The power of the mind has been a subject for debate for centuries. How far can the mind go? Do these powers exist? Are they true? These are the questions to ponder when looking into the life of Daniel Douglas Home.
Daniel Douglas Home was one of the most well known mediums of the nineteenth century. He impressed countless friends, journalists and audiences of the rich and famous with his amazing abilities. Home was believed to possess powers of levitation and communication with the paranormal and his abilities were said to leave several scientists bewildered and without evidence.
Although Home has been thought to be a fraud by many, including Harry Houdini who publicly denounced Home as such, there has been no proof as to how he preformed his incredible feats and the mystery surrounding him is still present even today.
Home was born in 1833 in Currie, Scotland. His mother, Elizabeth, was said to have the gift of a “second sight” which enabled her to foretell instances of death and suffering. It is thought that Home received his powers through his mother’s genealogy and possessed seeing powers as well.
At the age of one, Home was deemed to a “nervous temperament” and was passed into the care of his aunt and uncle who later left for the United States between 1838 and 1841. Home’s aunt stated that, even as a baby, Home possessed special powers and that his crib would rock on its own without any assistance as if controlled by an unseen hand.
Growing up, Home was unlike the other young boys. He did not join sports and games but preferred to take long walks in the nearby woods with his friend Edwin. Home and Edwin would go deep into the woods and read the bible together. When Edwin discovered the story of the resurrection, the two of them made a pact that when one dies, the other would communicate with the dead and the later would rise on the third day.
Home’s first recalled vision was when he was thirteen years old, not long after the pact with Edwin. He claimed that a great darkness came over him in the night and Edwin appeared by his bedside, glowing bright with long hair draping down in ringlets and that he pointed to the sky, drew three circles in the air and then melted away. Home said he awoke screaming to his aunt and uncle that Edwin had died three days past and the vision was confirmed the next day as Edwin’s death was printed in the paper.
A few years later, Home was reunited with his mother for a short time in 1853. It was said that during that time, Home received a vision of his mother saying “twelve o’clock” which was the exact time of her death that very night.
Home was said to be a religious man throughout his life. He was baptized at birth at the Currie Parish Church and was said to maintain Christian idealism throughout most of his life. After his mother’s death, Home turned away from his aunt’s Calvinistic view which preaches that every individual’s fate is already decided. He then turned to a more Wesleyan faith in which every soul has a chance to be saved.
As Home grew even more he claimed several visions and to have witnessed poltergeist activity when he entered a room. He claimed the furniture would levitate with no assistance and mysterious noises were heard from inside the walls.
Although Home had little high school education he possessed intelligence on a number of subjects and could carry on conversations with ease. He also played the piano and was said to possess a witty charm that made him well known as a “professional house guest.” During this time his popularity grew among the people and his abilities started to become known.
Home performed several controversial feats throughout his career:
In the presence of Professor David Wells of Harvard University, Home caused a table to levitate about while standing at the other side of the room. It was said that it took the physical strength of two men to stop the table from moving yet it still continued to rock beneath them and no scientific evidence was found to disprove the act.
In the year of 1852, Home self levitated to a group of witnesses for the first time. He claimed to have felt an uncontrollable power lift him up into the air. Witnesses were shocked and when they tried to pull him down they were only pulled off the ground themselves.
Home performed several séances throughout his career. He was claimed to make phantom hands appear which guests performing in the séance were able to feel. In 1857, Home performed a séance for Napoleon the third along with his empress. The empress claimed to see a phantom hand belonging to her father due to a deformity in one of the fingers.
In 1868, while attending a party, Home levitated the host’s elderly mother while she was sitting in her chair. Both the chair and the woman levitated a few feet off the ground.
It was claimed that Home could elongate his body by eleven inches and in 1868 he gave one of his most famous séances. It was said that after the consumption of some “light spirits,” Home began to walk about the room. His body elongated and he rose off the ground. Home then went into the next room and it was said he could be heard opening a window and his guests witnessed him levitating off the ground outside the a three story apartment.
In 1871, Home was said to have been tested by physicist, William Crookes. Crookes desired to measure the amount of power proceeding from Home’s hand by using a contraption made of small metal weights. The force of power measured in Home’s hand was said to be three-quarters of a pound and left Crookes in an awed state of confusion which challenged every one of his scientific beliefs.
It was also claimed that Homes could hold hot embers in his bare hands and plunge his body into a fire. Witnesses claimed that he moved about in the fire as if he was swimming through water.
At the young age of thirty-eight, Home retired due to his health. Tuberculosis that had been present for most of his life had become severe and Home claimed his powers were fading due to the oncoming illness. On June 21, 1886, Daniel Douglas Home died and was laid to rest in the Russian cemetery of St. Germain-en-Laye Paris.
Home is the author of several books describing his life and abilities such as Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism, Incidents of My Life and The Complete D.D. Home. He wrote these books in the later years of his life hoping to expand human minds on the powers of the mind and the existence of a spiritual world.
Daniel Douglas Home states in his book Incidents in My Life that “we need not abandon to skepticism the whole spiritual world” and, during the life of Home, the spiritual world was very real and maybe even still is.
The love of marvelous people still lives on today towards magicians and stunt men all over the world. The media is filled to the brim with men and woman accomplishing impossible tasks right before witnessing eyes. Whether an illusion, an act of mysterious force or the existence of unnatural power, it is an unexplained mystery that Daniel Douglas Home knew how to take.