From The Paranormal Archives Of about.com...
GROSS POINT SÉANCE
“It's hard to believe that it has been over 50 years since that night in Grosse Point, Michigan that so changed my life,” says Bradford A. At the time, he was a young college student, just out of the army, and studying psychology under the G.I. Bill at a college in Detroit, Michigan.
“I had mastered the art of hypnotism and, in fact, was considered one of the leading men in the field,” Bradford says. “Working part-time in an Abbotts Magic store and putting on magic shows was a form of income that was not only fun, but allowed me to meet a wide range of personalities. One person, who at his request will remain nameless, was a magician of note and a close personal friend. We had fun trying out new magic tricks and routines on each other. Because of our knowledge of the so called ‘black arts,’ we were aware of all the tricks used by magicians and mediums to ply their art on the unknowing: two-way transmitters to feed information, pat routines such as ‘The Devil’s Own Method’ of mind reading, astral projection units, and, of course, the table raising gimmicks.
“The two of us, noticing the rise of fake mediums in the area, decided that it would be fun if we did ‘spook debunking’ – that is to say, we would attend a séance or medium's performance and expose their fakery to the members present. It was a riot. We slipped into homes at the request of a person's mate that felt their partner was being taken for a ride. For this we had the satisfaction of setting things right, but no money.
“Then one day, after a magic show at the old Schubert Theatre in downtown Detroit, I was approached by a very nice elderly lady who asked if we would put on a show for a few of her friends at her home in swank Grosse Point Farms, a wealthy suburb of Detroit. She said that we could use any gimmicks or tricks we wanted and she would pay us $100. (That was a lot of money to a college student in the 1940s.) I asked my partner and he said sure, let's go for it. We rounded up as much paraphernalia as we could from the magic store and planned a really scary show for them. Our plan included getting as much information as the host lady could gather about the persons who would be in attendance. (No self-respecting medium would go in without it.)
“Finally, the night arrived. We had agreed that my partner would handle the mechanical and voice parts and I would take the part of the medium at the table with the guests. My partner planned to wait in his car down the block until all of the guests were in the house and ready for the séance. He would then enter the kitchen by the back door and connect his microphone and recorders into the speaker system I had installed and concealed in the room and set up a projector. I was introduced as ‘Sregna, The Gifted’ (my last name spelled backward), and we all took our places at the table. The table had been previously rigged to emit a hanging cloud of "magic" smoke that would hover over the table for several minutes. This cloud was used as a sort of projection screen to receive images of light from a projector controlled by my partner – in short, a sort of astral vision effect.
“We all joined hands and I began my mumbo jumbo. I could feel a slight tremble in the hand I was holding. This was just what I needed. I became quite confident. I called upon the spirits to come forth and make themselves known. A few eerie sounds preceded a voice saying that he was the departed husband of one of the guests. A mist formed, as planned, over the table and a likeness of the person was seen. There were a few shudders and oohs and ahhs. She asked her husband questions and he answered. (Very well, I thought, considering the information we were given.) This scene was repeated for several of the ladies. It was an eerie success.
“When the séance came to a close, the ladies left, each with their memories. They had been treated to quite a show. The lady who hired us wrote me a check and thanked me for a wonderful evening. I then went into the kitchen to help my partner disconnect his equipment and pack up.
“When I reached the kitchen, I was unable to locate my partner or his equipment. Then I heard a pounding on the kitchen door. It was my partner. He said when he tried to get in, someone had apparently locked the door. He said he was sorry and asked if he missed anything. I may never know what really happened that night, but I can assure you, I have not played with the supernatural since!”
WALKING SÉANCE TABLE
Amber H. lived in a house and neighborhood that dates back to the 18th century. “It's a two-story house, and some friends and I used to have séances every Friday,” she tells us. “One Friday night, my friends were busy with work and I had the day off, so I started the séance by myself. I encountered a few strange people, who got a bit angry, but nothing too serious.”
