Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures, 23-25


III. Phainomenologies

23. Conjuring the Spirits

Jon Armstrong


p. 339 suggestion

"suggestion : the creation of an embodied experience through the use of language and gesture, including the alteration of memories and the induction of physical sensation."

{This is the hypnotic suggestion-technique, occasioning hypnosis. It is much-employed by capitalist-stooge politicians, who keep the working-class in a continuously hypnotized status.}

p. 342 the so-called "scientific establishment"

""Irwin defines the paranormal as an event or belief 'that has not been empirically attested to the satisfaction of the scientific establishment ...

{The so-called "scientific establishment" is, of course (like the "established Church"), an artificial entity brought into, and maintained in, existence by the ruling-class ploutokrateia; and is utterly subservient to all ideological demands by that ploutokrateia.}

["but for those who experience it, it"] is phenomologically a part of their sense of reality and truth rather than "a proposition they endorse"' (2009:7)."

{That the paranormal is experienced by all persons, but that even their own personal experiences are denied by praevaricating hirelings of the ruling class, is a well-known fact.}

Irwin 2009 = H. J. Irwin : The Psychology of Paranormal Belief. Hatfield (Herts) : Univ of Hertfordshire Pr.

p. 343 relative vagueness ("lack of detail") in subtle manifestations' visitations from other planes-of-existence

"In the late 1800s ... of the Spiritualist movement ... The spiritualist se'ance ... participants would await the forms, sounds and emanations of the spirits. These emanations ranged ... to

ephemeral corporeal forms ... limitless, weightless, foamy, slippery, ethereal ... (Warner 2006). ...

{This "vague" "lack of detail" is a relative matter, of a mutuality such that : to observations by visitors from other planes-of-existence, the beings of the material plane seem likewise to be "vague", "weightless, foamy, slippery". Though substances seem mutually thus, yet nevertheless cogent communications with other-plane entities are feasible. [written Sept 25 2014]}

Warner 2006 = Marina Warner : Phantasmagoria : Spirit Visions ... into the Twenty-first Century. Oxford Univ Pr.


III. Phainomenologies

24. Trance Transfiguration

Janet Baldwin


p. 351 early spiritism in Australia

"Early Spiritualism ... flourished through people['s] seeking a liberal pathway to God. Spiritualism quickly spread geographically ..., yet always sharing an underlying belief that there is an afterlife and that this can be accessed through the skills of a medium. Spiritualism was established in Melbourne, Victoria in the 1870s, and it was from Melbourne that Spiritualism spread to Western Australia in the late nineteenth century (Gabay [2001])."

Gabay 2001 = Alfred J. Gabay : Messages from Beyond : Spiritualism and Spiritualists in Melbourne's Golden Age 1870-1890. Carlton South (Victoria) : Melbourne Univ Pr.

pp. 351-2 currently-burgeoning spiritist movement

p. 351

"Scheitle (2004-2005:237) argued that interest in the world of spirit has increased substantially since the 1990s due to mass media communication. Academic interest in Spirtualism has also risen ... .

p. 352

Lisa Blackman (2010) explored the work of mediums ... within the Hearing Voice Network, a group ... who attempt to transform their ... relationship to their voices."

Scheitle 2004-5 = C. P. Scheitle : "Bringing out the Dead : Gender and Historical Cycles of Spiritualism". OMEGA : J OF DEATH & DYING 50.3:237-53.

Blackman 2010 = Lisa Blackman : "Voice-Hearing, Telepathy, ... and ... the Non-conscious". BODY & SOCIETY 16.1:163-92.

p. 352 books on the history of spiritism in Britain and in the United States

"The famous historical case of the Fox sisters continues to be a source of interest ..., as do their romantic relationships as explored by David Chapin (2004).

Geoffrey Nelson's (1969) detailed work regarding the history, development and growth of Spiritualism in Britain remains an invaluable source of information;

so does Vieda Skultan[s]'s (1974) ethnographical study of mediums and healers in Wales,

and Bernice Martin's (1970) study of Spiritualism meetings. ...

More recently Moly McGarry (2008) exposed the sexual politics of early Spiritualism in the USA ... .

Robin Wooffitt meanwhile (2006) articulated the world of spirit through the language of psychics and mediums."

Chapin 2004 = David Chapin : Exploring Other Worlds : Margaret Fox, Elisha Kent Kane, and the Antebellum Culture of Curiosity. Amherst (MA) : Univ of MA Pr.

Nelson 1969 = Geoffrey K. Nelson : Spiritualism and Society. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul; New York : Schocken Books.

Skultans 1974 = Vieda Skultans : Intimacy and Ritual; a Study of Spiritualism : Mediums and Groups. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Martin 1970 = Bernice Martin : "The Spiritualist Meeting". In :- D. Martin & M. Hill (edd.) : A SOCIOLOGICAL YEARBOOK OF RELIGION IN BRITAIN. London : SCM Pr. pp. 146-61.

