The Psychedelic Phantasmagoria Shows of the 18th century!

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Séances took place in the middle of the night, when fatigue and drugs might contribute to the effect” (Camilletti, 2017). (Left) Various 18th century versions of the Magic Lantern. Such techniques were taken to new heights in the 18th century. Friar Bacon was experimenting with mirrors and other methods of optical illusion in the 13th century. Interestingly in the 19th century the techniques of the Phantasmagoria went mainstream as a stage show, and on occasion some sort of drug still seems to have been used. Techniques in involving magic lanterns and the camera obscura depicted in Physiologia Kircheriana Experimentalis (1680) Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae (1671).

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CANNABIS CULTURE – Although little known, in the 18th century certain magicians would utilize drugs in combination with smoke and mirror illusions to convince audiences they had witnessed talking and moving ghosts and apparitions!  While researching Liber 420: Cannabis Magickal Herbs and the Occult,  one of the things I was most fascinated to learn about was the drug infused phantasmagoria shows of the 18th century, hosted by the controversial masonic figure Johan Schröpfer and others.

1420 illustration Giovanni Fontanna “magic lantern”

Interest in necromancy, and magic in general, went slightly more mainstream in the 18th century. Magicians were often entrepreneurs, and it did not take long for some to realize, magic is the stuff of entertainment! Figures like Johann Georg Schröpfer (1730-1774), Karl von Eckartshausen (1752-1803), and others  began to utilize drugs, in combination with mirrors, smoke, sound effects, and other techniques, in 18th century staged...

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