The Modern Mystic League

MARCH 2024

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Blackburn & District Society of Magicians

As another ‘first’ for the MML, we welcomed to our March meeting the stage hypnotist Dave Rawson.  Having performed professionally for 25 years, he came with a wealth of advice based upon solid experience.

Dave began with a potted history of the subject, tracing it back to Franz Mesmer (1734-1815) who gave his name to mesmerism – then James Braid (1795-1860), who was the first to use the term ‘hypnotism’.  Mention was made of Ormond McGill (1913-2005), the so-called ‘Dean of American Hypnotists’, who was reputed to be its best ever stage exponent, for entertainment purposes.

Dave went on to explore pseudo-hypnosis, which is often allied to magic.  In this category came the ‘hot foil’ effect marketed by Cliff Lount and the iconic ‘electric chairs’ of Paul Daniels, with participants being persuaded to play along.  Reference was also made to the  David Berglas version of apparently stopping the pulse – which is still in the top thirty of popular television clips.

Dave then explained a few ‘party tricks’ employing natural body responses, which could be linked to hypnotism with the correct presentation, and could enhance a magic act.     
Looking at the legal side of the profession, Dave spoke about the Hypnotism Act of 1952, which was superseded by the Home Office Regulation Act, introduced in the wake of the success of Paul McKenna.  He referred to the large amount of paperwork necessary in order to secure each licence, and the time delay involved and hefty insurance, alluding to the recent publicity generated by Robert Temple when he overthrew a 70-year ban which had not been repealed in Bolton.
Dave was adamant about the people who should never be used in hypnotic experiments, listing asthmatics, epileptics, those suffering from schizophrenia, pregnant women and anyone with psychological disorders. He suggested others who would now be added to his personal list, based upon two horrendous experiences – but reckoned that a couple in a quarter of a century wasn’t too bad.  

In the second half of the afternoon, after we had partaken of the mouthwatering ‘Lancashire pie and pickle’ refreshments which only Carl can provide, Dave treated us to some practical examples, using the ‘pattern interrupt’ method plus the secret magic word!

Dave kept his promise, that all would go away with something of use; if only a clearer understanding of stage hypnosis.  It was a very different afternoon, but Paul spoke for us all in his complimentary summing-up vote of thanks.

Brian Lead