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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Daniel Dunglas Home (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

weatherman
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Hello. I am new to this forum and recently began studying psychcial research. I'm not sure if this is the proper forum to post this question, but I am interested in a magician's perspective on this subject. I have been particularly interested in the life and phenomena (tricks?) of the Scottish medium Daniel Dunglas Home in the mid 19th century. I was wondering if anyone is familiar with his life, and if so what light they could shed on it. I am new to magic, but a serious student of psychical research requires a full knowledge of magic, so I trying to learn, especially with regards to tricks that could/were employed in the seance room.

My study of Home's phenomena seems to indicate a potential mass hallucination/hypnosis scenario, but I am not aware that this has ever been proven to be possible. Is anyone aware of a magician who was able to simulateneously hypnotise their spectators into thinking something took place when it didn't? I am aware of the Indian Rope trick stories, but it appears that there is no hard evidence that the trick (as described) actually occurred. Thank you for anyone who can provide information on a relatively obscure subject.
petethecreeper
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There is a good deal of information available in a book by Eugene Burger (Spirit Theater). It is out of print, and can be hard to find. With apologies to Mr. Burger, I'll paraphrase some little tidbits of info.

-Home seems to have funded his life's work by marrying wealthy heiresses and aristocrats.

-Sir William Crookes tested Home on numerous occasions, and concluded that there was, in Home, a presence of a new, unknown and mysterious physical force which was as measurable as gravity or electricy. Critics claim that Crookes let Home dictate the conditions of tests...rendering them useless.

-The Ashley Place Levitation (which is claimed to have happened the date I am writing this in 1868) is named as one of his greatest feats. Home, during a seance, left one room into the one next door only to suddenly re-enter the room....through the window! The windows of the rooms were separated effectively by seven feet of wall and a four inch ledge...and an eighty foot drop! All the eyewitness accounts conflict, however. Some claim that the eyewitnesses were all in on the gag. Others claim they were overwhelmed with expectations of the supernatural that they imagined many of the details. Houdini produced several convincing explanations (from ledge climbing to fumbling in the dark). The Ashley Place Levitaion is still considered one of the great feats in spiritualism.

-The Ashley Levitation was well timed in a P.R. perspective...seeing as how Home was successfully sued earlier that year by a Mrs. Lyon for fraud (and a considerable sum of money).

There's much, MUCH more in the book...and I do it no justice with my paraphrasing. If you can't find the book, I'd suggest contacting Mr. Burger through his website:

http://www.magicbeard.com

Good Luck!
weatherman
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Thank you very much for posting. I have not seen this book yet, though I will certainly be reading it soon. Mr. Burger brings up an interesting point in that Home married into aristrocratic families. This may be perhaps one of the more striking examples of his "power". He was born into a poor Scottish family who moved to Connecticutt in the 1840s. The fact that a lower class boy could marry into not one, but two families of nobility (which at the time was very rare) suggests that he was someone of an extraordinary ability (be it conjuring or genuine ability.)

As far as the Ashley Levitation goes, I am perplexed as to how it has become such a staple of Home's phenomena, and is something that I feel requires further study. Certainly the idea that a man "levitates" from one window to the next is a striking image, but those present did not actually witness this occurring. There are many examples though, of Home levitating in a lighted room for several minutes, while observers passed their hands around him. I find that more difficult to explain. Thank you though for the reference...I will check it out.
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