Knock, Knock… Psychic Times

Interest in psychic phenomenon rises and falls at different times. Sometimes, it seems to accompany periods of uncertainty and rapid change — which describes pretty much my entire lifetime… LOL…

The late 1960s/1970s of my childhood were definitely an extreme woo, woo period for spirituality of all stripes. My best friend, Wendy, and I snuck into a lecture about Edgar Cayce (an American psychic 1877 to 1945) when we were way too young to understand half of what was going on. I remember hearing about reincarnation at that lecture. It was probably the first time I’d heard that word and I was wise enough not to discuss it at home with my skeptical parents.

I’m sure I’m not the only kid who played with an Ouija board at a sleep over party or participated in a séance. My friend Timmy, who was the first gay kid to come out in our school, insisted that we try to connect with the spirit of Judy Garland one summer night at our friend Buff’s house. To me, she was just a movie star — The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, A Star is Born — but to him, she was the quintessential lost soul, someone he admired and adored.  I don’t remember any evidence of a psychic connection, but I do remember some wicked mosquito bites and moths enjoying our candle.

Years later, as a history student, I became interested in the rise of utopian communities based on specific spiritual precepts and, often, with communal life styles. There were a lot of them in the U.S. Many rose and fell quickly. The celibacy of the Shakers sort of doomed them when the “supply” of orphans grew smaller in the early 20th century. The utopian Oneida community, with communal property and “complex” (aka open) marriages and other practices the general public feared, dissolved and mutated into a tableware company before the 20th century.

A few years ago I became very curious about the psychics of that period (mid 19th to early 20th century). There were a lot of them. Some were traveling entertainers and others were scholars seeking genuine insights into the spiritual realm. William James, the psychologist/philosopher brother of the novelist Henry James, devoted many years to a serious investigation of mysticism. This put him in contact with many of the fraudulent psychics bilking believers out of their hard earned money.

My favorite frauds have got to be the Fox sisters. Kate and Maggie were renowned for their ability to connect with the spirit world through a knocking sound. Spirits spelled out messages by rapping on a table and the girls “spoke” to the dearly departed. It was a horrible sham that preyed people at their lowest moments. Margaret eventually owned up to the truth.

I think of them whenever I hear a knock, knock joke.

Knock, knock… Is there a spirit there?



  1. I was never into spirits, although I admit I flirted with the idea of reincarnation in the late 60’s. I was just coming out as an atheist and I think reincarnation was a safe ledge to rest on before I took the big leap. Oh and I remember Yuri Geller with his spoons. I blame him for an abiding fascination with mental powers such as telepathy.

    lol just had another blast from the past. That was also about the same time this book came out purporting to prove that all these major mysteries, including some aboriginal cave paintings, were proof of alien visitations throughout history. 🙂

    My, my you did open the door to some long forgotten memories!

    • Candy

      I remember Yuri Geller on TV!

      Now, what was the name of the at book that explained everything with alien visitations? I remember it too, but not the name. LOL… So long ago.

  2. I have been fascinated by stuff like almost as long as I can remember. Of course, I love conspiracy theories too. At one point I wanted to be a parapsychologist when I grew up. Something akin to Ghostbusters would be the preferred form or at my worst I would have ended up like the people on Ghost Adventures.

    One of the biggest books of the time was Chariots of the Gods. This came out in 1968 and even made it into a movie. And then you add in all the other books that explored wizards, witches, and ghosts, so much for to explore back then.

    I feel like the occult sections at the book stores now don’t have the same feeling that they did back then. They seem to “hugs and kisses” now than how they were intimidating and scary back then.

    • Candy

      “Chariots of the Gods” YES, that was the book…

      I remember a lot more shiver in the woo, woo of the time. It’s funny, but our fiction (books, movies & TV) have become more violent and gory, but often less mysterious.

      I’d prefer a bit more mystery in my mystical mix and a bit less dripping blood and entrails.

      Knock, Knock… who’s there a professional Ghostbuster.

  3. It’s very difficult to maintain a belief in the existence of spirits when the majority of the spiritualists are exposed as out and out frauds or clever fakers. But then TV opened up with people like Colin Fry in the UK and James van Praag in the US who make it all very believable again. Having only see the TV shows it’s hard to know how much editing has gone on in order to put out an entertainment programme or whether they’ve managed to do genuine readings for the people there.For all I know they may have researched certain deaths and chosen to illustrate those knowing family will be in the audience, but then that doesn’t explain the work I’ve heard that James van Praag has done as a consultant with the police. I’d be more sceptical than I am had some police officers not been recorded as saying how much information he’d provided and how accurate it was.
    I lean more towards belief probably because I want to believe and perhaps hope to go to a meeting one day and get a message of my own. It’s much better than believing in the finality of death.
    xx Hugs xx

    • Candy

      Yes, it is comforting to believe. But I was raised by ardent skeptics. Difficult not having a deep faith to rebel against. It’s always easier to push against an orthodoxy (of any kind), but… I got the rationalist parents.

      Perhaps that’s why my fiction roams around into non-rational spheres?

      Anyway, I wish you the best with your quest for a message. Maybe you will be the one to really hear one? I hope so…