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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Spiritualists and others communicating with spirits used to work with slates, but the modern trend today is toward computers. Messages purporting to come from the spirit world have been received on personal computers. The origin is difficult to prove, however, because of the ability of some to “hack” into other’s computers.

A common practice since the earliest days of séances was to tie two blank slates together and place them in the circle. At the end of the séance these would be separated and writing would be discovered on one or both of the slates. This writing was often identified as being in the handwriting of the departed spirit and was often a message from that spirit to one of the sitters.

A modern form of slate writing might be experienced using a laptop computer. This could be set to a word processing program, with a new blank file opened. Closing up the computer (which usually turns it off), it could then be left in the center of the séance circle. At the end of the sitting the laptop could be turned on again and the file accessed. It is possible that the file would no longer be empty but would contain a message from spirit.

“Ghost writing” has appeared on computer screens in the past. In The Vertical Plane (1988), Ken Webster tells of his experience after he had moved into an old cottage in North Wales. His old Acorn desktop computer suddenly started to display messages on its screen when it was left unattended. Over a period of two years close to 300 such messages appeared, attested to by Webster’s family and friends. This was before the Internet, so there was no connection with other computers. The messages appeared to come from various sources, including a man named Tomas Harden who claimed to have lived in the cottage in the sixteenth century. The Society for Psychical Research has reportedly investigated this case but no results have been forthcoming.


Buckland, Raymond: Buckland’s Book of Spirit Communications. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2004
Randles, Jenny & Peter Hough: The Afterlife: An Investigation into the Mysteries of Life after Death. London: Piatkus, 1993
Webster, Ken: The Vertical Plane. London: Grafton, 1988
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