• 2: The seance circle

    The group regularly consists of three members, I act as the medium and there are two observers or sitters. Circle sittings were held at the same time on a fixed day of the week, once a month, with an additional sitting if guests were invited. More frequent sittings were not possible as members live up to 160 miles from the location of the circle.

    Members are not religious but the group sits as a Spiritualist physical circle. None had experience of sitting in a physical circle, prior to formation. The behaviours and conditions we adopt when sitting are guided by historical accounts of physical circles sitting with mediums, such as Alec Harris, Jack Webber and Leslie Flint. However, there are three important departures from the traditional physical séance; the use of continuous red light, no use of music or singing and I stay fully conscious, not entering a state of trance for the entire sitting.

    For recordings, consistent environmental conditions are provided in the séance room. The upstairs room has three outside walls and is 6 ft x 9 ft apart from the recessed doorway. It is kept between 16 and 22 degrees Celsius. Hotter conditions detrimentally affect the recording of phenomena, colder conditions make sitting still for two hours uncomfortable. There is one source of light, an overhead purlescent globe with a 60 watt red bulb. This is controlled by a dimmer switch, which is out of the reach of sitters and medium. In one corner of the room there is a black curtained cabinet, suspended from hooks in the ceiling. In sittings the curtains have an aperture at the front of approximately 2 feet allowing the sitters a clear view of the medium. Blackout blinds are placed at the window and cover the recessed doorway, successfully eliminating all daylight. There is a night storage heater on the internal wall that is turned off 24 hours before sittings to ensure that temperature fluctuations do not cause knocking. We have three chairs in the room, two facing the cabinet and one inside. A small table for recorders is placed next to a harp.

    Fig. 1 The séance room


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