Unlike most other major religions, Spiritualism does not tie its adherents to a creed or dogma. Rather, the philosophy of Spiritualism is founded upon seven basic principles which were developed and derived through the mediumship of one of Spiritualism’s greatest pioneers, Emma Hardinge Britten, inspired in 1871 by the communicating spirit of Robert Owen (the founder, when alive in the physical body, of the Co-operative movement).
These Seven Principles act as guidelines for the development of a personal philosophy of how to live one’s life. They are stated as follows, with an interpretation of their meaning:-
1. The Fatherhood of God
By the study of Nature - that is, by trying to understand the Laws of Cause & Effect which govern all that is happening around us - we recognise that there is a creative force in the universe. This force, or energy, not only created the whole universe, but also life itself in its many forms and is continuing to create today. The effects of this eternal creation can be seen around us and this leads us to the evidence that 'God' - 'The Creative Force' - manifests directly, or indirectly, in all things. We know this power as God and as we are part of the Life created by God, we acknowledge God as our Father.
2. The Brotherhood of Man
Because we all come from the same universal life source we are, in effect, one large family, small individual offshoot from the whole. This means that all mankind is part of a brotherhood. A brotherhood is a community for mutual support and comfort. We are all members of the same divine family. We need to share our joys as well as our burdens; we need to understand the needs of other individuals in order to assist them as part of our service to each other. As we learn to give so must we also learn to receive thereby achieving the necessary balance for our life. We must look not only to the material necessities of our fellow creatures but also to their spiritual needs and help those in need to become strong and worthy of their relationship in the Family of God.
3. The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels
All religions believe in life after death but only Spiritualism shows that it is true by demonstrating that communication with departed spirits can and does take place. Spiritualist Churches provide one of the venues where communication, through mediumship, is possible and many loved relatives and friends take advantage of this opportunity to continue to take an interest in our welfare. There are also spirit people/teachers who are dedicated to the welfare and service of mankind. Some (e.g. Silver Birch) bring inspiration and teachings whilst others work within the healing ministry.
4. The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul
It is scientifically proven that matter (being part of the creative force, or energy) cannot be destroyed; it merely changes its form. Spirit, as part of the Creative Force is, therefore, indestructible. On the death of the physical body, the spirit continues as an integral part of a world, which interpenetrates our world but in a different dimension. This world is referred to as the Spirit World. In spirit life we have a spirit body, which until we progress far enough, is a replica of our earthly body. We are the same individuals in every way with the same personalities and characteristics and we change only by progression, or otherwise, as a result of our own efforts. Our personal responsibilities do not stop at death.
5. Personal Responsibility
This principle is the one which places responsibility for wrongful thoughts and deeds where it belongs - with the individual. It is the acceptance of responsibility for every aspect of our lives and the use to which we place our lives depends entirely upon ourselves. It is not possible for any other person, or outside influence, to interfere with our spiritual development, unless we are willing to allow this. No one can put right the wrongdoing except the offender. As we are given freedom of choice (freewill) so also are we given the ability to recognise what is right from what is wrong. We are totally, as well as personally, responsible.
6. Compensation and Retribution hereafter for all Good and Evil Deeds done on Earth
As with all the other Principles, the natural laws apply and this one echoes the law of Cause and Effect (as you sow, so shall you reap). One cannot be cruel and vindictive towards others and expect love and popularity in return. It must be understood that the compensatory or retributive effects of this law operate now - on earth - they do not wait until we begin to live in the Spirit World.
7. Eternal Progress open to every Human Soul
In every heart there exists the desire for progress and to every human spirit belongs the power to progress in wisdom and love. All who desire to tread the path that leads to perfection are able to pursue it. The rate of progress is directly proportional to the desire for mental and spiritual understanding. If we do our best in earth life to follow our inward prompting or intuitions; we shall find progress very easy, on earth as in spirit; if not, every step in advancement will follow a struggle against imperfections, which we ourselves will have worked into our natures. Within the Family of God, with all the advantages that our realisation of that state can give us, we are all given the opportunity to be responsible for our own eternal progress.
As a final note to these principles, Spiritualism, through an intelligent and thorough investigation of its Seven Principles, reveals the understanding, the deepest significance of service to others and transforms life from selfishness to unselfishness, from individualism to social co-operation.Only on such a foundation can love and truth and all other spiritual values have any practical meaning or reality.
Reproduced from the SNU website; http://www.snu.org.uk/
Spiritualism is a rational religion based on the proven knowledge that man's spirit survives physical death. This has led to a philosophical and scientific approach new to traditional religious faith.
Spiritualist philosophy contains neither dogma nor creed and it is discussed rather than preached. There is an increasing tendency in these times to think and act collectively and Spiritualism is a religion matching this trend.
It is a Religion of Reason for all those who see this as an Age of Reason.
At some time in their lives all men ask themselves the question "What happens to me when I die?"
Spiritualism claims to give the definite answer to this question.
It affirms that man's spirit survives physical death and enters a Spirit world which surrounds and interpenetrates our material life. It asserts that the truth of this statement can be demonstrated under the right conditions when communication can and does take place between the worlds of spirit and earthly beings. This communication is only possible through individuals who have what are known as mediumistic abilities and who are known as mediums.
