Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Does "Light as a feather, stiff as a board" actually work?

Who's asking: Ashton LeBourgeois, Washington, DC

This question came up last night when Ashton and I were watching that seminal 1990s cheesefest -- er, piece of pop culture -- The Craft. A group of high school girls (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Robin Tunney) dabbles in witchcraft, and they first discover their true powers when three of them raise Rachel True several feet off the floor, using only their fingers.

It's a staple of preteen slumber parties, or at least it was when I was that age. One girl lies rigid on the floor, arms by her sides. The rest of the group sits around her, with the leader at the head. The leader massages the subject's temple while telling a story in a soothing tone of voice -- usually, a story about how the person on the floor came to be there, dead or unconscious. The rest of the group puts two fingers of each hand under the victim. At the end of the story, the leader puts two fingers under each of the victim's shoulders and says, "She is light as a feather, and stiff as a board."

"She is light as a feather, and stiff as a board," everyone repeats, and the group chants this several times as they begin to lift the victim on their fingers. If it works, the victim rises easily from the floor, with almost no effort from each of the people in the group.

That's the theory, anyway. In practice, my fifth-grade classmates and I could never get it to work; nor could we get any results with a similar game, in which one person sits in a chair, the group piles hands atop that person's head, and when everyone removes their hands the person in the chair rises like magic from the seat.

Beth Shapiro swore that she had been at a party where it had worked, or maybe it was one of her sisters; at every slumber party, Girl Scout camp or CYO retreat, someone insisted they knew someone who had done it, or had seen it themselves. But I never did -- and therefore, based on my own field research, I'm saying it doesn't work.

If anyone has any experience to the contrary -- or even a good story about trying it -- leave it in the comments section.

It's one of those things I'd be tempted to try even now, though I suspect that any adult gathering where this became a good idea would involve too much alcohol for safety.

31 comments:

Running from my House said...

this is a great question - it never worked when we tried it - neither did that mary thing in the mirror.. not sure what it was called, but it never worked.

JIM LAMB said...

It will work if the person who is on the floor is light enough and enough people latch on who are relly strong enough to really lift her with only two fingers.

Great pictures on the Lavinder blog.

I'm back to moving furniture.

Kathleen said...

I have seen it work. Once. Lots of girls, strong fingers, light person and "no giggles!" Oh and that thing in the mirror....BLOODY MARY...I've never seen that one work but I've also always been too scared to really push that one. Any thoughts on Ouija Boards?

-Kathleen

Anonymous said...

I've done it. It really worked - once. There were only about 5 girls too. I can't remember where or when it was (maybe the basement of the house in cleveland), but I remember the creepy feeling of not really having to lift. I also remember being shocked that it worked and took so few people.

-Regan

AnswerGirl said...

Kathleen, I'm with you -- I'm scared to death of Ouija boards. Moira and Meredith tell a story about one night in their apartment on Van Ness when they think someone really was trying to communicate with them, and I don't discount that. I just think that if there are people lost between Here and There (possible), they want to communicate with us for reasons of their own, which are not likely to be healthy for us.

That's something different from my general theory on ghosts... maybe I'll make this tomorrow's question.

Jonathan said...

the one on the chair actually works like this:

4 people around a girl or light boy in the chair. each person begins to place their left hand on the girl one by one, clock-wise. then their right hand clock-wise. someone else then counts to 9 very slowly. after every number you say something (eg. one... you feel all your senses sharpening... eight... your feel even more pressure and weight.)During the counting the girl in the chair must resist the pressure on her head and after 9, every person quickly gets to their place. two people each have two fingers under an armpit and the other two have their two pointer fingers under the girls knees. everyone lifts quickly and she starts to rise, not just a couple inches, but several feet off the ground.

I did this last night and we lifted her over our heads with just 2 fingers each. She felt like she weighed 10 lbs and we weren't exactly the biggest guys either, so that's not the trick. I don't know the exact science but i have a feeling it has to do with the numbing of your muscles from holding a stiff position for so long... i'd like to find the explanation myself.

GABE said...

i've done it too and the most important it that there is no fooling around and that you all believe. they have science saying something about the direction of the person but i dont think it matters (and that would be magnetic not kinetic.lol)

As for the ritual there are different ways, some in a chair others lying down, even some without touching the person(never tried that one though)but it doesn't really matter what you do or chant but you have to believe you can do it.

My friend and I tried another time lifting a a 80lb dresser with only two finger each and we got about up to our necks before we were like wft and freaked out and dropped it.

said...

