Also called Spiritism.
A system of religious beliefs centered on the assumption that communication with the dead, or spirits, is possible. It implies that the human personality, the spirit or soul, survives death.
Spiritualism as a movement began in the United States in 1848 with the activities of Margaret Fox and, to a lesser extent, her two sisters, of Hydesville, New York. The Fox sisters were able to produce spirit rappings in answer to questions put to them.
After moving to Rochester, New York, and receiving a wider audience through a series of increasingly elaborate public seances, the Fox sister's fame spread to both sides of the Atlantic.
By the mid-1850s the Fox sister's had inspired a host of imitators, and Spiritualism claimed two million followers. Margaret Fox admitted later in life that she had produced rapping noises through manipulation of her joints.
The repertoire of the early mediums included table levitations, ESP, speaking in a spirit's voice during trances, automatic writing, and the manifestation of apparitions and ectoplasm. All such phenomena were attributed by the mediums to the agency of spirits.
Early supporters of spiritualistic phenomena included American journalist Horace Greeley and British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Support for spiritualism diminished, however, as many 19th-century mediums proved to be fakes. Spiritualism has had, since its inception, a large following. Many churches and societies have been founded that profess some variety of spiritualistic beliefs. It achieved particularly widespread popular appeal during the 1850s and '60s and immediately following World War I.
Closely aligned with other new age beliefs, belief in spiritualism again became popular during the 1980s, particularly in the United States. One new facet of spiritualism is that modern-day channelers or mediums are as apt to attempt contact with extraterrestrials or spirits from ancient mythical societies as they are to try to communicate with the recently deceased.
Today, Spiritism's popularity is once again on the rise. Just as art after long burials has had its renaissance, so spiritism, or spiritualism, has had its recurrent resurrection, and lately with added force. There has been no time since man came to dwell upon this planet, as least within historic survey, that there have not been seers and seeresses. Though just as night and day, and summer and winter alternate, so there have been periods when the light has been bright and the voice clear, and then ages when the dark predominated, when the heavenly visitants were not seen, and the angel choirs were not heard.
See Altered State of Consciousness, ESP, Materialization, Asport, Rappings, Automatic Writing, Findhorn, Glastonbury Scripts, Theosophy, Psychic Archaeology, British Society for Psychical Research, Parapsychology, Poltergeist, Mystic Gifts and Charms - New Age Gift Shop & Wicca and Pagan Supplies, Love Spells -- Use these powerful love spells to help you find and keep your true love, The Tarot Store, The Chakra Store, Divination & Scrying Tools and Supplies, Unique Amulets, Talismans, Good Luck Charms, and Love Tokens, Powerful Witch Doctor Spell Kits, Powerful Spells - Cast by Andreika the Witch, Webmasters Make $$$, AzureGreen - Celebrating All Paths to the Divine, ISIS - Tools for Your Soul's Journey, and The Pyramid Collection - Myth, Magick, Fantasy and Romance.
Sources: (1) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (2) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (3) The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition Handy Volume Edition, Oxford University Press; (4) Shepard, Leslie A and Melton, J. Gordon (Editors), Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, Gale Group.
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