Physical Mediumship Séances

February 22, 2024
Oteja Lightheart and IONS Science Team

A new study led by Helané Wahbeh, funded by the Marco Project in collaboration with the Institute of Noetic Sciences, is exploring the personal experiences of individuals who attend physical mediumship séances.

What is physical mediumship?

Physical mediumship is characterized by extraordinary phenomena that are believed to be communications between the spirit and physical worlds, such as object movement, materializations, and audible spirit communications, often taking place in a dark séance room. Being a source for spirit manifestations, the medium typically uses a variety of tools including spirit cabinets and levitation tables during the séance.

Physical mediums of the past

Physical mediumship has been recorded throughout U.S. history. In 1848, the Fox Sisters, Margaretta, Kate, and Leah, communicated with a spirit through rapping sounds, leading to a widespread interest in this phenomenon. In the 1920s, Mina Crandon began holding séances as a hobby. Her production of physical phenomena, including telekinesis (the movement of objects without physical contact), and spirit writing attracted broad attention.

Physical mediumship similarly emerged across the world, particularly in parts of Europe. Eva Carrière (French), Florence Cook (English), and Helen Duncan (Scottish) were known for their abilities to produce ectoplasm and materialize spirits in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the mid-19th century, Daniel Dunglas Home, a Scottish physical medium, was known for levitating himself and other objects. He was also known for producing physical phenomena, including moving objects and communicating with spirits.

What do people experience at physical mediumship séances?

Participating in a physical mediumship séance can be an incredibly profound and transformative experience. It can also generate the emergence of deeply personal and sensitive insights. A variety of extraordinary physical phenomena have been recorded during physical mediumship séances. Some of these phenomena include:

  • Materialization: materialized forms of spirits typically as apparitions or figures
  • Ectoplasm: white translucent material exuded from a medium’s body during a seance, supporting the facilitation of communication with spirits
  • Telekinesis: objects moving without physical contact
  • Spirit Rapping: communication with spirits through rapping sounds
  • Direct Voice Mediumship: production of audible voices originating from spirits
  • Apports: objects that appear seemingly out of nowhere (ie: flowers, coins, small jewelry, etc.)

Other phenomena that are often experienced include light, sound, voice, and writing phenomena, personal messages, healing, and physical touch.

Participating in the study

Participants of the study, who are current or prospective attendees of a physical mediumship séance, will partake in a two-part survey process designed to collect data on their demographic profiles, motivations, prior experiences, beliefs in mediumship, and descriptions of their séance experiences. Participants will fill out a 15-minute survey after the séance to capture their experiences and reactions. In addition to the surveys, participants can choose to take part in a more detailed optional follow-up interview to offer richer, more detailed accounts of their experiences.

An important aspect of the study is confidentiality. Participants’ identities will be protected, and only aggregate findings will be shared publicly without revealing individual data. Participation is completely voluntary, and individuals can opt-out at any stage without any negative consequences.

The goal of this study is not only to provide a comprehensive understanding of the physical mediumship séance experience but also to contribute to the broader field of research into spiritual and paranormal phenomena, offering insights that may demystify these deeply personal events. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from the study’s aggregated results, although there is no direct compensation or promised personal benefit from participation.

Share the survey

Are you or anyone you know doing public seances, or developing a home circle specifically for physical mediumship? If so, you are invited to share the survey, which takes less than 15 minutes to complete, with facilitators, mediums, and/or participants:

Each person who completes a survey will be entered into a drawing to receive $250. After 100 surveys are completed, one recipient will be randomly selected. People are invited to complete a survey after each seance, and their names can be entered into the drawing multiple times.

We look forward to completing the study and sharing the results.


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