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Ceremonial robe worn during magic ceremonies. It consists of two rectangles sewn together at the top corners and then belted. Not flattering to the average sorcerer, nor practical in breezy weather.
(also, table tilting or table turning) Known as a form of “dactylomancy,” along with the Ouija board and other notions which make use of the ideomotor effect.
This phenomenon takes place with one or more persons seated about a table, often a light card table. Placing their hands flat upon the surface, they “will” the table to move. In response, it either rises, tilts, or rotates. It can be found by experimentation that drawing back or pushing forward, horizontally, will cause the table to tilt up on two legs. Two persons seated at adjacent or opposite sides doing this together can cause the table to move even more dramatically.
The scientist/inventor Michael Faraday devised an elegant system for demonstrating that table tipping was often an ideomotor effect. Unknown to the sitters, he placed a second wooden tabletop over the first one, separated from it by thin, round wooden rods the ends of which passed behind an adjacent curtain and were equipped with pointers. When the sitters attempted to make the table move, those pointers turned, showing that, unconsciously, horizontal pressure was being applied by the sitters, though they denied that they did so.
A simple control method consists of placing pieces of smooth paper beneath the hands of the sitters. Since no grip can be obtained on the surface, the table does not move.
Of course, other methods can be used, as when Palladino did her effective table tipping. In her case, she wore custom-made boots with wide soles that protruded beyond the edges of the boots. The edge could have been hooked beneath a leg of the table, the hand located over the leg pressing down, forming what is known in the trade as the “human clamp.” This is a means for lifting straight up on a table, a seemingly impossible maneuver.
There are other methods, too, for moving and lifting a table, even a heavy one. Some are one-person methods, and some require a confederate.
Any prohibition of a motion, a gesture, an item of clothing, a word or phrase, use of a substance, or indeed almost any human action which is thought to provoke a deity, a class of person, a demon, or any other entity.
Many religions and other belief systems are loaded with such taboos as appearing outdoors with the head uncovered, eating certain foods on certain days of the week, allowing a cat (especially a black one) to cross one's path, showing the sole of one's foot to another person, or living on the thirteenth floor of a building. Entire books have been written listing improper actions, from simple discussions of table manners to serious warnings about divine retribution applied for transgressions.
A disk, stone, or medal designed to confer some sort of power, as opposed to an amulet, which has more of protective purpose. The sale of talismans, as well as of books describing their manufacture and use, provided much of the income for those who dealt in such malarkey. In fact, it still does. New age and religious-goods shops deal in talismans.
See also charms.
See Backster, Cleve.
A term referring to the sexual aspects of various Eastern religions, mostly concerned with conserving sexual energies and desires and directing them to other purposes. As might be expected, failure to attain this goal is frequent among practitioners. In the Western world, tantric arguments are often employed, by enthusiastic disciples, to rationalize a seduction.
A set of seventy-eight playing cards decorated with a variable set of fantastic and mystical diagrams, symbols, and illustrations. The earliest deck still in existence is dated circa 1432. Researcher Norman Schwarz has dated the Tarot to between 312 and 64 B.C., from various clues such as the inclusion of earlier astronomical constellations (such as the Lovers and the King).
The cards are grouped into the Major Arcana (twenty-two trump cards) and the Minor Arcana (fifty-six suit cards). The four suits consist of fourteen cards each, ace through ten, page, knight, queen, and king. These cards were first in use in the mid-1400s and have been used ever since by gullible persons to cast fortunes.
One of the familiar Tarot cards, number zero in the Major Arcana.
The modern deck of fifty-two cards used in gambling was derived from the Tarot deck, the suits being transmuted so that “swords” became spades, “cups” became hearts, “wands” became clubs, and “coins” (or “pentacles”) became diamonds. (In Spain, these suits were “palomas,” “rosas,” “conejos,” and “dineros”; in France, “piques,” “cœur,” “trèfles,” and “carreaux.”) These are the cards that were called the Minor Arcana. Originally, there were four “court” cards, but the knight (or cavalli) card was dropped in the modern deck, resulting in 4x13 cards, while the Tarot retained 4x14.
The Major Arcana of twenty-two cards are individual figures:
(In some versions of the Tarot, the Fool is given the number XXI and the World becomes XXII. There is no known difference in accuracy between the two systems as far as prophetic value is concerned.)
For use as a divinatory device, the Tarot deck is dealt out in various patterns and interpreted by a gifted “reader.” The fact that the deck is not dealt out into the same pattern fifteen minutes later is rationalized by the occultists by claiming that in that short span of time, a person's fortune can change, too. That would seem to call for rather frequent readings if the system is to be of any use whatsoever.
