I posted this over at my blog but thought you all might appreciate it. You can find a documentary of the Scole Experiment here:
The Scole Experiment - tl;dr version
Over a span of five years, a group of people consisting of two mediums, volunteers and scientists, some from the Society for Psychical Research, conducted seances twice-weekly in a darkened cellar room in a house in Scoles, Norfolk.
After a year or so of twice-weekly seances, the seances attracted the attention of a group of spirits - dubbed The Spirit Team - consisting, according to the spirits themselves, of “thousands of minds”, who decided that they were going to assist the Scole Group obtain proof of the existence of life after death. What followed was a series of communications and phenomenon that should encourage magicians to consider what may be possible with regular and dedicated evocational work.
Some of the results included:
Images spontaneously appearing on film negative that had been secured in a tamper-proof box. The images included writing, photographic images apparently projected from the memories of some of the spirits, diagrams for mechanical devices that the spirits claimed would improve spirit communication, poems, and communications in multiple languages unknown to the participants.
Apports – physical objects manifested by the spirits, seemingly out of thin air. These manifestations were often accompanied by a loud sound when they manifested in the room. The objects manifested included a newspaper from the 1940s (the paper and ink were tested and determined to be from the time period), necklaces and other things. Interestingly, the spirits claimed they could only produce objects that they had owned when they were alive or that had been lost or misplaced.
Direct voice phenomenon. Although the spirits initially communicated through the two mediums who were present, over time the spirits began to communicate in sounds that could be heard by all present as clearly as the voice of a living person.
Visual phenomenon that could be observed with the naked eye. This included small dancing lights which clearly had an intelligence attached and which provided healing, human faces and angelic-like figures.
Physically palpable manifestations. One of the visual manifestations included a hand that could be felt as well as seen - it had physical density and temperature.
Moving images recorded on video camera. It took some time to get the spirits to agree to this as they claimed that they would need time to manifest on film as well as a particular setup for the camera. The images could not be seen in real time, but when the tape was replayed there were moving images and stills of spirit images.
Aliens(!) One of the weirdest effects is that there were recordings of beings who clearly looked like aliens (traditional greys) suggesting that that phenomenon may have a spiritual origin rather than UFOS from outer space.
Instructions for mechanical devices to improve communications. The spirits apparently had some difficulty manifesting as strongly as they and the Scole group wanted, and gave detailed instructions, including technical drawings, for the creation of mechanical devices to improve communication. One of these was a device that looked remarkably like the almadel in the Theurgia Goetia although made of glass instead of wax. It was made up of a sheet of glass suspended on 6 glass stands, with a glass dome in the centre which the spirits claimed would collect energy to allow physical manifestation of the spirits.
Dematerialisation/materialisation of objects. In the presence of one of the scientists present, the spirits levitated a crystal that was present in the room, caused it to become immovable so that it could not be lifted off the table, then caused it to dematerialise - it could still be seen, but when the scientist reached for it, their hand went straight through it as if it was a hologram.
Takeaways for evocational magic
1. The immediate takeaway is that alot of magicians are aiming really low with their evocations. As wonderful as it is to evoke into a crystal or mirror and skry, the writers of the grimoires may not have been talking about images appearing in a crystal every time they describe the appearance of a spirit, and a spirit with a *hoarse voice* may refer to a hoarse voice heard physically by a magician.
2. Mediumship skills and how they relate to magic. I suspect one of the reasons the Golden dawn were so terrified of Spiritualism is that it produced physical effects that would have melted their Victorian minds and exposed the fact that there was just as much magic happening in the parlours of bored Victorian housewives as there was in a temple lodge filled with bored upper class Victorian men. Given that reports of seances at which mediums are present frequently report phenomenon such as physical manifestations, visible appearances and direct voice phenomenon, it may be worth examining their methodology. Now, the two mediums who were the channels for these spirits were born with their skills, however mediumship skills can be developed and are cultivated in other Spiritistic schools such as Espiritismo (Kardecian and the Cruzado forms), Mesa Blanca, and the Brazilians variants such as Umbanda and Candomble.
3. The necessity for regular and frequent evocation. It took twice weekly work for a whole year before the really interesting phenomenon happened in the Scole experiments. Evoking once a month, or even less frequently, because of the time and preparation required for an evocation, and the length of the rites themselves, is not good enough. The spirits in the Scole Experiments frequently informed the participants that they would need time for stronger and clearer communications and manifestations. This should suggest to us that it is probably much better to work with a particular spirit (or group of spirits) on a frequent basis (i.e., at least twice a week if not more frequently) with a shorter ceremony or easier setup than it is to evoke with the full regalia and conjurations of - for example - the lemegeton only when you need something
4. Lighting and location. The Scole Experiments occurred in the cellar of a 16th century house in total darkness at the beginning, and things like cameras and infrared lghts were only allowed after a certain period of time. It may be wise to minimise light sources, and particularly electrical appliances and lights, at first, and there may be more interesting communications in a place that is relatively remote and/or with a long history.
5. Ask the spirits for instructions on how to improve communication. The Spirit Team gave the Scole Group advice on how to improve communicatiuon clarity and advised them to construct a very particular device. If you are using a particular working method such as Trithemius' Drawing Spirits into Crystals, it is probably best to assume the setup was arrived at by the author with the direct communication from the spirits, and stick to the setup as closely as possible. Also, If you do not do this already, once you have established contact, it is a good idea to ask the spirits you evoke for methods to make the communication clearer and more physical. They may give you a new setup that does just this.
6. Multiple participants may produce better affects than solo work. There were two mediums and several volunteers present at most of the Scole Experiments. It may be that the number of people present have a direct impact on the amount of phenomona produced. You may not believe in an energy paradigm, but it seems clear that the spirits in the Scole Experiment did believe in the need for an energy of some sort to build up before they could produce certain effects.
7. All your treasure are belong to us! Note the collection of spirits in the grimoires who are said to guard secret treasures. The spirits might indeed be able to materialise objects quite literally, but they may be limited in what they can bring you. Interestingly, the spirits claimed they could only produce objects that they had owned when they were alive or that had been lost or misplaced.
8. Physical communications - iPad or Android tablet? If you ask the spirits to produce physical phenomenon such as writing or drawing, it might be a good idea to think about the materia on which they are to produce the writings. It might be easier for them to produce images on film negative than on a piece of paper with your fountain pen. It may also be wise to place the materia away from your direct sight since for some reason the spirits in the Scole Experiment could not produce images while particpants were watching. This seemed to be understood by magicians of older times., for example, in Abramelin, during the Convocation of the Spirits, the Angel is asked to leave a physical sign on the silver (or wax) tablet. While the Angel is doing that, you are supposed to be face down and praying your heart out and not staring at the silver tablet like you are waiting for those "seen" marks to appear next to that message you sent your crush.
9. Spirit introductions. The spirit you evoke may act as an intermediary and introduce you to other spirits. And aliens. Try not to get abducted.