The true origin of the 7 Principles of Spiritualism

From the website of Chris Connelly,


Records [kept at Arthur Findley College] show that on the 30th April 1871 Emma Hardinge Britten gave a speech at Cleveland Hall.  Although Robert Owen had passed to spirit some 13 years earlier there is no suggestion in any records to indicate that Emma was actually entranced by Robert Owen during the speech.  But perhaps more importantly during this speech titled “The Creed of Spirits. And the Influence of the Religion of Spiritualism” four principles mentioned and interestingly these are different to those we are led to believe that were given.


I believe in God,

I believe in the immortality of the human soul,

I believe in right and wrong,

I believe in the communion of spirits as ministering angels.


Emma followed each principle given during the speech with a detailed explanation describing the philosophy pertaining to that principle.  It is noted that these explanations were for some not adopted and eventually, with the exception of the record detailing the speech, were lost in time.


Further to these four principles being announced the principles again underwent change in 1883 when Emma, responding to an attack on Spiritualism by Reverend Skewes, published in the weekly journal The Medium and Daybreak her response which ended with the following five principles.


I believe in the Fatherhood of God,

The Brotherhood of Man,

The Immortality of the Soul,

Personal Responsibility Here and Hereafter,

And Eternal Progress.


It appears the only time that the alleged original five principles were ever mentioned was in the 1889 Two Worlds publication.  But it is of importance to note that these principles show clearly multiple iterations from 1871 to 1889; and not the single iteration alleged to be given by Robert Owen through the trance mediumship of Emma.


It is of course undeniably attractive for a movement that promotes the life after and the communion of those who have passed to have a narrative that explains the origins of its philosophy, which also embodies such beliefs.


That these Principles were the result of an evolution of thought by Emma Hardinge Britten—rather than inspired by Robert Owen from the Other Side—further proves her genius and perseverance in the face of almost overwhelming resistance.  However, I will continue to believe Spirit inspires the Principles of Spiritualism even as they continue to evolve through our own minds.