Spirituality, New-Age - Editions, Livres



Translated from the Hundred and Twentieth Thousand


IN presenting to her countrymen a work which has long since obtained a wide acceptance on
the Continent, the translator has thought that a brief notice of its author, and of the
circumstances under which it was produced, might not be without interest for English readers.
Léon-Dénizarth-Hippolyte Rivail, better known by his nom de plume of ALLAN KARDEC,
was born at Lyons, on the 4th of October 1804, of an old family of Bourg-en-Bresse, that had
been for many generations honourably distinguished in the magistracy and at the bar. His
father, like his grandfather, was a barrister of good standing and high character; his mother,
remarkably beautiful, accomplished, elegant, and amiable, was the object, on his part, of a
profound and worshipping affection, maintained unchanged throughout the whole of his life.
Educated at the Institution of Pestalozzi, at Yverdun (Canton de Vaud), he acquired at an
early age the habit of investigation and the freedom of thought of which his later life was
destined to furnish so striking an example. Endowed by nature with a passion for teaching, he
devoted himself, from the age of fourteen, to aiding the studies of those of his schoolfellows
who were less advanced than himself; while such was his fondness for botany, that he often
spent an entire day among the mountains, walking twenty or thirty miles, with a wallet on his
back, in search of specimens for his herbarium. Born in a Catholic country, but educated in a
Protestant one, he began, while yet a mere boy, to meditate on the means of bringing about a
unity of belief among the various Christian sects-a project of religious reform at which lie
laboured in silence for many years, but necessarily without success, the elements of the
desired solution not being at that time in his possession.
Having finished his studies at Yverdun, he returned to Lyons in 24, with the intention of
devoting himself to the law; but
various acts of religious intolerance to which he unexpectedly found himself subjected led
him to renounce the idea of fitting himself for the bar, and to take up his abode in Paris,
where he occupied himself for some time in translating Telemachus and other standard
French books for youth into German. Having at length determined upon his career, he
purchased, in 1828, a large and flourishing educational establishment for boys, and devoted
himself to the work of teaching, for which, by his tastes and acquirements, he was peculiarly
fitted. In 1830 he hired, at his own expense, a large hall in the Rue de Sèvres, and opened
therein courses of gratuitous lectures on Chemistry, Physics, Comparative Anatomy, and
Astronomy. These lectures, continued by him through a period of ten years, were highly
successful, being attended by an auditory of over five hundred persons of every rank of
society, many of whom have since attained to eminence in the scientific world.
Always desirous to render instruction attractive as well as profitable, he invented an
ingenious method of computation, and constructed a mnemotechnic table of French history,
for assisting students to remember the remarkable events and discoveries of each reign.
Of the numerous educational works published by him may be mentioned, A Plan for the'
Improvement of Public Instruction. submitted by him in 1828 to the French Legislative
Chamber, by which body it was highly extolled, though not acted upon; A Course of Practical
and Theoretic Arithmetic, on the Pestalozzian System, for the' use of Teachers and Mothers
(1829); A Classical Grammar of the French Tongue (1831); A Manual for the use of
Candidates for Examination in the Public Schools; with Explanatory Solutions of various
Problems of Arithmetic and Geometry (1848); Normal Dictations for the Examinations of the
Hotel de Ville and the Sorbonne, with Special Dictations on Orthographic Difficulties (1849)
These works, highly esteemed at the time of their publication, are still in use in many French
schools; and their author was bringing out new editions of some of them at the time of his
He was a member of several learned societies; among others, of the Royal Society of Arras,
which, in 1831, awarded to him the Prize of Honour for a remarkable essay on the question,
"What is the System of Study most in Harmony with the Needs of the Epoch?" He was for
several years Secretary to the
Phrenological Society of Paris, and took an active part in the labours of the Society of
Magnetism, giving much time to the practical investigation of somnambulism, trance,
clairvoyance, and the various other phenomena connected with the mesmeric action. This
brief outline of his labours will suffice to show his mental activity, the variety of his
knowledge, the eminently practical turn of his mind, and his constant endeavour to be useful
to his fellow-men.
When, about 1850, the phenomenon of "table-turning" was exciting the attention of Europe
and ushering in the other phenomena since known as "spiritist", he quickly divined the real
nature of those phenomena, as evidence of the existence of an order of relationships hitherto
suspected rather than known-viz., those which unite the visible and invisible worlds.
Foreseeing the vast importance, to science and to religion, of such an extension of the field of
human observation, he entered at once upon a careful investigation of the new phenomena. A
friend of his had two daughters who had become what are now called "mediums." They were
gay, lively, amiable girls, fond of society, dancing, and amusement, and habitually received,
when "sitting" by themselves or with their young companions, "communications" in harmony
with their worldly and somewhat frivolous disposition. But, to the surprise of all concerned, it
was found that, whenever he was present, the messages transmitted through these young
ladies were of a very grave and serious character; and on his inquiring of the invisible
intelligences as to the cause of this change, he was told that "spirits of a much higher order
than those who habitually communicated through the two young mediums came expressly for
him, and would continue to do so, in order to enable him to fulfil an important religious
Much astonished at so unlooked-for an announcement, he at once proceeded to test its
truthfulness by drawing up a series of progressive questions in relation to the various
problems of human life and the universe in which we find ourselves, and submitted them to
his unseen interlocutors, receiving their answers to the same through the instrumentality of
the two young mediums, who willingly consented to devote a couple of evenings every week
to this purpose, and who thus obtained, through table-rapping and planchette-writing, the
replies which have become the basis of the spiritist theory, and which they were as little
capable of appreciating as of inventing.
When these conversations had been going on for nearly two years, he one day remarked to his
wife, in reference to the unfolding of these views, which she had followed with intelligent
sympathy: "It is a most curious thing! My conversations with the invisible intelligences have
completely revolutionised my ideas and convictions. The instructions thus transmitted
constitute an entirely new theory of human life, duty, and destiny, that appears to me to be
perfectly rational and coherent, admirably lucid and consoling, and intensely interesting. I
have a great mind to publish these conversations in a book; for it seems to me that what
interests me so deeply might very likely prove interesting to others." His wife warmly
approving the idea, he next submitted it to his unseen interlocutors, who replied in the usual
way, that it was they who had suggested it to his mind, that their communications had been
made to him, not for himself alone, but for the express purpose of being given to the world as
he proposed to do, and that the time had now come for putting this plan into execution. "To
the book in which you will embody our instructions," continued the communicating
intelligences, "you will give, as being our work rather than yours, the title of Le Livre des
Esprits (THE SPIRITS’ BOOK); and you will publish it, not under your own name, but under
the pseudonym of ALLAN KARDEC.¹ Keep your own name of Rivail for your own books
already published; but take and keep the name we have now given you for the book you are
about to publish by our order, and, in general, for all the work that you will have to do in the
fulfilment of the mission which, as we have already told you, has been confided to you by
Providence, and which will gradually open before you as you proceed in it under our
The book thus produced and published sold with great rapidity, making converts not in
France only, but all over the Continent, and rendering the name of ALLAN KARDEC "a
household word" with the readers who knew him only in connection with it; so that he was
thenceforth called only by that name, excepting by his old personal friends, with whom both
he and his wife always retained their family-name. Soon after its publication, he founded The
Parisian Society of Psychologic Studies, of which he was President until his death, and which
met every Friday evening at his house, for the purpose of obtaining from spirits, through
writing mediums, instructions in elucidation of truth and duty.
¹An old Briton name in his mother's family.
He also founded and edited until he died a monthly magazine, entitled La Revue Spirite,
Journal of Psychologic Studies, devoted to the advocacy of the views set forth in The Spirit's
Similar associations were speedily formed all over the world. Many of these published
periodicals of more or less importance in support of the new doctrine; and all of them
transmitted to the Parisian Society the most remarkable of the spirit-communications received
by them. An enormous mass of spirit-teaching, unique both in quantity and in the variety of
the sources from which it was obtained, thus found its way into the hands of ALLAN
KARDEC by whom it was studied, collated, co-ordinated, with unwearied zeal and devotion,
during a period of fifteen years. From the materials thus furnished to him from every quarter
of the globe he enlarged and completed THE SPIRITS’ BOOK, under the direction of the
spirits by whom it was originally dictated; the "Revised Edition" of which work, brought out
by him in 1857 (vide "Preface to the Revised Edition," p. 19) has become the recognised textbook
of the school of Spiritualist Philosophy so intimately associated with his name. From
the same materials he subsequently compiled four other works, viz., The Mediums' Book (a
practical treatise on Medianimity and Evocations), 1861; The Gospel as Explained by Spirits
(an exposition of morality from the spiritist point of view), 1864; Heaven and Hell (a
vindication of the justice of the divine government of the human race), 1865; and Genesis
(showing the concordance of the spiritist theory with the discoveries of modern science and
with the general tenor of the Mosaic record as explained by spirits), 1867. He also published
two short treatises, entitled What is Spiritism? and Spiritism Reduced to its Simplest
It is to be remarked, in connection with the works just enumerated, that ALLAN KARDEC
was not a "medium," and was consequently obliged to avail himself of the medianimity of
others in obtaining the spirit-communications from which they were evolved. The theory of
life and duty, so immediately connected with his name and labours that it is often erroneously
supposed to have been the product of his single mind or of the spirits in immediate
connection with him, is therefore far less the expression of a personal or individual opinion
than are any other of the spiritualistic theories hitherto propounded; for the basis of religious
philosophy laid down in his works was not, in any way, the production of his own
intelligence, but was as new to him as to
any of his readers, having been progressively educed by him from the concurrent statements
of a legion of spirits, through many thousands of mediums, unknown to each other, belonging
to different countries, and to every variety of social position.
In person, ALLAN KARDEC was somewhat under middle height. Strongly built, with a
large, round, massive head, well-marked features, and clear grey eyes, he looked more like a
German than a Frenchman. Energetic and persevering, but of a temperament that was calm,
cautious, and unimaginative almost to coldness, incredulous by nature and by education, a
close, logical reasoner, and eminently practical in thought and deed, he was equally free from
mysticism and from enthusiasm. Devoid of ambition, indifferent to luxury and display, the
modest income he had acquired from teaching and from the sale of his educational works
sufficed for the simple style of living he had adopted, and allowed him to devote the whole of
the profits arising from the sale of his spiritist books and from the Revue Spirite to the
propagation of the movement initiated by him. His excellent wife relieved him of all domestic
and worldly cares, and thus enabled him to consecrate himself entirely to the work to which
he believed himself to have been called, and which he prosecuted with unswerving devotion,
to the exclusion of all extraneous occupations, interests, and companionships, from the time
when he first entered upon it until he died. He made no visits beyond a small circle of
intimate friends, and very rarely absented himself from Paris, passing his winters in the heart
of the town, in the rooms where be published his Revue, and his summers at the Villa Ségur,
a little semi-rural retreat which he had built and planted, as the home of his old age and that
of his wife, in the suburban region behind the Champ de Mars, now crossed in every direction
by broad avenues and being rapidly built over, but which at that time was a sort of waste land
that might still pass for "the country."
Grave, slow of speech, unassuming in manner, yet not without a certain quiet dignity
resulting from the earnestness and single-mindedness which were the distinguishing traits of
his character, neither courting nor avoiding discussion, but never volunteering any remark
upon the subject to which he had devoted his life, he received with affability the innumerable
visitors from every part of the world who came to converse with him in regard to the views of
which he was the recognised exponent, answering questions and objections, explaining
difficulties, and giving in-
formation to all serious inquirers, with whom he talked with freedom and animation, his face
occasionally lighting up with a genial and pleasant smile, though such was his habitual
sobriety of demeanour that he was never known to laugh.
Among the thousands by whom he was thus visited were many of high rank in the social,
literary, artistic, and scientific worlds. The Emperor Napoleon III., the fact of whose interest
in spiritist-phenomena was no mystery, sent for him several times, and held long
conversations with him at the Tuileries upon the doctrines of THE SPIRITS’ BOOK.
Having suffered for many years from heart-disease, ALLAN KARDEC drew up, in 1869, the
plan of a new spiritist organisation, that should carry on the work of propagandism after his
death. In order to assure its existence, by giving to it a legal and commercial status, he
determined to make it a regularly constituted joint-stock limited liability publishing and
bookselling company, to be constituted for a period of ninety-nine years, with power to buy
and sell, to issue stock, to receive donations and bequests, etc. To this society, which was to
be called "The Joint Stock Company for the Continuation of the Works of ALLAN
KARDEC," he intended to bequeath the copyright of his spiritist writings and of the Revue
But ALLAN KARDEC was not destined to witness the realisation of the project in which he
took so deep an interest, and which has since been carried out with entire exactitude by his
On the 31st of March 1869, having just finished drawing up the constitution and rules of the
society that was to take the place from which he foresaw that he would soon be removed, he
was seated in his usual chair at his study-table, in his rooms in the Rue Sainte Anne, in the act
of tying up a bundle of papers, when his busy life was suddenly brought to an end by the
rupture of the aneurysm from which he had so long suffered. His passage from the earth to
the spirit-world, with which he had so closely identified himself, was instantaneous, painless,
without a sigh or a tremor; a most peaceful falling asleep and reawaking-fit ending of such a
His remains were interred in the cemetery of Montmartre, in presence of a great concourse of
friends, many hundreds of whom assemble there every year, on the anniversary of his
decease, when a few commemorative words are spoken, and fresh
flowers and wreaths, as is usual in Continental graveyards, are laid upon his tomb.
It is impossible to ascertain with any exactness the number of those who have adopted the
views set forth by ALLAN KARDEC; estimated by themselves at many millions, they are
incontestably very numerous. The periodicals devoted to the advocacy of these views in
various countries already number over forty, and new ones are constantly appearing. The
death of ALLAN KARDEC has not slackened the acceptance of the views set forth by him,
and which are believed by those who hold them to be the basis, but the basis only, of the new
development of religious truth predicted by Christ; the beginning of the promised revelation
of "many things" that have been "kept hidden since the foundation of the world," and for the
knowledge of which the human race was "not ready" at the time of that prediction.
In executing, with scrupulous fidelity, the task confided to her by ALLAN KARDEC, the
translator has followed, in all quotations from the New Testament, the version by Le Maistre
de Sacy, the one always used by ALLAN KARDEC.
IN the first edition of this work, we announced our intention to publish a Supplement treating
of points for which it had been impossible to find room in that edition, or which might be
suggested by subsequent investigations ; but the new matter proved to be so closely
connected with what had been previously published as to render its publication in a separate
volume inexpedient. We therefore preferred to await the reprinting of the work, taking
advantage of the opportunity thus afforded to fuse the whole of the materials together, to
supress redundancies, and to make a more methodical arrangement of its contents. This new
edition may consequently be considered as a new work, although the principles originally laid
down have undergone no change, excepting in a very few instances which will be found to
constitute complements and explanations rather than modifications.
This conformity of the teachings transmitted, notwithstanding the diversity of the sources
from which they have emanated, is a fact of great importance in relation to the establishment
of spiritist doctrine. Our correspondence shows us, moreover, that communications, identical
(in substance, if not in form) with those embodied in the present work, have been obtained in
various quarters, and even, in some instances, previously to the publication of THE SPIRITS’
BOOK, which has served to systematise and to confirm them. History, on the other hand,
proves that most of the ideas herein set forth have been held by the most eminent thinkers of
ancient and of modern times, and thus gives to them the additional sanction of its testimony.

FOR new ideas new words are needed, in order to secure clearness of language by avoiding
the confusion inseparable from the employment of the same term for expressing different
meanings. The words spiritual, spiritualist, spiritualism, have a definite acceptation; to give
them a new one, in order to apply them to the doctrine set forth by spirits, would be to
multiply the causes of amphibology, already so numerous. Strictly speaking, Spiritualism is
the opposite of Materialism; every one is a Spiritualist who believes that there is in him
something more than matter, but it does not follow that he believes in the existence of spirits,
or in their communication with the visible world. Instead, therefore, of the words
SPIRITUAL SPIRITUALISM, we employ, to designate this latter belief, the words
SPIRITIST, SPIRITISM, which, by their form, indicate their origin and radical meaning, and
have thus the advantage of being perfectly intelligible; and we reserve the words spiritualism,
spiritualist, for the expression of the meaning attached to them by common acceptation. We
say, then, that the fundamental principle of the spiritist theory, or Spiritism, is the relation of
the material world with spirits, or the beings of the invisible world ; and we designate the
adherents of the spiritist theory as spiritists.
In a special sense, "THE SPIRITS’ BOOK" contains the doctrine or theory of spiritism; in a
general sense, it appertains to the spiritualist school, of which it presents one of the phases. It
is for this reason that we have inscribed the words Spiritualist Philosophy on its title-page.
There is another word of which it is equally necessary to define the meaning, because it is the
keystone of every system of morality, and also because, owing to the lack of a precise
it has been made the subject of innumerable controversies; we refer to the word soul. The
divergence of opinion concerning the nature of the soul is a result of the variety of meanings
attached to this word. A perfect language, in which every idea had its own special term,
would save a vast deal of discussion; for, in that case, misunderstanding would be impossible.
Some writers define the soul as being the principle of organic life, having no existence of its
own, and ceasing with the life of the body. According to this purely Materialistic belief, the
soul is an effect, and not a cause.
Others consider the soul as being the principle of intelligence, the universal agent, of which
each being absorbs a portion. According to them, there is, in the entire universe, only one
soul, which distributes sparks of itself among all intelligent beings during their life ; each
spark, after the death of the being it has animated, returning to the common source, and
blending again with the general whole, as brooks and rivers return to the ocean from which
they were produced. This opinion differs from the preceding one, inasmuch as, according to
the latter hypothesis, there is in us something more than matter, something that remains in
existence after our death; but, practically, it is much as though nothing remained of us, since,
no longer possessing individuality, we should retain no consciousness of our identity.
According to this hypothesis, the universal soul is God, and each being is a portion of the
Divinity. It is a species of Pantheism.
According to others, again, the soul is a moral being, distinct, independent of matter, and
preserving its individuality after death. This acceptation of the word soul is certainly the one
most generally received; because, under one name or another, the idea of a being that survives
the body is found as an instinctive belief, and independently of all teaching, among all
nations, whatever their degree of civilisation. This doctrine, according to which the soul is a
cause and not an effect, is that of the spiritualists.
Without discussing the value of these opinions, and considering the subject merely under its
philological aspect, we say that these three applications of the word soul constitute three
distinct ideas, each of which demands a different term. "Soul" has, therefore, a triple
meaning, and is employed by each school according to the special meaning it attributes to that
word. In order to avoid
the confusion naturally resulting from the use of the same word to express three different
ideas, it would he necessary to confine the word to one of these three ideas; it would not
matter to which, provided the choice were clearly understood. We think it more natural to
take it in its most common acceptation; and for this reason we employ the word SOUL to
indicate the immaterial and individual being which resides in us, and survives the body. Even
if this being did not really exist, and were only a product of the imagination, a specific term
would still be needed to designate it.
For want of such a term for each of the other ideas now loosely understood by the word soul,
we employ the term vital principle to designate the material and organic life which, whatever
may be its source, is common to all living creatures, from the plant to man. As life can exist
without the thinking faculty, the vital principle is something distinct from independent of it.
The word vitality would not express the same idea. According to some, the vital principle is a
property of matter; an effect produced wherever matter is found under certain given
conditions; while, in the opinion of the greater number of thinkers, it resides in a special
fluid, universally diffused, and of which each being absorbs and assimilates a portion during
life, as inert bodies absorb light; the vital principle being identical with the vital fluid, which
is generally regarded as being the same as the animalised electric fluid, designated also as the
magnetic fluid, the nervous fluid, etc.
However this may be, one fact is certain, for it is proved by observation, viz., that organic
beings possess in themselves a force which, so long as it exists, produces the phenomena of
life ; that physical life is common to all organic beings, and is independent of intelligence and
thought; that intelligence and thought are faculties peculiar to certain organic species; and,
lastly, that, among the organic species endowed with intelligence and thought, there is one
which is endowed with a special moral sense that gives it an incontestable superiority over
the others, viz., human species.
It is evident that, being employed according to various acceptations, the term soul does not
exclude either Materialism or Pantheism. Spiritualists themselves understand the term soul
according to one or other of the first two definitions, without denying the distinct immaterial
being, to which, in that case it would give some other name. This word, therefore, is not the
representative of an opinion; it is a Protean term, defined by each after his own fashion, and
thus giving rise to interminable disputes.
We might also avoid confusion, even while employing the word soul in the three senses
defined above, by adding to it some qualifying term that should specify the point of view
from which we consider it, or the mode in which we apply it. It would be, in that case, a
generic word, representing at once the principles of material life, of intelligence, and of the
moral faculty, each of which would be distinguished by an attribute, as is done, for example,
with the word gas, by adding the words hydrogen, oxygen, etc. Thus we might say-and it
would, perhaps, be the best plan to adopt-vital soul for the principle of material life,
intellectual soul for the principle of intelligence, and spiritual soul for the principle of our
individuality after death ; in which case the vital soul would be common to all organic beings,
plants, animals, and men ; the intellectual soul would be the peculiar property of animals and
men ; and the spiritual soul would belong to men only.
We have thought it all the more important to be explicit in regard to this point, because the
spiritist theory is naturally based on the existence in us of a being independent of matter, and
that survives the body. As the word soul will frequently recur in the course of this work, it
was necessary to define the meaning we attach to it, in order to avoid all misunderstanding.
We now come to the principal object of this preliminary explanation.
Spiritist doctrine, like all new theories, has its Supporters and its opponents. We will
endeavour to reply to some of the objections of the latter, by examining the worth of the
reasons on which they are based, without, however, pretending to be able to convince
everybody, but addressing ourselves to those who, without prejudices or preconceived ideas,
are sincerely and honestly desirous of arriving at the truth; and will prove to them that those
objections are the result of a too hasty conclusion in regard to facts imperfectly observed.
Of the facts referred to, the one first observed was the movement of objects, popularly called
"table-turning." This phenomenon, first observed in America (or rather, renewed in that
country, for history proves it to have been produced in the most remote ages of antiquity),
was attended with various strange accompaniments, such as unusual noises, raps produced
without any ostensible cause, etc. From America this phenomenon spread rapidly over
Europe and the rest of the world. It was met at first with incredulity; but the movements were
produced by so many experimenters, that it soon became impossible to doubt its reality.
If the phenomenon in question had been limited to the movement of inert objects, it might
have been possible to explain it by some purely physical cause. We are far from knowing all
the secret agencies of nature, or all the properties of those which are known to us. Electricity,
moreover, is not only multiplying, day by day, the resources it offers to mankind but appears
to be about to irradiate science with a new light. It seemed, therefore, by no means impossible
that electricity, modified by certain circumstances, or some other unknown agent, might be
the cause of these movements. The fact that the presence of several persons increased the
intensity of the action appeared to strengthen this supposition; for the union of these might
not ineptly be regarded as constituting a battery, of which the power was in proportion to the
number of its elements.
That the movement of the tables should be circular was in 110 way surprising, for the circular
movements is of frequent occurrence in nature. All the stars move in circles; and it therefore
seemed to be possible that in the movement of the tables we had a reflex on a small scale of
the movement of the universe; or that some cause, hitherto unknown, might produce,
accidentally, and, in regard to small objects, a current analogous to that which impels the
worlds of the universe in their orbits.
But the movement in question was not always circular. It was often irregular, disorderly; the
object moved was sometimes violently shaken, overthrown, carried about in various
directions, and, in contravention of all known laws of statics, lifted from the ground and held
up in the air. Still in all this, there was nothing that might not be explained by the force of
some invisible physical agent. Du we not see electricity overthrow buildings,
uproot trees and hurl to considerable distances the heaviest bodies, attracting or repelling, as
the case may be?
The rappings and other unusual noises, supposing them to be due to something else than the
dilatation of the wood, or other accidental cause, might very well be produced by an
accumulation of the mysterious fluid; for does not electricity produce the loudest sounds?
Up to this point everything might be considered as belonging to the domain of physics and
physiology. Without going beyond this circle of ideas, the learned might have found in the
phenomenon referred to matter well worthy of serious study. Why was this not done? It is
painful to be obliged to make the confession, but the neglect of the scientific world was due
to causes that add one more proof to the many already given of the frivolity of the human
mind. In the first place, the non-glamour of the object which mainly served as the basis of the
earliest experimentations had something to do with this disdain. What an influence, in regard
to even the most serious matters, is often exerted by a mere word! Without reflecting that the
movement referred to might be communicated to any object, the idea of tables became
associated with it in the general mind, doubtless because a table, being the most convenient
object upon which to experiment, and also because people can place themselves round a table
more conveniently than round any other piece of furniture, was generally employed in the
experiments referred to. But men who pride themselves on their mental superiority are
sometimes so puerile as to warrant the suspicion that a good many keen and cultivated minds
may have considered it beneath them to take any notice of what was commonly known as "the
dance of tables." If the phenomenon observed by Galvani had been made known by some
unlearned person, and dubbed with some absurd nickname, it would probably have been
consigned to the lumber-room, along with the divining-rod; for where is the scientist who
would not in that case have regarded it as derogatory to occupy himself with the dance of
A few men of superior intellect, however, being modest enough to admit that nature might
not have revealed to them all her secrets, conscientiously endeavoured to see into the matter
for themselves; but the phenomena not having always responded to their attempts, and not
being always produced at their pleasure, and according to their methods of experimenting,
they arrived
at an adverse conclusion in regard to them. The tables, however, despite that conclusion,
continued to turn; and we may say of them, with Galileo, "Nevertheless, they move!" We may
assert, still further, that the facts alluded to have been multiplied to such an extent that they
have become naturalised among us, so that opinions are now only divided as to their nature.
And here let us ask whether the fact that these phenomena are not always produced in exactly
the same way, and according to the wishes and requirements of each individual observer, can
be reasonably regarded as constituting an argument against their reality? Are not the
phenomena of electricity and chemistry subordinated to certain conditions, and should we be
right in denying their reality because they do not occur when those conditions are not present?
Is it strange, then, that certain conditions should be necessary to the production of the
phenomenon of the movement of objects by the human fluid, or that it should not occur when
the observer, placing himself at his own individual point of view, insists on producing it at his
own pleasure, or in subjecting it to the laws of phenomena already known, without
considering that a new order of facts may, and indeed must, result from the action of laws
equally new to us? Now, in order to arrive at a knowledge of such laws, it is necessary to
study the circumstances under which those facts are produced; and such a study can only be
made through long-sustained and attentive observation.
"But," it is often objected, "there is evident trickery in some of the occurrences referred to."
To this objection we reply, in the first place, by asking whether the objectors are quite sure
that what they have taken for trickery may not be simply an order of facts which they are not
yet able to account for, as was the case with the peasant who mistook the experiments of a
learned professor of physics for the tricks of a clever conjuror? But even admitting that there
has been trickery in some cases, is that a reason for denying the reality of facts? Must we
deny the reality of physics because certain conjurors give themselves the title of physicists?
Moreover, the character of the persons concerned in these manifestations should be taken into
account, and the interest they may have in deceiving. Would they do so by way of a joke? A
joke may amuse for a moment, but a mystification, if kept up too long, would become as
wearisome to the mystifier as to the mystified. Besides, a mystification carried
on from one end of the earth to the other, and among the most serious, honourable, and
enlightened people, would be at least as extraordinary as the phenomena in question.
If the phenomena we are considering had been limited to the movement of objects, they
would have remained, as we have already remarked, within the domain of physical science;
but so far was this from being the case, that they speedily proved to be only the forerunners of
facts of a character still more extraordinary. For it was soon found that the impulsion
communicated to inert objects was not the mere product of a blind mechanical force, but that
it revealed the action of an intelligent cause, a discovery that opened up a new field of
observation, and promised a solution of many mysterious problems. Are these movements
due to an intelligent power? Such was the question first to be answered. If such a power
exists, what is it? What is its nature? What its origin? Is it superhuman? Such were the
secondary questions which naturally grew out of that first one.
The earliest manifestations of intelligence were made by means of the legs of tables, that
moved up and down, striking a given number of times, and replying in this way by "yes" or
"no" to the questions asked. Even here, it must be confessed, there was nothing very
convincing for the incredulous, as these apparent answers might be an effect of chance. But
fuller replies were soon obtained, the object in motion striking a number of blows
corresponding to the number of each letter of the alphabet, so that words and sentences began
to be produced in reply to the questions propounded. The correctness of these replies, their
correlation with the questions asked, excited astonishment. The mysterious being who gave
these replies, when questioned as to its nature, declared itself to be a "spirit" or "genius," gave
itself a name, and stated various particulars about itself. This is a circumstance of noteworthy
importance, for it proves that no one suggested the idea of spirits as an explanation of the
phenomenon, but that the phenomenon gave this explanation of itself. Hypotheses are often
framed, in the positive sciences, to serve as a basis of argument; but such was not the case in
this instance.
The mode of communication furnished by the alphabet being
tedious and inconvenient, the invisible agent (a point worthy of note) suggested another, by
advising the fitting of a pencil to a small basket. This basket, placed upon a sheet of paper,
was set in motion by the same occult power that moved the tables; but, instead of obeying a
simple and regular movement of rotation, the pencil traced letters that formed words,
sentences, and entire discourses, filling many pages, treating of the deepest questions of
philosophy, morality, metaphysics, psychology, etc., and as rapidly as though written by the
This suggestion was made simultaneously in America, in France, and in various other
countries. It was made in the following terms, in Paris, on the 10th of June 1853, to one of the
most fervent partisans of the new phenomena-one who, from the year 1849, had been busily
engaged in the evocation of spirits:-" Fetch the little basket from the next room; fasten a
pencil to it; place it upon a sheet of paper; put your fingers on the edge of the basket." This
having been done, the basket, a few moments afterwards, began to move, and the pencil
wrote, quite legibly, this sentence -"I expressly forbid your repeating to any one what I have
just told you. The next time I write, I shall do it better."
The object to which the pencil is attached being merely an instrument, its nature and form are
of no importance, convenience being the only point to be considered. The instrument known
as the planchette has since been generally adopted.
The basket, or planchette, will only move under the influence of certain persons gifted with a
special power or faculty, who are called mediums,-that is to say, go-betweens, or
intermediaries between spirits and men. The conditions which give this power depend on
causes, physical and moral, that are as yet but imperfectly understood, for mediums are of all
ages, of both sexes, and of every degree of intellectual development. The faculty of
mediumship, moreover, is developed by exercise.
It was next perceived that the basket and the planchette only formed, in reality, an appendix
to the hand. The medium, therefore, now held the pencil in his hand, and found that he was
made to write under an impulsion independent of his will, and often with an almost feverish
rapidity. In this way the communications were not only made more quickly, but also became
easy and more complete. At the present day, this method is the one most frequently
employed, the number of persons endowed with the aptitude of involuntary writing being
very considerable, and constantly increasing. Experience gradually made known many other
varieties of the mediumistic faculty, and it was found that communications could be received
through speech, hearing, sight, touch, etc., and even through the direct writing of the spirits
themselves,-that is to say, without the help of the medium's band, or of the pencil.
This fact established, an essential point still remained to be ascertained, viz., the nature of the
medium's action, and the share taken by him, mechanically and morally, in the obtaining of
the replies. Two points of the highest importance, and that could not escape the notice of the
attentive observer, sufficed to settle the question. The first of these is the way in which the
basket moves under the influence of the medium, through the mere laying of his fingers on its
edges, and in such a manner that it would be impossible for him to guide it in any direction
whatever. This impossibility becomes still more evident when two or three persons place
their fingers at the same time on the same basket, for a truly phenomenal concordance of
movements and of thoughts would be required between them, in order to produce, on the part
of each, the same reply to the question asked. And this difficulty is increased by the fact that
the writing often changes completely with each spirit who communicates, and that, whenever
a given spirit communicates, the same writing re-appears. In such cases, the medium would
have to train himself to change his handwriting an indefinite number of times, and would also
have to remember the particular writing of each spirit.
The second point referred to is the character of the replies given, which are often, and
especially when the questions asked are of an abstract or scientific nature, notoriously beyond
the scope of the knowledge, and even of the intellectual capacity, of the medium, who,
moreover, is frequently unaware of what he is made to write, since the reply, like the question
asked, may be couched in a language of which he is ignorant, or the question may even be
asked mentally. It often happens, too, that the basket, or the medium, is made to write
spontaneously, without any question having been propounded, and upon some subject
altogether unexpected.
The replies thus given, and the messages thus transmitted, are sometimes marked by such
sagacity, profundity, and appropriateness, and convey thoughts so elevated, so sublime, that
they can only emanate from a superior intelligence, imbued with the purest morality; at other
times, they are so vapid, frivolous, and even trivial, that they cannot be supposed to emanate
from the same source. This diversity of language can only be explained by the diversity of the
intelligences who thus manifest themselves. Do these intelligences reside in the human race,
or are they beyond the pale of humanity? Such is the next point to be cleared up, and of which
the complete explanation will be found in the present work, such as it has been given by the
spirits themselves.
The facts referred to, as being of an order beyond our usual circle of observation, do not occur
mysteriously, but in broad daylight, so that every one can see them and ascertain their reality;
they are not the privilege of a single individual, but are obtained by tens of thousands of
persons every day at pleasure. These effects have necessarily a cause; and as they reveal the
action of an intelligence and a will, they are evidently beyond the domain of merely physical
Many theories have been broached in relation to this subject; these we shall presently
examine, and shall then be able to decide whether they can account for all the facts now
occurring. Let us, meanwhile, assume the existence of beings distinct from the human race,
since such is the explanation given of themselves by the intelligences thus revealed to us, and
let us see what they say to us.
The beings who thus enter into communication with us designate themselves, as we have
said, by the name of spirits or genie, and as having belonged, in many cases at least, to men
who have lived upon the earth. They say that they constitute the spiritual world, as we, during
our earthly life, constitute the corporeal world.
We will now briefly sum up the most important points of the doctrine which they have
transmitted to us, in order to reply more easily to the objections of the incredulous.
"God is eternal, immutable, immaterial, unique, all-powerful, sovereignly just and good.
"He has created the universe, which comprehends all beings, animate and inanimate, material
and immaterial.
"The material beings constitute the visible or corporeal world, and the immaterial beings
constitute the invisible or spiritual world, that is to say, the spirit-world, or world of spirits.
"The spirit-world is the normal, primitive, eternal world, pre-existent to, and surviving,
everything else.
"The corporeal world is only secondary; it might cease to exist, or never have existed, without
changing the essentiality of the spiritual world.
"Spirits temporarily assume a perishable material envelope, the destruction of which, by
death, restores them to liberty.
"Among the different species of corporeal beings, God has chosen the human species for the
incarnation of spirits arrived at a certain degree of development; it is this which gives it a
moral and intellectual superiority to all the others.
"The soul is an incarnated spirit, whose body is only its envelope.
"There are in man three things -(1.) The body, or material being, analogous to the animals,
and animated by the same vital principle; (2.) The soul, or immaterial being, a spirit
incarnated in the body; (3.) The link which unites the soul and the body, a principle
intermediary between matter and spirit.
"Man has thus two natures.: by his body he participates in the nature of the animals, of which
it has the instincts; by his soul, he participates in the nature of spirits.
"The link, or perispirit, which unites the body and the spirit, is a sort of semi-material
envelope. Death is the destruction of the material body, which is the grossest of man's two
envelopes; but the spirit preserves his other envelope, viz., the perispirit, which constitutes
for him an ethereal body, invisible to us in its normal state, but which he can render
occasionally visible, and even tangible, as is the case in apparitions.
"A spirit, therefore, is not an abstract, undefined being, only to be conceived of by our
thought; it is a real, circumscribed being, which, in certain cases, is appreciable by the senses
of sight, hearing, and touch.
"Spirits belong to different classes, and are not equal to one another either in power, in
intelligence, in knowledge, or in morality. Those of the highest order are distinguished from
those below them by their superior purity and knowledge, their nearness to
God, and their love of goodness; they are "angels" or "pure spirits." The other classes are
more and more distant from this perfection; those of the lower ranks are inclined to most of
our passions, hatred, envy, jealousy, pride, etc.; they take pleasure in evil. Among them are
some who are neither very good nor very bad, but are teazing and troublesome rather than
malicious are often mischievous and unreasonable, and may be classed as giddy and foolish
"Spirits do not belong perpetually to the same order. All are destined to attain perfection by
passing through the different degrees of the spirit-hierarchy. This amelioration is effected by
incarnation, which is imposed on some of them as an expiation, and on others as a mission.
Material life is a trial which they have to undergo many times until they have attained to
absolute perfection; it is a sort of filter, or alembic, from which they issue more or less
purified after each new incarnation.
"On quitting the body, the soul re-enters the world of spirits from which it came, and from
which it will enter upon a new material existence after a longer or shorter lapse of time,
during which its state is that of an errant or wandering spirit. ¹
"Spirits having to pass through many incarnations, it follows that we have all had many
existences, and that we shall have others, more or less perfect, either upon this earth or in
other worlds.
"The incarnation of spirits always takes place in the human race; it would be an error to
suppose that the soul or spirit could be incarnated in the body of an animal.
"A spirit's successive corporeal existences are always progressive, and never retrograde; but
the rapidity of our progress depends on the efforts we make to arrive at perfection.
"The qualities of the soul are those of the spirit incarnated in us; thus, a good man is the
incarnation of a good spirit, and a bad man is that of an unpurified spirit.
"The soul possessed its own individuality before its incarnation; it preserves that individuality
after its separation from the body.
"On its re-entrance into the spirit world, the soul again finds there all those whom it has
known upon the earth, and all its former existences eventually come back to its memory, with
¹ There is. between this doctrine of re-incarnation and that of metempsychosis, as held by certain sects, a
characteristic difference, which is explained in the course of the present work.
remembrance of all the good and of all the evil which it has done in them.
"The incarnated spirit is under the influence of matter; the man who surmounts this influence,
through the elevation and purification of his soul, raises himself nearer to the superior spirits,
among whom he will one day be classed. He who allows himself to be ruled by bad passions,
and places all his delight in the satisfaction of his gross animal appetites, brings himself
nearer to the impure spirits, by giving preponderance to his animal nature.
"Incarnated spirits inhabit the different globes of the universe.
"Spirits who are not incarnated, who are errant, do not occupy any fixed and circumscribed
region; they are everywhere, in space, and around us, seeing us, and mixing with us
incessantly; they constitute an invisible population, constantly moving and busy about us, on
every side.
"Spirits exert an incessant action upon the moral world, and even upon the physical world;
they act both upon matter and upon thought, and constitute one of the powers of nature, the
efficient cause of many classes of phenomena hitherto unexplained or misinterpreted, and of
which only the spiritist theory can give a rational explanation.
