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Topic: Seance performance dilemma (advice requested)
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 1, 2015 02:00PM)
Gang,
I've amassed over the years quite a Holy Grail list of literature concerning Sťance performance and I've devoured every word as I want to be well prepped for my first performance among a small group of guests at my annual Halloween party. I have recently realized that none of the books I have address an issue that I feel is important both for performance and the magicians code.

First, a little background: I live in the Bible Belt as will my guests. With respect to the gentle handling of the guests and their beliefs as addressed in many of the books, it has occurred to me that it is very likely that none of them have ever experienced a sťance before and most of their experience will be from ghost hunts, television, friend of a friend stories, and so on.

I have no intention of going all out on my performances. There will be no secret doors for confederates to use. At best, there will be a table levitation or something breakable falling from a shelf. To be blunt, I will not be surprised if this scares the living hell out of the sitters.

I want everyone to have a great time and having something to talk about long after the event, but I don't want to traumatize anyone. My concern is that I won't know how much any given individual will be able to withstand. It seems that something as small as a levitation, a disembodied voice or a breakable object falling from across the room could very well cause a sitter to go into hysterics which of course, I do NOT want.

So, here is my question: in a situation where the sitters must be handled with the most gentle kids gloves possible, it is taking away from the performance to explain prior that everything the sitters experience is either their imagination seeded via suggestion by the Medium, or a trick? What about the ethics of the Magicians Code? I do not mean explain the secrets but explain that it was supposed to happen and part of the performance?

My goal is to give the sitters a positive and memorable event, but what if the safest way to do that is to explain that there is no actual paranormal activity happening?

Your wisdom, please!

Thanks!

Snoogans!
Message: Posted by: Godzilla (Jun 1, 2015 02:14PM)
Snoogans,
K.I.S.S. Less is more!
Provide as much protection for the sitters, as possible. (Extra protection candles etc...)
They, will believe what they want to believe ... explained or not.
Be, prepared for anything !
There will always be something happen, you think you are prepared for ... YOU ARE NOT !

Have Fun !

~G
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 1, 2015 02:27PM)
Thanks! I had a feeling this is what I'd hear. Sounds like a constant balancing act.

Thanks again!
Message: Posted by: gothicmagic (Jun 1, 2015 02:38PM)
Also test the waters through conversations in the areas you wish to perform (start off safe with "local" legends and or old time ghost story questions) we're doing our second seance magic convention East Coast Spirit Sessions in SC pretty close to the bible belt (not as strict as some areas as it is Myrtle beach)
the feedback you get from have you ever heard of... may help you see where the boundaries are
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 1, 2015 03:00PM)
Good idea! I'll certainly use that!
Message: Posted by: jglumley (Jun 1, 2015 03:59PM)
If you disclaim "that there is no actual paranormal activity happening", some people actually see that as "there IS actual paranormal activity happening"

Spooking people out can actually be a snowball effect, IMHO. Just talking about, places people and times can be enough to send cold chills down peoples spine. Minds tend to go to dark places, to explain the unexplainable. Just shy away from anything "demonic" and you should be ok, maybe leave the spirit taps off too.
Message: Posted by: horus1 (Jun 1, 2015 04:41PM)
My performances are presented as part of "An Evening of Paranormal Entertainment".
In the moment I've found people are sometimes scared and exhilarated, but they generally love that feeling.
I you have control.. it's important to "know" your audience. Don't invite Grandma who will most certainly keel over. (unless you want to be trying to
contact her next week).
I find the most difficult time is after the performance. People often want to talk at length as if what they have seen is real.
Last week a s spec told me they were going to try bibliomancy with a relative who passed after a performance of Enoch. (Thanks Perkins and Prof BC!)
I had NO IDEA how to even respond except for.. "Cool...."
The day after or on the ride home, most people come to their senses and remember it was all entertainment.. but the lingering feeling that maybe it was real is part of the fun.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 1, 2015 04:56PM)
How many real seances have you yourself attended? :bat: :bat: :bat:
Message: Posted by: weepinwil (Jun 1, 2015 05:01PM)
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Snoogans wrote:

My goal is to give the sitters a positive and memorable event, but what if the safest way to do that is to explain that there is no actual paranormal activity happening?
[/quote]

How do you know there will be no paranormal activity? Just because you don't plan to invite them doesn't mean they will not show up.
Message: Posted by: Mr Timothy Gray (Jun 1, 2015 06:20PM)
Snoogans,

Read Paul Voodini's 'The Paranormal Entertainer'. He gives great advice on how to deal with this situation, or with people that suddenly feel an 'unwelcomed' presence.
Message: Posted by: JAlenS (Jun 1, 2015 07:45PM)
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Mr Timothy Gray wrote:
Snoogans,

Read Paul Voodini's 'The Paranormal Entertainer'. He gives great advice on how to deal with this situation, or with people that suddenly feel an 'unwelcomed' presence. [/quote]

Also Voodini's It's a G G Ghost book has some great information on different types of audiences and thoughts on the different types.
Message: Posted by: Godzilla (Jun 1, 2015 09:15PM)
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Slim King wrote:
How many real seances have you yourself attended? :bat: :bat: :bat: [/quote]

