People have been able to communicate with the spirit world for thousands of years, in fact ever since man walked the earth. We have references to mediumistic acts throughout the bible and other spiritual writings. Moses, Mary, Peter and many more people all had experiences which have been labelled as visions, angels appearing unto them or speaking in tongues. These can be classed as physical phenomena, with materialisation being just one form of physical phenomena that we as humans can experience when communicating with the spirit world.
Physical Mediumship really took off in the mid 1800's up to the 1960's, although it is still practiced today. People have been using various methods to communicate with the spirit world and the Ouija board was very popular, but I must stress that this should not be used by people who do not know what they are doing, the outcome could be unpleasant for those present. Spirit are trying all the time to communicate with us and will take every opportunity to do so through whatever means is available, and this includes Ouija boards, remember not all spirits have good intentions, there are mischievous or negative spirits around.
Physical mediumship should only be practised in properly controlled environments with the correct supervision and safeguards in place to ensure the safety of the medium.
Spiritualist Churches rose up out of events that happened in America at a place called Hydesville. For those who are not familiar with the story, the Fox sisters heard knocking or rapping noises in their family home. Eventually they managed to figure out that the noises were being made by an unseen being or as we now know a spirit being. They managed to communicate with the being through asking questions, with the being answering through rapping a response for Yes or No. This is also a Physical phenomena and is just one of many ways spirit communicate through physical means.
I covered some of the physical means of communication earlier, now I will try and explain more. Physical mediumship usually takes more time and patience to practice. The conditions have to be right for spirit to appear in whatever form. The energy used by spirit is a lot greater in this form of communication than with mental mediumship. In most cases a medium goes into deep trance (there are different levels of trance) for the spirit to work through them. The spirit will use the mediums body, and I will stress here that the medium is not possessed by the spirit and should be in control at all times, the medium's spirit just steps to one side while the spirit uses part of their body to communicate. This can be through voice with the spirit using the vocal chords of the medium to "talk" to whoever is present, or to produce ectoplasm from various parts of the mediums body.
Materialisation can also occur where the spirit can be seen, and sometimes touched, by those present. This type of communication is very rare and should not be confused with ghosts or apparitions, as the spirit will use the energy built up in the room by those present to "appear".
I have talked about the conditions being right for physical Mediumship to happen, this means having in place safeguards in the form of other mediums to ensure that the session is controlled correctly and safely. Usually a group of people will gather at the same place, at the same time over a period of time, to build up the energies in the room and create the right atmosphere for whatever physical phenomena to happen. This can sometimes mean using a red light, apparently this creates a better atmosphere for spirit communication.
Here are some other types of physical Mediumship.
Transfiguration. Here the face of a spirit person can be seen on formed over the mediums face. The correct use of lighting is necessary as shadows can appear making people think they have seen someone that really isn't there. I have witnessed, and also been used as the medium for this phenomena. It made me jump at first to see faces appearing, because it wasn't just one face several appeared in succession. The faces can be very clear at times, with the mediums face completely disappearing.
Direct Voice. This sounds very strange, but objects called trumpets are used for this type of communication, they are conical shaped objects with holes at both ends. The trumpet is placed in the centre of the circle of people present, when the atmosphere is right for spirit they will make the trumpet float in the air and use it for communication. This sounds far fetched I know, but it does happen. The sound is created from an artificial throat box formed from ectoplasm and comes from the pointed end of the trumpet.
Trance. This form of mediumship allows the spirit to control the the mediums body for communication. This could mean using not only the voice box but also moving various parts of the body. There are various stages of trance from slight over shadowing to full deep trance where the medium seems to be asleep. Whilst in trance the medium will be aware of spirit around them, and will communicate all that is told to them without interaction of their own thoughts. Deep trance is obviously better for this as the medium is not aware of what is being said by the spirit to those present. The medium should be in no danger if the session is correctly overseen and controlled.
Apports. An Apport is a physical object bought through by spirit usually to the group of people sitting for communication. I say usually because I have heard from other people of objects being bought through to individuals not necessarily communicating with spirit at the time. The objects can be almost anything from flowers, books, jewellery and even money usually coins (usually small denomination values, remember financial wealth is not important to spirit), I even read of an umbrella being deposited onto its owners lap which had been left outside of the room. People do not usually sit for the purpose of bringing apports through, they just happen during a séance or closed circle if the spirit wishes to do so for what ever reason.