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To levitate or to be levitated?  That is the question.

Posted on 06 November 2017, 11:22

For those who accept the overwhelming evidence that levitations of humans and objects have taken place on numerous occasions, the question is whether the levitations are triggered by some unknown power of the mind, i.e., mind over matter, or whether spirit entities are lifting the person or object. 

Sir William Crookes, a renowned British scientist who observed a number of levitations with the medium D. D. Home and others, referred to the force giving rise to the levitations as “psychic force” and contended that it can “be traced back to the Soul or Mind of the man as its source.”  Crookes did not attempt to identify “soul” or “mind,” but he did say that he and others who had witnessed the psychic force recognized that it may be “sometimes seized and directed by some other Intelligence than the mind of the psychic.”  When he reported on witnessing Home, he did not say he saw Home levitate himself.  “On three separate occasions I have seen him raised completely from the floor of the room,” is the way he put it. (emphasis mine) 

Home, who recalled a feeling of “electrical fullness” about his feet, was usually lifted up perpendicularly with his arms rigid and drawn above his head, as if he were grasping the unseen power raising him from the floor. At times, he would reach the ceiling and then be moved into a reclining position.  Some of the levitations lasted four or five minutes.

 floating
An artist’s depiction of Home being levitated

Lord Adare, one of Home’s biographers, reported with his father, the Earl of Dunraven, on 78 sittings they had with Home between November 1867 and July 1869 (Experiences in Spiritualism with D. D. Home).  Before any phenomenon occurred, Home would go into trance and spirits would often speak through his vocal cords. In the 40th sitting, during December 1868, a spirit began speaking through Home, saying that he would “lift him” on to the table. “Accordingly, in about a minute, Home was lifted up on to the back of my chair,” Adare recorded.  “The spirit then told Adare to “take hold of Dan’s feet.” Adare complied, “and away he went up into the air so high that I was obliged to let go his feet; he was carried along the wall, brushing past the pictures, to the opposite side of the room.”  After Home was deposited on the floor, the spirit commented that the levitation was badly done and said that “We will lift Dan up again better presently….”  However, he was not raised again that night as some other spirit wanted to speak through Home and the spirit who had lifted him gave way to this more advanced spirit. 

Of course, the skeptic would say that Home was a trickster or that Adare made it all up or was hallucinating.  “Spirit is the last thing I will give in to,” said Sir David Brewster, another famous scientist who witnessed a table levitated in the presence of Home.  Michael Faraday, the esteemed physicist, claimed that all such reports about levitations by Home were by incompetent witnesses.  Physicist John Tyndall denounced Home and urged him to confess to his fraudulent actions.

Crookes observed Home under lighted conditions and in his own dwelling. Thus, there was no opportunity for Home to rig invisible hoisting wires as skeptics suggested.  Moreover, there were many other witnesses to Home’s mediumistic phenomena, including biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-originator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution. Wallace witnessed the levitation of a table and a floating hand playing an accordion. 

Crookes concluded his report by saying that more experimentation was necessary before it could be determined whether Home and others were somehow defying the laws of gravity by “lifting themselves” or whether they were “being lifted.”  Now, nearly a century and a half later, the question remains unanswered and the fundamentalists of science still reject the genuineness of levitation, seeing all past observers of levitations as having been duped, while clinging to the words of Brewster: “They are the observations of ill-trained faculties, the cravings of morbid and mystic temperaments that have been suckled on the husks and garbage of literature, etc.”

While many parapsychologists today accept the genuineness of levitation, the majority of them seem to subscribe to the idea that the levitation is triggered by the medium’s mind.  Even though that theory defies known natural law, it is a more “intelligent” and “scientific” one, since it does not require one to profess a belief in “spooks” and other religious folly that science has written off as mere superstition and fraud. Though opposing materialistic beliefs, the subconscious theory does not necessarily lend itself to spiritual ones or to the survival hypothesis. 

