mystic menagerie 2
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Welcome to the second issue of The Mystic Menagerie,
an occasional e-zine for the mystery entertainer. I want
this to be a melting pot of ideas, so anything you wish
to contribute will be considered. As ever, I wish to thank
all of the great minds that have contributed to this issue
and made this possible.
So whats in this issue?
effects produced by UK based dealer The Black Hart,
a superb spooky story routine by Graham Yates, Dan
Baines the man behind the very wonderful Lebanon
Circle presents The Corpse Candle, a lovely piece called
Dixie Nightmares from the talented Paul Prater, some
bits and pieces from myself and other lovely goodies
from the dark realm for you to feast your eyes upon.
May I take this opportunity to thank all of those who
sue. We intend to continue providing a publication which
will always feature items of worth.
May I thank those who contributed towards this issue
and Bertoneski who does a sterling job making this lit-
tle magazine look like the slightly sinister delight it is
intended to be.
Until next time,
YOUR HUMBLE EDITOR
Black Harts Bi-
By Freddie ValentineFor those of you who are
unaware who The Black
Hart is -and if you are a UK
based bizarrist, you should
be ashamed of yourself-, it is
the pseudonym of Keith Hart,
a performer and producer of
sinister magical effects who
resides in the Scottish Isles.
I have a number of Keiths ef-
fects and hopefully this arti-
cle will guide you around the
myriad items he has for sale
on his website - www.black-
hart.co.uk . A couple of my fa-
vourite card effects Keith sells
are The Devil in Mind -which
uses playing cards- and Power
of the Tarot.
The Devil in Mind is a great
effect and hugely deceptive.
You spin a yarn to the specta-
tor concerning how the devil
can influence you without you
knowing -or whatever suits
your style- and offer then a
deck of cards to shuffle. You
then show them a folder which
contains three laminated cards
representing the conscious,
unconscious and subconscious,
each bearing a picture of Lu-
cifer himself. You then ask the
spectator to think of a number
and to deal that many cards
onto the table and the deal a
hand to each of the three dev-
ils. When the top card of each
pile is turned over they are all
sixes 666: The Number of
The Beast! What you need to
remember is that you never
touch the cards. They shuffle,
they choose the number and
they deal. Its an incredible
effect in itself, but with the
right degree of suspense and
into a chilling revelation. And
yes you use a normal deck of
cards! -I go for aged ones-
The Power of the Tarot is a
superb effect that uses you
guessed it tarot cards! The
spectator is shown two piles of
tarot cards and clearly shown
that are both in a totally dif-
ferent order. The spectator
chooses a pile which is mixed
according to their instruction.
Both piles are then show to
be in exactly the same order!
As a playing card effect, this
would be rather mundane and
unexceptional, but with the
ever alluring tarot cards it
becomes a demonstration of
their power and mystery. To be
honest, when I read the work-
ings of this effect, I didnt hold
out much promise for it. That
is, until I performed it for one
of our ever truthful laymen
who was completely bowled
over by it. It has been getting
a great response for me ever
Slasher is a cut-throat razor
which produces a similar ef-
fect to the magicians favourite
Knife Thru Arm. KTA always
seemed unrealistic and gim-
micky to me and that fact that
this was a damn sight cheaper
made me wonder whether it
would be much cop. It sounded
good, but for under -n18 was it
going to be cheap tat? It is, in
fact, superb and gives a very
realistic illusion of slashing
your throat or wrists and the
dispensing of blood looks ac-
curate and uncannily realistic.
I used this onstage as part of
my cabaret variety show and a
fellow psychic entertainer, who
was performing on the show,
said it looked great from all
angles and they were per-
plexed as to the method. If you
are after this kind of effect,
Slasher is not only cheap its
Another nice little effect from
Black Hart is something called
a pendant is shown-worn or
whatever you like and a small
number of laminated cards
which are blank on one side.
The cards represent souls of
dead celebrities and the spec-
tator can freely shuffle the
cards and deal them on to the
table. Card and then elimi-
nated one by one, each time
revealing the name of a dead
famous person. You are then
left with one card. The name
on this card which was left af-
ter the spec freely eliminates
all the others is revealed to be
the same person whose pho-
tograph is revealed when the
selves. Nice props and a great
use for a much underused
Black Hart has a whole web-
site full of bizarre goodies
give it a look!
