More on Cagliostro (note 2018: Gurdjieff was far more deadly with hypnosis than Cagliostro)
14.06.09 at 9:11 am ·
It appears that Cagliostro learned some techniques that would be recognizable today as forms of trance induction. In reading sustained descriptions of Cagliostro in Frances Mossiker’s book, The Queens Necklace, one strategy used by Cagliostro was to bombard a person with questions, to which the person repeatedly would answer yes, or agree to.
Today, this technique is known to professional hypnotists as the ‘Yes Set’. It has been found that if someone is led to say ‘yes’ repeatedly, it then becomes harder for the target to make a refusal.
The ‘yes set’ has been appropriated by less than ethical sales persons…and also by persons doing speed-seduction.
Cagliostro also gestured with his hands, a technique used by many stage magicians to this day, used children as mediums, and had a talent for identifying a person’s most profound obsessions and yearnings–what in modern terms is called psychological operations. We also cannot rule out that he may have been adept at doing espionage so as to learn ahead of time about persons and areas where he planned to operate.
There is yet another technique, known in modern times as ‘cold questioning’, very likely used by Cagliostro. It is a way to quiz people so as to elicit personal information from them without seeming to do so. It is utilized quite successfully by tarot card readers, palm readers, and possibly by persons utilizing bogus gadgets such as the much-vaunted enneagram.
One can utilize cold questioning and then make it seem one has psychic ablities has ‘read’ targets mind, when all one has done is adroitly elicit information.
A former New Age healer, reveals that one can do cold reading quite sincerely, not even knowing one is doing it.
Karla McLaren writes ‘I was never taught cold reading and I never intended to defraud anyone – I simply picked up the technique through cultural osmosis. ”
It is very interesting that someone has come over from the other side and reports that one can practice this technique, not even knowing what it is, and make the mistake of believing one has some sort of psychic talent.
Karla McLaren, a former New Age healer who has since repudiated this line of work and has gone on to do academic studies in sociology, wrote:
“I knew many psychics and alternative healers who seemed to be very good at what they did, and I directly experienced healings and psychic readings that I couldn’t logically refute.
In that period, it would have been wonderful to come upon skeptical and critical thinking techniques, but alas, critical thinking wasn’t taught in my high school. I didn’t even know the category existed! When I went to junior college, I took geometry and logic for my critical thinking courses and thus I missed out on the subject once again.
“In my education, I didn’t gain the skills I needed to help me understand what was occurring when New Age and metaphysical ideas and techniques *seemed to work.* My empirical experience “proved” the validity of things like psychic skills, auras, chakras, contact with the dead, astrology, and the like – and I had very little in my intellectual arsenal at that time to help me understand what was truly occurring.
McClaren tells us this:
“For instance, an understanding of cold reading would have helped me a great deal. I never knew what cold reading was, and until I saw professional magician and debunker Mark Edward use cold reading on an ABC News special last year, I didn’t understand that I had long used a form of cold reading in my own work! I was never taught cold reading and I never intended to defraud anyone – I simply picked up the technique through cultural osmosis. ”
Cagliostro made it hard for high ranking people to gain access to him, and once one did, that person would be warned that Cagliostro was moody and apt to go into rages if he felt insulted by someone’s doubts. This forced a visitor to be passive, to be afraid of making a wrong move…putting them at a disadvantage in relation to the man. Even perceptive and skeptical persons found themselves impressed by him.
Detailed descriptions of Cagliostro given by contemporary witnesses are available in Mossiker’s book ‘The Queen’s Necklace’ a 400 plus page tome that quotes at length from 18th century witnesses. If one has the patience to read this vast book, he or she will learn something about the social context of the times, and also the emotional climate–the material, even the legal briefs written by the attorneys, are influenced by the new cult of romantic sensibility which had begun to take hold in Europe, a cult of public displays of emotion, an interest in psychology and in affairs of the heart.
But Iain MaCalman, unlike Mossiker, could focus much more closely on Cagliostro, and supplies detailed descriptions of ritual theatrics designed by Cagliostro, and the book has pictures of a series of drawings for paintings Cagliostro commissioned to adorn his projected Egyptian Freemasonry lodge.