I've never attended a "REAL" seance, myself !
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 2, 2015 01:44PM)
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, JAlenS wrote:
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Mr Timothy Gray wrote:
Snoogans,

Read Paul Voodini's 'The Paranormal Entertainer'. He gives great advice on how to deal with this situation, or with people that suddenly feel an 'unwelcomed' presence. [/quote]

Also Voodini's It's a G G Ghost book has some great information on different types of audiences and thoughts on the different types. [/quote]

I actually own both and love them. They both seem to address how to handle the issue once it comes up. I expect th e issue to come up but I have no way to know how severe it might be. With that in mind, do you feel it is warranted to warn the sitters first or explain that what happened is either in their mind or staged to happen? In other words, defuse the situation before it happens, not during.

Thanks!
Message: Posted by: RCP (Jun 2, 2015 02:53PM)
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Godzilla wrote:
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Slim King wrote:
How many real seances have you yourself attended? :bat: :bat: :bat: [/quote]

I've never attended a "REAL" seance, myself ! [/quote]


What's a real sťance?
Message: Posted by: Mr Timothy Gray (Jun 2, 2015 04:42PM)
[quote]On Jun 2, 2015, Snoogans wrote:

I actually own both and love them. They both seem to address how to handle the issue once it comes up. I expect th e issue to come up but I have no way to know how severe it might be. With that in mind, do you feel it is warranted to warn the sitters first or explain that what happened is either in their mind or staged to happen? In other words, defuse the situation before it happens, not during.

Thanks! [/quote]

Most importantly, you need to ask YOURSELF what it is you are hoping to achieve. Are you hoping for something akin to an ACTUAL seance, or are you just PERFORMING a seance? You might think you know the answer to this question, but you must dig deep. If you are only performing, then everything about you, your publicity and what you say should be tailored to that. No need for a disclaimer. Your natural showmanship will reveal that this is only a performance.

Being concerned that what you are doing will be mistaken for the real thing, is a HIGHLY problematic mindset. Are you nearly as good as all that? (This, let me assure you, is not meant as an attack - simply food for thought - the very same thing I ask myself.) If you are a performer - and a good one, at that - no one will mistake what they are experiencing as the real thing.

Audiences are much more intelligent than the literature of magic (and most magicians) give them credit for.
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 2, 2015 06:17PM)
I'm certainly not a professional, that's for sure. I'm more concerned that any belief of actual activity will not be because of me, but rather the religious beliefs of the sitters as I'm in the middle of the bible belt. Lee Earle warned of this in "Manifestations".

I intend to make the experience all about the sitters, with myself only playing a role of a guide, so to speak. For instance, glass moving, pendulums, Spiritus Claritas, and finally the dark sťance. The example of the table levitation or breaking vase will be a last-ditch effort. I plan to follow Voodini's and Burger's wisdom as closely as possible. I have no desire to do any Trance Medium stuff as I'm not so confident as an actor, plus it looks too convenient and unrealistic to me, but that's JMHO.

Eventually I'd like to move into some of the topics covered in Hoodini's "Magician Among the Spirits" and include some Medium's Grip work, but that's far in the distance att.

It has occurred to me that 98% of what I want to do will have probably never been seen or heard of by my sitters before. As this will be a new experience for most of not all, I want to be certain that everything goes smoothly. Precautionary measures (white ball of light, salt, etc) will be observed. I guess in the big scheme of things, I'll just have to plan and rehearse everything to proficiency and hope for the best.

I appreciate everyone's thoughts. Please, keep them coming!

Snoogans!
Message: Posted by: Mr Timothy Gray (Jun 2, 2015 06:31PM)
Your last post includes a lot of different ideas and concepts - which is fine! - but where is the through-line? Ask yourself, what is it that you are trying to achieve? Stringing together different presentations does not a seance make. Right now, it seems, you haven't found the core reason as to why this seance is happening in the first place. You don't need an over-arching story - but you do need CLARITY. Your own clarity will lead to the audience's clarity as to what they are witnessing.

Also, second guessing how the audience will respond, is nothing more than an excuse on your part to keep tinkering and never actually executing.

You've got this! Now just ask yourself deeper questions, find what the through-line is, and aim for CLARITY!
Message: Posted by: Godzilla (Jun 2, 2015 07:54PM)
[quote]On Jun 2, 2015, RCP wrote:
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Godzilla wrote:
[quote]On Jun 1, 2015, Slim King wrote:
How many real seances have you yourself attended? :bat: :bat: :bat: [/quote]

I've never attended a "REAL" seance, myself ! [/quote]


What's a real sťance? [/quote]

You know ... A real Medium, where there is no Knocking / no Channelling / no Movement / no Spirits / absolutley nothing happens ! :-)

Something, always happens at a unreal seance ! lol
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 2, 2015 07:59PM)
You said ...."I have no desire to do any Trance Medium stuff as I'm not so confident as an actor, plus it looks too convenient and unrealistic to me, but that's JMHO."

