Three women, the Fox sisters were reportedly the start of the Spiritualist Movement, having made contact with a dead peddler. Their audiences in the 1840’s could hear the tapping answers and voices to the sister’s’ questions. The sisters were then adopted by a group of radical Quakers in New York State and seances, trance lectures and stage performances calling on spirits were off and running. There is still a Spiritualist Church today, mostly in the US and The United Kingdom with approximately 1 million followers, down from the reported 8 million in the 1920’s.
Spiritualists believe the the spirits of people who have passed on can and want to communicate with the living, and the medium’s job is to give voice to these spirits, either with his or her own voice or through manifesting some other sound, such as tapping or an actual voice everyone present can hear. They also believe not only in reincarnation but that a spirit is capable of improving or changing, even after death.
While Spiritualism has appeared as a Christian movement, there are many other religions that embrace spiritualist ideas. Judaism has the tradition of prophetic dreams or visions. Within Islam, the Sufis consider communication with spirits very possible, and their dances are set to enhance the experience of reaching to a higher spiritual plane. Both Hinduism and Buddhism maintain that reincarnation and the presence of ghosts are possible. Spiritism, the European and Brazilian versions of the Spiritualist Movement, maintains that it is important to observe all sensory perceptions, especially the ones from “the other side”. Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, was one of the most famous Spiritists.
I could not conclude this review of Spiritualism without mentioning Mesmerism which became hypnotism as we know it today, the Wiccan Covens and the Theosophical Society with Madame Blavatsky at the helm. All have openly explored not only the unconscious but the human connection to spirit and how it manifests.
Today, the use of mediums and connection to spirit energy is regaining popularity. There are workshops offered in which the speaker will contact departed family members or friends of the audience. There are Spiritualist Churches with “sessions” to contact spirits. Some of the churches are loosely under the banner of being Christian, but there are others, such as the followers of Arthur Findlay and his Spiritualists’ National Union which became the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain. This is not a church but something of a support organization for mediums.
The books by Arthur Findlay, too numerous to mention here, have been reprinted almost continuously since 1924 (there are 70 editions). There is an Arthur Findlay College in his former English estate that continues today. Findlay considered Spiritism to be a religion in itself. Findlay’s books were based on the mediumship of John Sloan.
I’d like to review one of Findlay’s books, On the Edge of the Etheric. Here Findlay shows proof that the seance is not a hoax, that there is scientific proof in the form of recordings and other measurements, and that these phenomena do occur. In addition, the spirits that are brought forth have much to tell us, to educate us about the spirit world and our place in it. Do spirit people retain their individuality? Do they eat? Where do they live? Do dogs, cats and other animals survive physical death? All these questions and more are answered in this book. If you wish to obtain this book, click here. You can also obtain a paperback copy be clicking here.