Ancient And Modern Spiritualism


The belief in, and practice of communication with, spirits has existed in all nations. Spiritual phenomena has occurred throughout human history, with people being entranced, inspired and influenced by spirit intelligence. During moments of ecstasy, in dreams, reveries, drug induced states and deep meditations people have experienced spirit awareness. In fact, mankind’s history, literature, folk law and fairytales are full of mystical spiritual beings both good and bad.


In ancient times, primitive man had no doubt that his ancestors survived death and ancestor-worship was a form of religion. Some people had psychic abilities, similar to modern mediums, and were aware of psychic forces the spirit world, and could communicate with spirit people.


The Greeks consulted oracles (the modern terminology is Medium) and the Egyptians and Romans practised fortune-telling and prophecy to obtain guidance from the gods. Modern spiritualism confirms that these clearly were not Gods, but infact were ordinary people that once resided on earth as human beings. Even today some cultures have their witch-doctors and shamans, who invoke the powers of the spirit for healing and giving positive guidance.


This was all allowed to be safely practised without question. However, in the 4th century, Christians decided that the use of psychic and Mediumship abilities was wrong unless performed by the Christian priesthood. All others who demonstrated spiritual abilities were denounced as false profits, evil sorcerers and heretics and were liable to punishment. 



In 1484 the Pope strongly denounced mediums. The Church also sanctioned the publication of a book entitled, Malleus Maleficarum or ‘Hammer of the Witches,’ that described all people who communicated with spirits as witches and stated that they should be severely punished. After this, there was a long period of persecution where people suspected of using psychic abilities were in danger of trial, torture and execution. During these times some mediums were put to death by the church-sanctioned ‘witch-hunters’.


18th Century:

In the 18th century a Swedish scientist and astronomer, Emmanuel Swedenborg, became well-known for his philosophical writings that, he claimed, were received from spirit teachers and inspirers.


We move then into the 19th Century as 'Modern Spiritualism' made it's way from America to the United Kingdom and across Europe and around the World where the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis set the foundation. A J Davis claimed that spirit communication from Emmanuel Swedenborg (who died in 1772) contributed to his vast literary works.


it would take another 460 years to be precise for spiritualism and the spirit world to make its presence on earth.


The birth of Modern Spiritualism...



Most Spiritualists are familiar with the story of the occurrences at Hydesville on March 31st 1848. However, some of these claims have veered away from the original records, partly because the original report on the Hydesville phenomena by Mr E. E. Lewis, who obtained twenty-two signed statements from witnesses in April 1848, soon became extremely rare – and partly because the story was changed from its original reports by Lewis and other early historians like Eliab Capron, with later unsubstantiated verbal reports added to it by Robert Dale Owen eleven years or so later.


Owen appears to have also introduced the name Charles B. Rosma into the story. Ten years later Emma Hardinge (Britten) wrote her “Modern American Spiritualism”, published in 1870. She quoted from Owen’s book, “Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World”, published in 1860, and we appear to have the first introduction of the peddler’s name, Charles B. Rosna (“n”!). It would appear that this is possibly a spelling or publisher’s error; it would be doubtful that Emma Hardinge would bring in another name for the peddler without some explanation for contradicting Owen’s Rosma while quoting him.


Later the eldest Fox sister, Ann Leah Underhill, published “The Missing Link in Modern Spiritualism” in 1885. In the opening chapter she republishes some of the sworn statements recorded and published by Mr E. E. Lewis in April 1848. However, she failed to tell her readers that she had in fact changed some of these statements; these changes would be reflected in later works by others. 


Research also shows that according to some later reports by the two younger Fox sisters (and also hinted at in some of the original material) the eldest Fox sister, then known as Leah Fish, had a daughter called Elizabeth (also known as Lizzie), who was at that time staying with her grandparents, where she was present and participated in the unfolding Hydesville events. 


What actually occurred on the night of 31st March 1848?


Mr and Mrs Fox had two young daughters living with them, Catherine and Margaretta; they are not actually named in the original reports. In later life they would claim there was a third girl present – their niece Elizabeth. It is also often stated that a code was adopted by the two young sisters and that the peddler’s name, Charles B. Rosna, was revealed. An alphabet code was established on March 31st and would be later used by the Fox sisters in Rochester. The code was actually established by Mr William Duesler, a former resident of the house. However, no name was given at this time except the letter “C”, followed by the initial of the communicator’s surname, “B”.


Published below is the full text of the original Hydesville report made by Mr E. E. Lewis in April 1848; it is not always realised that the phenomena were not just active on March 31st but continued for some days. Although the reader will find this somewhat repetitive, unlike most reports it has remarkable testimonial consistency – without contradiction. The report builds up to a remarkable and unique testament of spirit communication. It is this crude two-way communication which involved so many individuals, questioners and witnesses that would establish the foundation of Modern Spiritualism. This report gives a concise overview of what actually was recorded and took place, by those who were present and participated in the spirit communications. 


The Nature of Spiritualism as a religion...


Spiritualism is a religion that embodies the main ideas of all religions, that there is a life after death, immortality and the existence of a God.


"The aim of Spiritualism is to effect an at-one-ment and unison of Humanity with God until every action and thought of Humanity is in perfect harmony with the Divine Will."

(Adapted from the Spiritualists' Lyceum Manual)


One difference between Spiritualism and other religions is the acceptance of the ability, through mediumship, to offer evidence of spirit communication to a recipient and in doing so demonstrate that people survive physical death. The individual may decide if they have received sufficient evidence to give them personal proof that people survive death as individuals in Spirit. Where personally proven it provides conclusive evidence of the 4th Principle, 'The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul'. 


Mediumship and the evidence is just the key to a door to encourage further study and understanding, the message is not the goal of Spiritualism. It is what an individual chooses to do with that key once they have it, once they accept that we survive death and continue on in the unbroken cycle of eternal life of spirit that forms the purpose of Spiritualism.


Spiritualism becomes the study of this earthly life's purpose as Spirit here and now and as such empowers anyone to take charge of the development of their own Spirituality, continually aiming to progress and live life with a fuller understanding and a greater learning experience for the Spirit.


Spiritualism is a universal religion, one focus of which is embodied in our 5th Principle, 'Personal Responsibility'. It is by our own free will we may chose to live a better life here and now reflected by how we live. It is by our own will and choices in how we act react and interact with everyone and everything that we must each be solely responsible and accountable. In understanding and accepting this, we accept our 6th Principle of 'Compensation and Retribution' encompassing the universal and natural law of cause and effect.



It is through personal experience and expression by the study, consideration and application of the many aspects of the religion, philosophy and science of Spiritualism that the Spiritualist gains understanding and Spiritual growth. No one person has all the answers and Spiritualism becomes a continual personal religion to be lived, to nurture and enlighten the Spirit within us.














JASON ANASTAS (Formerly Jay Love)



Print Print | Sitemap
© Spiritualist Medium