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Spiritualism

Spiritualism

Modern Spiritualism began in the late winter months of 1847 with the mysterious knocking and window rattling at the John Fox residence in Hydesville, New York. Fox spent an entire day securing everything that looked as if it might shake or vibrate, only to have the night resound with even louder knockings and rappings. After a time, the Fox family began to observe that the center of the disturbances seemed to be the bedroom shared by 12-year-old Catherine (Katie) and 15-year-old Margaretta (Maggie).

One night in March 1848, when John Fox was once again attempting to discover a cause for the rappings, the family was startled to hear mysterious sounds imitating those that their father was making as he went hammering about the room. Katie excitedly challenged the unseen presence, which she laughingly personified as "Old Splitfoot," to follow the snappings of her fingers. When the sounds responded in a precise manner, other members of the family began to test the mysterious invisible agency.

As word spread that the John Fox family had a knocking ghost that could respond to any question answerable with a "yes" or "no" (one rap for yes; two for no), people from all over Hydesville came to test the spirit's knowledge. Although the invisible agency responsible for the initial knockings claimed to be the spirit of a peddler who had been murdered and buried in the basement of the Fox home (some accounts have it that investigation produced a skeleton interred in the basement), other spirit entities soon manifested themselves. Young Katie and her older sister Maggie seemed especially suited for the role of medium, for they seemed pleased and excited by the phenomena and did not appear to fear the invisible communicators as did the other Fox children. Serious investigators who were attracted to the phenomena soon worked out codes whereby in-depth communication with the spirits might be possible. Committees of researchers tracked through the Fox home and did considerable knocking and rapping of their own.

In order to give their parents a respite from the knocking spirits and the crowds of the curious, Katie and Maggie were sent to their older sister Leah's home in Rochester, New York. It was soon apparent that the spirits had followed them, and Leah encouraged her sisters to hold seances to contact other entities. When these initial attempts at spirit contact proved successful, Leah arranged for Maggie and Katie to give a public demonstration of the spiritistic phenomena, which brought an audience of 400. According to witnesses, the spirit knockings did not seem confined to the stage, but rapped from numerous areas in the hall.

After they had played to that enraptured audience in Rochester, it seemed clear to Leah that the spirits were telling her that she should act as a manager for Maggie and Katie and arrange demonstrations in other cities. Following her other-worldly guidance, Leah set up a tour that made her sisters a sensation wherever they appeared. Soon the two young girls were being routinely hailed as modern prophets or as frauds and deceivers, depending upon the biases of the witnesses. Maggie and Katie were examined by scientific investigators on both sides of the Atlantic and were "exposed" when they purportedly confessed that they produced the knocks and raps by cracking their toe joints. In the skeptic's casebook, this has become the accepted disclaimer for the phenomena produced by the Fox sisters.

Official cynicism had little effect on the budding Spiritualist movement, however. Some authorities fix the membership of the Spiritualist church as nearly two million by the height of the American Civil War in 1864. This seems high when one notes that the total population of the United States at this time was about 30 million. (The Spiritualist church todayInternational General Assembly of Spiritualists, National Spiritual Alliance of the U.S.A., and Nationalist Spiritualist Association of Churchesnumbers about 200,000 members.) In the second half of the nineteenth century, though, several important Americans were either members of a Spiritualist church or were in sympathy with its philosophy of spirit contact. Shortly after Abraham Lincoln's (18091865) election to the presidency, Cleveland's Plain Dealer dealt the president-elect some harsh criticism for having "consulted spooks." Lincoln's honest reply was that the only falsehood in the story was that "the half of it has not been told. The article does not begin to tell of the wonderful things I have witnessed."

Lincoln made no secret of having consulted backwoods "granny women" in his youth, and once he moved to Washington, D.C., he invited some of the most noted mediums of the day to conduct seances in the White House. Lincoln had received a strong spiritual heritage from his mother, and he had been reared in an atmosphere in which one did not reject advice from "the other side." Although Lincoln never became dependent upon mediums to guide his administration, he was by no means a skeptic, and he stated that spirit messages had enabled him to survive crisis after crisis during his presidency. The president became so outspoken in praise of the guidance he received from the spirit world that it is said that it was Lincoln's influence that prompted Union general Ulysses S. Grant (18221885) to turn to Spiritualism.

In December of 1862, when the Union cause was on the brink of defeat, Lincoln was under great pressure from all sides to drop the rigid enforcement of the forthcoming Emancipation Proclamation. Mary Lincoln, aware of the terrible strain on her husband, called several trusted individuals together in the Red Parlor and called for one of the president's favorite mediums, Nettie Colburn (b. ca. 1841), to conduct a seance.

The medium went into trance and her spirit control spoke of matters which only the president seemed to understand. Then the entranced Nettie Colburn's spirit control charged President Lincoln not to compromise the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation, but resolutely to carry out all the implications of the announcement he had made.

When the medium came out of the trance, she found the president looking soberly at her. One of the gentlemen present asked Lincoln if he had recognized anything about the voice and the message of the delivery. Nettie Colburn recalled later that the president "raised himself as if shaking off a spell," then glanced at the full-length portrait of Daniel Webster that hung over the piano. "Yes," the president admitted, "and it is very singular, very."

In his Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (1975), Alfred Russell Wallace writes that the hypothesis of Spiritualism is the only one that can at all commend itself to the modern philosophical mind. "The main doctrines of this religion are: That after death man's spirit survives in an ethereal body, gifted with new powers, but mentally and morally the same individual as when clothed in flesh. That he commences from that moment a course of apparently endless progression, which is rapid just in proportion as his mental and moral faculties are cultivated when on earth. That his comparative happiness or misery will depend entirely upon himself.Neither punishments nor rewards are meted out by an external power, but each one's condition is the natural and inevitable sequence of his condition here."

Spiritualists contend that they have proof of survival after death and the existence of an afterlife that other churches only promise on faith. Many orthodox clergypersons do not deny the occurrence of genuine spiritual phenomena, but they are in sharp disagreement with Spiritualists as to the source of the manifestations. Some of the disagreement stems from the accusation that Spiritualism may be treading dangerously close to demonology. Religious orthodoxy, which believes survival after death to be assured, holds that contact with departed mortals cannot be established and warns that those who attempt to establish communication with the dead may find themselves involved with deceptive evil spirits. The oft-quoted allegation that Spiritualists consort with demons goes a long way toward preventing any sort of ecumenical movement between Spiritualists and the conventional religious groups from developing.

In an effort to clarify their theological position, the National Spiritualist Association adopted these following definitions of its belief in October 1914:

  1. Spiritualism is the science, philosophy, and religion of a continuous life, based on the demonstrated fact of communication, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the spirit world.
  2. A spiritualist is one who believes, as the basis of his or her religion, in the communication between this and the spirit world by means of mediumship, and who endeavors to mold his or her character and conduct in accordance with the highest teaching derived from such communication.
  3. A medium is one whose organism is sensitive to vibrations from the spirit world and through whose instrumentality intelligences in that world are able to convey messages and produce the phenomena of spiritualism.
  4. A spiritualist healer is one who, either through his own inherent powers or through his mediumship, is able to impart vital, curative force to pathologic conditions.

"Spiritualism is a science" because it investigates, analyzes, and classifies facts and manifestations demonstrated from the spirit side of life.

"Spiritualism is a philosophy" because it studies the laws of nature both on the seen and unseen sides of life and bases its conclusions upon present observed facts. It accepts statements of observed facts of past ages and conclusions drawn therefrom, when sustained by reason and by results of observed facts of the present day.

"Spiritualism is a religion" because it strives to understand and to comply with the physical, mental, and spiritual laws of nature, which are the laws of God.


Delving Deeper

Barbanell, Maurice. This Is Spiritualism. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1959.

Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism. New York: Pocket Books, 1972.

Moore, R. Laurence. In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism, Parapsychology and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Moore, Raymond C., and Paul Perry. Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones. New York: Villard Books, 1993.

Mysteries of the Unknown: Spirit Summonings. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1989.

Post, Eric G. Communicating with the Beyond. New York: Atlantic Publishing, 1946.


Andrew Jackson Davis (18261910)

Andrew Jackson Davis is often referred to as the "John the Baptist" of modern Spiritualism, for he preached the advent of spirit communication in the United States with an evangelical fervor. Davis grew up in extreme poverty in Blooming Grove, New York, a small hamlet along the Hudson River, the only son in a family of six. His mother was illiterate, but highly religious, and quite likely encouraged her frail, nervous son to receive visions and to hear voices early in life. Davis's father was afflicted with alcoholism and barely managed to provide any sustenance for his family in his trade as a weaver and shoemaker. Only one of the family's five daughters survived to adulthood.

When he was 12, Davis's clairvoyant impressions and spirit voices manifested convincingly enough to persuade his father to move the family to Poughkeepsie. Five years later, in 1843, Davis attended a demonstration on mesmerism conducted by Dr. J. Stanley Grimes. Mesmerism, usually defined as an old-fashioned term for hypnotism, developed out of the theories of certain physicians in the sixteenth century that humans could project and control their animal magnetism, sometimes inducing trance states in themselves or in others. In the 1760s, Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (17341815) began healing patients with what he believed was the result of animal magnetism's effect on a kind of "universal fluid" that flowed between the stars, the human body, and everything on the planet, but which today would likely to be attributed to light trance states and the power of suggestion.

With Davis's childhood experiences of hearing spirit voices, it is not surprising that he was found to be a good subject by a local tailor named William Levingston, who had decided to experiment with mesmerism on his own. Once Davis had entered an altered state of consciousness, he seemed to have the ability to see through the human body and to diagnose the cause of illnesses and medical disorders. Within a short period of time, Andrew Jackson Davis was being proclaimed as the "Poughkeepsie Seer." Men and women were coming from miles around to draw from his magnetic powers, and Levingston abandoned his tailor shop to devote all of his time to overseeing Davis's healing ministry.

On the evening of March 6, 1844, Davis experienced a life-altering event that would direct the course of his personal destiny. All he claimed to remember was being overcome by some power that made him feel as though he were literally flying through the air. When he regained consciousness the next morning, he found himself in the Catskill Mountains, 40 miles away from Poughkeepsie. Had the spirits transported him through the air and deposited him there in the mountains? Or had he walked 40 miles in one evening while in a trance? And why did he suddenly awaken to find himself in this particular spot?

While Davis claimed never to learn the answer as to how he got to that particular setting in the Catskills, he soon learned the reason why. He said that first the spirit of the Greek philosopher Galen (129 c.e.c. 199c.e.) materialized before him, then the spirit of the Swedish seer Emanuel Swedenborg (16881772), both of whom provided him with mental illumination and spiritual revelation. From that day onward, Andrew Jackson Davis set forth on an extensive lecture schedule, proclaiming the advent of spirit communication for humans everywhere. He claimed a great cosmic doorway was being opened, and ministers from the spirit world would soon be making themselves available for contact with those individuals who wished to gain from their wisdom and inspiration.

While on tour, Davis met Dr. S. Silas Lyons, an experienced mesmerist, who was able to induce a deep trance state in the Poughkeepsie seer. In November of 1845, with Lyons as the mesmerist, Davis as the prophetic voice, and Reverend William Fishbough as the stenographer, dictation was begun on The Principles of Nature: Her Divine Revelations and a Voice to Mankind. The process lasted for 15 months, and often small crowds of enthusiastic men and women, including such luminaries as American writer Edgar Allan Poe (18091849), bore witness to the words as they poured forth from the entranced Davis.

In 1847, the book was published and was received eagerly by a public seeking new revelations from a modern prophet. Although some critics pointed out many similarities to the writings of Swedenborg concerning creation, philosophy, and religion, Davis' champions replied that the seer was a man of modest education who had never read the works of the great Swedish mystic. Davis had, in fact, only five months of formal schooling. However, there should be little mystery if the Principles of Nature contained echoes of Swedenborg, for it was his spirit who had manifested with Galen to inspire Davis. Due to the success of his book, Davis began issuing Univercoelum, a periodical which was published from 1847 to 1849 and was devoted to clairvoyance, trance phenomena, and his Harmonial Philosophy.

On March 31, 1848, it is said that Davis predicted the coming of modern Spiritualism when he reported that he had awakened that morning hearing a voice telling him that the good work had begun: "About daylight this morning a warm breathing passed over my face, and I heard a voice, tender and strong, saying, 'Brother, the good work has begun. Behold, a living demonstration is born.' I was left wondering what could be meant by such a message." Although Davis and his followers would not ally themselves with the Spiritualist cause until 1850, it would often be pointed out that the Fox sisters first challenged "old Splitfoot" on March 31, 1848, and that the "voice, tender and strong," had obviously been referring to their "living demonstration" of spirit communication.

In July 1848, after creating a bit of scandal for the conservative times, Andrew Jackson Davis married Catherine Dodge, a wealthy heiress, who was 20 years his senior. Their union was unhappy and brief, and she died in 1853, leaving her estate to Davis. Davis continued to lecture and teach his Harmonial Philosophy for many years. At the age of 60, he acquired a medical degree, but soon thereafter he retired to Boston, where he ran a bookshop and prescribed herbal remedies to his patients. Andrew Jackson Davis died amidst his books and herbs in 1910, a quiet ending to the full life of the "John the Baptist" of the Spiritualist movement.


Delving Deeper

Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism. New York: Pocket Books, 1972.

Fodor, Nandor. An Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1966.

. These Mysterious People. London: Rider & Co., 1936.

Moore, R. Laurence. In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism, Parapsychology and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18591930)

When many first learn that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mystery series, was fascinated with psychical research and an investigation of life after death, they make the immediate assumption that he may well have been allied with the likes of the great magician Harry Houdini (18741926) (especially when it is learned that the two men were friends), devoting his intellect and his experience to exposing fraudulent spirit mediums. They may visualize the author much like Holmes, his famous fictional detective, unveiling the trickery by which a charismatic, but phony, medium has deceived the unwary, then climaxing his explanation of the deception with the casual utterance of, "elementary, my dear Watson." In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Doyle was an ardent believer in the reality of spirit communication, and he became such a missionary for Spiritualism that he came to be known as the "St. Paul" of the movement. While Holmes, the quintessential proponent of deduction, and his creator did not share the tendencies to be unfailingly skeptical, extremely rational, and shrewd, there were other aspects of the fictional detective which did manifest in Doyle. Arthur Conan Doyle was tall, upper-class, thoroughly English, self-confident, and successful at his chosen profession, which, like that of Holmes's loyal associate, Dr. Watson, was the practice of medicine.

Doyle was first invited to witness mediumistic phenomena while he was a physician at Southsea in 1885. For the next three years, he participated in a number of sittings in the home of one of his patients, who was a teacher at the Greenwich Naval College. The medium at the center of these experiments was a railway signalman who seemed capable of producing a wide range of astonishing phenomena. So astonishing, that Doyle, the young man of science and medicine, eventually concluded that the man was occasionally faking the manifestations, and that the other sitters either chose to ignore the trickery in the hope that more genuine phenomena would manifestor else were too gullible or too eager to accept the miraculous to protest.

While his early encounters with mediumship were not greatly impressive, Doyle's interest in exploring the unknown was stirred, and he joined the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) shortly thereafter. In 1902 he met Sir Oliver Lodge (18511940), and the experiences and research of this highly respected scientist had a great impact upon him. Doyle became convinced that telepathy was a genuine phenomenon that could also account for a great deal of apparent mediumistic knowledge of the deceased. Perhaps, he theorized, the medium was picking up thoughts about the dead from the various sitters in the seance circle who had lost loved ones. During the same period of time, Doyle read Fredric W. H. Myers 's (18431901) Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903), which had a great effect on his acceptance of mediumship and spirit communication.

In 1916, after 30 years of intense study, Doyle accepted the phenomena of Spiritualism as genuine. He was 58, at the height of his literary career, and filled with self-confidence, so he openly associated himself with the cause of modern Spiritualism in two books, The New Revelation (1918) and The Vital Message (1919). In that same year, with World War I creating turmoil in both the physical and spiritual worlds, his second wife, Jean, lost her brother at the Battle of Mons. In the midst of her grief, she began experimenting with automatic writing, a mediumistic technique whereby one allows the pen to flow across the page under the guidance of spirit writers. When her early attempts at spirit communication proved successful, Sir Arthur and Lady Doyle became convinced that their earthly mission was in large part to be devoted to relaying messages from those who had fallen in battle to their bereaved families.

In 1918, Doyle's oldest son, Kingsley, died of pneumonia during the Battle of the Somme. A year after his son's death, Doyle attended a seance held by a Welsh medium who spoke in Kingsley's voice and referred to matters that would have been completely unknown to the medium. Shortly after the remarkable direct voice communication, the medium materialized Doyle's mother and nephew. Contemptuously brushing aside the efforts of those who attempted to explain the phenomena, Doyle declared that he saw his loved ones as plainly and as clearly as he had ever seen them in life.

After the war ended in 1918, Sir Arthur and Lady Doyle began the first of their extensive lecture tours. For the next 12 years, they were seldom at home for very long periods of time as they traveled throughout Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, northern Europe, South Africa, and the United States. Among the members of the large crowds that gathered were those who were eager to meet the author of their favorite detective fiction and those who wished to hear words of comfort from the Doyles concerning the kind of existence that their deceased loved ones were living on the other side.

The December 1920 issue of Strand magazine contained several allegedly authentic photographs of fairies that had been taken with an inexpensive camera by two young girls, Elsie Wright and her cousin Frances Griffiths, in a little valley through which ran a narrow stream near the village of Cottingley. One snapshot taken by Elsie in the summer of 1917, when she was 16, captured her 10-year-old cousin seated on the grass surrounded by four dancing fairies. Another, taken a few months later, showed Elsie with a tiny gnome.

Doyle managed to obtain the negatives and brought them to one of England's most eminent photographic analysts. At first the expert dismissed the very notion of fairy photographs, but he ended up staking his professional reputation by saying that not only were the pictures all single exposures, but he said that he could detect that the tiny beings had actually been moving while having their images snapped by the girls' camera. Furthermore, he stated firmly, he could not detect the slightest evidence of any fakery in the photographs. Doyle wisely sought another opinion, so he took the negatives to the Kodak Company's offices in Kingsway. While these experts declined to acknowledge that the photographs actually depicted fairies, they did issue a statement that they could find no evidence of trick photography or any tampering with the film. Yet a third analyst expressed his opinion that the most significant factor in the Cottingley photographs was that the fairy figures seemed clearly to have been caught in motion as they hovered over the flowers and the girls.

As the British press spread the charming story of the Cottingley fairy photographs, numerous individuals came forward to testify that they, too, as children had played with the little people. Fortified by the photographic analyses of several experts that the photographs were genuine, Doyle obtained the services of one of Great Britain's most gifted clairvoyants to see if he might be able psychically to verify the girls' accounts of fairies near Cottingley. The psychic sat down with Elsie and Frances in the little valley and found that he was able to see even more of the fairy realm because of his mediumistic abilities. According to his great sensitivity, the entire glen was alive with many types of elemental spiritswood elves, gnomes, fairies, and graceful water sprites around the valley and stream. Try as he might, though, the clairvoyant was unable to project to the fairies the amount of psychic energy necessary to allow them to materialize. It appeared that only the young girls had the unique blend of innocence and wonder that could somehow supply the fairies with the necessary energy to permit them to attain a material form.

Doyle issued his summation of the case of Elsie and Frances and their fairy photographs, along with his interpretation of the phenomena, in which he stated that while the proof offered by the Cottingley experience was not as "overwhelming" as in the case of spiritualistic phenomena, "there is enough already convincing evidence [for the authenticity of fairies] available." Later, the photographs were exposed as fakes, and Doyle was embarrassed by his having endorsed both the girls and their pictures in his book The Coming of the Fairies (1922) as being authentic examples of the ability of certain sensitive individuals to take genuine spirit photographs.

Sir Arthur and Lady Doyle had met Harry Houdini after one of the famous magician's performances at the Hippodrome in Brighton, England, in 1920, and while many have pondered how Doyle, a true believer in Spiritualism, and Houdini, the determined nemesis of spirit mediums, could ever have become friends, a bond of friendship was formed between the two families. Some writers and researchers contend that Houdini didn't disbelieve in survival after death, but, rather, was seeking proof that he could find completely acceptable by his standards. His attack against certain spirit mediums may have been inspired by his feeling that their evidence for the afterlife had been faked. Indeed, the friendship between Doyle and Houdini may have been inspired by the entertainer's sincere desire that the Doyles might somehow be instrumental in providing him with the proof of the afterlife that he so desired. Sadly, their friendship ended quite explosively after Lady Doyle conducted a seance in the United States.

In 1922, Sir Arthur and Lady Doyle were lecturing in the United States, and Houdini asked them to join him and his wife Beatrice (Bess) for a brief vacation in Atlantic City on June 17. That particular date was sacred to Houdini because it was his beloved mother's birthday. Expressing the belief that she could establish contact with his mother on that special day, Lady Doyle entered a light trance and began producing lovely and sentimental messages from the magician's mother in the spirit world. Although Houdini was grateful for the kind sentiments, he later publicly expressed his strong doubts that the spirit of his mother had written such words, especially since she had never learned to write English. Also, since the Weiss family (Houdini's birthname) was Jewish, Houdini doubted that his mother would have begun the message by drawing a cross at the top of the page of automatic writing. Houdini's public denials of Lady Doyle's mediumship created a breach between the friends which never healed.

Doyle was nominated honorary president of the International Spiritualist Congress that was held in Paris in 1925. In 1927, he published Pheneas Speaks, revelations relayed through automatic writing to Lady Doyle from her spirit control Pheneas. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died on July 7, 1930.


Delving Deeper

Brandon, Ruth. The Spiritualists. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. The Edge of the Unknown. New York: Berkley Medallion Books, 1968.

Fodor, Nandor. An Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1966.


The Fox Sisters

On one of the last days of her life, in February of 1893, Margaretta Kane managed to prop herself into a sitting position and demanded a pencil and paper from Dr. Mellin, the doctor who had been commissioned to care for her. Kane began writing at an incredible pace, and before she had finished she had filled 20 sheets with clear handwriting. After handing the written sheets back to the doctor, she fell into a coma and died.

When Mellin had the opportunity to examine what Kane had written, she was astonished to discover that her patient had filled the sheets with an accurate and detailed biography of the doctor's own life. It included many events that Mellin had not divulged to anyone. Some time later, Mellin described the incident to the Medico-Legal Society of New York. She concluded her remarks about the manuscript by saying: "To my surprise, I found she had written down a detailed story of my life. The most startling thing did not appear until near the end where Mrs. Kane mentioned the missing will of my mother and the names of several people back home in Manchester, Indiana. I wrote at once to my brother. He sent a friend to Manchester and mother's missing will was recovered."

The story of the dying woman who somehow knew intimate details about her doctor that could not have been known through ordinary means takes on tragic significance when Kane's history is revealed. Kane was born Margaretta Fox, and it was she and her sister Catherine who were credited with the founding of modern Spiritualism. They were later discredited by certain investigators as being clever deceivers with no paranormal or mediumistic abilities whatsoever.

Mysterious knocking and window rattling began in the John Fox home in Hydesville, New York, shortly after they had moved into the house on December 11, 1847. After the first night, Fox spent the next day securing everything that looked as though it might make knocking or rattling sounds, but the following night the knockings and rappings were even louder. One of the family members ventured a guess that it was a prankster playing a trick on them or some neighbor trying to frighten them away, but as much as they tried to catch the supposed joker in the act, they never saw him.

Then Fox, the local blacksmith, began to hear talk about the complaints of some of the previous tenants in the house, who, as early as 1843, had also complained of mysterious rappings, footsteps, and dragging sounds. Michael Weekman, who had rented the house just prior to their occupancy, moved out when he could no longer stand the eerie night sounds.

By March 31, 1848, John and Margaret Fox gave up chasing after the rappings and resolved to live with the disturbances. After all, no real damage had ever occurred. The sounds were just annoying. They would go to bed early that evening and try to get a good night's sleep.

But that night when the disturbances began, the five childrenJohn, David, Maria, Margaretta (Maggie), and Catherine (Katie)seemed to be more frightened than ever before by the continual knocks and thuds echoing throughout the house. Observing that the strange noises were centering around 12-year-old Katie and 15-year-old Maggie, Fox closed the window in the girls' bedroom with a loud thump. His thump was immediately followed by two others, and Katie cried out that "they" were answering him.

For a few moments, no one moved. Then Fox cautiously knocked on the window sill. There came an answering knock from somewhere in the room. Katie was more excited than frightened. As if it were all some thrilling game, she commanded the sounds to follow the snaps of her fingers and called out: "Here, Mr. Splitfoot, do as I do." The unseen prankster did so perfectly, even when she only held up a certain number of fingers to prompt an appropriate number of raps. "It can see as well as hear!" she laughed in childlike triumph.

Soon other members of the family had entered the game with the mysterious unseen visitor and were asking it to pound out number sequences or to sound one rap for yes, two raps for no. Mrs. Fox was no stranger to psychic phenomena, for although they were respected members of the Methodist Church, three prior generations of women in her family (Rutan) had the ability to predict deaths, births, and other local occurrences.

As his daughters' communication with the spirit progressed, Fox wanted to determine whether or not his entire family was deluded. He went next door and brought a neighbor, Mrs. Redfield, into the children's bedroom. Although the woman laughed at the thought of a knocking spirit, she went away greatly disturbed by the fact that she had not only heard the knocks, but whatever invisible source was making them knew a great deal about her past, also.

As word spread about the curious phenomena that was occurring in the Fox home, people from all over Hydesville came to hear the mysterious rappings. A committee composed of 20 friends and neighbors and directed by William Duesler set about a program of investigation. Shortly after the committee had reached its conclusions regarding the authenticity of the phenomena, E. E. Lewis published a 40-page pamphlet of their findings entitled, "A Report on the Mysterious Noises Heard in the House of John D. Fox at Hydesville, Arcadia, Wayne County. Authenticated by the certificates and confirmed by the statements of the citizens of that place and vicinity."

After Katie and Maggie had experimented with the phenomena for several weeks, a code of rappings had been developed and intelligent communication with the entity had been established. The spirit revealed itself as Charles B. Rosna (Rosa in some accounts), a 31-year-old itinerant peddler who had been murdered in the house and buried in the basement. Charles became the spirit control for Katie and Maggie, and he revealed a great deal of personal information about his life on Earth through their mediumship.

On April 3, 1848, David Fox and some neighbors began digging in the cellar and discovered charcoal, quicklime, strands of human hair, and portions of a human skull. Based on the evidence provided by the spirit of the murdered man, a former tenant was accused of having perpetrated the deed, but the authorities refused to arrest or prosecute on such testimony.

The Fox family was growing weary of all the attention that they were receiving both from the spirit world and from the populace of Hydesville and the surrounding area. John and Margaret thought they might be able to get rid of the ghostly noises if they sent Maggie and Katie away from the house for a while. The girls were sent to their older sister Leah, 34, who was living in poverty in Rochester after her husband had deserted her. Loud, resounding raps broke out in Leah's home when the girls arrived, indicating that the spirits had followed them to Rochester, and they received the following message from the spirits: "You must proclaim this truth to the world. This is the dawning of a new era. You must not try to conceal it any longer. When you do your duty, God will protect you and good spirits will watch over you."

With this message from the spirit world, modern Spiritualism was born. Spiritualists believe that death is only a change of worlds, and communication with those who have passed to the other side is possible. For the Fox sisters, their declaration of this message from the spirits placed them in the center of a tumultuous storm that raged throughout their lifetimes. Leah, who according to some sources is also said to have demonstrated some mediumistic abilities, became the manager for Maggie and Katie and arranged during numerous stage presentations for them to demonstrate their interaction with spirits, first in Rochester, then in many other cities throughout New England. The sisters were tested and exposed, tested and authenticated, tested and humiliated, over and over againdamned or praised, depending upon the biases of the investigators. They succumbed to such continual stresses by resorting to heavy drinking. They fought among themselves.

In 1857, Leah married a wealthy insurance man named Underhill and retired from her position as her sisters' manager. Maggie had been wooed by the famous Arctic explorer Dr. Elisha Kane (18201857), who died tragically before they could be married. Undeterred by such a sorrowful change of plans, Maggie considered herself a widow and called herself Margaretta Kane. In 1861, Katie went to England to be tested by such active psychic researchers as Sir William Crookes (18321919) and became the wife of H. D. Jencken, an attorney. She bore Jencken two sons before he died in 1885, leaving her despondent and once again dependent upon alcohol. In 1888, Katie's lifestyle had become so destructive that Leah managed to have the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children assume custody of her two children.

Outraged by what she considered a traitorous act, Maggie allied herself with her younger sister and vowed to ruin Leah. This she sought to accomplish by writing a letter to the New York Herald denouncing Spiritualism and promising revelations of the frauds that the sisters had employed to deceive their audiences. Maggie made good her threat to Leah and her promise to the New York Herald by giving a lecture at the New York Academy of Music, where she confessed to being a fraud and offered explanations as to how she and Katie had produced various aspects of the phenomena. An angry Katie joined her sister and endorsed her exposure of spirit communication. They had been able to crack their toes and certain joints to make the sound of the spirit raps, the two sisters said. It had begun as a joke on their parents, but Leah had seen a way to make money from their unique talents. Plus, Maggie and Katie said, Leah had wanted to establish a new religion.

A year later, after passions had cooled among the sisters, Maggie completely retracted her confession of trickery and fraud. She explained that she had been under great mental stress and suffering severe financial difficulties. For five dollars, she declared, she would have sworn to anything. The demonstration at the New York Academy of Music only revealed how such phenomena could be faked, she swore, not how she and her sisters had actually engaged in fraudulent activity. Maggie swore now that they had served as mediums for genuine spirit manifestations.

The phenomena produced by the Fox sisters were important to psychical research. Professor Charles Richet (18501935), world-famous physiologist at the Sorbonne, stated that spirit rappings were of "primary importance" as demonstrations that "there are in the universe human or nonhuman intelligences that can act directly on matter." Sir William Crookes (18321919), the renowned British chemist and physicist, concluded after a full investigation of Katie Fox that she only had to place her hand on any substance to produce "raps loud enough to be heard several rooms off. In this manner, I have heard them in a living tree, on a sheet of glass, on a stretched iron wire, on a stretched membrane, a tambourine, on the roof of a cab, and on the floor of a theatre. Moreover, actual contact is not always necessary. I have heard these sounds proceeding from the floors, walls, etc., when the medium's hands were held, when she was standing on a chair, when she was suspended from the ceiling, when she was enclosed in a wire cage."

Psychical researcher Robert Dale Owen observed Leah Fox Underhill in a seance during which she manifested a "light about as large as a small fist, that rose and fell as a hammer would, striking the floor. At each stroke, a loud rap was heard." In over 400 seances sponsored by investigators in New York, Katie Fox, whose hands were held by the researchers, materialized phantom human forms that produced flowers, glowing lights, and written messages in the handwriting of deceased individuals.

Katie worked as a medium and conducted seances until, at the age of 56, she drank herself to death on July 2, 1892. Leah had passed away the year before, November 1, 1891. Maggie died ill and destitute on March 8, 1893, at the age of 59.

