As if there aren't enough weirdos to deal with in the living world, you want to get together with some of the weirdos on the other side? Hey, we're not here to judge your wacky ideas; we're just here to exploit them. But because we're responsible exploiters, we're going to tell you how to hold a séance the right way - there is such a thing as the wrong way, and you really don't want to go that way, believe us. How it changed my life:
We've gone to the dark and dusty back row of the library and consulted every book with a skull and scary handwriting on the cover to retrieve all the information you'll need on how to properly hold a séance. So hold your breath, focus, and read on. 1. Learn What Seances Are
A séance (pronounced SAY-ahnce) is a meeting at which a group of people attempts to contact a spirit and communicate with it. As unbalanced as this may sound, many have claimed to conduct successful séances, and they have the video recordings to prove it. Organizations like the International Society for Paranormal Research and the Society for Paranormal Investigation, Research, and Informational Training are dedicated specifically to exploring the possibility that ghosts actually do exist, despite what your parents may have told you. (Hey - they weren't exactly being truthful about taking Fido to live on that puppy farm either, right?) For further proof, watch the video Strictly Supernatural: Séance, which examines the evidence supporting the credibility of séances.
The Fox Family
The history of séance communication in the United States can be traced back to 1848, when two young sisters, Margaretta and Catherine Fox, became famous for conversing with a ghost who haunted their house in Hydesville, New York. The house had a history for being creepy - before the Fox family inhabited it, the previous owner had moved out after being sufficiently spooked by the loud rapping sounds that occurred every night. The noises continued after the Foxes moved in, and the raps were sometimes so violent that the furniture shook and the entire house rattled.
During a rapping session one night, Catherine asked the invisible visitor to rap the number of times she snapped her fingers, and it quickly obliged. After that, the other family members started asking the spirit to respond to yes-or-no questions, which it would answer with either one or two raps, respectively. They also developed an alphabet rapping system. It was soon established that the Foxes were talking to a man who had been murdered in their house.
Other Hydesville residents were invited to attend the gotta-hear-it-to-believe-it conversations. Soon, other ghosts were visiting the Foxes to chat with the two girls (the raps would only occur if at least one of them were in the room). The Foxes quickly became the talk of the town, then the country, and eventually, the world. Other people tried to communicate with ghosts in their own houses.
Oh, we should mention that the Fox sisters later admitted to somehow faking the raps and the ghosts. Some say, however, that hostile disbelievers pressured the Foxes into invalidating their experience. Whatever the case, the Fox sisters will always be credited with opening up the possibility of not just seeing or hearing the dead, but communicating with them directly.
Nowadays, séances are generally conducted by psychics or spiritual mediums who you pay to lead the séance. It is possible, however, to hold one yourself, provided that you know what you're doing. Is it safe to invite dead people over to bang on your furniture? Psychics and mediums will be quick to answer yes - after all, their rent is being paid by the "fact" that spirits can be controlled by the living.
Another undesired scenario could be that the spirit you summon decides that it likes your place and ends up bunking with you forever. Until we come up with a "SoYouWanna Perform an Exorcism on Your House?" we can't guarantee that conducting a séance is one hundred percent safe. We can, however, teach you how to hold a séance properly, and minimize your chances of screwing up royally with unseen forces. 2. Create An Exclusive Believers-Only Invitation List
a) Stick to people who are open-minded. This is a definite MUST - ghosts respond only to those who believe in them
b) Séances are generally conducted with three or more people, and some sources say that the number of participants should be divisible by three.
c) Never conduct a séance by yourself, unless you actually want to go insane.
d) Kids shouldn't be invited, as they tend to get freaked out easiest, and could ruin your chances of keeping the ghost around, not to mention that they could be traumatized into wetting themselves at any loud sound for the rest of their lives.
e) While you should invite two or more people, don't invite more guests than you can fit around the table where you plan to hold the séance. The first few minutes of the séance require some group relaxation and meditation, which could be hard to manage if your guests are banging elbows, literally breathing down each others' necks, and sharing chairs for lack of space. It's simply not possible to meditate with half your bottom unsupported. 3. Set Up A Spirit-Friendly Environment
As even the unbelievers know, ghosts are supposed to come out at night, so plan your séance for sometime after the sun goes down. A night with a bright, full moon would be a nice touch and could set the mood, but it isn't necessary.
