Thoughts on Spiritualism

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Thoughts on Spiritualism

Post by Admin on Wed May 28, 2008 6:26 am

This article is drawn from a talk which I gave at the New Age Spiritualist Mission in 2007.

It starts with a quote from Emma Hardinge Britten, (1823-1899), from a talk in 1860 only 12 years after the Hydesville rapping’s. Emma is described by many as perhaps the most renowned and respected advocate and proponent of Modern Spiritualism in the early days of the movement.

“Throughout history it has been known that, in addition to a physical body, there is a spiritual body. In every age, among all people, in every land and nation, the supernatural has played a part in human history. There is no period of human history which has not been illuminated by it.

Through all apparitional manifestations there is a common thread, which indicates that their cause is similar. Differences of supernatural phenomena have been observed in different lands and periods of time but these can be explained by the differences of manner, speech and habits of mankind.

The supernatural is the basis of religion, with inspirational revelations, angelic messages or spiritual apparitions giving evidence of the existence of a spiritual world. Inspiration of the artist, inventor, warrior, musician and scientist indicate that they had a link with the supernatural world. Today Spiritualism gives evidence of a spiritual world just as, in the past, supernatural occurrences indicated that a spiritual world exists.

In the Bible, Corinthians I, chapter 12, St. Paul explains that there are different spiritual gifts but all originate from God. Spiritualists believe the same.

In one age we call the action of the spiritual world, 'religion,' in another 'miracle,' in other ages 'magic,' 'witchcraft,' 'sorcery,' and generally 'the supernatural.' In all ages we see the same phenomena and effects. We can recognise a similar cause and method of production.

An aspect of supernatural history to consider is the peculiar characteristics of people who are strangely associated with the phenomena of this mystic world of power. These people are so closely linked as to suggest that their body, mind or spiritual natures are necessary for phenomena to occur. However, we cannot examine seers, prophets and the recipients of spiritual gifts in ancient times. Instead the abundant spiritual phenomena, from mediums in our own age, can provide evidence of the special nature of these people.

In starting our definition of spirit mediumship we have used the word supernatural but it is only popular ignorance that says that all this strange invisible power and intelligence is supernatural. Spiritualists know that the Universe is nature and that God's laws prevail everywhere, we recognise a spiritual world and spiritual existence, we know they all occur in line with God's natural laws.

There are three ways of explaining the Spiritualists' view, which is that a spiritual world exists and penetrates this material world. One explanation is that this view is a huge mistake or deliberate lie that has passed down through the ages. Another view is that all spiritual phenomena are miracles produced with the permission of God but occur outside the laws of nature. In other words, God has created spiritual and physical worlds and beings but he breaks his own natural laws, on special occasions and for special people and nations.

We will not discuss these first two explanations as we know that nature's laws are God's unchangeable laws. The third explanation, that of the Spiritualist, is that spiritual phenomena occur according to natural laws, even though those laws have yet to be proved by science.”



To any of you who are unaware of Emma a little background. Her mediumistic gifts embraced automatic and inspirational writing, psychometry, healing, prophecy, and inspirational speaking. She was best known for her very eloquent, inspiring, and informative inspirational addresses. They were given completely extempore, and the subject was generally chosen in the auditorium at the time of the address by a committee from the audience. Most historians agree that, as a propagandist for Spiritualism, she was unequalled for her zeal, commitment, and enthusiasm. She travelled for years, all over the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand, expounding the truths of Spiritualism and related areas of thought. Emma founded and for five years edited the paper Two Worlds in Manchester. She was also among the founders of the Theosophical Society in New York, in 1875. However, she soon severed her connections with Madame Blavatsky, who then controlled the movement, because she totally rejected Blavatsky’s ideas about Reincarnation, in particular Blavatsky (and even now Theosophy's) position that all mediums contacted was the Astral Remnant of the individual which would slowly dissipate. She wanted to establish a proper and formal "school of prophets" (training school for mediums). However this did not occur until the year after her death when in 1900, the Britten Memorial Institute and Library, was founded in Manchester, England.

