last updated April 8th, 2008 and is permanently morphing...
(2 Ik (Wind) / 5 Pohp (Mat) - 2/260 - 188.8.131.52.2)
Word History: A gathering
in which phenomena such as levitation,
telepathy, and communication with the dead take place should seemingly
have little in common with a session of an administrative body of a learned
society, but the word séance can refer to both. Séance does
not have the mysterious and exciting background one might expect for such
a word but rather comes from French séance, "seat, session," from
Old French seoir, "to sit." In French as in English the word came to be
used specifically for a meeting of people to receive spiritualistic messages
(a sense first recorded in English in 1845), but earlier in French and
English the word had been used for meetings more generally. Certainly the
second recorded use of the word in English in 1803 hardly seems to refer
to an exciting spiritualistic meeting: "your séances . . . which
I have a shrewd suspicion must be something dull."