Chapter 5 Particulars
Meaning of the term spirituality
On the title page of this study there is a working definition, that people's spirituality includes the conviction that there is more to the world they live in than what the eye sees, that they themselves can relate to the unseen aspects of it, and in so doing their own being is enhanced. The present section investigates the notion of spirituality and analyses it.
The term spirituality speaks of the attitude or orientation people have toward the whole world. Past common usage often identified spirituality with religiousness, both internal, and, to a lesser extent, external (dedication to practices of this or that religion). Such denotation includes the possibility of as many kinds of spiritualities as there are religions. Currently, however, it is normal to extend the term still further to include the attitude of all those who consider that there is more to the world we live in than what we observe through our bodily senses.
Although it is my experience that all those I talked to about this study as I began it said they knew what we mean by spirituality, I trust that a little more explanation of it will be helpful. I propose the ideas and distinctions in this section as a consistent and multi-faceted explanation of a topic that others may validly and with good reason explain in a somewhat different way, although the substance would be very similar.
To begin with, I wish to make clear what it is that I call "the whole world." In place of that term I would prefer to say "the totality of all there is, whether we know about it or not." This, however, is rather unwieldly, and so I have settled upon the term "whole world," or simply "world" because individuals and communities (local societies) begin by perceiving a very small, immediate reality which is their world. When they become aware that there is something beyond the next village they have to redefine the world as the place they know plus some fringe that is out beyond it, but about which they do not have clear knowledge. As people grow and as societies gain a greater fund of knowledge the known world becomes greater and its edges recede, but the edges are still there, and there remains a not-to-be-neglected fringe which is still part of the whole world.
Several definitions of spirituality can be found in Ursula King, Spirituality and Society in the New Millennium, Brighton, England and Portland, Oregon: Sussex Academic Press, 2001.
1) "I shall use the word ... to refer to both the belief/awareness that there is some reality more real, more valuable, more important and more extensive than that revealed by science, and to the practices by which people hope to get in touch with this reality. I understand it as rather more personal and individualistic a notion than 'religion' which I generally use to refer to a system of more institutionally embodied beliefs and practices."(1)
2) "Spirituality expresses a perennial human concern, today often understood as the search for becoming fully human, and that means recognizing the rights of others and striving for an equal dignity and respect for different races, sexes and classes. But it also means to seek something greater outside and beyond the narrow confines of oneself, something or someone who transcends the narrow boundaries of our individual experience and makes us feel linked with a community of others, with a much larger web of life - in fact, with the whole cosmos of which we are all a tiny part." (2)
3) "Sandra Schneiders speaks of spirituality as 'that dimension of the human subject in virtue of which the person is capable of self-transcending integration in relation to the Ultimate, whatever this Ultimate is for the person in question. In this sense, every human being has a capacity for spirituality or is a spiritual being.'"(3)
4) "For many people, the term spirituality has otherworldly connotations and implies some form of religious discipline. The term is used ... in a broad sense, however, to refer to the ultimate values and meanings in terms of which we live, whether they be otherworldly or very worldly ones, and whether or not we consciously try to increase our commitment to those values and meanings. The term has religious connotations, in that one's ultimate values and meanings reflect some presuppositions as to what is holy, that is, of ultimate importance. But the presupposed holy can be something very worldly, such as power, sexual energy, or success. Spirituality in this broad sense is not an optional quality which we might elect not to have. Everyone embodies a spirituality, even if it be a nihilistic or materialistic spirituality ... spirituality as used here refers to a person's ultimate values and commitments, regardless of their content."(4)
1. King, p. 5. From Linda Woodhead, "Post-Christian Spiritualities" in Religion 23(2), 1993: p. 177.
2. King, p. 6.
3. King, p. 6. From Sandra Schneiders, "Spirituality as an academic discipline" in Christian Spirituality Bulletin 1(2), Fall 1993: pp. 10-15.
4. King, pp. 5-6. From David Ray Griffin, ed., Spirituality and Society, Postmodern Visions. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1988.
Griffin, in the just cited Spirituality and Society, Postmodern Visions, broadens the base of spirituality to include worldly values, and the validity of this extension for our study needs to be examined. The key to understanding it lies in considering the basis of any spirituality to be a personal belief system. Personal beliefs, the faith of the individual, tie together the facts of the world into a coherent whole.
One form of personal belief system is the ideology, a set of ideas or concepts which explains a wide range of social phenomena and furnishes a basis for dealing with them. Nevertheless, no matter how powerful ideologies are – think of communism or democracy – they are concerned with social action and not with the ultimate question of what value it all has, or why go to all this trouble. Ideologies therefore are not matters of spirituality.
A worldview goes beyond an ideology. It is a perspective on the entirety of human environment and history by which one not only perceives relationships, but also considers the origin and fate of the world. Still, a worldview, if it is entirely a factual matter – if it derives from strict observation and acts only in accordance with rigorously logical conclusions – does not qualify as spiritual, and atheists and proponents of exclusively scientific method would be the first to point this out.
Worldviews, generally, however, and even ideologies, have an element of faith or belief. In a broad sense to have faith, to believe, means that one accepts something as true for reasons other than the evidence of the senses. As we all know, we can believe what people (newspapers, parents, etc.) tell us, we can believe what we "feel" to be correct, and we can believe what we desire to be right. No spirituality need be involved in many beliefs. When, however, a worldview is based on faith there is spirituality. To put it another way, one valid description of spirituality is the possession of a worldview based on faith, the belief that there is something more to the world than human perception reveals.
From experience we know that the "ultimate values and commitments" noted by Griffin more often than not are based not on strict scientific evidence and irrefutable logic, but on beliefs, and so the person who has them can properly be said to have a spirituality. This is shown, for instance, in the case of humanists, who, regardless of their religious stance, extol the greatness of humanity: they have a spirituality at least in the sense that they regard humanity as being greater than the sum of individuals. And this interpretation of humanity is not the finding of a biological, psychological, or sociological laboratory.
The case of atheism is different. Atheists who are willing to sacrifice their lives for another person or for a cause are demonstrating a kind of spirituality that many religious people lack and admire. Still it is quite consistent of atheists to object to being called spiritual even in this extreme case. "Religion - Atheism" in www.dmoz.org 2005 presents some opinions of theirs on this subject. The reason for their objection is that the choice they are making in their self-sacrifice is one of values: the other person or the cause is more valuable to them than their own lives.
Returning to the notion of faith, one would like to see spirituality grounded in serious, rather than frivolous or tenuous reasons. What perceptions do we humans have that convince us of the reality of a transcendent world or of transcendent values which lie somehow beyond the everyday world of sight, hearing, and so on? How do we justify the faith we have? Shamans and spiritualists have no trouble with this; they are sure that they directly contact the world of spirits.
There also needs to be brought up in this context a modern phenomenon (with, however, ancient roots), the altered states of consciousness produced by chemicals, psychedelic experiences. Some people perceive these as openings to the infinite, realizations of oneness with the universe, transcendences of the self. Whether or not these experiences ought to be called spiritual is a study in itself. For practical purposes, nevertheless, it can be said that if people believe that their psychedelic experiences reveal truth to them, if they are convinced that the drugs enable them to penetrate to the essence of all being, then their experiences deserve to be called spiritual. If, however, they do not associate such values with the experiences, then there is no spirituality involved.
Unlike shamans, spiritualists, or persons who have psychedelic experiences, the great majority of people find one or another of three serious grounds for faith, extrapolation, intuition, and feeling.
Extrapolation. A reasoned, communicable conclusion that the data of the observable world point to realities beyond them, transcendent to them. Rational proofs for the existence and attributes of God are a form of this. Another form points to the existence of genuine reality which is beyond our capacity to understand. Obviously the conclusions of extrapolation cannot be tested by scientific methods. "It would," however, "be exceedingly presumptuous of us at the present stage of the development of human knowledge to suppose that the form of perception and reflection we possess tells us all there is to know about things.... To think otherwise, i. e., that we understand all things, would put us back into one or another form of the rationalism that philosophers have outgrown." (Ethics as Philosophy, unpublished manuscript of mine, copyright 2004, p. 17)
Many people have expressed the same conviction that human knowledge is qualitatively, not just quantitatively, limited. The following citation puts it forcefully and in an unexpected context. Stephen Beames, self-educated thinker and sculptor of note, arrived as a young man with the Canadian Army in the trenches of Flanders in World War I in February, 1915. He remained there in all the battles until the end of the war in November, 1919. On page 63 of his Memoirs, a word-picture of unimaginable horrors of trench warfare, he laments, "The spectacle of those battles made anyone who was inclined to think realise how colossally stupid we are," and he philosophises, "Our senses give us but a dim perception of the whole of reality. We have no more ears for the music of the spheres than earthworms under the bandstand in a park have for a concert." (Stephen Beames, Memoirs. Unpublished manuscript. Oakland, California, 1967; pagination of typed transcript in the possession of my wife, Miriam Beames, Stephen's daughter)
Intuition. A specific type of knowledge recognized by philosophy, but not by all philosophers. According to Peter A. Angeles, Dictionary of Philosophy, (New York: Harper & Row, 1981) intuition is "1. Immediate non-inferential apprehension or cognition of something. 2. The power (ability) to have immediate, direct knowledge of something without the use of reason. 3. Innate, instinctive knowledge or insight without the use of our sense organs, ordinary experience, or reason."
Feeling. Among the many meanings of this noun are several which apply to the experience of having faith. Such are "the undifferentiated background of one's awareness considered apart from any identifiable sensation, perception, or thought" and "any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion." (www.britannica.com/dictionary 2005)
Most of what is written about faith is in a religious context. James W. Fowler, however, has written Stages of Faith (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981) as a developmental psychology of faith which emphasizes the growing structural maturity of the individual's faith. It is true, nevertheless, that Fowler's work centers on religious content. In contrast, Nathan Rotenstreich, in his On Faith (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998) has given faith a philosophical phenomenology analysis, especially treating the implications of the transcendent in our lives, with a minimum of reference to religious content.
Although the terminology is not completely uniform among the many people who speak of such matters, the notions of sacred and of holy relate closely to that of spiritual. The transcendent, ultimate being, however one speaks of it, is holy. Sacred refers to places or actions that, we are convinced, connect the holy with the world or with us. Sacred places are where such contact is a stable characteristic; sacred actions bring such contact about. Some forms of spirituality emphasize sacredness much more than others do.
In current thinking even sacred has gradations from more to less religious. The preface to Open Spaces Sacred Places (Tom Stoner and Carolyn Rapp, Open Spaces Sacred Places, Annapolis, Marland, TKF Foundation, 2008) states (page 10) as a basic premise that “Sacred places are those that have a power – subtle though it may be – to inspire fruitful introspection, to promote emotional and even physical well-being, or simply to provide a respite from the rigors of daily life.” The book presents gardens laid out so as to have an enclosure, an entrance, places to walk about, and places to rest. The effect, it appears to the reader, is more than the sum of its parts, but is, rather, an ineffable feeling, which, if it has to be given a name, can be called spiritual.
Lastly, all forms of spirituality are to their possessors a guide to the way they should act in the world. In other words, there is a connection between spirituality and morality.
As noted above, ideologies and worldviews of all kinds establish a definite position for their possessors. As we look out at the world with our understanding of what it is like, we have to consider how we are going to act in it. We cannot avoid action in the environment and interaction with people. Atheists, although an unusual case because they are completely devoid of spirituality, nevertheless have to act in the world. They do not have a church or a guru to tell them how to act, but the philosophical, psychological, and social values of their ideology or worldview tell them how to act. These values are actually norms of morality or ethics, that is, reasons and rules for deciding which actions are ethical, the right kind of actions for the human person to perform. Atheists' actions can be highly ethical in spite of being not at all religious.
The majority of people are guided in their judgment of right and wrong by their church, their understanding of holy scripture, or some other kind of spirituality. This applies at least to the major decisions regarding issues of life, death, and the meaning of both. How much people's spiritual values affect decisions about everyday matters is another question. It is a common observation that there can be a large gap here.
There can also be collisions of actions arising from spirituality. What about people whose inner voices tell them that God wants them to murder someone? Or how about those who think they are spiritual and headed toward a spiritual reward when they blow up themselves and other people in crowded places? Those who would be the victims of such actions could regard the perpetrators as possessed of spirituality, but they would not be expected to think highly of them or to accept the situation.
We can analyze what is happening here by noticing that by and large the sense of what is right and what is wrong varies little from one spirituality to another. In particular very few views of spiritual values stray far from the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!" or "Do not do unto others what which you do not want them to do to you!" which is found in most of the religions of the world. The Golden Rule holds because we are all alike as humans (all children of God in Christianity, all fellow sufferers in Buddhism, all obligated to combat the Evil One in Zoroastrianism, each occupying a definite place in Confucianism). If I find myself in a world of more than meets the eye, so does everyone else, and we all should be respecting one another accordingly. Our opinions on some moral questions differ, but that does not negate the duty to have respect for one another. This respect is missing in the examples cited.
Spirituality of individuals and of associations
Much of what is stated above about spirituality refers to it as individual human experience. It is, however, a short leap from that to group spirituality, the shared faith of a small or large number of persons. The expression of spirituality comes about, for purposes of this study, by membership in the listed groups and, accordingly, in the social actions of the groups. In a way it is impossible to separate this from the artistic expression of the spirituality of the groups. The architecture, for instance, of churches, chapels, temples, and mosques generally uses forms which are associated with the group that uses them and which, therefore, announce their message. The symbolism and iconography of their decorations often proclaim the spirituality as well as evoke it in the beholder. The artistic creations of members, wherever the art may be located, tell about the group beliefs. The present study, however, limits itself to awareness of the associations as such, to their places and times in history.
There are, of course, some individuals who are highly spiritual, or, at least, show their spirituality more than others do. Their stories are both enlightening and edifying. Some of their lives embody, even epitomize, the spirituality of their group, and are meaningless taken in isolation from the group. Pious Methodists and Catholics, fervent Jehovah's Witnesses, otherworldly Hindu Yogin: fascinating books could be filled about such Santa Cruzans, and I hope their stories will be written. The task of the present study, however, is to tell about the associations to which these people belong.
That would seem to leave the category of spiritual people who belong to no group. The facts are, however, that very few - if any - people live or propose that others live a spirituality that has no ties with preexisting spiritualities. The closest to this that one might expect to find is a person who has intellectively and experientially worked through spiritualities to the point where he or she has a highly personal, close to unique one. Even among these people there is a community, although it has no name and no edifice.
There are, furthermore, individuals who, outside of any group structure, engage in communicating a spirituality to others. I will call these independent spiritual guides. They arise out of many and varied spiritual backgrounds, and the background is less important than the guidance that they give and the results that they aid their students to attain. In this study I do not attempt to list these people, but I am aware of them, and as I observe that they institutionalize I add them to the list of associations under the heading which seems most appropriate.
Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity
A sector of spirituality which is currently at the forefront of cultural and political activities is Evangelical Christianity. After the great sixteenth century split in European Christianity a dominant characteristic of many of the new church bodies was their adherence to the Bible as the rule of faith. In particular the "Good News," or "Gospels" or, in the learned language of the time, "Evangelia," expressed the heart of the faith. For this reason many of them, especially those of northern continental Europe, professed "evangelical Christianity," and of course this was, unlike "protestant," a positive term. To this day numerous church bodies of Lutheran lineage have the word "evangelical" in their official name. There is also the related term "evangelism," which has been used by all Christian churches to express their role of carrying the Gospel to the rest of the world.
"Evangelical" recently in the United States, however, has come to refer to the following set of Christian beliefs:
(a) salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ
(b) an experience of personal conversion, commonly called being 'born again'
(c) the importance of missions and evangelism
(d) the truth or inerrancy of Scripture
The results of a recent large national survey (N = 4,001) show that from 31% to 46% of the U.S. population affirm these evangelical beliefs, although only some of these believers belong to religious bodies which are characterized as evangelical. Looking at the groupings of religious bodies and recognizing their broad traditions, we can say that one quarter of the American religious population can be called evangelical, whereas currently only one fifth is mainstream Protestant. ("Evangelicalism" by Lyman Kellstedt, John Green, James Guth, and Corwin Smidt in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor, Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary, as reported in //hirr.hartsem.edu)
Expressed another way, the church bodies - which includes both individual denominations and associations of denominations - which belong to the National Association of Evangelicals distributed according to Melton's families were in 2008:
1 Western Liturgical
0 Eastern Liturgical
5 European Free-Church
4 I am not able to identify
(The list of the member denominations used for this table was taken from www.nae.net, the website of the National Association of Evangelicals, in 2008. The categorization is mine.)
Fundamentalism is a much-used term that applies to at least three related religious phenomena, that is,
1. The stance of religious bodies which adhere to traditional teachings set forth in writings they consider not subject to compromise. It is particularly applied to religions "of the book," that is, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In all such cases the term "fundamentalism" extends beyond the scriptural text itself to a doctrinal interpretation of it, which, for reasons that each group explains for itself, is acknowledged to be authoritative and definitive. In this current, broad sense, fundamentalism is seen to be a worldwide movement.
2. In a narrower sense, specific to Christianity, the term refers to the independent fundamentalist movement initiated in the 1820's in England by the Anglican priest, John Nelson Darby, and brought to the United States by him and his followers later in the nineteenth century. It greatest voice in this country was that of Dwight Moody, whose Moody Bible Institute in Chicago has shaped the religious attitude of generations of Americans. The Darby-Moody fundamentalist doctrine is characterized by "dispensationalism," a view of world history which divides it into "dispensations," or eras, each initiated by an action on God's part, the seventh and last of which is to be the second coming of Christ.
American independent fundamentalism also sees itself as a bulwark of the literal reading of the Bible against perverted rationalistic and modernistic criticisms of it. Thus the "Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America International" association, which provides fellowship and cooperation among many individual congregations and speaks for them, asserts in its statement of faith, Section 2. Movements Contrary to Faith, "a. Ecumenism. Ecumenism is that movement which seeks the organizational unity of all Christianity and ultimately of all religions. Its principal advocates are the World Council of Churches and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. b. Ecumenical Evangelism. Ecumenical Evangelism is that effort to promote the gospel by bringing fundamentalists into an unequal yoke with theological liberals and/or Roman Catholics and other divergent groups." (www.ifca.org 2005)
3. In the past 100 years the notion of a limited number of fundamentals of the Christian faith has had influence far beyond the confines of the independent fundamentalist churches. These fundamentals, five in number, are "the inspiration of the Bible, the depravity of man, redemption through Christ's blood, the true church as a body composed of all believers, and the coming of Jesus to establish his reign." (Melton, Encyclopedia, p. 73) Christians of many denominations share these five beliefs, and Fundamentalism in this sense has been the rallying cry against Modernism, the view that science negates the veracity of the Bible and that human progress is a good in itself.
The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on Pentecost, the fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus, is a New Testament event that has always had a prominent place in Christian belief and ritual. The Apostles, according to The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, spoke in foreign languages, preaching persuasively to people of many countries and languages. As we are told in the Epistle I Corinthians, there were also other Gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as healing, performing miracles, and prophesying, but common belief among Christians after the early centuries of the church was that the particular phenomena of Pentecost day were given by God in order to speed the spread of Christianity, and they occurred no longer.
During the nineteenth century, however, there was a reaction to dry, intellectual religion among many American Protestants; their worship took on emotional, demonstrative forms. (1) An emotional giving of self was strikingly visible in one way in the conversions of Revivalism, which has been defined as "a form of [evangelical] activism, involvement in a movement producing conversions not in ones and twos, but en masse." (2) In another way this emotional giving of self was to be seen in the personalized good works of Holiness activities. In the last third of the century, too, the demonstrative emotional quality of African religion in the African American population joined the mainstream of American religious life.
The scene was set, then, around 1900 for some American Christian leaders to point to the Pentecostal experience. If the Apostles did these things in order to convert the world to Christ and prepare it for His return, and it was recorded that other early Christians did the same, why should Christians not do this now? Rev. Charles Parham of Kansas was teaching the essence of this belief in 1901, and he called it the "Pentecostal Blessing," (3) but the emotional impact of it burst onto the religious scene in Los Angeles in 1906 in a church named the Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street. Christians, black and white, came there from varied denominations. They spoke and sang in foreign languages; they felt the Holy Spirit come to them and seize them; they healed the sick. (4) From Los Angeles they went forth in all directions, and within two years they were missionaries on all continents. (5) It is also true that independently of Azusa Street a notable emergence of Pentecostalism occurred about this same time in South America, Africa, and Asia. (6)
Although speaking in unknown languages has been the hallmark of Pentecostalism, the movement is based on the experience of the power of the Holy Spirit rather than on any specific manifestation of this. Pentecostals share their conviction of being recipients of the power of the Holy Spirit, but they have divided sharply among themselves on theological issues and have separated into many diverse groups.
Three types of American Pentecostals can be distinguished: (7)
1) Holiness-Pentecostals, who hold to a three-stage development of Christian experience - conversion, sanctification, and baptism of the Holy Spirit. Among these are the Church of God in Christ of Memphis, Tennessee; the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee; and the International Pentecostal Holiness Church.
2) Baptistic-Pentecostals, who believe in a two-stage development - conversion and baptism of the Holy Spirit. Among these are the Assemblies of God, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and the Pentecostal Church of God of Joplin, Missouri.
3) Oneness-Pentecostals, who deny the traditional concept of the Trinity and teach that Jesus Christ alone is God. These include the United Pentecostal Church International of Hazelwood, Missouri.
A secondary cleavage among American Pentecostals has been racial, between Whites and Blacks, but I think this is properly attributed to styles of worship rather than to social discrimination.
The number of Pentecostals in the United States appears to be about 10,000,000. (8) Half of all of these belong to the Church of God in Christ of Memphis, Tennessee, which is predominantly composed of African Americans. After this the two largest Pentecostal churches are the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee and the Assemblies of God.
Pentecostalism's essential characteristic of experience rather than doctrine marks it as differing from Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism. It is nevertheless true that some Pentecostal denominations do belong to the National Association of Evangelicals and some Pentecostals are Fundamentalist in much of their outlook.
It has been observed that the Pentecostal religious experience is less suited to Americans than it is to the people of Africa, Latin America, and some parts of Asia. (9) The fact is that although the world-wide movement of Pentecostalism was born in the U. S., its numbers are increasing at a great rate outside the United States, so that currently about nine tenths of its members are on other continents. (10)
The only notable current increase in the number of American Pentecostals is in the Latino communities. (11) An extensive survey shows that the great majority of them were Pentecostal in their country of origin and that few of them convert from Catholicism to Pentecostalism after their arrival in the U. S. (12) On the other hand, "Pentecostal Protestant churches with Hispanic ministers and Spanish-language services were making substantial inroads into traditional Hispanic Catholic territory. Surveys conducted in the '70s indicate the conversion of perhaps a fifth of Spanish-surname Catholics in Los Angeles to other religions during the decade, twice the loss nationwide. Evangelicals defended their proselytizing by maintaining that up to 80 percent of Latinos lacked an active relationship with the Church." (13)
The Pentecostal movement in the United States drew members from the existing Protestant denominations, but at no time has its growth been sufficient to upset the mainstream status quo. Neither has it affected Catholicism and other Christian branches, but in the 1960s something new developed: the Charismatic Movement. This shared with Pentecostalism the experience of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but placed it within the theological context of the respective churches. Catholic charismatics, Episcopalian and Methodist charismatics, even Baptist charismatics, united spiritually in their emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit. The impetus in the Charismatic Movement seems to have arisen from the generally broad thinking of the 1960s. The spirit of the times led to Christians' sharing of their religious experiences across denominational lines in interfaith activities. Moreover, many Christians thought that if it was the Age of Aquarius on the outside of religion, it was the Age of the Holy Spirit on the inside. The Catholic Church was in the forefront of the movement, considering the Second Vatican Council, which was held at this time, to be the work of the Holy Spirit.
The movement was not of theology, but of experience, and rather than become Pentecostals, the charismatics became more devout Catholics, Episcopalians, etc. The Charismatic Movement peaked in the 1970s, but it is still a force in Christian religious life, particularly because of the proliferation of independent charismatic congregations which avoid being categorized according to the denominational structure of typical American Christianity. (14)
Overview of Pentecostalism in Santa Cruz
All the Pentecostal associations named above are or have been represented in Santa Cruz County. Throughout the years, however, many small Pentecostal congregations with no apparent denominational affiliations have appeared. Many of these I can identify as Pentecostal only by their names. "Full Gospel," for instance, is a technical Pentecostal expression which means "that the preaching of the Word in evangelism should be accompanied by 'signs and wonders,' and divine healing in particular is an indispensable part of their evangelistic strategy." (15) "Apostolic" and "Bethel" in the title of a church are fairly reliable indicators of the congregation's being Pentecostal. Many of these independent congregations have also disappeared, leaving little trace for the historian to follow.
The sevenfold division of Santa Cruz Pentecostalism which I use in the list of associations is roughly in historical order. The number of congregations in the headings shows that the Assemblies of God are strong in the area, and that the largest of the Pentecostal denominations, the Church of God in Christ of Memphis, Tennessee, seems to be represented by only two congregations, one of which no longer exists. This local divergence from the general statistics of Pentecostalism is no doubt due to the small African American population of the area. Another major Pentecostal church which has been little represented in the county is the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee. Because there are so few of these two churches to list, I have not given them separate headings as I have the other five main Pentecostal groups, but they are found under #7.1 "Various Pentecostal, no longer in existence," and #7.7 "Various Pentecostal."
The earliest Pentecostal congregation I have found in Santa Cruz County dates to 1909, and it seems to have been of short duration (Pentecostal Tabernacle in #7.1). Pentecostals were probably not very welcome in the conservative Santa Cruz of the time, as one may surmise from reading the following quote from an early California Pentecostal pastor: "The most violent persecution for those filled with the Holy Spirit came between 1906 and 1916. Many of us were thrown into jail. Others were horsewhipped, clubbed, or stoned and seriously injured, or even killed. Around 1916, when Pentecostal churches became more prevalent, persecution began to be less violent. Serious persecution of the post-Azusa days will never leave my memory." (16)
Between the 1909-1910 dates of the Pentecostal Tabernacle and the year 1946 only five Pentecostal Congregations were, as far as I can tell, established in the County. Two of these, both founded in the early 1920s, still exist, and three are defunct. During the Depression years of the 1930s many Pentecostals came to California from the Dust Bowl area of the Southern Great Plains, notably Oklahoma, the "Okies." Pentecostalism was strong among these, and they brought it with them, but mainly to Southern California and the interior valleys. (17) After World War II many Pentecostal congregations were established in the County.
1. This reaction appears under Methodist family, #4, Holiness family, #6, and Classical American Spiritualism, #16.1.
2. http://ctlibrary.com/ch/1990/issue25/2525.html 2006.
3. Melton, Encyclopedia, p. 41
4. Anderson, Pentecostalism, pp.188-189
5. Anderson, Pentecostalism, pp. 57-58
6. Anderson, Pentecostalism, pp. 35-38
7. This division originated with Dr. H. Vincent Synan, and is to be found on p. 307 of Mead, Handbook
8. www.britannica.com (2006)
9. Anderson, Pentecostalism, p. 235
10. Anderson, Pentecostalism, pp. 10-13, which presents several estimates of world-wide Pentecostal membership, but makes it clear that the figure of 115,000,000 is the proper one to compare with the U. S. 10,000,000.
11. Anderson, Pentecostalism, p. 59
12. Díaz-Stevens, Latino Resurgence, pp. 216-217
13. Kay Alexander, Californian Catholicism, p. 73
14. Anderson, Pentecostalism, pp. 155-159
15. Anderson, Pentecostalism, p. 211
16. A. C. Valdez, Fire on Azusa Street. Costa Mesa CA: Gift Publications, 1980, p. 47.
17. Ferenc Morton Szasz, Religion in the Modern American West. p. 83
An extensive treatment of the religion of this group of immigrants is found in American Exodus, by James N. Gregory. On p. 41 Gregory presents in graphic format a fact about the group from a study by Donald J. Bogue, Henry S. Shryock, and Siegfried A. Hovermann, Subregional Migration in the United States, 1935-1940: of the 251,956 who moved to California in the period 1935-1940, only 11,291 settled in the Central Coast, from San Mateo County to Ventura County, including all of the Salinas Valley. In Chapter 7, "Special to God," pp. 191-221, Gregory shows that the great majority of these immigrants - more properly, according to him, called "Southwesterners" - were fundamentalist evangelicals, and the largest denomination among them was Southern Baptist. Other large groups were Southern Methodist and Holiness and Pentecostal, the latter two being of various kinds. There was a great loss of religious continuity in the lives of these immigrants, principally because the Southern Baptist Convention had not yet been formally organized in California at that time and the Southern Methodists and Northern Methodists were in the process of formally reuniting. All through California the immigrants did not account for the founding of many congregations until the end of World War II, although the Church of the Nazarene (Holiness) and Assemblies of God (Pentecostal) served as spiritual homes for disoriented Baptists, many of whom, however, returned to their Southern Baptist allegiance when that became possible.
Bibliography on Pentecostalism
Allan Anderson. An Introduction to Pentecostalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Edith L. Blumhofer, Russell P. Spittler, and Grant A. Wacker, Eds. Pentecostal Currents in American Protestantism. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1999.
Ana María Díaz-Stevens and Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo. Recognizing the Latino Resurgence in U. S. Religion. Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1998.
In addition to these specific sources, Melton, Encyclopedia and Mead, Handbook present basic facts about American Pentecostalism and its spread.
www.pccna.org 2006 (website of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America, umbrella group for many Pentecostal churches)
Spirit Fruit Society
The Spirit Fruit Society was a utopian commune with a religious background. Founded in Ohio in 1899, it moved to Soquel, California in 1915 and remained there until it disbanded in 1930.
The group was incorporated under this name in Ohio, in 1901. "As for the Society's name, Jacob [Beilhart, the founder] believed that mankind remained in a spiritual state akin to the bud or blossom, that man's soul had not yet achieved the spiritual perfection analogous to full fruition, a quasi-biblical metaphor more common and perhaps less susceptible to ridicule a hundred years ago than it is today." (Murphy, Reluctant Radicals, p. 2)
The two authors of critical studies of this group noted below as sources concur that it cannot be conveniently placed in a single category. Although its religious traits gave the group the impetus and momentum to exist, its religious character was scarcely visible; although the members were attempting to live in a perfect society, they refrained from proposing themselves as a model for the reformation of an imperfect world. Merely to describe the group as a commune, however, dilutes the members' idealism and strength of character.
Sources of information
Although the society and its founder were not unknown to writers on utopianism, anarchism, and religious communalism, no extensive serious studies of it were published until the late 1980s. At that time two books appeared, Spirit Fruit, A gentle utopia by H. Roger Grant in 1988, and The Reluctant Radicals. Jacob L. Beilhart and The Spirit Fruit Society by James L. Murphy in 1989. Both authors cite primary sources, often the same ones, although rarely do they quote the same passages. Murphy was born and raised in northeastern Ohio, where the Spirit Fruit Society originated, and he explains that he was motivated in his research by local and personal interest, to which he applied his professional expertise as staff member first at the Ohio Historical Society and then at the Ohio State University Libraries. Grant, a professor of history at the University of Akron, wrote about the Spirit Fruit Society and other American utopian groups. Consequently Grant provides more bibliography and references regarding other utopias, and Murphy has more details about day-to-day activities. Murphy's text is considerably longer and incorporates much more from newspapers and from Jacob Beilhart's writings. Each has his own way of analyzing Jacob's spiritual development. Aside from their bibliographies, neither author mentions the other, but they must have known each other, and their books are - intentionally or not - complementary in content and spirit.
In writing about the Spirit Fruit Society's activities in Soquel both authors relied on information furnished by persons deeply involved in Santa Cruz County History. Sara Bunnett, Genealogist and Santa Cruz County Library Trustee, furnished James Murphy with information about the Society's two locations in Soquel and with photographs of them. Stanley Stevens, University of California Santa Cruz Librarian and Chair of the Publications Committee of the Santa Cruz County Historical Trust, provided Roger Grant with vital and property records and with maps of the Soquel area.
Very little remains of Jacob Beilhart's writings. Leroy Henry, himself a utopian who called himself Freedom Hill Henry after the commune he lived in near Burbank, California, became interested in Jacob and published some of Jacob's writings in several volumes. Two of these are listed in the online catalog of the University of California Santa Barbara: Jacob Beilhart: life and teachings and Love letters from Spirit to you.
Origin and general history
Born in 1867 to a farm family at Columbiana, Ohio (about 20 miles south of Youngstown), Jacob Beilhart was raised in a strongly religious environment and as a child considered himself Lutheran like his father. At the age of 17 Jacob went to work in his brother-in-law's harness shop in southern Ohio and the following year moved with his sister and brother-in-law to Ottawa, Kansas (a city about 50 miles southwest of Kansas City).
On a farm near Ottawa Jacob became acquainted with the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and soon became a zealous member of it. In 1887 he entered the recently founded Adventist institution, Healdsburg College in Healdsburg, California. (This college was closed in 1908 and incorporated into Pacific Union College in Angwin, about 40 miles away.) He acquired a preacher's license from the Adventist Church, and in April, 1888 he left California for visits in Kansas and Ohio. He preached in these two states, especially Kansas, until he decided he should direct his zeal to more practical goals. This led him in 1890 to Battle Creek, Michigan, where Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was operating the Battle Creek Sanitarium as an exercise in Adventist principles of health care. Here Jacob studied and practiced nursing, and he became close to Dr. Kellogg. Apparently in late 1891 or early 1892 Jacob left employment in the sanitarium because he had gone into the practice of faith healing, which was not among Dr. Kellogg's activities.
Jacob soon became associated with C. W. Post, a consummate entrepreneur, who had come to the sanitarium for treatment, but was cured, as he believed, by a faith healer (not Jacob). By 1892 Post had founded La Vita, a health care sanitarium of his own in Battle Creek, and made Jacob an associate in operating it. In this period both Post and Beilhart became familiar with Christian Science, and although they repudiated it as a set of doctrines, they retained sympathy with its view of the illusoriness of illness. The roasted cereal beverage Postum was born in Battle Creek at this time, and C. W. went on to become a millionaire, whereas Jacob separated from him and left Battle Creek in 1896.
At this point occurs the most outstanding difference between Grant and Murphy's accounts. Both sources agree that while in Kansas Jacob married Lou Blow, a girl who had been born in Ohio four months after him, and they agree that Lou was with Jacob in his travels and adventures from the time of their marriage in February, 1887 until some time in 1900. They also concur that Lou bore two children while married to Jacob, but, according to an orally transmitted family account cited only by Murphy, these were really the children of C. W. Post, and when Jacob learned the truth about this, in 1896, he ordered Post out of his house and he and Lou soon left Battle Creek together.
From 1896 until late 1904 Jacob was in his home area of Ohio. This was the period in which the Spirit Fruit Society was born, and 1899 was the key year in which he instituted communal living, in Lisbon, Ohio, and began publishing a newsletter entitled Spirit Fruit. About fifteen people joined Jacob as stable members of the commune on a farm property he bought outside Lisbon. Here they worked the farm and published Spirit Fruit and Jacob's second "newspaper," Spirit's Voice. Although many people visited, some of these staying for a while or visiting regularly, Jacob made no effort at that time or ever to recruit members, and he did refuse to admit to membership persons he did not think fit for it. The group did not beg and it did not bother the neighbors, but its mysteriousness, its perceived possible link with anarchic societies, which were objects of hysterical fear at the time, and its dubious views on marriage, as evidenced by the birth of two illegitimate children in it during this period, brought townspeople, local clergy, and newspapers to view it as a threat to the accepted way of life. It became more difficult to live under public censure, and in 1904 Jacob bought a farm property in Ingleside, Illinois (close to the present village of Long Lake), 45 miles northwest of Chicago. Shortly before that Jacob had established a house in the heart of Chicago and had gathered a few followers there. Although the Chicago base was not formally organized as a commune, it gave Jacob a useful beginning point in Illinois.
The dozen or so members who moved from Lisbon to Ingleside plus about three new ones built with their own hands a large and solid cement block structure, carried on their activities as before, and were better accepted by the local residents than they had been in Ohio. The equilibrium of the group was strong enough that it might have gone on indefinitely, but in November, 1908 Jacob suddenly took sick and on the 28th he died, apparently of peritonitis. With Jacob also died the two publications and all representation of the society to the outside world. For the rest of its existence the remaining members of the group shared their spiritual life and lived and worked together in an astounding harmony. Only their work, however, produced income, and it was not sufficient to maintain their large building and property in Illinois.
By 1911 the members had decided to sell and move to California, but it was not until 1914 that they arrived in Los Gatos, where they rented a property, and 1915 that they bought in Soquel 80 acres, which they called Hilltop Ranch. The property lay on the top of a knoll which was reached by going seven tenths of a mile from Soquel Drive up Soquel San Jose Road, turning left across from the north line of the Soquel Cemetery at a road now called Hilltop Road, going straight for three tenths of a mile and then curving to the right around the knoll and entering from the far side of it. This land was a portion of the former Dakan Ranch. In the Mexican days in California the Rancho Arroyo de Rodeo included the Hilltop Ranch. The property lay on the top of a knoll which was reached by going seven tenths of a mile from Soquel Drive up Soquel San Jose Road, turning left across from the north line of the Soquel Cemetery at a road now called Hilltop Road, going straight for three tenths of a mile and then curving to the right around the knoll and entering from the far side of it. This land was a portion of the former Dakan Ranch. In the Mexican days in California the Rancho Arroyo de Rodeo included the Hilltop Ranch parcel and much more. The parcel passed to John Daubenbiss, (1889 Hatch Map of Santa Cruz County) and then to Thomas B. Dakan. (1906 Punnett Map of Santa Cruz County)
Twelve of the society's earliest members made the new start in Soquel. The two children born back in Ohio to a member, not those born to Jacob's wife, were also with them, quite grown by now. As before, no effort was made to attract new members, although at least three men did join for a while. Several of the people who had belonged in the past remained attached to the society and helped it financially from time to time. Once again the members constructed a substantial building, although this one was much smaller than the Illinois "castle" (as some called it). The group lived in peace with their Soquel neighbors, but they were older now and several of the original members left (all on good terms). By 1928 there were six left, and they were forced financially to let go of the ranch and move to a house close to the center of Soquel Village. This house still existed in 1989, although the Hilltop Ranch building was burned down in a 1981 training exercise of the Soquel Fire Department. In 1930 Virginia Moore, who had been the leader of the society since the death of Jacob, died at the age of 50, the remaining members disbanded and went their respective ways, and the Spirit Fruit Society passed away quietly.
Tenets, worldview, agenda
As he progressed from Lutheranism to Seventh Day Adventism to Christian Science Jacob Beilhart synthesized his beliefs into something he himself called amorphous. It was amorphous, however, only to the extent that it was not a dogmatic syncretism which could be expressed in many unequivocal propositions. Jacob was not a learned man and clearly had almost no accurate information about Hinduism, Buddhism, or even historic anti-dogmatic currents in Christianity, although it is suggested that some of his ideas came by way of Theosophy, which was in its formative stage at the time. "Strictly speaking this is not a religion. We came here because we became dissatisfied with the frivolities and faddisms of what people call religion .... We do not preach, we practice," said Jacob in an interview for the Waukegan Sun, May, 1905. (quoted in Murphy, p. 129) Nevertheless, his message of selflessness and faith in a universal, unifying spirit was in the tradition of that mystical distillation of religion which appears spontaneously in the most disparate of dogmatic traditions. In the 1901 papers of incorporation of the Spirit Fruit Society Jacob places the organization in its religious framework:
"Art. 1. ... there is one Universal Spirit, which pervades all things, and acts out thro' nature, the various qualities which compose it.
"This Universal Spirit is impersonal in its essence....
"Art. 3. ... man is the highest external expression in this manifestation of Universal Spirit. That physically and mentally, he is the most complex in his organization, and therefore capable to express a larger amount of Universal Spirit.
"That man, when considered as he will be, when finally perfected, is a complete expression of Universal Spirit.
But as yet, man is simply an undeveloped 'plant' which has not manifested the final fruit, which he is to produce....
"Art. 4. ... man in his present stage of unfoldment is selfish, emotional, and religious by nature....
"Art. 9. ... when one, by experiences passes through the various stages of unfoldment, they [sic] reach a nature in them which desire to cease their efforts to take to themselves anything, or exclude others from it. They desire to unite with others who have reached the same plane, and follow the desire to help their follow mortals. They learn that the real joy in life is not to receive by effort put forth to obtain for themselves and exclude others, but rather that the amount of their joy consists in the amount of joy they can produce for others...." (as quoted by Grant, p. 41)
The last thing Jacob wanted to do was tell others what they should do: he was at times exasperatingly pliable and willing to accept what came. He became a leader by virtue of his charismatic qualities: he was handsome, articulate, and inflamed with the power of his convictions. Besides this, however, he had an enormous capacity for hard work, mental and physical. Thus, in an historical period when religious utopian societies were rather common, he had all the elements needed for the formation of a small, stable group. The greatest challenge during his lifetime was his totally non-dogmatic view of marriage, which he acknowledged but thought unnecessary among people who were in love, and more troublesome than it was worth, particularly because it forced women to be subservient. (It was this, more than anything else, which perturbed the people of Ohio.)
That the group should remain together after losing its inspiring leader has to be attributed to two factors, the force of its simple and unifying view of itself, and the extraordinary people who had gathered around Jacob in the beginning. They were truly selfless, persevering in their love for one another, and unbelievably hard working. Grant, in particular, points out that Spirit Fruit, although small, was a long-lived utopian group. Thirty-one years, it seems, is a long time in utopia.
When Mission Santa Cruz was founded in 1791 it was in the land of the Ohlone, who were also known as Costanoans. The Ohlone were the peoples of the area from Carmel on the south to San Francisco Bay on the north, and from the ocean shore to the mountains on the western edge of the great interior valley. The Ohlone local communities were small (none, it seems, larger than 500 persons in number) and independent of one another. They have been grouped by anthropologists according to their languages. Awaswas was the language of the immediate Santa Cruz area, Rumsen was that of the Monterey-Carmel zone, and Mutsun was spoken by the people around San Juan Bautista. Each language had many dialects.
The Ohlone were quickly resettled in the missions; those who were destined for Mission Santa Cruz were there by 1795. By 1808 these Ohlone were being joined by displaced Yokuts from the California interior valley, who then intermarried with them. In 1825, "At Mission Santa Cruz approximately 31% of 429 Indian people were tribally-born Ohlone speakers, another 50% were tribally-born Yokuts speakers, and 18% were mission-born children of both groups."
After California entered the American Union there was very little record keeping that would link the Ohlone survivers of the Mission period with the present. (1)
What do Americans, even Californians, even Santa Cruzans know about the spiritual life of the Ohlone before the Spaniards came? In general the religion of Native Americans in California and elsewhere when the Europeans came upon them was Shamanism. The traditional religion of North Central Asia, Shamanism had fanned out in the course of millennia in an arc over northern Eurasia and North America, extending as far as Australia and South America. It rested upon belief in “cosmic animism,” in which the whole universe, and not just the earth, is alive, and the universe is structured in layers, the sky, the underground, and, between them, the earth, which is inhabited by living humans. The layers, Shamanism explains, are connected by the Tree of Life, which shamans, and, among humans, only shamans, are capable of ascending and descending spiritually so that they can go to all parts of the universe. As they travel about they can acquire power for themselves, or they find powerful helpers so that they can heal the sick and bring rain and other benefits to the people. (2)
The spirituality of the Native Americans in particular has been studied by many scholars. To a great extent what we know about it has been handed down in myths, that is, stories, about heavenly people of old, about the clever coyote, about happiness after death in a far-off land, and so on. This does not mean that Navaho beliefs were exactly the same as the beliefs of the Mohawk, the Illinois, or the Seminole. Different environments, different terrains, different climates, different local animals were represented in the stories. There is a trove of information about the customs and beliefs of many California native peoples, because numbers of these peoples’ descendants survived to tell about them. This is unfortunately less true of the peoples of the central coast of California. Nevertheless researchers do document prayers, offerings, dancing, singing, and interpretation of dreams as manifestations of the spirituality of Monterey Bay Ohlone, as well as a belief that upon death they would go to a land beyond the sea. (3)
I have come upon two early nineteenth century accounts of the beliefs and religious practices of the Ohlone, and I am presenting them here because the reading of the original texts brings us closer to insight into the spirituality of the peoples. Both nevertheless have to be read with the caution that the Europeans had inadequate understanding of what they were seeing.
One is a graphic description by Frederick William Beechey, an English naval officer and geographer who visited California in 1826. In his Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific, published in 1828, he wrote, "principally from the information of the priests, and from the journals of the officers who went overland to Monterey," "The religion of all the tribes is idolatrous. The Olchone [sic], who inhabit the seacoast between San Francisco and Monterey, worship the sun, and believe in the existence of a beneficent and an evil spirit, whom they occasionally attempt to propitiate. Their ideas of a future state are very confined: when a person dies they adorn the corpse with feathers, flowers and beads, and place with it a bow and arrows; they then extend it upon a pile of wood, and burn it amidst the shouts of the spectators, who wish the soul a pleasant journey to its new abode, which they suppose to be a country in the direction of the setting sun. Like most other nations, these people have a tradition of the deluge; they believe also that their tribes originally came from the north." (4)
The other source consists of the responses to a survey sent to the Spanish Colonies in America in 1812 by Don Ciríaco González Carvajal, Secretary of the Department of Overseas Colonies. The thirty-six questions asked were intended to elicit information about the native peoples of the New World: who were they, where did they come from, what were their customs, and what were their religious beliefs and practices? (5) The responses of eighteen Alta California missions, dated from 1813 to 1815, preserved in the archives of the Santa Barbara Mission, were published by the Mission Archive Library in 1976. (6)
The value of this survey as a first hand source of information on the California Peoples' spirituality in particular cannot be overestimated. Deficient as the mission padres' notion of indigenous spirituality was, they knew more about it than anyone else did and they were asked specifically about it. The questions focused on the pre-Spanish conquest beliefs and practices which had not been extirpated by 1812, and so the answers indicated only some aspects of the peoples' previous spirituality. For the most part, however, these were the aspects so firmly rooted that they had resisted the missionaries' efforts to put an end to them. Some of the responses, in fact, did describe religious practices which no longer existed.
Six questions were explicitly about aspects of the peoples’ religion, and a seventh question, number 15, about health care, also brought out answers pertinent to spirituality. (7)
The length and tenor of the responses varied greatly. Some respondents, answering at length, described precisely and objectively the traditional beliefs and actions of the people; others wrote at length about the contemporary practices of the Christianized residents rather than about their former selves; still others replied in a mere sentence or two, although some of the brief statements are quite revealing. Unfortunately for modern researchers, however, no set of responses provides a complete description of the original local spirituality.
The responses from Mission Santa Cruz, signed by Fray Marcelino Manríquez and Fray Jayme Escudé, are relatively complete and informative. Nevertheless, they yield mere glimpses into the religion of the people. At the suggestion of Randall Milliken, I add to the Santa Cruz responses additional observations made by the respondents from the nearby missions, San Carlos (Carmel), San Juan Bautista, Santa Clara, and San Jose (Fremont). These missions were close enough to Santa Cruz that what can be said about their spirituality is at least pertinent to Santa Cruz. If some characteristic shows generally throughout the California missions I mention it, too, even if it does not appear in the Santa Cruz report.
Question 10. "Do they retain any superstitions? Which ones? What means can be used to destroy these superstitions?"
[Santa Cruz] These Indians do not have superstitions, not even omens which are believed even by the gente de razón in other parts. Nevertheless, there are among them some ill-intentioned old persons who inject a dreadful fear into them concerning the devil whom they look upon as the author of all evil. These oldsters make the rest believe that in order to prevent the devil from harming them they should offer him a little flour, which they eat, in a definite tree trunk, in this or that place. With the same purpose in mind, they hold at times secret, nocturnal dances always avoiding detection by the fathers. We are informed that at night, only the men gather together in the field or the forest. In their midst they raise a long stick crowned by a bundle of tobacco leaves or branches of trees or some other plant. At the base of this they place their food and even their colored beads. Then they prepare for the dance bedaubing their bodies and faces. When all the men are together the old man whom they respect as their teacher or soothsayer goes forth to listen to and to receive the orders from the devil. The old man returns after a short interval to make known to the miserable and innocent listeners not what he heard from the father of lies but what his own perversity and malice dictated. After this they proceed with the dance and continue with it till daybreak. In order to dissuade them from such harmful deception there is no better remedy than preaching and punishment. This is what we missionaries do and with good results.
The Santa Cruz response to question 10 clearly refers to the role of the shamans and to offerings made to placate unseen beings. These two religious characteristics are general in the responses of the eighteen missions. The use of the term "devil" for the unseen beings who have power to harm people reflects the Spanish and generally European habit of imposing Christian concepts on the animistic worldview of Native Americans in California and elsewhere.
Question 12. "Is there still noticeable among them any tendency toward idolatry? Explain the nature of the idolatry and unfurl [sic] the means that can be employed to root it out." (To understand the question it is necessary to realize that the Padres thought the Pagans of old actually worshipped the images of wood or stone, "false gods," that they used in their religious ceremonies.)
[Santa Cruz] The California Indians are and have been pure pagans, that is, they do not have, nor have they adored false gods. Thus it has not been necessary to devise means to make them desist from a sin they have not committed.
The Santa Cruz reply to this question goes on at length about the wonderful work the missionaries are doing. Mission San Carlos, however, adds
[San Carlos] These natives practiced the following type of idolatry: at times they blew smoke to the sun, moon, and to some beings whom they fancied lived in the dwelling of the sky. At the same time they would say: “Ah, this wisp of smoke is blown that you may give us a favorable day tomorrow.” In like manner they took pinole or flour of the seeds they gathered and throwing a handful to the sun, moon or sky, they said: “I send you this that you may give me greater abundance next year.”
Question 15. "Not having physicians in their villages what curative methods do they use in time of sickness?" The question went on to ask for medical details, such as the use of herbs, but some of the responses included the functions of shamans. The response from Santa Cruz is strictly about thermal baths and sweat houses. Mission San Juan Bautista's reply is more typical of the generality of responses:
[San Juan Bautista] There are among the Indians many healers and wizards who obtain many beads for curing others, but at other times, they get nothing. These have deceived the greater number of their people. They cure by chanting and by gestures and shouts they attempt to effect their superstitious cures.
Question 19. "In their pagan state in many places they adored the sun and the moon. You are to state if they still have any memory of this or any hankering or tendency toward it."
[Santa Cruz] Question 19 is satisfactorily answered by what we stated in Number 12. If the Indians admire the sun they never adore it.
Question 28. "Do you notice among them any inclination to immolate human victims to their gods in cases of idolatry into which they fall and of which there are examples?"
Question 29. "If among the untamed Indians these sacrifices to their gods are still observed and if they offer human victims, what ceremonies do they observe in regard to the corpses they bury? Do they in some parts place food with the interred or do they burn the corpses entirely?" The padres in Santa Cruz seem to have limited patience in regard to this line of questioning:
[Santa Cruz] Already in Answers 12 and 19 we have stated that these California Indians are not idolators so they do not offer up victims either irrational or human. With what has been stated in the aforementioned answers and in the answer to question 21 [about burial customs] we deem questions 28 and 29 sufficiently taken care of.
Significant in this statement is the reference to irrational sacrificial victims. Some of the southern missions reported the ritual sacrifice of large birds, including eagles, but none of the Santa Cruz group mentioned this. No California mission stated that its peoples had practiced human sacrifice.
Question 35. "What are their ideas of eternity, reward and punishment, final judgment, glory, purgatory and hell?"
[Santa Cruz] The California Indians have no idea of heaven or the final judgment but they do have plenteous ideas of the punishments the devils administer in hell. For this reason the Indians try to placate them.
Missions neighboring Santa Cruz had more extensive answers to question 35:
[San Juan Bautista] They have hardly any idea of the soul or of immortality. Nevertheless they have stated that when an Indian dies his soul would remain in their sacred places which the sorceress had (and still has) for the purpose of asking pardon from the devil. This accounts for the fear that possessed them when they passed near the place of worship. It was nothing more than a stick painted red, white and black with some arrows attached or hanging jars and other things. Other arrows they place at the foot of another stick which they call chochon and there they also placed pinole, beads and a pouch of tobacco. Others have stated that the souls of the deceased go west but that they did not know what they did there. For these reasons they never again mentioned the dead man by name. It was a source of great sorrow and pain even to mention their names.
In the responses of Santa Clara and San Jose, this place to the west was explicitly said to be a land of happiness.
The rest of the Santa Cruz reply to question 35 concerned "the tradition that in some former time an alien woman came to this region." The writers identify her as the Venerable María de Jesús de Agreda, a Spanish nun who was reputed to have aided the evangelization of American Indians in the Southwest between 1620 and 1631 by appearing there while being bodily in her Spanish convent. (8)
Two characteristics of the peoples' spirituality which are not mentioned in the Santa Cruz report, but which are found in those of the generality of the missions are
Reverence toward the game they hunted.
Belief in the reality of dreams.
Characteristics which were reported for at least some of the peoples, but not for the people of the five missions of the Santa Cruz area were:
The world was created in some fashion.
Large birds, including eagles, were sacrificed ritually (mentioned above).
There were fixed prayer poles (not temporary ones, as in the case of Santa Cruz).
Talismans were used (thus the response to question 10 from San Fernando: "In order not to become tired climbing hills they carry a stick or stone.")
Dead humans returned as animals.
One would like to suppose that some of these traits were found among the peoples of the Santa Cruz area, and the silence of the questionnaire responses in their regard is striking. This silence is especially noteworthy in regard to the origin (creation, in some fashion) of the world. Is it farfetched to guess that the Ohlone People were reluctant to share their myths with the padres, or, if they did share them, the padres were not inclined to repeat?
