St Michael's Road

  Hannen Swaffer  Sir Arthur
 Conan Doyle

 Hydesville Day - 31st March
The Hydesville Rappings are generally referred to as the beginning of Modern Spiritualism, although, of course, no such description was given to these events until many years later. It can be argued quite effectively that such phenomena had existed and been demonstrated at many points in history prior to 31st March 1848, and indeed the gifts and powers of two important figures, Emmanuel Swedenborg and Andrew Jackson Davis were well documented.

 However the importance of the Hydesville events can be supported by looking at the actual process that took place.   The rappings were manifesting in the house such that it was becoming almost unbearable for the Fox family to stand, when the youngest sisters, Margaret and Kate decided to create a game and addressed the sounds as though they were being made by a living person.  Kate challenged the unknown person to "Do as I do" and clapped her hands.  These clappings were then echoed by a similar number of raps.  Communication had been established.  According to Conan Doyle's account*, Mrs Fox and a neighbour took this forward by asking questions,  to be answered correctly with one knock for "no" and two for "yes".     The events in the neighbourhood attracted great interest which rapidly spread across the USA, and resulted in many others experimenting in the same way.

 The Fox family appeared to be the first on modern record to hold a form of conversation with Spirit, by devising a code whereby questions could be answered.  Previously those that had communion with Spirit, such as Swedenborg, Davis and much earlier in Biblical accounts had a direct connection which could not be witnessed in process. 

The facts which emerged concerning the murder of the peddler Charles B. Rosna, who maintained that his body was buried within the house, were not finally confirmed until 1904, when the skeleton was found, and this proved that the communication had been accurate, and that many doubts cast upon the sincerity of the Fox sisters and family were unjust.

 So the 31st March 1848 is an important landmark in the history of Spiritualism, showing as it did that it was possible to communicate with Spirit, that many people had the ability to carry out such communication, and creating the environment which inspired thinkers to consider the significance of the fact of survival.  Charles B. Rosna was motivated by the wish for vengeance, not a "holy" thought, but the episode proved that the personality survived physical death, that memories and emotions were retained and that a means of communication was possible. 

Modern Spiritualism seeks to prove all of these things and the evolution of the many types of mediumship flow from these humble beginnings.

* Reference:
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan (1926)  The History of Spiritualism Vol.1    Psychic Press Ltd (1989 ed.)

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