Table of contents:
- World celebrities strongly fueled belief in spiritualism
- Exposing Spiritists and Mediums
- Passion for Ouija boards
When the influenza pandemic began in 1918, many people really wanted instant answers to their questions. They were interested not only in why it all happened and when it would finally end. For the most part, everyone was extremely curious, but what is there, beyond the threshold of being? What happens to us after we leave for another world and what kind of world is this actually? Is it possible to communicate with deceased loved ones?
Of course, the global pandemic was not the only reason that stimulated this search for the meaning of life and death. World War I, recently ended, resulted in the deaths of more than twenty million people. It was certainly overwhelming, but the flu has claimed the lives of more than fifty million human lives! In both cases, they were young people, they were mostly not over forty. There remained inconsolable parents who buried their children, grief-stricken spouses and orphans. It is not surprising that on such a soil such a passion as spiritualism flourished. He suddenly began to rise from the ashes of oblivion in the USA, Great Britain, France and many other countries. Many people wanted to look, at least out of the corner of their eye, to where earthly life ends and life beyond the grave begins.
World celebrities strongly fueled belief in spiritualism
Two of the most prominent proponents of Spiritualism were the British: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Oliver Lodge. The creator of the genius Sherlock Holmes and the physicist known for his serious work, could you find two more respected people to advertise?
Both of these men have had a long interest in the supernatural, and both lost their sons in the war. Lodge's son, Raymond, was hit by a shell fragment during the fighting in Belgium in 1915. Doyle's son, Kingsley, was injured in France in 1916 and died of pneumonia in 1918, probably caused by an influenza pandemic. Doyle also lost his younger brother to the flu in 1919, and his wife's brother was killed in Belgium in 1914.
After the war, both men lectured in the United States and also wrote books describing their psychic experiences. Lodge's book, published in 1916, was called Raymond, or Life or Death. In it, he described numerous alleged contacts with his dead son. Lodge and his wife turned to various mediums who practiced techniques for communicating with the spirits of the dead, such as automatic writing and table tilting.
In automatic writing, the spirit guided the medium's hand to record the message from the spirits of the dead. Another technique was as follows: the participants in the session sat at the table, and the medium pronounced the alphabet and when he called a certain letter, the table tilted. Thus, the text of the message was sequentially recorded. There were "specialists" who went into trance and the dead spoke directly through them.
The mediums convinced Lodge and his wife that Raymond was in contact with them. Through them, he talked about his afterlife, describing it as a blooming garden with various animals and birds. Raymond told through the spirits how he felt good, how happy he was. Of course, what kind of parents would not be pleased with this?
The Lodges really wanted to believe it, and they truly believed it.The whole picture was completed by the tales of the spiritualists, as if from the words of Raymond, about how he met his grandfather, brother and sister, who died in infancy and how they are all great together. It was said that those who lost an arm or a leg in the war restored them miraculously. Those who were torn apart by mines took a long time to recover, but in the end, they found their bodies anew.
Lodge told reporters in 1920: “I am in constant contact with Raymond and the other soldiers who died in the war. They did not die in the spiritual sense of the word. They tell me that life there is almost the same as here, only better."
Arthur Conan Doyle had a similar relationship with his deceased son. The session of spiritualism at which he "communicated" with his son, the writer called "the highest degree of his spiritual experience." According to his recollections, it was as if someone's big strong hand stroked his head. Then Conan Doyle felt a kiss on his forehead, just above his brow. The writer asked his son if he was happy on the other side, and the spirit answered in the affirmative.
Doyle told reporters about the same thing as Lodge. The son is happy, he is incomparably better there, and so on. This is a world without pain, tears, crime and all kinds of evil. The writer also claimed that he was familiar with many mothers who communicated with their dead sons. For Doyle and Lodge, as for any father, it was important to know that their children were good where they went. They were convinced of this. This, unfortunately, gave an impetus to very many people who were not clean in their hands, to deceive the unfortunate, who lost people dear to their hearts. Grieving relatives have become an endless source of profit for such dishonest people.
Exposing Spiritists and Mediums
This dirty business has reached incredible proportions. Harry Houdini, a famous illusionist, could not accept this state of affairs. At all costs, he decided to prove that all these mediums and spiritualists are nothing more than swindlers and swindlers who profit from the grief of people.
Despite his many years of friendship with Conan Doyle, Houdini exposed deception and swindling mediums with might and main. The illusionist had a deep knowledge of how to perform various tricks. He was extremely fond of revealing to people the secrets of his magic tricks, which in fact were not any magic. Therefore, there was no greater skepticism about spiritualism than the great Houdini. He attended seances, communicated with various mediums and exposed them. None of the sessions could deceive Maestro Houdini.
"In his book The Wizard Among Spirits, Harry wrote:" After twenty-five years of deep research and incredible efforts, I declare that no connection between our world and the world of spirits has been proven in any session."
In 1926, Harry Houdini was summoned to a committee of the United States Congress to testify. At that time, they were considering a bill to ban the activities of mediums, fortune-tellers and clairvoyants in Washington. This whole "magic" crowd was so aggressively opposed to Houdini that later, this kind of "mafia" was attributed to involvement in the death of the illusionist. No wonder, because he proved that these scammers steal millions of dollars a year from the pockets of gullible citizens. Houdini also debunked palmists and astrologers.
Passion for Ouija boards
For those Americans who did not have the money or the desire to turn to professionals, they came up with the "Ouija board". This is a kind of a set for conducting spiritualistic seances on your own. The board was invented back in 1890, but real fame came to it in the 20s of the last century.
At first glance, this board is just a harmless toy. But, as it turned out, not for everyone. As a result of using this board, many people ended up in psychiatric clinics, or, to put it simply, went crazy.Some even committed suicide. The director of one of the psychiatric hospitals said that this is such a peculiar natural selection, because the Earth is threatened by a crisis of overpopulation. He also stated that the Ouija board contributes to the development of psychosis in the best possible way, better than all mediums and fortune-tellers combined. Houdini, too, saw the Ouija board as the first step to madness.
Of course, there were those who claimed to have had contact with their deceased relatives. In support, they told various stories about what the dead told them.
The heightened interest in spiritualism persisted for over a decade. The Second World War put an actual end to it.
Read about the passion for such practices in Russia in our article an epidemic of "elders" and gurus in pre-revolutionary Russia, or what connects Rasputin, Tolstoy and Blavatsky.