One last item of interest from the survey was the difficulty of communication among the peoples even locally. Question 13 was, "Let them state what languages these people generally speak and if they understand any Spanish." The responses for most of the missions indicated that there was a single local language, or, at the most, three or four native languages in the area. Exceptions were 1. San Buenaventura, where "Within fifteen, ten, or even fewer leagues in distance, they speak a distinct language so that they scarcely understand one another," 2. San Luis Obispo, where there were fifteen languages in the area, 3. San Jose, where "the dialects vary to such an extent that the Indians living fifteen or twenty leagues from the others cannot understand each other," and 4. Santa Cruz, where "The Indians of this mission speak as many dialects as the number of the villages of their origin. It is, indeed, a matter of surprise that although one village is only two leagues or less away from another, the Indians of the said villages not being allies yet the dialects are so distinct that generally not a great deal can be understood of one by the other." Of all the missions, therefore, Santa Cruz was the least likely to possess internal religious homogeneity by internal communication.
Fortunately some Ohlone stories have come down to us. Nine that I know of are to be found in two slender volumes edited by contemporary Rumsen story teller Linda Yamane. These stories were preserved in the family memory of some Ohlone and were collected by the ethnographer John P. Harrington from interviews with aged descendants in the 1920s and 30s. (9)
In the world of the stories the most wise and powerful figure is Eagle, the “Captain,” who presides over a council of Hummingbird, Crow, Raven, and Hawk. Although Hawk is the strongest of the birds, he saves the world through the magic of Eagle. Crow is the most imaginative thinker of the five, but he gives advice when asked for it by Eagle. The most daring of the group is Hummngbird, who, acting upon instructions by Eagle, has an achievement out of proportion to his small size.
Led by Eagle, these birds drain the earth of the worldwide flood. Then they restore fire to it (because they are hungry and want to cook) and populate it with people and animals “so we won’t be alone.” In attempting to make people out of clay they discover that the people have to be dark haired. The Badger People, who live under the earth, help the birds in one instance and hinder them in another.
The (Ohlone) people themselves can possess magical powers over nature for good and can change into powerful figures, such as thunder. Their greatest feat in the stories is to kill with knives a huge, man-eating snake. This is, moreover, the only action in the stories that takes place in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The only bad humans in the stories are fishermen, who are punished by their fear at the thunder which they themselves brought about. Good humans at a dance are rewarded by having a bottomless vessel of food.
Some of the tales explain the origin of natural phenomena: the sound of waters in a river is really the sound of two bears talking about their journeys, thunder is a noise made by two boys who escaped into the sky, and there are white people because a whale swallowed a person and then cast him up, bleached white. Taken together, these tales present a world in which intelligence and power are not at all restricted to humans. None of this collection of stories explains the origin of the world; none of them hints at the ultimate destiny of that rather inferior creature, the human being. (10)
Indian Canyon, a place of the People's own
Efforts are now being made by known Ohlone descendants of the south end of Monterey Bay and of the inland parts of the Pajaro River basin to document sufficient descendants to establish recognition as an Indian Nation. Working toward this end is the Pajaro Valley Ohlone Indian Council, headquartered in Watsonville. With about 100 members plus several hundred affiliate members elsewhere in California, the Council organizes informational activities for the general public. (11)
Traditions, practical and spiritual, of the Ohlone, especially the Rumsen, are maintained in "Indian Canyon," 15 miles southwest of Hollister. This settlement is "Indian Country," a place which has special status under federal law, although it is not a reservation. (12) Indian Canyon is not in Santa Cruz County, but it is a place where the present day descendants of the Ohlone can achieve a sense of oneness with the land and with their ancestors. To a great extent this is accomplished through the ceremonies which are held there:
Ceremony holds a crucial place in the life of Native peoples. It is the expression and continuation of their relationship to the Earth and their own history. Ceremony is an anchor for identity for tribes, families and individuals.
Indian Canyon has always welcomed tribal people in need of a place to perform their traditional ceremonies. This is sacred ground, blessed by the elders and the ancestors for the purpose of carrying on the living tradition of ceremony for Native people throughout California and beyond. Sweat lodge frames, fire circles, arbor and dancing grounds are clustered throughout the canyon. Tribal members and others come for vision quest, sweat lodge, coming-of-age rituals, naming ceremonies, and other rituals.
The Bear Dance is an ancient traditional healing ceremony taking place annually in Indian Canyon. Native Americans dance as bears, become bears, circling around the sacred fire giving blessings for all those present in the circle as well as for the entire world. Other ceremonies include the Moon Festival, and the Story Telling Festival.... (13)
Although further information about Ohlone history and spirituality is disappointingly hard to find, and scholars have had little to add for years, some of the Ohlone descendants themselves are working at it. Since 2009, in particular, a new organization, the Confederation of Ohlone Peoples, headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area, has been serving Ohlone people and supporters.
The Confederation is an educational organization. Although the organization has plans to develop a genealogical archive, and members may share their own genealogical process, we are not an organization dedicated to genealogy, federal recognition or judging people based on their level of engagement as either a Supporter of Ohlone people or Descendent[sic] of Ohlone people. Since the group’s creation, we are now being called to support issues around the preservation of sacred sites and the creation of new Native cultural centers on behalf of the Ohlone. (14)
In 2011 the largest convenient collection of information about the Ohlone is the website http://ohloneprofiles.org. This website lists activities, especially around San Francisco, it has information about several leaders in the promoting of Ohlone interests, and it lists Ohlone groups that have applied for federal recognition. With about 100 members plus several hundred affiliate members elsewhere in California, the Council organizes informational activities for the general public.
1. The information in the three preceding paragraphs is from ethnohistorian and research archeologist Randall Milliken's article, "The Spanish Contact & Mission Period Indians of the Santa Cruz-Monterey Bay Region," pp. 26-36 of Yamane, A Gathering of Voices. The reference to Awaswas, however, is taken from William Shipley's article, "The Awaswas Language," in the same book, pp. 173-182.
2. There is now an abundance of information on Shamanism available to the general public. A prime reference for Shamanism and its place in spirituality is Mircea Eliade, Shamanism; archaic techniques of ecstasy, London: Routledge & Kegan, 1964 (English translation).
3. The best sources available on this topic are L. J. Bean, The Ohlone Past and Present, pp. 99-163; Richard Levy, "Costanoan," pp. 485-495 of Volume 8, Handbook of North American Indians; Robert Heizer, The Costanoan Indians; and Lauren S. Teixeira, The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area.
4. Van Coenen Torchiana, Story of the Mission Santa Cruz. pp. 427-429. Randall Milliken, in his doctoral dissertation, An Ethnohistory of the Indian People of the San Francisco Bay Area from 1770 to 1810, University of California, 1991, cited in Bean, The Ohlone Past and Present, p. 134, proposes that the “Olchone” here are the “Oljon,” who lived north of Santa Cruz, in what is now San Mateo County
5. Inspection of the thirty-six questions suggests the following working categorization of them:
Demographic information 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 20, 30, 34.
Social customs 4, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 25, 26, 31, 32, 36.
Character traits 9, 22, 23, 24, 27, 33.
Religion 10, 12, 19, 28, 29, 35.
Effect of Spanish rule 5, 6, 11, 13,
6. Maynard Geiger O.F.M., As The Padres Saw Them. The first edition consisted of only 500 copies, and until now (2011) it has not been republished or reprinted.
7. The traits of spirituality revealed in the responses can be grouped under four headings:
Cosmogony (very little about this)
All-pervading animism (much about this)
Control of non-human powers (very much about this)
Ultimate human destiny (a little about this)
8. Venerable María de Jesús de Agreda was the author of The Mystical City of God. More detail about the tradition that she appeared in Santa Cruz is found in an alternate version of the Santa Cruz responses to the Spanish questionnaire. The alternate text is found in Alexander S. Taylor, "Santa Cruz County Indians," Number 4 in the series "The Indianology of California," in the California Farmer, a Sacramento weekly newspaper, April 5, 1860. The Indianology series ran from 1860 to 1863. Curiously, although the elements of the text are clearly the same in both versions, Taylor states that the responses were made to inquiries made by the Council of Regency in 1810.
9. Linda Yamane, When the World Ended; How Hummingbird Got Fire; How People Were Made, and The snake that lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other Ohlone Stories.
10. A tenth story, preserved in the memory of an Ohlone family, is about the cleverness of Coyote. It can be read in Beverly R. Ortiz, “Chochenyo and Rumsen narratives: a comparison,” in Bean, The Ohlone Past and Present p. 132.
11. Lois Robin with Patrick Orozco, "The Pajaro Valley Ohlone Indian Council," in Yamane, A Gathering of Voices, pp. 216-217.
12. www.indiancanyon.org .
13. www.indiancanyonvillage.org .
14. www.ohlonenation.org .
Lowell John Bean. The Ohlone Past and Present. Menlo Park, California: Ballena Press, 1994
Maynard Geiger, O.F.M. As The Padres Saw Them: California Indian Life and Customs as Reported by The Franciscan Missionaries 1813 - 1815, Historical Introduction, Notes and Translation by Maynard Geiger, O.F.M., Anthropological Commentary, Notes and Appendices by Clement W. Meighan. Santa Barbara, California: Santa Barbara Mission Archive Library, 1976.
Robert F. Heizer. The Costanoan Indians. Cupertino, California: California History Center, De Anza College: Local History Studies, Volume 18, 1974.
Malcolm Margolin. The Ohlone Way. Berkeley, California: Heyday Press, 1978. This is the most widely diffused, although not the most scholarly, book on the Ohlone.
William C. Sturtevant, Gen Ed. Handbook of North American Indians. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1978.
Lauren S. Teixeira. The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area. Menlo Park, California: Ballena Press, 1997.
H. A. van Coenen Torchiana Story of the Mission Santa Cruz. San Francisco: Paul Elder and Co., 1933.
Linda Yamane, Ed. A Gathering of Voices. The Native Peoples of the Central California Coast. Santa Cruz County History Journal, issue No. 5, 2002. Santa Cruz, California: Museum of Art and History.
-------- When the World Ended; How Hummingbird Got Fire; How People Were Made. Berkeley: Oyate, 1995.
------- The snake that lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other Ohlone Stories. Berkeley: Oyate, 1998.
Mission Period in Santa Cruz
The colonization and evangelization of New Spain
For two hundred and fifty years Spaniards knew about, but did not colonize the Pacific coastal land north of Mexico. Then, for another fifty years they organized and maintained in this land scattered communities, which within twenty-five more years had disintegrated. Three hundred years of history that were almost obliterated, but which have become a romantic memory. The object of this essay is not to retell the story of the founding of the missions, even the one at Santa Cruz, but to give the reader insight into the spiritual life of the Santa Cruzans during its mission period, 1791 to 1846. Historical material about mission times is abundant, but it contains only scattered references to the spirituality of the people. I have gathered a little here, a little there to construct this narrative about the Spaniards, the Natives of the coastal area, and the Californios.
It took forever for Europeans to find the east coast of the Americas and establish a permanent presence there; from then it took Spaniards only twenty-one years -1492 to 1513 - to find the west coast, and in eight more years, by 1521, they had conquered the rich and semi-tropical land which stretched between the two coasts. Millions of people lived in this cultured land of cities, of agriculture and of silver mines, which came to be called New Spain, and which we know as Mexico. (1)
In the course of building its empire Spain dispatched to faraway places colonists and, for their protection, soldiers. Spain also sent priests, missionaries, to build the strongest of all Spanish social bonds, active membership in the Catholic Church. It is generally acknowledged that the Spanish enterprise in the Americas had a twofold motivation: to place the lands under the jurisdiction of the King of Spain, and to make civilized Christians out of the inhabitants.
In New Spain, the Caribbean, and South America local churches were served by Spanish priests recruited to found and maintain them. In those days the Catholic countries had an abundance of priests, especially order or religious priests who were not tied to the local parishes in the home country. Hundreds of Franciscan, Dominican, Augustinian, and Jesuit order priests were available to go to New Spain as well as to many other far-flung colonies. Some notion of their numbers can be seen in the facts that the last of the large missionary groups to arrive in New Spain, the Jesuits, numbered 220 there in 1767, when they were expelled from the colony by royal order. (2) In 1759 the Jesuits had been expelled from (Portuguese) Brazil: 670 of them. (3)
By 1570 Spanish missionaries had founded about 150 mission congregations in New Spain alone. (4) In the more populous places in North and South America there were sufficient colonists to establish a religious and lay society similar to that of Spain as well as to attend to the conversion of the natives. By 1600 the Catholic Church in New Spain had built “churches splendid in both architecture and decorative art,” (5) and “convents were well endowed and nuns had a life similar to that of nuns in Europe.” (6) Similar development occurred in Peru and Chile.
Away from the cities, in an extremely far-off and immense land where the colonists arriving from Spain were not sufficiently numerous to found many cities or even villages, or to take over existing ones, and where garrisons of soldiers had to be few and far between, communities had to be formed out of the existing population. It was incumbent on the Spaniards to establish financially self-sufficient communities that would foster the evangelization of the natives. The method chosen, the gathering of the natives into closed communities, came to be known as the mission system, and from its origin in New Spain it spread throughout the Spanish colonies in South America. It has been pointed out that such an endeavor was an exercise in humanism, a Republic of Plato, a Utopia of Thomas More. (7)
The Spanish Catholic culture brought by missionaries took firm root in the cities and villages of New Spain’s mountain heartland, extending out in all directions. It took years, however, to begin extending the mission system beyond Zacatecas through the great desert of the north. In 1598 the first mission in what is now New Mexico was founded by Franciscans; by the 1630s there were 25 mission congregations there. Beginning in 1632 Franciscans founded 17 missions in what is now Texas, and Jesuits in 1687 began founding a set of missions that included two establishments in what is now Arizona. Between 1683 and 1767 Jesuit missionaries organized 17 mission communities in the peninsula we now call Baja California (8)
New Spain became a Catholic country. Tragically, within a century of its conquest its many millions of natives had dwindled down to less than a million and a half. They did increase, however, to about six million by 1800. It is well known that illnesses brought by the Europeans were the main cause of the precipitous loss of population in the New World. In the earliest Spanish colonies, which were in the Caribbean, the toll of native lives was even greater than in New Spain: “The frightful devastation of the native races in EspaĖola, Cuba, and the other areas of the Caribbean left the missionaries without a people to evangelize. The Church in those areas became primarily a Spanish one, with some work being done among the black slaves who were imported to replace the Indians and among the remnants of the natives themselves.” (9) Imperfect as the mission system was, it was an improvement over the original Spanish operation.
In 1810 approximately 42% of the inhabitants of New Spain were pure native, 41% were of mixed blood, more native than European, 16% were of mixed blood, more European than native, and the rest, less than 1%, were pure european. If that final figure seems too small, it helps to note that the grand total of Spaniards who emigrated to the whole New World before 1700 was about 500,000, and between 1700 and 1800 it was 53,000. None at all emigrated to Alta California between 1800 and 1810. (10)
The missions and the colonization of Alta California
To the north and the west of the settlements of New Spain lay a great unknown land that well into the eighteenth century Europeans commonly thought to be an island. (11) Taking its name from the legendary Queen Calafia, (12) California became known as a long north-south strip of mountainous coast divided into two sections, Baja, or lower, and Alta, or upper. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo took a look at Alta California in 1542 as did Sebastián Rodríguez CermeĖo 52 years later and Sebastián Vizcaíno eight years after that. In spite of Vizcaíno’s report that there was on that coast a harbor (Monterey) useful along the route of the galleons that Spain shuttled back and forth between Acapulco in New Spain and Manila in the recently conquered Phillipines, nothing was done about establishing a Spanish port of call there.
It was only after another 160 years that Spanish political and commercial powers began to feel threatened by the intrusion of England and Russia along the Alta California, coast, which the Spanish crown considered jealously to be its own. To assert its rights and take physical possession of Alta California, Spanish authorities established the routes for reaching it by coastal sailing and by the overland exploratory expeditions, of Gaspar de Portolá in 1769 and of Juan Bautista de Anza in 1774. A year and a half later de Anza returned with colonists. A land route to Alta California was needed because traveling there by sea was slow and perilous. (13) De Anza’s land route, from the east side of the Colorado River, apppeared to have the greatest potential. It depended, however, on the cooperation of the friendly natives near the Colorado River. Later these natives turned against travelers using this route, and so its practicality was lost. It has been suggested that if de Anza’s route had remained open there would have been, about 75 years later, a flood of Spanish gold miners, but as it was, no such flood materialized. (14)
By 1775 there were Spanish establishments including settlements, garrisons, and church congregations in San Diego, San Gabriel, San Luis Obispo, San Antonio de Padua, Carmel, Monterey, and San Francisco. All in all, between 1769 and 1823 21 missions, strung out from San Diego to Sonoma, were founded in Alta California. This land was not only the farthest outpost along the Spanish west coast of North America, but it was also a backwoods, not a frontier in the sense that the west was a frontier to the Americans of the east. The thinly spread occupation of cattle ranching was the principal means of economic support during the whole mission period.
A handful of missionary Franciscan friars, 40 in number in 1800, 37 in 1820, operated the twenty-one missions. (15) For some of the missions garrisons of soldiers, presidios, were close by; near others separate non-native communities, pueblos, were established. Soldiers proved to be poor neighbors to the mission natives: “The presence of the soldiers was a mixed blessing. While it kept the missionaries alive to pursue their work, it also brought the Indians into contact with some of the most corrupting and brutal elements of the Spanish world.” (16)
The shape and functions of the miniature theocracy which was each Spanish mission in Alta California is well known: a plaza surrounded by a church on one side and adobe buildings containing working and living areas on the other sides. Outside and stretching for great distances, even for miles, lay the mission lands, which were to some extent cultivated, but were principally grazing fields for cattle. They were self-contained, almost self-sufficient, islands of people and activity. The inhabitants were mainly the local natives, whose semi-nomadic life had turned into village life organized and fostered by the missionaries.
The magnitude of the Alta California mission chain was small compared with that of New Spain and of South America. The total number of baptized natives present in the missions of Alta California in 1832, while the system was still going strong, was 17,000, whereas at one time the natives of the Paraguayan missions numbered 150,000, and even in New Mexico in the 1630s there were 50,000 natives in the missions. (17)
Much attention has been paid in popular literature to the organization and discipline of the missions. There are also descriptions of the natives’ activities, some of which were colorful, such as the work of the vaqueros, the ranch hands. Jo Mora writes about the vaqueros who, in the early years of a mission, were perforce natives, “Especially in that very early period when the supply of white vaqueros was negligible, the padres were compelled to train neophyte Indians or give up trying to raise cattle and horses on a large scale under open-range conditions.” He adds, “There continued to be some native vaqueros throughout the whole Spanish and Mexican eras.” (18) Much could be said, too, about the role of the friars, who, in addition to their spiritual activities, had to be farmers, carpenters, masons, and even cowboys.
Group spiritualities in the Spanish and Mexican eras
Twelfth in the order of the founding of the 21 California missions, established in 1791, was Santa Cruz. This mission was 17th in the number of baptisms administered, 2,439, versus an average of 4,180, and also 17th in its headcount of cattle and horses, 4,000, versus the average of 7,891. (19) Across the San Lorenzo River from the Santa Cruz mission lay Branciforte, a rather ill-conceived pueblo founded six years after the mission with an initial population of 17 persons, undistinguished, but “mostly Spaniards,” from New Spain. (20)
To see the Santa Cruz mission in perspective one can look to the other end of Monterey Bay. The very first emigration of laity from New Spain to Alta California consisted of 190 people who were conducted to Monterey by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776. Monterey, as the port and capitol of Alta California, with a population of about 200 in 1796 and 300 in 1818, overshadowed by far the pueblo of Branciforte, which had 122 residents in 1822. The mission of San Carlos in Carmel registered 3,827 baptisms, less than the average of the missions, but half again as many as mission Santa Cruz. (21)
The Spanish population in the early years of Mission Santa Cruz consisted basically of the two Franciscan friars stationed there. With them were a few Spanish soldiers and a mile away were the handful of Spaniards in Branciforte. The friars, along with military officers and the official in charge of Branciforte, constitute what might be called the upper class of the total community. All the rest, natives and settlers, would have to be called lower class: there was not yet a segment of society that merited the description of middle class.
Spanish piety at this time reflected the determination to survive of a church which had been buffeted for centuries by Islamic forces and was now fiercely free and fiercely loyal to the Church of Rome. Purity of faith was also valued highly: the much maligned, but certainly rigorous Inquisition was the Spanish Inquisition, not the Roman. A prominent characteristic of Spanish piety, perhaps because of the area’s centuries-long tribulations, was the prominence it gave in both ceremonials and art to death and to the dead. A near obsession with suffering and death “characterized much of Iberian spirituality, with its bloody crucifix, memento mori, physical mortification … and realization of the shortness and contingency of life.” (22)
The largest segment of the Mission population consisted of the natives who were brought to live in the Mission compound and were baptized Catholic. From 1791 to 1824 the average number of resident natives was 388. (23) The natives baptized by the friars, were instructed to some extent in the Christian faith, and taught their roles in Catholic ceremonies. How much Christian doctrine they internalized is the subject of controversy. It was said that in the sixteenth century century there was not yet a “proper” prebaptismal instruction, and Augustinians gave more of it than Franciscans, who did more baptisms, (24) but two hundred years later the California missions had a well developed method of instruction with written materials and lay instructors.
To do justice to the missionary process one must remember that the natives of North America did not have a single, standard belief. Some had sophisticated doctrines which competed intellectually with Christian theology; others retained the wide-spread and conceptually simple animistic faith that presented no arguments against Christian teachings. (25)
Even with better instruction,
The task of translating Christian European concepts into totally alien tongues and cultures was itself daunting. Indian and European lived on different sides of a major cognitive and psychological chasm. On a superficial level the friars solved this problem by simply incorporating Spanish words, such as dios, espiritu santo, or obispo, into the native languages. At other times the missionaries adapted native terms to Christian usage, but the result was often confusing. Among many of the New World Indians, for example, the idea of sin as a personal, willful violation of a divine law that merited punishment was incomprehensible. (26)
According to the eyewitness Antonio María Osio,
It is known and well proved that the Indians of Alta California, especially the adults, who were called Christians simply because they had been sprinkled with baptismal water, were never true Catholics. They would leave their ranchería or their errant lifestyle and, out of fear, deceit, or self-interest, head for the mission that was beckoning them. They listened to the Fathers preaching the gospel, but they did not understand what was being said. The interpreters should have concerned themselves with translating the concepts which corresponded to the oratory, but they were in the same position as the other Indians. The words were foreign to them and they could only translate them poorly. And they really did not believe in the meaning of the words that they did understand, especially those regarding faith. For their strongest conviction was “What is visible is real.”(27)
Osio’s editors refer, in a note, to others who held the same derogatory opinion about the catholicity of the natives. Removing the accusatory tone from this opinion, one is left thinking simply that the natives were less convinced than the Spaniards thought they were. One might look at it the following way:
This gap in understanding between evangelizers and evangelized may have worked in the natives’ favor. The latter appeared to have accepted Christianity in its fullness, yet it was often only a veneer. This may have prevented the missionaries from fully understanding the syncretic process whereby Christianity was being mingled with native beliefs and practices, or it may have given them an excessive optimism about the success of their efforts. (28)
How many remained professing Catholics after the friars and their mission system were gone, is far from clear. Not many of the native people of Alta California remained, as is well known, due to the European sicknesses they contracted. Of those who did survive the Mexican period some returned as best they could to native ways and others let themselves be identified as Californios. Their numbers in either case are uncertain.
No discussion of California mission piety is complete without mention of devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe or the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is said to have appeared to a native man near Mexico City in the 1530s. Over one hundred years later the Catholic Church in New Spain scrutinized the event and gave its blessing to the commemoration of it in Catholic practices and rituals. In 1754 Pope Benedict XIV declared Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the heavenly patroness of New Spain, and he approved a Mass and Office to commemorate her every December 12. (29) Thus this devotion was part of the piety of all Catholic churches in New Spain years before the founding of Mission Santa Cruz.
