Rescue Circles
Groups formed by Spiritualists for the purpose of ‘‘waking
up’’ the dead and freeing them from their earthbound state.
These spirits exist closer to the material plane than to the spiritual
world and in many cases they do not realize that they are
dead at all, and live in a state of bewilderment. If they are enlightened
as to their true condition and if prayers are offered
for them, they will progress to a higher existence. The origin
of rescue circles may be traced to the Shaker communities of
The first such circles were held by the wife of a Col. Danskin
of Baltimore and her other female acquaintances. The most renowned
work was performed by a circle in Buffalo between
1875 and 1900 and by Carl Wickland and his wife.
The mediums in the Buffalo circle were Marcia M. Swain
and Leander Fischer (a professor of music). The circle consisted
of Daniel E. Bailey and his wife, Fischer’s mother, and Aline
M. Eggleston, the stenographer. The identity of the spirit
brought to be ‘‘woken’’ was often verified but as the search for
such proof entailed considerable labor and time it was, after a
while, given up. The circle’s work was described by D. E. Bailey
in his book Thoughts from the Inner Life (1886). Twelve impressive
records of these rescue séances were published in an appendix
in Admiral Usborne Moore’s Glimpses of the Next State
(1911). Similar mission work was carried on by E. C. Randall,
also in Buffalo. The medium was Emily S. French.
Carl Wickland and his wife worked on literally hundreds of
cases and kept detailed records which were published in his
1924 book Thirty Years Among The Dead. The work of the Tozer
rescue circle in Melbourne is described by Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle in Wanderings of a Spiritualist (1921).
Bailey, D. E. Thoughts from the Inner Life. Boston Colby &
Rich, 1886.
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. Wanderings of a Spiritualist. New
York G. H. Doran;London Hodder & Stoughton, 1921. Reprint,
Berkeley, Calif. Ronin Publishing, 1988.
Moore, Usborne. Glimpses of the Next State. London Watts &
Co., 1911.
Randall, E. C. Frontiers of the After Life. New York, A. A.
Knopf, 1922