Nevertheless, it is not all that easy for a person with an open mind to dismiss the records of intelligent and objective men like Crookes, Wallace, Dunraven, Adare, and the dozens of others who witnessed levitations and other psychic phenomenon.  Consider the testimony of Dr. Cesare Lombroso, a world-renowned neuropathologist known for his studies in criminal behavior.  In his 1909 book, After-Death, What? Lombroso wrote that he had made it an indefatigable pursuit of a lifetime to defend the thesis that every force is a property of matter and the soul an emanation of the brain.  For years he laughed at the reports he had heard about levitations and spirits communicating.

But in the spirit of science, Lombroso sat with Eusapia Palladino on 17 occasions during 1892.  He was often joined by other scientists, including Professor Charles Richet, who would later win the Nobel Prize in medicine.  On September 28, Lombroso observed Palladino “being levitated” above the table.  “The medium, who was seated near one end of the table, was lifted up in her chair bodily, amid groans and lamentations on her part,” he recorded, “and placed (still seated) on the table, then returned to the same position as before.” (emphasis mine)

 table
Palladino table levitation

Lombroso was holding one of Eusapia’s hands, as Richet held the other as she was raised off the floor in her chair while in a state of trance.  Eusapia complained of hands grasping her under the arms. Then, her voice changed, and said, “Now I lift my medium up on the table.”  (emphasis mine).  Lombroso and Richet continued to hold her hands as Eusapia and the chair rose to the top of the table without hitting anything.  “After some talk in the trance state the medium (or her spirit control speaking through her) announced her descent, and was deposited on the floor with the same security and precision.”  The doctors followed the movements of her hands and body without at all assisting them. Moreover, during the descent “both gentlemen repeatedly felt a hand touch them on the head.” The voice speaking through Palladino’s vocal cords was said to be that of John King, her spirit guide who reportedly took control of her body during her trance states. 

At a number of the séances, Lombroso observed a mysterious hand move about and touch the sitters. “Nay, sometimes the fluidic hand has been visible in full light, and seen holding objects, picking the strings of the mandolin, beating the tambourine, lifting things from boxes, putting the metronome in movement with a key,” Lombroso added, noting that the hand was much larger than Eusapia’s and distant from her. (emphasis mine)   

By 1903, Lombroso had observed Eusapia many more times, but at a sitting with her in Genoa in 1903, he experienced something new.  Under red light, his deceased mother materialized, greeted him, and kissed him.  Lombroso wrote that his mother reappeared at least 20 times in subsequent sittings. “I am ashamed and grieved at having opposed with so much tenacity the possibility of psychic facts – the facts exist and I boast of being a slave to facts.” Lombroso concluded. “There can be no doubt that genuine psychical phenomena are produced by intelligences totally independent of the psychic and the parties present at the sittings.” (emphasis mine)

Dr. William J. Crawford, an Irish mechanical engineer, studied the mediumship of 16-year-old Kathleen Goligher over a 2 1/2-year period and claimed to have witnessed “hundreds” of levitations.  While initially subscribing to the subconscious theory, Crawford gradually changed his mind and concluded that spirits of the dead were responsible for the levitations and other phenomena. In effect, he saw no reason why the subliminal consciousness of so many mediums around the world would create false identities, such as John King and those of spirit “controls” of other mediums, all intent on masquerading as spirits of the dead while attempting to persuade people that there is life after death.  What was to be gained by a deceptive medium, or the trickster personality dwelling in her subconscious, by promoting the spirit world and life after death idea?  Why not make herself out to be wizard with telepathic and telekinetic powers independent of any spirit influence?  It simply didn’t make sense that mediums around the world who didn’t know each – at a time when communication was very slow and difficult – would all collaborate in such a deception.

Crawford may have been influenced by Wallace’s comments. “On the second-self theory, we have to suppose that this recondite but worser half of ourselves, while possessing some knowledge we have not, does not know that it is part of us, or, if it knows, is a persistent liar, for in most cases it adopts a distinct name, and persists in speaking of us, its better half, in the third person” Wallace had earlier opined. 

