August 11, 2021
Jessica Newell (M.A., East Tennessee State University) is the archivist for the Edgar Cayce Foundation in Virginia Beach, VA. She preserves and makes accessible for research the historical records related to the work of Edgar Cayce, a psychic whose work explored many aspects of holistic healthcare and spirituality. She is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archivists Conference and the Society of American Archivists. She is also passionate about public history education, and volunteers at living history events in her spare time. Newell first encountered Andrew Jackson Davis while writing her undergraduate thesis on the intersection of Spiritualism, politics, and personal identity during the 19th century.
Who is Andrew Jackson Davis? Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910) was born in Blooming Grove, New York. Despite a minimal education he managed to produce a book of Spiritualist philosophy, called 'The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind', that he dictated whilst in trance in his late teens. This early work exhibited a wisdom and maturity of composition that the young Andrew Jackson Davis himself was not capable of fabricating. It is considered that he was merely an instrument and the book was genuinely dictated from spirit. Andrew Jackson Davis
in boyhood, and later into his teens, developed clairaudience, clairvoyance as well as the power to diagnose diseases from 'seeing' into the human body. But an interesting episode during 1844 allegedly involved Davis astral travelling from the town of Poughkeepsie to the Catskill Mountains, a journey of about 40 miles. Here he met with the spirits of the ancient Greek physician Galen and Emanuel Swedenborg. Galen gave him a magic staff of healing and Swedenborg promised to guide Davis throughout his life.