History of Spiritualism and Seances Part 3

About the history of the psychic phenomenons of spiritualism and seances, information about famous mediums and practices.

Spiritualism and Seances

Another type of puzzle concerns the identity of the "control." Is it truly a spirit from the beyond communicating directly? Is the contact perhaps not direct, but via telepathic links with the medium? This would explain why information received is often nearly correct, yet slightly "bent." Might the control be simply a subordinate personality of the medium, brought forth under trance as subordinates are brought forth by hypnotism in other multiple-personality cases? Trance states seem to increase ESP, and much of the phenomena occurring at a sÈance could be explained by ESP and PK (psychokinesis) without recourse to spirits. In this space age, some controls profess to be extraterrestrial beings--is this another possibility? Or is the true explanation still unguessed?

Unlike many other mediums, Eileen Garrett willingly cooperated with scientists to discover what really happened when her controls took over, but even at her death in 1970 Mrs. Garrett remained uncertain where the truth lay.

There have been many other great mediums, and even more of varying reputation, but most mediums now regard spiritualism solely as a religion and are unwilling to subject it to the scrutiny of the scientist. For their part, parapsychologists usually prefer not to get involved in the religious atmosphere of a typical sÈance. Thus, though spiritualism was responsible for much of the early interest in psychical research, and historically the 2 are intertwined, they now go their separate ways, each, one suspects, rather glad to be free of the other.

(The subject of sÈances cannot be left without a word of caution. When one opens oneself to control, in trance or by using the Louisa board or automatic writing, one is taking a risk. The movie The Exorcist depicted an "entity" contacting a child through her games with the Louisa board, appearing pleasant at 1st but later becoming diabolical. Students of the subject claim that this is not an isolated incident. Whether the control is by a spirit entity or part of one's own subconscious, there is still danger. If spirits exist they can be evil as well as good, and Freud made it clear that there are corners of the subconscious that we would certainly not wish to have control us.)

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