I want to be converted to spiritualism. The big “But” that stops me.
By Jasper Maskelyne, the world-famous magician.
I believe in God, but my faith does not enter into spiritualism – as yet. The fact is that spiritualism has not come my way. But I am not out to fight the spiritualists. I am out for the truth, and am honestly open to conviction. More, if the spirit world exists, I want to be convinced of it.
Three generations of my family have now invited the spiritualists to come and substantiate their claims in our presence, and the invitation (or challenge if you like) is still open. Surely, if only to justify the cause, we are worth convincing.
But no. No one comes forward. And I am not allowed at any séance – except under impossible conditions.
Now what are these so-called manifestations? Just consider the idiotic antics and childish tricks indulged in by the spiritualist of to-day, tricks which I can perform far better than they can themselves.
Is it surprising that I am just a trifle sceptical? Has any medium ever yet produced anything that is not of this earth – I mean an object that is not in some way familiar to earth dwellers? I have never even heard the claim made.
Is it reasonable to suppose that a wise and serious God could ever allow the returned spirits of those men and women he has created to wave arms and legs in the air and behave generally like raving maniacs?
Just consider the absurd credulity of the public with regard even to myself. I am looked upon by hundreds of people as a magician. The letters I receive show this. Many think I am exert at mesmerism, whereas I neither do nor could practice anything of the kind.
I Can Make Ghosts.
If the members of a credulous public really ascribe to the supernatural what is acknowledged by me to be pure trickery, what will they not believe?
I can produce in a small room, without difficulty and without mechanical apparatus, a perfectly good family ghost emanating from a ball of light, and I can make the ghost disappear gradually through the floor.
Is it to be supposed for a moment that the ordinary unsuspecting members of the public witnessing this trick would not go away firmly convinced that they had been in the presence of the supernatural?
But I do not base my scepticism merely on the credulity of others.
When my grandfather was alive he told my father that he would do his best to get in touch with him after death. He never succeeded.
Before my father died, he assured me that he would get in touch with me if this were possible, but not through a medium. We had always been the best of friends. Our minds were attuned one to the other. Indeed, we had often practiced a form of mental telepathy. For twelve nights I occupied his bed with all his belongings around me.
All the time I lay awake, waiting. I received no communication from my farther, but, during that time I certainly sae things. Were the things that I saw in any way connected with another world? I determined to find out. It was quite simple.
I went to a specialist, told him nothing at all, and merely asked him to give me a thorough examination. When it was over he said “You’re completely exhausted, worn out. You’ve had no sleep for days on end. You’ve been seeing things.”
Cow That Wasn’t There.
That was enough to dispel any illusions that I may have had. On another occasion, when I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and was driving my car home one night, I stopped suddenly. I had seen a cow in the middle of the road. There was no cow there. I went to a mental specialist and told him what had happened. Incidentally I told him my real job in life was farming, not creating illusions, and that I often longed to be away from town and bake on the land.
“The vision of the cow was produced by your unconscious mind,” said the specialist. “That cow was the uppermost thought in your subconscious, which was working at a stronger rate than your conscious mind. Hallucinations, of course.”
When I am feeling thoroughly tired, say at a board meeting which has continued too long, my mind becomes a complete blank and I begin drawing things on the table or blotting pad. The subject of these drawings is invariably – cows.
No argument against spiritualism, you say. Possibly not. But it’s one reason why I remain unconvinced.
This is another. A short time ago I was sent some sheets of “spirit writing” by a medium. The purported to be a message from my grandfather explaining how a certain box trick was done. To begin with, he never preformed the trick, because I have complete records and there is no mention of it. Secondly, the explanation was utter futile, and anyone trying to perform the trick on these lines would be the laughing-stock of an audience of half-wits.
However, all this fails to make me a “convinced anti-spiritualist.”
I am still waiting for proof, and will welcome anyone who can give it to me.
Written by Jasper Maskelyne