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  1. MOTHER CLARA JAMES HYDE: Healer Clara James was raised in Magnolia, Mississippi and spent her adult life in New Orleans. Little is known about her childhood, but she was said to have healed a man in her hometown at the age of seven. Clara played a vital role as Mother Hyde in spreading Spiritualism in the 1920s. She opened St. James Temple of Christian Faith No. 2, named after her father, Edmond James, in 1923. Over the next decade, she established thirty-eight Spiritualist churches in five states. Even though she was African American, many of her churches had white congregations. Her followers were proud to be her parishioners, despite the racial tensions and legal problems she endured at the time. She turned to prayer and spiritual guidance to fight the establishment. Mother Hyde was not only an exceptional leader, but she was also well known for her healing abilities. She emphasized the role of scripture and prayer in the healing process. Those who wanted healing would leave the crowd and confess their need to her. She saw this as a recognition of the illness and a willingness to resist it. After their testimony, Mother Hyde read scriptures to invoke the spirits of the ancestors to identify the illness and provide a remedy. There was a laying on of hands, which combined with prayer, was successful for making a cure. Mother Hyde also performed private healing rituals for people. This included burning candles and selling a bit of cake saturated with spirit oil enclosed in a small box. Her practice was a combination of Spiritualism, Catholicism, and New Orleans “hoodoo” rituals. This allowed her to treat a variety of people who didn’t associate themselves with Spiritualism. One of her healing rituals included the following instructions, “In case of trouble, arise at dawn and face the east. Take the vial of spirit oil in one hand and the cake (in its box) in the other. Read the Twenty-third Psalm and let that be your prayer.” She instructed the patient to anoint her head with oil “Do this every time you want to conquer and accomplish.” After Mother Hyde died in 1938, her protégé, Mother Keller-Morris continued her healing tradition into the 1940s. Mother Keller-Morris was a civil rights activist and delegate for the NAACP in New Orleans. She was also active in the People Defense Fund and voter registration. She used Mother Hyde’s ministry to not only heal the sick but to mount a political resistance to the social inequity of the day. Additional Reading Guillory, Margarita Simon (2017) Spiritual and Social Transformation in African American Spiritual Churches, more than conjurers. Routledge; 1st edition
  2. Abraham James and his twin brother were born in 1827 in Chester County, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. His parents, originally Quakers, left the church because of their more liberal principles. Unfortunately, Abraham’s twin brother died as an infant. His mother had clairvoyant abilities and took her son to an astrologist in the city who said a “charmed life lay mapped out before him.” Abraham’s early life was spent on the farm. When he was around the age of six, he saw dead men walking in his bedroom at night. He was afraid of them at first, but when he found the courage to speak with them, his mother insisted that he tell her all the details. When he became a young man, Abraham left home for a clerkship and later got permission to attend Unionville Seminary to become a teacher. He moved to South Carolina where he taught school and traveled extensively. Probably attracted by the adventure of trains heading westward, he became employed as a station agent for the Illinois Central Railroad in Chicago. His clairvoyance came in handy one stormy night when he saved a train by warning them to slow down. A piece of track had been washed out by the rain. Abraham moved to San Francisco where he first used his clairvoyant sight to trace subterranean water courses and discover oil and mineral veins. A friend and spiritualist, James Chandler, introduced him to the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis. When he returned east and found a copy of Banner of Light in the house of another friend, Abraham began to take a serious interest in Spiritualism. He called upon a trance medium who connected with his deceased mother. “Be true to the silent voice within,” his mother told him. “It will guide thee aright, while holy angels above hold thee in charge.” Abraham’s journeys took him to western Pennsylvania. In 1868, the writer J. M. Peebles chronicled his activities in the oil fields in a book called The Practical of Spiritualism: Biographical Sketch of Abraham James. By tuning in to unexplained transmissions, Abraham struck oil in 1866. “A good portion of Pleasantville and of the immediate vicinity poured forth their inhabitants to witness the gushing proceeds from the ‘spiritual well’ in this upland territory, heretofore tabooed by oil men.” The first well was named Harmonial Well No. 1. It produced 60 to 100 barrels of oil per day. He discovered more wells in the Pleasantville and Upper Cherry Run areas, numbering in the hundreds. Throughout the account, Peebles suggested that the oil itself was a kind of medium that acted like a wireless broadcast and transmitted information about its origins and changing environments. “Those petroleum veins and basins in Pennsylvania,” wrote Peebles, emit “currental or flame-like corruscations, corresponding somewhat with incense from plants and flowers.” It is possible that Abraham was sensitive to those emanations. How he detected the wells is not clear, but it appears the medium’s prediction was true. Abraham had a charmed life. Additional Reading: Peebles, J.M. (1868) The Practical of Spiritualism: Biographical Sketch of Abraham James. Horton and Leonard Printers, Chicago. Thank you to Karen Heasley for the above research and write up.
