Glossary of Séance Science Terms


apparition
The manifestation of a figure or part of a figure, which can be little more than a shadow or more solid, even indistinguishable from a living being.

apport
A solid object that materializes seemingly from nowhere.

cabinet
An area separated from the sitters, usually by a curtain, behind which the medium can sit while in trance. Often the medium was confined by special clothing and bound to the chair. Some felt it helped concentrate the medium’s force.

chyle
A milky fluid of the lymphatic system formed in the small intestine.

Crookes tube
A Crookes tube is a vacuum tube for demonstrating the properties of cathode rays. It was the forerunner of early TV tubes and x-rays.

dematerialization
The disappearance of a solid object or of a phantom.

direct voice phenomena
Speaking or singing that does not emanate from the vocal cords of anyone present.

direct writing
Writing that appears on some surface without anyone physically writing it. Often no writing instrument is used. In some cases a pencil or stylus has been grasped by an unseen or materialized hand, which has done the writing.

discarnate
Having no body. A discarnate entity meaning the spirit of a deceased person acting out in a séance or haunting.

doppelgänger
A phantom or apparition that looks exactly like a particular living person and may be seen next to that person or in a different location.

ectoplasm
The substance that comes from the medium’s body and takes various forms. It has been reported as beginning as a mist, a clear substance that turns white, much as egg albumen does when it’s heated, or a gauze-like material that forms into phantoms or body parts. Its forms seem as varied as the personality of the person producing it. It eventually disappears into the air or back into the medium’s body.

General Extrasensory Perception
Also called GESP. A paranormal occurrence that can’t be assigned to a specific category of ESP, perhaps a combination of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, etc.

GESP
General Extrasensory Perception. A paranormal occurrence that can’t be assigned to a specific category of ESP, perhaps a combination of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, etc.

JOTT
Just One of Those Things“: Strange occurrence of an object disappearing and then either reappearing in the same place, a different place, or not at all.

levitation
A rising or floating in the air especially in seeming defiance of gravitation. Table levitation is quite common in “sitter groups” and in poltergeist (RSPK) cases. Less common is the purposeful levitation of light objects such as ping-pong balls by gifted people. Rarest are those individuals who can self-levitate: They are usually in a trance or in a related state of religious ecstasy.

linger effect
A continuation of psychokinetic force in an area or on an object after the person using that force has stopped. It can be seen in psi metal bending when the object continues to bend after mental efforts have stopped. Another example: when a compass deflected by psi, returns to normal when it’s removed from the area and then deflects again when it is returned to the first spot.

Macro-PK
Large scale psychokinesis such as table levitations or other séance phenomena, as opposed to minute deflections of instruments or dice-throwing tests in laboratory experiments.

materialization
The appearance of matter, either solid or vaporous, from an unknown source.

medium
A person who enters an altered state and seems to become capable of unusual abilities. Many purport to be communicating with spirits. Here we are concerned with physical mediums, those who cause physical phenomena (PK) to occur.

Micro-PK
Mentally-caused small deflections of instruments or dice in laboratory experiments.

paranormal
A term referring to anomalous or unusual experiences that may not be explainable by today’s scientific knowledge.

parapsychology
The scientific study of psychic phenomena (psi); Often referred to as a pseudoscience by psi deniers.

PK
Psychokinesis. Sometimes called mind-over-matter, the ability to affect matter or physical natural systems by the use of some as yet not understood mental and/or biophysical force. Also called telekinesis, an older term no longer much used.

PKMB
Psychokinetic Metal Bending. A term used primarily in laboratory metal bending experiments; affecting metal with only the powers of the mind-body.

poltergeist
Literally means “noisy ghost” (from German). Term used for unexplained disturbances often centered around an angry, repressed young person. The preferred scientific term is Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK).

psi
Pronounced sigh, is the short term for psychic functioning or psychic phenomena of all kinds. Precognition, telepathy, psychokinesis, clairvoyance, etc., used to be considered separate abilities, but often work in concert together.

psychic
Used as an adjective: it means relating to powers of the mind that are as yet not completely understood by science, especially such as telepathy, precognition and clairvoyance. Used as a noun: a person who displays such powers.

psychical
A word relating to special mental (psi) abilities, not completely understood by science.

psychic photography
(Also referred to as Thought Photography or Thoughtography). Imprinting mental images on photographic film.

psychokinesis
Also called PK. Sometimes called mind-over-matter, the ability to affect matter or physical natural systems by the use of some as yet not understood mental and/or biophysical force. Also called telekinesis, an older term no longer much used.

psychokinetic metal bending
Also called PKMB. A term used primarily in laboratory metal bending experiments; affecting metal with only the powers of the mind-body.

raps
Sounds coming from furniture, walls, floors or the ground. They may be knock-like sounds, whisper-soft or ear-shattering loud, scratchings and scrapings, or a combination of the above.

retrocognitive dissonance
A term, coined by journalist and psi researcher Brian Inglis, built on the psychological term, cognitive dissonance, meaning the perception of contradictory information causing emotional discomfort. It refers to having difficulty believing something mind-boggling you just experienced.

Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis
Also called RSPK, popularly known as poltergeist.

RSPK
Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis, popularly known as poltergeist.

séance
From seoir (Middle French) meaning to sit, sometimes called a “sitting.” It is a gathering of people, usually in a darkened room, to attempt to communicate with spirits, or to generate paranormal phenomena.

sitter
A person attending a séance.

spirit
The phantom or ghost of a deceased person.

Spiritism
The belief that dead people can communicate with the living.

Spiritualism
The religion or belief in contacting the dead for the comfort of the living, often done through mediums.

spiritualist
A person who believes that the spirits of the dead exist and communicate with the living.

thought photography
Also called Psychic Photography or Thoughtography. Imprinting mental images on photographic film.

thoughtography
Also called Psychic Photography or Thought Photography. Imprinting mental images on photographic film.

trance
An altered state of consciousness; a sleep-like or semi-somnolent state in which the person is more in touch with his/her subconscious and less with outer stimuli. Trances vary in intensity and quality.