Beverly Rayner: Museum of Mesmerism
This mysterious volume was discovered in a tiny bookstore in Whitby, England. It appears to have been methodically coated with a gold-based substance, perhaps a wax filled with gold dust, concealing the majority of the printed text in order to reveal a mystical “trance verse” poem embedded in the original language of the book. Though research revealed nothing of the history of the book or the diviner of the poetic verse, it is purported that other examples of this refined art of verse divination had been discovered over the years in this tiny coastal town, best known as the setting of part of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”
This fine example of an itinerant mesmerist’s tools of the trade was found intact during my first visit to the building housing the Museum of Mesmerism in Bzinica Stara. The kit includes 2 hypnotic pendulums, some magnetism devices, a miniature vision ball, a small vial of aromatic spirits, and a rare find: a “vision-spinner” used for quickly shifting focus from a normal plane of reality to a parallel plane. The toolkit belonged to my great-great uncle Rafal, who traveled often around Europe practicing his mesmeric arts.
This theatre was discovered in the back of a tiny puppet and marionette shop in a red light district in the Montmartre area of Paris during my first visit to the city in 1983. Its function was to remotely conjure up and display images of distant places, people, and things. A person would go to the Conjurer for help in “seeing” a specific thing. When properly prompted with information from the client, the Conjurer would search for clues through the special lens of this device, then interpret the visions displayed to reveal information for the client. This was a highly refined art, dependent on a great deal of emotional and psychic sensitivity on the part of the Conjurer.
This theatre held no image when it was found. When it was unpacked at the museum, the image of the marionette shop slowly appeared in the window of the theater, and it has remained there since.
Oh, how I’d love to create my own museum of found objects, displayed in a small antique case, in a corner of my home.
See more in the Museum of Mesmerism
Cannot type/talk due to severe illness (all words courtesy of voice software or kind typing helpers)…I read and appreciate all comments…Apologies for not being able to respond.