Eternal life and spiritual progression

A brief introduction of Spiritualist services and how to get involved

As Spiritualists, we practice our belief in the way in which we live our lives, working within our Seven Principles and continuing to develop our own personal bond with God and Spirit. Our lives are an eternal learning process, and as Spiritualists we know that life is eternal and continues after physical death.

Our 350 plus churches throughout the UK hold a Sunday Divine Service where anyone is welcome to attend. Services are taken each week by a different Medium, we do not have ‘resident mediums’, so each time the congregation hears another person’s point of view. The format of our services is much the same as many orthodox churches, prayers, hymns, an inspirational address, a reading.

The medium then gives messages to members of the congregation from their loved ones who have died. Imagine for a moment that someone that you love and care about dies, for example, your mum. You attend one of our churches and the medium speaks to you. They describe your mum, talk about her personality and what she is like, bring back personal special memories, perhaps mention other family members that she is with, they speak about specific things that have happened since your mum died, to let you know that mum still knows about her beloved family and is still aware of them. The sense of love, joy and peace knowing that your loved one is still spiritually around you is overwhelming and the comfort and relief that this brings for many is truly beautiful to witness.

Spiritual healing is an integral part of church life, each church has a team of healers who have undertaken a two year training course to ensure that they are working to the guidelines and code of conduct laid down by the SNU.

Anyone can attend to receive healing and it is important to understand that healing is complimentary to, not an alternative to, orthodox medicine. Many of our healers are now working alongside doctors in hospitals and clinics. Spiritual healing is a non-invasive, peaceful and powerful way of empowering the mind, body and spirit to aid the healing process.

Our churches run workshops on various aspects of mediumship that are open to everyone.
Most churches have classes that share the knowledge of Spiritualism, they are usually graded to allow a natural progression to take place. Through our classes one learns the history of Spiritualism, its background, structure and the organizational aspects of the SNU. We also discuss and the pioneers of our movement.

Meditation groups are usually the starting point for most people, learning how to calm the mind, find the inner peace and begin the attunement to the spiritual energies that surround us.
Awareness groups follow led by experienced mediums who help the individuals explore their new found abilities and experiment in ways to communicate with the spirit world that enable them to discover which form of mediumship is best suited, healing, communication, philosophy, spirit writing, psychic art etc.

Development classes are usually directed towards one particular aspect of mediumship and teach it much more intensively bringing in presentation skills and the legal, moral and ethical values and guidelines that we work within.

The SNU runs courses that can either be studied as a group, online, by correspondence or on specialised weeks at the Arthur Findlay College at Stansted, Essex this is the foremost teaching centre for psychic and spiritual studies in the world. www.arthurfindlaycollege.org The college runs residential weekend and week long courses that are open for anyone to attend to further their knowledge of Spiritualism.

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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Levi Bellfield, Milly Dowler and the story of men’s violence against women and girls

Before she was so inextricably connected to the phone hacking scandal, Milly Dowler was one of many women maimed and killed by a violent man.

The name Milly Dowler has meant phone hacking since July 2011. The month before that, Levi Bellfield (already imprisoned for the murders of Marsha McDonnell and Amelie Delagrange, and the attempted murder of Kate Sheedy) had been convicted of killing her, nine years after her death. But almost immediately, she became the centrepiece of Nick Davies’s investigations into Fleet Street “dark arts”, when it was revealed that News of the World journalists had accessed her voicemail during the search for her.

Suddenly her peers were not McDonnell, Delagrange and Sheedy, but Hugh Grant, Leslie Ash, Sadie Frost, Jude Law. People she could only have known from TV, now her neighbours in newsprint. Victims of a common crime. She had attained a kind of awful fame, and remains much better known than McDonnell, Delagrange and Sheedy.

There is a reason for that: with Milly Dowler, there was hope of finding her alive. Weeks of it, the awful hope of not knowing, the dull months of probability weighing down, until finally, in September 2002, the body. McDonnell, Delagrange and Sheedy were attacked in public places and found before they were missed. It is not such an interesting story as the schoolgirl who vanishes from a street in daylight. Once there were some women, who were killed and maimed by a man. The end.

Even now that Bellfield has confessed to kidnapping, raping and killing Milly, it seems that some people would like to tell any story other than the one about the man who kidnaps, rapes, kills and maims girls and women. There is speculation about what could have made him the kind of monster he is. There must be some cause, and maybe that cause is female.

Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton (who worked on the McDonnell and Delagrange murders) has said insinuatingly that Bellfield “dotes on his mother and her on him. It's a troubling relationship.” But it was not Bellfield’s mother who kidnapped, raped, killed and maimed girls and women, of course. He did that, on his own, although he is not the first male killer to be extended the courtesy of blaming his female relatives.

Coverage of the Yorkshire Ripper accused his wife Sonia of driving him to murder. “I think when Sutcliffe attacked his 20 victims, he was attacking his wife 20 times in his head,” said a detective quoted in the Mirror, as if the crimes were not Sutcliffe’s responsibility but Sonia’s for dodging the violence properly due to her. Lady Lucan has been successfully cast by Lucan’s friends as “a nightmare” in order to foster sympathy for him – even though he systematically tried to drive her mad before he tried to kill her, and did kill their children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett. Cherchez la femme. Cherchez la mom.

I know little about Bellfield’s relationship with his mother, but one of his exes spoke about him earlier this year. Jo Colling told how he had terrorised her while they were together, and stalked her after she left. “When I knew he was with another woman and not coming home it was a relief, but now I know what he was capable of, I feel guilty,” she said. “I did get an injunction against him, but it only made him even angrier.”

Colling fears that she could have prevented Bellfield’s murders by going to the police with her suspicions earlier; but since the police couldn’t even protect her, it is hard to see what difference this could have made, besides exposing herself further to Bellfield’s rage. Once there was a woman who was raped, beaten and stalked by the man she lived with. The end. This is a dull story too: Colling’s victimisation is only considered worth telling because the man who victimised her also killed Milly Dowler. Apparently the torture of a woman is only really notable when the man who does it has committed an even more newsworthy crime.

Throughout his engagements with the legal system, Bellfield seems to have contrived to inflate his own importance. Excruciatingly, he withheld his confession to murdering Milly until last year, leaving her family in an agony of unknowing – and then drew the process out even further by implicating an accomplice, who turned out to have nothing at all to do with the crime. He appears to have made the performance into another way to exercise control over women, insisting that he would only speak to female officers about what he did to Milly.

It is good that there are answers for the Dowler family; it is terrible that getting them let Bellfield play at one more round of coercions. And for the rest of us, what does this new information tell us that shouldn’t already be obvious? The story of men’s violence against girls and women is too routine to catch our attention most of the time. One woman killed by a man every 2.9 days in the UK. 88,106 sexual offences in a year.

Once there were some girls and women, who were tortured, stalked, kidnapped, raped, killed and maimed by a man. Dowler, McDonnell, Delagrange, Sheedy, Colling. More, if new investigations lead to new convictions, as police think likely. All those girls and women, all victims of Levi Bellfield, all victims of a common crime that will not end until we pull the pieces together, and realise that the torture, the stalking, the kidnaps, the rapes, the killing and the maiming – all of them are connected by the same vicious logic of gender. Then, and only then, will be able to tell a different story. Then we will have a beginning.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.