In the first half of the show, historian of stage magic Jim Steinmeyer talked about Howard Thurston, who back in the early decades of the 1900s, produced ambitious magic spectacles. Like Houdini, he was a popular vaudeville performer, but he eventually toured with his own magic show, incorporating tricks he learned in Europe and India.
Thurston was a fantastic showman and created elaborate illusions such as a spirit cabinet that was rigged to float above the audience, the levitation of a princess, and the disappearance of a horse. He was one of the first magicians to present the illusion of sawing a woman in half, Steinmeyer detailed. While his contemporary and rival, Houdini, is better remembered today (he had a publicist after he died), during his era, Thurston was known as 'The Greatest Magician in the World.' Steinmeyer also discussed other celebrated magicians of the past, such as Harry Blackstone.
In the latter half of the show, expert in psychic powers and mentalism, Clint Marsh, discussed the various ways people reach into the unknown including crystal gazing, as well as his involvement as the editor of Swami Panchadasi's Clairvoyance and Occult Powers, a new edition of a lost classic of mental development. The tome, which first came out in 1916, introduced ideas that were later popularized in books like The Power of Positive Thinking and The Secret, he noted.
Interestingly, Marsh revealed that Swami Panchadasi was actually a pseudonym used by the prolific author and occultist William Walker Atkinson, who wrote books under the name of Swami Bhakta Vishita, as well. Marsh also talked about his own studies, documented in The Mentalist's Handbook, which includes techniques in using psychometry (holding an object of unknown history and making insights about its past), and astral travel to the afterlife.
Clint Marsh sent us a couple illustrations (by Jeff Hoke) that are featured in his Mentalist's Handbook. B & W image-- "The Spirit World: Our souls live on in the spirit world after death. Mentalism allows us to visit this world." Color image-- "Mentalism: All things are visible and united in the aether."