SPIRITISM as a theory, a science, a practice, a religion, or--I might

add--a profitable business venture, is considered an evil thing by the

Church, and by her is condemned as superstition, that is, as a false

and unworthy homage to God, belittling His majesty and opposed to the

Dispensation of Christ, according to which alone God can be worthily

honored. This evil has many names; it includes all dabbling in the

tural against the sanction of Church authority, and runs a whole

gamut of "isms" from fake trance-mediums to downright diabolical


The craft found favor with the pagans and flourished many years before

the Christian era. Wondrous things were wrought by the so-called

pythonic spirit; evidently outside the natural order, still more

evidently not by the agency of God, and of a certainty through the

secret workings of the "Old Boy" himself. It was called Necromancy, or

the Black Art. It had attractions for the Jews and they yielded to some

extent to the temptation of consulting the Python. For this reason

Moses condemned the evil as an abomination. These are his words, taken

from Deuteronomy:

"Neither let there be found among you any one that consulteth

soothsayers, or observeth dreams and omens; neither let there be any

wizard, nor charmer, nor any one that consulteth pythonic spirits or

fortune tellers, or that seeketh the truth from the dead. For the Lord

abhorreth all these things; and for these abominations He will destroy


The Black Art had its votaries during the Middle Ages and kept the

Church busy warning the faithful against its dangers and its evils.

Even so great a name as that of Albert the Great has been associated

with the dark doings of the wizard, because, no doubt, of the marvelous

fruits of his genius and deep learning, which the ignorant believed

impossible to mere human agency. As witchcraft, it nourished during the

sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The excesses to which it gave rise

caused severe laws to be enacted against it and stringent measures were

taken to suppress it. Many were put to death, sometimes after the most

cruel tortures. As is usually the case, the innocent suffered with the

guilty. The history of the early New England settlers makes good

reading on the subject.

Some people claim that the spiritism of to-day is only a revival of

old-time witchery and necromancy, that it is as prevalent now as it was

then, perhaps more prevalent. "Only," as Father Lambert remarks, "the

witch of to-day instead of going to the stake as formerly, goes about

as Madam So-and-So, and is duly advertised in our enlightened press as

the great and renowned seeress or clairvoyant, late from the court of

the Akoorid of Swat, more recently from the Sublime Porte, where she

was in consultation with the Sultan of Turkey, and more recently still

from the principal courts of Europe. As her stay in the city will be

brief, those who wish to know the past or future or wish to communicate

with deceased friends, are advised to call on her soon. Witchcraft is

as prevalent as it ever was, and the witches are as real. They may not

have cats on their shoulders or pointed caps, or broomsticks for quick

transit, but they differ from the witches of the past only in being

liberally paid, instead of liberally punished."

The Church does not deny the possibility of intercourse between the

living and the souls of the dead; she goes farther and admits the fact

that such intercourse has taken place, pointing, as well she may, to

the Scriptures themselves wherein such facts are recorded. The lives of

her saints are not without proof that this world may communicate with

the unknown. And this belief forms the groundwork, furnishes the basic

principles, of Spiritism.

Nevertheless, the Church condemns all attempts at establishing such

communication between the living and the dead, or even claiming, though

falsely, such intercourse. If this is done in the name of religion, she

considers it an insult to God, Who thereby is trifled with and tempted

to a miraculous manifestation of Himself outside the ordinary channels

of revelation. As an instrument of mere human curiosity, it is

criminal, since it seeks to subject Him to the beck and call of a

creature. In case such practices succeed, there is the grave danger of

being mislead and deceived by the evil spirit, who is often permitted,

as the instrument of God, to punish guilty men. When resorted to, as a

means of relieving fools of their earnings, it is sacrilegious; and

those who support such impious humbugs can be excused from deadly sin

only on the grounds of lunacy.

Hypnotism and Mesmerism differ from Spiritism in this, that their

disciples account for the phenomena naturally and lay no claim to

supernatural intervention. They produce a sleep in the subject, either

as they claim, by the emanation of a subtile fluid from the operator's

body, or by the influence of his mind over the mind of the subject They

are agreed on this point, that natural laws could explain the

phenomenon, if these laws were well understood.

With this sort of a thing, as belonging to the domain of science and

outside her domain, the Church has nothing whatever to do. This is a

theory upon which it behooves men of science to work; they alone are

competent in the premises. But without at all encroaching on their

domain, the Church claims the right to pronounce upon the morality of

such practices and to condemn the evils that flow therefrom. So great

are these evils and dangers, when unscrupulous and ignorant persons

take to experimenting, that able and reliable physicians and statesmen

have advocated the prohibition by law of all such indiscriminate

practices. Crimes have been committed on hypnotized persons and crimes

have been committed by them. It is a dangerous power exercised by men

of evil mind and a sure means to their evil ends. It is likewise

detrimental to physical and moral health. Finally, he who subjects

himself to such influence commits an immoral act by giving up his will,

his free agency, into the hands of another. He does this willingly, for

no one can be hypnotized against his will; he does it without reason or

just motive. This is an evil, and to it must be added the

responsibility of any evil he may be made to commit whilst under this

influence. Therefore is the Church wise in condemning the

indiscriminate practice of hypnotism or mesmerism; and therefore will

her children be wise if they leave it alone. It is not superstition,

but it is a sin against man's individual liberty over which he is

constituted sole guardian, according to the use and abuse of which he

will one day be judged.