Originally the term Californio was applied to residents of Alta California who were born in New Spain of parents who had emigrated from Spain. Then these and many of their descendants married natives of New Spain. The children of these, too, if they emigrated to Alta California, were called Californios. And so also their children’s children, some of whom married natives of Alta California, giving rise to a fairly large society that perpetuated itself when all the Spaniards had either gone home to Spain or had died. (30) After the early days in the missions, the Californios became a kind of middle class, that is to say that they rode horses and attended to cattle, but they were exempt from manual labor, which was the lot of the native converts. (31) The vaqueros Californios could be considered the first American cowboys, but, unlike the later “Texas cowboys,” who were single, reckless wanderers, the Californios were married and settled. (32)
Toward the end of the mission period, “The spirit of provincialism in the populated areas of the north had reached such a point that the native-born wanted to be called californios and not Mexicans.” (33) As Jo Mora puts it,
Had you asked an old-time Californian if there was a dash, or a bushelful, as far as that goes, of Indian blood in his veins, you’d have been liable to feel the tickle of steel between your ribs and to wake up playing a harp in unfamiliar surroundings. No, sir! They were Spanish, and they’d have you know it. (34)
Some of the Californios were the criminals who were sent north from Mexico to Alta California, “15 in 1825, 200 in 1829, 130 in 1830, and so on,” “as a sort of Siberian work camp.” They (to some extent) and their children (more fully) were absorbed into Californio society. (35)
The Californios were raised on Spanish piety, and any influence their spirituality might have retained from native roots was suppressed or forgotten because it was “unchristian.” Socially the Californios were separated from the natives, who were gathered into the mission compounds; ideologically, too, they were separated as members of a superior race, gente de razón. As time went on and Californios had more children with California natives, these children were also considered Californios. (36) The faith and religious practices of the Californios were as close as possible to those of their Spanish forefathers, making allowance for different physical circumstances, such as churches few and far between, religious art of lesser, although not primitive, quality, clergy not readily available, and transportation to church by horseback. As an 1840s traveler remarked,
Religious education was observed in all homes. Before dawn each morning, a hymn of praise was sung in chorus; at noon, prayers; at about six p. m. and before going to bed, a Rosary and another hymn. I saw this on several occasions at balls or dances when the clock struck eight: the father of the family stopped the music and said the Rosary with all the guests, after which the party continued. I saw the same thing sometimes at roundups, when the old men stopped work to pray at the accustomed hours, joined by all present. (37)
Compliance with church duties seem [sic] to have been as strictly enforced, in theory at least, under republican as under royal rule; and no series of regulations for pueblo or presidio was complete without the most stringent rules for such compliance. (38)
Regarding the Californios of the Santa Cruz area, there are many acounts, especially about family customs and, after 1834, property transactions, but little is to be found specifically about the practice of religion. The Californios of Branciforte and the lands close to the mission had no place to attend church services except the mission itself. Otherwise the only church and semblance of a congregation of Californios I know of in Santa Cruz County was that of the chapel built on the edge of the county on the property of Juan Miguel Anzar in Aromas and served by his Mexican educated friar brother, José Antonio Anzar, the pastor at San Juan Bautista from 1833 to 1854. (39)
At the other end of Monterey Bay stood the presidio church, which was the parish church of the Californios there. In the beginning, there were in the congregation Spaniards, such as the soldiers of the presidio, but also some mestizos, such as soldiers’ wives. Gradually there were in it fewer and fewer pure Spanish colonists. (40) The bulk of the natives were attached to the mission in Carmel. The casual ways of the Californios led American and European observers to describe their catholicism as shallow, but these observers were generally too set in their ways to understand what they saw
Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821, and in 1826 the new government decreed that the natives could leave the missions “provided they had been Christians from childhood, or for fifteen years; were married, or at least not minors, and had some means of gaining a livelihood.” (41) Nevertheless it appears that they tended to remain in the missions, and the mission system continued to exist substantially intact until 1834, when the Mexican government’s secularization of the property of the Catholic church took effect. The church structures remained as parish churches with priests who were awarded a regular small stipend by the government, but the huge property holdings passed into the hands of new buyers. In 1833 the Spanish born priests in the Alta California missions were replaced by priests born in Mexico. (42)
The economic system by which the missions sustained themselves, mainly the possession of large range lands for the grazing of cattle, was destroyed by secularization. The former mission lands became ranchos, small and large, which formed the physical basis of American property rights after 1846. During the Mexican period, however, they belonged to lay persons, the approximately 8,000 Californios, the gente de razón who were now the upper as well as the middle class of society. (43) They led a generally bucolic life: the men lived in their saddles; both men and women engaged in a hedonistic society, which is to say:
Most of their enjoyments were formalized and communal. Saint’s [sic] days and other religious holidays took a great deal of advance planning, but in most communities few days passd without either a spontaneous baile (dance), a fandango, an evening of singing and guitar playing, a cockfight, a round of bullfighting and bear baiting, or a horse race as part of the daily routine. (44)
Although the piety and religious observances of the Californios were strongly tied to the past, there was by the 1830s a new current:
Outright resistance among the communicants everywhere except in Santa Barbara left the Bishop [from Mexico] virtually penniless and paralyzed. At the same time, the new generation deliberately rejected Spanish forms of piety. Domestic devotions fell off among the male part of the population until, by the end of the Mexican regime, Sunday Mass had become an affair for women, children, and neophyte Indians; men participated in the livelier religious fiestas, but as nominal Catholics only. (45)
The year 1846, when Captain John Fremont hoisted the American flag in Monterey, marked the end of the mission system in Alta California. Gradually some of the mission churches were incorporated into American Catholic dioceses. Monterey itself became the seat of a Catholic diocese in 1849, lost this status in 1859, and only in 1967 regained it. The bishop of this and other California dioceses had to recruit American and European (especially Irish) immigrant priests as best they could. Mission Santa Cruz evidently saw its last Mexican Franciscan leave in 1844 and its first American parish priest arrive in 1853. (46)
Californios and natives who remained Catholic were swept up by this general Catholic organizational structure. As to the natives, the new Bishop of California in 1855 petitioned the American government to grant a square league of land at each Mission ‘‘’on behalf of, and for the benefit of the Christian Indians formerly connected with the Mission.’ This claim was rejected.” (47)
Branciforte, the non-mission side of the total Santa Cruz settlement, originally was populated, as was noted above, preponderantly by Spaniards, then by Californios. In the 1840s Yankees – Protestant Americans from the East - began arriving there, spelling the end of the Californios’ way of life close to the mission. (48) If even then there had been any chance that a Californio social structure would remain in place, it was annihilated by the discovery of gold in 1848. Hundreds of thousands of Yankee fortune seekers and similarly minded adventurers from all over the world converged on California. The Eastern Protestant Yankees had little understanding of Catholic ways in general, to say nothing of its varieties found in Alta California. (49) They had little use for persons they perceived to be lazy, superstitious, and unAmerican, and so it took several decades for the Catholic Church in California to take a place among the normal and widely accepted forms of religion in the state. And when it did so, it had the marks of Irish, Italian, or Croatian Catholicism. The prominence of Hispanic or Latino Catholicism is a recent feature of Santa Cruz County. In 1970 Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 10% of the population of the county, 15% of the population of Watsonville. Thirty years later 27% of the county’s residents, 63% of Watsonville’s were Hispanic/Latino. (50)
1. Population estimates for 1520 vary from four and one half to thirty million according to Robert McCas. “The Peopling of Mexico from Origins to Revolution.”
2. Charles H. Lippy et al, Christianity comes to the Americas, p. 115. According to the same authors, page 73, it seems that there were at that time 21 Jesuits for 30,000 native Catholics in northern New Spain.
3. Lippy, op cit, p. 114.
4. Lippy, op cit, pp. 34-35.
5. Peter Bakewell, A History of Latin America to 1825, p. 179.
6. Bakewell, op cit, p. 178.
7. Lippy, op cit, p. 43.
8. Basic information readily obtainable by Internet search engines
9. Lippy, op cit, p. 50.
10. Sources for these counts are, in order, 1) McCas, op cit,figure 2 and table 1. McCas draws his counts from a number of experts, adding the caveat that no one can be sure about them. 2) http://immigration-online.org, 3) Bakewell, op cit, p. 375, and 4) H. H. Bancroft, History of California, p. 168.
11. Rose Marie Beebe et al, Lands of promise and despair; Chronicles of early California, pp. 54-64.
12. Beebe, op cit, pp. 9-11.
13. Vladimir Guerrero, The Anza Trail and the settling of California, p. xiii.
14. H. A. van Coenen Torchiana, Story of the Mission Santa Cruz., p. 353.
15. Bancroft, op cit, pp. 159 and 393.
16. Lippy, op cit, p. 122.
17. Sources of these three counts are, in order, Paul C. Johnson, The California Missions: A pictorial history, p. 318; Lippy, op cit, p. 100; Lippy, op cit, pp. 76-77.
18. Jo Mora, Californios: The saga of hard-riding Vaqueros, America’s first cowboys, pp. 43 and p. 86.
19. Johnson, op cit, pp. 316-319. These counts are from 1832.
20. Torchiana, op cit, pp. 217-232 for the story itself and p. 226 for the identification as Spaniards.
21. Sources of these counts are emigrants: Guerrero, op cit, p. 202; Monterey: Conway, Monterey: Presidio, Pueblo, and Port, pp. 47 and 49; Branciforte: Phil Reader, “A History of the Villa de Branciforte, p. 15; San Carlos: Johnson, op cit, p. 318.
22. Lippy, op cit, p. 128. The piety of the friars was a gloomy one, unlike the joyful spirit of their founder St Francis.
23. Torchiana, op cit, p. 248.
24. Lippy, op cit, p. 40.
25. This is suggested by Lippy, op cit, p. 17. From what little is known of the beliefs of the Santa Cruz natives, they belonged with the latter.
26. Lippy, op cit, p. 121.
27. Antonio Maria Osio, The history of Alta California; a Memoir of Mexican California, p. 66.
28. Lippy, op cit, p. 122.
30. Leonard Pitts’ The Decline of the Californios contains an abundance of information about these people, even before their decline, in the chapter entitled “Halcyon Days.”
31. Mora, op cit, p. 67.
32. Mora, op cit, pp. 17-19.
33. Osio, op cit, p. 185.
34. Mora, op cit, p. 56.
35. Pitt, op cit, p. 6.
36. Before there were Californios the offspring of Spaniards in New Spain were called crillos, which term ultimately became creole in American usage. The term used in New Spain and Alta California alike for people of mixed blood, Spanish and native, was mestizos. Generally in New Spain and during the mission period in Alta California the more Spanish a Californio was – that is, the whiter – the higher his or her social standing was apt to be.
37. From Tales of Mexican California by Antonio Coronel, in Beebe, op citp. 448.
38. Bancroft, op cit, pp. 659-660.
39. Details and sources are to be found under “Rancho Las Aromitas Chapel” in the list of associations.
40. Conway, op cit, pp. 43-49.
41. Torchiana, op cit, p. 300.
42. Torchiana, op cit, pp. 321-343. These pages contain many details about the process of secularization.
43. Pitt, op cit, p. 2: count from 1826.
44. Pitt, op cit, p. 13.
45. Pitt, op cit, p. 4.
46. Torchiana, op cit, p. 376.
47. Torchiana, op cit, p. 389.
48. Reader, op cit, p. 24.
49. Pitt, op cit, pp. 70-74.
50. U. S. Censuses, which in 2000 used the category “Hispanic or Latino,” and did not differentiate by country of origin.
Peter Bakewell. A History of Latin America to 1825. Chichester West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
Hubert Howe Bancroft. The works of Hubert Howe Bancroft Volume XIX, which is History of California Volume II, 1801-1824. Santa Barbara: Wallace Hebberd, 1966.
Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkiewicz. Lands of promise and despair; Chronicles of early California, 1535-1846. Santa Clara, California: Santa Clara University, 2001.
Robert C. Berlo. “Mapping the Population History of Early Monterey Bay Area Places.” Pp. 62-65 of Santa Cruz County History Journal; Issue Number Three: Branciforte Issue. Santa Cruz: Art and History Museum of Santa Cruz County, 1997. Berlo’s graphic representation of the demographics of the area is a great aid for grasping the issues.
J. D. Conway. Monterey: Presidio, Pueblo, and Port. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing Co., 2003.
Vladimir Guerrero. The Anza Trail and the settling of california. Berkeley: Heyday Press, 2006.
Robert Jackson. “Non-Indian Settlements in Spanish and Mexicam California.” Pp. 73-75 of Santa Cruz County History Journal; Issue Number Three: Branciforte Issue. Santa Cruz: Art and History Museum of Santa Cruz County, 1997.
Paul C. Johnson, Ed., The California Missions: A pictorial history. Menlo Park, California, 1964.
Charles H. Lippy, Robert Choquette, Stafford Poole. Christianity comes to the Americas, 1492-1776. New York Paragon House, 1992.
Robert McCas. “The Peopling of Mexico from Origins to Revolution.” Draft of article for Richard Steckel and Michael Haines, The Population History of North America. Cambridge University Press, 1997, http://www.hist.umn.edu/~rmccaa/mxpoprev/cambridg3.htm .
Jo Mora. Californios: The saga of hard-riding Vaqueros, America’s first cowboys. Garden City, New York: 1949.
Antonio Maria Osio. The history of Alta California; a Memoir of Mexican California. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.
Leonard Pitt. The decline of the californios. University of California Press, 1998.
Phil Reader. “A History of the Villa de Branciforte,” pp. 17-28 of Santa Cruz County History Journal; Issue Number Three: Branciforte Issue. Santa Cruz: Art and History Museum of Santa Cruz County, 1997.
H. A. van Coenen Torchiana. Story of the Mission Santa Cruz. San Francisco: Paul Elder & Co., 1933.
www.sancta.org . (Contains exhaustive information about the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and its history.)
History of the people
"The Romani People (<Roma, or <Gypsies) are of northern Indian origin, having moved out of that area probably some time between AD 800 and AD 950, migrating westwards into Europe and arriving there some time after AD 1100."(1) Neither the reason for this emigration nor its patterns are clear, but the route of these emigrants through Persia, Armenia, Anatolia, and, eventually, Southeastern Europe is well established, mainly by linguistic evidence. To this day, the Romani language, with its dialects and variants, is recognizably a derivative of Sanskrit. By the 14th century the Romani had been detained in the Balkans, had been trained to be a worker class, and were beginning to be treated legally as slaves. It was in this period that they learned the trades which ever since have been associated with them, especially becoming metal workers, peddlers, animal trainers, and musicians. Gradually, however, many escaped and were living almost all over Western Europe. The Balkan Roma were finally freed from slavery in 1864, and many of them soon emigrated to the rest of Europe and to the Americas. In the Balkans the Roma lived, and still live, in villages, where they are fixed and are not nomads. Western European Roma tended, however, to be mobile, and they are the ones whose lifestyle is synonymous with "Gypsy" in Western culture. Whether as slaves or as traveling people, Roma have retained strong community ties, have been little understood by the members of the dominant cultures, and have everywhere been treated harshly by them.
It is possible that some Roma were transported as slaves, or at least as indentured servants, to North America in colonial times, and it is clear that some made their way here before the emancipation of 1864, but the main immigration occurred after that. It is also clear that many of the so-called Gypsies who arrived here were not true Roma, because numerous other itinerant groups who arrived from Europe claimed to be Gypsies or were understood to be such. This applies particularly to those who came from Northern European countries, and above all to the Tinkers from the British Isles. (2)
"Until some time after W.W. I, Gypsy Americans followed a nomadic life in the U.S. Gradually, stable populations grew up in New Mexico, California, Florida, Oregon, and Maine. Today most Gypsy Americans are settled in large cities throughout the country." (3) UNESCO estimated the 1981 Romani population of the United States to be about 200,000. (4)
In California Romani populations are found now at least in the Sacramento, San Francisco Bay, and Los Angeles areas. (5) The Machvaia Rom group, originally from Romania, is strongly represented in the Bay area, and numerous studies have been made of the life and customs of these Machvaia people. (6)
"Most Roma have converted to the religions of their host countries, typically Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism), and Islam." (7)
As a matter of fact, there is a God's Gypsy Christian Church, founded in 1977 and headquartered in Los Angeles, which has congregations throughout the country. The statement of faith on its website clearly characterizes it as Pentecostal. The website does not have a complete list of the congregations, but of those mentioned, the closest to Santa Cruz is in Fremont. (8)
There remains nevertheless in Roma culture a residue of the ancient Indian folk earth religion. It varies in detail from one Roma group to another, but it has general lines. Thus,
"Roma believe in their powers, as exemplified by their use of curses, called amria, and healing rituals. They practice fortune telling only for the benefit of gadje, and as a source of livelihood, but not among themselves. The fortune teller is always a woman, called a drabardi. The concept of fortune telling contains several independent elements that are misleadingly grouped together. One element is foretelling the future, called drabaripe or drabarimos. Another element relates to healing powers, which the Roma do practice among themselves. The healing elements of fortune telling are called 'advising.' Both elements are based on a belief in the supernatural.
"Good luck charms, amulets, and talismans are common among Roma. They are carried to prevent misfortune or heal sickness. The female healer who prescribes these traditional cures or preventatives is called a drabarni or drabengi. Some Roma carry bread in their pockets as protection against bad luck, or bibaxt, and supernatural spirits or ghosts, called mulo. Horseshoes are considered good luck by some Roma just as they are by non-Roma.
"Since Roma feel that illness is an unnatural condition, called prikaza, there are many supernatural ways in which they believe disease can be prevented or cured. One method of lowering a fever has been to shake a young tree. In this way the fever is transferred from the sick person's body to the tree. Another method to bring down fever has been to drink powdered portions of certain animals, dissolved in spirits, to the accompaniment of a chant. Some beliefs include carrying a mole's foot as a cure for rheumatism, and carrying a hedgehog's foot to prevent a toothache. Any number of herbs, called drab, are used for the prevention or cure of various diseases. Herbalism may be practiced by both sexes. Some of these herbs, called sastarimaskodrabaro, actually have medicinal value in addition to their supernatural qualities." (9)
Gypsies - Roma - in Santa Cruz
The earliest reference I have to the presence of Gypsies in Santa Cruz is an 1876 newspaper report that a band of about 18 "English gypsies" on their way from Omaha to San Francisco in wagons stopped for several days and pitched their tents in the Blackburn orchard. Many of them were blue eyed and of fair complexion, and the group was not perceived as a threat to the peace. A number of the women read the fortunes of Santa Cruz ladies. (10)
In 1883 a band of about 30 English speaking Gypsies encamped on Myrtle Street and were engaged in horse trading and fortune telling. The reporter adds some (partly correct) information on the history of Gypsies in general and, once again, does not see these visitors as threats. (11) These fortune telling powers were touted by Theosophists, who held an 1896 fund raiser and in its announcement wrote, "among other attractions there is to be a wonderful Romany Seeress, who will tell you your past and foretell your future without making any mistake in either." (12)
In this same year of 1896, however, a Santa Cruz newspaper tells of a greatly different experience: Spanish and Portuguese speaking Gypsies who said they were Brazilian from Rio de Janeiro encamped "in the Gharkey addition, near Columbia street." Horse traders and beggars, they were raggedy and dirty, although they were "very strict in their observance of Sunday." (13) Brazilian Gypsies, evidently the same band, but reported to be 100 strong, and having the avowed goal of working in the 'beet fields near San Francisco,' (14) had passed through Watsonville before arriving in Santa Cruz. (15) In September it was reported that they were about to pass through Watsonville again, on their "return trip." (16)
Occasional local newspaper articles from 1905 to 1924 tell of police efforts to keep Gypsies out of Santa Cruz and Watsonville. (17) On many of their visits the traveling Gypsies are accused of criminal activity, especially of stealing and defrauding residents. This includes two scams that defrauded two people of about six hundred dollars each. (18) None of these newspaper articles, however, reports criminal prosecution against them.
The newspapers make little attempt to explain who Gypsies are and what their background is, or even by which route they arrived in the county. Some exceptions are 1) the itinerary of a 1922 band which traveled in a caravan of automobiles from Salinas, passed through Watsonville and then Santa Cruz, and was ejected from all these places by the local police; (19) 2) the statement of a 1914 group of them in Santa Cruz who said they had come from Hungary; (20) 3) the name "Trampacula," which the only English speaking Gypsy woman among those accused of being involved in a scam said was her name; (21) 4) the account of a Sep. 4, 1915 Gypsy betrothal ceremony held in a camp near the Potrero end of the railroad tunnel in Santa Cruz. Both local newspapers describe the ceremony as colorful and musical. Both quote the Gypsies themselves as saying that they are "Greek Catholics," and that their language is Romany, although they come from several Eastern European countries. (22)
An elderly gentleman told me in 2006 that when his father was a boy, which would be early in the twentieth century, "Gypsy Alley" was the name given popularly to Brook Ave., which is across the creek from Pilkington Ave. close to the shore in the Seabright area, because the Gypsies regularly set up camp there.
Indexes of local newspapers available to me in 2005 contain only three references to Gypsies after 1924. In the earliest of these, 1940, they are booked for fraud in Santa Cruz. (23) Then, in 1942 columnist Ernest Otto observes that "The Gypsies of the early days were very different from those which appear once in a while now. They were not so colorful as they did not wear the many gay skirts such as are worn by the present Gypsies. The old timer bands which came were of English bands. They had horses and they made most of their money in the horse trading and at this they were experts. The women called from house to house and told fortunes." (24)
Finally, in 1948, "Not predicted in the cards was the fire which burned the fortune telling Gypsies' tent to the ground in Capitola Wednesday, according to the sheriff's office. The Gypsies had apparently set up the tent preparatory to beginning the spring season on the rented lot of Frank Blake's at the corner of the Esplanade and Stockton streets." (25)
I have, in 2007, no information about the current presence of Gypsies or Roma peoples in Santa Cruz County.
1. Thus begins Ian Hancock on page 7 of his The Pariah Syndrome (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Karoma Publishers, 1987). This work is the source for all the background information in this paragraph.
2. Brian A. Belton pursues the difficult problem of ethnic identification in his Questioning Gypsy Identity: ethnic narratives in Britain and America. (Walnut Creek, California: Alta Mira Press, 2005). Both Belton and Hancock are English Gypsies, Hancock being able to trace his lineage back to Hungary. They are among the Gypsy intellectuals who are bringing the realities of Gypsy and Romani life to the attention of Western scholars and policy makers.
3. www.trivia-library.com 2005.
5. Lacking other information about this, I infer it from www.lachurch.net 2005, the website of God's Gypsy Christian Church in Los Angeles.
6. These are reported in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Series 5, Volume 2, Number 1, February, 1992, pages 19-59, "Health and Illness Among the Roma of California," by Anne Sutherland; Series 5, Volume 4, Number 2, August, 1994, pages 75-94, "Respect and Rank Among the Machvaia Roma," by Carol Miller; and Series 5, Volume 7, Number 1, February, 1997, pages 1-26, "Luck: How the Machvaia Make It and Keep It," by Carol Miller. Renamed Romani Studies in 2000, this scholarly journal is a prime source of information about the Roma. The website www.gypsyloresociety.org 2005 contains a sketch of American Gypsy Roma history as well as information about how to contact the society.
7. www.religioustolerance.org 2005.
8. www.lachurch.net 2005.
9. www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/traditions.htm 2005 The parent website, www.geocities.com/Paris/5121 2005, which is the Patrin Web Journal, is a valuable collection of articles on various aspects of Roma history and life. Other Roma-sponsored websites can be found at www.voiceofroma.org 2005.
10. SC Sentinel, May 6, 1876.
11. Santa Cruz Surf, June 20, 1883.
12. Santa Cruz Surf, Nov. 11, 1896.
13. Santa Cruz Surf, May 26, 1896.
14. Pajaronian, Apr. 30, 1896.
15. Pajaronian, May 28, 1896.
16. Pajaronian, Sep. 10, 1896.
17. In addition to references noted below, there were articles in the Sep. 30, 1905 Santa Cruz Sentinel, in the Jan 16, 1907 Santa Cruz Surf, in the June 14, 1912 Register Pajaronian, in the July 13, 1912 Santa Cruz Sentinel, in the Mar. 3, 1913 Santa Cruz Sentinel, in the Oct. 23, 1913 Santa Cruz Sentinel and Evening News, in the June 5, 1914 Santa Cruz Sentinel and Santa Cruz Surf of the same date, in the Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 1914 Santa Cruz Surf, in the Sep. 2 and Sep. 3, 1915 Santa Cruz Evening News, in the Sep. 14, 1915 Pajaronian, and in the Apr. 27, 1919 Pajaronian (as reported 75 years later in the Apr. 27, 1994 Pajaronian). All the articles from 1905 to 1915 are in the collection of local historian Phil Reader; the rest are in my collection.
18. Santa Cruz News, Aug. 9, 1924 and Sep. 29, 1924.
19. Santa Cruz Evening News, Oct. 11 and Oct 25, 1924.
20. Santa Cruz Surf, Mar. 20, 1914.
21. Santa Cruz News, Aug. 9, 1924.
22. Santa Cruz Morning Sentinel, Sep. 5, 1915 and Santa Cruz Surf, Sep. 6, 1915.
23. Santa Cruz Evening News, Jan. 26, 1940.
24. Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, Nov. 8, 1942 - all the peculiarities of grammar in this quote are in the original.
25. Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, April 2, 1945.
Classical American Spiritualism
"Spiritualism is the Science, Philosophy and Religion of a continuous life, based upon the demonstrable fact of communication by means of mediumship, with those who live in the Spirit World." (1)
More specifically, the California State Spiritualists' Association states: "Our definition of a Spiritualist is: 'A Spiritualist is one who believes, as the basis of his or her religion, in the communication between this and the spirit world by means of mediumship, and who endeavors to mould his or her character and conduct in accordance with the highest teachings derived from such communion.' Our definition of a medium is: 'A medium is one whose organism is sensitive to vibrations from the spirit world and through whose instrumentality intelligences in that world are able to convey messages and produce the phenomena of Spiritualism.' In other words, a medium may be a psychic, that is, able to 'read' information from the energy field in and around another person or object, but not all psychics are mediums." (2)
Spiritualism in the United States drew upon the 18th and 19th centuries' growing scientific knowledge of the unseen physical forces, electricity and magnetism. Particular impetus was given by the widely known activities of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), who popularized mesmerism, that is, hypnotism, theorizing that it was made possible by what he called "animal magnetism." It seemed that there was an unseen world which could be approached physically, rather than through faith and religion. As a popular movement arising in this environment then, American Spiritualism can be dated to 1848 and the Fox Sisters in Hydesville, near Rochester, New York. Kate and Margaret Fox invoked spirit world residents, who answered questions by rapping. The sisters were soon emulated by many other mediums, who held séances throughout the whole country.
The whole country, indeed, was swept by Spiritualism; large numbers of people consulted mediums and other psychics and continued to do so for decades. A prominent Spiritualist chronicler writing in 1871 expressed doubt about the accuracy of the "Catholic council's" estimate of eleven million Spiritualists in the country, but he had no reservations about "one of the liberal papers" saying that there were thirty thousand of them in Philadelphia. (3)
A highly important and little known characteristic of Spiritualism's early phase, which lasted until the 1870s, was the prominence of its female speakers in a society that expected men to do all the public talking. During these years the largest group of orators to preach women's rights and even women's suffrage consisted of Spiritualist women. (4)
The original movement waned in the 1870s, but it then gathered intensity, became institutionalized, and enjoyed its maximum extent between 1880 and 1920. The National Spiritualist Association of Churches was founded in 1893 and has set the standard for Spiritualist tenets ever since then, although these statements of tenets are more like guidelines than dogmas. (5)
"Although Spiritualism certainly grew out of Christianity, and there continue to be Spiritualists who are Christians, and The National Spiritualist Association of Churches considers Jesus to be one of the greatest mediums who ever lived, Spiritualism is not considered to be a Christian religion. We honor all the world's great spiritual teachers." (6)
In Santa Cruz
On the whole, "Sources on California Spiritualism and its opponents are scanty...." (7) There is available, nevertheless, considerable information about Spiritualism in Santa Cruz. This is due in part to its proximity to San Francisco, which was the hub of Spiritualism in nineteenth century California. It is also because of its local historical link with Transcendentalism, America's unique intellectual expression of the unity of all things. Transcendentalism’s presence in Santa Cruz is treated under #12.2 in the list of associations.
"The birth of Spiritualism coincided almost exactly with the death of Transcendentalism as a social movement. Brook Farm [the Transcendentalist community near Boston] closed its doors in 1847, and by 1850 the Transcendentalists had lost faith in the alternative social visions that they had hoped would reform the nation. Transcendentalism's Unitarian origins and intellectual elitism limited the scope of its appeal. While the American public flocked to Emerson's lectures and were inspired by what he said, few of them responded by joining communes or becoming Transcendentalists. Instead, they followed his lectures with visits to seances, where the power of Emerson's ideas helped fuel the movement he despised. Those same ideas found a broad and dedicated audience among Spiritualists. The immanence of God, the destructive limitations of the Christian tradition as a path to truth and the necessity of seeking truth instead in the natural world and within the self all found popular acceptance among the mass of Spiritualists ... While investigation preoccupied many Concord [Brook Farm] residents, only a few Transcendentalists identified themselves as Spiritualists, notably Elizabeth Peabody and Georgiana Bruce Kirby. What finally separated the apparently sympathetic movements was, of course, spirit communication. While direct communication with individual spirits struck Emerson as a vulgar distortion of the message of Transcendentalism, it impressed many Americans as concrete proof of the immanence of God and as a literal interpretation of Emerson's advice to seek truth within their own souls. Spiritualism's concreteness liberated many of Emerson's ideas from their class-bound character by making them accessible to those without the intellectual bent to grasp their subtler implications." (8)
The Spiritualist movement came to Santa Cruz in 1850 with two ladies from the East. First came the womens' rights champion and public speaker Eliza Farnham. Later in the year she was joined by the Transcendentalist, Georgiana Bruce, who is known as Georgiana Bruce Kirby from her marriage in 1852 to Richard Kirby.
