Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Old Rennaissance and the New

I was just thinking, while reading the amazon blurb for a book on Spiritualism and its role in early feminism ("Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth Century America" by Ann Braude), about the possibility that mass social change is conduive to paranormal phenomena. A link between the concept of liminality,anti-structure and the paranormal has often been suggested; a major exposition of the issue can be found in George Hansen's "The Trickster and the Paranormal". The rise of spiritualism in the 19th century was coincident with enormous social change: the rise of modern science, the decline of religion, women's rights and so on - by any reckoning an anti-structural scenario. The spiritual phenomena allegedly produced at this time were of an extraordinary variety: full materializations of spirits, levitation, ectoplasmic rods, independent voice, and apports to name just a few. Might it be that these spirit manifestations were so impressive as a result of the seances taking place right in the middle of widespread social flux? If there is a link between intensity of paranormal phenomena and social upheaval, then might the alleged successes of certain mediumship groups (for example the Felix Experimental Group and the Yellow Cloud Circle) in producing materializations be linked to the current state of society? Is our society in a state of change?

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you. Although I am curious to how this translates/compares with societies, cultures, religions throughout history that have a high degree of spiritualist theologies already in them. Such as the Indian and cultures and ancient civilizations. But yes, I agree with you. You can see the flux in different forms of Spiritualism in the flux of Abrahamic religions. Such as during the rise of protestantism, age of enlightenment and this new information age. I think the rise in paranormal awareness always occurs when human begin to question their beliefs and place in the universe. The search for the "other" and how we might relate to it. And thus with that, it's eventual backlash; in modern terms - fundamentalism. My question would be; Is this just the normal ebb and flow of being human, or are we as human truly changing in a permanent way. I really don't know. The long march of history tends to look like a wheel to me. What comes is what was, and what was will be again. But then maybe not? I tend to be a believer in the Spiritualist view of the great beyond. I'd be curious as to their view point of history.