What is Spiritualism?
Spiritualism means many things to many people to some it is a philosophy, to some a religion, to some the science behind mediumship and evidence of life after death along with the natural laws of cause and effect, to some it is the life long study and attainment of spiritual wisdom.
Whatever Spiritualism may come to mean or be defined as by any individual, it is fundamentally a journey of unfolding one’s own spirituality with the aim of bringing about a transformation of the individual's spiritual qualities, morals and ethics for the betterment of self and to the benefit of all in this life.
We aim to provide opportunities for anyone to begin their investigation and study of Spiritualism and to consider its implications in all matters of the spirit here and now as well as the hereafter.
The Nature of Spiritualist Philosophy...
It is through personal interpretation and understanding of any spiritual philosophy and how it is expressed by living it that shapes the individual spiritually and guides their decisions in how they chose to interact with everyone and everything of the material and non-material worlds.
Spiritualism helps to provide a personal philosophy for every Spiritualist, each continuously progressing and growing in their understanding and interpretation resulting in the consideration of many diverse views. However, in essence the underpinning ideas come from the same source of universal understanding, and within the Spiritualist framework it is based on the 7 Principles of Spiritualism.
It is the acceptance of this diversity that makes Spiritualism free from creed or dogma as a religious philosophy. Though we choose to set down the principles behind Spiritualism, they are not seen as binding they are just a foundation for that journey of understanding.
It is by applying personal philosophy in all compartments of day to day living and by progressing and learning through life’s experiences that Spiritualism becomes a living personal philosophy.
The Nature of Spiritualism as a religion...
Spiritualism is a religion that embodies the main ideas of all religions, that there is a life after death, immortality and the existence of a God.
"The aim of Spiritualism is to effect an at-one-ment and unison of Humanity with God until every action and thought of Humanity is in perfect harmony with the Divine Will."
(Adapted from the Spiritualists' Lyceum Manual)
One difference between Spiritualism and other religions is the acceptance of the ability, through mediumship, to offer evidence of spirit communication to a recipient and in doing so demonstrate that people survive physical death. The individual may decide if they have received sufficient evidence to give them personal proof that people survive death as individuals in Spirit. Where personally proven it provides conclusive evidence of the 4th Principle, 'The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul'.
Mediumship and the evidence is just the key to a door to encourage further study and understanding, the message is not the goal of Spiritualism. It is what an individual chooses to do with that key once they have it, once they accept that we survive death and continue on in the unbroken cycle of eternal life of spirit that forms the purpose of Spiritualism.
Spiritualism becomes the study of this earthly life's purpose as Spirit here and now and as such empowers anyone to take charge of the development of their own Spirituality, continually aiming to progress and live life with a fuller understanding and a greater learning experience for the Spirit.
Spiritualism is a universal religion, one focus of which is embodied in our 5th Principle, 'Personal Responsibility'. It is by our own free will we may chose to live a better life here and now reflected by how we live. It is by our own will and choices in how we act react and interact with everyone and everything that we must each be solely responsible and accountable. In understanding and accepting this, we accept our 6th Principle of 'Compensation and Retribution' encompassing the universal and natural law of cause and effect.
It is through personal experience and expression by the study, consideration and application of the many aspects of the religion, philosophy and science of Spiritualism that the Spiritualist gains understanding and Spiritual growth. No one person has all the answers and Spiritualism becomes a continual personal religion to be lived, to nurture and enlighten the Spirit within us, here and now.
How is Spiritualism a Science?
Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
This study may lead to finding the cause and the effect of the nature of the experiments which support a real and rational conclusion through evidence. The conclusions reached may not be final and must remain open to the light of new evidence, which may compound or disprove the theory. This is true of all sciences. Therefore Spiritualism in its’ scientific aspect is open to continuous research in all areas.
Applying logical thought and reason to Spiritualism helps us to realise that there is a Science at work. It is a science in which we can all take part by giving consideration in the simplest of terms, or by more complex study.
Everything that occurs operates within ‘Natural Law’. In terms of observing and considering anything that happens we can be sure of two things, there will be a ‘cause’ that creates an ‘effect’. Natural laws apply to everything, including, the non-physical attributes of our selves. Our mind, thoughts and emotions can cause us to act and react in words or actions and may, for example, have an effect on others. It can be seen that ‘a cause’ results in ‘an effect’, and that effect can be the cause of another occurrence and another effect, and so on. This helps us realise that Natural Laws control everything that happens and that spirit communication is not dependant on religion or philosophy. Mediumship is a science with controls (natural laws) that determine how the information is transferred and the process is repeatable, providing evidence of survival of the person’s intelligence beyond physical death.
The word Psyche is from the Greek language meaning ‘Soul’, hence Psychic is ‘of the Soul’. We, as physical beings, have a soul so we all have psychic abilities to some degree, however, it must be borne in mind that our abilities vary across many activities. A psychic can sense and interpret information about a person or object, but cannot, communicate with the Spirit World.
Mediumship is the transfer of information from the spirit of a deceased person via a medium to a recipient. A medium is psychic but is also capable of communicating with people in the Spirit World through the further development of their psychic faculties. Communication with the Spirit World using mediumship is a means of enabling Spirit People, some of whom are our family and friends, to communicate with us to ensure us that they:
Have survived physical death,
Have retained their personality, character, mind, memories, etc.