Lending itself to the subconscious theory is the research done by some Canadians during the 1970s in which they supposedly created a spirit to whom they gave the name Philip.  This imaginary ghost was able to levitate a table.  This and similar studies have strengthened the idea that it’s all in the mind.  But Allen Kardec, a pioneer in psychical research, addressed the imaginary spirit situation a hundred years earlier in his 1874 book, The Book of Mediums.  “Frivolous communications emanate from light, mocking, mischievous spirits, more roguish than wicked, and attach no importance to what they say,” he offered.  “These light spirits multiply around us and seize every occasion to mingle in the communication; truth is the least of their care; this is why they take a roguish pleasure in mystifying those who are weak, and who sometimes presume to believe their word.  Persons who take pleasure in such communications naturally give access to light and deceiving spirits.”

Kardec added: “Just the same if you invoke a myth, or an allegorical personage, it will answer; that is, it will be answered for, and the spirit who would present himself would take its character and appearance.  One day, a person took a fancy to invoke Tartufe, and Tartufe came immediately; still more, he talked of Orgon, of Elmire, of Damis, and of Valire, of whom he gave news; as to himself, he counterfeited the hypocrite with as much art as if Tartufe had been a real personage.  Afterward, he said he was the spirit of an actor who had played that character.

Who is to say that such a mischievous spirit was not playing along with the Canadian group?    There is also the possibility that the doubles, or spirit bodies, of the Canadians were doing the lifting, which gives a different twist to the subconscious theory.  That is, the “mind” is really spirit.  It is all very mystifying and it appears unlikely that science will ever have a satisfactory answer to the question of levitating vs. being levitated.


Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.


Next blog post:  November 20 


Comments

I just came across this from the Annals of Psychic Science, August 1907, a report from Dr. Joseph Venzano in a sitting with Eusapia Paladino on December 26, 1901.

Dr. Venzano was present with several others, including M. Vassallo.  They began receiving messages through table tilting from a spirit identifying himself as Naldino, Vassallo’s deceased son. Vassallo asked Naldino if he could find an object on his person which he had much cared for while living.  “Soon he felt that a pin was being taken from his cravat.” Vassallo later explained that the pin had belonged to his son and was given to him by the artist Ernesto Novelli, and thus was much treasured by him. 

“Then he (Vassallo) suddenly felt himself seized under the armpits by two hands, which lifted him up, obliged him to stand upright, and drew him about two paces outside the circle and behind his own chair; that is to say, more than a yard away from the medium….”

It was noted that Eusapia was seated all the time and her hands controlled by two of the sitters.

Michael Tymn, Fri 17 Nov, 04:52

Mr. Heagerty,
When one personally observes levitation of persons or objects as you and your wife have seen, there is nothing in this world that would convince you that it did not occur. I am envious of your experience.

Levitation is reported in the history of various cultures over centuries.  There are many examples of which Jon has provided several.  There are only two ways to consider levitation.  Either it does occur, albeit infrequently or everyone who reports observing objects or persons levitating is fabricating or misinterpreting what was seen or experienced—-EVERY ONE!  In my view there are just too many people, some of impeccable reputation reporting levitations for me to think that levitation does not occur or has not occurred. Now that doesn’t mean that I believe that every report of levitation documents a reality but I think that probably some of them are true. I personally have not seen anything levitating but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

As a young child, Superman was my hero because he could fly, that is, levitate.  I even thought that perhaps I could do that too and made a half-hearted attempt to fly off of the porch with unsuccessful results. I think that many young children try to do this.  Perhaps there is something imbedded in the human psyche that remembers a time in another reality when as a spirit consciousness we all were able to ‘fly’ from place to place by thought alone.  Maybe that is why there are many comic strip heroes who have the superhuman ability to fly.

Jesus was reported to have defied gravity when he walked on water.  I think he was also taken up into the air where he met with Moses and other patriarchs.  I suppose that there are thousands of Christians who believe this to be true. Old reports from decades or centuries ago may or may not be trustworthy but when someone, highly educated and skilled in observation of recent times, reports observing levitation, it is difficult to say that what was seen was an illusion, a hypnotic suggestion or hallucination.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 13 Nov, 20:55

Michael & Amos

I haven’t studied the Mirabelli case in detail so please forgive me if I’m writing something that’s already been mentioned.  If my memory serves me, Guy Playfair wrote some years ago that the levitating Mirabelli image was in fact him standing on a ladder and that someone else had doctored the photo at a later date.


Joey Nuzum.