Does this mean you actually went to a Seance performed by a Trance Medium? Who was it? Who was the Spirit guide?

http://www.fst.org/trance.htm
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 3, 2015 09:16AM)
[quote]On Jun 2, 2015, Mr Timothy Gray wrote:
Your last post includes a lot of different ideas and concepts - which is fine! - but where is the through-line? Ask yourself, what is it that you are trying to achieve? Stringing together different presentations does not a seance make. Right now, it seems, you haven't found the core reason as to why this seance is happening in the first place. You don't need an over-arching story - but you do need CLARITY. Your own clarity will lead to the audience's clarity as to what they are witnessing.

Also, second guessing how the audience will respond, is nothing more than an excuse on your part to keep tinkering and never actually executing.

You've got this! Now just ask yourself deeper questions, find what the through-line is, and aim for CLARITY! [/quote]
You're right. I should have mentioned that earlier. I intend to follow Voodini's Jack the Ripper sťance, except I won't do the past life portion. I have visited the graves of all 5 victims along with taking several JTR walking tours (both guided and self-guided) so this has served as a nice foundation for the sťance. The card reading portion will take place throughout the evening and will serve only as a primer of sorts to jump start suggestion and encourage the sitters to start making connections with what is suggested. It'll help get their imaginations going. I also intend to use "From Hell".

The rest of the activities are planned for the end of the party.

Thanks!

[quote]On Jun 2, 2015, Slim King wrote:
You said ...."I have no desire to do any Trance Medium stuff as I'm not so confident as an actor, plus it looks too convenient and unrealistic to me, but that's JMHO."

Does this mean you actually went to a Seance performed by a Trance Medium? Who was it? Who was the Spirit guide?

http://www.fst.org/trance.htm [/quote]
No, only read about them in several books and listened to others talk about them. My goal is to give the sitters something to talk about for a few days after. I don't want them saying "Did you see what he did?" I want them to say "Did you experience what I did" or "Did it happen to you, too?" I want the sťance to be all about the sitters, not about me.
Message: Posted by: Lucien Astor (Jun 3, 2015 12:45PM)
I live in the Canadian biblebelt. The first seance I did many years ago was at a Halloween fundraiser for a museum (it was actually more of a spookshow). They advertised it as a 'Theatrical Seance', and some of the local churches got wind of it. They were outside the museum in the afternoon with banners, and proceeded to paint crosses on the doors with holy oil (you can still see them when the doors frost up).

I've done a few more seances with the troupe I currently perform with, and these ones are closer to a traditional seance. I use pr** sh** to have people write questions for the spirits to answer (before we start, while people are having a glass of wine). The sitters gather around a large table illuminated by a few candles. It becomes a straight Q&A while we pretend to go into a trance. The only manifestation that occurs is the ringing of a bell in the moments before the 'spirits' reveal answers. This does elicit squeals.

The people who come are expecting a unique, possibly scary, experience, and I would imagine that is the case with your seance. If they have chosen to be there, I wouldn't think you need kid gloves (someone actually told me that they thought it would be scarier). If you want a disclaimer, I have used the following lines which I have shamelessly stolen (I don't remember the source). Before beginning ask "Do you beleive in spirits? Please don't answer, but I'll ask you again when the evening concludes..." At the conclusion of the seance say "I asked you earlier if you beleived in spirits. I would just like to say that I don't... >wink<"
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 3, 2015 01:43PM)
Good point, Lucien! I suppose a person can't expect to come to a sťance and not expect something never before experienced to happen. I hadn't thought of it that way.
Message: Posted by: konjurer (Jun 3, 2015 09:30PM)
You referred to your audience as guests. Are they friends or family? Do they know you well already? If that is the case, you've got a big hill to climb to get them to believe that something paranormal is happening. So maybe that's a good thing. You can still be creepy and entertaining and they probably won't think you've sold your soul.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 4, 2015 02:10AM)
You asked for advice ... So here it is, and I give it to everyone in your situation ..... PLEASE GO TO A REAL SEANCE!!!!!!
Virtually hundreds of well meaning entertainers have no idea what a Seance is. Please think about what you are attempting.
You honestly have NO first hand evidence of how a Seance looks, feels, or works.
I know it is tempting to want to perform something that is super impressive, entertaining, and fun .... However, Seances aren't things that someone just makes up with spooky props and such.
Seances contact those in the afterlife. The Spiritualist movement used Trance Mediums who contacted Spirit Guides who in turn found those who had passed over and delivered messages from them.
Reading a mentalists second hand opinion about Seances is NOT the way to go about this ... IMHO
:firedevil:
Message: Posted by: Brynmore14 (Jun 4, 2015 03:23AM)
We commonly recreate the Hollywood tropes of a sťance, so I agree with you Slim. Having said that, I do think that recreating the tropes can be a perfectly valid form of entertainment, it is just not an accurate recreation of a 'spiritualist sťance'.
Message: Posted by: Gregor Von G. (Jun 4, 2015 04:40AM)
Hi
I live in Italy, where people are still very superstitious.
There are lots of people who spend fortunes to rely on "wizards" or "healers" who rob them without pity, it seems incredible but it is really so.
If one were an terrible infamous worm without soul, with our skills and knoweledges, would become rich behind these simple minded or desperate peoples.
To avoid engaging this audience, I think the audience should be, in some ways, selected (or at least the social environment).
If, unfortunately, the public really believe that you have powers, how do you manage the situation?
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 4, 2015 07:55AM)
Everyone will be friends of mine, co-workers most likely. I never talk about spirits, magic, religion, any other things such as that at work. I haven't decided if I'm going to mention a sťance on the party invites, or wait until the night of to bring it up. At least one person I know of is a believer in ghosts and the paranormal.
I'll look around on google and see if there is a spiritualist church in the area and see if I can find a sťance to attend. I think it would be educational!
Thanks!
Message: Posted by: Lucien Astor (Jun 4, 2015 08:59AM)
...a seance in the context of a spiritualist church bears little similarity to the Victorian and Edwardian seances firmly entrenched in the public imagination. Mentalism and its techniques are the direct descendants of the seance room. The word billets derive from mediumistic literature, as does the phrase book test. Do whatever interests you, the old mediums did, with all sorts of strange props. A seance only means a sitting, and how the spirits communicate is only dictated by the constraints of your imagination.
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 4, 2015 10:37AM)
I attended a few real sťances and they look more like a John Edward show than anything that we ever attempt to put together.