One of her principle gifts to Modern Spiritualism was the 7 principles of Spiritualism which, while not actually delivered in a public lecture at Cleveland Hall, London, on Sunday, April 30th, 1871, as is too often reported, reached their final form through her work over many years.

Her quote referred to earlier evidence of Spiritualism but Modern Spiritualism is seen as starting with the first conscious attempt at communicating with Spirits, by the Fox sisters in 1848. Even then the ground had been prepared and the seeds already planted. The Poughkeepsie seer, Andrew Jackson Davis, was already well known and said on the day of the rapping’s “It begins.”

Before Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910) but seen as setting the scene for modern spiritualism was Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). One of the leading scientists of his day, He wrote 150 works in seventeen sciences. At the University of Uppsala he studied Greek, Latin and several other European languages. Swedenborg was a gifted clairvoyant who spent more than twenty years investigating the afterlife. He recorded that he was able to make contact with intelligences from the afterlife, writing several books about this including Heaven and Hell and Arcana Coelestia.

Davis, effectively a totally uneducated man, was a “Magnetic Medium” who attained his trance state by hypnotism, described then as mesmerism, in honour of the man who developed this skill. In this state AJD wrote the most amazing books, books that, among other things, some years before Darwin, contained a detailed accurate account of evolution. In this day and age his books are hard to read, much of his work is revelational but some parts remain hard to believe (indeed based on our current knowledge of the near planets, quite wrong).

Then we come to the unwilling mediums, the Fox Sisters and their experiences with the rapping’s at Hydesville in March 1848. There is clear proof that the Peddler who had been murdered in the Fox’s house generated these raps. As people tend to say the rest is history, a huge interest in Modern Spiritualism with millions involved within the next 5 years. The majority were, obviously, from conventional religion, seeking a better way to understand the events of life. The huge toll of human life in the American Civil War, repeated in the First World War had a major effect too.

The new movement giving proof of the continued existence of the Spirit drew thinkers, church ministers, theologians, scientists and ordinary people from all walks of life. The events coincided with a willingness to question the norms of both established religions and of society. The role of religion was being questioned by many, some of whom would have a profound effect upon our world. Karl Marx called religion the opium of the masses because the practitioners, many of whom came from a privileged background, used it as a way to get people to accept their lot in life without question. A better world awaited them after death and their current condition was pre ordained.

We were at a time of great change, many of the leaders of the movement represented radical viewpoints and  challenged conventional thinking. Emma Hardinge Britten, Cora Richmond, and many of its leading women were outspoken, indeed spiritualism was the first movement to empower women and give them an active voice. Although a controversial figure, who split the movement through her extreme views, especially on free love, Victoria Woodhull, leader of the American National Spiritualists organisation from 1871 to 1873, would print the first edition of Marx's manifesto in the USA through her newspaper company Claflin's Weekly. Spiritualism encompassed suffragettes, anti slavery advocates, and many radical but spiritual viewpoints. From its earliest days it always adopted an intellectual approach, looking rationally and discerningly at the phenomena and message from Spirit.

In many ways it was also a movement with ideas which tended to make it split apart, with different branches developing along the way. Early associations with the Rosicrucians were discarded, although Emma Hardinge Britten retained an interest this body and was seen as influential within the Society.  Allan Kardec founded his own movement, the Spiritists, still very active especially in the French, Latin American, Espanic/Portugese speaking world. In their movement, in healing, the work of John of God and previously Arigo the psychic surgeon with the rusty knife are rightly famous. Indeed in Brazil the movement encompasses many million people.

The Theosophist also split off with Madame Blavatsky and Leadbetter as the “Intellectual” element, embracing much of eastern theology. However, some of their ideas began to be incorporated into Spiritualism, bringing amongst others the inclusion of the chakra’s, auras and the endless reincarnation debate. However, the source of many of Theosophy's ideas has, all to often, never been properly challenged.

