levitation


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.
Related to levitation: magnetic levitation

levitation

(lĕvĭtā`shən), the raising of a human or other body in the air without mechanical aid. The idea is ancient; holy men, both pagan and Christian, were reputed to have had the power of becoming light at will and of moving through the air. It is a favorite manifestation in séances. It is also a popular conjuring trick, the illusion being produced by clever mechanical or lighting arrangements or other means.
Enlarge picture
Whether of a person or an object, levitation is the act of elevating something through paranormal means. It is often an art reportedly practiced at Spiritualist séances. Fortean Picture Library.

Levitation

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Levitation is the act of ascending into the air and floating in apparent defiance of gravity. While by no means common, it was an effect attributed to many Catholic saints. In most cases, the levitation reported was of a few inches to a few feet and lasted for only a short period of time. In stark contrast were the levitation experiences of Joseph of Cupertino (1603–1663), who on a number of occasions would rise while praying before the altar in his monastery or before the statue of the Virgin Mary. Cupertino was seen to rise above the heads of those witnessing it.

The levitation of objects became one of the phenomena reported to occur in Spiritualist séances, although there was always the explanation that the phenomenon was more closely related to stage magic than anything paranormal. Such explanations did not work as effectively for the occasional report of human levitation. The most spectacular incidents involved Daniel Dunglas Home (1833–1886), whose most memorable levitation occurred on December 13, 1868, when he was seen to rise and float out of one window on the third floor and around the wall to another, through which he reentered the house. Although frequently analyzed by skeptics, no satisfactory explanation of the event has been put forth. Moreover, it has not be duplicated in the years since.

Alexandra David-Neel visited the Tibetan masters who practiced an exercise known as lung-gom-pa, which was mastered during one of the famous three-years seclusions in which many Tibetans engage. Those who engage in this practice, it is noted, grow very light and seem to have no weight. Among the specific exercise that is done in lung-gom-pa involves sitting cross-legged on a cushion. After slowly filling the lungs with air and holding his or her breath, the practitioner jumps up using the crossed legs but not the hands, then returns to the cushion in the same position. That exercise is then repeated multiple times. Practiced Tibetans could jump quite high off the ground. After a long period of practice, the accomplished practitioner was said to be able to travel great distances using the technique, never touching the ground and seeming to float in the air. David-Neel said she observed some accomplished lumg-gom-pa practitioners who operated in a trance state with their attention focused on a distant object toward which they moved.

In the mid-1970s, something like the lumg-gom-pa technique was introduced into the West by Maharishi Mehesh Yogi, the founder of the transcendental meditation (TM) movement. He seemed to be offering those who had first mastered TM a program by which they could learn to levitate. This became one of the most controversial aspects of TM. While informally, the Sidhi program seemed to offer to teach levitation, its promotional material was much more circumspect: “During the first stage of Yogic Flying, thebody lifts up and moves forward in short hops. Subjectively one experiences exhilaration, lightness, and bliss.”

The achievement of levitation remains elusive, although the feats of stage magicians continually offer the hope that it is possible. Theaccounts of those who seem to have levitated in the past remain, but they remain in the past. No one in the present generation has demonstrated the power, a fact that calls into question even the best accounts of the past.

Sources:

Gardner, Martin. On the Wild Side: The Big Bang, ESP, the Beast 666, Levitation, Rainmaking, Trance-Channeling, Séances and Ghosts, and More. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1992.
Leroy, Oliver. Levitation. London: Oates & Washbourne, 1928.
Orme-Johnson, D.W., and P. Gelderloos. “Topographic EEG Brain Mapping during Yogic Flying.” International Journal of Neuroscience 38 (1988): 427–434.
Richards, Steve. Levitation: What It Is, How It Works, How to Do It. London: Aquarian Press, 1983.
Enlarge picture
Depiction of levitation, 1681. Courtesy Janet and Colin Bord/Fortean Picture Library.

