Can we believe eyewitnesses… did this 17th century monk levitate? |312|

#22
I wonder why it is that levitation and flying feature fairly often as a miracle - what is special about levitation as opposed to becoming invisible, or turning into a tiger, or whatever?
thinking of Raymond Moody and his point about nonsensical... i.e. once we cross-over to this other reality none of our reason-based thinking makes much sense.
 
#23
thinking of Raymond Moody and his point about nonsensical... i.e. once we cross-over to this other reality none of our reason-based thinking makes much sense.
Seems the obvious answer is that some phenomena, like levitation (as opposed to turning invisible) has aspects that conform to some Law--just not one that we even have a remote glimpse of understanding. The state of consciousness of those experiencing it seem to be the place to go for clues. St. Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, St. Joseph, Padre Pio ...

Cheers,
Bill
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#26
Suppose for one second that some of this stuff is real. People are scared of real ψ, but they will pay good money to see an illusionist - so wouldn't some people pretend they were illusionists and make money in the process?

David
Possibly....but I suspect (and I assume you do as well) there is a way to pull off Chris Angel's trick without Psi.

The question IMO is how, and could this be done in the 17th century in a way that wouldn't have been detected those skeptical at the time?
 
#27
An interesting and potentially valuable observation from some reported levitations is that the clothing of the levitators remains in its pre-levitation orientation and is undisturbed during flight.

For example, Pam Heath summarizes the levitations of St. Joseph of Copertino like so:
St. Joseph's levitations generally followed a pattern. They began with a cry, sob, or shriek, which was followed by his taking off into the air. St. Joseph would not upset the objects crowded around him on the altar in a church. Furthermore, he neither extinguished the candles nor caught fire when flying amongst them. His robes were said to remain dry in the rain, and his clothing was not disturbed by his movement through the air.

(Pamela Rae Heath, Mind-Matter Interaction: A Review of Historical Reports, Theory and Research, p. 14)

In a similar vein, Michael Grosso quotes Joseph's biographer, Domenico Bernini, who stated:
His priestly robes or his daily tunics, always remained very composed, both as he flew from the air or as he fell to the ground as though dead, thrown by the force of the Spirit that moved him. It in fact appeared as if an invisible hand wrapped itself around him and shaped the clothes appropriately...every part of his dress was as it should have been (as if he were motionless), a thing that seemed miraculous, given the way his body thrashed during the ecstasies and raptures, as recorded in the processi.

(Michael Grosso, The Man Who Could Fly: St. Joseph of Copertino and the Mystery of Levitation, p. 77)

Early in the fifth century, St. Jerome described a demonic levitation witnessed by St. Paula in the Holy Land, writing:
She shuddered at the sight of so many marvelous happenings. For there she was met by the noise of demons roaring in various torments, and, before the tombs of the saints, she saw men howling like wolves, barking like dogs, roaring like lions, hissing like snakes, bellowing like bulls; some twisted their heads to touch the earth by arching their bodies backwards; women hung upside down in mid-air yet their skirts did not fall down over their heads.

(Dayna S. Kalleres, City of Demons: Violence, Ritual, and Christian Power in Late Antiquity, p. 228

The author adds:
One demoniac hangs upside down next to the tomb--but, just as in Jerome's account of what he says Paula experienced, his robe stays up, covering his genitals.

In a case of demonic levitation a bit closer to our own time, Simon Harvey-Wilson shares a case from 1591 in France:
A well-documented historical case is that of Françoise Fontaine from Louviers in France, who was exorcised in 1591. The official report of the case was found in the Bibliotheque Nationale of Paris (Leroy, 1928, p.13), because the levitation occurred in a courthouse "in the presence of Provost Morel, his clerk and other persons" (p.13).
...
Fontaine's levitations did not end there. In church, as the cure Pellet attempted to give her the Sacrament, she levitated and was pulled to the ground by several people who grabbed her dress. At the third attempt to give her Communion, and also when they tried to shave her head, she levitated "high into the air with her head downwards and her feet upwards, without her clothes being upset" (pp.15-16). Leroy (1928, p.13) quotes other examples of demoniacs levitating with their feet upwards, whose clothes did not hang down. As with the Bantu girl in Natal, one can ask why an apparently evil possessing entity would maintain a demoniac's modesty while upside-down.

