The Tarbell Rope Mystery

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It is with a great deal of pleasure that I disclose to you the secret and presentation of my famous rope mystery. This effect has been a fine reputation-builder for me, and I want it to be the same to you.

This mystery has puzzled audiences time and again, and even magicians have found it utterly baffling. Some of the finest newspaper men in the country have seen me perform it and have admitted their complete bewilderment. It has received more comment, perhaps, from the magical fraternity than any other effect in twenty-five years. Thurston, the famous magician, stopped his show in Milwaukee at one time to have me present the rope mystery to his audience. Houdini, Laurant, Reno, and others have done the same thing. Each time it sent the audience away talking about this peculiar Hindu mystery.

I tell you these things because I want you to realize the possibilities you have for creating a sensation with this master mystery. My only regret is that I cannot first present this effect before you and let you puzzle over it for a few weeks before I teach you the secrets of it. You would then appreciate that its very simplicity is what makes it so baffling.

A peculiar thing about this effect is the elusive principles on which it is designed. Even after you have learned how to perform it, if you were to see me present it, you might doubt my having given you the correct method. It is so elusive that some of the finest magicians on the stage to whom I have taught the effect have asked me time and again whether I was sure that the methods I taught them were the methods I use myself. I have gone into every detail of the presentation with them over and over to convince them that I had really given them the true secrets.

I have refused hundreds of dollars for these secrets for I desired to disclose them to the profession as a whole. And now you are getting one of the finest effects ever designed in the whole history of magic right in with the rest of your wonderful course. Guard this mystery carefully, for remember that the secret of greatness lies in being able to do something that no one else or but few others can do.

Perform this effect as "A Hindu Miracle," for giving it the Hindu atmosphere permits of fine newspaper publicity and advertising. The fame is widespread of the story of the East

Indian Rope Trick, in which a rope is thrown up into the air and is then climbed by a boy. Associating your effect with this one fires the imagination of the audience and permits of a miracle performance. The Orient has always been known for its mystic splendor and thus presenting an Oriental effect gives you an opportunity for background and stage setting that will add romance to your program.

One big advantage of this rope mystery is its versatility. It is simple and may be carried in the pocket for performance at a moment's notice. And yet it is so designed as to be made a feature number on a program. It may be done under the most difficult conditions, close to your spectators, or it may be performed at a distance with excellent effect. It is suitable for parlor work and club work, and also the stage. It can be worked at the dinner table and has proved to be a sensation at banquets.

There are several methods for performing this rope mystery. This permits you to vary the effect for different occasions. I want you to learn every method. Then you may select the routine you prefer and rehearse it until you can convince any audience that you are performing an oriental miracle.

Do not present this mystery as you would a pocket trick for that will not bring you the power which this effect brings. Stage it in the proper atmosphere so that you will gain all the credit you can from it. Build an interesting story around it and present it in a convincing, positive manner, working up to the forceful climax.

This is my favorite method because it permits you to repeat the effect and then pass out the rope for examination without exchanging it.


A piece of fairly soft white clothesline, about seven and a half feet long, is freely shown. The two ends are tied together in a knot to form a "mystic Hindu circle." A spectator is given a pair of scissors and is asked to cut the rope in the center opposite the knotted ends. The rope is cut and the cut ends are held far apart. To make sure that the rope has been cut, a piece is cut from each of the two ends. The two cut ends are placed together, part of the rope wrapped around the left hand, and a magic ring applied to the rope. The rope is then removed from left hand and shown to be completely restored again to the mystic circle, as in the beginning. Performer then states that perhaps there are a few in the audience who do not know how the mystery is done. He asks spectator to cut the rope again in the middle and to cut a piece again from one of the ends to make sure the rope is cut. The two ends are then tied together in a knot. Magician now holds rope with knots at opposite ends. He cuts off one of the knots, then passes his hands over the two ends and touches them with magic ring. Suddenly the rope is restored. Performer now unties knot at

original ends of rope. Two spectators are asked to pull on rope to show it is whole, and then rope is thrown out to audience for examination.


1 -- A piece of soft white clothesline about six or seven feet in length.

2 -- A piece of similar clothesline about six inches long.

3 -- A piece of clothesline about ten inches long.

4 -- A metal or wooden ring, an inch or so in diameter.

5 -- A pair of scissors, preferably with round ends.

6 -- Two Special Rope Gimmicks or Fasteners.