That being said, I think you have to decide where you stand on sťances and how you plan on presenting them.
Todd Robbins had a few sťance shows where things happened, supposedly went out of control and he just stood there laughing basically saying it was all fake...a con.

As part of the sťance group TRINITY, we presented a few sťances where people were so affected by what they saw or what happened to them that one member, Tony, had to take them outside and talk them down, sometimes even to the point of saying that this was just a show. We're all magicians. But I mean Tony REALLY had to work at talking them down. One woman walked out of the building. Another young male was convinced that he received a msg from his spirit guide.

Seances are and can be powerful stuff.

Play smart.
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 4, 2015 12:12PM)
Wise words, EvilDan. I'm looking for a Victorian feel. None of this John Edward "biggest ****** in the universe" stuff. There will be no "look what I can do" stuff. It's all about the sitters.
Message: Posted by: Mr Timothy Gray (Jun 4, 2015 12:36PM)
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, Snoogans wrote:
Wise words, EvilDan. I'm looking for a Victorian feel. None of this John Edward "biggest ****** in the universe" stuff. There will be no "look what I can do" stuff. It's all about the sitters. [/quote]

If you don't mind, Snoogans, I'm going to keep pushing you, if only so that you can write out and articulate your thoughts.

You keep saying 'it's all about the sitters.' What does this mean exactly? It is the best sentiment to have, but, once again, you need CLARITY. What do you want them to experience? How do you want them to experience it? Why do you want them to experience it? What do you want them to take away from the performance? How do you want them to talk about the performance a few weeks later?

Additionally, if you are merely the facilitator, how did you become a facilitator, why do you continue to do it, when did you realize you could do it?
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 4, 2015 12:42PM)
Playing devil's advocate here, John Edward's approach IS all about the sitters.
People come hoping to get a msg from a loved one that has passed on, and he delivers.

So, like Mr Timothy Gray is prodding you about....what will YOU deliver, and how will you deliver it?
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 4, 2015 01:26PM)
There was a theatrical seance in Key West that utilized on old building there ... problem being ... the building was truly haunted. I spoke with a girl that worked there several years ago. She said the people often saw the REAL THING thinking it was part of the show. The actors simply had to play along.
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 4, 2015 01:53PM)
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, Mr Timothy Gray wrote:
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, Snoogans wrote:
Wise words, EvilDan. I'm looking for a Victorian feel. None of this John Edward "biggest ****** in the universe" stuff. There will be no "look what I can do" stuff. It's all about the sitters. [/quote]

If you don't mind, Snoogans, I'm going to keep pushing you, if only so that you can write out and articulate your thoughts.

You keep saying 'it's all about the sitters.' What does this mean exactly? It is the best sentiment to have, but, once again, you need CLARITY. What do you want them to experience? How do you want them to experience it? Why do you want them to experience it? What do you want them to take away from the performance? How do you want them to talk about the performance a few weeks later?

Additionally, if you are merely the facilitator, how did you become a facilitator, why do you continue to do it, when did you realize you could do it? [/quote]

Push all you want, Sir! I'm growing and learning from this conversation!
I'll answer your questions as best I can.

You keep saying 'it's all about the sitters.' What does this mean exactly?

I mean that me, as the Medium, explains a brief history of sťance and that if the sitters want something to happen, something will, although I'm not certain what that will be as all seances are different. Per Voodini, I will explain that the sitters that get the most out of it are the ones that put the most into it. My job is to lead the way, but not in such a way that the sitters feel that they are not part of the event. For instance, I will explain the history of glass moving, and what is expected to happen. After that, the participating sitters are the main stars of the show. The same will be observed with the pendulum portion and later the dark sťance. I will be prepared to prod if need be ("Does anyone else feel that chill? The room seems to be getting darker on the left side and moving this way", etc.)

