Lesson 3 - Vocabulary - SUPERNATURAL?
Read the text about Helen Duncan, paying special attention to the vocabulary concerning supernatural matters:
Helen Duncan (1897 – 1956) is best known as the last person to be convicted under the British Witchcraft Act of 1735.
Duncan was born in Scotland in November, 1897. She made her name as a psychic and medium by offering séances in which she appeared to summon the spirits of recently deceased persons by emitting ectoplasm from her mouth.
In 1931, Duncan's method was examined by the London Spiritual Alliance. After an initial positive review, the Alliance denounced her as a fraud, alleging that she previously swallowed all the material she emitted from her mouth and used other forms of deceit to trick séance participants. Her defenders claimed to have witnessed events that could not be explained by trickery.
During World War II, Duncan held a séance in Portsmouth at which she indicated knowledge that HMS Barham had been sunk. Because this fact had been kept from the public, the British Admiralty chose to attempt to discredit her. The police arrested her after another séance. She faced first conspiracy and then witchcraft charges. The apparent overzealousness of this prosecution may be explained by the mood of near-paranoia surrounding the impending Battle of Normandy. It should be noted that the government did not believe she had practised witchcraft; the 1735 statute covers fraudulent "spiritual" activity. Duncan was jailed for nine months.
After serving her time, she returned to work as a medium, but she began to lose her powers due to an illness. She was arrested after a séance in 1956, and died a short time later.
Duncan's trial almost certainly contributed to Winston Churchill's decision to eliminate the Witchcraft Act in 1951. Based on the material from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Duncan