Talking to the dead and communication with 'the other side' is often presented as a taboo in an increasingly technological and medically advanced world. However, practices of spiritualism and mediumship continue to remain popular and in high demand within contemporary Western societies. This book analyses the practices of today’s mediums, who insist on standing at the threshold between life and death, interpreting signs and passing on communications, and asks how such concepts and practices are perceived by contemporary society. Using first-hand material gathered from alternative fairs, mediumistic congresses, séances, and interviews with both practitioners and clients, as well as thorough textual analysis, Anne Kalvig provides a clear overview of the various forms of consumption of mediumship in Western society and places these within a socio-cultural, religious and historical context. She also raises questions as to the controversies surrounding spiritualism and its representation and relationship with popular culture and the media. This book will be of interest to researchers in the field of sociology, religious studies, folklore, media studies and anthropology as well as to anyone interested in the upsurge of contemporary spiritualism, psychic phenomena and the paranormal.
Table of Contents
1. What is spiritualism?
2. Spiritualism’s birth and days of glory
3. Communication with the dead today: forms, actors, organizations
4. Spiritualist messages and the appeal to women
5. Spiritualism, shamanism, healing and popular culture – array and lattice
6. Controversies and delineations
7. Table turning and other spiritualist challenges to the science of religion
Anne Kalvig is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Stavanger, Norway.