These trump, or triumph, cards were often painted for wealthy families. Members of the nobility would commission artists to create for them their own set of cards, featuring family members and friends as the triumph cards. A number of sets, some of which still exist today, were created for the Visconti family of Milan, which counted several dukes and barons among its numbers.
The exposures of fraudulent activity led to a rapid decline in ectoplasm and materialization séances.[199] Investigator Joe Nickell has written that modern self-proclaimed mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Rosemary Altea and James Van Praagh are avoiding the Victorian tradition of dark rooms, spirit handwriting and flying tambourines as these methods risk exposure. They instead use "mental mediumship" tactics like cold reading or gleaning information from sitters before hand (hot reading). Group readings also improve hits by making general statements with conviction, which will fit at least one person in the audience. Shows are carefully edited before airing to show only what appears to be hits and removing anything that does not reflect well on the medium.[200]

If you've decided to hire the services of a medium, for whatever reasons, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to guarantee you get the best session possible. First of all, try to come in with an open mind. You may be feeling skeptical, but if you let that be an issue, it can certainly color your results. A corollary to that is that it's important to be honest about why you're there. If you're only trying to debunk things, or to expose the medium as a fraud, go ahead and admit it up front. A medium who's legitimate will probably still be willing to work with you.
If you are looking to connect with someone who has passed, then you are requesting a mediumistic reading. I will raise my vibration, as those in the spirit world will lower their vibration on a frequency level to make the connection possible. It is my spirit in my body connecting with a spirit that no longer has a physical body. I will be connecting to those who have passed and who are able to connect with you at the time of the reading. As an evidential medium, I will ask those in the spirit world to communicate evidential facts that will validate the continuity of life after the physical world. Besides describing what the person may have looked like here on the earth plane, I will also sense their individual personality, and ask them for as many details as possible such as birthday and anniversary dates, dates of passing, names, and maybe what kind of work they did here on the earth plane, objects they owned or where they lived, etc.. Sometimes one person will be connecting at the time of the reading, and sometimes many people from spirit will connect with you during the reading. My intention as an evidential medium is to work with those in the spirit world, asking for as much validation as possible so that it will leave no doubt in your mind that your loved one, or loved ones, have communicated with you from the spirit world.
One of the hours of the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours has spiritual reading and prayer rolled into one: the Office of Readings.  It begins with the praying of three psalms/canticles from Scripture, and it concludes with one Scripture reading and one reading from the Church’s tradition.  It could be from a saint’s writings, an ecclesial document, a selection from one of the Church Fathers, or a sermon from one of the great preachers in our tradition. You might not have otherwise picked up St. John Chrystostum’s homilies on Our Lady, a portion of Lumen Gentium, or a selection from St. Therese’s Story of a Soul!  Praying the Office of Readings provides a healthy dose of Scripture and offers short introductions to 2,000 years of spiritual heritage.

I think fiction novels from a Catholic author or with a Catholic subject have their place here.  Although Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory tells the story of a whiskey priest in 1930s Mexico, the story is really about sin, grace, and redemption.  G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown Mysteries feature a clever priest-sleuth and a spiritual lesson in every story.  And, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is a masterful epic with Catholic symbolism at every turn.  Willa Cather wrote quite a few books; among them, Shadows on the Rock and Death Comes for the Archbishop have strong Catholic influences and characters.  Louis de Wohl’s historical fiction novels breathe life into heroic saints. 
The magician Julien Proskauer revealed that the levitating trumpet of Jack Webber was a trick. Close examination of photographs reveal Webber to be holding a telescopic reaching rod attached to the trumpet, and sitters in his séances only believed it to have levitated because the room was so dark they could not see the rod. Webber would cover the rod with crepe paper to disguise its real construction.[162]
Tarot card readings have long surpassed the chintzy, neon “Fortune Teller” sign store front stereotype, which gives tarot a bad name and should be avoided. Scholarly research indicates that the cards originated in Italy in the 1500s where they were used as a game, called Tarocchi, by the very wealthy. They weren’t interpreted for spiritual divination until the 18th century. There are tarot schools where you can study and huge communities with thousands of Tarosophists who meet online and at conventions around the world.

