Sunday, May 19, 2013

Was There a Séance on the Day of Pentecost?

May 19 was Pentecost Sunday on the Church Liturgical Calendar, a day for traditional Christians to recall the strange events occurring  on the Feast of Pentecost shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. But for those of us who see things through the spectacles of spiritualism, that day of Pentecost long ago takes on a meaning much different from the one expounded from pulpits around the world on this Sunday.

Our only source of information about what happened with the disciples that day is the Acts of the Apostles, a book in the Christian New Testament. Bear in mind that this account was written perhaps 100 years later with the unknown author (Luke by name but not the apostle Luke) acknowledging that he relies on oral tradition. Nonetheless, there are enough clues in the account to convince spiritualists that the disciples on the day of Pentecost were holding a séance!

Remember that prior to their gathering on Pentecost the disciples allegedly had been seeing materializations (apparitions) of Jesus for some time and that he had promised a spiritual event in the near future. So with this expectation in mind, they got together in a home to await the appearance of what they called the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) ­-- this term being used, according to Arthur Findlay, to describe the spirit control of a medium. Over the centuries that followed, the term was appropriated to designate one of the beings in the concocted Christian trinity.

In Acts we read, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." (Acts 2: 1-3)

The phenomena just described are often experienced in a physical mediumship circle. I myself have felt slight breezes and temperature changes in circles and I'm told that these can be much more pronounced within experienced circles sitting for physical phenomena. Botanist and Church of England clergyman George Henslow points out in his book The Religion of the Spirit World Written by the Spirits Themselves that similar winds accompanied spirit communication in the Old Testament (1920, page 203): "Behold the Lord [no doubt referring to a spirit control] passed by and a great and strong wind rent the mountain;" and "The Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind."
Spirit lights are also common in séances and in some cases they could be described as fiery lights atop the heads of sitters.

Another thing happened on the Day of Pentecost long ago that has fostered a whole movement within Christendom -- Pentecostalism. We are told that in the midst of this séance some of the disciples began "speaking in tongues," or talking in various languages. There were many present, the account explains, who were from different regions and they heard the entranced Christians speaking in their home languages -- much to their amazement.

In my youth I spent a couple of years attending a Pentecostal church and I heard many parishioners  "speaking in tongues" but I'm quite certain none of those utterances were genuine foreign languages -- instead they were merely babbling gibberish pouring out of an ecstatic worshiper.  However, on the Day of Pentecost we're told that foreign languages were heard. As any student of the history of mediumship knows, there have been many monolingual mediums who have fluently spoken in trance both modern and ancient languages with which they have no acquaintance. These communications have been transcribed or recorded and verified as genuine. Perhaps the disciples did the same.

A long-passed Greek Bible scholar, Dr. T.J. McCrosson, observed many years ago that, yes, on the Day of Pentecost there were those in attendance who were from distant lands and they heard messages in their native languages. McCrosson noted, however, that those from the local area were there also so they would have heard messages in a language commonly used by both the mediums and the listeners. So, not everyone in trance used a foreign language that day - - just some of them. Others spoke messages from spirit in their every-day language (most likely Aramaic).

So, could it be that mediumship was common in the early church? Most definitely, according to Arthur Findlay who thoroughly discussed the topic in his massive history of religion, The Psychic Stream. "Mediums are the primary cause of religion, which in time grows into a form of belief comprising doctrines, dogmas and rites requiring priests to protect and perform," Findlay writes (page 605). "Mediums always created the original idea, and thus Moses, the medium, was the cause behind Judaism, and Paul, the medium, the cause behind Christianity."

In the Old Testament we read of many prophets who allegedly uttered statements from the "Lord" (which Findlay feels always signifies the medium's spirit control). But few Christians realize that prophets were present in the apostolic church as well. Several are named in the New Testament and in Ephesians we read that in each church there was to be a prophet (along with an apostle, pastor, teacher, etc.).

Findlay makes a strong argument that these prophets were the same as today's mediums. "In The Encyclopedia Britannica we find that 'Prophet is a word taken from the vocabulary of the ancient Greek religion which passed into the language of Christianity, and so into the modern tongues of Europe, because it was adopted by the Hellenistic Jews as the rendering of the Hebrew nābi. The word, therefore, as we use it is meant to convey an idea which belongs to Hebrew and not to Hellenic belief.' Thus the word prophet, meaning a medium, was adopted by Christians, but its meaning was forgotten when they lost touch with the etheric world. In the fourth century mediumship was abolished and priests took the place of mediums. Since that time no Christian theologian has understood what Paul and other early Christians meant when using the words prophet and prophesy. The foregoing, however, makes it clear that a prophet was a medium, that a seer was also a medium, and that a prophet and seer referred to the same individual, namely a medium."

Thus  in the Old Testament we read, "When a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a prophet was beforetime called a seer;" (I Sam. 9: 9) and "The spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy... and shalt be turned into another man." (I Sam. 10: 6) Findlay remarks, "Nothing could describe in fewer words what occurs to a medium when he enters the trance state."

The fact that mediums were common and accepted in the early church is clinched by an extensive quote from the very early Christian leader and theologian Tertullian (c. 160–c. 225 AD). Since few are aware of this information, I want to quote it in its entirety. Tertullian wrote this in his work De Anima and Findlay quotes it in The Psychic Stream (page 1039-1040):

For seeing that we acknowledge spiritual charismata, or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift. We have now amongst us a sister whose lot it has been  to be favored with sundry gifts of revelation, which she experiences in the spirit by ecstatic vision amidst the sacred rites of the Lord's Day in the church. She converses with the angels, and sometimes even with the Lord; she both sees and hears mysterious communications; some men's hearts she understands, and to them who are in need she distributes remedies. Whether it be in the reading of the Scriptures, or in the chanting of psalms, or in the preaching of sermons, or in the offering up of prayers, in all these religious services, matter and opportunity are afforded her of seeing visions. It may possibly have happened to us, whilst this sister of ours was wrapt in the spirit, that we had discoursed in some ineffable way about the soul. After the people are dismissed at the conclusion of the sacred services, she is in the regular habit of reporting to us whatever things she may have seen in vision;  for all her communications are examined with the most scrupulous care, in order that their truth may be probed, 'amongst other things' says she, 'there has been shewn to me a soul in bodily shape, and a spirit has been in the habit of appearing to me; not, however, a void and empty illusion but such as would offer itself to be even grasped by the hand, soft and transparent and of an ethereal color, and in form resembling that of a human being in every respect.' This was her vision, and for her witness there was God; and the apostle Paul most assuredly foretold that there were to be spiritual gifts in the Church.

And Findlay acknowledges this report by saying, "Here we have an account of a great medium who was treated by an outstanding early Christian with the respect which was due her, in such contrast to the way mediums have been treated since the Church organization became controlled by the priests. This information, which has come down to us from the hand of Tertullian, proves that mediums were employed in Christian churches in the third century, as what he tells us was written in the year 211."

At this point it is quite easy to say that there is MUCH that has been kept hidden from us and much that has been altered over the years. It's my wish that from now on Pentecost Sunday can become a time when all humankind will acknowledge the existence of natural mediumistic gifts and encourage their use.

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