Spiritualistic practices are commonplace since ancient times and are still present in some of today's religions. In the mid 19th century, intelligentsia circles in Europe and the United States were pierced by spiritualistic doctrines based on a chance to communicate with the souls or spirits of the dead through a ritual of body possession performed by a medium. French Allan Kardec, its top harbinger, established the basic guidelines for this kind of religion that today counts on million f followers all around the globe.
In many Caribbean nations today, spiritualism is commonplace. In general terms, its doctrinal fundaments are boiled down by its followers in the items below:
Spiritualism is a philosophy, a universal religion that promotes the true objective in life through recognized experiences.
The existence of God.
Experimental demonstration of the soul's survival and immortality.
The principle of reincarnation.
Each human being is the creator of his own fate.
All men are brothers in spirit and origin, yet they remain in different stages of evolution and knowledge in line with the spiritual age of each and every one of them.
Promotion of charity, fraternity and solidarity.
For the practitioners of this manifestation, to congregate in the name of God means not only a physical unification but also achieving a communion of thoughts with a view to attain a common good. Thus, it's not the simultaneity of words or outer acts what actually drive people to this aim, but rather communication with the charitable spirit.
It's an usual practice to pray for the souls that have just left the earth, not only with a view to venerate them, but also to help them break free from the earthly world. Like in any other circumstance, the efficiency of the prayer hinges on sincere thinking and not on the rite as such. Mediums generally do some begging taken from Christian liturgy right at the beginning of their spiritual practices as a way to steer the celebration on the right track.
In the ceremonies, practitioners usually make use of glasses of water to cater to the guardian spirits. These glasses become means of communication between men and the otherworldly realm. In the same breath, a lit candle at the beginning of the ceremony burns down completely and it's to be replaced if the Mass is not over yet.
However, and regardless of their fundamental concepts, spiritualism in the Caribbean has taken different ways of expression based on contact and exchange with other religions. For instance, certain spiritualistic manifestations pop up out of cults and aboriginal visions of the universe mixed with Catholic elements and African influence. All of this is ingrained in the so-called Kardecism as the basis of its doctrinal foundation.
The influence of spiritualism has not been the same in all sectors of Caribbean societies. In urban areas, for example, cultivated followers of this manifestation read publications and focus more strongly on Allen Kardec's theories. In the rural areas, though, where illiteracy is dime a dozen and followers turn to material objects in their rituals, a different set of creeds has grown and derived into other forms of popular religiousness.
In Cuba, for instance, we can speak of two fundamental variants: line spiritualism and crossed spiritualism. The former is mostly seen in eastern Cuba as a result of the evolution of popular religious practices during the colonial rule. In this first variant we notice a strong interaction of aboriginal elements blended with certain Catholic and African influence. This variant has been known in Cuba since the second half of the 19th century, though it grew stronger in the early 20th century. This variant is marked by abundance of chants and dancing performed by the mediums in a line or chain to the beat of songs, hymns and invocations that lead to a state of trance or possession of the executioner on the part of the spirit.
On the other hand, the second variant is known as crossed spiritualism in which elements hailing from Catholicism and African religions especially Bantu- melt into each other. It also features some elements from the Regla de Osha and line spiritualism. It's widespread chiefly in both rural and urban areas of Santiago de Cuba province.
There's no doubt that spiritualism in the Caribbean is a religious platform for many practices that concur in this neck of the woods. Its main basic theoretical foundations are preserved in the cults. Nevertheless, the assortment of elements incorporated along the way allows us to tell today's different modalities clearly apart, trends that vary depending on their followers and the social and cultural environment they live in.