It worked for me, several times. The weird part is, it only worked when nobody talked, or smiled, or laughed. I was the one being lifted, and one of the people to lift. Our version was a little bit different. We had the leader (who for me was Lexi) sit on my right side, near my arm. we had 8 girls- Eliza and lexi on my right, aitlin at my head, Jamie and Molly on my left, and nicole at my feet(which she kept tickling!). Lexi started out by saying, "We are all here tonight to honor Abby ________ (me. Her sudden death happened just a few weeks ago. She was hiking in the woods with her Dad, and she got lost. It was days before they found her, and she was dead." Then she starts saying, "Light as a feather, Stiff as a board. Light as a feather, stiff as a board. Light as a feather stiff as a board." and we all join in. After three chants, the stuck two fingers from each hand under my arms, legs, feet, and shoulders. They easily lifted me up several feet. Then we all started screaming, and I got my normal weight again, and they dropped me because I hurt their fingers. I weigh about 80 lb (i'm 11) and that was about the same for everyone, from 70-90 lb each. Also, since I was the third person for it to work for, we used peace signs, instead of locked fingers.

raven said...

so i see u all are intrestead in the craft, well im a witch and i have performed the light as a feather spell and it does work, but thats cause im a witch. if u want to learn about the craft and wanna learn then go to my site www.ravenwitch.webs.com

Helena said...

omg i did this with my buds. but the girl we did it on was sleeping! she screamed and scared us, and we accidentally dropped her 5 feet lol

Celebutaunt said...

Let me preface my story with this: I remember all of this very clearly because my parents are extremely religious and I was forbidden from playing this game. I felt so guilty later that I told on myself and my mom worried that I'd been cursed. I thought she was a bit crazy then but now I'm not so sure. Read on and decide for yourself whether you think curses are real...

I played this game at a slumber party when I was 11. We played it a bit differently that I've read here. Rather than telling a story of how the currently alive person supposedly died, we concocted a story of how the levitating person will die -as an offering to the spirits in exchange for the power to levitate. My friends told a story about how I died at age 20 or 21 in a car accident, involving a semi-truck. The levitation part worked, but only slightly. I think I got two feet in the air before someone got the giggles and I fell. But that's not the creepy part. The freaky curse part came exactly ten years later.

When I was 21 I was driving to work when I got hit by a semi truck (not my fault) that came out of nowhere. I died in the E.R. - flatlined. They revived me with adrenaline and paddles. I still have problems that will never go away as a result of that accident. And that's not the only incident I've had with trucks. Since then, I've had more encounters that I like to count. On the way home from a concert my mom and I nearly got killed by an 18 wheeler that jack-knifed on the road approximately 100 yards in front of us. We narrowly avoided it by driving off the road and into the brush. And when I was 26, I hit a pizza man in a truck. Another time one of those trucks that transports automobiles to the dealership, slid into my lane and knocked the back half of my van apart. The cops said if someone had been sitting in the back, there's no way they'd have survived it. Eerily, that was the first time I'd ridden in the front in 4 years - I'd previously ridden in the back because I was still wheelchair bound. It was my first time climbing into the front seat. There are more instances but I don't want to write a novel...

I don't know how well the levitation part works without it, but I strongly recommend leaving out the whole "story of your eventual death" part - it's not just creepy, it's a frickin curse. I'm scared to death every day I get on the road now. I'm still sure I'm going to die in a trucking accident. The curse just hasn't caught me yet.

scared and horrified said...

i did it at my school it was fucken scary

sierra Pie said...

omg! so i need to know if its real and if it is how the heck does it worK?!!! mY TEACHER said she found the key on doing it but refuses to tell us!!!

Amelia said...

It works if you all focus together. It's kind of like convincing yourself it will work with the chanting. Chanting that phrase puts the group in harmony almost like a trance. I've been in groups where it worked on every girl we tried it on. It's not magic though. There's science behind it. I"m sure you could read about it on wikipedia or something. The mirror thing is total baloney. If it worked for anyone it was only a result of a heightened state of fear resulting in hypersensitivity of the senses. I was never allowed to have a Ouija board in my house as it's a very old house and my mom's family has had very dark experiences involving ouija boards. I always secretly wanted to try one though.

ericaa said...

i have been terrified of bloody mary, but ouija boards are nothing to be afraid of. i think they work with magnets or something. but i did some online ones. they are not that bad. but i wil try this.

AnswerGirl said...

I've just gone through and deleted several interesting comments because the commenters didn't sign their posts. I'm sorry, but I don't allow anonymous comments on this blog. You don't have to register with Blogger, but I do ask you to sign your posts; it's impossible to respond to "Anonymous #3." If I've deleted your comment, feel free to re-post it, but please leave your name as well. Thanks.

Mary Allan said...

It worked when I tried it at various times as a child and later at teen parties. When we were about ten years old, a group of us, (five little girls) started fooling around with this and Ouija Boards. We took turns being the lifters, two to a side. We succeeded easily five times, taking turns, not with chants or spells, but just one lifter counting off, "One, two, three, go". I thought it was really neat it was so simple and effortless to lift someone up above our heads - in fact for little kids to lift someone at all. It made an impression though. That was in 1944 or 1945, and I have had some vivid dreams about it in the years since.

Seems like it would be a useful thing to know how to do, to pick an unconscious person up and move them easily, rather than dragging them on the ground or moving them some other way. That was during World War Two and we had seen many pictures of wounded soldiers carried on stretchers or lifted by two men with their hands and arms linked into carry chairs, or transported on a corpsman's back and so on.