It's been recommended that séances be held in a location other than your house-or any inhabited house-just in case the spirit you attract has a hard time saying goodbye and sticks around. A hotel room is preferable (though probably not in the opinion of the hotel owner), but we recommend that you just hold it at your house. Just make sure you read the directions at the end of the step "Summon the Spirit," and follow them carefully.
There are 5 things you will need to hold a proper séance:
a) The Table. After you've decided on a location, it's very important to prepare the area for the séance. Séances are usually held around a round or ovular table, so find one that's large enough to accommodate all your guests and have enough chairs for each participant. Cover the table with a sheet of white cloth or paper - the color will help to attract "good" ghosts who are peaceful, helpful, and who won't overstay their welcome.
b) Candles. Place some unlit candles on the center of the table. There should be at least 3 candles; the more the better, but not so many that you might accidentally light a guest's weave on fire. The number of candles on the table should also be divisible by 3 and there should be some white candles (but you can also include some purple or violet ones for spirituality). Don't light the candles just yet.
c) Incense. There are several scents that are essential for conducting a séance, and the 3 most popular ones are cinnamon, frankincense, and sandalwood. You can buy incense with these scents, or you can find them in candles, as well (but don't include these candles on the séance table if they aren't the right colors). Here's what each smell is supposed to do:
Cinnamon: provides warmth and energy Frankincense: expands consciousness and aids in meditation Sandalwood: grounds the participants and helps them to stay focused
d) You can light the incense before your guests arrive so that the room smells all nice and séance-y by the time they show up.
e) Music. Have some meditation or new age music - anything mild and soothing - playing as your guests are arriving. The purpose of the music is to relax the participants and set the mood; it shouldn't be playing when the séance actually begins.
f) Tape/Video Recorder. People often hold what they initially think to be an unsuccessful séance, only to discover later on when they watch or listen to a taped recording of it that the ghost was actually present. If you run a tape recorder at a séance that supposedly flopped, play back the recording on high volume to see if maybe a very soft-spoken ghost was actually there. Who knows - you might have just inadvertently made the next Blair Witch Project, and all you did was foolishly mess around with the supernatural, not tramp around the woods in wet camping gear . . . what a deal! 4. Prep the Participants
Once all your guests have arrived and are settled (they have finished off the last of your good ice cream, have gone to the bathroom, and are starting to whine, "Now what, O Freaky One?"), seat them comfortably around the table. So here's what to do next:
a) Select a medium. If you don't want to be the medium (that is, the person conducting the séance) have someone who has been to a séance or is particularly in tune with their sixth sense do the job.
b) Once a medium is established, let him/her lead the group. A séance should be held in an orderly fashion, without random participants yelling out, "When will I get married?" as soon as the spirit arrives. Make sure this is clear to everyone before proceeding.
c) Decide on whom to call over from the other side. It is a good idea to pick a spirit beforehand, so you'll at least know who you're dealing with (your lovable old Nana, as opposed to an axe murderer). It's also a good idea to choose someone who has recently passed away - spirits who have lived on the other side for more than a couple of decades tend to not want to be bothered and might get angry if they are.
d) Charge the candles. Have the participants hold each candle in their hands and visualize its symbolic power emanating from it. For example, if you are holding a white candle, picture strands of peaceful smoke curling up from it. Each candle should be passed to and charged by each participant before being lit and returned to the center of the table. By now, all the music should be turned off, other noisy distractions should be eliminated, and everyone should be focused on the task at hand.
5. Summon the Spirit
1. Begin by joining hands with the people on either side of you and closing your eyes.
2. Depending on your religious beliefs, you (or the medium) might want to say a short invocation or divine blessing before going further, just in case.