'Spirits are incessantly in relation with men. The good spirits try to lead us into the right road,
sustain us under the trials of life, and aid us to bear them with courage and resignation; the
bad ones tempt us to evil: it is a pleasure for them to see us fall, and to make us like
"The communications of spirits with men are either occult or ostensible. Their occult
communications are made through the good or bad influence they exert on us without our
being aware of it; it is our duty to distinguish, by the exercise of our judgement, between the
good and the bad inspirations that are thus brought to bear upon us. Their ostensible
communications take place by means of writing, of speech, or of other physical
manifestations, and usually through the intermediary of the mediums who serve as their
"Spirits manifest themselves spontaneously, or in response to evocation. All spirits may be
evoked: those who have animated the most obscure of mortals, as well as those of the most
illustrious personages, and whatever the epoch at which they lived; those of our relatives, our
friends, or our enemies; and we may obtain from them, by written or by verbal
communications, counsels,
information in regard to their situation beyond the grave, their thoughts in regard to us, and
whatever revelations they are permitted to make to us. ¹
Spirits are attracted by their sympathy with the moral quality of the parties by whom they are
evoked. Spirits of superior elevation take pleasure in meetings of a serious character,
animated by the love of goodness and the sincere desire of instruction and improvement.
Their presence repels the spirits of inferior degree who find, on the contrary, free access and
freedom of action among persons of frivolous disposition, or brought together by mere
curiosity, and wherever evil instincts are to be met with. So far from obtaining from spirits,
under such circumstances, either good advice or useful information, nothing is to be expected
from them but trifling, lies, ill-natured tricks, or humbugging; for they often borrow the most
venerated names, in order the better to impose upon those with whom they are in
"It is easy to distinguish between good and bad spirits. The language of spirits of superior
elevation is constantly dignified, noble, characterised by the highest morality, free from every
trace of earthly passion; their counsels breathe the purest wisdom, and always have our
improvement and the good of mankind for their aim. The communications of spirits of lower
degree, on the contrary, are full of discrepancies, and their language is often commonplace,
and even coarse. If they sometimes say things that are good and true, they more often make
false and absurd statements, prompted by ignorance or malice. They play upon the credulity
of those who interrogate them, amusing themselves by flattering their vanity, and fooling
them with false hopes. In a word, instructive communications worthy of the name are only to
be obtained in centres of a serious character, whose members are united, by an intimate
communion of thought and desire, in the pursuit of truth and goodness.
“The moral teaching of the higher spirits may be sumnied up, like that of Christ, in the gospel
maxim, 'Do unto others as you would that others should do unto you;' that is to say, do good
to all, and wrong no one. This principle of action furnishes mankind with a rule of conduct of
universal application, from the smallest matters to the greatest.
¹ Vide, in connection with the statements of this paragraph, the qualifying explanations and practical counsels of
The Mediums' Book - TRANS.
They teach us that selfishness, pride, sensuality, are passions which bring us back towards the
animal nature, by attaching us to matter; that he who, in this lower life, detaches himself froni
matter through contempt of worldly trifles, and through love of the neighbour, brings himself
back towards the spiritual nature; that we should all make ourselves useful, according to the
means which God has placed in our hands for our trial; that the strong and the powerful owe
aid and protection to the weak; and that he who misuses strength and power to oppress his
fellow-creature violates the law of God. They teach us that in the spirit-workl nothing can be
hidden, and that the hypocrite will there be un-masked, and all his wickedness unveiled; that
the presence, unavoidable and perpetual, of those whom we have wronged in the earthly life
is one of the punishments that await us in the spirit-world; and that the lower or higher state
of spirits gives rise in that other life to sufferings or to enjoyments unknown to us upon the
"But they also teach us that there are no unpardonable sins, none that cannot be efaced by
expiation. Man finds the means of accomplishing this in the different existences which permit
him to advance progressively, and according to his desire and his efforts, towards the
perfection that constitutes his ultimate aim.
Such is the sum of spiritist doctrine, as contained in the teachings given by spirits of high
degree. Let us now consider the objections that are urged against it.
Many persons regard the opposition of the learned world as constituting, if not a proof, at
least a very strong presumption of the falsity of Spiritism. We are not of those who affect
indifference in regard to the judgment of scientific men; on the contrary, we hold them in
great esteem, and should think it an honour to be of their number, but we cannot consider
their opinion as l)eing, under all circumstances, necessarily and absolutely conclusive.
When the votaries of science go beyond the bare observation of facts, when they attempt to
appraise and to explain those facts, they enter tipon the field of conjecture; each advances a
system of his own, which he does his utmost to bring into favour, and defends with might and
main. Do we not see every day the most
divergent systems brought forward and rejected. one after the other; now cried down as
absurd errors, and now cried up as incontestable truths? Facts are the sole criterion of reality,
the sole argument that admits of no reply: in the absence of facts. the wise man suspends his
In regard to all matters that have already been fully examined, the verdict of the learned is
justly held to be authoritative, because their knowledge of them is fuller and more
enlightened than that of ordinary men; but in regard to new facts or principles, to matters
imperfectly known, their opinion can only be hypothetic, because they are no more exempt
from prejudice than other people It may even be said that scientific men are more apt to be
prejudiced than the rest of the world, because each of them is naturally inclined to look at
everything from the special point of view that has been adopted by him; the mathematiciau
admitting no other order of proof than that of an algebraic demonstration, the chemist
referring everything to the action of the elements, etc. When a man has made for himself a
specialty, he usually devotes his whole mind to it; beyond the scope of this specialty he often
reasons falsely, because, owing to the weakness of human reason, he insists on treating every
subject in the same way; and therefore, while we should willingly and confidemly consult a
chemist in regard to a question of analysis, a physicist in regard to electricity, a mechanician
in regard to a motive power, we must be allowed, without in any way derogating from the
respect due to their special knowledge, to attach no more weight to their unfavourable
opinion of Spiritism than we should do to the judgment of an architect on a question relating
to the theory of music.
The positive sciences are based on the properties of matter, which may be experimented upon
and manipulated at pleasure; but spiritist phenomena are an effect of the action of
intelligences who have wills of their own, and who constantly show us that they are not
subjected to ours. The observation of facts, therefore, cannot be carried on in the latter case in
the same way as in the former one, for they proceed from another source, and require special
conditions; and, consequently, to insist upon submitting them to the same methods of
investigation is to insist on assuming the existence of analogies that do not exist. Science,
properly so called, is therefore incompetent, as such, to decide the question of the truth of
Spiritism; it has nothing to do with it; and
its verdict in regard to it, whether favourable or otherwise, is of no weight. Spiritist belief is
the result of a personal conviction that scientific men may hold as individuals, and
independent of their quality as scientists; but to submit the question to the decision of
physical science would be much the same thing as to set a company of physicists and
astronomers to decide the question of immortality. Spiritism deals exclusively with the
existence of the soul, and its state after death; and it is stipremely un-reasonable to assume
that a man must be a great psychologist simply because he is a great mathematician or a great
anatomist. The anatomist, when dissecting a human body, looks for the soul, and, as he does
not find it under his scalpel as lie finds a nerve or see it evaporate as does a gas, he concludes
that it does not exist, because he reasons from an exclusively material point of view; but it by
no means follows that he is right, and that the opinion of the rest of the world is wrong. We
see, therefore, that the task of deciding as to the truth or falsity of Spiritism does not fall
within the scope of physical science. When spiritist beliefs shall have become generalised,
when they shall have been accepted by the masses (and, if we may judge by the rapidity with
which they are being propagated, that time can hardly be very distant), it will be with those
beliefs as with all new ideas that have encountered opposition; and scientific men will end by
yielding to the force of evidence. They will be brought, individually, by the force of things, to
admit ideas that they now reject; and, until then, it would be premature to turn them from
their special studies in order to occupy them with a matter which is foreign alike to their
habits of thought and to their spheres of investigation. Mean-while, those who, without a
careful preparatory study of the matter, pronounce a negative verdict in regard to it, and throw
ridicule upon all who are not of their way of thinking, forget that such has been done in
regard to nearly all the great discoveries that honour the human race. They risk seeing their
names added to the list of illustrious proscribers of new ideas, and classed with those of the
members of the learned assembly which, in 1752, received Franklin's paper on lightning-rods
with peals of laughter, and voted it to be unworthy of mention among the communications
addressed to it; or with that other one which caused France to miss the advantage of taking
the lead in the application of steam to shipping. by declaring Fulton's plans to be
impracticable: and yet these subjects lay within their competence. If those two
assemblies, which numbered the most eminent scientists of the world among their members,
had only contempt and sarcasm for ideas which they did not understand, but which were
destined to revolutionise, a few years later, science, industry, and daily life. how can we hope
that a question foreign to their labours shouk! meet with any greater degree of favour at their
The erroneous judgments of learned men in regard to certain discoveries, though regrettable
for the honour of their memory, do not invalidate the title to our esteem acquired by them in
regard to other matters. But is common-sense only to be found associated with an official
diploma, and are there only fools and simpletons outside the walls of scientific institutions?
Let oor opponents condescend to glance over the ranks of the partisans of Spiritism, and see
whether they contain only persons of inferior understanding, or whether, on the contrary,
considering the immense number of men of worth by whom it has been embraced, it can be
regarded as belonging to the category of old wives fables; whether, in fact, the character and
scientific knowledge of its adherents do not rather deserve that it should be said -"When such
men affirm a matter, there must at least be something in it?"
We repeat that. if the facts we are about to consider had been limited to the mechanical
movement of inert bodies, physical science would have been competent to seek out the
physical cause of the phenomena; but the manifestations in question being professedly
beyond the action of laws or forces yet known to men, they are necessarily beyond the
competence of human science. When the facts to be observed are novel, and do not fall
within the scope of any known science, the scientist, in order to study them, should throw his
science temporarily aside, remembering that a new study cannot be fruitfully prosecuted
under the influence of preconceived ideas.
He who believes his reason to be infallible is very near to error. Even those whose ideas are
of the falsest profess to base them on reason; and it is in the name of reason that they reject
whatever seems to them to be impossible. They who formerlv rejected the admirable
discoveries that are the glory of the human mind did so in the name of reason; for what men
call reason is often only pride disguised, and whoever regards himself as in-fallible virtually
claims to be God's equal. We therefore address ourselves to those who are reasonable enough
to suspend their judgment in regard to what they have not yet seen, and who,
judging of the future by the past, do not believe that man has reached his apogee, or that
nature has turned over for him the last leaf of her hook.
Let us add that the study of such a theory as that of Spiritism. which introduces us at once to
an order of ideas so novel and so grand, can only be fruitfully pursued by persons of a serious
turn of mind, persevering, free from prejudice, and animated by a firm and sincere
determination to arrive at the truth. We could not give this qualification to those who decide,
in regard to such a subject, à priori, lightly, and without thorough examination; who bring to
the work of study neither the method, the regularity, nor the sustained attention necessary to
success: still less could we give it to those who, not to lose their reputation for wit and
sharpness, seek to turn into ridicule matters of the most serious import, or that are judged to
be such by persons whose knowledge, character, and convictions should command respect.
Let those who consider the facts in question as unworthy of their attention abstain from
studying them; no one would attempt to interfere with their belief; but let them, on their part,
respect the belief of those who are of a contrary opinion.
The characteristics of serious study are the method and the perseverance with which it is
carried on. Is it strange that sensible answers are not always obtained from spirits in reply to
questions which, however serious in themselves, are propounded at random, and in the midst
of a host of others, unconnected, frivolous, or foolish? Besides, a question is often complex,
and the answer to it, in order to be clear, needs to be preceded, or completed, by various
considerations. Whoever would acquire any science must make it the object of methodical
study, must begin at the beginning, and follow out the sequence and development of the ideas
involved in it. If one who is ignorant of the most elementary facts of a science should ask a
question in regard to it of the most learned of its professors, could the professor, however
excellent his goodwill, give him any satisfactory answer? For any isolated answer, give under
such conditions, must necessarily be incomplete, and would, therefore, in many cases, appear
unintelligible, or even absurd. It is exactly the same in regard to the relations which we
establish with spirits. If we
would learn in their school, we must go through a complete course of teaching with them;
but, as among ourselves, we must select our teachers, and work on with steadiness and
We have said that spirits of superior advancement are only attracted to centres in which there
reigns a serious desire for light, and, above all, a perfect communion of thought and feeling in
the pursuit of moral excellence. Frivolity and idle curiosity repel them, just as, among men,
they repel all reasonable people; and the road is thus left open to the mob of foolish and lying
spirits who are always about us, watching for opportunities of mocking us and amusing
themselves at our expense. What becomes of any serious question in such a gathering? It will
certainly be replied to, but by whom? It is just as though, in the midst of a convivial dinnerparty,
you should suddenly propound such questions as-"What is the soul? What is death?" or
others equally out of harmony with the tone of the company. If we would obtain serious
answers, we must ourselves be serious, and must place ourselves in the conditions required
for obtaining them; it is only by so doing that we shall obtain any satisfactory and ennobling
communications. We must, moreover, be laborious and persevering in our investigations,
otherwise the higher spirits will cease to trouble themselves about us, as the professor ceases
to occupy himself with the hopelessly idle members of his class.
The movement of inert bodies is a fact already proved by experience; the point now to be
ascertained is, whether there is, or is not, a manifestation of -intelligence in this movement,
and, if there is, what is the source of this intelligence? We are not speaking of the intelligence
displayed in the movement of certain objects, nor of verbal communications, nor even of
those which are written directly by the medium: these manifestations, of which the spiritorigin
is evident for those who have thoroughly investigated the matter, are not, at first sight,
sufficiently independent of the will of the medium to bring conviction to an observer new to
the subject. We will therefore only speak, in this place, of writing obtained with the aid of an
object of any kind provided with a pencil, such as a small basket, a planchette, etc., the
fingers of the medium being placed upon the object in such a manner as to defy the most
consummate skill to exercise the slightest
influence on the tracing of the letters. But let us suppose that, by some wonderful cleverness,
the medium succeeds in deceiving the most keenly observant eye, how can we explain the
nature of the communications, when they are altogether beyond the scope of the medium's
knowledge and ideas? And it is, moreover, to be remarked, that we are speaking not of
monosyllabic replies, but of many pages, dashed off, as frequently happens, with the most
astonishing rapidity, sometimes spontaneously, and sometimes upon a given subject; of
poems of elevated character, and irreproachable in point of style, produced by the hand of an
utterly illiterate medium. And what adds to the strangeness of these facts is, that they are
occurring all the world over, and that the number of mediums is constantly increasing. Are
these facts real or not ? To this query we have but one reply to make: "See and observe;
opportunities of doing so will not be lacking; but, above all, observe often, for a long time,
and according to the conditions required for so doing."
To the evidence adduced by us, what do our antagonists reply? 'You are," say they, "the dupes
of imposition or the sport of illusion." We have to remark, in the first place, that imposition is
not likely to occur where no profit is to be made; charlatans are not apt to ply their trade
gratis. If imposition be practised, it must he for the sake of a joke. But by what strange
coincidence does there happen to be an understanding between the jokers, from one end of
the earth to the other, to act in the same way, to produce the same effects, and to give, upon
the same subjects, and in different languages, replies that are identical, if not in words, at least
in meaning? How is it that grave, serious, honour-able, and educated persons can lend
themselves to such manoeuvres and for what purpose? How is it that the requisite patience
and skill for carrying on such a piece of deception are found even in young children? For
mediums, if they are not passive instruments, must posses a degree of skill, and an amount
and variety of knowledge, incompatible with the age and social position of many of them.
"But," urge our opponents, "if there be no trickery, both parties may be the dupes of an
illusion." It is only reasonable that the quality of witnesses should be regarded as an element
in deciding the value of their evidence; and it may fairly be asked whether the spiritist theory,
whose adherents are already to be counted by
millions, recruits these only among the ignorant? The phenomena on which it is based are so
extraordinary that we admit the reasonableness of doubt in regard to them; but what is not
admissible is the pretension of certain sceptics to a monopoly of common sense, and the
unceremonious way in which, regardless of the moral worth of their adversaries, they tax all
who are not of their opinion with infatuation or stupidity. For the affirmation of enlightened
persons who have, for a long time, seen, studied, and meditated any matter, is always, if not a
proof, at least a presumption in its favour, since it has been able to fix the attention of men of
mark, having no interest in propagating an error, nor time to waste upon worthless trifles.
Among the objections brought forward by our opponents are some which are more specious,
at least in appearance, because they are made by thoughtful minds.
One of these objections is prompted by the fact that the language of spirits does not always
seem worthy of the elevation we attribute to beings beyond the pale of humanity. But, if the
objector will take the trouble to look at the doctrinal summary we have given above, lie will
see that the spirits themselves inform us that they are not equals, either in knowledge or in
moral qualities, that we are not to accept everything said by spirits as literal truth, and that we
must judge for ourselves of the value of their statements. Assuredly, those who infer from this
fact that we have to deal only with maleficent beings, whose sole occupation is to deceive us,
have no acquaintance with the communications obtained in the centres habitually frequented
by spirits of superior advancement, or they could not entertain such an opinion. It is
regrettable that they should have chanced to see only the worst side of the spirit-world, for we
will not suppose that their sympathies attract evil, gross, or lying spirits, rather than good
ones. We will merely suggest that, in some cases, the inquirers may not be so thoroughly
principled in goodness as to repel evil, and that, taking advantage of their curiosity in regard
to them, imperfect spirits make use of the opening thus afforded to come about them, while
those of a higher order withdraw from them.
To judge the question of spirits by these facts would be as little reasonable as to judge of the
character of a people by the sayings and doings of a party of wild or disreputable fellows,
with whom the educated and respectable classes of the population have nothing to do. Such
persons are in the position of the traveller who, entering some great capital by one of its worst
suburbs, should judge of all its inhabitants by the habits and language of this low quarter. In
the world of spirits, as in our own, there are higher and lower classes of society. Let inquirers
make a study of what goes on among spirits of high degree. and they will be convinced that
the celestial city is not peopled solely by the ignorant and vicious. But," it will be asked, "do
spirits of high degree come among us?" To which question we reply, “Do not remain in the
suburbs; see, observe, and judge; the facts are within reach of all but those alluded to by
Jesus. as having eyes, but seeing not, and ears, but hearing not..'
A variety of the same objection consists in attributing all spirit communications, and all the
physical manifestations by which they are accompanied, to the intervention of some
diabolical power-some new Proteus that assumes every form in order the more effectually to
deceive us Without pausing to analyse a sup-position that we regard as not susceptible of
serious examination, and that is, moreover, refuted by what we have already said, we have
only to remark that, if such were the case, it would have to be admitted either that the devil is
sometimes very wise, very reasonable, and, above all, very moral, or else that there are good
devils as well as bad ones.
But, in fact, is it possible to believe that God would permit only the Spirit of Evil to manifest
himself, and this in order to ruin us, without giving us also the counsels of good spirits as a
counter-poise ? To suppose that He cannot do this is to limit His power; to suppose that He
can do it, but abstains from doing it, is incompatible with the belief in His goodness. Both
suppositions are equally blasphemous. It must be observed that, to admit the communication
of evil spirits is to recognise the existence of spirit manifestations ; but, if they exist, it can
only be with the permission of God, and how then can we, without impiety, believe that He
would permit them to occur only for a bad purpose, to the exclusion of a good one? Such a
supposition is contrary alike to the simplest dictates of religion and of common sense.
One strange feature of the matter, urge other objectors, is the fact that only the spirits of wellknown
personages manifest them-
selves, and it is asked why these should be the only ones who do so? This query is suggested
by an error due, like many others. to superficial observation. Among the spirits who present
themselves spontaneously, the greater number are unknown to us, and, therefore, call
themselves by names that we know, and that serve to characterise them. With regard to those
whom we evoke, unless in the case of relatives or friends, we naturally address ourselves to
spirits whom we know of, rather than to those who are unknown to us; and as the names of
illustrious persons are those which strike us most forcibly, they are, for that reason, those
which are most remarked.
It is also considered as strange that the spirits of eminent men should respond familiarly to
our call, and should sometimes interest themselves in things that appear trifling in
comparison with those which they accomplished during their life. But there is in this nothing
surprising for those who know that the power and consideration which a man may have
possessed in this lower life give him no supremacy in the spirit-world. Spirits confirm the
gospel statement that "the last shall be first, and the first shall be last," as regards the rank of
each of us when we return among them. Thus he who has been first in the earthly life may be
one of the last in that other world; he before whom all bowed their heads during the present
life may then find himself beneath the humblest artisan, for, on quitting the earthly life, he
leaves all his grandeur behind him; and the most powerful monarch may be lower than the
lowest of his subjects.
A fact ascertained by observation, and confirmed by the spirits themselves, is the borrowing
of well-known and venerated names by spirits of inferior degree. How, then, can we be sure
that those who say they were, for example, Socrates Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, Fénélon
Napoleon, Washington, etc., were really the men they claim to have been ? This doubt exists
among many fervent adherents of spiritist doctrine. They admit the reality of the intervention
and manifestation of spirits, but they ask themselves what certainty we can have of their
identity ? This certainty it is, in fact, very difficult to obtain; but though it cannot be settled as
authentically as by the attestation of a civil register, it may, at least, be established
presumptively, according to certain indications.
When the spirit who manifests himself is that of some one personally known to us, of a
relative or friend, for instance, and especially if of one who has been dead but a short time, it
is generally found that his language is perfectly in keeping with what we know of his
character; thus furnishing a strong presumption of his identity, which is placed almost beyond
reach of doubt when the spirit speaks of private affairs, and refers to family matters known
only to the party to whom he addresses himself. A son could hardly be mistaken as to the
language of his father and mother, nor parents as to that of their child, Most striking incidents
often occur in evocations of this intimate kind-things of a nature to convince the most
incredulous. The most Sceptical are often astounded by the unexpected revelations thus made
to them.
Another very characteristic circumstance often helps to establish a spirit's identity. We have
already said that the handwriting of the medium generally changes with the spirit evoked, the
same writing being reproduced exactly every time the same spirit presents himself; and it
often happens that, in the case of persons recently deceased this writing bears a striking
resemblance to that of the person during life, the signatures, especially, being sometimes
perfectly exact. We are, nevertheless, very far from adducing this fact as a rule, or as being of
constant recurrence; we merely mention it as a point worthy of notice.
It is only when spirits have arrived at a certain degree of purification that they are entirely
freed from all corporeal influences; and as long as they are not completely dematerialised (to
employ their own expression), they retain most of the ideas, tendencies, and even the hobbies,
they had while on earth, all of which furnish additional means of identification ; hut these are
especially to be found in the vast number of small details that are only perceived through
sustained and attentive observation. Spirits who have been authors are seen to discuss their
own works or views, approving or blaming them; others allude to various circumstances
connected with their life or death; and from all these indications we obtain what may, at least,
be regarded as moral presumptions in favour of their identity, the only ones that can be
looked for under the circumstances of the case.
If, then, the identity of the spirit evoked may be established, to a certain extent and in certain
cases, there is no reason why that identity may not exist in others; and although we may not
have the same means of identification in regard to persons whose death is of more distant
date, we always have that of language and character, for the spirit of a good and enlightened
man will assuredly not express himself like that of a depraved or ignorant one. As for inferior
spirits who assume honoured names, they soon betray themselves by the character of their
language and statements. If some one, for instance, calling himself Fénélon gave utterance to
remarks at variance with common sense or morality, his imposture would at once become
evident; but if the thoughts expressed by him were always noble, consistent, and of an
elevation worthy of Fénélon there would be no reason to doubt his identity, for otherwise we
should have to admit that a spirit whose communications inculcate only goodness would
knowingly be guilty of falsehood. Experience shows us that spirits of the same degree, of the
same character, and animated by the same sentiments, are united in groups and families; but
the number of spirits is incalculable, and we are so far from knowing them all, that the names
of the immense majority of them are necessarily unknown to us. A spirit of the same category
as Fénélon may therefore come to us in his name, and may even be sent by him as his
representative; in which case he would naturally announce himself as Fénélon, because he is
his equivalent, and able to supply his place, and because we need a name in order to fix our
ideas in regard to him. And, after all, what does it matter whether a spirit be really Fénélon or
not, if all that he says is excellent, and such as Fénélon himself would be likely to say? For, in
that case, he must be a spirit of superior advancement; and the name under which he presents
himself is of no importance, being often only a means of fixing our ideas. This sort of
substitution would not be acceptable in evocations of a more intimate character; but, in these,
as just pointed out, we have other means of ascertaining the identity of the communicating
It is certain, however, that the assumption of false names by spirits may give rise to numerous
mistakes may be a source of error and deception, and is, in fact, one of the most serious
difficulties of practical spiritism; but we have never said that this field of investigation, any
more than any other, is exempt from obstacles, nor that it can be fruitfully explored without
serious and persevering effort. We cannot too often reiterate the warning that spiritism is a
new field of study, and one that demands long
and assiduous exploration. Being unable to produce at pleasure the facts on which Spiritism
is based, we are obliged to wait for them to present themselves; and it often happens that,
instead of occurring when we are looking for them, they occur when least expected For the
attentive and patient observer, materials for study are abundant, because he discovers in the
facts thus presented thousands of characteristic peculiarities which are for him so many
sources of light. It is the same in regard to every other branch of science; while the superficial
observer sees in a flower only an elegant form, the botanist discovers in it a mine of interest
for his thought.
The foregoing remarks lead us to say a few words in relation to another difficulty-viz., the
divergence which exists in the statements made by spirits.
Spirits differing very widely from one another as regards their knowledge and morality, it is
evident that the same question may receive from them very different answers, according to
the rank at which they have arrived; exactly as would be the case if it were propounded
alternately to a man of science, an ignoramus, and a mischievous wag. The important point,
as previously remarked, is to know who is the spirit to whom we are addressing our question.
But, it will be argued, how is it that spirits who are admittedly of superior degree are not all
of the same opinion? We reply, in the first place, that there are, independently of the cause of
diversity just pointed out, other causes that may exercise an influence on the nature of the
replies, irrespectively of the quality of the spirits themselves. This is a point of the highest
importance, and one that will be explained by our ulterior study of the subject, provided that
this study be prosecuted with the aid of the sustained attention, the prolonged observation, the
method and perseverance that are required in the pursuit of every other branch of human
inquiry. Years of study are needed to make even a second-rate physician; three-quarters of a
lifetime to make a man of learning: and people fancy that a few hours will suffice to acquire
the science of the infinite! Let there be no mistake in regard to
this matter. The subject of Spiritism is immense. It involves all other subjects, physical,
metaphysical, and social; it is a new world that opens before us. Is it strange that time, and a
good deal of time, should be required for becoming acquainted with it?
The contradictions alluded to, moreover, are not always as absolute as they may seem to be at
first sight. Do we not see every day that men who are pursuing the same science give various
definitions of the same thing; sometimes because they make use of different terms, sometimes
because they consider it from different points of view, although the fundamental idea is the
same in each case? Let any one count up, if he can, the different definitions that have been
given of grammar! It must also be remembered that the form of the answer often depends on
the form under which the question has been put; and that it would be childish to regard as a
contradiction what is often only a difference of words. The higher spirits pay no heed to
forms of expression; for them, the thought itself is everything.
Let us take, for example, the definition of soul. That word, having no fixed meaning, spirits
like ourselves may differ in the meaning they give to it. One of them may say that it Is "the
principle of life;" another may call it "the animic spark;" a third may say that it is internal; a
fourth, that it is external,, etc.; and each may be right from his own special point of view.
Some of them might even be supposed to hold materialistic views; and yet such is not the
case. It is the same with regard to the word God. According to some, God is "the principle of
all things;" according to others, "the creator of the universe," "the sovereign intelligence,"
"the Infinite," "the great Spirit," etc.; and nevertheless it is always "God." And so in regard to
the classification of spirits. They form an uninterrupted succession from the lowest to the
highest; all attempts at classification are therefore arbitrary, and they may be regarded as
forming three, five, ten, or twenty classes, without involving error or contradiction. All
human sciences offer the same variations of detail; every investigator has his own system;
and systems change, but science remains the same. Whether we study botany according to the
system of Linnaeus of Jussieu, or of Tournefort, what we learn is none the less botany. Let us
then cease to attribute more importance than they deserve to matters that are merely
conventional, and let us devote ourselves only to what is really important and we shall often
discover, on reflexion, a similitude
of meaning in statements that appeared to us, at first sight. to be contradictory.
We should pass over the objection of certain sceptics in relation to the faulty spelling of some
spirits, were it not that this objection affords us an opportunity of calling attention to a point
of great importance. Spirit-orthography, is must be confessed, is not always irreproachable;
but he must be very short of arguments who would make this fact the object of serious
criticism on the plea that, "since spirits know everything, they ought to be well up in
spelling." We might retort by pointing to the numerous sins against orthography committed
by more than one of the lights of science in our own world, and which in no wise invalidate
their scientific authority; but a much more important point is involved in the fact alluded to.
For spirits, and especially for those of high degree, the idea is everything, the form is nothing.
Freed from matter, their language among themselves is as rapid as thought, for it is their
thought itself that is communicated without intermediary; and it must therefore be very
inconvenient for them to be obliged, in communicating with us, to make use of human
speech, with its long and awkward forms, its insufficiencies and imperfections, as the vehicle
of their ideas. They often allude to this inconvenience; and it is curious to see the means they
employ to obviate the difficulty. It would be the same with us if we had to express ourselves
in a language of which the words and locutions were longer, and the stock of expressions
more scanty, than those we habitually employ. The same difficulty is felt by the man of
genius, impatient of the slowness of his pen, which always lags behind his thought. It is
therefore easy to understand that spirits attach but little importance to questions of spelling,
especially in the transmission of serious and weighty teachings. Should we not rather wonder
that they are able to express themselves equally in all tongues, and that they understand them
all? It must not, however, be inferred from these remarks that they are unable to express
themselves with conventional correctness; they do this when they judge it to be necessary; as,
for instance, when they dictate verses, some of which, written, moreover, by illiterate
mediums, are of a correctness and elegance that defy the severest criticism.
There are persons who see danger in everything that is new to them, and who have therefore
not failed to draw an unfavourable conclusion from the fact that some of those who have
taken up the subject of Spiritism have lost their reason. But bow can sensible people urge that
fact as an objection? Does not the same thing often happen to weak heads when they give
themselves up to any intellectual pursuit? Who shall say how many have gone mad over
mathematics, medicine, music, philosophy, etc. But what does that prove? And are those
studies to be proscribed on that account? Arms and legs, the instruments of physical activity,
are often injured by physical labour; the brain, instrument of thought, is often impaired by
intellectual labour, to which, in fact, many a man may be said to fall a martyr. But, though the
instrument may be injured, the mind remains intact, and, when freed from matter, finds itself
again in full possession of its faculties.
Intense mental application of any kind may induce cerebral disease; science, art, religion
even, have all furnished their quota of madmen. The predisposing cause of madness is to be
found in some tendency of the brain that renders it more or less accessible to certain
impressions; and, where the predisposition to insanity exists, its manifestation takes on the
character of the pursuit to which the mind is most addicted, and which then assumes the form
of a fixed idea. This fixed idea may be that of spirits, in the case of those who have been
deeply absorbed by spiritist matters; as it may be that of God, of angels, the devil, fortune,
power, an art, a science, a political or social system. It is probable that]at the victim of
religious mania would have gone mad on Spiritism, if Spiritism had been his predominant
mental occupation; just as he who goes mad over Spiritism would, under other circumstances,
have gone mad over something else.
We assert, therefore, that Spiritism does not predispose to insanity; nay, more, we assert that,
when correctly understood, it is a preservative against insanity.
Among the most common causes of cerebral disturbance must be reckoned the
disappointments, misfortunes, blighted affections, and other troubles of human life, which are
also the most frequent causes of suicide. But the enlightened spiritist looks upon the things of
this life from so elevated a point of view, they seem to
him so petty, so worthless, in comparison with the future he sees before him-life appears so
short, so fleeting-that its tribulations are, in his eyes, merely the disagreeable incidents of a
journey. What would produce violent emotion in the mind of another affects him hut slightly;
besides, he knows that the sorrows of life are trials which aid our advancement, if borne
without murmuring, and that he will be rewarded according to the fortitude with which he has
borne them. His convictions, therefore, give him a resignation that preserves him from
despair, and consequently from a frequent cause of madness and suicide. He knows,
moreover, through spirit communications, the fate of those who voluntarily shorten their
days; and as such knowledge is well calculated to suggest serious reflection, the number of
those who have thus been arrested on the downward path is incalculable. Such is one of the
results of Spiritism. The incredulous may laugh at it as much as they please; we only wish
them the consolations it affords to those who have sounded its mysterious depths.
Fear must also be reckoned among the causes of madness. Dread of the devil has deranged
many a brain; and who shall say how many victims have been made by impressing weak
imaginations with pictures of which the horrors are enhanced by the hideous details so
ingeniously worked into them? The devil, it is sometimes said, frightens only little children,
whom it helps to make docile and well-behaved. Yes; but only as do nursery-terrors and
bugaboos in general; and when these have lost their power, they who have been subjected to
this sort of training are apt to be worse than before; while, on the other hand, those who have
recourse to it overlook the risk of epilepsy involved in such disturbing action upon the
delicate child-brain. Religion would be weak indeed if its power could only be sustained by
fear. Happily such is not the case, and it has other means of acting on the mind. Spiritism
furnishes the religious element with a more efficient support than superstitious terror. It
discloses the reality of things, and thus substitutes a salutary appreciation of the consequences
of wrong-doing for the vague apprehensions of unreasonable fear.
Two objections still remain to be examined, the only ones really deserving of the name,
because they are the only ones founded
on a rational basis. Both admit the reality of the material and moral phenomena of Spiritism,
but deny the intervention of spirits in their production.
According to the first of these objections, all the manifestations attributed to spirits are
merely effects of magnetism, and mediums are in a state that might be called waking
somnambulism, a phenomenon which may have been observed by any one who has studied
animal magnetism. In this state the intellectual faculties acquire an abnormal development;
the circle of our intuitive perceptions is extended beyond its ordinary limits; the medium
finds in himself, and with the aid of his lucidity, all that he says, and all the notions
transmitted by him, even in regard to subjects with which he is least familiar in his usual
It is not by us, who have witnessed its prodigies and studied all its phases during thirty-five
years, that the action of somnambulism could be contested, and we admit that many spiritmanifestations
may be thus explained; but we assert that sustained and attentive observation
shows us a host of facts in which any intervention of the medium, otherwise than as a passive
instrument, is absolutely impossible. To those who attribute the phenomena in question to
magnetism, we would say, as to all others, "See, and observe, for you have certainly not seen
everything;" and we would also ask them to consider the two following points, suggested by
their own view of the subject. In the first place, we would ask them, What is the origin of the
hypothesis of spirit-action? Is it an explanation invented by a few individuals to account for
those phenomena? Not at all. By whom, then, has it been broached? By the very mediums
whose lucidity you extol. But if their lucidity be such as you declare it to be, why should they
attribute to spirits what they have derived from themselves? How can they have given
information so precise, logical, sublime in regard to the nature of those extra-human
intelligences? Either mediums are lucid, or they are not; if they are, and if we trust to their
veracity, we cannot, without inconsistency, suppose them to be in error on this point. In the
second place, if all the phenomena had their source in the medium himself, they would
always be identical in the case of each individual; and we should never find the same medium
making use of different styles of expression, or giving utterance to contradictory statements.
The want of unity so often observed in the manifestations obtained by the same medium is a
proof of the diversity of the
sources from which they proceed; and as the cause of this diversity is not to be found in the
medium himself, it must be sought for elsewhere.
According to the other objection, the medium is really the source of the manifestations, but,
instead of deriving them from himself, as is asserted by the partisans of the somnambulic
theory, he derives them from the persons among whom he finds himself. The medium is a
sort of mirror, reflecting all the thoughts, ideas, and knowledge of those about him; from
which it follows that he says nothing which is not known to, at least, some of them. it cannot
be denied, for it is one of the fundamental principles of spiritist doctrine, that those who are
present exercise an influence upon the manifestations; but this influence is very different
from what it is assumed to be by the hypothesis we are considering, and, so far from the
medium being the mere echo of the thoughts of those around him, there are thousands of facts
that prove directly the contrary. This objection is therefore based on a serious mistake, and
one that shows the danger of hasty judgements; those who bring it forward, being unable to
deny the reality of phenomena which the science of the day is incompetent to explain, and
being unwilling to admit the presence of spirits, explain them in their own way. Their theory
would be specious if it explained all the facts of the case; but this it cannot do. In vain is it
proved by the evidence of facts that the communications of the medium are often entirely
foreign to the thoughts, knowledge, and even the opinions of those who are present, and that
they are frequently spontaneous, and contradict all received ideas; the opponents referred to
are not discouraged by so slight a difficulty. The radiation of thought, say they, extends far
beyond the circle immediately around us; the medium is the reflection of the human race in
general; so that, if he does not derive his inspirations from those about him, he derives them
from those who are further off, in the town or country he inhabits, from the people of the rest
of the globe, and even from those of other spheres.
We do not think that this theory furnishes a more simple and probable explanation than that
given by Spiritism; for it assumes the action of a cause very much more marvellous. The idea
that universal space is peopled by beings who are in perpetual contact with us, and who
communicate to us their ideas, is certainly not more repugnant to reason than the hypothesis
of a universal radiation, coming from every point of the universe, and con-
verging in the brain of a single individual, to the exclusion of all the others.
We repeat (and this is a point of such importance that we cannot insist too strongly upon it),
that the somnambulic theory, and that which may be called the theory of reflection, have been
devised by the imagination of men; while, on the contrary, the theory of spirit-agency is not a
conception of the human mind, for it was dictated by the manifesting intelligences
themselves, at a time when no one thought of spirits, and when the opinion of tile generality
of men was opposed to such a supposition. We have therefore to inquire, first, from what
quarter the mediums can have derived a hypothesis which had no existence in the thought of
any one on earth? and, secondly, by what strange coincidence. can it have happened that tens
of thousands of mediums, scattered over the entire globe, and utterly unknown to one another,
all agree in asserting the same thing? If the first medium who appeared in France was
influenced by opinions already received in America, by what strange guidance was he made
to go in search of ideas across two thousand leagues of sea, and among a people whose habits
and language were foreign to his own, instead of taking them in his own immediate vicinity?
But there is yet another circumstance to which sufficient attention has not been given. The
earliest manifestations, in Europe, as in America, were not made either by writing or by
speech, but by raps indicating the letters of the alphabet, and forming words and sentences. It
is by this means that the manifesting intelligences declared themselves to be spirits; and
therefore, even though we should admit an intervention of the medium's mind in the
production of verbal or written communications, we could not do so in regard to raps, whose
meaning could not have been known beforehand.
