Virginia University Offers Course On Communicating With The Dead

Would you dare tamper with other realms in return for three credits? From Roanoke’s WDBJ7:

Radford University students are taking part in an independent study course that’s quite different – learning about the afterlife by reaching out to the dead.

There is a bedroom on campus that has been converted into a chamber, where students have been calling up the dead, for class credit. It’s almost always dark inside, with black drapes. Two large black sheets hang from the ceiling, and a lamp is on the floor.

“For people who are coming in here they are using an ancient ecstatic teaching that’s been used in ancient Greece and elsewhere to contact the dead,” Susan Kwilescki, a professor of religious studies.

Students built the chamber, which they call the psychomanteum, on the cheap. Ran Waide, a junior who helped build it, says the chamber works: “I’ve had a ghost encounter in here.”

12 Comments on "Virginia University Offers Course On Communicating With The Dead"

  1. I say why not, as long as they are not charging people to reach dead relatives. Also if the approach is one of curiosity and not desperation. That sounds like easy credits to me.

  2. BuzzCoastin | Feb 20, 2013 at 10:01 am |

    > Would you dare tamper with other realms in return for three credits?

    anybody still paying for college credits for a worthless degree
    is already acting of the advice of the dead from whom they obtain the money

  3. bobbiethejean | Feb 20, 2013 at 10:02 am |

    Sad. Very sad. The idea that human beings retain their consciousness after death…. by the gods, someone please propose a plausible mechanism because if there is one, I’d sure love to hear it.

    • Talk is cheap | Feb 20, 2013 at 11:40 am |

      Hopefully your spirt does not survive, because you would be one boring ghost.

    • lazy_friend | Feb 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

      well in that case, YOLO!! I like how you use the word “plausible”, because we really don’t know what happens after death. Such a hypotheses is valid tho, and one day hopefully disproved, hopefully by extraterrestrials (double whammy). I like to think there is something after this life or else it just seems meaningless and a cruel joke, but I can not prove it yet.

      • bobbiethejean | Feb 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

        To which I answer:

        Believe me, I wish there was a heaven. I really do. I would LOVE to reunite with my loved ones and be able to see how things play out. But I mean think about it….. how would that happen? What is a soul made out of? How would it retain consciousness? How would it sense without any sensory organs? Where would it go? How would it get there? Sure, no one knows. But I’ll tell you what, I have a sneaking suspicion that we are just specks of dust living in a cold, indifferent universe that doesn’t give a shit about us and won’t mourn or even notice our utterly inconsequential deaths when we return to the random scattering of molecules from whence we came. I hope that’s not true, I do. But…..

        • lazy_friend | Feb 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

          Just because things don’t make sense now does not mean they are not true and wont be proven in the coming future. What are dreams made of? We don’t know but they are happening all the time. I have a few books depicting lots of unexplained phenomena that need studying. Quantum physics is trying to explain a lot. I am not talking about heaven, that’s too ideal, just talking about something more beyond this rock. Questions are the start to the path to the answers. We can’t really detect dark matter or dark energy, nor do we have a unified theory of everything but we are almost certain the they are there and will be proven one day. Also the questions of parallel universes and the extra dimensions of string theory . I try not to be a cynic tho, being too cynical is a red flag pointing to a personality disorder and when know those are true. I try to stay open minded and away from any view too extreme be scientific or spiritual. I think each individual experience is unique and words can’t define an individuals perception. Maybe to you it is such a cynical materialistic view due to various factors (maybe have an unconscious wish for complete annihilation when this life ends), but to me the universe is very intelligent and most of the time caring or else I would most certainly be dead. Every time I feel suicidal, events seem to happen to show me the reasons to live, I don’t know the why and because or the how of such synchronistic events. The magick of today is the science of tomorrow. I do respect your view tho, because it does not seek to force me to follow it, unlike religious folks. But for whatever it’s worth, I do care about you and if I could intervene in any way to make sure that your well being and basic rights are protected I would, it’s how we run things in most of my community and social circles. I am part of your random universe, just figment of your creative will, quintessentially part of you. I guess people operate at different frequencies causing differences in perception. I can respect someone who is really sure of whats true for them, my perception of reality changes on a daily sometimes hourly basis. Sometimes I feel this is heaven, sometimes hell, sometimes purgatory and at other times just “IT” and that I will live forever, since things are always progressing, and there is a slight change that I will not experience death. I am always having to learn something new, always something else to remember, always having to adapt. The materialistic view was one of the first ones I had to tackle, but I had to throw it to the curb after a near death experience as a child. But I wont annoy you with an anecdote, it’s something you will have to experience for yourself. But hey if you believe we only live once, you better be living life to the fullest, not letting anyone stand the way of your goals and of having a good time and feeling good. Dare to be great, make the most of it. Take care.

