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Observations placeholder

Lukens, Dr Anna – The doctor's great music box spontaneously began to play



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

this was published in Proceedings of the S.P.R. (Vol XIV, page 232).
The percipients are Dr. Anna Lukens and W.E. Ward. The latter, on May 13, 1887, wrote to Dr. Hogdson:

A strange incident occurred in Dr. Anna Lukens' office last Sunday evening. We were talking about our dear friend Professor Cope, who died four weeks before we returned from a three-month excursion through Mexico, California and the north-eastern states.

At one point, I mentioned the interest the deceased had shown in psychic research, noting the importance of obtaining some obvious sign of his survival, or of learning his impressions of the spiritual existence in which he had recently entered.

I had barely finished expressing this desire, than the doctor's great music box spontaneously began to play and thus continued for more than five minutes, to our great amazement. We were bewildered. When I began to speculate about how one could naturally explain this unexpected musical entertainment, at that moment, as if one wanted to answer my objections, the box stopped playing, as abruptly as it had begun.

The instrument had not been used for three months. Assuming that a remnant of tension remained in the spring, it should have relaxed well before, when the doctor's office was subjected to the turmoil of a change of furniture...

Signed: W. E. Ward.

In another letter, Mr. Ward adds this detail:

A curious incident, which I believe I omitted in my previous letter, occurred about a quarter of an hour after the music box stopped playing. I put a mental question to the late Professor Cope, which is roughly the following: "Edward, did you play the box?" Immediately three strong blows were struck next to me on the floor; but as it happened when Dr. Lukens had already left, I could not substantiate this fact with her testimony.

Dr. Lukens expresses herself in this way:

I have nothing to add to my friend Ward's account of the music box incident. It was indeed a rather disconcerting incident, since we were sitting in the office talking about the late Professor Cope and wanting to obtain any evidence of his continuing existence. The corresponding phenomenon of the music box that spontaneously started playing and kept playing for a few minutes surprised us....Nevertheless, I am inclined to believe that this was an accidental event, due to natural causes.

Comment:  Dr. Lukens doubts it, but at the same time she acknowledges that the incident is disconcerting, and she talks about it in such a way as to suggest that her doubt does not fully express the feeling of her mind.

The source of the experience

Lukens, Dr Anna

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Believing in the spiritual world