Spiritualism vs. Spirituality

What's the Difference?

Spiritualism and spirituality are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct differences. Spiritualism refers to a specific belief system that emerged in the 19th century, centered around the belief in communication with the spirits of the deceased. It involves practices such as mediumship, séances, and the belief in an afterlife. On the other hand, spirituality is a broader concept that encompasses a personal connection to something greater than oneself, often involving a search for meaning, purpose, and inner peace. It can be practiced within or outside of religious frameworks and can include various practices like meditation, prayer, and self-reflection. While spiritualism focuses on communication with spirits, spirituality is a more inclusive and individualistic approach to exploring one's inner self and connection to the world.


Photo by FETHI BOUHAOUCHINE on Unsplash
Belief in a higher powerYesYes
Focus on communication with spiritsYesNo
Emphasis on mediumshipYesNo
Structured belief systemYesNo
Reliance on spiritual guidesYesNo
Connection to the afterlifeYesYes
Emphasis on personal growthNoYes
Focus on inner peace and harmonyNoYes
Openness to various religious beliefsNoYes
Photo by Aamir Suhail on Unsplash

Further Detail


Spiritualism and spirituality are two terms often used interchangeably, but they have distinct attributes and meanings. While both concepts involve a connection to the spiritual realm, they differ in their approaches, beliefs, and practices. In this article, we will explore the attributes of spiritualism and spirituality, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Definition and Beliefs

Spiritualism is a belief system that emerged in the 19th century, emphasizing communication with spirits of the deceased. Spiritualists believe in the existence of an afterlife and that spirits can communicate with the living through mediums. They often engage in séances, where mediums act as intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds.

Spirituality, on the other hand, is a broader concept that encompasses various beliefs and practices related to the human spirit or soul. It is often associated with personal growth, self-discovery, and finding meaning and purpose in life. Spirituality can be pursued through religious or non-religious paths, and it focuses on the individual's inner journey and connection to something greater than themselves.

Approach and Focus

One of the key differences between spiritualism and spirituality lies in their approach and focus. Spiritualism places a strong emphasis on the external world of spirits and the afterlife. It seeks to establish contact with spirits and gain insights from them. Spiritualists often engage in rituals and practices specifically designed to communicate with the deceased.

Spirituality, on the other hand, takes an inward approach, focusing on the individual's inner self and personal experiences. It encourages self-reflection, meditation, and mindfulness to connect with one's inner being and the divine. Spirituality is not limited to communication with spirits but encompasses a broader exploration of the self, consciousness, and the interconnectedness of all things.

Religious and Non-Religious Contexts

Spiritualism is often associated with organized religion, particularly with the Spiritualist movement that emerged in the 19th century. Many spiritualist churches and organizations exist worldwide, incorporating spiritualist practices into their religious framework. Spiritualists often believe in a higher power or divine intelligence and may incorporate elements of Christianity or other religious traditions into their beliefs.

Spirituality, on the other hand, can be pursued within or outside the context of organized religion. While many religious traditions have spiritual aspects, spirituality can also be practiced independently of any religious affiliation. Non-religious spirituality often focuses on personal growth, mindfulness, and the exploration of consciousness without adhering to specific religious doctrines or rituals.

Mediumship and Psychic Abilities

Mediumship is a central practice in spiritualism, where mediums act as channels for communication between the living and the spirits. Mediums claim to receive messages, guidance, and evidence of the afterlife from spirits. They may use various techniques such as automatic writing, trance, or clairvoyance to facilitate communication.

Spirituality, while not centered around mediumship, acknowledges the existence of psychic abilities and intuition. Some spiritual practitioners may develop their psychic abilities through meditation and energy work. However, spirituality places more emphasis on personal growth, self-awareness, and the development of intuition as a means of connecting with the divine or higher consciousness.

Community and Social Engagement

Spiritualism often involves a strong sense of community and social engagement. Spiritualist churches and organizations provide a space for like-minded individuals to gather, share experiences, and support each other. They may organize events, workshops, and healing services to foster a sense of belonging and spiritual growth.

Spirituality, while it can also involve community engagement, places a greater emphasis on individual exploration and personal connection to the divine. Spiritual seekers may join spiritual communities or groups to connect with others on a similar path, but the focus remains on personal growth and self-discovery.


In conclusion, spiritualism and spirituality are two distinct concepts with different approaches, beliefs, and practices. While spiritualism focuses on communication with spirits and the afterlife, spirituality takes an inward approach, emphasizing personal growth, self-discovery, and connection to something greater than oneself. Spiritualism often exists within a religious context, while spirituality can be pursued within or outside organized religion. Both concepts offer unique paths for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of the spiritual realm and their place within it.

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