Archives for category: seance

Dear reader: below are séance rules that our diarist’s Mama may have had to abide by when she contacted her dead mother at the ‘spiritual meeting’ in Missoula, March of 1922, except for a few modern rules (‘please turn off your cellular device, all our seance conductors are certified’).  I find the procedure for “gloom and doom” pronouncements particularly interesting!

The below is posted by the Spiritualist Church of New York City and accessed at http://spiritualistchurchnyc.com/services/seances on December 14, 2013.

“Séance rules.

1. Please be on time.  Once the séance begins, we cannot admit latecomers.

 2. Please don’t get up during the séance for any purpose or to leave the room.  By doing so you will disrupt the delicate connection to the frequencies and the connection to the spirit world.  Of course in case of emergency we make exceptions to this rule.

 3.  Please turn off all cellular devices or other noise making electronics.

 4.  If you are hearing impaired, you may use NON-noise making personal equipment.  If you simply have trouble hearing, please inform the séance conductors before the séance begins and they will try to accommodate you by asking you to sit close to them in the circle.

 5.  Any type of behavior that is disruptive, disrespectful, rude, angry or, abrasive will not be tolerated.  If for some reason a participant does not comply with rules of common decency or is unable to comply with this rule, the séance conductors are ultimately in charge and will have such person removed from the room.  Therefore the Spiritualist Church of NYC reserves the right to evict anyone who creates a scene or engages in such negative behavior.

 6. To protect the privacy of each participant, audio or video recording is not permitted. 

 7.  Because our séances are message circles, we do not permit participants to practice trance-mediumship during the séance.  Trance work is reserved for other specially controlled settings and is considered inappropriate in our séances.

 8.  At all times the séance conductors will “police” the séance to make sure that the above rules are followed.  Séance conductors have the responsibility to protect everyone from any inappropriate behavior.

 9.  Messages of doom and gloom are not given by the séance conductors.  Nor do we allow other mediums to give such messages.  If a participant begins a message, or at any point during the message doom or gloom is given by a medium, the séance conductor will immediately interrupt the medium and not permit the message to be given.

 10.  All séance conductors at the Spiritualist Church of NYC are certified.  This means that they have had extensive training in psychic and mediumship development as well as having completed a rigorous and advanced Certified Séance Course and internship at the Holistic Studies Institute.  Many of our conductors have devoted years to cultivate their gifts in order to be of service to others.  Therefore we ask that you abide by these rules as well as respect the séance conductor as they are the authority figure, representing the church Board of Trustees.  The séance conductor is responsible for enforcing all the above rules on behalf of the church.

 11.  No one under the age of 14 is permitted to attend the séance. Anyone between the ages of 14 – 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who must give permission for those in their care to attend the séance.

 12.  In larger groups, every attendee is not guaranteed of receiving a message.”

In little Dorma’s first days, our diarist leads a leisurely life while her Mama works her fingers to the bone washing, ironing, and sewing.  All of Baby’s clothing and diapers are hand-made (Moms, can you imagine this??)  Mama gets a small break one evening when she pays a visit to the Missoula Spiritualists and makes a successful connection with the beloved dead:

Image

Spiritualist surrealism: poster art courtesy of http://dainasurrealism.blogspot.com/2012/05/daina-elegant-surrealist-art.html

 

“Mon. Mar. 20

Mama was busy all day changeing Dormas pants.

            Jay went down to the Dr in morning & got Baby some colic medicine.

            Mama cut out my night gown & then it was night again.  Poor Mama is one busy gal.

 

Tue. Mar. 21

Mama washed & Jay helped what he could.

            Got thru about one & then she made my night gown all but the little holes & edgeing.

            Baby was pretty good all nite.

            Mrs. Muckler & the two girls were over in the evening. 

            Jay was down town most of the p.m.

            Beautiful day.

 

Wed. Mar. 22

Mama finished up my night gown, did some ironing, & was busy as a bee all day. 

In the evening Jay, Mama, Uncle Al, Baileys & the girls went a Spiritualist meeting and Grandma come to Mama. 

            Vera Dixon came over to see Dorma.  Aunt Lue stayed with me & kept Elvin also

            Dorma was good & slept all night fine.

            Snowed in the night but was soon gone.”

I wonder what Mama said to her mother: surely she reported the happy news of great grand-daughter Dorma’s birth! 

 

Now *that's* what I call a séance!

Okay, ‘fess up: who among you hasn’t tried this? Hopefully not with the same result as in this photo though.  Sadly, I couldn’t find the photo credit.

Last time I got out the old ouija board was 1988, right after a friend was killed in a car crash. When I asked questions the board came back with such specific answers, using John’s style of language and his favorite slang, that it freaked me out and I haven’t tried it since.

Strange to think our mysterious diarist lived in the heyday of American spiritualism, and it was popular all the way out here in Missoula Montana.

Here’s what I love about these mysterious diaries: our lady writer drops an intriguing hint that reveals 1920s life, before bringing the focus back to her own personal life.

“Sat. March 18

Ruth made preparations for going home.

Esther Nelson came up in forenoon & brot me a box of candy to pay her bet.  Glen came about 10:30 & Esther & he were both here for dinner.

Mama was busy all day long.

Mrs. McDonald & Mrs. Andrews came to see the Baby in afternoon.

Lovely day but so muddy.

Randalls & Jay went to the dance over at Rubys.

The Dr. came in the morning.  Elmer & Howard Carroll was here a little while in P.m.

In evening Jay & Randalls went to a Spiritualist Lecture.

Baby had the colic all evening.

Beautiful Day.”

What grabs my attention this time is the Spiritualist Lecture.  From the late 1800s and into the Great Depression, the entire western world was obsessed with spiritualism.  Séances were conducted to communicate with the spirits: sometimes famous people, but mostly the beloved dead.  Like midwifery, spiritualism was carried out by lay people who were mostly women–so guess what?  It was roundly condemned by established churches (reminds me of the Harry Potter kerfuffle 10 years ago).

Clearly, 1920s Montanans were intrigued by spiritualism– even a young rancher like our diarist’s husband Jay.  The killing fields of World War I (or the Great War) and the horrific influenza pandemic were barely four years past, and so many people had ‘crossed over’.

A cool blog about spiritualism in California during the roaring ’20s: http://steampunkopera.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/los-angeles-and-the-1920s-occult-explosion/