Whether the majority of Americans accepted the exposure of the Fox sisters as deceivers and frauds or believed the more positive appraisals by certain psychical researchers that Maggie and Katie were capable of producing genuine spirit phenomena, the Spiritualist movement had been born, and with the help of sensationalistic articles in the press, word of the controversial mediums spread around the world. Andrew Jackson Davis (18261910) and Emma Vera Brittain began to deliver trance lectures in the major cities of the eastern seaboard of the United States. In 1859, Dr. Phelps, a Presbyterian minister in Stratford, Connecticut, produced spirit manifestations and developed a following. Soon, trance mediums from the United States were visiting Scotland, England, and being embraced in the Scandinavian countries, where the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (16881772) had prepared them to expect such messages from the spirit world. Within months, the movement had taken root in Germany, France, Russia, and many other countries on the continentall the result of the rappings and knockings of Maggie and Katie Fox, two little girls who, in the eyes of their supporters, had broken down the dividing wall between the worlds of life and death.


Delving Deeper

Brandon, Ruth. The Spiritualists. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.

Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1970.

Fodor, Nandor. These Mysterious People. London: Rider & Co., 1936.

Jackson, Herbert G., Jr. The Spirit Rappers. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1972.


Allen Kardec (18041869)

Allen Kardec, known as the father of Spiritism, distinct from Spiritualism, was born in Lyons, France, in 1804, with the birth name Hypolyte Leon Denizard Rivail. The names "Allen" and "Kardec" were names from prior lifetimes that he chose to use in his present life experience. The son of an attorney, Kardec decided to become a medical doctor, but he soon became intrigued by the enthusiasm for experiments in mesmerism and spirit communication that were spreading throughout Europe.

In 1850, he began sitting with Celina Bequet, a professional somnambulist (hypnotist) who, for family reasons, assumed the name of Celina Japhet. Japhet not only placed others in trance states, but was assisted in achieving a somnambulistic state by M. Roustan. While in trance, Japhet was under the spirit control of her grandfather, M. Hahnemann, and the spirit of Franz Anton Mesmer (17341815) spoke from the spirit world to give medical advice through her mediumship. Many other spirit entities manifested themselves and explained to the assembled sitters that the process of reincarnation was not only possible, but that it was compulsory for all souls to be reborn and receive new life experiences. Because Kardec was recognized as a proficient writer as well as a medical doctor, the spirits urged him to author what would be considered his classic work, Le Livre des Esprits (known today as The Spirits' Book ), first published in 1856.

The 1857 revised edition of Kardec's book, based on the trance communications of Celina Japhet, became the guidebook for those wishing information regarding mediumship, life in spirit, and the evolution of the soul. The Spirits' Book went into more than 25 editions and became popular throughout Europe and South America. However, because traditional Spiritualists reject the concept of reincarnation, conflict developed between the established dogma and the writings of Kardec. Kardec remained firm in his belief in what the spirits had told him: Reincarnation was necessary for the soul to progress and to better understand and heal current physical or mental illnesses, which had been caused by the deeds and misdeeds of prior life experiences. Because of his resolve in these matters, "Spiritism" or "Kardecism" became distinguished from Spiritualism.

Other books written by Allen Kardec include The Gospel as Explained by Spirits (1864); Heaven and Hell (1865); and Experimental Spiritism and Spiritualist Philosophy (1867). Although Spiritism was gradually reabsorbed back into Spiritualism in Europe, it remains popular as a separate philosophy throughout South America, especially in Brazil, where its members see no conflict in being nominal Roman Catholics and practicing espiritas.


Delving Deeper

Fodor, Nandor. An Encyclopedia of Psychic Science. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press, 1966.

Playfair, Guy Lyon. The Unknown Power. New York: Pocket Books, 1975.

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Spiritualism

SPIRITUALISM

SPIRITUALISM is a religious movement whose adherents seek contact with spirits through mediums in gatherings called séances. It emerged in the Northeast amid the transformations of capitalism, industrialization, urbanization, religious revivalism and experimentation, social reform, democratization, and the rising authority of science.

Spiritualism originated in 1848 in western New York, a region swept by religious revivalism and ferment after the opening of the Erie Canal. Radical ex-Quakers and abolitionists there decided that mysterious knockings in the Hydesville home of sisters Kate and Margaret Fox were communications by spirits. Press coverage generated interest in these "spirit manifestations" after the Fox sisters began a series of demonstrations in Rochester, and


they were referred to as the "Rochester Rappings." Advocates claimed scientific proof of immortality. Many Americans thought they could serve as mediums.

Meanwhile, "Poughkeepsie Seer" Andrew Jackson Davis's involvement with mesmerism had by 1847 produced "harmonialism," a system of religious philosophy and social reform he claimed he had received in a trance from the eighteenth-century scientist-mystic Emanuel Swedenborg and other spirits (see Swedenborgian Churches). Rejecting Calvinist doctrines of innate depravity and eternal punishment and advocating perpetual spiritual growth, harmonialism attracted Universalists, Unitarians, Quakers, Swedenborgians, deists, members of evangelical denominations, and radical social reformers, especially abolitionists and women's rights advocates. Spiritualis memerged when Davis and his followers linked harmonialism to mediumship.

Spiritualism spread across the North during the 1850s and subsequently to the West Coast. Associated with abolitionism and other radical reforms, it was less popular in the South. Mediums were usually women, whom Victorian Americans believed had a heightened piety and sensitivity to spirit communication; many were empowered to public social activism by their mediumship. Spirit messages often urged Americans to counteract expanding commercialization, industrialization, and urbanization by retaining communal and republican values thought to be threatened by the emerging order. Spiritualism appealed across race and class lines but was promoted primarily by an anxious new middle class.

Spiritualism had its critics. Ministers, feeling their authority threatened, labeled it necromancy, witchcraft, and a stimulus to free love. Most scientists rejected it, especially after unfavorable investigations in the mid to late nineteenth century, although a few became defenders, and some examined it within the framework of psychic phenomena from the late nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. Debunkers from the 1850s forward have charged mediums with fraud. Some early sympathizers bolted to found Christian Science and Theosophy.

Such challenges limited Spiritualism's growth and appeal, but the new religion persisted and, despite its strong anti-organizational thrust, became institutionalized. Spiritualists formed perhaps thousands of circles nationwide. They founded over 200 newspapers by 1900 and publishing houses in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. The federal census listed 17 Spiritualist churches in 1860, 95 in 1870, 334 in 1890, and 455 in 1906, with tens of thousands of members in 1890 and 1906. Beginning in the 1870s, Spiritualists established camps in New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, Florida, and several other states. National organization efforts began in the 1860s, and the National Spiritualist Association of Churches was founded in Chicago in 1893. Although over-all numbers subsequently declined, large-scale organizations proliferated (the NASC remained the largest), giving Spiritualism a permanent institutional presence and an increasingly ecclesiastical character.

Spiritualism revitalized during the 1960s amid increased interest in alternative spiritualities, psychic phenomena, and the subsequent New Age Movement, whose eclectic practices include spirit "channeling." Yet it remained distinct from New Age religions and continues to express Americans' desire for spiritual grounding amid ongoing change.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.

Carroll, Bret E. Spiritualism in Antebellum America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

Moore, R. Laurence. In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism, Parapsychology, and American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Bret E.Carroll

See alsoParapsychology ; Religion and Religious Affiliation ; Women's Rights Movement: The Nineteenth Century .

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spiritualism

spir·it·u·al·ism / ˈspirichoōəˌlizəm/ • n. 1. a system of belief or religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead, esp. through mediums. 2. Philos. the doctrine that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality. DERIVATIVES: spir·it·u·al·ist n. spir·it·u·al·is·tic / ˌspirichoōəˈlistik/ adj.

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spiritualism

spiritualism Belief that, at death, the personality of an individual is transferred to another plane of existence, with which communication from the world of the living is possible. The channel of such communication is a receptive person called a medium. Spiritualism as a movement began in the USA in 1848.

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Spiritualism

604. Spiritualism

  1. Arcati, Madame medium who materializes her clients two successive wives. [Br. Drama: Noel Coward Blithe Spirit in On Stage, 236]
  2. Medium, The Menottis opera of a medium haunted by her own hoax. [Am. Opera: Benét, 653]

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spiritualism

spiritualism: see spiritism.

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Spiritualism

SPIRITUALISM

SPIRITUALISM is a widespread and generally unorganized movement that arose in the United States at the end of the 1840s, was influential through the nineteenth century in the United States and elsewhere, and persists at the beginning of the twenty-first century. At its core is the belief that the living can conduct conversations with spirits of the deceased through a sensitive instrument (either a mechanical or electronic device) or a human medium.

Spiritualism's advent was occasioned by two events. The first was the publication of Andrew Jackson Davis's visionary cosmology and universal history, The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind, in 1847. The second was the production of audible rapping that was interpreted as coded responses of spirits to questions posed by two young sisters, Margaret and Kate Fox. Others soon reproduced the sounds during "spirit circles" or séances around the country. Spiritualists later annually commemorated the rappings as having begun on March 25, 1848.

Practitioners said Spiritualism was precipitated when spirits, including that of electrical experimenter Benjamin Franklin, established a practical "spiritual telegraph" between this world and the spirit world. Those who were not Spiritualists looked elsewhere for the sources of the movement, crediting demons, mass delusion, human folly, fraud, or simply to the influence of social and religious trends in the larger culture.

Spiritualism's Theory and Cultural Background

The "harmonial philosophy" of Davis and his sympathizers envisioned a harmonization of past, present, and future; of matter and spirit; of reason and intuition; of men and women; and of individuals and society. It provided an ostensibly rationalist stock onto which was grafted a variety of exotic psychic phenomena, such as mesmeric trance and the Fox sisters' rappings. The result was "Modern Spiritualism," as it was called, which was optimistic about the destiny of each individual after death and of human society in the long run, and egalitarian insofar as it accepted the revelations of women, children, and others who lacked education or credentials.

Spiritualism was part of the larger culture's effort to reconcile science and religion. In the United States and Europe the intersection of matter and spirit had been explored in experiments with mesmerism. Influential books included the 1845 translation of Justinus Kerner's case study of a somnambulist, The Seeress of Prevorst, and the 1855 translation of Louis Alphonse Cahagnet's description of conversations with entranced clairvoyants, The Celestial Telegraph. The term Spiritualism came from mesmerism and referred to the concept of an exalted expanse opened to clairvoyants traveling without the body to realms where spirits could communicate secrets to them.

The disappearance or surrender of one's identity to another was a theme of the seventeenth-century mystical writings of Madame Guyon and Francois Fénelon, who emphasized the individual's surrender of the will to divine love. These writings were popular among American antebellum Protestant intellectuals. The Romantic movement fostered a similar surrender of the self, or hypersensitivity to spiritual or psychic "impressions." Goethe had depicted such sensitivity in his novels The Sorrows of Young Werther (1744) and Elective Affinities (1809), and it was exemplified in Bohemian wanderlust, the desire to follow personal "monitions" rather than conventional expectations. The abandonment of the self to holy enthusiasm and impulse was also encouraged in the religious revivals of the time. The Gothicism of the period resulted in the enormous popularity of Catherine Crowe's 1848 collection of stories about uncanny phenomena, The Night-Side of Nature.

The concern with reconciling science and religion, as well as matter and spirit, coincided with a popular interest in the newly translated writings of Swedish engineer and visionary Emanuel Swedenborg, who had conversations with spirits about their lives in other worlds that intersected with this one. Transcendentalists urged a spiritualization of the natural world, and Perfectionists suggested that the earthly could be reformed into, or revealed to be, the heavenly, stimulating seekers to set up utopian communities founded on the ideas of French socialist Charles Fourier. Also influential in the birth of Spiritualism was an efflorescence of trance visions among Shakers during the late 1830s and 1840s, which presaged many of the features of Spiritualism.

Spiritualism promoted the notion of surrendering the will to the inspiration of spirits, but it simultaneously elevated the importance of the individual's perception and judgment. It assented to testing the reality of the spirits, ranking empirical experience over traditional authority. It made a "scientific" appeal to evidence available to anyone. It also adopted the individualism and anticlericalism of the Protestant dissenting tradition, evident in the Pietistic origins of the religious groupssuch as the Universalists, the Unitarians, and Quakersamong whose members Spiritualism flourished. Spiritualism, by and large, was antiauthoritarian and Spiritualists valued the liberty of individual conscience. The movement was associated with progressive politics and social theory, and was most popular in the northern United States. Southerners often saw spiritualism as one strand of a twisted skein of Yankee fanaticism that also included such causes as utopian socialism, women's rights, and the abolition of slavery.

Spiritualists accepted the naturalistic idea of geological and biological change and development, and they extended the idea to religion, which they believed also evolved and progressed. Spiritualists supposed that individuals progressed as well, continuing beyond this life into the afterlife, and Spiritualism thus expanded the realm of natural law into the supernatural. They did not view the Fox sisters' rappings or other Spiritualistic phenomena as miracles in the sense of a suspension of natural law, but they saw such phenomena as the ultimately rationalalthough not yet understoodeffects of the interaction between this world and the higher world. The clairvoyant travels of spirit mediums also resembled the travels of naturalist explorers of exotic cultures, such as, for example, A. J. Davis's travels while in "the superior state" to the afterlife, which he envisioned as "The Summerland," a socialist community of enlightened souls. The "scientific" tendencies of Spiritualists led some of their early religious opponents to refer to them as "rationalists."

Many personal accounts described conversion to Spiritualism as a joyful liberation from a bleak Calvinist belief that the soul was powerless to affect its final disposition, or even liberation from an arid materialist belief that denied life after death. Other accounts described the adoption of Spiritualism as only a small step from the beliefs of liberal churches that already had a tenuous relationship with traditional Christian doctrine. Many Spiritualists saw themselves as "come-outers," that is, as part of a group that had left Christianity, just as their spiritual forebears had left corrupted churches. Many other Spiritualists, however, believed that they were simply finding their way back to the true core of Christianity and called themselves "Christian Spiritualists." Spiritualists were early advocates of "higher criticism" of the Bible and they were convinced that apocrypha, such as Gnostic texts, contained a true picture of Jesus's life and teachings. Spiritualists generally accepted the rococo speculations of comparative religion as it was practiced by such savants as Louis Jacolliot, who believed that the biblical story of Christ was a fiction based on the Hindu myth of Ka.

Traditional churches vigorously opposed Spiritualism, attributing it to the devil and equating it with previous forms of necromancy. Traditional churches also opposed Spiritualism because it made revelation deliberately open-ended and subject only to individual judgment. Spiritualism moved religion from churches, which were public places subject to the control of traditional (male) authority, to home parlors, which were private places subject to domestic (female) sentiment, or, as opponents put it, dark places where people were free of restraint. Opponents also took issue with Spiritualists' equating the authority of the Bible with that of the messages and wonders produced at séances and in other religions.

Most of the public and most scientists, with a few exceptions, treated Spiritualism as delusion, fraud, or mental disorder. Some scientists attributed séance messages to the medium's ability to read the thoughts of others in the spirit circle, rather than to the medium's ability to hear the whisperings of spirits. These scientists believed this explanation was more naturalistic.

In nineteenth-century America, Spiritualism bore the marks of the progressive wing of Protestantism. Local varieties, however, sometimes drew from other sources, such as the Spiritualism of New Orleans, which incorporated Catholicism's traditions of intercessory saints and sacraments, as well as voodoo. The Spiritualism practiced in some parts of the United States incorporated Native American methods of divination, trance induction, and spirit possession, and white mediums often discovered that their spirit guides were Indians. Modern Spiritualism was largely a phenomenon of white Americans, however, with some notable exceptions, such as Sojourner Truth and Pascal Beverly Randolph. Nevertheless, Spiritualists believed that spirit contact was at the heart of all religion, and they believed they found support for this view in the Bible, in ancient accounts of the Sibylline oracles and of prophets and druids, and in historical records of witchcraft and haunting.

Some opponents of Spiritualism argued for replacing the term Spiritualism with spiritism. As they saw it, Spiritualism was a word with wide application but only appropriate as a contrast to materialism. They insisted that spiritism was the proper term for what was commonly called "Spiritualism," which, according to them, was merely a submission or unhealthy attachment to spirits. Their argument had little effect on popular usage, and gained no acceptance by Spiritualists.

Spiritism, however, was used by French seer Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail, writing under the pseudonym Allan Kardec. Kardec's publications in the late 1850s and 1860s influenced many in the French-speaking world to accept the reality of spirit contact. They also accepted the existence of reincarnation, whereas American and English Spiritualists, at least for the first decades of the movement, rejected it.

In general, European Spiritualism was more influenced than was American Spiritualism by occult traditions, such as Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, irregular orders of Freemasonry, and ideas from the eastern lands that Europeans had colonized. Nevertheless, American spirit mediums spread their variety of Spiritualism to Europe by lecturing and holding séances there. Maria Trenholm Hayden, for example, visited England and made an early convert of socialist Robert Owen. Daniel Dunglas Home traveled throughout Europe and gave spectacular performances, some of which powerfully affected the czarist court.

Doctrinal controversies arose within the movement: Did spirits provide tangible assistance or mere comfort? In trance, was the will erased or exalted? Was Spiritualism's essence a public platform of progressive reform, or the phenomenal manifestations of the séance? Why were revelations from trance mediums contradictory? Controversies also arose on the specifics of the afterlife (Were animals reborn there? Was retrogression possible after death?) and on the interaction between spirit and body (Did sexual prompting signal an attraction of true spiritual "affinities"?).

The Forms and Practices of Spiritualism

Spiritualists developed their own church services, with congregational singing of hymns, lectures, and Sunday schools ("lyceums") for children. Spiritualists also encouraged the development of mediums who could conduct séances or give lectures under the influence of spirits.

The séance was meant to be a ritual communion of the saints still in the flesh with those who had left it, but the séance was also meant to be a proof test of the reality of the afterlife. The earliest Spiritualists formed spirit circles similar to those that mesmerists already used to investigate "animal magnetism," where men and women touched hands around a table, forming a "magnetic battery." Mesmeric investigators had produced trance, clairvoyance, eruptions of tics or automatisms, sometimes involving writing or speaking, and the tilting of tables and levitating of people, furniture, and musical instruments. Now sitters attributed these to discarnate spirits rather than to their own manipulations of energy.

Personal messages voiced or written by the medium from the sitters' deceased friends and family were always the main products of a séance, with the sitters conducting their conversation with the spirits through the medium. But the medium might also give voice to the spirits of famous people who corrected or supplemented the ideas for which they had been known while living. Other phenomena produced at a séance might include musical sounds, disembodied voices, floating lights and phosphorescent hands, and the materialization of coins, flowers, letters, or birds. Mediums produced spirit-inspired songs, poetry, paintings, scriptures and narratives of travel to other times or worlds, revelations of hidden treasures or lucrative business opportunities, chalk messages on slate boards, spirit images on photographic plates, and novel plans for inventions and for political or social reforms. Mediums also reported the ability to read minds, to see the future, and to escape from tied ropes or locked jail cells. At séances in the 1870s and 1880s mediums might extrude from their bodies a pale diaphanous substance eventually called "ectoplasm," or they might conduct "dark cabinet materializations" in which they were locked in a cabinet and produced spectral forms who walked among the audience.

Mediums also diagnosed disease. Their reputed clairvoyance allowed them to see into a person's body to the source of illness, and, sometimes with assistance of the spirits of famous physicians, to prescribe treatment. This often included the medium's manipulation of the energy "aura" surrounding the patient's body through the laying on of hands. Many mediums made their living through healing, rather than through conducting séances or giving lectures.

Far more women than men were spirit mediums, and male mediums often characterized their sensitivity as a feminine power. Spiritualist lecturers, on the other hand, were often men, although the exceptionssuch as self-styled "trance lecturers" Cora L. V. Scott Richmond, Emma Hardinge Britten, Hannah Frances Brown, Achsa White Sprague, Lizzie Doten, Ada Hoyt Foye, and Amanda Britt Spencedrew enthusiastic audiences, thrilled to see women on a platform speaking fearlessly and authoritatively.

Spiritualists believed that one feminine aspect of Spiritualism was its focus, not on the abstract intellect, but on subjective feeling and on the body. They believed that spirits had begun to affect the biological elevation of the human race by exerting spiritual influence over the conception and development of the human embryo. They also believed the spirits could free women from undesired sex, which literally degraded their offspring. Women had to be made equal to men, and each woman had to be given sole authority over when, and how often, and with whom she would have sex and children. Some Spiritualists were the first public advocates of women's reproductive rights, and Spiritualists occupied the most radical wing of the early women's rights movement.

Spiritualists made effective prophets, perhaps, but not loyal group members. They attempted to organize, but with only sporadic successes. Many were leery of setting up a hierarchy that would judge individual practices or experiences. On the other hand, they valued communion, association, and small spirit circles as aids to amplify a medium's sensitivity. In addition, groups fortified the camaraderie of believers, inculcated children in the belief in spirit communion, trained mediums, and sponsored lecturers. Local associations licensed mediums, ministers, and lecturers to protect them from ordinances against fortune telling and "jugglery." They also investigated charges of mediumistic fraud or immorality to protect Spiritualism from abuse by con artists or from embarrassment by anti-Spiritualist opponents.

Spiritualists also formed state, regional, and national associations, with varying success, and they held conventions. Propaganda for the movement was carried out by word of mouth, by experiments with séances, by lectures from traveling mediums, and by the publication of pamphlets and books. Spiritualist newspapers connected far-flung and often isolated believers into a community of faith. The most influential were Spiritual Telegraph, New-England Spiritualist, Herald of Progress, Religio-Philosophical Journal, and Banner of Light.

The first Spiritualist camp meeting was held in a field outside Malden, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1866. Camp meetings became very influential in the movement, sometimes drawing as many as twenty thousand attendees to such rural surroundings as Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts, or Cassadaga, New York (the forerunner of the center for the Spiritualist movement today at Lily Dale, New York, and the namesake for another settlement in Florida).

Spiritualism's Progress through the Nineteenth Century and Beyond

The popularity and influence of Spiritualism rose and fell. Little solid evidence exists for judging the number of Spiritualists during these years because the organizations of Spiritualism were transient, and the criteria of who counted as a Spiritualist were extremely elastic. In the United States population of thirty million on the eve of the Civil War in 1860, estimates of the number of Spiritualists have varied from a few hundred thousand to eleven million. At the time, however, both proponents and opponents of Spiritualism often accepted as reasonable the figure of two to three million Spiritualists.

By the 1880s, Spiritualism's influence had receded. Some Spiritualists defected to the newer systems of Christian Science, New Thought, and Theosophy. Some who were more politically radical were drawn into Freethought, Anarchism, and Communism, losing their religious outlook. At the same time, Spiritualism's influence had diffused through the culture, most notably in the idea of artistic and religious inspiration.

Meanwhile, Spiritualism's séance phenomena had devolved into elaborate materializations that were often indistinguishable from stage magic, inviting well-publicized exposures of fraudulent mediums by such people as magician Harry Kellar, who blazed a trail later followed by Harry Houdini. Scientists investigating Spiritualism also developed more rigorous protocols for what they began to call "psychical research," which eventually allowed the field of psychology to distance itself from the need to consider spirit as a subject for empirical research. Sigmund Freud's development of a compelling theory of the unconscious also helped render the notion of the paranormal uninteresting to psychologists, with some exceptions, notably Carl Jung. By the turn of the century, Spiritualism no longer seemed to many potential converts as a progressive, avant-garde reconciliation of religion and science, but as an antique.

Nevertheless, Spiritualism has continued throughout the world, with periodic revivals, to this day, with an umbrella organizationthe National Spiritualist Association of Churchesfounded in 1893, forty-five years after the Fox sisters' rappings. Interest in Spiritualism grew in England after World War I, sometimes linked to the desire by survivors for comfort and reassurance, not just concerning the fate of their loved ones who had died, but perhaps also for the old order of society. Since the late 1960s a revival of Spiritualism has taken place under the banner of the New Age movement. A strong element of theatrics, nearly always present in Spiritualism, is continued in television shows in which psychics face studio audiences in order to contact, or even "channel," the spirits.

From the beginning, Spiritualists criticized Christian miracles and superstition. Nevertheless, they also claimed as true the manifestation of physical phenomena that have yet to be empirically verified. Spiritualists sometimes said that the evidence was real but only anecdotal, and that the spirits' ability and willingness to manifest themselves were constrained by the testing requirements imposed by skeptical investigators. On the other hand, like ancient Gnosticism and present-day postmodernism, Spiritualism judged the objective, external, matter-of-fact world to be essentially devoid of truth. Truth lay instead in a dematerialized, spiritual, inner realm. One goal of Spiritualism was to demonstrate this. As a result, some Spiritualists tacitly believed that if intransigent fact had to be helped along by hidden manipulation, hoax, fiction, or impersonation in order to turn the world into, or reveal it as, or convince an observer that the world was, a magical one in which mind ruled matter, then there was little or no fault, but rather virtue, in doing so.

See Also

Christian Science; New Religious Movements, article on New Religious Movements and Women; New Thought Movement; Quakers; Shakers; Swedenborgianism; Theosophical Society; Transcendental Meditation.

Bibliography

Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. 2d ed. Bloomington, Ind., 2001.

Britten, Emma Hardinge. Modern American Spiritualism: A Twenty Year's Record of the Communion between Earth and the World of Spirits. New York, 1870; reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y., 1970.

Buescher, John B. "More Lurid than Lucid: The Spiritualist Invention of the Word Sexism." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 70, no. 3 (2002): 561593.

Buescher, John B. The Other Side of Salvation: Spiritualism and the Nineteenth-Century Religious Experience. Boston, 2003.

Carroll, Bret E. Spiritualism in Antebellum America. Bloomington, Ind., 1997.

Moore, R. Laurence. In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism, Parapsychology, and American Culture. New York, 1977.

Owen, Alex. The Darkened Room: Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England. Philadelphia, 1990.

Podmore, Frank. Modern Spiritualism: A History and a Criticism. 2 vols. London, 1902; reprinted as Mediums of the 19th Century. New Hyde Park, N.Y., 1963.

Taves, Ann. Fits, Trances, and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James. Princeton, 1999.

John B. Buescher (2005)

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Spiritualism

SPIRITUALISM

The term "spiritualism" seems to have been coined by 17th-century theologians to signify erroneous forms of mysticism, but was taken over by V. cousin to denote his own eclectic philosophy. Its use in philosophy became common in the 19th century, both in the wider sense of systems opposed to materialism, as with T. S. Jouffroy (17961842) and maine de biran, and in more restricted contexts, as referring for instance to trends of thought originating with St. Augustine. In general usage, thinkers are termed spiritualist if they maintain the existence and primacy of a reality that is distinct from, and not derived from, matter, that of itself is not subject to the determinations of time and space, and that, in its existence, is independent of a bodily frame. Such reality may be conceived as an impersonal, universal cosmic force, or as personal, either in a supreme being or in finite beings; it may be regarded as the only reality, implying the negation of matter; or it may be affirmed as coexistent with matter and associated principally with certain aspects or regions of reality, such as essences or values, or the order and structure of the universe. Under the heading of spiritualism one may therefore include such diverse systems as pantheism, deism, theism, idealism, immaterialism, personalism, and many forms of realism.

Idealism provides the spiritualist philosopher with many valid arguments in favor of the reality and superiority of spirit, without implying that all forms of being are fundamentally spiritual in the sense of being limited manifestations of one primal spirit, or that they are inconceivable except as objects essentially related to, if not immanent in, the act of thought. Catholic philosophy sees such implications as exaggerations of the truths that all finite being proceeds from the creative knowledge of God and that the formal element in all creatures may be seen as the external realization of a divine idea as its prototype. Material beings may, moreover, be seen as relative to mind since they are formally true only for mind and are endowed with higher perfection in the mind when they are known. The affinity of being with thought does not imply that being is essentially either spiritual or immaterial, but that both created thought and created being have their source in the creative knowledge of God.

Forms of realism that teach the evolution of spirit from matter deny in practice the principle of causality. They also imply the denial of the validity of knowledge. But such a denial is itself knowledge, and therefore, if it does not contradict itself, it at least deprives itself of any right to be heeded. The denial of the spirituality of man is itself an act of the mind of man and implies the very spirituality that is denied. If it be granted that thought is not spiritual and is nothing more than the result of the play of material forces, there can no longer be any question of truth for man, in which case the initial supposition cannot be regarded as true. The denial of spirituality thus involves a latent contradiction.

See Also: spirit; spiritism; panpsychism; idealism.

Bibliography: j. macquarrie, Twentieth-Century Religious Thought (New York 1963). a. dondeyne, Contemporary European Thought and Christian Faith, tr. e. mcmullin and j. burnheim (Pittsburgh 1958.). j. d. collins, God in Modern Philosophy (Chicago 1959). É. h. gilson, Being and Some Philosophers (2d ed. Toronto 1952); The Unity of Philosophical Experience (New York 1937). a. g. sertillanges, Le Christianisme et les philosophies, 2 v. (Paris 193941). m. f. sciacca, Il problema di Dio e della religione nella filosofia attuale (3d ed. Brescia 1953). l. brunschvicg, Les Âges de l'intelligence (3d ed. Paris 1947). r. vancourt, Pensée moderne et philosophie chrétienne (Paris 1957). n. a. berdi[symbol omitted]ev, Esprit et réalité (Paris 1943). f. tuloup, L'Âme et sa survivance, depuis la préhistoire jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1947).

[a. j. mcnicholl]

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Spiritualism

Spiritualism

Agasha Temple of Wisdom

Aquarian Foundation

Believers’ Circle

Christian Spirit Center

Church of Essential Science

Church of Metaphysical Christianity

Church of Revelation (California)

Church of Revelation (Hawaii)

Church of Tzaddi

Eclesia Catolica Cristina

General Assembly of Spiritualists

Independent Spiritualist Association of the United States of America

International Church of Ageless Wisdom

International General Assembly of Spiritualists

International Spiritualist Alliance

Lotus Ashram

Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ, Inc.

National Colored Spiritualist Association of Churches

National Spiritual Alliance

National Spiritual Science Center

National Spiritualist Association of Churches

Progressive Spiritual Church

Roosevelt Spiritual Memorial Benevolent Association

St. Paul’s Church of Aquarian Science

Spiritual Episcopal Church

Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army

Superet Light Doctrine Church

T.O.M. Religious Foundation

Temple of Universal Law

United Spiritualist Church

Universal Church of Psychic Science

Universal Church of the Master

Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church (UHSC)

Universal Harmony Foundation

Universal Religion of America

Universal Spiritualist Association

University of Life Church

Agasha Temple of Wisdom

PO Box 80483, Billings, MT 59108

The Agasha Temple of Wisdom was founded in 1943 by Rev. Richard Zenor (1911–1978), an intertransitory medium for the master teacher, Agasha. Zenor had begun to show paranormal abilities as a child in Terre Haute, Indiana. During the first decade of the temple’s existence, Zenor attained recognition and fame from being featured in Telephone between Two Worlds (1950), a book by the popular writer James Crenshaw. The temple became the base from which Zenor traveled and spread the message of Agasha.

Two years after Zenor’s death, Rev. Geary Salvat was chosen to continue his work. Like his predecessor, Salvat, an intertransitory medium for the Master Teacher Ayuibbi Tobabu, had manifested psychic abilities from his youth.

