"All the World's a Stage We Pass Through" R. Ayana

Friday, 3 July 2015

She Moved Things With Her Mind: The Psychic Powers of Nina Kulagina

She Moved Things With Her Mind
The Psychic Powers of Nina Kulagina

Nina Kulagina, the Woman Who Could Move Objects With Her Mind

From the 1960s to 1990 Russian ‘psychic’ Nina Kulagina displayed an apparently impressive range of psychic powers, particularly psychokinesis (the ability to move objects using the mind alone), and was tested and supposedly found to be genuine by respected scientists. She was also filmed using her abilities many times. However, she remains a controversial figure and her demonstrations of psychic ability have received criticism from sceptics who believe the films and experiments show clever trickery rather than paranormal powers. This would, at present, seem to be the most likely explanation.

Kulagina was only 14 when the Nazis began the siege of Leningrad. Like many Leningrad children she had to become a soldier, and along with her father, brother and sister, she joined the Red Army and was sent into the thick of the action. The conditions during the 900 day siege were appalling. Winter temperature sometimes reached forty degrees below zero, bread rations were about four ounces a day, the water and the electricity were cut off, and the city was devastated by bombs and artillery fire. 

Nina served on the front line in Tank T-34 as a radio operator, and distinguished herself enough to become senior sergeant. But the fighting came to an end for her when she was seriously injured by artillery fire. Fortunately, she managed to recover and later settled down, married and had a son.

Powers of the Mind

Nina claimed that she was always aware of her ‘psychic powers’. There are stories that she could mentally see things inside people’s pockets, and when she met sick people she could identify the disease they were suffering from, an image of the illness appearing in her mind. On one occasion when Kulagina was in a particularly angry mood, she was walking towards a cupboard in her apartment when a jug in the cupboard suddenly moved to the edge of the shelf, fell and smashed to pieces on the floor. After that, changes began to take place in her apartment. Lights went on and off; objects became animated and seemed somehow to be attracted to her. It was in effect a type of poltergeist activity, except that Kulagina was convinced the psychic power was coming from her and discovered that, if she tried, she could control it.

In 1964, while in hospital recovering from a nervous breakdown, Nina spent a lot of time sewing. According to published accounts doctors were amazed when they saw that she was able to reach into her sewing basket and choose any colour of thread she needed without looking at it. Local parapsychologists were contacted and the following year, when she had fully recovered, she agreed to take part in various experiments. Kulagina was tested and it was found that she could apparently ‘see’ colours with her fingertips, bringing to mind Rosa Kuleshova, a school teacher from the Ural Mountains, who also claimed to possess this talent.

There are also instances where Kulagina apparently displayed extraordinary healing powers. She could, it was said, make wounds heal up simply by holding her hand above them. She was also tested by Russian scientists for psychokinesis and the results were apparently so remarkable that, in order to keep her real identity secret, she was obliged for many years to use the pseudonym of Nelya Mikhailova. What these remarkable results were, however, has never been exactly stated.


One of Kulagina’s abilities involved her sitting at a table and staring at a small object, such as a matchbox or a wineglass, and make it move without touching it. Apparently her powers did not come straight away, hours of preparation may be needed, which, as sceptics have pointed out, does not favour the setting up of strictly supervised demonstrations. In order to move things with mind power alone she found she had to clear all other thoughts from her head, and told investigators that when her concentration was successful, there was a sharp pain in her spine, and her eyesight blurred. Nina practiced hard, focusing her powers, and was soon able to move matchsticks, fountain pens and compass needles. There is nothing here, however, which an accomplished stage magician could not duplicate, though no one at the time in Russia seems to have bothered to try.

One of the first scientists to take an interest in Kulagina was Biologist Edward Naumov. In an early test, the details of which are as usual sketchy, he scattered a box of matches on a bench; Nina held her hands over them, trembling with the strain. Suddenly, all the matches moved together to the edge of the bench, then fell one by one to the floor.


Psychic Powers on Film

Amazing stories about Nina Kulagina began to reach the West through the international wire services in the spring of 1968. In the same year, films of Kulagina moving objects, ostensibly using only her mind, were shown at the First Moscow International Conference on Parapsychology and were also seen by some Western scientists. For a brief time Western investigators were permitted to meet Russian mediums, witness Nina Kulagina for themselves and verify the reports of her PK abilities made by Soviet scientists. In 1970 William A. McGary, one of a group from the United States investigating psychic phenomena in Russia, described a session in which Kulagina caused several small objects, including a wedding ring and the top of a condiment bottle, to move across a dining-room table.

