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The Three Strands of Spiritualism Andrew Jackson Davis

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The Three Strands of Spiritualism Andrew Jackson Davis Empty The Three Strands of Spiritualism Andrew Jackson Davis

Post by Admin Sat Nov 21, 2009 11:33 pm

A while ago Lis wrote an article, for Psychic News (1st August 2009), about the various elements in Spiritualism from a modern perspective. This issue has been going on for a while. Andrew Jackson Davis was asked to address the New York Spiritualists for the 30th Anniversary of Spiritualism in March 1878 and his approach directly covered the issue. Whilst AJ Davis's influence and involvement in Spiritualism is not strongly noted in the UK in the USA he is seen as the Father of Spiritualism and was frequently found at the major events.

His talk is still relevant and enlightening in a number of ways. This version is from his second biography "Beyond the Valley" published in 1885
"I recollect those harsh affairs,
The morning bells that gave us panics;
I recollect the formal prayen
That seemed like lessons in Mechanics."

ON March 81, 1878, the Spiritualists of New York City, in common with the brethren ,in other localities, celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of Modern Spiritualism*. Among others the author made a brief addresss. In substance, corrected and extended (Admin for this book), I discoursed as follows:-
" Spiritualism is now engaged in making history. As a consequence, its external condition is elemental, incoherent, and exceedingly uncertain. It is so far without form and void,- at once substantial and shadowy,-both present and afar off, impressing the common mind that it is compounded of about equal parts of realities and imagination. And yet, looking at Spiritualism from my standpoint, it has already given definite and practical expression to the principles of natural selection. Not. only are there distinctly marked varieties and types of manifestations, but there is (at least to my mind) a strongly pronounced classification of the working advocates in the vineyard

*It should be remembered that the birth and the birthplace of Modern Spiritualismm, like the lowly and mysterious natal day and first locality of Primitive Christianity, are clothed In the unsearchable recesses of a heaven made garment of concealment. Spiritualism externally begins with "rappings" at Hydeaville, Wayne Co., N. Y.

of the New Dispenaation. And these events have come to pass, as it were, spontaneously.

"The great moral forces of faith and hope acquire augmentation by the additional knowledge of modern physical manifestations of life and happiness beyond the tomb. The facts of today reinstate the miracles of ancient times. The voice of an angel heard today gives tone and music and a delightful reality to every word spoken to the Prophets and Apostles.

"Amid the agitations of modern inspiration and thought there walk forth many most questionable shapes, and many subtile suggestions of possible doctrines. Under the quickening potencies of impersonal spiritual intercourse the deeps of life are sounded, and the marvellous elaborations of the mediumistic mind result in hypotheses the most extravagant and inconsistent. And they result, also, in dogmas the most irreconcilable with the laws and changeless order of the universe. But these thought-agitations must not  be  checked. The wildest vagary and the truest reality must be allowed to flow out together, and to mingle with the elements of the yet unformed body of Spiritualism.

" Spiritualism, of the materialistic type, controls the people in the churches as well as in the circles. It seeks the moat evanescent evidences. It depends upon omens of fortune; games of chance; streaks of luck; the benefits of faith; the working of supernatural miracles; and the vicarious atonement.

"Spiritualism of the spirit, on the other hand, gives a man wholly to himself. It maketh him free indeed It confers upon him or her the entire pressure of a self-cultured life. It loads him or her with the sublime responsibility of complete self-ownership. It impresses the precious weight of this new wealth into every atom of the private spiritual consciousness. It insists upon unswerving faithfulness to the divine right of self-possession.

"Among the family of religions, I regard Spiritualism of the spirit as the latest born and the best. It is charged with possibilities of great good to mankind. To my mind it is the true

basis of a perfectly Free Religion, and the sure forerunner of a New Republic.

"Of late a rather 'questionable' Magician has appeared in our literature. It is dramatic and slightly farcical. A mysterious magic wand has been waved at Spiritualism -waved to and fro, to and fro, round and round, upwards and upwards, now inwards, now outwards - until the great iron doors of perdition seemed about to shut against every chance for immortality. Sinful and brutalized humanity (it is said) become 'Elementary Spirits.' [Isis Unveiled, p, 30.] Which term means the disembodied souls of depraved human beings who have lost their chance of immortality.

