SO many persons have come to suppose that Spiritualism took its rise through the rappings at Rochester under the mediumship of the Fox sisters, it may be profitable to reprint a few descriptions of spiritualistic séances which had place a hundred years ago in France, Germany, and other European countries. At that time there were very many inquiring minds looking for the truth. They lived at a time when the Church had complete power, except perhaps in France, as in the latter country the Revolution was in the air. Much of the inquiry was tinctured with prevailing religious thought, and at the same time séances were held very privately. But enough leaked out and was recorded in various ways to indicate that much more of the same kind must have gone on. These extracts are taken from the Theosophical Correspondence between Count Saint Martin and Baron Liebistorf, beginning in 1792.
In this record we find support for certain conclusions. First, that the modus operandi was the same then as it now is in American spiritualism. Second, the alleged spirits showed at that time the same ignorance and want of progress which they have given evidence of ever since. There the communicating spirits of 1792, including the "Great First Cause," spoke in line with the philosophic and religious views of the believers, going no further and knowing no more about God, Nature, or Man than the questioners. This is exactly what is proved by the record of forty years of American Spiritualism. If to this we add the fact, so well known, that the old Greek spiritualists obtained from their mediums at the Temples of the Oracles precise answers to their questions, confirming their own views, we must admit that spiritualism of no matter what kind, in every time, and among all nations, will gain from the unseen powers giving reports and communications no more in respect to philosophy, religion, and the laws of nature and man's constitution than corresponds with the most advanced thought of living believers. In other words, man's true teacher and initiator is himself in the body, and not any intelligence devoid of a body.