The Witch of Lime Street

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.
P.T.Widdle
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The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » October 13th, 2015, 7:36 pm

http://www.scientificamerican.com/artic ... vid-jaher/

I'm curious what Houdini experts make of this book.
Last edited by P.T.Widdle on November 11th, 2015, 11:01 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » October 13th, 2015, 9:45 pm

That article has got one thing wrong. Spiritualism is more popular than ever! However, physical mediumship has disappeared. There are a ton of spiritualist mediums around. They just don't indulge in ectoplasm or spirit trumpets any more. Oddly enough I saw a spirit trumpet for the first time last year.

There are spiritualist churches all over the UK. The main headquarters are in Belgrave Square. There is a thriving community of spiritualists at Lily Dale in Upper State New York. And the popularity of people such as John Edwards, Sylvia Browne, Doris Stokes, Van Praagh and others are as high as ever. I still see a high proportion of psychic mediums at the psychic fairs and they are always busy.

The word mediumship is used more nowadays than spiritualist but it is exactly the same thing. What has largely ceased to be is physical mediumship and seances.
Last edited by performer on October 14th, 2015, 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

Leonard Hevia
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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby Leonard Hevia » October 14th, 2015, 12:29 am

John Cox will post a review later this month on his Wild About Harry blog:

http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2015/10 ... today.html

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby mr_goat » October 14th, 2015, 9:47 am

performer wrote:That article has got one thing wrong. Spiritualism is more popular than ever!


Image
Yes, it is mrgoat, I just can't log in with old account.

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » October 14th, 2015, 9:57 am

I think overall Marjory got the better of Houdini in their encounters. But then skeptics invariably come off worst when dealing with psychics. Even Randi advised skeptics not to challenge psychics because "They do it for a living and you don't". In other words you can't beat a man at his own game. And of course now that the physical mediumship has been abandoned it is harder than ever.

I expect Randi learned this wisdom from his own dealings with psychics on television. He always came off the worst for wear whenever he did it and after the show the psychic had more bookings and enquiries than ever. I still remember the time that Rosemary Altea ran rings around him and knew what buttons to press. She had obviously researched him thoroughly. The poor man was red in the face over it.

I met Randi at a train station once. He was grumpy and miserable but brightened up considerably when I told him I was a psychic. He seemed delighted over the matter and whispered conspiratorially, "Shh...... we cannot be seen together!" with a great twinkle in his eye.

P.T.Widdle
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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » October 16th, 2015, 7:14 pm

The author is a professional karmic astrologist. Despite this, I am reading the book anyway.

http://www.alokhealth.com/astrology.html

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » October 16th, 2015, 9:21 pm

I used to write astrological columns for Irish newspapers. Very tedious business. I still remember the Irish newspapers got me to do a astrological chart for Michael Jackson who was visiting the country. I got a full page newspaper article out of that and I made a tape for him. I was busy for weeks afterwards as a result.

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » October 17th, 2015, 8:45 am

Well, at least the author has this notice on his astrology readings website:

"Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication."

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » October 17th, 2015, 10:00 am

I have similar disclaimers on my literature although not referencing health since I don't do health readings anyway. I do however verbally disclaim any ability to cure people. I also refrain from telling them my own opinion that it is the doctors who kill you in the first place.

At least they kill you for free in Canada.

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » October 17th, 2015, 9:36 pm

OK. This is a disclaimer put together by legal people. A certain psychic fair in a large Canadian city was harassed by the police chief who was a fundamentalist Christian and did not approve of the wicked goings on organised by Satan himself. He sent in undercover investigators who managed to charge about 6 psychics on the grounds that they were giving health advice when they weren't doctors. They found difficulty in charging other people with anything else. The psychics were all acquitted which made the police chief madder still.

He then tried to harass the fair in other ways by sending in fire prevention people to find loopholes but that didn't work either. The promoter of the fair went to a lawyer who came up with the following to forestall more trouble and it worked perfectly. All the psychics had to give this out with every reading. It worked very well and I have used it myself:

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Any advice or counsel received fits into the parameters of Self-Help and Personal or Spiritual Growth. Consequently, the payment made to the consultant during this time is for services rendered in this context only.

It is accepted that the individual free will can influence the course of events that will occur in life as these events are not unchangable. Knowing this gives the ability, to a certain degree, to control the future. Time is a continuum and the past/present/future is no more than a perception of a perpetual movement. There is no future as such in the usual meaning in the consultant's discourse; there are only probabilities, trends, projections based on the past and present.

Consequently, the consultant makes no public claim to foretell, foresee or predict the future. In forecasting events, readings may be interpreted for fun and entertainment purposes only.

P.T.Widdle
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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » October 20th, 2015, 12:50 pm

“I definitely believe in psychic phenomena,” - David Jaher

https://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/books/ ... story.html


I'm still going to read the book. See how open minded I am? (Brad, wherever you are...)

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » October 20th, 2015, 2:55 pm

I understand that Brad has been banned. He asked on Facebook if you were banned too.

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » October 20th, 2015, 3:08 pm

performer wrote:I understand that Brad has been banned. He asked on Facebook if you were banned too.


