She asked for Emily's photo. I handed her my phone. She stared at the screen and told me to say Emily's full name and birthday, then looked up at me. My heart dropped—would my face betray something?—and immediately jumped back into my chest when she told me she could feel Emily's presence and that she was happy. In a new development, Emily had "passed on" and become my guardian angel.
Humans have been fascinated with contacting the dead since the beginning of human existence. Cave paintings by indigenous Australians date back 28,000 years, some depicting skulls, bones, spirits and the afterlife. Other cave paintings in Indonesia date back a further 10,000 years. Mediumship gained popularity during the nineteenth century, when ouija boards were used by the upper classes as a source of entertainment. Investigations during this period revealed widespread fraud—with some practitioners employing techniques used by stage magicians—and the practice began to lose credibility. Fraud is still rife in the medium/psychic industry, with cases of deception and trickery being discovered to this day.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s there were around one quarter of a million practising Spiritualists and some two thousand Spiritualist societies in the UK in addition to flourishing microcultures of platform mediumship and 'home circles'. Spiritualism continues to be practiced, primarily through various denominational spiritualist churches in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, over 340 spiritualist churches and centres open their doors to the public and free demonstrations of mediumship are regularly performed.
In old-line Spiritualism, a portion of the services, generally toward the end, is given over to demonstrations of mediumship through contact with the spirits of the dead. A typical example of this way of describing a mediumistic church service is found in the 1958 autobiography of C. Dorreen Phillips. She writes of the worship services at the Spiritualist Camp Chesterfield in Chesterfield, Indiana: "Services are held each afternoon, consisting of hymns, a lecture on philosophy, and demonstrations of mediumship."
The earliest evidence of a tarot deck used for cartomancy comes from an anonymous manuscript from around 1750 which documents rudimentary divinatory meanings for the cards of the Tarocco Bolognese. The popularization of esoteric tarot started with Antoine Court and Jean-Baptiste Alliette (Etteilla) in Paris during the 1780s, using the Tarot of Marseilles. After French tarot players abandoned the Marseilles tarot in favor of the Tarot Nouveau around 1900, the Marseilles pattern is now used mostly by cartomancers.
The card meant to symbolize my hopes and my fears turned out to be the "Love" card, which shook me a bit, seeing as how I went on this quest in the hopes that I would learn more about how I can change my perspective on the love in my life. "There's nothing in this reading that would accentuate the fear and lots that would support the love. It's playful, it's feeding yourself, it's artistic, it's listening to the signs and your gut. Everything is supporting the hope. Unless you let these stupid thoughts run wild, you've got it."