“Do Tables Tilt, Turn And Float?”

Table Levitation Phenomena, 1850-2006

Lecture Overview

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.

The Speaker

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.

The Presentation

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.

The Conclusions

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.

Past Presentation Info

SAT., 1 June 2013 9:35 to 10:35 am
International Foundation for Survival Research (IFSR) meeting, at Laguna Woods, California:
Clubhouse 7, Laguna Woods Village, Laguna Woods, CA 92637
Cost: $3.00.
For more information, see IFSR website

SAT., 1 June 2013 7:45 to 10:00 pm
“Parapsychology in Hollywood” Conference, at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, 2100 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Cost: $75.00 for this one-time, whole-day event (10 am to 10 pm)
The event will be held in the historic Lasky-De Mille Barn (dates from 1913); the museum is alternately known as the Hollywood Studio Museum.
For more information, see event notice

THURS., 6 June 2013 4:40-5:05 pm
Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) meeting at Dearborn, Michigan (12 miles from DTW):
Dearborn Inn, 20301 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124
Cost: Full or day registration at the 32nd annual SSE meeting.
For more information, see SSE website

THURS., 20 June 2013 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Lighthouse Spiritual Centre, 5722 – 176A Street, Surrey (Cloverdale), BC
Cost: $7.00 (members); $8.00 (non-members)
For more information, phone 1-604-539-0770

FRI., 5 April 2013 8:30 to 10:00 pm
Brooklyn, New York at:
The Observatory Room,543 Union Street, Brooklyn
Cost: $8.00
For more information, see event notice

THURS., 4 October 2012 7:30 to 9:00 pm
University of Manitoba Archives at:
Room 330 – Elizabeth Dafoe Library, Fort Garry Campus, Winnipeg
Cost: Free, though donations to the Hamilton Memorial Research Fund are welcomed.
Parking: Free after 4:30 pm except spaces marked 24 hour reserved.

SAT., 12 September 2009 4:00 to 5:30 pm
Swiss Spiritualist Mediums Weekend at:
Haus Herzberg, CH-5025 Asp ob Aarau, Switzerland
Cost: part of weekend workshop registration

THURS., 26 February 2009 7:00 to 10:00 pm
Victoria Questors Assocation meeting at:
Oaklands Community Centre, 2827 Belmont Avenue, Victoria, BC
Cost: $5 for non-members

FRI., 31 October 2008 2:00 to 3:30 pm
Halton Room, Best Western Hotel (previously Ramada Inn), 161 Chrisholm Drive, Milton, Ontario, L9T 4A6
Cost: $110 for two-day Spiritualist Church of Canada AGM: Celebrating 80 Years in Spiritualism (includes membership for non-members)

SAT., 21 June 2008 7:00 to 8:45 pm (download PDF poster with complete information)
Basler Psi-Verein, Neuweilerstr. 15, 4054 BASEL, SWITZERLAND
Phone: 41 (061) 383 97 20
Information: info@bpv.ch www.bpv.ch
Cost: 20 Swiss Francs (10 Swiss Francs for members)

THURS., 6 SEPTEMBER 2007 7:00 to 8:30 pm (download PDF poster with complete information)
Ottawa Spiritualist Temple, c/o Community of Christ Church, 888 Bryon Avenue, OTTAWA, ONTARIO
Phone: 1-613-820-8231 (S. Hill)
Cost: $15.00

THURS., 13 SEPTEMBER 2007 4:30 to 6:00 pm (download PDF poster with complete information)
Presentation as part of the International Spiritualist Federation Fraternal Week
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 70 State Street, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK
Phone: 1-585-546-3450 (hotel number to leave a message for Walter or ISF organizers on or after 8 September)
Cost: $50.00 (ISF Day Visitor Rate, unless a lesser rate is posted for a single lecture)

SUN., 16 SEPTEMBER 2007 1:00 to 2:30 pm (download PDF poster with complete information)
Presentation will follow the 11:00 am Church Service
First Spiritualist Church of Galt, 72 Grand Avenue North, CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO
Phone: 1-519-622-7177 (leave message)
Cost: $10.00 (suggested donation)

WED., 17 OCTOBER 2007 7:30 to 9:00 pm (download PDF poster with complete information)
International Spiritualist Alliance, 201 – 317 Columbia Street, NEW WESTMINSTER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Phone: 1-604-521-6336
Cost: $8.00 ($7.00 for members)