We might adduce any number of facts proving the existence of a personal individuality and
an absolutely independent will on the part of the manifesting intelligence; and we therefore
invite our opponents to a more attentive observation of the phenomena in question, assuring
them that, if they study these without prejudice, and refrain from drawing a conclusion until
they have made themselves thoroughly acquainted with the subject, they will find that their
theories are unable to account for all of them. We will only propose to such antagonists the
two following queries :-
1. Why does it so often happen that the manifesting intelligence refuses to answer certain
questions in regard to matters that arc perfectly known to the questioner, as, for instance, his
name or age, what he has in his hand, what he did yesterday, what he intends to do on the
morrow, etc.? If the medium be only a mirror reflecting the thought of those about him,
nothing should be easier for him than to answer such questions.
If our adversaries retort by inquiring why it is that spirits, who ought to know everything, are
unable to answer questions so simple, and conclude, from this presumed inability, that the
phenomena cannot be caused by spirits, we would ask them whether, if an ignorant or foolish
person should inquire of some learned body the reason of its being light at noonday, any
answer would be returned to his question? and whether it would be reasonable to conclude,
from the derision or the silence with which such a question might be received, that its
members were merely a set of asses? It is precisely because they are at a higher point than
ourselves that spirits decline to answer idle and foolish questions; keeping silence when such
are asked, or advising us to employ ourselves with more serious subjects.
2. We have also to ask them why it is that spirits come and depart at their own pleasure, and
why, when once they have taken their departure, neither prayers nor entreaties can bring them
back ? If the medium were acted upon solely by the mental impulsion of those around him, it
is evident that the union of their wills, in such a case, ought to stimulate his clairvoyance. If,
therefore, he do not yield to the wishes of those assembled, strengthened by his own desire, it
is because he obeys an influence which is distinct from himself and from those about him,
and which thus asserts its own independence and individuality.
Incredulity in regard to spirit-communication, when not the result of systematic opposition
from selfish motives, has almost always its source in an imperfect acquaintance with the facts
of the case; which, however, does not prevent a good many persons from attempting to settle
the question as though they were perfectly familiar with it. It is possible to be very clever,
very learned, and yet to lack clearness of judgement; and a belief in one's own
infallibility is the surest sign of the existence of this defect. Many persons, too, regard spirit
manifestations as being only a matter of curiosity. Let us hope that the reading of this book
will show them that the wonderful phenomena in question are something else than a pastime.
Spiritism consists of two parts: one of these, the experimental, deals with the subject of the
manifestations in general; the other, the philosophic, deals with the class of manifestations
denoting intelligence. Whoever has only observed the former is in the position of one whose
knowledge of physics, limited to experiments of an amusing nature, does not extend to the
fundamental principles of that science. Spiritist philosophy consists of teachings imparted by
spirits, and the knowledge thus conveyed is of a character far too serious to be mastered
without serious and persevering attention. If the present book had no other result than to show
the serious nature of the subject, and to induce inquirers to approach it in this spirit, it would
be sufficiently important; and we should rejoice to have been chosen for the accomplishment
of a work in regard to which we take no credit to ourselves, the principles it contains not
being of our own creating, and whatever honour it may obtain being entirely due to the spirits
by whom it has been dictated. We hope that it will achieve yet another result-viz., that of
serving as a guide to those who are desirous of enlightenment, by showing them the grand
and sublime end of individual and social progress to which the teachings of Spiritism directly
tend, and by pointing out to them the road by which alone that end can be reached.
Let us wind up these introductory remarks with one concluding observation. Astronomers, in
sounding the depths of the sky, discovered seemingly vacant spaces not in accordance with
the general laws that govern the distribution of the heavenly bodies and they therefore
conjectured that those spaces were occupied by globes that had escaped their observation. On
the other hand, they observed certain effects the cause of which was unknown to them; and
they said to themselves, "In such a region of space there must be a world, for otherwise there
would be a void that ought not to exist; and the effects we have observed imply the presence
in that seeming void of such a world as their cause." Reasoning, then, from those effects to
their cause they calculated the elements of the globe whose presence they had inferred, and
facts subsequently justified their inference. Let us apply the
same mode of reasoning to another order of ideas. If we observe the series of beings, we find
that they form a continuous chain from brute matter to man. But between man and God, who
is the alpha and omega of all things, what an immense hiatus! Is it reasonable to suppose that
the links of the chain stop short with man, that he can vault, without transition, over the
distance which separates him from the Infinite? Reason shows us that between man and God
there must be other links, just as it showed the astronomers that between the worlds then
known to them there must be other worlds as yet unknown to them. What system of
philosophy has filled this hiatus? Spiritism shows that it is filled with the beings of all the
ranks of the invisible world, and that these beings are no other than the spirits of men who
have reached the successive degrees that lead up to perfection; and all things are thus seen to
be linked together from one end of the chain to the other. Let those who deny the existence of
spirits tell us what are the occupants of the immensity of space which spirits declare to be
occupied by them; and let those who scoff at the idea of spirit-teachings give us a nobler idea
than is given by those teachings of the handiwork of God, a more convincing demonstration
of His goodness and His power.
PHENOMENA which are inexplicable by any known laws are occurring all over the world,
and revealing the action of a free and intelligent will as their cause.
Reason tells us that an intelligent effect must have an intelligent force for its cause; and facts
have proved that this force is able to enter into communication with men by the employment
of material signs.
This force, interrogated as to its nature, has declared itself to belong to the world of spiritual
beings who have thrown off the corporeal envelope of men. It is thus that the existence of
spirits has been revealed to us.
Communication between the spirit world and the corporeal world is in the nature of things,
and has in it nothing supernatural. Traces of its existence are to be found among all nations
and in every age; they are now becoming general and evident to all. Spirits assure us that the
time appointed by Providence for a universal manifestation of their existence has now come;
and that their mission, as the ministers of God and the instruments of His will, is to
inaugurate, through the instructions they are charged to convey to us, a new era of
regeneration for the human race.
This book is a compilation of their teachings. It has been written by the order and under the
dictation of spirits of high degree, for the purpose of establishing the bases of a rational
philosophy, free from the influence of prejudices and of preconceived opinions. It contains
nothing that is not the expression
of their thought; nothing that has not been submitted to their approbation. The method('(l
adopted in the arrangement of its contents, the comments upon these, and the form given to
certain portions of the work, are all that has been contributed by him to whom the duty of
publishing it has been entrusted.
Many of the spirits who have taken part in the accomplishment of this task declare
themselves to have been persons whom we know to have lived at different epochs upon the
earth, preaching and practising virtue and wisdom Of the names of others history has
preserved no trace; but their elevation is attested by the purity of their doctrine and their
union with those who bear venerated names.
We transcribe the words in which, by writing, through the intermediary of various mediums,
the mission of preparing this book was confided to the writer:
-"Be zealous and persevering in the work you have undertaken in conjunction with us, for
this work is ours. In the book you are to write, we shall lay the foundations of the new edifice
which is destined to unite all men in a common sentiment of love and charity; but, before
making it public, we shall go thorough it with you, so as to ensure its accuracy.
"We shall be with you whenever you ask for our presence, and shall aid you in all your
labours; for the preparation of this book is only a part of the mission which has been confided
to you, and of which you have already been informed by one of us.
"Of the teachings given to you, some are to be kept to yourself for the present; we shall tell
you when the time for publishing them has come. Meanwhile make them the subject of your
meditations, that you may be ready to treat of them at the proper moment.
"Put at the beginning of the book the vine-branch we have drawn¹ for that purpose, because it
is the emblem of the work of the Creator. In it are united all the material elements that most
fitly symbolise body and spirit: the stem represents the body; the juice, the spirit; the fruit, the
union of body and spirit. Man's labour calls forth the latent qualities of the juice; the labour of
the body develops, through the knowledge thus acquired, the latent powers of the soul.
¹ Vide p. 59, the facsimile of the branch drawn by spirits.
"Do not allow yourself to be discouraged by hostile criticism. You will have rancorous
contradictors, especially among those whose interest it is to keep up existing abuses. You will
have such even among spirits; for those who are not completely dematerialised often
endeavour, out of malice or ignorance, to scatter abroad the seeds of doubt. Believe ill God,
and go boldly forward. We shall be with you to sustain you on your way; and he time is at
hand when the truth will shine forth on all sides.
"The vanity of some men, who imagine that they know everything, and are bent on explaining
everything in their own way; will give rise to opposing opinions; but all who have in view the
grand principle of Jesus will be united in the same love of goodness, and in a bond of
brotherhood that will embrace the entire world. Putting aside' all vain disputes about words,
they will devote their energies to matters of practical importance, in regard to which,
whatever their doctrinal belief, the convictions of all who receive the communications of the
higher spirits will be the same.
"Perseverance will render your labour fruitful. The pleasure you will feel in witnessing the
spread of our doctrine and its right appreciation will be for you a rich reward, though perhaps
rather in the future than in the present. Be not troubled by the thorns and stones that the
incredulous and the evil-minded will place in your path; hold fast your confidence, for your
confidence will ensure our help, and, through it, you will reach the goal.
"Remember that good spirits only give their aid to those who serve God with humility and
disinterestedness; they disown all who use heavenly things as a stepping-stone to earthly
advancement, and withdraw from the proud and the ambitious. Pride and ambition are a
barrier between man and God; for they blind man to the splendours of celestial existence, and
God cannot employ the blind to make known the light."
etc., etc.

God and Infinity
1. What is God?
"God is the Supreme Intelligence-First Cause of all things."¹
2. What is to be understood by infinity?
"That which has neither beginning nor end; the unknown: all that is unknown is infinite.''
3. Can it be said that God is infinity?
"An incomplete definition. Poverty of human speech incompetent to define what transcends
human intelligence."
God is infinite in His perfections, but "infinity" is an abstraction. To say that God is infinity is to
substitute the attribute of a thing for the thing itself, and to define something unknown by reference to
some other thing equally unknown.
¹ The passage placed between inverted commas after each question is the reply made by the
communicating spirits, whose very words are given textually throughout the whole of this
book. The remarks and developments occasionally added by the author are printed in smaller
type wherever they might otherwise be confounded with the replies of the spirits themselves.
Where the author's remarks occupy an entire chapter or chapters, the ordinary type is used, as,
In that case, no such confusion could occur.
Proofs of the Existence of God
4. What proof have we of the existence of God?
"The axiom which you apply in all your scientific researches, 'There is no effect without a
cause.' Search out the cause of whatever is not the work of man, and reason will furnish the
answer to your question."
To assure ourselves of the existence of God. we have only to look abroad on the works of creation. The
universe exists, therefore It has a cause. To doubt the existence of God is to doubt that every effect has a
cause, and to assume that something can have been made by nothing.
5. What is to be inferred from the intuition of the existence of God which may be said to be
the common property of the human mind?
"That God exists; for whence could the human mind derive this intuition if it had no real
basis? The inference to he drawn from the fact of this intuition is a corollary of the axiom.
'There Is no effect without a cause.'"
6. May not our seemingly intuitive sense of the existence of God be the result of education
and of acquired ideas?
"If such were the case, how should this intuitive sense be possessed by your savages?"
If the intuition of the existence of a Supreme Being were only the result of education It would not be
universal, and would only exist, like all other acquired knowledge, in the minds of those who had received
the special education to which it would be due.
7. Is the first cause of the formation of things to be found in the essential properties of
"If such were the case, what would be the cause of those properties? There must always be a
first cause."
To attribute the first formation of things to the essential properties of matter, would be to take the effect
for the cause, for those properties are themselves an effect, which must have a cause.
8. What is to be thought of the opinion that attributes the first formation of things to a
fortuitous combination of matter, in other words, to chance?
"Another absurdity! Who that is possessed of common sense can regard chance as an
intelligent agent? And, besides, what is chance? Nothing."
The harmony which regulates the mechanism of the universe can only result from combinations adopted
in view of predetermined ends,
and thus, by its very nature, reveals the existence of an Intelligent Power. To attribute the first formation
of things to chance is nonsense for chance cannot produce the results of intelligence. If chance could be
intelligent, it would cease to be chance.
9. What proof have we that the first cause of all things is a Supreme Intelligence, superior to
all other intelligences?
"You have a proverb which says, 'The workman is known by his work.' Look around you,
and, from the quality of the work, infer that of the workman."
We judge of the power of an intelligence by its works as no human being could create that which is
produced by nature, it is evident that the first cause must be an Intelligence superior to man.
Whatever may be the prodigies accomplished by human intelligence, that intelligence itself must have a
cause and the greater the results achieved by it, the greater must be the cause of which it is the effect. It is
this Supreme Intelligence that is the first cause of all things, whatever the name by which mankind may
designate it.
Attributes of the Divinity
10. Can man comprehend the essential nature of God?
"No; he lacks the sense required for comprehending it."
11. Will man ever become able to comprehend the mystery of the Divinity?
"When his mind shall no longer be obscured by matter, and when, by his perfection, he shall
have brought himself nearer to God, be will see and comprehend Him."
The inferiority of the human faculties renders it impossible for man to comprehend the essential nature of
God. In the infancy of the race, man often confounds the Creator with the creature, and attributes to the
former the imperfections of the latter. But, in proportion 55 his moral sense becomes developed, man's
thought penetrates more deeply into the nature of things, and he is able to form to himself a juster and
more rational idea of the Divine Being, although his idea of that Being must always be imperfect and
12. If we cannot comprehend the essential nature of God, can we have an idea of some of His
"Yes, of some of them. Man comprehends them better in proportion as he raises himself
above matter; he obtains glimpses of them through the exercise of his intelligence."
13. When we say that God is eternal, infinite, unchangeable, immaterial, unique, allpowerful,
sovereignty just and good, have we not a complete idea of His attributes?
"Yes, judging from your point of view, because you think that you sum up everything in those
terms; but you must understand that there are things which transcend the intelligence of the
intelligent man, and for which your language, limited to your ideas and sensations, has no
expressions. Your reason tells you that God must possess those perfections in the supreme
degree; for, if one of them were lacking, or were not possessed by Him in an infinite degree,
He would riot be superior to all, and consequently would not be God. In order to be above all
things, God must undergo no vicissitudes, He must have none of the imperfections of which
the imagination can conceive."
God is eternal. If He had had a beginning, He must either have sprung from nothing, or have been created
by some being anterior to Himself. It Is thus mat, step by step, we arrive at the idea of infinity and
God is unchangeable. If He were subject to change, the laws which rule the universe would have no
God is immaterial, that is to say, that His nature differs from every-thing that we call matter, or
otherwise. He would not be unchangeable, for He would be subject to the transformations of matter.
God is unique. If there were several Gods, there would be neither unity of plan nor unity of power in the
ordaining of the universe.
God is all-powerful because He is unique. If He did not possess sovereign power, there would be
something more powerful, or no less powerful, than Himself. He would not have created all things and
those which He had not created would be the work of another God.
God is sovereignty just and good. The providential wisdom of the divine laws Is revealed as clearly In the
smallest things as In the greatest and this wisdom renders it impossible to doubt either His justice or His
14. Is God a being distinct from the universe, or is He, according to the opinion of some, the
result of all the forces and intelligences of the universe?
"If the latter were the case, God would not be God, for He would be effect and not cause; He
cannot be both cause and effect."
“God exists. You cannot doubt His existence, and that is one essential point. Do not seek to
go beyond it; do not lose yourselves in a labyrinth which, for you, is without an issue Such
inquiries would not make you better; they would rather tend to add to your pride, by causing
you to imagine that you knew something, while, in reality, you would know nothing. Put
aside systems. You have things enough to think about that concern you much more nearly,
beginning with yourselves. Study your own imperfections, that you may get rid of them; this
will be far more useful to you than the vain attempt to penetrate the impenetrable."
15. What is to be thought of the opinion according to which all natural bodies, all the beings,
all the globes of the universe are parts of the Divinity, and constitute in their totality the
Divinity itself; in other words the Pantheistic theory?
"Man, not being able to make himself God, would fain make himself out to be, at least, a part
of God."
16. Those who hold this theory profess to find in it the demonstration of some of the attributes
of God. The worlds of the universe being infinitely numerous, God is thus seen to be infinite;
vacuum, or nothingness, being nowhere, God is everywhere: God being everywhere, since
everything is an integral part of God, He is thus seen to be the intelligent cause of all the
phenomena of the universe. What can we oppose to this argument?
"The dictates of reason. Reflect on the assumption in question, and you will have no difficulty
in detecting its absurdity."
The Pantheistic theory makes of God a material being, who, though endowed with a supreme intelligence,
would only be on a larger scale what we are on a smaller one. But, as matter is incessantly undergoing
transformation, God, if this theory were true, would have no stability. He would be subject to all the
vicissitudes, and even to all the needs, of humanity He would lack one of the essential attributes of the
Divinity -viz., unchangeableness. The properties of matter cannot be attributed to God without degrading
our idea of the Divinity and all the subtleties of sophistry fail to solve the problem of His essential nature.
We do not know what God is but we know that it is impossible that He should not be and the theory just
stated is in contradiction with His most essential attributes. It confounds the Creator with the creation,
precisely as though we should consider an ingenious 'machine to be an integral portion of the mechanican
who invented it.
The intelligence of God is revealed in His works, as is that of a painter in his picture but the works of God
are no more God Himself than the picture is the artist who conceived and painted it.
Knowledge of the First Principles of Things
17. Is it given to mankind to know the first principle of things?
"No. There are things that cannot be understood by man in this world."
18. Will man ever be able to penetrate the mystery of things now hidden from him?
"The veil will be raised for him in proportion as he accomplishes his purification; but, in
order to understand certain things, he would need faculties which he does not yet possess."
19. Cannot man, through scientific investigation, penetrate some of the secrets of nature.?
"The faculty of scientific research has been given to him as a means by which he may
advance in every direction; but he cannot overstep the limits of his present possibilities."
The farther man advances in the study of the mysteries around him, the greater should be his admiration
of the power and wisdom of the Creator. But, partly through pride, partly through weakness, his intellect
itself often renders him the sport of illusion. He heaps systems upon systems; and every day shows him
how many errors he has mistaken for truths, how many truths he has repelled as errors. Ail this should be
a lesson for his pride.
20. Is man permitted to receive communications of a higher order in regard to matters which,
not being within the scope of his senses, are beyond the pale of scientific investigation?
"Yes. When God judges such revelations to be useful, He reveals to man what science is
incompetent to teach him."
It is through communications of this higher order that man is enabled, within certain limits, to obtain a
knowledge of his past and of his future destiny.
Spirit and Matter
21. Has matter existed from all eternity, like God, or has it been created at some definite
period of time?
"God only knows. There is, nevertheless, one point which your reason should suffice to show
you, viz., that God, the prototype of love and beneficence, can never have been inactive.
However far off in the past you may imagine the beginning of His action, can you suppose
Him to have been for a single moment inactive?"
22. Matter is generally defined as being "that which has extension," "that which can make an
impression upon our senses," "that which possesses impenetrability." Are these definitions
"From your point of view they are correct, because you can only define in accordance with
what you know. But matter exists in states which are unknown to you. it may be, for instance,
so ethereal and subtle as to make no impression upon your senses; and yet it is still matter,
although it would not be such for you."
- What definition can you give of matter?
"Matter is the element which enchains spirit, the instrument which serves it, and upon which,
at the same time, it exerts its action."
From this point of view it may be said that matter is the agent, the intermediary, through which, and
upon which, spirit acts.
23. What is spirit?
"The intelligent principle of the universe."
- What is the essential nature of spirit?
"It is not possible to explain the nature of spirit in your language. For you it is not a thing,
because it is not palpable; but for us it is a thing."
24. Is spirit synonymous with intelligence?
"Intelligence is an essential attribute of spirit, but both merge in a unitary principle, so that,
for you, they may be said to be the same thing."
25. Is spirit independent of matter, or is it only one of the pro properties of matter, as colours
are a property of light, and as sound is a property of the air?
"Spirit and matter are distinct from one another; but the union of spirit and matter is
necessary to give intelligent activity to matter."
- Is this union equally necessary to the manifestation of spirit? (We refer, in this question, to
the principle of intelligence, abstractly considered, without reference to the individualities
designated by that term.)
"It is necessary for you, because you are not organised for perceiving spirit apart from matter.
Your senses are not formed for that order of perception."
26. Can spirit be conceived of without matter, and matter without spirit?
"Undoubtedly, as objects of thought."
27. There are, then, two general elements of the universe matter and spirit?"
"Yes; and above them both is God, the Creator, Parent of all things. These three elements are
the principle of all that exists-the universal trinity. But to the material element must be added
the universal fluid which plays the part of intermediary between spirit and matter, the nature
of the latter being too gross for spirit to be able to act directly upon it. Although, from another
point of view, this fluid may be classed as forming part of the material element, it is,
nevertheless, distinguished from that element by certain special properties of its own. If it
could be classed simply and absolutely as matter, there would be no reason why spirit also
should not be classed as matter. It is intermediary between spirit and matter. It is fluid, just as
matter is matter, and is susceptible of being made, through its innumerable combinations with
matter, under the directing action of spirit, to produce the infinite variety of things of which
you know as yet but a very small portion. This universal, primitive, or elementary fluid, being
the agent employed by spirit in acting upon matter is the principle without which matter
would remain for ever in a state of division, and would never acquire the properties given to
it by the state of ponderability."
-Is this fluid what we designate by the name of electricity?
"We have said that it is susceptible of innumerable combinations. What you call the electric
fluid, the magnetic fluid, etc., are modifications of the universal fluid, which, properly
speaking, is
only matter of a more perfect and more subtle kind, and that may be considered as having an
independent existence of its own."
28. Since spirit itself is something, would it not be more correct and clearer to designate
these two general elements by the terms inert matter and intelligent matter ?
"Questions of words are of little importance for us. It is for you to formulate your definitions
in such a manner as to make yourselves intelligible to one another. Your disputes almost
always arise from the want of a common agreement in the use of the words you employ,
owing to the incompleteness of your language in regard to all that does not strike your
One fact, patent to all observers, dominates all our hypotheses. We see matter which is not intelligent: we
see the action of an intelligent principle independent of matter. The origin and connection of these two
things are unknown to us. Whether they have, or have not. a common source. and points of contact preordained
in the nature of things. whether intelligence has an independent existence of its own. or is only a
property or an effect, or even whether it is (as some assume it to be) an emanation of the Divinity, are
points about which we know nothing. Matter and intelligence appear to us to be distinct; and we
therefore speak of them as being two constituent elements of the universe. We see, above these, a higher
intelligence which governs all things, and is distinguished from them all by essential attributes peculiar to
itself; It is this Supreme Intelligence that we call God.
Properties of Matter
29. Is density an essential attribute of matter?
"Yes, of matter as understood by you, but not of matter considered as the universal fluid. The
ethereal and subtle matter which forms this fluid is imponderable for you, and yet it is none
the less the principle of your ponderable matter."
Density is a relative property. Beyond the sphere of attraction of the various globes of the universe, there
is no such thing as "weight," just as there Is neither "up" nor "down."
30. Is matter formed of one element or of several elements?
"Of one primitive element. The bodies which you regard as simple are not really elementary;
they are transformations of the primitive matter."
31. Whence come the different properties of matter?
"From the modifications undergone by the elementary molecules, as the result of their union
and of the action of certain conditions."
32. According to this view of the subject, savours, odours, colours, sounds, the poisonous or
salutary qualities of bodies, are
only the result of modifications of one and the same primitive substance?
"Yes, undoubtedly; and that only exist in virtue of the disposition of the organs destined to
perceive them."
This principle Is proved by the fact that the qualities of bodies are not perceived by all persons In the
same manner. The same thing appears agreeable to the taste of one person, and disagreeable to that of
another. what appears blue to one person appears red to another. That which is a poison for some, is
wholesome for others.
33. Is the same elementary matter susceptible of undergoing all possible modifications and of
acquiring all possible qualities.'
"Yes; and it is, this fact which is implied in the saying that everything is in everything."¹
Oxygen, hydrogen, azote, carbon, and all the other bodies which we regard as simple, are only
modifications of one primitive substance. But the impossibility, in which we have hitherto found
ourselves, of arriving at this primitive matter otherwise than as an intellectual deduction, causes these
bodies to appear to us to be really elementary and we may, therefore, without Impropriety, continue for
the present to regard them as such.
- Does not this theory appear to bear out the opinion of those who admit only two essential
properties in matter, viz., force and movement, and who regard all the other Properties of
matter as being merely secondary effects of these, varying according to the intensity of the
force and the direction of the movement?
"That opinion is correct. But you must also add, according to the mode of molecular
arrangement; as you see exemplified, for instance, in an opaque body, that may become
transparent, and vice versa."
34. Have the molecules of matter a determinate form?'
"Those molecules undoubtedly have a form, but one which is not appreciable by your
- Is that form constant or variable?
"Constant for the primitive elementary molecules, but variable for the secondary molecules,
which are themselves only agglomerations of the primary ones; for what you term a molecule
is still very far from being the elementary molecule.
Universal Space
35. Is universal space infinite or limited?
¹This principle explains a phenomenon familiar to all magnetisers, viz., the imparting to any given substance-to
water, for example-of very different qualities, such as specific flavours, or even the active qualities
"Infinite. Suppose the existence of boundaries, what would there be beyond them ? This
consideration confounds human reason; and nevertheless your reason itself tells you that it
cannot be otherwise. It is thus with the idea of infinity, under whatever aspect you consider it.
The idea of infinity cannot be comprehended in your narrow sphere."
If we imagine a limit to space, no matter how far off our thought may place this limit, our reason tells us
that there must still be something beyond It and so on, step by step, until we arrive at the idea of infinity;
for the "something beyond," the existence of which is recognised by our thought as necessity, were it only
an absolute void, would still be space.
36. Does an absolute void exist in any part of space?
"No there is no void. What appears like a void to you is occupied by matter in a state in which
it escapes the action of your senses and of your instruments."
of other substances. As there is but one primitive element, and as the properties of different bodies are only
modifications of this element, it follows that the substance of the most Inoffensive and of the most deleterious
bodies is absolutely the same. Thus water, which is formed of one equivalent of oxygen and two equivalents of
hydrogen, becomes corrosive if we double the proportion of oxygen. An analogous transformation may be
produced through the action of animal magnetism, directed by the human will.
Formation of Worlds
The universe comprises the infinity of worlds, both of those we see and those we do not see all animate and inanimate
beings all the stars that revolve in space, and all fluids with which space is filled.
37. Has the universe been created, or has it existed from all eternity, like God?
"Assuredly the universe cannot have made itself; and if it had existed from all eternity, like
God, it could not be the work of God."
Reason tells us that the universe cannot have made itself, and that, as it could not be the work of chance, it must be the
work of God.
38. How did God create the universe?
"To borrow a well-known expression, by His will. Nothing can give a better idea of the action
of that all-powerful will than those grand words of Genesis, "God said, 'Let there be light,'
and there was light."
39. Can 'we know how worlds are formed?
"All that can be said on this subject, within the limits of your comprehension, is this: Worlds
are formed by the condensation of the matter disseminated in space."
40. Are comets, as is now supposed, a commencement of condensation of the primitive
matter-worlds in course of formation?
Yes but it is absurd to believe in the influence attributed to them. I mean, the influence which
is commonly attributed to them; for all the heavenly bodies have their share of influence in
the production of certain physical phenomena."
41. Is it possible for a completely formed world to disappear, and for the matter of which it is
composed to be again disseminated in space?
"Yes. God renews worlds as He renews the living beings that inhabit them."
42. Can we know the length of time employed in the formation of worlds-of the earth, for
"This is a matter in regard to which I can tell you nothing , for it is only known to the Creator;
and foolish indeed would he be who should pretend to possess such knowledge, or to number
the ages of such a formation."
Production of Living Beings
43. When did the earth begin to be peopled?
"In the beginning all was chaos; the elements were mixed up in a state of confusion.
Gradually those elements settled into their proper places, and then appeared the orders of
living beings appropriate to the successive e states of the globe."
44. Whence came the living beings that appeared upon the earth ?
"The germs of these were contained in the earth itself, awaiting the favourable moment for
their development. The organic principles came together on the cessation of the force which
held them asunder, and those principles formed the germs of all the living beings that have
peopled the earth. Those germs remained latent and inert, like the chrysalis and the seed of
plants, until the arrival of the proper moment for the vivification of each species. The beings
of each species then came together and multiplied."
45. Where were the organic elements before the formation of the earth?
"They existed, so to say in the fluidic state, in space, in the midst of the spirits, or in other
planets, awaiting the creation of the earth in order to begin a new existence on a new globe."
Chemistry shows us the molecules of inorganic bodies uniting to produce crystals of regular forms that
are invariable for each species, as soon as those molecules find themselves in the conditions necessary to
their combination. The slightest disturbance of those conditions suffices to prevent the union of the
material elements, or. at least, to prevent the regular arrangement of the latter Which constitutes the
crystal. Why should not the same action take place among the organic elements? we preserve for years
the seeds of plants and of animals, which are only vivified at a certain temperature and under certain
conditions: grains of wheat have been seen to germinate after the lapse of centuries. The is. then, in seeds
a latent principle of Vitality, which only awaits the concourse of favourable circumstances to develop
itself. May not that which takes place under our eyes every day have also taken place at the origin of the
globe? Does this view of the formation of living beings brought forth out of chaos by the action of the
forces of nature itself detract in any way from the
glory of God? So far from doing this, the view of creation thus presented to us is more consonant than
any other with our sense of the vastness of His power exerting its sway over all the worlds of infinity
through the action of universal laws. This theory, it is true, does not solve the problem of the origin of the
vital elements, but nature has mysteries which it is as yet impossible for us to explain.
46. Do any living beings come into existence spontaneously at the present day?
"Yes; but the primal germs of these already existed in a latent state. You are constantly
witnesses of this phenomenon. Do not the tissues of the human body and of animals contain
the germs of a multitude of parasites, that only await for their development the occurrence of
the putrid fermentation necessary to their life? Each of you contains a slumbering world of
microscopic beings in process of creation."
47. Was the human species among the organic elements contained in the terrestrial globe?
"Yes; and it made its appearance at the time appointed by the Creator. Hence the statement
that man was 'formed out of the dust of the ground.'"
48. Can we ascertain the epoch of tile appearance of man and of the other living beings on
the earth?
"No; all your calculations are chimerical."
49. If the germs of the human race were among the organic elements of the globe, why are
human beings not produced spontaneously at the present day, as they were at the time of its
"The first beginning of things is hidden from us nevertheless, it may be asserted that the
earliest progenitors of the human race, when once brought into existence, absorbed in
themselves the elements necessary to their formation in order to transmit those elements
according to the laws of reproduction. The same may be said in regard to all the different
species of living beings."
Peopling of the Earth - Adam
50. Did the human race begin with one man only?
"No; he whom you call Adam was neither the first nor the only man who peopled the earth."
51. Is it possible to know at what period Adam lived?
"About the period which you assign to him; that is to say, about 4000 years before Christ."
The man of whom, under the name of Adam, tradition has preserved the memory, was one of those who, In some one
of the countries of the globe. survived one of the great cataclysms which at various epochs have changed Its surface,
and who became the founder of one of the races that people the earth at the present day. The laws of nature render it
impossible that the amount of progress which we know to have been accomplished by the human race of our planet
long before the time of Christ could have been accomplished so rapidly as must have been the case If it had only been
In existence upon the globe since the period assigned as the date of Adam. The opinion most consonant with reason is
that which regards the story of Adam as a myth, or as an allegory personifying the earliest ages of the world.
Diversity of Human Races
52. What is the cause of the physical and moral differences that distinguish the various races
of men upon the earth?
"Climate, modes of life, and social habits. The same differences would be produced in the
case of two children of the same mother, if brought up far from one another, and surrounded
by different influences and conditions; for the children thus diversely brought up would
present no moral resemblance to each other."
53. Did the human race come into existence on various points of the globe?
"Yes, and at various epochs; and this is one of the causes of the diversity of human races. The
people of the primitive periods, being dispersed abroad in different climates, and forming
alliances with those of other countries than their own, gave rise perpetually to new types of
- Do these differences constitute distinct species?
"Certainly not. All of them constitute but a single family. Do the differences between the
varieties of the same fruit prevent their all belonging to the same species."
54. If the human species do not all proceed from the same progenitor, should they, on that
account, cease to regard one another as brothers?
"All men are brothers in virtue of their common relation to the Creator, because they are
animated by the same spirit, and tend towards the same goal. The human mind is always
prone to attach too literal a meaning to statements which are necessarily imperfect and
Plurality of Worlds
55. Are all the globes that revolve in space inhabited?
"Yes; and the people of the earth are far from being, as you
suppose, the first in intelligence, goodness, and general development. There are many men
having a high opinion of themselves who even imagine that your little globe alone, of all the
countless myriads of globes around you, has the privilege of being inhabited by reasoning
beings. They fancy that God has created the universe only for them. Insensate vanity!"
God has peopled the globes of the universe with living beings, all of whom concur in working out the aims
of His providence. To believe that the presence of living beings Is confined to the one point of the universe
inhabited by us is to cast a doubt on the wisdom of God, who has made nothing in vain, and who must
therefore have assigned to all the other globes of the universe a destination more important than that of
gratifying our eyes with the spectacle of a starry night. Moreover, there Is nothing in the position. size, or
physical constitution of the earth to warrant the supposition that It alone, of the countless myriads of
globes disseminated throughout the infinity of apace. has the privilege of being inhabited.
56. Is the physical constitution of all globes the same?
"No; they do not at all resemble one another."
57. The physical constitution of the various worlds not being the same for all does it follow
that the beings who inhabit them have different organisations?
"Undoubtedly it does; just as, in your world, fishes are organised for living in the water, and
birds for living in the air."
58. Are the planets furthest removed from the sun stinted in light and heat, the sun only
appearing to them of the size of one of the fixed stars?
"Do you suppose that there are no other sources of light and heat than the sun? And do you
count for nothing the action of electricity which, in certain worlds, plays a very much more
important part than in your earth ? Besides, how do you know that the beings of those worlds
see in the same manner as you do, and with the aid of organs such as yours?"
The conditions of existence for the beings who Inhabit the various worlds must be supposed to be
appropriate to the sphere in which they are destined to live. If we had never seen fishes, we should be at a
loss to understand how any living beings could exist In the sea. So in regard to all the other worlds, which
doutless contain elements that are unknown to us. In our own earth, are not the long polar nights
illumined by the electrical displays of the aurora borealis? Is It impossible that. In certain worlds,
electricity may be more abundant than in ours, and may subserve, in Its general economy, various
important uses not imaginable by us? And may not those worlds contain in themselves the sources of the
heat and light required by their inhabitants?
The Biblical Account of the Creation
59. The different nations of the earth have formed to them-selves widely divergent ideas of the
creation; ideas always in
harmony with their degree of scientific advancement. Reason and science concur in admitting
the fantastic character of certain theories. The explanation of the subject now given through
spirit communication is confirmatory of the opinion which has long been adopted by the most
enlightened exponents of modern science.
This explanation will no doubt be objected to, on the ground that it is in contradiction with
the statements of the Bible; but a careful examination of those statements shows us that this
contradiction is more apparent than real, and that it results from the interpretation which has
been given to expressions whose meaning is allegorical rather than historical.
The question of the personality of Adam, regarded as the first man, and sole progenitor of the
human race, is not the only one in regard to which the religious convictions of the world have
necessarily undergone modification. The hypothesis of the rotation of the earth round the sun
appeared, at one time, to be in such utter opposition to the letter of the Bible, that every
species of persecution was directed against it, and against those who advocated it. Yet the
earth continued to move on in its orbit in defiance of anathemas; and no one, at the present
day, could contest the fact of its movement without doing violence to his own powers of
The Bible also tells us that the world was created in six days, and fixes the epoch of this
creation at about 4000 years before the Christian era. Previously to that period the earth did
riot exist. At that period it was produced out of nothing. Such is the formal declaration of the
sacred text, yet science, positive, inexorable steps in with proof to the contrary. The history of
the formation of the globe is written in indestructible characters in the worlds of fossils,
proving beyond the possibility of denial that the six lays of the creation arc successive
periods, each of which may have been of millions of ages. This is not a mere matter of
statement or of opinion. It is a fact as incontestably certain as is the motion of the earth, and
one that theology itself can no longer refuse to admit, although this admission furnishes
another example of the errors into which we are led by attributing literal truth to language
which is often of a figurative nature. Are we therefore to conclude that the Bible is a mere
tissue of errors ? No; but we must admit that men have erred in their method of interpreting
Geology, in its study of the archives written in the structure of the globe itself, has ascertained
the order of succession in which the different species of living beings have appeared on its
surface, and this order is found to be in accordance with the sequence indicated in the book of
Genesis, with this difference, viz., that the earth, instead of issuing miraculously from the
hand of God in the course of a few days, accomplished its formation under the impulsion of
the Divine will, but according to the laws and through the action of the forces of nature, in the
course of periods incalculable by us. Does God appear less great and less powerful for having
accomplished the work of creation through the action of forces, and according to laws, of His
own ordaining? And is the result of the creative energy less sublime for not having been
accomplished instantaneously? Evidently not; and puerile indeed must he the mind that does
not recognise the grandeur of the Almighty Power implied in this evolution of the worlds of
the universe through the action of eternal laws. Science, so far from diminishing the glory of
the Divine action, displays that action under an aspect still more sublime, and more consonant
with our intuitive sense of the power and majesty of God, by showing that it has been
accomplished without derogation from the. laws which are the expression of the Divine will
in the realm of nature.
Modern science, in accordance with the Mosaic record, proves that man was the last in the
order of creation of living beings. But Moses puts the universal deluge at the year of the
world 1654, while geology seems to show that the great diluvian cataclysm occurred before
the appearance of man, because, up to the present time, the primitive strata contain no traces
of his presence, nor of that of the animals contemporaneous with him. But this point is far
from being decided. Various recent discoveries suggest the possibility of our being destined
to ascertain that the antiquity of the human race is much greater than has been hitherto
supposed; and should this greater antiquity become a matter of certainty, it would prove that
the letter of the Bible, in regard to the date assigned by it to the creation of man, as in regard
to so many other matters, can only be understood in an allegorical sense. That the geological
deluge is not that of Noah is evident from the lapse of time required for the formation of the
fossiliferous strata; and, if traces should eventually be discovered of the existence of the
human race before the geological deluge, it would be evident either that Adam was not the
first man, or that his creation dates back
from a period indefinitely remote. There is no arguing against fact; and the antiquity of the
human race, if proved by geological discovery, would have to be admitted, just as has been
done in regard to the movement of the earth and the six days of the creation.
