Thursday, December 11th, 2014...11:27 am

Hypnotic huckster

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This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items from the newly acquired Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

IMG_0001In his book Practical lessons in hypnotism & magnetism, L.W. DeLaurence states that “Occult force” is simply personal magnetism that if well developed is able to control man, woman, child or beast at will.  If a person possesses this occult force they can then project thoughts, desires, and even habits into the minds of those that have no knowledge of this mental science.  DeLaurence saw a hypnotist on stage and decided to take it up himself, so he took a grand total of one lesson and then began touring around the country doing lectures and exhibitions.

DeLaurence was a pretty shady character even within the IMG_0002world of spiritualism and occult.  His publication of The Key to the Tarot: Oracles Behind the Veil was a blatant almost word for word plagiarism of Arthur Edward Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot : being fragments of a secret tradition under the veil of divination He was able to do this due to a loophole in the US copyright law at the time.  He also established DeLaurence, Scott and Company which sold spiritual amulets, candles, herbs, and other items.  Carolyn Morrow Long’s book Spiritual Merchants: Religion, Magic, and Commerce includes a detailed section about DeLaurence.

According to Long he was the subject of a mail order fraud investigation in 1919 where the prosecuting attorney seemed determined to expose him as a fake.  When DeLaurence was asked about the products he sold he admitted that they lacked any spiritual qualities and that the candles came from a nearby church, the amulets from a jewelry manufacturer, and the herbal remedies from a pharmaceutical company.  Transcripts show that he was given two weeks to remove the “fradulent and objectionable claims” but there is no final outcome noted, nor is there a police record of DeLaurence.


To brush up on your own personal magnetism take a look at Practical lessons in hypnotism & magnetism : giving the only simple and practical course in hypnotism and vital magnetism which starts the student or practitioner out upon a plain, common sense basis–prepared especially for self-instruction / by L.W. DeLaurence. Chicago : De Laurence Co., c1937 which can be found in Widener’s collection.

Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.

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