A séance is an event that can either be fantastic, or a real mess. Which one it is will depend on how much preparation goes into it. With a little bit of planning and thought ahead of time, you can pave the way for your séance to go smoothly. Certainly, it's a good idea to expect the unexpected -- after all, the dead are hardly predictable -- but by setting yourself a few guidelines in advance, you can make sure that everyone has the best experience possible.
Plan your guest list: Figure out how many people you're going to have -- and make sure the space you're using will allow them all. If your living room only seats eight people comfortably, don't invite fifteen! Also, be sure that everyone attending is open-minded to the spirit world. People who are adamantly "non-believers" bring a certain amount of negative energy, and this can be disruptive. You may also find that it adversely effects your communication with the spirits during your séance.
Create a Spirit-Friendly Atmosphere: Most people like to conduct a séance at a round or oval table, but if neither is available, don't worry. Drape the table with fabric or sheets -- some people prefer light colors to attract "friendly" spirits, but it's a matter or personal preference. If you use incense, be sure that no one in your group is allergic to it. Place incense somewhere away from the table, rather than on the table itself. Candles are a nice addition as well -- not only do they provide some visibility, but there's a school of thought that believes spirits are attracted to heat and light sources.
Common Sense: Help everyone get comfortable by offering refreshments before you begin. Make sure that guests will be respectful of the spirits, and of other guests. Turn off all cell phones. If anyone needs to go to the bathroom or have a smoke, do so before you begin. Set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature -- remember that spirit activity can cause some fluctuation in levels of cold or heat. Once everyone is seated, you can help everyone relax by doing a short guided mediation, offering a prayer, or casting a protective circle, if your tradition requires you to do so.
During the Seance: Although many people like to do this, you don't have to hold hands to raise energy. In fact, if a séance goes on too long, it can get downright uncomfortable. Whoever is acting as the leader of the séance -- the medium -- should ask the spirits to join the group. If there is a specific spirit you are trying to contact, ask for them by name. For example, now would be the time to say, "Dear Auntie Gertrude, we respectfully ask that you honor us with your presence this evening." In some séances, spirits are summoned by chanting -- this will be up to your medium to decide on.
As long as the spirits seem willing to reply, you can carry on a question and answer session with them. Bear in mind that spirits respond in many different ways. Sometimes there will be a tangible reaction -- a tap, a thump, a soft breeze. Other times -- particularly if you have a room full of very psychically gifted people -- the spirit may choose to respond through another person. This may be the medium, or any other guest. The individual may simply "get a message" to pass along, which they would then share, such as, "Your Auntie Gertrude wants you to know she isn't in pain any more."
Party Time: Sometimes, particularly if you have a group of psychically gifted individuals as guests, you may get several spirits arriving all at once, chattering away. This is not cause for alarm, but it does take some managing, because they've all got something to say. Treat it like you would any other conversation with a large group of people -- let each spirit get their turn to deliver the message they came with, and then move on to the next one. Also, bear in mind that not all spirits are from departed humans -- deceased pets may also have a message to pass along.
Unwanted Entities: Just like at any other party, sometimes a séance will bring an uninvited guest. In this case, when you have a spirit that seems malevolent or mischievous, someone needs to let them know they're unwelcome. Typically, this will be the medium who is leading the séance, who will usually say something like, "You are not wanted here, but we thank you for your presence. Now it is time for you to move on."
If an entity arrives that seems angry or hostile and will not leave, no matter what you do, end the séance. Chances are good that it's been attracted to someone in your group who is dysfunctional.
Closing the Door: When you're done with the séance, it's important that guests thank the spirits for coming to visit. After all, you would do so if you had living guests drop in!
If one of your attendees seems to have slipped into a trance or a sleep-like state during the séance, allow them to return gradually, on their own. Do NOT shake them awake. Chances are they'll have a message for someone once they're back among the group.
Close the séance by telling the spirits farewell, thanking them, and asking them to move along. You may want to offer a small blessing or prayer as a way of ending the formal séance, but bear in mind that some spirits like to hang around after the séance has officially finished. If they do, it's okay. They're probably just curious, and they may return to visit you later in the evening during a dream sequence.
Before you begin your seance, smudge the area with sage or sweetgrass for ritual cleansing.
Make sure you've eliminated potential distractions, such as children or ringing telephones. Interestingly, many pets seem to come and go through spirit activity without causing any disruption. Cats in particular tend to be very curious about what's going on.
Your guests may wish to bring an object that belonged to a deceased person, as a way of strengthening the connection. Photographs are also good links to the dead.