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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

spiritualism (sometimes with an initial capital, to denote the formal church) There is confusion in the use of this term. More correctly, it would be reserved for designating one who follows the religion which teaches that ghosts can be summoned up by spirit mediums and communicated with, and that these ghosts can even touch, move, and physically affect objects and persons.
      It began with the performances of the Fox sisters and is still an important religion in England. The correct term for one who merely believes in calling up spirits, asking them questions and receiving inane answers, could be spiritist. However, the longer word is more impressive and now almost universally used.
      The oldest spiritualist group still in existence is the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, which dates from 1893. In the United States, the National Spiritualist Alliance was founded in 1913.

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