Archive for September 8th, 2014

Although the Victorian era was a time of scientific discovery and technological advances, the Victorians seemed to be obsessed by the supernatural. Many people believed in ghosts, fairies, physic phenomena and telepathy. They also thought it possible to communicate with the dead. The Ouija board was popular and table knocking and automatic writing were thought to be the deceased means of speaking with the living.

Occult and spiritual religions also abounded. The ability to foresee the future through dreams and visions were also common beliefs during this period.

Popular authors of the day such as Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker fueled these beliefs with their stories depicting ghosts and dark occult creatures. But the authors themselves were affected by these beliefs. Dickens believed he could heal the sick by entering them in a deep hypnotic state. However, Dickens was a very rational man as well as a skeptic.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, believed in fairies and telepathy.

Death was a big part of the average Victorian’s life. They observed many rituals and mementos of lost loved ones were popular, such as the photos of the dead and hair jewelry containing a lock from a lost loved one. The idea of proving life went on after the physical body was gone led to a spiritualism movement. Mediums, thought to have the ability to communicate with the dead, became popular and as a result, fraud was easy to perpetrate on people desperate to speak to their lost relatives.

The Fox sisters were famous mediums and made a lot of money by convincing people table “rappings” were spirits trying to communicate with the living. But Margaret Fox confessed in 1888 that it had all been a hoax.

Perhaps the Victorian belief in the supernatural was their way of coping with all the scientific discoveries and technological advances inundating their world.

For more on Victorian spiritualism and beliefs, visit these sites:



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