Levitation

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Causing people or things to float above the ground, in opposition to the laws of gravity, by magical or mystical means. The Christian Saint Joseph Mary Desu of Cupertino (1603-1663) made a habit of levitating, making at least seventy flights, according to the Acta Sanctorum. The Abbess of Cordova, Spain, Magdalena Crucia, was reported to have been "sometimes lifted up above the ground three of four cubits high," according to the report of Henry More, in Antidote Against Atheism (1635). Others who reportedly levitated include St. Dunstan (918-988), St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), St. Andrew Fournet, Francis Suarez (1548-1617), and St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). A review by Professor O. Leroy (Levitation, 1928) lists 155 cases. All these levitations of Christians are hailed as miracles, while levitations of anyone else are labeled, by the Christians, "works of the Devil." Certainly the idea of witches flying through the air was the devil's handiwork, according to the persecutors of the Middle Ages. Yet there have been hundreds of cases of levitation, both of people and objects, over the centuries, many well documented.

One of the best known and best documented cases was that of the Scottish-born spiritualist medium Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886) who, in 1868, levitated out of one window seventy feet above the ground and in through a different window, in front of credible witnesses: Lord Adare, Captain Charles Wynne, and the honorable Master of Lindsay (later Earl of Crawford and Balcarres). Italian medium Amedee Zuccarini, of Bologne, was photographed levitating nearly two feet above the surface of a table top. Similarly, the British medium Colin Evans was photographed three feet off the ground at the Conway Hall in London during a public séance. In spiritualism, especially in its heyday, levitation of tables and other objects was not uncommon. Certainly, there were and are many cases of fraud, but there have been a sufficient number of well-observed, fully documented instances to prove that it happens.

There are many levitations recorded in Islamic records, also in Hinduism and Buddhism. Advanced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation have claimed to be able to levitate at will.

Enlarge picture
Joe Nuzum demonstrates his ability to levitate. Courtesy Fortean Picture Library.

Levitation

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Levitation is the raising into the air of physical objects such as tables, pianos, and even human beings, without visible means and contrary to the law of gravity. In Spiritualism, this is presumably accomplished through the agencies of the spirits. It happens during the séances of a physical medium. Nandor Fodor observes that levitation was well known in ancient times, being recorded in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. Many Christian saints are supposed to have levitated (e.g. Saints Dunstan, Dominic, Thomas Aquinas, Edmund, and Ignatius Loyola). In recent times it is a feat claimed by advanced practitioners of Transcendental Meditation, after special training under the supervision of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his headquarters in Switzerland. The British Spiritualist medium Colin Evans levitated before large audiences on several occasions in the 1930s and 1940s, and was photographed doing so.

The first Spiritualist medium to levitate was Henry C. Gordon, in February 1851. The Reverend Stainton Moses levitated, as did the famous physical medium Daniel Dunglas Home, traveling out of one window and in another, seventy feet above the ground and in front of witnesses. Mrs. Agnes Nichol Guppy was also supposed to have levitated. The levitating of séance room tables has been almost commonplace, with photographs often taken of such events (e.g. the sittings of Eusapia Paladino). Stainton Moses wrote, “As I was seated in the corner of the inner room my chair was drawn back into the corner and then raised off the floor about a foot, as I judged, and then allowed to drop to the floor whilst I was carried up in the corner.” Sir William Crookes said of the phenomenon, “The evidence in favour of it is stronger than the evidence in favour of almost any natural phenomenon the British Association could investigate.”

Levitating tables, trumpets, and other objects in séances is usually accomplished with the aid of ectoplasm, which exudes from the body of the medium. It is impaired by light, hence the fact that most levitations take place in the dark. Not all demand darkness however, including levitations of Daniel Dunglas Home and Colin Evans. Sir William Crookes described an occasion with Home:

On one occasion I witnessed a chair, with a lady sitting on it, rise several inches from the ground. On another occasion, to avoid the suspicion of this being in some way performed by herself, the lady knelt on the chair in such a manner that its four feet were visible to us. It then rose about three inches, remained suspended for about ten seconds and then slowly descended. At another time two children, on separate occasions, rose from the floor with their chairs, in full daylight under (to me) most satisfactory conditions; for I was kneeling and keeping close watch upon the feet of the chair, observing distinctly that no one touched them … There are at least a hundred instances of Mr. Home’s rising from the ground, in the presence of as many persons.