Some years ago I spent the day with Alex Imich and he told me he’d met Joey Nuzum and witnessed him levitate a couple of inches off a sofa. However, He wasn’t 100% sure it was a genuine levitation. That’s the only contemporary example I can think of.

Brian Inglis wrote about levitation in his book, “Natural and Supernatural”.  Here are some examples from the book if you’re interested.

It was written to show that Apollonius had been a remarkable man who attracted strange happenings; not to make him out to have been the Messiah. And some episodes carry conviction, however improbable the event described; notably in the description of Brahman magic which Apollonius witnessed on a visit to India. After ritual purification he went with the Brahmans to a temple where ‘with staves uplifted they struck the earth, all together, which made it heave and swell like the waves of the sea; by this, they were elevated to the height of almost two cubits above it’. But he was careful to make the point that although the Brahmans had the power to levitate, it was not displayed ‘for the purpose of exciting admiration’; of this, he insisted, the Brahmans disapproved. Centuries later, Western observers were to send back similar accounts of the ability of Brahmans to levitate, and of their disapproval of boasting about it.

St. Teresa of Avila

In the sixteenth century, however, with St. Teresa of Avila, it took on a new complexion. Her levitations had been reported by a number of eye-witnesses. Sister Anne of the Incarnation had been standing near where Teresa was praying, in daylight, when Teresa was raised about half a yard from the ground without her feet touching it. At this I was terrified and she, for her part, was trembling all over. So I moved over to where she was and I put my hands under her feet, over which I remained weeping for something like half an hour while the ecstasy lasted. Then suddenly she sank down and rested on her feet and turning her head round to me, she asked me who I was, and whether I had been there all the while.

And another.

From the Far East, too, travellers and missionaries frequently reported spiritist practices. The Russian traveller and savant Tsherepanoff described in 1856 how a Tibetan lama traced missing property: after meditation, he placed his hands on a bench, which levitated and floated ahead of him at eye level, to guide him; when it took him to a certain hut, the owner committed suicide, and the goods were found inside. The French missionary Evariste Hue, travelling through China and Tartary in the 1840s, encountered a lama who could fill a vase full of water by prayer (though he admitted that he could not do so when anybody not of his faith was present); and learned that the spirits often replied to questions by rappings, or playing notes on a tambourine.


Middle East and Far East

Apart from the records of the achievements of the leading mediums in Europe and America there were also, in this period, many reports making it clear that séance phenomena and the techniques associated with them were to be found in other parts of the world, where they had long pre-dated the new Western version of Spiritualism; in the Moslem countries, in India and in China. The earliest work to draw attention to the parallels was Colonel Charles Churchill’s Mount Lebanon, based on ten years’ experience of the country, published in 1853. He had come greatly to admire the Sheik Bechir, whom he regarded as the best informed of the Druses, and who was an accomplished medium. He would place a jug between two people sitting opposite each other, and after some readings from the Koran, the jug would begin to move around without being touched. More surprising manifestations sometimes followed; an egg boiling in a saucepan had sprung suddenly out of the water and been carried a considerable distance. Bechir’s explanation was that, like Aladdin, he was able to summon Djinns to his assistance. There could be no doubt, Churchill felt, that he sincerely believed in these unseen creatures, resembling disembodied humans, who were ‘at the bidding of those who choose to devote themselves earnestly to such intercourse’; a belief universal in the Lebanon, even among the Christians there (who also regarded the psalms as having been written for a divinatory purpose: if they were properly understood, he was told, they could ‘place the whole world of spirits entirely at men’s disposal and invest them, through their medium, with miraculous powers’). And Churchill, though he would not commit himself to a belief in Djinns, was in no doubt that some unseen influences must be at work. He could have produced instances of an even more extraordinary and unaccountable kind, he claimed; but ‘as the ears of Europeans could only be shocked by assertions and statements which they would not fail of holding to be utterly fabulous and ridiculous’, he had preferred not to.

The mystery continues …

Jon, Mon 13 Nov, 17:18

My wife and I have personally seen, under our own conditions with a physical medium, a table lift off of the floor by itself, no hands touching it, and stay levitated in free space for at least two minutes, and then come down slowly back to the floor. Shortly after, it literally followed me by itself, with purpose, across the room. I can assure you, our subconscious minds had nothing to do with it.
We positively witnessed this, and there is no theory on earth that can change the fact. Levitation exists, rare, but true.