  3. Edmund Dawson Rogers was born in 1823 to a poor Methodist family in Holt, Norfolk. His father, John, abandoned the family, leaving his mother, Sarah, alone. With help from Sarah’s brother, Edmund was able to attend grammar school where he studied Latin and Greek. When he left school, he apprenticed with a druggist and studied botany for six years. Rogers married Sophia Jane Hawkes in 1843 and two years later moved to Wolverhampton where he worked as a surgeon’s dispenser and joined the Staffordshire Mercury as a journalist. By 1848, he was appointed editor of the Norfolk News. It was during this time that he began to doubt his faith and at the same time was introduced to the spiritual teachings and philosophy of Emanuel Swedenborg who lived 100 years before him. Rogers used his knowledge of mesmerism to help an invalid lady, “Miss A.” in 1865. She was confined to her bed and he used the technique to give her some relief from her suffering. Miss A. would soon confide in him about her peculiar abilities, which included premonitions and clairvoyance. Roger visited Miss A. regularly for several years. She related to him her visions of the spiritual plane. During a family outing, he was even able to contact her from 40 miles away. Rogers became more involved with Spiritualism. In 1869, he attended seances with D.D. Home and Mrs. Marshall. In 1870, he became acquainted with the Everitts and attended Mrs. Everitt’s seances. Conan Doyle’s book refers to a narrative given by Rogers in 1885 at a séance conducted by Mr. Elington. At the séance, ectoplasm was produced. Rogers described it as “a dingy, white-looking substance” that swayed and pulsated. He said that there were fourteen persons present and that there was sufficient light to enable the writer of the report “clearly to observe everybody and everything in the room.” The ectoplasm took form. Eventually, the connecting link severed and became invisible, and the “form” advanced to Mr. Everitt, “shook hands with him, and passed round the circle, treating nearly everyone in the same manner.” In 1870, Rogers became the first editor of the Eastern Counties Daily Press which became the Eastern Daily Press. He moved London in 1873, and at the request of leading members of the Liberal Party established the National Press Agency. That same year, he helped form the British National Association of Spiritualists. He also founded the journal Light which he edited from 1894 until his death in 1910. In 1881–1882 he founded the Society of Psychical Research with Sir William and was a founding member of the London Spiritual Alliance. He also published and edited The Tenant Farmer (1894–1898) and The Free Speaker (1873–1874). Rogers and his wife, Sophia, had six children, two sons and four daughters. Sophia died in 1892. Rogers followed in 1910 while living in London. Additional Reading: Rogers, Edmund Dawson. (1911) Life and Experiences of Edmund Dawson Rogers, Spiritualist and Journalist (new edition by Kessinger Publishing, London, 2004) http://iapsop.com/ssoc/1910__hopps___life_and_experiences_of_edmund_dawson_rogers.pdf Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur (1926) “The History of Spiritualism” Volume II, Chapter 4
  4. Rose Champion de Crispigny, born Annie Rose Charlotte Key in 1859 in Kensington, UK, was a daughter of Admiral the Rt. Hon. Sir Astley Cooper Key and Lady Charlotte Lavinia McNeil. She was fortunate to be the daughter of a distinguished sailor who traveled to many foreign countries. Her father also loved science, and the family met many distinguished persons of the day. Rose married Lt. Philip de Crespigny, R.N. while still a teenager. They had four children, including Frederick Philip Champion de Crespigny, who inherited the baronetcy, from his father’s side of the family. Although she married a man of the sea, the family moved to the countryside of New Forest. Rose took on the role of wife and mother. She also developed her talents in music, art and writing while living there. As an artist, she favored landscapes. Her writing covered genealogical and local history in the beginning, but she eventually turned to popular fiction and detective novels. She published more than 30 books. Rose found herself unhappy with both Orthodox views of religion in which she had been raised and the materialist view of the universe proposed by science. Theosophy began to pique her interest. It opened to her the concepts of Eastern philosophy and meditation. Her friendship with Mr. A. P. Sinnett, one of the pioneers of the Theosophical Society, was a major influence on her. After the death of her husband, Rose moved to London in 1914, right at the beginning of WWI. She had developed a dislike for professional mediums because of her connection with Theosophy but agreed to attend her first séance with “direct voice” medium, Mrs. Etta Wriedt, of Detroit. She described it as the “most marvelous experience of her life.” She opened her home for seances to help those grieving over the loss of loved ones so they might contact those who had passed on to the spirit world. She investigated all phases of phenomena, including physical, trance, psychometry, clairvoyance, clairaudience and trance speaking. She became one of the organizers of The Lyceum Club in Piccadilly and a member of the British College of Psychic Science. She had public speaking engagements for large audiences, including the Queen’s Hall meetings. Rose became one of the earliest members of the British College of Psychic Sciences when it was founded in 1920. She developed into a valued member of its Council under the Presidency of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose friendship she cherished. Later, she became Hon. Principal of the College, and Vice-president of the Marylebone Spiritualist Association. Rose passed on to the spirit world in February of 1935 after a short illness. Her passing was a great loss to members of the College who respected her courage and expertise. Additional Reading: Click to access psypioneer_v1_n20_dec_2005.pdf
