Tag Archives: day of the dead

Defining “The Big Séance”

Since The Big Séance has gained quite a few readers in the last few months, I’ve gotten a few questions regarding the title of this blog and what weirdness we’re all about here. Is this really a séance? And if so, why the pictures of historic buildings? Why the cemeteries? Well I’ve wanted to compose some thoughts on this for quite a while, but the time was just never right, and I guess the inspiration just never came. It is true, the blog has changed and grown (as most of them do) over the last year and a half, so I suppose it’s time to update the old “About” page.

The online Merriam Webster dictionary defines séance as “a spiritualist meeting to receive spirit communications.” The word itself comes from an old French word that means “sitting” or “to sit”. Well the way I look at it, I’m sitting as I write this post, and I’m seated every other time as well. That’s how I came up with the name.

…I’m kidding. Oh come on. Laugh already.

In all seriousness, from day one my plan was to create a blog that covered paranormal and spiritual topics, with an emphasis on spirit communication. I’d highlight some of my team’s paranormal investigations, share some evidence, etc. A lot has changed since then.

I don’t think there is a more dramatic or fun form of spirit communication than a séance. Am I right? Picture any séance you’ve seen from an old movie or TV show. An old Victorian house, dark and ornate décor, candles all over, perhaps a Ouija board, a fabulously costumed medium, and of course no séance is complete without theremin music for an extra spooky effect.  

In an early blog post on the topic of the séance, I thought back to my earliest introduction to the concept. Allow me to plagiarize myself.

I must confess, I think I was introduced to the concept of a séance in a segment of The Bloodhound Gang, which was like a miniature mystery series that was a part of the 1980s PBS children’s series, 3-2-1 Contact. Anybody remember? I even had a subscription to the 3-2-1 Contact magazines for a while and have probably seen every episode from all eight seasons. Don’t tempt me to sing the theme song (or even The Bloodhound Gang theme for that matter)… because I will. I can’t be exactly sure that’s where I saw my first séance, but that’s where my childhood memory is taking me back to.

I’ve never been able to prove that 3-2-1 Contact was responsible for sparking this fascination, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. If anyone knows what I might be thinking of, please let me know. It would be truly awesome to see it again, whatever it was.

After more than a year and a half and over 250 published blog posts later, I’ve learned a lot about blogging. I’ve learned a lot about “paranormal folk”. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, what I know, and what I don’t know for sure yet. But as of right now I’d like to think of “The Big Séance” as not just a broad form of spirit communication, but a way to honor or learn about anyone’s life or past… a kind of remembrance. In an EVP session, I don’t just want to capture a voice, but I think of it as a chance for a spirit to communicate. When I highlight a beautifully historic or abandoned location, I’m imagining the lives of the people who made memories in the space previously. By photographing the beauty of an old cemetery or the resting place of a soul’s body, we show that we’re not afraid or embarrassed of what we erroneously refer to as “death”. I like to think that by thinking of these souls and wondering about their lives, we’re honoring them. And I’ll almost always have a recorder with me, whether it’s a trip to the cemetery or an actual paranormal investigation. All souls are invited to communicate or pass on messages to the living. You’ve joined me in several experiments. You’ve even shared your own experiences. Therefore, you’re not only an audience member for MY séance, you’re all participating in it! It’s a BIG séance… and it’s getting bigger.

  

P.S. 

It’s now the eve of October 1st, a month-long (maybe even longer) holiday for many of us. So whether you just like to be goofy and dress up for trick-or-treaters, celebrate to honor your ancestors or the lives of the dead, or hope to take advantage of a thinning veil that separates us from “the other side”, stay tuned throughout the rest of the autumn season!

 

Today I made another visit to the resting places of both  Johnnie and Clara, as part of my new tradition of adopting and researching older graves during the fall season. I decided to give Johnnie the opportunity to jump in the photo with me... assuming he was there visiting as well.

Today I made another visit to the resting places of both Johnnie and Clara, as part of my new tradition of adopting and researching older graves during the fall season. I decided to give Johnnie the opportunity to jump in the photo with me… assuming he was there visiting as well.

 

 


HALLOWEEN: An American Holiday, an American History…

It makes me sad to admit, but my reading has really slowed down in recent months with so much going on. So I knew I needed to get an early start on this one to get it done in time. I’ve always been the person who gets overly excited about each season before it even arrives (my first “Fall” post was back on August 1st, for God’s sake), so it really worked out for me. 

As you’ve heard me say so often in this blog, I heard this author being interviewed on The Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold. She is a pro on the topic of Halloween, and I just love listening to her. I believe Jim has had her on a few times. 

The author, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, from her Amazon author page.

What we know as “Halloween” comes from so many places, traditions, and cultures that it is very easy to get lost in it all. Just like America itself, Halloween really is a blend of it all. The earliest roots come from Pagan traditions that were later changed by the Catholic church into what we know as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Throw in a little Guy Fawkes Day (which I’d never heard of), the Celtic festival of Samhain, and the Roman festival of Pomona, and hundreds of years later we open our doors on the evening of October 31st to hear “trick or treat” being shouted by masquerading children of all ages.

 

 

Some interesting things I learned…

  • Interested in a 9th century recipe for “All Souls’ Bread” that the Roman Catholic clergy encouraged the living to offer to spirits of the dead? This book has it. 
  • For a while the holiday seemed to be more about love than anything spooky. Many early Halloween traditions included young women practicing divination of all kinds to determine their future husbands. If you’d like to try it, you can stare into a candle lit mirror at midnight on Halloween. The face of your future love will show up over your shoulder. Not creepy at all (rrrriiiiiiight). This is also where bobbing for apples came from. Another tradition was for girls to hang their wet blouses to dry above them while they slept. Apparently your future husband will visit and “turn the sleeve”. Good to know. 
  • Another interesting tradition… the Irish “Dumb Supper”. A young woman was supposed to see the shape and image of her future love if she cooked and served an entire meal backwards. I’m not sure how this works but I’d love to see it. 
  • Lesley includes a page out of the October 1911 issue of The Delineator, where ideas for entertaining in October are given. Love it! Time machine, please!
  • Using pumpkins as lanterns, or carving pumpkins into “jack-o-lanterns” came from the Irish. Before they arrived to America where large pumpkins were available, they used hollowed out turnips. The story of “Jack” (which there are different versions of) is also fascinating.
  • The Mexican “Day of the Dead” is something I think is fascinating… and I’d love to experience it. 
  • I’ve always wanted to experience the Victorian era, but Halloween in those days just seems so interesting and fun! LOVED this section in the book. Also, one of the main reasons I like the movie Meet Me In St. Louis is the depiction of Halloween in those few scenes. 

There is also plenty in this book on the more familiar 20th century Halloween traditions. 

This is not a new book (it was originally published in 1990), but it’s a good one with lots of fun facts and history. If you want to learn about the history of many of our traditions from this season while also getting in the mood for ghosts and goblins, you should check out this book… maybe put it on your list for next fall. 

 

Halloween is just around the corner! Enjoy!

 

Peace!

 


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