After establishing yourself as a person with some unusual intuitive skills, you say you'd like to put those skills to a real, measurable test. In order to do that, you need some sort of benchmark to compare them against. There are various items that could serve this purpose, from tarot cards to personality profiles. But, you explain, because you like to set the bar high, you've chosen the divinatory tool which, throughout the several-thousand-year history of esoteric practice, has generally been regarded as the most trusted source of metaphysical wisdom and insight into the human condition: a horoscope mini-magazine, direct from the supermarket checkout counter.
You give such a magazine to a volunteer, pointing out that it deals with four distinct areas of life: love, money, health, and leisure. You then turn your back and ask your volunteer to look up her horoscope -- either for the current month (if it's far along enough to get a good sense of how it's turning out), or for the previous month (if it's too soon to tell how this month is going yet). In either case, she silently reads her horoscope. When she's finished, you ask her to consider how accurate it seems in hindsight. She does, and arrives at a "percentage score" for the magazine's accuracy, which you write down. No matter what it is, you say you think you can do better.
You then turn to face the volunteer again, and proceed to give her a disarmingly accurate and insightful description of her personality and her current situation in life. This is no mere "cold" reading, as it contains a wealth of specific information that you had no way of knowing, including personal details about her character, actions, and circumstances, delivered confidently and unequivocally. You then wrap things up by revealing her zodiac sign, with no pumping or guesswork. With that, not only have you done much better than the magazine, but you've given the volunteer an intimate, inexplicable experience that she'll never forget.
ASCENSION really is just that clean, direct and strong. It's a system that uses layers of methods to deliver, in a completely untraceable way, the most powerful and memorable information that we as mentalists can reveal: personal details about someone's life. Furthermore, it does so in real time, with no writing, no setup, no assistance, no pre-show, and no stooges (instant or otherwise). How you use that information is then up to your own imagination.
Q: What are the performing conditions?
A: Ascension is suitable for anything from an intimate one-on-one demonstration, to a stage show for a large audience. There are no "moves," and hence no angle problems to worry about. The main limiting factor is time; the effect takes at least five minutes, so it's not one to use when you need a quickie or when you're likely to be interrupted by the arrival of the appetizers.
Q: What's the difficulty level?
A: The mechanics of the effect are dead easy. However, as with most mentalism, you'll need some performing skills and the ability to think on your feet in order do it well.
Q: Is it 100% reliable?
A: The short answer is "yes," but I know that as soon as I say that, someone will find a way to make it fail and prove me wrong. So suffice it to say, it's as close to 100% reliable as any effect that involves interaction with another human can be.
Q: How does Ascension compare with other zodiac sign divination effects, like Sign Language and What's My Sign?
A: It's about as unlike them as a zodiac sign divination effect could be. First off, those effects are demonstrations of telepathy; you pick up on someone's thought, and that thought just happens to be the letters that spell out their zodiac sign. Ascension is a demonstration of intuitive reading; you get a sense of what someone is like, and divine their sign based on that. Furthermore, with Ascension, the sign revelation is merely the icing on the cake of the reading; with the others, it's the entire point of the effect.
Q: Can it be used in a private reading situation as well as in a performance setting?
A: I wondered about that myself. And since I don't do private readings, I shared it with some people who do, and asked what they thought. The response was split about 50/50; some said they could see themselves using it, while others thought it was too performance-oriented. So the best answer I can give is, if you can see yourself using a magazine to demonstrate the difference between generic horoscope advice and the kind of personalized readings you give (whatever variety they may be), then you may well find it useful; if not, then you won't.
Q: Does it rely on cold reading?
A: No. You can perform the effect exactly as described even if you've never heard of cold reading. However, due to the very nature of the effect, any cold reading abilities you do have can certainly be used to enhance it. Furthermore, if you're working on developing your cold reading skills, Ascension gives you an excellent way to practice with a very large "safety net" in place.
Q: Is it suitable for non-english-speaking audiences?
A: The magazine is in english and is an integral part of the effect, so unless you can come up with a really good reason for using a foreign language horoscope magazine, then probably not. You might be able to adapt the principle to another language and create your own magazine if you wanted to go to the trouble (which, trust me, is a lot), but I honestly don't know how well it would translate. Also, U.K. residents should note that the magazine has the price ".99 US, .39 CAN" on the cover (albeit in very small print). If there's sufficient interest, I could make up an alternate cover with a price in pounds sterling, if anyone would care to tell me how much horoscope mini-mags cost in the U.K.
Q: What kind of setup is required?
A: None, provided you have the magazine with you. As long as you do, you can perform the effect at a moment's notice.
Q: Is anything written down?
A: The participant never writes anything down. The performer openly writes down the participant's response about the horoscope's accuracy, but that's the only writing that happens.
Q: How much memory work is required?
A: You have to remember to bring the effect with you when you leave the house. (Unless, of course, you're performing in your own home, in which case you just have to remember where you put it.)
Q: Are there anagrams involved?
A: No. There's no pumping, guessing, or covering for wrong statements.
Q: Is the magazine examinable?
A: For all practical intents and purposes, yes. I wouldn't hand it to a skeptical, antagonistic spectator and dare him to see if he can find anything unusual about it, but it can easily withstand more scrutiny than it will ever incur during the course of the effect.
Q: Is some sort of peek of the magazine required?
A: No. Once you hand the magazine to the participant, you never need to see or touch it again. In fact, if you mailed the magazine to someone, you could perform the effect for them over the phone -- which is an excellent way to make a very strong impression on a potential client.
Now I'm getting another impression... There's someone out there with something on their mind... A question, one that I haven't answered yet... But it's not clear, I can't quite see what this question is. If this person is you, then please email me your question, and I'll do my best to answer it.
ASCENSION by Joshua Quinn inlcudes: * A clearly written, photo-illustrated, grammatically correct, professionally edited, typographically pleasing 5.5" x 8.5" staple-bound, 32-page manuscript, which comprehensively explains the method, handling, and various scripting and presentation options for the effect. * One complete set of professionally printed magazines. * A CD-ROM with graphics files for printing your own replacement magazines when the originals wear out.
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