Farnham wrote in 1850 from Santa Cruz to Eastern publishing friends, "... I have rec'd but little account of the Knocking Spirits but have the liveliest interest in them. My own views of the future life have long been peculiar and very much kept within my own bosom." (9) Farnham, unlike her friend, did not remain in Santa Cruz, but she came back in 1859 as a lecturer. Bruce Kirby writes about her, "Her manner of advocating spiritualism is very effective. She has lectured (principally on these religious views) every Sunday evening nearly since she came down." (10) (Farnham is also said to have been the first person to deliver lectures on Spiritualism in San Francisco, apparently in 1856.) (11) It seems that Farnham remained in Santa Cruz into 1860, delivering more lectures, and left it in that year for the last time. (12) Farnham expressed her stand on Spiritualism and many other topics in her fictionalized autobiography, The Ideal Attained. (13)
Bruce had been captivated by Mesmerism while back in Brook Farm before the advent of the Fox sisters, and so she represents the nascent spiritualism that was ripe for development in 1848. She actually tried to become a medium while she was at Brook Farm, as she relates:
"Mesmer's discoveries regarding clairvoyance, hypnotism, and somnambulism, had been common property for several years. Cornelia H. had found that she possessed the genuine magnetic power, and she had used it with entire success in the case of a young friend who was supposed to be far gone in consumption. With her superb physique she could afford to dispense a little vitality. The young lady slept peacefully for any desired length of time, gained recuperative strength from her friend, and recovered her health perfectly.
"Cornelia had the greatest desire to induce clairvoyance in me, believing that in that state I should see denizens of the other world; and since I had a passion for analyzing character, could describe them so accurately that they would be recognized by their friends. But no matter how negative a mental attitude I assumed, no manipulations availed to overrule my consciousness and subdue my will, greatly to our regret." (14)
Writing from Santa Cruz, apparently in 1850, to her friend Charlotte Fowler Wells in New York City, she sighs, "Many times the conversation I had with you & Miss Rich [Mary S. Rich, assistant in the Fowler and Wells office] the hour before I sailed for Cal. has recurred to me & I have wished that we here might be partakers in the experience that is arousing faith in the most stubborn materialists. If you have communication with those who have put off the natural body will you not enquire if the same be not possible to us at Santa Cruz & if you have not will you express our earnest wishes to this effect to some one who has. [The Fowlers were much preoccupied at the time with spiritualism both at séances and in their publications.] Our motives are good & reasonable in desiring this as the spirits will attest. It grows out of no idle curiosity for both Mrs F & myself are firm believers & do not stand in need of evidence but we want religious teaching advice & consolation in our exile." (15)
Long after Eliza Farnham died (1864), Georgiana maintained her connection with Spiritualism. From 1885 to 1890 J. J. Owen published a weekly Spiritualist newspaper, the Golden Gate, in San Francisco. (16) From Vol. 1 No. 2 (July 25, 1885) through Vol. 1 No. 17 (Nov. 7, 1885) Georgiana Bruce Kirby and two other people are listed on the masthead as Contributors. In that period the paper published one article signed "Georgiana B. Kirby". It was on the front page of the Aug. 22, 1885 issue, and was entitled "Our Girls." Having nothing whatsoever to do with Spiritualism, the article was concerned with the education of young women. Kirby's main point was that girls are ingenuous and need strong parental guidance to avoid succumbing to deception that would deprive them of their virtue. Then on Sep. 18, 1886 the paper carried a long letter, "Old Doctor Jennings," addressed to the Golden Gate from "GBK" referring to an article about the power of nature to heal itself without the help of drugs. GBK entirely agrees with the doctor's method, but wonders if his healing power was not, unknown to him, a "mediumistic touch which restores harmony to the system." This was the last contribution to the Golden Gate by Kirby, who died the following January. (17)
The very last of Georgiana's literary efforts to be published before her death was a short novel, Amid Better Circumstances, which appeared in serial form in the Santa Cruz Surf from June to Oct., 1886. The plot details the young hero's escape from the religious oppression of the Irish people, and his eventual finding of happiness in the United States with his immigrant German love. As the plot unfolds, various thoughts of the author's about religion, education, and moral character appear. In the end Basil and Bertha are bonded in love and in spirit by the experience which they - and they alone - share of "hearing the divinest strains, at first of a single voice, clear as bells, sweeter than lark or nightingale, then of many voices combined, which swept downward and rose again triumphant to the empyrean .... The sensation was that of being in some vast cathedral which affered [sic] no limit to the compass of sound." They heard "the harmonies of the universe;" they stood "on the threshold of the unseen world." (18) It seems fair to interpret this passage not as mere sentimentalism and not as Transcendentalism, but as Spiritualism. Perhaps more thorough studies of Georgiana's life will add to the understanding of what she had in mind when she wrote this. Her longest non-autobiographical work, Transmission, or Variation of Character through the Mother, published by Fowler and Wells in New York (second edition 1882), alludes in no way to Spiritualism, although it has several references (pages 11, 12, 13, and 14) to the magnetic force in people, without, unfortunately, defining it.
Bruce Kirby and her husband were long-time members of Unity (Unitarian) Church, where memorial services were held for her in January, 1887. (19) It does not appear to me that her documented involvement in Spiritualism became a long-term factor in her influence on Santa Cruz and its residents. One does suspect, however, that she was instrumental, at least through her connections in San Francisco, in making possible the 1885 and 1886 Santa Cruz Spiritualist activity which is narrated below.
From sources which in no way allude to Georgiana Bruce Kirby there is evidence of Spiritualist activity in Santa Cruz County from the 1860s to the early 1880s. Thus,
In 1866 Ira Allen of Watsonville was a member of the State Central [Spiritualist] Committee, which met at the California State Convention of Spiritualists in San Jose in May of that year. (20)
In 1868 Ira Allen and at least two other Watsonville people, Alfred Lansdell and Mrs. A. J. Tripp, promoted the San Francisco Spiritualist weekly, the Banner of Progress, although no one from Santa Cruz County was a member of the State Central Committee in that year. (21)
In 1880 Santa Cruz residents Augusta Foster, born 1843 in Massachusetts, clairvoyant doctor, and Lucy Powers, born 1854 in Greece, medium, were among those who listed a Spiritualist function as their occupation in the U. S. Census. (22)
The year 1885 marked the beginning of a documented period of notable Spiritualist presence in Santa Cruz. In that year Dr. T. B. Taylor opened the Glen Haven Sanitarium, two miles up from Soquel. The advertisement for the sanitarium in the Santa Cruz Surf for September 11, 1885 read, "Open winter and Summer. For Board, Lodging, and Treatment of Invalids. Elegantly located out of reach of the cold winds and fogs, where flowers bloom the year round, and pure, soft, mountain spring water flows, and bracing air fans the cheek. A Beautiful Grove, elegant drives from 1 to 15 miles along the beach. Pleasant walks, a large new house, wide double verandas on three sides. Two of the Best Mineral Springs, Not excepting the Baden-Baden in Germany. Female Diseases a Specialty. Tumors and Cancers Internal and external, removed without the knife. All forms of Chronic Diseases Successfully Treated."
On September 19, 1885 the Glen Haven Sanitarium was also advertised for the first time in the Golden Gate of San Francisco: "Open Winter and Summer. All forms of Diseases and Deformities successfully treated. A Home for Aged and Infirm People. Board with or without treatment. Building Lots and small Farms for sale. Cheap. Immigration solicited. High school to be started. Community of interests to be inaugurated." The same issue contains an article entitled "Dreams and Visions" by Dr. Taylor. (23) The ads continue for a number of issues, at least as far as Dec. 31, 1885. A three part article by "T. B. Taylor," entitled "The Origin of Life" appears in the Golden Gate of Oct. 3 and 17 and November 28, 1885. In "The Origin of Life" he asserts that the universe is eternal and its activities, including life, need no god outside it to operate it. Another article of his, "I Want to Know More About It," it being the curing of disease by mental power, is in the Dec. 5, 1885 issue.
Although Dr. Taylor does not mention Spiritualism in either advertisement, he had reason to appeal to the readers of the Spiritualist newspaper because he was, in fact, a Spiritualist. He was, indeed, known as such in Santa Cruz, as is shown by the fact reported in the Golden Gate of Feb. 27, 1886 that he had just finished lecturing on Spiritualism in Unity Church, Santa Cruz.
Other information about Taylor's background also shows him to be a Spiritualist. Thus, we are told that Dr. Theodore B. Taylor attended the Freethinkers Convention in Watkins Glen, New York, August 23-25, 1878, the Proceedings of which state that "Spiritualists listed here as active in the convention as 'Freethinkers' included: James M. Peebles, ..., Theodore B. Taylor, .... In addition, some had been active in the new Theosophical Movement—A. L. Rawson ..., as well as Taylor, Peebles, and Copeland." Furthermore, at the evening meeting of the convention's first day, "addresses were delivered by Dr. T. B. Taylor, [and others], ..." (24) Moreover, the May 23, 1875 issue of the Spiritualist publication Religio-Philosophical Journal contains a letter written in response to an article entitled "Prenatal Influences," by T. B. Taylor, M.D. in its Jan. 2, 1875 issue. (25)
A reference by Dr. Taylor to his earlier experience is found in the Golden Gate article (cited above) on the origin of life. In the article he mentions a difference of opinion between himself and the eminent Freethinker Robert Ingersoll. He is evidently referring to Ingersoll's answer to questions Taylor posed to him in the 1882 discussion, "To the Indianapolis Clergy." Ingersoll's answers to Taylor clearly show that Taylor, although himself a Freethinker, was also a Spiritualist. (26)
An advertisement for the Glen Haven Sanitarium (under the name T. R.[sic] Taylor, A. M.) is found also in the Santa Cruz Surf of Sep. 11, 1885 and subsequent issues, through March 3, 1886. (27) On March 4, 1886, however, the Surf carried an advertisement according to which "Dr. ROBERT BROWN - Graduate from Canada - Begs to inform his friends and the public that he has bought out the - Glen Haven Sanitarium - And has located his office at - No. 149 Pacific Avenue - Where he will be prepared to treat all diseases, acute or chronic, in the utmost scientific manner. - DR. BROWN - Diagnoses disease without any explanation from the patient. This is done, however, through the knowledge of astrology, phrenology and the occult sciences. - OFFICE HOURS in the city from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m." The ad goes on to extol the virtues of the sanitarium, although it is silent about the possibilities of people buying lots and living near it. Dr. Brown's ad in the Surf continued unchanged until Sep. 11, 1886, when it was modified to state that "Dr. Robert Brown has removed his sanitarium practice near Soquel, to his place in Santa Cruz, where he has Board and Rooms for Invalids." (28)
More about Dr. Brown can be gleaned from the Golden Gate of July 31, 1886, and subsequent issues, in which he has a brief ad that reads "Dr. R. Brown & Co, physicians, surgeons, electricians, magnetic healers" in Santa Cruz. No details are given. This identification of Dr. Brown, taken in connection with his statement about astrology, phrenology and the occult sciences, yields a strong impression that he, too, operates within the worldview of Spiritualism. At that time, it should be remarked, the term "occult sciences" did not have the connotation of mysticism that it now has, but referred to such forces as hypnotism and mental power. According to Dr. Brown's later advertisements in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (at least through January 28, 1887), he continued to practice medicine and operate his private hospital in Santa Cruz, employing "All Scientific, Hygienic and Medical appliances, with an original and entirely new method of Electrical and Oxygen treatment." Both Dr. Brown and Dr. Taylor represented themselves as men of science, medical men with the latest technology.
Dr. Brown's modified advertisement ran in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Santa Cruz Surf at least through the latter part of February, 1887. Nevertheless, the 1887-88 San Jose City Directory, which is also the city and business directory for Santa Cruz County, has no Dr. Taylor, no Dr. Brown, and no Sanitarium in Soquel. (29)
For the fate of the building which served only a short time as a sanitarium ("sanatorium" is the more common spelling) one turns to the reminiscences of Phyllis Bertorelli Patten, who writes that the Grover Brothers of Maine had bought timber land two miles up from Soquel on Bates Creek in the 1850s in a valley that became known as Grover's Gulch. They located their first saw mill on the west side of the creek at the end of the present Prescott Road. This spot remained the center of their enterprises, which included a ranch corral and sheds, a general store, a school, several homes, and "A big two-storey structure, architecturally impressive ..." (30)
Patten continues: "Old-timer Mr. John Bradley, age 93 summers, formerly a resident of Grover's Gulch, informs us that this imposing building was built for a Dr. Taylor for a sanatorium appropriately named 'Glen Haven Sanatorium'... He also recalls the title 'Glen Haven' was taken from the sanatorium ... The sanatorium, schoolhouse, and store were constructed with first-class rustic siding. All three were painted white ... Evidently the Glen Haven Sanatorium did not exist for long, because it was dubbed 'The White Elephant' at an early stage due to its size. The building was then used as a dwelling. At the time it met its demise by fire, July 4, 1894, it was occupied by a Johnson family." (31)
For later use of the location by spiritual associations see #20.4, Land of Medicine Buddha.
A third piece of the story of 1885-1886 Spiritualism in Santa Cruz has to do with the use of Unity Church. From early in the year the church building is not being used exclusively by any group, but "the Spiritualists frequently occupy it." (32) In particular, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Feb. 16, 1886, "A fact meeting was held Sunday [Feb. 14] at 11 o'clock, in Unity Church, in which several Spiritualists related their experiences, which, we are informed, was of thrilling interest." The Santa Cruz Surf of the same day added that the principal lecturer was a certain Paul Smith and that "Mrs. Logan's poems constituted a part of the service, and the lady also has established what is called a 'fact meeting' to be held in the same place Sundays at 11 o'clock ..." The Surf that day also carried an advertisement for "Mrs. F. A. Logan, Magnetic & Mind Healer," who "is stopping at the Duncan House, Santa Cruz."
More on the Spiritualist meetings in Unity Church is contained in a letter sent by Mrs. F. A. Logan to the Golden Gate, printed Feb. 27, 1886. She states that she has been in Santa Cruz since New Year's Day. "It is said," she writes, "that there are four to five hundred Spiritualists in Santa Cruz." Furthermore, "Here we found Dr. T. B. Taylor, of the Glen Haven Sanitarium, lecturing on the Sabbath in Unity Church." Mrs. Logan herself delivered a number of Sunday lectures and then yielded the pulpit to a well-known Spiritualist lecturer (evidently Paul Smith) who asked the Golden Gate not to mention his name. Dr. Taylor ceased lecturing, and Mrs. Logan instituted the "Fact Meetings" in imitation of an Eastern U. S. usage. (33)
One additional note about Spiritualist activities in Unity Church is that this was the church of Georgiana Bruce Kirby and her husband. As noted above, she was writing for the Golden Gate in 1885 and 1886, and when she died, January, 1887, services were held for her in Unity Church. It is hard to imagine that she had no knowledge of or interest in Dr. Taylor and Mrs. Logan
The Golden Gate had two more items about 1886 Spiritualism in Santa Cruz. The one, dated July 31, was a follow-up on Mrs. Logan's activities entitled "The Work in Santa Cruz." In it Paul A. Smith described a three-day series of Spiritualist meetings held the previous week in an unnamed Santa Cruz location. Notable Spiritualist speakers from Oakland and San Jose spoke to small, but satisfying audiences, and one of them even conducted a seance. A week earlier, on July 24, the Golden Gate had reported that the Watsonville Pajaronian had favorably reviewed the Spiritualist publication Our Sunday Talks, first edition. The same statement is repeated in subsequent issues of the San Francisco newspaper.
The next year, the Santa Cruz people Dr. W. R. Joscelyn and "Mrs. Dr." J. A. Joscelyn are on a national list of "Spiritualist Lecturers." (34)
About this time, according to the undocumented source, The McHugh Scrapbook, "Spiritualists for many year [sic] had many adherents here. They also met in Unity Church, later in the Farmers Union hall, sometimes in Bernheim's hall, in addition to groups which gathered in homes. Quite a group of Spiritualists lived at Bonny Doon ... Spiritualism had a large following in the seventies and eighties but its organization soon lapsed. Groups would hold their 'circles' in private homes. There were in the city many mediums who in a way were fortune tellers and would give readings." (35)
Noteworthy is the recollection handed down in a family of early settlers that in the late nineteenth century there was a settlement of Spiritualists close to the lower end of Pine Flat Road on the seaward side of Ben Lomond Mountain 14 miles northwest of Santa Cruz. These people, according to the family story, laid out streets and gave the area the name Bonny Doon. Unfortunately, the earliest documented use I have of the name Bonny Doon, the naming of the Bonny Doon post office in 1887, is silent about the reason for the use of this name. (36)
Spiritualism maintained a presence in Santa Cruz for at least thirty years after the events of 1885. Significant in this regard are the figures of the 1890 U. S. Census. Among the 4,143 Santa Cruz County residents whose religious preference was declared for the Census were 60 Spiritualists. In comparison, nine religious bodies reported more than 60, and five reported fewer.
The Census reported that the total number of Spiritualists in California was 1,689, and that for the United States was 45,030. Unlike the huge figures of Spiritualists stated above, these represent the adult members of formal Spiritualist churches reported by their pastors. On the basis of these numbers, one person out of every 321 in Santa Cruz County, one out of every 718 in California, and one out of every 1,398 Americans was a Spiritualist. (37)
In 1892, Spiritualist meetings were held Sundays AM and Wednesday evenings in Buelah (sic) Hall, 56 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, (38) and the following year the Unity Spiritual Society was meeting at 159 Pacific Ave. (39)
In 1893, among the delegates to the First National Delegate Convention of Spiritualists of United States of America, at Chicago, Ill., September 27th, 28th and 29th, 1893 was Dr. E. A. Adams of Santa Cruz, Cal. (40)
In 1896, one of the twelve most prominent Spiritualist associations in California outside of San Francisco was Santa Cruz. (41) In that same year the National Spiritualist Association of Churches was active in a "convention of spiritualists" held in San Francisco, and Harrison D. Barrett, one of its founders, came to Santa Cruz to speak in the I.O.O.F. Hall. (42) Shortly after this, when the California State Spiritualists' Association filed articles of incorporation, F. H. Parker of Santa Cruz was one of its directors. (43)
In 1903 The California Spiritual Messenger, a publication of the California State Spiritualists Association, lists on pages 12 through 17 the local Spiritualist societies affiliated with the Association: they are in only eight cities, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, and Stockton. Presumably the Santa Cruz society was the same as the Unity Spiritual Society mentioned above, which met on Sundays at 2:30 p.m. in an unspecified location. Its officers were: President, C. M. Parker; First Vice-President, Minnie Millett; Second Vice-President, Miss M. Wilderspin; Secretary, F. H. Parker; Treasurer, A. St. Clair; Trustees, Magie Currier, R. Y. Tuttle, J. A. Joscelyn, Sam Wilderspin. (The California Spiritual Messenger, p. 17).
In 1909 the Church of the Soul (Spiritualist) met in Forester's Hall, Santa Cruz. (44), and at the same time the First Spiritual Church met in Native Sons Hall, Santa Cruz. (45) The latter congregation was also listed in Thurston's Directory for 1912-1913.
In 1914 and 1915 the Progressive Spiritualists Church met at Beulah Hall, 102 Bay St. Its president was Minnie Millett. (SC Surf, July 4, 1914 and May 29, 1915) Since Ms. Millett had been an officer in the Unity Spiritual Society, I assume that it is accurate to regard this as a contination of the same group.
Finally, a 1914 local religious census in Santa Cruz City reported 23 Spiritualist families out of the 2,019 families which stated their religious preference. Fifteen religious bodies had a membership larger than 23 and 15 had a membership smaller than that. (46) Spiritualism's strength - one family out of every 124 - seems quite remarkable, especially in view of the fact that the latest record I have of nineteenth century Spiritualism's carrying over into the twentieth century in Santa Cruz is that of the Progressive Spiritualists Church in 1915.
and Bylaws, Washington D. C.: National Spiritualist Association,
1930; quoted in Melton, Encyclopedia, p. 114.
2. September 12, 2005 communication from June Johnson, Secretary of the California State Spiritualists' Association.
3. Henry T. Child, M. D., "Spiritualism in Philadelphia," in the 1871 Year-Book of Spiritualism, on www.spirithistory.com/71yrbook.html 2005. The 1870 U. S. Census enumerated only 38,558,371 people in the whole country. Of course it was not the case that a quarter of the population were members of a Spiritualist church, but it is entirely plausible that as many as this consulted mediums and other psychics at least once and so were given the label of Spiritualist in a loose sense.
4. Braude, Radical Spirits, Chapter 3, "Thine for Agitation," pp. 56-81 and Chandler, "In the Van," entire article.
5. Melton, Encyclopedia, p. 115 and *831.
12, 2005 communication from June Johnson, Secretary of the California State
7. Sandra Sizer Frankiel, California's Spiritual Frontiers, p. 141. Reflecting the sources that were available to her (before 1988), Frankiel comments on p. 41 of the same work, "We have no direct information on California Spiritualists that would tell us what sorts of people were attracted to the movement." This is no longer true, although, to my knowledge, no comprehensive history of Spiritualism in California has been attempted.
8. Braude, Radical Spirits, pp. 45-46.
9. Letter to Fowler and Wells, publishers in New York City. Quoted on p. 55 of Stern, "Two Letters from the Sophisticates of Santa Cruz."
10. Swift and Steen, Georgiana, pp. 91-92, which also quotes Bruce Kirby's account of the outrage against Farnham's Spiritualist views on the part of leaders of the local Congregational Church.
11. Schlesinger, Workers in the vineyard, p. 24.
According to Levy, Unsettling the West, pp. 139-140, Farnham also lectured on Spiritualism, among other topics, in San Francisco in 1856. Levy quotes the review of the lecture of April 20, 1856 in the newspaper Alta California: "Mrs. Farnham's Lecture.-- The lecture of Mrs. Farnham at Musical Hall last evening, on Spiritualism, was quite largely and respectably attended. The address was characterized by the same intellectual merit which all her previous lectures are entitled to, and evinced a well-read and cultivated mind; but there was very little in her remarks calculated to advance the science or doctrine of modern table-tipping, or spiritual rapping. The lecture embraced copious extracts from able writers, interspersed with the sentiments and opinions of the speaker; and, aside from its spiritual feature, may be considered a very able and interesting address." I do not know why the 1880s Oakland Spiritualist, Julia Schlesinger, does not refer to this lecture.
12. Levy, Unsettling the West, pp. 195-200.
13. Levy, Unsettling the West, pp. 231-238.
Bruce Kirby, Years of Experience, p. 161.
15. Stern. "Two Letters from the Sophisticates of Santa Cruz, p. 60.
16. Braude, News from the Spirit World, p. 418. Braude notes that Kirby is listed as a contributor to the Golden Gate. With the assistance of my wife, Miriam Beames, I examined volumes 1, 2, and 4 (each covering six months) at the Golden Gate Spiritualist Church in San Francisco. This was made possible by the kindness of June Johnson, Secretary of the California State Spiritualist Association and Del Lauderback, Vice President of the Association and Associate Pastor of the Golden Gate Spiritualist Church. My wife and I also examined some later issues of the Golden Gate in the partial set of them maintained in the research library of the California Historical Society in San Francisco.
17. I have placed a copy of Kirby's two contributions to the Golden Gate in the library of the Santa Cruz County Museum of Art and History.
18. This passage is in the next to last installment, October 9, 1886. The serial is introduced by the editor on June 17, begins on June 19, appears about twice a week, usually on Thursday and Saturday, and concludes on October 14.
19. Levy, Unsettling the West, p. 265. In 1886 this church structure was "not occupied by any religious denomination but is rented for the use of any society that may apply (SC Surf, Jan 2, 1886). In 1888, however, the Santa Cruz Unitarian Church was one of 14 in the American Unitarian Association for the Pacific Coast (Arnold Crompton, Unitarianism on the Pacific Coast, The First Sixty Years. Boston: Beacon Press, 1957, p. 126). I do not know at what point the Unitarian Church reclaimed the use of its building.
of Progress, Vol. I, No. 4, Feb. 2, 1867 and subsequent issues.
21. Banner of Progress, Vol. II, No. 18, May 10, 1868. Later in 1868 there was dissension in the San Francisco Spiritualist community, and the Banner of Progress was discontinued that October. In November George C. W. Morgan undertook to supplant it by launching The Spiritual Light in San Francisco, but this small newspaper lasted only five issues, through Jan. 1, 1869. The dissension is apparent from reading The Spiritual Light. Unlike the Banner of Progress, it makes no mention whatsoever of Santa Cruz, and it lists in the first and second issues under "Spiritual Societies and Meetings - Pacific States" only San Francisco, Sacramento, and Portland and Salem, Oregon.
22. www.spirithistory.com/80fedcen.html 2005.
23. A clue to Dr. Taylor's origin is his statement in this article that he practiced medicine "in an Eastern city."
24. www.spirithistory.com/78watk.html 2005.
25. www.spirithistory.com/storms.html 2005. Dr. Taylor is quoted as recounting an experience of his at "Carbondale." The town of Carbondale, Pennsylvania lies in the northeastern corner of the state, not far from Watkins Glen, New York. As noted in Braude, News from the Spirit World, p. 403, the Religio-Philosophical Journal was published by the Religio-Philosophical Society from 1865 to 1907, and was one of the longest running Spiritualist periodicals.
26. The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll. Volume VII Discussions. New York: The Dresden Publishing Company, MCMIX. Ingersoll's reply to Taylor is on pp. 141-152. "To the Indianapolis Clergy" answers questions posed by several clergy and by T. B. Taylor, who has no title. Originally it was published in the Iconoclast of Indianapolis.
The only other clue I have found which might refer to the early life of our Taylor is that in the U. S. Census of 1870 a certain Theodore Taylor, age 24, was boarding with the family of a grocer in Philadelphia. The few other Theodore Taylors who were in the Eastern States in that Census were either farmers or children.
27. In collating the sources, we find it clear that this man's name was Theodore B. Taylor. Consistent with the use of the time, he was normally referred to as T. B. Taylor. The B becomes R in the Sentinel and Surf ads, apparently the result of unclear copy. In 1875 he is practicing medicine as Dr. Taylor, M.D; ten years later he is practicing as Dr. Taylor, A.M, but signs himself M. D. in his Golden Gate articles. It would be interesting to known where he obtained his medical credentials; in fact, Theodore B. Taylor's life story might be very interesting.
28. The Santa Cruz Sentinel carried an ad for the sanitarium on May 7, 1886 and, presumably, other dates as well.
29. It is also clear from the negative results of a search of Santa Cruz County land records that neither Dr. Taylor nor Dr. Brown owned the property on which the sanitarium was situated.
30. Phyllis Bertorelli Patten, Oh, That Reminds Me .... Felton California: Big Trees Press, 1969, p. 9.
31. Ibid., pp. 9-11. Not to be confused with the Taylor-Brown Sanitarium is Dr. Beechler's Sanitarium, which was on Main St. near Walnut in Soquel in the early years of the 20th century. It burned down in 1934. Information about Dr. Beechler's facility is in the County News, Aptos CA, July 2, 1969 and the SC Sentinel, Sep. 28, 2002.