The Mad Hatter Returns
by Graham Yates
A rather wonderful seance style routine with a great story from Graham Yates:
It is now over 120 twenty years since my Great Grandfather died. Without whom we wouldnt own
this lovely Victorian house that we sit in today. My Grandfather was a hat maker to Royalty both
in England and Europe.
He was renowned for the design and quality of his hats. The money he received allowed him to
live a good and prosperous life, it also gave him the money to buy this house, which has been
passed down through the generations ever since.
Just recently I have been experiencing strange occurrences with this old hat box, nothing cer-
Tsar of Russia.
Today I would like to see if we could contact his spirit to allow my mind to settle about the hat
box and the strange feeling I have towards it. I have also brought a crystal bell that stood in his
shop for the customers to gain his attention and some replicas of his business card that I have
had made, unfortunately there is only one of his business card left which is far too fragile to
use, so I have had these made to preserve their design.
The hat box is placed in the middle of the table surrounded by the sitters, inside is placed the
crystal bell and a single business card with todays date on it, is placed underneath it,the lid is
then put back on the hat box and silence falls through the room.
After what seems like an eternity a muffled ringing of the bell is heard. The lid is removed and
it is seen that there is a single word on the card Believe.
The writing on the business card is our old favourite the Out to Lunch principle.
The ringing of the bell, whilst the method is not new, I have not come across it used with this
equipment. Rather than use a tape recorder a mobile phone is used. This allows for a normal
object to carried on your person and not really questioned. The recording software is set run-
ning and the bells is rung a few minutes into the recording enough time for the script and also
a good period of silence, the bell is rung in the open to give a good clear sound. When in perfor-
mance the phone is placed in your pocket and set to play, when it comes time for the ring it will
sound muffled because it is in the pocket and sound as though I comes from the hat box.
The Corpse Candle
Spook Lights for Seance
By Dan Baines -Lebanon Circle Magic-
Ideas for illusions always sneak up on me when I am least expecting them. This particular ef-
fect started to manifest itself in my psyche earlier this year -January 2007- at Cirque du Soleil.
The idea then went to ground for a few months until I saw something similar at Lord of the
Rings -the musical- in the West End. The idea was simple but very effective and emulated fair-
it may be a laser. But without a light source or reflective surface I couldnt see how this would
be possible. The point of light was simply there, dancing in the ether. Thankfully the mystery
of this entrancing light effect was revealed when my girlfriend purchased the most expensive
theatre seats slap bang at the front of the stage. Finally I could see how it was done, but only
Admittedly this effect is not a conventional magic trick although if performed under the right
circumstances will look magical. Its also not the most diverse of effects but as a seance or story
telling tool it will allow you to create something captivating and strange to the unknowing eye.
Due to the slight limitations with this effect I though it may be more rewarding and fun to pro-
vide it in kit form, at least this way youll get the satisfaction of the build. I have however, used
the Corpse Candle in conjunction with one of my dead fairies at a childrens party and at a small
seance to create orbs which left both audiences dumb founded.
As with all magic, I can provide you with the tools and ideas, all you need to add is imagination.
Spook Light Folklore
The name Corpse Candle refers to the ghostly lights sometimes seen at night or twilight often
over marsh land. They are also referred as a Jack o Lantern, Will-o-the Wisp and Spook lights
depending on region.
It looks like a flickering lamp, and is sometimes said to recede if approached. Much folklore
or elemental. Briggs A Dictionary of Fairies provides an extensive list of other names for
the same phenomenon though the place they are observed -graveyard, bogs etc.- influences the
Many tales surround the origin of such mystery lights. An Irish story tells of a neer-do-well
named Drunk Jack or Stingy Jack who makes a deal with the Devil, offering up his soul in ex-
change for payment of his pub tab. When the Devil comes to collect his due, Jack tricks him by
making him climb a tree and then carving a cross underneath, preventing him from climbing
down. In exchange for removing the cross, the Devil forgives Jacks debt. However, because no
one as bad as Jack would ever be allowed into Heaven, Jack is forced upon his death to travel to
Hell and ask for a place there. The Devil denies him entrance in revenge, but, as a boon, grants
souls are forever condemned. Jack places it in a carved turnip to serve as a lantern.
Among European rural people, especially in Gaelic and Slavic folk cultures, the will-o-the-wisps
are held to be mischievous spirits of the dead or other supernatural beings attempting to lead
travellers astray. A modern Americanized adaptation of this travellers association frequently
places swaying Ghost Lights along roadsides and railroad tracks. Here a swaying movement of
the lights is alleged to be that of 19th- and early 20th-century railway workers supposed to have
been killed on the job.