One of the hours of the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours has spiritual reading and prayer rolled into one: the Office of Readings.  It begins with the praying of three psalms/canticles from Scripture, and it concludes with one Scripture reading and one reading from the Church’s tradition.  It could be from a saint’s writings, an ecclesial document, a selection from one of the Church Fathers, or a sermon from one of the great preachers in our tradition. You might not have otherwise picked up St. John Chrystostum’s homilies on Our Lady, a portion of Lumen Gentium, or a selection from St. Therese’s Story of a Soul!  Praying the Office of Readings provides a healthy dose of Scripture and offers short introductions to 2,000 years of spiritual heritage.
In September 1878 the British medium Charles Williams and his fellow-medium at the time, A. Rita, were detected in trickery at Amsterdam. During the séance a materialized spirit was seized and found to be Rita and a bottle of phosphorus oil, muslin and a false beard were found amongst the two mediums.[82] In 1882 C. E. Wood was exposed in a séance in Peterborough. Her Indian spirit control "Pocka" was found to be the medium on her knees, covered in muslin.[83]
The British medium William Roy earned over £50,000 from his séance sitters. He confessed to fraud in 1958 revealing the microphone and trick-apparatus that he had used.[166] The automatic writings of the Irish medium Geraldine Cummins were analyzed by psychical researchers in the 1960s and they revealed that she worked as a cataloguer at the National Library of Ireland and took information from various books that would appear in her automatic writings about ancient history.[167]
Of course, they don’t just visit when the going gets tough. By the same token, I often receive evidence that spirits were there to see their children get married, or witness the birth of a baby or a daughter’s graduation. Holidays and special occasions are also big for them — they want to see us happy and like to take part in that joy. After all, if they were here physically, it goes without saying that they’d be present at these important events. Being in spirit doesn’t change the fact that they’re still our family and still care about us.
The Empress. The Hanged Man. The Chariot. Judgment. With their centuries-old iconography blending a mix of ancient symbols, religious allegories, and historic events, tarot cards can seem purposefully opaque. To outsiders and skeptics, occult practices like card reading have little relevance in our modern world. But a closer look at these miniature masterpieces reveals that the power of these cards isn’t endowed from some mystical source—it comes from the ability of their small, static images to illuminate our most complex dilemmas and desires.
The magician Julien Proskauer revealed that the levitating trumpet of Jack Webber was a trick. Close examination of photographs reveal Webber to be holding a telescopic reaching rod attached to the trumpet, and sitters in his séances only believed it to have levitated because the room was so dark they could not see the rod. Webber would cover the rod with crepe paper to disguise its real construction.[162]
The illustration on some decks did double duty, providing divinatory tools and scientific knowledge, like the Geografia Tarocchi deck from around 1725. “The Geografia are extraordinary cards, almost like a little encyclopedia of the world with the oracle imagery peeking out at the top,” Matthews says. “The actual bit that you read from is just a cigarette-card length. So for example, the hanged man just shows his legs at the top of the card, while the rest of the card has information about Africa or Asia or other places on it.”
“When we used to send telegrams, each word costs money,” Matthews explains, “so you’d have to send very few words like, ‘Big baby. Mother well. Come to hospital.’ And you’d get the gist of it. I read cards in a very similar way—starting from a few general keywords and making sense of them by filling in the words that are missing. This isn’t the tarot style of reading where you project things, like, ‘I can see that you’ve recently had a great disappointment. Mercury is in retrograde and da da da.’ A cartomantic reading is much more straightforward and pragmatic, for example, ‘Your wife will eat tomatoes and fall off the roof and die horribly.’ It’s a direct way of reading, a pre-New Age way of reading.”
The original purpose of tarot cards was to play games. A very cursory explanation of rules for a tarot-like deck is given in a manuscript by Martiano da Tortona before 1425. Vague descriptions of game play or game terminology follow for the next two centuries until the earliest known complete description of rules for a French variant in 1637.[11] The game of tarot has many regional variations. Tarocchini has survived in Bologna and there are still others played in Piedmont and Sicily, but in Italy the game is generally less popular than elsewhere.
In contrast to most oracle decks, which don’t include suited pip cards, Lenormand cards feature a unique combination of numbered playing-card imagery on top of illustrated scenes used for fortune-telling. “One of the earliest versions, called the Game of Hope, was made by a German named J.K. Hechtel and was prepared like a board game,” says Matthews. “You laid out cards 1 to 36, and the object of the game was to throw the dice and move your tokens along it. If you got to card 35, which was the anchor card, then you’re home, safe and dry. But if you went beyond that, it was the cross, which was not so good. It was like the game Snakes and Ladders.” In this way, the Game of Hope fell into the Victorian-era tradition of board games that determined a player’s life story based on luck.
The psychologist and psychical researcher Stanley LeFevre Krebs had exposed the Bangs Sisters as frauds. During a séance he employed a hidden mirror and caught them tampering with a letter in an envelope and writing a reply in it under the table which they would pretend a spirit had written.[68] The British materialization medium Rosina Mary Showers was caught in many fraudulent séances throughout her career.[69] In 1874 during a séance with Edward William Cox a sitter looked into the cabinet and seized the spirit, the headdress fell off and was revealed to be Showers.[70]
In 1936, the psychical researcher Nandor Fodor tested the Hungarian apport medium Lajos Pap in London and during the séance a dead snake appeared. Pap was searched and was found to be wearing a device under his robe, where he had hidden the snake.[157] A photograph taken at a séance in 1937 in London shows the medium Colin Evans "levitating" in mid air. He claimed that spirits had lifted him. Evans was later discovered to be a fraud as a cord leading from a device in his hand has indicated that it was himself who triggered the flash-photograph and that all he had done was jump from his chair into the air and pretend he had levitated.[158]

If I had to choose one book to take to a desert island, this would be it. The ageless "Song of God" is, of course, a magnificent, sacred scripture and not technically a novel, but its narrative form makes it read like one. The Gita tells the story of Arjuna, who turns to the God Krishna, his friend, for explanations and advice on life. Krishna lays out an entire worldview, the philosophy of Vedanta, one of the great achievements of human thought. Christopher Isherwood, an English novelist, and Swami Prabhavananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and Isherwood's guru, translate the Gita in a simple, modern style, alternating between prose and poetry without sacrificing the majesty and wisdom of this ancient story. Krishna gives Arjuna simple advice which I have found so useful in my own life, such as not to do anything for results, but rather for God: "You can have the work," he tells Arjuna, "but not the products of the work."
In the 1860s and 1870s, trance mediums were very popular. Spiritualism generally attracted female adherents, many who had strong interests in social justice. Many trance mediums delivered passionate speeches on abolitionism, temperance, and women's suffrage.[22] Scholars have described Leonora Piper as one of the most famous trance mediums in the history of Spiritualism.[5][23][24]
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