Although activity at the temple includes communication with the departed, it is primarily directed toward master teachers, advanced individuals who communicate teachings from the other side. From Agasha, Ayuibbi Tobabu, and other teachers, a distinct philosophy has been developed: the Universal Understanding of the God Consciousness. Its keynote is individual responsibility and spiritual democracy within the plan of universal laws. The basic laws include the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and the law of compensation (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction). Individuals spend many lifetimes seeking to understand these laws by which their lives are governed. During the 1980s the teachings received from Agasha became the subject of a series of books by longtime temple student William Eisen. A volume on the teachings of Ayuibbi Tobabu is projected.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

Agasha Temple Newsletter.

Sources

Agasha Temple of Wisdom. www.agasha.org/.

Crenshaw, James. Telephone between Two Worlds. Los Angeles: DeVorss and Company, 1950.

Eisen, William. Agasha, Master of Wisdom. Marina del Rey, CA: DeVorss and Company, 1977.

———. The English Cabalah. 2 vols. Marina del Rey, CA: DeVorss and Company, 1980–82.

———, ed. The Agashan Discourse. Marina del Rey, CA: DeVorss and Company, 1978.

Zenor, Richard. Margie Answers You. San Diego, CA: Philip J. Hastings, 1965.

Aquarian Foundation

315 15th Ave. E, Seattle, WA 98112

The Aquarian Foundation was founded in 1955 by Rev. Keith Milton Rhinehart, a Spiritualist minister. The foundation combines elements of Spiritualism, Theosophy, and Eastern philosophy into an eclectic occult perspective. It existed for many years as an independent Spiritualist congregation in Seattle. During the 1960s, however, Rhinehart became known for his “materialization” seances and later claimed contact with those same “ascended”masters originally contacted by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), founder of the Theosophical Society.

The Aquarian Foundation does not have a statement of belief, which it feels would serve to prevent growth into greater knowledge. Aquarians draw inspiration from, and identification with, all of the major religious traditions, though the elements of Spiritualism and Theosophy are most evident. “Mediums,” individuals with an ability to regularly communicate with the “so-called” dead, are valued. However, the foundation does not focus upon regular contact with dead relatives and friends. Instead, contact is made primarily with Masters of the Great Brotherhood of Cosmic Light (also known as the Great White Brotherhood). The foundation believes in many of the concepts passed on by this Brotherhood through the Theosophical Society—karma and reincarnation, the evolution of the soul, the law of cause and effect, mastery of life and death, and the eventual attainment of personal mastery. Rhinehart, the primary medium for the foundation, conducts trance sessions through which the masters speak, which are regularly recorded from playback at the foundation’s many centers.

The foundation is committed to the Great Plan enunciated by the masters, who are viewed as ascended and evolved beings guiding the evolution of humanity and ushering in the present Aquarian Age. Prominent among the masters who have regularly spoken over the last decades through Rhinehart are Saint Germain, Morya, Sanat Kumara, and Djwal Kul (D. K.), popular figures in the Theosophical and I AM Religious Activity presentation of the spiritual hierarchy. Rhinehart also serves as the medium for many other “masters”including the Angel Moroni, who gave Joseph Smith Jr. the Book of Mormon; Mahatma Gandhi; Ashtar, first contacted by George Van Tassel, an early UFO contactee; Clarion, a UFO entity contacted by Truman Betherum in the 1950s; and the Master Immanuel, from South American Spiritualism. Rhinehart gained his early fame in Spiritualism because of his well publicized materialization seances conducted in the 1950s. More recently he claimed to possess the stigmata, a paranormal appearance of the wounds of Christ, which is said to have appeared on his body before hundreds of witnesses.

Membership

During the 1970s the foundation spread from its Seattle base to become both a national and international organization. Churches are located in Honolulu, New York City, Miami Beach, Anchorage, Hollywood, Dallas, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon. Study groups are found in Hilo, Hawaii; Ft. Lauderdale; Tacoma; West Palm Beach, Florida; Austin, Texas; and Atlanta. Foreign groups are located in Vancouver and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sources

The Aquarian Foundation. aquarianfoundation.org.

Rhinehart, Keith Milton. Soul Mates and Twin Rays. Seattle, WA: Aquarian Foundation, 1972.

Believers’ Circle

Rev. Estel Merrill, 7437 Bear Mt. Blvd., Bakersfield, CA 93313

The Believers’Circle was founded in the early 1980s by Rev. Estel Peg Merrill. Merrill had been a student of metaphysical and esoteric studies for many years before she became aware of a gift of healing. She also intuited several spirit guides, and began to go into trances and to channel messages from the spirit world. These guides/teachers were affiliated with a group called the Council, which was seen as part of the Group Mind, which in turn was a part of the Spiral Unihood (formerly known as the Brotherhood). The Council expressed its concern for humankind. Merrill’s primary guide is Levi, formerly a scribe in his earthly incarnation, who was famous as the same entity who directed Levi Dowling in the transcription of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her spirit control is HiChing, formerly an astrologer in China during the Ming Dynasty.

In 1979 Merrill began to receive lessons that became the basis of the teachings of the Believers’Circle. These teachings have been collected in several books. They affirm God as the supreme power and designer of the universe. Neither male nor female, God is “uni,”and exists in and around all of creation. God’s energy is available for healing the mind and body. Humans are a form of God consciousness who are in this present life to learn God’s absolute laws and correct past mistakes. Following death, humans make a transition to spirit existence and continue their learning.

The Believers’Circle is headquartered in Bakersfield, California, but members are scattered across the continent. Members relate to Merrill primarily through the reception of the Circle’s lesson through the mail. Beginning students start with three volumes titled Spiritual Understanding and progress to more advanced lessons in God’s Prevailing Laws, God’s Energy through Thoughts, and God’s Laws of Love and Life.

Membership

Not reported.

Christian Spirit Center

Box 114, Elon College, NC 27244

The Christian Spirit Center is headed by S. J. Haddad, its president, and is based in Elon College, North Carolina. The Center is primarily devoted to translating messages received by Brazilian mediums from Portuguese into English. It also publishes books and distributes literature on spirit doctrines. Spiritualism came into Brazil through the writings of the French writer and medium Allan Kardec (1804–1869). His teachings were distinctive, at the time, for their introduction of reincarnation into Spiritualism.

The main tenets of the Center are the continuity of life after death (first taught and demonstrated by Christ in his own resurrection, and now proven by mediumship), the laws of reincarnation and cause and effect (“karma”), and people’s free will and responsibility for their actions.

In accordance with the words of Christ, “Freely ye have received, freely give,”and based upon spirit teachings to the same effect, the Center advocates mediumship as a free service. The same principle is applied to lectureships and other spiritual work. Active followers of the spirit doctrine earn their living in secular occupations.

Membership

Not reported.

Church of Essential Science

PO Box 62284, Phoenix, AZ 85082

The Church of Essential Science was founded in Detroit, Michigan, in 1965 by Rev. Kingdon L. Brown, a medium ordained originally by the National Spiritual Aid Association. Brown was an early member of the association and developed in an informal study group. In January 1964 he received his first message from the “ascended masters.” Eventually, one of the members became Brown’s guide and teacher. Brown gradually became known for his mediumistic ability, and followers were drawn to him.

Essential Science is a religion responsive to the new data available to modern man—parapsychology, philosophy, sociology, metaphysics, and mysticism. God is seen as the cause that sustains and protects all who seek God. Man comes to know God as the Divine Mind Power as he widens his awareness to include spiritual impressions. Man is body, mind, and soul. The soul is man’s divine inheritance, a part of divinity. Through the soul, man aligns himself with the God power, the basic atomic pattern structure of the universe itself, the basic energy of the universe. A significant part of creation is the fellowship of all seekers of truth. Some are in the body, some have ascended. The ascended ones become our teachers as we decide to put our spiritual development above all else.

Headquarters of the Church of Essential Science are in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Brown became pastor of the Desert Shadows Church. Other centers are located in Detroit; Chicago; New York City; Columbus and Tijeras, New Mexico; Little Rock, Arkansas; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Palo Alto, California. Foreign centers are in Curacao, Canada, and Nigeria. Members are scattered around the country. Many were drawn to the church by the numerous personal appearances of Brown, who changed his name to Brian Seabrook.

In 1987 the church began a new public outreach with a mystical system. The purpose of this degree system of spiritual knowledge was to prepare humankind for the Aquarian dispensation about the year 2000 c.e.. It is based on the metaphysical interpretation of the Christian Bible, and the original mission of the Master Jesus. Highly symbolic and transformative, this system incorporates a new understanding of traditional esoteric practices. The aim is to bring the individual into direct contact with the Divine Essence of all earthly life. Techniques such as channeling, healing, and meditation are central.

Membership

In 2002 there were 3,500 members.

Periodicals

Monthly Reminder. • Christar Temple Degrees.

Sources

Church of Essential Science. www.essentialscience.org/.

Brown, Kingdon L. The Power of Psychic Awareness. West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing, 1969.

The Metaphysical Lessons of Saint Timothy’s Abbey Church. Grosse Pointe, MI: St. Timothy’s Abbey Church, 1966.

Church of Metaphysical Christianity

2717 Browning St., Sarasota, FL 34237

The Church of Metaphysical Christianity was founded in 1958 by Revs. Dorothy Graff Flexer and Russell J. Flexer, two prominent mediums in the Spiritualist Episcopal Church. Dorothy Flexer had led the Spiritualist Episcopal Church in its break with Camp Chesterfield in 1956 that resulted in a number of churches and ministers leaving the church. She became independent two years later.

Metaphysical Christianity, a combination of religion, philosophy, and science, disseminates the spiritual truths as manifested in the life and teachings of the master, Jesus. It seeks to study the laws of nature—mental, physical and spiritual. Obedience to these laws is said to constitute the highest form of worship. The church also teaches and gives evidence of the continuity of life after death, encouraging each member to develop his or her own gifts of the spirit so that communion between the two worlds will become natural.

The basic spiritual laws are: the law of life, the law of love (the creative force of life), the law of truth or right thinking, the law of compensation, the law of freedom, the law of abundance, and the law of perfection. After death, the spirit continues and may communicate with those still on the earth-plane. Healing is emphasized as a spiritual art.

Headquarters of the church is in Sarasota, Florida. In 1973 there were on the rolls some 25 spiritual healers.

Membership

In 1997 the church reported 125 members.

Periodical

Focus.

Sources

Shrine of the Master, Church of Metaphysical Christianity. shrineofthemaster.com.

Davis, Charles [spirit speaking through Dorothy Graff Flexer]. A New Way of Life. Sarasota, FL: Church of Metaphysical Christianity, 1989.

———. Spirit Speaks. Sarasota, FL: Church of Metaphysical Christianity Press, 1988.

Wade, Alda Madison. At the Shrine of the Master. Philadelphia: Dorrance & Company, 1953.

Church of Revelation (California)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Church of Revelation was formed in 1930 at Long Beach, California, by Rev. Janet Stine Lewis (Wolford) (d. 1957). It is not to be confused with the church of the same name formed in 1974 by Harrison Roy Hasketh in Honolulu. In 1945 the church’s headquarters were moved to Hanford, California. The church teaches the Old Christian Initiate, a set of beliefs that the church calls a world-religion and a nonsectarian philosophy. The Old Christian Initiate, based on scientific truth, shows how to find spirit, understand the natural law, and have everlasting life without death. The Old Christian Initiate teaches that people survive death in a conscious state; that they can communicate with mortals through mediumship; that as a man sows on earth he will reap in the life to come; that the future life is constructive, social, and progressive, and that peace and brotherhood are to be extolled and war decried. After Reverend Wolford’s death in 1957, she was succeeded by Rev. Winifred Ruth Mikesell.

Membership

Not reported. There has been no membership information since a 1966 report that listed congregations in Hanford, Sacramento, Burlingame, and Apple Valley, California; Toccoa, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; and Toledo, Ohio. At that time there were approximately 500 members and 30 ministers. Recent attempts to locate congregations have been unsuccessful.

Church of Revelation (Hawaii)

21475 Summit Rd., Los Gatos, CA 95030

The Church of Revelation was founded in Honolulu 1974 by Harrison Roy Hesketh. It is an eccletic mystical Spiritualist group whose teachings center upon the one God, who is all in all as all. Hesketh calls his higher or transcendental consciousness “Tattenaiananda,”generally shortened to “Tat,”the name by which most of his students refer to him. The centers connected with the church teach a wide variety of psychic development techniques, among the most important being the Rainbow Bridge Meditation, by which the leaders take students over the rainbow bridge (that part of the inner consciousness that connects the conscious self with the spiritual realms) to the White Light of God. Tat is also in contact with the ascended masters, those spiritual beings spoken of by Guy Ballard, the founder of the “I AM”Religious Activity.

The church is headed by a board of directors. Hesketh is the president of the church. In 1983 the headquarters were moved to Los Gatos, California. The educational arm of the church is the Astral Physics School. Affiliated centers and churches are found in Honolulu; Seattle; Vancouver; and Pambrook East, Bermuda.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

The New Spirit.

Church of Tzaddi

PO Box 308, Kennesaw, GA 30156

Amy Merritt Kees was semi-invalid and disabled, the victim of an accident that damaged her spine as a teenager. Shortly after the birth of her first child in 1936, however, she began to experience contacts from the spirit world. In 1958 Amy was healed completely. She dedicated her home as a center for study, meditation, and healing, and in 1959 she formed a study group, “The Open Door of Love.”She also became a student of Unity School of Christianity, the Universal Church of the Master, and the Self-Realization Fellowship. The growth of her work, along with the spiritual communications received through her daughter, Dorothe, led to the founding of the Church of Tzaddi in 1962. (Tzaddi is the eighteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is identified with the Aquarian Age.)

The purpose of the Church of Tzaddi is “to teach sciences, ancient wisdom, ideals and principles, philosophy, psychology, psychometry, and spiritual truths; to promote the brotherhood of man, the universal law of truth and all educational subjects; to solemnize marriages and officiate at funerals; to perform and administer divine healing, give inspirational counsel and communications and prophesy.” An extensive course for the ministry includes material drawn from Unity School of Christianity, the Bible, parapsychology, Hermeticism, and world religion. It may be taken by correspondence. Headquarters of the church recently moved from Orange, California, to Colorado. Branches are located around the country; among the most prominent is the church in Phoenix, Arizona. Its pastor, Dr. Frank Alper, is also the founder of the Arizona Metaphysical Society.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

Lightline.

Sources

The Church of Tzaddi. www.tzaddi.org

Alper, Frank. An Evening with Christos. Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Metaphysical Society, 1979.

———. Exploring Atlantis. 3 vols. Farmingdale, NY: Coleman Publishing, 1982.

Johnson, Amy (Kees), and Dorothy Blackmere. Developing Spiritually. Garden Grove, CA: Bishop of the Church of Tzaddi, 1980.

Slate, Ann B. “Your Daughter Shall Prophecy.” Fate 23, no. 4 (August, 1970): 68–78.

Eclesia Catolica Cristina

2123 Grand Ave., New York, NY 10453

The Eclesia Catolica Cristina evolved from the Spiritualist Christian Church. It was founded in March 1956 by His Holiness Delfin Roman-Cardona and incorporated as the Eclesia Catolica Cristina in June 1969. The name was changed to differentiate the church from spiritist centers, and because its liturgical rituals more closely resembled traditional Roman Catholic practice.

Delfin Roman-Cardona was born to Roman Catholic parents in Utuato, Puerto Rico, on December 14, 1918. His ability at clairvoyance manifested when he was three years old. From seven to 14 he served as an acolyte at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Utuado. During these years, when he was twelve, he cured a neighbor who suffered from recurrent migraine headaches by placing his hands on her head. From that time, he developed as a clairvoyant and healer, never charging for his services. He eventually moved to New York in obedience to what he felt was a divine mandate.

In line with many congregations throughout South America, the Eclesia Catolica Cristina follows the practices of exorcism, prophecy, channeling, and psychic healing, all of which are modeled on rites of the ancient Hebrews and Christians. The church draws upon the spiritism of Allan Kardec (1804–1869), which it has mingled with tenets of Judaism, Christianity, and Eastern religions to preach a universal Catholicism. It does not identify with the New Age movement; it believes its practices and rituals are closer to those of ancient Christianity.

The church is organized on the model of the Roman Catholic Church, with a pontiff, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and priests. The church ordains both men and women to the priesthood, a practice that it claims derives precedence from Atlantis, where women were held as equal to men and were granted the same ecclesiastical positions.

The college of priests elected Roman-Cardona as its first pontiff on April 25, 1965, and the pontifical elevation occurred in 1976. In the meantime, in 1972 Roman-Cardona entered a state of renunciation. After considering hundreds of testimonials and listening to many witnesses attesting to miracles performed by Roman-Cardona, the church members voted to proclaim him a living saint on October 28, 1978. He has since been known as St. Delfin I.

Roman-Cardona was reported to have healed a variety of illnesses, including some that were considered terminal. He also taught many others to do healing and exorcisms and anointed them to carry on their ministries, and he prohibited the exploitation of their abilities. The church holds weekly celebrations of the Mass and services of healing and exorcism, all without charge. Members pay a membership fee of $10 per month to assist in the church’s upkeep, with additional tithes and offerings being voluntary.

Twenty-five years after his renunciation, the church pronounced Roman-Cardona a Pure and Divine Avatar and the spirit of a Solar Angel, who is the promised Comforter. He was proclaimed the Second Savior and New Messiah of this planet by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ on August 31, 1997. As the Second Savior, the college of priests and the faithful understand his messianic mission to be to restore the teachings of Christ, to clarify his parables, and to define God and creation through enlightened reason and logic.

Olga Roman, Roman-Cardona’s wife, was ordained a priest on June 21, 1959, and was elevated to pontifical cardinal on January 6, 1976. She will become the church’s second pontiff following the death of St. Delfin I. Cardinal Roman was born in Puerto Rico in 1938, and moved to New York as a young woman. She is the mother of three sons.

Membership

In 1997 the church operated out of a single center in New York City. There were approximately 1,500 members, 1,000 of whom resided in the United States. There were 18 priests.

General Assembly of Spiritualists

27 Appleton St., Rochester, NY 14611

The General Assembly of Spiritualists is a sovereign, self-governing ecclesiastical body. Its history as an organized religious body goes back to November 15, 1897, when it was incorporated as the New York State Association of Spiritualists. At the convention in Rochester, New York, on June 20, 1914, the delegates by unanimous vote authorized changing the constitution, by-laws, and name to the General Assembly of Spiritualists, to conform with the Laws of New York, 1914, Chapter 485, Section 1, Chapter 53 of the Laws of 1909, titled “an act in relation to religious corporations, constituting Chapter 51 of consolidated laws,” adding Article XII, Spiritualist Churches, section 262 to 273, inclusive. By this act, Spiritualism for the first time was recognized by law as a religion with distinct powers conferred by the legislature upon the General Assembly of Spiritualists. The original charter of the General Assembly of Spiritualist was signed and recorded in Monroe County, New York, on October 15, 1915.

At the convention in Buffalo, New York, on June 19, 20, and 21, 1931, the delegates voted to sever the Assembly’s affiliation with other Spiritualist groups. This was done to preserve what they saw as the principles expressed by the pioneers of Spiritualism, especially that of universal brotherhood, and to protect the movement against a felt threat from the encroachment of prejudice and sectarianism. The necessary legal steps were duly consummated and papers signed, thus establishing the General Assembly of Spiritualists as a sovereign, self-governing ecclesiastical body, with executive power vested in a board of directors. Jurisdiction extended to several states in the United States and to Canada.

The General Assembly believes in the advancement of the Spiritualist religion as an idealistic, humanitarian, and inspiring movement that gives aid to the sick through spiritual healing, and aid to the sound of body by well founded hope and faith. The General Assembly is firmly and permanently opposed to all fraudulent and dishonest imitation of real mediumship, and to the sensational display thereof. The ideal of the General Assembly is to continue to raise the standards of the Spiritualist movement and to encourage study classes, reading courses, the dissemination of Spiritualist literature, and research work, so that others may learn the reality of the Spirit World and its meaning to humankind.

The assembly issues a set of pamphlets that explain their major beliefs, including How Shall We Teach Spiritualism?, Jesus of Nazareth, The Nature of the Spirit World, Spiritualism: Fact or Fiction, Voice of Spirit, and What is Spiritualism?

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

The Church of Divine Inspiration. www.churchofdivineinspiration.com.

General Assembly of Spiritualists, State of New York. New York: Flying Saucer News, n.d.

Lomaxe, Paul R. What Do Spiritualists Believe? New York: General Assembly of Spiritualists, 1943.

Independent Spiritualist Association of the United States of America

5130 W 25th St., Cicero, IL 60650

The Independent Spiritualist Association of the United States of America was formed in 1924 by Amanda Flowers, who with others withdrew from the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC) because of her objection to the rule that forbade NSAC mediums to work in non-NSAC churches. She also wanted greater freedom to express her own theosophical views, which went beyond the beliefs of the NSAC.

Membership

In 1988 there were 120 member mediums.

Sources

Basic Course of Study. Cicero, IL: Independent Spiritualist Association of the United States of America, n.d.

International Church of Ageless Wisdom

c/o ICAW California Seminary, PO Box 194, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

The International Church of Ageless Wisdom was founded by Beth R. Hand (1903–1977), a spiritualist minister in the 1920s and an early student of Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, one of the first Hindu organizations established in the United States. From Yogananda, who came to the United States in 1924, and from her studies Hand became convinced of the truth of reincarnation and karma. The Spiritualists requested her resignation, and she was forced to abandon the three churches she had founded in New Jersey. She moved to Philadelphia and opened the first Church of Ageless Wisdom in 1927.

Soon after the formation of the Church of Ageless Wisdom, Hand met Rev. George Haas, leader of the Universal Spiritual Church, a British Spiritualist body that shared Hand’s ideas about reincarnation. She brought her church into commmunion with his. She later sought, but did not receive, a formal charter from that church. Meanwhile, in 1956 Haas was consecrated a bishop by John Beswarick, bishop of the Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate), an independent British Orthodox-Catholic body, who had received orders from the famous independent bishop, Hugh George de Willmott Newman. In 1958 Haas consecrated Hand. In spite of the consecration, her inability to receive a formal charter led Hand to become independent of the Universal Spiritual Church. In 1962 she received a charter from the State of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, she consecrated other bishops of the church, and one of them, Muriel E. Matalucci, succeeded her as archbishop primate in 1977. That same year Archbishop Metalucci changed the name of the organization to its present designation.

The church’s teachings are eclectic, drawing upon Spiritualist, Hindu, Buddhist, and ancient occult wisdom teachings, though there is a primary emphasis upon Christianity. It teaches that God is the father of all that exists; that all men are brothers (hence no discrimination is allowed); souls are immortal and there is always the opportunity for reformation, reincarnation, and karma; and the planet and humanity can be saved by the power of prayer and love. God is not conceived in anthropomorphic terms. Jesus is the Wayshower, who manifested the way for individuals, all of whom are sons of God, to become one with God. Humans evolve by following the laws of the universe. The church believes in and uses the wide variety of psychic gifts as tools for human progress and service in God’s work.

The church is headed by the archbishop primate, assisted by another archbishop, one bishop, the canons-of-states, and the canons-at-large, all of whom together comprise the Holy Synod. There is an annual meeting.

Membership

Not reported.

Educational Facilities

The International Church of Ageless Wisdom California Seminary, Half Moon Bay, California.

Periodicals

Aquarian Lights.

Remarks

Associated with the International Church of Ageless Wisdom is the Michigan Metaphysical Society, headed by the popular Detroit-area psychic teacher, Sol Lewis, who was ordained by Hand. Another famous member of the church is the popular occult lecturer Colonel Arthur Burks.

Sources

International Church of Ageless Wisdom. www.icawseminary-ca.net.

Barrett, Lawrence R. Ten Principles. Atlanta, GA: Author, 1982.

Ritual Book. Wyalusing, PA: International Church of Ageless Wisdom, 1979.

International General Assembly of Spiritualists

5403 S Ridge W, Ashtabula, OH 44004

The International General Assembly of Spiritualists (IGAS) was incorporated in 1936 in Buffalo, New York, by Rev. Arthur A. Ford (1897–1971), Fred Constantine, and eight other Spiritualist ministers. Arthur Ford was the first president. Rev. Fred Jordan, a retired Navy commander, was ordained by Ford in 1937 and served as president of the IGAS from 1938 to 1974. Rev. Jerry Higgins was elected to succeed Jordan, but died before assuming the post. Rev. Fred Jordan Jr., the vice president, was then elected to succeed his father.

In 1946 the IGAS adopted a Declaration of Principles that follows word-for-word that of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. Emphasis is placed on prayer, healing, and spiritual unfoldment and development. Communion is served regularly. There are affiliated congregations in Africa and Nepal.

Membership

In 1987 the church reported 35 congregations, 410 members, and 103 ministers in the United States, and an additional 190 members worldwide.

Educational Facilities

Shrine of the Healing Master, Ashtabula, Ohio.

Periodicals

The I.G.A.S. Journal.

Sources

Ford, Arthur. Why We Survive. Cooksburg, NY: Gutenberg Press, 1952.

Ford, Arthur, with Margueritte Harmon Bro. Nothing So Strange. New York: Harper and Row, 1958.

Royce, Clifford M., Jr. To the Spirit … From the Spirit. Chicago: Author, 1975.

Spraggett, Allen, with William V. Rauscher. Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead. New York: New American Library, 1973.

International Spiritualist Alliance

201–317 Columbia St., New Westminster, BC, Canada V3L 1A7

The International Spiritualist Alliance is a Canadian-based Spiritualist church headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was founded to “bring into closer Brotherhood and Unity Spiritualists the world over.” Churches are located across Canada and the British Isles and include two churches in California, one in San Bernardino and the Holy Grail Foundation in Santa Cruz. There is an annual convention. The current president is Rev. Beatrice Gaulton Bishop.

The Alliance has a loose belief structure, accepting as “Principles of Spiritualism” seven affirmations, on the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the immortality of the soul, communion with the departed, personal responsibility, compensation for good and evil, and eternal progress of the soul. Members are Christian, accepting the belief in God and the creator, who is love, and in Jesus, the Lord who was incarnated for the salvation of men. Jesus became perfected in suffering and thus became both Lord and Christ.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

International Spiritualist News Review. Send orders to 3371 Findlay St., Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Sources

International Spiritualist Alliance. www.isacanada.ca.

Lotus Ashram

264 Mainsail, Port St. Lucie, FL 33452

The Lotus Ashram was established in 1971 in Miami, Florida, by Noel and Coleen Street. Noel is a medium originally from New Zealand and ordained by the Universal Church of the Master. Coleen is a yoga teacher. Noel became a popular figure in the psychic community in the United States through his annual tour and his many books and writings. He specializes in psychic healing, which he learned from the Maori natives of New Zealand, and past-life reading by which he is able to trace an individual’s previous incarnations on earth. Coleen’s work stresses physical fitness through yoga, vegetarianism, and food preparation.

In 1975 a second center for the ashram, called Springtime, was opened in Chillicothe, Ohio. A chapel, healing sanctuary, and bookstore are part of the complex. In 1977 the ashram headquarters moved to Texas, at a location near the Mexican border. The ashram is governed by an eight-person board of directors.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

Lotus Leaves.

Sources

The Story of the Lotus Ashram. Miami, FL: Lotus Ashram, n.d.

Street, Noel. Karma, Your Whispering Wisdom. Fabens, TX: Lotus Ashram, 1978.

———. Reincarnation, One Life—Many Births. Fabens, TX: Lotus Ashram, 1978.

Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ, Inc.

National Headquarters, Temple of St. Jude, 8747 Fenkell St., Detroit, MI 48238

Alternative Address

International Headquarters: PO Box 414858, Kansas City, MO 64141.

The Metropolitan Spiritual Community Churches of Christ, Inc., was founded in 1925 by Bishop William Taylor (1887–1942) and Elder Leviticus Lee Boswell. The word “spiritual” in the church’s name indicates its basic Christian beliefs and its practice of the spiritual gifts according to I Corinthians 12. The church is trinitarian and baptizes people in the name of the “Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” It affirms the Apostles’Creed, but replaces the word “catholic”with the word “universal.”The Gospel is described as foursquare: preaching, teaching, healing, prophecy. Incarnation, not reincarnation, is taught. The churches believe that “all men (humankind) are incarnations of the one Spirit regardless of race, creed, or condition, with full belief in creation.”

Bishop Taylor was succeed by the Rev. Clarence Cobb (d.1979), founder and pastor of the First Church of Deliverance in Chicago, Illinois. In the 1970s he brought additional churches in Accra, Ghana, and Monrovia, Liberia, into the fellowship of the Metropolitan Spiritual Church of Christ. Cobb was succeeded by Dr. I. Logan Kearse (d. 1991), pastor of the Cornerstone Church of Christ in Baltimore, Maryland. Kearse was succeeded as president of the church by Rev. Dr. Arthur L. Posey, who had founded the Temple of St. Jude Spiritual Church in Detroit. In 2008 Posey was assisted in his leadership role by Bishops James D. Tindall Sr., Charles N. Slayton, William Hamilton, William Ozier, William H. Foreman, Joseph Kennedy Jr., and Robert Smith.

Membership

In 2008 the church reported 43 congregations across the United States and four in West Africa.

Sources

Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ, Inc. www.metrospiritualchurch.com/.

National Colored Spiritualist Association of Churches

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Shortly after World War I, the growing black membership in the National Spiritualist Association of Churches separated from the parent body and, in 1922, formed the National Colored Spiritualist Association of Churches. Doctrine and practice follow closely those of the parent body. Churches are located in Detroit, Chicago, Columbus (Ohio), Miami, Charleston (South Carolina), New York City, Phoenix, and St. Petersburg (Florida).

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

The Nationalist Spiritualist Reporter.

National Spiritual Alliance

RFD 1, Lake Pleasant, MA 01347

The National Spiritual Alliance was formed in 1913 by the Rev. G. Tabor Thompson, previously a medium with the New England Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association, and an advocate of belief in reincarnation, an opinion at variance with the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC). Otherwise, the Alliance is similar to the NSAC. An annual convention is held at Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts. An official board of directors conducts outreach work.

Membership

In 2008 the alliance reported only one center still in operation. It also reported a constituency of several thousand people who visit irregularly.

Sources

The National Spiritual Alliance. www.thenationalspiritualallianceinc.org.

Shattuck, Louise, with David James. Spirit and Spa: A Portrait of the Body, Mind and Soul of a 133-Year-Old Spiritualist Community in Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts. Greenfield, MA: Delta House Press, 2003.

National Spiritual Science Center

c/o Seekers Church, 276 Carroll St. NW, Washington, DC 20012

The National Spiritual Science Center was established in Washington, D.C., in 1941 by Rev. Alice Wellstood Tindell. Reverend Tindell was trained at the Spiritual Science Mother Church, headquartered at Carnegie Hall Studios, New York City, which was founded by Rev. Julia O. Forrest on May 29, 1923. For many years it was an active part of the Ecclesiastical Council of the Spiritual Science Mother Church and also a charter member in the Federation of Spiritual Churches and Associations, an ecumenical organization of Spiritualist groups that was organized by Reverend Tindell. In 1969, while attending a Federation meeting, Reverend Tindell suffered an accident that left her disabled and led her to turn the center over to two people she had trained during the 1960s, Reverends Henry J. Nagorka and Diane S. Nagorka.

