Rescue Circles

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Rescue Circles

Groups formed by Spiritualists for the purpose of "waking up" the dead and freeing them from their earthbound state. These spirits exist closer to the material plane than to the spiritual world and in many cases they do not realize that they are dead at all, and live in a state of bewilderment. If they are enlightened as to their true condition and if prayers are offered for them, they will progress to a higher existence. The origin of rescue circles may be traced to the Shaker communities of America.

The first such circles were held by the wife of a Col. Danskin of Baltimore and her other female acquaintances. The most renowned work was performed by a circle in Buffalo between 1875 and 1900 and by Carl Wickland and his wife.

The mediums in the Buffalo circle were Marcia M. Swain and Leander Fischer (a professor of music). The circle consisted of Daniel E. Bailey and his wife, Fischer's mother, and Aline M. Eggleston, the stenographer. The identity of the spirit brought to be "woken" was often verified but as the search for such proof entailed considerable labor and time it was, after a while, given up. The circle's work was described by D. E. Bailey in his book Thoughts from the Inner Life (1886). Twelve impressive records of these rescue séances were published in an appendix in Admiral Usborne Moore's Glimpses of the Next State (1911). Similar mission work was carried on by E. C. Randall, also in Buffalo. The medium was Emily S. French.

Carl Wickland and his wife worked on literally hundreds of cases and kept detailed records which were published in his 1924 book Thirty Years Among The Dead. The work of the Tozer rescue circle in Melbourne is described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Wanderings of a Spiritualist (1921).


Bailey, D. E. Thoughts from the Inner Life. Boston: Colby & Rich, 1886.

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. Wanderings of a Spiritualist. New York: G. H. Doran;London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1921. Reprint, Berkeley, Calif.: Ronin Publishing, 1988.

Moore, Usborne. Glimpses of the Next State. London: Watts & Co., 1911.

Randall, E. C. Frontiers of the After Life. New York, A. A. Knopf, 1922.