The Flying Cow: Exploring the Psychic World of Brazil

By Guy Lyon Playfair

From the publisher’s website: When The Flying Cow was first published in 1975, it revealed a world of psychic wonders in Brazil hitherto barely explored by outsiders. Author Guy Lyon Playfair had spent two years as a member of the Brazilian Institute for Psychobiophysical Research (IBPP), the first group of its kind to investigate and document the wide range of inexplicable phenomena – from poltergeists and psychic surgeons to trance artists and children who recall previous lives.

He spent several days and nights in a poltergeist-haunted house, managing to record several inexplicable happenings on tape. He watched as a young man untrained in art dashed off a series of portraits in the styles of numerous deceased masters, some in a matter of seconds. He witnessed some of the country’s unorthodox healers at work, and saw them open bodies with their bare hands, eventually finding out for himself how it feels to be on the receiving end of this most bizarre form of alternative surgery.

He also looked into some of the best known cases from the past, collecting new eye-witness evidence for the mysterious abilities of such legendary figures as Arigó, the ‘surgeon of the rusty knife’, colourful and controversial mediums such as Carlos Mirabelli, Peixotinho and Otilia Diogo. He even obtained an account of the rarest of all psychic phenomena – materialisation – from a chief of police.

The Flying Cow was followed by its sequel The Indefinite Boundary in 1976. Material from the latter has been included in this edition, making it the most comprehensive survey available of the paranormal world of Brazil.

The author gave up a secure and lucrative career as freelance journalist and translator to explore that world, and in this book, fully revised and updated, he describes what he found there. Much of it is as surprising today as it was when it was first published.

GUY LYON PLAYFAIR was born in India and educated in England, obtaining a degree in modern languages from Cambridge University. He then spent many years in Brazil as a freelance journalist for The Economist, Time, and the Associated Press, also working for four years in the press section of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The first of his twelve books, The Flying Cow, in which he described his experiences investigating the psychic side of Brazil, was translated into six languages and became an international best seller. His most recent book is Telepathy – the Twin Connection. He now lives in London and is a council member of the Society for Psychical Research.


The Flying Cow. White Crow Books, September 2011. ISBN-13: 978-1907661945

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