Testing Yogic Levitation

Ramana LevitatingThis is Dutch magician Ramana. I don’t know whether he’s presenting this trick as illusion or as actual yogic levitation, but this same trick has been touted as genuine levitation in the past so we’ll treat it as such for this example.

For anyone who doesn’t know how this is done, I’ll reveal it ahead of time. The cane is attached to a platform on the ground that’s hidden under the carpet. At the top of the cane is another platform, hidden by his pants, which he’s sitting on. You can even see it bending under his weight in this photo.

The ideal test for a paranormal claim like this is about as obvious as it gets, which is why I’m using it as our first example. With other claims it can get much murkier.

For someone who’s truly floating, letting go of the cane should be the easiest thing in the world to do. If after dropping it he drifts down slowly or even comes crashing to the ground (revealing that there was no platform), an inexplicable marvel has been confirmed.

And for someone who’s faking it, tossing the cane aside should be the hardest thing in the world to do. There’d have to be more to the cane than meets the eye which dropping it (if possible) would expose.

A good illusionist will have a few tests that he’ll volunteer. For example, he might “prove” that he’s floating by making a show of taking his hand off the cane — mustering up enough focus, steadying the cane against his thigh, timidly letting go, and then grabbing it again as soon as the strain becomes too great. All misdirection of course. There’s nothing wrong with being suspicious of tests that have been prepared for you in advance.

My advice is not to settle for ambiguity and not to accept mysterious excuses. Go straight to the heart of it. Just make him drop the damn cane. It really can be that simple.

There’s no reason why someone who is both genuine and who wants you to know that he’s genuine wouldn’t graciously comply.

If he can’t do that for you, move on to the next claim. It’s safe to say that there are vastly more charlatans in the world than authentic mystics who behave like charlatans. Your time is better spent on someone else.

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