The Spiritualism Symposium, curated by Shannon Taggart

About this series

Spiritualism, the American-born religion based on the belief in communication with spirits of the dead, was once a popular movement that influenced Western culture. Yet Spiritualism’s legacy has often been censored or neglected by academia and the media. The Spiritualism Symposium examines the surprising path from the séance room to the history of science, medicine, technology, politics, and art. It also explores topics related to mediumship and the study of the supernatural. This series presentations are drawn from past symposium’s hosted annually by Shannon Taggart in Lily Dale, New York, USA—home to the world’s largest Spiritualist community.

Each lecture will be sold separately, see below for details of the other lectures in the series (if missed, these will be available on demand)

The Moment of Revelation: Cases from New York’s ‘Burned-Over District’, with Joscelyn Godwin, Ph.D

About this event

New York State was the birthplace of Spiritualism, Mormonism, Adventism, Theosophy, the Shakers, Women’s Suffrage, and many other spiritual and social movements. This talk asks how their leaders got started. Did they meet Jesus in the woods (Joseph Smith), George Washington in heaven (Handsome Lake), or an angel in their alchemical laboratory (Cyrus Teed)? Discover the power of sex (Pascal Beverly Randolph, John Humphrey Noyes) or abolish it (Ann Lee)? Foresee the destiny of souls (Andrew Jackson Davis) or the end of the world (William Miller)? Build a living motor (John Murray Spear) or father spirit children (Thomas Lake Harris)? How did they treat their disciples? What does this teach us about the foundation of other cults, sects, and even religions?

Joscelyn Godwin is the author, editor, or translator of over 40 books on esoteric traditions and speculative music. Educated at Cambridge and Cornell, he taught for many years at Colgate University in New York State. 

Shannon Taggart is an artist and author exploring the intersection between Spiritualism, photography, and the representation of belief. Her work has been exhibited and featured internationally, including within the publications TIME, New York Times Magazine, Discover, and Newsweek. Taggart’s monograph, SÉANCE (Fulgur Press, 2019), was named one of TIME’s ‘Best Photobooks of 2019.’

The Spiritualism Symposium, curated by Shannon Taggart