The existence of the human race before the geological deluge, it may be objected, is still
doubtful. But the same objection cannot be urged against the following considerations -
Admitting that man first appeared upon the earth 4000 years before Christ, if the whole of the
human race, with the exception of a single family, were destroyed 1650 years afterwards, it
follows that the peopling of the earth dates only from the time of Noah-that is to say, only
2500 years before Christ. But when the Hebrews emigrated to Egypt in the eighteenth century
before Christ, they found that country densely populated, and already in possession of an
advanced civilisation. History also shows that, at the same period, India and various other
countries were equally populous and flourishing, to say nothing of the chronological tables of
other nations, which claim to go back to periods yet more remote. We must, therefore,
suppose that, from the twenty- fourth to the eighteenth century before Christ-that is to say, in
the space of 600 years-the posterity of a single individual was able to people all the immense
countries which had then been discovered, not to speak of those which were then unknown,
but which we have no reason to conclude were destitute of inhabitants; and we must suppose,
still further, that the human race, during this brief period, was able to raise itself from the
crass ignorance of the primitive savage state to the highest degree of intellectual
development-sup-positions utterly irreconcilable with anthropological laws.
The diversity of the various human races confirms this view of the subject. Climate and
modes of life undoubtedly modify the physical characteristics of mankind, but we know the
extent to which these modifications can be carried, and physiological examination
conclusively proves that there are between the different races of men constitutional
differences too profound to have been produced merely by differences of climate. The
crossing of races produces intermediary types; it tends to efface the extremes of characteristic
peculiarities; but it does not produce these peculiarities, and, there. fore, creates only new
varieties. But the crossing of races presupposes the existence of races distinct from each
other; and how is
the existence of these to be explained if we attribute their origin to a common stock especially
if we restrict the production of these various races to so brief a period? How is it possible to
suppose, for example, that the descendants of Noah could have been, in so short a time,
transformed into Ethiopians? Such a metamorphosis would be as inadmissible as that of a
wolf into a sheep, of a beetle into an elephant, of a bird into a fish. No preconceived opinion
can withstand, in the long run, the evidence of opposing facts. But, on the contrary, all
difficulty disappears if we assume that man existed at a period anterior to that which has
hitherto been commonly assigned to his creation; that Adam commenced, some 6000 years
ago, the peopling of a country until then uninhabited; that the deluge of Noah was a local
catastrophe, erroneously confounded with the great geological cataclysm; and, finally, if we
make due allowance for the allegorical form of expression characteristic of the Oriental style,
and common to the sacred books of every people.
It is unwise to insist upon a literal interpretation of figurative statements of which the
inaccuracy may, at any moment, be rendered evident by the progress of scientific discovery;
but the fundamental propositions of religion, so far from having anything to fear from the
discoveries of science, are strengthened and ennobled by being brought into harmony with
those discoveries. And it is only when the religious sentiment shall have been en lightened by
its union with scientific truth that religious belief. thus rendered invulnerable to the attacks of
scepticism, will take the place of scepticism in the minds and hearts of men.
Organic and Inorganic Beings
Organic beings are those which have in themselves a source of activity that produces the phenomena of
life. They are born, grow. reproduce their own species, and die. They are provided with organs specially
adapted to the accomplishment of the different acts of their life, to the satisfaction of their needs, and to
their preservation. They include men, animals, and plants.
Inorganic beings are those which possess neither vitality nor the power of spontaneous movement, and
are formed by the mere aggregation of matter; as minerals, water, air etc.
60. Is the force which unites the elements of matter in organic and inorganic bodies the
"Yes; the law of attraction is the same for all."
61. Is there any difference between the matter of organic and inorganic bodies?
"The matter of both classes of bodies is the same, but in organic bodies it is animalised."
62. What is the cause of the animalisation of matter?
"Its union with the vital principle."
63. Does the vital principle reside in a special agent, or is it only a property of organised
matter; in other words, is it an effect or a cause?
"It is both. Life is an effect produced by the action of an agent upon matter; this agent,
without matter, is not life, just as matter cannot become alive without this agent. It gives life
to all beings that absorb and assimilate it."
64. We have seen that spirit and matter are two constituent elements of the universe. Does the
vital principle constitute a third element?
"It is, undoubtedly, one of the elements necessary to the constitution of the universe; but it
has its source in a special modification
of the universal matter, modified to that end. For you, it is au elementary body, like oxygen or
hydrogen, which, nevertheless, are not primitive elements; for all the bodies known to you,
though appearing to you to be simple, are modifications of the primal fluid."
- This statement seems to imply that vitality is not due to a distinct primitive agent, but is a
special property of the universal matter resulting from certain modifications of the latter.
"Your conclusion is the natural consequence of what we have stated."
65. Does the vital principle reside in any one of the bodies known to us?
"“It has its source in the universal fluid; it is what you call the magnetic fluid, or the electric
fluid, animalised. It is the intermediary, the link between spirit and matter."
66. Is the vital principle the same for all organic beings?
"Yes; but modified according to species. It is that principle which gives them the power of
originating movement and activity, and distinguishes them from inert matter; for the
movement of matter is not spontaneous. Matter is moved; it does not originate movement.'
67. Is vitality a permanent attribute of the vital principle, or is vitality only developed by the
play of the organs in which it is manifested?
"It is only developed in connection with a body. Have we not said that this agent, without
matter, is not life ? The union of the two is necessary to the production of life."
- Would it be correct to say that vitality is latent when the vital agent is not united with a
"Yes; that is the case."
The totality of the organs of a body constitutes a sort of mechanism which receives its impulsion from the
active or vital principle that resides in them. The vital principle Is the motive power of organised bodies.
And while the vital principle gives impulsion to the organs in which it resides, the play of those organs
develops and keeps up the activity of the vital principle, somewhat as friction develops heat.
Life and Death
68. What is the cause of the death of organic beings?
"The exhaustion of their bodily organs."
- Would it be correct to compare death to the cessation of movement in a machine that had
got out of gear?
"Yes; when the machine gets out of order, its action ceases. When the body falls ill, life
withdraws from it."
69. Why is death caused more certainly by a lesion of the heart than by that of any other
"The heart is a life-making machine. But the heart is not the only organ of which the lesion
causes death; it is only one of the wheels essential to the working of the machine."
70. What becomes of the matter and the vital principle of organic beings after their death?
"The inert matter is decomposed, and serves to form other bodies; the vital principle returns
to the general mass of the universal fluid."
On the death of an organic being, the elements of which its body was composed undergo new
combinations that form new beings. These, in their turn, draw the principle of life and activity from the
universal source they absorb and assimilate it, and restore it again to that source when they cease to exist.
The organs of organic beings are, so to say, impregnated with the vital fluid. This fluid gives to every part
of an organised being the activity which brings its parts into union after certain lesions, and reestablishes
functions that have been temporarily suspended. But when the elements essential to the play of the
organism have been destroyed, or too deeply injured, the vital fluid Is powerless to transmit to them the
movement which constitutes life, and the being dies.
The organs of a body necessarily react. more or less powerfully. upon one another their reciprocity of
action results from their harmony among themselves. When from any cause this harmony is destroyed,
their functions cease just as a piece of machinery comes to a stand-still when the essential portions of its
mechanism get out of order, or as a clock stops when its works are worn out by use, accidentally broken,
so that the spring is no longer able to keep it going.
We have an image of life and death still more exact in the electric battery. The battery, like all natural
bodies, contains electricity in a latent state but the electrical phenomena are only manifested when the
fluid Is set In motion by a special cause. When this movement is superinduced, the battery may be said to
become alive but when the cause of the electrical activity ceases, the phenomena cease to occur, and the
battery relapses into a state of inertia. Organic bodies may thus be said to be a sort of electric battery, in
which the movement of the fluid produces the phenomena of life, and in which the cessation of that
movement produces death.
The quantity of vital fluid present in organic beings is not the same all; it varies In the various species of
living beings, and is not constantly the same, either in the same individual or in the individuals of the
same species. There are some which may be said to be saturated with it, and others in which it exists in
very small proportions. Hence certain species are endowed with a more active and more tenacious life,
resulting from the superabundance of the vital fluid present in their organism.
The amount of vital fluid contained in a given organism may be exhausted, and may thus become
insufficient for the maintenance of life, unless it be renewed by the absorption and assimilation of the
substances in which that fluid resides.
The vital fluid may be transmitted by one individual to another individual. An organisation in which it
exists more abundantly may impart it to another in which it is deficient; and may thus, in certain cases,
rekindle the vital flame when on the point of being extinguished.
Intelligence and Instinct
71. Is intelligence an attribute of the vital principle?
"No; for the plants live and do not think; they have only organic life. Intelligence and matter
are independent of one another; for a body may live without intelligence; but intelligence can
only manifest itself by means of material organs. Animalised matter can only be rendered
intelligent by its union with spirit."
Intelligence is a faculty which is proper to certain classes of organic beings, and which gives to these the
power to think, the will to act. the consciousness of their existence and individuality, and the means of
establishing relations with the external world and providing for the needs of their special mode of
We may therefore distinguish: 1st, Inanimate beings, formed of matter alone, without life or intelligencethe
bodies of the mineral world; 2d, Animated non-thinking beings, formed of matter and endowed with
vitality, but without intelligence; 3d, Animated and thinking beings, formed of matter, endowed with
vitality, and possessed of an intelligent principle which gives them the faculty of thought.
72. What is the source of intelligence?
"We have already told you: the universal intelligence."
- Would it be correct to say that every intelligent being draws a portion of intelligence from
the universal source, and assimilates it as it draws and assimilates the principle of material
"Such a comparison would be far from exact, for intelligence is a faculty that is proper to
each being, and constitutes its moral individuality. Besides, we have told you that there are
things which man is unable to fathom; and this, for the present, is one of them."
73. Is instinct independent of intelligence?
"No, not precisely so, for it is a species of intelligence. Instinct is an unreasoning intelligence,
by means of which the lower orders of beings provide for their wants."
74. Is it possible to establish a line of demarcation between instinct and intelligence; that is,
to say, to define precisely where the one ends and the other begins?
"No, for they often blend into one another. But the actions which belong to instinct and those
which belong to intelligence are easily distinguished."
75. Is it correct to say that the instinctive faculties diminish in proportion with the growth of
the intellectual faculties?
"No; instinct always continues to exist, but man neglects it. Instinct, as well as reason, may
lead us in the right direction.
Its guidance almost always makes itself felt, and sometimes more surely than that of reason. It
never goes astray."
- Why is it that reason is not always an infallible guide?
"It would be infallible if it were not perverted by a false education, by pride, and by
selfishness. Instinct does not reason. Reason leaves freedom to choice, and gives man freewill."
Instinct is a rudimentary intelligence, differing from intelligence properly so called in this particular, viz.,
that its manifestations are almost always spontaneous, whereas those of intelligence are the result of
combination and of deliberation.
The manifestations of instinct vary according to the differences of species and of their needs. In beings
that possess self-consciousness and the perception of things external to themselves, it is allied to
intelligence, that is to say, to freedom of will and of action.
Origin and Nature of Spirits
76. What definition can be given of spirits?
"Spirits may be defined as the intelligent beings of the creation. They constitute the
population of the universe, in contradistinction to the forms of the material world."
NOTE. The word spirit is here employed to designate the individuality of extra-corporeal beings, and not
the universal intelligent element.
77. Are spirits beings distinct from the Deity, or are they only emanations from or portions of
the Deity, and called, for that reason, "sons" or "children" of God?
"Spirits are the work of God, just as a machine is the work of the mechanician who made it:
the machine is the man's work, but it is not the man. You know that when a man has made a
fine or useful thing, he calls it his 'child'- his 'creation.' It is thus with us in relation to God.
We are His children in this sense, because we are His work."
78. Have spirits had a beginning, or have they existed, like God, from all eternity?
"If spirits had not had a beginning, they would be equal with God; whereas they are His
creation, and subject to His will. That God has existed from all eternity is incontestable; but
as to when and how He created us, we know nothing. You may say
that we have had no beginning in this sense, that, God being eternal, He must have
incessantly created. But as to when and how each of us was made, this, I repeat, is known to
no one. It is the great mystery."
79. Since there are two general elements in the universe, viz., the intelligent element and the
material element, would it be correct to say that spirits are formed from the intelligent
element as inert bodies are formed from the material element?
"It is evident that such is the case. Spirits are the individualisation of the intelligent principle,
as bodies are the individualisation of the material principle. It is the epoch and mode of this
formation that are unknown to us."
80. Is the creation of spirits always going on, or did it only take place at the beginning of
"It is always going on; that is to say, God has never ceased to create."
81. Are spirits formed spontaneously, or do they proceed from one another?
"God creates them as He creates all other creatures, by His will. But we must again repeat that
their origin is a mystery."
82. Is it correct to say that spirits are immaterial?
"How is it possible to define a thing in regard to which no terms of comparison exist, and
which your language is incompetent to express? Can one who is born blind define light ?
'Immaterial' is not the right word; 'incorporeal' would be nearer the truth, for you must
understand that a spirit, being a creation, must be something real. Spirit is quintessentialised
matter¹, but matter existing in a state which has no analogue within the circle of your
comprehension, and so ethereal that it could not be perceived by your senses."
We say that spirits are immaterial, because their essence differs from everything that we know under the
name of "matter." A nation of blind people would have no terms for expressing light and its effects. One
who is born blind imagines that the only modes of perception are hearing, smell, taste, and touch: he does
not comprehend the other ideas that would be given him by the sense of sight which he lacks. So, in
regard to the essence of superhuman beings, we are really blind. We can only define them by means of
comparisons that are necessarily imperfect or by an effort of our imagination.
¹ Subsequent spirit-communications have declared the universe to consist of three elements or modes of
substantiality-viz.. Soul, Force, Matter; and, while asserting that the two former are non-material substances,
restrict the term 'matter" to the element from which bodies are formed.-TRANS.
83. Is there an end to the duration of spirits? We can understand that the principle from
which they emanate should be eternal; but what we desire to know is, whether their
individuality has a term, and whether, after a given lapse of time, longer or shorter, the
element from which they are formed is not disseminated, does not return to the mass from
which they were produced, as is the case with material bodies? It is difficult to understand
that what has had a beginning should not also have an end.
"There are many things that you do not understand, because your intelligence is limited; but
that is no reason for rejecting them. The child does not understand all that is understood by its
father, nor does an ignorant man understand all that is understood by a learned one. We tell
you that the existence of spirits has no end; that is all we can say on the subject at present."
Primitive and Normal World
84. Do spirits constitute a world apart from that which we see?
"Yes; the world of spirits or incorporeal intelligences."
85. Which of the two, the spirit-world or the corporeal world, is the principal one in the
order of the universe?
"The spirit-world. It is pre-existent to, and survives, every-thing else."
86. Might the corporeal world never have existed, or cease to exist, without changing the
essentiality of the spirit-world?
"Yes; they are independent of each other, and yet their correlation is incessant, for they react
incessantly upon each other."
87. Do spirits occupy a determinate and circumscribed region in space?
"Spirits are everywhere; the infinitudes of space are peopled with them in infinite numbers.
Unperceived by you, they are incessantly beside you, observing and acting upon you; for
spirits are one of the powers of Nature, and are the instruments employed by God for the
accomplishment of His providential designs. But all spirits do not go everywhere; there are
regions of which the entrance is interdicted to those who are less advanced."
Form and Ubiquity of Spirits
88. Have souls a determinate, circumscribed, and unvarying form?
"Not for eyes such as yours; but, for us, they have a form though one only to be vaguely
imagined by you as a flame a gleam, or an ethereal spark."
-Is this flame or spark of any colour?
"If you could see it, it would appear to you to vary from a dull grey to the brilliancy of the
ruby, according to the degree of the spirit's purity."
Genie are usually represented with a flame or a star above their foreheads-a sort of allegorical allusion to
the essential nature of spirits. The flame or star is placed upon the head because the head is the seat of
89 Do spirits employ any time in transporting themselves through space?
"Yes; but their motion is as rapid as that of thought."
-Is not thought the movement of the soul itself, a transportation of the soul itself to the place
or the object thought of by it?
"Wherever the thought is, there the soul is, since it is the soul that thinks. Thought is an
90. When a spirit travels from one place to another. is he conscious of the distance he
traverses and of the extent of space through which he passes; or is he suddenly transported to
the place to which he wishes to go?
"A spirit can travel in either way. He can, if he will, take cognisance of the distance he passes
through, or he can rid himself entirely of the sense of distance. This depends on the spirit's
will, and also on his degree of purity."
91. Does matter constitute an obstacle to the movement of a spirit?
"No; spirits pass through everything; the air, the earth, water, fire even, are equally accessible
to them."
92. Have spirits the gift of ubiquity? In other words, can a spirit divide itself, or exist at
several points of space at the same time
"There can be no division of any given spirit; but every spirit is a centre which radiates in all
directions, and it is thus that a spirit may appear to be in several places at once. The sun is
only one body, yet it radiates in all directions, and sends out its rays to great distances; but it
is not divided."
- Have all spirits the same power of radiation?
"There is a great difference between them in this respect: it depends on the degree of their
Each spirit is an indivisible unity, but each spirit has the power of extending his thought on all aides
without thereby dividing himself. It is only in this sense that the gift of ubiquity attributed to spirits is to
be understood. It is thus that a spark sends out Its brightness far and wide, and may be perceived from
every point of the horizon. It is thus, also, that a man, without changing his place, and without dividing
himself, may transmit orders, signals, etc., to many distant points in many different directions.
93. Is the spirit, properly so called, without a covering, or is it, as some declare, surrounded
by a substance of some kind?
"The spirit is enveloped in a substance which would appear to you as mere vapour, but which,
nevertheless, appears very gross to us, thought it is sufficiently vaporous to allow the spirit to
float in the atmosphere, and to transport himself through space at pleasure."
As the germ of a fruit is surrounded by the perisperm so the Spirit, properly so called, is surrounded by
an envelope which, by analogy, may be designated as the perispirit.
94. Whence does the spirit draw its semi-material envelope?
"From the universal fluid of each globe. For this reason the perispirit is not the same in all
globes. In passing from one globe to another. the spirit changes its envelope as you change a
- When spirits who inhabit worlds of a higher degree than ours come among us, are they
obliged to take on a grosser order of perispirit?
"Yes; they are obliged to clothe themselves with your matter in order to be able to enter your
95. Does the semi-material envelope of the spirit assume determinate forms, and can it
become perceptible for us?
"Yes; it can assume any form that the spirit may choose to give to it. It is thus that a spirit is
able sometimes to make himself visible to you, whether in dreams or in your waking state,
and can take a form that may be visible, and even palpable, for your senses."
Different Orders of Spirits
96. Are all spirits equal or does there exist among them a hierarchy of ranks?
"They are of different degrees according to the degree of purification to which they have
Spirit - Hierarchy
97. Is there a fixed number of order or degrees of purification among spirits?
"The number of such orders is unlimited, because there is nothing like a barrier or line of
demarcation between the different degrees of elevation; and, therefore, as there are no fixed
or arbitrary divisions among spirits, the number of orders may be increased or diminished
according to the point of view from which they are considered. Nevertheless, if we consider
the general characteristics of spirits, we may reduce them to three principal orders or degrees.
"We may place in the first or highest rank those who have reached the degree of relative
perfection which constitutes what may be called 'pure spirits.' We may place in the second
rank those who have reached the middle of the ascensional ladder, those who have achieved
the degree of purification in which aspiration after perfection has become the ruling desire.
We may place in the third or lowest rank all those imperfect spirits who are still on the lower
rungs of the ladder. They are characterised by ignorance, the love of evil, and all the low
passions that retard their progress upwards."
98. Have spirits of the second order only the aspiration after perfection; have they also the
power to achieve it?
"They have that power in degrees proportionate to the degree of purification at which they
have severally arrived. Some of them are distinguished by their scientific knowledge, others
by their wisdom and their kindness; but all of them have still to undergo the discipline of trial
through temptation and suffering."
99. Are all spirits of the third order essentially bad ?
"No. Some of them are inactive and neutral, not doing either good or evil; others, on the
contrary, take pleasure in evil, and are delighted when they find an opportunity of doing
wrong. Others, again, are frivolous, foolish, fantastic, mischievous rather than wicked, tricky
rather than positively malicious; amusing themselves by mystifying the human beings on
whom they are able to act, and causing them various petty annoyances for their own
Spirit - Hierarchy
100. Preliminary Observations. - The classification of spirits is based upon the degree of
their advancement, upon the qualities
which they have acquired, and upon the imperfections from which they have still to free
themselves. This classification, however, is by no means absolute. It is only in its totality that
the character of each category is distinctly marked, for each category merges in the one above
it by imperceptible gradations, the peculiarities of the successive categories shading off into
one another at their extremities, as is the case in the various reigns of nature, in the colours of
the rainbow, in the phases of a human life. Spirits may, therefore, be divided into a number of
classes more or less considerable, according to the point of view from which we consider the
subject. It is in this matter as in all other systems of scientific classification. The systems
adopted may be more or less complete, more or less rational, more or less convenient for the
understanding; but, whatever may be their form, they change nothing in regard to the facts of
the science which employs them. That the answers of spirits, when questioned on this point,
should vary as to the number of the categories into which they are divided is, therefore, a
matter of no practical importance. Too much weight has been attributed to this apparent
contradiction by those who forget that disincarnate intelligences attach no importance
whatever to mere conventionalities. For them, the meaning of a statement is the only
important point about it. They leave to us the question of its form, the choice of terms and of
classification,-in a word, all that belongs to the making of systems.
Another thing that should never be lost sight of is the fact that there are among spirits, as well
as among men, some who are very ignorant, and that we cannot be too much on our guard
against a tendency to believe that all spirits know everything simply because they are spirits.
The work of classification demands method. analysis, and a thorough knowledge of the
subject investigated. But those who, in the spirit-world, possess only a small amount of
knowledge, are as incompetent as are ignorant human beings to embrace the whole of any
subject or to formulate a system. They have no idea, or but a very imperfect one, of any sort
of classification. All spirits superior to themselves appear to them to be of the highest order;
for they are as incapable of discriminating the various shades of knowledge, capacity, and
morality by which they are distinguished, as one of our savages would be to discriminate the
various characteristics of civilised men. And even those who are capable of this
discrimination may vary, in their appreciation of details, according to their special point of
view, especially in regard to a matter which, from its very nature, has nothing fixed or
absolute about it. Linnaeus, Jussieu, Tournefort, have each their special system of
classification, but the nature of botany has not been changed by this diversity of system
among botanists. The latter have not invented either plants or their characteristics; they have
merely observed certain analogies, according to which they have formed certain groups or
classes. We have proceeded in the same way. We have not invented either spirits or their
characteristics. We have seen and observed them, we have judged them by their own words
and acts, and we have classed them by order of similitude, basing our classification on the
data furnished by themselves.
The higher spirits generally admit the existence of three principal categories, or main
divisions, among the people of the other world. In the lowest of these, at the bottom of the
ladder, are the imperfect spirits who are characterised by the predominance of the instincts of
materiality over the moral nature, and by the propensity to evil. Those of the second degree
are characterised by the predominance of the moral nature over the material instincts, and by
the desire of good. They constitute the category of good spirits. The first or highest category
consists of those who have reached the state of pure spirits, and have thus attained to the
supreme degree of perfection imaginable by us.
This division of spirits into three well-marked categories appears to us to be perfectly
rational; and, having arrived at this general classification, it only remained for us to bring out,
through a sufficient number of subdivisions, the principal shades of the three great spiritcategories
thus established. And this we have done with the aid of the spirits themselves,
whose friendly instructions have never failed us in the carrying out of the work upon which
we have been led to enter.
With the aid of the following table it will be easy for us to determine the rank and degree of
superiority or inferiority of the spirits with whom we may enter into communication, and,
consequently, the degree of esteem and confidence to which they are entitled. The power of
determining these points may be said to constitute the key to spiritist investigation; for it
alone, by enlightening us in regard to the intellectual and moral inequalities of spirits, can
explain the anomalies presented by spirit-communications. We have, however, to remark that
spirits do not, in all cases. belong exclusively to such and such a class. Their
progress in knowledge and purity being only accomplished gradually, and often, for a time,
more in the one than in the other, they may unite the characteristics of several subdivisions; a
point which is easily settled by observing their language and their acts.
101. General Characteristics.-Predominant influence of matter over spirit. Propension to
evil. Ignorance, pride, selfishness, and all the evil passions which result from these.
They have the intuition of the existence of God, but they have no comprehension of Him.
They are not all of them thoroughly bad; in many of them there is more of frivolity, want of
reasoning power, and love of mischief, than of downright wickedness. Some of them do
neither good nor evil; but the very fact that they do no good denotes their inferiority. Others,
on the contrary, take pleasure in evil, and are gratified when they find an opportunity of doing
Among spirits of this order, a certain amount of intelligence is often allied with malice and
the love of mischief; but, whatever may be their intellectual development, their ideas are
wanting in elevation, and their sentiments are more or less abject.
Their knowledge of the things of the spirit-world is narrow, and the little they know about
them is confused with the ideas and prejudices of the corporeal life. They can give only false
and incomplete notions of the spirit-world; but the attentive observer may always find in their
communications, however imperfect, the confirmation of the great truths proclaimed by
spirits of the higher orders.
Their character is revealed by their language. Every spirit who, in his communications,
betrays an evil intention, may be ranged in the third order; consequently every evil thought
suggested to our mind comes to us from a spirit of that order.
They see the happiness enjoyed by good spirits, and this sight causes them perpetual torment;
for they experience all the agonies produced by envy and jealousy.
They preserve the remembrance and the perception of the sufferings of corporeal life; and this
impression is often more painful than the reality. They suffer, in fact, both from the ills they
have themselves endured, and from those which they have caused
to be endured by others. And as these sufferings endure for a very long time, they believe
themselves to be destined to suffer for ever. God, for their punishment, wills that they should
believe this.
They may be subdivided into five principal classes: -
102. Tenth Class-Impure Spirits.-They are inclined to evil, and make it the object o£ all their
thoughts and activities. As spirits, they give to men perfidious counsels, stir up discord and
distrust, and assume every sort of mask in order the more effectually to deceive. They beset
those whose character is weak enough to lead them to yield to their suggestions, and whom
they thus draw aside from the path of progress, rejoicing when they are to retard their
advancement by causing them to succumb under the appointed trials of the corporeal life .
Spirits of this class may be recognised by their language, for the employment of coarse or
trivial expressions by spirits, as by men, is always an indication of moral, if not of
intellectual, inferiority. Their communications show the baseness of their inclinations; and
though they may try to impose upon us by speaking with an appearance of reason and
propriety, they are unable to keep up that false appearance, and end by betraying their real
Certain nations have made of them infernal deities; others designate them by the name of
demons, evil genie evil spirits.
The human beings in whom they are incarnated are addicted to all the vices engendered by
vile and degrading passions-sensuality, cruelty, roguery, hypocrisy, cupidity, avarice. They do
evil for its own sake, without any definite motive; and, from hatred to all that is good, they
generally choose their victims from among honest and worthy people. They are the pests of
humanity, to whatever rank of society they belong; and the varnish of a civilised education is
ineffectual to cure or to hide their degrading defects.
103. Ninth Class - Frivolous Spirits. - They are ignorant, mischievous, unreasonable, and
addicted to mockery. They meddle with everything, and reply to every question without
paying any attention to truth. They delight in causing petty annoyances, in raising false hopes
of petty joys, in misleading people by mystifications and trickery. The spirits vulgarly called
hobgoblins, will-o'-the-wisps, gnomes, etc., belong to this class. They arc under the orders of
spirits of a higher category, who make use of them as we do of servants.
In their conimunications with men their language is often witty and facetious, but shallow.
They are quick to seize the oddities and absurdities of men and things, on which they
comment with sarcastic sharpness. If they borrow distinguished names, as they are fond of
doing, it is rather for the fun of the thing than from any intention to deceive by so doing.
104. Eighth Class-Spirits who Pretend to more Science than they Possess .-Their knowledge
is often considerable, hut they imagine themselves to know a good deal more than they know
in reality. Having made a certain amount of progress from various points of view, their
language has an air of gravity that may easily give a false impression as to their capacities and
enlighten ment; but their ideas are generally nothing more than the reflexion of the prejudices
and false reasoning of their terrestrial life. Their statements contain a mixture of truths and
absurdities, in the midst of which traces of presumption, pride, jealousy, and obstinacy, from
which they have not yet freed themselves, are abundantly perceptible .
105. Seventh Class-Neutral Spirits.-They are not sufficiently advanced to take an active part
in doing good, nor are they bad enough to be active in doing wrong. They incline sometimes
to the one, sometimes to the other; and do not rise above the ordinary level of humanity,
either in point of morality or of intelligence. They are strongly attached to the things of this
world, whose gross satisfactions they regret.
106. Sixth Class-Noisy and Boistero its Spirits.-Spirits of this kind do not, strictly speaking,
form a distinct class in virtue of their personal qualities; they may belong to all the classes of
the third order. They often manifest their presence by the production of phenomena
perceptible by the senses, such as raps, the movement and a1)normal displacing of solid
bodies, the agitation of the air, etc. They appear to be, more than any other class of spirits,
attached to matter; they seem to be the principal agents in determining the vicissitudes of the
elements of the globe, and to act upon the air, water, fire, and the various bodies in the
entrails of the earth. Whenever these phenomena present a character of intention and
intelligence, it is impossible to attribute them to a mere fortuitous and physical cause. All
spirits are able to produce physical phenomena; but spirits of elevated degree usually leave
them to those of a lower order, more apt for action upon matter
than for the things of intelligence, and, when they judge it to be useful to produce physical
manifestations, employ spirits of subaltern degree as their auxiliaries.
107. General Characteristics.-Predominance of spirit over matter; desire of excellence. Their
qualities and their power for good are proportionate to the degree at which they have arrived.
Some of them possess scientific knowledge, others have acquired wisdom and charity; the
more advanced among them combine knowledge with moral excellence. Not being yet
completely dematerialised, they preserve the traces of their corporeal existence, more or less
strongly marked, according to their rank-traces which are seen either in their mode of
expressing themselves, in their habits, or even, in some cases, in the characteristic
eccentricities and hobbies still retained by them. But for these weaknesses and imperfections
they would be able to pass into the category of spirits of the first order.
They have acquired the comprehension of the idea of God and of infinity, and already share
the felicity of the higher spheres. They find their happiness both in the accomplishment of
good and in the prevention of evil. The affection by which they are united affords them
ineffable delight, troubled neither by envy, remorse nor any other of the evil passions which
make the torment of spirits of lower degree; but they have still to undergo the discipline of
trial until they have completed the work of their purification.
As spirits, they infuse good and noble thoughts into the minds of men, turn them from the
path of evil, protect those whose course of life renders them worthy of their aid, and
neutralise by their suggestions, the influence of lower spirits on the minds of those who do
not willingly yield to the evil counsels of the latter.
The human beings in whom they are incarnated are upright and benevolent; they are actuated
neither by pride, selfishness, nor ambition; they feel neither hatred, rancour, envy, nor
jealousy, and do good for its own sake.
To this order belong the spirits commonly designated in the popular beliefs by the names of
good genie protecting genie, good spirits. In periods of ignorance and superstition, men have
regarded them as beneficent divinities.
They may be divided into four principal groups:-
108. Fifth Class-Benevolent Spirits.-Their dominant quality is kindness. They take pleasure in
rendering service to men and in protecting them, but their knowledge is somewhat narrow.
They have progressed in morality rather than in intelligence.
109. Fourth Class - Learned Spirits. - They are specially distinguished by the extent of their
knowledge. They are less interested in moral questions than in scientific investigation, for
which they have a greater aptitude; but their scientific studies are always prosecuted with a
view to practical utility, and they are entirely free from the base passions common to spirits of
the lower degrees of advancement.
110. Third Class-Wise Spirits.-The most elevated moral qualities form their distinctive
characteristics. Without having arrived at the possession of unlimited knowledge, they have
reached a development of intellectual capacity that enables them to judge correctly of men
and of things.
111. Second Class-High Spirits.-They unite, in a very high degree, scientific knowledge,
wisdom, and goodness. Their language, inspired only by the purest benevolence, is always
noble and elevated, often sublime. Their superiority renders them more apt than any others to
impart to us just and true ideas in relation to the incorporeal world, within the limits of the
knowledge permitted to mankind. They willingly enter into communication with those who
seek for truth in simplicity and sincerity, and who are sufficiently freed from the bonds of
materiality to be capable of understanding it; but they turn from those whose inquiries are
prompted only by curiosity, or who are drawn away from the path of rectitude by the
attractions of materiality.
When, under exceptional circumstances, they incarnate themselves in this earth, it is always
for the accomplishment of a mission of progress; and they thus show us the highest type of
perfection to which we can aspire in the present world.
112. General Characteristics.-The influence of matter null; a superiority, both intellectual
and moral, so absolute as to constitute what, in comparison with the spirits of all the other
orders, may be termed perfection.
113. First and only Class.-They have passed up through every degree of the scale of progress,
and have freed themselves from all the impurities of materiality. Having attained the sum of
perfection of which created beings are susceptible, they have no longer to undergo either
trials or expiations. Being no longer subject to reincarnation in perishable bodies, they enter
on the life of eternity in the immediate presence of God. They are in the enjoyment of a
beatitude which is unalterable, because they are no longer subject to the wants or vicissitudes
of material life; but this beatitude is not the monotonous idleness of perpetual contemplation.
They are the messengers and ministers of God, the executors of His orders in the maintenance
of universal harmony. They exercise a sovereign command over all spirits inferior to
themselves, aid them in accomplishing the work of their purification, and assign to each of
them a mission proportioned to the progress already made by them. To assist men in their
distresses, to excite them to the love of good or to the expiation of the faults which keep them
back on the road to the supreme felicity, are for them congenial occupations. They are
sometimes spoken of as angels, archangels, or seraphim.
They can, when they choose to do so, enter into communication with men; but presumptuous
indeed would he be who should pretend to have them at his orders.
Progression of Spints
114. Are spirits good or bad by nature, or are they the same spirits made better through their
own efforts?
"The same spirits made better through their own efforts. In growing better they pass from a
lower to a higher order."
115. Are some spirits created good and others created bad?
"God has created all spirits in a state of simplicity and ignorance; that is to say, without
knowledge. He has given to each of them a mission, with a view to enlighten them and to
make them gradually arrive at perfection through the knowledge of the truth, and thus to
bring them nearer and nearer to Himself. This perfection is, for them, the condition of eternal
and unalloyed happiness. Spirits acquire knowledge by passing through the trials imposed on
them by God. Some of them accept these trials with sub-mission, and arrive more quickly at
the aim of their destiny others undergo them with murmuring, and thus remain, through
their own fault, at a distance from the perfection and the felicity promised to them."
- According to this statement, it would appear that spirits, a' their origin, are like children,
ignorant and without experience, but acquiring, little by little, the knowledge which they lack,
by passing through the different phases of human life?
"Yes; the comparison is correct. The child, if rebellious, remains ignorant and faulty; he
profits more or less according to his docility. But the life of man has a term; whereas that of
spirits stretches out into infinity."
116. Do any spirits remain for ever in the lower ranks?
"No; all become perfect. They change in course of time, however long may be the process of
amendment; for, as we have already said, a just and merciful parent cannot condemn his
children to eternal banishment. Can you suppose that God, so great, so good, so just, is less
kind than you are?"
117. Does it depend on the spirits themselves to hasten their progress towards perfection?
"Certainly; they reach the goal more or less quickly according to the strength of their desire
and the degree of their submission to the will of God. Does not a docile child learn faster than
one who is obstinate and idle?"
118. Can spirits degenerate?
"No; in proportion as they advance, they understand what has retarded their progress. When a
spirit has finished with any given trial, he has learned the lesson of that trial, and never
forgets it. He may remain stationary; but be never degenerates."
119. Could God exonerate spirits from the trials which they have to undergo in order to
reach the highest rank?
"If they had been created perfect, they would not have merited the enjoyment of the benefits
of that perfection. Where would be the merit without the struggle ? Besides, the inequality
which exists between spirits is necessary to the development 6f their personality; and,
moreover, the mission which each spirit accomplishes at each step of his progress is an
element of the providential plan for ensuring the harmony of the universe.”
Since, in social life. all men may reach the highest posts. we might as well ask why the sovereign of a
country does not make a general of each of his soldiers, why all subaltern functionaries are not made
heads of departments, why all scholars are not schoolmasters. But there is this difference between the life
of the social and the spirit worlds, viz., that
the first is limited, and does not afford to every one the possibility of raising himself to the highest rank
whereas the second is unlimited, and ensures to every one the possibility of attaining to supreme degree.
120. Do all spirits pass by the road of evil to arrive at good?
"Not by the road of evil, but by that of ignorance."
121. How is it that some spirits have followed the road of good, and others the road of evil
"Have they not their free-will? God has not created any spirits bad; He has created them
simple and ignorant, that is to say, possessing an equal aptitude for good and for evil. Those
who become bad become so of their own free-will."
122. How can spirits, at their origin, when they have not yet acquired self-consciousness,
possess freedom of choice between good and evil? Is there in them any principle, any
tendency, which inclines them towards either road rather than towards the other?
"Free-will is developed in proportion as the spirit acquires the consciousness of himself.
Freedom would not exist for the spirit if his choice were solicited by a cause independent of
his will. The cause which determines his choice is not in him, but is exterior to him, in the
influences to which he voluntarily yields in virtue of the freedom of his will. It is this choice
that is represented tinder the grand figure of the fall of man and of original sin. Some spirits
have yielded to temptation; others have withstood it."
- Whence come the influences that act upon him?
"From the imperfect spirits, who seek to take possession of him and to dominate him, and
who are happy to see him succumb. It is this temptation that is allegorically pictured as
- Does this influence act upon a spirit only at its origin?
"It follows him through all the phases of his existence as a spirit, until he has acquired such
thorough self-command that evil spirits renounce the attempt to obsess him."
123. Why has God permitted it to be possible for spirits to take the wrong road?
"The wisdom of God is shown in the freedom of choice which He leaves to every spirit, for
each has thus the merit of his deeds."
124. Since there are spirits who, from the beginning, follow unswervingly the right path, and
others who wander into the
lowest depths of evil, there are, no doubt, many degrees of deviation between these two
"Yes, certainly; and these degrees constitute the paths of the great majority of spirits."
125. Will the spirits who have chosen the wrong road be able to reach the same degree of
elevation as the others?
"Yes; but the eternities will be longer in their case."
This expression, "the eternities," must be understood as referring to the belief of spirits of inferior degree
in the perpetuity their sufferings, resulting from the fact that it Is not given to them to foresee the
termination of those sufferings, and that this conviction of the perpetuity of the latter is renewed after
every new trial to which they have succumbed.
126. Are spirits who have reached the supreme degree after wandering into the wrong road
less meritorious than the others in the sight of God?
