The Science of Things Spiritual: A Symposium in Lily Dale
Time & Location
About the Event
The Science of Things Spiritual is a series of educational talks on Spiritualist topics. The goal of hosting this program is to welcome to Lily Dale academics and historians who currently study and publish on Spiritualism. We find many of these academics have not had the opportunity to experience contemporary Spiritualism in an authentic setting. We hope this program fosters community-building and thought exchanges while keeping Lily Dale residents and visitors informed on the latest material being written about Spiritualism and related topics.
The lectures are presented by authors, artists, and academics who are considered experts in their fields. Past topics have included: ancient mediumship; mediumistic music; Spiritualism's influence on modern art; the history of parapsychology; New York State Spiritualist history; spirit architecture; spiritual healing; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and Spiritualism and the paranormal.
Shannon Taggart, a photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, has photographed in Lily Dale since 2001 with Assembly permission. Her photography has been on international exhibit and featured in Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times Magazine. Her newly released book is Séance: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm.
9:00am - Sparks of Spirit: Lightning and the Divine
Leonard George, Ph.D., Emeritus, Capilano University, Vancouver, Canada.
Lightning, Spirit, and healing have been linked for centuries. According to myth, the Greek doctor Asklepios was transformed into the god of healing through a lightning strike. Lightning was viewed as a divine omen in Roman augury. Ancient mediums called theurgists traversed channels of living fire to visit higher realms. And to this day, the electrifying link persists. In this talk, Leonard George will take us from antiquity to today, citing recent accounts of electrocution triggering mediumistic talent, as in the cases of Elizabeth Krohn and medium, Dr. Lauren Thibodeau.
10:00am - Spiritualism, Science, and the Woman Doctor: The Case of Anna Kingsford
Christine Ferguson, PhD., University of Stirling, Scotland.
Feminist, Spiritualist, and one of the first British women to qualify as a medical doctor, Anna Kingsford (1846-1888) is a landmark figure in the history of Spiritualism. In this presentation, Christine Ferguson will illustrate how Kingsford's career exemplifies the ways in which women sought to authorize themselves as both scientific authorities and as visionary seers at the end of the nineteenth century. This talk will demonstrate how Kingsford's scientific work and activism challenges the "empowerment through passivity" model of female mediumship and its proposal that women could only gain power by acting as empty vessels for spirit possession.On the contrary, we will see how Kingsford's defiantly self-focused form of scientific and spiritual knowledge encouraged female seekers to celebrate, rather than abandon, their own experiences and intuition. We will consider how Kingsford's remarkable work across the frontiers of Spiritualism and science can help us to rethink the histories of Victorian women's spiritual practice and medical education alike.
11:00am - Spirit - Vibration - Form: The Study of Cymatics
Architect Steve Bass, New York, NY.
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 — 12:15pm - 2:00pm
2:00pm - Mediumship on Trial: Revisiting the Case of Henry Slade
Efram Sera-Shriar, Research Fellow, Science Museum Group, London, England.
In 1876, the eminent anatomist and biologist, E. Ray Lankester (1847-1929) accused the renowned American medium, Henry Slade (1835-1905) of fraud in a series of letters published in the London Times. According to Lankester, the blank slates Slade used to receive written communication from spirits had pre-recorded messages. After attending one of Slade's séances, Lankester registered a complaint with the police, and a trial began in October of that year. The crux of the case came down to whether or not Slade was genuinely a medium, and whether the messages appearing on his slate were produced by himself or through spirit agencies. All sorts of so-called expert witnesses weighed in, and much discussion centered on whether Slade's feats could be reproduced by natural or mechanical means. This talk will re-examine the evidence presented at Slade's 1876 trial in London. Through close analysis of the various witness testimonies, Efram Sera-Shriar will explore the complex debates surrounding psychical research during the height of Spiritualism's popularity in the Victorian era.
3:00pm - Modernist Materializations: Photographing Ectoplasm in the 20th Century
Serena Keshavjee, University of Winnipeg, Canada.
From 1920-1935, Dr. Thomas Glenning Hamilton and his wife, Lillian, experimented with séances at their home in Winnipeg, Canada. Their sophisticated black and white photographs documenting 'ectoplasms' were exchanged around the world, gaining them some celebrity status. Hamilton described the means and methods of taking photographs of ectoplasmic materializations in an unpublished article titled "Photographing Teleplasms." This text lays out the importance of technology, biology, and modernist aesthetics to their photographic practice. Serena Keshavjee will discuss how Dr. Hamilton based his research aesthetics on the texts and photographs of European psychical researchers Juliette Bisson, Albert von Schrenk-Notzing, Gustave Geley, and Charles Richet, as well as illustrate how the Hamilton's work contributed to the style of the twentieth century spirit photography.
4:00pm - Messages from Your Future Self: An Introduction to Precognitive Dreamwork
Eric Wargo, PhD., author of Time Loops
Growing evidence suggests that we are precognitive beings. Future experiences influence us in the present, via what Sigmund Freud called the unconscious. Our nightly dreams are the royal road to our precognitive nature. In this talk, author and dreamer Eric Wargo will discuss the science of precognition and outline the principles anybody can use to explore and work with dream precognition in their own lives—including how to identify precognitive dreams when they occur and how to interpret their symbolism.
5:00pm - The Healing Ritual of the Tarantella, Part I: Music and Movement as Medicine
Marjorie Roth, PhD., Nazareth College, Rochester, NY.
One of the most potent manifestations of music as medicine is the Tarantella, a combination of music and dance that hails from southern Italy. Now little more than a lively folk dance common to weddings, street festivals, and Italian "Tarantourism", the Tarantella was originally a musico-choreographic healing ritual with roots deep in Antiquity. It was believed that the bite of the tarantula was fatal if not treated with a mix of rhythm, melody, color, and movement tailored specifically to the relationship of the victim and the spider. In this talk we will explore the historical, medical, musical, and magical aspects of the Tarantella, and consider the place of recent revivals of the ritual in a modern world so much in need of holistic healing.
8:00pm-10:00pm - The Healing Ritual of the Tarantella, Part II: Dancing the Tarantella
Marjorie Roth, PhD., Nazareth College, Rochester, NY.
Following Marjorie Roth's illustrated presentation on the Tarantella, she invites interested attendees to experience the basic gestures of the dance's healing ritual as they are preserved in the Italian folk tradition. While the dance is best done barefoot, participants may be more comfortable wearing socks or a pair of smooth-soled shoes. Loose, comfortable clothing is best, and everyone must bring a scarf or long ribbon in some color they find particularly appealing. Ladies, a longish, full skirt will greatly enhance the spirit of your dance. People who prefer to observe rather than to dance are welcome to bring a tambourine and help to keep the beat.
Please note: the lectures are subject to change
1 hourSparks of Spirit: Lightning and the DivineLyceum Building
1 hourSpiritualism, Science, and the Woman Doctor: The Case of Anna KingsfordLyceum Building
- Full Day SOTS$120$1200$0
- Online Admission - Full Day$120$1200$0
- 9am Sparks of Spirit$20$200$0
- 10am The Woman Doctor$20$200$0
- 11am Spirit - Vibration - Form$20$200$0
- 2pm Mediumship on Trial$20$200$0
- 3pm Modernist Materializations$20$200$0
- 4pm Messages from Future Self$20$200$0
- 5pm Tarantella, Part I$20$200$0
- 8pm Tarantella, Part II$20$200$0
- Online 9am Sparks of Spirit$20$200$0
- Online 10am The Woman Doctor$20$200$0
- Online 11am Spirit-Vibration-$20$200$0
- Online 2pm Mediumship on Trial$20$200$0
- Online 3pm Modernist Material$20$200$0
- Online 4p Messages from Future$20$200$0
- Online 5pm Tarantella, Part I$20$200$0
- Online 8pm Tarantella, Part II$20$200$0