During the 1970s the Nagorkas reorganized the center, independent of the Spiritual Science Mother Church, and moved the headquarters. Under their leadership, the center emerged as a prominent national Spiritual Science organization. ESPress, Inc., became a significant Spiritualist publishing concern, and for 16 years Rev. Henry Nagorka served as its publisher and president of the center’s Board of Directors. Rev. Diane S. Nagorka founded the School of Spiritual Science, and with her colleague and assistant, Rev. Margaret Moum, established the curriculum and theology for metaphysical studies for which the school became known. She served as its director for many years. After Reverend Henry’s death in 1986, ESPress, Inc., ceased its publishing activities, and Rev. Diane S. Nagorka assumed management of the operations of the center and school as its president and director until her retirement in June 1989.

The baton of leadership passed to the board of directors, which meets on a regular basis to determine policy and to administer the services and activities of the center. The School of Spiritual Science continues its program of metaphysical studies under the guidance of the director of education, who is appointed to the position, and presents a four-year course of study leading to certification as Minister of Spiritual Science.

The center’s nine-point statement affirms belief in God as the Universal Creative Energy, the dynamic growing nature of the universe; the drive of every entity to unite with God; the immortality of the soul; individual free will; wisdom as the latent power of God within; the reality of communication with spirit; soul-unfoldment and service as the purpose of life; and God as a just, accepting, and impersonal Force, drawing all to perfection.

Membership

Not reported.

Educational Facilities

Silent Light International Spiritual Science Correspondence School.

Periodicals

InSpirit.

Sources

National Spiritual Science Center. www.nsscdc.org/.

Moum, Margaret R. Guidebook to the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Washington, DC: ESPress, 1974.

Nagorka, Diane S. Spirit as Life Force. Washington, DC: ESPress, 1983.

National Spiritualist Association of Churches

13 Cottage Row, PO Box 217, Lily Dale, NY 14752

The National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC), formed in 1893 in Chicago, is the oldest and largest of the Spiritualist churches. Among its first leaders were Harrison D. Barrett (c. 1863–1911) and James M. Peebles (1822–1922), both former Unitarian clergymen, and Cora L. V. Richmond (1840–1923), a medium and author. The association was formed both for fellowship and to deal with fraudulent mediumship. The association is also important for its adoption of a number of statements on Spiritualism that have become a standard to which other Spiritualist bodies more or less adhere.

In 1899 the association adopted a six-article “Declaration of Principles,” with three more added later. These nine articles established the beliefs of modern Spiritualism:

(1) We believe in Infinite Intelligence [the influence of Unitarianism is evident in this definition of God];

(2) We believe that the phenomena of Nature, both physical and spiritual, are the expression of Infinite Intelligence;

(3) We affirm that a correct understanding of such expression and living in accordance therewith constitute true religion;

(4) We affirm that the existence and personal identity of the individual continue after the change called death;

(5) We affirm that communication with the so-called dead is a fact, scientifically proven by the phenomena of Spiritualism;

(6) We believe that the highest morality is contained in the Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye also unto them”;

(7) We affirm the moral responsibility of the individual, and that he makes his own happiness or unhappiness as he obeys or disobeys Nature’s physical and spiritual laws;

(8) We affirm that the doorway to reformation is never closed against any soul here or hereafter;

(9) We affirm that the precept of Prophecy and Healing are Divine attributes proven through Mediumship.

Over the years, other statements were adopted on “What Spiritualism Is and Does” and “Spiritual Healing.” A set of “Definitions” was also approved. The two issues of reincarnation and the relation of Spiritualism to Christianity emerged as the major questions dividing Spiritualists. Differing answers to these two questions split the NSAC on several occasions, and dissent led independent Spiritualists to form their own organizations instead of joining the NSAC. Reincarnation, gaining popularity through theosophy, began to find favor among some mediums in the early twentieth century but was specifically condemned by the NSAC in 1930. “Are Spiritualists also Christians?” was debated by the NSAC and generally decided in the negative. Although the NSAC has drawn heavily on the Christian faith, from which most members came, it identifies its members as Spiritualists. The specifically “Christian” Spiritualists were found in other bodies such as the Progressive Spiritualist Church. It should be noted that most Spiritualists differentiate between primitive Christianity, which they believe themselves to be following and practicing, and contemporary orthodox Christianity, which they strictly differentiate from both primitive Christianity and Spiritualism.

The polity of the association is hierarchical. There are loosely organized state associations and an annual national convention. Among Spiritualists, the association has the highest standards for ordination. The NSAC is noteworthy as the only Spiritualist body to attempt to develop work among youth. The lyceum (Sunday school) was originally promoted and shaped by Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910) in 1863. Children’s materials have been developed and many churches have an active lyceum program. Such efforts have given the NSAC a stability lacking in most Spiritualist bodies.

Membership

In 2008 the NSAC reported 85 affiliated churches in the United States.

Educational Facilities

Morris Pratt Institute, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Center for Spiritualist Studies, Lily Dale, New York.

Periodicals

The National Spiritualist Summit. PO Box 6089, Sun City West, AZ 85376-6089. • Spotlight (for children). 1418 Hall SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506-3960.

Sources

National Spiritualist Association of Churches. www.nsac.org/.

Barrett, H. D. Life Work of Cora L. V. Richmond. Chicago: Hack & Anderson, 1895.

Holms, A. Campbell. The Fundamental Facts of Spiritualism. Indianapolis, IN: Stow Memorial Foundation, n.d.

Kuhnig, Verna Kathryn. Spiritualist Lyceum Manual. Milwaukee, WI: National Spiritualist Association of Churches, 1962.

One Hundredth Anniversary of Modern American Spiritualism. Chicago: National Spiritualist Association of Churches, 1948.

Progressive Spiritual Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Progressive Spiritual Church was formed in 1907 by the Rev. G. V. Cordingley, who had been one of the organizers of the Illinois State Spiritualist Association of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. The Reverend Cordingley had rejected the NSAC’s adoption of a “Declaration of Principles” instead of a “Confession of Faith” based on the authority of the Bible. An aggressive policy of proselytizing brought steady growth during the first decade of the Progressive Spiritual Church.

The doctrine of the church is derived from Christian affirmations as modified by divine revelations received through spirit communication. The Confession of Faith affirms belief in communication with spirits, the resurrection of the soul (but not of the body), God as absolute divine spirit, and angels or departed spirits, who communicate through mediums. Members further hold that Jesus was a medium, that spirits have desires, that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that heaven and hell are conditions, not locations. Four sacraments are practiced: baptism, marriage, spiritual communion, and funerals.

A mother church elects officers, including a supreme pastor, a board of trustees, a secretary and a treasurer. Individual congregations elect their own officers, but are subject to the mother church. Churches are located mainly in the Midwest.

Membership

Not reported. Attempts to contact individuals associated with the church have proved futile. It is not known if the church is still functioning.

Sources

McArthur, Paul. Text Book, Ritual, Valuable Data and Selected Poems. Progressive Spiritualist Association of Missouri, 1908.

Roosevelt Spiritual Memorial Benevolent Association

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Roosevelt Spiritual Memorial Benevolent Association was formed in 1949 by a group of independent Spiritualists. Its main purpose was to provide a home for otherwise independent mediums and churches, which it certified and chartered. It adhered to the Spiritualist doctrine, asserting communication as taught in the Bible and promoting psychical research. It also offered a study course in Spiritualism.

Membership

Not reported.

St. Paul’s Church of Aquarian Science

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Rev. Harold C. Durbin, a Spiritualist medium who was a pastor in the Spiritualist Episcopal Church, became independent in the 1960s and founded St. Paul’s Church of Aquarian Science in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1970 he published his book, Someone Asked, He Answered. The name of the church was derived from the zodiacal sign of Aquarius. The church posited that humanity was moving into the Aquarian Age. Jesus refers to the “man with the waterpot,” Aquarius, in Mark 14:13–15.

According to the church’s teachings, God is Universal Spirit with the attributes of power and intelligence; God is a trinity of Father (creator), Son (created), and Holy Spirit (the process of creation); man is a trinity of body, soul or mind, and spirit; Jesus the master gave the highest teachings, and people grow as they practice these teachings; man is divine creation, with all the divine attributes and access to God through Jesus; all life is eternal and must grow and evolve; the door of reformation is never closed; and by developing the divine attributes, attunement of the world of spirit (mediumship) is developed. The church accepted reincarnation.

A second congregation was established in Tampa. In the late 1970s headquarters were moved to Texas.

Membership

Not reported. Prior to the move to Texas, the church reported over 800 people affiliated with the congregations.

Sources

Durbin, Harold C. Someone Asked, He Answered. Lakemont, GA, 1970.

Spiritual Episcopal Church

141 Frost St., Eaton Rapids, MI 48827

The Spiritual Episcopal Church was founded in 1941 as the Spiritualist Episcopal Church by the Revs. Clifford Bias (1910–1987), John W. Bunker (1893–1956), and Robert Chaney (1913–2006), all prominent mediums at Camp Chesterfield in Indiana. Bias and Bunker were members of the Independent Spiritualist Association, and Chaney was a member of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. The founders expressed dissatisfaction with an overemphasis on phenomena within Spiritualism; they wanted a greater emphasis on philosophy, particularly as channeled from the spirit realm.

In 1956 a morals charge was brought against a prominent medium, a candidate for a church office. Camp Chesterfield, where the church had its membership, was split between those supporting and those opposing the medium. After attempting to dissuade the medium from seeking office, the Rev. Dorothy Graff Flexer moved the church headquarters to Lansing, Michigan, hoping to prevent the divisiveness at Camp Chesterfield from further disrupting the church.

The church believes that Spirit is the Origin, Sustainer, and Reality in all forms of nature and in all the expression of life. The universe is spirit-built and constitutes a divine revelation of Spirit (God). The church believes in life after death, the efficacy of prayer, the duty and privilege to come into harmony and peace with the Spirit, and the divinity of all persons. Jesus is accepted as an Avatar, one of the “Christed ones”who have manifested into the world to lighten its darkness and show by precept and example the way of life leading back to the Source.

In 2008 the presiding clergy was Rev. Audrey Charlton.

Membership

In 2008 the church reported congregations in Eaton Rapids, Mt. Morris, and Owosso, Michigan.

Periodicals

Spiritualist Messenger, 610 Clinton St., Owosso MI 48867.

Sources

Spiritual Episcopal Church. www.spiritualist-church.com/.

Chaney, Robert G. “Hear My Prayer.” Eaton Rapids, MI: Library, the Spiritualist Episcopal Church, 1942.

Development of Mediumship. Dimondale, MI: Spiritual Episcopal Church, n.d.

Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army

c/o Ypsilanti Temple, 501 Eugene St., Ypsilanti, MI 48198

The exact origin of the Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army is unknown, but it draws heavily on two older African-American religious traditions, Black Judaism and Spiritualism. Leaders of the Spiritual Israel Church, such as Bishop Robert Haywood (called by the title King of All Israel) and Bishop George Coachman (the association’s Overseer), placed its establishment in the late 1930s, with some organization precedents going back to the 1920s. The forerunner of the Spiritual Israel Church was the Church of God in David, which was established by Derks Field in Alabama. At some point, either in Alabama or Michigan, Field met W. D. Dickson, who had arrived at similar ideas. After Field’s death, Dickson took on the title of the King of All Israel, which was also carried by his successors, and pulled Spiritual Israel “out of David”upon instructions from the Spirit. Spiritual Israelites credit both Field and Dickson with “restoring” the teachings of the ancient Israelites. Apparently after Field’s death, a power struggle for the leadership of the association occurred among Dickson and the surviving Field brothers, Doc and Candy. Each of the Field brothers established a separate organization, and several other groups, all containing the word “Israel” in their names, later broke away from the Spiritual Israel Church. Because of the severe Michigan winters, Dickson moved the sect to Virginia for a while, but returned to Detroit upon further instructions from the Spirit. Dickson was succeeded in his leadership by Bishop Martin Tompkin and Haywood.

Members of Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army view themselves as spiritual descendants of the ancient Israelites or “Spiritual Jews,” and their association as a restoration of the religion of the ancient Israelites. They maintain that “Ethiopian”is the “nationality” name of black people, whereas “Israel” is their “spiritual” name. They believe that the first human beings were black, starting with Adam, who was created from the “Black soil of Africa” and that all of the great Israelite patriarchs and prophets were black men. In time, however, with the sons of Isaac, a division in humanity developed. Jacob became the progenitor of the Ethiopian nation and Esau of the Caucasian nation. Spiritual Israelites maintain that most whites who identify themselves as Jews are actually the descendants of Gentiles who intermarried with the original Jews or Israelites.

Spiritual Israelites maintain that they belong to the one true Spiritual church and that the Spirit dwells in all people. Like most other Spiritual groups, they believe that heaven and hell are projections of the human mind. The Christ Spirit, which is simply the anointed power of God, has occupied the bodies of many kings of Israel.

Membership

In 2008 the Spiritual Israel Church reported 28 affiliated churches in 13 states.

Sources

Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army. www.siciaypsilanti.org/.

Baer, Hans A. “Black Spiritual Israelites in a Small Southern City.” Southern Quarterly 23, no. 3 (1985):103–124.

———. The Black Spiritual Movement: A Religious Response to Racism. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1984.

Superet Light Doctrine Church

2516 W Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90057

The Superet Light Doctrine Church was founded in Los Angeles in 1925 by Dr. Josephine De Croix Trust (d. 1957), called Mother Trust by her followers. According to Superet Light belief, Mother Trust was a Light Scientist who found Jesus’Religion because she had the gift to see the light, vibration, and aura of Jesus’Words. In childhood, Mother Trust was able to see auras. During her early work in New York City, she diligently studied the auras to learn their meanings, often going without food. She developed tuberculosis, but in a vision Jesus healed her and gave her the mission of bringing to the world His light teachings. She gained a reputation around New York City as a miracle healer.

From her studies of the Bible she discovered that only the Words of Jesus shone with light. She then began to realize the secret of the Mother of God: The Holy Ghost was the Mother of God. She discovered that there are two purple hearts united in one, the Father and Mother of God. Also, she discovered from her studies of light in the Book of Revelation, the New Name “Superet,”the Parent God, Father and Mother Superet Light. Jesus Christ chose Mother Trust to bring out this truth to the world. She was told in a vision that Superet is the everlasting fire in God’s Sacred Purple Heart.

The Superet Science teaches the manifestation of God’s Light through every individual’s light atom aura. All substances that possess magnetism, especially all life, have an aura, an invisible emanation. Mother Trust, as an aura scientist, was able to see both the outer aura and inner aura (or light of the soul). The light atom aura, capable of receiving God’s Light, is produced by developing one’s inner aura. Through Jesus Christ the Superet Light is effected and people become successful in their daily lives.

The church offers several lesson series that explain basic Superet Light beliefs, such as “The Superet Lessons” and “The Golden Text Lessons.” Mother Trust wrote more than 25 books, most of which are available to the general public.

On Christmas Day, 1938, Mother Trust inaugurated the Prince of Peace Movement, for people of all religions, colors, and nationalities, as an auxiliary to the Superet Church.

Membership

In 2008 the church reported one center in the United States, with affiliated work in Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela.

Periodicals

Newsletter of the Superetist Brotherhood and Sisterhood. 2516 W. Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90057.

Sources

Superet Light Center. www.superet.com.

Miracle Woman’s Secrets. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1949.

Superet Light Doctrine Ministry. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1947.

Trust, Josephine C. Bible Mystery by Superet Light Science. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1950.

———. Superet Light. Los Angeles: Superet Light Center, 1953.

———. Superet Light Doctrine. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1949.

T.O.M. Religious Foundation

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The T.O.M. Religious Foundation was founded in the 1960s by the Rev. Ruth Johnson of Velarde, New Mexico. The Reverend Johnson achieved her leadership through knowledge gained from study, experience, and previous lives. In 1970 the Foundation was moved to Canon City, Colorado. Its teachings were transmitted primarily through correspondence studies, “Moon Time Studies in Spiritual Culture,” which offered instruction in dreams and the Bible, ESP and psychic development, and “Atlantis” and “Original Christianity.”Teachings stressed that God is the divine one, or Whole, or Spirit, who knows, loves, and cares for all, and manifests his love through spiritual guidance. The language of the soul can supply lines of communication with the spirit world.

Membership

Not reported.

Temple of Universal Law

5030 N Drake, Chicago, IL 60625

The Temple of Universal Law was founded in 1936 by the Rev. Charlotte Bright (d. 1989), a medium under the guidance of Master Nicodemus, the control and directing voice who speaks through her. In 1965 a temple was erected on Chicago’s North Side. Teachings were given through the Reverend Bright by the Masters of the Great White Brotherhood. The control and directing voice, as well as other masters of the brotherhood, continued to speak through her son and successor, the Rev. Robert E. Martin.

The temple describes itself as a nondenominational church based in metaphysical Christianity. Members believe in God who expresses himself as a Trinity. God the Father is the universal law of life which creates, sustains, and progresses to eternal life, and Christ is the perfect demonstration of divine mind. The Holy Spirit is the action of divine mind within. Truth is found in the Bible and in all spiritual traditions. The essential duty of man, who is immortal, is to look within and begin to awaken the Christ Spirit. Only by learning and understanding universal law can we come into oneness with God. The Lord’s Supper is celebrated on the first Sunday in each month.

Classes, special workshops and lectures, and various services emphasizing communication with spirits supplement the Sunday worship. The temple maintains a library and has published numerous booklets.

Membership

In 1988 the church reported two congregations with more than 200 members served by 11 minister-mediums. There were also 12 missionaries (channels) affiliated with the church.

Periodicals

Temple Messenger.

813 W 165th Pl., Gardena, CA 90247

The United Spiritualist Church was founded in 1967 by the Rev. Floyd Humble, Edwin Potter, and Howard Mangan. The Reverend Humble had earlier served several independent Spiritualist churches. The United Spiritualist Church differs from most Spiritualist churches in its adoption of a centralized form of government. Power is invested in the presidency, which includes the president, first advisor-secretary, and second advisor-treasurer. Under the presidency is the board of governors. There is also a board of publication, education, and church extension and missions, and a general conference, which elects the board of governors.

The beliefs and practices of the church stem from the consensus of Spiritualism. Members believe in mediumship, both mental and physical, and follow the practices of Jesus in preaching, healing, teaching, and prophecy. Man is considered immortal; the unfoldment and development of individuals are means to bring the kingdom of God on earth.

Membership

The church reports three congregations, in Gardena, Anaheim, and Los Angeles.

Periodicals

The Spiritual Outlook. 809 W 165th Place, Gardena, CA 90247.

Sources

United Spiritualist Church. www.unitespirit.org/.

Humble, Floyd. Bible Lessons. Gardena, CA: United Spiritualist Church, 1969.

Universal Church of Psychic Science

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Universal Church of Psychic Science was a small Spiritualist body headquartered in Philadelphia and headed by W. L. Salisbury, its president, and Clarence Smith, its secretary. The group was limited to the states of New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The church issued ordinations and church charters.

Membership

Not reported.

Universal Church of the Master

100 W Rincon Ave., Ste. 101, Campbell, CA 95008

The Universal Church of the Master (UCM) was formed in 1908 in Los Angeles, California, and was incorporated in 1918. Initially, it was largely a West Coast association of ministers and churches, but it began to spread across the nation in the 1960s. Among its early leaders was Dr. B. J. Fitzgerald, author of A New Text of Spiritual Philosophy and Religion, the basic book of the UCM. In 1930 the headquarters were moved to Oakland and then, in 1966, after Dr. Fitzgerald’s death, to San Jose.

The church sees itself as both Christian and Universal in its religious philosophy. While it uses much out of liberal Christianity, it also is eclectic, allowing a wide range of beliefs to exist. Its ten-point statement, drawn from the Text, affirms belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, the laws of nature and living in harmony with them, life after death, communication with the unseen world, the golden rule, individual responsibility and the continual possibility of improvement, prophecy, and the eternal progress of the soul. The emphasis on the laws of nature denies any supernaturalism or miraculous nature in the communication phenomena. The church also uses The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ by Levi Dowling as a source for its teachings.

The UCM is headed by a governing board, including the president, other officers, and trustees, which meets annually. An examining committee approves all ordinations and certifications. The board of trustees grants charters. The polity is congregational.

Educational Facilities

UCM’s Remote Theology Degree Program grants undergraduate and graduate theology degrees.

Membership

In 2002 the church reported 115 active ministers in the United States, half of them in Arizona and California, and 3 in Canada. Many more active Spiritualist ministers were originally ordained through the UMC.

Periodicals

UCM Quarterly MagazineA Joyful Noise e-mail newsletter.

Sources

Universal Church of the Master. www.u-c-m.org/new/.

Dowling, Levi. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Los Angeles: Leo W. Dowling, 1925.

Fitzgerald, B. J. A New Text of Spiritual Philosophy and Religion. San Jose, CA: Universal Church of the Master, 1954.

Universal Church of the Master, History and Principles. Santa Clara, CA: Universal Church of the Master, 1995.

Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church (UHSC)

c/o Professor George H. Latimer-Knight, PO Box 07071, Detroit, MI 48207-7071

The Universal Hagar’s Spiritual Church (UHSC) was founded by Father George Willie Hurley (1884–1943), a contemporary of Father Divine and also a self-proclaimed god. Hurley was born in Reynolds, Georgia, and received his early training as a Baptist minister, though he later became a Methodist. After moving to Detroit, Michigan, with his wife in 1919, he joined a small Holiness sect called Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ and became its Presiding Prince for the state of Michigan.

In the early 1920s Hurley became a minister in the National Spiritual Church, probably a predominantly white organization, which served as a transition to leadership of his own church, established in Detroit on September 23, 1923. In 1924 he established the School of Mediumship and Psychology, which eventually became a secret auxiliary in each congregation affiliated with UHSC. Father Hurley maintained that the school is a branch of the Great School of the Prophets, which Jesus attended during the eighteen years of his life that are not accounted for in the Bible. He also established the Knights of the All Seeing Eye, a Masonic-like auxiliary open to both men and women. By the time of Hurley’s death, UHSC had grown to an association of at least 37 congregations (in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York City, West Virginia, Delaware, and Illinois).

Similar to other Black Spiritual groups, UHSC inherited an eclectic religious heritage, drawing elements from Spiritualism, Catholicism, African-American Protestantism, and possibly vodou or hoodoo. Father Hurley also incorporated concepts from the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, astrology, Ethiopianism, and other belief systems in his church. Sometime around 1933, if not earlier, Father Hurley began to teach his followers that his “carnal flesh”had been “transformed into the flesh of Christ.”He maintained that just as Adam had been the God of the Taurian Age, Abraham the God of the Arian Age, and Jesus the God of the Piscean Age, he was the God of the Aquarian Age. Unlike most Spiritual churches, which have assumed an apolitical posture and refused, for example, to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, Hurley took unequivocal stands on a number of social issues, particularly the status of African Americans in the larger society, and urged his followers to vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt. After Hurley’s death the strongly nationalist and critical rhetoric of his church was considerably tempered.

Father Hurley’s successors as head of UHSC have included Prince Thomas Surbadger, Mother Mary Hatchett, Prince Alfred Bailey, and Rev. G. Latimer, a daughter of Hurley. The Wiseman Board, which consisted primarily of women in the later decades of the twentieth century, serves as UHSC’s governing body. Over the years, the heaviest concentrations of Hagar’s congregations have been in southeastern Michigan, where the association’s headquarters is located, and in the New York-New Jersey area. The affiliations of individual member congregations have changed considerably over the years, and especially since the early 1960s UHSC has experienced significant fluctuations in the number of its congregations in the East and Midwest, somewhat offset by the spread of the church to California and the Southeast.

Membership

In 2008 the church reported 40 churches across the United States.

Sources

Father Hurley: Practical Spiritual Principles for Today. www.fatherhurley.com/.

Baer, Hans A. The Black Spiritual Movement: A Religious Response to Racism. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984.

Universal Harmony Foundation

5903 Seminole Blvd., Seminole, FL 33772

The Universal Harmony Foundation grew out of and superceded the Universal Psychic Science Association, founded in 1942 by the Rev. Helene Gerling and her husband, J. Bertram Gerling. Both had been prominent mediums at Lily Dale Spiritualist Camp near Rochester, New York. Headquarters were later moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where a seminary was opened, offering nine courses leading to ordination as minister, healer, missionary, or teacher. Headquarters are now in Seminole, Florida.

Teachings of the foundation are eclectic, drawn from the universal revelation and the tested teachings of all the world’s prophets. Study is directed toward metaphysics, healing, comparative religion, Bible, yoga, and mysticism. The seven affirmation-tenets present a religion premised on the religious and scientific demonstrations of the talents and powers of the Living Spirit. They affirm the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man, the eternality of life, the power of prayer, spiritual healing, the reality of the psychic, soul-growth as the purpose of life, and fraternal service as the way of life. The Torch of Truth, the symbol of universal harmony, is lighted at the beginning of all services.

There is a mother church, the first chartered by the foundation, and members are encouraged to join it by participation in an annual free-will offering. Ministers are organized into a ministerial fellowship. They may apply for temple (i.e., congregation) charters. Rev. Gerling is the author of correspondence lessons offered through the seminary and a number of books. Rev. Gerling retired in 1988 and was succeeded by Rev. Nancy Castillo.

Membership

In 2001 the church reported 175 members and seven affiliated congregations.

Educational Facilities

Universal Harmony Foundation Seminary, Seminole, Florida.

Periodicals

The Spiritual Digest.

Sources

Universal Harmony Foundation. www.theuniversalharmony.com/.

Gerling, Helene A. Healthy Intuitive Development. New York: Exposition Press, 1971.

Universal Religion of America

c/o Christ Universal Church, 295 N Tropical Trl., Merritt Island, FL 32952

The Universal Religion of America was founded in 1958 by the Rev. Marnie Koski, pastor of a church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a former minister of the Spiritual Science Mother Church. The body is Spiritualist and Pentecostal, and emphasizes ESP and the spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues. Koski is also known to her followers as Soraya (meaning “Solar Ray”), because she has served as a medium for some contemporary messages from Jesus. Leaving the Kenosha congregation to assistants, Koski moved the headquarters to Rockledge, Florida, and then more recently to the Metaphysical Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

Membership

Not reported. In 1968 there were 500 members. There are two congregations, one in Wisconsin and one in Florida.

Sources

Koski, Marnie. Person Talks with Jesus. Washington, DC: ESPress, 1979.

Universal Spiritualist Association

4905 W University Ave., Muncie, IN 47304-3460

The Universal Spiritualist Association was founded in 1956 by Clifford Bias (1910–1987) with former members of the Spiritualist Episcopal Church, which had provided theological training for Camp Chesterfield of the Indiana Association of Spiritualists. Bias was succeeded as the association’s leader by Warren M. Smith, who retired from Spiritualist activities in 1990. T. Ernest Nichols has been president since 1990. A board of trustees oversees both the operation of the association and the Universal Bookstore On Line. A board of regents, presently elected by the board of trustees, oversees the operation of the Universal Institute for Holistic Studies and its Home Study System, a five-level course of study toward the Universal Spiritualist Ministry, along with its interactive Internet counterpart, the College of Religious Education (CORE). Elections are held on an annual basis, with each official holding office for three years. The board of trustees has the power to charter churches as well as license ministers and mediums who have completed the requirements of the institute.

The Universal Spiritualist Association is composed of people who believe in and practice the religion of Spiritualism, described as “the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication by means of channeling (mediumship) with those who live in the Spiritual World.” The association and its churches affirm belief in the Creatorship of God, the oneness of all life everywhere, the leadership of the Christ, salvation by character, and the progression of humanity upward and onward forever. Annual institute sessions are conducted at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Class intensives continue the association’s tradition of teaching, preaching, and practicing the great religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism, as well as the esoteric faiths of Esotericism, Native American Spirituality, Rosicrucianism, Spiritualism, Sufism, and Theosophy. The association and its institute provide education and fellowship for devotees and adherents of the Mystic, the Psychic, the New Age, the Metaphysical, and the Traditional. Within the association, there is a mystical society, the Ancient Mystical Order of Seekers, consisting of clergy and the more serious students who wish to learn and understand “the esoteric arts and sciences.”The subject matter extends far beyond that common to most Spiritualist practices. Clifford Bias authored a series of manuals, The Path of Light, and published several books representative of their work.

Membership

In 2002 the association reported 390 members in the United States and Canada, including ministers, spiritual healers, and mediums, as well as eight churches in the United States and one church in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Educational Facilities

Institute for Holistic Studies, Muncie, Indiana.

Periodicals

The Banner of Light.

Sources

[Bias, Clifford]. The A. M. O. S. Path of Light. 19 vols. Anderson, IN: The Ancient and Mystical Order of Seekers, n.d.

———. The Way Back. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1985.

Universal Spiritualist Manual. Manor Grove, IN: Universal Spiritual Church, n.d.

Wallace, Austin D. Thistle Presents Prince Nikeritis. Eaton Rapids, MI: Transcendental Science Publications, 1950.

University of Life Church

c/o Richard Ireland, 5600 6th St., Phoenix, AZ 85040

The University of Life Church was formed by renowned psychic Richard Ireland (d. 1992). After serving a number of Spiritualist churches in the Midwest and East, Ireland moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1955. He gained a reputation during the 1960s as a nightclub entertainer, conducting ESP shows in which he read serial numbers of dollar bills while blindfolded. In the context of the church, he is a full trance medium; two guides, a Dr. Ellington and an Indian, speak through him. They answer questions for members and visitors, prophesy future events, and give spiritual teachings. Reincarnation is stressed.

The center of the church is the congregation in Phoenix, which has 1,450 members. A healing shrine is being built in South Mountain in Phoenix. Lessons written by Ireland and/or his guides are sent out around the country. Ireland tried unsuccessfully to inherit the estate of James Kidd of Miami, Arizona, who willed his money for research on the existence of the human soul. The money went to the American Society of Psychical Research instead.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Ireland, Richard. The Phoenix Oracle. New York: Tower Books, 1970.

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Spiritualism

Spiritualism

The basic distinguishing feature of religious Spiritualism is belief in the reality of communication with the deceased, especially through mediumship, and the practice of this communication as a religious activity. Like the somewhat later Pentecostalism, modern Spiritualism originated within the free-spirited religious life of the United States, and then spread beyond its borders to become a significant presence worldwide. The Spiritualist movement is important historically not only for its own sake, but also because of its early connections with feminism, abolition of slavery, and other reformist movements; its provocative interaction with science and the mass media; and its role as a catalyst of popular religious liberalism.

The origin of the modern Spiritualist movement is conventionally attributed to the "Rochester rappings" experienced by the Fox sisters Kate (1841–1892) and Margaretta (1838–1893) in their upstate New York farmhouse in 1848. These young girls claimed they heard unusual tappings that seemed to have no natural origin or explanation. Perhaps inspired by the recently invented Morse code, they took them to be messages from the other world, later claimed to have been sent by the spirit of a murdered peddler. The news created a media sensation, and soon similar tappings were heard across the land. Indeed, rappings quickly proved to be cumbersome, and were superseded for the most part by trance mediumship. Spiritualist circles, formed to explore the new adventure, soon spoke of such other mysterious phenomena as table-tilting, spirit trumpets, apports (physical objects brought to a location by spiritual means), levitation, and the visible manifestation of the spirits in bodies composed of a fine substance called ectoplasm.

