Fox Sisters in the News Again

Margaret Fox Kane - The  Reason for Our Late NightsWe have not withheld our admiration for The Fox Sisters as both innovators and debunkers in the past.

True, both Katie and Maggie Fox recanted their recantation of Spiritualism before they died but for a brief, shining moment, they did the right thing.

On the way to the right path, they developed a whole new industry catering to those in sorrow and doubt.  Through their single-handed innovation of the modern seance, they struck gold figuratively and literally in the fearful psyche of the common man or woman.

The three sisters established the ground rules for all who would claim skills in Spiritualism; darkened room, physical contact with the medium, coded responses from beyond, and even physical manifestation of a passed loved-one’s body in part or in whole.

As we head into the Seance Season, it is proper to recall that the three girls from New York who began the practice also sought to end by complete exposure of their methods and motivations.  But it was too late,  common wisdom had already accepted the principles and ritual behind Spiritualism.  Even complete exposure of the methods used to dupe those who now held fast to their conviction that it was real, was insufficient.

Victor Hugo wrote, “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.”

Apparently that was true whether the idea is based in fact or fiction.


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Ectospasms: The Fox Sisters in Dance

Lola Lola Dance Theatre Image for EctospasmThe Lola Lola Dance Theatre will debut their multi-media dance theatre piece, Ectospasms, as part of the New York International Fringe Festival scheduled for August 14th – 23rd.

Ectospasms is a play on the term coined by spiritualists for a substance allegedly produced by the disembodied, Ectoplasm.

As repulsed as we are by ectoplasm, we are just as attracted to all things related in any way to The Fox Sisters.

In fact, you can read both Houdini’s account of The Fox Sisters and Maggie Fox confession in our Inside Magic Library for free.

Ironically, Maggie, Katie and Leah never produced ectoplasm in their seances.  Like another innovator, Vanilla Ice, they were all about the rapping.  (Although Katie did perform some full-body materialzations later in her career).


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A Magician Among the Spirits Available

Margaret Fox Kane - The  Reason for Our Late NightsThis has become a passion and a time-suck all in one.

We started by reading The Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox.  That lead to Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism , another take on the Fox Sisters.

We went back to read Houdini’s A Magician Among the Spirits and finally understood some of the passion we previously misinterpreted to be a strident, arrogant tone.

Read in context with the Spiritualism movement, Houdni’s A Magician Among the Spirits is the perfect, logical balance to the incredible claims of spiritualists.

All of this led to our reading Maggie Fox’s The Death Blow to Spiritualism.

While she later recanted her recantation, it is a sombering experience to hear the side of the woman (along with her younger sister, Katie, and older sister, Leah) started Spiritualism and all that it produced.

Now, we find ourselves with an irrational crush on Maggie Fox and an even greater sense of awe of Harry Houdini.

More about this investigation later but for now, check out the downloadable PDF of A Magician Among the Spirits, by Houdini.


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Are Margery and the Fox Sisters Still Living Large?


houdini-and-radio-model(Reprinted from April 12, 2003).


We know that the Jonathan Edward-esque medium has a tepid following.  We thought he was an aberration.

We just assumed there was not a wide-spread support for such bunk.

We were wrong and it is kind of scary how the revisionist pen can keep alive long ago solved mysteries.

The we read of a new literary exhibition: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Beyond Sherlock Holmes, opens this weekend at Chicago’s prestigious Newberry Library.

Sir Arthur’s magazines, artworks, photographs and artifacts have been collected for presentation through July 12.


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What’s New?

Maggie FoxWe are easily distracted from one obsession to another.

We don’t just flit from shiny thing to more shiny thing.  Nay, we focus on some topic — usually obscure and without any real-world value to anyone — and intensify our focus until there is no other stimuli within our view.

That is a good thing for our other profession, proof reading M&Ms, but can be disconcerting for just about every other aspect of our world.

We noticed yesterday that we had not updated Inside Magic with a new story or article since last week.  What were we doing?  How could this happen?

We fell hopelessly in love with a dead woman, Maggie Fox Kane of the famous or infamous Fox Sisters.

We’ll provide our complete review of two recent books on Maggie and her medium sisters, Katie and Leah, later today.

You can read Houdini’s take on the rise of Spiritualism in his fantastic 1924 book, A Magician Among the Spirits.

We uploaded a PDF version of the book complete with our OCR, search functions and hyperlinked cross-references.  Houdini’s book and Maggie Fox Kane’s Death Blow to Spiritualism, are both available at the Inside Magic Library.


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