"God regards the wanderers who have returned to the right road with the same approval and
the same affection as the others. They have been classed, for a time, as evil spirits, because
they succumbed to the temptation of evil; but, before their fall, they were merely neutral in
regard to good and evil, like all other spirits."
127. Are all spirits created equal in point of intellectual capacity ?
"They are all created equal, but not knowing from whence they come; for their free-will must
have its fling. They progress more or less rapidly in intelligence as in morality."
The spirits who, from the beginning, follow the right road, do not thereby attain at once to the state of
perfection for, although they are free from evil tendencies, they have none the less to acquire the
experience and the varied knowledge indispensable to their perfection. They may be compared to children
who, however good their natural instincts, need to be developed and enlightened, and who cannot attain
to maturity without transition. But, just as some men are good and others bad from their infancy, so some
spirits are good and others bad from their beginning; with this radical difference, however, that the child
possesses instincts already formed, whereas the spirit, at his formation, is neither bad nor good, but
possesses all possible tendencies, and strikes out his path, in the direction of good or evil. through the
action of his own free-will.
128. Do the beings whom we call angels, archangels, seraphim, form a special category of a
nature different from that of other spirits?
"No; the spirits who have purified themselves from all imperfection, have reached the highest
degree of the scale of progress, and united in themselves all species of perfection."
The word angel is generally supposed to imply the idea of moral perfection but it is often applied,
nevertheless, to all beings, good or bad, beyond the pale of humanity. we say, "a good angel" "a bad
angel," "an angel of light," "the angel of darkness," etc. In those cases, it is synonymous with spirit or
genius. It is employed here in its highest sense.
129. Have the angels passed up through all the degrees of progress?
"They have passed up through all those degrees, but with the difference which we have
already mentioned. Some of them, accepting their mission without murmuring, have reached
the goal more quickly; others have been longer in reaching the same goal.”
130. If the opinion which admits that some beings have been created perfect and superior to
all others be erroneous, how is it that this opinion is to be found in the tradition of almost
every people?
“Your world has not existed from all eternity. Long before it was called into being hosts of
spirits had already attained to the supreme degree. and, therefore, the people of your earth
naturally supposed those perfected spirits to have always been at the same degree of
131. Are there any demons in the usual acceptation of that term?
"If demons existed, they would be the work of God; but would it he just on the part of God to
have created beings condemned eternally to evil and to misery? If demons exist, it is in your
low world, and in other worlds of similar degree. that they are to be found. They are the
human hypocrites who represent a just God as being cruel and vindictive, and who imagine
that they make themselves agreeable to Him by the abominations they commit in His name,"
It is only in its modern acceptation that the word demon implies the idea of evil spirits, for the Greek
work daimôn from which it is derived, signifies genius, intelligence, and is applied indiscriminately to all
incorporeal beings, whether good or bad.
Demons or devils,1 according to the common acceptation of these words are supposed to be a class of
beings essentially bad. If they exist, they must necessarily be, like everything else, a creation of God but
God, who is sovereignly just and good, cannot have created beings predestined to evil by their very
nature, and condemned beforehand to eternal misery. If, on the contrary, they are not a creation of God,
they must either have existed. like Him, from all eternity, or there must be several creators.
The first requisite of every theory is to be consistent with itself but that which asserts the existence of
demons, in the popular acceptation of
¹The Zoroastrian term, Dev is the designation of spirits under the orders of Ahriman, the genius of evil, who,
with their leader, will eventually be "converted," and share the beatitude of the just.- Zendavesta, A DU
PERRON. Paris, 1771. Vol. i. p.2, pp. 164, 202 etc. - TRANS.
the term, lacks this essential condition of theoretic soundness. It was natural that the religious belief of
peoples Who, knowing nothing of the attributes of God, were backward enough to admit the existence of
maleficent deities, should also admit the existence of demons but, on the of those who acknowledge the
goodness of God to be His distinguishing quality, it is illogical and contradictory to suppose that He can
have created beings doomed to evil. and destined to do evil for ever, for such a supposition is the negation
of His goodness. The partisans of the belief in devils appeal to the words of Christ in support of their
doctrine and it is certainly not we who would contest the authority of His teachings, which we would faint
see established, not merely on the lips of men, but also in their hearts. But are those partisans quite sure
of the meaning attached be Him to the word "devil"? Is it not fully admitted that the allegorical form is
one of the distinctive characteristics of His utterances, and that the Gospels contain many things which
are not to be taken literally? To prove that such is the case, we need only quote the following passage: -
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened,and the moon shall not give
her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven. and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken And then
shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven... Verily I say unto you. This generation shall not pass
till all these things are fulfilled" (Matt. xxiv. 29, 30, 34.) Have we not seen that the form of the biblical
text, in reference to the creation and movement of the earth, is contradicted by the discoveries of science?
May it not be the same in regard to certain figurative expressions employed by Christ in order to adapt
His teachings to the time and the scene of His mission? Christ could not have made a statement knowing it
to be false. If, therefore, His sayings contain statements which appear to be contrary to reason, it is
evident either that we do not understand their meaning or that we have interpreted them erroneously.
Men have done in regard to devils what they have done in regard to angels. Just as they have imagined
that there are beings who were created perfect from all eternity. so they have imagined that spirits of the
lower degrees Were beings essentially and eternally bad. The words demon, devil, ought, therefore, to be
understood as indicating impure spirits who are often no better that the imaginary beings designated by
those names, but with this difference. viz., that their state of impurity and inferiority is only transitory.
They are the Imperfect spirits who rebel against the discipline of trial to which they are subjected, and
who, therefore, have to undergo that discipline for a longer period, but who will, nevertheless, reach the
goal in time, When they shall have made up their minds to do so. The words demon, devil, might
accordingly be employed in this sense but as they have come to be understood exclusively as conveying the
meaning now shown to be false. their employment might lead into error by seeming to recognise the
existence of beings specially created for evil.
As regards the term "Satan," it is evidently a personification of the principle of evil under an allegorical
form for it is impossible to admit the existence of a being who fights against God as an independent and
rival power, and whose sole business in life is to contravene His designs. As images and figures are
necessary in order to strike the human imagination, men have pictured to themselves the beings of the
incorporeal world under a material form. with attributes indicative of their good or bad qualities. It is
thus that the ancients, wishing to personify the idea of time, represented it under the figure of an old man
with a scythe and an hour-glass. To have personified it under the figure of a youth would have been
contrary to common sense. The same may be said of the allegories of Fortune, Truth, etc. The moderns
have represented the angels or pure spirits under the form of radiant beings with white Wings-emblem of
purity Satan, with horns, claws, and the attributes of bestiality-emblems of the lowest Passions; and the
vulgar, prone to understand such representations literally, have taken these allegorical embodiments of
abstract ideas for real personalities, as they formerly did in regard to the allegorical personifications of
the old mythology.
Aim of Incarnation
132. What is the aim of the incarnation of spirits.?
"It is a necessity imposed on them by God, as the means of attaining perfection. For some of
them it is an expiation; for others, a mission. In order to attain perfection, it is necessary for
them to undergo all the vicissitudes of corporeal existence. It is the experience acquired by
expiation that constitutes its usefulness. Incarnation has also another aim-viz., that of fitting
the spirit to perform his share in the work of creation; for which purpose he is made to
assume a corporeal apparatus in harmony with the material state of each world into which he
is sent, and by means of which he is enabled to accomplish the special work, in connection
with that world which has been appointed to him by the divine ordering. He is thus made to
contribute his quota towards the general weal, while achieving his own advancement."
The action of corporeal beings is necessary to the carrying on of the work of the universe ; but God in His
wisdom has willed that this action should furnish them with the means of progress and of advancement
towards Himself. And thus, through an admirable law of His providence, all things are linked together,
and solidarity is established between all the realms of nature.
133. Is incarnation necessary for the spirits who, from the beginning, have followed the right
"All are created simple and ignorant; they gain instruction in the struggles and tribulations of
corporeal life. God, being just, could not make some of them happy, without trouble and
withotlt exertion, and consequently without merit."
- But it so, 'what do spirits gain by' having followed the right road, since they' are not thereby
exempted from the pains of corporeal life?
"They arrive more quickly at the goal. And besides, the sufferings of life are often a
consequence of the imperfection of the spirit; therefore, the fewer his imperfections, the less
will be his sufferings. He who is neither envious, jealous, avaricious, nor ambitious, will not
have to undergo the torments which are a consequence of those defects."
The Soul
134. What is the soul?
"An incarnate spirit."
- What was the soul before its union with a body?
"A spirit."
- Souls and spirits are, then, the very same thing?
"Yes; souls are only spirits. Before uniting itself with a body, the soul is one of the intelligent
beings who people the invisible world, and who temporarily assume a fleshly body in order to
effect their purification and enlightenment."
135. Is there in man anything else than a soul and a body?'
"There is the link which unites the soul and the body."
- What is tile nature of that link?
"It is semi-material-that is to say, of a nature intermediate between soul and body, as it must
necessarily be. in order that they may be enabled to communicate with each other. It is by
means of this link that the spirit acts upon matter, and that matter acts reciprocally upon the
Man is thus formed of three essential elements or parts: -
1st. The body, or material being, analogous to the animals, and animated by the same vital principle;
2d. The soul, or incarnated spirit, of which the body is the habitation;
3d. The intermediary principle, or perispirit; a semi-material substance, which constitutes the innermost
envelope of the spirit, and unites the soul with the body. This triplicity is analogous to that of the fruit,
which consists of the germ, the perisperm, and the rind or shell.
136. is the soul independent of the vital principle?'
'“The body is only the envelope of the soul, as we have repeatedly told you."
- Can a body exist without a soul?'
"Yes; but it is only when the body ceases to live that the soul quits it, Previous to birth, the
union between the soul and the body is not complete; but. when this union is definitively
established, it is only the death of the body that can sever the bonds that unite it to the soul,
and thus allow the soul to withdraw
from it. Organic life may vitalise a body without a soul, but the soul cannot inhabit a body
deprived of organic life."
- What would our body be if it had no soul?'
"A mass of flesh without intelligence; anything you choose to call it, excepting a man."
137. Can the same spirit incarnate itself in two different bodies at the same time?'
"No; the spirit is indivisible, and cannot simultaneously animate two different beings." (Vide,
in The Medium's Book, the chapter on Bi-corporeality and Transfiguration.)
138. What is to be thought of the opinion of those who regard the soul as being the principle
of material life?'
"That is a question of definition; we attach but slight importance to mere words. You should
begin by agreeing among yourselves as to the exact meaning of the expressions you employ."
139. Certain spirits, and certain philosophers before them, have defined the soul as "An
animated spark that has emanated from the Great Whole"; why this contradiction?'
"There is nothing contradictory in such a definition. Everything depends on the meaning you
attribute to the words you use. Why have you not a word for each thing?"
The word soul is employed to express very different things. Sometimes It is used to designate the principle
of life and in this sense it is correct to say, figuratively, that the soul is an animated spark that has
emanated from the Great Whole. These latter words designate the universal source of the vital principle,
of which each being absorbs a portion, that returns to the general mass after its death. This Idea does not
exclude that of a moral being, a distinct personality. independent of matter, and preserving Its own
individuality It is this being which. at other times, is called the soul, and it is in this sense that we speak of
the soul as an incarnate spirit. In giving different definitions of soul, the spirits who have given them have
spoken according to their various ways of applyng that word, and also according to the terrestrial ideas
with which they are more or less imbued. This apparent confusion results from the insufficiency of human
language, which does not possess a specific word for each idea an insufficiency that gives rise to a vast
number of misapprehensions and discussions. It is for this reason that the higher spirits tell us to begin by
distinctly defining the meaning of the words we employ.¹
140. What is to be thought of the theory according to which the soul is subdivided into as
many parts as there are muscles in the body, and thus presides over each of the bodily
"That, again, depends on the meaning attached to the word soul. If by soul is meant the vital
fluid, that theory is right; if
¹ Vide, in the Introduction, the explanation of the word soul, sec. ii.
the word is used to express an incarnate spirit, it is wrong. We have already told you that a
spirit is indivisible; it transmits movement to the bodily organs through the intermediary
fluids, but it undergoes no division."
-Nevertheless, there are spirits who have given this definition.
"Spirits who are ignorant may mistake the effect for the cause."
The soul acts through the intermediary of the bodily organs. and those organs are animated by the vital
fluid which is distributed among them, arid more abundantly in those which constitute the centres or foci
of movement for each organism. But this explanation becomes Inadmissible when the term soul is
employed to designate the spirit which inhabits the t)body during life and quits it at death.
141. Is there any thruth in the opinion of those who suppose that the soul is exterior to the
body and environs it?
"The soul is not shut up in the body like a bird in a cage. It radiates in all directions, and
manifests itself outside the body as a light radiates from a glass globe, or as a sound is
propagated from a sonorous centre. In this sense the soul may be said to be exterior to the
body, but it is not therefore to be considered as enveloping the body. The soul has two
envelopes; the first, or innermost, of these, of a light and subtle nature, is what you call the
perispirit the other, gross, material, heavy, is the body. The soul is the centre of both these
envelopes, like the germ in the stone of the fruit, as we have already said."
142. What is to be thought of that other theory according to which the formation of the soul
of the child is carried on to completion during the successive periods of the human lifetime?
"The spirit is a unit and is as entire in the child as in the adult. It is only the bodily organs, or
instruments of the manifestations of the soul, that are gradually developed and completed in
the course of a lifetime. Here, again, you mistake the effect for the cause."
143. Why do not all spirits define the soul in the same way?
"All spirits are not equally enlightened in regard to these matters. Some spirits are still so
little advanced intellectually as to be incapable of understanding abstract ideas; they are like
children in your world. Other spirits are full of false learning, and make a vain parade of
words in order to impose their authority upon those who listen to them. They, also, resemble
too many in your world. And besides, even spirits who are really enenlightened may express
themselves in terms which appear to be different, but which, at bottom, mean the same thing,
in regard to matters which your language is incapable of expressing dearly, and which can
only he spoken of to you by means of figures and comparisons that you mistake for literal
statements of fact."
144. What is to be understood by the soul of the world?
"The universal principle of life and intelligence from which individualities are produced. But,
very often, they who make use of these terms do not know what they mean by them. The
word soul is so elastic that every one interprets it according to his own imaginings. Certain
persons have also attributed a soul to the earth, which must he understood as indicating the
assemblage of devoted spirits who direct your actions in the right direction when you listen to
them, and who are, as it were. the lieutenants of God in the administration of your globe."
145. How is it that so many philosophers both ancient and modern have so long been
discussing psychological questions without having arrived at the truth.'
"Those men were precursors of the eternal truths of the true spiritist doctrine, for which they
have prepared the way. They were men, and therefore subject to error, because they often
mistook their own ideas for the true light; but their very errors have served the cause of truth
by bringing into relief both sides of the argument. Moreover, among those errors are to be
found many great truths which a comparative study of the various theories thus put forth
would enable you to discover."
146. Has the soul a circumscribed and determinate seat in the body?
"No but it may be said to reside more especially in the head, in the case of men of great
genius and of all who think much, and in the heart, in the case of those who feel much, and
whose actions have always a humanitarian aim."
- What is to be thought of the opinion of those who place the soul in a centre of organic life?
"The spirit may be said to inhabit more especially such a part of your organism, because it is
to such a part that all the sensations converge; but those who place it in what they consider to
be the centre of vitality confound it with the vital fluid or principle. Nevertheless, it may be
said that the soul is more especially present in the organs which serve for the manifestation of
the intellectual and moral qualities."
147. Why is it that anatomists physiologists, and in general those who apply themselves to the
pursuit of the natural sciences, are so apt to fall into materialism?
"The physiologist refers everything to the standard of his senses. Human pride imagines that
it knows everything, and refuses to admit that there can be anything which transcends the
human understanding. Science itself inspires some minds with presumption; they think that
nature can have nothing hidden from them."
148. Is it not regrettable that materialism should be' a consequence of studies which ought,
on the contrary, to show men the superiority of the intelligence that governs the world?
"It is not true that materialism is a consequence of those studies it is a result of the
imperfection which leads men to draw a false conclusion from their studies, for men may
make a bad use of the very best things. The idea of annihilation, moreover, troubles those
who profess to hold it more than they will allow to l)e seen; and those who are the loudest in
proclaiming their materialistic convictions are often more boastful than brave The greater
number of the so-called materialists are only such because they have no rational ground of
belief in a future life. Show a firm anchor of rational belief in a future state to those who see
only a yawning void before them, and they will grasp it with the eagerness of drowning men."
There are those who, through an aberration of the intellect. can see nothing in organised beings but the
action of matter. and attribute to this action alt the phenomena of existence. They have seen, in the
human body. only the action of an electrical machine they have studied the mechanism of life only in the
play of the bodily organ"'; they have Often seen life extinguished by the rupture of a filament, and they
have seen nothing but this filament. They have looked to see whether anything stilt remained, and as they
have found nothing but matter that has become inert, as they have neither seen the soul escape from the
body nor been able to take hold of it, they have concluded that everything is reducible to the properties of
matter, and that death is consequently the annihilation of all thought. A melancholy conclusion, if such
were really the case for, were it so, good and evil would be alike devoid of aim every man would be
justified In thinking only of himself, and in subordinating every other consideration to the satisfaction of
his material Instincts. Thus all social ties would be broken, and the holiest affections would be destroyed
for ever. Happily for mankind, these ideas are far from being general. Their area may even be said to be a
narrow one, limited to the scope of invidious opinions; for nowhere have they been erected Into a system
of doctrine. A state of society founded on such a basis would contain within itself the seeds of its own
dissolution; and its members would tear each other to pieces like so many ferocious beasts of prey.
Man has an intuitive belief that, for him, everything does not end with the life of his body; he has a
horror of annihilation. No matter how obstinately men may have set themselves against the idea of a
future life, there are very few who, on the approach of death. do not anxiously ask
themselves what is going to become of them for the thought of bidding an eternal adieu to life is appalling
to the stoutest heart. Who, indeed could look with indifference on the prospect of an absolute and eternal
separation from all that he has loved? Who, without terror, could behold, yawning beneath him, the
bottomless abyss of nothingness in which all his faculties and aspirations are to be swallowed up for ever?
Who could calmly say to himself, "After my death there will be nothing for me but the void of
annihilation; all will be ended. A few days hence, all memory of me will have been blotted out from the
remembrance of those Who survive me, and the earth itself will retain no trace of my passage. Even the
good that I have done will be forgotten by the ungrateful mortals whom I have benefited. And there is
nothing to compensate me for all this loss, no other prospect, beyond this ruin, than that of my body
devoured by worms !"
Is there not something horrible in such a picture, something that sends an icy chill through the heart?
Religion teaches us that such cannot be our destiny ; and reason confirms the teachings of religion. But
the vague, indefinite assurance of a future existence, Which is all that is given us either by religion or by
reason, cannot satisfy our natural desire for some positive proof in a matter of such paramount
importance for us and it is just the lack of such proof, In regard to a future life, that, In so many cases,
engenders doubt as to Its reality.
"Admitting that We have a soul," many very naturally ask, "what is our soul? Has It a form, an
appearance of any kind? is it a limited being, Or is it something undefined and impersonal? Some say that
it is 'a breath of God :' Others, that it is a spark' others, again, declare it to be 'part of the Great Whole,
the principle of life and of Intelligence.' But what do we learn from these statements? What is the good of
our possessing a soul, if our soul is to be merged In inimensity like a drop of water in the ocean? Is not the
loss of our individuality equivalent, so far as we are concerned, to annihilation? The soul is said to be
immaterial ; but that which is immaterial can have no defined proportions. and therefore can have no
reality for us. Religion also teaches that we shall be happy, or unhappy. according to the good or the evil
We have done ; but of what nature are the happiness or unhappiness thus promised us in another life? Is
that happiness a state of beatitude in the bosom of God, an external contemplation, with no other
employment than that of singing the praises of the Creator? And the flames of hell, are they a reality or a
figure of speech? The Church itself attributes to them a figurative meaning but of what nature are the
sufferings thus figuratively shadowed forth? And where Is the scene of those sufferings? In short, what
shall we be, what shall we do, what shall we see, in that other world which is said to await us all?"
No one, it is averred, has ever come back to give us an account of that world. But this statement is
erroneous: and the mission of Spiritism is precisely to enlighten us in regard to the future which awaits us
to enable us, within certain limits, to see and to touch it, not merely as a deduction of our reason, but
through the evidence of facts. Thanks to the communications made to us by the people of that other
world, the latter is no longer a mere presumption, a probability, which each one pictures to himself
according to his own fancy, which poets embellish with fictitious and allegorical images that serve only to
deceive us it is that other world itself, in its reality, which is now brought before us, for it is the beings of
the life beyond the grave who come to us, who describe to us the situations in which they find themselves,
who tell us what they are doing, who allow us to become. so to say, the spectators of the details of their
new order of life, and who thus show us the inevitable fate which Is reserved for each of us according to
our merits or our misdeeds.
Is there anything anti-religious in such a demonstration? Assuredly not since It furnishes unbelievers
with a ground of belief, and inspires lukewarm believers with renewed fervour and confidence.
Spiritism is thus seen to be the most powerful auxiliary of religion. And, if it be such, it must be
acknowledged to exist by the permission of God, for the purpose of giving new strength to our wavering
convictions, and thus of leading us back into the right road by the prospect of our future happiness.
The Soul After Death
149. What becomes of the soul at the moment of death?'
"It becomes again a spirit; that is to say, it returns into the world of spirits, which it had
quitted for a short time."
150. Does the soul, after death, preserve its individuality?'
"Yes, it never loses its individuality. What would the soul be if it did not preserve it?"
- How does the soul preserve the consciousness of its individuality, since it no longer has its
material body?'
"It still has a fluid peculiar to itself, which it draws from the atmosphere of its planet, and
which represents the appearance of its last incarnation-its perispirit."
- Does the soul take nothing of this life away with it?
"Nothing but the remembrance of that life and the desire to go to a better world. This
remembrance is full of sweetness or of bitterness according to the use it has made of the
earthly life it has quitted. The more advanced is the degree of its purification, the more clearly
does it perceive the futility of all that it has left behind it upon the earth."
151. What is to be thought of the opinion that the soul after death returns to the universal
"Does not the mass of spirits, considered in its totality, constitute a whole? Does it not
constitute a world? When you are in an assembly you form an integral part of that assembly,
and yet you still retain your individuality."
152. What proof can we have of the individuality of the soul after death?
"Is not this proof furnished by the communications which you obtain ? If you were not blind,
you would see; if you were not deal you would hear; for you are often spoken to by a voice
which reveals to you the existence of a being exterior to yourself."
Those who think that the soul returns after death into the universal whole are in error if they imagine
that It loses its Individuality, like a drop of water that falls Into the ocean they are right If they mean by
the universal whole the totality of Incorporeal beings, of which each soul or spirit Is an element.
If souls were blended together Into a mass, they would possess only the qualities common to the totality of
the mass there would be nothing to distinguish them from one another, and they would have no special,
intellectual, or moral qualities of their own. But the communications we obtain from spirits give abundant
evidence of the possession by each spirit of the consciousness of the me, and of a distinct will, personal to
itself; the infinite diversity of characteristics of all kinds presented by them Is at once the consequence
and the evidence of their distinctive personal individuality. If, after death, there were nothing but what is
called the "Great Whole," absorbing all individualities, this whole Would be uniform in its characteristics
and, in that case, all the communications received from the invisible world would be identical. But as
among the denizens of that other world we meet with some who are good and some who are bad, some
who are learned and some who are ignorant, some who are happy and some who are unhappy, and as
they present us with every shade of character, some being frivolous and other. serious, etc., it is evident
that they are different individualities, perfectly distinct from one another. This individuality becomes still
more evident when they are able to prove their identity by unmistakable tokens, by personal details
relating to their terrestrial life, and susceptible of being verified; and it cannot be a matter of doubt when
they manifest themselves to our sight under the form of apparitions. The individuality of the soul has been
taught theoretically as an article of faith; Spiritism renders it patent, as an evident, and, so to say, a
material fact.
153. In what sense should we understand eternal life?
"It is the life of the spirit that is eternal; that of the body is transitory and fleeting. When the
body dies, the soul re-enters the eternal life."
- Would it not be more correct to apply the term eternal life to the life of the purified spirits;
of those who, having attained to the degree of relative perfection, have no longer to undergo
the discipline of suffering?
"The life of that degree might rather be termed eternal happiness; but this is a question of
words. You may call things as you please, provided you are agreed among yourselves as to
your meaning."
Separation of Soul and Body
154. Is the separation of the soul from the body a painful process?'
"No; the body often suffers more during life than at the moment of death, when the soul is
usually unconscious of what is occurring
to the body. The sensations experienced at the moment of death are often a source of
enjoyment for the spirit, who recognises them as putting an end to the term of his exile."
In cases of natural death, where dissolution occurs as a consequence of the exhaustion of the bodily
organs through age, man passes out of life without perceiving that he is doing so. It is like the flame of a
lamp that goes out for want of aliment.
155. How is the separation of soul and body effected?
"The bonds which retained the soul being broken, it disengages itself from the body."
- Is this separation effected instantaneously, and by means of an abrupt transition? Is there
any distinctly marked line of demarcation between life and death?
"No; the soul disengages itself gradually. It does not escape at once from the body, like a bird
whose cage is suddenly opened. The two states touch and run into each other; and the spirit
extricates himself, little by little, from his fleshly bonds, which are loosed, but not broken."
During life, a spirit is held to the body by his semi-material envelope, or perispirit. Death is the destruction
of the body only. but not of this second envelope, which separates itself from the body when the play of
organic life ceases in the latter. Observation shows us that the separation of the perispirit from the body is
not suddenly completed at the moment of death. but is only effected gradually, and more or less slowly in
different Individuals. In some cases it is effected so quickly that the perispirit is entirely separated from
the body within a few hours of the death of the latter but. in other cases, and especially in the case of
those whose life has been grossly material and sensual, this deliverance is much less rapid, and sometimes
takes days. weeks, and even months, for its accomplishment. This delay does not imply the slightest
persistence of vitality in the body, nor any possibility of Its return to life, but is simply the result of a
certain affinity between the body and the spirit which affinity is always more or less tenacious in
proportion to the preponderance of materiality in the affections of the spirit during his earthly life. It is.
in fact, only rational to suppose that the more closely a spirit has identified himself with matter, the
greater will be his difficulty in separating himself from his material body; while, on the contrary,
intellectual and moral activity, and habitual elevation of thought, effect a commencement of this
separation even during the life of the body, and therefore, when death occurs, the separation is almost
instantaneous. The study of a great number of individuals after their death has shown that affinity which,
in some cases, continues to exist between the soul and the body is sometimes extremely painful for it
causes the spirit to perceive all the horror of the decomposition of the latter. This experience is
exceptional, and peculiar to certain kinds of life and to certain kinds of death. It sometimes occurs in the
case of those who have committed suicide.
156. Can the definitive separation of the soul and body take place before the complete
cessation of organic life?
"It sometimes happens that the soul has quitted the body before the last agony comes on, so
that the latter is only the closing act of merely organic life. The dying man has no longer any
sciousness of himself, and nevertheless there still remains in him a faint breathing of vitality.
The body is a machine that is kept in movement by the heart. It continues to live as long as
tile heart causes the blood to circulate in the veins, and has no need of the soul to do that."
157. Does the soul sometimes at the moment of death, experience an aspiration or an ecstasy
that gives it a foreglimpse of the world into which it is about to return?
"The soul often feels the loosening of the bonds that attach it to the body, and does its utmost
to hasten and complete the work of separation. Already partially freed from matter, it beholds
the future unrolled before it, and enjoys, in anticipation, the spirit-state upon which it is about
to re-enter."
158. Do the transformations of the caterpillar-which, first of all, crawls upon the ground, and
then shuts itself up in its chrysalis in seeming death, to be reborn therefrom into a new and
brilliant existence-give us anything like a true idea of the relation between our terrestrial life,
the tomb, and our new existence beyond the latter?
"An idea on a very small scale. The image is good; hut, nevertheless, it would not do to
accept it literally, as you so often do in regard to such images."
159. What sensation is experienced by the soul at the moment when it recovers its'
consciousness in the world of spirits?
"That depends on circumstances. He who has done evil from the love of evil is overwhelmed
with shame for his wrong-doing. With the righteous it is very different. His soul seems to be
eased of a heavy load, for it does not dread the most searching glance."
160. Does the spirit find himself at once in company with those whom he knew upon the
earth, and who died before him?
"Yes; and more or less promptly according to the degree of his affection for them and of
theirs for him. They often come to meet him on his return to the spirit-world, and help to free
him from the bonds of matter. Others whom he formerly knew, but whom he had lost sight of
during his sojourn on the earth, also come to meet him. He sees those who are in erraticity,
and he goes to visit those who are still incarnated."
161. In cases of violent or accidental death, when the organs have not been weakened by age
or by sickness, does the separation of the soul take place simultaneously with the cessation of
organic life?
"It does so usually; and, at any rate, the interval between them, in all such cases, is very
162. After decapitation, for instance, does a man retain consciousness for a longer or shorter
"He frequently does so for a few minutes, until the organic life of the body is completely
extinct; but, on the other hand, the fear of death often causes a man to lose consciousness
before the moment of execution."
The question here proposed refers simply to the consciousness which the victim may have of himself as a
man, through the intermediary of his bodily organs, and not as a spirit. If he have not lost this
consciousness before execution, he may retain it for a few moments afterwards but this persistence of
consciousness can only be of very short duration, and must necessarily cease with the cessation of the
organic life of the brain. The cessation of the human consciousness, however, by no means implies the
complete separation of the perispirit from the body. On the contrary, in all cases in which death has
resulted from violence, and not from a gradual extinction of the vital forces, the bonds which unite the
body to the perispirit are more tenacious, and the separation is effected more slowly.
Temporarily - Confused State of the Soul After Death
163. Does the soul, on quitting the body, find itself at once in possession of its selfconsciousness?
"Not at once. It is for a time in a state of confusion which obscures all its perceptions."
164. Do all spirits experience, in the same degree and for the same length of time, the
confusion which follows the separation of the soul from the body?
"No; this depends entirely on their degree of elevation. He who has already accomplished a
certain amount of purification recovers his consciousness almost immediately, because he had
already freed himself from the thraldom of materiality during his bodily life; whereas the
carnally minded man, he whose conscience is not clear, retains the impression of matter for a
much longer time."
165. Does a knowledge of Spiritism exercise any influence on the duration of this state of
"It exercises a very considerable influence on that duration, because it enables the spirit to
understand beforehand the new
situation in which it is about to find itself ; but the practice of rectitude during the earthly life,
and a clear conscience, are the conditions which conduce most powerfully to shorten it."
At the moment of death, everything appears confused. The soul takes some time to recover its selfconsciousness,
for it Is as though stunned, and in a state similar to that of a man waking out of a deep
sleep, and trying to understand his own situation. It gradually regains clearness of thought and the
memory of the past in proportion to the weakening of the influence of the material envelope from which it
has just freed itself, and the clearing away of the sort of fog that obscured its consciousness.
The duration of the state of confusion that follows death varies greatly in different cases. It may be only
of a few hours, and it may be of several months, or even years. Those with whom It lasts the least are they
who, during the earthly life, have identified themselves most closely with their future state, because they
are soonest able to understand their pew situation.
This state of confusion assumes special aspects according to characterial peculiarities, and also according
to different modes of death. In all cases of violent or sudden death, by suicide, by capital punisment,
accident, apoplexy, etc., the spirit is surprised, astounded, and does not believe himself to be dead. He
obstinately persists In asserting the contrary; and, nevertheless, he sees the body he has quitted as
something apart from himself he knows that body to be his own, and he cannot make out how it should be
separated from him. He goes about among the persons with whom he is united by the ties of affection,
speaks to them, and cannot conceive why they do not hear him. This Sort of illusion lasts until the entire
separation of the perispirit from the earthly body, for it is only when this is accomplished that the spirit
begins to understand his situation, and becomes aware that he no longer forms part of the world of
human beings. Death having come upon him by surprise, the spirit is stunned by the suddenness of the
change that has taken place in him. For him, death is still synonymous with destruction, annihilation and
and he thinks, sees, hears, it seems to him that he cannot be dead. And this illusion is still further
strengthened by his seeing himself with a body similar in form to the one he has quitted for he does not at
first perceive Its ethereal nature, but supposes it to be solid and compact like the otherand when his
attention has been called to this point, he is astonished at finding that it is not palpable. This phenomenon
is analogous to that which occurs in the case of somnambulists, who, when thrown for the first time into
the magnetic sleep, cannot believe that they are not awake. Sleep, according to their idea of it, is
synonymous with suspension of the perceptive faculties; and as they think freely, and see, they appear to
themselves not to be as leep. Some spirits present this peculiarity, even in cases where death has not
supervened unexpectedly but it more frequently occurs in the case of those who, although they may have
been ill, had no expectation of death. The curious spectacle Is then presented of a spirit attending his own
funeral as though it were that of someone else, and speaking of it as of something which in no way
concerns him, until the moment when at length he comprehends the true state of the case.
In the mental confusion which follows death, there is nothing painful for him who has lived an upright
life. He is calm, and his perceptions are those of a peaceful awaking out of sleep. But for him whose
conscience is not clean, it is full of anxiety and anguish that become more and more poignant in
proportion as he recovers consciousness.
In cases of collective death, in which many persons have perished together in the same catastrophe, it has
been observed that they do not always see one another immediately afterwards. In the state of confusion
which follows death, each spirit goes his own way, or concerns himself only with those in whom he takes
an interest.
166. How can the soul that has not attained to perfection during the corporeal life complete
the work of its purification?
"By undergoing the trial of a new existence."
- How does the soul accomplish this new existence? Is it through its transformation as a
"The soul, in purifying itself, undoubtedly undergoes a transformation; but, in order to effect
this transformation, it needs the trial of corporeal life.”
- The soul has then, many corporeal existences?
"Yes; we all have many such existences. Those who maintain the contrary wish to keep you
in the same ignorance in which they are themselves."
- It would seem to result from this statement that the soul, after having quitted one body,
takes another one; in other words, that it reincarnates itself in a new body. Is it thus that this
statement is to be understood?
"Evidently so."
167. What is the aim of reincarnation?
"Expiation; progressive improvement of mankind. Without this aim, where would be its
168. Is the number of corporeal existences limited, or does a spirit go on reincarnating
himself for ever?
"In each new existence, a spirit takes a step forwards in the path of progress; when he has
stripped himself of all his impurities, he has no further need of the trials of corporeal life."
169. Is the number of incarnations the same for all spirits?
"No; he who advances quickly spares himself many trials. Nevertheless, these successive
incarnations are always very numerous, for progress is almost infinite."
170. What does the spirit become after its last incarnation?
"It enters upon the state of perfect happiness, as a purified spirit."
Justice of Reincarnation.
171. What foundation is there for the doctrine of reincarnation?
"The justice of God, and revelation; for, as we have already remarked, an affectionate father
always leaves a door of repentance open for his erring children. Does not reason itself tell you
that it would be unjust to inflict an eternal privation of happiness on those who have not had
the opportunity of improving themselves? Are not all men God's children? It is only among
selfish human beings that injustice, implacable hatred, and irremissible punishments are to be
All spirits tend towards perfection, and are furnished by God with the means of advancement through the
trials of corporeal life; but the divine justice compels them to accomplish. in new existences, that which
they have not been able to do, or to complete, in a previous trial.
It would not be consistent with the justice or with the goodness of God to sentence to eternal suffering
those who may have encountered obstacles to their improvement independent of their will, and resulting
from the very nature of the conditions in which they found themselves placed. If the fate of mankind were
Irrevocably fixed after death. God would not have weighed the actions of all in the same scales, and
would not have treated them with impartiality.
The doctrine of reincarnation-that Is to say, the doctrine which proclaims that men have many successive
existence-is the only one which answers to the idea we form to ourselves of the justice of God in regard to
those who are placed, by circumstances over which they have no control, in conditions unfavourable to
their moral advancement ; the only one which can explain the future, and furnish us with a sound basis
for our hopes. because it offers us the means of redeeming our errors through new trials. This doctrine is
Indicated by the teachings of reason, as well as by those of our spirit-instructors.
He who is conscious of his own inferiority derives a consoling hope from the doctrine of reincarnation. If
he believes in the justice of God, he cannot hope to be placed, at once and for all eternity, on a level with
those who have made a better use of life than he has done but the knowledge that this inferiority will not
exclude him for ever from the supreme felicity, and that he will be able to conquer this felicity through
new efforts, revives his courage and sustains his energy. who does not regret, at the end of his career. that
the experience he has acquired should have come too late to allow of his turning it to useful account? This
tardily acquired experience will not be lost for him ; he will profit by it in a new' corporeal life.
Incarnation in Different Worlds
172. Do we accomplish all our different corporeal existences upon this earth?
"Not all of them, for those existences take place in many different worlds. The world in
which you now are is neither the first nor the last of these, but is one of those that are the
most material, and the furthest removed from perfection."
173. Does the soul, at each new corporeal existence, pass from one world to another or can it
accomplish several existences on the same globe?
"It may live many times on the same globe, if it be not sufficiently advanced to pass into a
higher one."
- We may, then, re-appear several times upon the earth?
- Can we come back to it after having lived in other worlds?
"Assuredly you can; you may already have lived elsewhere as upon the earth."
174. Is it necessary to live again upon this earth?
"No; but if you do not advance, you may go into a world no better than this one, or even
175. Is there any advantage in coming back to inhabit this earth?
"No special advantage, unless it be the fulfilment of a mission; in that case the spirit
advances, whether incarnated in this earth or elsewhere."
- Would it not be happier to remain as a spirit?
"No, no! for we should remain stationary; and we want to advance towards God."
176. Can spirits come to this world, for the first time, after having been incarnated in other
"Yes; just as you may go into other ones. All the worlds of the universe are united by the
bonds of solidarity; that which is not accomplished in one of them is accomplished in
- Some of those who are now upon this earth are here, then, for the first time?
"Many of them are so; and at various degrees of advancement."
- Is there any sign by which we can know the spirits who are here for the first time?
"Such knowledge would not be of the slightest use to you."
177. In order to arrive at the perfection and the supreme felicity which are the final aim of
mankind, is it necessary for a spirit to pass through all the worlds that exist in the universe?
"No; for there are a great number of worlds of the same degree, in which a spirit would learn
nothing new."
- How, then, are we to explain the plurality of his existences upon the same globe?
"He may find himself, each time he comes back, in very different situations, which afford him
the opportunity of acquiring new experience."
178. Can spirits live corporeally in a world relatively inferior to the one in which they have
already lived?
