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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? This is something they don’t teach in hypnosis classes.

Instructors, take note!

Figuring one can only drink so much lemonade, and at the same time being in the process of writing a cookbook, I created a recipe [following this article] specifically for those yellow globes one ends up lugging home after giving a hypno-demo. But what, 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 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 are “McGill’s Hypnotherapy Encyclopedia, the classic text in its field, and “The Search for Cosmic Consciousness,” co-written with Shelley Stockwell.

“I was first of all interested in conjuring—in doing tricks of magic,” McGill says. He related 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 read books on the subject, and gradually started to incorporate a little bit of hypnosis into his magic shows. Ormond incorporated 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.

Now, 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.

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, however, 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,” said 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. Which brings us back to that bag of leftover lemons—what to do?

Following is a special recipe from my 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!


1_ c. stoneground whole wheat flour

1 c. unbleached white flour* (*You may use all whole-wheat flour, but the results will be heavier & won’t rise so high.)

1 T. aluminum-free baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1 egg (from free-range chickens!), slightly beaten

1 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

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 _ 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.

When you eat these, (on the second day—remember?), be sure to think magical thoughts about Ormond McGill!

Reprinted with permission from The Link, Aug. 1999 edition. Mary Elizabeth Raines, CH, CI, is a writer and hypnotherapist from Hollywood, California. She may be contacted at

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