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was developed from a trick by the South African mentalist, Basil Horwitz.1 In his routine, designed for performance before small groups, cards are used with small printed symbols on them. Mr. Horwitz had these symbols printed near one end of the cards, which strikes me as a rather illogical positioning for which no presentational motivation is given. In addition, during performance an envelope is given to the assisting spectator with the card inserted partially into it. The spectator is asked to write her thoughts on this card, but she must not remove it from the envelope, or a force symbol on the back of the card will be exposed. This procedure is surely unnatural.

'"Challenge Thought: Version II" in The Mental Magick of Basil Horwitz, Volume2, pp. 65-76.

In the version I'm about to explain, these artificial elements have been removed.


One member of the audience is asked to think of someone close to her and write that person's name and city of residence on a business card. Another spectator chooses a symbol, sight unseen, from a pack of symbol cards. Both spectators seal their cards in heavy envelopes.

The performer has the two envelopes mixed and one chosen. Without touching it, he draws something on a large sheet of paper. When the card in the selected envelope is removed, it is seen to be the second spectator's chosen symbol—and the performer's drawing is shown to be a close match!

A spectator now burns the remaining envelope, again without the performer touching it. As the first spectator stares at the flame and concentrates on her friend, the performer divines the friend's name, place of residence and other personal information he couldn't possibly know!

Preparation You will need:

1) Twenty to twenty-five cards cut from thick cardboard, about the size of business cards. These must be opaque. The cards are stamped with different symbols.

2) Two coin envelopes, also opaque, which should be at least five-eighths of an inch longer and wider than the cards used. These envelopes have gummed flaps. Trim off a portion of the flap on one of the envelopes, so that you can quickly and easily recognize it at a distance. This preparation is quite subtle and has yet to be noticed by anyone. Your assisting spectator will later place the symbol card into this envelope.

3) A set of rubber stamps carrying different symbols. In toy stores you can often find rubber-stamp sets made for children. The stamps are treated with a permanent ink that cannot dry out because the stamp fits into a holder. These sets are perfect for our purposes when performing for small groups. They are too small, though, for stage use, as the symbols must be easily recognizable to the audience from a distance.

Use these stamps to place a different symbol on each card. Do not stamp the symbols exactly in the centers of the cards.

4) One rubber-stamp symbol from the set, to which you have attached a finger clip. This stamp bears the symbol you will force during performance. Do not use this symbol when stamping the packet of cards.

First glue a safety pin to the bottom of the stamp holder, using epoxy cement or some other preparation that forms

a very strong bond. Then, with a knife or file, remove the handle from the stamp itself and in its place cement a cres-cent-shaped finger clip fashioned from metal. Pin the holder, with the stamp in it, inside your right-front trousers pocket near the top.

5) A pair of scissors. Place these in the right-front trousers pocket with your secret stamp. By the way, choose scissors with rounded ends, so that they don't accidentally pierce the pocket—and your leg!

6) A blank card made from the same opaque stock previously mentioned. This is for the spectator to write her thoughts on. You provide spaces for a name and city to be written. I prepare these cards on a typewriter.

7) A card with the force symbol stamped on it. This card is carried in your right-side jacket pocket.

8) A clipboard with a large blank piece of paper clipped to it.

9) A broad-tipped marking pen.

10) An ashtray or metal bowl in which you can safely burn the envelope.


Give the unprepared envelope and the blank business card to a spectator. I prefer to use a woman for this, as they are generally more receptive to participating in mind-reading effects involving personal elements. I've also found women, when they are involved in such personalized tests, to be more dependable agents for word-of-mouth advertising.

Ask your assistant to write down the name and city of residence for someone with whom she is closely connected, but who is not present. While she is doing this, pick up the packet of cards and approach someone else at some distance from her. Show this person the various symbols or pictures stamped on the cards. As you do this, name some of them— including the force symbol, although it is not in the packet. Please don't overlook this ruse. The miscalling of the symbol is a bit of psychology that significantly strengthens the effect!

Now instruct the spectator to mix the packet of cards, symbol sides down, then to remove one at random, without looking at its symbol. Hand him the envelope with the trimmed flap and ask that he insert the card he has chosen into it, after which he seals it inside. Remain next to the spectator, if possible, until the card is safely in the envelope. You can then be sure that the spectator has not looked at the selected symbol.

By the time this spectator is completing your instructions, the first spectator should have finished filling out the name and city on her card. Ask her to place the card on the table, writing side down. When she has done this, walk back to her and give her the unprepared envelope, requesting that she place her card into it. Watch her closely; you must be absolutely certain of which way the blank side of the card faces as it is slipped into the envelope. I do this by giving the lady the envelope with the address side down. If I place it on the table this way, the lady will naturally place the card into the envelope with the blank side upward. However, it poses no problem to you if she ignores the obvious procedure, so long as you know which way the writing faces in the envelope.

A third spectator is asked to collect the two envelopes, mix them, then hand you one. Now, you must somehow manage to receive the unprepared envelope first. I manage this by asking the spectator to take one envelope in each hand. I then ask him to extend one hand toward me. If he extends the hand containing the unprepared envelope, I take it from him. If, however, he extends the hand with the prepared envelope, I immediately say, "Place this envelope on the table. We will start with yours." The trimmed flap, of course, defines which envelope is which for you. If by chance the spectator holds the envelopes in a way that doesn't allow you to see the flaps, simply ask him to make sure nothing can be read through the envelopes. As he checks this, he will have to expose the flap-sides to you.

Pick up your clipboard and marker, then draw the force symbol large and bold on the sheet of paper. Set the clipboard writing side down on the table, without exposing your drawing. Next take the unprepared envelope (either from the table or from the spectator, as circumstances dictate) into your left hand. Next remove the pair of scissors from your right trousers pocket. At the same time steal the force-symbol stamp from its holder, slipping your right second finger into the clip and taking the stamp into a sort of secured finger palm.

Snip off the top of the envelope and set the scissors on the table. Then slip your right fingers into the envelope to remove the card, writing side toivard you. (Recall, you noted the orientation of the card when the spectator placed it in the envelope.) As your fingers enter the envelope, secretly stamp the force symbol onto the blank side of the card before it is brought into view. This is the reason you took pains to use envelopes that are larger than the cards. The extra room permits your fingers to fit inside and apply the stamp before taking out the card. The stamp impression should be made approximately in the center of the card. Because you have not stamped the other symbol cards precisely in the middle, the newly applied off-center symbol on this card will match.

Now hold up the card, so that the spectators assisting you can easily see the symbol, and ask the spectator who chose it to name the symbol for the rest of the audience. As this is being done, read the back of the card, secretly learning the name and city that the first spectator has written. Now ask the second spectator to pick up your clipboard and turn it around, displaying to everyone the large symbol you have drawn. A match!

While the spectator is exhibiting the symbol on the clipboard, lay the card onto the envelope, taking both into your right hand. Pick up the scissors in this same hand and place them in your right-side jacket pocket. While your hand is in the pocket, leave behind the spectator's card with the scissors, and pick up the card with the force symbol that is waiting there for you. Bring your hand immediately from the pocket—there must be no hesitation or fumbling—holding the envelope and switched card. This exchange should take place the instant the applause starts in response to the spectator showing your clairvoyant drawing.

As the applause subsides, take the clipboard from the spectator and give him the envelope and "chosen" card as souvenirs.

You can omit the switch if you like, simply leaving the card and envelope in your pocket with the scissors. This is a matter of preference that each performer must decide.

Have the third spectator toss the remaining envelope into the ashtray or metal bowl and burn it. Stand as far away as you can from the flame, so that no one can think that you could see the name and city as the envelope burns.

You are now absolutely clean! As the envelope and card are being consumed, ask the first spectator to gaze into the flame while she concentrates on her friend. Conclude the demonstration by divining the name and city, amplifying this revelation of information effectively with a bit of cold reading.

This routine plays well on stage and in parlor. I am also delighted to say that, when I performed it, just as described,

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at the 1988 P.E.A. Convention in Edison, none of the experts present surmised the method, even though many of them were familiar with the Horwitz trick on which it was based.


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I'i.yi liu I nleiI.liners Association I <>i Oulülanrlinu Piolousionalism Amt l'rolioioncy in I ho I'<m lorm.inco m Meni.iiism

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The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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