"Yes; when they have to fulfil a mission in aid of progress; and in that case they joyfully
accept the tribulations of such an existence, because these will furnish them with the means
of advancement."
- May this not occur also as an expiation and may not rebellious spirits be sent by God into
worlds' of lower degree?
"Spirits may remain stationary, but they never retrograde; those who are rebellious are
punished by not advancing, and by having to recommence their misused existences under the
conditions suited to their nature."
- Who are they that are compelled to recommence the same existence?
"They who fail in the fulfilment of their mission, or in the endurance of the trial appointed to
179. Have all the human beings who inhabit any given world arrived at the same degree of
"No; it is in the other worlds as upon the earth; there are some who are more advanced, and
others who are less so."
180. In passing from this world into another one, does a spirit retain the intelligence which
he possessed in this one?
"Undoubtedly he does; intelligence is never lost. But he may not have the same means of
manifesting it for that depends both on his degree of advancement and on the quality of the
body he will take." (Vide, Influence of Organism.)
181. Have the human beings who inhabit the other worlds bodies like ours?
"They undoubtedly have bodies, because it is necessary for the spirit to be clothed with matter
in order to act upon matter; but. this envelope is more or less material according to the degree
of purity at which each spirit has arrived, and it is these gradations of purity that decide the
different worlds through which we have to pass; for in our Father's house are many mansions,
and therefore many degrees among those mansions. There are some who know this, and
possess the consciousness of this fact, while upon the earth; and there are others who have no
such intuition."
182. Can we obtain any exact knowledge of the physical and moral state of the different
“We, spirits, can only reply according to the degree at which you have arrived; that is to say,
that we must not reveal these things to all, because some are not in the state which would
enable them to understand such revelations, and would be confused by them."
In proportion as a spirit becomes purified, the body with which he clothes himself also approaches more
nearly to the spirit-nature. The matter of which his body is composed is less dense he no longer crawls
heavily on the surface of the ground ; his bodily needs are less gross and the various living beings in those
higher worlds are no longer obliged to destroy one another in order to feed themselves. A spirit
incarnated in those worlds enjoys a greater degree of freedom, and possesses, in regard to objects at a
distance, orders of perception of a nature unknown to us; he sees with his eyes what we see only in
The purification of spirits determines the moral excellence of the corporeal beings in whom they are
incarnated. The animal passions become weaker, and selfishness gives place to the sentiment of fraternity.
Thus, in worlds of higher degree than our earth, wars are unknown, because no one thinks of doing harm
to his fellow-beings, and there is consequently no motive for hatred or discord. The foresight of their
future, which is intuitive in the people of those worlds, and the sense of security resulting from a
conscience void of remorse, cause them to look forward to death without fear, as being simply a process of
transformation, the approach of which they perceive without the sightest uneasiness.
The duration of a lifetime, in the different worlds, appears to be proportionate to the degree of moral and
physical superiority of each world and this is perfectly consonant with reason. The less material is the
body, the less subject is it to the vicissitudes which disorganise it ; the purer the spirit, the less subject is it
to the passions which undermine and destroy it. This correspondence between moral and physical
conditions is a proof of the beneficence of providential law, even in worlds of low degree ; as the duration
of the suffering which is the characteristic of life in those worlds is thus rendered proportionally shorter.
183. In passing from one world to another, does the spirit pass through a new infancy?
"Infancy is, in all worlds, a necessary transition; but it is not, in all of them, so stupid as it in
184. Has a spirit the choice of the new world which lie is to inhabit?
"Not always; but he can make his demand, and it may be granted, but only if he have
deserved it; for the various worlds are only accessible to spirits according to the degree of
their elevation."
- If a spirit make no such demand, what is it that decides as to the world in which he will be
"The degree of his elevation."
185. Is the physical and moral state of the living beings of each globe always the same?
"No; worlds, like the beings that live in them, are subject to the law of progress. All have
begun, like yours, by being in a state of inferiority; and the earth will undergo a
transformation similar to that which has been accomplished by the others. It will become a
terrestrial paradise, when the men by whom it is inhabited have become good."
The races which now people the earth will gradually disappear. and will be succeeded by others more and
more perfect. Those transformed races will succeed the races now upon the earth, as these have succeeded
earlier races, still more gross than the present ones.
186. Are there worlds in which the spirit, ceasing to inhabit a material body, has no longer
any other envelope than the pen spirit ?
"Yes, and this envelope itself becomes so etherealised that, for you, it is as though it did not
exist. This is the state of the fully purified spirits."
- It would seem, from this statement, that there is no clearly marked line of demarcation
between the state of the latter in-carnations and that of pure spirit?
"No such demarcation exists. The difference between them growing gradually less and less,
they blend into one another as the darkness of night melts into the dawn."
187. Is the substance of the perispirit the same in all globes? "No; it is more or less ethereal.
On passing from one world to another, a spirit clothes himself with the matter proper to
each, changing his envelope with the rapidity of lightning."
188. Do the pure spirits inhabit special worlds, or are they in universal space without being
attached to any particular globe?
"The pure spirits inhabit certain worlds, but they are not confined to them as men are
confined to the earth; they possess, in a higher degree than any others, the power of
instantaneous locomotion, which is equivalent to ubiquity."
According to the statements of spirits, the earth, as regards the physical and moral qualities of its
inhabitants, is one of the least advanced of all the globes of our solar system. Mars is stated to be at a
point even lower than that of the earth, and Jupiter to be greatly superior to the earth in every respect.
The sun is not a world inhabited by corporeal beings, but is a place of meeting for the spirits of a higher
order who, from thence, send out the radiations of their thought towards the other worlds of our solar
system, which they govern through the instrumentality of spirits of a less elevated degree, to whom they
transmit their action by the intermediary of the universal fluid. As regards its physical constitution, the
sun would appear to be a focus of electricity ; and all the other suns seem to be identical with ours in
nature and function.
The size of planets, and their distance from the sun, have no necessary relation with their degree of
advancement for Venus is said to he more advanced than the earth, and Saturn is declared to be less
advanced than Jupiter.
The souls of many persons well known on this earth are said to be reincarnated in Jupiter, one of the
worlds nearest to perfection; and much surprise has been felt on hearing it stated that persons who, when
here, were not supposed to merit such a favour, should have been admitted into so advanced a globe. But
there is nothing in this fact that need surprise us, if we consider, first, that certain spirits who have
inhabited this planet may nave been sent hither in fulfilment of a mission which, to our eyes, did not seem
to place them in the foremost rank secondly, that they may have had, between their lives here and in
Jupiter, intermediary existences in which they have advanced ; and thirdly, that there are innumerable
degrees of development in that world as in this one, and that there may be as much difference between
these degrees as there is, amongst us, between the savage and the civilised man. It no more follows that a
spirit is on a level with the most advanced beings of Jupiter because he inhabits that planet than it follows
that an ignoramus is on a level with a philosopher because he inhabits the same town.
The conditions of longevity, also, are as various in other worlds as they are on our earth and no
comparison can be established between the ages of those who inhabit them. A person who had died some
years previously, on being evoked, stated that he had been incarnated for six months in a world the name
of Which is unknown to us. Being questioned as to his age in that world, he replied, "that is a point which
I am unable to decide ; because, in the first place, we do not count time in the same way as you do, and, in
the next place, our mode of existence is not the same as yours. Our development is much more rapid in
this world; for, although it is only six of your months since I came here, I may say that, as regards
intelligence, I am about what one usually is at the age of thirty in your earth."
A great number of similar replies have been given by other spirits; and these statements contain nothing
improbable. Do we not see upon our earth a host of animals that acquire their normal development in the
course of a few months? Why should not men do the same in other spheres? And it is to be remarked,
moreover, that the degree of development acquired by a man at the age of thirty upon the earth may be
only a sort of Infancy in comparison with what he is destined to arrive at in worlds of higher degree.
Short-sighted indeed are they who look upon our present selves as being in all respects the normal type of
creation: and to suppose that there can be no other modes of existence than our present one, is, in soothe,
a strange narrowing of our idea of the possibilities of the divine action.
Progressive Transmigrations
189. Does the spirit enjoy the plenitude of his faculties from the beginning of his formation?
"No; for the spirit, like the man, has his infancy. Spirits at their origin have only an instinctive
existence, and have scarcely any
consciousness of themselves or of their acts; it is only little by little that their intelligence is
190. What is the state of the soul at its first incarnation?
"A state analogous to that of infancy, considered in its relation to a human life. Its intelligence
is only beginning to unfold itself; it may be said to he essaying to live."
191. Are the souls of our savages souls in a state of infancy?
"Of relative infancy; but they are souls that have already accomplished a certain amount of
development, for they have passions."
- Passions, then, are a sign of development?
"Of development, yes, but not of perfection. They are a sign of activity, and of the
consciousness of the me; while, on the contrary, in the primitive state of the soul, intelligence
and vitality exist only as germs."
The life of a spirit in his totality goes through successive phases similar to those of a corporeal lifetime. He
passes gradually from the embryonic state to that of infancy, and arrives, through a succession of periods,
at the adult state, which is that of his perfection, with this difference, however, that it Is not subject either
to decrepitude or to decline, like the corporeal life that the life of a spirit, though it has had a beginning,
will have no end ; that he takes what appears from our point of view to be an immense length of time in
passing from the state of spirit-infancy to the attainment of his complete development ; and that he
accomplishes this progression, not in one and the same sphere, but by passing through different worlds.
The life of a spirit is thus composed of a series of corporeal existences, each of which affords him an
opportunity of progress ; as each of his corporeal existences is composed of a series of days, in each of
which he acquires a new increment of experience and of knowledge. But just as in a human lifetime there
are days which bear no fruit, so in the life of a spirit there are corporeal existences which are barren of
profitable result, because he has failed to make a right use of them.
192. Is it possible for us, by leading a perfect life in our present existence, to overleap all the
intervening steps of the ascent, and thus to arrive at the state of pure spirits, without passing
through the intermediate degrees?
"No; for what a man imagines to be perfect is very far from perfection; there are qualities
which are entirely unknown to him, and which he could not now be made to comprehend. He
may be as perfect as it is possible for his terrestrial nature to be; 'but he will still be very far
from the true and absolute perfection. It is just as with the child, who, however precocious he
may he, must necessarily pass through youth to reach adult life; or as the sick man, who must
pass through convalescence before arriving at the complete recovery of his health. And
besides, a spirit must
advance in knowledge as well as in morality; if he have advanced in only one of these
directions, he will have to advance equally in the other, in order to reach the top of the ladder
of perfection. But it is none the less certain that the more a man advances in his present life
the shorter and the less painful will be the trials he will have to undergo in his subsequent
- Can a man, at least, insure' for himself, after his present life, a future existence less full of
bitterness than this one?
"Yes, undoubtedly, he can abridge the length and the difficulties of the road. It is only he who
does not care to advance that remains always at the' same point."
-193. Can a man in his new existences descend to a lower point than that which he has
already reached?
"As regards his social position, yes; but not as regards his degree of progress as a spirit."
194. Can the soul of a good man, in a new incarnation, animate the body of a scoundrel?
"No; because a spirit cannot degenerate."
- Can the soul of a bad man become tile soul of a good man?
"Yes, if he have repented; and, in that case, his new incarnation in the reward of his efforts at
The line of march of all spirits is always progressive, never retrograde. They raise themselves gradually
In the hierarchy of existence they never descend from the rank at which they have once arrived. In the
course of their different corporeal existences they may descend In rank as men, but not as spirits. Thus
the soul of one who has been at the pinnacle of earthly power may, in a subsequent incarnation, animate
the humblest day-labourer, and vice. versa ; for the elevation of ranks among men Is often In the inverse
ratio of that of the moral sentiments. Herod was a king, and Jesus, a carpenter.
195. Might not the certainty of being able' to improve one self in a future' existence' lead
some persons to persist in evil courses, through knowing that they will always be' able' to
amend at some later period?
"He who could make such a calculation would have no real belief in anything; and such an
one would not he any more restrained by the idea of incurring eternal punishment, because his
reason would reject that idea, which leads to every sort of unbelief. An imperfect spirit, it is
true, might reason in that way during his corporeal life; but when he is freed from his material
body, he thinks very differently; for he soon perceives that he has made a great mistake in his
calculations, and this perception
causes him to carry an opposite sentiment into his next incarnation. It is thus that progress is
accomplished; and it is thus also that you have upon the earth some men who are farther
advanced than others, because some possess experience that the others have not yet acquired,
but that will be gradually acquired by them. It depends upon each spirit to hasten his own
advancement or to retard it indefinitely."
The man who has an unsatisfactory position desires to change it as soon as possible. He who is convinced
that the tribulations of the present life are the consequences of his own imperfections will seek to insure
for himself a new existence of a less painful character and this conviction will draw him away from the
Wrong road much more effectually than the threat of eternal flames, which he does not believe in.
196. As spirits can only be ameliorated by undergoing the tribulations of corporeal existence,
it would seem to follow that the material life is a sort of sieve or strainer, by which the beings
of the spirit-world are obliged to pass in order to arrive at perfection ?
"Yes; that is the case. They improve themselves under the trials of corporeal life by avoiding
evil, and by practising what is good. But it is only through many successive incarnations or
purifications that they succeed, after a lapse of time which is longer or shorter according to
the amount of effort put forth by them, ill reaching the goal towards which they tend."
- Is it the' body that influences the spirit for its amelioration or is it the spirit that influence's
the body?
"Your spirit is everything; your body is a garment that rots, and nothing more."
A material image of the various degrees of purification of the soul is furnished by the juice of the grape. It
contains the liquid called spirit or alcohol, but weakened by the presence of various foreign elements
which change its nature, so that it is only brought to a state of absolute purity after several distillations, at
each of which it is cleared of some portion of its impurity. The still represents the corporeal body into
which the spirit enters for its purification the foreign elements represent the imperfections from which the
perispirit is gradually freed, in proportion as the spirit approaches the state of relative perfection.
Fate of Children After Death
197. Is the spirit of a child who dies in infancy as advanced as that of an adult?
"He is sometimes much more so; for he may previously have lived longer and acquired more
experience, especially if he be a spirit who has already made considerable progress."
- The spirit of a child may, then, be' more advanced than that of his father?
"That is very frequently the case. Do you not often see examples of this superiority in your
198. In the case of a child who has died in infancy, and without having been able to do evil,
does his spirit belong to the higher degree's of the spirit-hierarchy.?
"If he have done no evil, he has also done nothing good; and God does not exonerate him
from the trials which he has to undergo. If such a spirit belongs to a high degree, it is not
because he was a child, but because he had achieved that degree of advancement as the result
of his previous existences."
199. Why is it that life is so' often cut short in childhood.?
"The duration of the life of a child may be, for the spirit thus incarnated, the complement of
an existence interrupted before its appointed term; and his death is often a trial or an
expiation for his parents."
-What becomes of the spirit of a child who dies in infancy?
"He recommences a new existence."
If man had but a single existence, and if, after this existence, his future state were fixed for all eternity, by
what standard of merit could eternal felicity be adjudged to that half of the human race which dies in
childhood, and by what would it be exonerated from the conditions of progress, often so painful. imposed
on the other half? Such an ordering could not be reconciled with the justice of God. Through the
reincarnation of spirits the most absolute justice is equally meted out to all. The possibilities of the future
are open to all, without exception, and without favour to any. Those who are the last to arrive have only
themselves to blame for the delay. Each man must merit happiness by his own right action, as he has to
bear the consequences of his own wrong-doing.
It is, moreover, most irrational to consider childhood as a normal state of innocence. Do We not see
children endowed with the vilest instincts at an age at which even the most vicious surroundings cannot
have begun to exercise any influence upon them? Do we not see many who seem to bring with them at
birth cunning, falseness, perfidy, and even the instincts of thieving and murder, and this in spite of the
good examples by which they are surrounded? Human law absolves them from their misdeeds, because it
regards them as having acted without discernment and it is right in doing so, for they really act
Instinctively rather than from deliberate intent. But whence proceed the instinctual differences
observable in children of the same age, brought up amidst the same conditions, and subjected to the same
influences? Whence comes this precocious perversity. if not from the inferiority of the spirit himself, since
education has had nothing to do with producing it? Those who are vicious are so because their spirit has
made less progress and, that being the case, each will have to suffer the consequences of his inferiority,
not on account of his wrong-doing as a child, but as the result of his evil courses in his former existences.
And thus the action of providential law is the same for each, and the justice of God reaches equally to all.
Sex in Spirits
200. Have spirits sex?
“Not as you understand sex; for sex, in that sense, depends on the corporeal organisation.
Love and sympathy exist among them, but founded on similarity of sentiments."
201. Can a spirit, who has animated the body of a man, animate the body of a woman in a
new existence, and vice versa ?
"Yes; the same spirits animate men and women."
202. Does a spirit, when existing in the spirit-world, prefer to be incarnated as a man or as a
"That is a point in regard to which a spirit is indifferent, and which is always decided in view
of the trials which he has to undergo in his new corporeal life."
Spirits incarnate themselves as men or as women, because they are of no sex and, as it is necessary for
them to develop themselves in every direction, both sexes. as well as every variety of social position.
furnish them with special trials and duties, and with the opportunity of acquiring experience. A spirit
who had always incarnated itself as a man would be only known by men, and vice versa.
Relationship - Filiation
203. Do parents transmit to their children a part of their soul, or do they only give them the
animal life to which another soul afterwards adds the moral life?
"The animal life only is given by the parents, for the soul is indivisible. A stupid father may
have clever children, and vice versa.”
204. As we have had many existences, do our relationships extend beyond our present
"It cannot be otherwise. The succession of their corporeal existences establishes among spirits
a variety of relationships which date back from their former existences; and these
relationships are often the cause of the sympathies or antipathies which you sometimes feel
towards persons whom you seem to meet for the first time."
205. The doctrine of reincarnation appears, to some minds, to destroy family ties, by carrying
them back to periods anterior to our present existence.
"It extends those ties, but it does not destroy them; on the contrary, the conviction that the
relationships of the present life are based upon anterior affections renders the ties between
members of the same family less precarious. It makes the duties
of fraternity even more imperative, because in your neighbour, or in your servant, may be
incarnated some spirit who has formerly been united to you by the closest ties of
consanguinity or of affection."
-It nevertheless diminishes the importance which many persons attach to their ancestry, since
we may have had for our father a spirit who has belonged to a different race, or who has lived
in a different social position.
"That is true; but this importance is usually founded on pride:
for what most people honour in their ancestors is title, rank, and fortune. Many a one, who
would blush to have an honest shoemaker for his grandfather, boasts of his descent from
some debauchee of noble birth. But, no matter what men may say or do, they will not prevent
things from going on according to the divine ordering; for God has not regulated the laws of
nature to meet the demands of human vanity."
206. If there be no filiation among the spirits successively incarnated as the descendants of
the same family, does it follow that it is absurd to honour the memory of one's ancestors?
"Assuredly not; for one ought to rejoice in belonging to a family in which elevated spirits
have been incarnated. Although spirits do not proceed from one another, their affection for
those who are related to them by family-ties is none the less real; for they are often led to
incarnate themselves in such and such a family by pre-existing causes of sympathy, and by
the influence of attractions due to relationships contracted in anterior lives. But you may be
very sure that the spirits of your ancestors are in no way gratified by the honours you pay to
their memory from a sentiment of pride. Their merits, however great they may have been, can
only add to your deserts by stimulating your efforts to follow the good examples they may
have given you; and it is only through this emulation of their good qualities that your
remembrance can become for them not only agreeable but useful also."
Physical and Moral Likeness
207. Parents often transmit physical resemblance to their children; do they also transmit to
them moral resemblance?
"No; because they have different souls or spirits. The body proceeds from the body, but the
spirit does not proceed from any
other spirit. Between the descendants of the same race there is no other relationship than that
of consanguinity."
- What is the cause of the moral resemblance that sometimes exists between parents and
"The attractive influence of moral sympathy, which orings together spirits who are animated
by similar sentiments and tendencies."
208. Are the spirits of the parents without influence upon the spirit of their child after its
"They exercise, on the contrary, a very great influence upon it. As we have already told you,
spirits are made to conduce to one another's progress. To the spirits of the parents is confided
the mission of developing those of their children by the training they give to them; it is a task
which is appointed to them, and which they cannot without guilt fail to fulfil."
209. How is it that good and virtuous parents often give birth to children of perverse and evil
nature? In other words, how is it that the good qualities of tile parents do not always attract
to them, through sympathy, a good spirit to animate their child?
"A wicked spirit may ask to be allowed to have virtuous parents, in the hope that their
counsels may help him to amend his ways; and God often confides such an one to the care of
virtuous persons, in order that he may be benefited by their affection and care."
210. Can parents, by their intentions and their'. prayers, attract a good spirit into the body of
their child, instead of an inferior spirit?
"No; but they can improve the spirit of the child whom they have brought into the world, and
is confided to them for that purpose. It is their duty to do this; but bad children are often sent
as a trial for the improvement of the parents also."
211. What is the cause of the similarity of character so often existing among brothers,
especially between twins?
"The sympathy of two spirits who are attracted by the similarity of their sentiments, and who
are happy to be together."
212. In children whose bodies are joined together, and who have some of their organs in
common, are there two spirits,- that is to say, two souls?
"Yes; but their resemblance to one another often makes them seem to you as though there
were but one."
213. Since spirits incarnate themselves in twins from sympathy whence comes the aversion
that is sometimes felt by twins for one another?
"It is not a rule that only sympathetic spirits are incarnated as twins. Bad spirits may have
been brought into this relation by their desire to struggle against each other on the stage of
corporeal life."
214. In what way should we interpret the stories of children fighting in their mother's womb?
"As a figurative representation of their hatred to one another, which, to indicate its inveteracy,
is made to date from before their birth. You rarely make sufficient allowance for the
figurative and poetic element in certain statements."
215. What is the cause of the distinctive character which we observe in each people?
"Spirits constitute different families, formed by the similarity of their tendencies, which are
more or less purified according to their elevation. Each people is a great family formed by the
assembling together of sympathetic spirits. The tendency of the members of these families to
unite together is the source of the resemblance which constitutes the distinctive character of
each people. Do you suppose that good and benevolent spirits would seek to incarnate
themselves among a rude and brutal people ? No; spirits sympathise with masses of men as
they sympathise with individuals. They go to the region of the earth with which they are most
in harmony."
216. Does a spirit, in his new existence, retain any traces of the moral character of his
former existences?
"Yes, he may do so; but, as he improves, he changes. His social position, also, may be greatly
changed in his successive lives. If, having been a master in one existence, he becomes a slave
in another, his tastes will be altogether different, and it would be difficult for you to recognise
him. A spirit being the same in his various incarnations, there may be certain analogies
between the manifestations of character in his successive lives; but these manifestations will,
nevertheless, be modified by the change of conditions and habits incident to each of his new
corporeal existences, until, through the ameliorations thus gradually effected, his character
has been completely changed, he who was proud and cruel becoming humble and humane
through repentance and effort."
217. Does a man, in his different incarnations, retain any traces of the physical character of
his preceding existences?
"The body is destroyed, and the new one has no connection with the old one. Nevertheless,
the spirit is reflected in the body; and although the body is only matter, yet, being modelled
on the capacities of the spirit, the latter impresses upon it a certain character that is more
particularly visible in the face, and especially in the eyes, which have been truly declared to
be the mirror of the soul-that is to say, that the face reflects the soul more especially than does
the rest of the body. And this is so true that a very ugly face may please when it forms part of
the envelope of a good, wise, and humane spirit; while, on the other hand, very handsome
faces may cause you no pleasurable emotion, or may even excite a movement of repulsion. It
might seem, at first sight, that only well-made bodies could be the envelopes of good spirits,
and yet you see every day virtuous and superior men with deformed bodies. Without there
being any very marked resemblance between them, the similarity of tastes and tendencies
may, therefore, give what is commonly called a family-likeness to the corporeal bodies
successively assumed by the same spirit."
The body with which the soul is clothed in a new incarnation not having any necessary connection with
the one which it has quitted (since it may belong to quite another race), it would be absurd to infer a
succession of existences from a resemblance which may be only fortuitous but. nevertheless, the qualities
of the spirit often modify the organs which serve for their manifestations, and impress upon the
countenance, and even on the general manner, a distinctive stamp. It is thus that an expression of nobility
and dignity may be found under the humblest exterior, while the fine clothes of the grandee are often
unable to hide the baseness and ignominy of their wearer. Some persons, who have risen from the lowest
position, adopt without effort the habits and manners of the higher ranks, and seem to have returned to
their native element while others, notwithstanding their advantages of birth and education, always seem
to be out of their proper place in refined society. How can these facts be explained unless as a reflex of
what the spirit has been in his former existences?
Innate Ideas
218. Does a spirit retain, when incarnated, any trace of the perceptions he has had, and the
knowledge he had acquired, in its former existences?
"There remains with him a vague remembrance, which gives him what you call innate ideas."
- Then the theory of innate ideas is not a chimera?
"No; the knowledge acquired in each existence is not lost. A spirit, when freed from matter,
always remembers what he has
learned. He may, during incarnation, forget partially and for a time, but the latent intuition
which he preserves of all that he has once known aids him in advancing. Were it not for this
intuition of past acquisitions, he would always have to begin his education over again. A
spirit, at each new existence, takes his departure from the point at which he had arrived at the
close of his preceding existence."
219. If that be the case, there must be a very close connection between two successive
"That connection is not always so close as you might suppose it to be; for the conditions of
the two existences are often very different, and, in the interval between them, the spirit may
have made considerable progress."-(2l6)
220. What is the origin of the extraordinary faculties of those individuals who, without any
preparatory study, appear to possess intuitively certain branches of knowledge, such as
languages, arithmetic, etc.?
"The vague remembrance of their past; the result of progress previously made by the soul, but
of which it has no present consciousness. From what else could those intuitions be derived?
The body changes, but the spirit does not change, although he changes his garment."
221. In changing our body, can we lose certain intellectual faculties, as, for instance, the
taste for an art?
"Yes, if you have sullied that faculty, or made a bad use of it. Moreover, an intellectual
faculty may be made to slumber during an entire existence, because the spirit wishes to
exercise another faculty having no connection with the one which, in that case, remains
latent, but will come again into play in a later existence."
222. Is it to a retrospective remembrance that are due the instinctive sentiment of the
existence of God, and the presentiment of a future life, which appear to be natural to man,
even in the savage state?
"Yes, to a remembrance which man has preserved of what he knew as a spirit before he was
incarnated; but pride often stifles this sentiment."
- Is it to this same remembrance that are due certain beliefs analogous to spiritist doctrine,
'which are found among every people?
"That doctrine is as old as the world, and is, therefore, to be found everywhere; a ubiquity
which proves it to be true. The incarnate spirit, preserving the intuition of his state as a spirit,
possesses an instinctive consciousness of the invisible world; but this intuition is often
perverted by prejudices, and debased by the admixture of superstitions resulting from
223. "The dogma of reincarnation," it is sometimes objected, "is not new; it is a resuscitation
of the doctrine of Pythagoras." We have never said that spiritist doctrine was of modern
invention; on the contrary, as the inter-communication of spirits with men occurs in virtue of
natural law, it must have existed from the beginning of time, and we have always
endeavoured to prove that traces of this inter-communication are to be found in the earliest
annals of antiquity. Pythagoras, as is well known, was not the author of the system of
metempsychosis; he borrowed it from the philosophers of Hindoostan and of Egypt, by whom
it had been held from time immemorial. The idea of the transmigration of soul was, therefore,
in the earliest ages of the world, a general belief, equally admitted by the common people and
by the most eminent thinkers of that period.
By what road did this idea come to them? Did it reach them through revelation or through
In regard to this point we know nothing; but it may be safely assumed that no idea could thus
have traversed the successive ages of the worlds, and have commanded the assent of the
highest intellects of the human race, if it had not been based on some solid ground of truth
and reason. The antiquity of this doctrine should therefore be considered as an argument in its
favour, rather than as an objection. But, at the same time, it must not be forgotten that there
is, between the antique doctrine of metempsychosis and the modern doctrine of reincarnation,
this capital difference, viz., that the spirits who inculcate the latter reject absolutely the idea
that the human soul can pass into an animal, and vice versa.
The spirits, therefore, who now proclaim the dogma of the plurality of our corporeal
existences reassert a doctrine which had its birth in the earliest ages of the world, and which
has maintained its footing to the present day in the convictions of many
minds; but they present this dogma under an aspect which is more rational, more conformable
with the natural law of progress, and more in harmony with the wisdom of the Creator,
through the stripping away of accessories added to it by superstition. A circumstance worthy
of notice is the fact that it is not in this book alone that the doctrine in question has been
inculcated by them of late years; for, even before its publication, numerous communications
of a similar nature had already been obtained in various countries, and their number has since
been greatly increased.
It may here be asked, why it is that the statements of all spirits are not in unison in regard to
this subject? To this question we shall recur elsewhere.
Let us, for the present, examine the matter from another point of view, entirely irrespective of
any assumed declarations of spirits in regard to it. Let us put the latter entirely aside for the
moment; let us suppose them to have made no statement whatever in regard to it; let us even
suppose the very existence of spirits not to have been surmised. Placing ourselves a moment
on neutral ground, and admitting, as equally possible, the hypotheses of the plurality and of
the unity of corporeal existences, let us see which of these hypotheses is most in harmony
with the dictates of reason and with the requirements of our own interest.
There are persons who reject the idea of reincarnation simply because they do not like it,
declaring that their present existence has been quite enough for them, and that they have no
wish to recommence a similar one. Of such persons we would merely inquire whether they
suppose that God has consulted their wishes and opinions in regulating the universe ? Either
the law of reincarnation exists, or it does not exist. If it exists, no matter how displeasing it
may be to them, they will be compelled to submit to it; for God will not ask their permission
to enforce it. It is as though a sick man should say, "I have suffered enough today; I do not
chose to suffer-to-morrow." No matter what may be his unwillingness to suffer, he will
nevertheless be obliged to go on suffering, not only on the morrow, but day after day, until he
is cured. In like manner, if it be their destiny to live again corporeally, they will thus live
again, they will be reincarnated. In vain will they rebel against necessity, like a child refusing
to go to school, or a condemned criminal refusing to go to prison. They will be compelled to
submit to their fate, no matter how unwilling they may be to do so. Such objections are too
to deserve a more serious examination. Let us say, however, for the consolation of those who
urge them, that the spiritist doctrine of reincarnation is by no means so terrible as they
imagine it to be; that the conditions of their next existence depend on them-selves, and will
be happy or unhappy according to the deeds done by them in this present life; and that they
may even, by their action in this life, raise themselves above the danger of falling again into
the mire of expiation.
We take it for granted that those whom we are addressing believe in some sort of future after
death, and that they do not look forward either to annihilation or to a drowning of their soul in
a universal whole, without individuality, like so many drops of rain in the ocean; which
comes to much the same thing. But, if you believe in a future state of existence, you probably
do not suppose that it will be the same for all; for, in that case, where would be the utility of
doing right ? Why should men place any restraint upon themselves? Why should they not
satisfy all their passions, all their desires, even at the expense of the rest of the world, if the
result is to be the same in all cases ? On the contrary, you no doubt believe that our future
will be more or less happy according to what we have done in our present life; and you have
doubtless the desire to be as happy as possible in the future to which you look forward, since
it will be for all eternity! Do you, perchance, consider yourself to be one of the most excellent
of those who have ever existed upon the earth, and therefore entitled to supreme felicity ? No.
You admit, then, that there are some who are better than you, and who have consequently a
right to a higher place, although you do not deserve to be classed among the reprobate. Place
yourself, then, in thought, for a moment, in the medium condition which, according to your
own admission, will properly be yours, and suppose that some one comes to you and says,
"You suffer; you are not so happy as you might be; and meanwhile you see others in the
enjoyment of unmixed happiness. Would you like to exchange your position for theirs?"
"Undoubtedly, I should," you reply; "what must I do to bring about such a result?"
"Something very simple; you have only to begin again what you have done badly, and try to
do it better." Would you hesitate to accept the offer, even at the cost of several existences of
trial ?
Let us take another illustration, still more prosaic. Suppose that someone comes to a man
who, though not in a state of absolute
destitution, has to endure many privations through the smallness of his means, and says to
him, "Here is an immence fortune, of which you may have the enjoyment, on condition that
you work hard during one minute." The laziest of men, in response to such an offer, would
say, without hesitation, "I am ready to work for one minute, for two minutes, for an hour, for
a whole day if necessary! What is a day's labour in comparison with the certainty of ease and
plenty for all the rest of my life?"
But what is the duration of a corporeal life in comparison with eternity? Less than a minute;
less than a moment.
We sometimes hear people bring forward the following lug argument: -"God, who is
sovereignly good, cannot impose upon man the hard necessity of recommencing a series of
sorrows and tribulations." But would there be more kindness in condemning a man to
perpetual suffering for a few moments of error than in giving him the means of repairing his
"Two manufacturers had each a workman no might hope to become some day the partner of
his employer. But it happened that both workmen made so very bad a use of their day that
they merited dismissal. One of the manufacturers drove away his unfaithful workman, despite
his supplications; and this workman, being unable to obtain any other employment, died of
want. The other said to his workman-'You have wasted a day; you owe me compensation for
the loss you have thus caused me. You have done your work badly; you owe me reparation
for it. I give you leave to begin it over again. Try to do well, and I will keep you in my
employ, and you may still aspire to the superior position which I had promised you."
Need we ask which of the manufacturers ',as shown himself to be the most humane? And
would God, who is clemency itself, be more inexorable than a just and compassionate man ?
The idea that our fate is decided forever by a few years of trial, and notwithstanding the fact
that it was not in our power to attain to perfection while we remained upon the earth. fills the
mind with anguish; while the contrary idea is eminently consoling, for it leaves us hope.
Thus, without pronouncing for or against the plurality of existences, without admitting either
hypothesis in preference to the other, we assert that, if the matter were left to our own choice,
there is no one who would prefer incurring a sentence against which there should be no
appeal. A philosopher has said that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to
invent Him for the happiness of the human race;" the same might be said in regard to the
plurality of existences. But, as we have already remarked, God does not ask our permission in
the establishment of providential ordering; He does not consult our preferences in the matter.
Either the law of reincarnation exists, or it does not exist; let us see on which side is the
balance of probabilities, considering the matter from another point of view, but still leaving
out of sight all idea of any statements that have been made by spirits in regard to it, and
examining the question merely as matter of philosophic inquiry.
If the law of reincarnation do not exist, we can have but one corporeal existence; and if our
present corporeal life be our only one, the soul of each individual must have been created at
the same time as his body; unless, indeed, we assume the anteriority of the soul, in which case
we should have to inquire what was the state of the soul before its union with the body, and
whether this state did not constitute an existence of some kind or other. There is no middle
ground. Either the soul existed before its union with the body, or it did not. If it existed, what
was its condition? Was it possessed of self-consciousness? If not, its state must have been
nearly equivalent to non-existence. If possessed of individuality, it must have been either
progressive or stationary; in either case, what was its degree of advancement on uniting itself
to the body? If, on the contrary, it be assumed, according to the general belief, that the soul is
born into existence at the same time as the body-or that, previous to the birth of the body, it
possesses only negative faculties-we have to propose the following questions: -
1. Why do souls manifest so great a diversity of aptitudes independently of the ideas acquired
by education?
2. Whence comes the extra-normal aptitude for certain arts and sciences displayed by many
children while still very young, although others remain in a state of inferiority, or of
mediocrity, all their life?
3. Whence do some individuals derive the innate or intuitive ideas that are lacking in others?
4. Whence do some children derive the precocious instincts of vice or of virtue, the innate
sentiments of dignity or of baseness,
which often contrast so strikingly with the situation into which they are born?
5. Why is it that some men, independently of education, are more advanced than others?
6. Why is it that among the races which people the globe some are savage and others
civilised? If you took a Hottentot baby from its mother's breast, and brought it up in our most
renowned schools, could you succeed in making of it a Laplace or a Newton?
What is the philosophy or the theosophy that can solve these problems? Either the souls of
men are equal at their birth, or they are unequal. If they are equal, why these inequalities of
aptitude? Will it be said that these inequalities depend on the corporeal organisation of each
child? But such a doctrine would be the most monstrous and the most immoral of hypotheses;
for, in that case, man would be a mere machine, the sport of matter; he would not be
responsible for his actions, but would have the right to throw all the blame of his wrongdoing
on the imperfections of his physical frame. If, on the other hand, souls are created
unequal, God must have created them so; but, in that case, why is this innate superiority
accorded to some and denied to others? And would such partiality be consistent with the
justice of God, and the equal love He bears to all His creatures?
Admit, on the contrary, a succession of existences, and everything is explained. Men bring
with them, at their birth in flesh, the amount of intuition they have previously acquired. They
are more or less advanced, according to the number of existences they have previously
accomplished, according as they are nearer to or farther from the common starting-point;
exactly as, in a company made up of individuals of different ages, each will possess a degree
of development proportionate to the number of years he has already lived; the succession of
years being, to the life of the body, what the succession of existences is to the life of the soul.
Bring together in the same place, at the same time, a thousand individuals of all ages, from
the new-born babe to the patriarch of eighty. Suppose that a veil is thrown over their past, and
that you, in your ignorance of that past, imagine them all to have been born on the same day.
You would naturally wonder how it is that some are whinkled and others little; that some are
wrinkled and others fresh; that some are learned and others ignorant; but if the cloud which
hid their past were dispersed, and you discovered that some
had lived longer than others, all these differences would be explained. God, in His justice.
could not create souls more or less perfect. But granting the plurality of our corporeal
existences, there is nothing in the differences of quality that we see around us in any way
inconsistent with the most rigorous equity; for what we see around us is then perceived to
have its roots, not in the present, but in the past.
Is this argument based on any pre-conceived system or gratuitous supposition? No. We start
from a fact that is patent and incontestable-viz., the inequality of natural aptitudes and of
intellectual and moral development; and we find this fact to be inexplicable by any of the
theories in vogue, while the explanation of this fact afforded by another theory is at once
simple, natural, and rational. Is it reasonable to prefer a theory which does not explain this
fact to one which does?
In regard to the sixth question, it will doubtless be replied that the Hottentot is of an inferior
race; in which case we beg to inquire whether a Hottentot is or is not a man? If he be not a
man, why try to make him a Christian? If he be a man, why has God refused to him and to his
race the privileges accorded to the Caucasian race? Spiritist philosophy is too broad to admit
the existence of different species of men; it recognises only men whose spiritual part is more
or less backward, but who are all capable of the same progress. Is not this view of the human
race more conformable with the justice of God?
