Mediumship is the practice of certain people—known as mediums—to purportedly mediate communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. There are different types of mediumship including spirit channeling, and ouija.
Humans have been fascinated with contacting the dead since the beginning of human existence. Cave paintings by indigenous Australians date back 28,000 years, some depicting skulls, bones, spirits and the afterlife. Other cave paintings in Indonesia date back a further 10,000 years. Mediumship gained popularity during the nineteenth century, when ouija boards were used by the upper classes as a source of entertainment. Investigations during this period revealed widespread fraud—with some practitioners employing techniques used by stage magicians—and the practice began to lose credibility. Fraud is still rife in the medium/psychic industry, with cases of deception and trickery being discovered to this day.
Scientific researchers have attempted to ascertain the validity of claims of mediumship. An experiment undertaken by the British Psychological Society led to the conclusion that the test subjects demonstrated no mediumistic ability.
Several different variants of mediumship exist; arguably the best-known forms involve a spirit purportedly taking control of a medium's voice and using it to relay a message, or where the medium simply "hears" the message and passes it on. Other forms involve materializations of the spirit or the presence of a voice, and telekinetic activity.
The practice is associated with several religious-belief systems such as Vodun, Spiritualism, Spiritism, Candomblé, Voodoo, Umbanda and some New Age groups.