Another of the American investigators, Gaither Pratt, of the University of Virginia, stated that the objects which Kulagina could move varied widely in material, shape and weight, and when they moved they generally progressed in a slow, steady fashion. Only occasionally did the objects which Kulagina ‘controlled’ move in fits and starts. It is reported that a number of precautions were taken to make sure that Kulagina wasn’t using a concealed magnet or threads, and films were taken of the experiments which seem to confirm that no known force could explain the movements. Unfortunately, it is not known how thoroughly Kulagina was checked before the experiment.

Dr. Zdenek Rejdak, a prominent Czech scientist connected with a Prague Military Institute, tested Kulagina personally and reported the results for some reason in Czech Pravda, a far from scientific publication:

I visited the Kulagina family the evening of 26 February, 1968. Mr. Blazek, an editor friend was with me, also a physician, Dr. J.S. Zverev, and Dr. Sergeyev. Her husband, an engineer, was also present. Dr. Zverev gave Mrs. Kulagina a very thorough physical examination. Tests with special instruments failed to show any indication whatever of magnets or any other concealed object. ‘We checked the table thoroughly and also asked Mrs. Kulagina frequently to change position at the table. We passed a compass around her body and the chair and table with negative results. I asked her to wash her hands. After concentrating, she turned the compass needle more than ten times, then the entire compass and its case, a matchbox and some twenty matches at once. I placed a cigarette in front of her. She moved that too, at a glance. I shredded it afterwards and there was nothing inside it. In between each set of tests, she was again physically examined by the doctor.

In one filmed Moscow test, set up by a group of ‘well known physicists’, several non-magnetic objects including matches were placed inside a large Plexiglas cube. The cube was to prevent drafts of air, threads or wires; methods long favoured by sceptics as the means by which Kulagina performed her ‘tricks’. Her hands moved a few inches from the Plexiglas cover and the objects danced from side to side in the plastic container. In another filmed experiment, a ping-pong ball is seen levitating and hovering in the air for a few seconds, before falling back onto the table. In yet another she is shown both indoors and outside in a garden, where objects near her spin round or slide in different directions.

Unfortunately the films are so grainy and unclear that it is often difficult to see exactly what is happening, and again the background information to the experiment – location, precautions taken, personnel present etc – is not given. Where are the reports of these amazing psychic tests?

An additional and lesser known ability of Kulagina, though hardly less sensational, was noted by physicist Dr. V.F. Shvetz. He claimed that he observed Kulagina making the letters A or O appear on photo paper and that sometimes she could also transfer an outline of a picture she’d seen onto photo paper, recalling the ‘thoughtography’ talents of the controversial Ted Serios in America. Occasionally, unexplained burn marks appeared on Kulagina’s hands and there were reports that shocked scientists saw her clothes catch fire. Towards the end of her life Kulagina demonstrated this phenomenon on TV, causing a bright red patch to appear on the arm of a European journalist.

Testing the Psychic

According to various books (see sources) Doctor Leonid L. Vasiliev, a psychologist at Leningrad University, had pioneered ESP study in Russia at the Institute for Brain Research in Leningrad, and was one of the first to test Kulagina, continuing to do so right up until his death in 1966. Another Soviet scientist, Dr. Genady Sergeyev, apparently a well-known physiologist working in a Leningrad military laboratory, did several years of intensive laboratory research on Kulagina, and made special studies of the electrical potentials in Kulagina’s brain.  During observations he apparently recorded exceptionally strong voltages and other unusual effects. In one series of experiments in Leningrad, recalling those of Dr. Shvetz, he and his colleagues placed undeveloped photo film in a black envelope. Incredibly, by staring at the envelope Kulagina was able to expose the film inside. If this is incredible story is true, then it is particularly unfortunate that there is no published account of the extraordinary experiment.

Chairman of Theoretical Physics at Moscow University, Dr. Ya. Terletsky declared on 17 March, 1968, in Moscow Pravda: ‘Mrs. Kulagina displays a new and unknown form of energy.’ The Mendeleyev Institute of Metrology also studied Nina, and announced in Moscow Pravda (why not a science journal?) that she had moved aluminium pipes and matches under stringent test conditions, including surveillance on closed-circuit television. They could not explain how the objects had moved.

A Strange Mind Power Experiment

One of Kulagina’s strangest filmed experiments involved the effect of her powers on a raw egg floating in a tank of saline solution almost two metres away from her. Seeming to use nothing but ‘intense concentration’, she slowly separated the yolk from the white of the egg, and moved the two apart; if she focused her energies for long enough, she could put the egg back together again. But the most unusual experiment of all took place in the Leningrad laboratory on 10 March, 1970.

Satisfied that Kulagina had the ability to move inanimate objects, scientists were curious to know whether Nina’s abilities extended to cells, tissues, and organs. Sergeyev was one of the many scientists in attendance when Kulagina attempted to use her energy to stop the beating of a frog’s heart, floating in solution, and then re-activate it. She focused intently on the heart and summoned all her powers. First she made it beat faster – then slower, and, using intense will power, she stopped it. Apparently she could also disrupt human heart beats – on one occasion giving a hostile Leningrad psychiatrist a frightening first-hand experience of her power.  Again, if these extraordinary experiments actually took place as indicated, there should be published accounts of the groundbreaking results, so where are they?

In one of the (silent) films shot of experiments with Kulagina in her Leningrad apartment she is seen seated at a large, round, white table, in front of a lace-curtain window. According to Russian scientists she had, on this occasion, already been physically examined by a medical doctor, who had x-rayed her to make sure there were no hidden magnets or anything else concealed on her person, nor any pieces of shrapnel lodged in her body from her war injury. She was found to be clean and the experiment begun.

The film crew, scientists – Naumov among them, and reporters, moved in for a close –up. Naumov placed a compass on a wristband, a vertical cigarette, a pen top, a small metal cylinder like a saltshaker, and a matchbox on the table in front of her. Kulagina began with the compass – apparently the easiest object to warm up on. She held her fingers parallel to the table about six inches above the compass and started moving her hands in a circular motion. For a while nothing happened . . . then the needle quivered and slowly began to rotate counter clockwise, then the whole compass, case and all, began to spin.

Many conjurers would not be too impressed with this performance, though there is apparentlyno proof that Kulagina was using trickery on this occasion.


The ‘Impossibility’ of Psychic abilities

Naturally, Kulagina was not without her critics, but sometimes it went beyond criticism. In the Moscow paper Pravda there was a vicious attack on Kulagina, demonizing her and calling her a fake and a cheat. It was said that she performed her tricks with the help of concealed magnets and threads, though how magnets could move nonmagnetic things like glass, eggs, apples and bread was not explained. Kulagina’s supporters also claimed that  she could move any one or two objects from a group chosen by the investigator.  In the end it was revealed that the author of the Pravda piece had never even seen Kulagina. He had decided that PK was impossible therefore she must be cheating.

At the same time as the Pravda article, it is claimed that a campaign of harassing phone calls began against Kulagina. It was thought unlikely that these were merely harmless crank calls – there were no telephone books in Russia at that time; to get somebody’s phone number involved lining up for hours at special address booths in the streets. Secondly, she was known to the public as Nelya Mikhailova, not by her real name of Nina Kulagina.

So whoever was calling had to know her real name and her address. It seems likely that it had been well organised. But by whom? Was the KGB involved? Or, as is most likely, was the whole story concocted to increase the mystique surrounding Kulagina? Apparently, the calls finally got so out of hand that the scientists decided to hide Kulagina in the country outside Leningrad.

Some sceptics have claimed that Kulagina was only tested in her own apartment and in hotel rooms, but according to Pravda for example (unreliable to say the least) she was also tested by eminent Soviet scientists in controlled laboratory conditions. These scientists are quoted as more than once stating that after watching Nina in action that they had found ‘no hidden threads, magnets, or other gimmicks.’ This does not of course  prove that Kulagina did not cheat, as stated earlier we have no information on how thorough the checks were.

There is, however, no direct evidence that Kulagina ever faked her abilities. Despite the lack of evidence for trickery. sceptics still believe Kulagina’s abilities to be entirely fraudulent or at least greatly exaggerated by Soviet authorities, probably to be used as propaganda in their Cold-War era psychological battles with the U.S. Indeed the lack of publication of the incredible experiments with Kulagina and other Russian psychics in scientific journals has persuaded some researchers that the experiments never occurred at all, at least as described in the popular press.

