posted on Jul, 30 2003 @ 01:23 AM
The new age fad of channeling made popular by celebrities like Shirley Maclaine and others is by no means anything new.
The concept of channeling or communicating with deceased spirits has been around for thousands of years in almost all cultures..
Here in the U.S. the practice of contacting the dead all
started with the spiritualist movement.
This religous cult or church started in upstate New York around 1848 by the Fox sisters.
They lived in a house that was supposedly haunted and were able to communicate with it's ghostly inhabitant which replied by rapping on the walls.
Word of this spread rather quickly and the Fox sisters became overnight celebrities.
And it wasn't long before others got into this act and started holding seances to contact relatives on the other side.
Many upper class and working class folks participated in this then current fad which spread even across the atlantic
to Europe. Victorian England proved very receptive to this
American import and many current celebrities went in for it also. Queen Victoria was reported to have participated in
seances and Prime Minister Gladstone also.
But now comes an interesting feature to this story.
Years later after having enjoyed their fame for awhile,one
of the Fox sisters admitted to having commited fraud.
In order to produce those rapping noises on the wall,she merely cracked her toe joints!
She demonstrated this in public and they were loud enough to be heard by the audience.
Far from discrediting or hurting the movement,Spiritualism
as this new religion was called spread and gained more adherents all over the world.
Today there are spiritualist churches in almost every major
country in the world.
The antics of the mediums who contacted the dead ,included table tipping or moving,causing flowers to fall out of the air,playing of musical
instruments,and ghostly materializations that were known as ectoplasm.
Many of these mediums had been caught or exposed by
investigators from the newly created "Society For Psychical
Research" founded in 1882 or 1883.
However despite this it did nothing to dampen the faith
of the spiritualists.
The will to believe in something is a die-hard or stubborn
attitude that seems characteristic of those with a religous
This was especially true for the Spiritualists who had a very personal investment in their beliefs.
Nothing is more comforting to the bereaved then to know
that their deceased loved ones are still alive, but on the other side.
Also it's even more comforting when they can contact or talk to them through the agency of a medium.
This was one main reason why this movement managed to survive despite the exposure of the parlor tricks conducted
by some of it's practitioners.
The urge to believe is stronger than the urge to question,
especially for the religous.