This is a compilation produced by the SNU Pioneer enewsletter edited by Paul Gaunt. It sets out a real argument for Christian Spiritualism! And its basis in Spiritualist history! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle being its most vociferous supporter! Lots to read but all good stuff!

Is Spiritualism Indebted to Christianity?
This article was published in “Psychic News”, December 12th, 1936, page 9, by W.H. Evans. The paper’s editor, Maurice Barbanell, noted:
Here is an article that will provoke controversy. The writer has given forty years of study to our philosophy. What do you think of his views?
A GREAT deal of the misunderstanding about what, I suppose, may be called plain Spiritualism and Christian Spiritualism arises from ignorance. As a matter of fact, what is called Spiritualism, “without affix, prefix, or suffix,” as some proclaim it, is nothing more than Unitarian Christianity.

The principles by which plain Spiritualists set such store are all to be found in the New Testament. Emma Hardinge Britten’s inspirers only save a summary of what was known and taught amongst first century Christians.

The difficulty with many people is that they are unable to separate Christianity, per se, from its clothes. They confuse the teachings of Jesus with the interpretations put upon them by the Churches.

Actually, a great deal of what the Church teaches is not Christianity. The Rev Percy Dearmer recently pointed out that, so different is the teaching of the Church from the religion of Jesus, to the Church the Christianity of Jesus is a “new religion.”
Reason v. Prejudice
Unfortunately, people are apt to mistake their prejudices for reasoned opinions, and proclaim the only true view is the one seen between the blinkers of their ideas.

In a recent diatribe against Christian Spiritualists and Christian Spiritualism, one writer indulged in a loud and vociferous criticism of those who differed from what he called the S.N.U. brand of Spiritualism, as if it were not the prerogative of any Spiritualist to reason out for himself his own religion.

So blatant and harsh was the writer that, by the time I had reached the end of his article, I concluded he had written it under the control of the spirit of an old Spanish Inquisitor. It certainly breathed the spirit of those people.

All those who differed from him must be cleared out of the Movement; the Bible must be removed from our rostrums, and only a particular brand of Spiritualism be taught. The logic of all this is that we are to have boards of examiners, heresy hunts and expulsions of the unorthodox Spiritualists.

That spirit is evil. It is separative and destructive. Its inspiration is of the Pit. It is a doctrine of hate masquerading in the cloak of freedom. I do not think those who make such criticisms realise that they are simply following in the footsteps of the ones who have tried to shackle human thought by binding it in creed and dogma.
Are Spiritualists free from dogma? No, they not, neither plain Spiritualists nor Christian Spiritualists. They have their set beliefs, which they hold as dogma. They have their own orthodoxies and they cry aloud against those of other people. It is all so pitiable and so small.

One would think that Christian Spiritualism was a new phenomenon. It isn’t. Back in the early ’seventies of last century there was published in this country a paper called “The Christian Spiritualist.” It is no new thing. Spiritualism began amongst Christian people.
Our Best Book
The first Spiritualists were Methodists and Quakers. The influence of Christianity runs all through the Spiritualist movement. The best book on the religious side of Spiritualism ever written automatically from the Other Side is “Spirit Teachings” through the hand of the Rev. Stainton Moses, and is definitely Christian.1 I suppose it would, if certain people had their way, be put upon their index expurgatorius, as would be “The Scripts of Cleophas,” through the hand of Geraldine Cummins.

Over and over again, from the earliest days of the Movement till now, the messages which have come through have been no more nor less than an amplification of the teachings of Jesus Christ. These are facts which have a meaning and we should face them. We can no more cut ourselves off from the contact of Christian influences than we can do without sunlight.

Our mental environment has been formed by Christian influences. We were taught by the Churches in our youth; our education has fostered the spirit, and though we may differ on points of doctrine, we are generally at one when it comes to the simple religion of love taught by Jesus.

There is another thing missed by the self-styled intellectuals, that is the Spirit of Christ, which is still alive in the world. I declare it is a fact, I know it in my own life and I bear testimony to its power to give peace, comfort and blessing. Those who so glibly denounce Christian Spiritualism should first of all seek to know whether there is any regenerative power in the Spirit of Christ. If they have not experienced it, they are not entitled to pronounce upon it.
Surrender To God
Anyone who has experienced the power of acceptance of and surrender to the Will of God knows how fertilising to his own spiritual life is the Spirit of Christ. In fact, that spirit comes to birth in his soul, giving him a wide-eyed tolerance. The spirit of the inquisitor finds no lodgment in his heart or mind. He realises that “the ways to God are as many as the breaths of men,” and will not denounce those who travel another road.

I have a profound interest in and affection for, any who feel so keenly that they fall into the error of supposing theirs is the only way. I have travelled that road myself. Once, in the days of my darkness, I, too, denounced those who called themselves Christian Spiritualists, and like the writer who wishes the Bible removed from our platforms, did myself once make the same plea.

If we are to keep alive the fires of separative sectarianism, then brotherhood will be impossible, the work of the spirit people be hindered and our Movement kept marking time. It is time we sought the points of agreement and realised the larger Spiritualism that
1 Pioneer, Vol. 3, No. 3, June 2016: “Visit to the College of Psychic Studies – Paul J. Gaunt”.
is above orthodoxies, creeds, or dogmas; that can sink personal opinions in the spirit of service, and can realise that within our own hearts is nestling the Christ-child waiting to grow to manhood and direct our steps.

There is one thing about the Spiritualists’ National Union which I commend to those who like to speak in its name: it is the spirit of tolerance it shows. It opens its arms to all Spiritualists.

It is wise in that it realises that the sectarian spirit is separative and disruptive. And while it asks those who would join it to accept its principles, it allows each the right to interpret them in his own way.
Bar To Progress
So long as that spirit is maintained, it is bound to make progress. But if it ever declares that anyone who wishes to wear the label “Christian” is not to be a member, on that day it will sign its own death warrant. Fortunately, those at the head are broadminded and can see where the evil lies.

By and by, we shall outgrow the need for creeds and dogmas of the more crude type. At present, we must be kind and compassionate to those who are on the road. Every soul will find its way to the Father’s heart and reaching it will not be asked. “What did you believe?” but “What did you do, my son? Did you express the spirit of goodwill and love?”

And if we have shamefacedly to admit that we were at times inspired by the spirit of bitterness and hate, His cloak of love will cover us within its influence, all our little shams will shrivel and our bitterness and hate be dissolved.
To play the role of devil’s advocate, this is without doubt a thought-provoking article. Historically, in my opinion, little criticism can be given to the article’s accuracy as to the history of the formation of the development of the Modern Spiritualist movement. Perhaps it also gives credence to the thinking of one of the SNU Honorary Presidents-in-Spirit, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s, proposal of adding a Christian-based Eighth Principle to our Seven. Below is quoted from Pioneer, Vol. 2, No. 6, November 2015, “Maurice Barbanell, the S.N.U., and his Propaganda Work”:
At the 1927 SNU Annual Consultative Conference held on Sunday July 3rd at the Art Workers’ Guild Rooms, Queen Square, London under the presidency of Robert Owen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Hon. President, moved the following:
“That a new principle be added to the Seven Principles of Spiritualism, declaring that while admitting that every Creed has its own message from on high, however by human frailty, we in the Western World acknowledge the original teachings and example of Jesus of Nazareth and look upon them as an ideal model for our own conduct.”
A special Committee was appointed to deal with the proposed Eighth Principle, which was presented to the 1928 AGM held at Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales on July 7th and 8th July. Needless to say, Doyle’s resolution to add an extra Principle as proposed failed.

It should be noted that, strictly speaking, our Third Principle, “The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels”, was not part of Emma’s submission of her summary of her creeds/principles given at Oldham in 1887, which were later used and adapted by William Johnson (last Federation President, first Union President) when the Spiritualists’ National Federation was reconstituted in 1901 as the Union, becoming our Seven Principles.

1887: I believe in the Fatherhood of God,
1901): The Fatherhood of God.

1887: The Brotherhood of Man,
1901: The Brotherhood of Man.

1887: None
1901: The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels.

1887: The Immortality of the Soul,
1901: The Continuous Existence of the Human Soul.

1887: Personal Responsibility,
1901: Personal Responsibility.

1887: Compensation and Retribution hereafter for all the good or evil deeds done here,
1901: Compensation and Retribution Hereafter for all the Good and Evil Deeds done on Earth.

1887: And a path of eternal progress open to every human soul that wills to tread it by the path of eternal good.
1901: Eternal Progress open to every Human Soul.

Albeit Emma did give a similar principle in 1871 when she submitted four of her creeds/principles, “I believe in the communication of spirits as ministering angels”, she appears not to have used this again and it was not included in her submission at Oldham; for more information please see Pioneer, Vol. 3, No. 1, February 2016, “National Federation to National Union”. —~—☼—~—
What originally caught my eye on the above Evans article was the remark
“Spiritualism. … is nothing more than Unitarian Christianity.”
It had been previously noted in Psypioneer that there was a Unitarianism link with UK Spiritualism; Unitarians believe in the Unity or unipersonality of God, as opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity – hence the name ‘Unitarian’. Unitarianism only became legal in 1813 but was particularly influential in the 19th century.

Psypioneer, Vol. 6, No. 5, May 2010:
How much overlap was there between the early UK Spiritualists and the Unitarians? An outstanding study by John Buescher, The Other Side of Death, left no doubt that there was heavy influence on American Spiritualism from the Unitarians and Universalists.2
Has the Unitarian link with UK Spiritualism been not fully appreciated because it was later an embarrassment to both parties?
We have already reprinted some relevant evidence, such as the family background of Percy Wilson,3 and the role of Margaret Wilkinson, sister of Emma Hardinge Britten, in Manchester Unitarianism.4 Now we learn that William Johnson, who presided at the first AGM of the SNU, was laid to rest in a Unitarian graveyard.5

It can be noted today:

“Unitarian Society for Psychical Studies”

Founded in 1965, the Unitarian Society for Psychical Studies aims to provide a forum for discussion on issues such as survival of consciousness and continuing spiritual development beyond physical death…

2 “The Other Side of Salvation”, by John B. Buescher, published by Skinner House Books, Boston, 2004.
3 Percy Wilson, SNU President 1950-1953; see Psypioneer, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 2010: “Our new president, Percy Wilson”.
4 Mrs Margaret Wilkinson; see Psypioneer, Vol. 6, No. 2, February 2010: “In Memoriam—Mrs. Margaret Wilkinson”.
5 Psypioneer, Vol. 6, No. 5, May 2010: “Another pioneer promoted – William Johnson – The Two Worlds, 1914”.
This is what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said on Spiritualism just a few years after his conversion to Spiritualism, published in the “Two Worlds”, January 18th, 1918, page 19:
Sir Conan Doyle upon Spiritualism
SIR A. CONAN DOYLE, the eminent novelist, was recently interviewed with reference to his views upon Spiritualism. The “Reading” for this week states his ideas as stated by himself, and they are sufficiently valuable to be read at every Spiritualist meeting-place. The questions were put by the interviewer, and the answers were given by Sir Arthur.
“Does it not seem absurd that such things as moving table should be associated with a matter so august as man’s survival of bodily death?”
“So I thought at first, and it took some years of experience before I shook off the feeling that it is absurd to associate moving tables with religion. But the trouble arises from concentrating upon a detail and missing the larger issues behind it. If an unknown law is shown in moving a table or a tambourine, then it is the law and not the object upon which attention should be concentrated. This talk about details and missing the larger things is one of the peculiarities of the position. It is as if someone, in discussing the Church of England, were to miss everything about the spirituality and virtue of that Church, and to harp continually upon the absurdity of having an eagle to uphold the lectern.”
“The difference seems to me to be that your religion is to some extent based upon the phenomena, but the Church of England is not based upon the lectern!”
“The humbler phenomena have little connection with the creed of Spiritualism. They are a device of the Great Designer, by which public attention is drawn to the matter. The higher the phenomena, such as automatic writing and trance speaking, have certainly much to do with religion. They are the means by which the truth comes through. But I may add that the truths seems to me to commend themselves to their own intrinsic worth. They are the one line of thought which makes Christianity reasonable to me and to many more.”
“Where do you find Christianity in other directions unreasonable, Sir Arthur?”
“The whole doctrine of original sin, the Fall, the vicarious Atonement, the placation of the Almighty by blood—all this is abhorrent to me. The sprit-guides do not insist upon these aspects of religion. All these points of mystical Christian philosophy centre round the death of Christ. It is the life which we have to take as our religious centre.”
“Is not that Unitarianism?”

“Plus a great deal which I have never associated with Unitarianism. The Unitarians, for whom I have always had deep respect, look on Christ as a man. We look upon Him
as a high spirit who became incarnated to give us an example. He is so much higher than man that He is nearer God—the Son of God, in Oriental speech. Of course, he declared Himself that He was not God, and how people can keep on insisting that He was, in face of His own clear words, I can never understand. ‘I and my Father are one’ means only that He was doing the work of God. The title ‘Son of Man’ is a beautiful term, showing that He had come to serve man-kind.”
“Unitarians, I suppose, would admit that Christ was a highly spiritual man?”
“A high spirit, in the sense we use the words, is something more than man. We hold that in both His moral and His psychical attributes He was more than man though, of course, infinitely less than God. There is a remarkable little book which impressed me much, upon ‘Christ and Psychical Phenomena,’ by Dr. Abraham Wallace. It made me understand the New Testament as I had never understood it before. In fact, I do not see how one could possibly understand many passages unless one had a knowledge of psychical matters.”
“For example?”
“Well, take His words when the sick woman touched Him. They were, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceive that virtue has gone out of Me.’ This is exactly how a healing medium would feel. Notice also how in another passage it is said He could do no wonders in a particular city because the people had no faith. And yet our critics wonder when a medium gets no results with a hostile circle.”
“Would you say, then, that the early Christians were Spiritualists?”
“Of course they were Spiritualists. Think of St. Paul, with his ‘natural body and spiritual body’; and look at John with his precept, ‘Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God.’ Is not that exactly what a wise Spiritualist would say now who does not accept every message that comes to him, but tests them by his reason and by the general body of information already recorded? The ‘lying spirit’ is unfortunately a fact now, as then.”
“Does all this mean that Spiritualism is destined to be a new religion?”
“I hope not. I do not want one more sect added to the list. I want to see it as a unifying force, the very centre of the world’s though, forming a rallying point upon which the Christian creeds could unite. At present a Christian is simply helpless before the materialist—and there are a hundred unconfessed materialists for one who assumes the name. What can the Christian do? He quotes texts and describes his own intuitions, but neither have any effect upon the materialist. There is not an atom of proof anywhere, mere legend and assertion. The analogy of Nature certainly is that death ends all. But the Spiritualist comes forward with the weapon the Christian needs—actual proof of continued life. His reward, as often as not, is that the Christian reviles him and accuses him of having dealings with the Devil. I can well understand the materialist reviling him, for it is a very discomposing thing to have the ground cut utterly from beneath your feet. You must either be man enough to admit your error, or you must refuse to face the truth and take refuge in the assertion that everyone who differs from you is a dupe or a knave.”
“You speak of the materialists as numerous?”
“They seem to me to be in a majority, not as an organised body, but as individuals. England is spiritually dead—a mummy wrapped up in ecclesiastical bindings. When the very things which they profess with their lips to believe are put before them as really true, they draw back in amazed incredulity. All this scoffing talk about ‘spooks’ in the papers can only come from people who do not believe at all in continued life. If they knew that
those they loved were actually living on the other side, they could not apply a comic and vulgar word to them.”

