Exhibits in the Haunted
Museum are based on the work of Troy Taylor from his
book, Ghosts by Gaslight!
Click on the Cover for More About the Book!
During the early 1900ís, when professional mediums all
over the country were claiming to communicate with the spirits, ordinary
people developed in interest in psychic phenomena. Most of these people had
neither the means, nor the access, to professional mediums, so many of them
developed "home circles". The home circles were simply small collections of
family and friends who would get together and attempt to contact the spirit
world. A number of the home circles began to believe that their attempts to
communicate with the spirits were actually successful. Their amateur
sťances, they believed, were actually connecting with ghosts and the spirit
world. Others were not so sure though...
Many of the members of the circles quickly began to
realize that what was causing the planchettes of Ouija boards to move,
tables to tip and mysterious rappings sounds to be heard was not the work of
ghosts, but rather the collective work of the human mind. The energy created
by gathered a group of people together who were intent on a single purpose
could produce some amazing results.
Outside of the Ouija board, one
of the most popular methods of experimentation for home circles was table
tipping. I confess that I have engaged in this many times myself and not
only is it entertaining, itís a remarkable method of examining the psychic
abilities of the average human mind. Although I have never claimed to be
psychic in the least, I have been present for some very interesting events
during table tipping sessions. I believe that all serious ghost hunters
should explore this weird and wonderful past time and see what itís possible
to learn about others -- and ourselves.
Table tipping was a popular past time during the Spiritualist era but --
as you can see from this photo -- was easily faked.
Table tipping in the early days of the past century was
really considered little more than a parlor game. The basic technique behind
it is quite simple. The group of people simply sits around a table, with
each person resting his hands flat on the top surface of it. If everyone is
patient enough, and prepared to possible do this for several sittings, they
will almost always be rewarded with some sort of phenomena. When starting
out, itís likely that the sitters will be startled by rapping and knocking
noises but as the experiments continue, the table will likely vibrate and
will eventually begin to move. As the number of sittings increase, the group
will increase in power and the phenomena will increase along with it.
A SCIENTIST "TURNS THE TABLES"
Michael Faraday was one of the most brilliant of the 19th Century
scientists. As a chemist and physicist, he helped change electricity
from a curiosity into an actual energy source -- and he also dampened
the Victorian passion for table tipping. Faraday took an interest in
the fad after some other scientists proposed that the reason the it
worked was because of a mysterious magnetic or electrical force.
Faraday disagreed and instead theorized that the force at work in
table tilting was an involuntary and unconscious muscle contraction
experienced by sťance sitters. This, he believed, was what caused the
tables to rock and tilt.
he fashioned a table with two tops that were divided by a layer
of ball bearings and sturdy rubber bands. When sitters worked
with his device, the upper table top moved first, showing that
the fingers were moving the table and not the other way around.
Once sitters realized the nature of the experiment, movement of
the table ceased. Apparently, once the conscious mind realized
the force behind the movement, the mystery was gone.
For Faraday and others, the proof was indisputable and the experiments
caused a decline in the popularity of the past time. Many believers
scoffed at Faraday's findings though, claiming that tables not only
tipped but also lifted into the air and galloped about -- behavior
completely separate from active fingers and wishful thinking! Needless
to say, the mystery remained for most and scientists and Spiritualists
once again disagreed on the methods, and perhaps the madness, of the
Itís also possible that the table (as it did in the days
of the home circles) will behave as with some intelligence. Once the group
has begun to experience strange effects, it will be possible to ask
questions and receive knocks, raps and event tilts in reply. When you
experience this, it will be easy to understand why people believed the
phenomena was caused by ghosts in the days of Spiritualism. Just remember
though that the power of the human mind is a tricky thing, especially when
you have an entire group focused on creating energy.
And you should remember that the energy created can be
pretty amazing at times. Although I have never personally experienced
anything like this myself, it has been documented by some table tipping
groups that they have literally experienced tables that are so charged with
energy that the table moved about with all four members of the group sitting
on top of it!
WANT TO TRY THIS FOR YOURSELF?
To start off with, you will
need to select your group for the sessions. The best number to start with is
usually the same number that you would need for an investigation, 4-5
people. Make sure that all of the same members can be present for each
session and also make sure that they are willing to continue with the
experiments for an extended period of time, or at least until you have
achieved the desired effects for your experiment.
2. Choose a location like one of the memberís house for
the experiments. It should be a place where everyone can be comfortable and
relaxed. You will also need to choose a table to use as well. I recommend a
trip to an antique store to find a small wooden table that can seat everyone
comfortably, but is not too big or too heavy. Experimenting with a gigantic,
oak dining room table is not recommended if you want to see results any time
3. The lighting in the room will be important. Table
tipping seems to work the best in near darkness, perhaps because the sitters
are creating a "spooky" atmosphere, but who knows?
4. Once you sit down to try and experiment with this, be
sure to maintain a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Be sure to talk normally,
make jokes and just try to relax. If you are too uptight about things
happening, itís not going to work. Simply relax and try to avoid
concentrating on getting the table to move at first.
5. Be sure to have everyoneís hands on the table all the
time. As things start to occur, itís liable to become exciting but no one
should move their hands if at all possible.
6. While nothing at all may happen in the initial
sitting, it is bound to get more interesting as time progresses. Just be
sure that the group meets regularly, once or twice a week if possible. To
succeed, the group needs to be dedicated and willing to sit through several
uneventful sessions before phenomena actually occurs.
7. Make sure that the meetings are always free from
interruption and do whatever it takes to prepare for this. Turn off the TV
and radios in the house and take the telephone off the hook if you need to.
8. Interestingly, faking phenomena sometimes encourages
real phenomena to appear. In one experiment, a sitter experimented with this
and found that he was able to induce real rappings from the table after he
faked rapping noises or moved the table. He was never seen doing this as the
sittings were conducted in near darkness. His view of why this occurred is
because people have an inherent disbelief in this type of phenomena. The
disbelief might be deeply buried but it is almost always there. Faking the
phenomena seems to bypass the problem and allows the mind to work. In short,
it seems that once people have been led to believe that something faked is
true, then it actually occurs, possibly because their resistance to real
activity has been broken down. This is something to consider in your own
experiments and while I would never encourage anyone to fake anything during
an investigation, this is merely an experiment and not designed to try and
"contact the spirit world" anyway.
Copyright 2002- 2008 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.
Return to the Haunted Museum Section