taking our culture forward

Alexander Cannon tapes released

Thu, 18 Mar 2021

A collection of six hours of strange and wonderful audio recordings by the legendary 20th century psychiatrist, occultist and magician, Alexander Cannon have just been released online.

This historically important collection includes recordings of Cannon’s own thoughts and lectures, as well as his demonstrations of the Levitating Egyptian Mummy, The Great Coffin Mystery, Thoughts in the Air and “the great wonder of the Atomic Lights – the shape of things to come.”

These 17 different recordings of Cannon and others from the 1950s offer nearly six hours of some of the strangest Manx historical recordings you are likely to find. All are now been released online by Culture Vannin.

James Franklin of Culture Vannin says:

“These recordings are something special. Regardless of the excitement that historians will get from them, they will be fascinating for anyone. They embody the strange wonder and fascination of Cannon, opening a door into a very unusual world and having the power to create such wonder in us now, even some 70 years on.”

Cannon was legendary during his lifetime for his books full of fabulous and outlandish ideas, his unorthodox medical practices, and his influence over the rich and influential, not least King Edward VIII.

Born in 1896 Cannon travelled extensively in East and South Asia, gaining knowledge of alternative medical practices, occultism and yoga from his visits to India, China, Tibet and beyond. These experiences were later to appear in his books through anecdotes of crystal gazing, hypnotism, distant-touching, and even a claim to have levitated over a canyon.

After a period as a psychiatrist at a mental health hospital, brought to an end due to his strange beliefs, Cannon started a lucrative private medical practice in London, where he used highly unusual methods, including using psychic mediums in diagnosis. One of his clients was King Edward VIII, much to the horror of his close advisors.

In 1939 Cannon moved to the Isle of Man, where he raised suspicion by his unusual ways and was even monitored by MI5 as a suspected spy during the war. He became well-known for his strange personality and his highly important involvement in the Island’s magic community, not least through his “Enchanted Hall,” which he set up in at Laureston in Douglas, where he lived until his death in 1963.

The release of these recordings by Culture Vannin was possible only with the assistance of Mike Clague, Associate of the Inner Magic Circle and author of ‘The Magic Isle.’ His expert knowledge was key to identifying and understanding the recordings, which Clague sees as being of international interest.

Mike Clague says:

“Dr. Cannon was certainly a 'character', and a superb self-publicist. His importance to magic is largely due to his ability, even as an amateur magician, to attract internationally recognised magicians to lecture, and perform, at his Enchanted Hall. He loved technology, and used his nine tape recorders, which at the time were very expensive items, to record the shows. Cannan would have adored the iPhone! The recordings he made will be a valuable resource for current and future magic historians.”

The release of the audio recordings are accompanied by a new film by Janet Lees, ‘Wonders Never Cease,’ specifically commissioned to utilise the recordings in new creative ways.

The recordings are now freely available from the Culture Vannin website or on its BandCamp page.