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vol. 3, p. 274
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Spiritualistic Materialization (continued from page 3-273) >

specially abusive of himself occurred. In the afternoon we walked to Chittenden, the most god and man forsaken town in the State. And thus the evening came, and with it the hour for the seance which occurred on that day earlier than usual. Arranged as as on the previous evening, with all the belongings in the same shape, except that the light was dimmer and the regular fiddler absent, we saw William Eddy enter tho cabinet. Hymns were sung to the accompaniment of an amateur on the same fiddle, which the fiddler – alas! – had not carried off. Beginning with “Coronation,’' we ranged during the evening through a great variety of sacred and profane music. We were just intoning “It was my last cigar.” to the tune of “Dearest May,” when the curtain before the cabinet moved as on the previous evening, was drawn hack, dropped again and finally let out Honto. She had put on a white gown, reaching to the ankles, with a narrow dark band across the shoulders and to the waist, a dark overskirt to the knees, wide open in front, white stockings, apparent when she danced, and two braids of hair falling down her back. Her features were dark but altogether indistinct, and her size not unlike that of the medium; but her shoulders were sloping and seemed much narrower. She went to the melodeon, played and sang, producing uncouth, irregular sounds. Then she danced with Mrs. Cleveland as on the previous evening, and Mrs. Cleveland describes her as having a Roman nose, high cheek bones and a copper-colored complexion. Then Mrs. Jacobs was summoned to the platform, and asked by the spirit to play the melodeon. Now began a scene of lively import. Honto danced a war-dance that was a cross between a cancan and a plantation dance. She seemed light as a feather, leaping up several feet from the floor with the utmost alacrity and a liberal display of white stocking. She jumped on to a chair, and immediately darted down again and picked from Mrs. Cleveland’s foot what seemed a light rag, which, distending with both hands (not unfolding), she increased to a piece about two yards in length and a yard in breadth, it was perfectly transparent and of a slate tint. This was the “spirit cloth.” Gathering it in one hand she seemed to give it to some one behind the curtain. Not long after another piece was picked from the bare, blank wall, and this seemed to spread under her touch to a great length, so that she threw one end to Mrs. Cleveland, and the two displayed it along the entire length of the platform, without stretching. This was of a black tint, transparent, and also banded behind the curtain. The next piece was taken from Mrs. Jacobs's shoulder, and looked like a veil, and dilated to a length of ten feet. It was disposed of as before. Next, still holding the curtain in her band Honto lifted it far back, and beckoned to Mrs. Cleveland to look in. She did so, and said: “I see him,” referring to the medium. She afterwards described that his face being bent down she could not see it, but discerned his figure plainly, lying on the chair in a trance. Honto retired with a bow, having been out fifteen or twenty minutes, going back at intervals, thrice in all, “to gather materializing substance.” The next apparation, which came very soon, was Maggie, the sister of Mrs. Brown, and hailed as such. She died when she was two years old, but has grown in spirit-land during the thirty-six years since, and now appears as a woman of thirty-eight. In regard to this it is all the more remarkable that “Mayflower,” the little girl of the dark seance, who has been dead 150 years, still retains her childish voice and ways. “Maggie” was dressed in white; her robe longer than Honto’s; a veil over her head and shoulders; a belt around her waist; the hair light, and the face ghastly pale. Mr. Brown asked whether she bad a bouquet. She held it up. Again he asked: “Is mother present?” She rapped, ‘“Yes." After a minute’s stay she retired. Next came a woman. Same white dress, but no veil, dark hair, indistinct face, with color livelier than Maggie’s. Mr. Brown greeted her as his mother. She bowed and retired, having stayed half a minute. The next apparition was a woman in black, with a very dim lace, whom somebody recognized. She was succeeded by another female form, but of these I remember very little. Then came a man shorter than the previous figures, in a robe to the ground which looked like black velvet. The face was altogether indistinct, the whiskers white. Mr. Cleveland hailed him as “Governor Chittenden,” but the figure rapped “No.” Then he suggested his brother, and received an affirmative rapping, he was succeeded by “Mrs. Jacobs’s brother.” He wore a black coat, black pants, white shirt-bosom and collar. The next was a very short figure, dressed in a dark coat reaching to the knees, black pants, and having an indefinite countenance and a black goatee.

The Spirits Among the Shakers

An Important and Interesting Interview with Elder Evans–Spiritual Manifestations in the Community in 1840–Materialized Spirits of Indians in Constant Attendance for Seven Years–Three Phases Of The Phenomena–Modern Spiritualism Compared to The Apparitions of the Middle Ages–The “Rochester Knockers” and the Eddys as Regarded by a Believer

A writer of The Daily Graphic called to-day on Elder F. W. Evans, one of the party of Shakers who have been holding meetings at Steinway Hall. The object was to obtain his views in regard to Spiritualism, which has always been a favorite theme with the Shaker Community. Elder Evans received him courteously and took him up to his own room in Dr. Miller’s Bath House, Twenty-sixth street. A long conversation followed.

“I understand, sir,” said the writer, “ that your society had spiritual manifestations long before the Rochester manifestations ?”

“Yea, that is so. We had them at least eleven years before the rappings through the mediumship of the Fox girls. When were the first Fox manifestations ?”

“I think in 1850. I know that I reported the twen<ty>-first anniversary of the Rochester rappings somewhere within the past three or four years.”

“Yea. Our manifestations began very simply, among the children of the society.”


“Oh, why, for instance, a boy would be seized in trance, and then the other boys would ask him ‘What is this that I touch ?’ and he, with closed eyes, would answer everything correctly.”

“Is that boy still with you ?”

“Oh, it was not any one boy in particular. They were all liable to seizure in that way — boys and girls. Well, then it spread from them to the classes of young converts. These classes had heard the older believers tell of the wonderful revelations that had taken place in our society during the first twenty-five or thirty years of its existence, which went to confirm us in the faith. Well, then these young persons began to give manifestations, and finally it spread all through the communities. First the spirits manifested themselves at Lebanon, then at Wateryliet, and finally they went through all our eighteen societies, containing about sixty communities. We then numbered about 5,000 members. The developments began to be of the most wonderful character.”

“Then you considered that the messages you received were in the nature of a revelation ?”

“Yea. We took Spiritualism very much in the same way that the world took it when the first manifestations occurred with them. We believed all that the spirits told us, and we published some books-containing the spiritual revelations that we received. One of the books was called the ‘Holy Wisdom,’ another the ‘Sacred Roll,’ and so on.”

“Could I procure those books ?”

‘‘Nay, you cannot, I think. We do not allow them to get into circulation now, if we can help it, because they were published before we had learned to distinguish between different spirits. We learned by experience that the mere fact of being a spiritual manifestation does not prove that it is divine. Manifestations are sometimes made by untruthful spirits. But the world did just the same as we did at first; it fell into precisely the same error. At a meeting, however, held in this city in 1880, I defined Spiritualism for the first time ; I said that Spiritualism was ‘a science' and not ‘a religion;’ and from that time Spiritualism has spread and spread and is still spreading. By calling Spiritualism a science and not a religion you take off the opposition of the religious sects, meet the objections of the sceptics, and put the thing on its proper plane. Spiritualism has passed through three phases.’’

“What are those ?”

“The first is the ‘test phase.’ In this the seeker is principally interested in ascertaining the reality of the communications and their genuineness. We wish to test the mediums, and inquire whether the manifestations are really what they pretend to be.”

“What is the second phase ?”

“The second phase is the ‘judgment phase.’ In this social relations are established between those in and those out of the flesh. Attachments were formed between the spirit world and the mediums, and the attachments began to take the form of criticism. The spirits instructed and reproved. The second phase was a phase of judgment on the individual and on society. During the whole of this phase we were forming a relation with the higher spirits, and they were instructing and criticising us. Then it was that Spiritualism began to be a ministration of religion. That was what caused our people to inter-blend religion and Spiritualism. We attached an infallibility to the manifestations similar to the infallibility which the Christian world attaches to the Scriptures. The second phase was a phase of judgment for purging out everything that was wrong in the character of the individual—correcting faults, reproving error, and amending the life and disposition.”

“What do you call the third phase?”

“The ‘missionary phase.’ When the second phase was finished, and the revelations had been received from the highest spirits, then we preached the truth to the lower spirits. We were missionaries to the other world. Religion was ministered to us by the higher circles of spirits, and we ministered to those who were below us. Then it was that the work of judgment took effect among those spirits, and they would confess their faults and the sins of their lives just as though they were in this life. I have heard many spirits confess their sins.”

“You are a medium, then ?”

“Yea. All the Shakers are mediums. There is scarcely an exception. These confessions are made to the mediums, and then they would repeat it aloud. The spirits would obsess an individual and then the confessions would be made.”

“Do you have any of these manifestations now ?”

“Yea. We can have as much of them as we like. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”

“What kind of confessions were made by the spirits ?”

“Some of the most interesting confesions were made by members of a tribe of Indians. These <... continues on page 3-275 >

Editor's notes

  1. The Spirits Among the Shakers by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist