Use slips of paper instead of the envelopes and proceed to read names of the dead as above, by the "One Ahead" System. At the finish you have opened the slip of a living person. Fold up this slip and pretend to place it on table. In reality, Thumb Palm it and slip it back into hat. Bring out this slip of paper last and give it to spectator. You can call the name out and have it verified by spectator as a finish to the effect.


Slips of paper are passed around as in other methods. When these are collected, they are burned. Yet performer is able to call out the names of the dead people.


1 -- Small pieces of paper about 2 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches.

A piece of commercial size writing paper will cut into 16 pieces of this size.

2 -- A large manila envelope.

3 -- A candle in a candlestick.

Matches to light candle.

4 -- A plate or metal tray on which to place burning envelope.

5 -- Several half-size pencils. SECRET AND PATTER:

To Prepare:

Cut a two-inch slit in bottom of envelope. Figure 5.

Have candle in candlestick on table at your left as you face audience.

Fold each slip of paper once across in each direction and open it out flat again.

Figure 6.

To Perform:

Light candle.

"I want to perform for you at this time an old spiritualistic rite as performed by Persian priests in days of old. It is still performed in some places on special occasions. First of all, I am going to pass some slips of paper among you that I want you to write on. Then when you have written, concentrate on what you have written, but do not let me know what it is."

Pass out pieces of paper and pencils to several spectators. Have some write the names of living persons and some the names of dead people. Remember those people who wrote the names of dead persons. Have slips folded. Your preliminary folding acts as a guide.

Remove prepared envelope from pocket and collect the slips. Place the slips containing names of living people at bottom of envelope and those containing names of the dead at top.

Figure 8.

Reach into envelope with right hand and push "dead" slips through slit a little so that they can be easily grasped by left hand. Back of left hand screens slips from view of audience and they are not aware of your movements here.

Figure 8.

Seal envelope and take it in right hand. As you do so, press left thumb down on "dead" slips and retain slips in left hand. Close fingers around slips to conceal them.

Figure 9.

"This rite was performed for certain reasons, but one of those reasons, no doubt, was to show the power of the priest. Members of the congregation would write the names of living people and dead people upon slips of paper which one of the ushers gathered and sealed in a large envelope. The priest took the envelope, faced the altar, and holding the envelope above his head, went through a number of incantations."

Turn your back to audience and hold envelope above your head in right hand. Hold fingers over slit to keep it closed.

Figure 10.

The moment your back is turned, put the "dead" slips from left hand in left lower vest pocket. Remove one slip, open it, and glance at what is written on it. Fold slip again and replace in vest pocket. You will have no difficulty in unfolding and folding slip with left hand if you hold it against you. Practice will enable you to do this very quickly.

"Then he would wave it above one of the candles nearby."

Place envelope a little above flame of candle, still keeping back to audience.

Figure 11.

While you are talking, get another slip out of vest pocket, open it, and read it. Then refold it and slip it into right lower vest pocket, out of the way.

"Then he would raise the envelope over his head again and finally place it in the mystic flame of the candle, setting it on fire."

Set fire to envelope and let it burn. Keep back to audience until you have finished your routine of taking out the two slips, reading them, and placing them back in their proper pockets.

Then turn to audience.

"Flames have played an important part in oriental ceremonies and are often associated with the psychic."

Drop remaining part of envelope on tray or plate. Face audience.

"An interesting part of the ceremony was the priest's power to separate the living from the dead. As you have noted, the names have been written of both living and dead people. You who have written the names of dead persons, will you please concentrate on those names?"

You know the names of two dead persons and can proceed to name them with proper showmanship.

"I get an impression of a departed spirit, of a woman. Barbara, I believe, is her name. Who is thinking of Barbara? Just a moment, I shall try to catch the last name. J -- J is the first letter, then I get an O. The name is Jones. Barbara Jones. Is that correct? It is. Thank you. A vision passes me of a man, a man of fair build. He is trying to say something. His name is Frank. Who is concentrating cm the name of Frank? You, Madam? Thank you. Just keep your mind on that person for a moment longer. I do not seem to get the last name. I can only get a color — it is a flash of red — now it is darkening and has become brown. Perhaps it will turn to black. No, it is remaining that color. It is evidently a symbol. The color is opening and a face appears. Is the name Brown? Frank Brown. Right? Thank you."

This gives you an idea of the way in which the names are called and you can work up your own ideas around this as a nucleus. Various names may be expressed in symbolism to add mystery. Continue this until you have named all the dead people, turning your back and reading several slips at a time if you have more than two with names of dead people. Do not have too many of these. Finish effect by saying:

"In just such manner were the priests able to tell the dead from the living."

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