•discuss the role of spirit controls in physical phenomena and table-lifting as a means of communication
•show the drawing of the main spirit guide Grey Cloud by British psychic artist Patrick Gamble
•describe the best evidence of psychokinesis observed in the Canadian group
•explain conditions favourable to the production of table phenomena, as well as those conditions that inhibit it; and
•discuss the significance of the observed phenomena and outline some possible next steps in the study of it.
As part of the Parapsychology Foundation’s Perspectives Lecture Series, historian and archivist Walter Meyer zu Erpen gave two presentations about table-tilting phenomena, on 1 June 2006 at the Eileen J. Garrett Research Library, Greenport, Long Island, and on 6 June at the New York Academy of Sciences, New York City. The illustrated lecture drew extensively upon Meyer zu Erpen’s personal experiences of the phenomenon as a member of a Canadian Spiritualist home circle.
From 1998-2010 Walter Meyer zu Erpen participated in a Canadian Spiritualist study group that observed strong psychokinetic table movements, including lifting, rocking, and pivoting of a square, 21-pound table.
Meyer zu Erpen outlined the history of table levitation phenomena from 1850 onwards. His talk was illustrated with still photography and video, drawing on his historical knowledge along with his personal experience of more than 130 sessions in a home circle sitting to elicit table phenomena.
He focussed on: the experiments of psychical researchers with physical mediums Eusapia Palladino and Jack Webber, among others; table phenomena in sitter groups including but not limited to those conducted by W. J. Crawford, Dr. T. Glen Hamilton, and Kenneth J. Batcheldor; and modern phenomena such as the levitation of a 65-pound table from the hands of the Thurmond Group in upstate New York in 1975.
Throughout the presentation, the presenter drew on his personal experience to:
- discuss the role of spirit controls in physical phenomena and table-tilting as a means of communication;
- describe the best evidence of psychokinesis observed in the Canadian group;
- explain conditions favorable to the production of table phenomena, as well as those conditions that inhibit it; and
- discuss the significance of the observed phenomena and outline some possible next steps in the study of it.
His conclusions include the following:
- "spirits" do not directly move tables; it is psychic energy or force directed through human hands into the table surface which causes movement, although the source of the energy is not necessarily the sitters themselves, nor is the directing of the force necessarily derived from the sitters;
- from an analysis of "yes / no" answers provided by a rocking table to questions posed by sitters, the most impressive evidence of spirit survival is found when correct information is beyond the knowledge of the recipient(s) and when details can be confirmed externally later; and
- psychokinesis (theory of mind over matter) provides a possible explanation of table phenomena if expanded to include a group mind or consciousness, as well as a discarnate mind, possibly influencing the movement.
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