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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