N. Riley Heagerty, Mon 13 Nov, 17:02

I would just like to make another comment about the photograph of Mirabelli levitating.  I happened to find a much clearer copy of that photograph on the internet.  The clearer photograph does show a wallpaper design that includes a straight line wallpaper border under/beneath the feet of the levitated Mirabelli.  It also shows the inscription written by Mirabelli on the photograph reported to have been given to Theodore Besterman and dated August 1934 and found in the SPR archives.
The ‘Psi Encyclopedia’ article about Mirabelli includes a copy of the photograph that does not have the inscription to Besterman nor does it include the straight line border on the wallpaper behind Mirabelli. The wallpaper border might have been cropped out but it is not likely that the inscription was cropped out as it is written over a large part of the transom and door on the right side of the picture.  Since ‘Psi Encyclopedia’ is a project of the SPR it seems to me that the photograph as found in the SPR archives and inscribed by Mirabelli should have been the one included with the ‘Psi Encyclopedia’ article about Mirabelli. And a clean scan of the photograph should be done.
 
Something is not right about these photographs.  They don’t quite mesh up when overlapped in Photoshop. The BBC cropped shot of legs is so much clearer that the several photographs I have been able to find.  And of course, the BBC photo with the ‘ladder’ added is a fabrication. That is why I think it would be important for the SPR to find the original photo in its files and scan a clean copy to be included in their ‘Psi Encyclopedia’ article about Mirabelli.  That would help to settle this issue once and for all.
(What does bother me about the photographs is the position of Mirabelli’s feet.  One would think that if he really were levitated that his feet would be shown in a ‘foot drop” position, rather than the straight on position which suspiciously does look to me like he was standing on something.) - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 13 Nov, 02:41

Jon,

I can’t think of any examples, old or new, in which the spirit communicator explained how it was done.  The examples given above are more or less inferred from the statements by the levitated person.  But, my point was that because we don’t hear about them doesn’t shed any light on the issue of levitating vs being levitated. 

The only fairly recent levitations I can recall being reported were by Dr. Berthold Schwarz, a psychiatrist who was a personal friend, with the medium Joe Nuzum.  That was perhaps 20 years ago.  However, I don’t recall Bert saying anything about whether he was levitating or being levitated. 

Since psychical research devolved into parapsychology, researchers no longer concern themselves with such physical phenomena.  It is all too unscientific for them. Primarily, the actions of the spirit controls cannot be distinguished from the actions of the mediums and therefore it beyond scientific observation.

Michael Tymn, Sun 12 Nov, 22:06

Amos & Michael,

What I mean is, people experience nde’s, synchronicities, premonitions, clairvoyance, etc., on a regular basis and communicators claiming to be deceased entities sometimes explain how those things happen. But I can’t remember reading anything where a communicator said they were responsible for levitating people.  Can you think of any examples?

Jon, Sun 12 Nov, 21:36

“.  .  .  but if spirits are capable of levitating people, why aren’t we all being swept off our feet on a daily basis.”
Jon, couldn’t we ask that same question about any and all paranormal phenomena?  Why don’t we see apparitions moving around us on a daily basis?  Why can’t everyone do automatic writing?  Why don’t we hear direct voices from spirits every day? Why aren’t apports dropping from the ceiling all day long? And on and on!
 
That is what is so frustrating about paranormal events. They are not predictable and they are not experienced by everyone.  I personally don’t need to experience one every day but it would be nice to experience one once in a while.  There are a lot of natural and paranormal phenomena that science doesn’t have the “why” for yet.  I guess that is why some of us continue to seek for an answer. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 12 Nov, 03:26

Michael,

I am under the impression that the state of ecstasy is the same as a trance state, or is at least one form of trance.  However, I am more mystified by your discounting spirits.  As I see it, only a hard-core materialistic scientist would not even consider that alternative.  In your book about St. Joseph, you seem to otherwise recognize a spirit world.

