/say"ahns/, n.
1. a meeting in which a spiritualist attempts to communicate with the spirits of the dead.
2. a session or sitting, as of a class or organization.
[1795-1805; < F: session, equiv. to sé-, base of seoir to SIT1 ( < L sedere) + -ance -ANCE]

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      (French: “sitting”), in occultism, meeting centred on a medium (q.v.), who seeks to communicate with spirits of the dead. Because strong light is said to hinder communication, a séance usually takes place in darkness or subdued light. It generally involves six or eight persons, who normally form a circle and hold hands.

      Believers assert that communication has been established when a disembodied voice is heard, or a voice speaks through the medium, or a ghostly apparition appears. Sometimes music of unknown source seems to fill the room, objects appear to move for unnatural reasons, or a hand, a limb, or an entire body may take shape from ectoplasm (q.v.; a peculiar viscous substance said to issue from the medium's body). Other alleged means of communication include automatic writing, trance speaking, or a ouija board or planchette. Many of the seemingly mysterious phenomena manifested during séances are effected by the medium to validate his or her claim to supernatural powers. That some spiritualists actually possess the ability to communicate with spirits, however, remains open to debate.

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Universalium. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • séance — [ seɑ̃s ] n. f. • 1594 « le fait d être assis »; de séant, p. prés. de 1. seoir 1 ♦ Vx Le fait de siéger (dans une assemblée). Avoir droit de séance, avoir séance. « Les évêques, les abbés, ont séance à la diète d Allemagne » (Voltaire). 2 ♦… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • seance — (n.) 1789, sitting, session, as of a learned society, from Fr. séance a sitting, from seoir to sit, from L. sedere (see SEDENTARY (Cf. sedentary)). Meaning spiritualistic session first recorded 1845 …   Etymology dictionary

  • Séance — (franz., spr. ßeāngß ), Sitzung, Session …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Séance — (frz., spr. ßeángß), Sitzung …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • seance — a term for a spiritualist meeting, is now normally spelt without an acute accent on the first e …   Modern English usage

  • seance — Seance, Decentia, Condecentia, Habilitas …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • seance — ► NOUN ▪ a meeting at which people attempt to make contact with the dead. ORIGIN French, from Latin sedere sit …   English terms dictionary

  • séance — [sā′äns] n. [Fr, lit., a sitting < seoir < L sedere, to SIT] a meeting or session; now specif., a meeting at which a medium seeks to communicate with the spirits of the dead …   English World dictionary

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