Throughout the Victorian age, parties that featured a séance were all the rage. Hosts would gather people together to contact the dead. In recent years, there has been increased skepticism towards séances. However, a lot of people continue to believe that making contact with the dead is possible.
Hosting a séance can be an emotional, yet satisfying experience. When hosting your meeting, proceed with caution and patience to get the best results.
If you decide to try to conduct a séance at home, expect some awkwardness, especially on your first try. I’ve always thought that beginner’s séances were like a scene in a movie about teenagers away at summer camp, where the girls and boys from across the lake are thrown together for a one-night dance. In a séance, of course, it’s not about overcoming the gender divide, but the gap between the living and the dead. Like hapless teens, there’s a lot of hesitancy on both sides, and communication doesn’t always come easy—especially considering the dead don’t usually have audible voices!
Supplies and Necessities:
If you’re planning to hold a séance in your own home, you need a few like-minded people and a few vital supplies.
- Choose good company.
A séance generally requires a minimum of three people; one to be the medium, who contacts and channels the spirits, and at least two others to provide supportive energy. Make sure you choose friends who are respectful, comfortable with the supernatural, and focused—your friend who can’t stop fidgeting with his phone in a movie theater is likely to bring that same distracted mood to your séance.
Some say the number of participants must be divisible by three. But this does not seem to be an absolute rule. No fewer than three people should attempt a séance, as it can be emotionally and physically exhausting on a small group.
Séances are tricky business, and you don’t want to invite people who are going to ruin the atmosphere with negative attitudes, or by poo-pooing the entire event. Even if you don’t end up chatting with something from beyond the grave, you still want to have a good time. If you invite skeptical people to the séance, then the positive atmosphere is going to be wrecked and you probably won’t get a chance to communicate with any spirits. When you send out the invites, make sure you tell your cool friends to come, and the more open they are to the idea of a spirit world, the better.
Also, because the experience can be intense, it is usually best to keep young children and pets out of the circle.
- Make a space for spirits.
If you’re hosting your first séance, what should you have available? If you’re using a tarot deck, use your favorite set. If you don’t have a favorite set, just use one that speaks to you. There are a variety of tarot decks, and you’re sure to find something that’s your style.
If you’re certain that you’re going to speak with something from beyond the grave, then bring a voice recorder to pick up the audio from the session – you never know what you’re going to hear.
Although séances in film are usually held in romantic rooms with oaken round tables, you might live in a cramped apartment furnished exclusively by Ikea. That’s okay! A few modifications can make even the grungiest space more inviting to otherworldly visitors.
Some séance instructions ask for a round table. This helps create the symbolic circle believed necessary for the ritual, also a square or rectangular table might make it more difficult to join hands. If a square or rectangular table is all that is available, it will be fine. You can use a table cloth or central altar to create the symbolic circle, and arrange the seating so that it is comfortable for everyone to join hands.
Candles, incense, and burnt sage can all boost the psychic power of your space. Both the candles and food are believed to attract spirits who are looking for warms and sustenance.
In the center of the table, place some simple and naturally aromatic food, such as bread or soup. This is believed to help attract the spirits who still seek physical nourishment. Also in the center of the table, place no fewer than three candles (or a number divisible by three) lit candles; the more candles, the better. Spirits still seek warmth and light.
Dim the lights and eliminate any distractions. Turn off all music and the television. Do make sure you’ve turned off alarm clocks, phones, and any other distracting electronics—some mediums even find that electronic devices interfere with their psychic senses.
- Trim Your Expectations
It’s best if you don’t expect anything. Even highly experienced mediums, who use familiar spirit guides to contact new spirits, run into unexpected setbacks—the dead person they’re trying to reach isn’t answering, or they’re only interested in chatting about their favorite mug (yes, this happens) and don’t respond to the important questions about the afterlife.
Sometimes, an attention-seeking spirit can even intrude on a private conversation. If the world’s most talented mediums experience some unpredictable hi-jinks and complications, you’d better bet you will, too. So, as much as you can, roll with the flow of your séance, and try not to form any expectations before you start.
- The Medium.
Mediums are, in effect, translators between the spirit and earthly realms, and they can dramatically ease the process of getting in touch with a disembodied presence. You might want to choose a medium among the participants. This could be a person who has had experience with séances or someone who has displayed that they’ve got psychic abilities.
Although it’s strange to think of spiritual affairs as a skill, mediumship is not that much different from any other talent. Your first (or second or third) attempt might feel awkward or even disastrous as you learn how to hold a séance, but you shouldn’t give up.
Many mediums claim to have felt a calling from a young age, or a natural attunement to supernatural forces, but even individuals who have not previously experienced a brush with the world beyond the grave can begin to develop their skills. Persistence, patience, and a willingness to discover whatever the spirit world has to share with you—from the serious to the kooky—are the foundations of every great medium.
- Clearing The Energy
Methods of clearing the energy could include smudging with sage, scattering salt, or using the sound of bells to lighten and brighten the energy. It is also helpful to use a prayer or invocation to set the intention of positive vibes and invite only good spirits.
Here are a couple of invocations that can be used for clearing the energy in the room and creating a sacred and safe space. Feel free to change the wording to make them your own and to fit your personal spiritual beliefs:
To The Spirit World and the Powers That Be
As I light these candles, bless this sacred place.
Let the light of their flames radiate love and protection to all four corners of this room.
I ask at this time that any negative energies be released from this space.
With a bath of white light, I ask that it be cleansed and neutralized.
Invocation for Protection:
Spirit Guides and Angels,
As I sit with you now, I open my heart.
I surround myself with the love and light of your protection.
I release any negativity that I have picked up throughout the day.
I ask that any energy (information, communication) be given for my absolute good.
Dismiss now all energies that are not of the Highest and Greatest source.
As I bathe in your grace, I will listen to your resounding voice within me.
I will be true to my heart and your gentle guidance.
(you can follow this with a moment of appreciation for the universe…)
- Determine the mode of communication.
As mentioned, you shouldn’t expect spirits to speak like the living. If you’re the medium, you might hear their voice inside your head clearly, but it isn’t the same as a human voice that travels by vibrations in the air. Some mediums prefer to use a ouija board or pendulumto convert the energy of a spirit to words. It’s best to have a few methods available before you start, and don’t get discouraged if your first or second attempts don’t work out.
A very popular method is using an Ouija board, which is a flat board engraved with several English alphabets, numericals, messages like “hello”, “goodbye”, “yes” and “no”. A heart shaped movable indicator called a planchette is rotated with fingers to point at letters and spell words on the board. The board also contains some images and symbols. The ghost, once conjured, uses telekinesis to rotate the pointer and answer your questions.
A simple pendulum can be used for divination too. The medium holds the pendulum in hand and asks questions to the spirit. If the pendulum swings sideways, the spirit is saying no, while a back and forth swing on the pendulum indicates a yes, and swinging round and round means the spirit is uncertain. Alternatively, the pendulum might be held above a circle of letters, or a paper marked with yes and no on opposing sides.
Spirit rapping is a very old and efficient way where the medium asks the ghost a question, and then instructs it to answer by making rapping noises by tilting the table to a side. For instance, a single rap means yes. Similarly, complex raps can be used to spell out words and complete sentences.
- Summoning the Spirits
All the people must sit around the table, hold each other’s hand making a circle and close their eyes. It is good to begin by saying a prayer, which helps cleanse the environment and emanate positivity.
Now everyone must concentrate on the spirit they wish to summon and then slowly ask the spirit to join the group, This must be done calmly and welcomingly. This is most effective when done as a chant.
The participants must speak the words together. Here is a sampling of different ways to summon the spirits:
“Our beloved [name of spirit], we bring you gifts from life into death. Commune with us, (name of spirit), and move among us.”
“Spirits of the past, move among us. Be guided by the light of this world and visit upon us.” If you are wishing to contact a relative or friend, you may chant something like this: “Beloved (name), we bring you gifts from life into death. Be guided by the light of this world and visit upon us.”
Now wait a bit.
Then ask the spirit to provide a sign of its presence. Don’t ask for a specific sign, just be open to receive any signal. When you know that the spirit is present, try to communicate.
- Communicating With Spirits
When you finally get a ghost on the line, what should you do? Basically, treat any spirit that you find during a séance like you would Deborah Harry, don’t leave it hanging on the telephone. Treat the entire thing like it’s totally natural that you’re speaking to ghost through a spirit board, glass of water, or a series of wraps on a table. Don’t worry about being too formal with what you’re going to call the spirit, it should let you know its name soon enough.
As long as you start things off pleasantly, the conversation should end up flowing naturally and nothing spooky will happen (except for the whole talking to a ghost thing). Remember throughout the conversation that if the ghost isn’t answering in a straightforward manner, you shouldn’t be weird about it. Spirits don’t communicate the way that people do, and as long as you treat the entire exchange like a David Lynch movie, you should be fine.
