Season Two, Episode One

Talking to Spirits:
Children as Ambassadors to Otherworldly Realms

Transcript coming soon!

Welcome to Season 2 of The Children’s Table! This season, we’ll be talking about spooky kids. 
Being a young person can be pretty frightening — things are uncertain, and adults can be untrustworthy. For children in the past, violence, and the fear it caused, was a part of everyday life. And then there were other, less mundane threats — from the world beyond! It seems that kids have always enjoyed (or, well, not enjoyed) a particular connection with the supernatural, the otherworldly, the creepy, and the weird. In this season, we will explore those connections. Be prepared for scary stories of what happens when adults demonize children.

Our first episode looks at moments in history when children were imagined as having one foot in both the natural and supernatural worlds. Sometimes children saw themselves as powerful ambassadors to the spirit realm — a realm, it seems important to point out, where there were forces even more powerful than the adults that otherwise ruled their lives. At other points, children were seen as the victims of supernatural forces, often working in tandem with evil adults. These narratives often resulted in adults telling themselves that they were empowered, indeed required, to take on the role of heroic avenger on behalf of beleaguered children. Come for the medieval children who could prophesy the future through crystals, stay for the nineteenth-century spiritualist children who claimed to talk to the dead! 

image gallery

reading list

Davenport, Reuben Briggs. The Death-Blow to Spiritualism: The True Story of the Fox Sisters, as Revealed by Authority of Margaret Fox Kane and Catherine Fox JenckenG. W. Dillingham, 1888. 

Klaasen, Fran. “Subjective Experience and the Practice of Medieval Ritual Magic.” Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, vol. 7, no. 1, Summer 2012, pp. 19-51. 

Lawson, Deodat. A Brief and True Narrative of Witchcraft at Salem Village. Boston, 1692. 

Lieutenant-Colonel. “The A.B.C. Of Spiritualism. Guidance and Counsel for Inquirers. Child Mediums.” Light, 9 August 1924, p. 508. IAPSOP

Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and PossessionsR.P., 1689, Sec II.  

Miller, Perry. The New England Mind: From Colony to Province. Harvard University Press, 1953. 

Nichols, S. B. “Mediumship: The Subject Analyzed from Various Standpoints.” Religio-philosophical Journal, 4 September 1886, pp. 1, 8. IAPSOP. 

Pike, Joseph B. Frivolities of Courtiers and Footprints of Philosophers: Being a Translation of the First, Second, and Third Books and Selections from the Seventh and Eighth Books of the Policraticus of John of Salisbury. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1938. Print. 

“Return to England of Mrs. Kate Fox Jencken and Her Medial Children.” Religio-philosophical Journal, 4 September 1875, p. 200. IAPSOP

Ruttenberg, Nancy. Democratic Personality: Popular Voice and the Trial of American Authorship. Stanford UP, 1998. 

Upham, Charles W. Salem Witchcraft, with an Account of Salem Village and a History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects. Dover, 2000. 

William S. Simmons, Spirit of the New England Tribes: Indian History and Folklore 1620-1984. UPNE, 1986, pp. 39-45. 

Whitby, C.L. “John Dee and Renaissance Scrying.” Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 1985, pp. 25-36.

Zillah, The Child Medium; A Tale of Spiritualism. Dix, Edwards, and Co., 1857.  

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