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.
In the early days (including Kardec's days), séances under the auspices of one medium were common, but Kardec soon realised that they were too tempting for charlatans and advised the current frame to be adopted.
The leader is typically asserted to be a medium and he or she may go into a trance that theoretically allows the spirits to communicate through his or her body, conveying messages to the other participants. Other modes of communication may also be attempted, including psychography or automatic writing, numbered raps, levitation of the table or of spirit trumpets, apports, or even smell.
An experienced medium should be part of the group to understand the symbols and messages given by Spirits. If a medium is not present, one person should lead the group.
Evocation of spirits, especially those of recently-deceased people, was frequent in the beginning, but nowadays most Spiritists regard this practice as bothersome both to spirit, who is most likely still suffering, to his family, who may share some of the anguish experienced by him, and to the medium, who will probably face a much worse conflict and power loss.
Another problem with evocation is that there is no safe way to tell whether the spirit communicating is who he purports to be. Not all spirits can come to talk when called. Some simply chose not to come. Some have returned to source. Some spirits are not human but can be animals or evil entities. It is the reason why most medium instead remain receptive to any spirit willing to communicate and will then incorporate those who wish to speak to the living attendants. Evocation may be sometimes done, in special meetings, but only when a medium "feels" that a given spirit may be willing to communicate.
"Incorporation" is done for charitable reasons. Such reasons include bringing relief to the family of a recently deceased person, sending away some evil influence that is lurking about someone and, quite usually, helping spirits of people that died an unfortunate or unexpected death and are unaware of their state. Often such meetings include the presence of suffering spirits, blind with pain and full of wrath, rebel spirits that do not want to heed the "rules", or spirits that seek vengeance against those they feel did them wrong. In all cases, the approach is to listen to the spirits' complaints, pray for them, try to instruct them and invite them to come around frequently to share the benefit of friendship.
A mediunic meeting is usually held in a windowless room around a square or rectangular wooden table (round tables are not widely used anymore, but may be found in some places) and consist mostly of evoking or incorporating spirits. Some people (the workers) take seats around the table, with the president at one end. The rest sit on stools or benches close to the walls, usually to merely watch and listen.
The meeting is carried on with dim light so that spirits eventually willing to manifest in visible form will not find it too hard (bright light apparently makes materialisation more difficult, as the spirit requires much more of energy to become visible against it).
Begin by joining hands with the people on either side of you and closing your eyes. This does not increase or makes communication with the spirits easier but usually contribute to ally people's fear and help them to empty their minds.
Depending on your religious beliefs, you (or the medium) might want to say a short invocation or divine blessing before going further, just in case.
Then the medium should lead everyone in a deep breathing exercise by instructing them to breathe in slowly through the nose . . . and out slowly through the mouth, while trying to keep their minds blank. The goal is to get everyone calm, comfortable and in touch with their senses. Many spiritual people place (visualize) a white light around the room.
As the medium begins to call spirit you may experience physical things in the room: noises, cool air blowing, a tickling sense of touch, smells of perfume, cigars, cooking odors, the table lifts a bit (that could also be caused by telekinetic energies from the people seated at the table).
A response can take the form of a sudden decrease in room temperature, a slight ache in the area that caused the spirit's death (for example, if the deceased died from a heart attack, séance participants might feel a subtle pain in their chest) or a rapping sound.
The medium must first determine who the spirit is and who they came to talk to. Messages are then passed along followed by questions by the person connected to the spirit. As with all channeling, only ask the question once, not repeated until you get the desired answer you seek.
Each person at the table should get to speak to at least one spirit.
Sometimes spirits may come that you did not expect. Chat quickly with them, thank them, and tell them to move on.
Some spirits chat a lot but some just say one or two things then leave. Some answer questions while others just bring messages.
There is no length of time for a séance. This is up to you, the spirit, and the medium.
If, for any reason, things start to get out of control and the medium can't seem to handle it, command the participant to quickly tell the spirit to go in peace, then break the circle of hands, extinguish the candles and turn on the lights.
After you're done with all of your questioning, end the séance by thanking the spirit for its time and telling it to go in peace. Then break the circle, extinguish the candles and turn on the lights. Look around the table and make sure all of the participants are fully conscious.
Record the events of the séance immediately (on paper if you weren't already taping it).
Some medium managed to be friendly with some spirits of their choice that would show up and even materialize at every seance so be nice.
If it turns out that you followed all these steps but your seance failed miserably, it might be or maybe someone in your séance group doesn't really believe in ghosts. Dysfunctional people will attract dysfunctional spirits, for the drama of it. Be sure you know who is in your group, especially if you are a beginner. Try holding the séance with different combinations of people or at different places. Like every job, channeling requires patience and practice.