A visual illusion, but does levitation actually work?

MANY OF THOSE who have been known to levitate have had fervent and passionate states of mind. The early Christian Church believed levitation was a sign of demonic possession, and certainly it has been known to afflict the possessed. However, throughout the centuries, many holy people have also been able to lift themselves off the ground. The most famous was probably St Joseph of Copertino, born in 1603 in Apulia, Italy, who reached a state of religious ecstasy that allowed him to defy gravity. He is said to have levitated over a hundred times in his life, and it was the demonstration of his rapture-induced ability in front of Pope Urbain VIII that led to his canonisation. Eastern philosophies and religions teach that levitation can be achieved through a devoted study to fully harness the body’s life force. This natural energy is called ‘Ch’i’ or ‘Ki’, and is said to be controlled by extensive yogic training. The phenomenon of ‘yogic hops’, where a person can make short levitational movements using transcendental meditation is also advanced by Eastern teachings. The focus is placed less on extreme emotion, but more on visualisation and breath control to summon up all latent energy within the body.

Some psychics also believe the power needed to levitate ourselves is a naturally inherent psychokinetic power. The nineteenth century medium Daniel Douglas Home was known as a practised proponent of the levitating craft. In 1868 he was seen levitating out of a window on the third storey of a building. It was reported that he reentered the building through another window on the same floor. Unlike the religious examples, Douglas Home did not enter a trance, and believed it just required a good deal of concentration. However, many people in the modern age believe the theories of levitation are best left to the engineers, designers and magicians in glamorous cabaret shows.

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