1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Physical Phenomena

PHYSICAL PHENOMENA, in the terminology of spiritualism and psychical research, molar or molecular phenomena in the physical world not traceable to ordinary causes and referred to the action of spirits or of mediums in abnormal psychical states. Among the phenomena or alleged phenomena are: materialization, levitation or elongation of the medium; passage of matter through matter, alteration of weight in a balance, tying of knots in an endless cord, apports (objects brought from a distance) and movements of objects (telekinesis); the production of writing, imprints of plaster or other objects; raps, voices and other sounds, including music; spirit photographs; lights and perfumes. To these may be added immunity against the effects of fire and the untying of ropes.

Analogous phenomena are found in many parts of the world (see Poltergeist; Firewalking); spectral lights are associated with the tombs of Mahommedan saints, with Buddhist shrines, with religious revivals, with Red Indian and other magicians, &c., and as sporadic phenomena in the Highlands and Norway. Levitation is asserted of Australian wizards, the rope trick of Eskimo angekoks; glyphs and direct writing are found in Mexican and Tibetan cults.

See F. Podmore, Modern Spiritualism; F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality, ii. 506; Journal S. P. R., vi. 309 sq.  (N. W. T.)