Sir Arthur did not recommend everyone to begin an investigation of psychical phenomena; at least, on the experimental side. “If one has lost some loved one,” he said, “then one may with success begin upon the experimental side, as did recently Mr. Wilkinson, who described his experiences convincingly in the ‘London Magazine’ for October. But in ordinary cases one should master some of the literature—it would take a long life to master it all—before any actual seeking for phenomena. The importance of phenomena is much ever-rated. In the literature you will find amply proof by every law of evidence, without any experiments at all.”
To return to the lead article by Evans, he is quite correct: The first Spiritualists were Methodists and Quakers. The influence of Christianity runs all through the Spiritualist movement. The last issue of Pioneer published the first demonstration of public mediumship at the Corinthian Hall at Rochester on 14th November 1849 by Leah and her younger sister, Margaretta (Maggie) Fox, and the first controlled investigations into the physical phenomena which were produced at the demonstration and afterwards to the committees set up to investigate.

Catharine (Kate) Fox was not present and was staying at this time with Eliab W. Capron at Auburn, who addressed the meeting at the Corinthian Hall. Auburn is a prime starting-place in the development of Modern Spiritualism; this was recorded by Emma Hardinge in her twovolume work, “Modern American Spiritualism”, 1869, as published below.

Emma was herself a Christian Spiritualist at the start of her work; she gave music lessons in the rooms of the ‘Society for the Diffusion of Spiritual Knowledge’ and edited their periodical, ‘The Christian Spiritualist’. It would be in Troy that her first public lectures were held in 1857:
…even up to my first great trial lectures at Troy, on July 5th, 1857, I had clung religiously, as I had termed it, to the orthodox faith in which I had been brought up, nor had my experiences as a test Medium contributed to shake that faith. Indeed I had sometimes listened with equal horror and indignation to what I designated as the unchristian and infidel talk of many of my Spiritual associates.
Thus, then, when the New York Spiritualists, stimulated by the glowing accounts of my début as given by Troy friends, invited me to occupy their platform on the succeeding Sunday, July 12th, I accepted the offer, confident that I, through my Spirit inspirers, could so severely rebuke the infidel spirit which I felt was existing amongst my New York associates, that in all probability I might convert many of them to the true Christian faith. The Spirits had promised me that on that special occasion I should hear every word I spoke, and so I did, but the result of those same two New York lectures was, that instead of converting any of my audience to orthodoxy, I converted myself entirely away from it, nor has my incessant study of ancient history, science, and God’s Bible of Creation ever suffered me to relapse again into the mists of superstition invented by Priestcraft, or shaken my assurance of my own personal responsibility both here and hereafter, for all the good or evil I have ever done on earth.6
6 Taken from her “Autobiography of Emma Hardinge Britten”,1900, page 52.
Below is a rather interesting overview of the start of the modern Spiritualist moment just after the demonstration at the Corinthian Hall at Rochester, published by Capron, in the last issue of Pioneer: CHAPTER V. SPIRITUALISM IN AUBURN, NEW YORK.


IT was in November, 1849, that the scenes were enacted in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, described in the last chapter.

The immense geographical areas embraced in the thirty-six States of the Union, and the fact that no regular system of human propagandism issuing from a central source and ramifying through the country, or, indeed, anything analagous to such a procedure, has ever been attempted, to account for the spread of Spiritualism, embarrasses the historian in describing its progress. “Progress,” in fact, it can scarcely be called; for, if modern Spiritualism had been promulgated as well as inaugurated by the Rochester mediums, its course might have been traced in their footprints; but whilst we are considering the effects upon some town or State which the visits of the Misses Fox produced, behold we find a great spiritual outpouring in sections of country where the echoes of the Rochester vibrations could never even have reached.

Spiritualism did not radiate from a definite centre, but sprang with a spontaneous and irresistible life of its own, independent of human propagandism, the contagious force of public sentiment, or the psychological effect of common report. If the ends of the countless threads that with sudden and magical rapidity appeared to be inclosing the whole continent of America in one vast woof of spirit-power, were not spun, held, and intelligently directed by the unseen people of the spirit country, then all theories of causation must fail, and the marvellous growth and blossoming of Spiritualism, the germs of which no visible hands had planted, will forever remain one of the unfinished problems of the universe. Apart from the obviously supramundane character of its production in various sections of country at once, it is not difficult to trace the secondary causes of its rapid growth in the all-absorbing nature of its revealments and the passionate emotions of love and hatred which it excited in its friends and foes. In fact it would be difficult to determine which was the most effective form of propaganda for the spread of the belief, namely, the zealous enthusiasm of its admirers or the bitter persecution of its antagonists.

To do justice to the uprising of this mighty power, we must consider its manifestations in different States about the same period of time. The first which we shall notice is the State of New York, in which the communion between mortals and spirits first took the form of a scientific telegraphy.

In the city of Auburn, New York State, resided Mr. E. W. Capron, to whom allusion has already been made in connection with the earliest manifestations and the Corinthian Hall investigation. To strengthen the convictions of a spiritual source for the phenomena, an opinion which had irresistibly forced itself upon his reason, Mr. Capron induced Mrs, Fox to permit her youngest daughter, Catharine, to spend some time in his
Catharine “Katie” Fox
family. During the séances conducted through the mediumship of this young lady, many of the principal inhabitants of Auburn had the opportunity of witnessing the most astounding phenomena under circumstances which precluded even the suspicion of deception. Spirit music was produced; hands were seen, felt, and even examined, forming and melting apparently in the clasp that held them; messages of affection, timely warning, and prescient intelligence were constantly spelled out through the raps; the furniture moved in supra-mundane feats of power, and almost every conceivable phase of intelligent spiritual phenomena was exhibited to all who chose to come and witness it. Two remarkable results followed the first introduction of “the power” into Auburn. The first was the fact that though the press were permitted free access to the circles, and the most abundant opportunity for investigation, yet the strength of the occult force, whose evidences they beheld, only seemed to arouse in the most of their number a vindictive and unreasoning spirit of antagonism, which broke forth in unqualified and often senseless slander.

For example: The Auburn Daily Advertiser coolly stated that old Mr. Fox [a quiet, inoffensive farmer, chiefly remarkable for simple-minded devotion to the Wesleyan Church and his retired, peaceful habits] had by a cunning contrivance of springs and wires managed to produce all the marvels witnessed at Hydesville! The fact that every plank, board, and brick, or inch of matter connected with the possessed house had been ransacked in vain by hundreds of persons in the attempt to detect any trickery, all went for nothing with this shrewd editor. The still more awkward fact that the phenomena had continued to increase in strength and variety for upwards of a twelve month, moving about from place to place, house to house, person to person, involving the action of above a hundred different mediums; and that the poor old gentleman accused of its production had never, except in the first two or three months of the Hydesville excitement, been in the spirit circles or in any way connected with the movement —all this was with equal sense and candor utterly disregarded, and good Mr. Fox’s “springs and wires,” invisibly fixed into nothing, still continued to stretch from the cottage at Hydesville and to rap over hundreds of miles sounding down to the valley of the Mississippi along the vast seaboard of the New England States, and up to the northern regions of Lake Superior! Wonderful invention of a quiet little New York farmer! and marvellous springs and wires, the intelligent action of which could reveal past, present, and future with an accuracy that would have put to shame Egyptian magic or Chaldean astrology! We must here remark that if from time to time we insert the puerilities and baseless slanders which have been levelled against “the cause” and its adherents, it is not for their worth or efficacy, but rather to show the utter futility and even desperation of that opposition which has been forced to create such childish fictions in order to discredit the spiritual hypothesis.

The second result of Miss Kate Fox’s visit to Aubum seemed to be the unfoldment of medium powers not less remarkable than her own in many persons who attended her séances. The most prominent cases of this kind occurred in the persons of Mrs. Tamlin and Mrs. Benedict, mediums whose names have since become an integral part of the great American spiritual record. Several other ladies were also developed in the Auburn circles as mediums and clairvoyants. A great variety of gifts in the direction of physical, writing, healing, seeing, and trance mediumship also became rapidly manifest in various families of the highest respectability, and the great majority of these developments took place

irrespective of Miss Fox’s presence, although, her visit first called the attention of the community to the subject, and induced the formation of the circles in which these powers in the various media became externalized. In Mr. Capron’s work on the early Spiritualism of America are recorded some very interesting accounts of the manifestations at Aubum; amongst others, the following incident, which were also verified to the author by Mr. Henry C. Wright, an eye-witness of the scenes. Mr. Capron writes:
“Mrs. Tamlin was, so far as I have been able to learn, the first medium through whom the guitar or other musical instruments were played, without visible contact, so as to recognize tunes. In her presence it was played with all the exactness of an experienced musician, although she is not acquainted with music, or herself able to play on any instrument. The tones varied from loud and vigorous to the most refined touches of the strings that could be imagined.”
At a circle held at Mrs. Tamlin’s, when about seven or eight persons were present, whose testimony was afterwards publicly tendered for the truth of what follows, Mr. Capron goes on to say:

“I had magnetized the medium, and, after various manifestations of the spirits, she said that they were about to do something new which she could not understand. After sitting a few minutes, we heard a low sound like a distant locomotive whistle. Soon, however, the sound grew louder, and softened into the most exquisite music. One of the company was requested to sing and she did so; the most beautiful music accompanied. It was like the notes of an exquisite Æolian harp, but any attempt to describe its beauty would fail. . . . . . . We frequently had the same kind of music in the presence of Mrs. Tamlin. . . . . . At times it would resemble the finest conceivable tones of the human voice, and almost seem to be dissolved into words.
“Another phase of this musical manifestation was the imitation of ‘Fabyan’s’ horn. This was first produced when Henry C, Wright was present. He called for the spirit of N. P. Rogers and asked him to sound the horn, when immediately a sound came like the sounding of a horn and its reverberation among distant hills, echoing and re-echoing for a long time. Mr, Wright had visited the White Mountains in company with N. P. Rogers some years before, and there had heard Fabyan, the hotel-keeper, wind his horn among the hills, and it was this sound that was so exactly imitated. Mr. Wright afterwards published a description of this scene in a pamphlet.”

So long as the manifestations continued to be of the character above narrated, their appearance in Auburn was hailed with delight by bereaved mourners, to whom conclusive evidences of the presence and watchful guardianship of beloved spirit friends was clearly proven.

It excited the interest of the scientific from the fact that wonderful phenomena of a novel and interesting character were produced. It startled the learned by the exhibition of ignorant adults and uninstructed children speaking in foreign languages, and often with marvellous eloquence. Clairvoyance, psychometry, and healing by the laying on of hands or spiritual prescriptions, testified to the beneficent character of the intelligence and the vast range of uses which it included.

