Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Edmund Shaftesbury

Edmund Shaftesbury was the pseudonym of Webster Edgerly (1852–1926). Edgerly was a prolific writer on a variety of subjects, predominantly self-improvement (not limited to personal magnetism) and health. The following description is from Alfred Armstrong’s web site on Webster Edgerly.

Albert Webster Edgerly was a self-help guru, a crank and a racist bigot. Possessed of seemingly boundless energy, from his twenties until his death he wrote and published many books and founded a series of organizations dedicated to health and self-improvement, mainly under his pseudonym “Edmund (or Edmonde) Shaftesbury”. As the begetter of the “Ralston Health Club” he also used the name “Dr Everett Ralston”. 

In about 1900, William Danforth invited “Dr Ralston” to participate in his Purina Wholefood Company. At that time Edgerly’s Health Club had a sizeable following [according to this, over 800,000] and he was noted for his pronouncements on diet, which were compatible with Danforth’s own philosophy. The company took a new name, Ralston Purina, under which it still traded until relatively recently, when it was acquired by Nestlé. 

Edgerly attempted in 1905 to put his utopian ideas into practice when he founded a community of Ralstonites at “Ralston Heights”. As is ever the case with such endeavors, it was not a success. 

Edgerly also created “Ralstonism”, a “minor social movement” based on his writings, all of which was to enable the follower the ability to develop “personal magnetism” and the power over the thoughts of others, among other benefits. To quote Edgerly: 

“We believe that Ralstonism, since it is becoming universal, is as necessary as food, light or water. This movement is the grandest, noblest, and already the most far-reaching power that has originated in the present age. 

“Ralstonism is the grandest movement that man is capable of establishing”. 

Followers were encouraged to purchase the Ralstonism books, among other ways to progress in the hierarchy of the movement. 

Ralstonites were to follow strict dietary guidelines. … Correct diet and proper physical exercise would help reader attain “personal magnetism”, which would give them control over the thoughts of others. Much of the physical régime demanded moving in graceful curves and arcs and walking exclusively on the balls of one’s feet. Because sudden starts and stops and sharp angular movements caused a “leakage of vital force”, Ralstonites were to even pick marbles in continuous circles. There was a proper way to bathe (dry bath), gesture, sit, stand, sleep, talk and have sex. Edgerly claimed a scientific basis for all this. 

To that end, he started Ralson Heights in New Jersey with the intent of creating a community of Ralsonites. Unfortunately the community never materialized before his death and afterward much of the territory was sold off. 

Among the relevant books are: 

“Instantaneous Personal Magnetism” (1926)

“The Magnetism Books”

  1. “Advanced Magnetism” (?)
    Control of Others Through the Feelings 
  2. “Mental Magnetism” (1934)
    Mastery in All the Conflicts of Life
    A Study of the Seven Realms of Mind and Mastery in the Conflicts of Life 
  3. “Sex Magnetism” (1924)
    Private Lessons in the Cultivation of Magnetism of the Sexes
    Teaching the Development and Wonderful Enlargement of those Powers and Influences That Nature has Invented to Aid Every Human Life
    A review of this book can be found here.
  4. “Operations of the Other Mind” (1934)
    Gigantic Powers of the Human Brain
    Making Known the Unseen Powers of the Universe in Their Control Over Human Life 
  5. “Personal Magnetism” (1924)
    This book does not contain chapters; instead, it contains a series of steps required to develop the “personal magnetism” of the title.
    A review of this book can be found here.
  6. “Universal Magnetism — Volume I” (?)
  7. “Universal Magnetism — Volume II (?)
    Secret Lessons in Control of Self and Others 

“The College of Mental Studies”

  1. “Future Seeing and Destiny” (?)
    800 lessons in philosophy. 
  2. “The Great Psychic” (?)
    The Master Mind of the Universe 
  3. “Life Electricity” (?)
    Creation of Extra-ordinary Health-Vitality 
  4. “Thought Transference” (?)
    “Or The Radio-Activity of the Human Mind”
    “Based on the Newly Discovered Laws of RADIO-Communiction Between BRAIN and BRAIN
    Uses of Telepathy, Mind and Thought 
  5. “Goal of Creation” (?)
    The Temple of Great Achievements 
  6. “Yourself Behind Closed Doors” (?)
    The Sublimist Study of Self 

And even though I have a number of these books, many in fine printing, I haven’t really been able to read them. 

Many of his books remain in print to this day. A complete listing of all works by this author is found here.

Other References:

The Science Fiction Encyclopedia — Online

A website that I will be investigating further is the Science Fiction Encyclopedia website. An outgrowth of the 1995 encyclopedia of the same name edited by John Clute and Peter Nichols and published in collaboration with Gollancz SF Gateway, this is an attempt to be a comprehensive encyclopedia of the authors, themes and culture related to science fiction (and fantasy as well.) The encyclopedia is currently in beta release. 

As expected, one of the topics in question is HYPNOSIS, which lists a number of the early works involving hypnosis and mesmerism, including a few I was not aware of, such as “Kalee’s Shrine”  by Grant Allen and May Cotes. The website definitely bears further investigation. 

Note: Several years ago, I wrote the article on “Hypnotism” for the second edition of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is apparently not connected with this online version.

Dungeons & Dragons” — The Hypnotic Side

When Dave Arneson showed Gary Gygax the new game he and his friends were playing, it probably didn’t occurr to either that they were on the brink of creating not only a new game but an entirely new type of game, resulting in a revolutionary new gaming industry.

Dave Arneson took the traditional miniature game, where miniatures represented groups of individuals and started using them to represent individuals. He also added the elements of character classes and experience levels, allowing for character specialization and growith. This was a revolution, in that players could project themselves into the character, developing them over time and play. Since both he and Gary Gygax were avid minature ship game players, he shjowed Gary his game and together they created Dungeons & Dragons.

⇒ Continue reading “Dungeons & Dragons” — The Hypnotic Side”

Pat Collins — More Pictures

I discovered a couple of images of stage hypnotist Pat Collins that I want to pass along here.

The first (above) is a publicity photo of Pat Collins: you can see her signature on the right.

The second (above) is a shot from her appearance on “What’s My Line?” before she became the sensation she was. She appeared on the program on May 7, 1961, Season 12 Episode 36 EPISODE #563, as a contestant. However, I have not been able to determine whether she stumped the panel or not.


Joan Brandon

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Biography: Pat Collins was certainly not the first female stage hypnotist. There were many others, but most have been forgotten

In the decade before Pat Collins there was a female stage hypnotist named Joan Brandon. In her books, she describes herself as a third-generation hypnotist, although it is probably more precise to say she was a three-generation stage magician who was also a stage hypnotist. (According to her books, her father was also a stage hypnotist but he is never identified, so that is difficult to verify.) About the only reason she is remembered now is that she is probably the first to write and publish a number of books on hypnosis (which are listed below.)

⇒ Continue reading “Joan Brandon”

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