The intellectual background of early Spiritualism was twofold. First, mesmerism, experiments with hypnotism and trance induction in the tradition of the celebrated Viennese physician Anton Mesmer, were popular as stage and parlor performances in the 1840s. Together with Mesmer's own spiritualistic and parapsychological theories they afforded an easy transition to the mediumistic trance and séance states of religious Spiritualism. At the same time, the philosophy and example of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist who reported visits to Heaven and Hell, provided a plausible metaphysical framework for nascent Spiritualism.

Swedenborgianism was as popular as mesmerism in the cultural environment out of which Spiritualism emerged; the 1830s were called the "Swedenborgian decade" in America, and John Chapman, "Johnny Appleseed," had spread Swedenborgian tracts as well as appleseeds through the northern frontier areas where Spiritualism was to take especially firm hold. The two trends had already come together in 1847 in a massive book by Andrew Jackson Davis, The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind, a work delivered in trance (Davis had been a mesmerist) that combined Swedenborg's cosmology with the socialism of Charles Fourier. Davis was soon adopted as Spiritualism's chief theoretician, his highly optimistic view of personal and social progress in this world and the worlds to come shaping its open and liberal temper. In the 1830s the Shakers also reported experiencing a series of impressive spiritualistic manifestations, called "Mother Ann's work."

Spiritualism became an American vogue in the 1850s. Apologists for the new faith confidently proclaimed it to be the religion of the future, the faith most compatible with democracy, progress, and the new scientific world. All this was contrasted with the alleged oppressiveness and blind dogmatism of religions brought over from the past. Significantly, though, Spiritualism was also referred to as "the oldest religion in the world," its advocates being aware of its similarity to the shamanism of Native American and other primal societies, as though the vanguard of progress had now reached a point where it could reconcile itself with human beginnings. At the same time, Jesus was spoken of as a Spiritualist, and the early Christian church was said to have been Spiritualistic.

All these features relate much about early Spiritualism and its times. As a religion suited to the young republic's proud democracy, it affirmed the spiritual equality of all, since gifted mediums could be found in any sector of society, not only among the properly educated and ordained. In particular, in the 1850s Spiritualism was one of very few venues in which women could exercise religious leadership on a par with men. If women could rarely preach directly, they could give voice to wise spirits speaking through them. Those messages often endorsed feminism, and attracted the attention of women leaders such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Victoria Woodhull. Many spirits were no less eager to advocate other major reform projects of the 1850s, including abolition of slavery, humane childbearing, prison reform, and the ending of capital punishment.

The science connection had several facets. At times contemporaries might have had some uncertainty as to whether the movement represented a new religion or popular science. While the subject matter, life after death, is traditionally associated with religion, the Spiritualist investigation of it sometimes involved careful scientific methods and precautions rarely before associated with matters of faith. Spiritualism boldly called for religious doctrine to be tested against modern science and the rationalistic assumptions of the Enlightenment. Spiritualists held that now, in the present enlightened age, as basic an aspect of religion as the soul's survival of physical death could be as much a matter of certainty as the composition of water. To be sure, the results of the scientific testing of mediumship were often ambiguous and controversial; but in the end, that only confirmed believers in their sense that theirs was a new kind of religion, with new standards of truth and generating new forms of opposition.

Hardly less important was the way Spiritualism was a new kind of religion in its manner of dissemination. As the first major religious movement of the age of widespread literacy, mass-market newspapers, and even the telegraph (significantly, one of the early Spiritualist magazines was called The Spiritual Telegraph), Spiritualism—ever a media sensation—was the first new religion to benefit from popular print reports as well as word of mouth and itinerant preachers. Not only that, but the new movement, which depended heavily on traveling star mediums and lecturers, could now send them around the world with the relative speed and comfort of hurtling trains and steamships, and did.

Despite these advantages, by the end of the 1850s Spiritualism was in some disarray. Not only had the impending Civil War crisis attracted nearly all the nation's attention, but also scandals involving fraudulent mediums had tarnished the image of the faith of the future. After the war it revived somewhat, as Spiritualism generally has after wars, when many of those who lost loved ones to the demons of battle turn to it in hope of contact and reassurance. By now, however, disparities among three aspects of the maturing movement could no longer be ignored and called out for resolution or separation. These might be called the religious, the philosophical, and the scientific aspects of Spiritualism, and in the latter third of the nineteenth century they more and more went their separate ways.

The religious aspect was focused on the original premise of communication with departed kin and with ancient spiritual teachers. Even in the early days there had been no lack of the latter, including mighty figures from the Bible or classical philosophers now returned to speak again. In Spiritualism's second, post–Civil War phase, those for whom this kind of mediumship was of special importance and who wished to experience it in an atmosphere of faith and belief moved toward making Spiritualism essentially an organized church. Problems obtained; in the late nineteenth century and even after, religious Spiritualism was divided over the teachings of the French Spiritualist H. L. D. Rivail, who wrote as Allan Kardec, and who, unlike Andrew Jackson Davis and most other early Anglo-American Spiritualists, espoused reincarnation. (Kardecist Spiritualism remains popular in Latin America, especially in Brazil.) In North America scattered Spiritualist churches appeared toward the end of the nineteenth century, offering regular Sunday services in a Protestant style but including spirit messages and mediumship in the service program. In 1893 a number of such churches formed the National Spiritualist Association, the most successful of numerous Spiritualist denominations.

Others wanted the Spiritualist worldview but did not care for the churchlike atmosphere or "trivial" mediumship associated with the conventional movement. Some, however, were willing to accept more intellectually sophisticated teachings from lips and pens reported to be inspired by great masters of wisdom, Eastern or Western. Many of these found their way to groups such as the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875, chiefly by two former ardent Spiritualists, Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott. Others turned to "New Thought," Mormonism, or imported Eastern religions.

Still others were always really most interested in the scientific investigation of psychic phenomena promised by the Spiritualist upsurge, and were put off by religious or occultist overtones. Some of these were among the founders of the 1882 Society for Psychical Research in England and its U.S. ally the American Society for Psychical Research.

In each case, though, it is clear that Spiritualism first had the effect of liberating persons from dogmatic slumbers, or even from the great nineteenth-century revivals; significantly, the Fox sisters' original rappings had occurred in the "burnt-over country" of upstate New York. Whether or not converts stayed with the spirit faith, and wherever they went after it, they could not go back to exactly what they were before.

The 1920s might be called the "Silver Age" of Spiritualism. Then, in the aftermath of World War I, the faith enjoyed a revival of interest, and attendance at Spiritualist churches grew. That decade's best-known Spiritualist advocate was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the celebrated creator of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle's writings and tireless world-ranging lecture tours, including visits to the United States in 1922 and 1923, and above all his dramatic presentations of psychic photographs alleged to show spirits, attracted great attention and controversy. Another feature of this period was the development of African-American Spiritualism. A prominent example was the Universal Hagar's Spiritual Church, organized in Detroit in 1923 by George W. Hurley and numbering some thirty-seven churches by the time of Hurley's death in 1943.

However, no comparable upsurge of conventional religious Spiritualism obtained after World War II, despite growth of interest in psychical research, much publicity given celebrated independent mediums and psychics such as Arthur Ford or Edgar Cayce, and the 1960s fascination with alternative spirituality. Perhaps by now Spiritualist churches had become too conventional and fusty for what was essentially a countercultural concern.

Church-based Spiritualism continued to the end of the century in a number of loosely organized denominations. The movement has rarely submitted to tight institutional structures, for sociologically it has been largely a matter of the followers and clients of individual charismatic mediums/ministers, who usually prefer to operate independently, under their own inspiration. Its most characteristic institution apart from the local Spiritualist church is the "camp," representing a tradition going back to the nineteenth century. There is Cassadaga in Florida, originally a winter haven for northern Spiritualists who could there enjoy intensive study and experience in a balmy climate, and now an exemplary Spiritualist community. Lily Dale in upstate New York boasts the modest Fox home where the original rappings took place, now moved to this location, and Camp Chesterfield in Indiana has long drawn midwestern Spiritualists for summer activities. In general, though, contemporary Spiritualism in its church form seems to have little of its earlier vibrancy.

However, it could be argued that Spiritualism, fundamentally a fluid concept that has taken different forms in different ages, from primal shamanism to the nineteenth-century movement, emerged in the second half of the twentieth century in new forms. The UFO "contactees" of the 1950s and thereafter often continued the relation they claimed to an extraterrestrial mentor by allowing that entity to deliver trance discourses through the earthling's voice. The contact phenomenon thus showed similarities to the Spiritualist medium, believed to be giving expression to a high, godlike teacher; in fact, some contactees had a background in Spiritualism. Where once spirit entities were understood to be ancient masters of wisdom, now for UFO aficionados they were "space brothers," superior entities from other worlds come to give earthlings warning and encouragement.

Then, as the "New Age" movement took shape later in the century, one of its most striking aspects was "channeling," the communication in trance of messages thought to come from high teachers. The similarity to Spiritualism, especially to what J. Gordon Melton has called "teaching spiritualism," in contrast to the mediumship of "ordinary" departed relatives and others, is obvious. However, channeling has no evident direct link to classic Spiritualism, and its reported entities are often Eastern, or teach Eastern-type doctrines such as karma and reincarnation, in contrast to the largely Western bias of the older faith in North America. Thus has Spiritualism and its fundamental ideas survived.


See alsoAfterlife; Channeling; Death and Dying; Extraterrestrial Guides; New Age Spirituality; New Thought; Occult; Psychic; Seance; Shamanism; Theosophical Society; Trance; Unidentified Flying Objects.

Bibliography

Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women'sRights in Nineteenth-Century America. 1989.

Moore, R. Laurence. In Search of White Crows: Spiritualism, Parapsychology, and American Culture. 1977.

Nelson, Geoffrey K. Spiritualism and Society. 1969.

Robert S. Ellwood

Gracia Fay Ellwood

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Spiritualism

Spiritualism

1542

Agasha Temple of Wisdom

PO Box 5012
West Hills, CA 91308

The Agasha Temple of Wisdom was founded in 1943 by the Rev. Richard Zenor (1911-1978), an intertransitory medium for the Master Teacher, Agasha. Zenor had begun to show paranormal abilities as a child in Terre Haute, Indiana. During the first decade of the temple's existence, Zenor attained recognition and fame from being featured in Telephone Between Two Worlds (1950), by popular writer, James Crenshaw. The temple became the center from which Zenor traveled and spread the message of Agasha.

Two years after Zenor's death, the Rev. Geary Salvat was chosen to continue his work. Salvat, an intertransitory medium for the Master Teacher Ayuibbi Tobabu, had, like his predecessor, manifested psychic abilities from his early life.

While activity at the temple includes communication with the departed, it is primarily directed toward master teachers, advanced individuals who communicate teachings from the other side. From Agasha, Ayuibbi Tobabu, and other teachers, a distinct philosophy has been developed: the Universal Understanding of the God Consciousness. Its keynote is individual responsibility and spiritual democracy within the plan of Universal Laws. The basic laws include the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; and the law of compensation: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Individuals spend many lifetimes seeking to understand these laws by which their life is governed. During the 1980s the teachings received from Agasha became the subject of a series of books by longtime temple student William Eisen, and a volume on the teachings of Ayuibbi Tobabu is projected. The organization's web site is at http://www.agasha.org.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Agasha Temple Newsletter.

Sources:

Crenshaw, James. Telephone Between Two Worlds. Los Angeles: DeVorss & Co., 1950.

Eisen, William. Agasha, Master of Wisdom. Marina del Rey, CA, 1977.

——. The English Cabalah. 2 vols. Marina del Rey, CA: DeVorss & Co., 1980-82.

——, ed. The Agashan Discourse. Marina del Rey, CA: 1978.

Zenor, Richard. Margie Answers You. San Diego, CA: Philip J. Hastings, 1965.

1543

Aquarian Fellowship Church

(Defunct)

The Aquarian Fellowship Church was formed in 1969 by the Rev. Robert A. Ferguson, who was until that time president of the Universal Church of the Master, one of the larger Spiritualist organizations. Ferguson founded the new church as a result of inspiration received through dreams. He also felt a growing concern about the doctrine of reincarnation, which most ministers in the Universal Church of the Master accepted but which he, their leader, denied.

The Aquarian Fellowship Church centered its teachings upon Bible, the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis (the founder of modern spiritualism) and the writings of Ferguson as primary sources of belief. Ferguson has initiated a project of reprinting Davis' works. Like Davis, Ferguson rejected the Christian beliefs in the Trinity and the deity of Christ, but considered Jesus the most perfect of men and a pattern for all to copy. This life is the beginning of a process of continual growth. After death, individuals go to one of seven heavens, to which they gravitate according to their earthly character, and from where they continue to work out their salvation. Communication with those in "summerland" (the afterworld) is emphasized. There are no sacraments, though infant dedication occurs.

The headquarters of the Aquarian Fellowship Church was in San Jose, California, and in 1972, there were three congregations, one each in Los Angeles, San Jose, and Dayton, Ohio. Lessons in Spiritualism were offered on a correspondence basis. Ferguson authored several books on psychic themes. Sometime during the 1980s, the church seems to have dissolved.

Sources:

Ferguson, Robert A. Adventures in Psychic Development. London: Regency Press, 1972.

——. Universal Mind. West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing Company, 1979.

Ferguson, Walter F., as told to Robert A. Ferguson. The Celestial Telegraph(A Message from Beyond). New York: Carlton Press, 1974.

1544

Aquarian Foundation

315 15th Ave. E.
Seattle, WA 98112

The Aquarian Foundation was founded in 1955 by Rev. Keith Milton Rhinehart, a Spiritualist minister. The foundation combines elements of Spiritualism, Theosophy, and Eastern philosophy into an eclectic occult perspective. It existed for many years as an independent Spiritualist congregation in Seattle. During the 1960s, however, Rhinehart became known for his "materialization" seances and later claimed contact with those same "ascended" masters originally contacted by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society.

The Aquarian Foundation does not have a statement of belief, which it feels would serve to prevent growth into greater knowledge. Aquarians draw inspiration from, and identification with, all of the major religious traditions though the elements of Spiritualism and Theosophy are most evident. "Mediums," individuals with an ability to regularly communicate with the "so-called" dead, are valued. However, the foundation does not focus upon regular contact with dead relatives and friends. Instead, contact is made primarily with Masters of the Great Brotherhood of Cosmic Light (also known as the Great White Brotherhood). The foundation believes in many of the concepts passed on by this Brotherhood through the Theosophical Society–karma and reincarnation, the evolution of the soul, the law of cause and effect, mastery of life and death, and the eventual attainment of personal mastery. Rhinehart, the primary medium for the foundation, has trance sessions, through which the Masters speak, regularly recorded from playback at the foundation's many centers.

The foundation is committed to the Great Plan enunciated by the Masters, who are viewed as ascended and evolved beings guiding the evolution of humanity and ushering in the present Aquarian Age. Prominent among the Masters who have regularly spoken over the last decades through Rhinehart are Saint Germain, Morya, Sanat Kumara, and Djwal Kul (D. K.), popular figures in the Theosophical and I AM Religious Activity presentation of the spiritual hierarchy. Rhinehart also serves as the medium for many other "Masters" including the Angel Moroni, who gave Joseph Smith Jr. the Book of Mormon; Mahatma Ghandhi; Ashtar, first contacted by George Van Tassel, an early UFO contactee; Clarion, a UFO entity contacted by Truman Betherum in the 1950s; and the Master Immanuel, from South American Spiritualism. Rhinehart gained his early fame in Spiritualism because of his well-publicized materialization seances conducted in the 1950s. More recently he has claimed to possess the stigmata, a paranormal appearance of the wounds of Christ, which is said to have appeared on his body before hundreds of witnesses.

.

Membership: During the 1970s the foundation spread from its Seattle base to become both a national and international organization. Churches are located in Honolulu, New York City, Miami Beach, Anchorage, Hollywood, Dallas, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon. Study groups are found in Hilo, Hawaii; Ft. Lauderdale; Tacoma; West Palm Beach, Florida; Austin, Texas; and Atlanta. Foreign groups are located in Vancouver; British Columbia; and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sources:

Rhinehart, Keith Milton. Soul Mates and Twin Rays. Seattle, WA: Aquarian Foundation, 1972.

1545

Believers' Circle

℅ Rev. Estel Merrill
7437 Bear Mt. Blvd.
Bakersfield, CA 93313

The Believers' Circle was founded in the early 1980s by the Rev. Estel Peg Merrill. Merrill had been a student of metaphysical and esoteric studies for many years before she became aware of a gift of healing. She also intuited several spirit guides, and began to go into trances and to channel messages from the spirit world. These guides/teachers were affiliated with a group called the Council, which was seen as part of the Group Mind, which in turn was a part of the Spiral Unihood (formerly known as the Brotherhood). The council expressed its concern for humankind. Merrill's primary guide is named Levi, formerly a scribe in his earthly incarnation, famous as the same entity who directed Levi Dowling in the transcription of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her spirit control is HiChing, formerly an astrologer in China during the Ming Dynasty.

In 1979 Merrill began to receive lessons that became the basis of the teachings of the Believers' Circle. These teachings have been collected together in several books. They affirm God as the supreme Power and designer of the universe. Neither male nor female, God is "Uni," and exists in and around all of creation. God's energy is available for healing the mind and body. Humans are a form of God consciousness who are in this present life to learn God's absolute laws and correct past mistakes. Following death humans make a transition to spirit existence and continue their learning.

The Believers' Circle is headquartered in Bakersfield, California, but members are scattered across the continent. Members relate to Merrill primarily through the reception of the Circle's lesson through the mail. Beginning students start through three volumes entitled Spiritual Understanding and progress to more advanced lessons in God's Prevailing Laws, God's Energy through Thoughts, and God's Laws of Love and Life.

Membership: Not reported.

1546

Christian Spirit Center

Box 114
Elon College, NC 27244

The Christian Spirit Center is headed by S. J. Haddad, its president, and is centered in Elon College, North Carolina. The Center is primarily devoted to translating messages received by Brazilian mediums from Portuguese into English. It also publishes books and distributes literature on spirit doctrines. Spiritualism came into Brazil through the writings of French writer and medium Allen Kardec. His particular teachings were distinctive, at the time, by their introduction of reincarnation into Spiritualism.

The main tenets of the Center are the continuity of life after death (first taught and demonstrated by Christ in his own resurrection, and now proven by mediumship), the laws of reincarnation and cause and effect ("karma"), and people's free will and responsibility for their actions.

In accordance with the words of Christ, "Freely ye have received, freely give," and based upon spirit teachings to the same effect, the center advocates mediumship as a free service. The same principle is applied to lectureships and other spiritual work. Active followers of the Spirit doctrine earn their living in secular occupations.

Membership: Not reported.

1547

Church of Cosmic Science

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Church of Cosmic Science is a small Spiritualist body formed in 1959 at Rialto, California, by the Rev. William Dickensen, Reginald Lawrence, and Josephine Dickensen of Jamul, California. For many years, the associated Cosmic Light Press issued the monthly Cosmic Light, which was widely circulated among the independent Spiritualist churches. They use it for advertising. The group also circulates Awareness for Cosmic Truth, lessons in psychic development. The headquarters in Jamul, California, grant ordinations, healer's certificates, and church charters to otherwise autonomous ministers.

Membership: Not reported. In 1970 there were 500 members and 7 churches.

1548

Church of Essential Science

Box 62284 Phoenix, AZ 85082

The Church of Essential Science was founded in Detroit, Michigan, in 1965 by the Rev. Kingdon L. Brown, a medium ordained originally by the National Spiritual Aid Association. Brown was an early member and developed in an informal study group. In January 1964, he received his first message from the Ascended Masters. Eventually, one of the members, became Brown's guide and teacher. Brown slowly became noted for his mediumistic ability, and followers were drawn to him.

Essential Science is a religion responsive to the new data available to twentieth century man–parapsychology, philosophy, sociology, metaphysics and mysticism.

God is seen as the cause that sustains and protects all who seek God. Man comes to know God as the Divine Mind Power as he widens his awareness to include spiritual impressions. Man is body, mind, and soul. The soul is man's divine inheritance, a part of divinity. Through the soul, man aligns himself with the God power, the basic atomic pattern structure of the universe itself, the basic energy of the universe. A significant part of creation is the fellowship of all seekers of truth. Some are in the body, some have ascended. The ascended ones become our teachers as we decide to put our spiritual development above all else.

Headquarters of the Church of Essential Science are in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Brown became pastor of the Desert Shadows Church. Other centers are located in Detroit; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; Columbus and Tijeras, New Mexico; Little Rock, Arkansas; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Palo Alto, California. Foreign centers are in Curacao, Canada, and Nigeria. Members are scattered around the country. Many were drawn to the church by the numerous personal appearances of Brown, who in recent years changed his name to Brian Seabrook.

In 1987, the church began a new public outreach with a mystical system. The purpose of this degree system of spiritual knowledge is to prepare humankind for the Aquarian dispensation about the year 2000 C.E. It is based on the metaphysical interpretation of the Christian Bible, and the origianl mission of the Master Jesus. Highly symbolic and transformative, this system incorporates a new understanding of traditional esoteric practices. The aim is to bring the individual into direct contact with the Divine Essence of all earthly life. Techniques such as channeling, healing, and meditation are central.

Membership: In 2002, there were 3,500 members.

Periodicals: Monthly Reminder. • Christar Temple Degrees.

Sources:

Brown, Kingdon L. The Power of Psychic Awareness. West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing Company, 1969.

The Metaphysical Lessons of Saint Timothy's Abbey Church. Grosse Pointe, MI: St. Timothy's Abbey Church, 1966.

1549

Church of Metaphysical Christianity

2717 Browning St.
Sarasota, FL 34237

The Church of Metaphysical Christianity was founded in 1958 by the Revs. Dorothy Graff Flexer and Russell J. Flexer, two prominent mediums in the Spiritualist Episcopal Church. Dorothy Flexer had led the Spiritualist Episcopal Church in its break with Camp Chesterfield in 1956, which resulted in a number of churches and ministers leaving the church. She also became independent two years later.

Metaphysical Christianity, a combination of religion, philosophy and science, disseminates the spiritual truths as manifested in the life and teachings of the master, Jesus. It seeks to study the laws of nature–mental, physical and spiritual. Obedience to these laws is said to constitute the highest form of worship. The church also teaches and gives evidence of the continuity of life after death, encouraging each member to develop his own gifts of the spirit so that communion between the two worlds will become natural.

The basic spiritual laws are: the law of life, the law of love (the creative force of life), the law of truth or right thinking, the law of compensation, the law of freedom, the law of abundance, and the law of perfection. After death, the spirit continues and has a possibility of communicating with those still on the earth-plane. Healing is emphasized as a spiritual art.

Headquarters of the church is in Sarasota, Florida. In 1973, there were on the rolls some 25 spiritual healers.

Membership: In 1997 the church reported 125 members.

Periodicals: The Metaphysical Messenger.

Sources:

Davis, Charles [spirit speaking through Dorothy Graff Flexer]. A New Way of Life. Sarasota, FL: Church of Metaphysical Christianity, 1989.

——. Spirit Speaks. Sarasota, FL: Church of Metaphysical Christianity Press, 1988.

Wade, Alda Madison. At the Shrine of the Master. Philadelphia: Dorrance & Company, 1953.

1550

Church of Revelation (California)

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Church of Revelation was formed in 1930 at Long Beach, California by the Rev. Janet Stine Lewis (Wolford) (d. 1957). It is not to be confused with the church of the same name formed in 1974 by Harrison Roy Hasketh in Honolulu. In 1945, the headquarters were moved to Hanford, California. The church teaches the Old Christian Initiate, a set of beliefs which the church calls a world-religion and a non-sectarian philosophy. The Old Christian Initiate, based on scientific truth, shows how to find spirit, understand the natural law and have everlasting life without death. The Old Christian Initiate teaches that people survive death in a conscious state, that they can communicate with mortals through mediumship, that as a man sows on earth he will reap in the life to come, that the future life is constructive, social and progressive, and that peace and brotherhood are to be extolled and war decried. After the Reverend Wolford's death in 1957, she was succeeded by the Rev. Winifred Ruth Mikesell.

Membership: Not reported. There has been no information since a 1966 report which listed congregations in Hanford, Sacramento, Burlingame and Apple Valley, California; Toccoa, Georgia; Phoenix, Arizona; and Toledo, Ohio. There were approximately 500 members and 30 ministers. Recent attempts to locate congregations have been unsuccessful.

1551

Church of Revelation (Hawaii)

21475 Summit Rd.
Los Gatos, CA 95030

The Church of Revelation was founded in Honolulu 1974 by Harrison Roy Hesketh. It is an eccletic mystical Spiritualist group whose teachings center upon the one God, who is all in all as all. Hesketh calls his higher or transcendental consciousness "Tattenaiananda," generally shortened to "Tat," the name by which most of his students refer to him. The centers connected with the church teach a wide variety of psychic development techniques, among the most important being the Rainbow Bridge Meditation, by which the leaders take students over the rainbow bridge (that part of the inner consciousness which connects the conscious self with the spiritual realms) to the White Light of God. Tat is also in contact with the ascended masters, those spiritual beings spoken of by Guy Ballard, founder of the "I AM" Religious Activity.

The church is headed by a board of directors. Hesketh is the president of the church. In 1983 the headquarters were moved to Los Gatos, California. The educational arm of the church is the Astral Physics School. Affiliated centers and churches are found in Honolulu; Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Pambrook East, Bermuda.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: The New Spirit.

1552

Church of the Four Leaf Clover

(Defunct)

The Church of the Four Leaf Clover was founded in 1925 by the Rev. M. E. Claas. The four leaf clover is a symbol of humility, its four leaves standing for eternal life, everlasting light, divine love and truthfulness. The church emphasized the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. The church was among the early Spiritualist bodies which taught reincarnation and karma. There were, in the 1950s, four churches, all on Long Island. Headquarters were at Jamaica, New York.

1553

Church of Tzaddi

PO Box 69
Milliken, CO 80543

Amy Merritt Kees was a semi-invalid cripple, victim of an accident to the spine as a teenager. Shortly after the birth of her first child in 1936, however, she began to experience contacts from the spirit world. In 1958, Amy was healed completely. She dedicated her home as a center for study, meditation and healing and, in 1959, formed a study group, "The Open Door of Love." She also became a student of Unity School of Christianity, the Universal Church of the Master, and the Self-Realization Fellowship. The growth of her work, along with the spiritual communications received through her daughter, Dorothe, led in 1962 to the founding of the Church of Tzaddi. (Tzaddi is the 18th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is identified with the Aquarian Age.)

The purpose of the Church of Tzaddi is "to teach sciences, ancient wisdom, ideals and principles, philosophy, psychology, psychometry, and spiritual truths; to promote the brotherhood of man, the universal law of truth and all educational subjects; to solemnize marriages and officiate at funerals; to perform and administer divine healing, give inspirational counsel and communications and prophesy." An extensive course for the ministry includes material drawn from Unity School of Christianity, the Bible, parapsychology, Hermeticism, and world religion. It may be taken by correspondence. Headquarters of the church recently moved from Orange, California to Colorado. Branches are located around the country, among the most prominent being the church in Phoenix, Arizona. Its pastor, Dr. Frank Alper, is also the founder of the Arizona Metaphysical Society.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Alper, Frank. An Evening with Christos. Phoenix, AZ: Arizona Metaphysical Society, 1979.

——. Exploring Atlantis. 3 vols. Farmingdale, NY: Coleman Publishing, 1982.

Johnson, Amy (Kees), and Dorothy Blackmere. Developing Spiritually.

Garden Grove, CA: Bishop of the Church of Tzaddi, 1980.

Slate, Ann B. "Your Daughter Shall Prophecy."Fate23, no. 4 (August, 1970): 68-78.

1554

Churches of Spiritual Revelation Association

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Churches of Spiritual Revelation Association was a small fellowship of Spiritualist churches and mediums functioning in the 1970s. Though possessing a loosely organized structure, they had an episcopal polity. Most of the churches were in the Northeast and headquarters were in Reading, Pennsylvania, at the residence of Bishop Edward M. Leighton. No evidence of the continuance of the association in the 1980s had been available.

1555

Cosmic Church of Life and Spiritual Science

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Cosmic Church of Life and Spiritual Science is a small Spiritualist body headed by a Rev. M. Russo of San Francisco, California. Ordinations and healing certificates are granted.

Membership: Not reported.

1556

Eclesia Catolica Cristina

2123 Grand Ave.
New York, NY 10453

The Eclesia Catolica Cristina evolved from the Spiritualist Christian Church, was founded in March 1956 by His Holiness Delfin Roman-Cardona. It was incorporated as the Eclesia Catolica Cristina in June 1969, the name being changed to differentiate the church from spiritist centers, and in keeping with the fact that its liturgical rituals more closely resembled traditional Roman Catholic practice.

Delfin Roman-Cardona was born to Roman Catholic parents in Utuato, Puerto Rico, on December 14, 1918. An ability at clairvoyance manifested when he was but three years old. From the age of seven to 14 he served as an acolyte at the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Utuado. During these years, when he was 12, he visited a neighbor who was suffering from a recurrent migraine headache, and, as if by instinct, he placed his hands on her head. The woman was cured. From that time, he developed as a clairvoyant and healer, never charging for his services. He eventually moved to New York in obedience to what he felt was a divine mandate.

In line with many congregations throughout South America, the Eclesia Catolica Cristina follows the practices of exorcism, prophecy, channeling, and psychic healing, the rites being modeled on those of the ancient Hebrews and Christians. The church draws upon the spiritism of Allen Kardec, the tenets of which it has mingled with those of Judaism, Christianity, and Eastern religions in an effort to preach a universal Catholicism. It does not identify with the New Age movement, but believes its practices and rituals are closer to those of ancient Christianity.

The church is organized on the model of the Roman Catholic Church with a pontiff, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and priests. The church ordains both men and women to the priesthood, a practice which it is claimed derives its precedence set in Atlantis when women were held as equal to men, and were granted the same ecclesiastical positions.

The college of priests elected Delfin as its first Pontiff on April 25, 1965. The Pontifical elevation occurred in 1976. In the meantime, in 1972, His Holiness entered a state of renunciation. After considering hundreds of testimonials and listening to many witnesses attesting to miracles performed by His holiness, the members voted to proclaim Delfin a Living Saint on October 28, 1978. He has since been known as Saint Delfin the first.

Delfin has been reported as healing a variety of illnesses including a number that were considered terminal. He also taught many others to do healing and exorcisms and anointed them to carry on their ministries. He also prohibited the exploitation of their abilities. The church holds weekly celebrations of the Mass and services of healing and exorcism, all without charge. Members pay a membership fee of ten dollars per month to assist in the church's upkeep with additional tithes and offerings being voluntary.

Twenty-five years after his renunciation, the church felt led to pronounce Delfin as a Pure and Divine Avatar and the spirit of a Solar Angel, who is the promised Comforter. He was proclaimed the Second Savior and New Messiah of this planet by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, on August 31, 1997. As the Second Savior, the college of priests and the faithful understand His Holiness' messianic mission to be to restore the teachings of Christ, to clarify his parables, and to define God and creation through enlightened reason and logic.