Spiritualists stress that the right conditions must prevail for communication to take place and that the prime condition is that there is a spirit person there willing to communicate. It is not generally understood that communication cannot take place unless the spirit are willing to do so. One of the greatest misapprehensions about Spiritualists is that they call up the dead. Nothing could be further from the truth; if anything, it is the other way round; ample evidence exists throughout history that if and when they are willing the spirit people call us.
Spiritualist mediumship takes two forms and is used depending upon which type of phenomena is being manifested, either physical or mental.
Physical phenomena is of such a nature that it is usually demonstrated only at private seances. Any person sitting with the medium can hear or see what is happening. By means of raps, audible voices or materialised figures the spirit people convey intimate information about themselves, their recollection of their earthly lives and details of their lives in the spirit world.
Mental phenomena is demonstrated through the mind of a medium and can be by clairvoyance (the medium sees the spirit); Clairaudience (the medium hears the spirit) or Clairsentience (the medium senses the presence and the thoughts of the spirit). Mental phenomena is the type most often demonstrated in public.
Teaching and philosophy have been communicated from time to time by advanced spirit beings. These have dealt with the purpose of life and the destiny of man based on the revelation that he survives earthly death and leads an active life in spirit dimensions. The realisation that man actively lives beyond the grave so profoundly alters the, conception of life that it has given rise to an entirely new religious outlook, which is diametrically opposed to many of the fundamental ideas of traditional religion, and is known as Spiritualism.
What is known as Modern Spiritualism began in 1848 when sensational happenings in Hydesville led to rapid developments throughout America, eventually reaching Europe including Britain.
Nowadays, the largest Spiritualist organisation is the Spiritualists' National Union based in the UK, and it is recognised by H. M. Government as the legally established religious body for Spiritualism. Originally intended to work only in Britain, lately it has been receiving more and more affiliations from overseas and is becoming somewhat more internationalist in its membership. It has an extensive education and training programme and its philosophy is based on the Seven Principles, which do not lay down rules but encourage people to discuss and think about their attitude to life. (See the Seven Principles Link).
Influenced by these Principles as well as its scientific and philosophical ramifications, for many people Spiritualism has become more than just a religion; it has become a Way of Life.
The world today is divided as to whether the Fox sisters were true psychics or mere fraudsters. Whatever your belief, they were successful in becoming the founders of the spiritualist movement.
The three Fox sisters, Margaret, 1833-93, Leah, 1811-90, and Katherine, 1836-92, became the most famous seers of 19th-century American Spiritualism, which by 1855, claimed 1 million followers.
The Fox's House Hydesville, NY
The disturbing events began in spring, 1848, when the two younger sisters, Kate and Margaret, aged twelve and fifteen, became frightened by unexplained sounds (knocking) and the moving of furniture. Their house in Hydesville (which is no longer there) Rochester, New York, had been reported as haunted by the previous owner, Michael Weakman. But it still shocked the young girls when the encounters occurred.
On the evening of March 31st, Kate challenged the spirit to repeat the clicks of her fingers. It obliged, later excelling itself by tapping out their ages.
The entity claimed to be the spirit of a pedlar named Charles B. Rosma, aged 31, who had been murdered five years earlier and his body buried in the cellar.
The sympathetic neighbours (who had also witnessed un-natural events) helped dig up the cellar only to find a few pieces of bone and hair. But it wasn’t until 1904, that the skeleton was eventually found. The spirit had been correct about his burial, but had neglected to tell the girls that he was hidden in the cellar wall. The grim discovery proved beyond doubt that the sisters were telling the truth about their spirit abilities.
Kate was sent away to stay with her elder sister Leah, in Rochester; whilst Margaret went to her brother David. However, the rapping’s followed them.
The Fox girls then became famous for their mediumistic powers, and by 1849, began giving public performances, managed by their elder sister Leah. People flocked from around the country to see them, all paying for the privilege.
Their séances became hugely popular, also more elaborate with objects moving about, spirits appearing and table levitation.
The Fox sisters were routinely exposed by sceptics as fakes, but no trickery was ever discovered. One test had both girls tightly bound around the ankles, which proved them both innocent of pretence. Their under garments were also inspected for props. Finding nothing to reproduce the sounds, the sceptics were forced to admit the girls were not committing fraud.
Unfortunately, lacking in parental supervision both girls began drinking quite heavily; which in turn affected their performance.
Kate moved to England in 1871. The following year she married a London barrister and enthusiastic spiritualist. Jenken died in 1881, leaving Kate to bring up two sons on her own. Margaret had followed Kate to England in 1876.
Kate Fox was considered a powerful medium, capable of producing, raps, spirit lights, direct writing, appearance of materialized hands and movement of objects at distance.
In time the sisters developed serious drinking problems. Kate was arrested for drunkenness and people worried for her two sons welfare.
For some reason, only known to themselves, in 1888, the two sisters appeared before an audience of 2,000 declaring themselves frauds. Margaret demonstrated that the raps had been produced by cracking her toe joints. Later, in writing Margaret recanted her confession.
Kate continued her life begging and borrowing, and within five years, a few months apart, both sisters died in poverty, shunned by former friends and buried in paupers’ graves.
The conclusion to this story is that the public confession had done nothing to destroy the belief in the Fox sisters, or the movement they founded. Believers felt the sisters had been forced into lying. And spiritualism continued to develop as if the confessions of the sisters had never happened.