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Barbara Williams is a paranormal investigator. Photo courtesy Greta Rybus
The Spiritual Side of Spooky
October 25, 2019
Halloween is for most people a secular celebration. But there's a whole lot of religion underlying our fascination with ghosts and the afterlife.
Cemetery photo courtesy of Amy Gizienski via Flickr
American Spiritualism Part I: This Life and The Life After October 25, 2019
When she began to research Spiritualism, journalist Mira Ptacin wasn’t sure how she felt about this American-born religion whose adherents believe that the living can communicate with the dead. Ptacin’s explorations take her to Camp Etna, a more than 140-year-old gathering place for Spiritualists in Maine that is still home to many of them. She wrote about her experiences in a new book, published just in time for Halloween: “The In-Betweens: The Spiritualists, Mediums, and Legends of Camp Etna.”

Mira Ptacin, author of The In-Betweens: The Spiritualists, Mediums, and Legends of Camp Etna

Mira Ptacin, Photo by Shane Thomas
Psychic storefront in East Vancouver. Photo courtesy of Mike via Flickr
American Spiritualism Part II: A Welcoming Place for Women October 25, 2019
We continue our conversation with Mira Ptacin, who explains how her encounters with Spiritualism left her both baffled and comforted. Spiritualists expose her to “table tipping,” an old practice in which tables are supposedly moved by the spirits of the dead. And she joins a ghost hunt, where the ghosts, she is told, disapproved of her fellow hunters’ skimpy outfits and noisy equipment. Ptacin also tells us why Spiritualism, founded in the wake of the Civil War, was and remains particularly attractive to women.

Dia de los Muertos graffiti. Photo by GlitterandFrills via Flickr
Dia de los Muertos: The Dead Among Us October 25, 2019
Skulls and skeletons are not creepy on Dia de los Meurtos – they’re reminders of the thin line separating the living and the dead, and the imperative to enjoy life while you have it. So says Regina Marchi, professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, and the author of “Day of the Dead in the USA.” Marchi traces the holiday, celebrated in the days after Halloween, to agrarian cultures in pre-Columbian America, and explains how it evolved as Christianity spread.

Regina Marchi, professor of journalism and media studies, Rutgers University

Regina Marchi, Photo courtesy of Regina Marchi