Ormond McGill, our dear mentor and the friend of so many, passed away on October 19, 2005. The below article contains a brief interview with him. Please click here for a fond tribute to this gentle and wise man.

WHY HYPNOTISTS SUCK (When They Give Talks)


Mary Elizabeth Raines, CH, CI
Director, Laughing Cherub Unlimited and Academy for Professional Hypnosis Training
© Mary Elizabeth Raines, 1999
May not be reprinted in whole or in part without author's permission.


Not long ago I presented an afternoon of back-to-back hypnosis talks at a health fair. When the day was over, I found myself stuck with that dubious perk of my profession: a sack of leftover, slightly used lemons.

What are you supposed to do when life repeatedly hands you lemons? Figuring one can only drink so much lemonade, and at the same time being in the process of writing a cookbook, I created several recipes [following this article] specifically for those yellow globes one ends up lugging home after giving a hypno-demo.

But what, some of you may be wondering, do lemons have to do with hypnosis?!

It all began with Dr. Ormond McGill. McGill, known as The Dean of American Hypnotists, has been mesmerizing audiences worldwide for more than 75 years. His contributions to the field of hypnotism are legendary. He was the first to charm the public with hypnosis through the medium of television when it was in its infancy. Nor is McGill solely a master showman. He is on numerous professional boards, he is a clinical hypnotist, and he is also a prolific writer. Among his many books is The New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism.

"I was first of all interested in conjuring—in doing tricks of magic," McGill says.

He relates how his love affair with hypnosis was triggered early on when, as a university student in California, he saw a stage hypnotist named De Walzoa perform. Fascinated, McGill began reading books on the subject, and gradually started to incorporate a little bit of hypnosis into his magic shows. Nowadays, he incorporates a little big of magic into his hypnosis shows.

And how do the lemons fit in? Simply this: as part of his introduction to a show or talk, McGill slices open a big sour lemon, sucks on it, and then enjoys the audience's reaction.

slurpNow, just by reading and imagining the above scenario, have curious things begun to happen to the inside of your mouth? Are you puckering or salivating a little more? Watching someone suck on a lemon in person creates an even stronger physical response.

It is a convincing demonstration of the powerful effect a simple suggestion can have on a person's physiology!

McGill was the first ever to use the lemon demonstration, which has become a standard in the repertoire of many of his younger colleagues whenever they give talks or perform, including yours truly.

He claims that before he applied it to hypnosis, the idea had been floating around in a different context. Seems once upon a time there was a fellow who sucked nonchalantly on a lemon in front of an orchestra, resulting in the wind and brass players being unable to play a single note.

"I'd heard that story," says McGill, "so I tied it in to the power of suggestion. It demonstrates the power of suggestion—of how an idea in the mind can get a reaction in the body. I've always used that as a little opening. It makes a good illustration."

Agreed. Audiences giggle and moan with uncomfortable delight as the hypnotist sucks on the lemon, and the point is well made.

slurpWhich brings us back to that bag of leftover lemons-what to do? Following is a special recipe from my forthcoming cookbook, The Voluptuous Vegetarian: Who Says Health Food Can't Have Passion in It? It has one ingredient linked to Ormond McGill. Need a hint as to what it might be?


Makes one dozen muffins, or one loaf.
Named after Ormond McGill himself, these muffins are both wholesome and tasty. Also like McGill, they age well. They don't really achieve their best flavor until the second day, so make 'em ahead of time!


1¾ c. stoneground whole wheat flour
1 c. unbleached white flour*
1 T. aluminum-free baking powder
½ t. baking soda
1 egg (from free-range chickens!), slightly beaten
¼ c. + 1 T. canola oil
1/3 c. honey
grated rind of one large lemon
juice of one large lemon
1 c. milk
2/3 c. raisins (optional)

 *You may use all whole wheat flour, but the results will be heavier & won't rise so high.

  Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together the first four ingredients. Grate the lemon rind and sprinkle evenly into dry ingredients. Beat egg in a separate bowl. Mix in the oil. Pour honey into mixture and whisk in thoroughly; blend in lemon and milk. Dump the combined liquids into dry ingredients all at once, and mix only until all ingredients are evenly moistened. Stir in raisins. Spoon into greased muffin cups, filling ¾ full, or pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake muffins 15-25 minutes, or until tops spring back and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Bake loaf longer, about 40-50 minutes.

© Mary Elizabeth Raines


Serves 4 to 6
Honey is used instead of refined sugar to sweeten this delicate, heavenly dessert. It is cool and light, the perfect note on which to end a romantic meal on a summer night. Or an autumn night. Or a winter...well, you get the idea. But dieters beware!


6 eggs*, separated
¾ c. honey (local, raw clover honey in glass jars is preferred)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 c. water
Teeny pinch of salt (I mean teeny!)
Juice of one large lemon (about ½ cup)
Grated rind of same lemon
1 c. heavy cream*, whipped
Lemon slices for garnish (optional, but pretty)

*It is best to use well-scrubbed fertilized eggs from free-range hens and pure, organic heavy cream, without additivies & preservatives & other nasty things.

Beat the egg yolks until they are creamy. Beat in the honey. Then add the cornstarch-careful so it doesn't lump up!-and the gelatin. Combine with salt, lemon juice & water, and cook in the top of a double boiler over simmering water (or directly on the stove over very low heat). Stir continuously until mixture thickens and coats the spoon in a custard-y way. (This may take a long time. It's an excellent opportunity to go into trance and do some self-hypnosis. Just remember to keep stirring...) Remove from heat & stir in lemon rind. Cool until the mixture thickens, but do not let it set! (If this happens accidentally, which usually happens with me, whisk the goo a little. Your final result will be slightly lumpy, but still tasty, so don't despair.)

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. This is easiest when they are at room temperature. Gently fold into the lemon mixture with a rubber spatula. Fold in whipped cream. Contrary to the egg whites, this whips better when the cream & bowl & even mixing blades are chilled first.

Serving options: you can put the mousse into a souffle dish or a pretty glass bowl. You may want to spoon it into individual parfait or sherbert cups. You could even be completely decadent and fill a pie shell with it. Whatever your choice, be sure to chill the mousse until firm, which can take about four hours.

© Mary Elizabeth Raines

© Mary Elizabeth Raines, 1999
May not be reprinted in whole or in part without author's permission.
First published Aug. 1999 in "The Link," a magazine serving the hypnosis and healing communities.

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Feature Articles and Specialty Hypnosis Downloads by Mary Elizabeth Raines

  How to Stop Smoking with Hypnosis

  Why Hypnotists Suck

  Past-life Regression: Oh, Get a (Past) Life!

  Accessing Your Intuition with Self-hypnosis

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