If it is true that the "building was built for a Dr. Taylor for a sanatorium," then there must be a story about how he and the Grovers came to know each other. Were the Grovers Spiritualists, or at least interested in Spiritualism? Some of the Grovers actually lived in Santa Cruz, where, as prominent businessmen, they can be presumed to have known Richard Kirby and probably his wife. Did Georgiana Bruce Kirby play a part in introducing Theodore Taylor to Santa Cruz and the Grovers? Such matters might figure in more extensive studies of local history.
32. SC Surf, Jan. 2, 1886.
33. Both the SC Sentinel and the SC Surf of Feb. 16, 1886 reported that [some?] participants in the Feb. 14 meeting were, in addition to Mrs. Logan and Rev. Smith, Messrs. Grover, Baxter, Shaw, and Spofford or Spafford, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Fox. Whether or not Grover and the others were Santa Cruz residents is not stated. There were many Grovers living in Santa Cruz County in 1886, but it is tempting to suppose that there was a connection between the Mr. Grover at the meeting and the Grover Brothers who built the Glen Haven Sanitarium "for a Dr. Taylor."
Later, in the Sep. 18, 1886 Golden Gate, Mrs. Logan advertised that she was a "Magnetic and Mind Cure Healer" in Alameda, holding "Healing and Developing Circles, Wednesday evenings, free."
34. www.spirithistory.com/87light.html 2005.
35. McHugh Scrapbook, Vol 1, page 15.
36. Private communication in 2005 from Janet Grinnell Heimann of Carmel Valley, California. Ms. Heimann had this information from her mother, Charlotte Burns Grinnell, who lived on Ben Lomond Mountain from her birth, Nov. 19, 1887 to about 1916, when she moved to Santa Cruz city. Charlotte Burns was the daughter of the Scottish born Thomas Burns, who, together with his father and siblings, settled on the mountain in 1862.
Although I have found no other primary source for this story about the naming of Bonny Doon, another secondary local historical source states, "The name of Bonnie Doon, applied to part of the mountain top, originated three decades after Burns' arrival, being given by a group of families to whom spiritualism was a religion. In the three decades after the Civil war the region grew to farms, orchard and vineyards." (Rowland, Annals, p. 105. Rowland's own notes, preserved in Special Collections in the University of California Santa Cruz Library, do not give a source.)
It would be helpful if Rowland or McHugh cited their sources regarding Spiritualists in Bonny Doon. Since Charlotte Burns was closer both physically and chronologically than either of the two, however, it would not be out of line to suggest that they, too, were referring to the Burns family tradition.
Documents concerning the establishment of the Bonny Doon post office are in the U. S. Post Office Department. Reports of Site Locations. 1827-1950. National Archives Microfilm Publications. Microfilm Publication M1126, Reel 66, California: Santa Cruz-Sierra. Washington, D. C., 1980.
37. Eleventh Census of the United States: 1890. The calculations are: 19,270/60 = 321; 1,213,398/1,689 = 718; 62,970,755/45,030 = 1,398.
38. San Jose City Directory: including Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, 1892.
Surf, March 4, 1893.
40. www.spirithistory.com/93convtn.html 2005.
Workers in the vineyard, p. 26.
42. SC Surf, May 26, 1896.
43. SC Surf, July 23, 1896.
44. SC Surf, Jan 2, 1909.
45. SC Surf, Jan. 2, 1909
46. SC Surf, June 12. The total number of inhabited houses found by the canvassers was 2,859; this number, divided by 23, yields 124.
Banner of Progress. San Francisco: Benjamin Todd & Co., 1867-1868.
Ann Braude. News from the Spirit World: A Checklist of American Spiritualist Periodicals, 1847-1900. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1989.
Ann Braude. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-century America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.
The California Spiritual Messenger. San Francisco: California State Spiritualists Association, 1903.
Robert J. Chandler. "In the Van: Spiritualists as Catalysts for the California Women's Suffrage Movement," California History, Vol. LXXIII No. 3, Fall 1994, pp. 188-201.
Eliza Farnham. The Ideal Attained: Being The Story of Two Steadfast Souls, and how they Won their Happiness and Lost it not. New York, C. M. Plumb & Co., 1865. I have not seen this book.
Sandra Sizer Frankiel. California's Spiritual Frontiers: Religious Alternatives in Anglo-Protestantism, 1850-1910. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
Golden Gate. A journal of practical reform devoted to the elevation of humanity in this life and a search for the evidences of life beyond. San Francisco: Editor J. J. Owen. Weekly, July 18, 1885 through 1890.
Georgiana Bruce Kirby. Years of Experience: An autobiographical narrative. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1887.
JoAnn Levy. Unsettling the West: Eliza Farnham and Georgiana Bruce Kirby in Frontier California. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books, 2004.
McHugh Scrapbooks. University of California Santa Cruz, Special Collections.
J. Gordon Melton. The Encyclopedia of American Religions. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1987.
Julia Schlesinger. Workers in the vineyard: a review of the progress of spiritualism, biographical sketches, lectures, essays and poems. San Francisco: J. Schlesinger, 1896.
Madeleine Stern. "Two Letters from the Sophisticates of Santa Cruz." The Book Club of California Quarterly Newsletter, Vol. XXXIII, Summer 1968, No. Three, pp. 51-62.
Carolyn Swift and Judith Steen, Eds. Georgiana. Feminist Reformer of the West, The Journal of Georgiana Bruce Kirby 1852-60. Santa Cruz, California: Santa Cruz County Historical Trust, 1987.
Kabbalah; divination and tarot; Western mystery schools
Cabal, a literary word for plot or for a group that plots, is sinister in tone, implying secrecy and the overthrow of some established order. The word has been in the English language since the seventeenth century, having come to it through French, in which it is cabale. In its origin, however, the word dates back to the Middle Ages and to the Hebrew word Qabbalah, which modern scholars write as Kabbalah, and which is also known in Santa Cruz as Qabalah.
“Kabbalah is a fairly common word in rabbinic Hebrew: it simply means ‘tradition.’ In the Talmud [body of Hebrew Bible’s authoritative commentaries], it served to designate the non-Pentateuchal parts of the Hebrew Bible. Later, every tradition was called by this name, without its entailing any specifically mystical nuance.”(1)
Kabbalah evolved, however, to refer to the principal topics of the Jewish faith, which are “the celestial economy, the process of creation, the scheme of Providence in regard to man, the communications of God in revelation and to the just in his Church, the offices and ministries of good and evil angels, the nature and preexistence of the soul, its union with matter and its metempsychosis; the mystery of sin and its penalties, the Messiah, His kingdom and His glory to be revealed, the state of the soul after death and the resurrection of the dead, with occasional, too rare but pregnant intimations on the union of the soul and God.” (2)
The last named topic reflects the mysticism that came to be a feature of Kabbalah along with the doctrinal foundation. All in all, “... the Kabbalah represented a theological attempt, open to only a relative few, whose object was to find room for an essentially mystical world-outlook within the framework of traditional Judaism and without altering the latter’s fundamental principles and behavioral norms. To what extent if at all this attempt was successful remains open to debate but there can be no doubt that it achieved one very important result, namely, that for the three-hundred-year period roughly from 1500 to 1800 (at the most conservative estimate) the Kabbalah was widely considered to be the true Jewish theology...” (3) It permeated Jewish prayer, custom, and ethics. (4)
The meaning of “mystical world-outlook” is too important to relegate to a note. Mysticism is the experience of union with God, or with the Divine, or with the universe as the holy All. Mystical consciousness is incommunicable, which is to say that it cannot be shared with others: it is personal, individual, like one’s feelings and emotions.
Although there were in antiquity and in the early Middle Ages Hebrew writings which contained many elements of what was to be the Kabbalah, (5) as a body of thought the Kabbalah originated in Languedoc, Southern France, in the 12th century and had its “classical development” in Spain in the 13th century. (6) The main book of Kabbalah, the Zohar, was composed in Spain between 1270 and 1300 in the Aramaic language by Moses ben Shem Tov de Leon. (7) As time went on many Jewish scholars added commentaries which developed the already complex ideas of the Zohar. (8)
Among the discoveries made by Renaissance Italian Christian scholars was the Kabbalah. Translated into Latin, the Zohar and the additions to it were interpreted to be the ancient wisdom of the Hebrews. Furthermore, the interpretation went, this ancient wisdom was really Christian in its meaning. Thus the religious intelligentsia of Europe thought they saw in the Kabbalah a veiled statement of the original religion which was given to man by God, and which was Christian in its essence. (9)
In Muslim lands there arose in the same period a form of Kabbalah which resembled Sufism, Muslim mystical contemplation. (10) This confused European scholars even more, and by the 18th century some scholars (and many of their students) thought “the Kabbalah was in essence not Jewish at all but rather Christian Greek, or Persian.” (11) The confusion has remained from then down to the present, although in the 20th century the Jewish scholar Gershom Scholem and others have made the true history of the Kabbalah available to the general reading public.
Some modern scholars have investigated Kabbalah in its broader contexts of mysticism and ancient religion. Prominent among them is Alfred Waite, who points out that “modes and scheme and purview [of the Kabbalah] are essentially Jewish, supposing the exclusive claim of Israel to Divine Election and therefore the last source to which anyone so disposed could look for confirmation of the romantic notion that a transcendental doctrine of absolute religion has been handed down from the far past. That which is transmitted in the Zohar but in fragments only, is a Secret Doctrine peculiar to Israel, and it makes contact with the deep things of universal religion, the religion behind religion of Max Müller, in so far as it offers vestiges of inward experience on the union of the soul and God, because the records of this experience are everywhere in the world, in all ages, in all the great religions and it counts its living witnesses among us at this day.” (12)
Kabbalah doctrine is centered on God, who has many names in it, but who, in his own unique essence, is the Ain Soph, that is to say, the Divine Darkness, the “limitless and undifferentiated light,” (13) “the Divine Essence abiding in the simplicity and undifferentiation of perfect unity.” (14). This conception, however, had to be reconciled with the concrete and active God of the Scripture. “The Jew was confronted by at least two problems which called for the exercise of his further ingenuity as regards the latens Deitas [hidden God] of Ain Soph. He had to account for the bond of connection between this abyss of the Godhead and the visible universe, having man for its mouthpiece; but so far this is only the common problem of all philosophy which begins and ends in the unconditioned. He had further a problem peculiar to his own inheritance and election, and this was to establish another bond of connection between the absolute transcendency of Ain Soph, apart from all limitation, outside all human measurement, isolated from all relationship and the anthropomorphic Lord of Israel ...” (15)
The solution to the problem was the notion of emanation, or the existence of a series of beings, beginning with the perfect one, God, and leading one by one, each less perfect than the previous one, to us humans. In one well-known form of emanation doctrine, Neo-Platonism, this is an eternally continuous process, in which there is at no point a creation out of nothing. In the Jewish religion, however, emanation had to be reconciled with the creation of the world from nothing by the God of the Scripture. This was accomplished by asserting that the power of God, rather than God’s substance, went out from him, diminishing as it manifested itself in creatures of lesser and lesser resemblance to Him. (16)
In its description of God’s relation to creation, the Kabbalah assigns a role of great – even extreme – importance to words and even to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The whole alphabet emanates from the first two letters, Aleph and Beth, (17) and the whole world was created by further emanations. “Now the world is said to have been created by the help of the Hebrew letters, whence it follows that these were produced in the first place -– or rather their archetypes. They are said to have emanated from one another, presumably on account of the fact that it is possible to reduce them to a few primitive simple forms. After their emanation, the Sacred Letters the Great Letters -– the letters that are above, of which those on earth are a reflection -– remained in concealment for a period which is specified as 2,000 years before the Holy One proceeded further in His work.” (18)
The statement that there are “letters that are above,” “Sacred Letters,” refers to the doctrine of correspondences, according to which everything that happens in this world has a corresponding spiritual happening in the world above. (19) The fact that some non-Kabbalistic Christian mystics, notably Jacob Boehme in the 17th century and Emanuel Swedenborg in the 18th, also taught correspondence contributed to the confusion concerning the Christian nature of the Kabbalah.
Another very important characteristic of the Kabbalah which it shared with Christians and Muslims was the notion of the levels of interpretation of the Scripture. According to this notion passages of Scripture contain a literal sense, which is the history of something or someone, a spiritual sense, which is the lesson to be learned from this, and a mystical sense, which, in the case of the Kabbalah, was “nothing less than configurations of the divine light…” (20)
Contemplation of the teachings of the Kabbalah by those who knew it well and were spiritually transported by it was the peculiarly Jewish mystical experience associated with it. “The techniques of ‘prophetic Kabbalah’ that were used to aid the ascent of the soul, such as breathing exercises, the repetition of the Divine Names, and meditations on colors, bear a marked resemblance to those of both Indian Yoga and Muslim Sufism.” (21)
Kabbalah as presented up to this point in this essay can be termed passive, or at least non-active. Although it has always been familiar to – even known by - very few people, it exists today as a legitimate form of Jewish mysticism. (22)
The Practical Kabbalah, however, the Kabbalah that does things, that exercises power, began to be widely known in European society in the period following the Renaissance. This evolution followed logically from the teachings of the Kabbalah. “’Whatsoever is found on earth,’ says the Zohar, ‘has its spiritual counterpart on high and is dependent on it. When the inferior part is influenced that which is set over it in the upper world is affected also, because all are united.’ From this doctrine the art of Talismanic Magic must be called a logical consequence.” (23) A similar development occurred because of the Kabbalah’s view of the efficacy of some words. Thus, “The worlds were made, so to speak, by the instrument of a single letter [i. e., they follow Beth, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which follows Aleph, the first letter], and four letters are the living forces which actuate them. There can be therefore no question that every Kabbalist accepted, symbolically at least the doctrine of the power of words. It must have passed very early into unfortunate applications; Sacred Names were written on amulets and talismans which were used to heal diseases, to avert evil chances and so forth.” (24)
Unfortunately, too, “…in the conception of religious ceremony as a vehicle for the workings of divine forces, a very real danger existed that an essentially mystical perspective might be transformed in practice into an essentially magical one.” (25)
Thus Kabbalah came to be lumped together with Astrology, Alchemy, divination, and all the Faustian occult sciences. It was even claimed by the “Victorian schools of French and English Kabbalism”that “all ‘occult sciences’ are rooted in the Secret Tradition of Israel.” (26)
Divination and tarot
In several European countries tarot is simply a game played with a special deck of cards. In the United States, however, the tarot deck is popularly associated with divination, which is “a way of exploring the unknown in order to elicit answers (that is, oracles) to questions beyond the range of ordinary human understanding.” (27)
No one knows how far back in history divination first appeared; one or another or many a form of it, I think, has been present in all known cultures. In Western countries there have been three main streams of interest in the history of divination. One is the Judeo-Christian Bible, which has a great deal to say about it, mostly negative. A second is the study of the Greek and Roman cultures, in which phenomena like the Delphic Oracle had a notable part. Third, the most recent line of study, has been ethnography, which has been made possible by modern research in the languages and the myths of so many peoples. (28) There is also the fact that divination – whether one subscribes to it or not – is fascinating. Of course we humans want to know about events, past, present, and future, that are obscure to us and out of the reach of our ordinary ways of gathering knowledge. In other words, we should not expect the practice of divination to wither away. Its forms change, however, and many of the kinds of divination that were popular at one time are no longer in use.
Some well-known forms of divination are:
Interpretation of dreams (oneiromancy)
Possession by a spirit as in shamanic trances
Consultation of the dead (necromancy)
Interpretation of the action of physical objects such as the cards in tarot (cartomancy), crystals (crystallomancy), and tea leaves (tasseography)
Interpretation of the actions of nature, especially the stars (astrology)
Palm reading (cheiromancy - also spelled chiromancy),
Consultation of sacred words, such as Bible texts (29)
As to cartomancy, tarot, in particular, a popular author on the subject, Eden Gray, explains,“There is something about the Tarot that is truly fascinating. Not only do the symbols depicted on the cards challenge the imagination, but the cards themselves seem to have the power to help us explore the past and reveal hidden passions, old loves and hurts, as well as hopes and desires for the future. When you have mastered their secrets, they can give you glimpses into the future and guide you to paths that may lead to greater fulfillment.” (30)
As commonly used in the United States, the tarot deck consists of 78 cards which are a little larger than common playing cards. A 56 card subset of the 78 is divided into four suits, Swords, Batons (or Wands), Cups, and Pentacles (or Cups). Each suit of this set has ten number cards and four face or Court cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Page (or Jack). The name Minor Arcana (lesser mystery) is given to these 56 cards. Each of the other 22 cards, the Major Arcana (greater mystery), represents a notable person, such as the high priestess or the emperor; or it represents an object in nature, such as the sun or the moon. There is no complete standardization of tarot cards.
Popular American books on the use of the tarot, such as Gray’s, have about them a sense of mystery, whether or not one takes the tarot seriously. This feeling of the occult, unfortunately, dissipates when one reads the historical studies of Michael Dummett. (31) A philosopher by profession, Dummett became the historian of the tarot and published several scholarly books which leave no doubt concerning the nature and efficacy of the card readings. (32)
The following paragraphs summarize Dummett, The Game of Tarot from Ferrara to Salt Lake City, pages 1 through 164:
The earliest written reference to playing cards of any kind in Europe is from 1377. It is true that the Chinese invented playing cards, probably in the ninth century, but these cards were quite different in form from the playing cards that came to be used in Europe, and there is no evidence that the European cards derived from them. Playing cards as the Europeans came to know them probably originated in Persia, and from there went to Egypt, where a clear predecessor of European playing cards has been found in Muslim Egypt. The tarot deck, with its set of picture cards in addition to the suits, probably originated in Ferrara, Italy in the fifteenth century, and soon became widespread in northern Italy. Its original name was trionfi, but no later than 1516 it became – for reasons unknown – tarocchi. By 1534 it had passed into France under the names taro, tarau, tarault or tarot. From France it spread to other countries, keeping the Italian hard c sound (Tarock in German, for example) except in England.
The earliest recorded use of playing cards for fortune telling, cartomancy, is after 1750, and the earliest recorded instances of fortune telling with a tarot pack are in 1780. It was about 100 years after the latter that tarot cartomancy spread from France. The occultist theory attached to the Tarot deck owes its origin to Antoine Court de Gebelin (died 1784), who thought he saw Egyptian symbols in the cards. The professional fortune-teller Etteilla (died 1791) then popularized an “Egyptian” tarot pack for his trade, and Etteilla’s pack became the basis or referent for subsequent occult tarot packs. A century later came Eliphas Levi (died 1875), who was the source of the whole modern occultist movement. According to Levi occult powers come from “magnetized electricity,” and he added tarot to the four recognized channels of occult power, the Cabala (Dummett’s spelling), alchemy, the Hermetic books, and astrology. Levi did not exactly follow Etteilla, who was only interested in fortune telling; but, rather, asserted that tarot is a kind of book, which if read correctly, contains the key to all knowledge. Levi asserted that tarot was known down through history to many writers, who presented veiled reference to it, as, for instance, the author of Gospel According to John.
French occultism, including tarot, had a limited diffusion in the United States directly, principally by way of secret societies. Occultism as a widespread movement, with its central role of tarot, was first brought to public attention in the United States in 1910, having arrived from France via England.
The historical identification of the tarot with the Gypsies (Romani People) is quite mistaken; the fact is that the Gypsies arrived in Europe after the tarot deck.
Western mystery schools
In Chapter 5 Particulars Meaning of the Term Spirituality, I observed that shamans, spiritualists, and persons who have psychedelic experiences speak of their direct knowledge of the spiritual world or at least of spiritual aspects of the world. Some of these experiences are attributed to natural, but specially developed, human powers, such as clairvoyance, the reading of human auras, and extra sensory perception of any kind.
In addition to these actions of natural powers, however, it can be supposed that there are other kinds of actions, such as divining secrets, looking into the future, or effecting changes by real, not illusory, magic. The power to perform such actions might derive from secret knowledge possessed only by people who have been initiated into a small group of insiders, often a secret society, often referred to as a brotherhood, which preserves it. In fact, many brotherhoods teach that they are preserving knowledge that was imparted long ago, even at the beginning of the world. The secret knowledge is called esoteric, and its effects are practical esotericism.
It should not be thought that esoteric knowledge has to do merely with the performance of marvelous actions. It is, rather, basically understood to be an insight into the deepest meanings of the world, an insight which transforms its possessor into a truly wise person. This wisdom is communicable, that is, it has been received from teachers and can be taught to others. It is also saving (redemptive) in the religious sense of freeing us from sin and evil. (33)
Theosophy, Anthroposophy, and several local groups listed in #17 Ancient Wisdom, trace their teachings to esoteric knowledge. Most of those in #18 Nature Reverence Family do the same. Among the Ancient Wisdom family some of the organizations are more involved in practical esotericism than others, whereas all those in the Nature Reverence family are more oriented to practical esotericism than to the knowledge itself.
As stated above, the Kabbalah is a special and complex form of mystical language within the framework of the Jewish faith. From a comparative point of view Kabbalah is one esoteric phenomenon among many forms of Western esotericism, all of which are distinguished from the Eastern esotericism of Hinduism and Buddhism. Something about Kabbalah has for hundreds of years invited non-Jews to appropriate it to themselves, too, for their own spiritual needs. And so it has evolved to the point where in our day we find it not only as a distinct kind of esotericism in itself, but also as a basis for a particular branch of Western Esotericism that combines it with divination, specifically with tarot.
The Kabbalah-tarot or Qabalah-tarot combination emerged with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric society which was founded in 1888 in Great Britain. The founders of the Order used the views of Eliphas Levi (mentioned above, under Divination and tarot) to make the connection. The order no longer exists, but it counts among its progeny Scientology and the Qabalistic tarot. (34)
There are in Santa Cruz two Western Mystery Schools, which teach Qabalistic tarot. Amber Jayanti, the founder of one of them, the Santa Cruz School for Tarot and Qabalah, is well known as the author of Tarot for Dummies. Jayanti’s understanding of the Qabalistic tarot derives from the school, Builders of the Adytum, which was founded by Paul Foster Case, who, in turn, was a student of Arthur Waite of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. (35)
Tarot, she explains, plays an important role in present-day mystery schools because of the extreme versatility of the cards. “When used properly, the tarot is a set of archetypal symbols possessing the potential to do amazing things.” (36) Specifically, “I believe that the tarot illustrates universal and natural laws, truths and principles – Ageless Wisdom – in the language of picture symbols.” “In the mystery school tradition, the tarot cards are called keys; they are clues that open the doors to higher consciousness. The tarot’s archetypal images are a type of shorthand that trains your mind to key into metaphysical and mystical principles. These principles elevate your level of awareness so that you’re able to read the pictures of your life with increasing clarity and live a more fulfilling life.” (37)
As to Qabalah itself, she writes, “The teachings of the Universal Qabalah are non-sexist, non-racist, and non-homophobic. The teachings unite Judeo-Christian mysticism with the hermetic arts and sciences -– tarot, astrology, alchemy, numerology, and sacred geometry.
“Universal Qabalah crosses all sorts of barriers by embracing the essential principles of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, and Shamanism, to name a few.” (38)
The Tree of Life, a metaphor common to many religions, connects the spiritual and earthly realms. In its particularly Hebrew conception, the tree of life, the Sefirot, is a graphic illustration of the emanations from Ain Soph down to us through the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and of the return to Ain Soph of the creation. The Qabalistic tarot sees in each of the 22 major arcana cards a reference to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. By consulting the cards, one learns one’s location in the tree; by meditating on them, one rises up the tree. (39)
1. Gershom Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, p. 38.
2. Arthur Waite, The Holy Kabbalah, p. 5.
3. Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 190.
4. Ibid, p. 192.
5. Scholem, Origins, pp. 18-35. These elements included Gnosticism and, indeed, some association between Kabbalah and Gnosticism exists even now. Although the Kabbalah lies within the Jewish faith and is not Gnostic, there are striking points of convergence between it and Gnosticism
6. Ibid, p. 12.
7. Scholem, Kabbalah, pp. 226-233.
8. Waite, Holy Kabbalah, p. 128.
9. Scholem, Kabbalah, pp. 197-199.
10. Ibid, p. 82.
11. Ibid, p. 202.
12. Waite, Holy Kabbalah, p. 132.
13. Ibid, p. 21.
14. Ibid, p. 187.
15. Ibid, p. 191.
16. Scholem, Kabbalah, pp. 96-98.
17. Waite, Holy Kabbalah, p. 231.
18. Ibid, p. 221.
19. Ibid, p. 225.
20. Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 173.
21. Ibid, p. 180.
22. The Ayn Sof Community, a San Francisco group, gives the impression on its website, www.aynsof.org 2008, that it is based on the mystical Kabbalah. For its connections with Santa Cruz see #19.2 in the lists of associations.
23. Waite, Holy Kabbalah, p. 133.
24. Ibid, pp. 519-520; p. 223 regarding Beth.
25. Scholem, Kabbalah, p. 194.
26. Waite, Holy Kabbalah, p.542.
27. Barbara Tedlock, "Divination,” p. 189.
28. The bibliography of Tedlock's 2001 article cited above lists 26 works on the Americas, Africa, and Oceania, but only two on Europe. Another 11 are general or I cannot identify them from their titles. By way of contrast stands H. J. Rose's article, "Divination (Introductory and Primitive)," in the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, representing scholarship of the early part of the twentieth century. Rose’s article is one of 18 on divination. Of the remaining 17, 11 deal with Europe and Western Asia, mainly the classical world; 5 deal with Eastern Asia; one with the Americas, and none with Africa and Oceania.
29. Eighty-three kinds of divination are listed in http://skepdic.com/divinati.html 2008. A similar array is organized into eleven categories by H. J. Rose in the article cited above.
30. Eden Gray, Mastering the Tarot, p. 11.
31. The Game of Tarot from Ferrara to Salt Lake City is his basic work on tarot. See the bibliography below for this and his other studies of it.
32. Robert Erwin, Review of The Game of Tarot, in the Times [of London] Literary Supplement, July 5, 2002.
33. Robert A. Gilbert, “Western esotericism,” pp. 304-308 of New Religions, presents this age-old topic in a concise, contemporary way.
34. J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, pp. 134-136.
35. Amber Jayanti, Tarot for Dummies, p. 58.
36. Ibid, p. 13.
37. Ibid, p. 55.
38. Ibid, loc. cit.
39. Ibid, pp. 255-269.
Bibliography of works consulted in the preparation of this essay
Jacob Boehme. Passim in his many writings. His bibliography is on http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~janzb/boehme/boehmebib.htm 2008.
Michael Dummett and Sylvia Mann, The Game of Tarot from Ferrara to Salt Lake City. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co.: 1980.
--- and Ronald Decker and Thierry Depaulis. A Wicked Pack of Cards: The origins of the wicked tarot. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.
--- and Ronald Decker. A History of the Occult Tarot, 1870-1970. London: Duckworth, 2002.
Mircea Eliade. Shamanism. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964.
Robert A. Gilbert. “Western Esotericism,” in Christopher Partridge, ed. New Religions. Oxford Univ. Press, 2004, pp. 304-308.
