The first time I conducted a séance I was about twelve years old. This foray into the spirit world was purely for entertainment’s sake. Fright was the goal, and a séance was a way to fuel the fun of being terrified, as if growing up in a small town in the South wasn’t scary enough.
The perfect place for a séance would have been my father’s funeral home, in which he worked and we lived. But that was too real for most of our troops; anywhere but there was the cry. No one really wanted a spirit to actually appear. We put the setting together like an impromptu picnic. Anyone have a candle? What about a tablecloth? And we weren’t fancy about it, no cloaks, turbans or costume jewelry.
We clasped hands and I asked the spirit world to join us, as you do. Sometimes nature cooperated by sending a breeze through an open window. On nights when it was so warm and humid that our hands joined in a moisture bath, heat lightening flashed, the electricity crashed, the dark became darker and we were left dumbfounded by the silence. Then we screamed. Tantalizing as they were, these natural occurrences weren’t reliable. Time to employ – The Foot.
“Can you tell us Oh Great Spirit, does Jimmy love Deborah? One tap for yes and two taps for no, please.”
I became very good at tapping underneath the table with my foot. I stretched my leg and made it seem as if the tapping originated from the far end of the table.
And then we got one of these!
But then we saw this
and never used it again.
We added levitation to the repertoire. We called it “lifting”. It kind of works.
The person to be lifted lay supine on the floor. We sat on the floor around her, one person at her feet, another at her head and two people on each side. We made a lever with our hands by holding our forefinger and thumbs together - this looked like a gun - and placed them under her body. The leader hypnotized the subject into feeling very relaxed and heavy, soothing her, instructing her to allow her body’s weight to fall into our fingers. This went on for a while until our fingers, hands and arms began to ache. Finally, the leader said, “Lift!” With that the body rises in the air. Yes, it’s supported, but it really did feel like the body lifted much higher than it should and it felt outrageously light, as if floating. Then we gasped and dropped her from the shock of it. Worked every time.
Moving on to derelict house hunting, otherwise known as haunted houses, it was a pleasure to risk falling timbers, floors on the verge of collapse and an untold number of vermin to rummage through the remains of a lonely house.
One night we hit the wrong house. It was occupied! A woman who looked the living embodiment of a witch stuck her head out the second story window and angrily yelled down to us as we tried to enter her house. I clearly saw her long black scraggly hair, her one front tooth protruded terribly and her eyes were ever so slightly crossed. We ran away as our hearts leaped up our throats.