Exhaustion from Psychic Tests

But there was a down side to these experiments. Whatever Kulagina’s ‘powers’ were, it is said that they had always taken a lot out of her. After one set of tests with Dr. Rejdak she was totally exhausted, and had almost no pulse. Her face was pale and drained and she could hardly move her body. She had apparentl lost almost four pounds in half an hour (many Western mediums, such as American Felicia Parise, have also described this weight loss during PK); it was as if she were converting the matter of her own body into energy. According to Dr. Zverev’s report, her heart-beat was irregular, there was high blood sugar, and her endocrine system was disturbed. All this was consistent with high stress. She had also lost the sensation of taste, suffered from pains in her arms and legs, couldn’t coordinate, and felt dizzy.

According to popular accounts, Kulagina’s use of her psychic abilities apparently led to a strain on her health culminating, in the late seventies, in a near fatal heart attack. Her doctors recommended that she reduce her activity, though she kept up some lab work until she died in 1990, around the time of the death of the Soviet Union itself.

It is still believed by many in Russia that these experiments exhausted her, ruined her health, and probably hastened her death. At her funeral, Soviets praised Kulagina as a ‘hero of Leningrad’ after her bravery during the nine-hundred-day siege of World War II. But many also lauded her for sacrifices of a different kind to her country, allowing scientists and doctors to examine and test her ‘psychic abilities’ incessantly in their quest for an unknown and elusive energy. More down to earth researchers however, believe claims of Kulagina’s ‘psychic abilities’ to be entirely groundless.

Further Reading

Gris, Henry, and Dick, William. The New Soviet Psychic Discoveries. London, Souvenir Press, 1979.

Inglis, Brian. The Paranormal – An Encyclopedia of Psychic Phenomena, London. Granada publishing, 1985, p112.

Ostrander, Sheila, & Schroeder, Lynn.  Psychic Discoveries – The Iron Curtain Lifted. London, Souvenir Press, 1997 (1971).

Spencer, John & Anne. The Poltergeist Phenomenon. London, Headline 1997, pp227-8.

During the Cold War, a number of silent black-and-white films emerged and they showed Nina moving objects on a table. The setting of the films suggested that the psychokinesis experiments were done under conditions strictly controlled by Soviet authorities. During that time, it was reported that as many as 40 scientists, including two Nobel laureates, had examined the woman and deemed her psychic powers genuine.

One such film showed researchers break open an egg in a tank full of water. Kulagina was able to separate the egg yolk from the white and then move them to opposite ends of the tank. Sensors placed on her body showed she had elevated her body temperature and her heartbeat, as well as the intensity of her brainwaves and electromagnetic field.

Her most famous test happened in the 1970s, when scientists wanted to see if Kulagina had any powers over animate matter, such as living cells, tissue and organs. A frog’s heart was placed in saline solution and kept beating with the aid of two electrodes delivering a weak electrical current. The scientists present during the experiment said Kulagina first made the heart beat faster, then slower and—through an intense thought process—stopped it altogether.

Thankfully, she was unable to perform the same feat on a human heart. Kulagina said that any attempt to control certain parts of a human being ended badly for her, usually in the form of extreme physical discomfort.

For more information about psychokinesis see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/pk
For more information about psychic powers see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/psychic%20powers

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  1. Under controlled environments not one of these mind-object movers were found to be credible, not one. That's not to say that there might be an alien among us who may actually move objects with their minds, we just haven't had a close agreement of a series of observations to indeed verify such an effect, have we? You'll know something like this is bogus if you yourself can't demonstrate the same kind of effect. When something seems impossible, it probably is....

    1. Unlike the balanced reports above, you haven't provided anything to back up the presumptive assertion of your first sentence. Human energy systems are quite sufficient to affect changes in their surrounds, and this has been amply demonstrated; see for instance http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/biofield and 'older posts' there.

      Truly open minded skepticism requires rigorous and extensive examination of evidence before one comes to any conclusions. And as for your last comment, this writer has witnessed undeniable pk effects on a number of occasions (and even been responsible for some of them).

      "I'll see it when I believe it" is how higher order events usually actually manifest - but belief is a trap and an illusion. Knowledge is irreplaceable - and can only be won by direct experience and practice.

