The table you sit at is filled with several strangers from far and near. To your left is an anthropologist, to your right is a spiritualist and you are all patiently, dare I say eagerly awaiting the famous medium Talis Thravorn who will help you find a connection to the past and allow you to touch, even for just an instant, the divine.
A lightning flash, the chill, a Bat living in the attic feeding it's young can be heard echoing through the dank stomach of the house.
Do you believe in ghosts? They believe in you. Albert Einstein was once asked if he believed in ghosts, he said "No, but I'm frightened of them." For the super natural is no more than the natural we are yet to understand.
The belief that what we call "death" is not the end , not the last word of human experience, is older then written history. In 1929, for example, when the royal death pits of the land of Ur, near the Persian gulf, were uncovered by archaeologists, the remains of queen Shubad were discovered. The queen had been buried 4,500 years earlier. With her were buried sixty - eight attendants who, since there was no signs of struggle, seem to have gone to their deaths voluntarily. Why? We assume that the attendants expected to serve their queen after death as much as they served her in life. Five hundred years ago the Incas also buried their leaders with servants -- though these attendants seem not to have been volunteers, but, rather, the victims of ritual murder!
Even the Neanderthal man of 50,000 years ago buried his dead with food and tools. We can look at every major religion, every culture, the Egyptians , the Greeks and Romans, the Vikings, followers of Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrians, Hindu and north American Indians and they all believe in life after death, in places further / other then this world.
Off an old dusty bookshelf in the basement of my mothers, mother's home I found a Tome "The History of spiritualism" by Arthur Conan Doyle. After reading it, it seems that one of my Idols, the author of the Sherlock Homes stories, was religiously an avid Spiritualist. What is a spiritualist you might ask? One who believes in the ability of mediums to bring forth the dead. Spiritualism was a movement that ripped through America and Europe in the late 1800's throughout the early twenties. It made many millionaires.
The official beginning of the nineteenth century spiritualist movement was March 31, 1848 when Kate and Margaret Fox, both young girls at the time, began to communicate with mysterious rapping noises which had troubled their family for some time. They claimed that the noises had come from a man that had been murdered in their house. How could their story have been any better ?
It all started when on the pre mentioned date, Kate Fox (the youngest of the Fox sisters) was playing and then the noises began. she innocently looked around the room and started snapping her fingers saying ""Here, Mr. Split foot, do as I do." An equal number of raps were heard as Kate had snapped. Her mother who was in the room at the time wondered if it was the devil himself. Then Kate said "look mother" and made the snapping motions without snapping. This was followed by an equal number of cracks as were mimed. Kate then continued " Mother, It can see as well as hear."
Hundreds of people from surrounding towns and villages filled the Fox's home to hear the rapping's and clicking and creaking of ghosts. One click for yes, two clicks for no. The girls would sit in plain view in a chair ,surrounded.
Now the Fox sisters didn't originate mediums. Ohhh no. There were oracles at Delphi who purportedly could speak to the dead, Shamans all over Africa and Asia have had spirits enter their bodies, take possession of their bodies and have communicated through them and their previous counterparts for thousands of years. However, the Fox sisters brought the spirits to the dinner tables and parlors of homes throughout Europe and America. Made ghosts and haunting a conversation piece.
The Fox sisters and spiritualism started in a small town named Hydesville, a small city just a few miles east of Palmyra where just a few years previously Joseph Smith, after years of waiting, was finally given the possession of the mysterious tablets which would eventually be translated as the book of Mormon. In 1848 when the Fox sisters came into public notice Smith and his followers were living just a short nine miles away. Like spiritualism, Mormonism also insisted upon otherworldly intervention in this life. For Smith, of course, it was the intervention not of spirits but rather angels, who were specifically appointed by God himself to usher in the new revelation.
On September 24, 1888, Margaret Fox gave a sensational interview to the NEW YORK HERALD wherein she stated that "Spiritualism started from just nothing" and "I knew then, of course, that every effect produced by us was absolute fraud."
A fuller confession was published in the NEW YORK WORLD on October 21, 1888 in which she admitted that the rapping's heard were merely her and her sisters cracking their toes.
However, this was not the end for the spiritualist. Just as the Masked magician wasn't the be all end all of magic. The future brought Ouiji Boards and Slate readings. Ectoplasm and manifestations. Spiritualism held strong throughout the 30's , 40's 50's and even today the national spiritualist organization boasts their American active membership in the high thousands.