Michael Tymn, Sat 11 Nov, 19:53

Jon,

I don’t know why the same question wouldn’t apply to people able to levitate themselves, i.e., if people can levitate themselves, why don’t we see it today?  I discussed this in my blog of May 22, 2017.

Michael Tymn, Sat 11 Nov, 19:46

I have no idea how someone or something levitates but during physical séances things appear to levitate and often it’s claimed that ectoplasm or some other energy emanating from the medium and the sitters is the cause.

If spirits are able to levitate people, or anything for that matter, then when why is it such a rare event? We hear about items being moved in poltergeist cases and people occasionally sensing they are being touched or moved but if spirits are capable of levitating people, why aren’t we all being swept off our feet on a daily basis?

Jon, Sat 11 Nov, 12:07

This is a useful review of levitation and mediumship.  However, I see no reason to believe that Joseph of Copertino’s levitations were caused by spirits.  Whenever Joseph was observed to levitate he was also observed to be in a state of ecstasy.  The levitations as reported are a complete mystery to science and to bring in spirits just compounds the mystery.  Joseph’s levitations were involuntary and he was unable to prevent them by prayer, as Teresa of Avila did.  I don’t disbelieve in the role of spirits; I just don’t see any reason to bring them into the discussion of the cases I’ve studied.

Mike

Michael Grosso, Fri 10 Nov, 20:34

I am really enjoying this intelligent discussion, thank you. I am a trance medium sitting for development. In one sit on 24th October 2017, the guide, through me in trance taught me the basics of levitation. Nothing moved or levitated. And I finished the sit, came out of trance and looked my sitter in the eye and said “I’m entirely skeptical that I can levitate anything … I will eat my words if it happens. Prove me wrong”. I transcribed the entire sit which I videod in daylight and in one part the guide said: “And so we create a field around table, we include table in … your auric field now. So people ask, well is this spirit, is this human, is it the mind, what is it? Well so far, we have incorporated human in trance creating a biofield stimulated by thought to a table. We have everything. Not as simple to separate out the cause.” That’s all I’ve got. I sit for development for levitation about five times a week. Thus far, nothing. Not even a wobble or knock.

Jess F, Thu 9 Nov, 16:05

Mark,
Of course, I would prefer (now impossible)  to hear directly from Lord Adair’s lips and Lord Lindsay’s lips rather than put much faith in the accuracy of second-hand, third-hand, fourth-hand, fifth- hand etc. re-telling of the story from others who were not there at the time that D. D Home levitated out of one window and into another window.  I agree with Michael that when estimating long distances there is really not much difference between 70, 80 or 85 feet.  And, the “4-inch ledge” beneath the windows has been included in other reports as a “ledge for flower pots”.  And one might easily say it was dark outside when in fact there was at times, moonlight.  Most of the articles I have seen about this levitation of Home state that Adair, Lindsay and Home were on the third floor. 

Prof Stephen Braude wrote a ‘Psi Encyclopedia’ article that included a comment about the levitation of Home that,  ” This [levitation] is perhaps the least well documented of Home’s major phenomena, occurring (according to Home himself) only once in daylight.”
In spite of what Prof. Braude wrote that Home remembered, (Home was at times in a trance) there are multiple off-hand reports of Home levitating during various séances, for example, “Mr. Home also stretched up his hands above his head, and rose in the air 3 ft. from the floor. Mrs. Parkes was sitting next to him, and she looked at his feet and then he descended.”  Others report of sitters holding on to Home’s hands and feet and being lifted from the floor along with Home.

Granted, levitation is a spectacular event, however perhaps levitation is the least of Home’s mind-boggling displays of the paranormal.  I think that handling large red-hot flaming coals out of the fireplace without getting burned seems to me to be more spectacular and difficult to believe, not to mention a piano or a floating accordion that played tunes by itself.
Prof. Braude has written an excellent article about eyewitness testimony which can be seen on ‘Psy Encyclopedia’. I recommend it for an expanded view of what Michael has previously said in his response.
  https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/eyewitness-testimony-analysis