At 1:00 a.m., Amber went up to bed on the top floor of the house. “Once I got into bed, I couldn't get to sleep,” she says. “Then I heard it... the noise downstairs. It was as though someone was thumping on the wall. I got up and walked out of my bedroom door. When I was at the edge of the top step, I saw the weirdest thing: it was the table – the table I performed the séance on – trying to get up the stairs! I freaked and ran downstairs and started hitting the table, telling it to leave me alone. After five minutes it was all over. The table was as still as the air in the room.”
SÉANCES AND STRANGE PHENOMENA
Jeff F. was 18 years old when he lived in the "boondocks" of upstate New York. One afternoon when he and his best friend were hanging out, a neighbor came by and asked if Jeff could give him a ride to his girlfriend's house. The boys agreed, and the neighbor directed them even further out into the middle of nowhere. When they arrived, the boys waited to be sure that his neighbor’s girlfriend was there, and after a little while the neighbor came back to the car and said, "They're having a séance in there. Do you wanna come in?" Being adventurous and bored teens, they accepted the invitation.
“The farmhouse was large, old, and run-down,” says Jeff. “Blankets had been put over the windows to block the afternoon daylight. Upon entering, we were introduced to the family members performing the séance: an old lady and man; a younger man; the parents; and an older brother of my friend's girlfriend.
“They were seated around an old Formica and chrome kitchen table with one leg removed. A candle burned at the center of the table. They communicated with the spirits by lightly resting their fingertips on the table and inviting the spirits to come and ‘nod the table’ by tilting it at the corner that had the missing leg. In this way, the spirits could answer ‘yes’ with a quick nod of the table, ‘no’ by holding it suspended down for a moment. It could also spell out words or count numbers by repeatedly nodding the table.”
During the session, the spirits answered some questions correctly and some incorrectly, but the experience had left such an impression on Jeff and his friends that they decided they had to try it themselves a few days later.
“We used an old card table with one leg left folded up and a lit candle in the center,” Jeff recalls. “We sat with our fingertips just touching the table surface and took turns saying, ‘If there is a witch in the house, nod the table,’ just as the farmers had demonstrated. After ten minutes or so of no success, my friend Eric, a comedian, cackled like a witch to be funny, but as we all started laughing, the table abruptly nodded. We were suddenly very serious, and after asking for confirmation, realized that there was a presence moving the table.
“Feeling like car-chasing dogs that had finally caught something, we didn't know what to do with our spirit. We each asked dopey questions and received various answers. The memorable part of the session is that my friend Bernie asked the spirit if he would have trouble with his beloved truck. The spirit answered yes. Bernie asked if the trouble would be serious. The spirit answered no. We continued for a short while and closed our session.
“When Bernie went to leave a few minutes later, he came back in saying, ‘You won't believe this, but I've got a flat tire.’ Sure enough, Bernie's truck's tire had gone flat during our séance, and we proceeded to help him put on the spare.”
About a week later, three of the boys who participated in the séance were riding in Bernie's truck, coming back from another friend's house. They started discussing the séance of the previous week. As soon as they began recounting their experiences, Bernie interrupted, "Guys, you won't believe this, but I've got another flat." There was no spare this time, however, and they boys had to hike the nine miles or so into town.
“We had several séances over a three to four month timeframe,” says Jeff, “and each has its own strange story. We communicated with entities that identified themselves as dead family members, demons, and angels. I have vivid memories of the experiences and the table saying and doing things that were unbelievable. Eventually, my friends refused to participate any more after one particularly frightening session when an entity identified itself as the Devil. This entity knew Bernie's middle name, even though the rest of us did not. It said that it had a message for Bernie. That's when we blew out the candle and never tried again. The house that we held all of these séances in has continued to exhibit regular episodes of strange paranormal phenomena for the past 25 years.”
Be sure to "make contact" with part two!