But the profound ignorance of all psychological phenomena in which this material age has been steeped, soon operated to mar and deform the infant movement.

The world had to learn that the spirit country is peopled from earth, and that spirit-life commences from the point where mortal existence ends. Unconscious of this solemn truth, the early communicants with the unseen world were unprepared for the visitation
of the dark spirits whom the sad experiences of earth had manufactured into criminals. Unaware that life, whether here or hereafter, is progress, not violent and unnatural change, investigators were appalled at the representations, produced through media, of the same vicious tendencies in spirits which they had beheld with indifference from the same spirits whilst inhabitants of earth; in a word, they did not realize the fact that spirits were still human, and that the soul in many respects remained unchanged by the mere act of physical dissolution. In this state of perplexity and ignorance the return of earth’s criminals was generally met, either by the superstitious and unavailing exercises of old Catholic rites, or submitted to blindly in the idea that all spirits must necessarily be authoritative, until the unwary medium became the subject of the distressing condition now known as “obsession.” Still, though the first circles were conducted in a condition of mental blindness scandalous to the religious teachers who should long since have instructed mankind concerning “spiritual gifts” and spiritual existences, in course of time the investigators learned experimentally to realize the true character of the spirit-world, and that more conclusively by their failures than they could have done by contemplating the sunlit side of the picture only.

But whilst the philosophical Spiritualist began to realize the true conditions of immortality from communion with the beings who were living in its experience, the egotist and fanatic appropriated as their share of the great spiritual outpouring, precisely those elements which were best calculated to stimulate their vanity and pander to their superstitious imaginings. Amongst the Auburn Spiritualists were to be found several extremely ignorant but strongly bigoted persons of the Second Advent persuasion. The phenomena of modern Spiritualism, interpreted through their own narrow credal views, appeared to them to be the actual inauguration of the long-promised “millennium,” whilst they—the “true believers”— must of course be the chosen ones through whom the millennial dynasty was to be established on earth.

Quite early in the movement a circle had been formed, which at first had received the modest title of “The Auburn Circle;” but no sooner did the “chosen few” of the millennial belief gain a foothold in this happy gathering than they bent themselves to the work of converting it to their own purposes and using the manifestations as an endorsement of their peculiar opinions; in fact, as an eye-witness of the scenes here enacted described to the author, “in return for their conversion to Spiritualism they strove to convert the spirits to Second Adventism.”

In pursuance of this notable idea they secured the services of Mrs. Benedict, an impressible rapping medium, through whom the influences mortal and immortal that operated in this circle, dictated plans of action designed to make “the universe rock,” and that portion of it which they modestly called this little planet, a convert to their faith and a subject to the spiritual authority of John the Divine, Daniel the Prophet, Paul the Apostle, and other Biblical worthies whom they assumed to have become temporarily reincarnated in their mediumship. The title of the circle was changed from the “Auburn” to the “Apostolic Circle;” Mrs. Benedict, the medium, was dispatched to New York, where, under spirit direction, she summoned a certain Baptist preacher, named James D. Scott, to come to Auburn to minister in the work. A series of papers were published purporting to emanate from various distinguished personages of Jewish origin and af the Apostolic age.

Some of these publications were well calculated to produce the results which their authors predicted for them, namely, a revolution, though not exactly in the universe, or even in the “little planet” earth, but simply in the fortunes of the luckless publishers, who found the issue of the said pamphlets exciting a very revolutionary effect upon their worldly prosperity. To the disbelievers in the Divine origin of these papers they certainly
created no little feeling of indignation at the audacity which could append the names of prophets and apostles to their absurd puerilities, whilst even the most credulous of the well-educated Spiritualists had cause to mourn over the deterioration in grammar and orthography which befalls the exalted dead by a long residence in the spirit-world.

About the commencement of the year 1850 the “Apostolic Brotherhood” assumed a more respectable literary shape under the authority of the Rev. James Scott, and actually rose into eminence by the accession to their ranks of the renowned poet, preacher, and medium, the Rev. Thomas L. Harris, who was also spiritually called to “the work.” With the leadership of these accomplished gentlemen,—who claimed to act under the highest spiritual guidance,—the movement gained in numbers and in importance until it seemed to absorb and control nearly all the Spiritualism in Auburn, reflect itself through the chief of the communications, crystallize into a numerously attended religious meeting, and finally to culminate in the famous “Mountain Cove movement,” of which a detailed description will be given in a later chapter. And here it may be asked whether these shadows, cast by human pride, presumption, and fanaticism, did not irrevocably quench the dawning fight of the still embryotic spiritual movement?

We answer, most unquestionably not; although many were the confident predictions of such a result; indeed certain journalistic magnates who had hitherto been indefatigable in castigating the cause through their columns, now abandoned their efforts with the complaisant remark that “the Spiritualists themselves were performing the work of selfdestruction, and it was only necessary to give them rope enough and they would inevitably hang themselves.” In view of what has been already narrated, there is no doubt but that this enlightened policy would have had the desired effect had it so happened that all the Spiritualists of Auburn were included by the followers of Pope Harris and Cardinal Scott; but besides a very considerable number outside of their ranks, even some of those who had been subject to their authority gained by their experience some very wise and useful lessons, and not a few of these deluded ones, instead of rushing to the destruction so liberally predicated for them, exchanged their leadership for Pope Judgment and Cardinal Reason, dignitaries who were henceforth enshrined in plenary authority over the spiritualistic circles at Auburn.