It might be a good idea to see other sources of information about D.D. Home in addition to the book by science fiction writer John Sladek published in 1974, eighty-nine years after Home’s death.  It appears that Sladek’s book was written as humorous entertainment similar to John Grant’s more recent little book “Spooky Science”. The authors of these books try to debunk all paranormal phenomena in a superficial and often inaccurate way with the goal to provoke laughter from their readers. Rarely do these kinds of books by poorly informed writers provide complete and accurate information.
I recommend the ‘Psi Encyclopedia’ web site for more accurate and relatively unbiased information about paranormal phenomena. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 8 Nov, 15:24

Mark,

Thank you for the comment.  I am not familiar with the Sladek book and so do not know his references.  However, from 40-plus years of insurance claims management I can tell you that there is wide variance in estimates of distance, time, speed, etc.  One witness might have the car going 45 mph in a 25 mph zone, another witness might have the same car going 55 mph and still a third witness might put it at 65 mph.  But they all agree that the driver was exceeding the speed limit and hit the pedestrian.  In one example, Sladek had the distance as 85 feet by Lindsay, 80 feet by Home and 70 feet by Adare.  I’m surprised that the estimates were within such a small range. Did Sladek really expect them all to come up with the exact distance? 

What is “dark” to one person might be bright moonlight conditions to another person.  There are various degrees of darkness.

So, to answer your question, no, I don’t see such variances as contradicting the genuineness of the levitation, especially when there were so many reports and witnesses of other levitations of Home. 

Elene, thanks for sharing that experience.

Amos, I fully agree with you on Mirabelli.

Michael Tymn, Tue 7 Nov, 22:35

Hi Mike,
I have always considered levitation a fascinating subject, this article below may interest you and readers, as not only does it provide a possible science background as to how levitation may occur, but involves sound waves – which is very reminiscent of folklore as to how Aztec stones were raised by “Priests” chanting and controlling moving of massive stones to create structures that cause wonder by even scientists today. Also, legends as to how ancient Egyptian pyramids were built. You don’t mention these accounts in your blog, but it does nevertheless help describe what a wide history there is of accounts of levitation – which perhaps provides more credence to it. Also, I particularly like the sound argument in the linked article below - as such an explanation complies with quantum physics. This is because quantum physics is very much associated with vibrations of energy, intermingling of such waveforms, resonance (and of course subatomic particles) – all largely associated primarily (almost by definition) with non - physical reality. Surprising though, that no one seems to have drawn attention to this to date (apart from myself), yet it is rather obvious. See:
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140106-levitation-ultrasonic-video-science/

Bruce Scott-Hill, Tue 7 Nov, 22:11

It’s so easy to deny levitation can occur.  It’s more difficult to accept that spirits can control energy and use their abilities to control the energies of humans.  Joe Nuzum has exceptional psychic kinesis control and sometimes he can lift his own body (a small distance).

Paul Hauser, Tue 7 Nov, 16:58

Mike,
I greatly appreciate all the research and information you constantly share with us on your blog. This was very interesting.
As you know, I am a medium (I see and hear spirits) and have experienced (and felt) quite a bit of phenomena over 40 years.
Examples: certain smells associated with specific deceased individuals; knocks; steps and stomping loud noises on the floor; I have been physically touched; I feel the distinct feelings of spirits (sad, angry, calm, goodness, etc.) and the feeling of actually being pushed.
I feel what I can only describe as an “energy” of various intensity by spirits (even around some people) and at times energy so strong as to be slightly painful (particularly in my right arm, I first started writing spirit communications using pen and paper initially.
Under spirit influence I feel energy coming from my hands going outward (having been asked to provide spiritual healing to particular individuals).
I have felt an arm put around me that I felt with my hand as solid and thought was my husband but after about a minute it disappeared, and when I looked behind me I realized no one was there. Later, at a séance a few weeks later a spirit communicated (through a medium who had no knowledge of the incident) that identified itself as the one who had come to me and said it was “he.” 
I have not experienced or seen a levitation.
In my humble opinion, in all the phenomena above there was INTELLIGENCE, INTENT and FREEWILL evident. Much were spontaneous, some in direct contradiction of what I would have wanted or what I would have expected.
I have no doubt that it is spirit. I believe levitation can be effectuated by them.
I also would like to comment that…when a murder or a robbery occurs…and there are many witnesses, isn’t it true that when each witness relays their account of what they saw and experienced…many, many times these accounts are very different from each other? Yet, the fact stands that an actual murder/robbery did occur.
Therefore, I believe that many of those levitations occurred and by spirit influence. 
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Yvonne Limoges

Yvonne Limoges, Tue 7 Nov, 16:30

Michael,

The famous levitation of Home unfortunately had contradictory witness accounts.

