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What is a séance?

what is a séance

The word séance comes from a French verb meaning “to sit,” and the word is often used in the French language to refer to a session where people gather together, seated, to enjoy a show or some other entertainment. In English since the mid-19th century the word has become specifically associated with the occult. A séance is a gathering of people, among them a spiritualist or medium, to attempt to connect with the spirits of the dead. Oddly enough, people at séances do not always sit.

Séances are nothing new. The practice of attempting to communicate with the dead is by no means particular to modern Western culture. The Old Testament mentions mediums and spiritists (1 Samuel 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 8:19; 19:3), and the New Testament also mentions occult practices (Acts 8:9). Throughout the Bible, the practice of communication with the spirits of dead people is strictly forbidden (Leviticus 19:31; Galatians 5:20). An example in the Bible of someone practicing the occult and holding a “séance” is the medium of Endor, who contacted the departed spirit of Samuel on behalf of King Saul. Amazingly, the séance was a success—Samuel was summoned, and he even chided Saul for “calling him up” (1 Samuel 28:7–15).

A séance is a serious thing. Modern culture often discounts the supernatural, saying that, since it cannot be explained scientifically, it must not exist. But cultures throughout the world report the effectiveness of occult practice—demons jump at the chance to fool the ungodly. Since the Bible forbids contacting the dead, we should have nothing to do with séances. We should also be very careful not to treat the occult flippantly or as a source of entertainment. Personal, demonic forces are real, and they actively wish us harm (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8). Instead of running toward the occult, we should put on the armor of God and stand against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:11).

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022