(Doctoral thesis of Simon Harvey-Wilson, Human Levitation, 2005, p. 66)

Regarding the Bantu girl (referenced at the end of the above quotation), D. Scott Rogo writes:
Another well-documented case of demonic levitation was reported from Natal, Africa, in 1907. The victim was a Bantu native girl, Claire-Germaine Cèle, who had been brought up by nuns in an African mission. Her possession began when she was a teenager, shortly after her first communion. She would be thrown into convulsions, speak and understand languages she had never learned, and would display other psychic gifts.
...
The most remarkable feature of this possession, however, was Claire-Germaine's full levitations. These were witnessed by many visitors to and residents of the mission.
...
Germana [sic] floated often three, four and up to five feet high in the air, sometimes vertically, with her feet downward, and at other times horizontally, with her whole body floating above her head. She was in a rigid position. Even her clothing did not fall downward, as would have been normal; instead, her dresses remained tightly attached to her body and legs.

(D. Scott Rogo, Miracles: A Parascientific Inquiry into Wondrous Phenomena, p. 45)

The phenomenon was also reported by the late explorer and documentary filmmaker Douchan Gersi, while observing the levitations of Voodoo practitioners in Haiti :
During his explorations in Haiti, Douchan Gersi reported witnessing men and women levitate numerous times in Haiti. These events always seemed to occur when the individual was meditating, in trance, or in a state of "possession."
...
These levitations occurred both day and night, inside and outside buildings. The worshippers often initiated their trance states through dancing. Sometimes after rising vertically into the air, levitators were said to slowly turn upside down before hurtling into a tree and landing in the branches. The clothing of the individuals who turned over apparently did not hang downward as one would expect. It is interesting to remember that St. Joseph's clothes also did not show the normal effect of movement during his flights.

(Pamela Rae Heath, Mind-Matter Interaction: A Review of Historical Reports, Theory and Research, p. 16)

The same phenomenon was observed during a horizontal levitation of Eusapia Palladino:
The levitations of Eusapia Palladino were among the best observed cases. Cesare Lombroso, Dr. Ercole Chiaia, Dr. Julien Ochorowitz, Col. Rochas, Prof. Porro, Prof. Enrico Morselli, and Dr. de Albertis testified to the facts. Chiaia reported a case in which he:

"found the medium stretched out, her head and a small portion of her back supported on the top of the table, and the remainder of the body extended horizontally, straight as a bar, and without any support to the lower part, whilst her dress was adhering to her legs as if her clothing was fastened or stitched around her. One evening I saw the medium stretched out rigid in the most complete cataleptic state, holding herself in a horizontal position, with only her head resting on the edge of the table for five minutes with the gas lighted in the presence of Prof. de Cinties, Dr. Capuano, the well-known writer, and Mr. Frederic Verdinois and other persons."

(http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Levitation.aspx)

Finally, a variation of the phenomenon was repeatedly observed during seances with D. D. Home. Objects atop tilted tables remained in their non-tilt positions (unless requested not to):
At seances with Mr. Home, when the table tilted, the tilting was almost always accompanied by a very startling phenomenon. No matter how acute the angle, the various articles on the table, such as pens, pencils, paper, lamps, candlesticks, etc., would remain in their place as if glued to it.

This has been seen to occur again and again in the strongest light; and at the demand of persons present the force retaining the article in its place has been instantaneously relaxed, and the substance so released has slipped from the inclined surface of the table. Sometimes it would be requested that a particular article might thus slide down, while others on the table kept their places; and the invisible forces at work always complied with the request.

And:
Of a somewhat similar character is another movement, in some respects more curious, and certainly opening a stranger field for speculation. table rears itself up on one side, until the surface forms an inclined plane, at an angle of about 45°. In this attitude it stops. According to ordinary experience everything on the table must slide off, or topple over; but nothing stirs. The vase of flowers, the books, the little ornaments are as motionless as if they were fixed in their places. We agree to take away our hands, to throw up the ends of the cover, so as to leave the entire round pillar and claws exposed, and to remove our chairs to a little distance, that we may have a more complete command of a phenomenon which, in its marvelous development at least, is, I believe, new to us all.

Our withdrawal makes no difference whatever; and now we see distinctly on all sides the precise pose of the table, which looks like the Tower of Pisa, as if it must inevitably.

(Mme. Dunglas Home, D.D. Home: His Life and Mission, p. 29)

It seems to me that references to this secondary phenomenon in levitation case histories could serve to lend more credibility to those cases, since the effect is so counterintuitive to our imagination. The orientation phenomenon might also provide a clue to better understand levitation.

Doug
 
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#28
So do you know how this was done?

David
Paid stooges. If you follow much of his stuff, it becomes fairly clear that he is not afraid to use large groups of paid actors to sell his illusions.

Which is totally different from the illusion David Blaine uses in his "made for TV" levitations. Blaine's illusion is much more creative, in my opinion.

 
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#29
Possibly....but I suspect (and I assume you do as well) there is a way to pull off Chris Angel's trick without Psi.

The question IMO is how, and could this be done in the 17th century in a way that wouldn't have been detected those skeptical at the time?
Well we have an odd situation nowadays. A illusionist is expected to, in effect, cheat, and keep his methods secret, while someone claiming ψ is expected to endure endless investigations into his performance, and to be able to perform without fail.

Stage magicians are also allowed to judge the performance of those claiming genuine ψ, and yet nobody asks them to reveal what methods would achieve the same results.

If someone discovered that they could levitate, or perform any other ψ operation, at least some of them might decide to be an illusionist!

I simply can't see how someone can walk around on an airfield with a group of observers clustered all round him, and levitate by a trick. I am guessing nobody else here can offer a suggestion - unless of course, the whole video was faked - with fake observers.

David
 
#30
Paid stooges. If you follow much of his stuff, it becomes fairly clear that he is not afraid to use large groups of paid actors to sell his illusions.
Can you quote evidence for that, or do you deduce it because there is no other conventional explanation? That isn't meant as a criticism, I am just curious if this is how these things really are done - it seems a pretty lame trick if that is the case.

I might as well get an animation firm to make a video of me fighting off a hungry lion!

David
 
#33
It seems to me that references to this secondary phenomenon in levitation case histories could serve to lend more credibility to those cases, since the effect is so counterintuitive to our imagination. The orientation phenomenon might also provide a clue to better understand levitation.
excellent post. thx.
 
#34
Stage magicians are also allowed to judge the performance of those claiming genuine ψ, and yet nobody asks them to reveal what methods would achieve the same results.
great point. yes, the whole is silly when forced thru the lens of the uber-skeptic... a lot easier to understand as a paranormal phenomenon.
 
#35
Can you quote evidence for that, or do you deduce it because there is no other conventional explanation? That isn't meant as a criticism, I am just curious if this is how these things really are done - it seems a pretty lame trick if that is the case.

I might as well get an animation firm to make a video of me fighting off a hungry lion!

David
This is a difficult one for me, since I am an amateur magician and as such, I know how many of the famous illusions are achieved. While I don't want to reveal tricks, within the magic community there is a lot of talk about Angel's approach to using actors and camera tricks and editing. You can google it and read any number of forums....there are literally thousands of posts regarding it.

Below is a clip of a trick that obviously uses stooges, for example. I'm not going to go into the specifics of how he does the illusion, because I still have some respect for the craft, but his approach crosses the line in my opinion, not because he uses stooges (many magicians do), but because he adamantly insists that he never uses them (and does so over and over and over again). Yet clips like the one below show that he obviously does. Once you recognize that he does use stooges, so many of his illusions become rather pedestrian. And the fact that he would lie repeatedly about something so central to the art form is what causes him to catch so much grief in the magic community. As a funny side note, the illusions he does with a "crowd" always include the same tired-ass, bleeped out curse words from the "onlookers", I suppose to sell the fact that these are just normal people who are blown away by the incredible feat they've just witnessed.

In contrast to Angel's approach, the video I posted above with David Blaine levitating does not use stooges, per se, which makes it an entirely more creative endeavor to me. In the end, it's all "made for tv" magic. Perhaps we simply shouldn't allow our hopes to rise too high and just leave it at that, but seriously considering that Angel is actually levitating is the height of high hopes!

 
#36
I'm not sure we can say that... for example, I seem to remember accounts of invisibility in Autobiography of a Yogi.
Maybe so, if it is something that has been observed, but the answer to the question "why one phenomena versus [anyone that I can imagine or make up]" I suspect is the same, because some state of consciousness is such that it conforms to the necessary conditions to bring them about.

Cheers,
Bill
 
#38
This is a difficult one for me, since I am an amateur magician and as such, I know how many of the famous illusions are achieved.
Well let me put it this way, if someone could levitate for real, would there be a way to exhibit this levitation without there be a chance that someone else could do it by trickery? It is interesting that you are in magic yourself - and I am sure you could inform this discussion no end if only you were not sworn to secrecy!

Do you think St Joseph's levitations could have been achieved by trickery?
While I don't want to reveal tricks, within the magic community there is a lot of talk about Angel's approach to using actors and camera tricks and editing. You can google it and read any number of forums....there are literally thousands of posts regarding it.

Below is a clip of a trick that obviously uses stooges, for example. I'm not going to go into the specifics of how he does the illusion, because I still have some respect for the craft, but his approach crosses the line in my opinion, not because he uses stooges (many magicians do), but because he adamantly insists that he never uses them (and does so over and over and over again).
Even though in the clip, people are obviously being set up to behave as stooges, the trick itself seems to require video splicing - and that combined with stooges seems to make it worthless.
Yet clips like the one below show that he obviously does. Once you recognize that he does use stooges, so many of his illusions become rather pedestrian. And the fact that he would lie repeatedly about something so central to the art form is what causes him to catch so much grief in the magic community. As a funny side note, the illusions he does with a "crowd" always include the same tired-ass, bleeped out curse words from the "onlookers", I suppose to sell the fact that these are just normal people who are blown away by the incredible feat they've just witnessed.

In contrast to Angel's approach, the video I posted above with David Blaine levitating does not use stooges, per se, which makes it an entirely more creative endeavor to me. In the end, it's all "made for tv" magic. Perhaps we simply shouldn't allow our hopes to rise too high and just leave it at that, but seriously considering that Angel is actually levitating is the height of high hopes!

Personally, I'd rather we (I mean the human race!) could forego the fun of magic so that these potentially real phenomena could be explored more fully.

I have the vague impression that you are fairly sceptical about subjects discussed on Skeptiko - is that because of your experience in these matters?

David
 
#39
Is it possible that people who are seen to levitate are in fact in an OBE - where levitation is easy - but they manage to materialise enough to appear to be their normal selves?
Original thought. But wouldn't that mean that witnesses would see the physical person AND the apparition?

There is some latest news from Dutch Robbert Van Den Broeke that he was having a strange dream and then found himself at his friend Stan's house in Spain and was seen by Stan and his partner.

Stan took a photograph before he disappeared.

This is reported on Nancy Talbott's Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1619080148413793&id=100009354713899&pnref=story
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#40
An interesting and potentially valuable observation from some reported levitations is that the clothing of the levitators remains in its pre-levitation orientation and is undisturbed during flight.

It seems to me that references to this secondary phenomenon in levitation case histories could serve to lend more credibility to those cases, since the effect is so counterintuitive to our imagination. The orientation phenomenon might also provide a clue to better understand levitation.

Doug
Curious, did anyone else think of a video game where the program/cartoon might, in error, make the character go flip over or the programmers/animators didn't (perhaps due to lack of processing power) bother to add clothing movement effects when the character flew or levitated?
 
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