• A Sudden Light Interior

Spiritualism

spiritualismWhen I was kid, my buddy, Doug Fleming, and I did a lot of exploring Seattle.  We’d take the #5 Phinney bus downtown and prowl the Pike Place Market to discover new things and eat new foods.  And we’d always visit our favorite magic store on a lower level of the Market.  I loved that store.  I loved magic.  I tried to learn some stuff and buy some tricks, but I didn’t like performing magic; I liked watching it.  I liked believing in it.  I grew up reading about Houdini; I learned how to pick a very basic lock.  I spent many late nights on the Ouija board with my friends and cousins; you can tell me the Ouija board is fake, but I won’t believe you.

When I began reading about Spiritualism in the 19th Century and how many successful and ordinary people used mediums regularly and thought nothing of readings and séances, I was intrigued.  When I learned the history of Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelt’s chief lieutenant in the conservation movement, I was enthralled.  It’s interesting how different times and cultures deal with the idea of the afterlife; the one thing that remains constant is our fascination with it.


From A Sudden Light

page 194.
“Automatic writing…It was popular in the days of Spiritualism. Around the turn of the twentieth century, people believe in many things like this. They had seances, read tarot cards, conjured spirits. Respectable people. Presidents, even. People hoped their loved ones could speak to them again, and mediums could provide this service, or at least pretend to. The mediums would claim to channel a spirit, and the spirit would write through them. It was called automatic writing.”


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