We have considering the soul in regard to its past and its present; if we consider it in regard to
the future, we are met by difficulties which the theories in vogue are equally unable to
1. If our future destiny is to be decided solely by our present existence, what will be in the
future the respective positions of the savage and of the civilised man? Will they be on the
same level, or will there be a difference in the sum of their eternal felicity?
2. Will the man who has laboured diligently all his life to advance his moral and intellectual
improvement be placed in the same rank with the man who, not through his own fault, but
because he has had neither the time nor the opportunity for advancing, has remained at a
lower point of moral and intellectual improvement?
3. Can the man who has done wrong because the means of enlightenment have been denied to
him be justly punished for wrong-doing which has not been the result of his own choice?
4. We endeavour to enlighten, moralise, and civilise mankind; but, for one whom we are able
to enlighten, there are millions who die every year without the light having reached them.
What is to be the fate of these millions? Are they to be treated as reprobates? and, if they are
not to be so treated, how have they deserved to be placed in the same category with those who
have become enlightened and moralised?
5. What is to be the fate of children who die before they have been able to do either good or
evil? If they are to be received among the supremely happy, why should this favour be
granted to them without their having done anything to deserve it? And in virtue of what
privilege are they exempted from undergoing the tribulations of the earthly life?
Which of the doctrines hitherto propounded can solve these problems? But, if we admit the
fact of our consecutive existences all these problems are solved in conformity with the divine
justice. What we are not able to do in one existence we do in another. None are exempted
from the action of the law of progress; every one is rewarded progressively, according to his
deserts, but no one is excluded from the eventual attainment of the highest felicity, no matter
what may be the obstacles he has to encounter on the road.
The questions growing out of the subject we are considering might be multiplied indefinitely,
for the psychologic and moral problems which can only find their solution in the plurality of
existences are innumerable. In the present considerations we have restricted our inquiry to
those which are most general in their nature. "But," it may still be urged by some objectors,
"whatever may be the arguments in its favour, the doctrine of reincarnation is not admitted by
the Church; its acceptance would therefore be the overthrow of religion."
It is not our intention to treat of the question, in this place, under the special aspect suggested
by the foregoing objection; it is sufficient for our present purpose to have shown the
eminently moral and rational character of the doctrine we are considering. But it may be
confidently asserted, that a doctrine which is both moral and rational cannot be antagonistic
to a religion which proclaims the Divine Being to be the most perfect goodness and
the highest reason. What, we may ask in our turn, would have become of the Church if, in
opposition to the convictions of mankind and the testimony of science, it had persisted in
rejecting overwhelming evidence, and had cast out from its bosom all who did not believe in
the movement of the sun or in the six days of creation ? What would be the credit or authority
possessed among enlightened nations by a religious system that should inculcate manifest
errors as articles of belief ? Whenever any matter of evidence has been established, the
Church has wisely sided with the evidence. If it be proved that the facts of human life are
irreconcilable, on ally other supposition, with a belief in the justice of God-if various points
of the Christian dogma can only be explained with the aid of this doctrine, the Church will be
compelled to admit its truth. and to acknowledge that the apparent antagonism between them
is only apparent. We shall show, elsewhere, that religion has no more to fear from the
acceptance of this doctrine than from the discovery of the motion of the earth and of the
periods of geologic formation, which, at first sight, appear to contradict the statements of the
Bible. Moreover, the principle of reincarnation is implied in many passages of Holy Writ, and
is explicitly formulated in the Gospels:-
"When they came down from the mountain (after the transfiguration), Jesus gave this
commandment, and said to them-'Speak to no one of what you have just seen, until the Son of
Man shall have been resuscitated from among the dead.' His disciples thereupon began to
question Him, and inquired, 'Why, then, do the Scribes say that Elias must first come?' But
Jesus replied to them, 'It is true that Elias must come, and that he will re-establish all things.
But I declare to you that Elias has already come, and they did not know him, but have made
him suffer as they listed. It is thus that they will put to death the Son of Man.' Then His
disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist. (St Matthew, chap. xvii.)
Since John the Baptist is declared by Christ to have been Elias, it follows that the spirit or
soul of Elias must have been reincarnated in the body of John the Baptist.
But whatever may be our opinion in regard to reincarnation whether we accept it or whether
we reject it, it is certain that we shall have to undergo it, if it really exists, notwithstanding
any belief of ours to the contrary. The point which we here desire to establish is this, viz., that
the teaching of the spirits who proclaim
it is eminently Christian, that it is founded on the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, of
future rewards and punishments, of the justice of God, of human free-will, and the moral
code of Christ; and that, therefore, it cannot be anti-religious.
We have argued the matter, as we remarked above, without reference to statements made by
spirits; such statements being, for many minds, without authority. If we, and so many others.
have adopted the hypothesis of the plurality of existences, we have done so not merely
because it has been proclaimed by spirits, but because it has appeared to us to be eminently
rational, and because it solves problems that are insoluble by the opposite hypothesis. Had it
been suggested to us by a mere mortal, we should, therefore, have adopted it with equal
confidence, renouncing, with equal promptitude, our preconceived opinions on the subject;
for when an opinion has been shown to be erroneous, even self-love has more to lose than to
gain by persisting in holding it. In like manner, we should have rejected the doctrine of
reincarnation, even though proclaimed by spirits, if it had appeared to us to be contrary to
reason, as, indeed, we have rejected many other ideas which spirits have sought to inculcate,
for we know, by experience, that we can no more give a blind acceptance to ideas put forth by
spirits than we can to those put forth by men.
The principal merit of the doctrine of reincarnation is, then, to our minds, that it is supremely
rational. But it has also in its favour the confirmation of facts-facts positive and, so to say,
material, which are apparent to all who study the question with patience and perseverance,
and in presence of which all doubt as to the reality of the law in question is impossible. When
the appreciation of these facts shall have become popularised, like those which have revealed
to us the formation and rotation of the earth, they who now oppose this doctrine will be
compelled to renounce their opposition.
To sum up: - We assert the doctrine of the plurality of existences is the only one which
explains what, without this doctrine, is inexplicable; that it is at once eminently consolatory
and strictly conformable with the most rigorous justice; and that it is the anchor of safety
which God in His mercy has provided for mankind.
The words of Jesus Himself are explicit as to the truth of this last assertion; for we read in the
3d chapter of the Gospel according
to St John that Jesus, replying to Nicodemus, thus expressed Himself:-
"Verily, verily, I tell thee that, if a man be not born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
And when Nicodemus inquires, "How can a man be born when he is old ? Can he enter again
into his mother's womb and be born a second time?" Jesus replies, "Except a man be born of
water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh,
and what is born of the spirit is spirit. Be not amazed at what I have told thee; you must be
born again." (Vide Resurrection of the Body, No. 1010.)
Wandering Spirits
223. Is the soul reincarnated immediately after its separation from the body?
"Sometimes immediately, but more often after intervals of longer or shorter duration. In the
higher worlds, reincarnation is almost always immediate. Corporeal matter in those worlds
being less gross than in the worlds of lower advancement, a spirit, while incarnated in them,
retains the use of nearly all his spirit-faculties, his normal condition being that of your
somnambulists in their lucid state."
224. What becomes of the soul in the intervals between successive incarnations?
"It becomes an errant or wandering spirit, aspiring after a new destiny. Its state is one of
waiting and expectancy."
- How long may these intervals last?
"From a few hours to thousands of ages. Strictly speaking, there are no fixed limits to the
period of erraticity or wandering, which may be prolonged for a very considerable time, but
which. however, is never perpetual. A spirit is always enabled, sooner or later, to commence a
new existence which serves to effect the purification of its preceding existences."
-Does the duration of the state of erraticity depend on the will of the spirit, or may it be
imposed as an expiation?
"It is a consequence of the spirit's free-will. Spirits act with full discernment; but, in some
cases, the prolongation of this state
is a punishment inflicted by God, while in others, it has been granted to them at their own
request, to enable them to pursue studies which they can prosecute more effectually in the
disincarnate state."
225. Is erraticity necessarily a sign of inferiority on the part of spirits.'
"No, for there are errant spirits of every degree. Incarnation is a transitional state, as we have
already told you. In their normal state, spirits are disengaged from matter."
226. Would it be correct to say that all spirits who arc not incarnated are errant?
"Yes, as regards those who are to be reincarnated; but the pure spirits who have attained to
perfection are not errant; their state is definitive."
In virtue of their special qualities, spirits are of different orders or degrees of advancement, through
which they pass successively as they become purified. As regards their state, they may be-1. Incarnated,
that is to say, united to a material body; 2. Errant or wandering, that is to say disengaged from the
material body and awaiting a new incarnation for purposes of Improvement; 3. Pure 'pints, that is to say,
perfected, and having no further need of incarnation.
227. In what way do wandering spirits obtain instruction? It can hardly be in the same way
as men.
"They study their past, and seek out the means of raising them-selves to a higher degree.
Possessed of vision, they observe all that is going on in the regions through which they pass.
They listen to the discourse of enlightened men, and to the counsels of spirits more advanced
than themselves, and they thus acquire new ideas."
228. Do spirits retain any human passion?
"Elevated spirits, on quitting their bodily envelope, leave behind them the evil passions of
humanity, and retain only the love of goodness. But inferior spirits retain their earthly
imperfections. Were it not for this retention, they would be of the highest order.”
229. How is it that spirits, on quitting the earth, do not leave behind them all their evil
passions, since they are then able to perceive the disastrous consequences of those passions?
"You have among you persons who are, for instance, excessively jealous; do you imagine that
they lose this defect at once on quitting your world ? There remains with spirits, after their
departure from the earthly life, and especially with those who have had
strongly marked passions, a sort of atmosphere by which they are enveloped, and which keeps
up all their former evil qualities; for spirits are not entirely freed from the influence of
materiality. It is only occasionally that they obtain glimpses of the truth, showing them, as it
were, the true parth which they ought to follow."
230. Do spirits progress in the state of erraticity?
"They may make a great advance in that state, in proportion to their efforts and desires after
improvement, but it is in the corporeal life that they put in practice the new ideas they have
thus acquired."
231. Are wandering spirits happy or unhappy?
'More or less so according to their deserts. They suffer from the passions of which they have
retained the principle, or they are happy in proportion as they are more or less dematerialised.
In the state of erraticity, a spirit perceives what he needs in order to become happier, and he is
thus stimulated to seek out the means of attaining what he lacks. But he is not always
permitted to reincarnate himself when he desires to do so, and the prolongation of erraticity
then becomes a punishment."
232. Can spirits in the state of erraticity enter all the other worlds?
"That depends on their degree of advancement. When a spirit has quitted the body, he is not
necessarily disengaged entirely from matter, and he still belongs to the world in which he has
lived, or to a world of the same degree, unless he has raised himself during his earthly life to a
world of higher degree; and this progressive elevation should be the constant aim of every
spirit, for without it lie would never attain to perfection. A spirit, however, may enter worlds
of higher degree; but, in that case, he finds himself to be a stranger in them. He can only
obtain, as it were, a glimpse of them; but such glimpses often serve to quicken his desire to
improve and to advance, that he may become worthy of the felicity which is enjoyed in them,
and may thus be enabled to inhabit them in course of time."
233. Do spirits who are already purified ever come into worlds of lower degree?
"They come into them very frequently in order to help them forward. Unless they did so,
those worlds would be left to them-selves, without guides to direct them."
Transitional Worlds
234. Are there, as has been stated, worlds which serve as stations and resting-places for
errant spirits?
"Yes; there are worlds which are specially adapted for the reception of wandering beings,
worlds which they may temporally inhabit; a sort of camping-ground in which they may
bivouac for a time, and repose after a too lengthened erraticity-a state which is always
somewhat wearisome. Those worlds constitute intermediary stations between the worlds of
other orders, and are graduated according to the nature of the spirits who are to come into
them, and who will find in them the conditions of a rest more or less enjoyable."
- Can the spirits who occupy these worlds quit them at pleasure?
"Yes, they can leave them for any other region to which they may have to go. They are like
birds of passage alighting on an island in order to rest and recover strength for reaching their
235. Do spirits progress during their sojourns in the transitional worlds?
"Certainly; those who thus come together do so with a view to their instruction, and in order
more readily to obtain permission to enter a higher region, and thus to advance their progress
towards the perfection which is their aim."
236. Are the transitional worlds of a special nature, and destined to be for ever the sojourn of
wandering spirits.'
"No; their position in the hierarchy of worlds is only temporary."
- Are they, at the same time, inhabited by corporeal beings?
"No; their surface is sterile. Those who inhabit them have no corporeal wants."
- Is this sterility permanent, and does it result from anything special in their nature ?
"No; their sterility is only transitional."
- Such worlds are, then, void of everything like the beauties of nature?
"The inexhaustible richness of creation is manifested by beauties of immensity that are no
less admirable than the terrestrial harmonies which you call the beauties of nature."
- Since the state of those 'worlds is only transitory, will the state of our earth, at some future
time, be of that character?
"Such has already been its state."
- At what epoch?
"During its formation."
Nothing in nature is useless everything has its purpose, its destination There is no void every portion of
immensity is inhabited. Life is everywhere. Thus, during the long series of ages which preceded man's
appearance upon the earth, during the vast periods of transition attested by the superposition of the
geologic strata, before even the curliest formation of organised beings, upon that formless mass, in that
arid chaos in which the elements existed in a state of fusion, there was no absence of life. Beings who had
neither human wants nor human sensations found therein a welcome refuge. The will of God had
ordained that the earth, even in that embryonic state, should be useful. Who, then, would Venture to say
that, of the innumerable orbs which circulate in immensity, one only, and one of the smallest of them all,
lost in the crowd, has the exclusive privilege of being inhabited? What, in that case, would be the use of
the others? Would God have created them merely to regale our eyes? Such a supposition, of which the
absurdity is incompatible with the wisdom that appears in all His works. becomes still more evidently
inadmissible when we reflect on the myriads of heavenly bodies which we are unable to perceive. On the
other hand, no one can deny the grandeur and sublimity of the idea that worlds in course of formation,
and which are still unfitted for the habitation of material life, are, nevertheless, peopled with living beings
appropriate to its condition-an idea which may possibly contain the solution of more than one problem as
yet obscure.
Perceptions, Sensations, and Suffering of Spirits
237. Does the soul, when it has returned into the world of spirits, still possess the perceptions
it possessed in the earthly life?
"Yes; and others which it did not possess in that life, because its body acted as a veil which
obscured them. Intelligence is an attribute of spirit; but it is manifested more freely when not
hindered by the trammels of flesh."
238. Are the perceptions and knowledge of In a word, do they know everything?
"The nearer they approach to perfection, the more they know Spirits of the higher orders
possess a wide range of knowledge; those of the lower orders are more or less ignorant in
regard to everything."
239. Do spirits comprehend tile first principle of things?
"That depends on their degree of elevation and of purity inferior spirits know no more than
240. Do spirits perceive duration as we do?
"No; and this is why you do not always understand us when you seek to fix dates and
The life of spirits is exterior to the idea of time as perceived by us. The idea of duration may be said to be
annihilated for them ages, which seem so long to us, appear to them only as so many instants lapsing into
eternity, just as the inequalities of the earth's surface are effaced and disappear beneath the gaze of the
aeronaut as he mounts into space.
241. Do spirits take a truer and more precise view of present than we do?
"Their view, In comparison with yours, is pretty much what eyesight is in comparison with
blindness. They see what you do not see; they judge, therefore, otherwise than you do. But we
must remind you that this depends on their degree of elevation."
242. How do spirits acquire the knowledge of the past, and is this knowledge without limits
for them?
"The past, when we turn our attention to it, is perceived by us as though it were present,
exactly as is the case with you, when you call to mind something which may have struck you
in the course of your present exile; with this difference, however, that, as out view is no
longer obscured by the material veil which covers your intelligence, we remember things that
are at present effaced from your memory. But spirits do not know everything; for example,
their creation."
243. Do spirits foresee the future?
"That, again, depends on their degree of 'advancement. Very often, they foresee it only
partially; but, even when they foresee it more clearly, they are not always Permitted to reveal
it. When they foresee it, it appears to them to be present. A spirit sees the future more clearly
in proportion as he approaches God. After death, the soul sees and embraces at a glance all its
past emigrations, but it cannot see what God has in store for it. This foreknowledge is only
possessed by the soul that has attained to entire union with God, after a long succession of
- Do spirits, arrived at absolute perfection, possess the complete knowledge of the future?
"'Complete is not the word; for God alone is the sovereign master, and none can attain to
equality with Him."
244. Do spirits see God?
"Only spirits of the highest order see and understand Him: spirits of lower order feel and
divine Him."
- When a spirit of lower degree says that such and such a thing is permitted to him or
forbidden by God, how does he know that such ordering is really by Him?
"He does not see God, but he feels His sovereignty; and when anything is not to be done or
said, he feels a sort of intuition, an invisible warning, which commands him to abstain. Are
not you yourselves sometimes conscious of a secret impression, enjoining on you to do or not
to do, as the case may be? It is the same thing with us, but in a higher degree; for you can
easily understand that, the essence of spirits being more supple than yours, they are better able
to receive the divine monitions."
- Are the divine commands transmitted to each spirit directly by God, or through the
intermediary of other spirits?
"Those commands do not come direct from God; in order to communicate directly with God,
a spirit must have made himself worthy of such communication. God transmits His orders
through spirits of higher degrees of wisdom and purity."
245. Is spirit-sight circumscribed, as is tile sight of corporeal beings?
"No ; it resides in them."
246. Do spirits require light in order to see?
"They sec of themselves. and have no need of any exterior light. There is, for them, no other
darkness than that in which they may be made to find themselves as expiation."
247. Do spirits need to travel in order to see two different points? Can they, for instance, see
the two hemispheres of the globe at the same time?
"As spirits transport themselves from point to point with the rapidity of thought, they may be
said to see everywhere at the tame time. A spirit's thought may radiate at the same moment on
many different points; but this faculty depends on his purity. The more impure the spirit, the
narrower is his range of sight. It is only the higher spirits who can take in a whole at a single
The faculty of vision. among spirits, is a property inherent in their nature, and which resides in their
whole being, as light resides in every part of a luminous body. It is a sort of universal lucidity, which
extend. to everything. which embraces at once time, space, and things. and in relation to which, darkness
or material obstacles have no existence. And a moment's reflection shows us that this must necessarily be
the case. In the human being. sight being produced by the play of an organ acted upon by light, It follows
that, without light. man finds himself in darkness but the faculty of vision being an attribute of the spirit
himself, independently of any exterior agent, spirit-sight is independent of light. (Vide Ubiquity, Nº 92, p.
248. Do spirits see things as distinctly as we do?
“More distinctly, for their sight penetrates what yours cannot penetrate: nothing obscures it."
249. Do spirits perceive sounds?
"Yes; they perceive sounds that your obtuse senses can not perceive"
- Does the faculty of hearing reside in tile whole of a spirit’s being, like the faculty of sight.?
"All the perceptive faculties of a spirit are attributes of his nature, and form part of his being.
When he is clothed with a material body, his perceptions reach him only through the channel
of his bodily organs; but the perceptions of a spirit, when restored to the state of freedom, are
no longer localised."
250. The perceptive faculties being attributes of a spirit’s nature, is it possible for him to
withdraw himself from their action ?
"A spirit only sees and hears what he chooses to see and hear. This statement, however, is to
he taken in a general sense, and mainly as regards spirits of the higher orders; for imperfect
spirits are compelled to see and hear, and often against their will, what-ever may be useful for
their amelioration."
251. Are spirits affected by music?
"Do you mean the music of your earth ? What is it in comparison with the music of the
celestial spheres, of that harmony of which nothing in your earth can give you any idea ? The
one is to the other as is the howl of the savage to the most lovely melody. Spirits of low
degree, however, may take pleasure in hearing your music, because they are not yet able to
appreciate anything more sublime. Music has inexhaustible charms for spirits, owing to the
great development of their sensitive qualities; I mean, celestial music, than which the spiritual
imagination can conceive of nothing more exquisitely sweet and beautiful."
252. Are spirits sensible of the beauties of nature?
"The beauties of nature are so different in the different globes, that spirits are far from
knowing them all. They are sensible of them in proportion to their aptitude for appreciating
and comprehending them; but, for spirits of a high degree of advancement, there are beauties
of general harmony in which beauties of detail are, so to say, lost sight of."
253. Do spirits experience our physical needs and sufferings?
"They know them, because they have undergone them; but they do not, like you, experience
them materially: they are spirits."
254. Do spirits experience fatigue and the need of rest?
"They cannot feel fatigue as you understand it, and consequently they have no need of your
corporeal rest, because they have no organs whose strength requires to be restored. But a
spirit may be said to take rest, inasmuch as he is not constantly in a state of activity. He does
not act materially; his action is altogether intellectual, and his resting is altogether moral; that
is to say, that there are moments when his thought becomes less active, and is no longer
directed to any special object, and this constitutes for him a state which is really one of
repose, but a kind of repose which cannot be likened to that of the body. The sort of fatigue
which may be felt by spirits is proportionate to their inferiority; for, the higher their degree of
elevation, the less is their need of rest."
255. When a spirit says that he suffers, what is the nature of the suffering he feels?
"Mental anguish, which causes him tortures far more painful than any physical sufferings."
256. How is it, then, that spirits sometimes complain of suffer mg from cold or heat?
"Such sensations on their part are caused by the remembrance of sufferings endured by them
in the earthly life, and are sometimes as painful as though they were real; but complaints of
that nature are often only figures by which, for lack of any better means of description, they
endeavour to express the situation in which they find themselves. When they remember their
earthly body, they experience the same sort of impression which makes you feel for a few
moments, when you have taken off a cloak, as though you had it still upon your shoulders."
Theoretic Explanation of the Nature of Sensation in Spirits
257. The body is the instrument of pain, of which, if not the primary cause, it is, at least, the
immediate cause. The soul possesses the faculty of perceiving the pain thus caused; the
perception of pain is, therefore, the effect of this action of the soul. The remembrance of pain
retained by a spirit may be very painful,
hut cannot exercise any physical action. The tissues of the soul cannot be disorganised either
by cold or heat; the soul can neither freeze nor burn. But do we not constantly see that the
remembrance or the apprehension of physical pain may produce all the effect of reality, and
may even occasion death? We know that recently-amputated patients often complain of
felling pain in the limb they have lost: yet it is evident that the amputated limb cannot really
be the seat, nor even the point of departure, of the pain feel, which is due solely to the action
of the brain, that has retained and reproduces the impression of the pain formerly experienced
by them. It may therefore be inferred that the suffering felt by spirits after death is of a similar
nature. A careful study of the perispirit, which plays so important a part in all spiritphenomena,
the indications afforded by apparitions, whether vaporous or tangible, the state of
the spirit at the moment of death, the striking pictures presented by the victims of suicide and
of capital punishment, by the spirits of those who have been absorbed in carnal enjoyments,
and a great variety of other facts, hayed thrown new light on this question, and have given
rise to the explanations of which we offer the following summary
The perispirit is the link which unites the spirit with the material body. It is drawn from the
surrounding atmosphere, from the universal fluid; it participates at once in the nature of
electricity of the magnetic fluid, and of inert matter. It may be said to he the quintessence of
matter; it is the principle of organic life, but it is not that of intellectual life, the principle of
which is in the spirit. It is also the agent of all the sensations of the outer life. Those
sensations are localised in the earthly body by the organs which serve as their channels. When
the body is destroyed, those sensations become general. This explains why a spirit never says
that he suffers in his head or in his feet. But we must take care not to confound the sensations
of the perispirit, rendered independent by the death of the body, with the sensations
experienced through the body; for the latter can only be understood as offering a means of
comparison with the former, but not as being analogous to them. When freed from the body, a
spirit may suffer, but this suffering is not the suffering of the body. And yet it is not a
suffering exclusively moral, like remorse, for example, for he complains of feeling cold or
hot, although he suffers no more in summer than in winter, and we have seen spirits pass
through flames without feeling any painful effect therefrom, temperature
making no impression upon them. The pain which they feel is therefore not a physical pain in
the proper sense of that term; it is a vague feeling perceived in himself by a spirit, and which
he himself is not always able to account for, precisely because his pain is not localised, and is
not produced by any exterior agents: it is a remembrance rather than a reality, but a
remembrance as painful as though it were a reality. Nevertheless, spirit-suffering is
sometimes more than a remembrance, as we shall see.
Observation has shown us that the perispirit, at death, disengages itself more or less slowly
from the body. During the first few moments which follow dissolution, a spirit does not
clearly understand his own situation. He does not think himself dead, for he feels himself
living. He sees his body beside him, he knows that it is his, and he does not understand that
he is separated from it; and this state of indecision continues as long as there remains the
slightest connection between the body and the perispirit. One who had committed suicide said
to us, "No, I am not dead," and added, “and yet I feel the worms that are devouring my body."
Now, most assuredly, the worms were not devouring his perispirit, still less could they be
devouring the spirit himself. But, as the separation between the body and the perispirit was
not complete, a sort of moral repercussion transmitted to the latter the sensation of what was
taking place in the former. Repercussion is perhaps hardly the word to be employed in this
case, as it may seem to imply an effect too nearly akin to materiality; it was rather the sight of
what was going on in the decaying body, to which he was still attached by his perispirit. that
produced in him an illusion which he mistook for reality. Thus, in his case, it was not a
remembrance, for he had not, during his earthly life, been devoured by worms. It was the
feeling of something which was actually taking place. We see, by the examination of the case
here alluded to, the deductions that may be drawn from an attentive observation of facts.
During life, the body receives external impressions and transmits them to the spirit through
the intermediary of the perispirit, which constitutes, probably, what is called the nervous
fluid. The body, when dead, no longer feels anything, because there is in it no longer either
spirit or perispirit. The perispirit, when disengaged from the body, still experiences sensation;
but, as sensation no longer reaches it through a limited channel, its sensation is general. Now,
as the perispirit is, in reality, only an agent for the transmission of sensations to the spirit, by
whom alone they are perceived, it follows
that the perispirit, if it could exist without a spirit, would no more be able to feel any
sensation than is the body when it is dead; and it also follows that the spirit, if it had no
perispirit, would be inaccessible to any painful sensation, as is the case with spirits who are
completely purified. We know that, in proportion as the spirit progresses, the essence of its
perispirit becomes more and more etherealised; whence it follows that the influence of matter
diminishes in proportion to the advancement of the spirit, that is to say, in proportion as his
perispirit becomes less and less gross.
But, it may be urged, it is through the perispirit that agreeable sensations are transmitted to
the spirit, as well as disagreeable ones; therefore, if the purified spirit be inaccessible to the
latter, he must also be to the former. Yes, undoubtedly so, as far as regards those which
proceed solely from the influence of the matter which is known to us. The sound of our
instruments, the perfume of our flowers, produce no impression upon spirits of the highest
orders; and yet they experience sensations of the most vivid character, of a charm
indescribable for us, and of which it is impossible for us to form any idea, because we are, in
regard to that order of sensations, in the same position as that in which men, born blind, are in
regard to light. We know that they exist; but our knowledge is inadequate to explain their
nature or the mode in which they are produced. We know that spirits possess perception,
sensation, hearing, sight, and that these faculties are attributes of their whole being, and not,
as in men, of a part of their being.
But we seek in vain to understand by what intermediary these faculties act; of this we know
nothing. Spirits themselves can give us no explanation of the matter, because our language
can no more be made to express ideas which are beyond the range of our comprehension than
the language of savages can be made to furnish terms for expressing our arts, our sciences, or
our philosophic doctrines.
In saying that spirits are inaccessible to the impressions of earthly matter, we must be
understood as speaking of spirits of very high order, to whose etherealised envelope there is
nothing analogous in our lower sphere. It is different with spirits whose perispirit is of denser
quality, for they perceive our sounds and our odours, though no longer through special parts
of their personality, as they did during life. The molecular vibrations may be said to be felt by
them throughout their whole being, reaching thus their common sensorium, which is the spirit
himself, although
in a different manner, and causing, perhaps, a different impression, which may produce a
modification of the resulting perception. They hear the sound of our voice, and yet are able to
understand us, without the help of speech, by the mere transmission of thought; and this
penetration is the more easy for them in pro-portion as they are more dematerialised. Their
sight is independent of our light. The faculty of vision is an essential attribute of the soul, for
whom darkness has no existence; but it is more extended, more penetrating, in those whose
purification is more advanced. The soul or spirit, therefore, possesses in itself the faculty of
all perceptions; during our corporeal life these are deadened by the grossness of our physical
organs, but, in the extra-corporeal life, they become more and more vivid as our semimaterial
envelope becomes more and more etherealised.
This envelope is drawn from the atmosphere in which the spirit finds himself for the time
being, and varies according to the nature of the different worlds. In passing from one world to
another, spirits change their envelope as we change a garment when we pass from summer to
winter, or from the pole to the equator. The most elevated spirits, when they come to visit us.
assume a terrestrial perispirit, which they retain during their stay among us, and their
perceptions are therefore produced, while they are thus clothed upon, in the same way as
those of the lower spirits, of whom this grosser order of perispirit is the appropriate envelope;
but all spirits, whether high or low, only hear and feel what they choose to hear and to feel.¹
Without possessing organs of sensation, spirits are able to render their perceptions active, or
to prevent their action: there is but one thing which they are compelled to hear, and that is the
counsels of their guides. The sight of spirits is always active, but they are able, nevertheless,
to render themselves invisible to one another, according to the rank they occupy; those of a
higher rank having the power of hiding themselves from those who are below them, although
a spirit of lower rank cannot hide himself from those who are above him. In the first moments
after death, the sight of a spirit is always dim and confused; it becomes cleared as he becomes
freed from the body, acquiring not only the same clearness which it possessed during rife, but
also the power of penetrating bodies which are opaque for us. As for the extension of a spirit's
vision through space,
¹ Vide, for the exception to this general law, the cases mentioned in No. 250.
and into the future and the past, that depends entirely on his degree of purity and of
consequent elevation.
"This theory," it will be said, "is anything but encouraging. We had thought that, once freed
from our gross bodily envelope, the instrument of all our sufferings, we should suffer no
more; and now you tell us that we shall still suffer in the other life, although not in the same
way as we do here. But suffering is none the less painful, whatever its nature; and this
prospect is by no means an agreeable one." Alas, yes! We may still have to suffer, -to suffer
much, and for a long time; but we may also have no more to suffer, even from the very
moment of quitting the corporeal life.
The sufferings of our present existence are sometimes independent of ourselves; but they are
often the consequences of our own volition. If we trace our sufferings back to their source, we
see that the greater number of them are due to causes which we might have avoided. How
many ills, how many infirmities, does man owe to his excesses, his ambition-in a word, to the
indulgence of his various passions! He who should live soberly in all respects, who should
never run into excesses of any kind, who should be always simple in his tastes, modest in his
desires, would escape a large proportion of the tribulations of human life. It is the same with
regard to spirit-life, the sufferings of which are always the consequence of the manner in
which a spirit has lived upon the earth. In that life undoubtedly he will no longer suffer from
gout or rheumatism; but his wrong-doing down here will cause him to experience other
sufferings no less painful. We have seen that those sufferings are the result of the links which
exist between a spirit and matter; that the more completely he is freed from the influence of
matter-in other words, the more dematerialised he is-the fewer are the painful sensations
experienced by him. It depends, therefore, on each of us to free ourselves from the influence
of matter by our action in this present life. Man possesses free-will, and, consequently, the
power of electing to do or not to do. Let him conquer his animal passions; let him rid himself
of hatred, envy, jealousy, pride; let him throw off the yoke of selfishness; let him purify his
soul by cultivating noble sentiments; let him do good; let him attach to the things of this
world only the degree of importance which they deserve,-and he will, even under his present
corporeal envelope, have effected his purification, and achieved his deliverance from
the influence of matter, which will cease for him on his quitting that envelope. For such a one
the remembrance of physical sufferings endured by him in the life he has quitted has nothing
painful, and produces no disagreeable impression, because they affected his body only, and
left no trace in his soul. He is happy to be relieved from them; and the calmness of a good
conscience exempts him from all moral suffering.
We have questioned many thousands of spirits having belonged to every class of society; we
have studied them at every period of their spirit-life, from the instant of their quitting the
body. We have followed them step by step in that life beyond the grave, with a view to
ascertaining the changes that should take place in their ideas and sensations; and this
examination-in which it has not always been the most commonplace spirits that have
furnished us the least valuable subjects of study-has invariably shown us, on the one hand,
that the sufferings of spirits are the direct result of the misconduct of which they have to
undergo the consequences, and, on the other hand, that their new existence is the source of
ineffable happiness for those who have followed the right road. From which it follows that
those who suffer do so because they have so willed it, and have only themselves to thank for
their suffering, in the other world, as in this one.
Choice of Trials
258. In the state of erraticity, and before taking on a new corporeal existence, does a spirit
foresee the things which will happen to him in that new existence?
"He chooses for himself the kind of trials which he will undergo, and it is in this freedom of
choice that his freewill consists."
- It is not God, then, who imposes upon him the tribulations of life as a chastisement?
"Nothing comes to pass without the permission of God, for it is He who has established all
the laws that rule the universe. You would have to inquire why He has made such and such a
law, instead of taking some other way. In giving to a spirit the liberty of choice, He leaves to
him the entire responsibility of his acts and of their consequences. There is nothing to bar his
future; the right road is open to him as freely as the wrong road. But if he succumbs, there
still remains to him the consoling fact that all is not over with him, and that God in His
goodness allows him to
recommence the task which he has done badly. You must, moreover, always distinguish
between what is the work of God's will and what is the work of man's will. If a danger
threatens you, it is not you who have created this danger, but God; but you have voluntarily
elected to expose yourself to this danger, because you have seen in so doing a means of
advancement, and God has permitted you to do so."
259. If the spirit has the choice of the kind of trials which he will undergo, does it follow that
all the tribulations we experiance in the earthly life have been foreseen and chosen by us?
"It would not be correct to say that such has been the case with all of them; for you cannot be
said to have chosen and foreseen all the things which happen to you in this life, and all their
details. You have chosen the kind of trial to which you are subjected; the details of this trial
are a consequence of the general situation which you have chosen, and are often the result of
your own actions.
"If, for instance, a spirit has chosen to he born among male-factors, he knew to what kind of
temptations he was exposing himself, but not each one of the actions which he would
accomplish; those actions are the effect of his volition, of his free-will. A spirit knows that, in
choosing such and such a road, he will have such and such a kind of struggle to undergo; he
knows, therefore, the nature of the vicissitudes which he will encounter, but he does not know
whether these will present themselves under one form or under another. The details of events
spring from circumstances and the force of things. It is only the leading events of his new life,
those which will exercise a determining effect on his destiny, that are foreseen by him. If you
enter upon a road full of ruts, you know that you must walk very warily, because you run a
risk of stumbling; hut you do not know the exact place where you will stumble, and it may be
that, if you are sufficiently on your guard, you will not stumble at all. If, when you are passing
along a street, a tile falls upon your head, you must not suppose that 'it was written,' as the
common saying is."
260. How can a spirit choose to be born among those who are leading a bad life?
"It is necessary for him to be sent into the conditions which will furnish the elements of the
trial he has demanded. To this end, there must be a correspondence between the imperfection
of which he desires to free himself, and the social surroundings into which
he is born. For example, if he have to struggle against the instinct of brigandage, it is
necessary for him to be thrown among brigands."
- If, then, there were no evil livers upon the earth, spirits could not find in it the conditions
necessary to certain kinds of trial?
"Would there be any reason for complaining, if such were the case ? The case you suppose is
that of the worlds of higher order, to which evil has no access, and which are therefore
inhabited only by good spirits. Try to bring about such a state of things as soon as possible in
your earth."
261. Is it necessary for the spirit, in the course of the trials to which he has to submit in order
to arrive at perfection, to undergo every sort of temptation? Must he encounter all the
circumstances that can excite in him pride, jealousy, avarice, sensuality, etc. ?
"Certainly not, since there are, as you know, many spirits who take from the beginning a road
which spares them the necessity of undergoing many of those trials; but he who suffers
himself to be drawn into the wrong road, exposes himself to all the dangers of that road. A
spirit, for instance, may ask for riches, and his demand may he granted; and, in that case, he
will become, according to his character, avaricious or prodigal, selfish or generous, and will
make a noble use of his wealth, or waste it on vanity or sensuality; but this does not imply
that he will be compelled to run the gauntlet of all the evil tendencies that may be fostered by
the possession of riches."
262. As a spirit, at its origin, is simple, ignorant, and without experience, how can he make
an intelligent choice of an existence, and how can he be responsible for such a choice?
"God supplies what is lacking through his inexperience, by tracing out for him the road which
he has to follow, as you do for the infant in its cradle; but he allows him, little by little, to
become the master of his choice, in proportion as his free-will becomes developed; and it is
then that he often loses his way and takes the wrong road, if he do not listen to the advice of
the good spirits, who endeavour to instruct him; it is this which may be called the fall of
- When a spirit is in possession of his free-will, does the choice of his corporeal existence
always depend solely on his own
volition, or is this existence sometimes imposed on him by God as an expiation?
"God can afford to wait; He never hurries the work of expiation. Nevertheless, God does
sometimes impose an existence upon a spirit, when the latter, through his ignorance or his
obstinacy, is incapable of perceiving what would be to his advantage, and when He sees that
this existence may subserve his purification and advancement, while furnishing him also with
the conditions of expiation."
263. Do spirits make their choice immediately after death?
"No; many of them believe their sufferings to be eternal: you have already been told that this
is a chastisement."
264. What is it that decides a spirit's choice of the trials which he determines to undergo?
"He chooses those which may serve to expiate faults, and at the same time help him to
advance more quickly. In view of these ends, some may impose upon themselves a life of
poverty privations, in order to exercise themselves in bearing them with courage; others may
wish to test their powers of resistance by the temptations of fortune and of power, much more
dangerous, because of the bad use that may be made of them, and the evil passions that may
be developed by them; others, again, may desire to strengthen their good resolutions by
having to struggle against the influence of vicious surroundings."
265. If some spirits elect to expose themselves to the contact of vice as a trial of their virtue,
may it not be that others make a similar choice from a desire to live amidst surroundings in
unison with their depraved tastes, and in which they may give free course to their sensual
"Such instances undoubtedly occur; but only among those whose moral sense is still but
imperfectly developed. In such cases, the needed trial occurs spontaneously, and they are
subjected to it for a longer time. Sooner or later, they will understand that indulgence of the
animal instincts leads to disastrous consequences, which they will undergo during a period so
long that it will seem to them to be eternal; and God sometimes leaves them in this state until
they have comprehended the gravity of their fault, and demand. of their own accord, to be
allowed to repair it by undergoing trials of a profitable nature."
266. Does it not seem natural to make choice of such trials as are least painful?
"From your point of view, it would seem to be so, but not from that of the spirit; when he is
freed from materiality, his illusions cease, and he thinks differently".
