Many people believe they can contact the dead in the afterlife.
A medium, a person who claims to have the ability to communicate with the spirits of the deceased, often performs a seance. The seance involves a group of people gathering together with the express purpose of contacting the dead. In many cases, a bereaved person may wish to speak to a loved one who has recently passed away, or it may be that the group simply wishes to summon any spirit, and question them about their existence, both on earth and in the afterlife.
THE RISE OF SPIRITUALISM..
In the West, this belief is known as spiritualism. It may be connected with religious belief, especially Christianity, which teaches the resurrection of the dead. However, in some cases, spiritualists have no systematic religious beliefs, they simply think that all of us continue to live after death in the spiritual world.
The growth of spiritualism as a belief system and practice dates from the mid-19th century.
At this period, because of the romantic movement in art and literature, there was a strong interest in the supernatural, the Gothic and horror stories of all kinds. It was thought that the spirits of the dead could teach the living about a higher plane of existence, and that they could act as "Spirit Guides"
giving us moral and practical advice about our lives. It was also believed that the spirits them selves were continuing to develop and improve in the afterlife, so that they came nearer to the state of "Infinite Intelligence" is how spiritualist describe God, as a moving force in the universe, expressed through the wonder and beauty of the natural world around us..
RELIGIOUS FREENZY..Spiritualism as a movement, first appeared in upstate New York in the 1840's.
Historically, settlers has flocked to the lands that were previously the stronghold of the Iroquois Native Americans, and religious and social radicals had begun to form communities dedicated to new way of living. These ranged from one extreme to another. For example, there were the Shakers, who advocated celibacy, and in the opposite corner, the Oneida Community, who wanted to establish free love: The region's reputation for religious frenzy, and people who wanted to sweep away the old social order and bring in the new, earned it the name of the Burned Over District. There were all manner of sects operating in the area at the time, including followers of Jermima Wilkinson, who was thought to be the female reincarnation of Christ, Charles Grandison Finney, a Presbyterian preacher leading a revivalist movement in what because known as the second great awakening, and William Miller, an early pioneer of the Adventist belief in the day of judgement. In addition, the Mormon church of the Latter Day Saints was also building up a big following in the region. Because of the number of religious communities in the area, many believed that direct communication with God, Angels and Ghosts was possible true...
SENSATION AND SHOWMANSHIP..Into the melting pot of evangelical fervour came the spiritualists, who took their cue from earlier writers such as Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer, Swedenborg had written about his visions of the afterlife, describing it in detail. He claimed that, rather than a simple heaven or hell, there were a series of planes of existence in the afterlife and that spirits dwelling in these planes can be contacted by the living. Moreover, he taught that the spirits are often conduits for God, being used by Him as a means of communicating to those of us still on earth. Franz Mesmer, for his part, contributed a method of contacting the spirit. He taught that a state of trance could be induced in a person that would render them accessible to contact by supernatural beings. This technique, called Mesmerism, later because known as hypnotism. The early proponents of Mesmerism carred out their public exhibitions with a great deal of showmanship, as did many of the revivalist sects, who made a great spectacle out of baptism ritual and speaking in tongues.