This ethnography, uniquely set in contemporary Iceland, takes an in-depth look at the way supernatural beliefs and practices (long an important subject of anthropology) thrive as an "unnamed, unpretentious, and quiet, nearly silent, spiritual movement that impacts most of the population either directly or indirectly in deeply personal ways." The author lived and worked in Reykjavik, where friends, acquaintances, students, colleagues and spirit mediums talked with him about their experiences of being in contact with spirits of the dead, including deceased loved ones and spirit doctors. Anderson's book is a primary example of signature anthropology methodology, i.
e., ethnographic fieldwork or participant observation.
He spent time with spirit mediums, joined in group seances, observed and recorded conversations between the living and the dead, arranged for spirit doctors to treat sick friends, and attended lectures at spiritist schools, and coffee klatches of the 'spirit society'.