It is the best sentiment to have, but, once again, you need CLARITY. What do you want them to experience?
I hope that all of the events (glass moving, pendulum, etc.) unfold as best as possible and everyone feels excitement.

How do you want them to experience it?
Not sure I understand the question, but I hope that this will be memorable and mysterious/spooky for everyone involved.

Why do you want them to experience it?
I believe a sťance is something that most people have only heard about or seen on the screen. I hope that this will be a new experience for them.

What do you want them to take away from the performance?
How do you want them to talk about the performance a few weeks later?
My hope is that the sťance will take on a life of its own with the sitters and their stories will expand and become more exciting/mysterious/spooky as they are passed from person to person. I hope that the sitters consider the sťance to be the highlight of the party and maybe even the most exciting thing they've experienced in a while. I hope that they will leave the party and not be able to wait to tell their friends what they experienced.
I also hope that it sparks interest in the Ripper story as I intend to name each victim by name and make them more than just a picture or a story. I want the sitters to know that these were real people with hopes, dreams, fears, loves, etc. This is one reason why I will show the pics from their graves, as everyone has seen a grave at one point. This will make it more personal, more real.

Additionally, if you are merely the facilitator, how did you become a facilitator, why do you continue to do it, when did you realize you could do it?
I will let the sitters know that a little known fact about me is that since childhood, I have attended and conducted sťances. Not entirely true as this would be my first in hosting one, however in my youth sťances and Ouija sessions were a common activity with my siblings. However, I want the sitters to be at ease that I know what I'm doing and they are safe. The protection rituals (white light, salt, etc) are also a part of this. I will stay away from Ouija due to the negative stigma surrounding them (I don't believe in it, but it's surprising how many people do, and they must be respected) and glass moving has probably never been seen by any of them before. More room around the table for people to watch than a Ouija, too. I will share some stories of what I experienced and that a chat with the spirits is exciting and harmless, if done correctly, of course.

Mind you, I'm throwing ideas together here. I haven't sat down and made a script or storyboard. No doubt I will add/delete ideas as time goes on.

Thanks for your wisdom, and please, keep it coming!
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 4, 2015 01:55PM)
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, EVILDAN wrote:
Playing devil's advocate here, John Edward's approach IS all about the sitters.
People come hoping to get a msg from a loved one that has passed on, and he delivers.

So, like Mr Timothy Gray is prodding you about....what will YOU deliver, and how will you deliver it? [/quote]

I plan to stay away from contacting loved ones as I believe it's not a good idea. I'm no fan of JE because I feel that what he does is unethical and predatory. That's JMHO.
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 4, 2015 02:00PM)
Good idea about not contacting loved ones. You step into a different realm altogether.

It would probably be a good idea to set expectations on what people can expect to experience and what Not to expect.
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 4, 2015 02:06PM)
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, EVILDAN wrote:
Good idea about not contacting loved ones. You step into a different realm altogether.

It would probably be a good idea to set expectations on what people can expect to experience and what Not to expect. [/quote]

Do you mean explain that the pendulum will move one way for yes/no, the glass will move, etc? I plan to do that. Once the fingers are on the glass, my first place to go is to stand where "yes" is and ask the spirits if they have arrived. :)

I'll explain that spirit presence can be in the form of a chill, a dark area, a light touch, a smell, a sound, just to name a few. I hope to put enough suggestions and expectations out there that they can't help but experience something.

Thanks for all your wise words and experience. I think I'm way ahead of where I was when I first posted this topic.
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 4, 2015 02:18PM)
No, I mean something like this....

Ask 10 people what a sťance is and you'll get 10 different answers. Some people will call what John Edward does a sťance. Others will describe a sťance by what Hollywood has been feeding them for most of their lives.

What you will experience tonight is....(fill in the blanks).
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 4, 2015 02:31PM)
That sounds like a great idea. Everyone needs to be on the same page before the activities begin. Thanks!
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 4, 2015 02:33PM)
Exactly and you don't want people expecting to contact a dead relative and finding out that's not going to happen.
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 4, 2015 02:55PM)
Many of the books I have warn about people wanting this to happen. I'll tell them up front it's something I won't even discuss and advise them to find a Spiritualist church.
Message: Posted by: Lucien Astor (Jun 4, 2015 03:30PM)
...the handful of seances I have hosted usually start with me talking about the unusual history of whatever building I happen to be in (office, gallery, studio, museum) that I managed to uncover with the assistance of the local historical society of wherever I happen to be. All fictitious, or borderline fictitious, of course. Those are the spirits we will be contacting during the seance, and it precludes people asking to contact relatives.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 5, 2015 09:38AM)
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, EVILDAN wrote:
Exactly and you don't want people expecting to contact a dead relative and finding out that's not going to happen. [/quote]
If you can't contact a dead relative at a Seance then why would you go? AND can it really be called a Seance at all?
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 5, 2015 09:45AM)
[quote]On Jun 5, 2015, Slim King wrote:
If you can't contact a dead relative at a Seance then why would you go? AND can it really be called a Seance at all? [/quote]

I think people want to go out of curiosity and to answer some questions: What happens at a sťance? What will I experience at a sťance? And perhaps they DON'T want to contact dead relatives because they didn't like them, or as my mom says, "Leave your grandmother and grandfather alone." My wife even refuses to call the spirits of dead relatives into the sťance circle.


