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Before Mind-Control There Was Wild Hypnosis and Crazed Nuts Looking for Power

It’s important to note that there is nothing new about attempts to exert complete mind control – and in relation to mind-manipulation, too. It’s time to take a look at the strange life and work of a very disturbing man named Webster Edgerly; a racist pig of the highest order. In other words, Edgerly was manipulative and scum. He was born in 1852, in Massachusetts, and had a near-lifelong obsession with creating the ultimate superman – all according to his designs, of course. After graduating from the Boston-based University School of Law, Edgerly decided to go down a very different path to that which he had followed at the university. He came to believe that the human brain possessed latent, supernatural powers that, if harnessed properly, would allow us to perform incredible feats – they were feats that he believed bordered on the supernatural, such as having massively extended lifespans, extra-sensory perception and even precognition. As a result of this mounting interest in the world of all things alternative, Edgerly established what he termed Ralstonism. In his very own words: “We believe that Ralstonism, since it is becoming universal, is as necessary as food, light or water. This movement is the grandest, noblest, and already the most far-reaching power that has originated in the present age. Ralstonism is the grandest movement that man is capable of establishing.”

While Edgerly’s words might seem overblown, the fact is that when Ralstonism was at its peak, it had close to one million followers – all buying into his controversial beliefs. This demonstrates just how powerful Edgerly was when it came to manipulating the human mind. So, how did it all begin? Let us take a look. Why did so many people gravitate to him? Why did their minds become altered? It was due to nothing less than early mind-control. It was in 1876 – the same year in which he graduated – that Edgerly created what he termed the Ralston Health Club; it was the same body which went on to publish his numerous books. It’s clear that from the very outset Edgerly was someone who had controversial, racist beliefs and concepts. For example, his organization was definitively hierarchical in nature. Those who followed his teachings were “graded,” in terms of who they were as individuals. Edgerly would carefully and closely monitor his followers: if they adhered to his teachings they would receive different “degrees” of advancement. The more dutiful they were, the greater the number of degrees given to them. And, when the relevant person had reached one hundred degrees (which, notably, could be achieved at a quicker pace by buying copies of Edgerly’s books!), they would be considered not just as an elite member of the group, but as an elite member of the Human Race too. But what did Ralstonism actually mean?  

(Nick Redfern) Mind-manipulation: it’s all about dangerous control.

According to Edgerly, the word “Ralston” was derived from the following words: Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation [sic], Oxygen and Nature. Notably, however, Edgerly’s 1900 book, The Book of General Membership of the Ralston Health Club, was penned under the name of Everett Ralston – which suggests that Ralstonism was actually named after Edgerly’s alter-ego, rather than out of a combination of those seven above-words. There is no doubt that as Edgerly’s group continued to grow, it became steadily ever more controversial. He declared that it was intention to create a “new order.” He was talking about the emergence of a new type of human – one that would be Caucasian-based and only Caucasian in nature – and that would be totally free of what he controversially called “impurities.” Yes, Edgerly was nothing but an outrageous racist with delusions of grandeur. He called for all “non-Caucasian” males should be castrated at birth. That didn’t stop his organization from growing from strength to strength, though.

Perhaps aware that while Ralstonism was growing at an extraordinary speed, he decided to keep his real identity further and further in the background, which is why he chose to write his next batch of books under yet another pseudonym; that if Edmund Shaftsbury. His “self-help” books written under the Shaftsbury name were filled with controversy: he encouraged what was termed “artistic deep breathing,” exercising the face by stretching the skin, maneuvering the jaw, and even taking up ventriloquism, for some very odd reason! He also ordered his younger followers to engage in what he called “probationary marriages” with elderly women and declared that he was going to create his own language, one which would have no less than thirty-three letters. It would be called the Adam-Man-Tongue. Edgerly may have attracted a huge following, and he may have known how to cynically exploit and manipulate his followers, but it’s clear too that he was as nutty as fruitcake. Never one to sit on his laurels, Edgerly soon created the Magentism Club of America, which was established with the intent of giving its members mental-power over other via what he called “Personal Magnetism.” In terms of how to achieve such power, Edgerly wrote:

