Las Vegas is home to many magicians, most of whom are hard core illusionists. Concentrating on sleight of hand, misdirection, and other tricks of professional conjurers, they ply their trade and compete for bookings. But what if, just maybe, sometimes the magic was real? That is exactly what a small eclectic group, comprised mostly of entertainers who regularly engage in mystifying performances, set out to explore with unmapped territory in an innovative meeting titled PSI Posium.
For three days they met at Sunset Station Hotel and Casino spending many hours listening to presentations, practicing the arts and exchanging ideas and concepts that can be incorporated into public demonstrations. PSI Posium was the brainchild of Alain Nu (The Man Who Knows) and Jerome Finley (a Showman Shaman) both of whom have personal experiences that seem to defy conventional explanations. In their view stage magic has lost its way placing emphasis on trickery and hosting a general disbelief in the arcane milieu from which they were spawned.
One issue is the nomenclature. The seminar organizers would reject traditional titles such as hypnotist, mentalist, or magician, all of which are encumbered with prosaic baggage from their counterparts. In his performances Alain Nu employs techniques that blur the lines between science and unexplained phenomena and often leaves the audience confounded thus stretching their belief systems. Here Alain demonstrated amazing tricks that caused metal spoons to appear to bend in his hand. But knowing that was an illusion does not negate veridical reports of spontaneous events of true psychokinesis. Rather, the trick provides a model that allows the mind to be open to exceptional experiences.
Jerome Finley also transcends and obscures the boundaries. With Native-American ancestry, he is trained as a master hypnotherapist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner. In addition he is also a Sangoma, or traditional healer, who learned the craft of divining bones as an apprentice in Swahililand, South Africa. A charming performer, Finley was able demonstrate the skills for locating hidden items by what appeared to be telepathic means. The performance was so convincing that none of the attendees doubted the reality of the capability.
Rounding out the agenda was a young, charismatic Canadian who goes by Aaron Alexander (stage name and no relation). An accomplished psychologist, he has pushed the envelope of that profession. He provided quick measures to establish rapport using minimal physical contact. Aaron also taught skills that defy common understanding such as the ability to cause people to respond to force that is not applied with any direct contact. Difficult to describe, examples are available on the Internet
All men are authors. In his writing Finley notes the techniques mental information acquisition are real and do not entail chicanery. In Guerilla Q&A he states, "to be caught in a process of trickery means game over." Alain's book, Picture your ESP!: Reveal Your Hidden Powers With "The Nu ESP Test" conveys the essence of his premise. And Arron's books, The Pygmalion Effect and Bridge provide step by step instruction for experiencing his effects but are not easily accessible to the public.
The common theme for the weekend was that real magic is not only possible, it occurs regularly and it is up to the individual to recognize it when it happens. They are fully cognizant that skeptics would reject the concept a priori and attribute all anomalous events to pure coincidence. For those in attendance the hands-on demonstrations, all conducted without props, and often impromptu, were simply mind-blowing.
Adroit and superbly skilled in their craft, organizers and participants alike both demonstrated established ingenuity and contemplated taking their performances to a higher level. There were a few card tricks shown that entailed either forces or considerable digital dexterity that require a high degree of proficiency. But true to the premise of the seminar it was also indicated that there are times in which neither are required because the operator does get a mental signal.
Psychokinesis is one of the more contentious topics in the world of magic. Most stage magicians and scientists claim that mind over matter is simply impossible. They generally discounted offhand demonstrations of "spoon bending" or psychokinesis metal bending (PKMB). Based on the accomplishments of Uri Geller, aerospace engineer, Jack Houck, developed a process by which regular people could engage in such an experience and called it a PK Party. Rather than watching a performance groups could try it themselves. Displayed at PSI Posium were items that bent totally devoid of physical force by naive subject (non-magicians). A critical point is creating a belief that these things can happen - then they often do. Yes, there are numerous tricks and they can look very authentic. But sometimes, and only on occasion, do macro-psychokinetic event happen that defy explanation.
Unlike most gatherings of magicians, PSI Posium entertained the notion that real magic, i.e. not tricks or illusions involved, does happen. Supporting that concept the U.S. Army for twenty years conducted a secret program, last known as Star Gate, the involved both research and application of psychic spying. And yes, it did pay off - sometimes. Allowing for the possibility of psychic capabilities, what is needed is for serious researchers to explore the anomalies that are observed around the world.