"The law of natural selection gives the world a conspicuous leader of Magical Spiritualism in the person of Mme. Helen P. Blavatsky. She is mentally and metaphysically adapted to present and maintain the startling inaccuracies which constitute the foundations of this fascinating and pretentious movement. She waves her wand (metaphorically, in a large volume) over Earth, Air, Fire and Water,and lo! forth come gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, undines. [See Isis, voL 1, p. 29.] The Kabal¬ists call these 'elementals' the forces of nature which may be employed by the disembodied spirits, whether pure or impure, to produce all the phenomena in dark seances. 'The earthly elementaries • • • cunning, low, vindictive ••• are the Ieading stars on the great spiritual stage of materialization, which phenomena they perform with tbe help of the more intelligent of the elemental creatures.' [Isis vol 1, p. 29.] These elemental creatures were never human; but the 'elementaries' were once  human,- but now, having lost their personal immortality, they sustain the position of most abject servants  to the intelligent forces (the elements) who come like birds of prey out of Earth, Air, Fire and Water (1)
"Co-operating with this magnificently qualified leader, we behold a few persons not unknown to fame; and there are also two or three of great natural powers, and with mediumistic powers combined with accredited inspiration. You first observe

P. B. RandoIph,- the author of the Magnetic Mirror, The NewMola, The GhostlyLand, ece. He has departed for the 'better country,' but he left behind him a variety of affirmations in the line of Magical Spiritualism.

" Next you notice the positive and uncertain, but pugnacious, author of People of  the Other World, Henry S. Olcott, whose adoption and open advocacy of the metaphysical and magical dogmas of his queenly leader is tantamount to (the same in fact as) a complete repudiation of the spirit-origin of the materialization phenomena which he described as occurring at the Eddys' in the state of Vermont.

"It is impossible not to behold, also, in this direction, the talented and widely-popular author of Art-Magic, Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten. In her efforts to propagate Magical Spiritualism, we behold the illumination of her vigorous imaginative intellect.(1) White magic is presented in all its heavenly whiteness; and black magio is portrayed in all the lurid blackness of its alleged infernal origin. One volume of this .character with its apocraphal authorization would not suffice. The public appetite was calling for further researches into the mysteries of occult spiritism. To feed this hunger, the talented and too-accommodating lady produced 'Ghost Land,' with extracts from records of  'Magical Seances,' &c. But the unqualified assumptions of this school overweigh the plain probabilities. By the error of not properly fixing the ballast in the hold of this resurrected 'Flying Dutchman,' the first storm of criticism forced it over on beam end, and inasmuch as the ballast, with all the freight, has fallen dead to one side, the recovery of this craft known as Magical Spiritualism has passed beyond the bounds of possibility. (2)

((1) The play of the 'stranger' a mysterious being wbo Insisted that all the plates and engraving sbould be destroyed after 500 copies were  printed.
(2)Tbe above Criticism was made public in 1878. I remember that Mary, who was aIao participating in the proceedings at the anniversar,y made a poetic and conciliatory addre8e, In which she tried to extract the stinger from the"bee' that I had sent buzzing  among the sensitives. Mrs. Britten  herself was  not preaemt. But, evidently, tbe report reacbed her, for when (on Jan. 8th.1885) theNew York Herald made commendableto publish some  scandulous gossip concerning  me this distinguished authoress, seeing a good opportunity to deal me a staggering blow, addressed that  exempJary sheet as follows:-
"To the Editor of th Herald::
"In your issue of  this morning I notice an article headed I"Andrew Jaoksou Davis,' &c. Permit me, in justice to the millions of persons who in this country & throughout Europe bold the faith of SplrltualIsm, to state that Mr. A. J. Davls has never, to my knowledge, professed to be or allowed himself to bo called a 'Splrituallst.' On tbe contrary. durlng the twenty-five years that I have been eapged in publloly advocating splrltualism I have heard Mr. Davis from the rostrum, Iand read In his writings, repeated protests agalnst the attempt to confound the 'Harmonial Philosophy,' of whloh he was the reprasentatlve, wltb 'Splritualism,' whlcb he uniformly denounoed, Ignored, and frequently spoke of in terms of ridicule and insult. As I am one of those verySpiritualists whose faith Mr. Davis has treated with unmitigated con¬tempt, I submit that it is unjust to confound a belief whioh I and my associates hold in the highest reverance with the oplnlons or conduct of one wbo haa uniformly repudiated that bellef. I remain, not a 'Harmonial philoso¬pher,' but aI confirmed 'Spiritualist,' and yours very faithfully.
Emma Hardinge Britten 345 West Thirty•fourth Street, New York."  )

Notwithstanding the foregoing. frank avowal, I am constrained to say that I am not yet converted to Magical Spiritualism. Madame Blavataky and Prof. Olcott being also critically mentioned In my address are yet to be heard from.
"In Modem Spiritualism, then, there are two very marked tendencies - the gradual formation of two wings,- two forms of perceiving and expressing the new truth,-one Rationalistic, the other Christian. And by the law of natural selection, each body will eventually be surmounted with its true and most appropriate head. Spontaneously, and without the least personal seeking - without pre-arrangement and without premeditation -each movement may have ita natural LEADER. If nothing is said to touch the sensitive pride of 'individualized' minds, each will gladly join the army to which he is attracted by disposition, by education, and by the force of sympathy."

Having faithfully borne my testimony without the least feeling of animosity toward any living soul,- and especially toward our genial fellow-workers, entertaining only feelings of cordial respect and affection,- I concluded my address by reading the followIng synopsis of (1) wbat I do believe, and (2) what I do not believe: -
1. I believe in one absolutely perfect GOD,- both Father and Mother.
2. I believe that man, physically, was evolved from the ani¬mal kingdom.