Sometimes the lights are believed to be the spirits of unbaptised or stillborn children, flitting
between heaven and hell. Modern occultist elaborations bracket them with the salamander, a type
The examples I have used in this document incorporate fairies and spirit orbs although as you
can see, the source of suitable ideas from folklore and legend is endless.
You produce an antiquated grimy jar with no visible contents which can be fully inspected.
A spectator is requested to unclip the jar lid and open it.
All join hands, the lights are turned off and the room is immersed in complete darkness.
You begin some ancient incantation that will summon forth the ghost light.
A small point of light appears inside the jar and begins to rise above the spectators dancing and
The spook light suddenly vanishes and then reappears almost instantaneously on the other side
of the table.
It then continues to dance in and around the spectators, weaving about their heads, up to the
ceiling and back down again.
You give the command for the light to return to the jar and slowly and reluctantly it obeys.
The light fades and the room is once again cloaked in complete darkness.
Quickly you ask one of the spectators to grab the jar and clip the lid back on tightly.
The jar can be fully inspected or even given away as a souvenir
The corpse candle will -
Can be used on stage or at home.
For childrens parties - release a captured fairy from the jar.
For seances - make a spirit orb materialise in the centre of the table then journey around the
How does it work?
Based on a stage lighting effect currently used on Broadway and the West End the Corpse Can-
remote control systems are used; the spook light appears in mid air and dances around the heads
of your spectators, flies off around the room and will vanish and reappear at your command.
allows light to propagate along its length from the light source. The black plastic coating pre-
vents any light escaping along its length thus when the light reaches the end it appears to be
floating in space in a darkened room.
A rod construction allows the user to reach over spectators and animate the point of light. Just
a slight wrist movement will make the light move in an erratic manner. The operator can then
make the light move around the room over spectators heads. The switch on the led torch can
make the spook light vanish and reappear in another location almost instantaneously.
A magnet on the cable is powerful enough to lift metal objects such as spoons from the jar. Us-
ing this concept you create the illusion that there is something in the jar trying to get out.
How to build your Corpse Candle
To build your corpse candle you will need a few special items and the rest of the components
you may already have at home or in your garden shed; a long stick, ideally a garden cane, black
paint and glue. If you have issues sourcing the parts just e-mail me as [email protected]
and Ill be pleased to point you in the right direction.
Black masking tape
Mini led torch
Tube cap made from blue tack or modelling clay
2-part epoxy glue or something of similar strength.
1.To start lets get the bits out of the way that can be drying while we build the fun stuff! Take
your garden cane and paint it black. Childrens blackboard paint is the best as it provides a matt
2.Slide magnet over the cocktail stick and then slide the heat shrink over both.
until it tightens around the magnet. Be careful not to set the heat shrink or cocktail stick on
4Remove the encased magnet from the cocktail stick, trim the ends slightly and thread it on to
blob of plastic again taking care not to set the cable alight.
7. Take the LED torch and slide the black plastic tube over the bulb. There is no need to glue
this in place.
the cross section diagram below demonstrates.
11. Decide how much cable you need at the end of your rod. 1 metre is about the right length
can easily remove the cable and re secure it at the new desired length.
12. Secure the cable to the very end of your rod and extend the cable along its length with
black tape approximately every 100mm. The cable needs to be sitting flush with the stick, if it
is slack there is a possibility that the cable will slap against the cane and make a sound when
operated. The construction needs to be as silent as possible. If you have enough tape you may
want to wrap it completely around the cable and rod so there is absolutely no chance of noise.
DO NOT cut it to size as you may need additional cable at a later date. Instead make a neat coil
and secure with tape.
ideal ergonomically. Cover the torch and black tubing completely with tape to ensure no light
button can be operated easily.
Next we need to make a receptacle for our spook light. This grungy jar recipe will create a
earthenware type effect using a few kitchen ingredients and a glass preserve jar.
You will need:
1 pot of ground allspice
A cup of coffee granules
1. Tip the pot of ground allspice and coffee granules into a
bowl and mix together
2. Take your jar and cover in PVA glue using the paint-
4. Place jar upside down on greaseproof sheet in the oven
Operating your Corpse Candle
Find a dark room, preferably one that is as dark as possible. Hang the rod in front of you and
illuminate the spook light. Move the rod and youll see that the spook light will dance in a ran-
dom chaotic manner. The weight of the magnet and the slight curl in the cable will add to the
random nature of the spook lights movement.
