It is but a fact that when we speak of the birth of spiritualism, we think of the Fox sisters as the start of the spiritualist movement. We forget that spiritualism, mediumship, has its roots at the dawn of mankind.
"The Witch of Endor Calling Up the Spirit of the Prophet Samuel" Painting by Nikolai Ge, 1857There are many accounts of mediums within the world religions. A prime example of an early séance, the Hebrew Bible tells of the Witch of Endor, a medium who apparently brought forth the Prophet Samuel's spirit in her home at the behest of King Saul of the Kingdom of Israel (I Samuel 28:3–25). Even now, scholars argue that Moses was a medium who had the ability of automatic writing in connection to the Ten Commandments. These small examples remind us that mediumship and spiritualism are deeply rooted in the history of mankind. With that long history in mind, we must consider the Fox sisters as the birth of Modern Spiritualism and the spiritualist organizations that exist today, rather than spiritualism as a whole.
A Common Problem
When I first came into mediumship in the spiritualist church, I did attend development circles, but I felt something was not right, especially after being taken onto the rostrum by a medium far too soon, which I now find is an ongoing occurrence within the movement today. Although I could not put my finger on it at the time, I realise now that with the lack of good mentors, teachers, and development circles, I faced the lack of knowledge around the subject that I needed.
The Ultimate Solution
I decided to do what many of our great pioneers did in the past and find the direction with spirit the old ways. This incorporated putting into place the time to study, read and research - especially the many great literary works that were written by Maurice Barbanell through his guard Silver Birch; Ivy Northage and Chan; and Arthur Findley. And the list goes on.
The time and effort required for self-development, unfolding and understanding ourselves and the spiritual side of self seems to be a forgotten part of mediumship development. Gordon Higginson once said “development should be split into three areas: theory, getting to know one’s self, and then the spirit world.” It takes time, effort and discipline to nurture such qualities. This should be pointed out by all tutors to their students.
Our Home Circle, still going strong today, has put so much time and effort into this we have developed Trance and Physical. Sitting with spirit and sitting to build the power is an area I find today is not carried out by many within the movement or not relayed by tutors to their students. Attending Open Circles - not just at your regular church or center but further afield – is important for your development because it is within these you will gain valuable experience by working in a different environment.
We have personal responsibility to other people, ourselves, and of course spirit.
“Newisms,” Practices, and Rituals
The teachings that were once presented to us all by many of the mediums of the past have now either been forgotten or watered down to the point that true mediumship is but a shadow of its former self. Stardom and fame seems, to many, more important than proving the continuation of life through concrete evidence.
I am seeing that, instead of evidence, time and time again counseling is being offered during demonstrations by mediums who usually have little or no knowledge around this area.
But look also how we have brought into mediumship what my team called “newisms” - or in layman’s terms, new age practices and rituals. Look at the mediums of the past and you will find that things such as grounding, chakras and protection were never mentioned. Yet these are being taught in many development groups. Chakras are connected to Eastern practices and especially Reiki. The term grounding just means bringing yourself back from the spiritual side of your work to your physical life which can be achieved by participating in normal every-day activities, such as watching television, housework, or going out with friends, to name a few.
Evil Spirits or Just Negative Energy?
One area which seems to cause a lot of controversy is the “new-age” idea of protection. But what are we truly protecting ourselves from? Being a highly-advanced species, the question is why would we revert to bygone practices created by mankind during their infancy of evolution?
Of course the finger of suspicion can be pointed at orthodox religion which created evil, demons, and hell. But can it not be argued that we make our own heaven and hell here on the physical plane? We talk about spiritualism being a religion? This comes once again from man and not spirit. In fact, Silver Birch – speaking to us from spirit - states “Spiritualism means nothing in the spirit world for it is but a name”.
Religion, Science, and Spirituality
Look at how new age practices have ingrained themselves into mediumship. They have nothing to do with mediumship and the development of individuals and should be kept separate. Many great spiritualists were scientists and carried out some amazing and fantastic work around the whole subject, such as Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, and Arthur Findley. But the scientific research in spiritualism is not highlighted like it once was. For example, the great scientific work over a five year period by Arthur Findley with John Campbell Sloan (Where Two Worlds Meet) brought so much information to the forefront in regards to spirit and the spirit world, why is work like that not being taught, not being emphasized, and worst of all, not continuing?
If we were to look at the spirit world through science instead of religion, we would start to understand more about energy. Like electricity, which is energy, there is a positive and a negative. Our actions, thoughts, and words create a vibration or energy. If we are positive in such things we create a larger amount of positive energy, and vice-versa when we are negative in such actions. These negative energies can be picked up by sensitives and mediums, but then the problems arise where some see this as a negative, or evil, spirit.
This negative energy can often be felt in buildings where some traumatic past event created this negative energy and it is really easy to disperse by counter-acting this energy with positive energy.
In 1947, John Butler wrote in his book “Exploring the Psychic World,” “Many people were aware of the existence of Spiritualism even before it was generally discovered, but they could not explain it scientifically. Now, however, with our deeper knowledge of the constitution of matter and our increasing knowledge of energy, wavelengths, and vibrations, we can, in the main, do so. We can show that the claims of Spiritualists are more and more confirmed by every advance in our knowledge concerning the nature of matter.”
If you walk into many spiritualist churches and centers, you find that crosses, Bibles, and other Christian artifacts adorn walls and corners of such places. We have adopted Christian scriptures and hymns. Not to mention the new thing where some are wearing Christian uniforms such as dog collars and vestments. We see the spiritualist movement following the same path as the Christian Church, branching off into sub-groups and following Christian ideology or their own ideology.
Too often now within mediumship it comes down to money, stardom, and fame. We no longer explore the spiritual nature of ourselves, nor take the time to spend with those who work with us from the spirit world, those invisible friends who never judge us and who unconditionally love us at all times.
Returning to Our Roots
Let us get back to how spiritualism and mediumship was first presented to us in its simplest and purest form. We just need to remember it is about Dedication, Discipline, Commitment, and Perseverance which were the words spirit gave to me when I first started. There was a line in an old book about spiritualism I will never forget “Spiritualism is not a religion, it is a discovery of an actual fact in nature. Like other facts in nature it always existed and operated, even before it was discovered.” (Butler, Exploring the Psychic World”)