Begin by asking questions. Yes or no questions work best. You might ask things like, “Is there anyone here who wishes to speak with us?” Tell the spirits how you’d like them to respond (knock, move the planchette, cause the pendulum to circle for yes or swing for no, speak into the red light on the recorders, etc.)
If a spirit chooses to speak through the medium, you may ask any kind of question.
Everyone needs to try to be as still as possible. If someone makes a noise (such as a stomach growl or an accidental knock), they will need to identify that they were the one that made that noise.
Continue asking questions and make notes of any responses you get.
Always be calm and respecting. However, be warned, at the very first sign of any rudeness from the spirit’s side politely ask it to leave, if it doesn’t abide, forcefully end the session by blowing off the candles and switching the lights on.
So what happens when a ghost appears and things start getting spooky? Act natural. If you’re sitting, stay there. Don’t jump up or anything or you might break the spell and scare away the spirit (it could happen). The most important thing to do here is to be yourself and treat the spirit with respect. As long as it’s answering your questions and being helpful, there’s no reason that you should act like a freak show and scare off whatever it is that you reached out to from across the grave.
- If Things Get Weird
Here’s a séance tip: things are going to get weird. When you go to a séance, you have to have an open mind to whatever message ends up coming through. If you don’t allow yourself to enjoy whatever happens during the magical moment, then you’re either going to block anything from happening, or your negative energy is going to affect whatever you end up reaching through the board.
Remember, if things begin to go wrong mid-séance, you have the power to keep things from tipping over into being a straight-up horror movie. As long as you stay positive everything should be fine.
- Ending The Séance
When you’re done with your line of questioning, thank the spirit for joining you and tell them to go in peace. Break the circle of hands and extinguish the candles.
Close the séance by saying something such as, “Our communication here is finished now.”
If the séance seems to be getting out of hand, end the séance by breaking the circle of hands, extinguishing the candles and turning on the lights. Have one person remove the offerings, turn on the lights and open a door or a window. Join hands until the spirit leaves, then either replace the offerings, dim the lights and prepare for a fight, or blow out the candles and end the session for the night.
After the seance, it is also important to clear the room and close the connection. Here is an invocations that can be used:
Thank you for sharing this sacred time with me.
I appreciate the flow of energy I have just experienced.
I will use it for my highest good.
As I blow out these candles, I close this sacred space, and ask that your protection surround me wherever I go today.
Another really nice way to close out the seance is with the following chant:
Return Return Return
Although you can go free-form, most successful séances have something of a formula: opening with a declared intention to commune with spirits, followed by an invitation or call (either to a specific spirit or a general audience), and closing with gratitude and peace to your visitors.
Here are a basic step by step plan for the ritual:
- Discuss the ritual in advance so that everyone is clear on the protocol
- Clear the energy in the room
- Light the candles and the incense
- Dim the lights and get quiet
- Everyone gets seated
- All participants must join hands
- Summon the Spirit
- Wait for a response
- Repeat the summoning until the spirit responds or something happens
- Communicate and ask questions
- Maintain control
- Thank the spirits
- End the séance
- Clear the energy
- Talk about what just happened, even if it didn’t seem like anything at all
How Will You Know When You’ve Made Contact?
There is no certain way to know whether or not you’ve made contact. Often, the things that happen during a séance are subtle – a slight knock, for instance. This could be attributed to a spirit, or it could be someone else in the room making a noise. Keep an open mind and first seek to disprove anything that you see or hear. If you can’t find a logical, real-world explanation, you may have made contact.
For myself, I set the intention that anything unexpected that happens is definitely a form of contact. I try really hard not to have any expectations, and then when something does happen that feels or seems meaningful, I simply accept that it is.
Things to Consider When Deciding to Hold a Séance
Before you perform your séance, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are your goals for the séance? What is your purpose for holding one?
- Is there a particular person you’d like to contact during the séance?
- Where will you have your séance?
- Who would you like to participate?
- Which equipment will you use?
You can use virtually anything; a Ouija board (seance board) or a pendulum, for example. If you are into a more technical approach, you might consider using a piece of paranormal investigative equipment such as an EMF (electromagnetic frequency) meter, or a ghost box.
- Will you record your session?
Will it be video or voice recording? Often, video cameras and digital voice recorders can pick up EVP (electric voice phenomenon) that can’t be heard at the time of the séance, but can be heard on replay.
Attitude Is Everything
When you’re dealing with creatures from the spirit realm, you probably don’t want to be in a bad place. If you go into a séance with any worries about the situation then something is probably going to go wrong. Negative energy draws out negative energy, and if you start to reaching into the nether-realm with your bad mumbo jumbo, you’re bound to pull out something that’s extra creepy. .
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