Andrew Jackson Davis,

 

 Medium Andrew Jackson Davis

 Andrew Jackson Davis Medium

1826-1910

 

A young Andrew

Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910)


Andrew Jackson Davis is often referred to as the John the Baptist of Modern Spiritualism; for it was he who firmly set into place and definitively proclaimed the coming revelation of Spirit communion.
Andrew Jackson Davis grew up in poverty. He was born at Blooming Grove, a small hamlet along the Hudson River, in New York State. His mother was a simple, uneducated woman, and his father, between binges of drunkenness, earned a scanty living as a weaver and a shoemaker.

Young Davis showed signs of clairvoyance and heard voices very early in life and, on the advice given from Spirit, he convinced his father to move to Poughkeepsie in 1838. In 1843, a Dr. J. S. Grimes visited the city and gave a series of lectures on mesmerism (hypnosis). With Davis's curiosity getting the better of him, he attended one of the lectures and was tested as a subject, with no results. Later, a local tailor named William Levingston helped induce upon Davis a state of mesmeric trance and found that in this altered state of consciousness, he (Davis) could accurately diagnose medical disorders. In this condition, Davis described how the human body became transparent to his Spirit eyes; this seemed to come from the center of the forehead. Each organ stood out clearly with a special luminosity of its own which greatly diminished in cases of disease.

In 1844, Andrew Jackson Davis had an experience which was to change the course of his life. On the evening of March 6th, Davis was suddenly overcome by some power which led him to "fly" from Poughkeepsie, where he lived, and hurry off in a semi-trance state upon a rapid journey. Upon gaining full consciousness the next morning, he found himself amidst the Catskill Mountains, some 40 miles away. Here, he claims to have met two very distinguished men, whom he later identified as the philosopher Galen and the Swedish seer Emanuel Swedenborg, both of whom were, of course, dead. He also claimed to have experienced a great mental illumination and revelation.

Now, it is very difficult to ascertain exactly what happened to Davis during this evening: was the experience a vision; was it an actual levitation and/or transportation to the Catskill Mountains; or did he really walk 40 miles in the trance condition? Regardless of what actually happened, the effect upon Davis was tremendous.

From that time onward, he travelled extensively, giving public lectures and teachings. In the course of a teaching tour, Davis met Dr. Lyons and Rev. Fishbough. Dr. Lyons was a qualified mesmerist and often induced the trance state upon Davis. During these episodes, a wealth of material came through, all of which was transcribed by Rev. Fishbough. In November, 1845, Davis began dictating his great work, The Principles of Nature: Her Divine Revelations and A Voice To Mankind. The dictation lasted for 15 months, with many enthusiastic people bearing witness to these trance utterances.

Nandor Fodor, in his Encyclopedia of Psychic Science, writes of one of these witnesses:

"Dr. George Bush, Professor of Hebrew at the University of New York, declared that he heard Davis correctly quote Hebrew. The seer's good faith was also established by his answers to impromptu questions put to him as tests while he was in the clairvoyant state. Professor Bush summed up his opinion thus: 'Taken as a whole the work is a profound and elaborate discussion of the philosophy of the universe, and for grandeur of conception, soundness of principle, clearness of illustration, order of arrangement and encyclopedic range of subjects, I know no work of any single mind that will bear away from it the palm.' It was partly due to Bush's enthusiasm that the book, published in 1847, met with eager interest. Within a few weeks of its appearance, however, Professor Bush published a small pamphlet, Davis's Revelations Revealed, in which he solemnly warned the public against being misled by the numerous errors, absurdities and falsities contained in that work. It was clear to him, he said, that Davis, although himself apparently an honest and single-hearted young man, had been made the mouthpiece of uninstructed and deceiving Spirits ..... The book attained 34 editions in less than 30 years which alone proved the appeal of the style and the qualities of this stupendous work."

The book opens with the following:

"In the beginning the Univercoelumm was one boundless, indefinable, and unimaginable ocean of Liquid Fire. The most vigorous and ambitious imagination is not capable of forming an adequate conception of the height and depth and length and breadth thereof. There was one vast expanse of liquid substance. It was without bounds - inconceivable - and with qualities and essences incomprehensible. This was the original condition of Matter. It was without forms, for it was but one Form. It had no motions, but it was an eternity of Motion. It was without parts, for it was a Whole. Particles did not exist, but the Whole was as one Particle. There were not suns, but it was one eternal Sun. It had no beginning and it was without end. It had not length, for it was a Vortex of one Eternity. It had not circles, for it was one infinite Circle. It had not disconnected power, but it was the very essence of all Power. Its inconceivable magnitude and constitution were such as not to develop forces, but Omnipotent Power.

