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Observations placeholder

Vast luminous wheels seen at sea



Type of Spiritual Experience


I don't know how to classify this.

A description of the experience

Knowledge, Dec. 28, 1883:
"Seeing so many meteorological phenomena in your excellent paper, Knowledge, I am tempted to ask for an explanation of the following, which I saw when on board the British India Company's steamer Patna, while on a voyage up the Persian Gulf. In May, 1880, on a dark night, about 11:30 P.M., there suddenly appeared on each side of the ship an enormous luminous wheel, whirling around, the spokes of which seemed to brush the ship along. The spokes would be 200 or 300 yards long, and resembled the birch rods of the dames' schools. Each wheel contained about sixteen spokes, and, although the wheels must have been some 500 or 600 yards in diameter, the spokes could be distinctly seen all the way round. The phosphorescent gleam seemed to glide along flat on the surface of the sea, no light being visible in the air above the water. The appearance of the spokes could be almost exactly represented by standing in a boat and flashing a bull's eye lantern horizontally along the surface of the water, round and round. I may mention that the phenomenon was also seen by Captain Avern, of the Patna, and Mr. Manning, third officer.
"Lee Fore Brace. 
"P.S.--The wheels advanced along with the ship for about twenty minutes.--L.F.B."

Knowledge , Jan. 11, 1884:  Letter from "A. Mc. D.":
That "Lee Fore Brace," "who sees 'so many meteorological phenomena in your excellent paper,' should have signed himself 'The Modern Ezekiel,' for his vision of wheels is quite as wonderful as the prophet's." The writer then takes up the measurements that were given, and calculates a velocity at the circumference of a wheel, of about 166 yards per second, apparently considering that especially incredible. He then says: "From the nom de plume he assumes, it might be inferred that your correspondent is in the habit of 'sailing close to the wind.'" He asks permission to suggest an explanation of his own. It is that before 11:30 P.M. there had been numerous accidents to the "main brace," and that it had required splicing so often that almost any ray of light would have taken on a rotary motion.

In Knowledge, Jan. 25, 1884, Mr. "Brace" answers and signs himself "J.W. Robertson":
"I don't suppose A. Mc. D. means any harm, but I do think it's rather unjust to say a man is drunk because he sees something out of the common. If there's one thing I pride myself upon, it's being able to say that never in my life have I indulged in anything stronger than water."
From this curiosity of pride, he goes on to say that he had not intended to be exact, but to give his impressions of dimensions and velocity. He ends amiably: "However, 'no offense taken, where I suppose none is meant.'"

The obvious explanation of this phenomenon is that, under the surface of the sea, in the Persian Gulf, was a vast luminous wheel: that it was the light from its submerged spokes that Mr. Robertson saw, shining upward.

It seems clear that this light did shine upward from origin below the surface of the sea. But at first it is not so clear how vast luminous wheels, each the size of a village, ever got under the surface of the Persian Gulf: also there may be some misunderstanding as to what they were doing there.


The source of the experience

Magician other

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Riding on or in vehicles


Rocking, swaying and swinging