  5. Theodore Weld was born in Hampton, Connecticut in 1803, son to Elizabeth Clark and Ludovicus Weld, a minister of the Hampton Congregational Church. After attending Hamilton College and the Oneida Institute, he went on to study at the Lane Seminary in Cincinnati in 1834. It was an experience in grade school that led to Weld’s profound concern for racial equality. When an African American boy named Jerry entered his class, the teacher segregated Jerry from the rest of the students. Theodore asked to be seated next to the boy. As an adult, Weld became a passionate abolitionist. He gave lectures, trained workers for the American Anti-Slavery Society, and wrote influential pamphlets anonymously. He was also an adviser to an anti-slavery bloc in Congress in the early 1840s. It was during an anti-slavery convention that Weld met Angelina Grimké. Angelina was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1805, the daughter of a slave-owning judge. Growing to detest slavery, she followed her older sister Sarah to Philadelphia in 1829. There she adopted the Quaker religion and turned to teaching. Shortly after, she became an abolitionist and promoted women’s rights. Grimké and Weld were married in 1838. Since Weld was a Presbyterian, Angelina was formally dismissed from the Society of Friends. Theirs was not a traditional marriage. A collection of letters during the couple’s courtship shows that they wanted an egalitarian marriage. They spoke of their spiritual attraction to each other, and that they had same-sex friends who were just as dear to them. They said a marriage should be founded on “spirit and equality.” The Welds had three children, Charles Stuart, Theodore Grimké, and Sarah Grimké. In 1840, they moved to New Jersey where they ran schools until 1862. During that time, they became progressively less orthodox. Angelina’s became interested in the Millerite movement in the mid-1840’s, and later the couple became involved with Spiritualists, including, medium Isaac Post and William Lloyd Garrison. The Posts had rented rooms to Kate and Margaret Fox, who had gained a reputation for communicating with spirits through rapping noises. Amy became the Fox sister’s mentor during the early part of their careers. The Posts, like Angelina, had given up their Quaker religion. Since the Welds believed physical bodies were only temporary housing, Spiritualism was a good fit for their ideals. It supported the belief that spiritual friendship was the foundation of all relationships. In the spirit world where there was no sexism or racism. In 1863 the Welds moved to Massachusetts, where they continued teaching. Angelina suffered a stroke in 1873. Weld lived to be 91 years old and died in Hyde Park, MA in 1895. Additional Reading: Abzug, Robert H. (1980) Passionate Liberator: Theodore Dwight Weld & the Dilemma of Reform. New York: Oxford University Press. Nelson, Robert Kent (2006) Society of Souls: Spirit, Friendship, and Antebellum Reform Imagination. William and Mary dissertation https://b-womeninamericanhistory19.blogspot.com/2019/02/us-women-fighting-for-equality-grimke.html http://iapsop.com/spirithistory/liberating_the_enchained_spirit.html
  6. Warren Chase was born in 1813 to the unmarried Susanna Durgin in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. His father, Simon Chase, who was married to Huldah Peaslee, died during the War of 1812 before Warren was two years old. For giving birth out of wedlock, Susanna was criticized by the community and thrown out of the church. Chase was sent to live with a Quaker family, and when his mother died, he became a ward of David Fogg at 10 years old. According to Chase, his time with the Fogg family was a dreadful experience. At the age of 14, unable to read or write, he ran away to his grandmother’s house. He was taken in by Nathaniel Chase and then by the Norris family with whom he remained until he was 21. In 1834, Chase moved to Michigan and in 1838 to the Wisconsin Territory, settling in Kenosha. Throughout his life he had opposed organized Christianity. He became interested in the theories of Fourier and Spiritualism. The philosophy of Andrew Jackson Davis also made a deep impression on him, and he was a follower for over thirty years. In 1843 and 1844, he led a discussion group that formed the Wisconsin Phalanx. In 1844, he moved with the Phalanx to Fond du Lac County to form a new Utopian community known as Ceresco. About 180 people lived there at its peak, farming nearly 2,000 acres. The community dissolved in 1850, but Chase carried his reformist theories into politics, serving as a member of the constitutional conventions of 1846 and 1848. He was a Democratic member of the state senate from 1848 to 1849 and Free Soil candidate for governor in 1849. Chase