The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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The Flying Tables

We found an article with the title above in the Illustration, from 1853, preceded by the indispensable jokes that we offer to our readers.

“It is about the turning tables! There you have the flying tables! And the phenomenon is not new. It exists since long ago. Where, you ask? Give my word that it is a bit far away, in Siberia. A Russian newspaper Sjevernava Plschela, which means The Northern Bee, in its last April 27th number, containing an article by Mr. Tscherepanoff about the subject, who has traveled around the regions of the Kalmuks. Here is a passage:”

“It is well-known that the Lamas, Buddhist priests, a religion which counts on the adherence of all Mongolians and Russian Kalmuks25, similarly to the Egyptian priests, do not reveal the discovered secrets, using them however to increase the influence that they exert upon the naturally superstitious people. That is how they pretend to have the power of finding stolen objects, utilizing the flying tables. Those things happen in the following way:

“The victim of theft addresses the Lama, asking him to reveal the place where the objects are hidden. The Buddhist priest requests two or three days to get ready for that grave ceremony. When the time comes, he seats on the floor having a small squared table in front of him, rests his hand on the table and reads something obscure. It lasts about half an hour.
After mumbling the initial prayers he stands up, keeping the hands in the original position, and the table moves up in the air. The Lama straightens up and raises his hands above the head. The table moves up to the height of his hands. The Lama moves one step forward and the table follows the example. The Lama steps back and the table does the same. Finally, the table moves to several places before falling back on the floor. The searched object is in the main direction taken by the table. If we believe in what the inhabitants of the region say, there have been cases in which the table fell exactly on the place where the stolen object was hidden.”
“In the experience witnessed by Mr. Tscherepanoff the table flew over a distance of 15 fathoms. The stolen object was not immediately found but in the direction indicated by the object resided a Russian peasant who noticed the signal. He committed suicide on that very day. His sudden death raised suspicions. His home was searched and the stolen object was found.”
“The traveler saw three other unsuccessful experiences. The table did not want to move. As a matter of fact the Lamas had no difficulty in explaining such immobility. If the furniture did not move it meant that the objects could not be found.”
“Mr. Tscherepanoff witnessed that phenomenon in 1831 in the village of Jelany – I did not believe it with my own eyes, he says, but I was persuaded that there was some sort of fraud there and that my Lama was using a string, skillfully dissimulated or a wire to raise the table in the air. Looking closely, however, I was unable to detect any cord or wire. The table was a thin board of pine, not weighing more than a pound and a half. Today I am convinced that the phenomenon is produced by the same cause which produces the dancing tables.”

“Thus, the bosses of the sect of the Spiritist, who believed to have invented the turning tables, did nothing else but to spread the news of an invention known long ago by other peoples. Nihil sub sole novi, said Salomon. Who knows over the time of Salomon himself the way of making the tables turn wasn’t already known! What do I say? This was known well before the rightful son of David. Read the North China Herald, cited by the Gazette d’Ausbourg, from May 11th, and you will see that the inhabitants of the Celestial Empire have been having fun with this game since immemorial times.”
We have already said, hundreds of times, that Spiritism, belonging to nature, is one of its powers. The phenomena resulting from that must have happened at all times and among all peoples, interpreted, commented, and dressed according to the corresponding traditions and degrees of instruction. We have never intended that it is a modern invention. The more we advance the more we discover the traces it has been left everywhere and at all times. The contemporaries have no other merit but to have undressed it from mysticism, exaggeration and superstitious ideas from the time of ignorance. It is impressive that the majority of people that so frivolously speak about it have not taken the time to study it. Judge it from the first impression, most of the time by having heard, without knowledge of cause, and become surprised when on the bottom of all that we show them one of the principles related to the gravest interest of humanity. One should not think that we are talking about the interest regarding things of the other world only. Those who do not stop at the surface easily see that it is related to all vital questions of the present world. Who could have guessed that from a frog dancing on a plate, in contact with a silver spoon, would have born a means of communication from one extreme to the other of globe in a few seconds; of guiding the lightning; of producing a light similar to the Sun? Patience Mr. Mocker! From a turning table it can well derive a giant to put aside the scorners. Considering the way things are, this will not be long.


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