"Matter and Power were existing as a Whole, inseparable. The Matter contained the substance to produce all suns, all worlds, and systems of worlds, throughout the immensity of Space. It contained the qualities to produce all things that are existing upon each of those worlds. The Power contained Wisdom, and Goodness, Justice, Mercy and Truth. It contained the original and essential Principle that is displayed throughout immensity of Space, controlling worlds and systems of worlds, and producing Motion, Life, Sensation and Intelligence, to be impartially disseminated upon their surfaces as ultimates."

One can see clearly from this passage that much of the teaching that was given through Andrew Jackson Davis is similar in style and content to that of Emanuel Swedenborg; yet Davis was not at all an educated person during his earlier years. It is this fact, we feel, which makes the revelations of Davis so very interesting. Here we have two seers, Emanuel Swedenborg and Andrew Jackson Davis. Each came from totally different social, economic and educational backgrounds, yet both were channels for some of the most profound and esoteric philosophies and teachings to come out of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Davis's prediction of the movement of Modern Spiritualism was given in his Principles of Nature, first published in 1847. In it he wrote:

"It is a truth that Spirits commune with one another while one is in the body and the other in the higher spheres - and this, too, when the person in the body is unconscious of the influx, and hence cannot be convinced of the fact; and this truth will ere long present itself in the form of a living demonstration. And the world will hail with delight the ushering in of that era when the interiors of men will be opened, and the spiritual communion will be established."

Finally, on March 31, 1848, in his diary, Andrew Jackson Davis recorded the following:

"About daylight this morning a warm breathing passed over my face and I heard a voice, tender and strong, saying, 'Brother, the good work has begun - behold, a living demonstration is born.' I was left wondering what could be meant by such a message."

At that very moment, not too far away, in Hydesville, New York, the events which literally shook the world into looking at the very real possibility of communicating with those in Spirit were taking place. Indeed, the good work had begun.

The contributions made by Andrew Jackson Davis to the cause of Spiritualism simply cannot be enumerated. This simple, uneducated man, through whom so very much was given, should be noted as the prime forerunner to Modern Spiritualism. From 1845 to 1885, he wrote over 30 books dealing on subjects from cosmological philosophy and dissertation, to health, to a descriptive analysis of the afterlife.

In the latter years of his life, having finally acquired a medical degree, Andrew Jackson Davis retired to Boston, where he opened a small book shop. There he sold books and prescribed herbal remedies to his patients
 

Source with some sight alterations By Rev. Simeon Stefanidakis of the First Spiritual Temple
The Ayer Institute
16 Monmouth Street, Brookline, MA, 02446-5605 USA

 

 


Civil War era documents indicate that Davis may have advised Abraham Lincoln.

Andrew Jackson Davis was born on August 11, 1826 in Blooming Grove (Orange County), NY. This town is a small hamlet along the Hudson River. His father was unstable and did odd jobs as a cobbler and weaver. His mother was illiterate and strongly religious. The family frequently moved and he had very little schooling. At an early age he became an apprentice to a shoemaker for 2 years.

In 1838, the family moved to Poughkeepsie, NY. When he was 17 (in 1843), he attended a lecture in his town on Mesmerism given by a traveling Doctor (Dr. J.S. Grimes, Professor of Jurisprudence in the Castleton Medical College). At first, he had no success with it. A short time later, a local tailor (William Livingston), who was experimenting with mesmerism, threw him into a trance. He found that he was clairvoyant and could understand incredible truths from a higher plane of consciousness which he found himself in. He was able to read closed books, diagnose illnesses, and also prescribe treatments which usually worked. Note that this is very similar to what Edgar Cayce did about 50 years later. Being in this superconscious state, he claimed that he could understand the universe, and its causes and effects. Divine truths and the laws of the universe were also revealed to him. He said that he had reached the Superior Condition, beyond clairvoyance where he received truth from the spiritual sun beyond the spiritual world. Davis also claimed to be able to visit the spiritual world at will. He stated that all Spirits continue to progress throughout eternity.

Davis was the first person to diagnose and prescribe cures for individuals while himself in a trance state about 50 years before Edgar Cayce. He also described in detail what happens to the soul at death, and explained spiritualism and other metaphysical phenomena. His scope of knowledge extended to education, health, psychology, philosophy, and government.

In 1846, for 15 months, he dictated a book based on these revelations. This book, Principles of Nature, was published in 1847. He was 21 years old at the time. Up to this time, he had about 5 months of schooling and never read more than a half dozen books. He eventually wrote and published over 30 books in 45 editions. His spiritual writings included topics such as the seven planes of existence, mental and physical health, astronomy, physics, chemistry, philosophy, education, government, and many others. In his writings about the human body and health, Davis described how the human body was transparent to him in this trance state. Each organ of the body stood out clearly with a special luminosity of its own which greatly diminished in cases of disease.

