Spiritualism was mainly a middle- and upper-class movement, and especially popular with women. American spiritualists would meet in private homes for séances, at lecture halls for trance lectures, at state or national conventions, and at summer camps attended by thousands. Among the most significant of the camp meetings were Camp Etna, in Etna, Maine; Onset Bay Grove, in Onset, Massachusetts; Lily Dale, in western New York State; Camp Chesterfield, in Indiana; the Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp, in Wonewoc, Wisconsin; and Lake Pleasant, in Montague, Massachusetts. In founding camp meetings, the spiritualists appropriated a form developed by U.S. Protestant denominations in the early nineteenth century. Spiritualist camp meetings were located most densely in New England, but were also established across the upper Midwest. Cassadaga, Florida, is the most notable spiritualist camp meeting in the southern states.
Magicians and writers on magic have a long history of exposing the fraudulent methods of mediumship. During the 1920s, professional magician Harry Houdini undertook a well-publicised campaign to expose fraudulent mediums; he was adamant that "Up to the present time everything that I have investigated has been the result of deluded brains." Other magician or magic-author debunkers of spiritualist mediumship have included Chung Ling Soo, Henry Evans, Julien Proskauer, Fulton Oursler, Joseph Dunninger, and Joseph Rinn.
The exposures of fraudulent activity led to a rapid decline in ectoplasm and materialization séances. Investigator Joe Nickell has written that modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use "mental mediumship" tactics like cold reading or gleaning information from sitters before hand (hot reading). Group readings also improve hits by making general statements with conviction, which will fit at least one person in the audience. Shows are carefully edited before airing to show only what appears to be hits and removing anything that does not reflect well on the medium.
^ Simeon Edmunds. (1966). Spiritualism: A Critical Survey. Aquarian Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0850300130 "1876 also saw the first of several exposures of another physical medium, William Eglington, in whose trunk a false beard and a quantity of muslin were found by Archdeacon Colley. He was exposed again in 1880, after which he turned to slate-writing. In this he was exposed by Richard Hodgson and S. J. Davey of the SPR in 1885. Davey a clever conjuror, was able to duplicate all Eglington's phenomena so perfectly that some spiritualists, notably Alfred Russel Wallace, insisted that he too was really a genuine medium."
The article about this phenomenon in Encyclopædia Britannica places emphasis that "… one by one spiritual mediums were convicted of fraud, sometimes using the tricks borrowed from scenic "magicians" to convince their paranormal abilities". In the article it is also noted that "… the opening of the wide ranging fraud happening on spiritualistic sessions caused serious damage to reputation of the movement of a Spiritualism and in the USA pushed it on the public periphery".
Not all spiritual mediums are the carnival barker variety — many people are happy to enjoy the “gift” of mediumship without exploiting it for money. These people, who seldom give “readings” and prefer instead to use their gift for personal reasons, come in every walk of life, work every profession, and may be working right next to you in your office.
Physical mediumship is defined as manipulation of energies and energy systems by spirits. This type of mediumship is claimed to involve perceptible manifestations, such as loud raps and noises, voices, materialized objects, apports, materialized spirit bodies, or body parts such as hands, legs and feet. The medium is used as a source of power for such spirit manifestations. By some accounts, this was achieved by using the energy or ectoplasm released by a medium, see spirit photography. The last physical medium to be tested by a committee from Scientific American was Mina Crandon in 1924.
In 1891 at a public séance with twenty sitters the medium Cecil Husk was caught leaning over a table pretending to be a spirit by covering his face with phosphor material. The magician Will Goldston also exposed the fraud mediumship of Husk. In a séance Goldston attended a pale face materialization appeared in the room. Goldston wrote "I saw at once that it was a gauze mask, and that the moustache attached to it was loose at one side through lack of gum. I pulled at the mask. It came away, revealing the face of Husk." The British materialization medium Annie Fairlamb Mellon was exposed as a fraud on October 12, 1894. During the séance a sitter seized the materialized spirit, and found it to be the Mellon on her knees with white muslin on her head and shoulders.
Put simply, mediums act as the “middle man” between spirits and humans. Like it or lump it, believe them or question them, mediums claim to act as a communicating agent between the spirits of the dead and those of the living. In fact, the concept of “mediumship” is just that — a claim that you can communicate with spirits not visible to the naked eye. Mediums don’t always restrict themselves to dead human spirits — many claim they can talk to animals, angels, demons, or any number of other spirit creatures.
He is the King and head honcho. He symbolizes masculine creativity. He represents authority, power, responsibility, leadership, passion and action, and is seen as a symbol of sex, the warrior and defender. He symbolizes new beginnings, competition and aggression. He can represent the father, husband, man in your life, boss, or any authority figure.
Psychic Four was very motherly, constantly calling me "darling" and telling me how sorry she was for my loss. Her method of Emily-contact was a mix of prayer and coffee-dregs reading. She made me a small cup of Turkish coffee and when I finished the liquid, she placed the saucer on top of the cup, had me hold it with both hands while moving my arms in a circle three times and then flip the cup and saucer over and put it on the table. She put a blue glass cube with white circles on all six sides on top of the overturned cup and had me to put my finger on the cube and make a wish. I did, and she asked me for the photo. I handed her my phone. She put a small statue of a Turkish philosopher and an angel snow globe in front of me and told me to hold on to both and praying while she turned on her laptop and started playing weird reverb-heavy New Age music featuring a man and woman speaking about being intoxicated on love (not Beyonce style, unfortunately). She was going to ask Emily to make herself known to me.
My sister and I both realized our gifts and then discovered from speaking with our father that his father's brother was an acknowledged psychic in Rome, Italy. And then I also realized I could read hands and what I would see would surprise everyone and what I would predict would happen. I was really surprised at what I was able to read off the hands of my friends.
I don't think any of these women intentionally bullshitted me. I'm sure they believe they possess abilities to communicate with the dead and tap into people's lives. But, again, out of four psychics—people who claim to have special powers to know greater truths—not one noticed that the very premise I approached them on was phoney. Maybe it's because I sprung for the cheaper ones. Maybe it's because I found them on Kijiji. Maybe I'm fantastic enough of a liar that, like Psychic Three said, I managed to conjure up enough spiritual energy to bring Emily into existence. (I guess there's also the possibility that they all knew I was lying but didn't care because I was paying them.) Or maybe psychic powers don't really exist.
If you've decided to hire the services of a medium, for whatever reasons, there are a few things you should keep in mind to guarantee you get the best session possible. First of all, try to come in with an open mind. You may be feeling skeptical, but if you let that be an issue, it can certainly color your results. A corollary to that is that it's important, to be honest about why you're there. If you're only trying to debunk things or to expose the medium as a fraud, go ahead and admit it up front. A medium who's legitimate will probably still be willing to work with you.
A very large part is played by fraud in spiritualistic practices, both in the physical and psychical, or automatic, phenomena, but especially in the former. The frequency with which mediums have been convicted of fraud has, indeed, induced many people to abandon the study of psychical research, judging the whole bulk of the phenomena to be fraudulently produced.
Every month I give Intuition Circles which are an excellent chance for you to meet like minded souls and learn to open your intuitive abilities in a safe environment. We meditate, share, and do exercises to show you just how intuitive you already are. Many people become friends out of these circles and it is my intention to create a community of intuitives !