Book Review: “Conjuring Up Philip: An Adventure in Psychokinesis” by Iris M. Owen with Margaret Sparrow

The Toronto Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1970 and in 1972, 8 members of the organization began what became known as the “Phillip Experiment”. The original goal was for the group to create a spirit story and then by collective mental effort, have that “spirit” appear. They shaped their experiment using research by C. Brookes-Smith, D.W. Hunt, and K.J. Batcheldor (1970) which concluded that psychokinesis is a psychological skill which can be acquired through aptitude and experience. Primarily by a adapting a serene mental attitude which avoids skepticism, belief that psychokinesis is possible, and an atmosphere of childlike fun, Batcheldor believed that groups could produce Psychokinetic activity. The Toronto group also noted an interest in research by Dr. D.H. Lloyd who “showed that by projecting a thought or a mental image at a person it was possible to evoke an electrical response in that person’s brain. The evoked response was detected in the cerebral cortex of the brain.” (1973) The Phillip experiment began with the creation of the story, regular group meditation on the story, and then eventually regular “séance” style meetings that occurred in a fully lit space. They reported being able to generate knocking on surfaces and table movement. This was witnessed by many visitors and filmed (you can view a portion of that film here). The Toronto Society for Psychical Research replicated the experiment at least one time with the story of Lilith, a French Canadian girl who became a member of the French resistance in World War II and was captured and shot as a spy.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, if you can get your hands on a copy. This book is VERY expensive and I am very lucky that my boyfriend owns a copy. It is a very thought provoking read even when it is unbelievable. The idea that we can collectively create “spirit” activity is a very important aspect of paranormal phenomena to explore. I think every investigator should consider the potential for group mind creating thought forms at regular investigation locations.

Pros: The experiment is very well explained and there are detailed descriptions of the story, the experimental space, and the people involved in the experiment. There is an interesting review by a psychologist who observed all of the sittings at the end of the book. It was a fascinating and fairly easy book to read.

Cons: There is a lot of repetition in concepts towards the end of the book but I think they were still processing the information for themselves as they were writing. Some of the psychology is dated and relies on psychoanalysis which is far less utilized in modern practice. Sometimes it was very hard to believe the results of the experiment. I’m not sure that is a fault of the book or a result of my skeptical mind.

Overall thoughts: I really think that all paranormal investigators should be familiar with the Philip experiment and what it could mean for “spirit” communication. If the results of the experiment were 100% real (or even 75% real), that has major implications for how we conduct investigations and how we analyze situations.

If you happen to have the funds to invest in your own copy, you can start looking here.

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