There have been Spiritualist meetings in Littleport since 1998 writes Lyn Gibbde Swarte.
Begun in the old Leisure Centre, it moved to the Village Hall soon after, and has remained a weekly Thursday night fixture ever since.
It was started by a group of Littleport people who had joined a spiritual and psychic development circle run by a well-known medium and healer who had relocated from London. She was also the editor of the old established weekly Spiritualist newspaper, Psychic News based at Clock Cottage in the grounds of Stansted Hall, home of the Arthur Findlay College for Psychic and Spiritual Studies.
Some of those circle members are still with us in Littleport. Cathy Gibb-de Swarte, Jacqui Burford and Nick Brown. Mike Goodall too, now with the Ely group, and Hazel Gaskarth. Now passed on into the world of spirit, the realms of light also called heaven, and most fondly remembered, are 5 others who together with me, Cathy, Hazel, Mike, Jacqui and Nick, founded and ran the church.
There was quite a vocal opposition to the meetings at first, but gradually the Spiritualist gathering at the hall became part of the Littleport scene, and those attending talked about what it was like and what went on with their friends and neighbours, and so that went a long way to dispelling much of the negativity propelled towards it.
So now, 20 years later, this Spiritualist conclave has evolved into a splendid New Christian Spiritualists’ Society church, complete with a NCSS Bishop leading a happy regular congregation.
Yes, the Right Reverend Nick Brown, ably assisted by a council, is there most Thursdays, welcoming regular attendees and newcomers alike, to the services that always provides mediums to demonstrate life after death, with messages from Beyond, healing prayer and spiritual upliftment.
Earthly sustenance by way of refreshments is always available after the service, thanks to that council in the persons of Francis and Linda Brown and other church members.
I am glad that I can confess to having been the medium who instigated all of this as that 1998 circle leader.
And glad I am to introduce this message from my one-time diffident student, now ordained minister, Rev Nick Brown.
‘As I sit to write this update from the perspective of Littleport Spiritualism for our community magazine, my view is somewhat different than usual, as I am currently under the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens.
Yesterday, I was sat on the side of Mount Parnassus, the home of The Temple of Apollo, and the seat of the Delphic Oracle of ancient Greek times. It was a long walk, although I was offered a donkey at one point – I declined in this instance.
The journey there reminded me very much of home, with so many parallels to our fenland, small communities that were self-sufficient; with farmland (growing olives, not wheat this time) and farm animals grazing in fields by the road and of course more tractors than you can shake a stick at!
Delphi was called the navel of the world, seen as the centre of creation by the ancient Greeks and the Oracle was at the very centre of it all, in fact going further, to act as an independent old-world United Nations.
The Oracle aimed of course to give ‘Prophecy’, a word much associated with religion and perhaps even more so with Spiritualism. The thing is, as ever, the meaning of that word and deed is so often misinterpreted, especially in these days of freely accessible information, where opinions and not always accurate information can be passed off as facts without relevant research or question.
Prophecy literally is ‘an utterance of a prophet’, and a prophet is ‘one who utters divinely inspired revelations’ and ‘one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight, to reveal the will of God.’ It’s not all about fortune telling!
The tour guide showing us round told us that the ‘Prophecy’ give by the oracle, was often seen as open to interpretation, when asking of future events, and the reason for this is because it was considered that the information given should encourage something very important and very important to those of a Spiritualist understanding, ‘Personal Responsibility’.
As one of our Principles of Spiritualism, many deem this to be one of the most important, although in truth they are all equally important.
The basic purpose was to say ‘if you do this, that will happen, if you do that, this will happen’ educating the enquirer on the finer nuances of cause, effect, and the understanding of consequence, but also hard work, and its associated payoff.
At this time of year, we all look to the future, we naturally bed ourselves in for the winter, storing what we need to get us through the darkness and cold, ready to begin again in the light and warmth of spring, spending our time plotting and planning what we will do with that ‘new year’.
But in an age of heating, electric lights and a shop on almost every corner, for some of us at least, the act of winter preparation should be more about storing knowledge, and the acquisition of wisdom to be better at using that knowledge, ready to change that which needs changing in the light of a new dawn.
Personal Responsibility teaches us this, to make things happen for ourselves, just as the Oracle at Delphi did to all-comers, from all nations and cultures, back in ancient times.
As for the application of the knowledge and wisdom we acquire? A good suggestion, and one I am sure the Oracle herself would back me up on, would be our second Spiritualist Principle, ‘The Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Humankind’, because, after all, not everyone will have that so common heat and light, nor money to nip to the shops for food, even in so called modern society, let alone in other less developed regions of the world.
What we learn, we share (after checking the facts of course) to help, aid and benefit our fellow siblings of the Earth, with compassion, with love.
That is a Springtime I look forward to, a light worthy of shining upon our black soil of the fens.
May your own search for the light be as rewarding, and if you need a boost, you know where to find us, at Littleport’s very own independent navel of our world, Littleport Village Hall, Victoria Street, every Thursday night, with Healing from 7pm and our main service of mediumship, together with, dare I say it, now you know its truer meaning, Prophecy!’
God Bless you all.