by Raymond Buckland
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
How many of us, by some quirk of Fate, missed being there at the end of the life of a loved one? How many of us have longed to be able to have that last word with a now-deceased parent or sibling? Many people have wished that they could ask advice of a now-dead close friend. Many more feel guilty that they didn’t do what, in retrospect, they feel they should have done, for a relative who has now passed. Philosophically, we can only try to shrug it off and get on with our own life. Yet there always seems to remain that "deep down" feeling of remorse.
Spiritualism is a belief in a continuance of life, for the spirit, after that transition that we term "death." More than that, it is a belief that it is possible to make contact with that spirit of the one who has made the transition. In other words, it is a belief that we can have that last word, ask for that advice, assuage that guilt.
Spiritualists have developed a tried-and-true method to make this contact. It involves employing an individual who has developed the ability to connect with the spirit world; to act as a conduit between this physical world and the next. Such an individual is termed a Medium.
A professional medium is one who acts on behalf of virtually anyone who asks. By whatever means the medium finds appropriate, he or she will make the contact and then relay questions and answers back and forth between the sitter, on the physical plane, and the spirit. There are many different methods employed by mediums, which we don’t need to examine in detail here. They vary from the medium simply relaying what he or she hears, to the spirit actually speaking through the medium using that channel’s vocal cords.
There are a number of spiritualist communities about the country; virtual "villages" of spiritualists. Every year, usually in the summer months, people from across the United States and abroad make a pilgrimage to one or more of these communities in order to consult with the professional mediums there. When the "season" comes to an end—usually with the onset of winter—then the mediums close up shop and the seekers must bide their time until the spring. (The few communities located in the south are blessed in that they can operate year round.) It always seemed to me to be a shame that those in need of this contact with the deceased were unable to do so, or do so easily, for so much of the year. I knew that this need not be the case. It need not be the case because we all of us have it within ourselves to make that connection with spirit.
When it comes to psychism—the ability to connect with others here on the earth plane—many of us exhibit that ability . . . call it e.s.p. (extra sensory perception), mind reading, or simply attunement. We know what someone else is thinking or what they are about to say. Well, if we can do this with the spirit of someone living, then why not with the spirit of someone dead? Professional mediums can connect with spirit fairly easily simply because they do it all the time. You can connect also. You may need a little practice, but you can do it.
In my new book, Solitary Séance, I examine nearly twenty different methods by which any individual can connect with spirit and communicate, to ask questions and get answers. Some of these methods may be familiar in that they are used in the psychic world as well as in spiritualism. Others are more obviously connected with spirit communication; for example, the Spirit Board (e.g. Ouija), automatic writing, and table tipping. But not many people think of the tarot cards as a means of contacting the dead. Or runes or dominoes; tea-leaf reading or dreams.
Actually, dreams may be your very first contact. Many times after the death of a loved one you seem to dream of them almost every night. You invariably think that this is just the fact that they are missed, and that certainly has a lot to do with it. But if you pay attention to your dreams, if you record them—write down every little detail that you remember as soon as you wake up—then you will almost certainly find that these are not just "nighttime movies" of remembered incidents. They contain information that you didn’t previously know. As an example, in your dream you might see your recently-deceased cousin Jack sitting, grinning broadly, in a new, dark blue, Corvette sports car. He might look up and there is a flash of lightning. You could very well dismiss this dream as a fond thought of someone who was dear to you. But if you take the trouble to check with Jack’s parents, or perhaps a sibling, you might well find that Jack had always longed to own a Corvette. More than that, he had wanted one that was dark blue and he had claimed that if he ever got one he would name it "Lightning!" This dream, then, is something more than a vague remembrance of a loved one. It is the actual spirit of Jack making contact. And the information he is giving—car, color, name—is to prove that contact. These are things that you didn’t know yet which turn out to be true, thus verifying that they come from him. And this is what spiritualism is all about . . . proving that contact has been made with the departed spirit. Once that proof has been given, once there is that confirmation of the connection, then you can go on to ask questions of spirit and know that the answers you receive are valid. In the case of dreams, having proven that the dreams originate from Jack you can go to bed at night with certain questions formed in your head, things that you want to ask him. In your sleep, dreams will come. And in those dreams, Jack will answer your questions.