The form of deck most used today is the Golden Dawn, designed by A. E. Waite, a mystic, and drawn by artist Pamela Coleman Smith about 1900. The art of reading the cards has been referred to as the “ars notoria.”
Tart, Dr. Charles
(1937- ) Parapsychologist/psychologist at the University of California at Davis, Dr. Tart obtained his degree at Duke University under the prominent psychologist Norman Gutman.
Dr. Tart has contributed much to parapsychology, including a “10-choice Trainer” which he constructed to test ESP. This setup consisted of two isolation booths and a system whereby one of ten digits was randomly chosen by an experimenter in the first booth and then transmitted to a subject in the other booth by ESP.
After his book on the experiments appeared reporting successful results and causing a great sensation in psi circles, an independent, skeptical researcher visited the laboratory and examined the device and how it was used. He pointed out that there were methods by which sensory leakage might have occurred during the tests. Then mathematicians at Davis discovered that there were faults with the randomizer of exactly the nature that would tend to produce positively biased results. And there were several modes available if the subjects chose to cheat.
Dr. Tart's book on the Trainer experiments continues in circulation and is still quoted in the literature to prove the existence of ESP.
Tea Leaf Reading
(also, tasseography) An old, quaint notion that the patterns formed by tea leaves in a cup are indicators of a deeper truth. The tea is drunk and the cup is drained, inverted, and turned around three times left to right, using the left hand. (This turning process, whether done with either hand or a foot, does not in any way redistribute the tea leaves, but it can't hurt, either.) The reader then examines the leaves and prognosticates.
Leaves on the bottom, we're told, indicate the distant future, those on the rim the immediate future. Tea leaf stems represent persons. Fat stems are fat people, for example.
The use of tea bags has not only made the art more difficult, but less accurate. Coffee grounds are also read, but there is no record of Shredded Wheat or coleslaw being so employed.
Often redundantly referred to as “mental telepathy.” The term was originated by researcher F. W. Myers (1843-1901) in 1882. It refers to the supposed ability of humans or animals to perceive the thoughts or emotions of others without the use of the recognized senses. It is one of the specific facets of extrasensory perception (ESP).
(1894-1981) Chairman of the parapsychology department at Utrecht University, this cantankerous Dutch investigator had all sorts of problems getting along with his colleagues, who always suspected him of hyperbole in matters of psychic reporting. Nonetheless, he was widely published in parapsychology.
He took as a pet the clairvoyant/police psychic and general performer Gerard Croiset (1909-1980), for whom he obtained considerable media coverage. For years, parapsychologists and general believers in psychic matters pointed to the exploits of Croiset as examples of undoubted powers, in particular his work as a police psychic. Then Dutch journalist Piet Hein Hoebens looked into the reports that Tenhaeff had made, and discovered that he had exaggerated them and in some cases had lied. There were many examples in which Tenhaeff had solved a trick method used by Croiset and had chosen not to report it.
Tenhaeff died a few months after his protégé, revealed as a fraud.
Testing Psychic Claims
It has been said that it would be very difficult to design a test for psychic claims. Not knowing very much about how proper scientific tests are designed, objectors have claimed that it would be impossible to come up with a test that would be satisfying to “both sides,” as if a scientific experiment should or could have two “sides.” A properly designed test has no preferred results, and no decision in advance — or bias — is allowed to influence the design or conduct of the test, nor the reporting of the results. These provisions must be written into any proper scientific test, in advance. The result obtained must be accepted and binding to “both sides.”
If any claim is so vague, imprecise, and/or ambiguous that it cannot be examined rationally, then it cannot be tested and it probably cannot have the slightest importance to anyone except students of abnormal psychology. And it most probably has no merit whatsoever.
In the kabala, this is the term for the four-letter name of God. If effect, it is the name of a name.
It varies from text to text. Some versions are JHVH, IHVH, JHWH, YHVH, and YHWH. Since these are too sacred to be spoken aloud, the word “Adoni” is used when the name is spoken. This has led to a serious misunderstanding, since in Hebrew texts only the consonants of Adoni (or of “Elohim” — this makes it more confusing) are printed. Thus are produced the reconstructions such as Yahweh or Jehovah.
The general, and poorly limited, term covering almost all practices such as witchcraft, sorcery, or magic. Often wrongly and facetiously used by eighteenth-century conjurors to describe their art.
Formed from the Greek words theos meaning “god” and sophia meaning “wisdom.” The religion founded in 1875 by H. P. Blavatsky teaching that matter, spirit, and consciousness are the basis for the universe and the individual. Borrowing from the kabala and Indian religious ideas, Theosophy rails at Christianity and most other organized religions and invokes images of secret societies, “Tibetan Masters,” “lost” Indian philosophy, and “ancient wisdom.” Madame Blavatsky was constantly being visited by astral beings and other spirits who imparted to her the rules of the religion. Astrology, clairvoyance, and other powers are not only automatically accepted in Theosophy, but are important factors in its dogma.