Eden Gray. Mastering the Tarot. New York: Signet Books, 1973.
William James. The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
Amber Jayanti. Living the Qabalistic Tarot. Boston: Weiser Books, 2004.
--- Tarot for Dummies. New York: Hungry Minds, Inc: 2001.
--- Thorsons Principles of the Qabalah. London: Thorsons, 1999.
Hans Jonas. The Gnostic Religion. Boston: Beacon Press, 1963.
Karen L. King. What is Gnosticism? Harvard Univ. Press, 2003.
J. Gordon Melton. The Encyclopedia of American Religions. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1987.
A. D. Nock. Conversion. Oxford Univ. Press, 1969.
Rudolf Otto. The Idea of the Holy. Oxford Univ. Press, 1968.
H. J. Rose. "Divination (Introductory and Primitive),” in James Hastings, Ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961, Vol, IV, pp. 775-780.
Kurt Rudolph. Gnosis. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.
Gershom Scholem. Kabbalah. New York: Dorset Press, 1987.
--- Origins of the Kabbalah. Princeton Univ. Press, 1987.
Alfred P. Sinnett. Esoteric Buddhism. London: Trübner & Co., 1884.
Emanuel Swedenborg. Passim in his very many religious works, especially Coronis, Doctrine of the Sacred Scriptures, and The True Christian Religion. The texts of these and all his religious works are on http://www.sacred-texts.com 2008.
Barbara Tedlock. "Divination as a Way of Knowing, Embodiment, Visualization, Narrative, and Interpretation," in Folklore, Vol. 112, No. 2 (Oct. 2001), pp. 189-197; p. 189.
Arthur Versluis. American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions. Oxford Univ. Press, 1993.
Herman Vetterling. The Illuminate of Goerlitz. Leipzig: Markert & Petters, 1923.
Arthur E. Waite. The Holy Kabbalah. New Hyde Park, New York: University Books, 1960.
South and East Asian Spiritualities
Origins and General Development
"Hinduism" is a term used to express traits common to the billion or so people whose heritage goes back linearly about 2,500 years to the then extant civilizations of what is now called India. The more specific term, "Hindu spirituality," refers to the complex of cosmology, philosophy, and religion which was, unevenly of course, distributed across that area in the beginning or has developed from it since then. It is possible to distinguish philosophy and religion in Hindu spirituality, but they are at most only two facets of the same worldview, and the life of the mind in Hinduism is not separate from the life of the spirit.
Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism are the major spiritual movements deriving from the matrix of Hinduism and more or less different from it. Of these, Jainism has remained completely Hindu in inspiration, whereas Sikhism has roots in both Hinduism and Islam, and Buddhism is an amalgam of the genius of India with that of other South and East Asian societies, China, Japan, and so on. All these spiritualities, however, differ from West Asian and European ones in that they are not churches and they do not have hierarchical structures. Their basic unit is the spiritual master, the guru, shri, or swami, and a coterie of disciples. Running down the list of Hindu associations in #20, one realizes that all of them can be traced back to individuals whose following has multiplied beyond an immediate band of disciples.
The practice of Hindu spirituality ranges from highly intellectual to highly sensual. At the one end of the spectrum is Advaita Vedanta, which, in its philosophic aspect, insists that all - absolutely everything - is One, and which emphasizes meditation over the use of symbols and rituals. At the far end of the spectrum is the folk religion which emphasizes devotion to an array of colorful gods and goddesses who are, to be sure, understood to be in reality mere symbols of divine powers. Similar to this dimension of Hindu spiritual experience, but not the same, is the polarity of transcendental-immanent. In the first we find our unity with the divine by losing ourselves in it; in the second we find that we ourselves are divine. The first allies itself naturally with the more intellectual approach to the divine, but it leaves room for a practical form of spiritual action which reaches out to others. The second can be experienced in yogic practices of self-enrichment, but also exists in the extreme of Tantrism, in which enjoying the pleasures of the body is an act of worship.
Hinduism in the United States
In the United States Hinduism has almost entirely been of the intellectual, transcendent form with little external symbolism and ritual, and this is the kind of Hinduism which Indians themselves have brought here and continue to foster. Although the wide popularity of Yoga in this country is of Indian inspiration, it has been taken up and advanced by American teacher-practitioners, and the more limited popularity of Tantrism is even farther removed from its Indian roots.
A certain line of chronology has to be borne in mind in order to grasp the development of Hinduism in the United States:
1825-1893. Elements of Hindu thought entered American intellectual and religious life through the efforts of the (non-Indian) Transcendentalists and Theosophists.
1893. The World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago, brought several Hindu gurus to the United States, and this led to the permanent establishment of a Hindu presence in this country. Prominent among these pioneers was Swami Vivekananda, who founded the Vedanta Society and two Advaita Vedanta groups, one in New York and the other in San Francisco.
1923. Immigrants from India were declared by the U. S. Supreme Court not to be eligible for citizenship.
1924. The Immigration Act of this year limited the number of persons entering the country from India to 100 a year.
1946. The United States eased its restrictions on immigration from South Asia.
1965. The exclusion of immigrants from India was repealed and broad admission quotas were established for them.
The chronology helps explain that although only 15,000 immigrants had come to the United States from the whole Indian subcontinent before 1965, (Mann, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America, p. 64), there were 387,000 "Asian Indians" in the country according to the 1980 census. The number of Hindus in the country in 1990 was estimated to be 227,000, and in 2001 estimates of their number varied from 766,00 to 1,100,000. (www.religioustolerance.org 2004)
From the 1890s to the 1960s the Vedanta Society maintained a continuous, limited existence, and a few gurus gathered followings in the United States. The Theosophical Society at one point proposed a young Indian, Jeddu Krishnamurti, as the Savior of the world. Krishnamurti himself renounced this view of himself in 1927, but, his renown being assured, continued as a well known author on spirituality.
Bibliography on Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism in general and in the United States in general
A. L. Basham. The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.
Carl T. Jackson, Vedanta for the West. Indiana University Press, 1994.
Gurinder Singh Mann. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. (advance, uncorrected reading copy used)
Rajmani Tuganait. Seven Systems of Indian Philosophy. Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A., 1983.
Heinrich Zimmer. Philosophies of India. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1956.
www.vhp-america.org 2004. The organ of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, a general organization of Amereican Hindus (in an ancient and broad sense), this website has information on the Hindu community in the United States.
Origins and General Development
Siddartha Gautama lived in the sixth century BC in Northeast India. After years of personal religious experience he became recognized as a teacher of a simple spirituality which did not claim to be revealed by a divine being, which eschewed philosophical speculation about the world, and which was devoid of symbols and rituals. He spoke of the Four Noble Truths: Suffering exists; There is a cause of suffering; There is a cessation of suffering; There is a means to cease suffering. In other words, suffering pervades the world, but we create it for ourselves by desiring and craving things, and it will follow us into successive reincarnations until we put to rest our desiring and craving. This we do by the Eightfold Path: Right views; Right resolve; Right speech; Right conduct; Right livelihood; Right effort; Right mindfulness; Right meditation.
Because of its perception of the ubiquity of suffering, the characteristic attitude of Buddhism toward human and other life in the world is compassion, and all the followers of Siddartha Gautama agree on this and on the goal of seeking eventual peace for everyone. The hundreds of millions of Buddhists in the world, however, do not espouse one, and only one, method for everyone to pursue this goal. The most general division of Buddhism is into Theravada (or Hinayana), the ascetic-tending form of Southeast Asia, that is, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, etc., and Mahayana, the populist form, found in Northeast Asia, that is, China, Tibet, Korea, and Japan. Nevertheless, each mainstream of Buddhism provides for both asceticism and popular religion.
Siddartha Gautama's own spirituality did not use symbols and rituals, and he explicitly refused to speculate about such matters as the eternity and finiteness of the world, the identity of soul and body, and the existence of humans after their suffering ceases. Still, in the roughly 2,300 years since Buddhism emerged from India into other countries, many forms of it have become speculative, fostering intellectual thought about the structure of the world and our place in it, and many of its forms have incorporated elements of folk religion, not only symbols and rituals, but also beliefs about gods and goddesses, etc. The conceptual structure of Buddhism is broad enough to include a great range of interpretations, especially if it is dissociated from its original assumption that reincarnation is literally the case.
Historically Buddhism was one spiritual practice among many in the Indian subcontinent until King Asoka unified India in the third century BC and elevated Buddhism to an official status. It then started to expand beyond India, and by the time it was a thousand years old it was found everywhere in Southeast and Northeast Asia. In India itself Buddhism disappeared as a distinct form of spirituality by about 1,000 AD, but it is clear that this is due to its being reincorporated into Hindu spirituality rather than its ceasing to exist.
As the great wave of Buddhism moved into China it tended to merge with the preexisting Taoism in combination with the Confucian view of society to create one general form of Chinese spirituality, which is treated in the next part of this essay. In Japan Buddhism incorporated the indigenous folk religion, but it also took the form of the Zen meditative movement.
Buddhism in the United States
Interest in Buddhism in this country began while Americans were viewing it from afar, as a phenomenon in Asia which to some intellectuals offered a fresh and tolerant insight into religion. The Transcendentalists were fascinated by Buddhism along with Hinduism, and the Theosophists asserted that both Eastern spiritualities had preserved the wisdom of antiquity better than the Western spiritualities had done. Although the Transcendentalists and later the Theosophists knew better, other Americans who acquired a smattering of knowledge about Buddhism from then on often confused it with Hinduism. As with Hinduism, the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago both attracted a new and wider range of attention to Buddhism and gave the impetus to the founding of centers in the United States. The number, however, of Euro-Americans who thought of themselves primarily as Buddhists at "the peak of American interest (1892 to 1907)" was probably only two or three thousand. (Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844-1912, p. 46)
The limiting of Asian immigration into the U. S. (see its chronology above, under Hinduism) has an important bearing on the development of Buddhism in the country, but another factor has to be taken into account: many Chinese and Japanese had arrived on the west coast before the flow of immigration was stanched. California counted 55 Chinese-born residents at the start of the gold rush; five years later there were 40,000. More came for the building of the railroads, and although these were almost exclusively men, they brought their spirituality with them. Immigrants from Japan arrived especially after the change in the Japanese regime in 1868, and they, like the Chinese, established settlements up and down California, although with one significant general difference, that Japanese women came with the men and they established families. Some of both the Chinese and Japanese who came to California were Christian, and indeed it is clear that it was the Christian missionaries who told them about the opportunities across the ocean. Thus Japanese Christian churches were founded, but there were also Japanese Buddhist temples. Then too, there were Chinese temples, and Americans, not knowing whether they were Buddhist, Taoist, or Confucian, tended to call them all Buddhist.
In 1914 Japanese Buddhists founded the "Buddhist Mission in North America." From its headquarters in San Francisco this organization branched out to include by 1930 over 30 temples, many called "churches" - mostly in California. (Mann, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs, pp. 18-28 for the preceding three paragraphs)
In 1944 the BMNA was reorganized as the "Buddhist Churches of America," still with headquarters in San Francisco. (Mann, op. cit., p. 38; Melton, Encyclopedia *1262)
There still are primarily ethnic Chinese and Japanese temples in centers like San Francisco and Los Angeles, and other South and East Asian groups have brought the Buddhism of their native lands with them. Furthermore, the widening of Americans' knowledge of Buddhism through the new immigrants has brought ethnic non-Asians into the Buddhist community. The greatest single spiritual influence of Buddhism on American society has been through the spread of Zen, which came to prominence in this country in the 1950s and 60s. Not only was Zen recognized for its own sake, but it was also incorporated into the New Age, Beat Generation, and Aquarian movements, both intellectually and socially. (Mann, op. cit., p. 40-45)
Bibliography on Buddhism in general and Buddhism in the United States in general
E. A. Burtt, Ed. The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha. New York: New American Library, 1982.
Buddha Cruz. Monthly newsletter published in Santa Cruz beginning (and apparently ending also) in 1994.
Gurinder Singh Mann. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. (advance, uncorrected reading copy used)
Hsing Yun. Describing the Indescribable. A Commentary on the Diamond Sutra. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2001.
Don Morreale. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1998.
Thomas A. Tweed. The American Encounter with Buddhism 1844-1912. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.
Heinrich Zimmer. Philosophies of India. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company, 1956.
Origins and general development
In the traditional Chinese understanding of the universe, "The Tao is seen as the everlasting principle at the origin of the universe. It permeates and transcends all beings; it is at the origin of all transformations." (Little, p. 33) The interplay of yin and yang brought forth from the primordial unity the structure of the world as we know it, that is, as hierarchically arranged in a heavenly realm and and earthly realm, the latter of which is a direct analog of the former and is connected with it by the flow of universal energy, qi (or ch'i, in another system of transliteration). This is not an otherworldly view, and it does not claim to stem from revelations to privileged individuals, and so it would, by Western standards, lend itself less to religious beliefs than to philosophical speculation. The Chinese mind, however, has traditionally not been inclined to speculate on such matters as the properties of being and about ultimate human destiny.
Questions of philosophy which Chinese intellectuals have dealt with over the millennia can mainly be categorized for Westerners under epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy, but for the most part the Chinese have not distinguished these from religion, and they categorize them under the headings of Taoism and Confucianism. The first of these deals with the alignment of our attitude with the Tao in a conscious apperception of the great harmony of the universe; the second, with the alignment of our actions in human society so that we take our place in this harmony. To put it another way, the Taoist element of Chinese spirituality speaks of the principles of the cosmic order and of what we should know about them, and the Confucian element speaks of the order of human society which best embodies the cosmic order. Taoism lends itself to retreat from the practical world and to contemplation, and in this sense certainly is a religion in the Western sense; Confucianism lends itself to a belief in solidarity with one's ancestors, and in this way is otherworldly and religious. Furthermore, historically both forms of Chinese spirituality have in practice been greatly affected by the ancient folk religion of China. This has populated Taoist practice with gods, goddesses, and other supernatural beings that are taken to be more or less literally real, and provide much ritual and symbolism, and it has, in a parallel way, divinized Confucius himself.
A further complication in understanding Chinese spirituality stems from the interrelations between Taoist, Confucian, and Buddhist elements in it. The first two, which are indigenous, are complementary: that is to say, in the course of more than 2,000 years there have been times in China when the one or the other element predominated and even seemed to overwhelm the other, but the basic balance between the two has been, and still seems to be, too strong to allow either to be eliminated.
The other element, Buddhism, although from the outside, arrived in China during the formative era of Chinese history, over 2,000 years ago, and has played an integral part in the development of Chinese spirituality. Some aspects of the worldview of Buddhism, especially its awareness of human inability to see into the ultimate secrets of the universe and its non-institutional quality, were congenial to China. These accorded precisely with the Taoist views, and for at least 1,500 years there has been in China another seesaw, that of Buddhist and Taoist practices. It seems that factors of the politics of successive dynasties have propelled this seesaw, but in order to reach the Taoist heart of China a form of Buddhism which did not insist on reincarnation as the solution to the problem of human evil had to evolve. This was accomplished not by directly refuting belief in reincarnation, but by bypassing it as a useless question, and the form of Buddhism which best did this was Chan, which went on to become the Zen of Japan.
In the United States
In 1849 there were almost no Chinese in the United States, but the gold rush in California changed that quickly and dramatically. It is estimated that the early high tide of Chinese immigration was in 1852, when no fewer than 25,000 arrived in California. (Malcolm J. Rohrbough, Days of Gold, The California Gold Rush and the American Nation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997, p. 228) Chinese continued to come, especially for building the railroads in the American West in the 1870s. Americans had little understanding of these people, almost all of whom were men who sought to send money back to their families in China and who kept to themselves. At that time few Americans of European descent had any notion whatsoever of South and East Asian spirituality, but the few who did knew that the Chinese were not Hindus, and so they had to be Buddhists. The fact is, however, that they were mainly Taoists.
"Taoism was the religion of most of the early Chinese immigrants ... The Taoist temple was a source of strength for early Chinese American pioneers. Worship was usually done individually, rather than in congregations. Respect for deities and departed relatives was shown by offerings of incense, accompanied by food and drink on special occasions. Paper offerings (in the form of money, clothing, etc.) were burned, since burning was viewed as a means of transmitting objects from the visible to the invisible world ... Prayers were offered silently in the heart before the altar ... Evidence suggests that most frontier Taoist temples were supervised by deacons rather than ordained priests. The Taoist temple was also a social center and a focal point for early Chinese American communities. The first and fifteenth days of the lunar month were days of worship, when people often met at the temple ... The temple also provided some social services, such as lodging for travelers." ("Library of American Memory," subhead "The Chinese in California 1850-1925." in www.loc.gov/ammem 2004)
Inspection of three postcards showing the interiors of early California Chinese temples (two of them explicitly called "Joss Houses") and one household shrine shows clearly a style that is not Buddhist. (www.loc.gov/ammmem 2004) The postcard views are not of the Santa Cruz Chee Kong Tong Temple, but a photo of interior of this local temple manifests the same non-Buddhist appearance. (Lydon, Chinese Gold, p. 259)
It is also true that Chinese Buddhism was exported to the United States, but it takes careful examination to distinguish it from Taoism. There are, for instance, two well-established Chinese Buddhist temples and communities in San Francisco, the Buddha's Universal Church, (Melton, Encyclopedia *1288) and the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. (Melton, Encyclopedia *1293) Neither of these, however, predates the 1920s. To confuse the issue, even now the Tin Hou Temple at 125 Waverly Pl., San Francisco is called Taoist on one list and Buddhist on another, and several San Francisco Chinese organizations are of both traditions, for example, Chi Sin Buddhist & Taoist Association and the Jeng Sen Buddhism & Taoism Association. (www.sfstation.com 2004)
The Chinese immigrants to California were subjected to a massive movement of hatred and violence in the 1880s and even after that. The first federal Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882, and it was renewed every 10 years until finally made permanent. Limits on the numbers of immigrants allowed from China were eased during World War II, in 1943, and after the war many non-communist Chinese were welcomed into the country. Some of these, particularly Taiwanese, brought Buddhism with them. (Mann, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs, pp. 20-24 and 51. This work, however, seems uncritically to call all Chinese temples in the United States from the 1850s on Buddhist.)
Bibliography on Taoism and Confucianism
Fung Yu-lan. A Short History of Chinese Philosophy. New York: The Free Press, 1948.
Stephen Little. Taoism and the Arts of China. Chicago: The Art Institute in association with the University of California Press, 2000.
Sandy Lydon. Chinese Gold, The Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region. Capitola, California: Capitola Book Company, 1985. This is rich in details of Chinese culture and locations in Santa Cruz and Watsonville.
Gurinder Singh Mann. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. (advance, uncorrected reading copy used)
www.daoistcenter.org 2004. This site contains abundant information on Taoism in general.
www.eng.taoism.org.hk 2004 has academic research on Taoism.
www.taoism.net 2004, a personal website that contains solid information on the philosophical aspects of Taoist thought.
Popular Practices Based on South and East Asian Cosmologies
Indian cosmology: Yoga, Martial arts, Ayurveda
Although formally a system of Indian philosophy since about 200 BC, Yoga functions also as a practical method for uniting one's individual consciousness with the universal consciousness. Thus, even as a system of philosophy Yoga fosters physical and mental health. The fact is, however, that it reaches far more Americans as a popular healthful practice which does not make religious or philosophical demands of them.
An idea of the growth of Yoga in Santa Cruz can be had by comparing the listings in the Yellow Pages and city directories through the years, as the following table shows:
Heading 1963 1973 1983 1993 2003
"Yoga Instruction" not listed 3 2 5 18
Sources of the preceding table: 2003 SBC Yellow Pages, 1993 Pacific Bell Yellow Pages, 1983 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Yellow Pages (listed as meditation instruction), 1973 Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Yellow Pages, 1985 Polk City Directory of Watsonville, 1982-83 Polk City Directory of Santa Cruz, 1973 Polk City Directories (separate) of Santa Cruz and of Watsonville, 1963 Polk City Directory of Santa Cruz County.
Comparison of the availability of Yoga in Santa Cruz with two similar California places, one "liberal" university town, and one typical Midwestern city.
Santa Cruz S. Luis Obispo S. Barbara Boulder, CO Racine, WI
2000 Pop. 2000 Pop. 2000 Pop. 2000 Pop. 2000 Pop.
City 54,000 City 44,000 City 92,000 City 94,000 City 81,000
Co. 255,000 Co. 246,000 Co. 399,000 Co. 291,000 Co. 188,000
19 9 14 13 0
4 0 3 5 0
Total S Asian
23 9 17 18 0
Note that as in a similar comparison in Chapter 4 Summaries, the data are from the www.smartpages.com listings online as of May 13, 2004, and they are to be used with similar caution.
Indian martial arts
In the Indian worldview shakti is the power or energy which pervades the universe, and pran is the energy of life. Pran operates particularly in breathing, but it flows through body channels, nadi. Of the various techniques one can use to enhance pran in one's self the best known is Yoga, which can, among other things, strengthen the person and make him capable of prodigious physical feats. There have been "fighting ascetics" in Indian history, although this is not the goal of Yoga. (Joseph S. Alter, "Religion and Spiritual Development: India," pp. 462-471 of Thomas A. Green, Ed. Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001)
It seems clear that the high degree of asceticism required for supernatural strength in the Indian view does not have the popular appeal of the practice of East Asian martial arts. However this may be, I have found no evidence of the practice of Indian martial arts in Santa Cruz.
Ayurveda is the basic theory of traditional Indian medicine. Philosophically it derives from Samkhya, an ancient Indian view of the world as being multiple rather than being a single unity as it is in some other Indian worldviews. The energy of the universe flows through this world, and aligning ourselves with the dynamism of it is the task of Ayurveda. Whereas Yoga can be practiced according to any of the Indian worldviews, Ayurveda depends on its more specific theory.
The Ayurveda school in the United States is at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. Its website, www.mum.edu 2005, contains information about this kind of therapy, as do www.theraj.com 2005 and www.ayurveda-ayurvedic.com 2005.
"College of Ayurveda," "Ayurveda World," supplier of ayurvedic products, and "Kaya Kalpa Wellness Center," which offers ayurvedic treatments, are functions of Mount Madonna Center. (www.mountmadonna.org 2005)
Chinese cosmology: Martial arts, Traditional Chinese medicine, Feng-shui
East Asian spirituality is most noticeable in Santa Cruz in its association with practices of self-defense, health therapy, and - a distant third - felicitous arrangement of living and working spaces. Much of the publicity for these services emphasizes their spiritual value, although the fact is that none of them is religious or in any sense otherworldly in origin. Nevertheless, they easily lend themselves to being represented as practical aspects of Taoism, Confucianism, and Zen Buddhism because they proceed from the same general Chinese cosmology that is incorporated into these three.
Some idea of the impact these practices of East Asian spirituality are having on Santa Cruz can be had by observing the growth of the commercial industry associated with them. The following table was compiled from listings in the telephone Yellow Pages and from city directories:
Heading 1963 1973 1983 1993 2003
"Acupressure," & "Acupuncture" 0 0 15 65 108
Total trad. Chinese medicine 0 0 15 65 108
"Martial Arts Instruction" 0 0 7(2) 21 34
"Judo, Karate and Ju Jitsu Instr" 0 2(1) 3(2) 0 0
Total, Chinese and
Japanese martial arts 0 2 7 21 34
"Feng Shui Products & Services" 0 0 0 0 5
Total of all practices. 0 2 22 86 147
Notes to this table
Sources: various Yellow Pages, the same as those in the preceding table on yoga instruction.
1: The two are from the Yellow Pages, which refer this heading to "Gymnasiums."
2: Duplicative, i.e., the 7 are from the Yellow Pages and the 3 are from the City Directories; the total is 7.
Comparison of popular practices based on Chinese cosmology in Santa Cruz with two similar California places, one "liberal" university town, and one typical Midwestern city.
Santa Cruz S. Luis Obispo S. Barbara Boulder, CO Racine, WI
2000 Pop. 2000 Pop. 2000 Pop. 2000 Pop. 2000 Pop.
City 54,000 City 44,000 City 92,000 City 94,000 City 81,000
Co. 255,000 Co. 246,000 Co. 399,000 Co. 291,000 Co. 188,000
119 21 63 59 4
Mart. arts instr.
55 33 32 41 6
4 0 2 0 0
Total E Asian
178 54 97 100 10
& health practiti-
oners, holistic pract-
itioners, & homeo-
69 33 42 30 10
Note that as in a similar comparison in Chapter 4 Summaries, the data are from the www.smartpages.com listings online as of May 13, 2004, and they are to be used with similar caution.
Chinese Martial Arts
"Chinese historical records and other writings over the centuries reveal that the martial arts were practiced among all elements of society, including religious groups. However, there is little evidence that there was any significant religious influence over the martial arts or that they were a product of religious experience. On the contrary, they were the product of a clan society intent on protecting group interests and of the existence of widespread warfare among contending states during China's formative period ...
" ... that these arts are inseparable from a religious or spiritual context is simply unfounded. On the other hand, martial arts concepts are clearly based on a Daoist philosophical worldview, and this includes psychological as well as physical aspects ... it is perhaps understandable that misunderstandings have arisen in modern times concerning the nature and origins of the martial arts and their place in society." (Stanley E. Henning, "Religion and Spiritual Development: China," pp. 455-462 of Thomas A. Green, Ed. Martial Arts of the World. An Encyclopedia, Vol 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001, p. 455)
There are Chinese narrations about the fighting prowess of Buddhist monks. Especially renowned were the "Thirteen Fighting Monks of Shaolin Monastery," who assisted the Emperor Taizong in fighting off his enemies in the seventh century and appeared again as warriors who resisted Japanese pirates in the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, the earliest reference that connects the practice of Taoism with martial arts is from the seventeenth century. (Henning, op. cit., pp. 458-461)
Local martial arts websites with information on Chinese martial arts:
www.plumpub.com 2005 (Plum Publications: specialists in Chinese martial arts, energetics [such as Ch'i Kung and T'ai Chi], philosophy, theory, and critique)
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture, moxibustion and cupping (three ways of applying stimuli to points on the body), herbs, massage, breath regulation, exercises, and harmonious sexual practices are the means by which traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) works to maintain health and to restore it. Acupuncture and moxibustion, in particular, have such an ancient origin that the first known treatise on them, the Nei Ching, which dates from the second or third century BC, attributes them to the legendary Yellow Emperor of the third millennium BC. Before the sixth century AD some knowledge of TCM had already spread from China through Korea to Japan, and comprehensive treatises on it became available in Japan in that century. Less is known about acupuncture and related procedures in ancient India, but there is textual evidence for its presence there so early that, for all we know, it spread eastward from India to China. (Omura, pp. 13-16)
Wherever their geographical origins, acupuncture and similar treatments clearly took their form from experiment, trial and error, although how this occurred is still highly speculative. (Mann, p. 3; Fu, pp. 8-14) By the time of the Nei Ching, however, the basic concepts of TCM were 1) opposition of Yin and Yang, 2) the Tao, 3) the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), and 4) the medical combination of all these concepts. (Omura, p. 20) The prime focus of TCM was and is Qi, and from the general notion of Qi in the world and in humans one proceeds to the well-known doctrine of the meridians, or channels, of Qi and to the diagnoses and applications instrumental in maintaining or restoring their proper function. It may be of particular interest that TCM is first of all preventive, and then reparative medicine. (Mann, pp. 195-198)
Bibliography on traditional Chinese medicine
Fu Wei-kang. The Story of Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1975.
