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Observations placeholder

Braid, James - The case of the canaries in the bedroom



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Magic, Witchcraft, Animal Magnetism, Hypnotism, and ElectroBiology. By James Braid. 1852

"Two captains of merchant vessels arrived in port at the same time, and both went to take up their quarters in their usual lodgings. They were informed by the landlady of the house, however, that she was very sorry that she could not accommodate them on that occasion, as the only bedroom which she could have appropriated for their use was occupied by the corpse of a gentleman just deceased. Being most anxious to remain in their accustomed lodgings, almost on any terms, rather than go elsewhere, they offered to sleep in the room wherein the dead body was laid out. To this the landlady readily gave her assent, considering it better, so far as she was concerned, to have three such customers in her room than only one, and he a dead one. Having repaired to bed, one of the gentlemen, who was a very great wag, began a conversation with the other by asking him whether he had ever before slept in a room with a corpse in it, to which he replied 'No.'

 'Then,' said the other, 'are you aware of the remarkable circumstance that always, in such cases, after midnight, the room gets filled with canaries, which fly about and sing in the most beautiful manner ?'

His companion expressed his surprise at this. But no sooner said than realized ; for, the candle having been put out, presently there was a burst of music, as if the room really was full of canaries, which were not only heard, but at length the horrified novice in the chamber of death avowed that he both saw and felt the birds flying in all directions and plunging against him.

In a short time he became so excited, that, without taking time to do his toilet, he rushed downstairs in his nightdress, assuring the astonished household of the fact, and insisting that the room really was quite full of birds, as he could testify from the evidence of his senses, for he had not only heard them, but also seen and felt them flapping their wings against him" (, p. 88).

The source of the experience

Braid, James

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Overwhelming fear and terror