Spiritism or spiritualism is the belief that there life after death and the living can indeed communicate with dead. The communication process is done through a medium or psychic. In shamistic societies communication with the dead is a natural event.
Those who believe in spiritism believe in different dimensions of existence called by the spiritist “wavelength”. A medium or psychic is able to receive sensory information called vibrations, radiations or frequencies that only the medium can receive from the other realms.
A spirit can make their presence known physically. The spirit can make contact with the medium in various ways. These ways can include clairvoyance; telepathy speaking through the medium while the medium is in a trance state or visions of the spirit called apparitions. Other physical manifestations can include levitation, automatic writing, noisy behavior such as tapping against a wall, and ectoplasm. Ectoplasm is a substance that cannot be seen by the normal eye. Ectoplasm is how spirits manifest on this plane.
The closest thing living creatures have to ectoplasm is an aura. The aura is an invisible colored energy field that radiates from human beings and animals. A medium can also see ones aura. Depending on the color of one’s aura a medium can read what is going on with the person including illness. It is said that if one’s aura appears to be shriveling to a medium then death is near for that person.
The modern spiritism movement in the United States started with the Fox Sisters in 1848. They were three sisters who claimed to communicate with the dead. On March 31, 1848 two of the sisters Margaretta aged 13 and Kate 11 claimed to make contact with a spirit in the house they were living in who used to rap on the walls named Mr. Splitfoot.
The story of these phenomena spread. Leah the oldest sister also claimed that she too had the ability to communicate with the spirit world. Soon after that all three girls started touring the region to demonstrate their abilities. Many doubted the girls and violent out breaks occurred at their spiritual manifestation meetings. The girls were almost lynched and confessed to being frauds to save themselves but later took the confession back. In spite of the girls confessing fraud the movement kept growing.
Other mediums began to pop up as well. A spiritual group emerged called the Apostolic Circle. They were a small sectarian group of spiritists who claimed to be in contact with apostles and prophets of the Bible. James L. Scott a Seventh Day Baptist minister joined the group with his mediumship abilities in 1849. He talked in trance in the name of St. John. Reverend Thomas Lake Harris edited his trance utterances and a publication was produced from the group called “Disclosures from the Interior and Superior Care for Mortals”.
On June 10,1854 the first American Organization called “Society for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge” came into being in New York City. The organization had a publication called the “Christian Spiritual-ist” and engaged mediums to contact the deceased in gatherings called séances for free.
Another Spiritualist who brought a movement forth that is still practiced today is Allan Kardec. He is said to be the father of modern Spiritism or Spiritualism by introducing the concept of reincarnation in to Spiritism. He had a tremendous influence in Spiritualism in Spain, Portugal and South America (especially Brazil). In Brazil today the religious practice Ubanda is founded on the writings and teachings of Allan Kardec.