Spiritualism at a glance
Modern Spiritualism can include a very wide range of beliefs and world-views. Those who follow it are united in believing that communication with spirits is possible.
Spiritualists communicate with the spirits of people who have physically died. Such communication is thought to be beneficial to the dead and the living.
Spiritualists are those who believe in a continued future existence, and that people who have passed on into the spirit-world can and do communicate with us.
Spiritualists' National Union
Spirits are said to communicate through people with special skills, called mediums. In the 19th Century communication was said to have occurred at an event called a séance but in the 21st Century most communication is said to take place either in a public demonstration of mediumship at a Spiritualist church service or in a private sitting with a medium. Communication can be verbal, such as messages; or physical manifestations, such as tapping.
Key ideas of Spiritualism
Spiritualists generally believe the following:
- Souls survive bodily death and live in a spirit world - Spiritualists say that every human soul survives the death of the body and enters a spirit-world that surrounds and interpenetrates the material world.
- These souls can communicate with the material world - Spiritualists say that communication is possible between the material world and the spirit-world under the right conditions - usually through a medium.
- Spirit beings are little changed from their earlier selves - Spiritualists say that those in the spirit-world are much the same as they were in the material world, although without any physical deficiencies.
- Spirit beings are interested in people in the material world - Spiritualists say that those in the spirit world are aware of and interested in the lives of those they have temporarily left behind in the material world.
The core philosophy of Spiritualism is described in The Seven Priniciples.
Some writers think this scientific emphasis dates from the early days of Spiritualism. Inspired perhaps by the then recent discoveries of invisible forces such as electricity and magnetism, Spiritualism may have been 'an attempt by nineteenth-century Americans to establish empirical grounds for religious belief amid the growing cultural authority of science'.
Spiritualists teach that communication from the Spirit-world not only shows that life continues after physical death, but that human beings in the Spirit-world remain morally responsible for good and bad deeds committed in the material world.
They believe that growing awareness that even death does not free a person from the consequences of their bad acts will lead people to behave better in this present life.
They also believe that the information received from the spirit world should be sufficient to remove the fear of death.