Olga Roman, the wife of His Holiness, was ordained as a priest on June 21, 1959, and was elevated to pontifical cardinal on January 6, 1976. Her Eminence will become the church's second pontiff following the death of Saint Delfin I. Cardinal Roman was born in Puerto Rico in 1938, and moved to New York as a young woman. She is also the mother of three sons.

Membership: As of 1997, the church operated out of a single center in New York City. There were approximately 1,500 members, 1,000 of whom resided in the United States. There were 18 priests.

1557

Foundation for Science of Spiritual Law

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Foundation for Science of Spiritual Law was founded in 1968 at Tonopah, Arizona, by Dr. Alfred Homer and the Rev. Gladys A. Homer. From Tonopah, they tour the country as spiritualist mediums, teaching and speaking to small groups of followers. The winter is spent at Tonopah (the Foundation headquarters are only a short distance from the Sun Spiritualist Camp).

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Foundation Newsletter. Send orders to Tonapah, AZ 85354.

1558

General Assembly of Spiritualists

27 Appleton St.
Rochester, NY 14611

The General Assembly of Spiritualists is a sovereign, selfgoverning ecclesiastical body. Its history as an organized religious body goes back to November 15, 1897, at which date it was incorporated as the New York State Association of Spiritualists. At the convention in Rochester, New York, on June 20, 1914, the delegates, by unanimous vote, authorized changing the constitution, by-laws, and name to the General Assembly of Spiritualists to conform with the Laws of New York, 1914, Chapter 485, Section 1, Chapter 53 of the Laws of 1909, entitled "an act in relation to religious corporations, constituting Chapter 51 of consolidated laws," adding Article XII, Spiritualist Churches, section 262 to 273, inclusive. By this act Spiritualism for the first time was recognized by law as a religion with distinct powers conferred by the Legislature upon the General Assembly of Spiritualists. The original charter of the General Assembly of Spiritualist was signed and recorded in Monroe County, New York, on October 15, 1915.

At the convention in Buffalo, New York, June 19, 20, and 21, 1931, the delegates, in order to preserve what they saw as the principles expressed by the pioneers of Spiritualism, especially that of universal brotherhood, and to protect the movement against a felt threat from the encroachment of prejudice and sectarianism, voted to sever its affiliation with other Spiritualist groups. The necessary legal steps were duly consummated and papers signed, thus establishing the General Assembly of Spiritualists as a sovereign, self-governing ecclesiastical body, with executive power vested in a Board of Directors. Jurisdiction extended to several states in the United States and to Canada.

The general assembly believes in the advancement of the Spiritualist religion as an idealistic, humanitarian, and inspiring movement, that gives aid to the sick, through spiritual healing, and aid to the sound of body, by well founded hope and faith. The general assembly is firmly and permanently opposed to all fraudulent and dishonest imitation of real mediumship and to the sensational display thereof. The ideal of the general assembly is to continue to raise the standards of the Spiritualist movement and to encourage study classes, reading courses, the dissemination of Spiritualist literature, and research work, to the end that others may learn the reality of the Spirit World and its meaning to humankind.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: How Shall We Teach Spiritualism?Jesus of Nazareth. • The Nature of the Spirit WorldSpiritualism Fact or Fiction. • Voice of SpiritWhat is Spiritualism?

Sources:

General Assembly of Spiritualists, State of New York. New York: Flying Saucer News, n.d.

Lomaxe, Paul R. What Do Spiritualists Believe?. New York: General Assembly of Spiritualists, 1943.

1559

Hallowed Grounds Fellowship of Spiritual Healing and Prayer

(Defunct)

The Hallowed Grounds Fellowship of Spiritual Healing and Prayer was established in 1961 by the Rev. George Daisley, an outstanding British medium who settled in Santa Barbara, California. Beginning with a mailing list of 1,500 names accumulated on previous lecture tours, Daisley traveled around the country teaching Spiritualism and issued The Witness, a small quarterly journal. Only one center was opened, but adherents and supporters were found across the country. The Witness ceased with the December, 1973 issue.

Emphasis of Daisley's teachings was a form of Christian Spiritualism with particular interest in the nature of the next life. The new insights were derived from material received in spirit communication. The Bible was interpreted in Spiritualist terminology. It was believed that the next life is a discarding of the physical body and a manifesting of its duplicate spiritual body. After death, the soul continues on several planes of existence, each of a higher vibration, hence invisible. Those with a gift of discerning spirits can communicate. Spirit life is much like this life.

Membership: The fellowship dissolved in 1994 following Daisley's retirement due to ill health.

1560

Holy Grail Foundation

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Holy Grail Foundation was founded in Fresno, California, in the early 1940s by the Rev. Leona Richards. The Reverend Richards was one of a group of twelve who sat in meditation, seeking guidance. Messages received were recorded, and the Foundation grew out of this shared experience. In the early 1960s, the headquarters were moved to Santa Cruz, California. Messages emphasize man's essential divinity and the awareness of the divine as a part of one's life. Classes, using the messages received from spirits, teach self-development by spiritual enlightenment. The goal is that each member will know the presence of God within, the Holy Grail, and his or her own personal guardian angel.

There are three centers of the Foundation, in Fresno, Santa Cruz, and Portland, Oregon. Heading the Foundation are its officers: President Leona Richards, Vice-president Robert Isaacson, Secretary Gerry Isaacson and Treasurer Ruth Musiel. The foundation is affiliated with the International Spiritualist Alliance, headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Membership: Not reported.

1561

Independent Associated Spiritualists

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Independent Associated Spiritualists was incorporated in 1925. It is headquartered in New York City, but has churches across the country. Notable among its members was the late psychic surgeon Tony Agapoa of Bagio City, Philippines.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Valentine, Tom. Psychic Surgery. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1973.

1562

Independent Spiritualist Association of the United States of America

5130 W. 25th St.
Cicero, IL 60650

The Independent Spiritualist Association of the United States of America was formed in 1924 by Amanda Flowers, who with others withdrew from the National Spiritualist Association of Churches because of her objection to the rule which forbade NSAC mediums to work in non-NSAC churches. She also wanted greater freedom to express her own theosophical views, which went beyond beliefs of the NSAC.

Membership: In 1988 there were 120 member mediums.

Sources:

Basic Course of Study. Cicero, IL: Independent Spiritualist Association of the United States of America, n.d.

1563

International Church of Ageless Wisdom

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The International Church of Ageless Wisdom was founded by Beth R. Hand (1903-1977), a spiritualist minister, in the 1920s. She was also an early student of Paramahansa Yogananda, the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, one of the first Hindu organizations established in America. From Yogananda, who came to the United States in 1924, and other studies. She became convinced of the truth of reincarnation and karma. The Spiritualists requested her resignation, and she was forced to abandon the three churches she had founded in New Jersey. She moved to Philadelphia and opened the first Church of Ageless Wisdom in 1927.

Soon after the formation of the Church of Ageless Wisdom, Hand met the Rev. George Haas, leader of the Universal Spiritual Church, a British Spiritualist body which shared Hand's ideas about reincarnation. She brought her church into commmunion with his. She later sought, but did not receive, a formal charter from that church. Meanwhile, in 1956, Haas was consecrated a bishop by John Beswarick, bishop of the Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate), an independent British Orthodox-Catholic body, who had received orders from the famous independent bishop, Hugh George de Willmott Newman. In 1958 he consecrated Hand. In spite of the consecration, the inability to receive a formal charter led Hand to become independent of the Universal Spiritual Church. In 1962 she received a charter from the State of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, she consecrated other bishops of the Church, one of whom, Muriel E. Matalucci, succeeded her as Archbishop Primate in 1977. That same year Archbishop Metalucci changed the name of the organization to its present designation.

The Church's teachings are eclectic, drawing upon Spiritualist, Hindu, Buddhist and ancient occult wisdom teachings, though there is a primary emphasis upon Christianity. It teaches that God is the father of all that exists; that all men are brothers (hence no discrimination is allowed); souls are immortal and there is always the opportunity for reformation; reincarnation and karma; and the planet and humanity can be saved by the power of prayer and love. God is not conceived in anthropomorphic terms. Jesus is considered the Wayshower, who manifested the way for individuals, all of whom are sons of God, to become one with God. Humans evolve by following the Universal laws of the universe. Finally, the church believes in and uses the wide variety of psychic gifts as tools for human progress and service in God's work.

The church is headed by the Archbishop Primate, assisted by the other archbishop, one bishop, the canons-of-states and the canons-at-large, which together comprise the Holy Synod. There is an annual meeting.

Membership: Not reported.

Educational Facilities: The International Church of Ageless Wisdom Esoteric Seminary, Wyalusing, Pennsylvania.

Periodicals: Aquarian Lights.

Remarks: Associated with the International Church of Ageless Wisdom is the Michigan Metaphysical Society, headed by popular Detroit-area psychic teacher, Sol Lewis, who was ordained by Hand. Another famous member of the church is popular occult lecturer Col. Arthur Burks.

Sources:

Barrett, Lawrence R. 10 Principles. Atlanta, GA: The Author, 1982.

Ritual Book. Wyalusing, PA: International Church of Ageless Wisdom, 1979.

1564

International General Assembly of Spiritualists

5403 S. Ridge W.
Ashtabula, OH 44004

The International General Assembly of Spiritualists (IGAS) was incorporated in 1936 in Buffalo, New York, by the Rev. Arthur A. Ford (1897-1971), Fred Constantine and eight other Spiritualist ministers. Arthur Ford was the first president. The Rev. Fred Jordan, a retired Navy commander, was ordained by Ford in 1937 and served as president of the IGAS from 1938 to 1974. Rev. Jerry Higgins was elected to succeed Jordan, but died before assuming the post. The Rev. Fred Jordan, Jr., the vice-president, was then elected to succeed his father.

In 1946, the IGAS adopted a "Declaration of Principles" which is word-for-word that of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. Emphasis is placed on prayer, healing, and spiritual unfoldment and development. Communion is served regularly. There are affiliated congregations in Africa, and Nepal.

Membership: In 1987 the church reported 35 congregations, 410 members and 103 ministers in the United States and an additional 190 members worldwide.

Educational Facilities: Shrine of the Healing Master, Ashtabula, Ohio.

Periodicals: The I.G.A.S. Journal.

Sources:

Ford, Arthur. Why We Survive. Cooksburg, NY: Gutenberg Press, 1952.

Ford, Arthur, with Margueritte Harmon Bro. Nothing So Strange. New York: Harper & Row, 1958.

Royce, Clifford M., Jr. To the Spirit…From the Spirit. Chicago: The Author, 1975.

Spraggett, Allen, with William V. Rauscher. Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead. New York: New American Library, 1973.

1565

International Spiritualist Alliance

320 Columbia St., Rm. 1A
New Westminster, BC, Canada V3L 1A6

The International Spiritualist Alliance is a Canadian-based Spiritualist church headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was founded to "bring into closer Brotherhood and Unity Spiritualists the world over." Churches are located across Canada and the British Isles and include two churches in California, one in San Bernardino and the Holy Grail Foundation in Santa Cruz. There is an annual convention. The current president is the Rev. Beatrice Gaulton Bishop.

The Alliance has a loose belief-structure, accepting as "Principles of Spiritualism" seven affirmations on the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the immortality of the soul, communion with the departed, personal responsibility, compensation for good and evil, and eternal progress of the soul. Members are Christian, accepting the belief in God and the creator, who is love, and in Jesus, the Lord who was incarnated for the salvation of men. Jesus became perfected in suffering and thus became both Lord and Christ.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: International Spiritualist News Review. Send orders to 3371 Findlay St., Vancouver, BC, Canada.

1566

Lotus Ashram

264 Mainsail
Port St. Lucie, FL 33452

The Lotus Ashram was established in 1971 in Miami, Florida, by Noel and Coleen Street. Noel is a medium originally from New Zealand and ordained by the Universal Church of the Master. Coleen is a yoga teacher. Noel became a popular figure in the psychic community in the United States through his annual tour and his many books and writings. He specializes in psychic healing, which he learned from the Maori natives of New Zealand, and past-life reading by which he is able to trace an individual's previous incarnations on earth. Coleen's work stresses physical fitness through yoga, vegetarianism, and food preparation.

In 1975 a second center for the Ashram was opened in Chillicothe, Ohio and named "Springtime." A chapel, healing sanctuary and bookstore are part of the complex. In 1977 the Ashram headquarters moved to Texas, at a location near the Mexican border. The Ashram is governed by an eight-person board of directors.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: Lotus Leaves. Send orders to Box 39, Fabens, TX79838.

Sources:

The Story of the Lotus Ashram. Miami, FL: Lotus Ashram, n.d.

Street, Noel. Karma, Your Whispering Wisdom. Fabens, TX: Lotus Ashram, 1978.

——. Reincarnation, One Life-Many Births. Fabens, TX: Lotus Ashram, 1978.

1567

Metaphysical Episcopal Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Metaphysical Episcopal Church was founded as an independent Episcopal jurisdiction in 1974 in Titusville, Florida, by Fr. R. D. Finzer, II, its bishop primate. The church describes itself as "metaphysical" in philosophy and theology. It also believes in the unity of religion and that religious paths eventually lead to God. The creedal statement included in the church's liturgy affirms belief in the fatherhood of a God and the brotherhood of man. It follows the teaching of the Master Jesus and the guidance of angels. Spiritualist influence is manifested in the affirmation of communication with those who have passed through the experience of death and the future progress of the soul after death.

The church is decidedly Christian and follows a liturgy derived from the Book of Common Prayer.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Fenzer, F. D. The Missal of the Metaphysical Episcopal Church. N.p.: Metaphysical Episcopal Church, 1975. 18 pp.

1568

Metropolitan Spiritual Churches of Christ, Inc.

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Metropolitan Spiritual Community Churches of Christ, Inc., was founded in 1925 by Bishop William Taylor and Elder Leviticus Lee Boswell. The word "spiritual" in the church's name indicates its basic Christian beliefs and its practice of the spiritual gifts according to I Corinthians 12. The church is trinitarian and baptizes people in the name of the "Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost." It affirms the Apostles Creed, but replaces the word "catholic" with the word "universal." The Gospel is described as foursquare: preaching, teaching, healing, prophecy. Incarnation, not reincarnation, is taught. The churches believe that "all men (humankind) are incarnations of the one Spirit regardless of race, creed, or condition, with full belief in creation."

Bishop Taylor was succeed by the Rev. Clarence Cobb (b.1979), founder and pastor of the First Church of Deliverance in Chicago, Illinois. In the 1970s he brought additional churches in Accra, Ghana, and Monrovia, Liberia, into the fellowship of the Metropolitan Spiritual Church of Christ. Cobb was succeeded by Dr. I. Logan Kearse, pastor of the Cornerstone Church of Christ in Baltimore, Maryland, the current international president.

Membership: Not reported. In 1965 there were 125 churches and 10,000 members. Currently there are a number of churches in the eastern half of the United States.

1569

National Colored Spiritualist Association of Churches

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Shortly after World War I, the growing black membership in the National Spiritualist Association of Churches separated from the parent body and, in 1922, formed the National Colored Spiritualist Association of Churches. Doctrine and practice follow closely those of the parent body. Churches are located in Detroit, Chicago, Columbus (Ohio), Miami, Charleston (South Carolina), New York City, Phoenix and St. Petersburg.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: The Nationalist Spiritualist Reporter.

1570

National Federation of Spiritual Science Churches

(Defunct)

The National Federation of Spiritual Science Churches was a Spiritualist association founded in 1927 whose member churches were primarily on the West Coast. In the 1930s, a periodical, Spiritual Science Magazine, was inaugurated. In the 1940s, churches were to be found in the states of California and Washington. The federation taught a form of Christian Spiritualism and affirmed a belief in God revealed in Nature, the teaching of Jesus the Christ, and the worthiness of the Bible as a source of inspirational truth (to be tested by reason and the Laws of God). Spiritual healing was emphasized as was spirit communication. The small federation granted ordination and church charters and offered study courses to the ministry. The mother church was in Los Angeles; however, no sign of its continuance has been observed in recent years. It is presumed to be defunct.

Sources:

Textbook of Spiritual Science. Los Angeles: National Federation of Spiritual Science Churches, 1932.

1571

National Spiritual Aid Association

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The National Spiritual Aid Association, Inc. was formed in 1937 and incorporated at Springfield, Illinois. It functions as a central office to certify and hold certification credentials for otherwise independent Spiritualist ministers. Beliefs are not specified beyond the insistence that Spiritualism is the true religion that God sent Christ on earth to teach. Headquarters are in St. Petersburg, Florida, where its president, Charles E. Lyons, resides.

Membership: Not reported.

1572

National Spiritual Alliance of the U.S.A.

RFD 1Lake Pleasant, MA 01347

The National Spiritual Alliance of the U.S.A. was formed in 1913 by the Rev. G. Tabor Thompson, previously a medium with the New England Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association, and an advocate of belief in reincarnation, an opinion at variance with the NSAC. Otherwise, the Alliance is similar to NSAC. Their website is http://www.thenationalspiritualallianceinc.org. An annual convention is held at Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts. An official board of directors conducts outreach work.

Membership: In 2002 there were 2 churches, 100 members, and 35 ministers.

1573

National Spiritual Science Center

409 Butternut St. NW, Ste. 1 Washington, DC 20012

The National Spiritual Science Center was established in Washington, D.C., in 1941 by Rev. Alice Welstood Tindall. Reverend Tindall was trained at the Spiritual Science Mother Church, headquartered at Carnegie Hall Studios, New York City, which was founded by Rev. Julia O. Forrest on May 29, 1923. For many years it was an active part of the Ecclesiastical Council of the Spiritual Science Mother Church and also a charter member in the Federation of Spiritual Churches and Associations, an ecumenical organization of Spiritualist groups which was organized by Reverend Tindall. In 1969, while attending a Federation meeting, Reverend Tindall suffered an accident which disabled her and led her to turn the center over to two people she had trained over the 1960s, Reverends Henry J. Nagorka and Diane S. Nagorka.

During the 1970s the Nagorkas reorganized the center, independent of the Spiritual Science Mother Church, moved the headquarters at 5605 16th St. NW, and under their leadership, the center emerged as a prominent national Spiritual Science organization. ESPress, Inc. was created which became a significant Spiritualist publishing concern, and for 16 years Rev. Henry Nagorka served as its publisher and president of the center's Board of Directors. Rev. Diane S. Nagorka founded the School of Spiritual Science and with her colleague and assistant, Rev. Margaret Moum, established the curriculum and theology for metaphysical studies for which the school became known. She served as its director for many years. After Rev. Henry's death in 1986, ESPress, Inc. ceased its publishing activities, and Rev. Diane S. Nagorka assumed management of the operations of the center and school as its president and director until her retirement in June 1989.

The baton of leadership passed to the Board of Directors, and during this transition, the office and school moved to its present location in Washington, D.C. Healing and Worship Services are held every Sunday evening at 1611 16th St. NW. The Board of Directors, the governing body of the Center, meets on a regular basis to determine policy and to administer the services and activities of the center. The School of Spiritual Science continues its program of metaphysical studies under the guidance of the Director of Education, who is appointed to the position, and presents a four-year course of study leading to certification as Graduate of Spiritual Science of Minister of Spiritual Science.

Beliefs of the center are summarized in a nine-point statement which affirms belief in God as the Universal Creative Energy, the dynamic growing nature of the universe; the drive of every entity to unite with God; the immortality of the soul; individual free will; wisdom as the latent power of God within; the reality of communication with spirit; soul-unfoldment and service as the purpose of life; and God as a just, accepting and impersonal Force, drawing all to perfection.

Membership: In 1991 the center reported 20 chartered affliated centers and more than 125 Ministers of Spiritual Science.

Educational Facilities: School of Spiritual Science, Washington, D.C.

Periodicals: Psychic Observer.

Sources:

Moum, Margaret R. Guidebook to the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Washington, DC: ESPress, 1974.

Nagorka, Diane S. Spirit as Life Force. Washington, DC: ESPress, 1983.

1574

National Spiritualist Association of Churches

℅ Morris Pratt Institute
11811 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226

Oldest and largest of the Spiritualist churches is the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC) formed in 1893 at Chicago. Among its leaders were Harrison D. Barrett and James M. Peebles, both former Unitarian clergymen, and Cora L. Richmond, an outstanding medium and author. The association was formed both for fellowship and to deal with fraudulent mediumship. The association is also important for its adoption of a number of statements on Spiritualism which have become a standard to which other Spiritualist bodies more or less adhere.

In 1899, a six-article "Declaration of Principles" was adopted. (Three other articles were added at a later date.) Because of its significance in setting the beliefs of modern Spiritualism, all nine articles are quoted in full below. (The influence of Unitarianism is obvious in the definition of God in article one.) l. We believe in Infinite Intelligence; 2. We believe that the phenomena of Nature, both physical and spiritual, are the expression of Infinite Intelligence; 3. We affirm that a correct understanding of such expression and living in accordance therewith constitute true religion; 4. We affirm that the existence and personal identity of the individual continue after the change called death;5. We affirm that communication with the so-called dead is a fact, scientifically proven by the phenomena of Spiritualism; 6. We believe that the highest morality is contained in the Golden Rule: "Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye also unto them." 7. We affirm the moral responsibility of the individual, and that he makes his own happiness or unhappiness as he obeys or disobeys Nature's physical and spiritual laws; 8. We affirm that the doorway to reformation is never closed against any soul here or hereafter; 9. We affirm that the precept of Prophecy and Healing are Divine attributes proven through Mediumship.

Over the years, other statements have been adopted on "What Spiritualism Is and Does" and "Spiritual Healing." A set of "Definitions" has also been approved. The two issues of "reincarnation" and the relation of Spiritualism to Christianity have been the major questions dividing Spiritualists. Differing answers to these two questions have split the NSAC on several occasions, and dissent led independent Spiritualists to form their own organizations instead of joining the NSAC. Reincarnation, gaining popularity through theosophy, began to find favor among some mediums in the early twentieth century, but was specifically condemned by the NSAC in 1930. "Are Spiritualists also Christians?" was debated by the NSAC and generally decided in the negative. While the NSAC has drawn heavily on the Christian faith, from which most members came, it identifies its members as Spiritualists. The specifically "Christian" Spiritualists were found in other bodies such as the Progressive Spiritualist Church. [It should be noted that most Spiritualists differentiate between primitive Christianity, which they believe themselves to be following and practicing, and contemporary orthodox Christianity, which they strictly differentiate from both primitive Christianity and Spiritualism.]

The polity of the association is hierarchical. There are loosely organized state associations and an annual national convention. Among Spiritualists, the association has the highest standards for ordination. The NSAC is noteworthy as the only Spiritualist body to attempt to develop work among youth. The lyceum was originally promoted and shaped by Andrew Jackson Davis in 1863. Children's materials have been developed and many churches have an active lyceum (Sunday school) program. Such efforts have given the NSAC a stability lacking in most Spiritualist bodies.

Membership: In 2002 the association reported 144 member congregations. There are ten state associations and 11 camps. There were also four affiliated congregations of the National Spiritualist Churches of Canada in Ontario and Quebec.

Educational Facilities: Morris Pratt Institute, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Only College of Spiritual Science, Lily Dale, New York.

Periodicals: The National Spiritualist Summit. Send orders to 668 E. 62nd St., Indianapolis, IN 46220. • Spotlight. Sends orders to 1418 Hall SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506-3960.

Sources:

Barrett, H. D. Life Work of Cora L. V. Richmond. Chicago: Hack & Anderson, 1895.

Holms, A. Campbell. The Fundamental Facts of Spiritualism. Indianapolis: Stow Memorial Foundation, n.d.

Kuhnig, Verna Kathryn. Spiritualist Lyceum Manual. Milwaukee: National Spiritualist Association of Churches, 1962.

One Hundredth Anniversary of Modern American Spiritualism. Chicago: National Spiritualist Association of Churches, 1948.

1575

Order of the White Rose

(Defunct)

The Order of the White Rose was a Spiritualist organization founded in Chicago, Illinois in the 1890s by Jesse Charles Fremont Grumbine (1861-1938). Around 1900 Grumbine moved the headquarters to Boston, Massachusetts, where it was to remain for the next two decades. Around 1921, Grumbine moved to Cleveland and two years later to Portland, Oregon. The order was described as mystical and Rosicrucian in nature, pure spiritualism. It was composed of two branches, the Spiritual Order of the Red Rose, the exoteric or outer branch, and the Spiritual Order of the White Rose, the esoteric or inner branch. Both branches led members to the celestial branch of the order.

Grumbine began his understanding of spiritualism by distinguishing universal spirit and personal individual spirits. Universal spirit does not exist as a God outside of the universe, but is the radiant center from which spirits draw life. Matter is the substance of form. Form defines and limits spirits, which are temporal, relative, and finite. Spiritualism is the revelation of the being of God within each person. The message of excarnate spirits through mediums is the divinity of each spirit. Psychic abilities such as clairvoyance, telepathy, healing, and prevision were seen as innate divine powers, which, when properly used and controlled, could check evil and produce a divine manhood and womanhood.

The order had as its primary task the establishment of the Universal Spiritual as defined in Grumbine's many books. Members were organized into chapters around the United States. No estimate of the size of the order is available. Grumbine wrote a number of books which continued to appear into the mid-1920s.

Sources:

Grumbine, J. C. F. Clairaudience. Boston, MA: Order of the White Rose, 1911.

——. Clairvoyance. Boston, MA: Order of the White Rose, 1911.

——. Melchizedek or the Secret Doctrine of the Bible. Boston, MA: Order of the White Rose, 1919.

1576

Progressive Spiritual Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Progressive Spiritual Church was formed in 1907 by the Rev. G. V. Cordingley, who had been one of the organizers of the Illinois State Spiritualist Association of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. The Reverend Cordingley had rejected the NSAC's adoption of a "Declaration of Principles" instead of a "Confession of Faith" based upon the authority of the Bible. An aggressive policy of proselytization brought steady growth during the first decade of the Progressive Spiritual Church.

The doctrine of the church is derived from Christian affirmations as modified by divine revelations received through spirit communication. The Confession of Faith affirms belief in communication with spirits, the resurrection of the soul (but not of the body), God as absolute divine spirit, and angels or departed spirits, who communicate through mediums. Members further hold that Jesus was a medium, that spirits have desires, that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that heaven and hell are conditions, not locations. Four sacraments are practiced: baptism, marriage, spiritual communion and the funeral.

A mother church was established. Officers–a supreme pastor, a board of trustees, a secretary and a treasurer–are elected by it. Individual congregations elect their own officers, but are subject to the mother church. Churches are located mainly in the Midwest.

Membership: Not reported. Multiple attempts in recent years to contact individuals associated with the church have proved futile. It is not known if the church is still functioning.

Sources:

McArthur, Paul. Text Book, Ritual, Valuable Data and Selected Poems.

Progressive Spiritualist Association of Missouri, 1908.

1577

Pyramid Church of Truth and Light

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Pyramid Church of Truth and Light was formed in 1941 by the Revs. John Kingham and Emma Kingham in Ventura, California. They continued at its head until 1962, when the leadership was passed to Dr. Steele Goodman. During the pre-1962 era, four churches were chartered, but none has survived. The teachings of the church center upon individual unfoldment. The church says the basic principle of the universe is vibration or love, which is manifest in many laws. In 1973, there were two churches, the headquarters church in Sacramento and a second in Phoenix, headed by Isaiah Jenkins, a black man and popular medium. A third church is projected for Santa Ana.

Membership: Not reported.

1578

Roosevelt Spiritual Memorial Benevolent Association

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Roosevelt Spiritual Memorial Benevolent Association was formed in 1949 by a group of independent Spiritualists. Its main purpose in forming was to provide a home for otherwise independent mediums and churches, which it certifies and charters. Doctrinally it is Spiritualist, believes in communication as taught in the Bible and promotes psychical research. It does provide, for any seeking it, a study course in Spiritualism. President of the Association is the Rev. Nellie M. Pickens.

Membership: Not reported.

1579

St. Paul's Church of Aquarian Science

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Rev. Harold C. Durbin is a Spiritualist medium and was formerly a pastor in the Spiritualist Episcopal Church. In the 1960s, he became independent and founded St. Paul's Church of Aquarian Science in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1970, his book, Someone Asked, He Answered, was published. The name of the church is derived from the zodiacal sign of Aquarius. According to the church, humanity is now moving into the Aquarian Age. The "man with the waterpot," Aquarius, is referred to by Jesus in Mark 14:13-15.

The church teaches that God is Universal Spirit with the attributes of power and intelligence; that God is a trinity of Father (creator), Son (created), and Holy Spirit (the process of creation); that man is a trinity of body, soul or mind, and spirit; that Jesus the master gave the highest teachings, and we grow as we practice these teachings; that man is divine creation, with all the divine attributes and access to God through Jesus; that all life is eternal and must grow and evolve; that the door of reformation is never closed; and that by developing the divine attributes, attunement of the world of spirit (mediumship) is developed. Reincarnation is accepted.

Besides the original congregation in St. Petersburg, a second congregation was established in Tampa, and, in 1970, a third was projected for Sarasota. However, in the late 1970s, headquarters were moved to Texas.

Membership: Not reported. There were over 800 people affiliated with the several congregations prior to the move to Texas.

Sources:

Durbin, Harold C. Someone Asked, He Answered. Lakemont, GA, 1970.

1580

Society of Christ, Inc.

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Society of Christ is a small spiritualist body founded by Bishop Harriette Leifeste and Bishop Dan B. Boughan, the president. Teachings are derived from the Bible and the "wisdom teachings of all the great religions," which are interpreted esoterically. God is seen as infinite intelligence manifested in nature and as love and goodness. Members believe in the moral responsibility and free choice of the individual; that science and religion have proved the continuity of life after death, as demonstrated through mediumship; that the highest morality is the golden rule; that the possibility of reformation is never closed, and that man can unfold and manifest the gifts of the spirit. The church grants ordinations, healing certificates and church charters.

Membership: Not reported. At last report there were 2 congregations and 4 ministers.

1581

Spiritual Episcopal Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Spiritual Episcopal Church was founded in 1941 as the Spiritualist Episcopal Church by the Revs. Clifford Bias, John Bunker, and Robert Chaney, all prominent mediums at Camp Chesterfield in Indiana. Bias and Bunker were members of the Independent Spiritualist Association and Chaney was a member of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. The founders expressed dissatisfaction with an overemphasis on phenomena within Spiritualism; they wanted a greater emphasis on philosophy, particularly as channeled from the spirit realm.

Significant in the history of the Spiritual Episcopal Church was the disruption in 1956, when a morals charge was brought against a prominent medium, a candidate for a church office. Camp Chesterfield, where the church had its membership, was split between those supporting and those opposing the medium. After attempting to dissuade the medium from seeking office, the Rev. Dorothy Graff Flexer moved the church headquarters to Lansing Michigan, hoping to keep the divisiveness at Camp Chesterfield from spreading throughout the church.

The church believes that Spirit is the Origin, Sustainer, and Reality in all forms of nature and in all the expression of life. The universe is spirit-built and constitutes a divine revelation of Spirit (God). The church believes in life after death, the efficacy of prayer, the duty and privilege to come into harmony and peace with the Spirit, and the divinity of all persons. Jesus is accepted as an Avatar, one of the "Christed ones" who have manifested into the world to lighten its darkness and show by precept and example the way of life leading back to the Source.