Tarbell Rope Gimmick

A Rope Gimmick consists of corrugated and painted whit One part of the Gimmick has snap fastener and the other Each part is so made as to rope. When they are placed fastened together, they are distance, especially if the When the rope is held close fingers cover the Gimmick. over and over again.


two pieces of tubing, e to resemble the rope. the positive side of a has the negative side. screw on to the end of a on the rope and then not visible at a short rope is swung a little. for inspection, the These Gimmicks may be used

To Prepare:

How to Attach Special Gimmick to Rope —

Take the long piece of rope and the six-inch piece and prepare both ends of each piece as follows: Near the end wrap a piece of white thread tightly around several times.

Figure 4.

With sharp scissors, cut end of rope up close to thread. Figure 5.

This gives a substantial enough end on which to screw Gimmick firmly. Cut away any thread which may show on rope outside of Gimmick. Be sure to place a positive part at one end and a negative part of Gimmick at other end of each piece of rope.

Figure 6.


The Rope Mystery, as formerly sold, required the use of snap fasteners sewed on to the rope. The method of working the rope trick was the same but it took time and trouble to sew on the fasteners. The new Special Gimmick eliminates all this. It is easily and quickly screwed on to the rope and can be used over and over again.

However, for the benefit of those who still want to sew on snap fasteners, I shall explain the procedure. I want you

to know how to do this, though I doubt whether any of you will want to go to the trouble, now that the new Gimmick is available.

The fasteners to use are known as ladies' dress fasteners. There are several brands. The one I recommend is the Boye Dress Fastener, Size 3-0.

How to Sew on Snap Fasteners -The idea is to sew on opposite parts of fasteners at the ends of the ropes so that when they are snapped together, the rope looks whole. It is necessary to use care in not drawing the thread too tight or leaving it too loose. Use white cotton thread, about No. 40, and use a fine enough needle to go through the holes in the fasteners. Use about a yard of thread and double it for each part of fastener.

Take end of rope and pull needle through about half an inch from the end, bringing thread through to knot. Figure 7.

Wrap the thread around rope four or five times and run needle through rope again. Figure 8.

This wrapping of thread keeps small strands of rope from unraveling so that you can cut rope off sharply about a sixteenth of an inch above it.

Figure 9.

Now take one part of fastener and sew it carefully to end of rope.

Figure 10.

Run needle through rope again, then wind enough thread around rope again to even it up. Run needle through rope several times and cut thread close to rope.

Figure 11.

A little practice will enable you to make a nice clean-cut job of sewing on the fasteners. The more care used and the neater the work, the better results you will get. Paint the nickel fasteners with a little white Japan paint, (it can be purchased in small tubes), which has been thinned with benzine for quick drying. The advantage of using white paint is that less thread can be used in sewing on fasteners and thus the two opposite parts will grip tighter together. As with the Gimmicks, be sure that you have opposite parts of fasteners at each end of each piece of rope.

How to Prepare Rope -Take the long piece and the six-inch piece of rope which you have prepared with Gimmicks or snap fasteners. Attach the short piece to the long one to form a circle of rope.

Figure 12.

Now tie the ten-inch piece of rope around the middle of the rope, opposite to the Gimmicks. This gives the effect that the ends of the rope are tied together where the extra piece of

Bild Reaktionszeit

rope is tied on. The real ends of the rope are attached by Gimmicks to the six-inch piece, and as these are invisible, it gives the effect that this is the middle of the rope. The audience knows nothing about the Gimmicks and, of course, is not looking for them. I have never had the Gimmicks detected. Especially if rope is swung a little, Gimmicks are not detectable. Figure 13.

Fold up prepared rope and place in coat pocket or some handy place. Scissors may be in upper left coat pocket. I use the round-end scissors to avoid possibility of accident from sharp points. Place the "magic" ring in right trouser's pocket.

To Perform:

Take rope from pocket and open it up. Hold knotted ends up in hands, allowing part with Gimmicks to hang down. Figure 14.

As you talk, untie the knot, and without exposing the short piece of rope, hold long rope between your hands as shown in Figure 15. Right hand covers the Gimmicks and left hand covers joining of long rope with ten-inch piece.

