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It seems like everyone is binge-watching the new Netflix series Stranger Things.
There’s also a good chance you made it out to see the new Ghostbusters.
It’s shaping up to be a supernatural summer as far as pop culture is concerned. So, when I saw that two guys were hosting séances in the Capital City, I had to know more.
Albert Lucio and Jake Cordero are behind Austin Séance. Jake is using a pseudonym since he has a not-so-paranormally-focused day job. Lucio and Cordero make sure to point out that Austin Séance is purely about entertainment. I met up with them at the aptly named Vortex theater on the city’s East Side. There’s a pony shed that had been transported from San Antonio to Austin, stocked with traditional tools that have been used in séances for years and years.
“We’ve got the spirit cabinet in the back,” Cordero says. “This is sort of what we use to channel the spirits. We have a Wilbur board and other devices we use during the presentations.”
Lucio and Cordero are hosting a total of eight séances in the city for their summer series, Into the Gloom. Each one starts out with a history of the spirit-seeking gatherings. In the United States, séances date back to the 1850s.
Once Lucio and Cordero got the background out of the way, it’s time to contact some spirits. So Lucio pulls out the trusty Wilbur board, inspired by something you’re probably more familiar with – a Ouija board. A 19th century spiritualist thought that people could influence the Ouija board too easily, so he created a board covered in words.
“He would take coin with a hole bored through it and he would spin it and see what words they’d speak.”
Lucio spun the board for us. Luckily the spirits weren’t feeling especially chatty and the ring kept spinning – right off the board!
Cordero says whether you’re a believer or not – séances give people a different way to approach the world.
“We have a sense that there’s a little bit of a yearning,” he says. “I think we’re very much beholden to reason, there’s an attraction to allowing ourselves to surrender to a little bit of irrationality every now and then. … It’s sort of an entertainment that harks back to a previous age.”
Their last four séances of the season will be held this weekend.
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