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The New Dispensation

On March 31 1848, a strange phenomena was experienced by two young girls in Hydesville, New York. On retiring for the night they heard strange "rapping" sounds which they believed to be their mother or father trying to scare them as an early April Fool's Day prank. Katie and Margaretta Fox did clap in response and then, to their surprise, found that the raps responded with similar responses. The girls nicknamed the phenomena as Mr Splitfoot and called their mother. With the aid of their mother they believed they had connected with the Spirit of a dead peddlar and by receiving permission from the Spirit they invited over witnesses. This then resulted in a tremendous fascination of the phenomena and created the Religion of Modern Spiritualism.

As a result of the human desire for more material wealth, to manifest a better living, the Bell's (previous tenants of the house) made a choice to murder Charles B. Rosna, the pedlar, for $500.00. This does not necessarily imply that Infinite Intelligence (the Spiritualist term for what many call God) "set-up" Charles Rosna to be murdered since it is believed there would be many ways Infinite Intelligence could manifest his/her message. Rather, as a result of the Bell's choice to commit murder Infinite Intelligence saw an ideal "vehicle" to convey the message about the Spirit World.

Also emphasized here is the Natural Law of Cause and Effect and how we have been granted the power of choice. This also re-inforces that the individual is solely responsible for their actions and life, albeit Infinite Intelligence may manifest resources for their betterment or learning along the way. It is an individuals choice to forgive someone or seek revenge, it is the individuals choice to squander love and wealth, it is the individuals choice to seek a more fulfilling job or stay in one that holds them back. By the Bell's choice they activated the Law of Cause and Effect and it was seen later that Mrs Bell's health deteriorated and she lost her desire for life. This may be the consequence of her choice of breaking the "Golden Rule", and hence her Spirit "paid the penalty", which in turn manifested into ill-health. All this for a momentary pleasure of increased wealth (although $500 in 1848 was probably a significant amount). Hence, we need to remain aware of the possible consequences of our choices, especially if it directly affects another life (animal, plant or human).

After the death, Infinite Intelligence attempted to communicate through the Spirit of Charles Rosna via Lucretia (the housekeeper) experiencing raps and spirit touch. The lack of knowledge on the workings of Spirit by Lucretia (and the Bell's) was such that Lucretia was not aware of the reality of the situation. The manifestations were disregarded as dreams or rats. After the Bell's left the cottage the Weekman family became resident and again the significance of the phenomena was unrealized. Again, the hired help (Jane) saw a physical manifestation of Charles Rosna but it was disregarded as dreams and forbidden to be spoken of. Eventually true instruments of Spirit arrived in the form of Kate and Margaretta Fox, two young daughters of John and Margaret Fox. As the phenomena continued and the girls had made initial contact through clapping; it was the logic, and resolve of Mrs Fox that took charge. Mrs Fox was determined to find the source of the phenomena and by devising a series of questions confirmed the continuity of life. Mrs Fox also had the insight to get permission from Spirit to get other witnesses to support what eventually would be her testimony (April 11, 1848). After summoning neighbours Charles Rosna manifested raps to the witnesses and the era of the New Dispensation had been set in motion by Infinite Intelligence. Although the Fox family searched for the body little was found. This led to the community beginning to disbelieve the phenomena and many sought to disprove the events.

Fear from traditional religious and community leaders resulted in subjecting the sisters to humiliation and degredation. However, there was no stopping these young women based on the message they received after a family friend, Isaac Post, suggested to ask Spirit to use rap responses to spell out the alphabet (perhaps this was the forerunner of the Ouija board). However it was implemented, by using the alphabet Spirit communicated to them, in effect, to share this truth with the world and that by doing God's work they will be protected and good spirits would watch over them. From here they became known as the "Rochester Rappers" and gave demonstrations around the country. Many distinguished people were drawn to the truths offered by Spiritualism but many were either in a place of conflict or a place of ego and sought to create a life of torment for the "Rappers". Their commitment to Spirit was incredible since the pressures on them were immense from being called frauds and humiliated, to marriage partners demanding they discontinue the work. Alcoholism and depression became a familiar partner to them in their work and love often eluded them but there were a few true friends (Isaac and Emily Post) and other pioneers to assist in spreading the word from the Summerland. Kate even went to England to share with Spiritualists there, and met her husband Henry Jencken. They had a baby boy who, at 6 months, was performing automatic writing in Greek. After her husbands passing Kate settled affairs in England and returned to America.

As the New Dispensation gathered momentum more pioneers developed their "gifts" of psychometry, levitation, mediumship, materialization and organizations such as the American Society of Psychical Research and circles (New York Circle in 1851) were formed. With the interest and research growing the momentum then led to the foundation for a philosophy and in order to practice and learn many camps were formed around the country. The first camp meeting was at Pierpont Grove, Malden, Massachusetts (1866),but this continued for only 3 years and the first permanent camp was at Cape Cod in 1868 (functioning for 23 years). Camps sprang up all around the country and several are still operating today (Camp Etna ,1877 and Temple Heights, 1882).

To support the development of Spiritualism education was also a large part of what was needed if the New Dispensation was to continue and grow. The National Spiritualist Association was formed (1893) to promote the religion and temples, lecture halls and publications were created. The National Spiritualist became the official publication of the organization in 1919 (founder George Warne). Other significant publications that promoted the work of Spirit included Univercoleum, Spiritual Philosopher, Spiritual Telegraph, Christian Spiritualist, Banner of Light (later changed to Banner of Life). To educate the representatives for Spiritualism Moses Hull dedicated the Morris Pratt Institute to that cause in 1901. The promulgation of Spiritualism appears to be in place into the future through educated and dedicated workers that hold the Principles of Spirit work near and dear to their hearts. By embracing Spirit as a resource, and learning the workings of Natural Law, Spiritualists can take this Religion of Spiritualism to a completely new frontier. Spiritualism growth may not be easy, particularly with us living in the realm of the New Age, but Spiritualists, who seek the truth, are embracing all of God's manifestations and sifting out that that supports them. In addition, they teach being open to new learnings or new forms of manifestation. The previous century saw much physical phenomena and yet today it is more in the mental realm, as influenced by the industrial revolution and science. Whatever religion one embraces go forth with open minds and hearts and share your light and knowledge of the truth of Infinite Intelligence. Many souls are seeking the truth in this time of materialism, which has not been as supportive on the soul level as was thought. Financial wealth and new technologies (Internet and Cellular Technology) can give a better lifestyle or easier access to knowledge but it does not make or necessarily support the connection to Truth. Let us seek balance and share with community.

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