"There is perhaps no magical effect in the world as well known as the great East Indian Rope Trick. You have all heard tell of this trick in which a rope is thrown high into the air and is then climbed by a boy until he gets way up out of sight. There is, however, another rope effect, equally mysterious and, like the East Indian Rope Trick, seldom seen. It is performed by a certain high caste of Hindu magicians. Tourists,

watching this odd mystery, have been completely baffled. Even magicians who have seen it time and again have been able to offer no solution to the problem. Dr. Harlan Tarbell of Chicago, a prominent American Society magician, discovered the secret, and he in turn baffled magicians as well as lay audiences with it. Until recently, Dr. Tarbell was the only white man who understood the true working of this ingenious mystery. Dr. Tarbell very kindly taught me this peculiar effect and now I want you to see this miracle of magic."

Have two gentlemen come up and have one stand at your right and the other at your left.

"The Hindu magician performs out in the open with the sky as the roof of his theater. He uses a piece of rope about this long and ties the ends together to form a circle."

Drop rope from right hand and grasp the short piece of rope at other end, being careful not to expose it as a separate piece. Wrap one end of short piece around big rope once again and bring it upward as shown in Figures 16 and 17. To the audience it appears that you tied a single knot with ends of the rope.

Now allow this same end of short rope to drop down again and bring it upward so that it is only once around long rope. Drop your hands as you do this and bring them up again to keep audience from detecting what you are doing. Then tie a single knot with two ends of short rope on long rope.

Figures 18 and 19.

To the audience it appears that you tied a double knot with the ends of the long rope.

"His effects are based on Hindu philosophy and occultism. It seems that the circle, the square, and the triangle have mystical occult meanings. The Hindu sometimes sits inside of his circle of rope and calls it his cycle of life."

Place rope down in front of you near the floor to illustrate how the Hindu places his circle on the ground. Then bring rope up again.

"He says that all within is physical."

Put right hand and arm through loop of rope to illustrate.

"And that all without is spiritual or psychic."

Wave right hand outside of loop of rope.

"To pass from the material to the spiritual plane, it is necessary to cut the line of life. In which case, we shall just cut the rope."

To gentleman at right:

"Would you mind, sir, taking these scissors?"

Remove scissors from upper left coat pocket and give to this spectator.

"Now, will you please cut the rope in the middle?"

Turn rope around so that Gimmick part is at top between your hands. Keep Gimmicks concealed. Figure 20.

"I think this is about the middle of the rope."

Have spectator cut rope. Audience thinks he is cutting whole rope in half, but in reality he is merely cutting short piece in half between the two Gimmicks. Hold the ends far apart.

Figure 21.

"Thus the Hindu says he can enter the psychic world. Are you quite sure, sir, that you cut the rope? Just to make doubly sure, cut it again. Cut a piece from this end."

Figure 25.

Hold rope as in Figure 22, and have spectator cut a piece from left side of rope within about an inch of the Gimmick, keeping Gimmick concealed. Toss this piece to audience.

"Perhaps you would like a souvenir."

Show cut end to spectator at your left, and say:

"Will you notice the cut end, sir?"

Now to gentleman at right:

"To make positively sure that the rope has been cut, will you kindly cut a piece from this end also?"

Hold rope so that he cuts a few inches from right end of rope rather close to Gimmick. Give him the piece of rope just cut off.

"Please toss it over there to the lady."

You now have an inch-stub of rope attached to each end of the long rope by Gimmicks. While spectator is tossing piece of rope to lady, take ropes in hands as in Figure 23. Grasp the short stubs between thumb and base of first finger of right hand. This view is away from audience.

Figure 23.

With a natural movement, pull the Gimmicks loose from long rope. Back of right hand is to audience. Figure 24.

"I should have a magic ring for this."

Reach into right trouser's pocket and leave the short pieces of rope there, bringing out the ring.

"Here it is in my pocket."

To gentleman at left:

"Here, sir, I shall give you the magic ring."

Give him ring and then hold ends of rope far apart in your two hands. Be careful to conceal Gimmicks at ends of rope with your fingers.

Figure 25.

To gentleman at left:

"I believe you, too, are quite sure that the rope has been cut. No doubt, you wonder why I ask this so many times. I do it because when I get through and you go home, you may wonder whether the rope was really cut. Anyway, the Hindu brings the ends of the rope together for just a second. . . "

Bring the two ends of rope together and under cover of the fingers, snap the Gimmick together. Do this with as little noise as possible.

"And wraps the rope around his hand."

Wrap rope quickly around left hand with the right so that audience cannot see that rope is already restored. Figure 26.

"Touch it with the magic ring, sir." Gentleman touches rope with ring.

