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Cawthorne, Nigel. Witch Hunt: History of a Persecution. Edison, N.J.: Chartwell Books, 2004.

levitation A paranormal phenomenon whereby a body or object is raised up into the air in defiance of gravity. Levitation has been reported in cases of bewitchment, hauntings (see GHOSTS, HAUNTINGS AND WITCHCRAFT) and POSSESSION; it also is attributed to saints and holy persons.

In 1550 in Wertet, Brabant, a group of nuns reportedly levitated into the air, climbed trees like cats and were pinched by invisible fingers. A towns-woman was tortured into confessing she had bewitched them. In other cases, beds are said to levitate off the floor. In hauntings, witches, poltergeists and FAIRIES have been blamed for levitating people, animals and objects.

Levitation also has been accomplished by Western psychics and mediums and was a common occurrence— often done fraudulently—at séances in the heydey of Spiritualism. The best-known levitating medium was Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-86), a Scotsman who was expelled from the Catholic Church on charges of SORCERY. Home was reported to levitate many times over a 40-year-period and to control his flights, which were done in trance. On one occasion, witnesses said he flew out of one third-story window in a home and returned through another window. Home was suspected of trickery, but he was never convicted of any fraud.

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