See also Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.
Ted Serios (born circa 1920) is said to have the ability to project his thoughts onto the film inside a Polaroid camera.
There is a method involving a simple handheld optical device that can accomplish this by trickery. If Mr. Serios used such a method, the trick managed to convince a Freudian psychiatrist named Jule Eisenbud (1908- ), several parapsychologists, and a number of other persons, in spite of definitive exposure of the trick. If Mr. Serios did not use a trick method, all the rules of physics, particularly of optics, everything developed by science over the past several centuries, must be rewritten to accommodate Eisenbud's opinion. No such revisions have been found necessary.
In Dr. Eisenbud's 1967 book The World of Ted Serios, the photographs shown are stark evidence, not only of the very strong indication that the simple handheld optical device was indeed used by Mr. Serios, but also of the wishful, convoluted reasoning process by which parapsychologists sometimes decide in favor of paranormal explanations. This is a valuable book in this regard.
Thouless, Robert Henry
(1894-1984) Thouless was a well-known British psychologist who turned, in his later years, to parapsychology. He became well known for his most successful book, Straight and Crooked Thinking (1930), which in the United States was titled How to Think Straight.
Thouless's attempts to reproduce the Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine ESP card tests failed, and he was far from satisfied with the standards adopted by parapsychologists in their laboratory protocols. He was one of the first to discover that early versions of the famous Zener symbol cards favored by Rhine in his ESP tests could actually be read from the backs of the cards. He also introduced the term psi to parapsychology.
Although he was still unsatisfied with experimental procedures that were being used, Dr. Thouless became convinced of the existence of ESP. He became president of the Society for Psychical Research in 1942.
In 1948, he established a “survival” test. Similar tests had been set up by Sir Oliver Lodge, F. W. H. Myers, and others, and all had failed. The Thouless test specified that his test of survival-after-death was designed so that:
1. The test would have no concealed object or writing that might be determined by subterfuge or by clairvoyance.
2. It would “allow the possibility of an indefinitely large number of checks of the attempted solutions.”
3. It would provide for any solution to be quite definitely “right” or “wrong,” without any ambiguity.
4. It would leave no uncertainty about whether or not the solution was the correct one.
This test consisted of two “Vigenere” cipher code passages:
INXPH CJKGM JIRPR FBCVY WYWES NOECN SCVHE GYRJQ TEBJM TGXAT TWPNH CNYBC FNXPF LFXRV QWQL
and BTYRR OOFLH KCDXK FWPCZ KTADR GFHKA HTYXO ALZUP PYPVF AYMMF SDLR UVUB
It was stated in the Thouless challenge that a third set of characters would provide the key to understand these lines. This third set was not recorded in writing, since Thouless feared the possibility, as stated in his first provision, that some gifted clairvoyant might sense such a record, thus destroying the “survival” aspect of the test. Also:
The key to the first is a continuous passage of poetry or prose which may be indicated by referring to its title, and the key to the second consists of two words.
The first cipher was quickly solved (the “key” word was SURPRISE) and Thouless withdrew it from the test, but the second remains unsolved.
Dr. Thouless considered the development of this test his greatest contribution to parapsychology. To date, no one, alive or dead, has succeeded in solving the second message. Of course, the failure does not mean that Thouless didnot survive death.
Many sittings with spirit mediums attempting to obtain the two key words from the ghost of Dr. Thouless have failed; though the mediums claim they make contact with the ghost, it tells them it has forgotten the two words. That seems strange, since Dr. Thouless wrote, in his description of the test, that those two words were “easy to remember.” The ghost is able to recall all other aspects of Thouless's life, such as names, addresses, events, and quotations — all details that are easily available to anyone who might want to know them — but not the two simple words upon which the entire test — and proof of survival — depend.
Any attempts at a solution should be sent to: Society for Psychical Research, 1 Adam & Eve Mews, London W8 6UG, U.K.
A device fitting on the end of the thumb (or, as with the “finger writer,” on a finger, usually the index) which enables a medium to secretly inscribe writing upon a pad, card, or slate. Often, the performer will pretend to write a name or number, then place the pad (for example) facedown upon a table, ask the sitter to give the word or number sought, and upon picking up the pad will use the writer to quickly and secretly write out the word or number. The pad is then shown, as if the word had been written there previously.
A poorly defined “altered state” of consciousness loosely described as a sleeplike condition, daze, or stupor. In some definitions, voluntary action is suspended. No definition of the hypnotic trance has been arrived at, nor are there tests to establish it. Psychics and spirit mediums usually claim to be “in trance” when they work, but there is no good evidence for this.
