A brief history of Spiritualism

From its beginnings in the US, to its spread around the world

Communication with the spirit world and many of the various forms of psychic phenomena associated with the Spiritualist movement are as old as man himself. From the earliest days humankind has been conscious of the existence of the spirit, or a power greater than their own with which they feel a bond.

In times past, in many different cultures, there is evidence of communication with God, Spirit or ancestors all of whom were revered and approached to bestow favours, facilitate healing, guide decisions, and support in times of stress. This was usually undertaken by the wise men and women who were sensitive to the energies and would communicate on behalf of their people, in essence, the forebears of modern day mediums.

The Greeks consulted oracles, the Native Americans had their medicine man, the Egyptians, the Assyrians and Romans all practised divination to obtain guidance from the gods. There is nothing new in the concept of a spiritual world or in the use of spiritual power to arrive at spirit communication. Indeed, the early Christian Church was founded on the basis of mediumship. Jesus is accepted to have been an excellent communicator with spirit; he was a speaker, teacher and healer, and appeared after his physical death to prove survival.

However, modern Spiritualism is generally considered to date from the events which occurred in Hydesville, New York, USA, on March 31, 1848. Two sisters, Margaretta and Catherine Fox, established intelligent communication with a spirit entity which had been responsible for noisy knockings in their home. This aroused curiosity and publicity and the numerous investigations carried out by prominent scientists and intellectuals both in America and Britain enabled mediumship to come out into the open and become established.

Within a short space of time many societies of Spiritualists were formed in America and in Britain based not merely upon the psychic phenomena produced but also upon the religious implications and philosophy within the teachings received from spirit through the communications.

Initially the movement in Britain was not structured, or organised, by a central body. However, it became apparent that there was a need to unite the many scattered churches and societies into some kind of association to present a collective front against persecution, win religious recognition and liberty of worship for its followers and mediums.

In 1890 the Spiritualists’ National Federation was created; this was largely just an annual think tank conference. Through discussions and debate it was decided to incorporate under the Companies Acts as a company not-for-profit and limited by guarantee. In July 1902, The Spiritualists National Union came into being, at which point our Seven Principles became the definition and basis of the religion and religious philosophy of the Spiritualists’ National Union.

1. The Fatherhood of God.
2. The Brotherhood of Man.
3. The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels.
4. The continuous existence of the human soul.
5. Personal responsibility.
6. Compensation and retribution hereafter for all the good and evil deeds done on earth.
7. Eternal progress open to every human soul.

The primary object of the Spiritualists’ National Union is to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of the religion and religious philosophy of Spiritualism on the basis of the Seven Principles. It aims to unite Spiritualist societies and churches into a Spiritualist brotherhood and to secure for them full recognition as religious bodies. It encourages Spiritualist research, the certification and appointment of Ministers, lecturers, exponents and teachers, and the publication and distribution of Spiritualist literature. The Union has taken a leading part in the foundation of the International Spiritualist Federation, which unites Spiritualists of many countries.

Spiritualism is a religion of growth and we are continuing to expand and welcome new opportunities to share the truth and knowledge that we have with all of those who inquire. In recent years, although the media has not always portrayed mediums in the best possible manner, the publicity that we have received has allowed those with curious minds to find their way to our churches, centres and groups where they are always warmly welcomed and their questions answered.

Libby Clark is an Officiant of the Spiritualists National Union who has been a working Spiritualist Medium for 30 years. She is a Course Organiser / Tutor at the Arthur Findlay College, and works worldwide as a Spiritualist medium, teacher, healer, trance healer. www.libbyclark.biz
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Want to send a positive Brexit message to Europe? Back Arsene Wenger for England manager

Boris Johnson could make a gesture of goodwill. 

It is hard not to feel some sympathy for Sam Allardyce, who coveted the England job for so many years, before losing it after playing just a single match. Yet Allardyce has only himself to blame and the Football Association were right to move quickly to end his tenure.

