After you die

In March, 1848, a movement spontaneously brought thousands of American women into the public arena for the first time: spiritualism.

This mass movement began in the unlikeliest of places: the bedroom of two teenage girls who claimed to hear the sounds of knocking. This continued night after night, attracting neighbors and townspeople.

Beliefs in ghosts, spirits, and witchcraft were prevalent especially here in the ‘burned over’ district which was the geographical heart of the Second Great Awakening and a center for social reform movements.

Soon, meetings were being held regularly called séances, spirit circles. The rapid changes in American society shook the personal faith of many, and spiritualism provided evidence of the continuation of life of loved ones who had passed on. 

Within months, women emerged who were considered ‘mediums’. The role of the medium came to be seen as feminine with the primary trait being passivity, so that the spirit could work through the woman without the medium’s will interfering. So ‘spiritual’ meant ‘feminine’.

The movement was woman-centered and stood in contrast to the established churches. As a result it helped bring focus to the position of women in the country. They became committed to working for the emancipation of women and for women’s advancement in such areas as health and education. This rejection of the status quo also extended to the abolition of slavery. Spiritualists connected freedom for women with freedom for all.

The Baha’i Faith does not teach direct spirit communication or encourage psychic practices. The video below depicts young people today experiencing spiritualism much like the people of the 19th c. may have and raises interesting questions about the relationships between the spirit and physicality and the reasons of attraction of spiritualism for people, the psychological dynamics between mediums and groups…