by Wendy Stokes
Beginnings of spirit contact
Contact with spirits, angels and demons are mentioned many times in the Old and New Testaments. Most religious movements have started with a medium receiving a message from an angel or spirit of some kind.
Emanuel Swedenborg, an early 18th Century inventor and scientist, in later life, devoted himself to writing a huge philosophical corpus of work detailing spirit contact that angels, demons and other spirits provided for him about this world and the next.
Several great thinkers of the 19th Century were influenced by a Vienna-born doctor in the late 1700s. Anton Mesmer’s work on spiritual healing was a revolutionary discovery. It was called ‘magnetic healing’. ‘Passes’ (hand gestures) were made over an unwell patient and recovery would frequently take place, sometimes with reports from patients that they had made contact with supernatural beings. He introduced ‘induced somnambulism’ into his practice and this was met with great excitement. Later, in Paris, he developed his practice further and it began to branch out in several directions.
In 1842, a Scottish surgeon, James Braid, was using hypnosis and, in the State of New York, Andrew Jackson Davis published ‘Principles of Nature – Her Divine Revelations’ and many other books which were inspired, and sometimes dictated, by named people from the spirit realms. The Fox Sisters, Margaret and Kate, became famous shortly after by responding to spirit raps in their new home in the state of New York.
At the same time, and also influenced by the work of Mesmer, was a French educationist, Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail, who later became known as Allan Kardec. Allan Kardec conducted research using several mediums who were asked a large number of questions about the spirit realms and these results were codified into several books. He coined the word ‘Spiritism’. Brazil has four million adherents to Spiritism and hospitals, schools and centres are devoted to spiritual healing and teaching.
The first combined international conference of the British Union of Spiritist Societies and the Spirit Release Foundation was entitled: Working with SOUL in Illness and in Health.
The theme was the unification of several branches of science that also highlight the importance of the spiritual dimension (which is often ignored or dismissed by scientists). Dr Marlene Nobre, the President of the International Medical Spiritist Association of Brazil, was accompanied in her role as co-chair by Dr Andrew Powell, a psychotherapist and member of the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Founder of the Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group. These two experts have brought together nine British and Brazilian specialists, seven of whom are qualified doctors, some of whom are therapists, and some are Spiritist mediums.
Approximately 150 delegates attended the conference. These delegates were from a variety of different disciplines and professions, including those from the complementary, holistic and health fields and also those working in the area of spirituality, such as mediums and healers.
Throughout time and throughout the world all kinds of deities, angels and spirits have provided necessary ethical instruction and all types of spiritual healing and guidance. Jesus used the laying on of hands, acceptance, forgiveness, calmness and a sincere approach, moral guidance and a commitment to recovery. “Do you want to get well?” He also used an ancient form of exorcism to banish harmful spirits.
Before the days of allopathic medicine, health needs were the prime concern of spiritual teachers. In second and third world countries today, there is no free health service for the average person and many ancient methods are still used by practitioners, and found to be very effective for many common ailments. In addition, these old ways are cheaper, do not involve animal suffering, have fewer side effects (known and unknown), and do not contribute to chemical pollution.
It is rather strange that modern psychiatry considers spiritual, mystical and ecstatic states to be evidence of a mental disorder, especially when we consider the importance of religion at strategic times in our lives and the enduring nature of religious belief. Even those in optimal health and happiness sometimes have extraordinary ‘peak experiences’ that could be diagnosed as ‘psychotic’ by the psychiatric profession. It is thought that those with a religious belief are both happier and healthier than those with none, yet the spiritual dimension is ignored and denied by the majority of psychiatrists and psychotherapists. If we were able to create ideal conditions for those presently diagnosed with mental illness, perhaps we could help them to cope better and lead more productive and meaningful lives.
Alexander Moreira de Almeida is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora and the Director of the Research Centre into Spirituality and Health. He also a Fellow of Duke University, USA. He drew our attention to the difference between the common experiences of trance mediums and experiences by those considered to be affected with a psychiatric dissociative disorder (MPD). In the West, due to the reductionist approach to psychiatry, mediumship gifts might be being mistaken for psychiatric illness and treated with anti-psychotic drugs.
Tony Neate is the Chair of, and a therapist with, the UK branch of the Spirit Release Foundation. He also is Founder of Nature’s Own/Cytoplan Group and Co-Founder of the College of Healing. He described his karmic regression healing work where entities are clinging from past incarnations and need to be released. Past lives can cause fears, angers, blockages, regrets, lack of direction and other difficulties. By helping the patient to return to a previous life where they can relive a trauma, the patient can gain awareness and control and can consider how they would have liked the outcome to have been in that life. Tony has written a number of books on channeling and healing.
