Spiritualism is the belief that the spirits of the dead have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. Since prehistoric times shamans have been contacting the spirit world on behalf of the tribe. The afterlife, or the "spirit world", is seen by spiritualists, not as a static place, but as one in which spirits continue to evolve. These two beliefs: that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits are more advanced than humans, lead spiritualists to a third belief, that spirits are capable of providing useful knowledge about moral and ethical issues, as well as about the nature of God. Some spiritualists will speak of a concept which they refer to as "spirit guides"—specific spirits, often contacted, who are relied upon for spiritual guidance. Spiritism, a branch of spiritualism developed byAllan Kardec and today practiced mostly in Continental Europe and Latin America, especially in Brazil, emphasizes reincarnation.

Spiritualists believe that spirit mediums are gifted, but that anyone may become a medium through study and practice. They believe that spirits are capable of growth and perfection, progressing through higher spheres or planes, and that the afterlife is not a static state, but one in which spirits evolve. The two beliefs—that contact with spirits is possible, and that spirits may dwell on a higher plane—lead to a third belief, that spirits can provide knowledge about moral and ethical issues, as well as about God and the afterlife. Many believers therefore speak of "spirit guides"—specific spirits, often contacted, and relied upon for worldly and spiritual guidance.

According to spiritualists, anyone may receive spirit messages, but formal communication sessions (séances) are held by mediums, who claim thereby to receive information about the afterlife.

Spiritualists often set March 31, 1848, as the beginning of their movement. On that date, Kate and Margaret Foxof Hydesville, New York reported that they had made contact with a spirit. The spirit was said to have communicated through rapping noises, audible to onlookers. The evidence of the senses appealed to practically-minded Americans, and the Fox sisters became a sensation; Amy and Isaac Post, Hicksite quakers in Rochester, New York had long been acquainted with the Fox family, and took the two girls into their home in the late spring of 1848. Immediately convinced of the veracity of the sisters' communications, they became early converts and introduced the young mediums to their circle of radical Quaker friends.
Spiritualism flourished for a half century without canonical texts or formal organization, attaining cohesion through periodicals, tours by trance lecturers, camp meetings, and the missionary activities of accomplished mediums. By the late 1880s the credibility of the informal movement had weakened due to accusations of fraud perpetrated by mediums, and formal spiritualist organizations began to appear. Spiritualism is currently practiced primarily through various denominational churches in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
  I Samuel 28  - King Saul Summons
the Ghost of the Prophet Samuel

Samuel had died some time earlier. Saul, fearful of the Philistines, told his officers, “Find me a woman who can talk to the spirits of the dead. I’ll go to her and find out what’s going to happen.”

His servants told him, “There’s a woman at Endor who can talk to spirits of the dead.”

That night, Saul put on different clothing so nobody would recognize him. Then he and two of his men went to the woman, and asked, “Will you bring up the ghost of someone for us?”

 “Who do you want me to bring up?” she asked.

“Bring up the ghost of Samuel,” he answered.

When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed.

 “Don’t be afraid,” Saul replied. “Just tell me what you see.”

She answered, “I see a spirit rising up out of the ground.”

 “What does it look like?”

“It looks like an old man wearing a robe.”

Saul knew it was Samuel, so he bowed down low.

“Why are you bothering me by bringing me up like this?” Samuel asked.

“I’m terribly worried,” Saul answered. “The Philistines are about to attack me. God has turned his back on me and won’t answer any more by prophets or by dreams. What should I do?”

Samuel said: " If the Lord has turned away from you and is now your enemy, don’t ask me what to do. I’ve already told you: The Lord has sworn to take the kingdom from you and give it to David. And that’s just what he’s doing! Tomorrow the Lord will let the Philistines defeat Israel’s army, then you and your sons will join me down here in the world of the dead.

At once, Saul collapsed and lay stretched out on the floor, terrified at what Samuel had said.