As to the second part of the question, I give you: The Houdini Sťance, The Jack the Ripper Sťance, The Lizzie Borden Sťance.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 5, 2015 09:47AM)
That's my point.
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 5, 2015 09:51AM)
Se∑ance /ˈsāˌšns/
noun: seance; plural noun: seances; noun: sťance; plural noun: sťances

a meeting at which people attempt to make contact with the dead, especially through the agency of a medium.

Not sure what your point is.
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 5, 2015 12:53PM)
Let's not get off topic, gang. To each his own. If you want to contact relatives, that's your thing. If not, that's fine, too. Neither preference is wrong.
Message: Posted by: reese (Jun 5, 2015 10:21PM)
[quote]On Jun 5, 2015, Snoogans wrote:
Let's not get off topic, gang. To each his own. If you want to contact relatives, that's your thing. If not, that's fine, too. Neither preference is wrong. [/quote] Not sure whether your statement "Neither preference is wrong" is right or wrong. Depends on the context I guess. Within the context of the Cafť ( a place for entertainers to interact to discuss entertainment ) For an entertainer to attempt to contact someone's recently deceased loved one is....deeply wrong. Criminal? Odious at the very least.
Message: Posted by: MentalistCreationLab (Jun 5, 2015 11:22PM)
First, if it was me and its coming from me. I would realize that when the attendees whom so ever they shall be when attending a sťance have already induced a psychological preception of what the event is without knowing a thing about what the actual event is. It is this psychological preception that the performer can influence during the sťance.

What this means essentially is that regardless of where you are performing this type of work the psychological preception of the attendees has already been formed long before the event and those who are not in to this type of thing will not attend.

Granted it may be a lot easier to do this sort of work at Camp Chesterfield, Lily Dale or Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp for example or a small shack in Ohio. However regardless of the venue or venues location the psychological preception of the attendees has already been influenced previously by the preconceived notions of others regardless of any factual content to these notations.

That said. It does not really matter what effects one does in the sťance as long as the psychological preception of the attendees is meet without the performer destroying the core of this preception with his or her own preconceived notions. Now depending on the type of sťance one is doing will determine if the sťance is opened with rapid fire gunshots from muskets followed by strange music in the presents of total darkness to summons the spirits. All of this is prior to total darkness in the shack. This is what I would call a real sťance circa 1850 which would have most of you running for the one who keeps you safe. The later slightly more theatrical seances started to appear about a decade later.

Also remember that most seances were considered a type of parlor game held for entertainment. Many seances where also held in the parlor which had only two uses one was for entertainment and the other was for viewing of the dead before burial.

If it was me I would hold nothing back. And did not the last time I worked a seance in the deep south. But then again I lost my magicians guilt long ago. I also understand that from the inception the seance is a form of parlor entertainment that is and has always been perceived as real just like many other parlor games. However this parlor game may have a dark side with a bit of corruption which in my opinion makes it even more interesting.

Yes I attended and held real seances some of the places that these events were held are listed above. In fact I prefer these types of seances to the magical variety as nothing needs to occur do to the psychological preception formed by the minds of the participants previously to the event.

Think of it this way have you ever gone to a haunted house during Halloween? Yet you know its all fake. So why did you scream when that thing popped out at you? This is one of the types of psychological preception I am speaking of. But just one. Actually there are a lot more of these perception's at play as well. Which is one reason that makes a seance a very interesting thing. Yes I have released a few works on the subject of the seance but I do not think or have any plans to release anymore on the subject as I would rater keep these secrets for myself than see them turned into the next great seance sponge ball trick buy someone who thinks seance work is not psychologically based and see it more as a vanishing sponge ball than what it really is about. Which by the way would take a minimum of a 1000 pages to begin to explain.

The only other recommendation I can make about this subject is read works by Andrew Jackson Davis and Hudson Tuttle and other like these two and stay as far away from any of the Houdini style of works as possible unless it coming from the point of view of guys like Brother Shadow in his Have Seance Will Travel. Which would be a great format for working in the bible belt come to think of it. Or you could just go for it and let the cards fall where they fall.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 5, 2015 11:32PM)
[quote]On Jun 5, 2015, EVILDAN wrote:
Se∑ance /ˈsāˌšns/
noun: seance; plural noun: seances; noun: sťance; plural noun: sťances

a meeting at which people attempt to make contact with the dead, especially through the agency of a medium.

Not sure what your point is. [/quote]
That's my point.

Spiritualists often sang songs and prayed before a seance. They always used a Medium and he or she almost always had a Spirit guide. Just like a baseball game has a pitcher and a catcher. Without a pitcher and a catcher you could call it baseball, but it really isn't is it?