Dr Decio Landoli Jr. is a surgeon from Brazil who specialises in gastroenterology. He spoke about the pineal gland. In ancient times, this organ was called by Rene Descartes “the Captain of the Ship”. It is located in the most protected place between the two lobes of the brain and has considerable blood supply. New research is being conducted into the electromagnetic and electrostatic capacities of this little understood gland that requires much further research.
Dr Serena Roney-Dougal is Founder Director of the UK Psi Research Centre and holds a PhD for a thesis in parapsychology. She is an international lecturer and also provided information about the pineal gland which contributes to the action of other glands within the endocrine system. The pineal has been found to secrete the powerful neuro-transmitters, melatonin and serotonin. There are suspicions that these two compounds might contribute to altered states of consciousness that are experienced in both mediumship and mental illness. Serotonin secretes a substance that is similar in chemical composition to a hallucinogen produced from an Amazonian vine. This is a herb used by Amazonian shamans to induce clairvoyance. The pineal’s production of melatonin is most active from 2am to 4am when dreaming most frequently occurs. Knowledge of future events (precognition) is most common during sleep. It is at this time that most natural child birth occurs and natural death takes place. This is also the most frequent time for seeing a ‘ghost’ and when many artists and writers do their most creative work. Serena endorsed the work of the Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist centres where a therapeutic refuge, offering a low stress environment, has been created. Their therapy involves creating a healthy lifestyle combined with productive activity, healthy diet, meditation, community chores, early rising and other self-disciplines.
David Furlong is a Founder Tutor with the UK College of Healing and is Chair of the Natural Health Network. He explained the role our forebears can still have on our health. Ancestral worship is a very ancient religion and survives today in many cultures. Inherited patterns are handed down through the generations in anecdotal family stories, ideas about life, predispositions and leanings. David generously used his own personal family history to demonstrate how he healed an ancestral hurt with the aid of his grandmother, who is in the spirit realms. We were requested by David to invite our forebears into the room and become aware of where they would be seated and how we would feel about their presence. We have a bond with our forebears who faced harrowing hardships of poverty, war, sickness, crime, injustice and discomfort. Ancestral suffering can continue to influence our physical and mental life. There are approximately 10 generations since the year 1670, creating 1,024 ancestors. 30 generations have lived since the year 1070, creating a billion ancestors. Humankind originated in the Olduvai Gorge, in Africa, 200,000 years ago! These statistics are sufficient to prove we are all related to each other! By acknowledging that all our ancestors survived long enough to bear children, by forgiving them for any inadequacies, we can light a candle and thank them for their self-sacrificing acts of love and tireless work on our behalf!
Dr Alan Sanderson is a British psychiatrist, hypnotherapist and the Founder of the Spirit Release Foundation. He spoke about the value of involving the patient’s angels and spirit guides in the healing process through the use of the spirit release technique. He provided a case study of Samantha, who had a long-standing psychiatric condition. In her spiritual garden she felt safe enough to describe the most harrowing and disturbing instances of torture that had been inflicted on her by entities in the lowest spiritual realms. By conducting conversations with these entities, Dr Sanderson was able to discharge the destructive spirits and restore to the patient her spirit benefactors who will protect her and aid recovery.
Dr Roberto Lucio Souza, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist and Founder of AME-MG from Brazil, spoke about spiritually advanced health care service in Brazilian psychiatric hospitals where Spiritism is used to help recovery. Mental illness is the most devastating problem that can occur during a person’s life. Spiritist hospitals also use conventional psychiatric treatment and a variety of therapies. These include art and music, gardening, sports, occupational therapy, self-awareness programs, prayer, study and reading of selected Spiritist texts that help the individual to understand their condition and how they can best manage it to live a productive life. The hospitals are staffed mainly by unpaid workers who consider that they receive spiritually by assisting the recovery of others.
Dr Marlene Nobre, the co-chair of the conference, emphasised the importance of holistic approach to healing which encompasses a belief in the spiritual dimension. Because our soul incarnates into our body for a unique spiritual purpose, we need to discover and work with our life purpose in order to be healthy and fulfilled. We also need to understanding that our incarnated soul has the responsibility to make the world a better place and that we must aim for the highest good for all people, animal life and for planetary welfare. To finalise the conference, Dr Nobre channeled from her spirit guide a prayer of devotion and thanksgiving.
Publications in spirituality and health can be found at: www.rcpsych.ac.uk/college/sig/spirit/publications/index.htm
Wendy Stokes is a qualified counsellor, teacher, healer and channeler and the author of ‘The Lightworkers Circle Guide – A Workbook for Spiritual Groups’ published worldwide by the UK’s leading Mind, Body and Spirit publishing house, O Books. Wendy has donated her royalties to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust for the conservation of endangered species. www.durrell.org
‘The Lightworkers Circle Guide’ is available at all good bookshops and from Amazon. ISBN: 978 1 84694 378 4
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