The following excerpt is from the book, A Traveler’s Guide to the Afterlife: Traditions and Beliefs on Death, Dying, and What Lies Beyond by Mark Mirabello, Ph.D.
A Séance Procedure to Contact the Dead
Tonight we attempt to contact the restless dead. We seek souls that are trapped in time, conscious of loss, and filled with hatred from life, that have not yet completely separated from our world. According to the ancient Greeks, those who died an abnormal death, such as murder victims, executed criminals, and soldiers, are the restless dead.
Contact with the dead may occur in various ways. Sometimes, direct contact during a séance is possible. The spirit may be perceived through any sense. A scent (the sense of smell is the most emotive of our senses) is the most common contact. The next most common manifestation is through the sense of touch (a cold spot may be perceived, most commonly on the left side). The third most common manifestation is through the sense of hearing (a sound or a voice). The rarest contact is visual, seeing a light or an apparition.
Of course, a spirit may be present and be unknown to us. There are signs, however. When a candle flame burns blue, a spirit is present. Also, the modern era has shown some connection between the dead and electronic equipment, so contact may occur during the séance through those items.
Most commonly, if the séance procedure is successful, the ghost will appear to someone who sleeps in the house tonight. Iamblichus, the ancient scholar, said that the state between sleeping and waking is especially favorable to the reception of visions.
In particular, the persons sleeping in the house should be prepared for what are called “hypnopompic” experiences. Described by F. W. H. Myers in 1901, hypnopompic experiences, unlike dreams, are startling and are apt to be remembered. When the eyes first open from sleep, an entity—totally solid—may be seen in the room. This may cause terror.
To contact a spirit, certain conditions are helpful. Although ghosts may be seen at any time (Tibetan séances do not require darkness), specters are most visible at night. According to the Viking sagas, light weakens the dead.
The presence of moving water—such as a stream or a river—is helpful. According to tradition, ghosts cannot cross moving water, so they tend to gather adjacent to such places. Strong emotions—especially anger and terror—draw spirits. A drop of fresh blood also draws spirits. In contrast, menstrual blood, or the “red pollution,” draws demons, and that is the reason pacts with the devil are traditionally signed with menstrual blood.
If animals are in the room, they should be either female or castrated. The ancient Greeks thought that the dead had an affinity to such creatures.
Setting Up a Séance
Four people—or six or more—must sit around a wooden table. There cannot be five people, for Christ was murdered with five wounds, and five (symbolized by the pentagon and the pentacle) draws sinister forces.
The victims of Jack the Ripper—in nineteenth-century London—were positioned to form a huge pentagon in the city.
A Séance Procedure
One person must be designated as the medium, the person leading the séance. Anyone may be used as a medium, but Iamblichus recommended a young and simple person. Others believe that the best medium is a mature female past childbearing years. For paranormal contact, the Vikings preferred post-menstrual women whose only meat was animal hearts.
The hands of the people in the séance must be placed flat on the table, with the hands of each person touching the hands of the people on either side of them. Throughout the procedure, do not break the circle by moving your hands. In the center of the table, directly across from the medium, place a scrying device (an object with a reflective surface).
The Aztecs used a “smoky mirror” made from obsidian. One such Aztec scrying device, used by the great John Dee, is reputedly in the British Museum. Michel de Nostredame, the seer who was also called Nostradamus, used a bowl of blood or a bowl of water as a scrying device. In recent centuries, many people have used crystal balls.
As our scrying device, we use a mirror, tilted at an angle so that the medium cannot see her own face. Throughout the procedure, the medium will focus her attention on the mirror.
Two burning candles made from tallow (animal fat) must be positioned on the north and south sides of the mirror. (Do not be con-
cerned about the use of animal fat. In Buddhism, the sin belongs only to the killer.)
Each candle must be marked with a small sample of fresh blood.
According to Porphyry, fresh blood endows the dead with a semblance of life.
On the west side of the mirror, place a fragment of a natural magnet, also called a lodestone or bloodstone. Because magnets can move inanimate metallic objects, the Egyptians believed that magnets possess the life force. This life force will help animate the dead.
On the east side of the mirror, place a book open to a necromantic procedure. One is found in the Bible (1 Samuel 28). Another is found in Virgil’s Aeneid. Still another is found in the “Voluspa,” in the Eddaic Verses.
Outside the séance circle—on the west side of the room—place an audio recorder and a radio set to “white noise.” If possible, use an old-
fashioned vacuum-tube radio. Afterward, listen to the recording for evidence of spectral voices. Also, outside the circle, place a television and a video recorder. Turn the television on and tune it to a blank channel. Connect the video camera to the television and position the camera so that it records the “snow” on the screen, thereby creating a closed loop.
After the séance, when the video is viewed in slow motion, one frame at a time, faces may be seen.
In case of misadventure, protections are available. If the apparition seems threatening, speak Latin. Francis Grose, an eighteenth-century expert, said that Latin terrifies even an “audacious ghost.”
For additional protection, position graveyard earth outside the circle. If anyone feels threatened by a specter, throw grave earth into its face. According to legend, a ghost touched by grave earth will become docile and must obey commands.
Finally, position a dagger outside the circle. According to Sir James Frazer, iron is obnoxious to otherworldly beings.
Before starting, ring a necromancy bell. This is a bell that has rested seven days and seven nights on a grave. Such a bell has the power to awaken the dead.
During the séance, do not speak. Only the designated medium may speak. While leading the séance, the medium must keep her mind clear. She must not try to think, but should let all thoughts freely enter her mind.
A Séance Procedure
No drugs should be used by the medium. According to Professor Mircea Eliade, drugs are used only in the decadent stages of shamanism. Everyone must remain serious and respectful. Above all, do not laugh. According to legend, the dead cannot laugh with joy and there-
fore levity offends them.
During the séance, each participant must focus on the medium or the items at the center of the table.
According to Professor David Fontana, in spectacular séances, a transfiguration will occur, and a transparent spirit face will form over the medium’s face.
During the séance, remember that contact may be perceived through any sense. Be aware of scents, feelings, sounds, and sights. When the medium is finished, she must thank the spirits. She must then close the book and extinguish the candles.
Before people depart into the night, they must be purified with brimstone (sulphur).