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Spiritualism in Spain

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In October 1861, the Spanish Catholic church celebrated its control over the spiritual and moral ideals of the country by burning three hundred books confiscated at the French border. Those books contained information about a new religious movement, Spiritualism. The Inquisition was over, but the church was determined to regulate the free circulation of ideas. They wanted nothing to do with a religion that promoted talking to individuals who had passed on to the spirit world.

Despite the book burning, interest in Spiritualism became popular with people struggling against the Catholic church and its orthodox ideas. They were also interested in scientific innovation and social reform. Spiritualists formed alliances with progressive movements like Abolitionism, Feminism and Socialism as well as prison reform, women’s suffrage, and labor politics.

Amalia Domingo Soler, born in 1835, was a primary figure in the Spiritualism movement. She was a writer of controversial short stories and essays which appeared in several Spiritualist newspapers. They were later compiled into several collections in the late 1800s. She is most remembered for her book Memories of Father Germano, published in 1900.  Domingo Solar also edited the Spiritualist newspaper, La luz del Porvenir (1879-1900). When she died in 1909, crowds of people accompanied her coffin through the streets of Barcelona.

Spanish spiritualists didn’t always write essays about their beliefs.  They used literary works such as poems, novels, short stories and plays to spread their ideas. Many texts may have been produced by automatic writing, but automatic drawing was also used. The drawings came as symbols that had to be deciphered. In the September 15, 1901 edition of the Spiritualist newspaper, Luz y Union, the author Jose de Kronhelm, published drawings made by a Barcelona medium while in trance. They delivered a prophetic message about Russia where the medium had lived.

During the turn of the century, many Spiritualist associations were founded. The first International Congress of Spiritualism was held in Barcelona in 1888. Spiritualists sought scientific approval for their beliefs and began scientific examinations of mediumistic phenomena. After Germany, Britain and the United States began psychical research, Spain followed. The study of Spiritualist and psychic phenomena became intertwined, and it was difficult to separate one from the other. Eventually, the two were divided, separating the spiritualist belief from the study of spiritualist phenomena.

Today, Catholicism is the predominant religion in Spain. Spiritualism isn’t mentioned as a religion and those interested in the religion are far and few. One existing center is an International Group, mainly British Ex-Pats, who are located in Benijofar and hold public services.

Additional Reading: 

Cerezo Parees, Alicia (2013) “Cada espiritu es un libro”: Spiritualism in Turn-of-the-Century Spain. Decimonoica, Vol 10, No. 1, Winter 2013.

Mulberger, Annette and Monica Balltondre Pla (2012) Metaphysics in Spain: Acknowledging or Questioning the Marvelous? History of the Human Sciences, Volume 25

 

 

 

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