By LAUREN MESSERVEY
As cliché as it sounds, Jaymes White’s séances are one-of-a-kind. When the Rue Crew attended one of White’s sold-out events last year, it felt like getting a front-row seat to Paranormal Activity, only we got to be part of the action. The experience was so real that our entire group had a serious case of the willies long after the séance had ended – a high compliment from a band of seasoned horror enthusiasts such as ourselves. Despite the numerous hours I spent staring up at the ceiling after that séance, my better judgment fell by the wayside and I couldn’t wait to go back this year. However, the Great Pandemic of 2020 had other plans, and White has been unable to continue on with his (un)conventional séance experience this October.
But necessity is the mother of invention. Horror lovers were itching for a new experience to get under our skin, and White came through with his new interactive experience, EVOKE. The website claims that this unique virtual event allows participants to “connect with the spirits while social-distancing from the living,” which is quite honestly everything I’ve always wanted. The Rue Crew were in agreement, and we decided that we needed to try it out for ourselves.
Since we couldn’t get together in the flesh, the obvious challenge was creating the right spooky atmosphere to match that bygone, Victorian séance flair. I assembled a few of my favourite candles and a bouquet of chrysanthemums on the table in front of me, wrapping myself in one of my favourite social-distance chic blankets. At White’s request, I had a pad of paper and pen at the ready, and an item with me that was personally significant.
The personal item was meant to be a protective emblem, so I chose the most protective thing I could think of – a necklace with a pendant containing a small amount of my father’s ashes. Although I didn’t know what significance that object would hold in the context of the event, I had a funny feeling from White’s previous work that it would weave into the story of the séance. I was both excited and nervous to see exactly how that would come into play.
With all of the materials gathered, the assembled Rue Crew waited patiently in their bedrooms, offices, and cozy living rooms for the show to begin.
With a virtual experience like this, it’s nearly impossible to know what to expect. When you’re there in person, you know that there’s going to be something lurking somewhere around you: when it happens virtually, the effect is more cerebral, though certainly just as spooky. This is what makes a virtual séance so unique – even though it still relies on the group dynamic to come together, it becomes an exceptionally personal experience, both during and after the actual event.
For those who are more faint of heart (or VERY jumpy), you may be relieved to know that EVOKE isn’t all about the scares. Using several of his innovative mind-reading techniques, White works more in the psychological realm, allowing the “oohs” and “ahhs” to come from his fascinating ability to know what you’re going to do hours before you actually do it. The result is undeniably eerie, but also incredibly cool – you’ll walk out of this experience scratching your head and wondering how he did it as opposed to running for the nearest exit.
Which is not to say that everyone in your group will be cool as a cucumber. Some of the Rue Crew felt incredibly uneasy with some of the chilling occurrences that White uncovered during the séance, while others were spooked and amazed in equal measure. Just because this virtual experience isn’t quite as “in-your-face” as some of his previous work doesn’t mean that what White conjures won’t stay with you long after it ends. Instead, you may just find out more about how your own mind processes the strange and unusual, which is worth the price of admission in itself.
Regardless of how you feel about your experience, the most important ingredients are the group mind and your own intuition. White will be your guide, but the real power will come from you.
As opposed to last year’s experience, I found that the virtual séance didn’t end once the Zoom window closed. Without giving too much away, I found some uncanny similarities between my own experience and those of the other group members, including some very bizarre occurrences after the show wrapped.
To sum up how EVOKE makes an impression, I’ll leave you with this: my mother texted me the moment after the séance ended and asked how I was feeling. It was very unusual for her to text me so late at night, and considering that she didn’t know that I had been at a virtual séance, the text was strange. I told her that I was fine, and asked why she was so concerned. She said that it sounded crazy, but she suddenly felt like my dad wanted her to check in on me. I clutched onto my pendant and smiled.
Learn more about Jaymes White and book your own virtual séance here. The EVOKE experience is available through November 28th, 2020.