Emma Hardinge Britten, Spiritualist and….witch?

By Travis Sanders

Born Emma Floyd, in 1823, Emma Hardinge Britten is a giant in the history of modern day Spiritualism. Known as the silver-tongued lecturer, like most mediums, was said to display clairvoyant ability from a young age. Born in England, Emma, had a gift for words, and the charm of charisma, this would eventually serve her as her gift for trance emerged as a young woman.

In her youth, she traveled to the United States as a stage actress, and began experiencing psychic phenomena. After sitting in a seance with medium, Ada Hoyt, Emma was converted to Spiritualism and soon developed into a remarkable medium, gifted in automatic writing, and trance, and eventually wrote many books upon the subject.

She would lecture for great crowds of people on audience-selected topics, allowing spirit to influence her speech or entrance her all together. She was renowed. She even used her gifts as an orator in the campaign to re-elect Lincoln. Known at that time as Emma Floyd, she married William Britten, an ardent Spiritualist. The name of Hardinge is believed to have been given by groups that she allegedly studied occult knowledge with in her youth, prior to coming to America.

Amongst her accomplishments she established the spiritualist journal “The Two Worlds’, and along with Helana Blevatsky, and other members, founded the Theosophical society in 1887. Additionally she is a founding member of the Spiritualist National Union in the UK (along with J Arthur Findlay and Maurice Barbanell), one of the two largest Spiritualist organizations in the world. It is through her mediumship that the SNU’s 7 principles were received. They are as follows:

1) The fatherhood of God
2) The Brotherhood of Man
3) Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels
4) Continuous Existence of the Human Soul
5) Personal Responsibility
6) Compensation and Retribution, Here and Hereafter
7) Eternal Progress for Every Soul

While Spiritualist today may try to paint EHB as a Christian Spiritualist, she was not. In addition to being a Spiritualist and Theosophist, she proudly wore the badge of ceremonial magician, occultist, mystic and witch. She even authored under a pen name, books synthesizing Spiritualism, Magic, and Mesmerism, one being Arte Magick.

Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits: Rosemary Ellen Guiley
The Spirit Book: Raymond Buckland
The Might Dead: Christopher Penczak


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