Chapter 1 - Personal experiences in the field of spiritual apparitions

- 34 - 1. 3. 6 Spiritual experiences in the United States I obtained confirmation of the general truth of communication with spirits and of many individual facts in this field during my stay in America, where spiritism under the designation “spiritualism” is widespread, there being great numbers of so-called “spiritualistic churches.” At the outset I made use of the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the way in which spiritism was practiced in these churches by attending the services in many of them. Unfortunately, my visits confirmed what I had heard from the mediums in Germany, who had again and again told me that God’s good spirits will not go near places frequented by people more concerned with temporal matters than with progress on the path leading to God. • Only spirits of the lower orders, I had been informed, appeared at meetings at which materialistic views predominated. I was also told that there is no control over the spirits at such gatherings. They become the stamping ground for spirits who come from the lower spheres without necessarily being downright evil. Generally, they are those of relatives, friends or acquaintances of those attending, spirits that have themselves progressed but little in the Beyond and are therefore more interested in the temporal affairs of those whom they have left behind than in their spiritual advancement. Such gatherings are then no longer Divine services, but rather information bureaus for worldly questions and interests, and they come dangerously close to what took place at the idolatrous ceremonies of the pagans. The attraction of idolatry lay precisely in the fact that the people hoped to receive information relating to their worldly success and their earthly future from the mediums participating in the idol worship. I encountered nothing lofty and edifying in any of these churches, however much I longed for it. On the contrary, what I generally found was of a nature to hurt rather than to advance the cause of spiritism. I also had the impression that the people attending these meetings were there merely for the sake of messages they hoped to receive about worldly matters, and that the question of money seemed to play no minor part with the leaders of these churches. A fixed admission fee was charged, generally at least half a dollar (a lot of money in the early 1930s), which meant that the really poor were unable to attend. All this substantiated what I had been so insistently told in Germany about modern spiritism, even when it is conducted with an outward show of respect for religious forms, and I became convinced that spiritism of this kind will not bring humanity much closer to God; it is not the spiritism of the early Christians. Nevertheless, it was my good fortune to meet with the higher aspects of spiritism in America also, and thereby to corroborate my previous experiences. During my stay in New York, I lived with a German family called Niemann at 148 East 18th Street. I am giving the name and address because this family played a leading role in the events to be related and has authorized me to make public its identity. Elsewhere in this book I have refrained, on principle, from mentioning names to preclude the possibility of any unpleasant consequences to anyone at the hands of ill-disposed persons as a result of the publication. I had never spoken to Mr. Niemann about spiritism but only told him of some of my experiences in the spiritist churches of New York. He himself was not a member of any church and seemed to have