Table-rappers: The Victorians and the Occult
The Victorian age was the most haunted of all. At dark seances spectators goggled at spirit hands descending form above, and fondled 'spirits' who had coyly emerged from cabinets. The age of reason had done away with the supernatural. But the Victorians wanted it back and they made certain they got it. Astrology and fortune-telling enjoyed a boom, and in country districts the witches and the cunning men plied their arts, selling and casting spells, and applying the evil eye. The Table-Rappers deals with all aspects of the Victorian occult - the credulity of believers certain that a thing of gauze and muslin was their dead aunt, the venom of the professional mediums who sabotaged each others' seances, and the still unexplained phenomena - levitations, the fire test where mediums handled red-hot coals, and strange materialisations where both spirits and mediums were in the room at the same time. Behind all the heavy breathing in darkened rooms, the implausible spirit photographs, the interminable dotty table-rapping and inconsequential scribbling on slates, lay a whole world of absurd tricksters, well-meaning dolts, credulous gulls and some unforgettable characters.
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