Friday, October 23, 2009

Shakers, Spiritualism and Séances: Part I

Most modern people are surprised to hear that throughout their history, many Shakers thought it possible to communicate with the Spirit World. In their extensive journals, the Shakers frequently mention going to Spiritualist meetings and hosting mediums. Throughout the next few blog posts, we hope to explore these interesting topics.

In the 1850s, a little person who claimed to possess psychic powers visited the Watervliet Shakers at least twice. The Shaker journal keeper unfortunately does not go into detail or name this woman.

“8 March 1856- The little dwarf medium and another young woman here from Waterford.”

“8 January 1858- The dwarf medium and two other women here from Waterford.”

“16 January 1858- Dwarf medium and friends taken to the depot.”

It is interesting to note that in 1858, the medium seemed to stay for eight days. The Shakers often tried to limit the length of stay for most guests from the general public, yet this implies that the Shakers were close friends with or were receiving a service from this woman.

If any of our readers have found other references to the "Little Dwarf Medium," please contact us as we would love the opportunity to do more research on this topic.