In 1844, Davis was suddenly overcome by some power which transported him to the Catskill Mountains (40 miles away). In this semi-trance state, he claims to have met the philosopher and Greek physician Galen and the Swedish Seer Emanuel Swedenborg, both of whom had been dead for some time. He also experienced a great mental illumination at that time.

His writings open up an entire new world and they speak to your inner most being. He claimed that his purpose was to help people advance spiritually and his writings help to do this.

Davis also predicted the coming age of Spiritualism and is sometimes referred to as the John the Baptist of Spiritualism. In his Principles of Nature (1847), he states "It is a truth that Spirits commune with one another while one is in the body and the other in the higher spheres - and this, too, when the person in the body is unconscious of the influx, and hence cannot be convinced of the fact; and this truth will ere long present itself in the form of a living demonstration. And the world will hail with delight the ushering in of that era when the interiors of men will be opened, and the spiritual communion will be established." Several years later, on March 31, 1848, the Fox sisters in Hydesville, NY began hearing Spirit rappings and this event shook the world into the possibility of communications with spirits.

In 1850, in his book the Great Harmonia, Davis talks about how man evolved from animals and that evolution also took place in plants and animals up to man. He says that this is not a popular idea since many at that time believed in creationism. This is 9 years before Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species. It must be noted that in 1842 and 1844, Darwin wrote relatively short summaries of his theory, but they were not widely read outside of British scientific circles.

He predicted the existence of the planets Neptune and Pluto before their actual discovery. He wrote about The Theory of Evolution a decade before Darwin published "On the Origin of Species" and discovered many other scientific laws before their discovery.

Source with some slight alterations  John DeSalvo

 

Middle age

 

The Poughkeepsie Seer, prophet of a new revelation. He was born at Blooming Grove on the Hudson, his mother was an uneducated woman, his father a drunkard who earned a scanty living as a weaver and later as a shoemaker. Young Davis had gifts of clairvoyance and heard voices at an early age. On advice thus obtained he induced his father in 1838 to move to Poughkeepsie.

Up to the age of 16 he received no education. Apprenticed to a shoemaker named Armstrong he worked at that trade for two years. In 1843, Dr. J. S. Grimes, Professor of Jurisprudence in the Castleton Medical College, visited the city and delivered a series of lectures on mesmerism. Davis attended and was tried as a subject with no result. Later, however, a local tailor, William Livingston, made fresh attempts, threw him into magnetic sleep and discovered that in this state the human body became transparent to Davis' eyes enabling him to give accurate diagnosis of disease. The training did not last long. In 1844 Davis passed through a strange experience which was destined to have an enduring effect on his subsequent life. In a state of semi-trance he wandered away from home and found himself next morning, March 7th, 40 miles distant in the mountains. Here he claimed to have met two venerable men, whom he later identified as Galen and Swedenborg, and experienced a state of mental illumination. He began teaching and published a small pamphlet, Lectures on Clairmativeness, on the mysteries of human magnetism and electricity. He did not include this pamphlet among his later works but explained in his Autobiography that the title was meant to be Clairlativeness. In the course of a professional tour he made the acquaintance of Dr. Lyon, a Bridgeport musician, and of the Rev. Fishbough. Dr. Lyon was appointed as his magnetiser, the Rev. Fishbough as his scribe, and in New York in November, 1845, he began to dictate his great work: The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind. The dictation lasted for fifteen months. Dr. Lyon repeated each trance utterance and the Rev. Fishbough put them in notes. They both assert that except for grammatical corrections they performed no editing. There were many enthusiastic witnesses to the delivery of these utterances. Dr. George Bush, Professor of Hebrew at the University of New York, declared that he heard Davis correctly quote Hebrew. The seer's good faith was also established by his answers to impromptu questions put to him as tests while he was in the clairvoyant state. Prof. Bush summed up his opinion thus:
"Taken as a whole the work is a profound and elaborate discussion of the philosophy of the universe, and for grandeur of conception, soundness of principle, clearness of illustration, order of arrangement and encyclopaedic range of subjects, I know no work of any single mind that will bear away from it the palm."
It was partly due to Bush's enthusiasm that the book, published in 1847, met with eager interest. Within a few weeks of its appearance, however, Prof. Bush published a small pamphlet, Davis' Revelations Revealed, in which he solemnly warned the public against being misled by the numerous errors, absurdities and falsities contained in that work. It was clear to him, he said, that Davis, although himself apparently an honest and single-hearted young man, had been made the mouthpiece of uninstructed and deceiving spirits. This rapid change of opinion is explained by Frank Podmore as due to the seer's attitude towards Christianity in the Divine Revelations part which Bush probably did not read in advance and which contradicted Davis' former views as expressed in his Lectures on Clairmativeness. The book attained 34 editions in less than 30 years which alone proved the appeal of the style and the remarkable qualities of this stupendous work. To the grandiosity of conception this opening passage testifies sufficiently:
"In the beginning the Univercoelum was one boundless, undefinable, and unimaginable ocean of Liquid Fire. The most vigorous and ambitious imagination is not capable of forming an adequate conception of the height and depth and length and breadth thereof. There was one vast expanse of liquid substance. It was without bounds - inconceivable - and with qualities and essences incomprehensible. This was the original condition of Matter. It was without forms, for it was but one Form. It had not motions, but it was an eternity of Motion. It was without parts, for it was a Whole. Particles did not exist, but the Whole was as one Particle. There were not suns, but it was one Eternal Sun. It had no beginning and it was without end. It had not length, for it was a Vortex of one Eternity. It had not circles, for it was one Infinite Circle. It had not disconnected power, but it was the very essence of all Power. Its inconceivable magnitude and constitution were such as not to develop forces, but Omnipotent Power.

