Extraordinary Visitation of Departed Spirits

Guest of the “Community” near Watervliet, N. Y., A Revelation of the Extraordinary Visitation of Departed Spirits of Distinguished Men and Women of All Nations, and Their Manifestation through the Living Bodies of the “Shakers.” Philadelphia: L. G. Thomas, 1869:8-10.

The hour for evening service having arrived, the “family” assembled for worship in the large meeting room.  This room was located in the part of the building set apart for domestic purposes.

The brethren range themselves in rows upon one side of the room.  The sisters do likewise upon the opposite side, facing the brethren.  The two Elders and the two Eldresses take their stand at the head of each row or column.  The congregation then commenced singing a lively Shaker hymn.  Leading off in a dance, they move forward and backward, preserving excellent time.  Then they change, making a revolution around the room.  After considerable singing and dancing, and the performance of various evolutions, they ceased, whereupon the leading Elder delivered an extempore exhortation.

As soon as he had terminated his address, one of the brethren became seized with a violent agitation of the body.  His contortions were quite distressing to behold, and he was whirled around seemingly by some invisible influence, until he became almost exhausted, and was bathed in a profuse perspiration.

At the same time one of the sisters, a young woman of singular beauty of face and figure, commenced whirling around with great rapidity.  Her gyrations were so rapid that her face for the time became undistinguishable.  She continued this for an incredible length of time, and such a performance the writer never witnessed upon the theatrical stage, or anywhere outside of those Shaker assemblages.

Various “manifestations” now became prevalent among the brethren and sisters present.  Several were discoursing in what were termed “unknown tongues.”  Some were whirling, and others gesticulating violently, when, on a sudden, loud, simultaneous yells were given, and several of the brethren and sisters sprang into the centre of the room.

The Elders advanced toward those thus possessed, and questioned them.  They jabbered away in a curious, monotonous sort of dialect, until one of them said that they were a party of


of the Mohawk tribe, who had long ago left their wigwams and hunting grounds upon the earth.

The speaker claimed to be the Spirit of a great chief, and he acted as the interpreter for his accompanying Spirits.

Some of the sisters, representing themselves as squaws and Indian maidens, jabbered away apparently in their native language, as used by them when living in the body.

Spirit representatives of several “Indian tribes of North America,” were announced as being present.

The spirit of


in the person of a staid-looking Shaker brother, announced himself, and was recognized by the Spirits present as their “great father” and “guide” in the Spirit World.

The Spirits now came thick and fast; and among the company of Shakers present on this occasion, numbering probably about sixty, at least one-half seemed entirely changed, excepting in dress and complexion, and, so far as their language and actions were concerned, appeared in verity to be the Spirits of the Red Men of the Past.

The one representing himself as the “Interpreter,” and a few others, conversed cheerfully and spiritedly, asserting that they were in a happy condition, and experienced much pleasure in occasionally wandering about their old hunting grounds.  They all seemed to cherish and manifest great reverence for their good friend and spiritual guide, William Penn.

The spirit of William Penn now addressed them in forcible words of eloquence, exhorting them to progress in the great work of Spiritual advancement.

He said that he still felt the same interest and concern in the welfare of the Indians living in the body, in the far West, that he had while in “earth life” for the Red Men of Pennsylvania.

After some time thus occupied in conversation, the spirits of William Penn and his Indian followers withdrew from the bodies of the Shaker brethren and sisters.  The other “manifestations” ceasing, the Elders closed the exercises of the evening with a few words of pious exhortation and good advice to the “faithful” worshippers.


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