Why the Widespread Interest in Spiritism?

Spiritism has been defined as the “belief that a spirit part of humans survives death of the physical body and can communicate with the living, usually through a person who serves as a medium.”

IN 1998 a book explaining how to contact the dead became so popular in the United States that it quickly reached the top of the New York Times best-seller list.

A few years ago in Moscow, psychics and spiritistic séances became the rage with politicians and businessmen, who paid high prices for consultations.

In Brazil, television soap operas featuring spiritism draw large numbers of viewers.

For many people living in Africa or Asia, practicing spiritism is as common as bartering in the marketplace.

Why So Many Turn to Spiritism

Many turn to spiritism to find comfort after the death of loved ones. Through spirit mediums they may receive special information that seems to come from the dead. As a result, such bereaved ones are often convinced that their dead loved ones are alive and that making contact with the dead will help them to cope with their loss.

Others are attracted to spiritism because they have been told that the spirits will help them to find cures for ailments, escape the grip of poverty, be successful in romantic love, solve marital  problems, or find employment. And many others turn to spiritism simply out of curiosity.

One more reason, though, why millions of people have turned to spiritism is that they have been taught that spiritism is, as one expert in this field described it, “a supplementary religion” that stands “alongside Christianity.” The religious situation in Brazil is a case in point.

Brazil has the largest Roman Catholic population on earth, but as author Sol Biderman puts it, “millions of the faithful light candles at more than one altar and feel [that there is] no discrepancy whatsoever.” In fact, Brazil’s newsweekly Veja reported that 80 percent of those who frequent spiritistic centers in Brazil are baptized Catholics who attend Mass as well. Add to this the fact that even some clergymen participate in spiritistic gatherings, and one can see why many believers think that getting in touch with spirits for comfort and guidance is approved by God. But is it?

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Various Forms of Spiritism

The practice of spiritism may consist of consulting a spirit medium, inquiring of the dead, or looking for omens. One popular form of spiritism is divination—attempting to find out about the future or the unknown with the help of spirits. Some forms of divination are astrology, crystal-ball gazing, interpretation of dreams, palmistry, and fortune-telling with the help of tarot cards.