This article explores the short life of the Ballarat Spiritualist Fellowship and the Spiritualist history of its founder, Lorraine Culross (b. 1952), to offer both a “wide-angle” and “up-close” account of Australian Spiritualism and the fortunes of its churches, especially in the postwar era. Spiritualism first came to Australia in the nineteenth century, in the form of public lectures, stage demonstrations, and private séances. A church movement quickly appeared, and dozens of congregations opened in the first few decades of the twentieth century. Today, only a handful of these “legacy” churches still run, fortunate to own a dedicated building. Beyond that, many other tiny churches, like the Ballarat Spiritualist Fellowship, have come and gone across many decades. These churches could open easily because of the commitment of enthusiastic Spiritualists, an absence of a rigid ecclesiastical hierarchy, and charismatic forms of social organization. However, as the case of Ballarat shows, these same characteristics mean that most churches have a precarious existence. This mutability characterizes Spiritualism’s story as one of Australia’s longest lasting and most durable alternative spiritual movements. Australian Spiritualism has evolved, changed, and survives, despite the travails of many church closures.

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