Spirit Phenomena in the Late 1800s  |  Theories about the Manifestations |
Kardec Witnesses the Phenomena

Spirit Phenomena in the Late 1800s

The study of Spiritism, as we know it today, actually began in the U.S. (in the mid 19th century), where a series of strange, physical phenomena which, while not actually happening for the first time, began to garner significant attention due to the frequency and intensity of occurrences.  These phenomena,  which are often cited as the beginning of modern spiritualism, included strange noises, rapping, and moving objects, all happening with no known cause. It was also observed that these phenomena occurred especially under the influence of certain individuals, which we now call “mediums”.  

The moving objects were primarily tables, which began with spinning,  and later were observed moving in all directions, shaking, falling, soaring, violently rapping, etc.  Such phenomena were referred to as “rotating tables” or “dancing tables.”

 The first explanation to satisfy observers was that the phenomena were the result of an electric or magnetic current.  However, it was soon evident that there was an intelligent force behind the phenomena, indicating the will of some unknown entity.  Raps were heard in the same number requested.  Likewise, tables moved or tapped as requested by a group of people who gave them specific commands. 

An early and well-known occurrence of this type is the case of the Fox Sisters, in Hydesville, NY., a city referred to by some as the “birthplace of modern Spiritualism.”  The two young girls observed rapping noises coming from a wall in their home.  Soon, they discovered that by assigning a number of raps to yes and no answers, and later to letters, they could communicate with the cause of these raps, which was actually the spirit of a man who had been killed in the home in which they lived.


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