Essay about Spiritualism

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Spiritualism

Spiritualism is the system of religious beliefs centered on the presumption that communication with the dead, or spirits, is possible (Grolier '97). Spiritualism challenged dominant cultural beliefs of the 19th century (Paul) and is still in practice today.

Spiritualism has been documented in existence from ancient Egyptian and Indian cultures, but its modern form began in 1848. Margaret Fox and her younger sister Catie grew up in Hydesville, a small town in western New York, a section of America well known for its deviant behavior in this time period (Moore, p.5). These girls heard thumping noises in their farmhouse, and developed a system of communication with the spirit by clapping. They learned the ghost was
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Spiritualism gave people the answers that Orthodox forms of Christianity could not.

By the mid-1850s, spiritualism looked as if it would become the future American religion (Moore, p. 4). Its popularity was huge for its short existence. The movement drew prominent and intelligent people to it as much as the lower class.

Following the initial success of the Fox sisters, hundreds of mediums sprang up across the nation (Moore, p.15). Mediums conducted the seances and made a rather large profit conducting seances. People were willing to pay a load of money to speak with their dead grandfather, and performing these rituals was extremely lucrative. Mediums existed that could not be proven phony, and thousands would swear to their claims. Unfortunately, many more mediums used fraud and trickery to make money. These fakes gave spiritualism a bad reputation for pessimists, and helped in the decline of its following.

While the table rapping to communicate with the spirits entertained and delighted people, mediums found it more profiting for spirits to put on a more interactive show. Spirits would write on slates, assume control of the medium's voice, raise tables into the air, raise observers into the air, and play untouched musical instruments (Moore, p.16). Some of the most extraordinary occurrences took place at seances,

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