8. I believe that man, spiritually, is a part of the Infinite Spirit.
4. I believe that every person is rewarded for goodness and punished for evil both in this world and in the next.
5. I believe in the universal triumph of Truth, Justice, and Love.
6. I believe in the immortality of every human mind; in a sensible communion between the peoples of earth and their rela¬tives in the Summer-Land, and in the eternity of the true marriage.
7. I believe in the principles of eternal Association, Progres¬sion, and Development.
1. I do not believe in the orthodox scheme of salvation or damnation,- that is, I do not believe in "original sin," "atone¬ment," "faith," and "regeneration."
2. I do not believe in the identity of modern Spiritualism and primitive Christianity.
.3. I do not believe in the identity of modern Spiritualism and ancient magic.
4. I do not believe in libertinism.
5. I do not believe in the existence of either elemental or elementary spirits, nor in the existence of anything essentially evil.
6. I do not believe in re-incarnation, nor that any foreign spirit Can displace, or occupy the seat of, the mind of any living man.
7. I do not promise to believe tomorrow exactly what I believe today, and I do not believe today exactly what I believed yesterday. I expect to make, as I have made, some honest progress within every succeeding twenty-four hours.

Last edited by Admin on Thu Aug 18, 2022 3:23 am; edited 3 times in total

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Post by Admin Sun Nov 22, 2009 12:18 am

Hi All,

One of the first points we see is his discussion of two natural strands in Spiritualism the Rational strand (where it almost seemed this talk was suggesting he was the natural leader) and a Christian Strand.

In reality that is what happened isn't it the NSAC and SNU became the rational strand and the Greater World (particularly in the UK) the Christian strand. The common ground the eternal survival of the human spirit.

In essence the magical strand became Theosophy and has no relationship to Spiritualism, except that it is quite normal to see a close association between the two. My personal opinion from watching the works of Madam Blavatsky is there can really be no obvious relationship because, for example, the views of the evolution of the Spirit after death are so different. Not to mention the ascended masters, ranks of angels etc etc. Indeed whilst Spiritualism is often seen as the founder of the New Age it is only that through Mediumship and the sadly closely associated Psychic Readers (the latter more truthfully come from the fortune tellers of old not Spiritualism). the vast majority of the adopted ideas in the New Age come from Theosophical concepts and their development through the years.

We do see the comments about Emma Hardinge Britten and her two "magical" books. Well EHB had a long involvement with the occult from back pre 1848 as a young mesmeric clairvoyant in the Orphic Circle. She was close to Blavatsky and the founding of Theosophy. Her split came when Blavatsky declared that the spirits Mediums connected to were the lower level astral remnant that dispersed over time. Clearly EHB moved on to be one of the leaders of the rational elements of Spiritualism, having a major influence on the development of it in the UK. Interestingly in the reported 1885 letter to the New York Herald we see the seeds of why AJD is not as strongly acknowledged in the UK.

However, this magical stream still exists because the concepts and ideas of theosophy and the new age blend back into many Spiritualist centres. Indeed there are many places where they believe it is only these ideas that can draw people, so Spiritualism must embrace an all encompassing approach to survive, even if what survives has little relationship to Spiritualism. Indeed a look at the program for even the Lily Dale summer camp will make you wonder where you will find any events directly related to Spiritualism. It is fine to pack a program to draw folks but then you need to educate them.

Clearly the very nature of enquirers along our pathway and even people who are Spiritualists is to explore all of the new ideas. Indeed some may be valid and worth consideration and discussion. However it does not mean that the simple truth of Spiritualism should not be the focus of Spiritualist Centres.

Clearly though it has and you will find a strong New Age influence in some centres both on the "rational" and the Christian sides of Spiritualism.

Then we have the two strands to contend with, where the overlap between ideas can be quite broad, almost high church through to non religous. Is it any wonder people come away confused especially if it is compounded by poor talks, no information about whhat Spiritualism is and poor Mediumship.

My own approach is close to Arthur Findlays "Rock of Truth" which highlight the problems of the traditional Church and the factual inadequacies of the Bible whist strongly espousing, in a rational way, the values of the Seven Principles and Spiritualism it is no wonder that the conventional Christians were less than happy when this book was published.


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Post by Admin Sun Nov 22, 2009 2:18 am

Of course, with due apologies to them this ignores the other major group the Spiritists founded by Allan Kardec and numerically the largest with a wonderfully vibrant community in Brazil.

Not having attended one of their centres I really have few insights to offer into that movement, except what anyone may access from the web. Several Centres and the Allan Kardec organisation itself have very good websites. In addition they have a wide range of the key books available for free download on many of these sites.

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Post by Martin T Sun Nov 22, 2009 11:23 am

Thanks for this interesting article Jim - it certainly gives us an insight into the evolution of Spiritualism.

Martin T

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