Archive for seance


Posted in Necromancy with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Susana Romatz

(A magician raising a ghost. Illustration from Robert Cross Smith’s The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century (1825)
I just watched a movie-based-on-a-book by the greatest all time story teller in the world, Sara Waters. The movie was called Affinity, and, while it wasn’t my most favoritest (see Fingersmith), it was pretty freakin’ great. No spoilers here, but it was about a necromancer, a woman who speaks with the dead.

Now, I’ve always been into a little necromancy–I dabbled in the ouija, did a little seance action, had some light-as-a-feather moments–but it was all before I turned 18. I think that the spirits are kinder to wee folk. While I still think that necromancy is really cool, I have to admit, I’m a little afraid to try it due to all the warnings about opening the gateways. I suppose it would be easy enough to just contact dead relatives, surely they would not be malignant…but, according to a Saturday Afternoon Special I saw once, nobody truly knows who they’ll get…some crafty spirits will even pretend to be your relatives just to get in the door…spooky.

Of course, there are also those who believe that necromancy is just a lie. Maybe it’s you lying to yourself. Maybe it’s someone else lying to you. But, when it all boils out in the end, it’s just a lie. Leonardo da Vinci says:

The belief in necromancy is reputed to be the most foolish of all human opinions. It is the sister of alchemy which gives birth to simple and natural things; but it is all the more reprehensible than alchemy, inasmuch as it brings forth nothing but what is like itself, that is, lies. This is not the case with alchemy, which is confined to the simple products of nature, and whose function cannot be performed by nature herself, because in it there are no organic instruments with which it can work, such as the hands are to man and which have enabled him to make glass, &c. But necromancy, the flag and flying banner, blown hither and thither by the winds, is the guide of the silly multitude, which constantly bears witness with gaping wonder to the countless effects of this art; and whole books are written which declare that incantations and spirits are efficacious and speak without tongues and without vocal organs, without which it is impossible to speak, and carry the heaviest weights, raising tempests and rain and [182] transforming men into cats, wolves and other beasts, although they who affirm such things are the first to be transformed into beasts. And certainly if such necromancy existed, as is believed by lower intellects, there is nothing on the earth which would be so effectual both as regards the service and detriment of man; because if it is true that this art has the power to disturb the calm serenity of the atmosphere, changing it into night and producing sparks and winds, with fearful thunder and lightnings that fly through the darkness, and overthrowing high buildings with violent winds and uprooting forests and striking armies and shattering and overwhelming them, and producing, in addition to this, devastating storms which rob the peasants of the fruits of their toil, what kind of warfare is there so deadly to the enemy?

And that’s just part of it! (find the rest here) That’s a lot of disagreeing. “The guide of the silly multitude…” Leonardo da Vinci was no dummy. But perhaps he’s being just the tiniest bit pragmatic?

Anyway, here I begin my foray into the study of necromancy. Please feel free to comment.