Have continued to learn and develop in the Spirit World
Mediums cannot call up a particular Spirit person to communicate with us because, like ourselves, they can choose whether to communicate or not. Mediums do not all develop every form of Mediumship. Each medium’s abilities and qualities vary, because everyone is individual in their personal attributes.
Mental Mediumship involves the medium perceiving information via their psychic senses from a spirit person. This can manifest in several ways; they may receive visual (clairvoyance), auditory (clairaudience) or sensory information (clairsentience) including smell or taste. On occasion mediums simply know something by virtue of the information having been received in their mind without any form of sensory manifestation.
Spiritual Healing involves the use of healing energies being directed by Spirit people, via a medium, to assist a physical person to become healthier at all levels of being.
Physical mediumship is the ability of the Spirit people utilising the energy of a medium and others present, to create effects that can be witnessed by everyone present, whether they are mediumistic or not. This type of mediumship was much researched in the 19th century by various people, including eminent scientists such as Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Fletcher Barrett and Sir William Crookes. The experiments that they carried out with mediums convinced them of the authenticity of the phenomena.
In January 1991, A group comprising seven scientists, who were psychical researchers, and seven mediums was set up as a research group. It was titled Psychical Research Involving Selected Mediums (PRISM), and the research group was named ‘Council of PRISM).
The group developed and carried out a series of scientific experiments under strict protocol to determine the amount of information given by mediums to recipients being acceptable or not, with regulated requirements in place concerning the mediums and audience. Statistical analysis showed that the ‘intended recipients’ acceptance levels were higher than non recipients, the odds against chance being a million to one.
PRISM maintain they have a repeatable experiment, providing the protocol is adhered to and good mediums are used. Their results were submitted to the Society for Psychical Research, and were published in their journal (JSPR) contained in the following papers:
Paper 1 is in JSPR volume 65.2 number 863
“A preliminary study of the acceptance by non-recipients of mediums statement to recipients.”
Paper 2 is in JSPR volume 65.3 number 864
“A double blind procedure for assessing the relevance of a medium’s statements to a recipient.”
Paper 3 is in JSPR volume 68.1, number 874
“Results of the application of the Robertson-Roy protocol to a series of experiments with mediums.”
Visit the SPR Website.
21st Century thoughts:
Modern scientific theory continues to expand and encompass more that just the physical aspects of our Universe. It has moved from looking at the origins and vastness of our Universe to looking at the smallest particles that hold our physical world together through the scientific principles of 'Quantum Theory'. Today there are many who see answers to the unseen worlds and the 'divine' natural law present in the resulting research and equally those who would disagree with the 'divine' presence and express it merely as natural law.
Science and Religion may always be uncomfortable bed fellows and for the Spiritualist, we accept that we will one day have some further answers and evidence, may be not in this phase of life but certainly at some point in the next.
Origins - Ancient Spiritualism:
The belief in, and practice of communication with, spirits has existed in all nations. Spiritual phenomenon has occurred throughout human history, with people being entranced, inspired and influenced by spirit intelligences. During moments of ecstasy, in dreams, reveries, drug induced states and deep meditations people have experienced spirit awareness. In fact, mankind’s history, literature, folk law and fairytales are full of mystical spiritual beings both good and bad.
In ancient times, primitive man had no doubt that his ancestors survived death and ancestor-worship was a form of religion. Some people had psychic abilities, similar to modern mediums, and were aware of psychic forces the spirit world, and could communicated with spirit peoples.
The Greeks consulted oracles and the Egyptians and Romans practised fortune-telling and prophecy to obtain guidance from the gods. Even today some cultures have their witch-doctors and shamans, who invoke the powers of the spirit for healing and giving guidance.
Christianity & Spiritualism:
The Christian Church was founded on spirit communication and phenomena that could be described as mediumship. Throughout the bible are many examples of spiritual happenings, inspirational speech, speaking in other languages, spiritual voices, and angel messengers foretelling the coming of prophets. Many Spiritualists believe that Jesus had an exceptional psychic and mediumship ability as illustrated in the reports of his healing powers, inspired teachings, the transfiguration, and the many so-called ‘miracles’ that occurred in his presence. After his death, Jesus was seen and heard by his followers and it seems that mediumship played an important part in the spreading of the new religion.
However, in the 4th century, Christian leaders decided that the use of psychic and mediumship abilities was wrong unless performed by the Christian priesthood. All others who demonstrated spiritual abilities were denounced as ‘false prophets’, evil sorcerers, heretics and were liable to punishment.
In 1484 the Pope strongly denounced mediums. The Church also sanctioned the publication of a book entitled, Malleus Maleficarum or ‘Hammer of the Witches,’ that described all people who communicated with spirits as witches and stated that they should be severely punished. After this, there was a long period of persecution where people suspected of using psychic abilities were in danger of trial, torture and execution. During these times some mediums were put to death by the church-sanctioned ‘witch-hunters’.
In the 18th century a Swedish scientist and astronomer, Emmanuel Swedenborg, became well-known for his philosophical writings that, he claimed, were received from spirit teachers and inspirers.
We move then into the 19th Century as 'Modern Spiritualism' made it's way from America to the United Kingdom and across Europe and around the World where the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis set the foundation. A J Davis claimed that spirit communication from Emmanuel Swedenborg (who died in 1772) contributed to his vast literary works.