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Philip's Limitations and Power
That Philip was a creation of the group's collective imagination was evident in his limitations. Although he could accurately answer questions about events and people of his time period, it did not appear to be information that the group was unaware of. In other words, Philip's responses were coming from their subconscious - their own minds. Some members thought they heard whispers in response to questions, but no voice was ever captured on tape.
Books & Video
Up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokinesis - Iris M. Owen, one
of the participants in the Philip experiment, wrote this book chronicling
all the details. It is currently out of print, but may be available at
used bookstores or at your local library.
Philip, The Imaginary Ghost - This is the 15-minute documentary made about the Philip experiment.
- David Ambrose's novel uses the Philip phenomenon as inspiration for his supernatural thriller in which a similar experiment gets seriously out of control.
Philip's psychokinetic powers, however, were amazing and completely unexplained. If the group asked Philip to dim the lights, they would dim instantly. When asked to restore the lights, he would oblige. The table around which the group sat was almost always the focal point of peculiar phenomena. After feeling a cool breeze blow across the table, they asked Philip if he could cause it to start and stop at will. He could and he did. The group noticed that the table itself felt different to the touch whenever Philip was present, having a subtle electric or "alive" quality. On a few occasions, a fine mist formed over the center of the table. Most astonishing, the group reported that the table would sometimes be so animated that it would rush over to meet latecomers to the session, or even trap members in the corner of the room.
The climax of the experiment was a séance conducted before a live audience of 50 people. The session was also filmed as part of a television documentary. Fortunately, Philip was not stage shy and performed above expectations. Besides table rappings, other noises around the room and making lights blink off and on, the group actually attained a full levitation of the table. It rose only a half inch above the floor, but this incredible feat was witnessed by the group and the film crew. Unfortunately, the dim lighting prevented the levitation from being captured on the film.
Although the Philip experiment gave the Owen group far more than they ever imagined possible, it was never able to attain one of their original goals - to have the spirit of Philip actually materialize.
The Philip experiment was so successful that the Toronto organization decided to try it again with a completely different group of people and a new fictional character. After just five weeks, the new group established "contact" with their new "ghost," Lilith, a French Canadian spy. Other similar experiments conjured up such entities as Sebastian, a medieval alchemist and even Axel, a man from the future. All of them were completely fictional, yet all produced unexplained communication through their unique raps.
Recently, a Sydney, Australia group attempted a similar test with "the Skippy Experiment." The six participants created the story of Skippy Cartman, a 14-year-old Australian girl. The group reports that Skippy communicated with them through raps and scratching sounds.
What are we to make of these incredible experiments? While some would conclude that they prove that ghosts don't exist, that such things are in our minds only, others say that our unconscious could be responsible for this kind of the phenomena some of the time. They do not (in fact, cannot) prove that there are no ghosts.
Another point of view is that even though Philip was completely fictional, the Owen group really did contact the spirit world. A playful (or perhaps demonic, some would argue) spirit took the opportunity of these séances to "act" as Philip and produce the extraordinary psychokinetic phenomena recorded.
In any case, the experiments proved that paranormal phenomena are quite real. And like most such investigations, they leave us with more questions than answers about the world in which we live. The only certain conclusion is that there is much to our existence that is still unexplained.
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