That's my main point. If you are calling it a seance, you need the ingredients that make up a seance. ;)
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 5, 2015 11:54PM)
Seances have evolved in the public eye. People believe Hollywood and don't care about history. I'm pretty sure most couldn't even tell you what a Spiritualist Church is.

That's why vampires sparkle and zombies are a result of chemical warfare gone bad instead of part of Voodou lore.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 6, 2015 11:58PM)
Vampires don't sparkle no matter how Hollywood portrays them ... :bat: :bat: :bat:
Message: Posted by: reese (Jun 7, 2015 12:48AM)
Your opinion is your own Dave. We get to say "It ain't so". In other words... (you ain't right)
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 7, 2015 03:54PM)
It appears that some comments are coming from true believers and skeptics. The believers seem to take offense to the idea that a seance is for entertainment, and the believers seem to be insistent that a seance be conducted only in the manner to which they themselves prescribe, and anyone who thinks differently is wrong.

This sounds too much like a religion debate to me.

The bottom line for me is, perform the seance any way you want. If you're a believer, great. If not, that's great, too. I'm not going to worry about who doesn't like how I'm doing things. If I'm hosting the seance, it's my way or the highway. They always know where the door is.
Message: Posted by: Godzilla (Jun 7, 2015 04:05PM)
[quote]On Jun 7, 2015, Snoogans wrote:


The bottom line for me is, perform the seance any way you want. If you're a believer, great. If not, that's great, too. I'm not going to worry about who doesn't like how I'm doing things. If I'm hosting the seance, it's my way or the highway. They always know where the door is. [/quote]

You had the answer to your own question, before you started this thread ! :-)
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Jun 7, 2015 05:30PM)
[quote]On Jun 7, 2015, Godzilla wrote:
[quote]On Jun 7, 2015, Snoogans wrote:


The bottom line for me is, perform the seance any way you want. If you're a believer, great. If not, that's great, too. I'm not going to worry about who doesn't like how I'm doing things. If I'm hosting the seance, it's my way or the highway. They always know where the door is. [/quote]

You had the answer to your own question, before you started this thread ! :-) [/quote]

Yep! I just needed you guys to shine the light on it for me.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jun 7, 2015 09:49PM)
[quote]On Jun 7, 2015, reese wrote:
Your opinion is your own Dave. We get to say "It ain't so". In other words... (you ain't right) [/quote]
I'm just giving the factual evidence of what a seance is. If you want to make up your own definition for the word seance ... have at it!!!!!
I'm not stopping you ... I'm just INFORMING you as to what a real seance is.

I'm not a Spiritualist. Almost the opposite!!!! ;) :firedevil:
Message: Posted by: reese (Jun 7, 2015 10:16PM)
Entertainment isn't reality. It's for fun & thrills. I know what a real seance is. I've attended more than a few. Many actually. I don't need you preaching to me about non theatrical seances. A discussion of a "real" seance isn't appropriate in a magic forum (in my opinion) unless you're aiming to recreate one theatrically. There's so-called "shut-eye" forums where you can post about real seances. A theatrical seance for entertainment is very different from a genuine seance. Theatrical seances don't attempt to contact someone's recently deceased daughter for example. To do so would be fraud. Again, the Magic Cafť is a site for entertainers to dialog about theatrical entertainment. What is your problem?
Message: Posted by: Mr Timothy Gray (Jun 7, 2015 10:16PM)
[quote]On Jun 7, 2015, Slim King wrote:
I'm just giving the factual evidence of what a seance is.[/quote]

No, darling boy, you aren't giving 'factual' evidence. And as someone who has sat through hundreds of "REAL" seances - not a single one has conformed to any one particular definition.
Message: Posted by: chmara (Jun 7, 2015 10:52PM)
Interesting, very interesting -- but to me, much ado about very little.

1. Not one person here has given any credit to the audience (sitter) for having any intelligence. The term "Theatrical Seance" means THEATER. If you have theatrical trappings, lighting and sound effects, it is all a part of good theater. If an individual or group is offended by the theatrical presentation updated from a past era, that is there problem and their ignorance to deal with.

A group of people picketing a seance -- great potential for publicity. Since Houdini's time (and few of us here were alive or cognoscente of him in that era when he made headlines by debunking spiritualists) when people choose to be superstitious or believe in ghosts -- that is a flaw in their thinking.. If they choose to be entertained my the mystery of communicating with the dead it is their choice -- at least in this country (I write in the USA.) It is not up to us as entertainers to assuage their fears, cow-tow to their religious beliefs, discuss the philosophy of afterlife and religion or superstition with them -- it is our job to entertain them in a style of theater of our choice and their purchase.

If we tip toe around the idea that some people will believe, or get upset, we miss the main point of magic. WE ARE LEGITIMATE CHARLATANS, whether magical hobbyist or professional presenter. We use our "magic" to entertain and often make a point. Magic is no more real than the talking animals in Aesop's fables. If we touch emotions we have done our job -- and how we handle those emotions often shows our professionalism and human caring. A crook or consciousness charlatan does not care about emotions and how to handle them and works for profit or self aggrandizement only.

