Spiritualism is mostly known for its emphasis on mediumship. Becoming aware or attuned to The Other Side is often associated with developing mediumistic capabilities in a circle. This process takes time, dedication and trust.
While mediumship can be perceived as the cornerstone of Spiritualism, I have been very interested in another, perhaps lesser known aspect of Spiritualism: healing. I am unsure why healing has caught my attention. Is it indeed because I was less aware of it and feel as though I have uncovered a more hidden aspect of Spiritualism? Perhaps it’s because I am still trying to figure out what healing is about? Regardless of the reasons, I have been going to healing more and more, and to my surprise (because I can’t quite understand why), I very much enjoy it.
If mediumship focuses on demonstrating communication with the spirit world, I am gradually thinking that healing could be seen as highlighting the ‘caring’ aspect of Spiritualism. This is not to say that mediumship is not about caring – quite the opposite. But I had not previously appreciated the extent to which healers are as important as mediums. Healers also develop in circles, and their gift is as valued and necessary as that of mediums.
Since starting this project, I have taken frequent trips to Stoke-on-Trent. Due to personal obligations, I have been traveling to Stoke on Mondays and I have therefore tried to attend the Fenton Spiritualist Church’s healing services that occur on Monday evenings.
As an ethnographer, at first, I wanted to observe healing: what happens to patients when they receive healing? Is there a reciprocity that is observable between the healer and the patient? Then, I became curious to experience healing and find out whether it would affect me in some way. That said, I also wondered whether I could challenge myself: could I actually be still and relax for twenty minutes in a strange environment? Would I be able to trust a healer enough to let myself go, mind, body and soul? In other words, would I be open enough to receive healing, and if so, would I feel anything?
Being in the Moment
I have now had the opportunity to obtain healing from all the healers at Fenton. Each one of them is different and as I have been told, I would have my own preferred healers (which I do). From a patient point of view, I suppose that some personalities have an easier time to let go, but I am one of these people that finds it quite hard. It’s not that I can’t relax; I simply have always found it difficult to do it with other people. When I am alone, I can meditate quite easily. However, I always feel on edge somehow when I am supposed to let go with, basically, a stranger.
I was a bit nervous on my first healing experience. I found myself being led to a small, private room. The healer shut the door and asked me to sit in a chair that was placed in the middle of the room. She reassured me, calmed me and suggested that I close my eyes and try to relax. She asked if I was ok with her touching me: my back, my head, my arms, my hands. I said I was. As I closed my eyes and felt her presence close to me, I was immediately aware of a deep sense of calm. My rational mind couldn’t quite explain it, but I decided then and there to trust her… and I let myself be in the moment. With my eyes shut, my other senses kicked in: I could hear soft music coming from the speakers; I heard the distant hum of cars outside; I sensed her hands moving to my shoulders; I felt my muscles tense and then relax. As my mind became accustomed to the music, I imagined drifting away – not to a place, but to an emptiness. I noticed that my breathing was deeper, slower, and I got into a rhythm… and suddenly, I ‘awoke’: I couldn’t feel her presence anymore. I opened my eyes and saw her sitting calmly in a chair by the wall in front of me. She was smiling, and so was I.
Feeling the Energy
Now that I know what to expect when I go to healing, I find myself drawn to it. I can’t quite explain why, but as the last healer told me, perhaps I just need a little down time. There is something to this, of course. In this day and age, it is difficult to find time to sit quietly and empty our minds. But I think there is more to it than that. This is why I am always surprised when every once in a while, there is a story in the press that surfaces condemning complementary medicine, such as this recent article in The Guardian.
So, if I don’t need anything ‘healed’, why am I drawn to ‘healing’? Maybe it has to do with the presence of a healer – of another person’s body in proximity – creating a sense of calm, of energies flowing from one body to another. All I can say is that after healing, I feel better. I feel re-energized. After healing, I join healers and patients in the common area of the church and we sip tea and chat about how we’ve been. This familiarity, this sense of community and feeling of ‘care’ are just as important as the 20-minute healing session. I think this is worth considering – even though I have no data to prove that I am better, I sure do feel better.
Most Spiritualist churches will offer healing. If you’re around the Stoke-on-Trent area and feel in need of some healing energy, why not visit one of the churches the SpELS project is working with and experience it for yourself?: