Levitation can be defined as that phenomenon which a person lifts from earth and stays suspended in air. I never grow tired of the endless variations, drama and beauty of a good levitation. I could watch them for hours and still marvel at the purposefully straight faced composure of the standard magician as they float a basic anti-gravity concept as ancient as magic itself, but still performed sometimes three or four times a night at countless venues in Reno and Las Vegas. Meanwhile in other places not so glittery, people like Padre Pio are given credit for gliding above the ground on a regular basis by his adherents as he takes it all in stride as just another daily occurrence. One of his penitents once asked him: “Father Pio, How did you manage to walk above the heads of the people?” He jokingly responded: “I can assure you, my child, it’s just like walking on the floor… “
Better ask the Davids Copperfield and Blaine about that Padre. Without going into details, falling into the “magic trick giveaway” trap and spoiling the illusion so many have toiled so hard and for so long to delight audiences with, let’s just say that apart from religious ecstasy and the delusions that such a state may generate in Pio’s case, it’s not so easy to experience the vision of full levitation if you’re not observing the effect from the right angles and if you happen to be working in the street for a television spot, you better have a good editor on staff to carefully splice cuts and reactions to make it look seamless. As with all effective “psychic entertainment, ” it’s not about what you do, but rather what people think you can do. I once convinced a inebriated wedding party that I had indeed levitated out and over a 100 foot cliff above the Pacific Ocean. The press those people generated for me after what they thought they saw that day was considerable. Ask me sometime and I’ll be happy to levitate for you too. With exonerated souls like the Padre, this apparent everyday skill is just another occurrence to be accepted along with his other exceptional claims which include bilocation (another favourite subject we might investigate*), healings, apparitions, stigmata and on and on. Of course calling people like Pio or Sai Baba conjurors or implying trickery might be involved with such venerated icons is considered bad form by most lay people because invoking even the suggestion of such impropriety is skirting dangerously close to questioning religious doctrine itself and we don’t want to go there do we?
The history of magic and spiritualism is rife with accounts of levitation. It’s almost a standard expected thing to do. To not levitate at least a few feet above the table at a séance or have furniture, a trumpet or ghostly face float through the room was unthinkable to mediums at the turn of the century. The greatest of these and a personal hero of mine was Daniel Dunglas Home, who in the annuls of magic and spiritualism is credited with never being caught in trickery. There exist numerous fascinating testimonials from “sources beyond reproach, etc.” of heavy furniture, body elongations and the most famous levitation account of them all; where Home became rigid, floated through a foot high space in a open window and entered another window in the next room that was three stories above the street. Home’s levitation stands as a landmark moment in the history of magic and its realtion to mediumship and the things reputations are made of. His legend endures and it surprises me that Hollywood hasn’t tapped into his story as a bio-pic that would tell a powerful story of a little known personality who seems to have had a flawless track record of paranormal activities. We have little to beat that sort of showmanship in our era, but we do have similar claims and believers we could investigate. As long ago and far away as the East Indian Rope Trick and Home’s levitation are from our reality, we have people from as recent as the late great Doug Henning, who quit the magic scene to devote his time to TM and finding “real magic.” To this day he has believers who swear that he spent the last years of his life exploring methods of achieving levitation through meditation and who allegedly levitated before fellow students shortly before his untimely death. I’ll believe it when I see it, but even then I better be able to see it from all angles and with several cameras and recording devices running. Claiments please form a line on the left…
Having only achieved the ability to levitate my dog, I can’t vouch for anything “real” besides putting on a real good illusion. But the folklore, traditions and rumours of people being able to subvert the laws of gravity persist and it’s clear that in our era, such wish fulfilment has now morfed into new conspiracy theories surrounding “anti-gravity” machines, back engineered alien technologies and secret government areas like 51. There’s a lot to look at and I’m anxious to see the evidence.
*How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?” – Firesign Theater (1969)