In professional theater a play that does not hit the theatrical notes that resonate with the audience -- is usually a flop. Theater audiences need no disclaimer that the play they are about to watch is fiction and/or not real -- OR has been watered down in content to save the the delicate ears or iontents of someone who disagrees. Actors, writers and directors know that their craft will not strike all as worthwhile -- or even mildly effective.

But, as magicians who wish to recreate seance magic as entertainment -- I feel we strain too much to sooth the credulous at the expense of the intelligent audience who knows it is all tricks of the emotions and wishful thinking found in the human mind.

And remember - seances are as valid as tarot reading and buying lottery tickets on a hunch and really expecting to win.

:rotf:
Message: Posted by: Godzilla (Jun 7, 2015 11:03PM)
This, is a pet peeve of mine.
Many posters doing a performance of "Spooky Tricks" and calling it a Seance !(theatrical)
Doing bizarre magick does not make it a seance.
You can do the tricks, then move into a seance portion of your set.
And, yes a Medium of sorts is needed for a seance. Be it the performer or a participant.
So, I do agree with comments of Bill, Slim, and Mr. Gray ... tho, there may be no absolute definition of what happens.
If there is 'NO' Medium, it is a Paranormal Performance / Bizarre Presentation ! IMHO

So, to justify ... We, call scaring the sh!t out of people "ENTERTAINMENT" ? :-)

~G
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 8, 2015 07:42AM)
To clarify, scaring people is entertainment and there is a whole industry built upon that from horror movies, horror novels, roller coasters, other thrill rides, haunted houses, Halloween, etc., AND people pay for the privilege.

I agree that lumping a bunch of bizarre effects together does not constitute a sťance. In a sťance, you need to be contacting spirits. However, the dividing line is what happens once contact is made and how is contact proved?

In my sťance I do contact spirits. I just don't plan on contacting any of YOUR dead relatives. My agenda is different. However, you still might receive a message from a loved on; maybe directly, maybe passed on to another spirit. I just don't say it's going to happen because I don't know often or for how many people it will happen.

I also don't do a dark portion. When I was part of Trinity and we were developing our sťance, we asked a lot of people and almost all of them stated that if anything took place in the dark, they would assume that trickery was taking place. Trinity adopted a no black out policy. I maintain that in my sťance.

I've been to a couple "real" sťances and they're boring and filled with B. S. One was a group of people with the medium doing a John Edward style sťance but this was BEFORE anyone ever heard of John Edward and she had been doing this for over 30 years. I saw her twice. Once by myself and once with a friend. Both times she gave me info about family names that didn't relate. She told me to go back and ask family members and I'll find out that she was right. Nope, wrong.

The other "sťance" was a group of people trying to tap into the spirit world and then giving each other readings.

So, there are many flavors of sťance. We can debate which one's the best or the most literally correct but in the end it doesn't matter. If you're in it for the money, then you just want the one that the most people are going to be drawn to and attend.
Message: Posted by: MagicDan3333 (Jun 9, 2015 11:37PM)
In the Bible belt area, you might consider calling your seance or event a demonstration of how a seance might appear. You are not claiming anything, yet can demonstrate whatever you wish.
Message: Posted by: Mr Timothy Gray (Jun 10, 2015 12:05AM)
Why not just create the art that you want? Be an artist! These kinds of worries rarely, if ever come to fruition!

You can spend twenty years fact-checking, double speaking, procrastinating, all based on how you THINK the audience will respond.

Stop projecting & start creating!
Message: Posted by: Brynmore14 (Jun 10, 2015 06:49AM)
Interesting discussion folks. I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Montana today and we had a good talk about many of the areas outlined above.
Message: Posted by: the.erebus (Jun 7, 2021 10:28AM)
[quote]On Jun 5, 2015, Slim King wrote:
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, EVILDAN wrote:
Exactly and you don't want people expecting to contact a dead relative and finding out that's not going to happen. [/quote]
If you can't contact a dead relative at a Seance then why would you go? AND can it really be called a Seance at all? [/quote]

True
Message: Posted by: EVILDAN (Jun 7, 2021 10:52AM)
[quote]On Jun 7, 2021, the.erebus wrote:
[quote]On Jun 5, 2015, Slim King wrote:
[quote]On Jun 4, 2015, EVILDAN wrote:
Exactly and you don't want people expecting to contact a dead relative and finding out that's not going to happen. [/quote]
If you can't contact a dead relative at a Seance then why would you go? AND can it really be called a Seance at all? [/quote]

True [/quote]

There are a lot of people not related to Houdini and Houdini seances always sell tickets.
Message: Posted by: Doc Ben (Jun 7, 2021 10:53AM)
[quote]On Jun 9, 2015, MagicDan3333 wrote:
In the Bible belt area, you might consider calling your seance or event a demonstration of how a seance might appear. You are not claiming anything, yet can demonstrate whatever you wish. [/quote]

John Ferrentino has a fantastic approach to this premise of a "what if demo of a seance" in a recorded lecture, "Do The Spirits Return", which solved this issue for me of concern over any particular audience and their reactions to a so-called "Seance".
:fyi: