Spiritualism, as a movement, dates back to the Fox Sisters in 1848 when it was established as a new religion. That’s 170 years of history, of growth, of development, of exploration, of investigation, of communication and of working with Spirit. Of course, the latter is known to have happened throughout history and throughout the world and has no connection with a religious movement. Talking to the Spirits is seriously established, right?

It’s Tuesday night and the location is Wigan. The location is a public venue and up to 30 people have turned up for the event of the evening. They have parted with money for a ticket to watch a medium demonstrate in the back room of the pub.

The chatter amongst the waiting audience is about the medium.

” Apparently he or she is good. My friend Jenny said he or she brought her Dad through.”
“Yea, I hear he or she is the best.”
“I hope I get a reading, I paid £xxx for this ticket, they’d better be worth it.”
“I heard the medium is ‘internationally renowned’.”
“I heard the medium is the next best thing since sliced bread”.

The event was billed as starting at 7:30pm. It’s now 7:45pm and people are milling around, there’s some frustration amongst a few, while others are at the bar getting their alcoholic intake sorted. One or two of the audience have already had a few too many and can be heard laughing and loudly having fun. At 7:50pm the medium makes an appearance. Dressed in their casual jeans and tea shirt he or she spends a few minutes messing with a microphone, then making small talk with a few people, then gathering the audience to their seats. And then he or she introduces themself.

He or she spends a few minutes discussing the basic rules and describe how they work. He or she takes a huge intake of breath, paces around the small stage, looks around the audience and then starts.

“Can I come to you luv?”

Over the next couple of hours this medium gives messages to different people in front of them in the small audience. The messages are vague.

“Can I give you July and September as important months dear?”

Their subject is a lady with a family of three children. What are the chances of at least one of them having a connection in some form or other with those months? So why are those months important? Surely, he or she should know. After all, he or she is apparently talking with Spirit. They’re not just going to mention random months without reason.

And so it goes on. For two long and boring hours the medium fills the time with loose statements, basic details of vague connections, loads of guesses and a few funny jokes to lighten the audience.

This is not an exaggeration for effect. This really happens. Every night in every town and city across this country there are ‘mediums’ trying to fill halls, pubs, clubs, and venues with paying members of the public under the umbrella of ‘uniting the two worlds’. It’s big entertainment.

So, 170 years after the formation of The Spiritualism movement, 170 years after those first knockings heard by the Fox sisters in Hydesville, USA, 170 years after the modern realisation that the spirit world can be communicated with and will communicate back, 170 years later and the religion of Spiritualism is more popular than ever, right?

Nope. That last statement is not true. In fact, many of the Spiritualist churches and centres are near empty on a regular basis. Memberships are down. In some churches, the seven principles of Spiritualism are never mentioned. Philosophy, which is a cornerstone of the religion, is frowned upon and not welcome. Guest mediums are invited, just to give ‘messages’. Raffles are seen as more important as a fund-raising device. Singing is half-hearted, prayers and celebration of the spirit world are shorter in time than the raffle and tea break at the end of the evening.

In Part 2, I’ll give my take on what is going wrong and why. I’ll offer solutions and ideas for the future of this great movement and I’ll challenge the mediums to question themselves.    ♥

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