The Corpse Candle could be perceived as a form of puppetry and will therefore require a little
Also practice picking up metal objects from the jar in the dark. If you are using an accomplice
to control the spook light then there is a sneaky way to do this that removes the guesswork of
This type of rod is excellent for stage performances.
get from your local hardware store.
a multitude of colours.
in a tree and summon the fairies at midnight in the dark woods!
hands that it should be kept under lock and key at all times.
tion before you achieve the required level.
The preparation required for
your performance is simple.
You will need complete dark-
ness so a cellar or window-
less room is ideal. Failing this
a room at night with thick
curtains will do the job. There
are ways to create the illusion
of additional darkness tem-
porarily and this is covered
below. You can perform this
effect on stage providing you
have a black backdrop and
your audience is seated at a
suitable distance. To get the
most out of this effect you
will need an accomplice. Its
not the greatest selling point
of this trick but some effects
do need a trusty co-conspir-
ator, fact! Many illusions
still use them and they can
enhance you performance
beyond anything you could
achieve on your own. Der-
example. Your accomplice
will need to dress in black,
preferably with black gloves
For a childrens performance
an accomplice is not neces-
sary but feel free to use one
if you wish.
The accomplice should al-
ready be in the room or be
able to enter and leave with-
out being heard. The length
of the corpse candle rod is
designed to keep the accom-
plice a good distance away
from the spectators. The
room should be candle lit
beforehand so that you and
your guests enter an already
darkened room. This means
that the accomplices eyes are
achieve complete darkness
heres a tip. Instead of ad-
justing the light in the room
why not adjust your audi-
We all know that looking
into bright lights at night
will impair your night vi-
sion, well this uses the same
principle. Place a candle in
the centre of the table and
as you prepare the audience
gaze into the flame. Use this
as a method of relaxation so
that their minds are clear and
focused. After a minute or
so blow the candle out. They
will then temporarily per-
ceive the room to be darker
than it actually is. You then
have a few minutes in which
to perform before their eyes
become accustomed to the
To demonstrate the adaptability of the spook light I have plucked two scenarios from opposite
cluded details on stage performance.
contain a spell to temporarily release the spirit from within the jar. This spell takes the form of
a powder or mixture of herbs and earth. This can be made up of ash, dry soil, salt and herbs or
anything you wish. This magical concoction is spooned into the jar along with maybe a small
ritual and the spoon is left in the spook light jar. This gives the spook light operator something
magnetic to pick up and throw about if they wish.
You enter a dimly lit room. Sitting on the table is a jar and a candle.
The old dirty jar with no visible contents is passed around the group. You explain that it con-
tains a captured ghost light.
Folklore holds that these lights are the ghosts of the dead lingering in areas where someone
has met a tragic death. The light is their lantern or candle, aiding their search for something
grisly like their missing head, or the bodies of their children or lovers. Some say ghost lights
are death omens see one and die within a year. Still others are said to be the devil or trickster
spirits, lurking in remote places to attack unwary travellers.
This corpse candle was one of many captured by a white witch on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall,
England. The mysterious lights would lure travellers from the beaten track on their journey
across the moor. It would appear at dusk and twinkle in the distance like the glow of some
warm inviting coach house on the horizon. The unknowing traveller would leave the path and
follow the light. As they walked deeper onto the uncharted moor land the light would never get
any closer. Darkness would fall and the light would vanish leaving the poor weary traveller lost
in the night. Many drowned in the peat bog or froze to death but others spoke of meeting the
devil and how he offered them a safe route back to the path in exchange for their soul. Those
who traded their soul would return to the moor after death to join the rest of the fools who made
a hasty trade with the devil. They would join the rest of the ghost lights and lie in wait at dusk
to fool the next exhausted traveller in search of sanctuary.
Traders and farmers were unwilling to venture across the moor even in daylight in fear of the
spook lights. Supplies to the surrounding villages were becoming scarce so a witch was enlisted
to help trap these wandering souls and make the moor a safer place to travel once again.