"Matter and Power were existing as a Whole, inseparable. The Matter contained the substance to produce all suns, all worlds, and systems of worlds, throughout the immensity of Space. It contained the qualities to produce all things that are existing upon each of those worlds. The Power contained Wisdom and Goodness, justice, Mercy and Truth. It contained the original and essential Principle that is displayed throughout immensity of Space, controlling worlds and systems of worlds, and producing Motion, Life, Sensation and Intelligence, to be impartially disseminated upon their surfaces as Ultimates."
The first part of the book is the exposition of a mystical philosophy, the second reviews the books of the Old Testament, contests their infallibility and further describes Christ as a great moral reformer but not in any special sense divine. The third puts forward a system of socialism.

The originality of the book on the whole has never been contested. Professor Bush, however, points out a strange coincidence. The Revelations, for the most part, express Swedenborg's views, the language is in several cases "all but absolutely verbal" and the agreement is conspicuous with one of Swedenborg's books of which a few English copies had just then reached America, an accurate analysis being given by Davis of Swedenborg's The Economy of the Animal Kingdom. Bush quotes this as an argument for Davis' supernatural powers as the book could not have reached him. Indeed, there is a confirmation of Bush's opinion in the fact that Davis believed that he was controlled by Swedenborg while he produced the book. Further in his Mesmer and Swedenborg, New York, 1847, Bush prints a letter from Davis accompanying a paper written in a cave in a mountain opposite Poughkeepsie, on June 15th, 1846, and quoting accurately long passages from Swedenborg's Earths in the Universe. Bush was satisfied that Davis never heard of this book.

An apparently more serious charge could have been levelled against Davis' Great Harmonia of 1852. There are long passages in this book which correspond with the text of Sunderland's Pathetism of 1847. But even Podmore is of the opinion that Davis could not have copied these passages and that the explanation is to be sought in an extraordinary retentiveness of his memory.

The astronomical statements of the Divine Revelations are very curious. In March, 1846, when the existence of an eighth planet was yet an astronomical supposition (the discovery and verification of Leverrier's calculations did not take place until September, 1846) the book speaks of nine planets. The density of the eighth planet as given by Davis agreed with later findings.

The ninth planet, Pluto, was recently (1933) discovered. On the other hand, he speaks of four planetoids - Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta - whereas they are reckoned in hundreds now. He also said that the Solar system is revolving around a great centre together with all the other stars. Saturn he believed to be inhabited by a more advanced humanity than ours. Jupiter and Mars were also inhabited. On Venus and Mercury the development of humanity was less advanced than on Earth. The three outer planets he declared to be lifeless.

His prediction of the coming of Spiritualism is often quoted:
"It is a truth that spirits commune with one another while one is in the body and the other in the higher spheres - and this, too, when the person in the body is unconscious of the influx, and hence cannot be convinced of the fact; and this truth will ere long present itself in the form of a living demonstration. And the world will hail with delight the ushering-in of that era when the interiors of men will be opened, and the spiritual communion will be established such as is now being enjoyed by the inhabitants of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn."
In his notes, dated March 31, 1848, it is found:
"About daylight this morning a warm breathing passed over my face and I heard a voice, tender and strong, saying: 'Brother, the good work has begun - behold, a living demonstration is born.' I was left wondering what could be meant by such a message."
Podmore, whose attention this note apparently escaped, is not willing to refer the prediction to the Hydesville knockings as the periodical of Davis' close collaborators, the Univercoelum, which continued for more than a year after the Hydesville phenomena, showed indifference. It published but one article, 'Strange Manifestations', on the subject, as sent by a correspondent, and the editors simply promised to investigate.