I was referring to the ubiquitous Brad.

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » October 20th, 2015, 5:33 pm

You are now confusing me. Are you referring to Brad Henderson?

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby JohnCox » October 25th, 2015, 12:43 pm

My review:

The Witch of Lime Street is no fraud
http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2015/10 ... fraud.html
Visit my blog Wild About Harry

P.T.Widdle
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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » October 25th, 2015, 1:45 pm

Great review John.
I'm starting the book today, and I'm seeing Jahar talk Nov. 10 in NYC.

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Re: New book: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby JohnCox » October 25th, 2015, 7:11 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:Great review John.
I'm starting the book today, and I'm seeing Jahar talk Nov. 10 in NYC.

Thanks, P.T.
I wish Jaher would come to LA. But it looks like he's only doing stops in and around NYC.
Visit my blog Wild About Harry

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » November 11th, 2015, 11:05 am

Last night I saw David Jaher speak about The Witch of Lime Street. It was a relatively small crowd in the Mid-Manhattan Library. Jaher was articulate and showed a real desire to make the audience understand how interesting and odd this story was.

Ever since I became aware of Houdini’s “second act” in life (debunking spirit mediums), it has been my favorite part of his biography. And that part of his life has always seemed to me to warrant a treatment/book of its own. While the relationship between Houdini and Doyle provided the focal point of at least one separate book, Jaher rightly saw that it was the rivalry between Houdini and Margery that really brings the whole story of that time alive. When someone in the audience asked Jaher why Margery faded into historical oblivion while Houdini survived, Jaher claimed that question was the reason he wrote the book.

It was sort of a spooky beginning to the talk as Jaher was lit with a podium light that cast a gigantic shadow behind him. He immediately spoke about the recent NY Times article on the Netherlands quantum physics experiment showing, “objects separated by great distance can instantaneously affect each other’s behavior.” He was opening the door, so to speak, to the possibilities of psychic phenomenon, and there was a palpable sense of expectation in the room along those lines. But later, Jaher seemed to close that door as he relayed facts about the story and its characters.

During the questions and answer portion of the talk, it was sort of sad to hear several questions from people clearly searching Jaher to give them some sign of legitimacy to psychic phenomenon. One lady described a recent experience she’d had hearing voices on the roof, and asked Jaher in all seriousness, “What was that?” He made a face like “Are you really asking me that?” and answered her seemingly half facetiously, “It must have been a psychic experience.”

I realize that a talk about a book like this will bring out the kooks, and it did, but it also brought out a couple of skeptics. After Jaher spoke a little about Uri Geller, claiming that he was the last psychic to publicly submit himself to public scrutiny (Johnny Carson) for manifesting physical phenomenon, a man in the audience said he once knew a manager for Geller who invested in high-tech hearing devices, and wasn’t that an interesting coincidence? Jaher simply thanked the man for sharing.

When asked if, as a professional astrologer, how his readings would hold up under the investigation of the Scientific American committee from the book, Jaher laughed but then stated flatly that there is no science behind Astrology, and that he does not do readings anymore. Later however, Jaher praised Astrology as a worthwhile endeavor.

When asked if he believed in the ability to contact the dead, Jaher demurred, preferring to “keep that to myself.”
Finally, he admitted without reservation that, “I believe in psychic phenomena. I just don’t know the source of it.”

I sort of see Jaher as a Malcolm Bird-type. He’s a thorough researcher (he identifies himself as an historian), who also happens to believe in certain pseudo sciences, not unlike some of the intellectuals of that time period. He pointed out that psychic research still exists today in many universities, without acknowledging the potential for fraud (I was hoping he would have mentioned Project Alpha).

The last question Jaher was asked was if he changed somehow after writing the book. Without giving away the ending, so to speak, Jaher recounted how in her last days, Margery sat alone, doing automatic writing for no one but herself. Jaher said, in the end, for her, Margery’s best friends were the dead, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Personally, I see this book/story a cautionary tale for both believers and skeptics. The Margery-Houdini rivalry is one of the great stories in magic, as well as from that time period, and I think Jaher brought out all the best aspects of the tale in his book. As for the movie…

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 11th, 2015, 3:21 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:I realize that a talk about a book like this will bring out the kooks, and it did, but it also brought out a couple of skeptics.


The two are not necessarily, mutually exclusive.

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » November 11th, 2015, 3:54 pm

Indeed. Skeptics are most certainly more like kooks than non skeptics. And some of them have very dubious reputations and I cannot possibly approve.

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 11th, 2015, 4:23 pm

Funny how some folks who practice deception to delight others seem to miss how much others depend on what they believe in to be happy.

performer wrote:Indeed. Skeptics are most certainly more like kooks than non skeptics. And some of them have very dubious reputations and I cannot possibly approve.


Right, and the thing scuttling down your chimney on Christmas eve is there for the cookies you left on a plate... you did leave the cookies, right?... the kind he likes... i mean it's not that he leaves coal for the folks who forget the cookies or get them wrong but ... well that's all that's left of the house... oops - spoilers.

Now back to that story about the widow who believed the thing talking to her by way of that nice medium was her dearly departed and not that which consumed his memories... oops more spoilers?

