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Spiritualism

Definition: A belief system based upon communication with spirits of the dead.
 A belief system based upon communication with spirits of the dead.
Spiritualism developed and reached its peak growth in membership from the 1840s to the 1920s, especially in English-speaking countries. By 1897, it was said to have more than eight million followers in the United States and Europe, mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes.

The religion flourished for a half century without canonical texts or formal organization, attaining cohesion through periodicals, tours by trance lecturers, camp meetings, and the missionary activities of accomplished mediums. Many prominent Spiritualists were women, and like most Spiritualists, supported causes such as the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage. By the late 1880s the credibility of the informal movement had weakened due to accusations of fraud being perpetrated by mediums, and formal Spiritualist organizations began to appear. Spiritualism is currently practiced primarily through various denominational Spiritualist churches in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

Principles of Spiritualism

Although various Spiritualist traditions have their own beliefs, known as Principles, there are some shared concepts:

-A belief in spirit communication.
-A belief that the soul continues to exist after the death of the physical body.
-Personal responsibility for life circumstances.
-Even after death it is possible for the soul to learn and improve
-A belief in a God, often referred to as "Infinite Intelligence".
-The natural world considered as an expression of said intelligence.

Communicating with Spirits

Spiritualists believe in communicating with the spirits of discarnate humans. They believe that spirit mediums are humans gifted to do this, often through seances. Anyone may become a medium through study and practice. They believe that spirits are capable of growth and perfection, progressing through higher spheres or planes. The afterlife is not a static place, but one in which spirits evolve. The two beliefs-that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits may lie on a higher plane-lead to a third belief, that spirits can provide knowledge about moral and ethical issues, as well as about God and the afterlife. Thus many members speak of spirit guides-specific spirits, often contacted, relied upon for worldly and spiritual guidance. Anyone may receive spirit messages, but formal communication sessions (seances) are held by "mediums," who can then provide information about the afterlife.

 

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