Kimberley Charest was leading a table-tipping session with a group of women in Mechanic Falls when the table suddenly started tap, tap, tapping.

As if it were pecking.

What the medium said she saw next in her mind’s eye didn’t make sense.

“I said, ‘The rooster has boots on,'” Charest remembered.

One of the women at the table had a departed rooster.

Against all odds, in life, he’d worn boots.

“She got very defensive: ‘I made (those) because he lost toes to frostbite,'” Charest said.

Charest, 54, of Lisbon, has been an active medium for seven years, practicing what she calls “mental mediumship” (what you might picture as a traditional reading, seated across from someone) and “physical mediumship” (gathered around, hands on a table, waiting for it to move at the spirits’ direction).

She said she’s seen and heard all kinds of things.

When Charest was 12, she encountered her late grandfather. When she was 16, she visited well-known Lewiston psychic Olivette Desjardins for the first time.

“I’d been having strange things happen as a child, little predictions and they’d come true,” Charest said. “My friend used to call it, ‘The voodoo that you do.'” 

Desjardins was friendly and welcoming.

“Everybody loved her,” Charest said. “She always came to the door with a playing card pinned to her head.”

During one of their readings, Desjardins told her she had a gift and that she, too, would be reading someday.

“I remember (seeing) that card bobby-pinned to her head (and thinking), ‘No,'” Charest said. “And here I am, doing it.”

Sans playing card, of course — though she does tote her own table along.

She calls her business Razin Spirits. So far, work has been entirely through word of mouth and a Facebook page.

Table tipping dates back more than a thousand years. Charest said it became popular in the U.S. during the Civil War when many soldiers left and didn’t come back. Families and widows, referred to as “sitters,” would sit around a table, place hands or fingertips on it, and hope to connect with their dead.

“The table will stand up on one leg with just fingers,” Charest said. “I’ve seen it completely jump; others will have their table levitate. It’s working off our energy.”

The practice has skeptics, but it also has plenty of interest: The three table-tipping courses offered this fall through adult education programs in Augusta and Brunswick are already full.

In Augusta, they were the first two classes in the entire fall lineup to reach capacity, according to staff.

“I was told during (someone else’s) table-tipping (session in 2009) that I was able to do it,” Charest said. “I’m a Capricorn. I’ve always been a skeptic.”

Not long after, Charest said, she was leaving her job at TD Bank at the end of the day and a voice told her to take a right instead of her usual left. 

She drove on outer Main Street in Lewiston, past Mardens and kept going.

“I was encouraged to pull into an antique store, Wilbur’s,” she said.

There, she found what would become her table, a small, square-topped antique with four decorative legs. She nicknamed it “Tippy.”

“I’ve had it walk through a home, one room at a time in Portland,” she said. “The physical phenomenon, it’s hard to explain for most people.”

Charest was at the Temple Heights Spiritualist Camp in Northport this summer giving readings and workshops on table tipping. (She’s a member of the Spiritualist Church.)

Next month, she’ll teach a workshop at the Real Maine Ghosts Paranormal Conference in Freeport on how to use table tipping as a paranormal tool.

“If there was a house that has some spirit activity, you go in with the team of sitters (and find out) what the spirit in the home has to say about the activity,” Charest said. “One time, the spirit of the home wanted the fire emergency stairs put back; it had been removed from the side of the house. They were putting siding on.”

The old home had once been an orphanage. Fires had been a real hazard back then. Put the stairs back on and the spirits would be happy.

To get ready for a reading or a tipping, Charest mediates for an hour. She encourages whomever she’s working with to put out a call into the universe, letting their loved ones know they’d like to talk.

“It’s almost like making a date with them, especially if there’s something going on in your life that you really want some sort of guidance with,” she said.

Charest, who said she feels, sees and hears messages from spirits, does have a few cautions.

For example, whomever you’re trying to reach, remember their earthly limitations.

“If she couldn’t keep a checkbook, don’t ask her for business advice,” Charest said. “Most people want to know loved ones are OK. They are very much with us. Or, they always worry, ‘Are they mad at me?’ They’re not. Once they pass over, we don’t hold onto that like we did here.”

Another caution: Don’t be too disappointed if your personal, departed VIP doesn’t show.

“Sometimes people get really hung up on their A-listers,” she said. “Just be open to the process.”

Basically, be receptive to whatever spirit comes through. 

Even roosters wearing boots.

Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send ideas, photos and messages from the universe to [email protected] 

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