“The incident took place at 5 Buckingham Gate, Kensington (Adare); at Ashley Place, Westminster (Adare); at Victoria Street, Westminster (Lindsay). There was a ledge 4 inches wide below the windows (Adare); a ledge 1½ inches wide (Lindsay); no foothold at all (Lindsay); balconies 7 feet apart (Adare); no balconies at all (Lindsay). The windows were 85 feet from the street (Lindsay); 70 feet (Lindsay); 80 feet (Home); on the third floor (Adare); on the first floor (Adare). It was dark (Adare); there was a bright moonlight (Lindsay). Home was asleep in one room and the witnesses went into the next (Adare); Home left the witnesses in one room and went himself into the next (Adare).”

Source: John Sladek. The New Apocrypha: A Guide to Strange Sciences and Occult Beliefs.

As Adare’s comments are contradicted by another sitter Lord Lindsay then surely this invalidates the alleged levitation as being genuine? What do you think?

Mark, Tue 7 Nov, 09:44

Discussions of levitation always bring to mind Carlos Mirabelli the Brazilian medium nonpareil who reportedly could levitate himself as well as tables and chairs. There is a well known photograph of Mirabelli rising up toward the ceiling of what appears to be a Victorian-style room. There are some people (skeptics) who declare that the photograph has been retouched to remove a ‘ladder’ on which Mirabelli was supposedly standing.

I have considered the Mirabelli photograph as well as two other supposed close-ups of the photograph available on the internet purporting to show the bottom one-fourth of someone’s legs standing on a stool or perhaps the top of a ladder.  These two photos have a watermark on them of BBC-Prime a British television entertainment channel. One of them has obviously been fabricated to show a stool or ladder beneath someone’s feet (There is no Mirabelli photo showing this ladder.) and the other shows the ladder or stool erased out and sloppily replaced with the background wallpaper design.

In 1975 Guy Lyon Playfair published the photo of the levitating Mirabelli and wrote that he thought that the photograph might have been faked.  Conveniently, American researcher Dr. Gordon Stein, a known atheist and skeptic found an original print (of unstated size) of Mirabelli’s levitation in 1990 in the SPR archives in the Cambridge University Library, which he reported “to show clearly” that the image had been “chemically retouched.” Prof. Stephen Braude thought that “It is unclear whether the original negative had been retouched, or whether a print was manipulated and then re-photographed (It might be helpful if the SPR would publish a clean copy of the original print they have as the available ones on the internet are not clear. And it is possible that the Stein/BBC photo’s might have also been faked !
I have a difficult time believing Mirabelli was found to be a fraud, only based on Stein’s ‘discovered’ evidence.  The available Mirabelli photo is full-figured while the available internet photo from the BBC shows only the bottom of someone’s pant legs and shoes. They could be anyone’s legs.  The retouched photo appears to show a different perspective relative to the room as there appears to be a juncture between the wall and the floor or some other thing in the BBC photo while in the full figured photo there is no wall juncture behind Mirabelli.  The angle is wrong.  It is as if the original photo was taken shooting up and the other was taken shooting down.  I think it would have been difficult to retouch the photo to replace the wallpaper design behind the ladder at the time it was taken sometime prior to 1975 using available darkroom techniques.  However it would be relatively easy to manipulate the photo using digital processing programs (Photoshop) available in the late 1990s.

I suspect that much of Mirabelli’s phenomena has been discredited based upon this photograph and the BBC enlargement of the bottom of pant legs and the undoubtedly fabricated photo adding the top of a ladder or stool, thereby leading those who believe everything they see or hear on television to think that there really is an authentic period photograph of Mirabelli standing on the top of a ladder.  If there is one I would hope that someone wound publish it.

It is unfortunate that one professional atheist and skeptic has been able to discredit someone who may have been one of the most accomplished materialization and levitation mediums known. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 6 Nov, 23:29


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