During the fifteen months while the first great work of Davis was dictated, the sole means of living of the trio was the seer's earning power in giving medical diagnoses. When this proved insufficient the lady whom Davis later married, came to their assistance. The publication of the book made Davis famous. He was soon surrounded by a band of enthusiasts. As their mouthpiece, on December 4, 1847, the first number of the Univercoelum (coined apparently from Swedenborg's "universurn ccelum") appeared. The Rev. S. B. Brittan, the Universalist Minister, was appointed editor-in-chief. He was assisted by the Rev. William Fishbough, the Rev. Thomas Lake Harris, the Rev. W. M. Fernald, J. K. Ingalls, Dr. Chivers, Frances Green, etc. The object of the publication was "the establishment of a universal system of truth, the reform and the reorganisation of society." This reorganisation was expected to come on socialist lines. Davis contributed many articles which were later incorporated in his Great Harmonia.

After twelve months of existence the Univercoelum absorbed the Christian Rationalist, a similar organ, but its career came to an end in July 1849, it being succeeded by The Present Age of W. M. Channing, mainly a socialist organ to which Davis and his friends no more contributed. They accepted as their new mouthpiece the Spirit Messenger of Springfield which was jointly edited by the Rev. R. P. Ambler and Apollos Munn. As the friends of Davis were scattered, other periodicals were founded and the propaganda of harmonial philosophy was independently carried on.

About the time the Univercoelum was founded Davis disposed of the services of his mesmeriser. By an effort of will he could throw himself alone into what he called the "superior condition." He now also remembered his experiences while in trance and wrote his subsequent books in his own hand. He disclaimed dictation by the spirits and said that he could write them by some process of inner perception. Except for seeing apparitions, he was unacquainted with physical phenomena until 1850, when he paid a visit to Dr. Phelps' house in Stratford which was the scene of violent Poltergeist disturbances. In the same year, under the title The Philosophy of Spiritual Intercourse, he published a pamphlet on his observations. His teachings left a deep impression on his age. The Great Harmonia passed through forty editions. His autobiography The Magic Staff, only extends to the year of 1857. In 1860 he started a weekly, the Herald of Progress which absorbed the Spiritual Telegraph. For many decades he worked in ceaseless activity. In the late years of his life he had a small bookshop in Boston. There he sold books and - having acquired a medical degree - prescribed herbal remedies for his patients.

His books: Lectures on Clairmativeness, 1845; The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations and a Voice to Mankind, 1847; The Fountain, 1850; The Philosophy of Spiritual Intercourse, 1850; Truth v. Theology, 1852; The Great Harmonia, 1852; The Present Age and Inner Life, 1853; The Magic Staff, 1857; Death and the After Life, 1865; Morning Lectures, 1865; The Penetralia, 1866; Arabula, or the Divine Guest, 1867; Progressive Lyceum, 1868; Answers to Ever-Recurring Questions from the People (A sequel to Penetralia), 1868; A Stellar Key to Summerland, 1868; Memoranda of Persons, Places and Events, 1868; Ancient and Modern Spirit Mysteries Classified and Explained, 1869; Mental Disorder, 1871; The Temple: on Diseases of the Brain and Nerves, 1871; The Diakka, and Their Earthly Victims, 1873; Events in the Life of a Seer, 1873; A Sacred Book, Containing Old and New Gospels, 1873; Free Thoughts Concerning Religion, 1873; Harmonial Man, or Thoughts for the Age, 1873; The History and Philosophy of Evil, 1873; Philosophy of Special Providences 1873; The Genesis and Ethics of Conjugal Love, 1874; The Harbinger of Health, 1874; Beyond the Valley, 1885; Views of Our Heavenly Home, 1883; Tale of a Physician, 1885.

W. H. Evans, a lifelong student of the work of the Poughkeepsie Seer has condensed his philosophy in Twelve Lectures of the Harmonial Philosophy of Andrew Jackson Davis, Manchester, 1925. A larger volume was published in America by A Doctor of Hermetic Science: The Harmonial Philosophy - a compendium and digest of the works of A. J. Davis, 1920.
Source (with minor modifications): An Encyclopaedia of Psychic Science by Nandor Fodor (1934). and survivalafterdeath

 

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