It's human nature to want to be assured that there is life
Seances and communicating with the after-life
A séance is a meeting of people who are gathered
with the intention of trying to communicate with spirits of people who have
died. While there have always been those who claim to communicate with spirits
and angels, the real heyday of the séance began in the mid-1800s with
the Spiritualist movement, which is generally believed to have begun in a small
farmhouse in upstate New York with a pair of young sisters, Margaret and Kate
Fox. The two girls lived in a house that was said to be haunted. After months
of hearing disturbances late at night, young Kate Fox one night challenged the
ghostly spirit to do as she did, and clapped her hands together. She was immediately
answered by the exact same number of rapping sounds from the ghostly visitor.
The girls quickly established a method of communication, asking the "ghost"
questions and receiving answers as a series of knocks.
The Seance Movement
From that beginning, the Fox sisters built a career as
trance mediums that spanned decades and launched an entire movement. The séance
grew out of that movement. The word literally means 'seating' in French, and
is used to refer to meetings. Since the mid 1800s, it has been used specifically
to refer to meetings at which the participants intend to communicate with the
spirits of the dead. Séances became popular with the rise of both Spiritualism
and Science as people demanded 'proof' that life after death existed. While
there have been many charlatans who preyed on the desire of the living to know
that life after death is a reality, there have also been many mediums who were
never exposed as frauds, despite years of attempts to unmask them. Séances
often appeal to the theatrical in people.
How does a Seance Work?
A typical séance is held in a darkened room, with
carefully chosen trappings - a cloth-covered table, candles, perhaps even a
crystal ball to serve as a focus for the medium. There is often an experienced
medium present - a person who has spoken with spirits or who allows them to
use her body to communicate with those present. The spirit may manifest by tapping
on the table or walls, by tipping the table or by speaking through the medium
or through some other means entirely. In many cases, the medium or group of
people may even use a Ouija
board or other device to communicate with the spirits on the other side.
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