Nature Light Truth: An exploration of Spiritualism in the Everyday Life of Stoke-on-Trent

Sambo, Daniele; Bartolini, Nadia; MacKian, Sara and Pile, Steve (2016). Nature Light Truth: An exploration of Spiritualism in the Everyday Life of Stoke-on-Trent. Glasgow: TWTD Press.

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Abstract

The idea of talking with the dead for most people is something very much removed from the everyday rhythms of life – the assumption is you have to go to special locations, abandoned hospitals, chilly sites of great historic interest to do it. There the unseen world of spirit will erupt upon the order of our everyday rational lives, disrupting the taken-for-granted, challenging the routine and the mundane with its otherworldly story for spine-tingling entertainment. Then the ‘rational’ return safely home to their modern twenty-first century lives, plug into the wi-fi and leave all that behind.

Similarly, in the public imagination Spiritualism is routinely assumed to exist in the cultural margins of obscurity, brought to life only by frauds for trickery, entertainment and deceit. It is overshadowed by a legacy of theatrical Victorian séances and fraudulent mediums and remains the target of ridicule and abuse.

Yet the reality for many thousands of Spiritualists is very different. And much closer to home. For Spiritualists, death doesn’t represent the end, because the spirit continues to live beyond the demise of the physical body and can communicate with those left behind. So their conversations with the dead weave a rich spiritual tapestry through the fabric of everyday life. It’s in words and pictures, old and new, over tea and cake, or chats on the phone, and in mementos brought back from family holidays. These conversations with the dead are part and parcel of the very ordinary, easily overlooked, minutiae of daily life. They aren’t saved for Church on Sundays or haunted locations, but seep almost imperceptibly into the cracks of everyday life. Into the spaces of everyday living.

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