In English, the word came to be used specifically for a meeting of people to receive spiritualistic messages (a sense first recorded in English in 1845).
The following séance technique is used by the Other World Society:
A Séance Edit
Ghosts are harmless. There is nothing to fear. If an entity is perceived, simply view it as evidence of an afterlife, that the dead are alive.
Contact may occur in various ways. Most commonly, if the procedure is successful, the ghost will appear in a dream of someone who sleeps in the house tonight. Sometimes, however, direct contact during the actual séance is possible. The spirit may be perceived through any sense. A scent (the sense of smell is the most emotive of our senses) is the most common contact. The next most common manifestation is through the sense of touch (a cold spot may be perceived, most commonly from the left side). The third most common manifestation is through the sense of hearing (a sound or a voice). The rarest contact is visual. We will see a light or an apparition. Of course, a spirit may be present and be unknown to us. There are signs, however. When a candle flame burns blue, a spirit is present. Also, if a hound appears agitated, a ghost is present. (Dogs are sensitive to ghosts, whereas cats are sensitive to demons.)
Helpful Conditions Edit
To contact a spirit, certain conditions are helpful. Spirits are most visible at night. In occult lore, the moon is older than earth and is dead. The moon is a giant luminescent corpse in the sky, and it exerts a powerful influence of death on the earth. The presence of moving water–a stream or falling rain (especially with lightning)--is helpful. Strong emotions–especially anger and terror–draw spirits. A drop of fresh blood also draws spirits (in contrast, menstrual blood draws demons). Quartz attracts spirits (but metal–especially iron and steel–repels them). The presence of spiritually sensitive people–especially women and children–also helps open the portal to the other world.
Our Technique Edit
The technique we will use is from ancient Greece, with some later Christian additions. Four people–or six or more–will sit around a wooden table. We may not use five people, for Christ was murdered with five wounds, and five–symbolized by the pentagon and the pentacle (the five-pointed star)--draws sinister forces. (The victims of Jack the Ripper–in 19th century London–were positioned to form a huge pentagon in the city.) The hands of the four must be placed flat on the table, with the little fingers of each hand touching the hands of the people on either side. In the center of the table we will place a clear glass bowl filled with olive oil. A single drop of fresh blood–drawn from the finger of a volunteer--will be placed in the oil. During the séance, focus on the bowl of oil and blood. (Michel de Nostredame, the famous seer who was also called Nostradamus, used a bowl of blood and sometimes a bowl of water. The last was later replaced by an eighteenth century invention, the crystal ball.) Two candles will be positioned on the north and south sides of the bowl. A bible opened to 1 Samuel, chapter 28 (the text details a communication with a spirit) will be positioned on the west side. (The west–the point of the setting sun and rising moon–symbolizes the land of the dead. By positioning a bible there we will draw good spirits). A single piece of quartz will rest on the open book. On the east side of the bowl, we will place a lily. (The lily is a flower of death, and the fresh scent will draw good spirits. Vile scents draw demons). Outside the circle, we will position a bell (this drives away spirits), a steel knife (steel, especially with an edge, repels spirits), and some rock salt. (Salt thrown into a fire drives away spirits, including demons). These things will be used to defend ourselves from any mischievous apparitions.
The Process Edit
During the séance, do not speak. Only the medium will speak. Remain serious and respectful. Do not laugh. According to legend, the dead cannot laugh with joy and therefore levity offends them. Do not break the circle by moving your hands. Focus your attention on the bowl of oil and blood. Remember, the spirit may be perceived through any sense. Be aware of scents, feelings, sounds, and sights. If–at any point–any person present feels anxious–remember, we can protect you with the bell, the steel, and the salt in the fire.
Closing the Séance Edit
When the medium is finished, she will thank the spirit. She will then close the bible and extinguish the candles. Tomorrow–in the light of day–a bell will be rung throughout the house. That will clear the area of all entities.