Electricity has played a roll in all of our lives. Your first memorable experience with it might have been as simple as when you learned that the light switch made dark into daylight. For others – myself included; it was the knowledge that if I pushed something metal or copper into the wall outlet, the experience would be, well; electrifying to say the least.
Now imagine this.
It is the summer of 1875 and you are in a hot and stuffy revival tent parked in the middle of a barren field near Salem, Ohio.
The blazing mid day sun is beating down on The Reverend Aaron Bickley as he stands on a rough wooden crate and tries to raise the spirits and the interests of a distinctly distracted and sleepy crowd of parishioners. Try as he might, he can’t get the resounding enthusiasm that has worked so well for him before.
Suddenly; from the centre of the crowd a sprightly young woman stands up and ever so slowly points her fingers at a young boy that Reverend Bickley is trying to miraculously cure. In a blinding flash, the boy feels a surge of power and declares he is cured.
The woman goes on to point her electron fingers at several other members of the congregation before falling exhausted to the ground.
The Rev Bickley is lifted to new oratorical heights and proclaimed that the woman had become a lightning rod upon which the Spirit concentrated his “electric battery through her magnetism”
So begins the strange evolutionary journey of electricity.
The Oneida community of New York was founded by Mr. John Humphrey Noyes in 1848 and is a classic case of electricity as a religion.
This Protestant commune believed Jesus Christ’s power was a form of liquid electricity and could be transmitted through human touch. It was only logical then that with sex being the most intimate form of touch, it was the ideal method of creating a spiritual battery that would make them immortal. For more than 3 decades, this religious group engaged in polygamy, orgies and any other form of sexual activity that would lift them closer to heaven.
Electricity is a strange and elusive quarry. You know it is there but you can’t see it. Touch it though and you will soon realize the immense power that impacts every single part of your life. It’s not hard to understand that in the latter part of the 1800’s, electricity could and often did change the course of history in strange and very innovative ways.