Recently, I took a two evening physical mediumship class, in which we did some table tipping. For those of you who have not seen this phenomenon, let me explain how it works. People lightly place their fingertips on a wooden table, preferable one that has three legs. If enough people have the potential to be physical mediums, energy is transmitted into the table, and the table will eventually move. At first the table vibrates, and then shakes. Eventually as the energy builds, the tables can tip, or slide across the room. As the table begins to travel, the people have to stand and keep their fingertips on the table as it moves around the room. It almost becomes a game of bumper cars, trying to avoid bumping into other people around tables, as the tables are speeding around the room.
This was not the first time that I witnessed this phenomenon. And while it is fun, I had not been that impressed with it. Then on the second evening we did a different form of table titling. This time we sat in “séance conditions,” meaning we sat in complete darkness. This time it was going to be our Spirit controls for physical mediumship, who would manipulate the table. It was a completely different experience, one that was most fascinating and interesting.
A similar procedure was followed. Four people sat around the table, each one holding their fingertips lightly on the table. You could feel the table vibrate and then begin to move. Then one person was designated as the medium. That person would remove his/her hands from the table, and go into a trance state. Once the table began to move, the remaining three people would give spirit directions on how they wanted the table to move. They would ask the table to slide to a particular person sitting at the table, or to tip, or to rock. We could also begin to communicate with the Spirit control through the table. We would take turns asking a yes or no question, telling Spirit to tip the table once for yes and two times for no. With each tilt the table would rise, on one or two legs, and then come back down with a thud. Therefore, spirit would answer yes or no to the question through the table. At one point the table remained tiled on one (or two) leg waiting for the question to be asked, so it could fall and bang out the answer. It was truly remarkable!
[We could have asked it more complex questions, and began reciting the alphabet, waiting for Spirit to spell out an answer, but that would have been too time consuming for the 15 minutes each person was allotted to be the medium during this class.]
During the middle of this experience, I began thinking about the research I had done for the lectures I gave this year about the Fox sisters, and the Davenport Brothers. These were the very first mediums of “the Modern Age of Spiritualism,” who lived during the mid 1850’s After people were exposed to the phenomena these mediums produced there was a sudden explosion of mediumship.
Take a moment to consider how different your life would be without electricity. How would you fill your evenings without your computer, DVD’s TV’s Radios, iPods? How would you cook your meals, keep food cold, wash clothes, and get water into your house?
Life was extremely different in the 1850’s than it is today. So imagine what your reaction would be to be able to ask a table (Spirit) a question, and receive a correct answer. In a time we would consider an entertainment vacuum, the sudden explosion of this fascinating phenomenon certainly could be compared to putting a match to a bottle of gasoline. In this context it becomes easy to understand why there was a sudden explosion of mediums and interest in Spirit Communication in the second half of the 19th century.