The current presiding clergy is Rev. Marilyn Brown, and the Internet address is http://www.spiritualist-church.com.

Membership: In 2002, the church reported congregations in Eaton Rapids, Mt. Morrice, and Owosso, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Hendersonville, North Carolina; and Riverside, California.

Periodicals: Spiritualist Messenger, 610 Clinton St., Owosso MI48867.

Sources:

Chaney, Robert G. "Hear My Prayer". Eaton Rapids, MI: Library, The Spiritualist Episcopal Church, 1942.

Development of Mediumship. Dimondale, MI: Spiritual Episcopal Church, n.d.

1582

Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The exact origin of the Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army is unknown, but it draws heavily upon two older African American religious traditions–Black Judaism and Spiritualism. Leaders of the Spiritual Israel Church, such as Bishop Robert Haywood (the "King of All Israel") and Bishop George Coachman (the association's "Overseer"), placed its establishment in the late 1930s, with some organization precedents going back to the 1920s. The forerunner of the Spiritual Israel Church was the Church of God in David, which was established by Derks Field in Alabama. At some point, either in Alabama or Michigan, Field met W. D. Dickson, who had arrived at similar ideas. After Field's death, Dickson took on the title of the "King of All Israel" (a title also carried by his successors) and pulled Spiritual Israel "out of David" upon instructions from the Spirit. Spiritual Israelites credit both Field and Dickson with "restoring" the teachings of the ancient Israelites. Apparently after the Field's death, a power struggle for the leadership of the association occurred among Dickson and the surviving Field brothers, Doc and Candy. Each of the Field brothers established a separate organization, and several other groups, all containing the word "Israel" in their names, later broke away from the Spiritual Israel Church. Because of the severe Michigan winters, Dickson moved the sect to Virginia for a while, but returned to Detroit upon further instructions from the Spirit. Dickson was succeeded in his leadership by Bishop Martin Tompkin and Bishop Robert Haywood.

Members of Spiritual Israel Church and Its Army view themselves as spiritual descendants of the ancient Israelites or "Spiritual Jews," and their association as a restoration of the religion of the ancient Israelites. They maintain that "Ethiopian" is the "nationality" name of Black people whereas "Israel" is their "spiritual" name. They believe that the first human beings were Black, starting with Adam, who was created from the "Black soil of Africa" and that all of the great Israelite patriarchs and prophets were Black men. In time, however, with the sons of Isaac, a division in humanity developed. Jacob became the progenitor of the Ethiopian nation and Esau of the Caucasian nation. Spiritual Israelites maintain that most whites who identify themselves as "Jews" are actually the descendants of Gentiles who intermarried with the original Jews or Israelites.

Spiritual Israelites maintain that they belong to the "one true Spiritual church" and that the Spirit dwells in all people. Like most other Spiritual groups, they believe that heaven and hell are projections of the human mind. The Christ Spirit, which is simply the "anointed power" of God, has occupied the bodies of many kings of Israel.

Membership: In 1982 the group reportedly had 38 temples and missions, with a concentration of them in southeastern Michigan (namely the Detroit metropolitan area, Flint, Ann Arbor, and Lansing). There were also congregations in New York City; the Chicago area; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Washington, D.C.; Louisville, Kentucky; New Orleans, Louisiana; several cities in Indiana (Gary, Fort Wayne, and Muncie); and a small city in Ohio, as well as five congregations in the Southeast (New Orleans, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi).

Sources:

Baer, Hans A. "Black Spiritual Israelites in a Small Southern City."Southern Quarterly 23, no. 3 (1985):103-124.

——. The Black Spiritual Movement: A Religious Response to Racism. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1984.

1583

Spiritual Prayer Home, Inc.

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Spiritual Prayer Home was incorporated in 1939 in California as a Spiritualist organization. The Home issues ordinations and charters, and offers students training courses. The president during the 1970s was Norman C. Fredriksen and the headquarters were in San Dimas, California. Recent attempts to locate the church have failed.

Membership: Not reported.

1584

Spiritual Science Mother Church

Current address not obtained for this edition.

Mother Julia O. Forrest, a former Christian Science practitioner, became a Spiritualist and, with Dr. Carl H. Pieres, organized a new body modeled on the Christian Science Mother Church in Boston. The Spiritual Science Mother Church is headquartered in New York City. From its ruling ecclesiastical council, it issues charters and runs the Spiritual Science Institute for training ministers. Forrest was succeeded by Glenn Argoe as president of the council and pastor of the mother church in New York City.

From Christian Science the idea of the mother church is retained, as is the concept of demonstration of spiritual realities in this life. Three principles of demonstration are emphasized: preaching, or the giving out to each one through messages (clairvoyance) what God has for him to do; communications from other realms, and healing through the channelling of healing power. Spiritual Science is specifically Christian in its orientation, holding that Jesus Christ is lord and master and dispenser of the law of love. The Trinity of God the Father and creator, the virgin-born Son and Holy Spirit is affirmed. Man is a free agent on a spiritual path which has included past reincarnations. A major emphasis is on soul-unfoldment. Salvation comes as a cleansing process through intelligent prayer.

Membership: Not reported. In the 1970s there were approximately 40 churches.

Educational Facilities: Spiritual Science Institute, New York, New York.

1585

Superet Light Doctrine Church

2516 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

The Superet Light Doctrine Church was founded in Los Angeles in 1925 by Dr. Josephine De Croix Trust (d. 1957), called Mother Trust by her followers. She began her work in New York City. According to Superet Light belief, Mother Trust was a Light Scientist who found Jesus's Religion because she had the gift to see the light, vibration, and aura of Jesus's Words. She childhood, Mother Trust was able to see auras. She labored diligently in the study of the auras while in New York to learn their meanings, often going without food. While left alone there, she developed tuberculosis. In a vision, Jesus healed her and gave her the mission of bringing to the world His light teachings. She gained a reputation around New York City as a miracle healer.

From her studies of the Bible she discovered that only the Words of Jesus shone with light. She then began to realize the secret of the Mother of God: the Holy Ghost was the Mother of God. She discovered that there are two purple hearts united in one, the Father and Mother of God. Also, she discovered from her studies of light in the Book of Revelation, the New Name Superet, the Parent God, Father and Mother Superet Light. Jesus Christ chose Mother Trust to bring out this truth to the world. She was told in a vision, "This is the new Name, Superet, which is the everlasting Fire in God's Sacred Purple Heart." This was not heretofore revealed.

The Superet Science teaches the manifestation of God's Light through every individual's light atom aura. All substances the possess magnetism, especially all life, have an aura, an invisible emanation. Mother Trust, as an aura scientist, was able to see both the outer aura and inner aura (or light of the soul). The light atom aura, capable of receiving God's Light, is produced by developing one's inner aura. Through Jesus Christ the Superet Light is effected and people become successful in their daily lives.

The church offers several lesson series, which explain basic Superet Light beliefs, such as "The Superet Lessons" and "The Golden Text Lessons." Mother Trust wrote more than 25 books, most of which are available to the general public.

On Christmas Day, 1938, Mother Trust inaugurated the Prince of Peace Movement, for people of all religions, colors, and nationalities, as an auxiliary to the Superet Church.

Membership: Not reported. In 2001 there were three churches in the United States (Los Angeles, California; Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania; and Washington, DC) and one in British Columbia. There are also churches in Mexico (one), Nigeria (20), Panama (two), and Venezuela (one). There were Prince of Peace Clubs in the Bahamas, Chile, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Trinidad, and the United States.

Periodicals: Newsletter of the Superetist Brotherhood and Sisterhood. Send orders to 1516 W. Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90057.

Sources:

Miracle Woman's Secrets. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1949.

Superet Light Doctrine Ministry. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1947.

Trust, Josephine C. Bible Mystery by Superet Light Science. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1950.

——. Superet Light. Los Angeles: Superet Light Center, 1953.

——. Superet Light Doctrine. Los Angeles: Superet Press, 1949.

1586

T.O.M. Religious Foundation

Box 52
Chimayo, NM 87522

The T.O.M. Religious Foundation was founded in the 1960s by the Rev. Ruth Johnson of Velarde, New Mexico. The Reverend Johnson achieved her leadership through knowledge gained from study, experience and previous lives. In 1970, the Foundation was moved to Canon City, Colorado. The Teachings are transmitted primarily through the correspondence studies, "Moon Time Studies in Spiritual Culture." Students receive instructions in dreams and the Bible, ESP and psychic development, and "Atlantis" and "Original Christianity." God is conceived as the divine one, or Whole, or Spirit, who knows, loves and cares for us. He manifests his love through spiritual guidance. Students learn the language of the soul, which supplies lines of communication with the spirit world. Graduates may be ordained as ministers and receive a franchise from the foundation.

Membership: Not reported.

1587

Temple of Universal Law

5030 N. Drake
Chicago, IL 60625

The Temple of Universal Law was founded in 1936 by the Rev. Charlotte Bright. The Reverend Bright is a medium under the guidance of Master Nicodemus, the control and directing voice who speaks through the Reverend Bright. In 1965, a temple was erected in Chicago on the North Side. Teachings were given through the Reverend Bright by the Masters of the Great White Brotherhood. The Reverend Bright passed away in 1989, but the control and directing voice, as well as other masters of the brotherhood, speak through her son and successor, the Rev. Robert E. Martin.

The Temple describes itself as a nondenominational church based in metaphysical Christianity. Members believe in God who expresses himself as a Trinity. God the Father is the universal law of life which creates, sustains, and progresses to eternal life. Christ is the perfect demonstration of divine mind. The Holy Spirit is the action of divine mind within. Worship can come in many forms. Truth is found in the Bible and in all spiritual traditions. Man in immortal. The essential duty of man is to look within and begin to awaken the Christ Spirit. Only by learning and understanding universal law can we come into oneness with God. The Lord's Supper is celebrated on the first Sunday in each month.

A complete program of classes, special workshops and lectures, and various services emphasizing communication with spirits supplement the Sunday worship. A library is maintained, and numerous booklets have been published. A branch temple is located in Wisconsin near Winter.

Membership: In 1988, the church reported two congregations with more than 200 members served by 11 minister-mediums. There were also 12 missionaries (channels) affiliated with the church.

Periodicals: Temple Messenger.

1588

United Spiritualist Church

813 W. 165th Pl.
Gardena, CA 90247

The United Spiritualist Church was founded in 1967 by the Rev. Floyd Humble, Edwin Potter, and Howard Mangan. The Reverend Humble had earlier served several independent Spiritualist Churches. The United Spiritualist Church differs from most Spiritualist churches by its adoption of a centralized form of government. Power is invested in the presidency which includes the president, first advisor-secretary and second advisor-treasurer. Under the presidency is the board of governors. There is also a board of publication, education, and church extension and missions. There is a general conference which elects the board of governors.

The beliefs and practices of the church are out of the consensus of Spiritualism. Members believe in mediumship, both mental and physical, and follow the practices of Jesus in preaching, healing, teaching and prophecy. Man is considered immortal; the unfoldment and development of individuals are means to bring the kingdom of God on earth.

Membership: Not reported.

Periodicals: The Spiritual Outlook. Send orders to 809 W. 165th Place, Gardena, CA 90247.

Sources:

Humble, Floyd. Bible Lessons. Gardena, CA: United Spiritualist Church, 1969.

1589

Universal Christ Church, Inc.

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Universal Christ Church was formed in 1970 by the coming together in fellowship of several Spiritualist churches in the Los Angeles area. Doctrine is Spiritualist, and reincarnation is accepted. There is an element of ritualism in the worship; the clergy wear clerical vestments. The Rev. Anthony Benik is the head of the church.

Membership: Not reported. In 1971 there were 5 churches, all in the Los Angeles area, and one 500-member congregation in Australia.

Periodicals: U.C.C. Spokesman. Send orders to 1704 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90006.

1590

Universal Church of Psychic Science

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Universal Church of Psychic Science is a small Spiritualist body headquartered in Philadelphia and headed by W. L. Salisbury, its president, and Clarence Smith, its secretary. The group is limited to the states of New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Church issues ordinations and church charters.

Membership: Not reported.

1591

Universal Church of the Master

100 W. Rincon
Campbell, CA 95008

The Universal Church of the Master (UCM) was formed in 1908 in Los Angeles, California, and was incorporated in 1918. Initially, it was largely a West Coast association of ministers and churches, but it began to spread across the nation in the 1960's. Among its early leaders was Dr. B. J. Fitzgerald, author of A New Text of Spiritual Philosophy and Religion, the basic book of the UCM. In 1930, the headquarters were moved to Oakland and then, in 1966, after Dr. Fitzgerald's transition (death), to San Jose.

The church sees itself as both Christian and Universal in its religious philosophy. While it uses much out of liberal Christianity, it also is eclectic, allowing a wide range of beliefs to exist. Its tenpoint statement, drawn from the Text, affirms belief in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, the laws of nature and living in harmony with them, life after death, commmunication with the unseen world, the golden rule, individual responsibility and the continual possibility of improvement, prophecy, and the eternal progress of the soul. The emphasis on the laws of nature denies any supernaturalism or miraculous nature in the communication phenomena. The church also uses The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ by Levi Dowling as a source for its teachings.

The UCM is headed by a governing board including the president, other officers and trustees. There is an annual membership meeting. An examining committee approves all ordinations and certifications. The board of trustees grants charters. The polity is congregational.

The church's Internet site is at http://www.v-c-m.org.

Membership: In 2002 the church reported 118 congregations, 598 ministers and 5,662 lay-members.

Periodicals: UCM Quarterly Magazine.

Sources:

Dowling, Levi. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Los Angeles: Leo W. Dowling, 1925.

Fitzgerald, B. J. A New Text of Spiritual Philosophy and Religion. San Jose, CA: Universal Church of the Master, 1954.

Universal Church of the Master, History and Principles. Santa Clara, CA: Universal Church of the Master, 1995.

1592

Universal Hagar's Spiritual Church (UHSC)

c/o Professor George H. Latimer-Knight
PO Box 07071
Detroit, MI 48207-7071

The Universal Hagar's Spiritual Church (UHSC) was founded by Father George Willie Hurley, a contemporary of Father Divine and also a self-proclaimed god. Hurley was born in 1884 in Reynolds, Georgia, and received his early training as a Baptist minister, though he later became a Methodist. After moving to Detroit, Michigan, with his wife in 1919, he joined a small Holiness sect called Triumph the Church and Kingdom of God in Christ and actually became its Presiding Prince for the state of Michigan.

Then in the early 1920s, Hurley became a minister in the National Spiritual Church, probably a predominantly White organization, which brigded his transition into the leader of his own church established in Detroit on September 23, 1923. In 1924 he established the School of Mediumship and Psychology, which eventually became a secret auxiliary in each congregation affiliated with UHSC. Father Hurley maintained that the school is a branch of the Great School of the Prophets, which Jesus attended during the eighteen years of his life that are not accounted for in the Bible. He also established the Knights of the All Seeing Eye, a Masonic-like auxiliary open to both men and women. By the eve of Hurley's death on June 23, 1943, UHSC had grown to an association of at least 37 congregations (eight in Michigan, eight in Ohio, six in Pennsylvania, seven in New Jersey, five in New York City, and single congregations in West Virginia, Delaware, and Illinois).

Similiar to other Black Spiritual groups, UHSC inherited a eclectic religious heritage, drawing elements from Spiritualism, Catholicism, African-American Protestantism, and possibly Voodoo or hoodoo. Father Hurley also incorporated concepts from the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, astrology, Ethiopianism, and other belief systems in his church. Sometime around 1933 if not earlier, Father Hurley began to teach his followers that his "carnal flesh" had been "transformed into the flesh of Christ." He maintained that just as Adam had been the God of the Taurian Age, Abraham the God of the Arian Age, and Jesus the God of the Piscean Age, he was the God of the Aquarian Age. Unlike most Spiritual churches, which have assumed an apolitical posture and refused, for example, to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, Hurley took unequivocal stands on a number of social issues, particularly the status of African Americans in the larger society, and urged his followers to vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since Hurley's death the strongly nationalist and critical rhetoric of his church has been considerably tempered.

Father Hurley's successors as head of UHSC have included Prince Thomas Surbadger, Mother Mary Hatchett, Prince Alfred Bailey, and Rev. G. Latimer, a daughter of Hurley. The Wiseman Board, which has consisted primarily of women in recent decades, serves as UHSC's governing body. Over the years, the heaviest concentrations of Hagar's congregations have been in southeastern Michigan, where the association's headquarters is located, and in the New York-New Jersey megalopolis. The affiliations of individual member congregations have changed considerably over the years, and especially since the early 1960s, UHSC has experienced significant fluctuations in the number of its congregations in the East and Midwest, somewhat offset by the spread of the church to California and the Southeast. The organization's web site is at http://fatherhurley.com.

Membership: In 1965 UHSC had 41 congregations in eight states. In 1980 it had 35 congregations in 11 states.

Sources:

Baer, Hans A. The Black Spiritual Movement: A Religious Response to Racism. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1984.

1593

Universal Harmony Foundation

5903 Seminole Blvd.
Seminole, FL 33772

The Universal Harmony Foundation grew out of and superceded the Universal Psychic Science Association, founded in 1942 by the Rev. Helene Gerling and her husband, J. Bertram Gerling. Both had been prominent mediums at Lily Dale Spiritualist Camp near Rochester, New York. Headquarters were later moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where a seminary was opened, offering nine courses leading to ordination as minister, healer, missionary, or teacher. Headquarters are now in Seminole, Florida.

Teachings of the foundation are eclectic, drawn from the universal revelation and the tested teachings of all the world's prophets. Study is directed toward metaphysics, healing, comparative religion, Bible, yoga, and mysticism. The seven affirmation-tenets present a religion premised upon the religious and scientific demonstrations of the talents and powers of the Living Spirit. They affirm the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man, the eternality of life, the power of prayer, spiritual healing, the reality of the psychic, soul-growth as the purpose of life, and fraternal service as the way of life. The Torch of Truth, the symbol of universal harmony, is lighted at the beginning of all services.

There is a mother church, the first chartered by the foundation, and members are encouraged to join it by participation in an annual free-will offering. Ministers are organized into a ministerial fellowship. They may apply for temple (i.e., congregation) charters. Rev. Gerling is the author of correspondence lessons offered through the seminary and a number of books. Rev. Gerling retired in 1988 and was succeeded by Rev. Nancy Castillo.

Membership: In 2001 the church reported 175 members all in the United States. There were seven affiliated congregations.

Educational Facilities: Universal Harmony Foundation Seminary, Seminole, Florida.

Periodicals: The Spiritual Digest.

Sources:

Gerling, Helene A. Healthy Intuitive Development. New York: Exposition Press, 1971.

1594

Universal Religion of America

℅ Christ Universal Church
295 N. Tropical Trail
Merritt Island, FL 32952

The Universal Religion of America was founded in 1958 by the Rev. Marnie Koski, pastor of a church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a former minister of the Spiritual Science Mother Church. The body is Spiritualist and Pentecostal, and emphasizes ESP and the spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues. Koski is also known to her followers as Soraya (meaning a "Solar Ray"), because she has served as a medium for some contemporary messages from Jesus. Leaving the Kenosha congregation to assistants, Koski moved the headquarters to Rockledge, Florida, and then more recently to the Metaphysical Center in Merritt Island.

Membership: Not reported. In 1968 there were 500 members. There are two congregations, one in Wisconsin and one in Florida.

Sources:

Koski, Marnie. Person Talks with Jesus. Washington, DC: ESPress, 1979.

1595

Universal Spiritualist Association

4905 W. University Ave.
Muncie, IN 47304-3460

The Universal Spiritualist Association was founded in 1956 by Clifford Bias (1910-1987) with former members of the Spiritualist Episcopal Church, which had provided theological training for Camp Chesterfield of the Indiana Association of Spiritualists. Bias was succeeded by Warren M. Smith, who retired from Spiritualist activities in 1990. T. Ernest Nichols has been president since 1990. The organization has a Board of Trustees, overseeing the operation of the association and the Universal Bookstore On Line. The Board of Regents, presently elected by the Board of Trustees, oversees the operation of the Universal Institute for Holistic Studies and its Home Study System, a five-level course of study towards the Universal Spiritualist Ministry, along with its interactive Internet counterpart, the College of Religious Education (CORE). Elections are held on an annual basis, each official holding office for three years. The Board of Trustees has the power to charter churches as well as license ministers and mediums who have completed the requirements of the institute.

The Universal Spiritualist Association is composed of people who believe in and practice the religion of Spiritualism described as "the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication by means of channeling (mediumship) with those who live in the Spiritual World." The association and its churches affirm the belief of the Creatorship of God, the oneness of all life everywhere, the leadership of the Christ, salvation by character, and the progression of humanity upward and onward forever. Annual institute sessions are conducted at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Class intensives continue the association=s tradition of teaching, preaching, and practicing the great religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Judaism as well as the Esoteric Faiths of Esotericism, Native American Spirituality, Rosicrucianism, Spiritualism, Sufism, and Theosophy as a Serene Way of Life in a troubled world. The association and its institute provide education and fellowship for the devotees and adherents of the Mystic, the Psychic, the New Age, the Metaphysical, and the Traditional. Within the association, there is a mystical society, the Ancient Mystical Order of Seekers, consisting of clergy and the more serious students who wish to learn and understand "the esoteric arts and sciences." The subject matter extends far beyond that common to most Spiritualist practices. Clifford Bias authored a series of manuals, The Path of Light, and published several books representative of their work.

The Universal Spiritualist Association's Internet site is at http://www.spiritualism.org.

Membership: In 2002 the association reported 390 members in the United States and Canada including ministers, spiritual healers, and mediums as well as eight churches in the United States and one church in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Educational Facilities: Institute for Holistic Studies, Muncie, Indiana.

Periodicals: The Banner of Light.

Sources:

[Bias, Clifford]. The A. M. O. S. Path of Light. 19 vols. Anderson, IN: The Ancient and Mystical Order of Seekers, n.d.

——. The Way Back. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1985. Universal Spiritualist Manual. Manor Grove, IN: Universal Spiritual Church, n.d.

Wallace, Austin D. Thistle Presents Prince Nikeritis. Eaton Rapids, MI: Transcendental Science Publications, 1950.

1596

University of Life Church

℅ Richard Ireland
5600 Sixth St.
Phoenix, AZ 85040

The University of Life Church was formed by renowned psychic Richard Ireland of Phoenix, Arizona. After serving a number of Spiritualist churches in the Midwest and East, he moved to Phoenix in 1955. Ireland gained a reputation during the 1960's as a nightclub entertainer, conducting ESP shows in which he read serial numbers of dollar bills while blindfolded. At the church he is a full trance medium; several guides, a Dr. Ellington and an Indian, speak through him. They answer questions for members and visitors, prophesy future events and give spiritual teaching. Reincarnation is stressed.

The center of the church is the congregation in Phoenix, which has 1,450 members. A healing shrine is being built in South Mountain in Phoenix. Lessons written by Ireland and/or his guides are sent out around the country. Ireland tried unsuccessfully to inherit the estate of James Kidd of Miami, Arizona, who willed his money for research on the existence of the human soul. The money went to the American Society of Psychical Research.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Ireland, Richard. The Phoenix Oracle. New York: Tower Books, 1970.

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Spiritualism

SPIRITUALISM

Modern spiritualism began in the spring of 1848, with the appearance of a pamphlet describing a series of uncanny tapping noises in the Fox family home, a tiny wood-frame house in Hydesville, New York. These "raps," which appeared to emanate from a variety of hard surfaces, always occurred in the presence of the two youngest Fox daughters, eleven-year-old Kate and fourteen-year-old Margaret. The Fox family quickly discovered that the force producing these raps could answer questions by tapping in a simple alphabetic code. Through this cumbersome method, the noise-producing force declared itself to be the disembodied soul of a murdered peddler. As word of this strange phenomenon spread, visitors flocked to the house.

Within a few weeks, Kate and Margaret discovered they could produce these noises anywhere, and on behalf of a vast array of different spirits. These raps were a telegraphic code through which any disembodied soul could send dispatches to loved ones still living. As word of this development spread, others followed the example of the Fox girls, discovering their own varied talents as mediums: trance speech, table-moving, and automatic writing emerged alongside raps as means of relaying spirit messages. The most gifted mediums, many of whom were women, became celebrities whose exploits were reported in a burgeoning spiritualist press. Soon, it was possible to speak of modern spiritualism, a fully-fledged movement founded on the belief that the living could enter into regular communication with the dead.

In the early 1850s, this new movement traversed the Atlantic. Visiting American mediums caused a sensation in Great Britain, inspiring a nationwide interest in these phenomena. In elite circles, celebrity mediums impressed their audiences with spectacular manifestations. Beginning in 1855, for example, the American-born Daniel Dunglas Home (1833–1886) became famous for his ability to produce luminous spirit hands, to divine intimate secrets about strangers and their deceased relatives, to cause musical instruments to play of their own accord, and to hold himself suspended in mid-air. Aristocrats and eminent writers like Charles Dickens, Anthony and Rose Trollope, William Makepeace Thackeray, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Ruskin, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton attended these gatherings. British spiritualism also flourished in humbler circumstances, where visionary communications tended to be more important than spectacular phenomena. Beginning in the mid-1850s, skilled workers formed spiritualist societies in industrial regions like Yorkshire, and in the burgeoning manufacturing cities of Manchester, Nottingham, Belfast, and Glasgow.

Spiritualism spread rapidly to the Continent as well. By 1853, séances had become a topic of fashionable discussion in France and Germany. As in Britain, these strange phenomena captured the interest of both elite and ordinary people. The author Victor Hugo received whole poems through an animated table, the French empress Eugénie (r. 1853–1871) figured among the glamorous guests at Home's séances, and the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer published an essay on "Spirit Sight." At the same time, pamphlets aimed at large audiences, containing instructions on how to produce the new phenomena and explanations of their significance, sold briskly.

Despite this initial burst of popularity, however, it took nearly a decade for organized spiritualism to emerge fully on the Continent—it began in the late 1850s in France, and in the 1870s traveled across the Rhine. By the 1880s, spiritualist circles were


thriving from San Francisco to Moscow. On the Continent, the movement took very different forms than it did in Britain or the United States. In France, and later in Italy and Spain, for example, believers referred to their ideas and practices as "Spiritism." Spiritist groups, perhaps echoing the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, tended to be considerably more centralized than their Anglo-Saxon counterparts. They also espoused a distinctive cosmology based on French thought, which incorporated Auguste Comte's positivist vision of history as a sweeping march of progress, and the utopian socialist Charles Fourier's belief in reincarnation—an idea Anglo-Saxon spiritualists found repellent. German spiritualists conceived of the movement from yet a different perspective: as a vehicle for social progress and as a new element in an ongoing debate between the philosophical schools of idealism and materialism.

As spiritualism became a fixture of the period's cultural and intellectual life, an increasing number of scientists turned their attention to the mysterious phenomena mediums produced. At first, these studies were isolated endeavors. In the early 1870s, for example, Sir William Crookes (1832–1919), discoverer of the element thallium, attempted to measure the "psychic force" Home seemed to exude in séances. Similarly, in 1878, Carl Friedrich Zöllner (1800–1860), founder of the discipline of astrophysics, published a study of the medium Henry Slade (d. 1905), in which he hypothesized that some phenomena were the work of beings from an invisible fourth dimension. By the early 1880s, many believed the subject had become pressing enough to demand a more systematic response. To accomplish this goal, the Cambridge philosopher Henry Sidgwick (1838–1900) founded the Society for Psychical Research, an organization devoted to the experimental study of the mysterious powers of mind mediums exhibited. This current of scientific inquiry, as explored by thinkers like Frederick Myers (1843–1901), Pierre-Marie-Felix Janet (1859–1947) and Theodore Flournoy (1854–1920), played a crucial role in the development of a new psychological conception of subjectivity—one that posited the existence of a complex and active "subliminal" or unconscious mind.

During this period, spiritualism appealed to a remarkably broad range of people—from famous writers and scientists to housewives and industrial workers. This striking breadth mirrored the breadth of the anxieties and aspirations the movement addressed. For some, communication with the beyond was simply an attractive form of consolation, a way to remain in reassuring contact with deceased loved ones. For others, especially those who became mediums, spiritualism could be a source of social power and mobility. Mediumship gave women an opportunity to speak publicly in ways that were otherwise unavailable to them. It also provided people of humble social origin—like Home, or


the Italian peasant Eusapia Palladino (1854–1918)—access to undreamt of status and fame. More broadly, spiritualism seemed to address what many considered to be a fundamental problem of the age: the ever-growing incompatibility of scientific and religious knowledge. Where scientific truth was based on material data, gathered through a careful process of experimentation, religious truth was based on faith—an emotional, intuitive sense of commitment and acceptance. Spiritualism seemed to resolve this conflict by giving religious knowledge an empirical foundation as solid as the one scientific knowledge enjoyed. For seekers in the nineteenth century, an era of uncertainty and transition, this prospect proved attractive indeed.

See alsoPopular and Elite Culture; Science and Technology; Secularization.

bibliography

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The History of Spiritualism. 2 vols. New York, 1926.

Monroe, John Warne. "Cartes de visite from the Other World: Spiritism and the Discourse of Laïcisme in the Early Third Republic." French Historical Studies 26, no. 1 (2003): 119–153.

Oppenheim, Janet. The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850–1914. Cambridge, U.K., 1985.

Owen, Alex. The Darkened Room: Women, Power and Spiritualism in Late Nineteenth Century England. London, 1989.

Treitel, Corinna. A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern. Baltimore, Md., 2004.

Turner, Frank M. Between Science and Religion: The Reaction to Scientific Naturalism in Late Victorian England. New Haven, Conn., 1974.

John Warne Monroe

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Spiritualism

SPIRITUALISM


In 1848 in a Hydesville, New York, farmhouse, mysterious noises were heard in the daughters' bedroom. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896), author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), would later ridicule those noises as "tippings and tappings and rappings" (p. 130). Thirteen-year-old Margaret Fox and twelve-year-old Kate Fox concluded that the noises were the ghost of a deceased peddler telling them that he had been murdered in the house and buried in the cellar. The girls tapped on the bedstead, the ghost tapped back, their mother interpreted, and this conversation with the dead inspired a vast movement that converted thousands in the United States to a metaphysical belief in the communication between the dead and the living: spiritualism. The first half of the nineteenth century was a time when many Americans had begun to doubt their Christian faith and consequently to despair of an afterlife; they looked for alternative routes. The more sensational aspects of the movement had abated by 1870, but a spiritualist influence continued in works such as William Dean Howells's critique of spiritualism, The Undiscovered Country (1880); Henry James's satire of the movement, The Bostonians (1886); Mark Twain's "Mental Telegraphy," an 1891 anecdotal essay that verified the source of psychic phenomena as natural science as opposed to the ghostly world of the supernatural; and Of One Blood; or, The Hidden Self (1901–1902) by the African American editor and writer Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, who took her subtitle from an essay by the philosopher William James on the connection between the supernatural and science.

