Spiritualism is a religion that gives an understanding of God and encourages us to act with a high sense of duty towards others. Spiritualism stimulates spiritual growth and prepares us for eternal existence in the spirit world.
Spiritualism is a science because it is based upon proven facts that can be demonstrated and scientifically classified. Spiritualism is the science of life as it encourages the search for truth in every department of existence, in nature and in human psychology.
Spiritualism is a philosophy that attempts to understand people, their physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual being. As Spirit is the moving force of the Universe, so Spiritualist philosophy embraces the whole realm of nature.
Spiritualism is the 8th largest denomination in the UK and ranked 11th in the world.
Minister Steven Upton
Chairman, Publicity and Public Relations Committee
The Spiritualists’ National Union
Most of the various forms of psychic phenomena associated with the Spiritualist movement are as old as man himself. Throughout the ages human beings have been aware of the existence of discarnate beings. In early days, when man lived close to nature, ancestor-worship became a form of religion; primitive man had no doubt that his ancestors had survived death and that they had powers to affect the living for good or ill. Therefore due reverence was shown to them in order to incur favour. The wise men of the tribe, who were possessed of psychic powers, the equivalent of modern mediums, would testify to the presence of the spirits and forms of communication were established with them.
The Greeks consulted oracles and the Assyrians and Romans practised divination by augury to obtain guidance from the gods. Even today some cultures have their witch-doctors, who invoke the powers of the spirit for healing. It can be seen, therefore, that there is nothing new in the concept of a spiritual world inhabited by discarnate beings or in the use of psychic power to achieve spirit communication.
The early Christian Church was founded on the basis of mediumship, Jesus of Nazareth being considered to have been an exceptionally gifted psychic and medium, as illustrated in the reports of his healing powers, inspired teachings, and so-called ‘miracles’. After the Crucifixion it is recorded that Jesus was seen and heard by Paul and others and it is clear that mediumship played an important part in the work of the Apostles in the spreading of this new religion and its presentation in Church services. The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments has many references to psychic abilities, inspirational speech, speaking in other languages, physical mediumship, healing and so on.
However, the 4th century Council of Nicaea brought to an end the use of mediums and held that divine guidance, through the Holy Spirit, should be sought only from the priesthood: ‘false prophets’ were held to be servants of the devil, and sorcerers, heretics and mediums were all targets for persecution as a result of ‘witch-mania’. This accelerated in the Middle Ages, when religious sanction for this persecution was given in 1484 by a papal bull and by the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum or ‘Hammer of the Witches’. During this long period of persecution anyone suspected of using psychic gifts for whatever purpose was in danger of torture, trial and burning, and hundreds of thousands of mediums were put to death by organised ‘witch-hunters’.
In the 18th century a Swedish scientist and astronomer, Emmanuel Swedenborg (picture left), had become well-known for his philosophical writings, received from spirit teachers. He died in 1772 but was able to resume his work prior to the Hydesville phenomena through the mediumship of young American, Andrew Jackson Davis. Knockings had also occurred in the 18th century in England at the Epworth Rectory, home of the Wesley family.
The Modern Movement
However, Modern Spiritualism is generally considered to date from the events which occurred at Hydesville (picture right), New York State, USA, on March 31st 1848, when two sisters, Margaretta and Catherine Fox (pictures below), established intelligent communication with a spirit entity which had been responsible for noisy rappings in the household. The publicity which this aroused and the numerous investigations carried out at the time allowed mediumship to come out into the open once more and many home circles sprang up for the purpose of further communication. In a short space of time many societies of Spiritualists were formed in America, based not merely upon the psychic phenomena produced but also upon the religious implications which lay behind the teachings received from spirit through the new revelation.
Both the phenomena and the teachings attracted the attention of eminent scientists and intellectuals in America and (from 1852) Britain, to which Spiritualism was brought by Mrs Hayden, who was both persecuted and insulted by the press and the pulpit. In spite of this her mediumship was defended by many public figures, including Robert Owen, Socialist and one of the founders of the Co-operative Movement, who embraced Spiritualism after sittings with her, and many adherents were attracted to the cause. In 1853 the first Spiritualist Church was established in the British Isles by David Richmond at Keighley in Yorkshire (still in use today), and the first Spiritualist newspaper in Britain, The Yorkshire Spiritual Telegraph, was published in 1855, also at Keighley. By the 1870s there were numerous Spiritualist societies and churches throughout the country.
In 1869 a Committee appointed by the Dialectical Society investigated Spiritualism and published the most favourable report on the movement up to that time by any investigating body. Two years later Sir William Crookes reported on Spiritualism to the Royal Society and published his findings in the Quarterly Journal of Science. The British National Association of Spiritualists (renamed in 1884 as the London Spiritualist Alliance and now known as the College of Psychic Science) was founded in London in 1873, followed by the Society for Psychical Research in 1882. Five years later the Two Worlds Spiritualist weekly newspaper was founded by Mrs Emma Hardinge Britten (picture left), through whose mediumship in 1871 Robert Owen had communicated the basis of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism, which were later to be adopted by the Spiritualists’ National Union as the basis of its religious philosophy.
