Light After Life

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The history of Spiritualism

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The history of Spiritualism

Post by Candlelight on 22nd April 2017, 11:21

(originally posted on Thu, 06 Mar 2014, 11:58 am)



History – Ancient Spiritualism

The belief in, and practice of communication with, spirits has existed in all nations. Spiritual phenomenon have occurred throughout human history, with people being entranced, inspired and influenced by spirit intelligences. During moments of ecstasy, in dreams, reveries, drug induced states and deep meditations people have experienced spirit awareness. In fact, mankind’s history, literature, folk law and fairytales are full of mystical spiritual beings both good and bad.

In ancient times, primitive man had no doubt that his ancestors survived death and ancestor-worship was a form of religion. Some people had psychic abilities, similar to modern mediums, and were aware of psychic forces the spirit world, and could communicated with spirit peoples.

The Greeks consulted oracles and the Egyptians and Romans practised fortune-telling and prophecy to obtain guidance from the gods. Even today some cultures have their witch-doctors and shamans, who invoke the powers of the spirit for healing and giving guidance.

Christianity and Spiritualism

The Christian Church was founded on spirit communication and phenomena that could be described as mediumship. Throughout the bible are many examples of spiritual happenings, inspirational speech, speaking in other languages, spiritual voices, and angel messengers foretelling the coming of prophets. Many Spiritualists believe that Jesus had an exceptional psychic and mediumship ability as illustrated in the reports of his healing powers, inspired teachings, the transfiguration, and the many so-called ‘miracles’ that occurred in his presence. After his death, Jesus was seen and heard by his followers and it seems that mediumship played an important part in the spreading of the new religion.

However, in the 4th century, Christian leaders decided that the use of psychic and mediumship abilities was wrong unless performed by the Christian priesthood. All others who demonstrated spiritual abilities were denounced as ‘false prophets’, evil sorcerers, heretics and were liable to punishment.

In 1484 the Pope strongly denounced mediums. The Church also sanctioned the publication of a book entitled, Malleus Maleficarum or ‘Hammer of the Witches,’ that described all people who communicated with spirits as witches and stated that they should be severely punished. After this, there was a long period of persecution where people suspected of using psychic abilities were in danger of trial, torture and execution. During these times thousands of mediums were put to death by the church-sanctioned ‘witch-hunters’.

18th Century

Emmanuel Swedenborg


In the 18th century a Swedish scientist and astronomer, Emmanuel Swedenborg, became well-known for his philosophical writings that, he claimed, were received from spirit teachersand inspirers.

Andrew Jackson Davis

Emmanuel Swedenborg died in 1772 and later he communicated from the spirit world throughthe mediumship of a young American, Andrew Jackson Davis.

Wesley family – Epworth Rectory

Spiritual phenomena in the form of knockings also occurred in the 18th century in England at the Epworth Rectory, home of the Wesley family.

History – Modern Spiritualism

A family who moved to a homestead in Hydesville, New York State, USA were disturbed by noises, knockings, movements of objects and other unusual phenomena.

The two children Catherine and Margaretta discovered that if they spoke out then the mysterious noises seemed to respond and it became clear that the phenomena were not just random manifestations of energy but were under the control of some invisible intelligence. In a world where such happenings were feared and where religion labelled them as evil, these happenings soon gained the attention of neighbours and family friends. The news of these happenings spread far and wide, at times many bystanders came to marvel at the unexplained knockings and noises.

On March 31, 1848, the two sisters, Margaretta and Catherine Fox, established intelligent, two way communication with a spirit person who was responsible for producing the phenomena.
A committee of investigation was formed and communicated with the spirit who had been harassing the Fox family. The committee listened out for the response signal knocks and they established that the communicator was Charles Rosna, who had been murdered and buried beneath the cellar of the homestead. An excavation of the cellar later proved that there was indeed the remains of a body buried there.

The publicity which these events aroused and the investigations carried out at the time led to mediumship being discussed openly. The Fox family suffered scorn, ridicule, and persecution but because of them advice came from spirit people as to how to encourage spirit communication. The printing press, cheaper newspapers and books, the improved literacy amongst the people, the rail road and improved postal service meant that many learned about this new spiritual phenomena and how it could be achieved. In many homes, groups of people met and, following the advice, were successful in obtaining spirit communication for themselves. And, once communication was established, the spirit people could direct the process and give specific guidance to further help the process.

It became clear that certain people were naturally mediumistic and the new forms of communication enabled strikingly accurate and detailed information to be communicated. Spiritual phenomena flowed from the many Spiritualist groups which provided, time after time, personal joyful evidence confirming the existence of a spirit world that could communicate with those still on earth. In just a few years many groups of Spiritualists formed in America to seek psychic phenomena and to consider the religious implications which lay behind the teaching received from spirit.

In time, both the phenomena and the teachings attracted the attention of eminent scientists and intellectuals in America and Britain. A Mrs Hayden brought the new knowledge to England and openly demonstrated mediumship here. She was persecuted and insulted by the press and by some in the established Christian church, however her mediumship was defended by public figures, such as Robert Owen, who embraced Spiritualism after witnessing successful spirit communications with her.

In 1853 the first Spiritualist Church was established in the Britain at Keighley in Yorkshire, and the first Spiritualist newspaper, The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph, was published in 1855. By the 1870s there were numerous Spiritualist societies and churches throughout the country.

Today, Spiritualism allows all people to witness, and learn for themselves, communication with the spirit world. Before, information about such practices was banned and considered dangerous and evil. However, by the events at Hydesville, ignorance and fear concerning the spirit world is passing away and all people can benefit from the love, guidance, and wisdom from those who have gone before who are now progressing in the spirit world

History sourced from www.snu.org.uk

    Current date/time is 20th April 2018, 10:07