19th century religious movement / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Spiritualism is the metaphysical school of thought opposing physicalism and also is the category of all spiritual beliefs/views (in monism and dualism) from ancient to modern. In the long nineteenth century, Spiritualism became most known as a social religious movement according to which an individual's awareness persists after death and may be contacted by the living.[1] The afterlife, or the "spirit world", is seen by spiritualists not as a static place, but as one in which spirits continue to evolve. These two beliefs—that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits are more advanced than humans—lead spiritualists to the belief that spirits are capable of providing useful insight regarding moral and ethical issues, as well as about the nature of God. Some spiritualists will speak of a concept which they refer to as "spirit guides"—specific spirits, often contacted, who are relied upon for spiritual guidance.[2][3] Emanuel Swedenborg has some claim to be the father of Spiritualism.[4] Spiritism, a branch of spiritualism developed by Allan Kardec and today practiced mostly in Continental Europe and Latin America, especially in Brazil, emphasizes reincarnation.[5]

By 1853, when the popular song "Spirit Rappings" was published, spiritualism was an object of intense curiosity.

Spiritualism developed and reached its peak growth in membership from the 1840s to the 1920s, especially in English-speaking countries.[3][6] By 1897, spiritualism was said to have more than eight million followers in the United States and Europe,[7] mostly drawn from the middle and upper classes.

Spiritualism flourished for a half century without canonical texts or formal organization, attaining cohesion through periodicals, tours by trance lecturers, camp meetings, and the missionary activities of accomplished mediums. Many prominent spiritualists were women, and like most spiritualists, supported causes such as the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage.[3] By the late 1880s the credibility of the informal movement had weakened due to accusations of fraud perpetrated by mediums, and formal spiritualist organizations began to appear.[3] Spiritualism is currently practiced primarily through various denominational spiritualist churches in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.