In many ways these ideas clouded the philosophies which were already forming in Modern Spiritualism and allowed much to be “acceptable “ that may not be in traditional Spiritualism. Indeed the advent of the “New Age” has seen many things tagged onto a Spiritualist base that have no place in it. Much of the modern idioms of Ascension, Ascended Masters, Indigo Children, “Kryon” channelling, past life regression,even OAHSPE and the Akashic records of Edgar Cayce have no place in the movement. In saying this it has to be acknowledged that many Spiritualists, or more particularly, attendees at Spiritualist Centres may like the ideas and include them in their personal model of a Spiritual Path.

Modern Spiritualism carries a simple message, in a natural way, which, if it is properly explained, is totally acceptable to a broad range of people from all walks of life. The only strangeness about it is coming to accept the truth of the continued existence of the spirit beyond death. There is no Cant, dogma or ritual necessary, it is not strange weird or kooky.

Our Spiritualist pioneers established clearly that we were a part of spirit. At the same time they went on to prove it, despite the evidence of attempts at fraud, the fine work of so many built a body of evidence which underpins the movement.  Then there are great books from for example Silver Birch, Arthur Findlay, Stainton Moses with many others as well. We have built a rich body of knowledge to refer to which is truly Spiritualist in content. Additionally we have the work of the NSAC, at Lily Dale, with their teaching organisations and that of the Spiritualist National Union in the UK with the Arthur Findlay College.


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Re: Thoughts on Spiritualism

Post by zerdini on Wed May 28, 2008 12:26 pm

One of her principle gifts to Modern Spiritualism was the 7 principles of Spiritualism delivered in a public lecture at Cleveland Hall, London, on Sunday, April 30th, 1871.

The printed copy from the Cleveland Hall lecture is substantial in length and covers the influence of
Spiritualism in the previous twenty-three years.

In delivering her four original principles Emma Hardinge Britten says:

I shall here speak briefly of the creed which is evolved from Spiritualism. I may not pause now upon the methods of evolution. You have heard some of them in the past discourses; you may apply those to the results which I now offer:

• I believe in God.
• I believe in the immortality of the human soul.
• I believe in right and wrong.
• 1 believe in the communion of spirits as ministering angels.

Each one of these statements is accompanied with a description and meaning and she continues:
These are some of the points of my creed, and all of them 1 have proved.

In a speech What Has Spiritualism Taught, and What Good Has It Done For Humanity, delivered at Oldham Spiritual Temple, in 1887, Emma Hardinge Britten covers the progress of what was termed ‘Modern Spiritualism’. The speech includes twelve points with the twelfth containing the following:

Spiritualists have no creed but may all unite in the following simple summary:

• I believe in the Fatherhood of God,
• The Brotherhood of Man,
• The Immortality of the soul,
• Personal Responsibility,
• Compensation and Retribution hereafter for all the good or evil deeds done here,
• And a path of eternal progress open to every human soul that wills to tread it by the path of eternal good.

We can see that by 1887, the original 1871 principles have been added to, updated and upgraded by Mrs Britten; and, I have no doubt, through personal experience of insight. If we now add the last principle from the original set given at Cleveland Hall in 1871,

• I believe in the communion of spirits as ministering angels

we have the complete basis of the Seven Principles.

It may be perceived by some however, that the basic principles of National Spiritualism can be found in part within the Ten Spiritual Commandments. I believe this perception to be taking the statements out of context and trying to fit them into an available slot.

To further exclude Robert Owen directly from the so-called Principle foundations, Mrs Britten concludes at her Oldham speech, And all these noble teachings have grown out of the grand work the spirits have effected since the year 1848!

And again, at the formation of the Spiritualists’ National Federation reported in The Two Worlds, July 25th 1890, after giving the summary of religious faith, the principles, as at Oldham, it was reaffirmed that the Principles were not given by one person but:

And as all this had been reiterated by beings in the actual experience of what they taught, through her own mediumship, and that of countless other independent sources...

Extracted from a published article by Spiritualist historian, Paul Gaunt.

Z

zerdini


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