helped found Ripon College, supported the temperance, abolitionist, and Spiritualist movements, and wrote many books and articles. His Spiritualist experiences are represented in his Forty Years on the Spiritual Rostrum (1888) and his socialist activities in The Life Line of the Lone One, an Autobiography of the World’s Child (1857). Of Spiritualism, Chase wrote: “These scientific discoveries, and the facts of modern spiritualism, by which we have opened an intellectual correspondence between the two spheres of being, takes the whole subject of life after death out of the hands of priests and superstitious bigots as effectually as geology does creation, and astronomy the position, forms, and motions of worlds. Hereafter spirit life will be in the domain of science, and the continued existence of our friends after we put their bodies in the ground, a demonstrated fact, which the success or failure of some persons to communicate will not alter, since each case is subject to incidents, if not accidents, in which the will of both parties has a share, and the laws are such that many may not be able to comply.” Chase moved to Michigan in 1853, then to Missouri, where he was elected as a Presidential elector in 1872. In 1876 he moved to Santa Barbara, California and worked as editor of the Independent newspaper. He was elected to the state Senate and served from 1879 to 1882. For the rest of his life he was active in the abolitionist, feminist, and temperance movements. Warren Chase died in 1891 at his residence in Cobden, leaving behind a wife and two children. Sources: Chase, Warren (1868). The Life-line of the Lone One: Or, Autobiography of the World’s Child. William White & Co. Chase, Warren (1867) The Gist of Spiritualism: Viewed Scientifically, Philisophically, Religiously, Politically and Socially. Willia White and Company, Boston Chase, Warren. (1888) Forty Years on the Spiritual Rostrum. Boston. Tenney, H.A.; Atwood, David, eds. (1880). Memorial Record of the Fathers of Wisconsin. David Atwood. pp. 61–63. https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/ef1746a088b0f1d559bb4f871100ada1?s=49&d=mm&r=gKarenSeptember 22, 2020Karen's Korner
  7. Thank you to Karen for this interesting post on post on VICTORIA WOODHULL: Suffragette & Spiritualist Victoria Claflin was born in 1838, in Homer, Ohio. Her mother, Annie, was a Spiritualist who passed her beliefs on to her two living daughters. Victoria’s abilities began early. When she was only five years old, she would commune with two of her sisters who died as babies and her childhood caretaker. Her father took advantage of her gifts and used her in his traveling carnival show as a clairvoyant and fortune-teller. At the age of 15, to escape her father’s abusiveness, Victoria eloped with Canning Woodhull, an alcoholic, philandering doctor. She almost lost her life when she gave birth to their son, and the child was plagued with mental development delays the rest of his life. After five years of marriage, Victoria divorced her husband in 1864. Continuing with her rebel attitude, Victoria embraced Spiritualism. As a medium, she accurately recalled past events and predicted the future. She could find missing objects and heal people. Theodore Tilton wrote in her biography: “This strange faculty is the most powerful of her powers. She shoots a word like a sudden sunbeam through the thickest mist of people’s doubts and accusations, and clears the sky in a moment.” Victoria was a popular medium, traveling with her sister, Tennessee, to hold seances across the country. She said her spirit guide was the Greek orator Demosthenes. He had been speaking to her since she was a child, but she didn’t know his name until she was 30. Demosthenes directed her to St. Louis, where she met her second husband, Col. James Blood Demosthenes also directed her to New York City in 1868. She and her sister moved to the city where they met Cornelius Vanderbilt. Being a recent widower, Vanderbilt appreciated their friendship and set the sisters up in business. They started the first woman-run Wall Street investment firm. Victoria would go on to found her own newspaper, to speak before Congress on women’s suffrage, and to run for U.S. President in 1872 against Ulysses S. Grant. Victoria divorced James H. Blood in 1876 and moved to England with her sister. In 1883, she married a wealthy banker from England, John Biddulph Martin. She spent the following years writing. She published Human Body: The Temple of God (1890), and a magazine with her daughter, The Humanitarian, for nine years, beginning in 1892. Victoria Claflin Woodhull Martin died in 1927, in Bredon’s Norton, Worcestershire, England. Additional reading: Hix, Lisa. “Ghosts in the Machines: The Devices and Daring Mediums That Spoke for the Dead.” Collector’s Weekly. http://www.collectorsweekly.com/.../ghosts-in-the.../ “The annual convention of the American Association of Spiritualists in Boston, Massachusetts, 1872.” The Banner of Light, The Boston Investigator, The New-York Times, The Brooklyn Eagle. http://spirithistory.iapsop.com/1872_american_association... Victoria Woodhull Biography http://www.gutenberg.org/files/51861/51861-h/51861-h.htm The Woodhull Foundation https://www.woodhullfoundation.org/.../who-was-victoria.../ Read more of this post ( http://www.spiritualpathspiritualistchurch.org/victoria.../)
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