Chapter

With Easy Intercourse Pass To and Fro

John Casey

in After Lives

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780195092950
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199869732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195092950.003.0017
With Easy Intercourse Pass To and Fro

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This chapter describes the birth of spiritualism, influenced by the events of the American Civil War, and finally by the First World War. Spiritualism is partly a legacy of Swedenborgianism, and partly an attempt to prove survival after death scientifically. The first claimed spiritualist phenomena were in Hydesville, New York, and then Massachusetts. Many distinguished intellectuals gave credence to Spiritualism. The chapter explores the apparent credulity of members of the Cambridge (England)–based Society for Psychical Research, especially toward the famous medium D. D. Home (“Mr Sludge the Medium”). The First World War and its losses encouraged the cult, which was accepted by many as a New Revelation. The astonishing resemblance of the actions of mediums to those of conjurors is described, as is the skepticism of Harry Houdini.

Keywords: spiritualism; Hydesville; First World War; Swedenborgianism; survival; skepticism; Harry Houdini; David Dunglas Home; Society for Psychical Research]

Chapter.  10556 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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