A Sympathetic Look at Spiritualism Past and Present

Deborah Blum at the NYT:

Ptacin, the author of the memoir “Poor Your Soul,” herself hovers somewhere between curiosity and the edge of belief. As she tells us, she wants to believe, wishes she could see the ghosts that float so readily around the Maine mediums in this “enchanted hamlet.” But the hovering serves a purpose. She is on a quest to understand the peculiar nature of belief, the power of faith — pure, unquestioning and even unreasoning — to shape the way we see the world around us.

To that end, Ptacin collects insights and highlights from the history of spiritualism but mostly concentrates on Etna’s current practitioners. Her interactions with the community’s mediums and psychics include a ceremony to cleanse her home of a suspected ghost, a session of table talking in which the oak-legged furniture apparently dances around the room and an experiment in dowsing.

more here.