  2. Go ahead, BELIEVE in magic if you want to, just don't define your beliefs as scientific FACT, this is the cause of most every conflict around the world. Magical superstitions taking precedent over the physical laws of nature. I say BS! Bring anyone with the so called magical power to move an object over to my house under my controlled conditions and NO human in the world will be able to use their magic tricks to prove anything REAL!

    1. The Sai Baba fraud was just one of many of the BS artists known to be exposed by the physical laws of nature and Nina would also be known to be yet another fraud in the long line of magicians that of come before and after her. Magic BS artists is what makes the magical money supply growing and going. Superstition and poppycock are what keep our BS political-and -monetary system system going and hence BS seeds more BS in the land of OZ.... Where the hell is Alice, Illuminator? Has she been committed yet?

    2. You'd do better to try it for yourself - see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/biofield
      - and see 'older posts' at the end of each section

      Your closed-minded rudeness is no substitute for a spirit of enquiry or any brand of genuine skeptiism. Why would anyone bother to convince you of anything? Truth is available for those who get out of their coccooning comfort zone and seek it, come what may; not for armchair cynics.
      Of course there are a multitude of fake gurus and prophets, but that proves nothing regarding Kulagina or a great number of other carefuilly studied cases you could refer to in the link/s provided.

  3. Sorry that you perceive me as rude, illuminator! I just like to point out REALITY for those who are SANE enough to find it. I'll repeat, this site has some interesting articles that I consider to be entertaining, but when magic tricks like lifting objects off the ground with mind power are mentioned to be REALITY events, I laugh and say, come on over to my place and I'll set up a controlled environment and prove ALL of these frauds to be wrong! Oh, unless their proven to be some kind of alien.... LOL!

    1. As you have no scientific training you fail to see that you have automatically disqualified yourself from conducting any kind of unbiased rational trial of the kind you suggest; one requires an open mind to conduct any scientific study, and when investigating psi effects in particular - as, obviously, IF they are real then mind and attitude of the observer/researcher/witness are critical as they are VERY likely to affect any outcome.
      In any case, as you refuse to admit that anyone else is as unbiased as you - and claim that all the researchers who've tirelessly investigated parapsyechology for over a century arre mere dupes - nothing will satisfy you. Even if you wirness real psi effects with your own eyes you'll refuse to admit you'vbe seen them - as many purblind people do. See for instance http://newilluminations.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/reality-is-malleable-unpredictable.html

    2. You often state how much you seemingly hate religion, Illuminator... Well, moving objects with the mind is just another religion. Oh, perhaps Jesus really did walk on water, he just had to know where the stones were just beneath the surface! LOL... How about Sai Baba? Did he have everyone duped or what? Well, science proved him to be wrong too.... You claim to be against beliefs (religion) yet the entire mind -object -moving experience is based on the gullibilities of sheeple. In fact in our sick society the entire controlling mechanism is based entirely on the sheeples willingness to accept magic tricks, word acrobats and numbers games. Yes the entire political-financial system is based on nothing more than puff ball type of religion. Is there an incentive to control sheeple under a misguided, ill-informed set of easily repudiated opinions? Damn right!!!! In fact FACTS are often hidden in the halls of Alice's Wonderland, right there in front of our noses. Controlling conditions can be set up by most any 4 year old, Illuminator, no need to be trained by people who's job it is to mislead. Who controls education at our some of the worlds so called leading universities? Well, the top magicians , I mean BS artists themselves, the money masters LOL.... Funny shit... Think about it, aren't we all just a bunch of silly hypocrites? BS rules? Or does it????? LOL

  4. Who said I have no scientific training? Science as I know it is based on a close agreement of a series of observations of the same phenomena, of which the phenomena can be demonstrated to be verifiable. How do we know REALITY? Through our observations of course! FACT has never been repudiated by another FACT but fiction, well, that's the difference really fiction is easily repudiated and so are opinions. Science is a method for discovering the laws of nature and or causes and effects. BS on the other hand is entertainment in the fine art of magic tricks either with sleight of hand or word acrobats. I repeat take any so called mind-object mover over to my place and I'll observe nothing more than magic tricks! And Illuminator? does one really need a formal education at a place like MIT to know science? Seems like MIT is a place to become indoctrinated with voodoo type science. I've been fortunate enough to be around some of the most brilliant science people alive, and none of them received any kind of formal training.... Formal training will dull your minds, my friends!

    1. Read the following articles (skimming won't do) and try it for yourself; http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/biofield
      - and see 'older posts' at the end of each section


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