ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Cold Touch From the Other Side

Updated on August 30, 2023
John Paul Quester profile image

John Paul is a retired academic with a background in psychology and philosophy.

Eliphas Levi
Eliphas Levi | Source

A Story Out of This World

A healthy measure of open minded skepticism towards paranormal claims is well warranted, for a number of reasons. Theoretical ones: many such claims appear to be incompatible with current levels of scientific understanding of the workings of the physical world. Empirical ones: with many important exceptions (1), the data presented in support of such claims are all too often insufficiently documented and fail to meet basic criteria of reliability. And the countless examples of deceptions, frauds, and hoaxes that have plagued this area more than any other further strengthen a temptation to dismiss such claims altogether. Which would be a mistake: for 'pearls of great price' are found sometimes in the folds of a humble oyster's mantle.

Reports of paranormal occurrences based solely upon the testimony of the individual who experienced them are bound to be among the weakest in terms of the trust we can place in them. Which is why the following tale is offered to you 'free of charge, no guarantees'..., and because in any case it is a good story.

It is told by Frenchman Eliphas Levi (1810-1875), one of the most influential occultists of 19th century Europe.

The Seal of Solomon in the 17th century grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon
The Seal of Solomon in the 17th century grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon | Source

An Enticing Request From a Lady in Black

In his “Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie”(2), Levi (born Alphonse Louis Constant) recounts that in the spring of 1854 he was living in London, pursuing esoteric studies.

One day, he received an envelope containing a calling card, halved. Printed on it was a pentagram, the seal of Solomon, which gives the power to command spirits. A short message invited him to stand outside Westminster Abbey the next day at precisely three o'clock in the afternoon.

Intrigued, Levi complied with the request. A coach was awaiting him there; he climbed aboard and found himself in the presence of a lady in black who showed him the matching half of the calling card he had received. As the carriage departed, she lifted a veil, revealing a pale face animated by uncanny, piercing eyes. The lady declared that, subject to a vow of secrecy, she was eager to grant him access to a laboratory equipped with all manners of magical implements, on condition that he should try to evoke the specter of Apollonius of Tyana: a Pythagorean philosopher, clairvoyant, and sage (c.15 – c.100 AD) endowed by tradition with the power to perform miracles, exorcise demons, and raise the dead.

Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana | Source

Apollonius Is Evoked

Levi consented. He followed the preparatory regimen outlined in the Rituel, which prescribed fasting and arcane forms of meditation for 21 days.

On July 24 everything was ready. The woman, versed in magical lore, had intended to participate in the evocation; but courage in the end deserted her, and Levi was left alone.

The laboratory was located in a tower in the lady’s mansion. Its walls were lined with concave mirrors, and at its center rose an altar on whose marble top, engraved with the pentagram, rested a chain of magnetized iron and a copper brazier filled with charcoal. Levi wore a long white surplice, his head adorned by a crown of vervain leaves entwined with a gold chain. In one hand he held a consecrated sword, in the other a book of mysteries.

After kindling a fire, Levi began the evocation: softly at first, and then ever more forcefully. The firelight lent the whole scene a dreamlike quality. Suddenly, he felt a tremor originating from the floor. His heart aflutter, his ears buzzing, he perceived in the dimming light a humanoid figure which slowly faded away. He resumed his evocation now standing in the center of a magic circle drawn on the stone floor. One of the mirrors reflected the image of a whitish shape forming behind the altar which began to move toward him. Closing his eyes, he enunciated three times the name of Apollonius. When he opened them he saw before him the figure of a man completely enveloped in a gray shroud; his face, thin and beardless, wore a mournful expression.

Eliphas was seized by fear and trembling, and though he tried to continue the evocation he found it impossible to speak. He pointed the tip of the sword at the apparition, mentally ordering it to obey him and to desist from any intimidation. The spectral image dissolved once again. Levi ordered it to reappear, and he found it now close to him. Suddenly, he felt touched on the arm that held the sword. The limb stiffened immediately. Intuiting that the presence demanded the removal of the sword, the magus withdrew it within the circle.

Although the apparition never addressed him, Levi heard an inner voice which shouted “Dead!” when he presented the lady’s question, which concerned a man whose whereabouts she wanted to know. Eliphas also obtained the answer to two important kabalistic secrets, which he chose not to disclose.

His arm remained stiff and sore for several days afterwards. The psychological impact of the evocation marked him more deeply. He felt he had lost much of his self-assurance. Acquaintances commented that Levi was severely traumatized by the experience, which he never again underwent.

And so the story ends. The decision as to what to make of it is all yours!


1. Quester, J.P. (2018). On the Evidence About Life After Death.

2. Levi, E. (1854-1856/2011). Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie. Vol I and II. Cambridge University Press.

© 2016 John Paul Quester


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)