Hundreds of jars were placed on the moor each containing a spirit lure; a secret and ancient
spell used to remove troublesome spirits by tempting them into the vessel rather like a Venus fly
trap for the dead. The jars were primed and left scattered on the moor during the evening of
the summer solstice. No one ventured on to Bodmin that night for fear of interfering with the
The following day groups of locals journeyed back to the moor in the safety of daylight to see if
the traps had worked. Where the jars had been open the previous night they were now tightly
shut. It had worked. Each jar contained a spook light from the moor, incarcerated and held in
limbo by the witchs pagan spell. The witch requested that all the jars should be taken to a re-
mote location and buried as deeply as possible. So, as she wished the jars were taken away never
to be seen again, or so everyone hoped.
In the late 1960s a section of Bodmin moor was being used to supply peat to local garden cen-
tres. The rich peat earth was fertile and highly sought after by gardeners and farmers alike.
During one of these digs large quantities of sealed jars were discovered, the witchs hoard of
captured souls had been unearthed! Before long word had spread and local artefact collectors
swarmed to the scene to pillage the site. Those who took their plunder home discovered to their
disappointment that the jars were empty; of any physical object that is. Little did they realise
that by opening the jar the witchs spell would be broken and it was not long before things start-
Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the original Bodmin jars. Fortunately for me I did not at-
tempt to open the jar until I had done some serious research. Now after years of reading an-
cient pagan scriptures I have learnt the skills required to temporarily break the spell and control
the spirit within.
Allow the jar to be passed around the table so that it can be inspected.
Once you have inspected the jar may I ask one of you to unclip the lid carefully for me?
The spectator unclips the lid. Make sure the metal clasp is fully disengaged from the lid.
I will now place the jar in the centre of the table
The spectator hands you the opened jar and you place it in the centre of the table.
This small wooden box contains a release spell mixture that we must use to ensure the spirit
returns to the jar
You then produce a small wooden box and hand it to a spectator along with a metal tea spoon.
May I ask you to open the box and put three spoonfuls of the spell into the jar?
The spectator follows your instructions.
anti clockwise. Once you have done this just leave the spoon in the jar and leave it open
The spectator again follows your commands and leaves the spoon standing upright in the jar.
Please join hands and stare into the candle light
Lead the group in a simple relaxing breathing exercise whilst staring into the flickering flame.
Once you are happy everyone is comfortable and suitably blinded by the light blow the candle
The accomplice positions themselves directly behind you.
Ancient spirit we invite you from your glass prison and ask that you move among us, if you are
with us please give us a sign
Repeat the invitation for the spirit to come forward. As you do this the accomplice moves the rod
ing a spectator. If they touch you it doesnt matter. The accomplice then marries the magnet on
require some practice but is easily mastered.
An easy way to achieve this is for the accomplice to place his hand on your shoulder while he po-
sitions the rod. As your head is directly facing the centre of the table the accomplice just needs
to move the rod forward until the magnet attaches.
Once the magnet and spoon attach the accomplice can then move away from your shoulder. Do
ing around in the jar should be enough to put most people on edge!
We thank you for joining us; we now ask that you show yourself! Will you please do this?
The spoon taps the inside of the jar a few more times and is then thrown across the table. To
do this the accomplice simply flicks the rod and this will be enough to detach the spoon from the
Suddenly a small bright point of light becomes visible in the centre of the table.
Your spirit light is now free to fly around the room above the spectators heads. The accomplice
should stay out of arms reach of the spectators and keep the spirit light a sensible distance from
them so that it does not touch. Emphasise that the circle must keeps their hands joined or the
light will vanish.
The accomplice can make the light disappear and reappear in another part of the room almost
instantaneously by turning the torch off, moving their arm to another position and turning the
torch back on again.
You may all now relax and break the circle
You can then relight the candle.
Please can you take the jar and fasten the lid back on securely?
The jar is then resealed and the performance is over. If you wish you may give the jar away to
the host as a gift.
The Release of the Fairy
Amongst the branches I saw hundreds of tiny lights darting about, flitting and dancing about
in the darkness. Fire flies! I thought, I had never seen one before and I knew I must have one
for my collection! I climbed the mighty oak so I could get higher and catch one of the dancing
lights. Once I was close enough I waited quietly. Suddenly a little light flew past my head and
I took a mighty sweep at it with my net, I caught it! I scrambled down from the huge tree and
tipped the contents of my net into the jar. I held the jar up in the darkness and looked inside at
only much, much smaller. It looked back at me through the glass pressing its hands against the
inside of the jar. We gazed at each other for what seemed like hours; to my amazement I had
caught a fairy!
Part of me wanted to keep it but I knew that I should let it go. I opened the jar lid expecting the
fairy to fly away but instead it just sat there looking at me.
