The Victorian Séance

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The Crystal Ball

The Victorian Séance ….Is there anybody there?

Photos below..A very Haunted and dark place we visited and cleansed in Elgin. Morayshire.


Today we are very familiar with clairvoyants, spirit mediums and psychics who stand on stage and give information to the audience about their past-over relatives and friends.

Sometimes this can be very direct, because the person in spirit is actually standing there beside the clairvoyant, sometimes it is given in a more diffused way because not all spirit is skilled in ‘coming through’ in  this way, particularly if they have recently passed over. Sometimes we have to rely on images as messages, and occasionally disconnected words that mean little to us but that can mean a great deal to someone in the audience!Crystal and Theo

These days people’s expectations are very high, most people go to an event in the hope generally that they will be chosen to be given a message from their past-over loved ones, but many will leave disappointed because there is only a given amount of time, and spirit is not always available to speak to us. Depending on your point of view and reason for attending, this can be either a very uplifting experience, simply because of the atmosphere and because of other people’s amazement and joy at receiving a message, or a very disappointing experience because they have expected contact themselves, and it has not happened for them, but a skilled medium will try to make the evening interesting to everyone.

This of course is nothing at all like the séances that our Victorian forebears took part in.

A séance was a very different experience. Usually the amount of people taking part was quite limited and traditionally often no more than six people in total.

The medium would be expected to go into trance and to perhaps even speak with the voice of the person coming through… There was far more a sense of ‘theatre’ about this dramatic experience and certainly people went away, even if they had not received a message, feeling that they had taken part in something quite extraordinary!

Most séances took place around a large circular table, the group would be asked to join hands and to keep Strange vibs!very quiet and very still whilst the medium went into trance to connect with her ‘control’ or spirit guide who protected her during the process. Our modern day mediums do something very similar and most including myself have a little private ceremony before they go on stage, making sure that their spirit guides and helpers are with them to prevent contact with anything that may cause them or the audience harm.

In a Victorian Séance this was done as part of the experience and the medium would ask her ’ control’ to make him or herself known to everyone in the group. This was usually done by a change of voice on the part of the medium as soon as she went into a deep trance.

In this sort of séance low lighting was very important, and in fact in many séances the room was in total darkness! This of course added to the expectation and the drama that something very special was about to happen.

In many cases the medium would then either ask her group who was been sought? Or would say for example “I have Jack here” is there someone in the room for Jack? And once the person concerned had answered the medium she would then go ahead and hold a conversation between Jack and the person who was seeking him. These conversations were often very personal and very relevant and it was quite common for people to faint or to feel overcome by the proximity of their dear ones in spirit.

Sometimes the medium asked the person in spirit to either rock the table or tap it to let everyone know that they were there… This seems very obvious and clumsy to us in these days, but in those times it often had a very dramatic effect on the group! Today many clairvoyants, myself included may use photographs to help to connect to those who have passed over. This is called psychometry and is a very effective tool, and of course we have learnt a great deal more about the world of spirit and how to connect to loved ones through the things that have belonged to them such as jewellery or glasses or something they have used a great deal. I have done readings in the past on an old wooden pipe, an antique hammer, an old jumper, a jacket, an ornament of Mickey Mouse, and a pair of well worn shoes! I sometimes wonder what I’m going to be brought next.

Whether everyone received a message from spirit in the Victorian séance was largely a matter of luck as it always has to be even today in these situations. We cannot force spirit to be there for us simply because we wish to speak to someone, but if someone in spirit wishes to speak to us or simply to reassure us that they are okay it is a very different matter, and often they are simply waiting in the wings so to speak for an opportunity to come through.Crystal and Moonshore

The Ouija board.  (Also known as spirit board)

It is probably not generally known that the Ouija board was designed in 1890 as a toy for children or as a harmless parlour game totally unrelated to anything spiritual, until an American spiritualist called Pearl Curran discovered that it could be used with great effect for contacting spirit!

The board has all the letters of the alphabet, sometimes numbers and the words ‘yes’ ‘no’ and ‘goodbye’ on it often with symbols and graphics and comes with a small planchette or heart-shaped piece of wood on tiny wheels, or some other movable indicator to indicate the spirits message by spelling it out on the board. Ouija boards seem now to be used entirely for spirit contact, the game having been forgotten for the main part. Many people are made to feel uneasy by the use of these boards and perhaps rightly so! When we are attempting to contact spirit we must have in place safety protocols, we must have guides and our good spirits to protect us because it is thought that other things may come through when they are invited, and the harm that they can cause may be difficult to put right. This is why I would never feel comfortable with the board being used other than by a competent psychic or medium.

As the Ouija board is quite small, and it is difficult for more than two people to put their fingers on the planchette at the same time, many Victorian Mediums instead used a round table with letters placed around the perimeter, and an upturned glass on which as many as six people could place one finger and allow the glass to move to indicate the letters, and build up a message… This proved to be much easier and very popular at the time. Of course like everything else séances had tools that were sometimes used such as trumpets which were said to magnify the spirit voices, table-tipping and of course ‘ectoplasm’ but these were used more in the context of stage shows and entertainment by people with a theatrical talent and were for the most part usually de-bunked!

Serious séances were undertaken in a reverent and respectful way, as they are to this very day.

My personal way of organising a séance is to have no more than ten people, more usually six or eight  taking part, and although I adhere to some of the old Victorian traditions, I tend to bring the atmosphere up to the present day.

I also have a ‘control’ spirit who guards both me and my group. And I use ‘trance’ to allow myself to be used as a channel for spirit, it has been known for my voice to change during an encounter with spirit. (I have also been told that my face and eyes sometimes markedly change during contact)

I explain that not all spirit visitors may be connected to the group. Disincarnate beings and lost souls may also be drawn to us, and we may be required to encourage them peacefully and with love into The Light. It is a blessing to be able to do this for a soul who is presently lost and I find that it leaves a gift of peace with all members of the group.

I like to keep to a format, so a calm atmosphere is created at the start of the session. I ask those taking part that are looking for specific contact to bring an item if they have one that has belonged to their loved one in spirit, or a photo to put in the centre of the table for spirit to connect to. I work for the most part in candlelight as I find this creates an environment very suitable for the work we choose to do.

I request that everyone present is respectful and open minded to what may occur during the evening, and to never take for granted that they will be rewarded with a visit. I prefer not to accept sceptics to my groups as they upset the balance and can at worst disturb spirit and members of the group. We do not need to prove our beliefs to anyone.

At the close of the evening we take part in a short healing for both ourselves and for those who have visited with us.

So our modern day séance is not so far removed from the best of Victorian séances of the past. We have the same objectives and we offer the same love and respect to those who have gone before us.  Crystal Green.


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