People sometimes ask why, if a departed spirit is able to come back and speak, then why don’t they tell us of important world events that are to come to pass? The answer is that that is not what spiritualism is all about. Spiritualism is about making a connection between two individuals and proving that connection; validating that there is indeed life after death. It is the small things, the little personal details, that are the most important.
A more definable example of spirit contact may be found in the use of the pendulum. Many people have used pendulums; in fact, they have been employed for hundreds of years, for finding water or buried minerals, for locating lost objects, and for sexing chicken eggs among other things, as I detail in Solitary Séance. A pendulum is simply a weight suspended on the end of a chain or cord. Hold the end of the chain between thumb and forefinger and allow the weight to hang down. With your elbow resting on a table, the weight should be held just off the table’s surface. Some say that your elbow should not rest on the table but I’ve found that it makes no difference. In fact, if you try to hold your elbow off the table for any length of time, it becomes tiring and that can affect the results you achieve.
Try not to influence the swing of the pendulum. By the way that it swings you will interpret answers to questions as "Yes" or "No," so you first need to establish which is which. I’d recommend placing a small piece of paper or card under the pendulum, with a cross drawn on it: + Say to the pendulum (you may speak out loud or simply think the words/question): "Show me a YES." There may be a short pause before it starts to swing. It could swing toward you and away from you, across you, or around in a circle either clockwise or counter-clockwise. Ask it to stop and then ask it to indicate a "NO." If for YES it swung toward you and away from you, then for NO it will probably swing across you. Or these could be vice versa. Alternatively it might swing around clockwise for YES and counter-clockwise for NO. It doesn’t matter which way it swings, just remember which is which and stick with those direction for YES and NO every time you use the pendulum.
Although it will be possible to get messages from spirit spelled out to you—the method I detail in Solitary Séance—initially draw up a list of questions you have for spirit that can be answered either YES or NO. You will proceed a lot faster this way. Your "contact" for this is the spirit of someone you wish to communicate with. Let’s say, for example, that it is your deceased mother. It will help to have a photograph of her on the table where you will be working. In fact you might place the photo on the table and then hold the pendulum over it. If you don’t have a photograph then you could use a letter or even a signature. Just make a (mental) note of what you will regard as the center point over which the pendulum will swing.
I would recommend spending some time before you start to work by meditating on the person you wish to contact. Call upon them to meet with you and to connect through the pendulum. Then clear your mind, greet your mother (or whomever) out loud, and ask your first question. So that you don’t have to interrupt the swings of the pendulum by writing down the answers you get, I’d recommend having a tape recorder going and calling out the responses. After a lot of questions it’s not always easy to remember whether you got a YES or a NO.
A simple pendulum can be made by taking off a pendant necklace and letting that hang down. If connecting with your mother, then hanging her wedding ring on a ribbon will make an ideal pendulum and give a definite connection. Almost anything will do at a pinch. I once fashioned an emergency pendulum by clipping together a line of paper-clips and suspending a staple-remover!
There are a lot of uses of the pendulum that can tie-in with spirit communication. I look at them in Solitary Séance. The thing to keep in mind is that even though you may not be a professional medium, there are many ways in which you—working alone, or with a friend—can contact those in the spirit world. You will not easily forget those friends and loved ones who have passed on and they do not forget you. They can be as eager to make contact with you as you are with them. You don’t have to make an appointment with a professional; you don’t have to pay a fee; you can work in the comfort of your own home. You are the medium. In Solitary Séance I detail a number of methods of working, but you don’t have to stop there. Whatever is your favorite method of working on the earth plane—as a psychic—can be adapted to work with the spirit realm. It’s mainly a matter of focus. Meditating and then concentrating on the deceased loved one you wish to connect with is half the battle. Throughout my book I show you how to use tools to make the connection: pendulums, crystals, cards, runes, boards. But professional mediums have learned to dispense with physical tools and so can you. They are useful for focusing. They are useful to give you the "feel" of making that connection. They are useful as a crutch. But all crutches eventually get laid aside. So it is with these metaphysical tools. You will eventually lay them aside and work by yourself, be it through clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, or whatever. What do these words/names mean? Ah! There it will help to turn to Solitary Séance.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011. All rights reserved.