You have caught me; do you know what happens when you catch a fairy? said the little crea-
The fairy gave a little smile back, Well this is your lucky day as I must grant you a wish before
I can go
My heart skipped a beat! I could wish for anything I wanted! A mountain of chocolate, my own
spaceship, anything! But I gazed at the fairy and I could think of only one thing, to keep it.
I wish I could keep you but I know..
Stop! the fairy shouted then it is done, I am yours to keep
you but I knew that would be wrong, I was really going to wish for something else!
Too late the fairy signed you have made your wish and it has been granted, I am now yours to
I felt so guilty that I almost cried. I took the fairy home and everyday I tried to let her go but
routine or you may just wish to light the fairy straight away.
air. Wait for the gasps!
You are then free to make the fairy fly and dance around the room; you may wish to use music.
The light slowly descends to the jar and then it is gone.
Return the rod to its stowage and turn the lights back on. Clip the lid back on the jar and wait
to be bombarded with comments such as can we see it again! and can I look in the jar!
As mentioned previously you may like to give the jar as a gift to one of the children, it makes
over the back and then over the top of the stage curtain.
The jar lid is unclipped and just rests on the cable. Do not clip the jar shut or force the lid or
The accomplice is either behind the curtain, above the stage or to the side of the stage, which
ever suits the venue the best. The rod will need to be much longer and you will also need a
London theatre and you can not see it even from the front row seats. Always use a dimly lit
stage so set the scene with candle light with maybe an old gramophone record playing and with
practice your routine will be pure magic to watch.
The method of performance is up to you but I would suggest some short tale about a captured
earth spirit or spook light like you have read previously. You an also perform to music as is of-
ten done with floating tables and zombie balls. When the music stops the light simply vanishes
and then reappears when it starts again. All your accomplice backstage will require is a vocal
cue to illuminate the light and start the merry dance.
Command the light to go to sleep. At this command the accomplice will pull the rod back thus
Once the cable is clear you are free to clip the jar shut and if you wish hand it to a member of
your audience as a gift. You could warn them that it should never be opened unless you want a
mischievous spirit to wreak havoc in their home!
by Paul Prater
What would you do if your land was
The magician looked around the room
making eye contact with each of the
What if some of your family members
fought for the enemy?
The magician again looked around the
room meeting the eyes of those watch-
Would you feel a duty to serve? To kill
Another pause. The audience looked
uncomfortably at the magician.
These were issues that often faced
people in the South during the Civil
War. There were families that were
was right or wrong.
What is clear is that the Civil War cost
many lives and was a sad chapter in
our nations history.
As in any type of war, being in the
wrong place at the wrong time could
be deadly. Such was the fate of David
Dodd. David Dodd has been called the
Boy Hero of Arkansas. While this is
a dark tale, it is one that is worth tell-
Dodd was seventeen years old when
he was captured by Union soldiers
behind Union lines. He was immedi-
ately accused of being a spy. While he
denied this, he couldnt explain a let-
ter with Morse code that revealed the
number and location of Union troops
that was found in his diary.
While my tale is about David O. Dodd,
I cannot tell it without telling the story
The only known portrait of David O
Dodd, boy hero of the Confederacy
For my great, great grandfather, it was
when he was appointed to represent Da-
vid O. Dodd at his trial.
My entire life, I have heard the stories
of David O. Dodd that were passed down
through my family. It was these tales of
my great great grandfather that encour-
aged me to be an attorney, and ironically
the location of the law school in Lit-
tle Rock, is the location where David O.
Dodd was hung. There is small marker
in the corner of the parking lot, mostly
obscured by trees that mark the location
of his death. I had no clue that was what
the marker was for until one day my
curiosity got the best of me and crawled
in behind the tree to see what the little
marker was for. Then, all of the stories
came back to me and for I minute, I felt
like I had crossed paths with destiny, like
I was meant to be there.
The magician pulled a rope from his
table and tied at the ends together in a
Union soldiers found a mountain of evi-
dence that looked like enough to convict
him. My great, great grandfather was
assigned his case. He did his best to
of my great,
father as well.
His name was
back and he
was an attor-
ney. Isnt it odd
ones entire life
or changed by
Dodd was hung on a wet, cold morning. There was drizzle in the air. One the day of his hang-
ing, thousands came to witness the execution. As they drove the wagon out from under him,
the rope stretched and he was not immediately killed. He swung to and fro, choking to death. It
was said that even battle hardened Union soldiers became ill at the spectacle and several pulled
on his legs to end his suffering. He was convicted and hung as a spy, though he was a minor and
too young to serve in the military.
