The idea of Spiritualism represents many different things to many different people; even just the word itself can bring quite a reaction. To some, it is the practice of believing in the soul and of life after death. To others it is the idea of an existence made purely of energy. To a few, it is an idea just beyond their reach and so not something they can find themselves compatible with.
However you see spiritualism, it is something that simply cannot be categorized. Is it a religion? Is it a faith? Is it a lifestyle choice? In some respects, these three questions have the answer “Yes”. Spiritualism is a part of many religions: Christian Spiritualism, Buddhism and Hinduism to name a few. Spiritualism is also part of a faith: Spiritual Pantheism, Neo Paganism and The Reformed Spiritualists are just three out of perhaps hundreds of variations. Also, and perhaps most importantly, spiritualism can be a lifestyle choice.
If you are a spiritual person then even the little things in your life are touched by it. You may hate spiders, but you’ll trap them in a glass and release them in the nearest plant rather than the alternative. You may communicate with your pet dog or cat as if they were a person; “Hello! How are you? Have you been good?” “That traffic I just sat in was so long…” and “Lunchtime! I’m going to make a sandwich; do you want your dinner?” It affects the way we communicate; We might find that we work out someone is upset when other people don’t notice, or just have a feeling about that new work colleague being a bit of a gossip.
All these things rely upon the idea that we are more than just a biological body and that there is more inside and outside of ourselves and our existence than meets the eye. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to believe in an omnipresence or God, or that we have to be a clairvoyant and communicate with those who have passed on (although many would say that their spirituality has helped them cope with a loss, as they believe it is never truly the end). Indeed there is even a place for spiritualism within Science, as it has been proven many times that energy can never be destroyed, it just adapts and changes into other forms of energy that we can’t necessarily identify yet.
Regardless of how or where Spiritualism presents itself, it is truly something that cannot be labelled or put in a box. It is something that we do not completely understand; it cannot be “proven” and maybe it is something that will always elude our theories. In itself, it is not purely a religion, faith, existence or way of life. What Spiritualism is, however, is something that continues to morph and adapt into the format that the individual person requires, whether that be helping a spider escape the bath or asking help of your loved ones who are no longer in a form of existence that the human eye can perceive.
The BBC recently published a fantastic article: “Spiritual, but not Religious”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20888141