"The Hindu says, 'Chee-la-wah-la-bong-wah. Watch, for you are about to behold a miracle -- a miracle you will never forget as long as you live.' Then he quickly unwraps the rope from his hand."

Unwrap rope.

Figure 27.

"And, of course, the rope has been restored completely to what it was in the beginning."

Show rope by passing it quickly around in a circle through both of your hands. This gives the form of the magic circle and also keeps Gimmick invisible.

Figure 27.

Finally get rope into position so that knot is at bottom and left fingers cover Gimmick.

Figure 2 8.

"I realize that it may be hard for several of you to understand how the Hindu restores his life-line, so perhaps I had better explain it to you all over again."

This usually gets a laugh because there is no one in the audience who knows how to do the trick. The tendency in such an effect is for the audience to want to get the rope and examine it. You forestall this until you are ready to pass out the rope by saying you will do the trick again.

In some effects repetition is not good, but in this rope mystery, repetition strengthens the effect and leaves the audience thoroughly mystified. The two methods of working are different so there is no danger of detection.

To gentleman at right: "Please cut the rope again."

Have spectator cut the rope about an inch and a half to two inches to the right of the Gimmick in left hand.

Figure 29.

"And to remove all suspicion, cut the rope again."

Grasp left side of rope about four inches below left hand with your right hand and have the rope cut between your two hands. That leaves the long loop of rope entirely free from Gimmicks in your right hand and the short piece of rope with the Gimmick in your left hand.

Figure 30.

Casually place left-hand piece with the Gimmick in your left coat pocket. Do this without hesitation as if you were just getting rid of the cut piece of rope. Audience sees nothing suspicious in this.

Now hold both ends of rope far apart and say to gentleman at left:

"Since you are one of the chief inspectors, perhaps you would like to look at this rope a bit closer. Examine the ends."

Allow spectator to examine the ends of rope closely.

"Since you give your official 0. K., I shall now tie the two ends together to form a knot."

Tie the two ends together in a double knot. You now have this real knot and the fake knot at opposite ends of the rope. Figure 31.

Take scissors from gentleman at right.

"The Hindu says now his troubles begin because the knots are supposed to be knots of trouble in his life-line. One knot of trouble is enough, he says, for any good

Hindu. Of course, we can make the knots less conspicuous by trimming them up a bit."

Trim the ends of the knots up to about an inch from each knot. Try to make the knots look alike. Then hold both knots in left hand as you gesture with right. This confuses the two knots so that audience cannot keep track of them separately.

Figure 32.

"Of course, we have two knots."

Rope Faking Deck

Take a knot in each hand -- the fake knot in the right hand and the real knot in the left hand. Show knot in left hand, pretending this is the first knot tied.

Figure 33.

"This one is the one we tied originally to make a mystic circle of the rope."

Then show knot in right hand as the second knot tied.

"And this knot is the one tied from the two ends the gentleman just cut. I believe, sir, you cut the rope."

Drop real knot from left hand and bring fake knot in right hand over to left, holding rope from this knot as shown in Figure 34.

With right hand cut knot off, leaving a short piece still around long rope.

Figure 35.

"If a knot causes trouble, the solution to the problem is to cut the knot off. This leaves two ends as we had before we tied the knot. Of course, we can even up the ends."

Pull up end of short piece and cut it away, repeating until you have finally cut away the short piece entirely and have the long rope looped in left hand.

Figure 36.

"While the life line is cut, the Hindu says he projects his astral body back into the physical again. He wraps the rope around his hand again."

Wrap rope around left hand several times. Then ask spectator who holds ring to touch rope with it.

"Touch it with the magic ring. The Hindu says,

Watch, and you shall behold

Throw hands upward, releasing rope from left hand. "And the rope is again restored."

Hold rope over your thumbs. Turn palms of hands to audience and spread fingers wide apart. This exhibits the rope well to audience.

Figure 37.

"To prove to you that the rope has really been restored, I shall untie the knot, and give one end of the rope to the gentleman here and the other end to the gentleman at the other side."

As you say this, untie knot and give one end of rope to spectator at right and other end to spectator at left. Ask them to pull hard on rope, then take it from them.

"Thank you. You have pulled hard on the rope and have proved that every fiber even unto the thousandth has been fully restored."

Fold rope up a little in your hand to make it easier to throw.

"Now you can prove it to yourselves by examining the rope."

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Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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