Mann, Felix. Acupuncture: The Ancient Chinese Art of Healing. London: William Heinemann Medical Books Ltd., 3rd ed., 1978.
Omura, Yoshiaki. Acupuncture Medicine: Its Historical and Clinical Background. Tokyo: Japan Publications, Inc., 1982.
Ross, Jeremy. Zang fu: The Organ Systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Linvingstone, 2nd ed., 1985.
www.aaaom.edu 2005, the American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
www.aaom.org 2005, the American Association of Oriental Medicine.
www.nccaom.org 2005, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Some Santa Cruz Asian medicine practitioners have websites that are useful sources of information about Asian medicine:
www.fivebranches.edu. Five Branches Institute: College and Clinic of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since 1984. The five branches are: acupuncture, herbology, dietetics, tuina, and energetics (Tai Chi, Qi Gong). Has a 2,000 volume library.
In his dissertation for the Ph.D. in architecture Sang Hae Lee covered the history and principles of feng-shui as an introduction to its specific working principles. Lee writes,
"Feng-shui is a Chinese traditional architectural theory for selecting a favorable site for dwellings, both for the living and the dead, and for deciding important matters when planning a dwelling." (p. 2)
"The basic premise of feng-shui theory is that man, both the living and the dead, is under the control of ch'i prevalent in heaven and earth. The ch'i on earth is believed to flow underneath the earth as a conduit and to be related to the growth and change of all the phenomena in the world.
"Moreover, the Chinese traditionally have believed that the currents of ch'i and its presence on earth are visibly linked with the geographical features of mountains, watercourses, and vegetation. 'Geography' to the Chinese means both the appearance of surface configurations of the earth and the inner life force of ch'i. Both aspects are considered inseparable and interdependent ...
"The starting point of feng-shui theory is, therefore, that the site of a human dwelling must be located at the place where the heavenly ch'i and the earthly ch'i are in constant interaction and in harmony with each other -- the place where the ch'i is primarily accumulated." (pp. 16-17)
"'In the Chinese view a building is not simply something that sits upon the ground to serve as a convenient site for human activity. It is an intervention in the universe; and that universe is composed of the physical environment and men and the relationships among men.'" (p. 20, quoting Maurice Freedman, 'Geomancy,' Proceeding of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. London: Athlone, 1968, p. 7) As an art, however,"Feng-shui theory is applied to the house-building process in three stages of decision making: first, site selection; second, house location within the site and its orientation; and third, internal arrangement of architectural objects and elements." (p. 290)
Lee prefers the use of the terms "feng-shui" and "feng-shui expert" to the often used terms "geomancy" and geomancer," which refer to divination. (p. 25) The manipulation of symbols such as the later heaven trigrams, the five elements, the five planets, the black turtle and so on certainly give the impression of being some sort of magic. The aspect of divination has been historically present in the practice of feng-shui, and the common people sought favorable personal consequences from it. They perceived it only as it had specific connections to their individual and social lives. Specifically, "The auspicious consequences of correct feng-shui applications include honor, success in a civil service examination, attainment of office, wealth and prosperity, longevity, many sons and descendants, happiness, intelligence, filial piety, harmony with family members, and good character. On the other hand, the inauspicious aspects include poverty, a short life, sickness, no sons and descendants, failure, viciousness, hardship, stupidity, lewdness, jealously, dominance of women, lawsuits, and the like." (p. 352) The intellectuals, on the contrary, sought in feng-shui a 'rational' system of knowledge, one of the integrated forms of metaphysical Chinese natural philosophy, a means of effecting correspondence between heaven and earth. (pp. 352-353)
Bibliography on feng shui
Lee, Sang Hae. Feng-shui: Its Context and Meaning. Cornell University PhD Dissertation, 1986. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International, 1986.
Japanese Martial Arts
The known history of martial arts in Japan is shorter than that of China, and can be traced back reliably only to the thirteenth century. Notable Japanese practitioners from then until the nineteenth century were warrior families, but many other classes of society, including monks and peasants, used the the Japanese martial arts. "The complexity of the data is compounded by the fact that few scholars have researched either Japanese religious practices or the vast literature describing pre modern Japanese religious practices or the vast literature describing pre modern martial arts. At this preliminary stage, tentative order can be imposed on this vast topic by surveying it in terms of the three dominant religious patterns of pre modern Japan: familial religion of tutelary ancestors, alliances, and control over land; exoteric-esoteric Buddhist systems of resemblances and ritual mastery; and Chinese notions of cosmological and social order." (William F. Bodiford, "Religion and Spiritual Development: Japan," pp. 472-505 of Thomas A. Green, Ed. Martial Arts of the World. An Encyclopedia, Vol 2. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2001, p. 487)
Looking to Europe for methods to develop the nation, the Meiji at first imported German notions of group calisthenics and pushed traditional martial arts into the background. By 1907, however, martial arts had not only been rehabilitated, but had even become a way of training the spirit of soldiers. In 1945, following the trauma of World War II, martial arts were completely banned in Japan. Nevertheless, by 1950 they started to reappear as physical education sport. Along with this aspect of them, however, many practitioners were incorporating Buddhist values. The combination of Zen Buddhism and martial arts was particularly advanced by the American writer Donn F. Draeger, who "asserted that martial arts whose name end with the suffix -jutsu (e.g., jujutsu, kenjutsu) are combative systems of self-protection, while those whose names end with the suffix -do (e.g., judo, kendo) are spiritual systems for self-perfection. The former primarily emphasize combat, followed by discipline and, lastly, morals, while the latter are chiefly concerned with morals, followed by discipline and aesthetic form. In spite of their rigid reductionism, these definitions have been widely adopted by martial art enthusiasts outside of Japan and even by some within Japan." (Bodiford, op. cit., p. 485; Bodiford cites Draeger's The Martial Arts and Ways of Japan. 3 volumes. New York: Weatherhill, 1973-1974. The rest of the information in the above two paragraphs is condensed from Bodiford's article.)
Local martial arts websites with information beyond publicity on Japanese martial arts:
www.sczenkarate.org 2005 (Okinawan)
Christian Endeavor Societies
Santa Cruz Sentinel-News reporter Ernest Otto's posthumous column, "Old Santa Cruz," on January 29, 1956 stated that the Santa Cruz Chinese and Japanese Christian Endeavor Societies were the first of their kind in the country.
The story behind Otto's assertion starts in Portland, Maine, in 1881, when the first Christian Endeavor Society was organized by Congregationalist Pastor Francis E. Clark. Clark's purpose was to encourage religious fervor and to bolster the capacity of leadership among the youth of his congregation. The pledge he devised was not negative, to swear off this or that, but positive, to accomplish good. A shortened version of the original pledge, still in use, is, "Trusting in the Lord, Jesus Christ, for strength, I promise Him that I will try to do whatever He would like to have me do; that I will pray to Him and read the Bible everyday, and that, just so far as I know how, throughout my whole life I will try to lead a Christian life." (1)
Local Christian Endeavor Societies harnessed the imagination and energy of the young people of the congregation. In particular, they typically had numerous committees, such as Devotional, Social, Temperance, Missionary, Sunday-school, Visiting, Flower, Good Citizenship, and Literature. (2) Furthermore, "The Society of Christian Endeavor in addition to the regular work of the committees does a vast amount of missionary and philanthropic work. Among the sailors and light-house keepers, Bibles, helpful literature, and comfort bags are annually distributed. Some societies have opened parlors for men and boys; others do active work in the hotels in distributing invitations to the meeting of the Society and other services of the church; others have instituted savings-banks; still others have opened newspaper exchanges for the interchange of religious reading. Some societies band themselves into 'working circles' to help in the general work of the church." (3)
The Christian Endeavor Society was not the only generically Protestant church youth group to flourish in the late 1800s. There were also temperance groups, the YMCA, the Epworth League, the Baptist Young People's Union, and others. Christian Endeavor, however, stood out because of its general appeal to many denominations and the genius of its founder in promoting it. (4)
This Christian Endeavor phenomenon did not just grow, it exploded: by 1895 it had 2,473,740 members in 41,229 local societies! (5)
The annual conference of 1897 was held in San Francisco. Francis E. Clark himself in his book, World Wide Endeavor, reports that when its organizers told the railroads that 10,000 people would come over the plains and mountains in their trains, the railroads responded that 5,000 would be enough to justify special rates. Clark goes on to say that nearly 40,000 rode those trains, and that total attendance was about 300,000. (6) Amos Wells, however, in Expert Endeavor, states that "nearly 30,000 delegates attended, half of them from the East." (7) Perhaps there is merely imprecision in one or the other of these counts of people coming from the East, and there may have been great numbers of non-delegate Californians in attendance.
In Santa Cruz
According to the "ORIGINAL HISTORY," of the Santa Cruz First Congregational Church, the first Christian Endeavor Society in Santa Cruz was organized on January 22, 1887 in the First Congregational Church. (8)
The "ORIGINAL HISTORY" adds that the Christian Endeavor Society of this church organized societies in Soquel, Bonny Doon, and Highland. (9) I have no further details about these societies except that in the Soquel Congregational Church the Christian Endeavor Society was active around 1890 and continued active at least through 1932; (10) and in 1894 "Ten of the Endeavorers from the Congregational church of this city [Santa Cruz] went to Bonny Doon Sunday morning and held service for the purpose of organizing a Christian Endeavor society." (11) Lastly, the title of an unidentified local newspaper clipping of April 26, 1929 states that "Christian Endeavor Society of Felton [probably associated with the Presbyterian church] Holds Annual Election." There must be a great deal of information in church archives about Christian Endeavor Society activity in Santa Cruz from the 1890s through the middle of the twentieth century.
Returning to Ernest Otto's statement about the Chinese and Japanese Christian Endeavor Societies, one finds additional information from Rev. Clark about the 1897 conference in San Francisco: "A few lines should be devoted to the State meetings held on Saturday night, July 11. Gracious and delightful receptions were accorded to many State delegations by their hospitable hosts of the different churches of San Francisco. Owing to the large Chinese and Japanese population of San Francisco the Endeavorers of these two nationalities held separate rallies which were of very great interest and entirely unique, I believe, in the annals of Christian Endeavor conventions in America." (12)
From Rev. Clark's account it is clear that there were some, perhaps numerous, Chinese and Japanese Christian Endeavor Societies in San Francisco in 1897.
From the "ORIGINAL HISTORY" section and subsequent pages of A Century of Christian Witness, we know, too, that the Santa Cruz Congregational Chinese Mission was established in 1881, that as of 1897 it had its own church in Chinatown, that 29 Chinese had been received into it by 1897, and that by 1892 it had a Christian Endeavor Society. (13) In 1896 the Santa Cruz Congregational Japanese Mission was organized and, in the same year, 1896, it had a Christian Endeavor Society of its own. By 1897 seven Japanese had been received into the Japanese Mission, although it does not seem that it had a separate church structure for itself. (14)
The "ORIGINAL HISTORY" states unequivocally that the Chinese and Japanese Christian Endeavor Societies founded in Santa Cruz were the first of their kind in the United States. Ernest Otto, a member of the committee which wrote the "ORIGINAL HISTORY," clerk of the church from 1893 to 1950, was the same Ernest Otto who later wrote about it for the newspaper.
The Congregational Chinese Mission membership suffered decline over the years, and its mission church building was torn down in 1920. (15)
A Christian Endeavor Society in a Japanese congregation was established in 1923 in the Watsonville Westview Presbyterian Church, where it flourished until World War II. This congregation, which began in 1898 as a Methodist mission and became the Watsonville Japanese Presbyterian Church in 1909, is still active. (16)
1. The original text of the pledge is in Frank Otis Erb, The Development of the Young People's Movement, p. 53. The current version quoted here is from www.pachristianendeavor.org 2007.
2. George W. Mead, Modern Methods in Church Work, p. 119.
3. Mead, Modern Methods, p. 120.
4. Erb, The Development of the Young People's Movement, pp. 52-87.
5. Francis Clark, World Wide Endeavor, pp. 524-525.
Although there are many secondary sources concerning the development of the Christian Endeavor movement, I have not been able to locate a comprehensive historical study of it. For the early years, Francis Clark's own World Wide Endeavor is rich in details that put the society in a positive light, but it ends in 1897. Amos R. Wells's Expert Endeavor is also useful for facts about the society up to 1911. I was not able to find a copy of
Worldwide Christian Endeavor by Arno Pagel, copyright 1981, which is cited on the website of Christian Endeavor Pennsylvania.
6. Clark, World Wide Endeavor, Chapter LXIII, pp. 549-561, "California '97.'"
7. Amos Wells, Expert Endeavor, p. 19.
8. The "ORIGINAL HISTORY" of the Santa Cruz Congregational Church, written in 1897, is reprinted on page 35 and following of A Century of Christian Witness. The fact cited here is on p. 40. On pages 115 and 116 A Century of Christian Witness adds numerous details about the Christian Endeavor Society of the Santa Cruz Congregational Church, such as the names of prominent members. It relates, too, that “the 15th Annual Convention of the California Christian Endeavor Union was held in our church in 1902 (June 25-29)”
9. A Century of Christian Witness, p. 40.
10. The Story of the Little White Church in the Vale; Soquel Congregational Church. Not paginated.
11. Santa Cruz Surf, July 10, 1894.
12. Clark, World Wide Endeavor, p. 559.
13. A Century of Christian Witness, pp. 39-40 and 211-212.
14. A Century of Christian Witness, pp. 39-40 and 211-212.
15. Sandy Lydon, Chinese Gold. Capitola, California: Capitola Book Company, 1985, p. 439.
16. Westview Presbyterian Church: 90th Anniversary 1898-1988. Watsonville, evidently 1988, pp. 3,4,5,22.
A Century of Christian Witness: History of First Congregational Church Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz: First Congregational Church, 1963.
Francis E. Clark. World Wide Endeavor: The story of the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor from the beginning in all lands. Oakland, California: Occidental Publishing Company, evidently 1897.
Frank Otis Erb. The Development of the Young People's Movement. PhD dissertation at the University of Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 1917.
George W. Mead. Modern Methods in Church Work: The Gospel Renaissance. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1897.
The Story of the Little White Church in the Vale; Soquel Congregational Church. Authorship not acknowledged. Soquel, 1964. Not paginated.
Amos R. Wells. Expert Endeavor; A Text-book of Christian Endeavor Methods and Principles. Boston and Chicago: United Society of Christian Endeavor, 1911.
www.pachristianendeavor.org 2007, the website of Christian Endeavor Pennsylvania.
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union - the WCTU - in general
Launched in Chautauqua, New York in 1874, this organization of women activists - the WCTU - rejects alcoholic drinks of all kinds and champions women's rights. The WCTU has never been identified with any particular religious group, but is generically Protestant. It had established local unions throughout the United States by 1883, and although it is not now as prominent as it was 100 years ago, the WCTU is still a nationwide organization. Its publishing house, the Signal Press, and its central library and archives are in Evanston, Illinois. (www.wctu.org 2008)
In California the WCTU was organized in 1879. (Eldon G. Ernst, Pilgrim Progression, p. 75) In 2008 its organizational focus closest to Santa Cruz is in Los Angeles. (www.wctusocal.com 2008)
The local unions in California organized into county units but for practical reasons a unit could cover more than one county. Thus, "The success of a Tri-County Union, - Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey - having been so organized originally, when neither county could sustain its work alone, suggested Bi-County organizations where a weak county might be united to its neighbor, until such a time as it became strong enough for independence. Yuba and Sutter were the first counties to form such a Union, in 1891..." (Dorcas James Spencer, A History of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Northern and Central California, p. 54)
In Santa Cruz County
The first WCTU union in the County was established in Santa Cruz City in 1883. A union in Watsonville followed in 1884. Then came Highland, 1888; Boulder Creek, 1892; Corralitos, 1894; Soquel, 1923; East Santa Cruz, 1926; and Aromas, 1936. Some of these unions lasted many years, some did not, but as many as seven of them existed at one time. The number of dues paying members according to the Annual Reports was 184 in 1921, 539 in 1930, 283 in 1940, 245 in 1954, and 179 in 1962-1963. (The count for 1921 is from the Directory and Hand Book of the Tri-County Woman's Christian Temperance Union, December, 1921.)
That the Santa Cruz County unions had some prominence is shown by the fact that the [Northern] California Annual Convention was held in the county eight times between 1902 and 1973. (Annual Reports) One national WCTU officer, Mrs. E. G. Greene, the organization's National Superintendent of Kindergarten Work, was living in Santa Cruz in 1885. (Union Signal, Oct. 22, 1885)
The general history of the WCTU's early years in California names, in addition to temperance meetings and the like, seven types of activity in which local unions could engage. (Spencer, A History, pp. 106-153) These activities were, roughly in order of frequency:
Reading rooms - Hollister's, opened in 1884, was one of the first. (Spencer, A History, p. 120)
Horse watering troughs placed near saloons - "The towns did not provide what the saloon was glad to furnish, and the teamster who did not patronize the bar in recognition of the accommodation, was likely to be advised to go on and water his horses somewhere else. In town or country the custom was the same. The unions took up that work early and must have set up miles of watering troughs throughout the state." (Spencer, A History, p. 153)
Coffee houses - "every Coffee House had its reading room." (Spencer, A History, p. 120)
Erection of Water fountains in public places, such as parks. (Spencer, A History, p. 153)
Young Woman's Christian Temperance Unions (girls). (Spencer, A History, p. 106)
Cadets of Temperance (boys) (Spencer, A History, p. 106) "In Oakland a military man is employed that the drill may be most thorough." (Union Signal, March 20, 1884)
Erection of Headquarter buildings - notable ones in California were in Stockton and Boulder Creek. (Spencer, A History, p. 150)
Santa Cruz County's unions participated in at least six of these activities. I have not found evidence of coffee houses among them.
A general WCTU endeavor which was represented in Santa Cruz from 1886 to 1899 by the presence of Mrs. E. G. Greene was the Kindergarten movement in the United States. Mrs. Greene, the National Superintendent of Kindergarten Work, applied the child development methods of the founder of the Kindergarten, Friedrich Froebel, maintaining that the WCTU was eminently suitable for launching and sustaining Kindergartens. Under Mrs. Greene’s leadership the WCTU established a kindergarten in Santa Cruz, which by 1896 had become part of the public school system. (Francis, Santa Cruz County, p. 155) About that time, in fact, Kindergartens were becoming part of public school systems, and by 1924 the WCTU no longer had a Kindergarten Department.(For more on Mrs. Greene see “Santa Cruz W.C.T.U. and the Kindergarten Movement,” under “Churches & Spiritual Organizations” in www.researchforum.santacruzmah.org)
Santa Cruz Union. 1883-1984
Frances Willard, second National President of the WCTU, founded the Santa Cruz Union in 1883. (Union Signal, Dec. 20, 1883) Other details from the Union Signal of that year are that Willard visited Santa Cruz on April 25, 1883 while on an organizing tour in California, (Apr. 26, 1883) and that by December the Santa Cruz Union had 75 members. (Dec. 20, 1883)
From its early years the Santa Cruz union organized youth. Its Cadets of Temperance, or Cadets in Blue, as they were also called, were being "drilled for future action... Santa Cruz reports a large number of boys drilling enthusiastically." (Union Signal, Mar. 20, 1884) The first Young Woman's Christian Temperance Union in northern California had been organized in East Oakland in 1884, and Santa Cruz's was organized in 1886. (Spencer, History, p. 106)
The Northern California WCTU Annual Convention was held in Santa Cruz in 1902 and 1913, (Annual Report, 1925) in 1927, (Annual Report, 1930) and in 1948, 1955, 1969, and 1973. (Annual Report, 1981)
Some third person reports regarding the Santa Cruz Union and its activities are:
According to A Century of Christian Witness: History of First Congregational Church Santa Cruz, California, p. 88, the Santa Cruz union was founded in 1883, "by no less than fifty women members of the Congregational Church."
Writing in 1892, E. S. Harrison adds that it started "with about forty members. Mrs. E. Spalsbury, President; Mrs. A. A. Taylor, Corresponding Secretary; Mrs. M. Willet, Recording Secretary; Mrs. Richard Thompson, Treasurer.
"Under the auspices of the society a free reading room was established, which was well sustained until the Young Men's Christian Association was organized, when it was given to them as a nucleus for their library. Excellent work was done among the boys in a company, called the Boys' Brigade, under Mesdames Perry and Lindsay. Among other work was the organization of a Young Woman's Union, a good deal of charitable work, editing a column in the local press, holding of gospel temperance meetings, all churches uniting, educational work in all departments, helping to make public sentiment for prohibition and the enfranchisement of women. The society numbers at present about sixty members. Mrs. M. Everts, President; Mrs. Ella Pringle, Secretary." (E. S. Harrison, History, p. 208)
The last Annual Report which lists the Santa Cruz Union, although without a report from it, is that of 1984.
Watsonville Union. 1884-1959.
This union was organized in 1884. (Annual Report, 1956)
From at least Jan. 5, 1888 to Feb. 1, 1891 the Watsonville Pajaronian carried a column, didactic more than reportorial, entitled "This Column is Devoted to the Interests of Temperance and is Edited by the WCTU." Located on an inner page at first, the column was on the front page from at least November 1, 1890. Also, according to the Pajaronian of Jan. 17 and 24, 1889 and Jan. 2, 1890, the WCTU was meeting in the Presbyterian Church, and the same newspaper on Jan. 14, 1897 reported that "the ladies of the WCTU held evangelical meetings" at the Christian Church.
In 1891, "Watsonville Everts Union duplicates the National Departments of work. It is aggressive and abreast of the times in its methods; and quick to seize opportunities, hence is a growing union. The kindergarten at Watsonville found the union helpful both with means and sympathy. The interests of the union are well represented in its membership of earnest workers." (Harrison, History, p. 208)
The Watsonville Union had a water fountain erected in the Watsonville City Plaza in 1893. I observed that, although somewhat modified, it was still in operation in 2007. The inscription on it reads "God's free gift."
The California WCTU Annual Convention was held in Watsonville in 1906. (Annual Report, 1925)
The Watsonville Union last appeared in the 1959-1960 Annual Report.
Highland Union. 1888-?
"Highland Union, organized October, 1888, is a center of influence and work. It aims at self-improvement of members, also helping others in the same line. They have done much evangelistic work, and helped on the Woman's Suffrage course. Liquor selling has also felt the influence of their work, and found it to be unprofitable. This union, although small in numbers, is strong in its efforts for the cause of truth and sobriety, endeavoring to make their town a safe place for its young people to grow to worthy citizenship." (Harrison, History, pp. 208-209. Note that Harrison's work was published in 1892.)
One of the Highland Union's projects appears to have been the placing of a horse watering trough to compete with the horse trough outside a saloon on an old section (now called Morrell Road or Morrell Cutoff) of the Soquel-San Jose Road. Thus, "About 1887 George Liston built and ran a saloon near this long bridge, [over Laurel Creek] the only one between Lexington and Soquel. In an endeavor to counteract the evil influence of the establishment, the W.C.T.U. women had a watering trough built around the bend from it. They hoped to have the farmers stop there and water their horses instead of in front of the saloon, where they might be tempted also to quench their own thirst." (Walter Young, "Memoirs of Walter Young," Los Gatos Times - Saratoga Observer, July 14, 1959)
This union no longer appeared in the Directory and Hand Book of the Tri-County Woman's Christian Temperance Union, December, 1921.
Boulder Creek Union. 1892-1962.
Founded in 1892, (Annual Report, 1956) the Boulder Creek Union played a significant role in the tumultuous history of temperance and anti-temperance in that town through the early years of the twentieth century. This story is told in McCarthy, Grizzlies, pp. 30, 35, 85, and 87. It was also brought to the public's attention by a 2007 exhibit at the San Lorenzo Valley Museum.
The reading room was opened on January 1, 1893 in the two-story building which the WCTU had built for itself. It was maintained financially by the rental of the upper storey. (Spencer, History p. 120)
In 1908 the Boulder Creek WCTU was granted permission by the Boulder Creek Board of Trustees to erect a public drinking fountain. (minutes of the Boulder Creek Board of Trustees, reported in the Mountain Echo, June 20, 1908) “A splendid dinner was served in the Commercial Hotel by the ladies,
The proceeds of which will go to erect a drinking fontain in the public square.” (Mountain Echo, April 13, 1908) Curiously, I have not yet found documentation that the fountain actually was built. What I have found is this statement from the 1940 Annual Report: "Boulder Creek put a sidewalk in front of their building, sent young people to Y.T.C. [Youth Temperance Council] meetings and dedicated a drinking fountain in honor of two pioneer women, Mrs. Emma Dool and Mrs. Nellie Parker, and also purchased a projector for Tri-County."
In 2007 Barbara Kennedy, Director and Historical Interpreter of the San Lorenzo Valley Museum, pointed out to me the remains of what appeared to be two water fountains in Boulder Creek. The one was a pedestal type near Junction Park, along the path which led to the former railroad station. It has evidently been moved a short distance to make room for new construction. The other, several blocks away, was built into a stone wall across the street from the former WCTU building. Local history sources have, so far, at least, little to say about these fountains, and neither bears any identification, but either or both could be relics of the WCTU in Boulder Creek.
In 1921 the union had 8 members, (Directory and Hand Book of the Tri-County Woman's Christian Temperance Union, December, 1921) but in 1940 it had 17. (Annual Report, 1940)
In 1948 the WCTU sold its building and "contributed $3000 derived from the sale of their building toward construction of the social hall wing of the Boulder Creek Community Methodist Church." (The Valley Press, March 2, 1966)
Both the Valley Press on March 2, 1966 and the Santa Cruz Sentinel on July 13, 1969 reported, in articles written by Bill Neubauer, that the Boulder Creek WCTU disbanded in 1948. The fact is, however, that in the 1952 and subsequent Annual Reports it was called the San Lorenzo Valley Union. Its last Annual Report was for 1962-1963.
Corralitos Union. 1894-1984.
According to the Annual Report of 1956 this union was organized in 1894. It was last listed in the Annual Report of 1984, although without a report of its activities.
Soquel Union. 1923-1959.
This union, which was organized in 1923, (Annual Report, 1956) last appeared in the Annual Report of 1959-1960.
East Santa Cruz Union. 1926-1963.
Organized in 1926, (Annual Report, 1956) this union had a "banner year" in 1927, with 54 new members. (Annual Report, 1927)
The Annual Report for 1956 has East Santa Cruz united with Santa Cruz. The Annual Reports for 1957-58 through and including 1963-1964 list only East Santa Cruz, but thereafter, at least to and including 1983, the Annual Report lists Santa Cruz rather than East Santa Cruz.
Aromas Union. 1936-1945.
The first appearance of this union in the Annual Reports was in 1936. The Annual Report of 1940 states that it had 9 active members, but after 1945 the Aromas Union was no longer listed in the Annual Reports.