• March 29, 2006 at 9:52 pm #1942

    This is a brief, brief run-down of Spiritualism, which was a popular religion during the game?s time period. I?m not getting into the history much after 1871, nor talking much about the early skeptics of this movement, though I encourage people to look into it if they?re interested in those aspects. If anyone is interest in more info or the possibility of your character being involved with starting a group somehow, please email me at LilyMAdam@gmail.com.

    Spiritualist Beliefs: Spiritualism can best be defined as a the belief that those that die survive in an afterlife and that we are capable of communicating with them still. During the Victorian Era there were many spiritualist churches, societies, and publications. Spiritualists were also known to be members of both the Unitarian and Universalist congregations (which at the time were separate groups) along with quite a few radical Quaker organizations.

    It wasn?t until 1871, when the Seven Principles of Spiritualism came into being. However, before that time, many people still believed in these general seven things regarding Spiritualism.

    The Principles are as follows:

    The Fatherhood of God – The belief that there is a force greater than humans that created the universe and life. The effects of this creation can be seen and shows that God manifests both directly and indirectly in all things. This is the acknowledgment that God is the father. It?s also important to note that while most Spiritualists were considered at this time to be Christians, many came out of the Unitarian groups, which believed that there was no Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) and that Christianity was the religion of Jesus Christ and not about Jesus Christ (Meaning that Jesus was a man to be learned from, but some would go so far as to say that he was no more the son of God than you and I.) Also, in many cases, the Spiritualists believed that Jesus was a very gifted medium and healer, which they were able to point out in the Bible, unlike the proof that there is a Trinity.

    The Brotherhood of Man – Because we are all God?s creations, we are one big, divine family and a brotherhood. This means that we must be a community to share joys and burdens, offering support and comfort to our fellow man. This is both on a material and spiritual level. It should be noted that many Spiritualists were involved in social reform for this reason.

    The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of AngelsThis is the biggest principle in Spiritualism, and no matter what, this is the one that must be believed in order to be considered a Spiritualist even before the other principles were ratified and popular. This is the belief that communication with departed spirits can and does take place. This can be done through mediumship, and shows that our loved ones take a great interest in our lives after they have died. There are also spirits (or more appropriately angels in this period of history) that come to us to help us develop our soul and see to our safety, along with teachings and healing.

    The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul – The Spirit is indestructible because it is part of God. When we die, our spirits continue on the world, but on a different dimension. It?s referred to as the Spirit World. In this world, we have a replica of the body that we had on Earth. We have the same personality, but we tend to care less about things like hate and jealousy. In this dimension, we learn more spiritual lessons.

    Personal Responsibility – Wrongful or ?bad? deeds and thoughts are those of the individual and not of divine forces (aka the Devil). It is not possible for another person, or outside influence, to interfere with our development spiritually, unless we allow for it to happen. No one can correct mistakes but those that have made them. This extends into emotional reactions to things. No person can make another person feel anything. We are given freewill. We are also given the ability to understand right from wrong.

    Compensation and Retribution Hereafter For All Good and Evil Deeds Done on Earth – The easiest way to explain this one is the Law of Cause and Effect, or what the Western idea of Karma is. We receive our rewards for good and punishments for bad on Earth and not in the Spirit World.

    Eternal Progress Open to Every Human Soul – All that wish to progress spiritually are able to. If we listen to our intuition and follow it, we will progress easily. If we do not listen, it?s going to be much, much harder.

    Spiritualist Services:

    Spiritualist services typically happened on Sundays. During the service there are hymns sung and a sermon (typically called a lecture) takes place. They also take collections. In many ways, Spiritualist services are just like any other religious service. However, after the lecture, the message service typically begins. This is where mediums are called up to give messages to the congregation. After all mediums have delivered their messages, there are more hymns sung and closing words or prayers are given.

    In many Spiritualist congregations there is also a healing service given. How this goes about is different from congregation to congregation. There may be laying-of-the hands in order to do individual healings, or in many cases there is a list for those that need physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual healing. If the latter is the case, the list is read to the congregation and said congregation focuses their thoughts towards each person in healing prayer.

    History of Spiritualism:
    On March 31, 1948, Kate and Margaret Fox of New York reported that they had contact with the spirit of a dead pedlar in their home that had been responsible for communicating through knocking in their home. This is considered by most to be the birth of Spiritualism, as the practice of things such as seances became a popular form of entertainment for Americans. It also turned out to be a very profitable business venture, and the Fox Sisters were able to support themselves.

    Cases of fraud existed with other mediums, and because of this, the use of physical evidence became popular. Despite this fraud, however, the movement of Spiritualism became increasingly popular, and soon even scientists, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Cooke, had been converted to the religion.

    By 1852 the craze moved into Great Britain by way of Mrs. Hayden, a Boston medium, and by 1853 the first Spiritualist Church was established in Yorkshire. Due to the strong influence of the Church of England, Spiritualism did not catch on quickly. However, once it did, it survived in the country more so than the United States up until modern times.

    In 1869 a committee appointed by the Dialectical Society investigated Spiritualism and reported most favorably on the movement. In 1871, Sir William Crookes reported on Spiritualism to the Royal Society. His findings were published in the Quarterly Journal of Science.

    During the 1870s Spiritualism was coming into great popularity and numerous societies and churches had been established, along with many different publications from these groups and individuals. By the early months of 1872 the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain (known then as the Marylebone Spiritualist Association) was founded in an attempt to bring together the scattered groups and solitary believers of Spiritualism.

    In 1871, Mrs Emma Hardinge Britten, a famous medium, communicated the basis of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism from the spirit of Robert Owen. These Principles would be adopted by Spiritualist worldwide in later years, and still hold up as the basis of Spiritualist beliefs.

    Other Resources:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritualism – General Wikipedia Entry on Spiritualism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritualist_Church – History of the Spiritualist Church of Great Britain on Wiki

    http://www.snu.org.uk – Spiritualist National Union (Founded in 1901)

    http://www.spiritualistassociation.org.uk/default.htm – Spiritualist Association of Great Britain (Founded on February 7, 1872)

    http://www.spiritualists.org/ – Spirit and Ghost Photography

    March 30, 2006 at 4:46 pm #2553

    Here are some photos from an exhibit at The Met a few months back on spiritualism. They're pretty neat.


    March 30, 2006 at 7:26 pm #2554

    Oh gosh, the fairy pictures were represented. The story behind those is just great. Thanks for sharing! I'd not seen some of those.

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