One of the stories that was passed down from generation to generation in my family was of the
nightmares that my great great grandfather had for his entire life. It was said that he often
would relive the scene of the grisly death.
The magician started to put the rope around his neck. He wrapped it around several times and
turned around to show the rope completely around his neck.
Sometimes, in my great, great, grandfathers dreams, the wagon was pulled out from under
Dodd and amazingly, the rope would slip right through his neck.
As the magician said this, he pulled on the rope, and the rope appeared to pass through his neck.
The magician now untied the ends of the rope.
My great, great grandfather would wake up and realize that it was just a dream. He would
then go back to sleep and the nightmare would continue. The soldiers would put Dodd back on
the wagon and tie the rope around his neck again. Then in his dreams, he would pull out his
knife and time and again, he would try to cut the rope to save Dodd from his death.
The magician doubled the rope and cut it using a large Bowie knife.
In the dream, he would cut the rope, but the soldiers would tie it back together and repeat the
hanging. The outcome was always the same.
The magician tied the cut ends of the rope together and wound it around his hand.
Every time he had this dream, he would wake up in a sweat. Sometimes he was screaming,
sometimes he was crying. He was never able to save the boy. Even if his dreams had turned out
differently, it wouldnt have mattered because when he awoke reality would have set in. One can
never change the past.
The magician stretched the rope out showing that it was whole again.
This is a combination of two very simple routines; the rope through neck and cut and restored
out a rope routine. Generally I dont care much for rope routines, but I was thinking that there
was something that I could do with cut and restored ropes.
Scout magic book. It is pretty simple and pretty quick once you get the moves down. It also
looks really nice when you perform it.
ROPE THROUGH NECK
First, take the rope and tie the ends together with a simple knot. Once the ends are tied, put the
entire rope behind the neck, with the hands through the rope.
Now, with the right hand, use the thumb to reach into the middle of left hand rope and with the
left thumb, reach into the middle of the right hand rope.
pieces of rope with the thumbs back to their respective positions. The rope will now be criss
crossed in front of your neck. I do this move while turning around so no one sees the thumbs
going into the rope. It can be done very quickly. I just do a quick rotation as if I am showing
everyone the rope behind my neck.
I now throw my head back so that everyone can see the rope in front of my neck as well. When
you get to the proper line, curl your thumbs over the rope to hold it tightly, release with your
Now continue on with the cut and restored rope routine. I am sure everyone is familiar with
the cut and restored rope routine. If you are not, then I would refer you to Tarbell or any other
Please take extra care with this routine - especially when rehearsing it alone!
Mystery A Human Curiosity
by Freddie Valentine
Human beings, by their very nature, have a fascination with the mysterious. People also like to
believe there is something more to the world than what is seen. Many people would like to think
that magick really does exist. Whether it is the Victorian fascination with spiritualism or the
obsessive interest in TV shows such as The X-Files in the 1990s, the need for something myste-
rious and a bit spooky will always be there.
When performing occult or mystery entertainment, you need to play upon that common hu-
man interest in the mysterious and macabre. People have read about odd things and seen them
one. Your job is to make the mysterious happen and at the very most leaving them believing in
the unknown, or at the very least, leave them questioning things in a way they have never done
That is why in bizarre magick, odd looking props create the atmosphere and pique the interest.
These things prime people up for what is about to happen and put them clearly into the mindset
chap with a tuxedo who approaches a restaurant table with the immortal phrase Wanna see a
card trick? can attest. The thirty second rule does apply within entertainment and you need that
hook to get them intrigued in what you are doing. What intrigues, disgusts or delights people
more than the production of genuine human shrunken head? These things make it easier for the
mystery entertainer to a degree, as the prop can do the attention grabbing for you.
You need to attach to each item a story that is bizarre, creepy and believable. The prop has to
but the story of how you obtained the item needs to be one that the audience will not doubt.