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“The better way is to train the will at home and alone; always basing it upon some principle in the study of magnetism. With this in view, seclude yourself so as to be free from disturbing influences, and proceed as follows: sit at one side of your room, so as to get as great a distance as possible between you and the object. Place any small object on the table as far away as the size of the room permits. Draw in your mind a straight line between the core of your brain and the object. It is well understood that intense thinking about any matter will produce an affirmative or negative effect. Try this and see; let the matter be what it will, a wish, an object, or a fact. You will either master it or be mastered by it. Success in life is secured, often unconsciously, by concentration of attention.” In another of his works, he stated: “One person may be hypnotized by another without the latter’s aid or knowledge. This is the Eleventh Principle. The brain of man is curiously divided into parts that think for reasoning purposes, into parts that think for mere muscular purposes, and parts that think for mere muscular purposes, and parts that think for functional action. These are somewhat dependent upon each other beyond the conscious brain. When the conscious brain is put to sleep by a process that keeps the body awake, the subconscious faculty, which is the so-called inner brain, at once asserts itself and stands ready to obey any suggestions that may be given it.”

Further data on how Edgerly believed the mind could be manipulated and controlled can be found in the pages of his wacky book Operations of the Other Mind. Within its pages, he stated: “Against the growing errors, vagaries, morbid theories, occult teachings, and wild beliefs that are darkening present-day life, depressing the mind, weakening the nerves, preying on the health and creating gloomy forebodings, this work comes as an inspiring guide and a practical instructor. It has been our wish and purpose to make this course of training one of the most important and valuable ever published. So, into the book we have put the great study, ‘How to empty the mind. Recall the countless times you have been mentally upset, worried, bothered with troubles. Think of what it would have meant – and will now mean – to know how to cast all such mental torture out of your mind. The relief and peace of mind this one study alone can bring you can be worth thousands of dollars.”

(Nick Redfern) Edgerly was an ego-driven maniac. His followers didn’t know that, though.

As Ralstonism grew, so did Edgerly’s need for even greater control over his followers. For example, there were Edgerly’s odd beliefs concerning food. For example, he believed that water melons were poisonous to white people and forbade his disciples from eating them. He also told his followers never to eat cranberries, crab-meat, pickles and cookies – and never to drink tea. A rigid, and somewhat sparse, diet was the only kind that Edgerly recommended – or, rather, ordered – “my people” to follow. It was only following such a diet that a perfect body could be achieved and the power to read and control minds could be achieved. Then, there was the matter of exercise. For Edgerly, this aspect of his teachings was equally bizarre. Exercise, for those who gravitated to the world of Ralstonism, revolved around moving slowly in graceful curves and arcs. People were ordered to walk on the balls of their feet. If one did not adhere to these orders, one would suffer a “leakage of vital force.” Edgerly, however, never made it exactly clear what this so-called “vital force” really was.

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In 1900, Edgerly embarked on yet another odd scheme: he did a deal with the Purina Food Company (which then became known as the Ralston Purina Company) and for a while produced the whole-wheat cereal that Edgerly insisted his followers ate every single day. There was, however, far more to Edgerly than odd fads concerning food and exercise, and his disturbing need to control just about everyone who crossed his path, as we shall now see. In the mid-1890s, and as a result of the earnings from those people who bought into every word and order he barked, Edgerly bought large areas of land along the northern slope of Hopewell Valley, New Jersey. Ten years after the purchases were complete, Edgerly oversaw the construction of Ralston Heights – it was a huge and imposing mansion-like abode that was built to Edgerly’s own specifications (of course), and which was designed to act as a community for the “Ralstonites,” as his devoted throng became known. Aside from having the house constructed, however, the rest of Edgerly’s plans very much fell through.

For example, he had a grand scheme – many might say a nutty scheme – to alter the surrounding landscape. He had a distinct aversion to walking in straight lines, which is admittedly very weird. So, Edgerly planned to change the surrounding hills, so that all of the pathways would be winding, rather than straight. Walking in a straight line, Edgerly believed, would result in a massive loss of that mysterious “vital force,” which was never exactly defined. Demonstrating the ridiculous nature of his ego, Edgerly planned on constructing what was going to be called the Temple of Ralston. Huge farms would be built, allowing Edgerly to grow only the kinds of food that he would allow his followers to eat. None of this ever came to fruition, however. Edgerly died on November 5, 1926 – his dreams unfulfilled. In less than a year, the property and the land was sold off by Edgerly’s wife, Edna. The remains of the estate can still  be seen in the Hopewell Valley.

