Seeking wisdom from the departed was quite fashionable in the 19th century. People would go to a medium to have a séance, in which it was believed the spirit of someone who had passed on could be called up, to communicate with them and offer advice.
This was not a new phenomenon. There are a number of references in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, to this practice. The twenty-eighth chapter of First Samuel relates the story of King Saul of Israel consulting a woman at Endor who had a “familiar spirit,” asking her to call up the late prophet Samuel for advice. This turning from God to a medium for help did not turn out well for Saul, and Israel suffered. By contrast, St. Paul, by the authority of Christ Jesus, healed a young woman considered a fortuneteller of her “spirit of divination” (see Acts 16:16–18).
Spiritualism and divination may seem like harmless superstitious nonsense in this age of science and reason. The advertisements for palm readers and horoscope prognostications may seem to offer a fun dalliance, but dabbling in the occult would insidiously ensnare us into believing its claims to influence our lives and even affect our health.