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Observations placeholder

Nathan Coker – Able to firewalk and handle fire



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Friar Herbert Thurston - The Physical Phenomenon of Mysticism;  quoting from Daily Alta California, Volume 23, Number 7856, 27 September 1871

Side by side with this we may range an extraordinary report furnished by a correspondent of the New York Herald concerning a negro [Nathan Coker] in Talbot County, Maryland. The writer names several prominent inhabitants of Easton, as well as the editor of a local newspaper, and states that in their company he was present at an exhibition of [Nathan’s] powers which took place, not in the performer's own home, but "at Dr. Stack's Office."

A brisk fire of anthracite coal was burning in a common coal stove and an iron shovel was placed in the stove and heated to a white heat.  When all was ready, the negro pulled off his boots and placed the hot shovel on the soles of his feet, and kept it there until the shovel became black. His feet were then examined by the physicians-three were present-but no burns could be found and all declared that no evidence of a heated substance having come in contact with them was visible.

The shovel was again heated red-hot, taken from the stove and handed to him. He ran out his tongue as far as he could, and laid the shovel upon it, licking the iron until it became cooled. The physicians examined the tongue but found nothing to indicate that he had suffered in the least from the heated iron. A large handful of common squirrel shot was next placed in an iron receptacle and heated until melted. The negro then took the dish, poured the heated lead into the palm of his hand, and then put it into his mouth, allowing it to run all round his teeth and gums. He repeated the operation several times, each time keeping the melted lead in his mouth until solidified. After each operation the physicians examined him carefully, but could find nothing upon his flesh to indicate that he had been in the least affected. . . . Then he deliberately put his hand into the stove, in which was a very hot fire, took therefrom a handful of hot coals and passed them around the room to the gentlemen present, keeping them in his hand some time.

Not the slightest evidence of a burn was visible upon his hands after he threw the coals back into the stove.

The writer goes on to say that all the people present had come with the express purpose of detecting trickery, if such there were, but that they were satisfied of the genuineness of the exhibition.  Finally, he mentions the names of other distinguished eye-witnesses.

The source of the experience

Nathan Coker

Concepts, symbols and science items



Fire walking

Activities and commonsteps