Explaining Levitation In Paranormal Contexts

March 16, 2024 1:00 AM ‐ Paranormal
Levitation is the act of an object or person being lifted into the air without any visible physical support. Unlike what we see in magic shows, where tricks and illusions are at play, paranormal levitation is reported to occur without strings, magnets, or other hidden aids.

Perhaps the best known example of levitation in a paranormal case today is that seen in the North London suburb of Enfield in the 1970s. The Enfield Poltergeist case is one of the most famous and controversial instances of reported paranormal activity, which includes claims of levitation.

A school crossing guard, or 'lollipop lady', reported seeing Janet Hodgson, the second-eldest of the four Hodgson children, levitating through the bedroom window of their ordinary council house; she appeared to be in mid-air, several feet off the ground. Other instances of levitation in the case, which lasted for two years, were captured in photographs.

But the idea of levitation goes back much further than 1970s London. It has roots in ancient tales and religious texts, where saints and mystics were said to rise off the ground. During the Salem Witch Trials, Mary Eastey, one of the accused, was reportedly seen levitating. The 19th-century medium Daniel Dunglas Home was known for his séances, which included demonstrations of him lifting himself off the ground in front of many witnesses. In more recent history, Nina Kulagina, a Russian woman, claimed to possess psychic abilities, including telekinesis and levitation. During the Cold War era, she showed off her abilities to levitate small objects.

Levitation is mentioned in some very famous hauntings and is a common trope in supernatural movies and TV shows, like 'Stranger Things' where characters encounter unexplained phenomena. Despite this, it isn't widely reported. You'd think, if the phenomenon existed, that now that we all have cameras in our pockets all the time, more evidence of people and objects floating would have been captured. While there are more cameras available today, that doesn't necessarily translate to an increase in reporting paranormal events like levitation.

Of course, today, there is a higher level of skepticism and a greater understanding of science among the general population. This might lead people to seek logical explanations for unusual occurrences before attributing them to the paranormal. In the past, phenomena that were not understood were more readily explained as supernatural.

Like many aspects of the paranormal, there is no scientific evidence that conclusively supports the existence of levitation. The claims of levitation come mostly from anecdotal reports and a limited number of photographs or video recordings. The problem is that no known scientific theory can explain how objects or individuals could defy gravity. Newton's laws of motion and the law of gravity explain how and why objects move or stay at rest. For an object or person to levitate without any visible means would violate these laws.

For levitation to occur, there must be a force acting against gravity. In physics, levitation exists in various forms, such as magnetic levitation (maglev) used in high-speed trains or acoustic levitation used in scientific experiments. However, there are clear, understandable mechanisms at work in these examples. Paranormal levitation lacks any such mechanism that fits within our current understanding of physics.

Could it be that, under certain conditions, the spirits can muster up enough energy to influence the physical world in a direct way? This hypothetical energy remains undefined and does not align with the types of energy recognised by current physical theories.

Another hypothesis could involve the alteration or manipulation of gravitational fields. In this scenario, an unknown force or entity might be able to change the strength or direction of gravity around an object or person, allowing them to levitate. However, this would also require a form of energy beyond our current understanding.

In the context of paranormal investigations, levitation is rare as it's one of the more sensational aspects of the paranormal, but it is sometimes reported on ghost hunts as objects moving or floating without apparent cause, which might be considered poltergeist activity.

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