Seance Magic and Spirit Paintings?

Discussion in 'Magic Forum' started by flycemetery, Feb 9, 2020.

  1. I've *just* started my first foray into the world of magic (at 25!) and I'm very interested in mentalism, particularly spiritualist/occult flavored mentalism.

    In my readings I came across the idea of Spirit Painting, which honestly is right up my alley. The effect sounds absolutely fantastic and if I ever end up performing, that would be the type of thing I'd want to do (perhaps in full 19th century costume and everything).

    The only problem is that it seems like no one really knows how Spirit Painting was originally done, and I've never seen it performed in modern day. It's made even harder to understand by conflicting contemporary accounts, with some people saying it was done in a cabinet or behind a curtain and others saying it was done in a well-lit room and the painting materialized on the canvas right before their eyes.

    Is there a good resource for information and methods of Spirit Painting? Is there a video of it being performed anywhere online? Do any more experienced mentalists out there have any advice for me, and do you think it would be convincing and spectacular in 2020, or was it really a product of its time?

    And while I'm at it, are there any other Spiritualist themed mentalism tricks and methods I should know about? I've already purchased and am reading Corinda's 13 steps so that base is covered, but if anyone has some occult/Spiritualist flavored knowledge to toss my way that would help me perform a full-scale seance, do let me know!

    Thanks :) Hope I don't sound like a big dumb dumb.
     
  2. I didn't do any magic tricks until I was 26, and none of these questions are dumb.

    Some people to look into - Paul Voodini has excellent resources on traditional Victorian style seances. He comes from an esoteric background so his stuff is far closer to genuine seances than most things on the magic market.

    Bill Montana - Former fraudulent faith healer. Need I say more? I'm not sure if anyone that would be willing to talk about it knows more than Bill when it comes to spiritualists, seances, and how to fake the whole talking to the dead thing. I use a lot of his stuff. The problem is that he has by and large left the magic community (except for the occasional sale when he needs money quick) so he can be tricky to get ahold of. Facebook is probably your best bet.

    Either Paul or Bill can probably help provide information about spirit painting. Couple links:
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-spirit-painters-of-old-new-york
    http://hauntedohiobooks.com/news/drawing-the-dead-how-to-make-spirit-paintings/

    Brynmore has several great products for seances. I use a version of Down the Hatch and The Roxanne Effect in every seance.

    Read some histories of the spiritualists, and it's fun to read some of the old books debunking the spiritualist mediums. Read contemporary esoteric resources as well. Nothing will kill your show faster than someone who's into this sort of thing asking you a question that you cannot properly answer. And I'll tell you right now - if you advertise as a seance program, even if it's very clearly a theatrical endeavor and not 'real', you -will- have people who are into it for real show up every time.

    Other than that my biggest recommendation is to avoid magician's thinking if you want it to be a 'seance' and not a 'spook show'. A 'real' seance is not a flash bang trick a minute thing. In my hour long theatrical programs I usually have two jump scare moments, everything else is basically story telling. It's important to give things time to percolate and develop in the sitters' minds. Again, in my hour long programs I have 4-6 'routines', which are really just segments.

    Oh, and again if you want a 'seance' program and not a 'spook show', if you have any 'tada' moments, take them out and rewrite it. A seance is not about what the performer can do - when done properly it basically all happens in the minds of the sitters. The performer is just a facilitator, a guide.

    To back up these comments - I've been performing seances (theatrical and otherwise) for years. I am the resident theatrical seance artist at The Dark Parlour, I have given workshops on suggestion in magic/seance, wrote a book on psychological techniques in seance, and (hopefully) will be giving a workshop specifically on my take on the psychology of seance next year at ECSS.
     

  3. Wow, you have no idea how much I appreciate this! I'm starting literally from square one so it's nice to have some guidance.

    I saw a bit of Voodini on youtube, his seance performed in a real Victorian parlor, and was really impressed. I'll be looking into some of the things he's written for sure. I'll also look into Bill Montana, who sounds extremely interesting! Do you know why he left the magic community?

    This is all really awesome advice. Would you mind if I DM you? I'm really interested in your experience and I just think it's so cool that you're putting a fantasy of mine into real life practice, and doing is so successfully.
     
  4. You can DM, sure.

    Montana decided he'd rather focus on his abstract art, and curating other abstract artists in his gallery. It seems to be going decently well for him.
     

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