The History of Psychic Mediums in the US Part 3

Spirit Communication: Legitimate Practice or Fraudulent Hoax?

Spiritualism was embraced not only because of its philosophical aspects and the comfort and stability it provided (namely, the hope that there was life after death), but also because it combined empirical scientific methods and discoveries of the time, with the religious afterlife.

While the Roman Catholic Church decreed the practice be condemned, it did approve the scientific investigation of related psychic phenomena. By the end of the 19th Century, spiritualism inspired physic research into the various claims made by mediums and supporters, such as telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, and spirit contact. The practice became a way to provide evidence to support the religious beliefs in life after death, and the existence of the soul.

Spiritualism gained credibility with the support of distinguished members of society, including the New York Tribune editor, Horace Greeley, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote, in The New Revelation (1918):

The conclusion, then, of my long search after truth, is that in spite of occasional fraud, which Spiritualists deplore, and in spite of wild imaginings, which they discourage, there remains a great solid core in this movement which is infinitely nearer to positive proof than any other religious development with which I am acquainted.

Research at the time proved the existence of clairvoyance and the legitimacy of spirit contact. Sir William Crookes, president of the Royal Society, which is the national scientific organization of Great Britain, investigated and pronounced as genuine, phenomena produced by at least one medium, Florence Cook.

Of course, not all mediums are created equal. This can be said about people in any profession or vocation. There were some mediums exposed as frauds. In the 20th Century, famous magicians like Harry Houdini, Milbourne Christopher, and James Randi joined efforts to expose their practices. This somewhat damaged spiritualism’s reputation and pushed it to the fringes of society, but it was revisited and reborn in full force in the 1970s.

I am a psychic medium who has honed and trained my abilities to communicate with the souls of those who have passed. For more information on my sessions, please contact me here.

The History of Psychic Mediums in the US Part 2

 The Spiritualist Movement Takes Hold Across the US

 

Spiritualism got its name in the 1850s. It was fashionable with both men and women across every social class, and, in fact, what differentiated it from other major organized religions of the time was the significant role played by women and lay people. It was accessible even to those on the religious margins.

Spiritualism became widespread and common as a form of entertainment through the mass media, having been written about in various publications, like the Scientific American, the New York Herald, and the New York Times. Historically, spiritualism was organized in small groups or private sessions with mediums conducting séances. Larger gatherings were also held for public demonstrations. In the 1860s and 1870s, you could sit for spirit photographs, or take part in séances “for kicks,” where ghosts appeared, voices spoke, and messages wrote themselves.

 

In the 1880s, it’s estimated that there were 8 million spiritualists across the US and Europe. And while the spiritualist movement didn’t organize as a church, associations appeared in various areas of the US after the Civil War. The National Spiritualist Association (later the National Spiritualist Association of Churches) was organized in 1893.

How did other religious organizations react? The church associated the practice with witchcraft. Protestant bodies were anti-spiritualist, and the Holy Office of the Roman Catholic Church decreed, in 1898, that spiritualistic practices be condemned. Despite all this, spiritualism thrived. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, there were 250,000 practicing spiritualists in the US.

 

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The History of Psychic Mediums in the US

 

Modern spiritualism is based on the belief that the living can communicate with the spirits of the deceased. Of course, this communication would only be possible if our souls could survive our physical deaths. For this reason, a major tenet of spiritualism is the continuity of life beyond our corporeal bodies.

Spiritualists often turn to psychic mediums to make this contact directly. As a leading psychic medium practicing in Boston, I have the ability to open myself up to the spirit world and communicate with our lost loved ones. Connection with the spiritual world should not be something that is feared. It can, in fact, result in spiritual healing, putting both you, and those you have lost, at peace.

Today, we’ll take a look at the origins of this practice in the US.

The Fox Sisters

In 1848, the previous, as well as then current, owners of a house in Hydesville, New York, reported unexplained knocking sounds at night. Two daughters living there, Kate and Margaret Fox, alleged that the supernatural events were made by the spirit of a peddler who had been murdered in the home. But how could they have known this?

Kate Fox, the youngest daughter, first engaged in direct communication with the spirit by asking it to repeat a series of knocking sounds that she would indicate by snapping her fingers. After this success, the children devised a way to communicate with the spirit based on a code of knocks, thus determining its identity.

The Hydesville events made the girls infamous, and the Fox sisters then moved to Rochester, New York. The knocking noises followed. They demonstrated their abilities publicly, and eventually acted as mediums across both the United States and England, communicating with spirits by “table turning.” During this activity, participants would place their hands on a table that would vibrate or rotate when contact with a spirit was made.

While tests carried out in 1851 suggested the girls were faking the noises, their reputation wasn’t tarnished. In 1888, however, Margaret Fox said the entire thing was a hoax. (It should be noted she was paid a good sum of money to make this declaration.) She later recanted her confession, returning to the promotion of Spiritualism, but this was a blow to the movement. It did not, however, defeat it. 

 

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