On February 2-3, 2024, The Austin Séance hosted its first ever Texas Spirit Gathering, held in conjunction with the First Spiritualist Church of Austin. The conference brought together experts on Spiritualism history, occult history and even the history of American exorcisms. Below, we present slide decks and other resources from the conference.
The Texas Spirit Gathering Program Guide: The official program guide of the 2024 Texas Spirit Gathering includes information about the conference in Austin, Texas, plus articles about the First Spiritualist Church of Austin, and pioneer Spiritualist A.J. Davis. Download: The TSG Program Guide.
The Texas Spirit Gathering Website: Discover more about the 2024 conference, and conference speakers, at the Texas Spirit Gathering website. Return to the website for updates about future conferences. Go to The Texas Spirit Gathering website.
The First Spiritualist Church of Austin: The historic church opened its doors in 1926 and joined the National Spiritualists Association of Churches in 1928. It was founded by the Reverend August Cervin, who had immigrated to America from Sweden with his wife, Jennie, a clairvoyant medium, healer, and a reverend in her own right. Initially Austin Spiritualists met at the old Labor Temple at 10th and Brazos. Sometimes services were held at the Driskill Hotel. The current location in Hyde Park was purchased in 1941, giving the congregation a permanent home. The First Spiritualist Church of Austin website.
Spiritualism in the Civil War: The research of Dr. Joshua Paddison, a Texas State University history professor, focuses on race, ethnicity, and religion in nineteenth-century America. His book “Unholy Sensations: Sex, Scandal, and California’s First Cult Scare” explores an international 1890s sex scandal that surrounded the Brotherhood of the New Life, a multi-racial spiritualist community in northern California. He lectured during the Texas Spirit Gathering on the intertwined history of American Spiritualism and the Civil War. Download: Prof. Paddison’s Slide Deck here.
Two Cases that Inspired the Exorcist: Dr. Joseph Laycock, an associate professor of religious studies at Texas State University, is the author of several books, including The Exorcist Effect: Religion, Horror, and Demonic Belief (Oxford University Press, 2023). He spoke during the 2024 Texas Spirit Gathering about two real-life cases that inspired The Exorcist, the 1973 American film directed by William Friedkin. Download: Prof. Laycock’s Slide Deck here.
Ghosts in the Machine: Brandon Hodge is an author, collector, and historian specializing in the history of writing planchettes, talking boards, and other spirit communication devices. Brandon’s research on Spiritualism history has appeared in the pages of the Smithsonian Magazine, and his popular Ghosts in the Machines column appears every quarter in the pages of the Magazine of the Society for Psychical Research. Brandon owns the world’s finest collection of writing planchettes and other séance-related devices, all featured on his popular website, MysteriousPlanchette.com. Download: Brandon Hodge’s Slide Deck here.
WeirdATX and New Perspectives on the Paranormal: Brittany Shelbon and Megan Keith, proprietors of WeirdATX.com and the Beyond Weird Paranormal Podcast, have nearly 20 years of experience with paranormal investigations. Their adventures have taken them all over central Texas, out to the deserts of west Texas to the swamps of Big Thicket. Download: the WeirdATX Slide Deck here.
Learning Opportunities with City Alchemist. Texas Spirit Gathering presenters Eric Labrado and Alexis Arredondo are the proprietors of Austin’s popular City Alchemist apothecary, an esoteric purveyor of occult merchandise. Find out about the classes they offer at their website. Go to The City Alchemist website.