Although I’m not superstitious and an atheist, I am, of course, sometimes affected by certain cultural themes. And so, when I was reading a book about Spiritualism, I couldn’t help but be unsettled by the following passage that describes part of a seance.
Now, to put this in some context, one of the people at this seance was the Reverend Dibdin, who was determined to show the other people present that Spiritualism was the work of the Devil, so it’s likely that there was a certain amount of pushing and pulling on his part. Nevertheless, if I’d been there, I’m sure that I would have been as appalled as the witnesses. The description of the seance continued...
“As the last letter was indicated, the girl drew her hands quickly off the table, much as a person would do who was drawing them off a hot iron. Her brother-in-law turned vary pale, and took his hands off the table also.
“Now,” I [ie, Rev Dibdin] said, “I hope you are satisfied.” “Yes,” he said, “I am.” I said, “You must notice this: the table has told you things you did not know before, and, in connexion with them, tells you that Christ in not God, and at last tells you that he is in hell. Now, I entreat you to have nothing more to do with Table-Moving.”
According to the lecture, it had the desired effect, although the man involved later rationalised table-turning as being somehow related to electricity.
By the way, the “things you did not know before” which the spirits told everyone earlier in the seance were disappointingly mundane: the age of the Princess Royal and what the time was. That’s not really the kind of unknowable knowledge that I expect from a departed spirit.
Dibdin, R. W., (1853) “Table Turning: A Lecture”