A group of persons who meet at intervals to hold séances for spirit communication. It is essential that at least one among them be a medium, and there may be several mediums in one circle. However, all the members of a circle must be chosen with care if the séances are to induce phenomena. The Baron von Guldenstubbé, in his book Practical Experimental Pneumatology, or the Reality of Spirits and the Marvellous Phenomenon of their Direct Writing, originally published early in the history of Spiritualism in French in 1857, gave directions for forming a circle after the American fashion.
"Setting aside the moral conditions, which are equally requisite, it is known that American Circles are based on the distinction of positive and electric or negative magnetic currents.
"The circles consist of twelve persons, representing in equal proportions the positive and negative or sensitive elements. This distinction does not follow the sex of the members, though generally women are negative and sensitive, while men are positive and magnetic. The mental and physical constitution of each individual must be studied before forming the circles, for some delicate women have masculine qualities, while some strong men are, morally speaking, women. A table is placed in a clear and ventilated spot; the medium is seated at one end and entirely isolated; by his calm and contemplative quietude he serves as a conductor for the electricity and it may be noted that a good somnambulist is usually an excellent medium. The six electrical or negative dispositions, which are generally recognized by their emotional qualities and their sensibility, are placed at the right of the medium, the most sensitive of all being next to him. The same rule is followed with the positive personalities, who are at the left of the medium, with the most positive among them next to him. In order to form a chain, the twelve persons each place their right hand on the table, and their left hand on that of the neighbour, thus making a circle round the table. Observe that the medium or mediums, if there be more than one, are entirely isolated from those who form the chain.
Camille Flammarion stated that the sexes are alternated to "reinforce the fluids." It has also been asserted that the séance may be as productive when the circle is composed of only a few investigators, following no rules but their own.
Although the presence of a medium is traditionally regarded as indispensable, a group of experimenters composed of members of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research in Canada obtained interesting phenomena by concentrating on "Philip, " an artificial personality deliberately created by the group.
(See also psychic force )
Post, Eric. Communication with the Beyond: A Practical Handbook of Spiritualism. New York: Atlantic Publishing, 1946.