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A Victorian Seance Experience
Knoxville, TN 37915
1711 Dandridge Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37915
- Date(s): October 25, 2019 to October 27, 2019
- Event Time(s): 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
- Price: $20.00 for Adults, $12.00 for children (12-17). All sitters must 12 or older.
- Location: Mabry-Hazen House and Bethel Cemetery
As the evenings get darker and the first hint of winter hangs in the air, the western world enters the season of the dead. It is time when restless souls, vengeful spirits, and mythical creatures can more easily cross the plane between the two worlds. With All Hallowed Eve’s approach, it is a time when ghost stories and haunted tales more easily cross into the realm of our daily lives as these accounts help us remember the dead and contend with the unexplained. 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. For the second year, the historic house museum will exhibit those macabre, yet fascinating cultural moments during their Victorian Séance Experience.
From 6pm-10pm on October 25-27, 2018, Mabry Hazen House will host “A Victorian Séance Experience” inside the parlors of the 1858 historic house. Relying on primary sources from the nineteenth century, Mabry-Hazen House will reenact a Victorian séance and give “investigators” an immersing experience filled with “mysterious and startling wonders.”
Under the guidance of a Victorian medium, the séances will follow the rituals of nineteenth century Spiritualism and investigators will participate in historic “demonstrations” of mediumship. Whether true manifestations of spirits or clever parlor tricks, sitters at the séances will experience this eerie, yet ubiquitous aspect of 19th century American life.
Séances will occur every 20 minutes starting at 6:00 pm and ending at 10:00pm. Guests 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, it is strongly recommended tickets be purchased in advance, and all sitters must be 12 or older. Tickets are $20 per person and $12 for children (ages 12-16).
In addition to the séances, psychics, astrologers, and tarot card readers will be perform their craft for interested parties. Once a séance concludes, guests may purchase $5 vouchers to exchange to have their fortunes told. “We want people to have sense of the past and present through this event,” says Patrick Hollis, Executive Director at Mabry-Hazen House.
These sessions use the traditional tools of the Victorian séance to attempt spirit communication for entertainment purposes. This is not a demonstration of mediumship or a way to contact deceased relatives. It is not recommended for the recently bereaved.
“In the early decades of Mabry-Hazen House’s history, Spiritualism, a new religious movement aimed at proving the immortality of the soul by communicating with the spirits of the dead, spread in popularity across the United States. says Patrick Hollis, Executive Director of Mabry-Hazen House. “It gave many solace during a time of grief, for others entertainment, and for some a livelihood earned from the credulous. For many, it even provided empirical proof of the immortality of the soul and life after death,” he continued.
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 eight 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. “During primary source research on Joseph Mabry, we learned Mabry attended a séance in 1868 during a visit to New York City,” said Hollis, “and that historical moment will guide the experience this year.”