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The Fox Sisters and the Spiritualism Movement

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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2009, 01:06:50 am »

Saints, Sinners and Reformers
The Burned-Over District Re-Visited

John H. Martin
Table of Contents of Saints, Sinners and Reformers
Chapter 10
The Fox Sisters
Communicating with the Beyond:
Spiritualism and the Lily Dale Community

The year 1848 was an eventful one in western New York. That year the first Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York; John Humphrey Noyes began his community in Oneida, New York, based on Bible communism and "Complex Marriage;" and Orson Fowler issued his book on octagon houses and built his sixty-room octagonal mansion in Fishkill, New York. That same year a new semi-religious experience welled up in Hydesville, New York, when spiritualism became of major interest to a number of Americans. The "ouija board" of later times grew out of this new spiritualist movement which began in the Burned-Over District of New York since spiritualism and the use of the ouija board purportedly granted one the ability to converse with the spirits of another world.

Spiritualism was not really a new phenomena, since from times immemorial there have been claims that one could converse with those who were no longer alive, and even with angels and other supernatural entities, as various saints and even Jemima Wilkinson had done. Jemima in America was not alone, for in 1827 Joseph Smith claimed to have been visited by the angel Moroni who indicated the location of some inscribed golden tablets which Smith then said he had deciphered by means of magic spectacles given to him by the angel Moroni, who thereafter removed the tablets from this world. Not to be outdone, in 1837 in Niskayuna, just outside of Albany, New York, certain adolescent girls in the Shaker community there took to shaking and whirling and claiming to have taken spiritual journeys to Heaven and to have talked with angels. The following year the Shaker community at New Lebanon, New York, also reported contacts with spiritual beings, ranging from Jesus to Mother Ann, the founder of American Shakerism, to the Biblical apostles, as well as Alexander the Great, George Washington, Napoleon, and William Penn among others.
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