  4. I would like to know if they are taking any precautions in this or if they are just “jumping in” so to speak.

    From my reading when you open that door you could get anyone or anything, unless some very old safety precautions are employed; white light and all that. Also so much use of the color black – though I am sure it is used to block light – is like sending an invitation to those you really do not wish to play with. Hell, these precautions are even supposed to be used for Ouija boards.

    Superstition? Perhaps, but I’d hate to be the one to find out the hard way that they were more than that.

  5. Some people would say that our educational system would do better to focus on disciplines with proven, real world application, like medicine or engineering, but I say it’s up to them to decide how they choose to put themselves into debt for the rest of their lives.

  6. Matt Staggs | Feb 21, 2013 at 10:18 am |

    Really? You don’t think a science-oriented person who died and discovered an afterlife would be interesting? I’m rooting for you, BobbietheJean.

  7. Matt Staggs | Feb 21, 2013 at 10:19 am |

    I think that these things have some psychosocial value, even if they’re not practical; anything to get people thinking about what they believe.

  8. David Metcalfe | Mar 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

    Some of the comments here seem to associate this with a scientific experiment, but it was for a course in the history of religions which looked at traditions associated with contacting the dead. Rather than jumping to conclusions I scheduled an interview with Dr. Susan Kwilecki, who oversaw the Psychomanteum class project at Radford University, to find out more about it. We had a wonderful conversation, and I’ll be publishing a piece on it soon.

    Dr. Kwilecki is interested in the growing secularization of Western culture, and how it is affecting the cultural view of death and the after life. She sees the popularity of ghost hunting shows, and groups, as symptomatic of the decline of mainstream Christian religiosity in the West.

    Inspired by the work of Arthur Hastings, Irene Blinston, and Raymond Moody, one of the students involved in the course suggested that they construct a Psychomanteum chamber (a more involved setting for scrying, which involves suspending a mirror in front a chair, placing a light behind the chair, and enclosing the space in a black sheet) and conduct a small experiment to record people’s experiences.

    Here is the course description:

    “One of the chief functions of religion is to help individuals and societies cope with the somber fact of human mortality. From the methodologically agnostic perspective of religious studies, this course is a humanistic investigation of the cross-cultural and ongoing practice of (putatively) communicating with the dead. Historical and cultural data present a range of forms in which the living have claimed to interact with the deceased: involuntary contacts (ghost encounters); near-death travel to the entrance of the afterlife; routinized professional communications (shamans, mediums); and facilitated apparitions (ancient and contemporary American). Students will consider the place of these exchanges within their larger cultural settings, specifically as a source of information about the afterlife (a topic in the instructor’s current research).

    The study will especially explore a contemporary cultural strand in the United States, whereby encounters with dead have been put to use in bereavement therapy. Thus, Dr. Raymond Moody, psychiatrist and Near Death Experience pioneer, has induced, he reports, in himself and others, healing interactions with deceased loved ones.* Over the past two decades, facilitated, spontaneous, and spirit medium communications with the dead have increasingly become, at once, a practical source of information about life after death and a path to better health. In the latter part of the course, students will investigate this quintessentially American cultural configuration.”

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