Self-con­fessed scep­tic JOANNA DELLA-RAGIONE went along to the world’s big­gest spir­i­tu­al­ist school to find out

Sunday Express - - Inside Politics -

ing for his own truth. “I want to be­lieve in life af­ter death I sup­pose,” he says. “I’ve always been ter­ri­fied of death, my own and other peo­ple’s, and I want to know what hap­pens af­ter if there is any­thing. If I can ex­pe­ri­ence a tiny glimpse for my­self I’ll feel bet­ter.”

Then there is friendly Max­ine whose 21-year-old daugh­ter died in a freak road accident just 18 months ago. “I went to see medi­ums af­ter­wards and the fact they were talk­ing to her, that she was talk­ing through them and telling me she was OK, that I shouldn’t be sad, con­soled me,” she tells me. “My hus­band thought I was mad at first but he’s more open to it now.”

The multi-mil­lion-pound in­dus­try that in­cludes per­sonal read­ings, stage shows and séances has been crit­i­cised for fak­ery, for tak­ing ad­van­tage of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and ex­ploit­ing them for profit. “Cer­tainly there are a few bad peo­ple out there who can give us a bad name,” says Stella.

But at the col­lege there is no sense of ex­ploita­tion at all, only good­will. And yet do I be­lieve in any of it? Not a jot. No part of me has been con­vinced by any of the “ev­i­dence” pre­sented. Not by the psy­chom­e­try class where I cor­rectly as­cer­tained James’s watch was a birth­day gift that cost in the realm of £100, nor from my heal­ing ses­sion with Steven – where he ac­cu­rately told me that I once in­jured my left knee but didn’t man­age to gauge the rest of my med­i­cal his­tory. Or even from my sit­ting with Stella, dur­ing which she spoke to my dead grand­fa­ther and told me that he had a crack­ing sense of hu­mour and would come out with funny phrases (true) and that his pass­ing was un­ex­pected to him and he still had things he wanted to do (true but is any­one ever ready for death?).

BUT then I am strin­gently ag­nos­tic. Ju­daism, Chris­tian­ity, Is­lam alike, I don’t find any of their ex­pla­na­tions of God or our ex­is­tence con­vinc­ing. No more or less so than ev­i­den­tial medi­umship – the spir­i­tu­al­ist’s proof – which to me is a heady mix­ture of co­in­ci­dence and cold read­ing that al­lows the will­ing sit­ter to jump to con­clu­sions they so des­per­ately want to be true.

How­ever there is a fine line between be­liev­ing some­thing is true and it ac­tu­ally be­ing so and if you’re go­ing to sub­scribe to some­thing, spir­i­tu­al­ism seems one of the nicer, more peace­ful re­li­gions. Af­ter all, we are all just search­ing for an­swers, aren’t we?

For more in­for­ma­tion about spir­i­tu­al­ism visit snu.org.uk

RE­CEIV­ING: Seances have a mixed rep­u­ta­tion as in this scene from 2009’s Drag

Me To Hell

SEARCH­ING: Max­ine, who vis­ited medi­ums af­ter her daugh­ter died, prac­tises tarot read­ing with Joanna

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