3. Then the medium should lead everyone in a deep breathing exercise by instructing them to breathe in slowly through the nose . . . and out slowly through the mouth, while trying to keep their minds blank. The goal is to get everyone calm, comfortable, and in touch with their senses.
4. After a few minutes of this, the medium should ask everyone to say these words together: "Our beloved [name of spirit], we ask that you commune with us and move among us." Repeat the chant until there is a response.
5. A response can take the form of a sudden decrease in room temperature, a slight ache in the area that caused the spirit's death (for example, if the deceased died from a heart attack, séance participants might feel a subtle pain in their chest), or a rapping sound.
6. If after awhile there is no response, the medium can add to the chant: "If you are with us, [name of spirit], please rap once."
7. After receiving confirmation that you are, indeed, chatting with the dead (don't scream or you might scare Nana away!) make sure that it really is Nana you're talking to by establishing a "one rap = yes, two raps = no" system and asking her yes-or-no questions that only she would know the answers to. If you discover that it's actually not Nana you're speaking to, don't panic - the spirit might still be a friendly and helpful (though confused) one. Figure out what type of ghost you have on your hands and go from there.
8. If the spirit gives you creepy responses ("When will I die?" . . . "Today!") or starts to knock furniture over and toss vases across the room, quickly tell it to go in peace, break the circle of hands, extinguish the candles, and turn on the lights.
9. Otherwise, continue to ask yes-or-no questions. Don't ask more than one question at a time and never tease the spirit, unless you actually want a peeved ghost to haunt your house forever. For some reason, spirits are usually very sensitive and don't take jokes very well, so save your playful ribbing for the living.
10. If the séance is going well (the participants aren't fainting, the medium's head isn't spinning 360 degrees, and the ghost seems happy to talk), the medium can invite the ghost into his/her body to answer questions more fully.
11. If, for any reason, things start to get out of control and the medium can't seem to handle it (look for spastic movements - you don't have to wait until green gunk starts spewing from the medium's mouth to decide that he/she can't handle it), have a designated pinch-hitter. Command the participant to quickly tell the spirit to go in peace, break the circle of hands, extinguish the candles, and turn on the lights.
12. After you're done with all your questioning, end the séance by thanking the spirit for its time and telling it to go in peace. If you don't thank the spirit, it may feel miffed by your lack of manners and refuse to come when you try to call it again in the future. Worse yet, it may tell all its buddies about your unfortunate upbringing and no ghost will want to visit you. And if you don't tell the spirit to go, it might see that as an invitation to stay awhile, at which point we'd recommend for you to move - so make sure you get that goodbye in. Then break the circle, extinguish the candles, and turn on the lights. Look around the table and make sure all the participants are fully conscious.
13. Record the events of the séance immediately (on paper if you weren't already taping it). Have each participant write down his/her point of view. If you plan on holding séances regularly, a séance log will help you remember all the little details of what occurred during each meeting. You'll be surprised at how dreamlike the experience will seem after you have a good night's rest and wake up with the sun blazing in your face. The log will serve as proof that you not only managed to talk to a ghost, but several other people were there to witness it. 6. Reevaluate the Situation If the Seance Doesn't Work Right
If it turns out that you followed all these steps but couldn't get a ghost to visit, it might be because someone in your séance group doesn't really believe in ghosts, deep down inside. As the meditation and chanting was going on, consciously he/she was thinking, "Wow, this is creepy," but subconsciously, he/she was going, "Yeah, right." You can resolve the issue by shining a bright light in each person's face and interrogating them mercilessly, or you can just try holding the séance with different combinations of people to weed out the pseudo-believers. Other explanations for why your séance failed miserably may be that your group was too impatient to get a response, or perhaps it just wasn't in the cards. Anything is possible in this uncertain business. But people have found that holding a séance is something that gets easier with practice, so give it another chance or two before quitting on the idea and becoming normal.
And that's more than you need to know about summoning the dead. Good luck with your séance, and remember . . . don't go into the light.
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