In the early days of the movement the most important necessity had been the complete freedom to develop and promote through multiple channels of communication the reception of the new spiritual inspiration without recourse to the establishment of a central organisation or administration. Some twenty years after the introduction of the movement to Britain it was now becoming apparent that there was a need to unite the many scattered churches and societies into some kind of federation in order to present a common front against persecution, win religious recognition and freedom of worship for its adherents and exponents, achieve a greater unanimity of opinion concerning the fundamental basis of Spiritualist beliefs, and give a new impetus and direction to the movement through co-ordination and co-operation. This task fell to Mrs Britten, a gifted orator and writer, who had launched the Two Worlds in 1887 and was the joint composer of the Lyceum Manual published in the same year
Spiritualism is not as is commonly believed, a sinister cult meeting in darkened rooms to “call up the dead” but an officially recognised religious movement with its own churches and Ministers, who possess the same rights and privileges as other religions.
Evidence of Survival
Spiritualism is in itself a religion in that it embodies the main ideas of all religions that there is a life after death, an immortality and the existence of a God. The difference between Spiritualism and other religions is the ability through mediumship to provide evidence that man survives the grave; that is to say certain people called mediums are able to communicate with those who have passed over, thus furnishing evidence of their continued existence in another world. Mediums cannot call up these people as one would a friend on the telephone, they come to us, but only when they are ready, willing and able so to do.
The philosophy of Spiritualism is based on seven fundamental principles.
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 or evil deeds done on earth.
7. Eternal Progress open to every human soul.
Spiritualists are often accused of being atheists or anti-Christian. Spiritualists are not anti-Christian any more than they are anti-Jewish, anti-Hindu or anti-Moslem. Spiritualism is a universal religion recognising such leaders as Buddha, Mohammed, Moses as well as Jesus. Another major difference between Spiritualism and the orthodox Christian religion is embodied in our fifth principle, which is Personal Responsibility. We do not accept that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. We hold that no one can do this but ourselves. We are given free will and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and we alone are responsible for all our thoughts and actions.
God not Vindictive
Further, we do not believe in a vindictive God sitting in judgement over us. We are our own judges here and now and we shall receive compensation or retribution for whatever we have done, whether good or bad. Heaven and Hell are not places to which we are destined to go, but states of mind of our own creation.
We do not automatically become spiritual when we leave this world. We shall in fact, retain our earthly characteristics while the opportunity will be given throughout eternity to make spiritual progress and so undo any wrongs we committed on earth, for both free will and personal responsibility will still be with us in the world to come.
We are living in a material age in which orthodox religion has lost its impact. Any religion therefore which can successfully overcome this materialist influence must be scientific, and Spiritualism is just that. It has turned the pious hope of a hereafter into a scientific fact. The advent of the spirit of man into this world and in the course of time, his transition to another world is a scientific fact proved by mediumship.
We do not expect you to accept these things blindly but we do invite you to prove our claim for yourself.
The Spiritualists’ National Union
The Spiritualists’ National Union currently represents nearly 400 Spiritualist Churches and Societies, and many thousands of individual Spiritualists. It is one of the oldest and certainly the largest Spiritualist organisation in the world today.
FormationThe pioneers of Spiritualism in the UK during the later ½ of the nineteenth century decided that they needed to form a national body to represent Spiritualism. They held a number of National Conferences in Darlington, Newcastle, Liverpool and London, all with the intention of establishing such an organisation, but these had proved unsuccessful. The idea of a National Federation of Spiritualist Churches had been the subject of several articles written by Mrs Britten (picture on left) in Two Worlds in late 1889 and early 1890, and at her instance a meeting of interested Spiritualists was convened in Manchester with a view to discussing plans for the formation of an organisation which would unite the Spiritualist churches throughout the country. Following a favourable response from these to a circular the Inaugural Conference of the Spiritualists’ National Federation was held on the first Sunday in July 1890 in the Co-operative Hall, Ardwick, Manchester.
At first the Federation was little more than a movable annual conference at which delegates from Spiritualist societies and individual Spiritualists could discuss problems of common interest. As a result of these conferences it became clear that the field of co-operation could be widened if the Federation obtained the legal status of a corporation which could hold real property. Accordingly, in October 1901 the Spiritualists’ National Union Limited was incorporated under the Companies Acts as a company not for profit and limited by guarantee, and in July 1902 it succeeded to, and took over the property, rights and obligations of, the Spiritualists’ National Federation.
For the purpose of providing a definition of Spiritualism and Spiritualist for incorporation in the Memorandum of Association of the new company the framers of the Union’s constitution in 1901 adapted the Principles given through Mrs Britten’s mediumship and so established the following unalterable Seven Principles of Spiritualism as the 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 a 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. Other objects specified in the Memorandum of Association include the encouragement of Spiritualist research, the certification and appointment of Ministers, lecturers, exponents and teachers, the publication and distribution of Spiritualist literature and the promotion of mission work.
Mission Statement and Goals
In 2000 the SNU adopted the following mission statement:
To Promote the Religion and Religious Philosophy of Spiritualism as based upon The Seven Principles
It also re-defined its goals as:
To procure perfect religious equality
To assist in the formation of new Societies and Churches
To strengthen the fraternal relations between Spiritualists
To increase all classes of membership
To print, publish and distribute literature
To promote mission work
To do all such lawful things as are for the advancement of Spiritualism
If you would like more information about the SNU please visit The SNU Website.
Thanks to Steven Upton for providing this information