiences and on television with great success.
Many reputable parapsychologists requested that Hurkos submit to controlled tests, but he adamantly refused all such overtures, except for that of Dr. Charles Tart of the University of California at Davis. Dr. Tart's tests were negative.
When the famous Stone of Scone was stolen from Westminster Abbey in 1951 just at the height of Hurkos' fame as a psychic, the French press gave very detailed accounts of how he had been called in by Scotland Yard to apply his powers to their investigation, had enabled them to find the object, had provided the names of the guilty persons, and in turn had received his expenses for the visit. A simple inquiry resulted in an official statement from a police spokesman that Hurkos came to [England] at his own expense and was given the chance to exercise his powers in discovering the Stone; but his efforts produced nothing that could help the police.
The Home Secretary, Mr. Chuter Edge, commenting on Hurkos's claims in the matter, said:
The gentleman in question whose activities have been publicized (though not by the police) was among a number of persons authorized to come to Westminster Abbey to examine the scene of the crime. He was not invited by the police, his expenses have not been refunded by the Government, and he did not obtain any result whatsoever.
Hurkos's methods, when he appeared to have any success at all, were essentially cold reading, which see. At one point, during an investigation of a murder case, he was stopped in his car and a number of pieces of false identification were found, indicating that he was obtaining information by that means when he posed as a police psychic, so that Hurkos obviously had recourse to “hot” reading techniques as well.
Hypnotism / Hypnosis
One of the most controversial subjects or phenomena in psychology is hypnotism. It is said to be an altered state of mind a subject enters into at the instruction of the operator, a trance condition in which the subject is amenable to suggestions made by the operator. Stage demonstrations of the phenomenon may or may not be genuine.
Since there are no adequate definitions of trance and no means whereby one can test for that state, it appears more likely that hypnotism is a mutual agreement of the operator and the subject that the subject will cooperate in following suggestions and in acting out various suggested scenarios. As such, hypnotism may be a valuable tool in psychology.
The early interpretation of hypnotism was a sort of power that the operator had over the subject, as illustrated here.
Certainly the picture of the hypnotist (operator) as a figure of power with control over the unwilling victim is the product of ignorance and superstition.
Anton Mesmer, who gave his name to an early version of hypnotism, “mesmerism,” played with the notion of animal magnetism and then began to realize that the various objects he used — such as iron scepters and vats of chemicals — had nothing to do with the experience his subjects underwent.
Recent research has shown that weight loss and cessation of smoking, both popularly advertised as curable by hypnotism, cannot be accomplished without the earnest desire of the sufferer to achieve the desired result; this leads to the question of whether or not the results might be as easily attained by some other form of approach, such as religious inspiration, the caring of a family member, or the intervention of another mystic-sounding but ineffective therapy. This is an idea that professional hypnotists do not care to hear.