Ford, Arthur - How I Broke Houdini's Code 03
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
How I Broke Houdini's Code (originally titled "A Round with the Magicians".)
Communication from Houdini's Mother
I had no more contact with the magicians, except that I occasionally attended a show, until the evening of February 8, 1928, when a group of friends which included Francis Fast were having a sitting with me. During the trance Fletcher [Ford's spirit guide] announced that a woman he had not seen before was very eager to say a word. "She tells me that she is the mother of Harry Weiss, known as Houdini." Fletcher appeared very much interested in this person, and began to quote her. Fast took down her message.
"For many years," said Houdini's mother, "my son waited for one word which I was to send back. He always said that if he could get it he would believe. Conditions have now developed in the family which make it necessary for me to get my code word through before he can give his wife the code he arranged with her. If the family acts upon my code word he will be free and able to speak for himself. Mine is the word 'FORGIVE!' Capitalize that and put it in quotation marks. His wife knew the word and no one else in all the world knew it. Ask her if the word which I tried to get back all these years is not 'FORGIVE!' I tried innumerable times to say it to him. Now that he is here with me I am able to get it through. Tonight I give it to you, and Beatrice Houdini will declare it to be true."
Houdini's wife, Beatrice, Confirms Ford's Message
When I wakened and the group told me about this extra message which had been slipped in, I was not much interested. Houdini's supposed exposition of mediums had always annoyed me; I thought of him as a wonderful magician with an otherwise bigoted mind and a colossal conceit, and I did not care to have anything to do with him. However, the men at the sitting wanted to give Mrs. Houdini her message. I particularly valued the judgment of Francis Fast, and agreed. Therefore on the following day a copy of the message was taken to Mrs. Houdini. She was completely amazed, and as newspaper files attest, made a public statement over her signature that this was "the sole communication received among thousands up to this time that contained the one secret key-word known only to Houdini, his mother, and myself."
To me she wrote:
67 Payson Avenue
New York City
My dear Mr. Ford,
Today I received a special delivery letter signed by members of the First Spiritualist Church, who testify to a purported message from Houdini's mother, received through you. Strange that the word "forgive" is the word Houdini awaited in vain all his life. It was indeed the message for which he always secretly hoped, and if it had been given him while he was still alive, it would I know, have changed the entire course of his life - but it came too late. Aside from this there are one, or two trivial inaccuracies - Houdini's mother called him Ehrich - there was nothing in the message which could be contradicted. I might also say that this is the first message which I have received among thousands which has an appearance of truth.
That one word "forgive" was not the whole of the mother's message to her daughter-in-law but the rest was of an intimate family nature which concerned Mrs. Houdini and her husband's relatives.
In that first séance the last thing Fletcher had reported about Houdini's mother was simply, "She is going now, and she says that since this message has come through it will open the channel for the other." The other to which she referred was a pact Houdini had made with his wife. He had sworn to get a message through to her if such a thing as survival should prove real. The message was to be based upon a ten-word code which they had used in one of their early shows and which no one but himself and his wife had ever known. The press had given considerable coverage to their agreement. In the months following his death interested persons in various parts of the world were constantly purporting to have received the message from Houdini. And just as regularly Mrs. Houdini disclaimed the messages. It was a poor month when there was no newspaper mention of Houdini and his code.