Table-tilting(or table-turning / table-tipping) has been around for centuries. It’s a séance phenomenon in which a table moves around a room, rotates or lifts completely off the ground with only the light touch of fingertips on its surface. It usually involves a small group of people but there have been cases where the table has levitated without contact.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TABLE-TILTING
Table-tilting became very popular in the late 19th and early 20th century in the medium craze. It has also been done for fun or as a pastime. Prof. Stephen Braude’s described his first experience of this kind in my book Esprit vol. 2: A married couple he knew stopped by his house and with nothing more to do suggested they play a game called “table up,” a game they’d played before and thought was a lot of fun when it worked.
They sat at a folding table he owned, their fingers lightly touching the top and for about 20 minutes concentrated on having the table rise. The table began to shudder and for the next few hours it tilted up and down answering questions by a system of “nods” or dips to indicate letters.
Braude was convinced that the movements were genuine noting that if one of the couple left the room, the table continued its movements and it moved in directions opposed to whatever pressure the remaining two sitters applied to the tabletop.
EISENBUD’S TABLE-TURNING TALE
Psychiatrist Jule Eisenbud, who you may read about in the thoughtography section, wrote about his own experience with séance phenomena:
About this time [early 1940s] I had my own first encounter with homegrown psychokinesis. A friend of mine, a young British composer, and I managed to get invited to a weekly table-turning session held by three elderly dowagers. In the substreet dining level of an East Side brownstone we all sat around a heavy card table which within minutes took on a personality of its own and soon began wild gyrations and movements back and forth across the length and width of the room, often backing one or another of us into a corner before dashing off to harass someone else.
There was no doubt in my mind that the good dowagers started things off with almost deliberate muscular movements on their own part but, as far as I could see, once the table got fired up and began madly careening about, sometimes in response to a request for it to answer a question with some specified movement, there was no possibility at all that muscular aid on the part of any of the participants, who were doing their best just to hold a finger or two lightly on the table as it skidded across the bare floor, and scrambling furiously to keep up with it, could have been responsible for what took place.
The weekly meetings ended for the season after one session at the close of which the table, seemingly possessed by a stamping, whirling, rushing will of its own, led us out the door and up the steps and into the street and the startled gaze of a couple of dumbly uncomprehending passersby. I recall that we all, seemingly with one mind, abandoned the table frenziedly at this point and rushed back into the house and hopeful anonymity.
I don’t recall whether the now completely inert table was later retrieved or not, but I presume that it was.
Curiously, my composer friend, his girl friend, and I were able to get very much the same results in later sessions held in the large living room of my own apartment. We discontinued these sessions after only two or three go-arounds because it was always pretty much the same thing. (How blasé can one get?)