Spiritual Toolbox

Spiritism and Religion

Ozark Healing Traditions

I’ve talked elsewhere about the universal nature of Spiritism, but I thought it might be appropriate to look more closely at the topic of Spiritism’s relationship to religious traditions. In this article I will be using quotes from the 1893 edition of The Spirits’ Book, as translated by Anna Blackwell.

Early Spiritists came mostly from a Christian (specifically Catholic) background. Researchers would say this is for the simple reason that Kardec and his associates just so happened to be Catholic, and I would tend to agree with them, but for the fact that I believe what helped the Spiritist cause early on was growing from religious traditions that more emphasized mysticism than others. Many French Catholics, for instance, joined the Spiritist ranks under Kardec as a way to expand their already profound experience with the divine. With their doctrine of the Saints and angels who often intervene on human…

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Odds & Ends

How the Ouija Board Got Its Sinister Reputation

By now, most have vague notions of the Ouija board horror narrative, in which demonic spirits communicate with – even possess – kids. Director Mike Flanagan furthers this trope in his new film ‘ Ouija: Origin of Evil .’ Set in 1967, a widow and her daughters earn a living scamming clients seeking to contact dead loved ones. The family business is relatively harmless until the youngest daughter discovers an old Ouija board, attempts to contact her deceased father and instead becomes possessed by evil spirits.

The Ouija Board Didn’t Always Have a Sinister Reputation

In fact, the Ouija board developed out of Spiritualism, a 19th-century movement known for its optimistic views about the future and the afterlife. As Spiritualism’s popularity waned, the Ouija board emerged as a popular parlor game; it was only in the 20th century that the Catholic Church and the horror movie industry rebranded the game as a doorway to the demonic.

Spiritualist Origins

The Spiritualist movement is  often said  to have begun in Hydesville, New York in 1848 when two sisters, Kate and Maggie Fox, reported hearing a series of mysterious raps in their tiny home. No one could discern where the raps were coming from and they manifested in other houses the sisters visited. With no apparent source, the raps were attributed to spirits and they appeared to respond to the sisters’ questions.

The Fox sisters became overnight celebrities and Spiritualism, a religious movement based on communicating with the dead, was born. Spiritualism spread across the Atlantic and into South America, but its popularity surged in the wake of the Civil War. The bloodiest war in American history had left many grieving families longing for ways to speak with their lost loved ones and many sought comfort from spirit ‘mediums’ – people like the Fox sisters who could allegedly talk to the dead. In 1893  Spiritualism became an official religious denomination and in 1897 The New York Times reported that Spiritualism had eight million followers worldwide.

Spiritualism was equated by some Christians with witchcraft. This 1865 broadsheet, published in the United States, also blamed spiritualism for causing the American Civil War. (Anthon.Eff / Public Domain)
Spiritualism was equated by some Christians with witchcraft. This 1865 broadsheet, published in the United States, also blamed spiritualism for causing the American Civil War. (Anthon.Eff  Public Domain )

View original article at: Ancient Origins How The Ouija Board Got Its Sinister Reputation

Odds & Ends

Spirit Evocation

Ozark Healing Traditions

For those spirits who don’t appear spontaneously there is the route of evocation, which basically means calling upon a certain spirit (or group of spirits) to appear to the medium. There are advantages and disadvantages to both the spontaneous and evocation routes. For instance, with spontaneous manifestations we are at more of a risk for inviting in a deceptive spirit, but that isn’t always the case and spontaneous manifestations shouldn’t be thrown out altogether. No, the main reason early Spiritists encouraged the use of evocation is to limit our communication to only those spirits we know will provide useful information. As Allan Kardec put it; it’s like having an assembly of people gathered together where anyone, at any time, can speak their mind, versus having a specific individual there to deliver a certain message. In the room full of people you might get a wise scholar, or you might get…

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Odds & Ends

Spirit Obsession

Ozark Healing Traditions

Relationships between mortals and spirits can be viewed in a positive or negative light. Sometimes when we encounter spirits the information given (and the experience in general) is enlightening and helpful. Other times we encounter spirits who just want to joke around, or who pose as well-meaning characters as a sort of trick. Identifying spirits of this type will be talked about at a later time. For this post I’d like to look at those negative interactions with spirits, or what people have historically called “hauntings” or “demonic possession”.

In the light of Spiritism there are no demonic possessions, and there aren’t really even demons, in fact. There are only higher and lower order spirits. These can be viewed as “good” or “evil” but I tend to view them on the “ignorant” and “altruistic” spectrum instead. In Spiritism we don’t use the word “possession” because we believe that a person’s…

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Odds & Ends, Spiritual Toolbox

Varieties of Spirit Mediums

Ozark Healing Traditions

Spirit mediums play a very important role in Spiritism as a way of communicating vital information between the world of spirits and the world of mortals. The spirit medium, according to Allan Kardec, holds a specialized position, but it is ultimately open to anyone who is willing to learn and grow. Some mediums have a natural capacity for this kind of work, just like a musician might have a knack for playing a certain instrument, but the doors of mediumship are open to all people. In The Mediums’ Book Kardec lists a variety of different specialized mediums based upon how they interact with spirits and the means by which they might communicate these otherworldly messages. Kardec says that this list, along with the spiritual hierarchy, are the two most important charts that all Spiritists, mediums or not, should be familiar with. We will get into the importance of this list…

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Spiritual Toolbox

Hauntings According to Spiritism

Ozark Healing Traditions

First things first, in Spiritism we really hesitate to call places “haunted”. As a philosophy it has always sought to create calm, rational adherents, who are able to approach the spirit world with peace of mind rather than fear. One of the big questions that came up for budding Spiritists early on was that of haunted places, and whether we should be afraid of such locations. Allan Kardec in The Mediums’ Book encourages readers to rationally think through what exactly goes into a haunting. What is present? How is it affecting you or the family who lives in the place? And how are you able to help resolve the issue? There are many approaches to hauntings that we can look at through the lens of Spiritism, but below are just a few mentioned in detail in chapter nine of The Mediums’ Book.

What Creates a Haunting?

A haunting usually…

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Spiritual Toolbox

Spiritism vs Spiritualism

Ozark Healing Traditions

One of the first things that always comes up when I start talking about Spiritism is the question, “Is that the same thing as Spiritualism?” A lot of folks have heard about the latter, mostly through media portrayals of spirit mediums, and possibly the stories connected to greats like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, both of whom had extensive interaction with Spiritualist mediums. But not a lot of people have ever come into contact with Spiritism, unless of course you are from esoteric communities in South America, which has held the largest population of Spiritists since the birth of the movement in the latter part of the 19th century. In that case you’ve probably heard of Espiritismo, which will be talked about in greater detail in a later post as it has taken on some other, more unique forms. For now, I’d like to talk about some…

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