Delving Into the History of the Occult

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Looking At Spiritualism Through Time

The occult is widely known as an ancient and secret philosophy or belief in Western civilisation. This practice was birthed from a touch of Hellenistic magic and a touch of Jewish mysticism-using the Kabbala which is a mystical interpretation of the Torah. These have been familiar with European scholars since the Middle Ages and were also linked with the Hermetic texts during the Renaissance. Together, these two traditions formed Hermetism, which incorporated both theory and practical magic (this was seen as good magic). In the 17th century, alchemy was introduced as part of this practice. A secret brotherhood formed, specialising in alchemy and teaching the practice to its followers. 


Fast forwarding into the 18th century, a Freemasons group began taking up Hermetism, as Freemasonry had no such practices within itself. This became increasingly popular within the 19th century when society began questioning orthodox religious beliefs, and as a result, bringing the occult into light. Within the 19th century, however, Hermetism changed into something we now know as Spiritualism, hence spiritual mediums. 


The term ‘Spiritualism’ was coined in the 1850s and was inspired by two sisters in New York who claimed to hear rapping noises from within their walls, alluding to the fact that spirits were in their house. 

Persecution Through Time

There has been a lot of negativity throughout time regarding Spiritualism, dating way back to c. 300. 


During this time, magic was linked to paganism, the label Christian missionaries used to shed a negative light on the religious beliefs of Celtic, Germanic, and Scandinavian customs. Church leaders also appropriated and Christianised native practices and beliefs of their native tribes. 


In Salem, Massachusetts during the 17th century many people were prosecuted for being thought of as Witches. The Christian community thought that witches would harm other people in an attempt to gain their loyalty. 


In 1898, the Roman Catholic Church spoke against Spiritualism, expressing their thoughts of making Spiritualism a religion dangerous. 

Famous People Who Dabbled In Spiritualism Throughout Time

  1. Thomas Edisos: After inventing the phonograph, he wanted to create a ‘Spirit Phone’ to communicate with the dead. 
  2. Mae West: A popular performer, writer and activist of her time, Mae West’s severe abdominal pain was healed by a Spiritualist healer. 
  3. Queen Victoria: After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria became increasingly interested in Spiritualism in an attempt to communicate with her late husband. It is said that she held seances in Buckingham Palace to gain advice off of Prince Albert on political matters. 
  4. Mary Todd Lincoln: When former President Abraham Lincoln died, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln desperately tried to get in contact with him with the use of seances. It is said that this was not the first time she had done this, as she tried three years before when her son died. 

Taking a journey through time to find out how society has reacted to Spiritualism has been nothing short of interesting. We can now see that many of our leaders have dabbled.

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July 20, 2022 |

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