Fifteen people are seated around a very large, round table in an otherwise empty living room of an old San Francisco Victorian. Norma T., a robust and dramatic woman in her 60s who sits directly across the table from me, is obviously in charge. She instructs us to put our hands palm down on the tabletop. She claims to be in a trance, although she appears to be present and alert. She could be teaching math, given her matter-of-fact demeanor.
The skeptic in me scans the room. Who comes to a séance, anyway? Most of the people look fairly ordinary: a petite woman with short white hair; a business man in a suit; a young man with a backpack next to his chair; me, a candidate in training to be a Jungian analyst. This could be any-committee-meeting-USA, I think, or a Sunday school class…that is, until the table starts jumping.
At first I am annoyed. I suspect someone is bumping a table leg with a knee. But as the tempo increases and Norma comments that the energy is particularly strong this evening, I realize that the table’s legs are actually leaving the floor at times. I am shocked. As if from a long distance, I can hear Norma “channeling” to the woman with the short white hair. A dead relative is apparently giving her some kind of guidance. The skeptic in me is having a heyday, but my attention is riveted on the phenomenon of the bouncing table. I feel as if I am going to throw up. The room is spinning.
Norma finishes with the woman and calls my name. She will “read” for me next. She seems to know my condition and says, “You become nauseated when Spirit speaks to you.” I try to center myself. I do not remember what she tells me, except, "You need to wear your hair in a less ordinary way"—a comment that insults me. What I remember most is my altered sense of reality.
The bouncing table challenges my ideas about how the physical world operates. It has taken me years to work through my resistance and get to this strange gathering, and it will be two more before I am ready for any real instruction from Norma T.—instruction, as it turns out, that is necessary for me to heal a deep wound in my sense of self and move on in my life.