The Ouija Board worked, too, uncannily accurate and weird. Thank goodness we never tried to get it to predict accidents or anything serious like that.

Now I would like to know why I will think of someone and within a few seconds the land line phone will ring and it will be them. It happens all the time anymore. Does this happen with cell phones, too? Any thoughts on mental telepathy and premonitions?

What is the "Bloody Mary" thing? I never heard of it. Sounds like it would be a useful thing to frighten small children with!

Anonymous said...

im 14 and a couple years ago i did it with some friends... it sounds all fake like the bloody mary thing which didnt work for a friend but 20 minutes later her arm started randomly bleeding. anyway i was the person laying on the floor and i raised all the way to the ceiling.. everyone opened their eyes and i fell to the floor. THANK GOD FOR SOFT CARPETS! the trick is to stay calm and get really into it.. all the lights have to be off. -kristina

nyri said...

YES it works because everyone is focussing on the same thing - if they start laughing or panicking or take their concentration off 'light as a feather stiff as a board' then the person being lifted will fall so everyone HAS TO stay focussed. Concentration can work wonders, especially when everyone is concentrating on the same thing at exactly the same time - hence the chanting...

Ouija boards are dangerous because people are contacting 'incarnate' beings, that is, spirits that don't have a physical body and they are likely to 'hang around' the area once they are called upon by the group - who wants spirits hanging around after you've finished playing with the ouija board?
I have been witness and participant to all these phenomena when I was a teenager, yes, they work and you could well call it "mind over matter"... Having said that, I would deeply suggest that kids and the un-informed leave well enough alone... it isn't a game because there's no fun being spooked after using the ouija board!

Taylor said...

I'm sorry you've experienced such a terrifying experience that's affected you so deeply & for so long. But you've escaped the curse! You're no longer 21, and you're still alive. Either there was no curse, or the powers of good are actively working to undo it & protect you. They've been successful. Thank them, and try to move forward. They can help you do this if you ask them & truly try to move on. Good luck & God bless.

Taylor said...

I did the light as a feather thing at a party when I was about 11. It absolutely worked. But when we stayed in the same positions (5 or so girls using 2 fingers to lift a prone girl) & did it without the chanting, it was like trying to lift 80lbs of jello. Wasn't happening!
Interesting note: we were asking the powers of darkness to help us lift the girls. 2 of us were Christians & when coaxed into being the lifted girl, prayed for protection. Neither of us was levitated. I was a bit chubby, but the other girl was a tiny little thing, lighter than many of the girls that had already been lifted. CREEPY!

Then we did the Ouija board (2 girls on the board, me standing 3 feet away). I told them to ask it a question which only I knew the answer to. They got the right answer!!!!! Haven't touched a board since!!!!! Not interested in opening a door that attracts random spirits (or worse.) Be careful. You may get more than you asked for.

AnswerGirl said...

I've just gone through - AGAIN - and deleted several interesting comments because the commenters didn't sign their posts. I'm sorry, but I don't allow anonymous comments on this blog. You don't have to register with Blogger, but I do ask you to sign your posts; it's impossible to respond to "Anonymous #3." If I've deleted your comment, feel free to re-post it, but please leave your name as well. Thanks.

AnswerGirl said...

Once again, I've deleted interesting comments because the commenters didn't sign their posts. I'm sorry, but I don't allow anonymous comments on this blog. You don't have to register with Blogger, but I do ask you to sign your posts; it's impossible to respond to "Anonymous #3." If I've deleted your comment, feel free to re-post it, but please leave your name as well. Thanks.

john lupo said...

this is ridiculous and does not work at all. anyone that comments and says it is full of it at best. c'mon people....really?!?! If I go outside and fly around the earth in it's opposite rotation can I turn back time?? Seriously it works!

Anonymous said...

It worked for my friends and I... We were in her basement, and the six of us turned off all the lights but some dim Christmas lights. We did the chanting stuff, and we lifted the girl right off the ground easily and high up. We all screamed and dropped her, and ran out of the basement. It really was freaky.

Bill Martin said...

I find it funny that you are upset about people posting as anonymous. They don't want to use their real name. I don't see your real name. Just answer girl.

AnswerGirl said...

That's odd -- my full name used to be part of the profile section on the right-hand side of this page, and I don't know when or why Blogger changed that. My email address is available through the profile, if you want to use it. For the record, my name is Ellen Clair Lamb, and I live in Gardiner, ME. The profile links to my professional website, and it's easy enough to get my name in a couple of clicks. But you're right: I'll add it back to the profile.

Anonymous said...

As a magician I intend to try it soon in my own way as a magic trick but I have never seen it before

kathryn lawson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yikes! That sounds creepy!

Anonymous said...

Bloody mary does work you need a black candel say blood mary three times. i think you need to close your eyes and then open it on after you say it the thrid time. remember a mirror can be use as a porter for the unknown. i wouldnt do it but if you are stupid enough to try it this is how you do it.