The term Spiritualism today refers to Modern Spiritualism, founded in America in 1848, distinctive from Ancient Spiritualism, which is as old as intelligent man and the foundation of every religion. In ancient times Spiritualism was commonly practiced by all cultures of the earth and was considered essential in the affairs of daily life, matters of state and in religion.
From the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, when the Church of Rome had complete power and control, the practice of psychic arts was forbidden and many a poor soul paid the penalty. The ban was relaxed when the British Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act of 1735, repealing the law and ending the period of the witch trials. This new freedom paved the way for the advent of Modern Spiritualism, a movement founded upon psychic contact between mortals of the physical world with spirits of the spiritual world.
Modern Spiritualism began in the tiny hamlet of Hydesville, in Western New York State, with the psychic phenomena of mysterious knocking sounds. This single event ushered in a movement of spiritual freethinking that was new to the world and closely allied with the two great causes of the day - the abolishment of slavery and woman's suffrage. Spiritualism was socially different from other religions of the time, particularly in the significant role played by women and lay people. It was not seen as a separate religious movement, but as a way of providing evidence to support religious beliefs in the existence of the soul and in life after death.
Spiritualism’s popularity grew during the Victorian Age and gained credibility with the support of distinguished people, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes) the scientist Sir Oliver Lodge and the journalist Hannen Swaffer. The movement became fashionable across all social classes and acquired the name “Spiritualism” in the 1850s. Its popularity culminated during World War I, reaching a zenith due to the loss of so many young men. Grieving families turned to spiritualist mediums for succour and many found solace that their loved one killed in battle far from disappearing into oblivion, had transitioned to a higher plane of existence, and that contact with them was possible. In the 1920s, the celebrated magician, Harry Houdini succeeded in his campaign to expose fraudulent mediums which vanquished Spiritualism in America.
Spiritualism does not have a Bible or universally accepted doctrine. However, it does have The Seven Principles that are widely recognized. Within Spiritualism, there are diverse beliefs, as in any religion. From my thirty-four year study of Spiritualism, its mediums and its philosophy, I believe that the little known channelled writings of the Washington, D.C. lawyer, James E. Padgett originate from higher realms and go beyond any other spirit communications that I have examined. For this reason the philosophical portions of this site are based on the knowledge contained in the writings of James Padgett.