Spiritualism, Inspiration and Trance

Since the beginning of time people have spoken about being “inspired” to do something but what does it mean to be “inspired” and how does Spiritualism view “inspiration?” 

One definition of inspiration from Webster is: “…a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.”  Creative people have often spoken of receiving inspiration for their works, including Mozart who wrote: “When all goes well with me…the thoughts come streaming in upon me fluently; whence or how is more than I can tell.” 

Spiritualism itself owes much of its early success and growth to great inspirational speakers and writers.  Many people were brought into Spiritualism by the inspired lectures of early Spiritualist orators such as Cora L. V. Richmond, who was known as the Orator of Modern Spiritualism and Emma Hardinge-Britten, known as the Silver Tongued Lecturer.

As Spiritualism grew many Spiritualists began studying these phenomena in order to distinguish “inspirational speaking or writing” from speaking or writing from the person’s own mind.           One of these early pioneers was Judge John Worth Edmonds who proposed several ways of knowing if inspirational writing/speaking was authentic including: “…the medium is speaking in a language unknown to him…conveying distinct thought and utters proper sentences…understood by those who are acquainted with the language” and “He prophesies events which are to happen and which do happen…in regards to matters with which he has no connection…or knowledge.”

Judge Edmonds, along with other researchers like Hudson Tuttle, concluded that inspirational speaking or writing depend not only on the assistance received from the Spirit World but on the medium’s own training and discipline in the pursuit of higher connection.

Hudson Tuttle believed that “…an inspirational speaker is one who is in more of less sensitive condition, and therefore able to receive the thoughts of spirits.”    This applies to inspirational writing as well.

Inspirational writing can be broken down into two distinct categories: independent and automatic writing.  In independent writing, the writing is produced many times without visible physical contact with the medium and sometimes without writing material.  Slate writing, in which writing is produced when two slates are put together with or without a writing instrument in between and having no contact with the medium, is considered independent writing.

In automatic writing, the medium has contact with the writing material and produces messages in a dissociative state.  In one well-documented demonstration of automatic writing, the famous medium Mrs. Lenora Piper wrote with both hands simultaneously while holding a conversation and all three communications were on a different subject!

Many great books have been written by inspirational writing including most of the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis.  For fifteen months Davis dictated one of his greatest works, The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and A Voice to Mankind, while in an inspired trance.

Hudson Tuttle talked about the medium being in a “sensitive condition” or a trance state and receiving information from the Spirit World which he then imparted to others but what is trance and how does it work in inspired speaking/writing? 

Trance, in the Spiritualist view, is being under direct hypnotic control of a discarnate spirit and in this state, being able to reveal information that they could not have obtained by normal means.  There are several ways this might occur including telepathy in which the thought from the entity is conveyed directly to the mind of the medium or, more rarely, by direct control in which the entity controls the medium’s body completely.

Not only have many of Spiritualism’s greatest works been composed from this entranced state but many of the great books of other religions as well including the religion based on the inspired writings of Swedenborg and the Koran which was written from the inspired revelations of the prophet Mohammed.  There are many instances of inspired writing in the Bible and indeed many people consider the Bible itself to be inspired writing. 

It is clear that much of our human spiritual history, including the religion of Spiritualism, has been influenced by inspiration from the Spirit World and, as Spiritualists, we believe that our spiritual future will be influenced by higher inspiration as well.          


Find out more about Spiritualism, Inspiration and Trance or about Spiritualism in general.

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