THE VOICE OF SPIRITUALISM

In its heyday spiritualism depended on "mediums," who were individuals employed by departed spirits to convey their sentiments. Mediums such as the Fox sisters were considered earthly gifted souls who both evoked and mediated the language of the dead speaking from beyond the grave; the knocks would not occur unless a medium was in the room. Women were considered especially apt mediums because mediumship was conceived as passive receivership of the spiritual world—an analog to the gender roles of the time. Nevertheless women asserted themselves through spiritualism, eventually taking to the wearing of veils and exploiting the theatricality of their position. That spiritualism gave unique opportunities to women was a fact not missed by the misogynistic satirist Q. K. Philander Doesticks (Mortimer Thomson, 1871–1875), who attacked those "accommodating 'spirits' [who filter] through the 'Medium' of those crack-brained masculine women, or addle-headed feminine men who profess to act as go-betweens from Earth to the Spirit World" (p. 13). Money was an especially unusual dividend for female professionals of the time; Margaret and Kate Fox earned $100 a night in mediumistic demonstrations in New York in 1850. The famous trance speaker Cora Hatch not only managed to make quite a bit of money from an early age, she had amassed enough power at age seventeen to be granted something virtually unheard of during the time—a divorce.

Communication with spirits took place at interpretive séances; in the early days, spirits could only say yes or no or provide a numerical answer according to a medium's predetermined code of rappings. The exception to this was the Fox sisters, who spelled out words laboriously by calling out letters and waiting for verification by a corresponding rap. By the 1860s trance speaking and spirit writing (often enhanced by the aid of the planchette) allowed for much longer and more coherent messages. Séances continued throughout the movement's heyday into the 1870s. Many famous people participated in the spirit world of table rappings. For example, Rufus Griswold, a prominent editor, held a séance with the Fox sisters and included among the guests the editor Nathaniel Parker Willis; James Fenimore Cooper, author of the Leatherstocking Tales; the poet William Cullen Bryant; and the transcendentalist philosopher George Ripley. Lest one assume that all great men of the time were skeptics, it is interesting to note that this séance made quite an impact. Willis wrote it up in the Home Journal and Ripley in the New York Tribune. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes tales, claimed that Cooper thanked the Foxes on his deathbed for the peace that they had brought him by putting him in touch with his dead sister.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF SPIRITUALISM

Whereas women were more often the mediums, men were usually the ones to argue in print for the move-ment's legitimacy. Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), a former mesmerist, or hypnotist, wrote The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind (1847). Davis constructed an optimistic metaphysics of ever-evolving immortal spirits desirous of rapport with mortals who would themselves subsequently evolve through the contact. In ideas like his some saw a connection between spiritualism and Unitarianism and Swedenborgianism. (Mesmerism originated in the 1840s and was most notably fictionalized in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance.)

Along with Davis, another convert to spiritualism was Judge John Edmonds of the New York Supreme Court, who edited Spiritualism, a collection of séance communications in two volumes that was published in 1853. Another distinguished spiritualist was the radical reformer and educator Robert Dale Owen (1801–1877), although Owen rejected the more sensationalized aspects of spiritualism, such as table rapping. His introspective Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World, published in Philadelphia in 1860, sold two thousand copies in a week and four thousand in the first three months. The son of an English reformer, Owen had edited labor newspapers in the United States and was at the time the best-known American to write a spiritualist treatise. Owen was known for careful investigation and cautious conclusions. The most concrete contemporary account of the historical sequence of spiritualist table-rapping incidents is Eliab Capron's Modern Spiritualism: Its Facts and Fanaticisms, Its Consistencies and Contradictions (1855). Capron recounts a prolific number of spiritualist events that he claims to transcribe directly from sources including newspapers, journals, and direct testimony, providing his own transitions and occasional commentary on the events.

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In addition to the works above, a number of spiritualist journals were published, including the Spiritual Telegraph, Light from the Spirit World, and Disclosures from the Interior and Superior Care for Mortals. Invariably these periodicals included examples of automatic writing, such as selections from Lizzie Dotten's Poems from the Inner Life (1869). Automatic writing was the involuntary transcription by the medium of often lengthy messages from those in the afterworld. Quickly the spiritualist movement diversified through automatic writing into longer treatises than the blunt question and answer sessions produced by table rappings or the planchette. Mediums who did automatic writing were frequently visited by the spirits of Romantic poets and other literary greats. Dotten, for example, alleged that her poems were transcriptions of new work as well as sage messages from Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, and Robert Burns. Thomas Lake Harris believed that his work came to him through the Romantic poets Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The gothic caste of his own poetry, coupled with his mysterious death, made Poe a particular magnet for spiritualists. Even the spiritualist poet Thomas Holley Chivers, who had infamously accused Poe of plagiarizing "The Raven" and "Ulalume" from him, felt it necessary to defend the poet after his death from the claims of Mrs. Lydia M. Tenney that she was trance-writing Poe. Sarah Helen Whitman, Poe's onetime fiancée and the subject of his second "To Helen" poem, became a famous Poe medium with claims to legitimacy. In 1853 she published Hours of Life and Other Poems, a testament to her spiritualist attachment to Poe.

Whitman claimed that she and Poe shared a common bloodline, and she used Poe's reputation as a source by which to gain public recognition. Throughout the nineteenth century, spiritualist women extended their feminism beyond woman suffrage to include broader concerns, such as economics, women's dress, and marriage laws. By 1871, when the future suffra-gist Victoria Woodhull combined her leadership of the National Convention of Spiritualists with a meeting of the National Woman Suffrage Association, it was clear that a legendary merger between women's liberation and spiritualism had finally occurred, although spiritualist feminists would continue to push beyond the suffragists' advocacy of the woman's vote.

LITERARY ATTACKS AGAINST SPIRITUALISM

As one might expect, humorists and sometime humorists had a field day with what they alleged to be the pretensions of spiritualism, especially its pomposity, imposition on the gullible, undeserved profitability, and as seen in the quote from Mortimer Thomson above, the elevation of at least certain women to positions of power and influence during a time when men were supposed to rule the business sphere. One jibe at the movement's pomposity came from the New England sage James Russell Lowell (1819–1891), whose "The Unhappy Lot of Mr. Knott" was a long narrative parody of the Fox incident. In the Lowell version poor A. Gordon Knott, who has shown dubious architectural taste in fashioning his faux medieval mansion and worse judgment in choosing a certain Colonel Jones to wed his daughter Jenny, is snookered into thinking his house is haunted by "Those raps that unwrapped mysteries / So rapidly in Rochester" (p. 96). The poem is full of bad puns, including one about Knott's dead wife, who, "to rule him from her urn" might "have taken a peripatetic turn / For want of exorcising" (p. 97). Lowell pokes fun at alphabetical rapping and insinuates that the Fox sisters manufactured their sounds through toe cracking, a common accusation that Margaret ultimately confirmed in her old age. Even the Foxes' murdered peddler shows up in Lowell's poem, murdered by Colonel Jones. In the end Jenny and her real lover, Dr. Slade, marry as a result of staging the whole event.

Although the larger-than-life newspaper editor Horace Greeley vouched for spiritualism, P. T. Barnum, famous stager of spectacles and circuses, dismissed spiritualists as "humbugs" and took glee in revealing their behind-the-scenes tricks. The philosopher Oliver Wendell Holmes called spiritualism a "plague," and the editor of the Knickerbocker, Lewis Gaylord Clark, staged a hoax of his own to expose the fraudulence of séances. In "Among the Spirits," published in 1858, the humorist Artemus Ward uses a gullible narrator, so uneducated that he speaks in dialect, to mock Andrew Jackson Davis's concept of spiritual evolution in the afterlife. At a séance the narrator calls up the "Sperret" of his old pal William Tompkins to find out that, incredibly, the semiliterate Tompkins is with the seventeenth-century religious poet John Bunyan, Shakespeare, and the poet and playwright Ben Jonson in a circus. Tompkins disappears when the narrator asks about the money his dead friend owes him, to be replaced by the narrator's father, who says he is ashamed of his son's writing career because "Litteratoor is low" (p. 42). The narrator concludes that "Sperret rappers . . . air abowt the most ornery set of cusses I ever encountered in my life" (p. 43).

The longest parody of spiritualism is the story "The Apple-Tree Table; or, Original Spiritual Manifestations" (1856) by Herman Melville (1819–1891). The tale of a table haunted by 150-year-old bugs is based on an incident in the Berkshires that Henry David Thoreau also used in Walden as a symbol of resurrection. Hawthorne's "The Custom-House" is also evoked at the opening by the narrator's description of finding the table, upon which is a "ghostly, dismantled old quarto" (p. 9), in a closed garret of his home thought by popular sentiment to be haunted. As the narrator reads in the parlor at night from Magnalia, the Puritan minister Cotton Mather's work on witchcraft, he is terrified to observe the "cloven feet" (p. 9) of the table. Soon, after an obvious allusion to the "Fox Girls," the table begins to "tick!" (p. 21). When they hear the ticking, the narrator's daughters immediately assume the table is haunted. The narrator occupies a midway ground between doubt and credulity and establishes his wife as the commonsense skeptic whose "naturalist" perspective wins out over his irrational fears and the daughters' insistence that they "consult Madame Pazza, the conjuress" (p. 49). "Conjuress" is an intriguing possible reference to African spiritualism; the Quaker abolitionists and ardent spiritualists Amy Post and Isaac Post may have found inspiration for their beliefs in their contact with the spiritual tales of African American slaves in the Underground Railroad. The famous African American radical thinker W. E. B. Du Bois writes that all "American fairy tales and folk-lore are Indian and African" (p. 14) and that native Africans had a "profound belief in invisible surrounding influences, good and bad" (p. 141). The scholar Ann Braude notes that white spiritualists were welcomed into African American churches.

Though "The Apple-Tree Table" is lighthearted, Melville implies within it a link between spiritualism and demonism, declaring in the wife's voice that "all good Christians" have nothing to fear (p. 28). In this he echoes what many religious leaders of the time were saying about the movement. In 1854 the former transcendentalist Orestes Brownson published a novel called The Spirit-Rapper in which the first-person narrator converts from mesmerism to spiritualism and later denounces the movement as the work of Satan. Brownson reiterates here his own personal conversion to Roman Catholicism. Harriet Beecher Stowe's brother Charles also connected spiritualism with demonism in his 1853 "Review of the 'Spiritual Manifestations.'" The famous Beecher family, seldom a united front, is always interesting to watch as its members take adamant stands on cultural issues only to recant them, sometimes in ambiguous ways. Isabella Beecher Hooker was an ardent advocate of spiritualism, as she was of free love (love without legal restrictions) and feminism—three movements that were intimately associated during this period. But her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe published three condemnations of spiritualism in her brother Henry Ward Beecher's Christian Union in 1870, complaining that spiritualism's promise of easy immortality had preempted faith in "the great beneficent miracles recorded in Scripture" (p. 130). Stowe's ambivalence about spiritualism can be seen in the fact that only two years earlier Stowe had approved the planchette. Her neighbor Mark Twain echoed Stowe's later sentiments that this Ouija device was too easy a purchase of heaven.

SPIRITUALISM AND DOMESTICITY

Stowe's earlier plans to write an essay in 1868 approving the planchette did not materialize, perhaps because she was anticipated in that same year by the actress and journalist Kate Field (1838–1896), whose Planchette's Diary is a much more lighthearted publication than Stowe would have intended. Unlike Stowe's somber approach to the spiritualist movement, Field's work is a cheerful account of her relationship with what she drolly calls "Madam" Planchette even though the planchette is controlled by the spirit of Field's dead father. The father's staunch character serves Field in defending "Madam" against the most common accusation that spiritualism is a fraud. As he rather irascibly responds to the questions of Field's associates, the father asks how he can be expected to know the answers when they are outside his experience and unrelated to the interests and sentiments of his daughter, whom he uses as his medium. Field's entertaining accounts of a number of her soirees cleverly bat away, as if they were irritating gnats, every conceivable objection to the workings of the planchette. The planchette does not always get names right, for example, because "The mind never dwells upon names in spiritual life" (p. 16). Names do come up, however, and often the planchette reveals surprising results. Field uses only initials—Mr. O., Miss C.—in her recounting of her numerous planchette evenings. But one clue suggests that all these evenings really happened and with famous participants. Mr. G., for example, uses initials, but the planchette is able to discern that his unused first name is Richard and his middle name is Watson; Field discloses Mr. G. is an editor, and the surmise must be that this is the then assistant editor of Century Magazine, Richard Watson Gilder.

Another possible reason for Harriet Beecher Stowe's ambivalence about spiritualism was that her good friend and fellow writer Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844–1911) published two works in 1868 that touched positively on spiritualist themes. Her novel The Gates Ajar features the heroine's search for consolation after the death of her brother in the Civil War and the reassurance of her aunt that the dead are still in the mortal sphere. The book does not profess spiritualism per se but certainly opens the door to communication between the living and the dead. Aunt Winifred's conviction is that the dead are still around one, aiding one, in corporeal form; the novel even suggests that Aunt Winifred can commune with her own dead husband.

Phelps treats spiritualism more overtly in "The Day of My Death," an inverted mirror image of Melville's "The Apple-Tree Table." Here the mother, Allis, is credulous about the onslaught of rappings in her new home, while her husband Fred's skepticism leads him to exhaust all natural explanations until he finally believes the rappings and levitations are actually happening. They accelerate when Allis's spiritualist cousin Gertrude arrives for a visit wearing the standard medium's garb, a green barege veil. Gertrude, interpreting the uncanny from a spiritualist perspective, predicts that Fred is to die on a particular soon-approaching day. Although Phelps writes her tale as fiction, she claims that it actually occurred and that she has reliable witnesses to verify it. In her fictionalized version, however, the husband's prophesied death is proven inaccurate. Phelps's unwillingness to turn spiritualism morbid at the end is fueled by her instincts for what will sell.

What remains most surprising about the midcentury beginnings of the spiritualist movement in America is the manner in which it captured the entire nation, both in popular culture and in the realms of the most respected writers. During these years the waning faith in traditional religion and consequent unfulfilled longing for an afterlife, together with spiritualism's tie-in between faith and the scientific empiricism engendered by burgeoning technologies equally obsessed with fields of electrical magnetism, lent an integrity and fervor to the spiritualist movement that may never have again.

See alsoDeath; Feminism; The Gates Ajar;Journals and Diaries; Philosophy; Religion; Satire, Burlesque, and Parody; Theater

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Works

Barnum, P. T. "The Spiritualists." In his The Humbugs of theWorld, pp. 49–109. Detroit: Singing Tree Press, 1970.

Doesticks, Q. K. Philander [Mortimer Thomson]. "How Doesticks Came to Think of It." In Doesticks What He Says, pp. 13–17. New York: Edward Livermore, 1855.

Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Library of America, 1990.

Field, Kate. Planchette's Diary. New York: J. S. Redfield, 1868.

Lowell, James Russell. "The Unhappy Lot of Mr. Knott." In The Complete Writings of James Russell Lowell, vol. 12, pp. 91–120. Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside, 1904.

Melville, Herman. "The Apple-Tree Table; or, Original Spiritual Manifestations." 1856. In The Apple-Tree Table and Other Sketches, pp. 9–51. New York: Green-wood, 1969.

Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart. "The Day of My Death." In Men,Women, and Ghosts, pp. 113–160. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1873.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. "Spiritualism." Christian Union 2 (3 September 1870): 129–130.

Ward, Artemus. "Among the Spirits." In Complete Works ofArtemus Ward, pp. 40–43. New York: Burt Franklin, 1970.

Secondary Works

Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women'sRights in Nineteenth-Century America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.

Kerr, Howard. Mediums, and Spirit-Rappers, and RoaringRadicals: Spiritualism in American Literature, 1850–1900. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972.

Owen, Alex. "Power and Gender: The Spiritualist Context." In The Darkened Room: Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Victorian England, pp. 1–40. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.

Pattee, Fred Lewis. The Feminine Fifties. New York: D. Appleton–Century, 1940.

Janet Gabler-Hover

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Spiritualism

SPIRITUALISM

Among the pseudo-scientific fads of nineteenth-century America were several that had to do with ghosts or spirits. One of these fads, spiritualism, can be distinguished from a more general interest in ghosts (poltergeists) as well as from a more general sense of being religious or spiritual. The nineteenth-century fad called spiritualism, in its narrow sense, refers to the practice of "communicating with the dead," often during a séance. The fad took hold in 1848 and thrived for a decade, lost some momentum, and then gathered steam in the decades following 1870, both in practice and in various literary recollections of what had occurred a generation earlier.

Arguably some spiritualists genuinely believed in their powers to contact dead spirits, but those spiritualists who conducted séances most often were enterprising charlatans who, for a fee, invited gullible or curious sitters into a darkened room, where the spiritualist pretended to be in a trance and posed questions to a "dead spirit." The spiritualist then claimed that it was the dead spirit guiding his or her hand over a Ouija board to spell out answers to questions, tipping tables, blowing trumpets, or rapping on a table, seemingly in code. Although most spiritualists conducted séances in private settings, a few made public appearances in lecture halls and drew large crowds. Spirit photographers such as William Mumler, Frederick Hudson, and W. H. Harrison claimed that their blurry photographs were pictures of dead spirits, and a spirit postmaster, James Vincent Mansfield, bragged that he had active mail service to heavenly ghosts. Specifically he claimed that in a 30-year period he had delivered 100,000 sealed letters to spirits who permitted him to transcribe their replies.

The beginnings of the spiritualism movement in 1848 can be traced to a bedroom in Hydesville, New York, where the twelve-and thirteen-year-old sisters Katherine Fox (1836–1892) and Margaret Fox (1833–1893) discovered that they could make a loud rapping noise when they cracked their toe joints against the bedstead. The girls delighted in telling their superstitious mother that they had contacted the spirit of a murdered peddler, who, they claimed, responded with audible raps. Mrs. Fox flew next door and told neighbors, who told more neighbors and eventually newspaper editors. Having discovered that they were celebrities, Kate and Margaret continued to practice their "talent" in communicating with the dead. An older sister, Leah Fox (1811–1890), living in Rochester, soon got into the act, and the three became a national sensation.

Other tricksters decided to capitalize on the Fox sisters' success. Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), a shoemaker who had championed mesmerism and established a reputation as the "Poughkeepsie Seer," soon reported that he too had heard rappings. Among other self-styled spiritualists of the next few decades were Katie King (aka Florence Cook, 1856–1904); Lenora Piper (1857–1950), a Boston housewife who met with some of the leading intellectuals of the day; "Dr." Henry Slade (1840–1905), a con man who won the trust of a few prominent physicists; and Alexandre Aksakof (1832–1880), a Russian spiritualist and statesman who took Henry Slade to Russia to perform.

One spiritualist, J. R. Newton, claimed that he could contact Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. Another, Thomas Lake Harris, specialized in contacting "literary spirits," including those of Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Lizzie Doten, another medium specializing in "literary spirits," conceded that her awe of Shakespeare interfered with her ability to be a medium for his messages; however, her awe of Robert Burns was sufficiently mild so she could adequately represent his messages.

Until roughly 1860 spiritualism thrived, partly because it appealed to a public hungry for some promise that religious faith could be reconciled with new scientific theories. Spiritualism seemed to offer physical proof of a metaphysical reality: the audible or visible "replies" of the "dead spirits" seemed to provide empirical proof of the existence of an afterlife. The public was also at least curious about a phenomenon that combined some of the most interesting aspects of mesmerism, another pseudo-scientific fad of the early nineteenth century, with a new technological innovation, the telegraph, which involved tapping messages in code to send over a great distance. To one believer spiritualism also affirmed evolution, if earthly beings evolved to a higher, spiritual status. For some women spiritualism offered something else, an alternative means of having a voice and of making a living in a world that offered women few venues for either. Alex Owen argues in The Darkened Room (1989) that nineteenth-century spiritualism provided women on both sides of the Atlantic with a vehicle for subverting existing power relations between men and women. Indeed many of the early adherents of spiritualism were associated with reform movements of some kind, whether socialism, abolitionism, or women's rights, though not all feminists were sanguine about spiritualism: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were chagrined that their fellow feminist Victoria Woodhull was a spiritualist who attributed her charismatic speaking skills to a spiritual mentor, Demosthenes. (In 1871 Woodhull was elected president of the American Association of Spiritualists.) Affirmations of the movement were documented in texts such as Emma Hardinge Britten's Modern American Spiritualism (1870) and Nineteenth Century Miracles (1884).

However, from its beginnings, enthusiastic endorsements of spiritualism were mixed with religious denunciations, satirical literary responses, and skeptical calls for investigation, suggesting something about the ambivalence of the age. Rarely, though, did the exposés stifle interest in the movement. For example, in the Cambridge investigation of 1857, three Harvard professors, including Louis Agassiz, exposed the Fox sisters, although the investigation did little to quash the sisters' popularity. Conjurers were vocal critics of the psychics, but the tattling of cheats on other cheats did little to dampen public interest. In 1866 P. T. Barnum (1810–1892) called spiritualists the "humbugs of the world," and in 1876 Washington Irving Bishop (1856–1889), a hawker of quack nostrums, exposed the spiritualist Anna Eva Fay (1851–1927) as a fraud, but neither killed the movement. When Margaret Fox was exposed again in 1888, she recanted her clairvoyant claims but then recanted her recanting and still drew crowds.

Although the movement was declining in the closing decades of the century and the first decades of the next, some spiritualists thrived, including Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), who together with Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907) founded the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky's powerful personality attracted many to her blend of occultism, counterfeit miracles, and Asian philosophies. Other adherents of theosophy were simply drawn to neo-Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation and a cycle of life and rebirth. Another clairvoyant and spiritualist, Edgar Cayce (1877–1945), claimed that in previous incarnations he had been a warrior in Troy, one of Christ's disciples, and an angel predating Adam and Eve.

Certainly spiritualism enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the decades following the 1870s, but it is not spiritualism per se that best marks the period between 1870 and 1920. Rather, it is the boyhood recollections of spiritualism in the fiction of Mark Twain (1835–1910), William Dean Howells (1837–1920), and Henry James (1843–1916). If the heyday of spiritualism in the 1850s was its life, the literary recollections of spiritualism in the next half-century might be considered its afterlife.

HOWELLS'S RECOLLECTIONS OF SPIRITUALISM

As William Dean Howells recalls in Years of My Youth (1916), "Spiritualism was rife in every second house in the village with manifestations of rappings, table tippings, and oral and written messages from another world through psychics of either sex but oftenest the young girls one met in dances and sleigh rides" (p. 106). While Howells dealt with spiritualism most directly in his autobiography, he continued to address it in such works as The Landlord at Lion's Head (1897), Questionable Shapes (1903), and Between the Dark and the Daylight: Romances (1907). His most nuanced depiction of the rise and fall of spiritualism was captured in his 1880 novel The Undiscovered Country, a critical but compassionate portrait of Boynton, a character who eventually discovers that his faith in spiritualism is unfounded. As Howard Kerr persuasively argues in Mediums, and Spirit-Rappers, and Roaring Radicals, the fictional Boynton was most likely modeled on the historical Robert Dale Owen (1801–1877), a man who had written a pro-spiritualism article for the Atlantic Monthly, which Howells then edited.

Owen, the son of the social reformer Robert Owen, had been skeptical about the claims of some of the most flamboyant spiritualists of the early 1850s. A few years later, when he was exposed to the less dramatic spiritualist techniques of Florence Cook and her "spiritual guide" Katie King (presumably the same person since they were never seen onstage together), Owen dropped his critical stance and developed a "spiritual hypothesis," which he elaborated upon in Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World (1860). This, together with his 1871 book The Debatable Land between This World and the Next, helped to rekindle nationwide interest in spiritualism, for Owen was considered a reputable scholar and statesman. He had served in both state and national politics, had advocated for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution, and had served overseas as a diplomat. His cautious investigation of spiritualism had piqued the interest of scientists, including Alfred Russel Wallace, the naturalist who, like Charles Darwin, developed a theory of evolution. In 1875 Owen wrote an article for the January issue of the Atlantic Monthly explaining why he believed that Florence Cook and Katie King were either outright frauds or supernatural beings, arguably the latter. Just as the magazine was going to press in December, Owen discovered that King was indeed a fraud, and he tried to retract his article. It was too late, however, and his well-established reputation was seriously blemished. Owen died two years later.

Howells too had been caught by the unfortunate timing of Owen's article, unable to halt its publication and unable to protect Owen from considerable embarrassment. Although Howells had always been skeptical of spiritualists' claims, he had been moved by Owen's sincere and thoughtful inquiry and his unsuccessful attempt to retract his argument.

The Owen-like protagonist of The Undiscovered Country, Boynton, is treated at least as sympathetically as the other characters, especially Mrs. Le Roy, the spiritualist who conducts the séances. Like Owen, Boynton hoped to stave off scientific materialism and to preserve what he could of the ethical basis of organized religion. As Kerr points out, Owen had in The Debatable Land called for proof that "intercourse from beyond the bourn is not forbidden to man" but found out otherwise, as does Boynton, who, at the end of The Undiscovered Country, recognizes the impossible when he quotes Hamlet: "The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns."

As Kerr points out, Howells's The Undiscovered Country has less in common with other anti-spiritualist satires than it does with earlier psychological studies of single-minded delusion, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) explores in the The Blithedale Romance. For Howells and others, spiritualism provided one vehicle for psychological realism.

TWAIN'S WRITINGS CAPTURE THE AMBIVALENCE

From mid-century on, the spiritualism movement provided humorists and satirists with a steady supply of material for their tales. Throughout the 1860s Twain burlesqued "true" ghost stories in his pieces for the Virginia City Enterprise. In one burlesque of the spiritualist Ada Hoyt Foye's séances, Twain asks for a spirit named John Smith and is answered by the rapping of every John Smith who had ever perished and who is now confined with the others to an infernal Smithsonian Institution. Here and elsewhere the butt of Twain's humor is usually the spirit and not the spiritualist.

Twain, like many skeptics, may have hoped privately that it was indeed possible to contact dead spirits. Justin Kaplan suggests in his 1966 biography that some of Twain's most vitriolic attacks on séance swindlers may have resulted from his having tried and failed to contact his dead brother Henry. After his daughter Susy's death in 1896, Twain attended séances with his wife. However, before and after 1896, he burlesqued the fad in his fiction, where he created numerous ridiculous spiritualists, mesmerists, and phrenologists.

In 1883 Twain and Howells penned the farce "Colonel Sellers as a Scientist," in which a scientist attempts to reach a ghost with batteries. Twain developed the story in The American Claimant (1892), where Sellers concocts a cheap and easy way to revitalize the New York City police force: materializing legions of dead police spirits with his electric batteries. Twain's notebooks identify the character later named Manchester in Life on the Mississippi (1883) as "Mansfield": arguably both Manchester and the Dauphin in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) were modeled on the spirit postmaster J. V. Mansfield, whom Twain may have visited in real life.

JAMES'S WRITINGS SUGGEST KINSHIP

Henry James's interest in spiritualism is evident as early as 1874 in his story "Professor Fargo," in which the professor pretends to be a spiritualist medium in order to gain control over a beautiful deaf mute. In this story James, like Howells in The Undiscovered Country, shows his debt to Hawthorne, who used trances in part to explore the tangle of sexual desire and control. A dozen years after writing "Professor Fargo," James returned to spiritualism in The Bostonians (1886). In this novel a spiritualistic lecturer, Mrs. Ada T. P. Foat, seems to be modeled on the spiritualist Ada Hoyt Foye, who was prominent on the lecture circuit. Basil Ransom, a young skeptic, struggles with Olive Chancellor for control of Varena Tarrant, a woman who has visions but does not quite claim to possess the supernatural powers of mediums such as Miss Birdseye. Here Ransom gives voice to some of James's literal anti-spiritualist and anti-reform sentiments and thus provides a bridge between James's earlier anti-reform satires and his later studies of consciousness. While James treated the spiritualists ironically, he used them to explore his interest in alternate personalities, of interest to him as they were to his brother William James, who wrote about mutations of the self in The Principles of Psychology in 1890.

THE PROMISE OF CONSOLATION

Spiritualism, like other pseudo-scientific fads of the era, was in part a response to tensions between scientific certainty and religious doubt. It seemed to turn empiricism on its head and use it to demonstrate, not to demolish, a physical basis for faith in an afterlife.

Lest one be too smug about the gullibility of those taken in by spiritualists, it is important to acknowledge that one is often most curious about that which one cannot adequately explain. It is also important to remember how badly many Americans needed consolation—for loved ones lost in the Civil War, which had claimed more than a half million lives; for faith shaken after the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859); and for faith in any sure thing.

Even Newtonian physics was being called into question, especially in the areas of thermodynamics and electromagnetism, and some nineteenth-century physicists speculated that heat flow and energy had spiritual as well as physical significance. For example, both William Thomson, who coined the term "thermodynamics" in 1854, and Rudolf Clausius, who coined the term "entropy" in 1865, subscribed to the idea that physical laws had metaphysical implications. In such a climate it may not be so surprising that Sir William Crookes, inventor of techniques for studying the cathode ray, endorsed the Fox sisters in 1871 and within the next few years published several articles in the Quarterly Journal of Science defending spiritualism on "scientific" grounds.

As Frank Podmore suggests in his 1902 analysis Modern Spiritualism: A History and a Criticism, the evidence for spiritualists' claims was insufficient and often outright fraudulent. Nonetheless, something in their quest to understand spirituality might shed light on the deepest recesses of human consciousness. Podmore cautions us not to forget that "even the extravagances of mysticism may contain a residuum of unacknowledged and serviceable fact" (p. 361). As evidence of Podmore's point, the American Society for Psychical Research, established by William James, mistakenly endorsed a number of pseudo-scientific charlatans, yet the society also pioneered investigations of the unconscious and of mental illnesses.

See alsoOrientalism; Psychology; Scientific Materialism

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Works

Howells, William Dean. Between the Dark and the Daylight: Romances. New York: Harper, 1907.

Howells, William Dean. The Landlord at Lion's Head. New York: Harper, 1897.

Howells, William Dean. Questionable Shapes. New York: Harper, 1903.

Howells, William Dean. The Undiscovered Country. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1880.

Howells, William Dean. Years of My Youth. New York: Harper, 1916.

Howells, William Dean, and Samuel Langhorne Clemens. "Colonel Sellers as a Scientist." In The Complete Plays of W. D. Howells, edited by Walter J. Meserve. New York, 1960.

James, Henry. The Bostonians. London: Macmillan, 1886.

James, Henry. "Professor Fargo." Galaxy 18 (August 1874): 233–253.

Owen, Robert Dale. The Debatable Land between This World and the Next. Philadelphia: G. W. Carleton, 1871.

Owen, Robert Dale. Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1860.

Twain, Mark. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Charles L. Webster, 1885.

Twain, Mark. The American Claimant. New York: Charles L. Webster, 1892.

Twain, Mark. Life on the Mississippi. Boston: James R. Osgood, 1883.

Secondary Works

Kaplan, Justin. Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966.

Kerr, Howard. Mediums, and Spirit-Rappers, and Roaring Radicals: Spiritualism in American Literature, 1850–1900. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1972.

Nye, Mary Jo. Before Big Science: The Pursuit of Modern Chemistry and Physics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996.

Owen, Alex. The Darkened Room: Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Nineteenth Century England. London: Virago, 1989.

Podmore, Frank. Modern Spiritualism: A History and a Criticism. 2 vols. New York: Scribners, 1902.

Randi, James. An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1995.

Martha D. Patton

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