Spiritism – ‘contact with deceased persons’

According to spiritualists, the dead can speak to the living through a medium or be visible as an apparition. Spiritualism, which arose from occultism, attempts to influence the influence of the spirit world on the world of the living. Are there really ghosts? Can the living make contact with the dead and communicate with them?

Spiritualism as a mass movement

Modern spiritualism has existed as a mass movement since 1848. Moving tables and glasses, séances and mediums paved the way for a movement that today has 4.6 million believers in Brazil and has the status of a religion. The Frenchman Léoin-Hippolithe-Denizart Rivail, better known under his pseudonym Allan Kardec, collected manifestations of apparitions in the works Book of Spirits and Book of Mediums . Both books are still considered manuals. Especially through extraordinary mediums such as the American Daniel Douglas Home, spiritualist circles, societies and magazines emerged in the United States and England in the 19th century. In 1882, the many groups united in the Society for Psychical Research to jointly investigate paranormal phenomena. Modern parapsychology has its roots in this movement.
Since the Second World War, spiritualism has experienced a revival in the Western world. Modern man especially needs businesslike, fact-based descriptions of research that deals with the other side. He is interested in practice and no longer in romantic ideas and church dogmas. Researcher into the other side and author Hans Geisler writes in his book Die Andere Welt (1962) that questions about eternity, the other side, the meaning and purpose of life must be answered with scientific accuracy and thoroughness. Research and experiment are paramount. According to Geisler’s estimates, approximately 200 million people worldwide are actively or passively involved in the subject of spiritualism.

Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)

Allan Kardec (Léon-Hippolithe-Denizart Rivail)
Allan Karce (1804-1869), pioneer of practical spiritualism, was a student of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and primarily a pedagogue, but later became a spiritualist researcher. His books have sold in print runs of hundreds of thousands. His work was particularly appreciated in Brazil, where a postage stamp with Kardec’s image was issued in 1957 in honor of the centenary of his work Buch der Geister .
The French physicist and Nobel Prize winner Charles Richet also paid close attention to Kardec’s significance for spiritualism: ‘One must readily recognize the intellectual energy of Allan Kardec. He always relies on experiment, so that his work should be regarded not only as a grandiose homogeneous theory, but also as an impressive summary of facts.’


Techniques of Spiritualism

There are many techniques of spirit exorcism and they are all successful in their own way. The techniques are intended to enable communication and it does not matter whether tables or glasses are moved, whether writing or speaking is done automatically or whether experiments are carried out with voices on audio tapes. When properly applied, they all lead to the same goal: communication with the world of the spirits and the dead. It mainly produces results when a special medium is present: a person with an extraordinary energetic talent.
Spiritualists who come into contact with a subtle being must ask about its identity. One cannot assume that the being being summoned always actually makes contact. Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling wrote at the beginning of the 19th century in his romantic work Theorie der Geisterkunde that the world is full of spirits, but that they see us as little as we see them. However, positive contact creates an exchange that is fruitful for both.
However, he writes, one should not assume that a spirit is always well-disposed to someone, because just as there are dangerous people among living people, so it is in the spirit world. Without a doubt, there are dangers in contact with the parallel world. The following is a description of the most popular spiritualist technique: moving glasses.

Moving glasses

Moving glasses, also popularly known as ‘turning glasses’, is a simple and popular technique among laymen that produces the fastest results. Participants need a table with a smooth surface, a glass, paper with the alphabet, the numbers 0 to 9 and the words yes and no. The glass is upside down in the middle and the participants each place a finger on the bottom of the glass. When everyone is extremely concentrated, the group summons a spirit. This could be a special spirit – a deceased relative of one of the participants or another deceased person who is wanted for this session. If contact is successful, the glass will start to move after some time. The participants ask questions that are answered by the movements of the glass above the letters. A problem arises here, because often the answers enter the consciousness of one of the participants telepathically. It is therefore important to learn to distinguish between actual communication with a spirit and messages from your own subconscious.

The Dangers of Spiritualism

Parapsychologists strongly point out the dangers associated with spiritualism. Because many people perform these special actions without consciously focusing only on the good aspects, they are usually unaware of the possible danger and possible consequences. The author Johann Edgar takes the following dark sides:

  • Dependence and unconditional trust: Spirit haunting is often used to help make a decision in life situations. That weakens one’s own ability to make decisions. People with a weak personality are particularly at risk of making their judgment dependent on interrogations.
  • Feelings of anxiety: Many laypeople experience feelings of anxiety in the time following the séance, especially if it has been performed improperly. This especially happens when materializations (spiritual apparitions) occur. In many cases, the fears are unbearable and medical attention is necessary.
  • Being surrounded and possessed: The person concerned is literally surrounded by beings and they gain influence over his life until he is no longer able to act. Possession arises from this. In that case, a foreign being takes possession of the person’s body and controls him. All this, just like drug addiction, can lead to the deepest social abyss and sometimes end in psychotherapeutic treatment or even suicide.


In biology, the outer protoplasmic layer of a cell body is referred to as ectoplasm. In parapsychology, however, the term is used for the hypothetical substance that rises from a medium as a gray-white haze when first contact with a spirit has been made.
Ectoplasm is an unstable and light-sensitive organic substance secreted by spirits that allows them to materialize and perform telekinetic actions. Ectoplasm is often not visible to the naked eye, but it does show up in photographs. Many scientists mistake the indefinable substance for manipulation with a gauze cloth.

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