Saturday, 31 October 2009

Halloween and Houdini

Believe it or not, one of the best moments of the annual Skeptic calendar is a séance held on Halloween night.

houdinistamp Why? Because it was Halloween 1926 when Erik Weiss, better known to the world as Harry Houdini, died of a ruptured appendix. And every year since, we have tried to contact his spirit.

Not that Houdini believed in this sort of thing, of course. He spent much of the 1920’s debunking the mediums and spiritualists who were rampant at the time.

And that’s the whole point of the séance.

Before Houdini died he gave a secret message to his wife Bess which his spirit, if it were able, would repeat back to her after his death.

For ten years after Houdini died, Bess held a séance every Halloween to contact Harry and attempt to recover the message. But he never showed up.

In 1936 Bess declared the challenge fruitless and concluded that contacting spirits of the dead is impossible.

And right there, Houdini had managed to continue his debunking activities from beyond the grave.

Seventy years on the tradition continues.

He still hasn’t made an appearance, but every Halloween the Houdini museum in Scranton Pennsylvania conducts its annual séance.

This year the JREF is getting in on the act too, with a séance hosted by the great Randi himself.

If Houdini is going to pop back for a chat with anyone, it’d surely be Randi. So maybe this is the year. Fingers crossed.


Crystal Van Wieren said...

Haha, will Randi give him the million $s if he shows? ;)

Matt said...

Ooh, good point. I guess technically it'd be Randi that called him up, so maybe Randi would win the million.
That'd be a lark!