Bristol Spirit Lodge
Despite the widespread anthropological interest in spirit possession cults and shamanism in "exotic" locations around the world, there has been very little interest in anthropological and ethnographic investigations of similar practices in the UK. There seems to be somewhat of a void in the anthropological literature on contemporary spiritualist mediumship, particularly the more elusive forms of trance and physical mediumship, which usually take place in private home-circles. In an attempt to fill this gap I opted to undertake participant observation at a non-denominational home-cirlce devoted to the development of trance and physical mediumship. These images were taken over the course of my dissertation fieldwork at the Bristol Spirit Lodge.
The Bristol Spirit Lodge is a 12'x10' wooden cabin built with the purpose of serving as a seance room for the development and demonstration of trance and physical mediumship.
The cabinet in the lodge where mediums sit while in trance conveying messages from incorporated spirit entities. It is believed that the cabinet acts as a container for subtle energies utilised during the production of seance phenomena.
Objects are placed on a wooden circle in the middle of the seance room for manipulation by spirit entities. Their locations are marked on the wood so that any movements can be easily recognised.
The walls of the lodge are adorned with images of spirit guides and prayers for sick friends and family. The bell-jar is occasionally used as a recepticle for energy during spiritual healing sessions.
Screw-hooks used to bind a medium apparently bent and broken by spirit strength.
Cable ties used to bind a medium were still intact after the seance had ended and so had to be cut to release him.
A thankyou note written by Tom, a spirit child, while the medium was in trance.
A cake baked by one of the Lodge's regular sitters to celebrate the group's second birthday.
At the end of the seance visiting medium, Warren Caylor, was found to be tied up, as though simulating a hanging, with a piece of rope that had been left in the room for "spirit children" to play with. He was given a can of Red Bull to help regain his strength. The amount of energy required for the demonstration of physical seance phenomena is believed to be physically draining for the medium.