Is there anybody there? A séance in progress.

SÉANCES ARE AN age-old way for the living to communicate with the dead. The popular image of a group sitting round a table, holding hands, with the room lights flickering, is a little over-dramatic, but not so far from the truth. Many people believe the collective energy of a number of participants or ‘sitters’ helps attract spirits. Generally, there should also be an experienced medium, who channels the messages and helps control the sitting. Although séances had a reputation for trickery and fraudulent practices in the past, a talented and honest medium can make them an interesting way to explore contacting spirits. Before a séance can begin, it is necessary to have a particular spirit, which the sitters want to reach in mind. It also helps if a relative, or someone who had known the spirit in their lifetime, is part of the group – this is a reason why attempts by people to contact ghosts of Elvis and the like are unsuccessful. The contact spirit will often know that the séance is going to happen, and will want to talk. The room must be a peaceful environment, and the sitters must be comfortable and undisturbed. They should then sit in a circle, or around a table, and may hold hands if they wish although that is not essential. Together, they mentally call the spirit they are searching for.

Often the medium enters a trance-like state and will begin channelling messages from the spirit world. Sometimes this coincides with odd physical experiences, such as a cool breeze wafting through, strange perfumes, or a tickling sensation. Often sitters also feel a slight pain corresponding to how the spirit died – for example, a chest pain is felt with a spirit who died of a heart attack. Hopefully, the medium finds the spirit the sitters have asked for, but other spirits are sometimes also eager to chat. The medium leads the discussion, and allows it to continue for as long as the sitters want. With a professional psychic, the chances of having a bad experience are very slim, and many people feel that it acts as a significant healing process for both the bereaved and the deceased.

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