Although Emmanuell Swedeborg in Sweden in the 18th Century wrote through Spirit communication, the beginning of modern Spiritualism started in Hydesville, New York State, USA in 1848. This small hamlet of wooden houses was the home of the Fox family. At the time of the incidents the family consisted of father, mother, and two daughters by the names of Margaretta aged fourteen and Catherine aged eleven.
The Fox family had lived in the house for about a year when sounds were heard .These sounds consisted of rapping noises. The rap would be consistent with the knocking on the door but no one was there.
The noises continually increased in intensity. The children were at first frightened that they refused to sleep.Following a particulary violent night of noise making, Kate Fox shouted at the noise maker, "Mr Splitfoot do as I do" and she snapped her fingers.This was instantly answered. Every snap was echoed by a knock. This showed that the sounds had been created by an intelligent, independent force. Mrs Fox was amazed to discover that this unseen force could see as well as hear, for when Kate snapped her fingers without sound the rap still responded. It was not long before they managed to start to communicate and ask questions, this was done by using a simple code.It was discovered that the communicator was a pedlar by the name of Charles B. Rosna, he told them he was a Spirit and that he had been murdered at that house by the former occupier,and that he had been buried in the cellar ten feet deep(many years later human remains were discovered in the cellar).This incident was accepted as the first public Spirit communication as the townsfolk of Hydesville bore witness to many of the communications,as did others from outside of the town.The Fox sisters became well known and Spiritualism as we know it now, was born.
The rappings attracted the attention of eminent scientists and intellectuals in America and later from Britain, to which Spiritualism was brought by a Mrs Hayden, who was both persecuted and insulted by the English press and the church.
In spite of this her mediumship was defended by many public figures, including Robert Owen, a prominent Socialist reformer and one of the founders of the Co-operative Movement, who embraced Spiritualism after sittings with her, and also many other adherents were attracted to the cause. In 1853 the first Spiritualist Church was established in the British Isles by David Richmond at Keighley in Yorkshire (it still exists but sadly not in it's original building which was demolished many years ago), and the first Spiritualist newspaper in Britain, The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph, was published in 1855, also at Keighley. By the 1870s there were numerous Spiritualist societies and churches throughout the country.
In the latter part of the 19th. century, the various Spiritualist church bodies were finally brought together under one umbrella which later became the Spiritualist's National Union. The Union adopted 7 Principles to live by .These principles were given to Emma Hardinge-Britten, a leading exponent of Spiritualism ,through her mediumship, by the then late Robert Owen in Spirit. They are the following
1. The Fatherhood of God.
2. The Brotherhood of Man.
3. The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels.
4. The continuous existence of the human soul.
5. Personal responsibility.
6. Compensation and retribution hereafter for all the good and evil deeds done on earth.
7. Eternal progress open to every human soul.
When Spiritualism first came about, it was said to be a threat to Christianity. Why? Well because Spiritualism is not a set religion. It is about believing, and proving, life after death.It is about truth, love and serving mankind. Spiritualism is not about doctrines or creeds. Christianity is about 'only believe in what we say' ' believe as we do, for we are right'. Spiritualism is so different, you are encouraged to believe only what you feel is right for you. It encourages free will.
What is a Spiritualist Church?
When you enter a Spiritualist church it does not matter what religion you are.All are welcome.Spiritualism is all about love and proof of ever lasting life. The churches are always warm with love and you are always made to feel welcome.
What Happens in a Spiritualist Church?
In the church you do not have priests or vicars, you have a committee with a president. We do have Officiants and Ministers who are qualified to officiate at marriages, naming ceremonies and services of rememberance etc. Who are not based at any one particular church for such matters but travel from church to church in their area.
Most churches have two services a week. The Sunday meeting is more for worship and philosophy and includes as does the week-day a Mediumistic demonstration of clairvoyance/clairaudience/clairsentience (to demonstrate life after death), in both services you have prayers and healing thoughts sent out to where they are needed. An example of a Sunday service would be an opening hymn followed by prayers and healing thoughts, then a reading of perhaps some inspirational verse.The medium will then rise and give a philosophy talk which normally comes from his/her guides and helpers in the Spirit world, followed by a hymn.The Mediumship demonstration follows, giving the proof that we survive death. That is the time that our loved ones draw near to us with words of comfort, encouragement and inspiration.The service ends with a hymn and a prayer.
Why not go and see for yourself ?
(c) Keith Wilkinson 2003