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If the only things you know about Spiritualism are the (Parker Brothers™) Ouija boards your cousin had when you were a kid and those scammy celebrity mediums on TV, you are in for a treat. Ptacin explores the history of Spiritualism from its inception in the 1840s, to its appeal in the aftermath of the devastating losses of the Civil War, to its relationship with the suffrage movement, to its current role as a potential salve for Americans’ fraught relationship with death. The book centers around Ptacin’s time at Camp Etna, a community of Spiritualists living and practicing in Maine. Ptacin herself is no stranger to grief, and it is her personal moments with the modern Spiritualists that make this an especially engaging read. Ptacin never quite takes a stand on Spiritualism; she presents her experiences with the Spiritualists with an utmost respect for their beliefs, but with a journalist’s healthy skepticism. But Ptacin doesn’t distance herself from the Spiritualists either; she allows herself to be seen by them as well, and she has enough stories to keep my mind open to possibilities. This is a fascinating book about a rarely explored thread of American history and a misunderstood religion, woven with Ptacin’s beautiful writing of her own experiences with loss and healing.— From Kelsey's Picks
They believed they would live forever. So begins Mira Ptacin's haunting account of the women of Camp Etna--an otherworldly community in the woods of Maine that has, since 1876, played host to generations of Spiritualists and mediums dedicated to preserving the links between the mortal realm and the afterlife. Beginning her narrative in 1848 with two sisters who claimed they could speak to the dead, Ptacin reveals how Spiritualism first blossomed into a national practice during the Civil War, yet continues--even thrives--to this very day. Immersing herself in this community and its practices--from ghost hunting to releasing trapped spirits to water witching-- Ptacin sheds new light on our ongoing struggle with faith, uncertainty, and mortality. Blending memoir, ethnography, and investigative reportage, The In-Betweens offers a vital portrait of Camp Etna and its enduring hold on a modern culture that remains as starved for a deeper sense of connection and otherworldliness as ever.