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10 Things You Should Know About the History of Spirituality, Also Known as Spiritualism

The spiritualism movement that emerged in the late 19th century is also known as the spirituality movement. Spiritualism, which gained momentum at the beginning of the 20th century, is fed by the belief in the existence of an afterlife where we can talk to those who lost their lives. The wars that prevailed all over the world in those years caused many people to lose their lives. Therefore, more and more people wanted to communicate with their relatives who lost their lives. We have searched for you the history of the spiritualism movement, which has been subjected to serious reactions and harsh criticism. Here’s what you need to know about the history of spiritualism…

March 31, 1848 is considered the beginning of the modern spiritualist movement.


On March 31, 1848, also known as “Hydesville Day,” Kate and Margaret Fox, living in Hydesville, heard a noise in their home. They claimed to have communicated with spirits for the first time thanks to this voice. The two sisters have earned money by displaying their “talent” for many years. In 1888, Margaret admitted that they were actually pretending. Although She later wanted to withdraw her confession, she had already lost her dignity.

The spiritualist movement arose in relation to war deaths and flu epidemics.

At the height of interest in spiritualism, wars reigned all over the world. The loss of thousands of lives created traumatic experiences for those left behind. People began to look for signs of the afterlife to reassure themselves. In addition to the wars, flu epidemics were also effective in the revival of spirituality.

The Society for Psychical Studies was founded in London to investigate claims of the supernatural.


The Society for Psychical Studies was formed in 1882 to investigate the many reported spiritual activities. Members included prominent scientists and philosophers of the era, such as William James (brother of novelist Henry James), John Strutt, William Crookes, Henri Bergson, and Oliver Lodge. Society; He did various researches on phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance, ghosts and hauntings.

Spiritualist movement gave birth to the concept of ectoplasm

Spiritualists didn’t just want to communicate with the dead. They were also eager to show physical manifestations of the supernatural. This is how the concept of ectoplasm, introduced by Charles Richet in the 1890s, took off. Ectoplasm is, or at least claimed to be, amorphous substances that emanate from the bodies of psychics who have entered a trance state, especially from their organs such as mouth, nose, and ears, spread in the air, sometimes visible and palpable. It has never been scientifically proven that ectoplasm is a real substance.

Thomas Edison wanted to invent a spirit phone to communicate with the dead

The great inventor Thomas Edison was also a scientist interested in spirituality. Edison tried to analyze spiritualism from a scientific point of view. In the end, he designed a phone that could be used to reach the dead. If such a thing was possible, he wished to make it happen through science. According to Edison, the energy in the body of living things was transferred to new vessels after death. So the dead were able to retain their memories and personalities. He called his friends to a meeting, claiming that he would communicate with the dead thanks to a device he designed in the 1920s.

Many famous writers joined clubs focused on exploring the supernatural.

Over the years, the number of clubs that bring people interested in spiritualism together has increased. Important names such as Charles Dickens, WB Yeats and Siegfried Sassoon joined these clubs.

A new form of photography, also known as soul photography, is on the rise

One of the most popular aspects of the spiritualist movement was spirit photography. In those years, photographers claimed to have filmed ghosts. One famous example was William Mumler. He photographed the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The photograph shows Abraham Lincoln over Mary’s shoulder. Mumler made a lot of money in a short time thanks to these photos. What he actually did was take pictures with previously exposed plates.

Some psychics who made false claims were tried and sentenced to prison


The people were very interested in the supernatural. Seeing this attention as an opportunity to make money, scammers were brought to court after complaints. Some were sentenced to death, while others were sentenced to prison.

Magicians were opponents of spiritualists and often tried to refute their claims.


Just like spiritualism, magic was very popular in the Victorian era. Some magicians have harshly criticized the spiritualist movement. Harry Houdini, who was once interested in spiritualism, has also turned his back on the movement over the years. He even lobbied to ban fortune-tellers who make money by displaying their supposed skills. He also attended various sessions to test the claim that psychics communicate with spirits and produced reports showing his tricks.

A spiritualist claimed that the famous writer Mark Twain communicated with him and had him write a book.


Some spiritualists claimed that deceased celebrities were talking to them. For example, in 1917, Jap Herron claimed that the famous writer Mark Twain had contacted him. They said that Twain had Herron dictate a book using a Ouija board. Twain’s legal heirs sued Herron, and the book was taken down.

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