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Definition of a Spiritualist
By:Mackenzie Wright

Spiritualism is the belief that each person has a spirit that survives beyond death, and that spirits of the dead can continue to communicate with the living. This is usually accomplished through learned or gifted individuals known as mediums. Spiritualism is considered by some to be a religion, by others to be a philosophy, and by others to be an art and a science rolled into one. Someone who practices and embraces Spiritualism is considered a Spiritualist.

History
While Spiritualism is often referred to as a modern movement, it is actually rooted in ancient beliefs and practices. Many ancient cultures believed the spirits of their dead continued to walk among them. Egyptians would put a deceased person's worldly belongings into his tomb with him in case the spirit wanted his possessions in the afterlife. In tribal religions of Europe and the Americas, food was left out to appease the spirits of the dead. Modern Spiritualism became a movement in the 1840s as people began to devise practices, such as seances, in order to contact the dead.

Beliefs
Spiritualists believe God's law is found less in scripture and dogma than in the laws of nature, and in positive attitudes such as love, harmony and peace. Spiritualists are more concerned with the spirits of both the dead and the living than with specific ideas about God. They believe that they have a sensitivity to the vibrations and energy transmitted by the spirit world. This sensitivity enables them to act as facilitators, so that they can deliver messages or channel energy for helpful causes.

Communications
Communication with the dead can take many forms. Some Spiritualists perform seances, during which a group of people gather to contact spirits with the help of a medium. A medium may channel the dead by allowing the spirit to speak through her, or relay messages. Many mediums do not speak directly with all dead spirits; they have spirit guides or angels of their own with whom they form a bond, and the messages from the dead spirits are obtained through these guides. Some spiritualists use automatic writing. The medium goes into a trance state with a pen and paper in hand and scribbles messages and images from the spirit.

Healing
Healing is another common practice of Spiritualists. Spiritualists consider everything to be made up of energy. Illness indicates an imbalance of energy, so the Spiritualist healer attempts to transmit the appropriate energy to restore balance to the body to activate the healing process. They may also attempt to remove subconscious blocks from a person that might be causing the body to malfunction. The healer may do this with his own energy, or through mediumship by transmitting energies from his guides or the spirit world.

Opponents
Skeptics claim that there is simply no existing evidence to prove any claims of spiritual survival after death, or that communication with spirits is possible. They also debunk any alternative healing practices that Spiritualists employ. They believe the entire movement was founded on frauds trying to gain fame or wealth by exploiting those who grieved for lost loved ones or feared death. Many Christians view Spiritualism as a dangerous practice that the Bible warns against. Their belief is that any spirits that humans might attempt to communicate with can only be deceptive demons or evil spirits.