There are many candidates for the job. The experience of Alan Pardew and the potential of Eddie Howe make them strong contenders. The FA's reported interest in Ralf Rangner sent most of us scurrying to Google to find out who the little known Leipzig manager is. But the standout contender is Arsenal's French boss Arsene Wenger, 

Would England fans accept a foreign manager? The experience of Sven Goran-Eriksson suggests so, especially when the results are good. Nobody complained about having a Swede in charge the night that England won 5-1 in Munich, though Sven's sides never won the glittering prizes, the Swede proving perhaps too rigidly English in his commitment to the 4-4-2 formation.

Fabio Capello's brief stint was less successful. He never seemed happy in the English game, preferring to give interviews in Italian. That perhaps contributed to his abrupt departure, falling out with his FA bosses after he seemed unable to understand why allegations of racial abuse by the England captain had to be taken seriously by the governing body.

Arsene Wenger could not be more different. Almost unknown when he arrived to "Arsene Who?" headlines two decades ago, he became as much part of North London folklore as all-time great Arsenal and Spurs bosses, Herbert Chapman or Bill Nicholson, his own Invicibles once dominating the premier league without losing a game all season. There has been more frustration since the move from Highbury to the Emirates, but Wenger's track record means he ranks among the greatest managers of the last hundred years - and he could surely do a job for England.

Arsene is a European Anglophile. While the media debate whether or not the FA Cup has lost its place in our hearts, Wenger has no doubt that its magic still matters, which may be why his Arsenal sides have kept on winning it so often. Wenger manages a multinational team but England's football traditions have certainly got under his skin. The Arsenal boss has changed his mind about emulating the continental innovation of a winter break. "I would cry if you changed that", he has said, citing his love of Boxing Day football as part of the popular tradition of English football.

Obviously, the FA must make this decision on football grounds. It is an important one to get right. Fifty years of hurt still haven't stopped us dreaming, but losing to Iceland this summer while watching Wales march to the semi-finals certainly tested any lingering optimism. Wenger was as gutted as anybody. "This is my second country. I was absolutely on my knees when we lost to Iceland. I couldn't believe it" he said.

The man to turn things around must clearly be chosen on merit. But I wonder if our new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - albeit more of a rugger man himself - might be tempted to quietly  suggest in the corridors of footballing power that the appointment could play an unlikely role in helping to get the mood music in place which would help to secure the best Brexit deal for Britain, and for Europe too.

Johnson does have one serious bit of unfinished business from the referendum campaign: to persuade his new boss Theresa May that the commitments made to European nationals in Britain must be honoured in full.  The government should speed up its response and put that guarantee in place. 

Nor should that commitment to 3m of our neighbours and friends be made grudgingly.

So Boris should also come out and back Arsene for the England job, as a very good symbolic way to show that we will continue to celebrate the Europeans here who contribute so much to our society.

British negotiators will be watching the twists and turns of the battle for the Elysee Palace, to see whether Alain Juppe, Nicolas Sarkozy end up as President. It is a reminder that other countries face domestic pressures over the negotiations to come too. So the political negotiations will be tough - but we should make sure our social and cultural relations with Europe remain warm.

More than half of Britons voted to leave the political structures of the European Union in June. Most voters on both sides of the referendum had little love of the Brussels institutions, or indeed any understanding of what they do.

But how can we ensure that our European neighbours and friends understand and hear that this was no rejection of them - and that so many of the ways that we engage with our fellow Europeans rom family ties to foreign holidays, the European contributions to making our society that bit better - the baguettes and cappuccinos, cultural links and sporting heroes remain as much loved as ever.

We will see that this weekend when nobody in the golf clubs will be asking who voted Remain and who voted Leave as we cheer on our European team - seven Brits playing in the twelve-strong side, alongside their Spanish, Belgian, German, Irish and Swedish team-mates.

And now another important opportunity to get that message across suddenly presents itself.

Wenger for England. What better post-Brexit commitment to a new Entente Cordiale could we possibly make?

Sunder Katwala is director of British Future and former general secretary of the Fabian Society.