For this, you need to create a character for yourself. Who are you, what do you do and why do
you own such things? Who gets hold of them for you? Where did they come from? If they are
so rare, why arent they in a museum? By creating a story for yourself, and practically living
this character, you will be able to answer any question thrown at you. One rule, even after your
performance never slip out of character or lead people to believe that you have made all these
things up. People want to believe and certainly dont want to feel like they have been conned or
are foolish enough to believe anything. When someone makes a card rise to the top of a pack
and claims Its magic, no one truly believes this to be the case and know its a jokey way of
protecting the real secret, leaving them amazed. If someone has a thought read, or receives an
accurate tarot reading, they really dont want to hear that it has all been a trick. Dont get me
wrong, these things are not there to cheat people, in fact by having them believe you bought that
shrunken head off of one of the victims descendants who wanted it out of the house as it has
brought nothing but bad luck, you are doing them more of a service than revealing afterwards
that it was all fake and just entertainment. They are left with something much more than the
experience of watching someone clever and being fooled by their stories. The word entertain-
ment should be mentioned, but only briefly. Never state either way, but the intention is to get
them to believe that they are being shown these things and told these stories as an experience.
But they are real!
Magic and Magick- some thoughts....
by Freddie Valentine
So how did I get to be this holder of dark secrets and collector of sinister objects that many
Whilst doing some card tricks and the like which were intended as a bit of good solid entertain-
ment, I was consistently asked some unusual questions such as Do you do tarot readings?;
Can you hypnotise me?; Can you read minds? and best of all Can you exorcise my wife?
The funny thing is, that I did perform tarot readings, hypnosis and some darker stuff, but didnt
feel that during a set of such traditional fare, the audience would be interested in such stuff or
even seen any kind of connection between sponge balls appearing in their hands and freeing
know, but these things made me realise a few things:
2Many people believe in these kinds of things.
see the two as going hand in hand.
I then thought, how would I align the two? Why would someone who had such powers bother to
make a penknife change colour or a signed card appear in their pocket? How could I reframe the
presentational aspects of other effects to give them a believable spin?
claim whilst talking to the participant and then going on to prove it. The preamble or tall story
nation is one of the most powerful faculties the human mind possesses. If you can inspire the
participant to use this, then the avenues you lead them down will be all the more vivid in their
mind and far more memorable than just being shown something. They are now investing in the
scenario emotionally and it is now your job to ensure that their investment pays off.
See You Next Time...
Well, my ghoulish chums, here ends
another instalment of the bizzarist
world of The Mystic Menagerie. My
huge thanks to all the contributors
and a massive cheers to all of you
that have expressed your support,
whether it be by your comments on
various forums, your emails to me or
It is these comments that encourage
me to continue compiling, editing and
producing this organ for your delight.
Coming up in the next issue:
Bruce Graham provides a superb rou-
tine using tarot cards.
Paul Prater tells you how to age your
The very wonderful Jim Magus pro-
vides an excerpt from his forthcoming
biography of bizarre magic legend
Tony Andruzzi and a rather special
routine featuring everyones favourite
Plus many more spooky suprises...
The Bit in the Back
A veritable grab-bag of esoterica this issue
from the beast in the basement....
Worth disenterring are the extrodinarily ter-
rifying Japanese Ring$+-
lywood remakes and plum for the subtitled
originals directed by Hideo Nakata.
The vengeful spirit of a witch is unleashed
by the playing of a strange videotape
which a week after viewing you will die!
The philosopher Jung once remarked that the
uncanny is far more impressive in art than
real life and no more so than here. An original
Proceed to Guys Hospital at Tower Bridge and
ask discreetly - looking like a student doctor
helps admission... A museum of medicine with
strange pickled oddities!
If you cant visit in person then visit:
http://morbidanatomy.blogspot.comand inhale the whiff of virtual formaldehyde.
Again a couple of virtual delights for the curi-
ous lurk at:
photography to create portraits of monsters:
think Adams Family meets Photoshop whilst the
second artist is gloriously gruesome pop art-
ist using cartoon imagery ala Tales from the
As Autumn, (or Fall as our American cousins call it),with the delightfully eerie Woman in Black by
Susan Hill. This evocative haunting has the-
matic links with Ring - proving the universality
of the notion of the vengeful spirit.
If youd rather the tale where read to, you buy
the audio book, where the dulcet tones of reader
Serious enquiries only to [email protected]
When in London, and you have the stomach
for it try the Gordon Museum.
This museum is not strictly open to the pubic
but is accessible by those in the know.
Ghost Stories from the pens of Andy Nyman,
(Mentalist, Actor and Derren Brown Col-laborator) and Jeremy Dyson, (writer of UK macabre comedy The League of Gentlemen) is haunting the Duke of York Theatre until 11th
February 2011. A portmanteau horror with
plenty of misdirection awaits.