Apr 7, 2010

"What is....?" Wednesday


Mentalism is a term used to describe a wide range of performing arts – such as hypnosis, telepathy, or precognition – that employ a highly developed mental or intuitive ability. Many mentalists claim not to be magicians at all, arguing that it is a different art form altogether.

Much of what the modern mentalist performs in his or her act can be traced back directly to tests of supernatural power that were carried out by mediums, spiritualists and psychics in the 19th Century. However, the history of mentalism goes back even further. Accounts of seers and oracles can be found in works by the ancient Greeks and in the Old Testament.

Among magicians, the mentalism performance generally cited as one of the earliest on record was by diplomat and pioneering sleight-of-hand magician Girolamo Scotto in 1572. The performance of mentalism may utilize similar principles, sleights and skills as stage magic.

 The practice of mentalism is usually associated with entertainment. Mentalists may function as magicians who perform seemingly impossible tasks in front of an audience, or a medium who claims to be able to give a hot or cold reading to foretell future events in the life of an individual or reveal hidden traits associated with that person.

Hypnotists who exercise mind control over subjects are also said to use mental ability and harness mysterious powers in order to compel their subjects to say or do things they normally would not do. In general, both the performer and the audience know the tricks performed on the stage are not real, but are carefully crafted presentations designed to amuse everyone attending the show.

 While I do not believe that mentalism is anything more than having keen insight into human nature and it's behavior there has been a surge in the acceptance of the possibility of people possessing extraordinary powers of the mind. To me, this is dangerous ground to tread on, given the fact that pagans and wiccans firmly believe that "to harm none" means that to interfere with someone else's choices or behavior is unacceptable.

 *Unless in the case of bindings, curses, or banishments towards those whose aim is to cause harm to you. This, however, is in a totally different realm far removed from the types of Mentalism I've described. To learn more about bindings and similar subjects I must steer you to the two part podcast done by Velma Nightshade of WitchesBrewHaha and Fire Lyte of Inciting A Riot on these subjects. The episodes are 12 and 23, respectively.*

I extend my eternal gratitude to Fire Lyte for his editing wizardry in the final product you see in this post! ( Luv ya Fire Lyte!)

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Great article thank you for posting. I really think the television show The Mentalist has risen awareness of the possibility of mentalism.