Hands of Spirits

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Hands of Spirits

There are various instances in occult history where the hand of a spirit has been said to become visible to the human eye. During the reign of James I of England a vision of this kind came to a certain clerk who was writing a will that was to disinherit a son. A fine white hand appeared between the candle and the parchment, casting a shadow on the latter. It came three times, until the clerk, becoming alarmed, threw down his pen and refused to finish the work.

In the biblical book of Daniel (5:5) appears the famous instance of the handwriting on the wall: "In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king [Belshazzar] saw the part of the hand that wrote." Also in Daniel (10:10), it is recorded that Daniel, after a certain vision, was touched by a hand, which set him upon his knees and the palms of his hands.

There are also other instances of writing being done without human hands, and in his book Startling Facts in Modern Spiritualism (1874), N. B. Wolfs stated that he shook hands with spirits, as "substantially" as one man shakes hands with another.

Sir William Crookes described the appearance of a phantom hand, which appeared during a séance with Kate Fox: "A luminous hand came down from the upper part of the room, and after hovering near me for a few seconds, took the pencil from my hand, rapidly wrote on a sheet of paper, threw the pencil down, and then rose up over our heads, gradually fading into darkness."

A similar séance took place with Fox at the home of S. C. Hall, editor of the Art Journal, on September 6, 1876, in the presence of nine individuals. A report in The Spiritualist (October 13, 1876) states: "A luminous, small, beautifully shaped hand then descended from the side at which was sitting, that is to say, at the opposite side to Mrs. Jencken [Fox]. The hand seized a pencil which was lying on the table and wrote the letters 'E.W.E.'&43"

Phantom hands were also reported to have materialized during séances with the medium D. D. Home, in sittings with Napoleon III in 1857, as well as on many other occasions with other sitters, including Crookes.


Crookes, William. "Notes of an Enquiry into the Phenomena Called Spiritual." Quarterly Journal of Science (January 1874).

Medhurst, R. G., comp. Crookes and the Spirit World: A Collection of Writings by or Concerning the Works of Sir William Crookes D.M., F.R.S., in the Field of Psychical Research. New York: Taplinger; London: Souvenir Press, 1972.

Moses, W. Stainton. Direct Spirit Writing (Psychography). London, 1878. Reprint, London: Psychic Book Club, 1952.