The Science of Things Spiritual Symposium
Time & Location
About the Event
The Science of Things Spiritual is an annual symposium in Lily Dale, curated and hosted by Shannon Taggart, author of SÉANCE.
9:00am - The ‘Delphic Women’ of Claude Bragdon, with Joscelyn Godwin, Ph.D.
Claude Bragdon (1866-1946), a prominent Rochester architect, Theosophist, and writer, had a lifelong fascination with women who, often to their own surprise, brought forth messages through automatic writing or dictation from an inner voice, rather than through trance mediumship. They included Edith Ellis, Nancy Fullwood, and his second wife, Eugenie, whose writings he published as Oracle (1921), and his sessions with them continued until his death. Initially skeptical, Bragdon regarded these women as representatives of a type well known in Antiquity. But neither he nor they were entirely convinced that the messages were coming, as they sometimes claimed, from the dead, rather than from their own higher selves.
10:00am - Surrealism and Spiritualism, with Susan Aberth, Ph.D.
In the popular imagination, Surrealism is associated with dreams and the unconscious. Its imagery is understood to gather inspiration from the illogical dislocations and distortions experienced in dreams. Playful, sexual, and psychological, these fragments were then transposed to poetry and painting. In actuality, Surrealism was deeply influenced by Spiritualist practices of trance mediumship, especially in their invention of “psychic automatism.” Now, albeit completely secular in nature, the messages received in self-induced trance-states were channeled into automatic drawing and words believed to spring directly from the unconscious mind. Not all of the artists, however, were non-believers, in particular a number of women artists. This talk will focus on the influence of Spiritualism, spirits, and the spirit world in the artwork of various artists associated with Surrealism, in particular Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo, Gertrude Abercrombie, Bridgit Tichenor, and others.
11:00am - Spirit - Vibration - Form: The Study of Cymatics, with Architect Steve Bass
How could spirits incarnate into physical bodies? An answer provided by the ancient Pythagoreans and Platonists was that number and geometry could be intermediaries between Spirit and matter and may be considered 'disembodied ideals' that could manifest as waves or vibrations. Since the seventeenth century, a tradition of actualizing this relationship has existed. First called Chladni patterns, they were pursued in the mid-twentieth century by German esoteric researcher Hans Jenny who called the subject ‘Cymatics’. In its most basic form, the technique involves a 'medium'—such as sand or mud—placed on a metal plate and subjected to controlled vibration. The 'medium' assumes a wide variety of shapes including those found at all scales of the physical world from atoms, to landscapes, to cells, to complex creatures such as plants and animals. Cymatics not only provides a narrative of coming into form, but supports an alternative to materialistic Darwinism. In this presentation, architect Steve Bass will illustrate these possibilities.
Break – 12pm – 2pm
2:00pm - Chinese Ghosts, with Charles Emmons, Ph.D.
Do the Hong Kong Chinese experience ghosts, hauntings, spirit mediumship, ESP, and other paranormal phenomena just like British and Americans? Or, is their culture so different that their ghost accounts will seem bizarre to anyone else? Charles Emmons’ definitive cross-cultural study, Chinese Ghosts and Esp: A Study of Paranormal Beliefs and Experiences, was based on 3,600 interviews conducted in Hong Kong in 1980 and 1981. Interestingly, Emmons found that despite clear influences from ancestor worship and Confucian/Taoist/Buddhist culture, Western theories of apparitions also apply to the Chinese cases. In this talk, Emmons will revisit his classic work while adding new insights from his latest book, Chinese Ghosts Revisited.
3:00pm - The Sacred Geometry of the Ephrata Cloister, with Nick Siegert The Ephrata Cloister, one of America’s earliest Communal Societies, is best known for its distinctive folk art, unique a cappella music, and ambitious printing establishment. Established in 1732, the buildings at Ephrata were organized around its founder Conrad Beissel’s mystical language and beliefs. In design and placement, these structures created a sacred space that had possible symbolic significance. In this illustrated presentation, Ephrata Cloister Administrator and Historian Nick Siegert explores art and architecture at Ephrata and the ideas that influenced it.
4:00pm - UFOs, Spiritualism, and the Paranormal, with George P. Hansen, author of The Trickster and the Paranormal
What do mediums and alien abductees have in common? Why have aerospace companies been interested in the experiences of psychics and mediums? How does Lily Dale’s Fairy Trail connect to UFOs? George Hansen’s presentation will cover UFO/paranormal/Spiritualist connections found in: historical cases, developments of technology, activities of intelligence agencies, and accounts from researchers with cross-over expertise. Discussion of cliodynamics and deconstruction (Derrida) will address new ways to study the paranormal.
5:00pm - Metaphysical Michael Jackson, with Shannon Taggart, author of Séance
During her study of Spiritualism, Shannon Taggart encountered mediums who claimed to be in contact with the spirit of Michael Jackson. These séance experiences led her to contemplate the mysterious life and afterlife of the ‘King of Pop’. This illustrated presentation will consider Michael Jackson’s curious dead/alive status and explore him as the ultimate liminal figure, blurring the binaries: black/white, male/female, child/adult, good/evil, human/god, man/animal, reality/fantasy, and even the states of awake/asleep. Materials drawn from popular culture will demonstrate Michael Jackson’s status as a contemporary mythical figure and reveal his parallels with the gods, saints, and shamans of the past.
Please note: the lectures are subject to change.
The ‘Delphic Women’ of Claude Bragdon, with Joscelyn Godwin, Ph.D.Lyceum Building
Surrealism and Spiritualism, with Susan Aberth, Ph.D.Lyceum Building
- 2pm Chinese Ghosts$20$200$0
- Online 2pm Chinese Ghosts$20$200$0
- 3pm The Sacred Geometry of the$20$200$0
- Online 3pm The Sacred Geometry$20$200$0
- 4pm UFOs, Spiritualism, & Para$20$200$0
- Online 4pm UFOs, Spiritualism,$20$200$0
- 5pm Metaphysical Michael Jacks$20$200$0
- Online 5p Metaphysical Michael$20$200