There is a secret history to this world. Buried beneath the onslaught of civilization’s crushing rise to power, ancient rituals, whispered myths and the half-forgotten legends of our nomadic ancestors have always peeked through the protecting veils known as entertainment.
Acep Hale is a street performing magician, musician, traveler, writer, actor, and rogue gentleman scholar. Driven by the 19th century belief in propaganda by deed he performs daily on street corners everywhere to prove that magic still lives around every bend, you don’t need a nine to five to stay alive, and hope springs eternal between the cracks of every sidewalk.
“Magician Acep Hale had a rapt audience for his hypnotic feats and esoteric sleight-of-hand; no doubt Derren Brown could learn a few tricks from him.”
- Gary Lachman, Fortean Times. Occulture Vultures - The Occult Humanities Conference: Contemporary Art and Scholarship on the Esoteric Traditions. 2013
After literally thousands of performances for audiences across the globe I was continually amazed by the continuous thread that united all of these people. A genuine love and need to tell me their stories of the wondrous that had touched their own lives. At the same time I was constantly dismayed by the contempt and derision heaped upon these stories and the people telling them by my contemporaries. Professional magicians seem to feel as if they and they alone hold the keys to the miraculous, as if their ability to perform a double lift allowed them a keener insight to the laws of physics than even that allowed to neuroscientists or particle physicists.
In my twenties and thirties a beautiful friend introduced me to Korean zen and he and I participated in a number of lengthy retreats. Through the practice of zazen I learned the three most important words any person can learn in their life, "I don't know." Now in my forties I find myself augmenting that phrase with one just as simple and at the same time just as powerful, "What if?"
In James C. Carpenter's book, "First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life," he writes extensively about the need for a fertile atmosphere to be created to give rise to psi phenomenon. I stumbled into this very awareness myself. I was performing theatrical, ungaffed seances in Seattle. Since I am skilled at sleight of hand I did not fulfill the role of the medium myself since everyone would naturally assume anything that did occur would be the result of that skill alone. Instead I performed a few pre show tests to see who among the sitters was most suggestible to hypnosis (sticky hands, balloons to wrists) and then used the woman who was most agreeable in the role of medium. Long story short (and if you want the long story, bring over a bottle or two of red wine, I'll read your cards and tell it to you), the results amazed everyone present, especially myself, even more so when several of the sitters from that seance took it upon themselves to research the history of the area where the seance had taken place and verified several key points of what she had related.
This event led to me creating what I refer to as my Experimental Seance Group, changed forever how I view and perform magic, and deepened my research into the overlap between performance, storytelling, ritual, parapsychology, and esotericism.
Of a great metaphysician / he looked at his own Soul with a Telescope
What seemed all irregular, he saw & shewed to be beautiful Constellations & he
added to the Consciousness hidden worlds within worlds.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Photographer: Cathleen Shattuck