Wednesday 10th March 2021
11am – 12pm
‘Have the Dead Stopped Talking? The Fate of the Spiritualist Church Movement in Post-War Australia’
Spiritualism first came to Australia in the nineteenth century, in the form of public lectures and private séances. Like many other places around the world, many Australians (including Alfred Deakin) embraced these new efforts to communicate with the spirit world. Following the Great War, it seemingly faded from public view, practised in private circles, client readings and small Spiritualist churches. Many of these are churches are closed and forgotten (including the one that met briefly at Deakin Burwood), while a handful of others persist. This paper explores the short life of the Ballarat Spiritualist Fellowship and the Spiritualist history of its founder, Lorraine Culross, as a heuristic for explaining the post-war history of Australian Spiritualism. It draws on mixed-methods research, comprising in-depth interviews with Lorraine, along with participant observation at the Ballarat Spiritualist Fellowship, and historic newspaper records from Ballarat and Melbourne. I challenge the common idea that Spiritualism was a nineteenth-century fad that has had a near-terminal or dubious status ever since. Rather, it is argued that Spiritualism is a religion of the past and the present and displays transplantability, adaptability and ultimately, local staying power.
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The seminar will be conducted via zoom at this link.