KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – “A Victorian Séance Experience” takes place 6-10 p.m. Oct. 26-28 inside the parlors of the 1858 Mabry Hazen House. Tickets are $20 per person.
Relying on primary sources from the 19th century, Mabry-Hazen House will reenact a Victorian séance and give “investigators” an immersive experience filled with “mysterious and startling wonders.” Along with the historic buildings, grounds, and family history, Mabry-Hazen House also preserves a darker history of Americans' experiences with death, funerals, spiritualism, and the occult and this year the museum will exhibit those macabre, yet fascinating cultural moments during their Victorian Séance Experience.
Under the guidance of a Victorian medium, the séances will follow the rituals of 19th century Spiritualism and investigators will participate in historic “demonstrations” of mediumship. Whether true manifestations of spirits or clever parlor tricks, guests at the séances will participate in this eerie, yet ubiquitous aspect of 19th-century American life.
Séances will occur every 20 minutes. Guests must select a specific date and time to reserve a seat at the table. They should arrive 15 minutes before their table reservation. Each session is limited to 8 guests, tickets must be purchased in advance, and all sitters must be 16 or older. Tickets may be through purchased through Facebook, Eventbrite, or www.mabryhazen.com/seance
In addition to the séances, psychics, astrologers, and tarot card readers will perform their craft for interested parties. Once a séance concludes, guests may purchase $5 vouchers to exchange to have their fortunes told.
Claiming their ability to speak with the dead, mediums conducted séances for the curious and devout alike and ostensibly offered empirical evidence of manifestation of spirits. By 1897, spiritualism was said to have more than 8 million followers in the United States and Europe, mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes.
Unfortunately, the height of the Spiritualist movement was riddled with cases of fraud. True believers and practitioners were often overshadowed by crooks and con artists who preyed on those who wanted to speak with their deceased loved ones. Although its popularity diminished, Spiritualism remains a vibrant religion today and inspired numerous other spiritual and religious movements. New age philosophies, theosophy, and present-day psychics and mediums trace their lineage to Spiritualism. Evelyn Hazen, last descendant to live in Mabry-Hazen House, was a believer and practitioner of these alternative religions and small temporary exhibit will be on display showcasing artifacts from this theme.
For more information, visit www.mabryhazen.com.
# # #