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What is Spiritualism?

Spiritualism is the belief one can interact with
the departed souls of the dead

The origins of modern spiritualism are usually traced back to events in Hydesville, New York State, in 1848, when two young sisters, Margaret and Kate Fox, appeared to be in contact with an independent intelligence which communicated with them by means of rapping noises, claiming to be a pedlar who had been murdered in the cellar of their house. Huge controversy continued to surround this episode, which nevertheless marked the beginning of a rapid spread and development of spiritualism.

Spiritualism is not easy to define and is probably best described as a movement rather than a religion. It is impossible to generalise about spiritualism, as if it were a single coherent movement or church, because there has been and still is a bewildering array of different groups and organisations, which call themselves spiritualist. These can vary and disagree enormously, particularly in their religious affiliations or lack of them. Some spiritualist organisations are specifically Christian, while others are humanistic and aggressively non-Christian. Controversy over whether spiritualism should see itself as Christian or not goes back a very long way.

Many spiritualist churches hold to 7 basic principles, which were derived not from any religious scriptures but from an early medium, Emma Hardinge Britten.


These are:

  1. The Fatherhood of God

  2. The Brotherhood of Man

  3. The Communion of Saints and Ministry of Angels

  4. Human survival of physical death

  5. Personal responsibility

  6. Compensation or retribution for good or evil deeds

  7. Eternal progress open to every soul

What all spiritualist organisations have in common is a belief that the spirits of the dead can hold communication with the living, through mediums and in other ways, and that after death we continue to live an individual, progressive, spiritual life in the hereafter.

So, whether or not spiritualism should be counted as a religion, it is certainly concerned with questions about the essential nature of human beings and of spirit, our spiritual progress and ultimate destiny and how the conduct of our lives here can supposedly affect our future experiences after death.

Some have argued that spiritualism is very much a part of accepted Christian tradition, claiming that the earliest Gospel records are full of psychical and spiritualistic goings-on, which reflect the original essential nature of early Christianity. Less controversially, spiritualism can be seen as compatible with most if not all religions. Believing that we survive death and can communicate with those who have died does not in itself constitute a religion, but can be an element in all kinds of belief systems and ideas about God.

Where spiritualism does come closer to being a religion is when it claims that spiritual wisdom can be revealed and transmitted by guides and higher spirits. However, that part of spiritualism does not have the same sort of backing of factual evidence that the more down-to-earth communications from friends and relatives can have, and it is that kind of evidence for the survival of personality that many have found highly convincing.

Spiritualism has had many famous supporters and converts, the best-known being Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who campaigned tirelessly to spread the message that we survive physical death. His History of Spiritualism (Psychic Press, 1926, and still in print) is a detailed and sympathetic account of the movement’s development.

Soul-Shift-Mark-Ireland-cover art

Soul Shift - Mark Ireland


Businessman Mark Ireland’s father was Richard Ireland, a deeply spiritual minister and renowned psychic and medium who counted Mae West among his famous clients. While he loved his father, Mark followed a more conventional path in pursuit of mainstream success—until the wrenching death of his youngest son. This unexpected tragedy plunges Mark into the spiritual world of psychics and mediums in a frantic attempt to communicate with the dead. His defences and pragmatic mindset begin to fade as he remembers premonitions on the day of his son’s death. He consults a number of well-known mediums and is struck by the remarkably accurate information their readings provide. Mark first meets with Allison Dubois, the subject of NBC’s hit show Medium, and later participates in a single-blind lab experiment with medium Laurie Campbell, filmed for a Discovery Channel feature. He then enters a new dimension of personal paranormal experience, as his own psychic awareness begins to unfold. This dramatic story of a father’s unbearable loss and his discovery of life after death offers hope to the bereaved and compelling evidence that death may not be the end.

Ghostly Glow

Spirituality &

Spiritual England-English-Meadow-by-Julia-Bakay
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