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.