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Communicating with the Dead (Original)

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Author Topic: Communicating with the Dead (Original)  (Read 4256 times)
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« Reply #195 on: January 19, 2008, 03:22:51 pm »

Sandra Taylor

Member # 2492

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   posted 07-21-2005 10:27 PM                       
The Fox Sisters and the Spiritualism Movement

Margaretta and Kate Fox

The Spiritualism movement began with what Allen Kardec termed typtology. Typtology is a mode of spirit communication in which spirits lift and tilt a table during a seance to produce rapping sounds. In organized seances, a number of people would sit around a table, hold hands, concentrate, and ask questions of the spirits. The spirits would then answer their questions through a series of raps, or knocks, similar to someone knocking on a door. In order to question the spirits, sometimes a simple yes or no would be indicated by a prescribed number of knocks. In another method, called alphabetical typtology, letters of the alphabet were recited and when the letter that the spirit wanted to draw attention to was called, a rap could be heard; thus spelling out words, sentences, and so on. Using this method, it was possible to hold lengthy, detailed conversations with the mysterious entities responsible for spirit-rapping.

The first recorded spirit-rapping began in America in 1848 with the playful efforts of Margaretta and Kate Fox to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Much to their astonishment, they succeeded in establishing a ghostly dialogue with the spirit of Charles Haynes. Using rapping noises as its means of communication, Hayne's spirit conveyed the message that he had been killed and buried in the basement of their home. When bones were found in their basement, what had begun as innocent fun became a sensation. From these humble beginnings, what came to be known as the Spiritualism movement took root and grew to international proportions. As a result of their spiritualistic activities, the Fox sisters were condemned and lived in constant danger. They were attacked by religious fanatics in their community, and besieged by angry mobs several times. They were also exploited, and eventually betrayed by their own sister, Leah, who was said to have been the beneficiary of most of the donations collected from those who came to the Fox sisters for spiritual counseling.

As the spiritualism movement got underway in America and Europe, the strange but well-documented manifestations of spirit communication such as spirit-rapping and seance channeling were regarded as weird and unexplainable events. The great majority of Americans and Europeans viewed it as nothing more than a bizarre form of entertainment. For those who took the spirit communications seriously, however, it quickly became apparent that something more was happening. Many of the messages received from the spirits were discovered to be quite accurate. In addition to the messages, other phenomena were being witnessed and verified by many of the most credible individuals in American and European society. By 1854, spirit-directed paranormal phenomenon had reached the level of an intradimensional invasion. Leading spiritualists in the United States decided that it was time to undertake an official investigation. The erudite and well-respected spiritualists petitioned Congress to appoint a scientific commission to investigate the perplexing paranormal phenomenon that had been witnessed by so many people.

The petition entitled 'A Memorial' described the phenomenon produced by the spirits in great detail. The object of the investigation was described in the petition as: 1) an occult force, exhibited in sliding, raising, arresting, holding, suspending, and otherwise disturbing, numerous ponderable bodies, apparently in direct opposition to the acknowledged laws of matter, and altogether transcending the accredited powers of the human mind; 2) lights of various forms and colors, and of different degrees of intensity, which appear in dark rooms, where no substances exist, which are liable to develop a chemical action or phosphorescent illumination, and in the absence of all the means and instruments whereby electricity is generated or combustion produced; 3) sounds which are extremely frequent in their occurrence, widely diversified in their character, and more or less significant in their import; and 4) how the functions of the human body and mind are often and strangely influenced in what appear to be certain abnormal states of the system, and by causes which are neither adequately defined nor understood.

This document was delivered by the former governor of Wisconsin, Nathaniel Tallmadge, to Senator James Shields to be presented before Congress. Much to the consternation of the petitioners, Shields scorned the spiritualists by saying, "the prevalence of this delusion at this age of the world, among any considerable portion of our citizens, must originate, in my opinion, in a defective system of education, or in a partial derangement of the mental faculties, produced by a diseased condition of the physical organization. I cannot, therefore, believe that it prevails to the extent indicated in this petition." Responding to Shield's criticism, Eliab Capron, a chronicler of the spiritualism movement, wrote, "It is not probable that any of the Memorialists expected more favorable treatment than they received. The carpenters and fishermen of this world are the ones to investigate new truths, and make senates and crowns believe and respect them. It is in vain to look for the reception or respect of new truths by men in high places." The widely documented and verified invasion of the spirits described above never received a plausible explanation and is still regarded as a mystery.

In the fifty years that elapsed between the publication of Kardec's books and the incorporation of the Union, the spiritualism movement declined in the United States and Europe. Numerous scandals undermined the credibility of some of its foremost proponents. By 1888, both of the Fox sisters confessed that they were cheats. In fact, both sisters had developed serious drinking problems over the years. At the behest of her sister Leah, Kate Fox's children were taken from her by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and placed in foster care. This act led to a great deal of bitterness and anger against Leah by both Margaretta and Kate. Feeling exploited and betrayed by their sister Leah, who had collected and spent the great majority of the money paid to them...Margaretta and Kate appeared publicly at the New York Academy of Music. Margaretta confessed that she had made all the rapping noises that fostered the movement by means of a double-jointed big toe. Kate remained silent and would neither confirm nor deny the confession of her sister. It was later learned that a reporter had offered $1,500 to them if they would confess and give him an exclusive on the story. Desperate for money and liquor, the sisters apparently agreed, and then proceeded to drink their earnings away. Margaretta recanted her confession in writing shortly before she died in 1895. Kate never recanted, and died shortly afterwards. Both sisters were buried in pauper's graves.
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