Possibly one of the most recognized Spiritualists is the star of Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo. She claims that spirits began coming to her when she was just four years old. For many years, Caputo says she struggled with anxiety until she became a student of Pat Longo, a spiritual healer/ teacher who taught her about her ability to communicate with spirits. Since that time, Caputo has gone on to build a career out of her unique abilities and now tours the United States providing people with spiritual readings. When she is not touring she lives with her family in Long Island.
Spiritualism is a modernist movement that grew out of Hydesville, NY in 1848. Spiritualism centers on communication with the spirits of the dead. In the 19th century séances were performed to connect with these people. Today, we communicate with spirits through people who have a special skill set called mediums, like Theresa Caputo.
There are three ways the mediums can receive messages. Clairvoyance which is seeing spirits. Clairaudience which is hearing spirits, and clairsentience which is sensing spirits in some other way.
Spiritualism does not have a sacred text. Although all Spiritualists have a variety of beliefs most believe in the following key ideas:
- the spirit can communicate with the living
- every human soul survives death of body and enters the spirit world
- souls can communicate with the living through a medium
- souls are interested in the material world
- souls are aware and interested in the lives they have left behind
- after death a soul can keep learning and improving itself
Specifically, the United States’ National Association of Spiritualist Churches has nine core principles:
- belief in infinite intelligence
- belief that nature is a physical and spiritual expression of infinite intelligence
- a correct understanding of the expression of infinite intelligence and living in accordance with that expression constitutes true religion
- communication with spirits is a fact
- the highest morality is contained in the Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you do ye also unto them.”
- every individual has moral responsibility and is responsible for their own happiness
- reformation of the soul never stops
- belief in the prophecy and healing contained in all sacred texts
The number of practicing Spiritualists is unknown, but the BBC reports that Spiritualism is the eight largest religion in the UK.
There are Spiritualist churches where Spiritualism is practiced. There is a service held every Sunday that usually consists of prayers, hymns, and a reading or talk from a medium who connects the physical world to the spiritual world.
Naturally, the validity of this practice is controversial and there are many skeptics of Spiritualism. Although many may not consider Spiritualism a religion, Spiritualism has “rituals, doctrinal components, belief in a transcendent realm and an experiential dimension,” according to the BBC. Spiritualists have two main churches, one in the United Kingdom called the Spiritualists’ National Union and in the United States called the National Association of Spiritualist Churches.