Spirit Communication: How Do Mediums Speak With the Dead?

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ghostly spiritsPhoto: myyorgda

Ghosts, spirits, banshees, call them what you will – but there is a very clear belief among some people that these spiritual entities exist. And what’s more, that they don’t just float through everyday life, but are capable of, and willing to, communicate with humanity. This isn’t a new idea, either; every religion in the world has views on the subject. It might be said that speaking to and communicating with the dead is one of mankind’s oldest beliefs.

Talking to ghosts and spirits has become big business, and the professional psychics of today charge large amounts. Yet for those that are interested in the subject or simply adventurous enough to want to try it out, spirit communication is often felt to be surprisingly easy. Adherents hold that there are several ways of communicating with the dead if the belief and the willpower is there.

Ouija BoardPhoto: ZekeSaysSo

The ouija board is one of those objects that polarises opinion. For many people – even those who have used them only once or twice – ouija boards have a very bad reputation, while for many others they are relatively harmless ways of communicating with those who have passed over. They can also be great fun for the party crowd – those who are not easily spooked!

This is a method of spirit communication that has not been around for a very long time. The original patent for what we now know and recognise as a ouija board was only filed in 1890, and it was originally used as a toy. It wasn’t until World War One when an American spiritualist called Pearl Curran used an Ouija board as a divining tool that it became just that.

Allal-Ming by N Roerich automatic writing 1920Photo: Рерих Н.К.

Automatic writing is a form of spirit communication where any writing produced is said to come from spirits and not the writer. Having first appeared in the early 1900s, automatic writing has become a small but valuable niche in spiritualist and medium movements ever since. Nowadays it is practiced under its more scientific name of psychography.

Psychography and ouija boards can be said to be connected since they both use the same sort of technique. Both of these methods rely on a spirit taking over the hand of whoever is trying to communicate with them. This can lead to either very good results or complete gibberish depending, it’s believed, on the skill of the person attempting it.

EVP, or electronic voice phenomena, make up a form of one-way communication with the dead. The communication is only one-way because it depends on a spirit or ghost being able to manipulate a sensitive mechanical or digital device to leave a recorded message. With the rise in ghost hunting and groups investigating cases of haunting, this method of communication has become increasingly popular.

The belief in the ability of spirits to manipulate mechanical objects is so strong that Thomas Edison thought that a machine could be developed which would allow communication with dead loved ones across the veil. Thomas Edison was by no means a lone voice in the wilderness, as pioneering electrical engineers Nikola Tesla and Guglielmo Marconi both looked into the idea. In today’s world, more and more groups are looking at EVP with a view to getting that one big piece of proof of a spirit’s existence.

A seancePhoto: National Media Museum

Talking directly to a spirit is what all spiritual researchers are after, and possibly the best way of doing this is through the use of a séance. In a traditional séance, a group, led by a person with some mediumistic skill, will attempt to talk to any spirits that are around. Today, with the rise in occult temples, pagan groups and new age study groups, it has become more common for leaderless séances to take place.

Séances became popular with the rise of spiritualism, but the practice was around long before then. One of the earliest books on the subject was published in 1760: Communitation With the Other Side, written by George Lyttelton. Yet during the witch trials of 1480 onwards it was not unheard of for people to agree that the coven or group of witches would call up the dead to talk to them, showing that the idea of a group of people communicating with the dead was around a long time before 1760.

To many minds, communicating with ghosts and spirits is possible – all it takes is a little time, a lot of patience and an inquiring mind. When it comes to looking at spiritual issues, it might be said that the only experience that matters is that which means something to the person going through it. Being enquiring, intuitive and inquisitive will ultimately reveal more to the serious researcher into the paranormal than hundreds of other people’s views.

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