Séances 101

Bright Blessings, Witches! In this post, we will be going over the basics of séances. The who, what, when, where, and why of them. I am writing it this way because one, there is quite a bit of information involved in the practice and two, what’s worth doing is worth doing well.

As always, do your own research. Do not rely on only one resource, especially when it comes to working with spirits. Take this information as you will. Having said that, let’s begin.


Simply put, a séance is a gathering at which people try to contact the dead to ask questions or seek counsel. Some participants just like to witness the discourse between the medium and spirits, while others are actively seeking answers from a deceased loved one.

Séance comes from the French word meaning “session” and the Old French word meaning “to sit”. However, seances do not have to be conducted whilst sitting down.


There are two roles in a séance: the medium and the sitter. The medium is the person who acts as the conduit between the living and the not. They are the ones who speak to the Otherworld in hopes of spirit channeling.

A sitter is an attendee of the séance who is there to strengthen and raise energy for the séance.

“Why do you need to raise energy for a séance?”

Raising energy for any magickal working is key for success in your endeavors. Paired with intention, this is the driving force behind successful workings.

Typically more than one sitter is needed to raise enough energy in order for the séance to be a success. At least two people are needed to act as the sitters and one as the medium. However, more is better – to a degree.

Those who are invited to participate in a séance should be people who believe that contacting spirits is possible. When you bring in skeptics or those who have a morbid curiosity your séance attempts will be hindered. Inviting like minded folks to your séance will increase the odds of achievement exponentially.


Having a séance leader who is experienced to act as the conduit could help the séance be more successful as they’re already more attuned to the spirit world. They could also aid in keeping your séance safe from negative entities as it is typical for experienced mediums to be able to tell what kind of spirits they’re communicating with.

Regardless if you have an experienced medium in attendance or not, your séance will still need a tool to interpret answers from spirits, i.e. a spirit board, Tarot cards, pendulum, etc.

The Fox Sisters

The act of contacting spirits has been around for centuries. Shamans, witch doctors, and other practitioners have performed mediumship throughout history. It was a commonly held belief among many religious groups that their leaders were guided by spirits. Yet it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that seances as we know them today became popular.

Two sisters known as Maggie and Kate Fox are credited with conducting the first séance. It was on March 31, 1848 in Hydesville, NY that 15-year-old Maggie and 11-year-old Kate declared they had connected with a murdered peddler’s spirit. From this claim the Spiritualist Movement was born.

Apparently the two girls and their parents experienced unexplained noises, bangs, and knockings for roughly a week. From this experience drew out the youngest daughter’s curiosity. Kate started asking questions and then called for a specific number of knocks to answer them.

From the back and forth of questions and knocks, it was deduced that the source of the noises was coming from the spirit of a murdered peddler. A few neighbors came to see the marvel and soon after Maggie and Kate became known throughout the region.



You can hold a séance in your home, a friend’s place, your mom’s bathroom, the local park – pretty much anywhere. However, it is important to note that the more control you have over the location the better. This includes the ability to protect and cleanse the space, keeping control over the atmosphere like temperature and lighting, and knowing when regular external noises happen (neighborhood children playing outside, sprinkler systems going off, etc.) in order to plan the best time to hold the séance.


Tying this back to what a séance is, people hold them in order to ask questions and seek guidance from the dead. Some have the aim to gain closure from someone who has passed. Others hold a séance solely for the experience.

No matter the intention of holding a séance, it is important to note that it’s considered taboo among many cultures to attempt to make contact with those who have recently passed. Ghosts and wandering spirits are thought to be made when the recently deceased get contacted by those they left behind in the land of the living too soon.

Spirits who do answer you when you call on someone who recently passed are said to be a malicious entity claiming they are who you are seeking out. They do so in order to wreak havoc and cause trouble. Err on the side of caution and wait for the one year death anniversary of anyone you wish to reach out to during a séance.


Well, there you have it. A quick crash course on the who, what, when, where, and why of seances. In the coming parts we will delve further into how to safely conduct your own séance. Questions? Comments? Let me know!

Published by Pie

Pie Ankiewicz is the Resident Witch of Printable Witchcraft and sister-site Candle Cross Coven. She is a seasoned Eclectic Witch whose practice spans over three decades. Residing in Massachusetts, Pie designs printable Book of Shadows and grimoire pages, blogs about the Craft, and teaches others how to pursue being a practitioner.

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