A séance is the term that describes a communication between a group of two or several persons in the physical realm with one or more entities in other dimensions. It is also called Mediumship. A Medium is the person who contacts ‘the other side.’
The word Séance comes from French séance, ‘seat’, ‘session’, from Old French seoir, ‘to sit.’ In French as in English the word came to be used specifically for a meeting of people to receive spiritualistic messages (a sense first recorded in English in 1845), but earlier in French and English the word had been used for meetings more generally.
The Spiritualism movement began with what Allen Kardec termed typtology.
Typtology is a mode of spirit communication in which spirits lift and tilt a table during a séance to produce rapping sounds. In organized séances, a number of people would sit around a table, hold hands, concentrate, and ask questions of the spirits.
The spirits would then answer their questions through a series of raps, or knocks, similar to someone knocking on a door. In order to question the spirits, sometimes a simple yes or no would be indicated by a prescribed number of knocks. In another method, called alphabetical typtology, letters of the alphabet were recited and when the letter that the spirit wanted to draw attention to was called, a rap could be heard; thus spelling out words, sentences, and so on. Using this method, it was possible to hold lengthy, detailed conversations with the mysterious entities responsible for spirit-rapping.
The first recorded spirit-rapping began in America in 1848 with the playful efforts of Margaretta and Kate Fox to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Much to their astonishment, they succeeded in establishing a ghostly dialogue with the spirit of Charles B. Rosna. Using rapping noises as its means of communication, Hayne’s spirit conveyed the message that he had been killed and buried in the basement of their home. When bones were found in their basement, what had begun as innocent fun became a sensation. The séances in the 19th century tended to be filled with theatrics. These séances usually took place in darkened parlors with a round table that sometimes moved.
In the fifty years that elapsed between the publication of Kardec’s books and the incorporation of the Union, the spiritualism movement declined in the United States and Europe. Numerous scandals undermined the credibility of some of its foremost proponents including the Fox sisters.
However there are still thousands of people holding seances everyday in an attempt to communicate with the ghosts of their deceased.