Skip to main content

Witches' Cradle

Witches' Cradle

During the witchcraft persecutions in Europe, inquisitors were said to have sometimes put an accused witch in a bag, which was then strung up over the limb of a tree and set swinging. When witches learned about this punishment they experimented with it themselves and found that the sensory deprivation or confusion of senses it caused induced hallucinatory experiences. A similar technique has long been used by sha-mans and dervishes and is sometimes known as "dervish dangling." It involves being suspended by a rope tied around the waist.

Modern researchers have followed up on this insight and developed, among other devices, the ASCID (Altered States of Consciousness Induction Device). The ASCID was devised by Robert Masters and Jean Houston of the Foundation for Mind Research. This technological-age witches' cradle is a metal swing in which the subject stands while blindfolded and wearing earplugs. The motion of the swing exaggerates the slightest movement of the occupant. Profoundly altered states of consciousness involving hallucinatory visions and sensations often take place within 20 minutes.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Witches' Cradle." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . 23 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Witches' Cradle." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . (February 23, 2019).

"Witches' Cradle." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved February 23, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.