Amongst the lessons that these rulers taught was the very important one that no spirit, mortal or immortal, should stand between the creature and the Creator; that it was necessary to try the spirits out of the form by precisely the same rules of good and use as those which applied to spirits in the form, and finally that the spirit-world was of no more authority as spirits unbodied than the earth-world as spirits still embodied. These lessons the recipients deemed cheaply learned, even though the price paid for them was the ridicule of a community profoundly ignorant of the subject they ridiculed.

As to the “faithful” amongst the “Apostolic Brotherhood,” they soon disposed of the question, as far as the people of Auburn were concerned, by quitting that “reprobate community” for the holy retreat of “Mountain Cove” under the leadership of their inspired shepherds. After this instructive episode Spiritualism in Auburn rose, Phoenix
Rev. Thomas Lake Harris

like, resurrected from the ashes of fanaticism into purified life, strength, and increasing numbers. Mediums began to multiply, the gifts of the spirit became constantly more abundant, and the ranks of Spiritualism were swelled with daily added converts.

Sunday meetings were in due time established, and a well written weekly paper entitled The Spiritual Clarion, together with an annual statistical register, was issued from the office of the Rev. Uriah Clark, an ex-Universalist minister, who established the above-named periodicals in Auburn, from whence they long continued to go forth as welcome evangels of the spiritual Gospel to the world. ‘The city now numbers thousands of Spiritualists; nor, with all the “rope” that Christian ministers and learned editors so generously allowed them, have they yet “hanged themselves,” or permanently hindered the progress of their glorious cause.

To conclude: W.H. Evans’ article, which started this discussion, noted:
There is one thing about the Spiritualists’ National Union which I commend to those who like to speak in its name: it is the spirit of tolerance it shows. It opens its arms to all Spiritualists.
It is wise in that it realises that the sectarian spirit is separative and disruptive. And while it asks those who would join it to accept its principles, it allows each the right to interpret them in his own way. After the death of Evans this would indeed change. The SNU churches were infiltrated with Christian Spiritualists; please see Pioneer, Vol. 2, No. 2, March 2015: “Were the S.N.U. Seven Principles changed?” A short quote below:

This is exactly what happened. The Union started to lose churches to breakaway independent Spiritualist groups and to Christian Spiritualists, especially the Greater World Christian Spiritualists League (GWCSL), founded on May 30th, 1931, later known as the Greater World Christian Spiritualist Association (GWCSA). By the mid-1930s it was having an impact on Union churches. Some Union churches were starting to run on Christian lines, the Seven Principles being taken over with Christian trappings. Attempts were made to retain the traditional teachings of Union Spiritualism within their churches, including discussions with the Greater World and other groups, but with little success. In 1988 the Union withdrew ‘liberty of interpretation’.7 In ‘100 Years of National Spiritualism’, by Jean Bassett, published 1990, Jean stated that liberty of interpretation was not part of the Memorandum or the Articles of Association; below is quoted from pages 86-87:
7 Charles Coulston, SNU Consultant, notes: “Liberty of interpretation issue: the Council of the Union, which was at that time the policy-making body of the Union, agreed to accept this [legal] advice from the Union’s solicitors and the Council’s acceptance of it was relayed to members at the Union’s 1988 Annual General Meeting. The reference to liberty of interpretation was accordingly deleted from the Union’s Articles of Association and elsewhere from that point in time.”

Jean Bassett
“…At least ten churches were being run by declared Christians on Christian lines. A small minority, but too many for a religion which was open, because of its declared freedom of philosophy, to people of all other religions. The signing of the Seven Principles should have protected the possibility of this eventuality, but many of the people concerned used our traditional tolerance against us. They stated that their ‘liberty of interpretation’ gave them the freedom to include a belief in Christianity while following Spiritualism. Gordon Higginson put the feeling of the majority of members into a few words at Conference: “I have nothing against Christian Spiritualism, but if the church was National Spiritualist then it must remain National Spiritualist. If they did not want this then they should find their own buildings and not pinch ours!”

“The subject of Liberty of Interpretation caused even more dissent. This phrase had been part of our tradition from around 1902. It was not part of the Memorandum or the Articles of Association, but had been viewed with pride by generations. No one had considered that it would be used in such a way as to distort the essence of our Principles. Because of this, a member of Council queried the legal validity of the phrase. Legal advice was sought and the Union was advised that the phrase had no meaning or validity in the context of a legal framework. It was with some regret that it was withdrawn from general usage. But the Union pointed out that ‘Personal Responsibility’ covered each individual’s right to think for his or herself, whereas the Churches did have to stay within the cover of the Memorandum and Articles without personal interpretation.”

One of Spiritualism’s finest philosophers
Mr W.H. Evans was known as Willie! He rendered an overwhelming literary contribution for the movement over decades—he was a Spiritualist household name. He also contributed to the Spiritualists’ National Union (SNU) and the British Spiritualist Lyceum Union (BSLU) educational courses. He authored a number of books, including Spiritualism, a Philosophy of Life, 1912, How to be a Medium, circa 1920, Twelve Lectures on the Harmonial Philosophy of Andrew Jackson Davis, 1925, and A New Heaven – A Study of the Life Beyond, 1950.