McGarry 2008 = Moly McGarry : Ghost of Futures Past : Spiritualism and the Cultural Politics of Nineteeth-Century America. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

Wooffitt 2006 = Robin Wooffitt : The Language of Mediums and Psychics. Aldershot : Ashgate.

p. 352 inter-sensory religious experience

"Conducting research into the practices of spiritual mediumship calls for the activation of ...

the sixth sense, but

{i.e., intuition}

and I would agree with David Howes (2011) that religious experience is not


{more commonly designated "extra-sensory"}

but inter-sensory,

{relating to synaisthesia}

as we shall see through trance mediumship and healing."

Howes 2011 = David Howes : "Sensation". MATERIAL RELIGION 7.1:92-9.

p. 353 communion of spirits {cf. "communion of the saints"}

"in the Spiritualist Church ... Healing is regarded, as it was during early Spiritualism, as one of the highest expressions of power (Owen [1989]:107). One of the key principles to Spiritualism is the Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels (SNU ...), in which angelic beings are understood to be helping humans to access spiritual healing".

"the Spiritualist women I have worked with ... do believe that

there are mischievous spirits who may attempt to disrupt the session.

{Such spirits may have recently acquired such mannerisms from similarly-inclined (i.e., intentionally disruptive) humans.}

As Walter found,

spirits come of their own will; they cannot be summoned by the medium (2007:94),

{Ordinarily, spirits can be summoned only in dire emergency-circumstances -- critical life-or-death conditions : such as rescuing a victim in the process of being murdered (as I was rescued once, narrowly surviving).}

The healing room becomes a space that is revered, one in which those in spirit are invited."

Owen 1989 = Alex Owen : The Darkened Room. Camden Town (London) : Virago, 1989. (reprinted Philadelphia : Univ of PA Pr, 1990)


Walter 2007 = T. Walter : "Mediums and Mourners". THEOLOGY 110:92-100.

pp. 353-4 instance of healing trance-mediumship

p. 353

The female patient "requested trance healing from [L.]. ... [L.] was guided to sit on a particular chair and [the female patient] invited to sit on the stool. ... Typically, [L.] does not use 'hands on healing' but often places her hands just above the body of the client; neither does she move from her seat, as ... her spirit helpers will direct the healing energy without her interference. She is also aware that it can be dangerous to move around whilst in this trance state, so she prefers to be guided in and out of her chair. ... [L.] was guided out of trance by one of the other sitters and then offered a drink of water. ... having studied the spiritual practices of medieval mystics and mediums including their preparation before and after services, I found that drinking and eating is an intrinsic ritual (Baldwin 2011). Eating lightly ... assists in reaching a

p. 354

trance state and corresponding refreshments given after working with spirit assist in grounding the medium, bringing her back to earth ... . ...

[The patient] said that she felt a number of hands on her legs and back ...; she had opened her eyes, but could not see anyone else around her. ... [L.] made light of this and laughingly said that clients appeared at first to be quite disturbed when they felt many hands or {of} spirit on or around them. The trance medium has no control as to where the energy from spirit is directed".

"Arthur and Joan Kleinman (1994) show in their research how externally imposed social boundaries impact upon the body of individuals and manifest in the form of illness".

Baldwin 2011 = Janet Baldwin : Mediums and Mystics : Contemporary and Medieval Female Spirituality. Saarbrucken : Lambert Academic Publ.

Kleinman 1994 = Arthur & Joan Kleinman : "How the Body Remembers". NEW LITERARY HISTORY 25.3:707-23.

pp. 354-5 the trance-circle

p. 354

"spiritualists practice in a number of circles : 'open circle' is open to the public, as general meditation techniques taught by experienced mediums. Closed circles are much smaller (five to seven members), and are usually conducted in the privacy of an experienced medium's home. The main focus during a closed circle -- that is, a circle in which invited students of mediumship sat regularly -- would be the practice of clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience. I ... was ... invited ... to join a trance circle, conducted

p. 355

with fewer members, with a particular sitterinvited to experience a much deeper trance, while other members of the circle sat to observe and listen. The two [female] mediums ... were good trance mediums, in that they moved into and out of a trance state easily; the first allowed spirit to speak through her, the second did not speak but allowed spirit to impose its presence on her, thus transfiguring her ... . ...

Such circles often operate for a number of years. I was to work as the scribe : my role was ... to take dictation of all that was offered by the medium herself.

It is vitally important that the medium is taken into the trance, monitored whilst in the trance, and brought out of it carefully by one member of the circle.

{However, in trance induction-and-maintenance by means of (such as, in Siberian shamanry) drumming performed by the spirit-medium's own self : achievement of, maintenance in, and extrication out of, trance is much-facilitated (by rhythm of the music), and able to be performed by the spirit-medium without assistance.}

Touching or shaking the medium during the trance stage (particularly if she is unresponsive ...) is dangerous to the medium : it may cause nausea and/or headaches that can be felt for days or even weeks afterwards.

{In the case of a spirit-medium performing while drumming, emergence at will from trance is easily and gracefully accomplished -- with no touching nor shaking, and with no possible headache nor nausea as aftereffects.}

The medium must return to consciousness gently and in her own time".