(TM) Becoming very popular after its introduction outside of India by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918?- ) in the 1960s, TM requires devotees to meditate twice daily, repeating their individually assigned mantras. TM is a philosophy that also teaches siddhis such as levitation (flying in the air by mind power) and invulnerability (safety from all assault, physical and spiritual) along with an assortment of other supernatural claims.
Study of the siddhis is an aspect of the Maharishi's “Science of Creative Intelligence,” which has no scientific characteristics at all. Though wide claims have been made for the effect of TM on the world, none of the claims have stood examination. One of the Maharishi's attractive analogies — in which he equates the solar system with the structure of the atom — is not only crackpot science; it is very bad crackpot.
TM obtained a brief surge of great interest when the Beatles embraced the idea for a few months in 1967. They were quickly disillusioned when the promises of the Maharishi went unfulfilled, and dropped out. However, Beatle George Harrison again joined the TM political party and ran for Parliament in the U.K. in 1992, as did many other TMers, including Canadian conjuror Doug Henning. None of the TM candidates won office, though they'd been told by the Maharishi that their election was assured. In 1993, Henning tried for political position as a TM candidate again, this time in Canada; he was unsuccessful.
The Maharishi claims to have discovered the secret of age reversal, though his own ripening process appears to be continuing at the expected rate. Tens of thousands of students have taken his course in levitation, but none have flown, which would appear to have been the eventual goal. And tests of the “invulnerable” siddhi have not been successfully conducted, as far as is known, in spite of the fact that such a test would appear to be easily designed and implemented.
Currently, the growth of TM has slowed, though Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, still functions as the center of the movement in the United States.
Trial By Ordeal
An early system of judgment in which the accused was pitted against a person who had been appointed by the court or by the accuser himself, in combat or some other form of competition. Divine powers were believed to regulate the outcome. In cases where, for example, a maiden was unable to battle with a man, a “champion” might be assigned to her. Other ordeals, such as handling hot metal, plunging a hand into burning embers, or being submerged under water might also be ordered by the court. In tests of witches, if the accused survived the ordeal, he or she was guilty; if not, he or she was innocent. The testing process was not an ideal one.
See also Bible.
A set of three parallel lines, either broken or solid, which can be combined with another set to form a hexagram.
See also I Ching.
In the process of cold reading, this is a subtle prompting technique whereby the medium introduces an uncertainty to the statement, an unspoken invitation to the sitter to direct the attempt. Such phrases as these are used:
I want to say that . . .
I feel that . . .
Possibly . . .
It might be that . . .
I'm led to say that . . .
I get the feeling that . . .
I'm being told that . . .
Why do I say that . . .
Why do I feel that . . .
Also see the reading in Appendix I for examples of this technique in action.
Tut, curse of King
An international myth started by the press and carefully nurtured by them ever since.
When the tomb of a minor pharaoh of Egypt, Tutankhamen (circa 1350 B.C., died age 19), was discovered and opened in 1922, it was a major archaeological event. In order to keep the press at bay and yet allow them a sensational aspect with which to deal, the head of the excavation team, Howard Carter, put out a story that a curse had been placed upon anyone who violated the rest of the boy-king. The fact that this “curse” was accepted as traditional for all royal tombs escaped the notice of the eager press.
The man who had financed the project was Lord Carnavon (né Herbert, 1866-1923), and after he died in Cairo the following year, the curse of the Pharaoh was in full bloom. The fact that Carnavon was chronically ill, and particularly so when he arrived in Egypt from England to view the tomb, was ignored. Since the electricity in Cairo also went out that same night (it frequently failed at that period in the city's history), the curse seemed to be working very well.
The story arose that many of those who had been connected with the tomb died violently and prematurely. The awkward facts are that the average duration of life for the twenty-two nonnative persons (those who can be traced) who might be said to have had anything to do with the tomb opening or excavation — those who should have suffered the ancient curse — was more than twenty-three years after the “curse” was supposed to become effective. Lady Evelyn Herbert, Carnavon's daughter, died in 1980, a full fifty-seven years later. Howard Carter, who not only discovered the tomb and physically opened it, but also removed the mummy of Tutankhamen from the sarcophagus, lived until 1939, sixteen years after that event, and British soldier Richard Adamson, who slept in the tomb as a guard for seven years following the opening, was alive and well in 1980, fifty-seven years after the violation of the tomb.
This group died at an average age of seventy-three-plus years, beating the actuarial tables for persons of that period and social class by about a year. The curse of the Pharaoh is a beneficial curse, it would appear.
See Appendix II for more information.
See Presidential Curse.