He worked as both a trance and inspirational speaker. In 1953 Maurice Barbanell paid tribute to his long service to the Spiritualist movement and the Spiritualist press.8 It was 57 years since Evans first began to write in “Two Worlds”, of which Barbanell noted:
“His pen and his voice have always been placed at the service of our movement. For 50 years he has contributed to “Light” each week. Almost weekly he reviews books for “Psychic News”. In the “Two Worlds”, December 12th, 1953 issue, the last article by Willie Evans aged 76, was published on page six – it states: Poignancy is added to this the – Last Article Written by a Dying Man.

Some background on this rather forgotten pioneer:

Forty-eight years ago this October my first full page article appeared in THE TWO WORLDS; but my association with our paper goes back a couple of years earlier, for I had sent several paragraphs and fill-ups which were accepted and used by the editor Mr. E. W. Wallis. Thus I now reach my Jubilee as a contributor to this journal, and I am glad to say that my relations with the various editors have always been most friendly.

When I first became acquainted with Spiritualism I had no idea of the work I should do, or the part I should play in exercising a formative influence upon its philosophy. I well recall one Sunday morning at 8, The Octagon, Plymouth, where I was first introduced to the subject of Spiritualism, being told by one of the mediums at one Sunday morning circle, that I had talent which would be used and recognised as of value. The medium was Mrs. C. Lethbridge. I was very astonished at this prediction for it never entered my mind that I should do anything at all in the movement. I was interested, of course, and wondered much about it, but did not think anything would come of it. But there were those who knew what latent ability I had, and also how they could use it. ‘“There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will.”

8 Psypioneer, Vol. 9, No. 8, August 2013.
9 The “Two Worlds”, October 18th, 1946.
Speak Much and Write More
How I came to write was in this wise. Mr. and Mrs. Lethbridge started a home circle and invited myself and my eldest brother to sit with them. At one of these circles, Mr. Lethbridge was inspired by one of his guides to tell me to write: just sit down and the inspiration will be given to you. I fell into the habit of sitting on Sunday mornings, the only free time I had, and writing little essays. They just bubbled up in my mind. Some of these trifles I sent to ‘our paper’ and in due time some of them appeared. I was also told at this circle, through my brother’s mediumship, that “I should speak much, and write more.” So it seems that the unseen knew their instrument and intended to make full use of me. I am glad to say that I have always been a willing co-operator with my helpers.
With E. W. Wallis
But it was in October 1898 that my first full page article appeared in this journal. Mr. Peter Lee was acting as editor at the time, Mr. Wallis being away in the United States on a tour. When he returned he very kindly accepted the matter I sent to him. Occasionally a MS would come home to roost, but in the main my work has been accepted. Mr. E. W. Wallis left THE TWO WORLDS to become editor of Light and I have a connection with that paper which goes back well over forty years. Will Phillips succeeded Wallis and I sent him occasional articles. But about this time I started in business and turned my thoughts to the serious business of building up my connection. I have spent forty years at the shoe maker’s bench; as one reader humourously once put it “I repaired people’s understandings on week days, and ministered to their souls on Sundays.” Anyway shoemakers are the most religious folk in the world, for they lay down their a(w)I and prepare their innermost soul for the last. But I must be serious.
With J. J. Morse
It was not to be that I should desert my pen for the hammer and knife. An injury to my spine brought on caries, and I became paralysed in both legs. This seemed to be the end and the general opinion was that as far as this life goes I was finished. But I never thought so, I made up my mind to get well, and through the healing power of my friend Mr. C. Adams, I did. Being laid aside from active work I turned again to my pen, and started writing for James Allen’s journal The Light of Reason, and also for ‘our paper.’ Then J. J. Morse became editor and my really busy time as a contributor began. Almost every week something of mine appeared, and I am grateful for the constant encouragement I received from that splendid worker.
Oaten and now Thompson:
The years pass on and Mr. Oaten succeeded J.J. as he was familiarly known to us, and now Mr. E. Thompson is in the editorial chair. I am still writing and hope to continue till the end. Of late I have had to stop my platform work. I have a fifty year record of that, too. Finding that the inspiration was not so ready, and that I was left very much on my own, I found the work rather too much for me. I took this withdrawal of power as indicating that I should rest from such labours. So I have stopped the platform work, but the inspiration for the writing seems to be deeper than ever. There is in inspiration a law of rhythm. It is like the tide, it ebbs and flows. One learns to note this, and if a week or two goes by without any writing being done, I don’t worry, knowing that the inspiration will return.
Some people seem to think that if one is inspired no effort is needed; in the actual writing that is often so, for it brings a sense of exaltation and ecstasy. The effort is in preparing oneself, and that is a daily thing. It is more important to prepare oneself to receive inspiration than it is to prepare matter for either speaking or writing. And inspired utterance carries the power of inspiration with it; it in turn inspires others. One should have a well stored mind; and I have always read widely on all kinds of topics. Life is varied, and should be considered from as many angles as possible. One learns to become tolerant as the years go on; kindly towards contrary opinions, there is some truth in all opinions, and it is that we need to get at.
Fifty years! it seems such a long time in prospect and such a little dot in retrospect. I shall not continue as long again, but I hope to be privileged to share my thoughts and inspirations with my fellows for many years yet. All this work has been a labour of love, for no psychic journal has ever been able to pay its contributors. But there is a payment which, if not in the coin of the realm, is in the gold of spiritual enlightenment. And that is the better part which cannot be taken away.