SPOOKSTERS OF MAGIC PAST AND PRESENT
Houdini Seance 1926
by Eddie Clever
The following article is a reprint from the October 1936 Tops Magazine and deals with the strange events that occurred during the first ten years after the death of Houdini (Houdini died on Oct 31, 1926, nearly 84 years ago).
For over a year spirit mediums, pow-wow doctors, and diverse soothsayers, hidden away in the dark places, had been busily engaged in a secret nefarious work. The secret destruction of a arch enemy! Making little clay images in his likeness and viciously sticking him with pins. Hoping against hope that in some way their vitriolic thoughts would bring about his downfall!
And then it came-Houdini is dead !
This obscure Jewish boy and unknown circus trickster would like those creatures of the pit; witches who were carried through the air on the handle of a broomstick. So with a rod - a magic wand - Houdini was lifted and carried to heights never before known in the magic world. The only magician to have his name become a standard dictionary word. The only magician who ever wrote an article for the "Encyclopedia Brittanica." The only magiciain whose name appeared in "Who's Who of America."
The fortunes, successes, and triumphs of Houdini have been told much better than can I. His life was a lesson in success. He was to me an ideal. One whom I held in the highest esteem.
However, there are certain strange occurrences immediately preceding and following the death of this master on which I wish to dwell. They may, perhaps, be new or interesting to you, my reader.
The strangest thing of all to me is the fact that Houdini died on the night of mystery, Halloween. The night when witches hold high revelry. The night when ghosts, spirits, and goblins are want to ply their mystic trade. Strange indeed !
Strange, too, is the following letter which Bob Gysel sent to Foulton Ousler (now editor of Liberty).
"Mr. Ousler, something happened to me in my room Sunday night, October 24, 1926, 10:58. Houdini had given me a picture of himself which I had framed and hung on the wall. At the above date and time the picture fell to the floor, breaking glass—! I now know that Houdini will die; maybe there is something to this psychic phenomena after all."—Gysel.
Strange too, is the following letter sent to Ousler the day following Houdini's injury in Albany. This came from a spirit medium, Alice Wood.—
"Three years ago, Doctor Hyslop (meaning Spirit of Dr. Hyslop) said to S. Malcolm Bird of the Psychical Research Society: 'The waters are black for Houdini,' and he predicted that disaster would befall Houdini while performing before an audience in a theatre. Doctor Hyslop now says that the injury is more serious than has been reported and that Houdini's days as a magician are over !"—Alice A. Wood.
When Houdini exposed the Boston Medium "Margery," the mediums put him on the spot! His death was predicted in spirit circles all over the country !
Was there a mystery in the death of Houdini? Houdini himself said, "I am a marked man!"
Houdini was the arch foe of spiritualists. He was, however, not a scoffer, but willing to believe if proof were shown. But to his mind no proof ever came. Perhaps he was too exacting. But deep down in his heart, Houdini was willing to believe. I believe he only once spoke his thoughts on life after death. It was while talking on his escapes from foreign prisons. Those ancient prisons of central Europe with their underground cells and passages which were impossible to find one's way through unless known. Houdini said there must be something to reincarnation, "Or how would I have found my way through, not knowing them. In some other life I must have been familiar with those passages!"
Stranger things happened even after Houdin's death. This occurred on October 31, 1926. Three weeks later, Bill Hilliar, a very close friend of Houdini, opened a book, "Roget's Thesurus." In this book Houdini had penciled a code message to be used by the one who passed this world first;. The signature of Houdini was still there. But the code words had faded away! Weird, unbelievable, and yet I have no reason to doubt Hilliar. Who am I to doubt, I who am only a speck of cosmic dust? I cannot doubt it—I believe it!
Stranger still is the fact that Hilliar consulted handwriting experts (without telling them his reason). They assured him that though ink will fade from paper, penciled writing will not. No matter how much it is exposed to the light.
Remember, also, that Hilliar always kept this book locked up. Consider this also—that though the writing had gone "Into thin air," yet the grooves made by the pencil in the paper remained. Hilliar traced over these. And these tracings have vanished time after time, sometimes over night! Can such things be?
Strange too is the following, another experience of Hilliar. Hilliar had a photograph of his stage setting made while Houdini lived. In this setting was a spirit painting of Houdini. That is—a painting developed during the presentation of the "Spirit Paintings." After Houdini's death, Hilliar had a number of these printed from the old negative, And, although the rest of the picture was fully developed, the likeness of Houdini was gone! Neither Hilliar nor the photographer can offer any reasonable explanation!
At another time Hilliar, desiring to show a friend a picture of Houdini, went into his house car (on a show) to get one. While he stood on the steps, the friend snapped his picture holding that of Houdini. When the negative was developed, a thin vapory cloud covered the spot where the picture of Houdini should have been! Again there is no explanation. The photo of Houdini was unmounted; no glass; and nothing to make a glare, although the photo was taken out-of-doors. Having seen both of the above photos, I know the facts about them, as related by Hilliar, to be true.
Is Houdini trying to communicate with Hilliar?
Perhaps there is something to this psychic phenomenon!
Sometime this fall, Mrs. Houdini will endeavor to get in touch with her beloved husband. Will the results be disappointing? I believe so!
Perhaps she will seek in the wrong place!
There may be something to this thing called reincarnation! Who is there with authority to speak?
Possibly, Houdini may have been the reincarnation of that arch miracle monger, Cagliostro, who, according to the teachings of this faith was making amends for his deceptions in a past life.
Is the spirit, the ego, the personality of Houdini dead?
EPILOGUE—"Transcending human knowledge, is an unknown and unknowable power."—Spencer.
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