(Central Intelligence Agency) This MK-Ultra document was released under the provisions of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. That places the document in the public domain.

Many might say that Webster Edgerly was just a definitive eccentric – which he was; of that there is absolutely no doubt at all. But, the important thing to remember is that this man, who had a downright bizarre belief system for just about everything, attracted almost a million followers. They ate what he told them to eat. They drank what he told them to drink. He told them what was good in terms of exercise – and he even ordered them to avoid walking in straight lines. That Edgerly’s people adhered to these demands in near-slave like fashion demonstrates that controlling people – and on a massive scale – is not at all an impossible thing to achieve. In fact, it’s a chilling easy process. Webster Edgerly is long gone. And long forgotten too. But, we can learn a lot from the man, his motivations, and his jackbooted demands, when it comes to the issue of control in the modern era.dgerly was one of those dangerous – but also hypnotic and charismatic – people who can be very controlling. We’ll see some more of these scummy, sinister types later.

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Now, onto what was going on in the 1940s. “I can hypnotize a man, without his knowledge or consent, into committing treason against the United States,” asserted Dr George Estabrooks, PH.D, and chairman of the Department of Psychology at Colgate University, way back in 1942, and before a select group of personnel attached to the United States’ War Department. Estabrooks added: “Two hundred trained foreign operators, working in the United States, could develop a uniquely dangerous army of hypnotically controlled Sixth Columnists.” Estabrooks’ piece-de-resistance, however, was to capitalize on an ingenious plan that had been postulated as far back as the First World War. As he explained: “During World War One, a leading psychologist made a startling proposal to the navy. He offered to take a submarine steered by a captured U-boat captain, placed under his hypnotic control, through enemy mine fields to attack the German fleet. Washington nixed the stratagem as too risky. First, because there was no disguised method by which the captain’s mind could be outflanked. Second, because today’s technique of day-by-day breaking down of ethical conflicts brainwashing was still unknown. The indirect approach to hypnotism would, I believe, change the navy’s answer today. Personally, I am convinced that hypnosis is a bristling, dangerous armament which makes it doubly imperative to avoid the war of tomorrow.”

A perfect example of the way in which the will of a person could be completely controlled and manipulated was amply and graphically spelled out in an article that Dr. George Estabrooks wrote in April 1971 for the now–defunct publication Science Digest. Titled Hypnosis Comes of Age, it stated the following: “Communication in war is always a headache. Codes can be broken. A professional spy may or may not stay bought. Your own man may have unquestionable loyalty, but his judgment is always open to question. The ‘hypnotic courier,’ on the other hand, provides a unique solution. I was involved in preparing many subjects for this work during World War II. One successful case involved an Army Service Corps Captain whom we’ll call George Smith. “Captain Smith had undergone months of training. He was an excellent subject but did not realize it. I had removed from him, by post-hypnotic suggestion, all recollection of ever having been hypnotized. First I had the Service Corps call the captain to Washington and tell him they needed a report of the mechanical equipment of Division X headquartered in Tokyo. Smith was ordered to leave by jet next morning, pick up the report and return at once. Consciously, that was all he knew, and it was the story he gave to his wife and friends.

“Then I put him under deep hypnosis, and gave him – orally – a vital message to be delivered directly on his arrival in Japan to a certain colonel – let’s say his name was Brown – of military intelligence. “Outside of myself, Colonel Brown was the only person who could hypnotize Captain Smith. This is ‘locking.’ “I performed it by saying to the hypnotized Captain: ‘Until further orders from me, only Colonel Brown and I can hypnotize you. We will use a signal phrase the moon is clear. Whenever you hear this phrase from Brown or myself you will pass instantly into deep hypnosis.’ “When Captain Smith re-awakened, he had no conscious memory or what happened in trance. All that he was aware of was that he must head for Tokyo to pick up a division report. “On arrival there, Smith reported to Brown, who hypnotized him with the signal phrase. Under hypnosis, Smith delivered my message and received one to bring back. Awakened, he was given the division report and returned home by jet. There I hypnotized him once more with the signal phrase, and he spieled off Brown’s answer that had been dutifully tucked away in his unconscious mind.” It was only a few years before MK-Ultra was ready.

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