Of course it's nice to pretend to believe supernatural promises until you take a little time and ask what else would be likely if any of that were happening.

Nice monkey's paw. What was it you wished for again? - Hey there's someone at the door.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » November 11th, 2015, 6:25 pm

I haven't the slightest idea of what Jonathon is talking about but then I never do. I wonder if his posts are a result of google translation and English is not his native tongue?

Yes! That must be it! I have never realised it before! In that case I must realise that he is trying his best and I mustn't complain.

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » November 11th, 2015, 6:50 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Funny how some folks who practice deception to delight others seem to miss how much others depend on what they believe in to be happy.


You're right. Many do miss it. But not Houdini, who indeed saw how debilitatingly dependent others were on what they believed in, and he took action to stop them from being exploited for that belief.

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » November 11th, 2015, 8:56 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:Funny how some folks who practice deception to delight others seem to miss how much others depend on what they believe in to be happy.


You're right. Many do miss it. But not Houdini, who indeed saw how debilitatingly dependent others were on what they believed in, and he took action to stop them from being exploited for that belief.


That is a right load of old baloney. Houdini went that spiritualist debunking route not because he was such a great humanitarian but because there was money in it. A great showman's gimmick. Randi is exactly the same. They might tut-tut sanctimoniously about the wickedness of it all but it has not gone unnoticed by me that in their younger days they both tried their hand at that stuff themselves.

Anyway I am old enough to have met people who actually knew Houdini personally. They had a very low opinion of him.

At any rate the mediums are still thriving while the sceptics are still having their silly little meetings and achieving nothing whatsoever.

I saw a video of one of their meetings and they had a panel discussion. The members of the panel consisting mostly of failed magicians. Not one non-magician on the panel which is evidence in itself that nobody else cares a whit about their "work". There was one fellow who did psychic readings and was just as allegedly wicked as the people he was debunking. He claimed it was because of his work as a sceptic but I noted that he never offered his victims their money back.

Then there was one fellow who had written an entire book for the public on fortune telling and nary a mention in the book that he thought it was a load of old claptrap as evidenced by his appearance on the panel. Seems a bit hypocritical to me. I do hope he returned his royalties because of such wickedness in encouraging people to believe in nonsense.

Then there was a rather silly loud mouthed failed magician who I heard getting sent off with a flea in his ear trying to interrupt a psychic on a radio programme. Most amusing incident if I may say so.

There was some other chap there who in his younger days wasted a lot of scientific research time by misrepresenting himself in a disgraceful and inappropriate manner. I will concede he wasn't as badly dressed as the other panellists.

There was some boring academic whom I once saw trying to read palms in a very inefficient mumbling manner instead of learning how to do it properly. Besides if he is supposed to be a sceptic he has no business doing wicked things like palmistry in the first place.

Then there was a terribly, terribly old gentleman who looked as if he would be far more more suited to a retirement home facility than huffing and puffing in public.

No. I am afraid if this is the best that sceptics can do we more spiritually aware people are going to be around a long time yet.

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby P.T.Widdle » November 11th, 2015, 10:08 pm

Have you ever even read a biography on Houdini?

Magicians jealous of his fame have always simplified Houdini's motives to be purely financial and egotistical. There's reams of material about the man to prove otherwise. His early experiences performing as a medium do not prove a hypocrisy later in life as a ghostbuster. Rather, those experiences (among other personal reasons) informed and motivated his anti-fraudulent medium crusade later in life.

Yes, Houdini thought Margery a threat in terms of competition, but as Jaher pointed out in the book and at the lecture, there was a true, honest-to-goodness moral motivation to exposing her and others.

Some magicians may now look upon Houdini's escapades as maudlin and self-serving, but lest they forget he was a hero to a generation of immigrants, and for all the right reasons.

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby performer » November 11th, 2015, 10:46 pm

Widdle old chap, I have probably read more biographies of Houdini than you have. Murray the escapologist once complained to me that all sorts of people had written biographies about Houdini that didn't even know him. He also told me that Houdini was such a nice fellow that he had uncooperative members of the audience taken out in the alley and beaten up by his assistants.

And he was such a pillar of moral rectitude that John Mulholland once told me that Houdini had been mishandling the funds of the Society of American magicians. Of course to me that would be a point in his favour.

He may have had some misgivings about spiritualism but that is not why he made a career out of debunking it. The real reason was business and a great showbusiness gimmick. But of course you are very innocent in the ways of the world and would not understand things like that.

And I happen to know that he got on a lot better with Marjory than you think. How do I know? As a psychic reverend of some distinction myself I have been in touch with both of them in the spirit world and they told me so. They actually used to drive places together.

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Re: The Witch of Lime Street

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 12th, 2015, 5:55 pm

The better title for this book would have been, The Blonde Witch of Lime Street, which in addition to being historically more accurate, simply sounds better.

The author surely must have considered this title, and rejected it in favor of the truncated, less accurate and less lyrical, The Witch of Lime Street.

If anyone here has the opportunity to attend a Q&A session with Mr. Jahar, please ask him about this.


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