Harry Boddington said, “Levitation in various forms is a frequent precursor or concomitant of materialization…. When a solid sixteen-stone man is levitated, how are the forces of terrestrial gravitation overcome? Do spirit people make him lighter by extracting ponderous matter from his body, or do they fill him with a compound lighter than air which enables him silently, and without the least disturbance of the atmosphere, to float over one’s head?” However it is accomplished, it seems that it is done.

An interesting case of levitation was demonstrated and photographed in India in 1936. An Englishman, P. Y. Plunkett, described the scene,

“The time was about 12:30 pm and the sun directly above us so that shadows played no part in the performance … Standing quietly by was Subbayah Pullavah, the performer, with long hair, a drooping moustache and a wild look in his eye. He salaamed to us and stood chatting for a while. He had been practicing this particular branch of yoga for nearly twenty years (as had past generations of his family).”

About 150 people gathered to watch. The performer went into a small tent arrangement and water was poured on the ground all around it. Anyone wearing leather-soled shoes was asked to remove them. After a few minutes helpers moved forward and took down the tent, revealing the yogi lying on his side, in a trance, but suspended in the air about three feet above the ground. He had a cloth-covered stick which stood beside him and his hand rested lightly on it but, according to Plunkett, there was no special connection between the stick and the yogi. Plunkett and friends examined all around, and underneath, the suspended figure but found nothing to explain the levitation. The tent was re-erected around him and Plunkett peeped through a crack to watch what happened. He said,

After a minute he appeared to sway and then very slowly began to descend, still in a horizontal position. He took about five minutes to move from the top of the stick to the ground, a distance of about three feet … When Subbayah was back on the ground his assistants carried him over to where we were sitting and asked if we would try to bend his limbs. Even with assistance we were unable to do so.

The yogi was rubbed and splashed with cold water for five minutes or more before he came out of his trance. Plunkett’s photographs of this event appeared in the Illustrated London News for June 6, 1936.

Sources:

Boddington, Harry: The University of Spiritualism. London: Spiritualist Press, 1947
Buckland, Raymond: Buckland’s Book of Spirit Communications. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2004
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
Fodor, Nandor: Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. London: Arthurs Press, 1933
Illustrated London News. London: June 6, 1936
Spence, Lewis: An Encyclopedia of the Occult. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1920

levitation

[‚lev·ə′tā·shən]
(mining engineering)
In froth flotation, raising of particles in a froth to the surface of the pulp, to facilitate separation of selected minerals in the froth.
(physics)
The use of a force that does not involve physical contact to balance gravity, such as that associated with an electric or magnetic field, or electromagnetic or acoustic radiation.
References in periodicals archive ?
You can watch the tutorial and see how acoustic levitation works here:
Herein, a maximal distance (amplitude) from the first levitation position to the second levitation position, during two position levitation process, will be used as the performance parameter.
The suggestion is that if one were to accept one strange phenomenon as real, why not the next more strange, and the next, until we arrive at levitation itself?
The other group is to improve the control strategy of levitation system, including optimization of the parameters and minimization of the time-delay of feedback channels [17], virtual tuned mass damper algorithm [6], and the virtual energy harvester algorithm [18].
That led swiftly to other levitating projects, working with brands such as Nike and Urban Ears to build magnetic levitation installations: shoes, headphones and speakers.
Japan National Railways first began researching superconducting magnetic levitation back in 1962, two years prior to the opening of the Shinkansen bullet train service between Tokyo and Osaka.
The family who lived there, single mum Peggy and her four children, were terrified and their home became the centre of major press attention, especially after reporters from the Daily Mirror captured photographic evidence of an apparent levitation.
Much work has been done with considering the superconductor as a perfect diamagnetic material to determine the levitation force in SMB, the thrust force in magnetic gear and the electromagnetic torque in superconducting reluctance machine.
Scientists have known for years how to use sound waves to hoist particles in the air, a process known as acoustic levitation.
Glauco Souza of n3D authored a study that demonstrates how effective 3D cell culturing by magnetic levitation is in generating white adipose tissue organoids, or adiposphere.
The Bio-Assembler's fusion of magnetic levitation and nanoparticlc assembly technology allows it to produce accurate, 3D representations of in vivo tissues faster and easier than any other existing tools.
Diamagnetic levitation enabled us to maintain tight control over the experimental conditions of all the experimental subjects.