{How long will it require for European spirit-mediumship to adopt the drumming-technique so well-known in Siberia and in traditional Africa and among traditional AmerIndians for so many centuries? Europeans seems always to lag very far indeed (by many centuries) behind the residue of the world's population in understanding the principles of spirituality. [written Oct 9 2014]}

p. 357 betwixt two worlds whilest returning from a trance

"As [J.] came back to consciousness, she nsaid : 'I am back, and I am not back. They are showing me ... two worlds; a world between worlds. I am here and I am there. ... It is a place of sanctuary, a place of revision {i.e., re-envisionage}, a place to choose {among other places}. ...'"

p. 357 spirit-helpers in spirit-mediumship

"Different healers tend to have particular spirit helpers who are sensed by the healers but rarely by the client being healed ... . ...

[The spirit-medium] did not remember what was was said during the circle ... . ... However, reading the transcript later often triggered some memory, allowing the medium to recall small sections of the conversation from the session. It was customary to give the medium a copy of the transcript, enabling her to read and absorb the given information ... . Yet [J.] preferred not to read the transcript, saying that

she did not want to be influenced in any way during her trance sessions."

{She did not wish to read the transcript, because reading it might so occupy her mind (with information already provided through her) as to hindre her from receiving a transmission, from the spirit-world, of new information.}

p. 358 transfiguration of the spirit-medium's posturings in accord with the possessing-spirit

"[H.] is another medium, who works in a very different way : she is a transfiguration medium, meaning that her face and body transform

to take on an image of another person, someone in spirit. During a ... session, several spirits can come through, perhaps moving from male to female, the hairstyle or hair line changes, so too facial features, and clothing, jewellery or adornments may be seen in the hair or on the body, and items held in the medium's hands.

{Her material body becometh overlain with aitheric apport-effects : the praeternatural hair, facial features, clothing, jewellery, adornments, and implements viewed by witnesses are subtle otherworldly constructions constituted of ectoplasm arriving from the aitheric plane.} {Carlos Castan~eda described an example of transfiguration-mediumship.}

The posture changes ..., while the head may move, often

from side to side, as if the medium is turning to hear someone

{"He leaned over slightly to the right as though someone were speaking into his right ear. After a brief pause, he leaned over to the left and again listened intently." (BL, p. 17)}

(as indeed she is)."

BL = Hank Wesselman : The Bowl of Light : Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman. Sounds True, Boulder (CO), 2011.

p. 360 mediumship attracteth spirits for healing

"The medium draws spirits ..., and it is through these present-world/other-world bonds['] being affirmedtha the trance can become a locus of healing. This related to how Blackman (2010:166) describes the way that bodies can become linked at the psychic level ... . Intensive energy can then traverse the boundaries that are thought to exist between bodies ... . This too can explain how the bodies of platform mediums attract spirits who have shared common cultural understandings ..., enabling spirits to work efficiently and effectively through the body of the medium, who often momentarily feels ... pain."

Blackman 2010 = L. Blackman : "Embodying Affect : Voice-hearing, Telepathy ...". BODY & SOC 16.1:163-92.


III. Phainomenologies

25. Ghosthunting Scene in U.S.A. and in Germany

Gerhard Meyer


pp. 366-7 ghost-hunting groups

p. 366

"The number of GHGs listed at clearly shows how much the community has expanded ... . ... there were 'over 300 groups' at the end of 2006, whilst {whereas} ... there are now approximately 800 groups."

p. 367

"founders and/or managers of GHGs in the USA ... firstly, are intent upon finding proof of life after death, and

secondly, altruistic motives were given if investigations were made in the private sphere of people affected by such phenomena."

pp. 368, 371 ghost-hunter organized societies

p. 368

"The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) ... was formed in 1990. ... Investigations made by TAPS into places subject to supernatural manifestations formed the theme of the pioneering series Ghost Hunters."

p. 371

"the Ghost Research Society ..., founded in 1977, is one of the oldest American groups and ... currently holds a substantial collection of ghost photographs."

"the International Ghost Hunters Society (IGHS) ... does not charge a menbership fee and membership is easy to obtain. ... it has about 12,000 members. The IGHS itself has since 1998 offered a CD-ROM-based course that can lead to qualification as a 'Ghost Researcher', 'Paranormal Investigator' and 'EVP {Electronic Voice Phainomenon} Researcher'."


Ghost Research Society


pp. 372-3 ghost-hunter groups in Germany

p. 372

"In mid 2009, there were approximately ten groups with Internet sites in Germany, but, here too, the number has increased to about thirty groups in 2011. ...

p. 373

In 2007, the first German ghosthunter network was formed; ... GeisterNet ... members orient themselves relatively strongly towards the aims and methodology of the American TAPS family".

p. 374 acceptance of ghosts in Germany

"In the German cultural situation, ... an animistic ... interpretation of ghost appearances, supernatural events and anomalistic phenomena appears to domnate. ...

The Ghost Hunters/TAPS model is increasingly gaining acceptance, such as in German groups promoting help in cases of domestic poltergeist occurrences on their Internet sites."


Olu Jenzen & Sally R. Munt (editrices) : The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures. Ashgate Publ Ltd, Farnham (Surrey), 2013.