Looking for the Spiritualist Basics book? You'll find it here.
Articles about Spiritualism
If you are interested in Spiritualist and occult writings from way back when, then you'll probably like the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals (IAPSOP). The site covers the time period from the 1840s to the start of the Second World War.
I explored the August 1882 issue of Gallery of Spirit Art, and found a poem about spirit art that was written through mediumship (page 10). Interesting reading. The site is primarily intended for historical research, and if you want to know more about how to use the materials, including copyright, check their practices page.
According to the IAPSOP site, the materials are provided in curated, digital form, already indexed, suitable for online reading, scholarly use and citation. They receive no funds from any organization, and rely exclusively on the contribution of material, labor and money from users. So help them out, if you can.
I've been a member of the Yahoo Spiritualist Group for many years now. For the last several years, I haven't done much with it at all. But someone nudged me a little bit and I got to reading some of the posts again. Someone was interested in Spiritualism but was a bit unsure about how to go forward with it. I took it as an opportunity to help, so I responded as follows:
I do not propose to have all the answers, but I do have some ideas and views that might help. As far as the question of wanting to be a Spiritualist goes, we should probably define it. I always had problems explaining what Spiritualism was to people who had no background in it, so I came up with my personal definition, as follows:
Spiritualists have three major attributes: a belief in God, which is left undefined and is the God of your understanding, a belief in Natural Law, the most common example of which is "what goes around, comes around", and a belief in spirit communication.
I would say that this quick definition barely covers some of the core and is not comprehensive, but it is still useful. It's something you can say to someone in three minutes, which in some cases, is all the time you're going to get. 🙂 I'd say it reflects the term as it is commonly used in the US and the UK (at least). In other countries (such as African ones), I've seen "Spiritualist" used to refer to anyone with a belief in spirit communication, and that's probably too broad for us to work with.
My theory is that if you can call yourself a Spiritualist based on the quick definition, then you'd probably be considered a Spiritualist in many/most places described above. Perhaps the biggest point of departure in Spiritualism is around atonement and Jesus. I would say that purest Spiritualism does not believe in vicarious atonement, nor in Jesus as savior. Jesus as medium, yes. Jesus as teacher and healer yes. But not savior, and not God - at least not any more God than the rest of us. Believing in vicarious atonement and Jesus beyond what I've said here is likely to be a variation of purest Spiritualism. Plenty of religions have variations, and Spiritualism has them too. I would still consider these variations as Spiritualism because they're still they're a lot closer to purest Spiritualism than many other religions we could easily name.
As far as the declaration of principles goes, there are plenty of variations of it too, as has been discussed in this thread. My view is that I like the NSAC version in the US more than some of the others, as it seems to speak more directly to the quick definition above. I wouldn't necessarily discount the other versions, I just happen to like the NSAC one better. My perspective is that I worry less about the words than the truth behind the words. As long as there's harmony between my beliefs and the truth behind the words, I'm ok. Some of the non-NSAC declarations leave me a bit curious as to what the truth behind the words is, but that's ok, because I can just ask. One thing I've learned from Spiritualism is that if you're not sure, ask.
I think that part of what you're asking is that if you're a Spiritualist, what do you "do", how do you "practice"? Spiritualism isn't terribly big on ritual and structured practice, and that can make it frustrating for people who are looking for it and/or expect it. Since there's so little of it, my idea would be to seek the company of like minded people. That could involve going to a Spiritualist church, or hanging out with a group of people that you discuss spiritual topics with, or both, or perhaps a number of other things. It depends on what you want, what you seek out, and what you encounter along the way. I've done it this way for many years now, and it's worked for me.
You know, when I started writing the above post, I wondered about whether to put the time and effort into it. I have put similar efforts into the group postings in the past and didn't get much response back, and after doing that several times, it made me wonder if it was worth it.
But I did it. And the group member said that it was enlightening and helped him understand a lot more. That made me feel great. Instantly worth it.
Experiences like this keep you going.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Hydesville is Southeast of Rochester, NY (US). It's the foundation point for Modern Spiritualism, and is where the Fox sisters heard raps from a deceased peddler. The town of Palmyra is nearby. It is the foundation point for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), (a.k.a. the Mormons), and is where Joseph Smith talked with the angel Moroni and discovered the plates, which became the book of Mormon.
Lily Dale is in Cassadaga, NY, which is about two hours drive from Rochester, and it is the capital of Spiritualism in the US.
The Genessee river runs through the middle of Rochester, and it flows from South to North, which is a rarity on our planet. (In addition to the Nile, there are other rivers that flow from South to North.)
Do these spiritual influences and the geography of the region somehow go together? I'm not sure, but I'd like to know.
The Fox sisters lived in a small cottage in Hydesville, which is a very small town that is Southeast of Rochester, New York (US). They heard spirit raps in the cottage, and learned how to communicate with the spirit there, who was a peddler who had been murdered in the house years before. The news of their ability to communicate spread like wildfire and became the catalyst event for the foundation of Modern Spiritualism. Here is an excellent first-person account of their experience, and a historical account that describes their lives and experiences with Spiritualism. The Lily Dale Museum has items from the Fox family.
The House in Hydesville is a play that just finished running in the Geva Theatre in Rochester. I went to see it. The acting was excellent, and the stage was well done. It's a beautiful place. There's not a bad seat in the house, and it was two or three seats short of a sellout.
As a Spiritualist, I found the story very disappointing. On the way out, one of my spirit folks said "Skeptics win on this one", and that describes it quite accurately. I wouldn't suggest it to anyone.
This may be good for kids who are dealing with a death situation, but I would read it myself first, just to be sure I was comfortable before offering it.