Man, while upon the earth, and subjected to the influence of carnal ideas, sees only the painful aspect of
the trials he is called upon to undergo and it therefore appears to him to be natural to choose the trials
that are allied to material enjoyments. But when he has returned to spirit-life, he compares those gross
and fugitive enjoyments with the unchangeable felicity of which he obtains occasional glimpses, and
judges that such felicity will be cheaply purchased by a little temporary suffering. A spirit may therefore,
make choice of the hardest trial, and consequently of the most painful existence, in the hope of thereby
attaining more rapidly to a happier state, just as a sick man often chooses the most unpalatable medicine
in the hope of obtaining a more rapid cure. He who aspires to immortalise his name by the discovery of an
unknown country does not seek a flowery road. He takes the road which will bring him most surely to the
aim he has in view, and he is not deterred from following it even by the dangers it may offer. On the
contrary, he braves those dangers for the sake of the glory he will win if he succeeds.
The doctrine of our freedom in the choice of our successive existences and of the trials which we have to
undergo ceases to appear strange when we consider that spirits. being freed from matter, judge of things
differently from men. They perceive the ends which these trials are intended to work out-ends far more
important for them than the fugitive enjoyments of earth. After each existence. they see the steps they
have already accomplished. and comprehend what they still lack for the attainment of the purity which
alone enable them to reach the goal and they willingly submit to the vicissitudes of corporeal life.
demanding of their own accord to be allowed to undergo those which will aid them to advance most
rapidly. There is. therefore. nothing surprising in a spirit making choice of a hard or painful life. He
knows that he cannot, In his present state of imperfection, enjoy the perfect happiness to which he aspires
but he obtains glimpses of that happiness, and he seeks to effect his own Improvement, as the sole means
to Its attainment.
Do we not, every day, witness examples of a similar choice? what is the action of the man who labours,
without cessation or repose, to amass the property which wilt enable him eventually to live in comfort,
but the discharge of a task which he has voluntarily assumed as the means of Insuring for himself a more
prosperous future? The soldier who offers himself for the accomplishment of a perilous mission, the
traveller who braves dangers no less formidable in the Interest of science or of his own fortune, are
examples of the voluntary incurring of hardships for the sake of the honour or profit that will result from
their successful endurance. What will not men undergo for gain or for glory? Is not every sort of
competitive examination a trial to which men voluntarily submit in the hope of obtaining advancement in
the career they have chosen? He who would gain a high position in science, art, industry, is obliged to
pass through all the lower degrees which lead up to it, and which constitute so many trials. Human life is
thus seen to be modelled on spirit-life, presenting the same vicissitudes on a smaller scale. And as in the
earthly life we often make choice of the hardest conditions as means to the attainment of the highest ends,
why should not a disincarnate spirit, who sees farther than he saw when incarnated in an earthly body,
and for whom the bodily life is only a fugitive incident, make choice of a laborious or painful existence, if
it may lead him or towards an eternal felicity? Those who say that, since spirits have the power choosing
their existences, they will demand to be princes and millionaires, are like the purblind, who only see what
they touch, or like greedy children, who, when asked what occupation they would prefer to follow, reply
that they would like to be pastry-cooks or confectioners.
It is with a spirit as with a traveller, who, in the depths of a valley obscured by fog, sees neither the length nor the
extremities of his road. When he has reached the top of me hill, and the fog has cleared away, his view takes in both
the road along which he has come and that by which he has still to go. He sees the point which he has to reach, and the
obstacles he has to overcome in reaching it, and he is thus able to take his measures for successfully accomplishing his
journey. A spirit, while incarnated, is like the traveller at the foot of the hill when freed from terrestrial trammels, he
is like the traveller who has reached the top of the hill. The aim of the traveller is to obtain rest after fatigue the aim of
the spirit is to attain to perfect happiness after tribulations and trials.
Spirits say that, in the state of erraticity, they seek, study, observe, in order to make their choice wisely. Have we not
examples of analogous action in corporeal life? Do we not often spend years In deciding on me career upon which, at
length, we freely fix our choice, because we consider it to be the one in which we are most likely to succeed? If, after
all, we fail in the one we have chosen, we seek out another and each career thus embraced by us constitutes a phase, a
period, of our life. Is not each day employed by us in deciding what we shall do on the morrow? And what, for a
spirit, are his different corporeal existences, but so many phases, periods, days, in comparison with his spirit life,
which, as we know, is his normal life, the corporeal life being only a transitional passage?
267. Can a spirit make his choice while in the corporeal state?
"His desire may exercise a certain amount of influence, according to the quality of his
intention; but, when he returns to spirit-life, he often judges things very differently. It is only
as a spirit that he makes his choice; but he may, nevertheless, make it during the material life,
for a spirit, even while incarnated, has occasional moments in which he is independent of the
matter he inhabits."
-Many persons desire earthly greatness and riches, but not assuredly, either as expiation or as
"“Undoubtedly; in such cases it is their material instinct which desires greatness in order to
enjoy its satisfactions. The spirit could only desire it in order to understand its vicissitudes."
268. Until a spirit has reached the state of perfect purity, has he constantly to undergo trials?
"Yes; but not such as you understand by that term. By the term trials, you understand only
material tribulations. But when a spirit has reached a certain degree of purification, although
he is not yet perfect, he has no more tribulations of that kind to undergo. lie has, nevertheless,
to perform creating duties which advance his own improvement, but there is nothing painful
in these, as, for example, the duty of aiding others to work out their own improvement."
269. Is it possible for a spirit to make a mistake as to the efficacy of the trial he chooses.'
"He may choose one which exceeds his strength, and, in that case, he will succumb; or he
may choose one from which he will
reap no profit whatever, as, for instance, if he seeks to lead an idle and useless life. But, in
such cases, he perceives, on returning to the spirit-world, that he has gained nothing, and he
then demands to make up for lost time."
270. What is the cause of the vocations of some persons, and their spontaneous desire to
follow one career rather than another?
"It seems to me that you yourselves might answer this question. Is not the existence of such
vocations a necessary consequence of what we have told you concerning the choice of trials,
and of the progress accomplished in a preceding existence?"
271. As a spirit in the wandering state studies the various conditions of corporeal life that
will aid him to progress, how can he sup pose that lie will do so by being born, for example,
among cannibals?
"Those who are born among cannibals are not advanced spirit, but spirits who are still at the
cannibal degree, or, it may be, who are even lower than cannibals."
We know that our anthropophagi are not at the lowest degree of the scale, and that there are worlds in
which are found degrees of brutishness and ferocity that have no analogues in our earth. The spirits of
those worlds are, therefore, lower than the lowest of our world, and to come among our savages is, for
them, a step in advance, as it would be for our cannibals to exercise, in a civilised community, some
profession obliging them to shed blood. If they take no higher aim, it Is because their moral backwardness
does not allow of their comprehending any higher degree of progress. A spirit can only advance gradually
he cannot clear at a single bound the distance which separates barbarism from civilisation. And in this
impossibility we see one of the causes that necessitate reincarnation, which Is thus seen to be really a
consequence of the justice of God for what would become of the millions of human beings who die every
day in the lowest depths of degradation, if they had no means of arriving at higher states? And why
should God have refused to them the favours granted to other men?
272. Can spirits, coming from a world of lower degree than the earth, or from the lowest of
our human races, such as our cannibals for instance, be born among our civilised peoples?
“Yes, such spirits sometimes come into your world, through trying to reach a degree too far
above them; but they are out of their proper place among you, because they bring with them
instincts and habits that clash with the convictions and habits of the society into which they
have strayed."
Such beings present us with the melancholy spectacle of ferocity in the midst of civilisation. For them, to
return among cannibals is not a going down, but only a resuming of their proper place and they may even
gain by so doing.
273. Might a man belonging to a civilised race be reincarnated, as an expiation, in a savage
"Yes; but that would depend on the kind of expiation he bad incurred. A master who had been
cruel to his slaves might become a slave in his turn, and undergo the torments he had inflicted
on others. He who has wielded authority may, in a new existence, be obliged to obey those
who formerly bent to his will. Such an existence may be imposed upon him as an expiation if
he have abused his power. But a good spirit may also choose an influential existence among
the people of some lower race, in order to hasten their advancement; in that case, such a
reincarnation is a mission."
Relationships Beyond the Grave
274. Do the different degrees which exist in the advancement of spirits establish among the
latter a hierarchy of powers? Are there, among spirits, subordination and authority?
"Yes; the authority of spirits over one another, in virtue of their relative superiority, is very
great, and gives to the higher ones a moral ascendancy over the lower ones which is
absolutely irresistible."
- Can spirits of lower degree withdraw themselves from the authority of those who are higher
than themselves?
"I have said that the authority which comes of superiority is irresistible."
275. Do the power and consideration which a man may have enjoyed in the earthly life give
him supremacy in the spirit-world?
"No; for in that World the humble are exalted and the proud abased. Read the Psalms."
- In what sense should we understand exalting and abasing?
"Do you not know that spirits are of different orders, according to their degree of merit?
Therefore, he who has held the highest rank upon the earth may find himself in the lowest
rank in the world of spirits, while his servitor may be in the highest. Is not this clear to you ?
Has not Jesus said that ‘Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and whosoever
humbleth himself shall be exalted?"
276. When one who has been great upon the earth finds himself occupying an inferior place
in the spirit-world, does he feel humiliated by this change of position?
"Often exceedingly so; especially if he have been haughty and jealous."
277. When a soldier, after a battle, meets his general in the spirit-world, does he still
acknowledge him as his superior.'
"Titles are nothing; intrinsic superiority is everything."
278. Do spirits of different orders mix together in the other
"Yes, and no; that is to say, they see each other, but they are none the less removed. They
shun or approach one another according to the antipathies or sympathies of their sentiments,
just as is the case among yourselves. The spirit-life is a whole world of varied conditions and
relationships, of which the earthly life is only the obscured reflex. Those of the same rank are
drawn together by a sort of affinity, and form groups or families of spirits united by sympathy
and a common aim-the good, by the desire to do what is good, and the bad, by the desire to do
evil, by the shame of their wrong-doing, and by the wish to find them-selves among those
whom they resemble."
The spirit-world is like a great city, in which men of all ranks and conditions see and meet one another
without mixing together in which various social circles are formed by similarity of tastes in which vice
and virtue elbow each other without speaking to one another.
279. Are all spirits reciprocally accessible to one another?
"The good go everywhere, as it is necessary that they should do, in order to bring their
influence to bear upon the evil-minded. But the regions inhabited by them are inaccessible to
inferior spirits, so that the latter cannot trouble those happy abodes by the introduction of evil
280. What is the nature of the relations between good and bad spirits?
"The good ones endeavour to combat the evil tendencies of the others, in order to aid them to
raise themselves to a higher degree; this intercourse, is, for the former, a mission."
281. Why do inferior spirits take pleasure in inducing us to do wrong?
"From jealousy. Not having earned a place among the good, their desire is to prevent, as far
as in them lies, other spirits, as yet inexperienced, from attaining to the happiness from which
they are excluded. They desire to make others suffer what they
suffer themselves. Do you not see the working of the same desire among yourselves?"
282. How do spirits hold communication with one another?
"They see and comprehend one another. Speech is material; it is a reflex of spirit. The
universal fluid establishes a constant communication between them; it is the vehicle by which
thought is transmitted, as the air, in your world, is the vehicle of sound. This fluid constitutes
a sort of universal telegraph, which unites all worlds, and enables spirits to correspond from
one world to another."
283. Can spirits hide their thoughts from each other? Can they hide themselves from one
"No; with them everything is open, and especially so with those who have attained to
perfection. They may withdraw from one another, but they are always visible to each other.
This, however, is not an absolute rule, for the higher spirits are perfectly able to render
themselves invisible to the lower ones, when they consider it to he useful to do so."
284. How can spirits, who have no longer a body, establish their individuality, and cause it to
be distinguishable from that of the other spiritual beings by whom they are surrounded?
"Their individuality is established by their perispirit, which makes of each spirit a separate
personality, distinct from all others, as the body does among men."
285. Do spirits recognise one another as having lived together upon the earth? Does the son
recognise his father, the friend, his friend?
"Yes; and from generation to generation."
- How do those who have known each other on the earth recognise one another in the world
of spirits?
“We see our past life, and read therein as in a hook; on seeing the past of our friends and our
enemies, we see their passage from life to death."
286. Does the soul see, immediately on quitting its mortal remains, the relations and friends
who have returned before it into the world of spirits?
"Immediately is not always the right word; for, as we have said, the soul requires some time
to resume its self-consciousness, and to shake off the veil of materiality."
287. How is the soul received on its return to the spirit-word?
"That of the righteous, as a dearly-beloved brother, whose return has been long waited for;
that of the wicked, with contempt."
288. What sentiment is experienced by impure spirits at the sight of another bad spirit, on his
arrival among them?
"Such spirits are gratified at seeing others who resemble them, and who, like them, are
deprived of the highest happiness; just as a band of scoundrels, upon the earth, are gratified at
meeting with another scoundrel like themselves."
289. Do our relatives and friends sometimes come to meet us when we are leaving the earth?
"Yes, they come to meet the soul of those they love; they felicitate it as one who has returned
from a journey if it have escaped the dangers of the road, and they aid it in freeing itself from
the bonds of the flesh. To be met thus by those they have loved is a favour granted to the
souls of the upright; while the soul of the wicked is punished by being left alone, or is only
surrounded by spirits like itself."
290. Are relatives and friends always reunited after death?
"That depends on their elevation, and on the road they have to follow for their advancement.
If one of them is further advanced, and progresses more rapidly than the other, they cannot
remain together: they may see one another occasionally, but they can only he definitively
reunited when he who was behind is able to keep pace with him who was before, or when
both of them shall have reached the state of perfection. Moreover, the privation of the sight of
relatives and friends is sometimes inflicted on a spirit as a punishment."
Sympathies and Antipathies of Spirits - Eternal Halves
291. Have spirits special personal affections among themselves, besides the general
sympathy resulting from similarity?
"Yes, just as among men; but the link between spirits is stronger when the body is absent,
because it is no longer exposed to the vicissitudes of the passions."
292. Do spirits experience hatreds among themselves?
"Hatreds only exist among impure spirits. It is they who sow hatreds and dissensions among
293. Do those who have been enemies on earth always retain their resentment against one
another in the spirit-world?
"No; for they often see that their hatred was stupid, and perceive the puerility of the object by
which it was excited. It is only imperfect spirits who retain the animosities of the earthly life 7
of which they rid themselves in proportion as they become purified. Spirits whose anger, as
men, has been caused by some merely material interest, forget their dissension as soon as they
are dematerialised. The cause of their dissension no longer existing, they may, if there be no
antipathy between them, see each other again with pleasure."
Just as two schoolboys, when they have reached the age of reason, perceive the folly of their boyish
quarrels, and no longer keep up a grudge against each other on account of them.
294. Is the remembrance of wrongs they may have done one another, as men, an obstacle to
sympathy between two spirits?
"Yes, it tends to keep them apart."
295. What is the sentiment, after death, of those whom we have wronged?
"If they are good, they forgive you as soon as you repent; if they are bad, they may retain
resentment against you, and may even pursue you with their anger in another existence. This
may be permitted by God as a chastisement."
296. Are the individual affections of spirits susceptible of change?
No; for they cannot be mistaken in one another. The mask under which hypocrites hide
themselves on earth has no existence in the world of spirits, and their affections, when they
are pure, are therefore unchangeable. The love which unites them is a source of supreme
297. Does the affection which two spirits have felt for each other upon the earth always
continue in the spirit-world?
"Yes, undoubtedly, if that affection were founded on sympathy; but, if physical causes have
had more share in it than sympathy, it ceases with those causes. Affections are more solid and
lasting among spirits than among men, because they are not subordinated to the caprices of
material interests and self-love."
298. Is it true that the souls of those who will eventually be united in affection are
predestined to this union from their beginning, and that each of us has thus, in some part of
the universe, his other half, to whom he will some day be necessarily reunited?
"No, there is no such thing as any special and fated union between any two souls. Union
exists between all spirits, but in different degrees, according to the rank they occupy,-that is
to say, according to the degree of perfection they have acquired; and the greater their
perfection, the more united they are. It is discord that produces all the ills of human life. The
complete and perfect happiness at which all spirits eventually arrive is the result of concord."
299. In what way should we understand the term other half, sometimes employed by spirits to
designate other spirits for whom they have special sympathy?
"The expression is incorrect. If one spirit were the half of another spirit, he would, if
separated from that other, be incomplete."
300. When two perfectly sympathetic spirits are reunited in the other world, are they thus
reunited for all eternity, or can they separate from each other and unite themselves with other
"All spirits are united among themselves. I speak of those who have reached the state of
perfection. In the spheres below that state, when a spirit passes from a lower sphere to a
higher one, he does not always feel the same sympathy for those whom he has quitted."
301. When two spirits are completely sympathetic, are they. the complement of each other, or
is that sympathy the result of their perfect identity of character?
"The sympathy which attracts one spirit to another is the result of the perfect concordance of
their tendencies and instincts. If one of them were necessary to complete the other, he would
lose his individuality."
302. Does similarity of thoughts and of sentiments suffice to constitute the kind of identity
which is necessary to the production of perfect sympathy, or is uniformity of acquired
knowledge also required for its production?
"Perfect sympathy between two spirits results from equality in the degree of their elevation."
303. May spirits, who are not now sympathetic, become so in the future?
Yes, all will be sympathetic in course of time. Thus, of two spirits who were once together,
one may have advanced more rapidly than the other; but the other, though now in a lower
sphere, will by and by have advanced sufficiently to be able to enter the higher sphere in
which the former is now residing. And their reunion will take place all the sooner if the one
who was most advanced should fail in the trials he has still to undergo, and so should remain
for a time just where he now is, without making any further progress."
- May two spirits, who are now sympathetic, cease to be so?
"Certainly, if one of them is wanting in energy, and lags behind, while the other is
The hypothesis of twin-souls is merely a figurative representation of the union of two sympathetic spirits,
and must not be understood literally. The spirits who have made use of this expression are certainly not of
high order; and, therefore, as their range of thought is necessarily narrow, they have sought to convey
their meaning by using the terms they were accustomed to employ in their earthly life. The idea that two
souls were created for each other, and that, after having been separated for a longer or shorter period,
they will necessarily be eventually reunited for all eternity, is, therefore, to be entirely rejected.
Remembrance of Corporeal Existence
304. Does spirit remember his corporeal existence?
"Yes; having lived many times as a human being, he remembers what he has been, and often
smiles pityingly at the follies of his past."
As a man, who has reached the age of reason, smiles at the follies of his youth and the silliness of his childhood.
305. Does the remembrance of his corporeal existence present itself to a spirit, complete, and
spontaneously, immediately after his death?
"No; it comes back to him little by little, in proportion as he fixes his attention upon it, as
objects gradually become visible out of a fog."
306. Does a spirit remember the details of all the events of his life? Does he take in the whole
of his life at a single retrospective glance?
"He remembers the things of his life more or less distinctly and in detail, according to the
influence they have exercised on his state as a spirit; but you can easily understand that there
are many things in his life to which he attaches no importance, and which he does not even
seek to remember."
- Could he remember them if he wished to do so?
"He has the power of recalling the most minute details of every incident of his life, and even
of his thoughts; but when no useful purpose would be served by exerting this power, he does
not exert it."
307. In what way does his past life present itself to a spirit’s memory? Is it through an effort
of his imagination, or is it like a picture displayed before his eyes?
"It comes back to him in both ways. All the actions which he has an interest in remembering
appear to him as though they were present; the others are seen by him more or less vaguely in
his thought, or are entirely forgotten. The more dematerialised he is, the less importance does
he attach to material things. It has often happened to you, on evoking some wandering spirit
who has just left the earth, to find that he remembers neither the names of persons whom he
liked, nor details which to you appear to be important. He cares but little about them, and they
have faded from his memory. But you always find that he perfectly remembers the main facts
of his life which have conduced to his intellectual and moral progress."
308. Does a spirit remember all the existences which have preceded the one he has just
"His entire past is spread out before him like the stages already accomplished by a traveller,
but, as we have told you, he does not remember all his past actions with absolute precision;
he remembers them more or less clearly in proportion to the influence they have had upon his
present state. As to his earliest existences, those which may be regarded as constituting the
period of spirit-infancy, they are lost in vagueness, and disappear in the night of oblivion.
309. How does a spirit regard the body he has just quitted?
"As an uncomfortable garment that hampered him, and that he is delighted to be rid of."
- What feeling is produced in him by seeing the decomposition of his body?
" Almost always that of indifference; as something about which he no longer cares."
310. After a time, does a spirit recognise the mortal remains, or other objects, that once
belonged to him?
"Sometimes he does so; but this depends on the more or less elevated point of view from
which he regards terrestrial things."
311. Is a spirit's attention attracted to the material relics of himself by the respect entertained
for those objects by his survivors, and does he see this respect with pleasure?
"A spirit is always gratified at being held in kindly remembrance by those he has left. The
objects thus preserved in remembrance of him serve to recall him to the memory of those by
whom they are preserved; but it is the action of their thought which attracts him, and not
those objects."
312. Do spirits retain the remembrance of the sufferings endured by them in their last
corporeal existence?
"They frequently do so; and this remembrance makes them realise all the more vividly the
worth of the felicity they enjoy as spirits."
313. Does he who has been happy down here regret his terrestrial enjoyments on quitting the
"Only spirits of inferior degree can regret material satisfactions in harmony with impurity of
nature, and which are expiated by suffering. For spirits of higher degrees of elevation, the
happiness of eternity is immeasurably preferable to the ephemeral pleasures of the earthly
As the adult despises watch constituted the delights of is infancy.
314. When a man, who has commenced a series of important labours in view of some useful
end, has seen these labours interrupted by death, does he, in the other world, feel regret at
having had to leave them unfinished?
"No, because he sees that others are destined to complete them. On the contrary, he
endeavours to act upon the minds of other human beings, so as to lead them to carry on what
he had begun. His aim while upon the earth was to be useful to the human race: his aim is the
same in the spirit-world."
315. When a man has left behind him works of art or of literature, does he preserve for them
in the other life the interest he took in them while living upon the earth?
"He judges them from another point of view, according to his elevation, and he often blames
what he formerly admired."
316. Does a spirit still take an interest in the labours which are going on upon the earth, in
the progress of the arts and sciences?
"That depends on his degree of elevation, and on the mission he may have to fulfil. What
appears magnificent to you often appears a very small matter to spirits; if they take an interest
in it, it is only as a man of learning takes an interest in the work of a school-boy. They
examine whatever indicates the elevation of incarnated spirits and mark the degree of their
317. Do spirits, after death, retain any preference for their native country?
"For spirits of elevated degree, their country is the universe; in regard to the earth, their only
preference is for the place in which there is the greatest number of persons with whom they
are in sympathy."
The situation of spirits, and their way of looking at things, are infinitely varied, according to their various
degrees of moral and intellectual development. Spirits of a high order generally make but short sojourns
upon the earth all that goes on here is so paltry in comparison with the grandeurs of infinity, the matters
to which men attribute most importance appear to them so puerile, that the things of this earth have very
little interest for them, unless they have been sent to it for the purpose of quickening the progress of its
people. Spirits of lower degree visit our earth more frequently, but they judge its affairs from a higher
point of view than that of their corporeal life. The common ruck of spirits may be said to be sedentary'
among us they constitute the great mass of the ambient population of the invisible world. They retain very
much the same ideas, tastes, and tendencies which they had while clothed with their corporeal envelope,
and mix themselves up with our gatherings, our occupation, our amusements in all of which they take a
part more or, less active according to their character. Being no longer able to satisfy their material
passions, they take delight in witnessing the excesses of those who abandon themselves to their indulgence,
to which they excite them by every means in their power. Among their number are some who are better
disposed, and who see and observe in order to acquire knowledge and to advance.
318. Do spirits modify their ideas in the other life?
"Very considerably. A spirit's ideas undergo very great modifications in proportion as he
becomes dematerialised, He may sometimes retain the same ideas for a long period, but little
by little the influence of matter diminishes, and he sees more clearly. It is then that he seeks
for the means of advancing."
319. As spirits had already lived in the other world before being incarnated, why do they feel
astonished on re-entering that world?
"This feeling is only momentary, and results from the confusion that follows their waking;
they soon recover their knowledge of themselves, as the memory of the past comes back to
them, and the impression of the terrestrial life becomes effaced." (Vide 163 et seq.)
Commemoration of the Dead - Funerals
320. Are spirits affected by the remembrance of those whom they have loved on earth?
"Very much more so than you are apt to suppose. If they are happy this remembrance adds to
their happiness; if they are Unhappy, it affords them consolation."
321. Are spirits specially attracted towards their friends upon the earth by the return of the
day which, in some countries, is consecrated to the 'memory of those who have quitted this
life? Do they make it a point to meet those who, on that day, go to pray beside the graves
where their mortal remains are interred?
"Spirits answer to the call of affectionate remembrance on that (lay as they do on any other
- Do they, on that day, go specially to the burial-place of their corporeal body?
"They go to the cemeteries in greater numbers on that day, because called thither by the
thoughts of a greater number of persons, but each spirit goes solely for his own friends, and
not for the crowd of those who care nothing about him."
- In what form do they come to these places, and what would be their appearance if they
could render themselves visible to us?
"The form and appearance by which they were known during their lifetime."
322. Do the spirits of those who are forgotten, and whose graves no one visits, go to the
cemeteries notwithstanding this neglect? Do they feel regret at seeing that no one remembers
"What is the earth to them ? They are only linked to it by the heart. If, upon the earth, no
affection is felt for a spirit, there is nothing that can attach him to it; he has the whole
universe before him."
323. Does a visit made to his grave give more pleasure to a spirit than a prayer offered for
him by friends in their own home?
"A visit made to his grave is a way of showing to a spirit that he is not forgotten; it is a sign.
As I have told you, it is the prayer that sanctifies the action of the memory; the place where it
is offered is of little importance, if it come from the heart."
324. When statues or other monuments are erected to persons who have quitted this life, are
the spirits of those persons present at their inauguration; and do they witness such
ceremonies with pleasure?
"Spirits often attend on such occasions, when able to do so; but they attach less importance to
the honours paid to them than to the remembrance in which they are held."
325. What makes some persons desire to be buried in one place rather than in another? Do
they go thither more willingly offer their death? And is it a sign of inferiority on the part of a
spirit that lie should attribute importance to a matter so Purely material?
"That desire is prompted by a spirit's affection for certain places and is a sign of moral
inferiority. To an elevated spirit, what Js one spot of earth more than another ? Does he not
know that his foul will be reunited with those he loves, even though their bones are
- Is it futile to bring together the mortal remains ins of all tile members of a family in the
same burial-place?
"Such reunion is of little importance to spirits ; but it is useful to men, whose remembrance of
those who have gone before them is thus strengthened and rendered more serious."
326. When the soul has returned into spirit-life, is it gratified by the honours paid to its
mortal remains?
"When a spirit has reached a certain degree of advancement, he is purified from terrestrial
vanities, for he comprehends their futility. But there are many spirits who, in the early period
of their return to the other life, take great pleasure in the honours paid to their memory, or are
much disturbed at finding themselves forgotten; for they still retain some of the false ideas
they held during their earthly life."
327. Do spirits ever attend their own funeral?
"Spirits very often do so; but, in many cases, without understanding what is going on, being
still in the state of confusion that usually follows death."
- Do they feel flattered by the presence of a large concourse of persons at their funeral?
"More or less so, according to the sentiment which has brought them together."
328. Is a spirit ever present at the meetings of his heirs?
"Almost always. Providence has so ordained it for the spirit's own instruction, and for the
chastisement of selfishness. The deceased is thus enabled to judge of the worth of the
protestations of affection and devotion addressed to him during his life and his
disappointment on witnessing the rapacity of those who dispute the property he has left is
often very great. But the punishment of greedy heirs will come in due time."
329. Is the respect which mankind, in all ages and among all peoples, has always
instinctively shown to the dead, to be attributed to an intuitive belief in a future state of
"The one is the natural consequence of the other; were it not for that belief, such respect
would have neither object nor meaning."
Preludes to Return
330. Do spirits foresee the epoch of their next return to corporeal life?
"They have the presentiment of that return, as a blind man feels the heat of the fire he is
approaching. They know that they will be reincarnated, as you know that you will die; but
without knowing when the change will occur."-( 166.)
- Reincarnation, then, is a necessity of spirit-life, as death is a necessity of corporeal life?
331. Do all spirits occupy themselves beforehand with their approaching incarnation?
"There are some who never give it a thought, and who even know nothing about it; that
depends on their greater or less degree of advancement. In some cases, the uncertainty in
which they are left in regard to their future is a punishment."
332. Can a spirit hasten or retard the moment of his reincarnation ?
"He may hasten it by the action of a strong desire; he may also put it off if he shrink from the
trial awaiting him (for the cowardly and the indifferent are to be found among spirits as
among men), but he cannot do so with impunity. He suffers from such delay, as the sick man
suffers who shrinks from employing the remedy which alone can cure him."
333. If a spirit found himself tolerably happy in an average condition among errant spirits,
could he prolong that state indefinitely?
"No, not indefinitely. The necessity of advancing is one which is felt by every spirit, sooner or
later. All spirits have to ascend it is their destiny."
334. Is the union of a given soul with a given body predestined beforehand, or is the choice of
a body only made at the last moment?
"The spirit who is to animate a given body is always designated beforehand. Each spirit, on
choosing the trial he elects to undergo, demands to be reincarnated; and Cod, who sees and
knows all things, has foreseen and for known that such and such a soul would be united to
such and such a body."
335. Is the spirit allowed to choose the body into which lie will enter, or does he only choose
the kind of life which is to serve for his trial?
"He may choose a body also, for the imperfections of a given body are so many trials that will
aid his advancement, if he succeeds in vanquishing the obstacles thus placed in his way. This
choice does not always depend on himself, but he may ask to be allowed to make it."
- Could a spirit refuse, at the last moment, to enter into the body that had been chosen by
"If lie refused, he would suffer much more than one who had not attempted to undergo a new
336. Could it happen that a child about to be born should find no spirit willing to incarnate
himself in it?
"God provides for all contingencies. Every child who is predestined to be born viable, is also
predestined to have a soul. Nothing is ever created without design."
337. Is the union of a given soul with a given body ever imposed by God?
"It is sometimes imposed, as well as the different trials to be undergone by a spirit, and
especially when the latter is still too backward to be able to choose wisely for himself. A
spirit may be constrained, as an expiation, to unite himself with the body of a child that, by
the circumstances of its birth, and the position it
will have in the world, will become for him an instrument of chastisement."
338. If several spirits demanded to incarnate themselves in a body about to be born, in what
way would the decision be made between them?
"In such a case, it is God who judges as to which spirit is best fitted to fulfil the destiny
appointed for the child; but, as I have already told you, the spirit is designated before the
instant in which he is to unite himself with the body."
339. Is the moment of incarnation accompanied by a confusion similar to that which follows
the spirit's separation from the body?
"Yes, but much greater and especially much longer. At death the spirit is emancipated from
the state of slavery; at birth, he re-enters it."
340. Does the moment in which he is to reincarnate himself appear to a spirit as a solemn
one? Does he accomplish that act as something serious and important for him?
"He is like a traveller who embarks on a perilous voyager, and who does not know whether he
may not find his death in the waves among which he is venturing."
Just as the death of the body is a sort of re-birth for the spirit. so reincarnation is for him a sort of death,
or rather of exile and claustration. He quits the world of spirits for the corporeal world just as a man
quits the corporeal world for the world of spirits. A spirit knows that he will be reincarnated, just as a
man knows that he will die but, like the latter, he only becomes aware of the change at the moment when
it occurs. It is at this moment that the confusion produced by the change takes possession of him. as is the
case with a man in the act of dying and this confusion lasts until his new existence is fully established. The
commencement of reincarnation is, for the spirit, a sort of dying.
341. Is a spirit's uncertainty, in regard to the successful issue of the trials he is about to
undergo in his new life, a cause of anxiety to him before his incarnation?
"Yes, of very great anxiety, since those trials will retard or hasten his advancement, according
as he shall have borne them ill or well."
342. Is a spirit accompanied, at the moment of his rein carnation, by spirit-friends who come
to be present at his departure from the spirit-world, as they come to receive him when he
returns to it?
"That depends on the sphere which the spirit inhabits. If he belongs to a sphere in which
affection reigns, spirits who love him
remain with him to the last moment, encourage him, and often even follow him in his new
343. Is it the spirit-friends who thus follow us in our earthly life that we sometimes see in our
dreams manifesting affection for us, but whose features are unknown to us?
"Yes, in very many cases; they come to visit you as you visit a prisoner in his cell."
Union of Soul and Body
344. At what moment is the soul united to the body?
"The union begins at the moment of conception, but is only complete at the moment of birth.
From the moment of conception, the spirit designated to inhabit a given body is united to that
body by a fluidic link, which becomes closer and closer up to the instant of birth; the cry then
uttered by the infant announces that he is numbered among the living."
345. Is the union between the spirit and the body definitive from the moment of conception?
Could the spirit, during this first period of that union, renounce inhabiting the body designed
for him?
"The union between them is definitive in this sense namely, that no other spirit could replace
the one who has been designated for that body. But, as the links which hold them together are
at first very weak, they are easily broken, and may be severed by the will of a spirit who
draws back from the trial he had chosen. But, in that case, the child does not live."
346. What becomes of a spirit, if the body he has chosen happens to die before birth?
"He chooses another body."
- What can be the use of premature deaths?
"Such deaths are most frequently caused by the imperfections of matter."
347. What benefit can a spirit derive from his incarnation in a body which dies a few' days
after birth?
"In such a case, the new being's consciousness of his existence is so slightly developed that
his death is of little importance. As we have told you, such deaths are often intended mainly
as a trial for the parents."
348. Does a spirit know beforehand that tile body he chooses has no chance of living?
"He sometimes knows it; but if he chooses it on this account. it is because he shrinks from the
trial he foresees."
349. When, from any cause, a spirit has failed to accomplish a proposed incarnation, is
another existence provided for him immediately?
"Not always immediately. The spirit requires time to make a new choice, unless his
instantaneous reincarnation had been previously decided upon."
350. When a spirit is definitively united to an infant body, and it is thus too late for him to
refuse this union does lie sometimes regret the choice he has made?
"If you mean to ask whether, as a man, he may complain of the life he has to undergo, and
whether he may not wish it were otherwise, I answer, Yes; but if you mean to ask whether he
regrets the choice he has made, I answer, No, for he does not remember that he has made it. A
spirit, when once incarnated. cannot regret a choice which he is not conscious of having
made; but he may find the burden lie has. assumed too heavy. and, if lie believes it to be
beyond his strength, he may have recourse to suicide."
351. Does a spirit, in the interval between conception and birth, enjoy the use of all his
"He does so more or less according to the various periods of gestation; for he is not yet
incarnated in his new body, but only attached to it. From the instant of conception confusion
begins to take possession of the spirit, who is thus made aware that the moment has come for
him to enter upon a new existence; and this confusion becomes more and more dense until
the period of birth. In the interval between these two terms, his state is nearly that of an
incarnated spirit during the sleep of the body. In proportions as the moment of birth
approaches, his ideas become effaced, together with his remembrance of the past, of which.
when once he has entered upon corporeal life, he is no longer conscious. But this
remembrance comes back to him little by little when he has returned to the spirit-world."
352. Does the spirit, at the moment of birth, recover the plenitude of his faculties?
"No; they are gradually developed with the growth of his organs. The corporeal life is for him
a new existence; he has to learn the use of his bodily instruments. His ideas come back to him
little by little, as in the case of a man who, waking out of slumber. should find himself in a
different situation from that in which he was before he fell asleep."
353. The union of the spirit and the body not being completely and definitively consummated
until birth has taken place can the foetus be considered as having a soul?
"The spirit who is to animate it exists, as it were, outside of it; strictly speaking, therefore, it
has no soul, since the incarnation of the latter is only in course of being effected; but it is
linked to the soul which it is to have."
354. What is the nature of intra-uterine life?
"That of the plant which vegetates. The foetus, however, lives with vegetable and animal life,
to which the union of a soul with the child-body at birth adds spiritual life."
355. Are there, as is indicated by science, children so constituted that they cannot live, and if
so, for what purpose ore they produced?
"That often happens. Such births are permitted as a trial, either for the parents or for the spirit
appointed to animate it."
356. Are there, among still-born children, some who were never intended for the incarnation
of a spirit?
"Yes, there are some who never had a spirit assigned to them, for whom nothing was to be
done. In such a case, it is simply as a trial for the parents that the child arrives."
- Can a being of this nature come to its term?
"Yes, sometimes; but it does not live."
- Every child that survives its birth has, then, necessarily a spirit incarnated in it?
"What would it be if such were not the case ? It would not he a human being."
357. What are, for a spirit, the consequences of abortion?
"It is an existence that is null, and must be commenced over again."
358. Is artificial abortion a crime, no matter at what period of gestation it may be produced?
"Every transgression of the law of God is a crime. The mother, or any other, who takes the
life of an unborn child, is necessarily criminal; for, by so doing, a soul is prevented from
undergoing the trial of which the body thus destroyed was to have been the instrument."
352. In cases in which the life of the mother would be endangered by the birth of the child, is
it a crime to sacrifice the child in order to save the mother?
"It is better to sacrifice the being whose existence is not yet complete than the being whose
existence is complete."
360. Is it rational to treat the foetus with the same respect as the body of a child that has
"In the one, as in the other, you should recognise the will and the handiwork of God, and
these are always to be respected."
Moral and Intellectual Faculties
361. Whence has man his moral qualities, good or bad?
"They are those of the spirit who is incarnated in him. The purer is that spirit, the more
decidedly is the man inclined to goodness."
It would seem, then, that a good man is the incarnation of a good spirit, and a vicious man
that of a bad spirit?
"Yes; but you should rather say 'of an imperfect spirit,' otherwise it might be supposed that
there are spirits who will always remain bad, what you call devils."
362. What is the character of the individuals in whom light and foolish spirits are
"They are hare-brained, prankish, and sometimes mischievous."
363. Have spirits any passions that do not belong to humanity?
"No; if they had, they would communicate them to you."
364. Is it one and the same spirit that gives a man both his moral and his intellectual
"Certainly it is the same. A man has not two spirits in him."
365. How comes it that some men, who are very intelligent, which shows that they have in
them a spirit of considerable advancement, are also extremely vicious?
"It is because the spirit incarnated in a man is not sufficiently purified, and the man yields to
the influence of other spirits still
worse than himself. The upward progress of a spirit is accomplished by slow degrees; but this
progress does not take place simultaneously in all directions. At one period of his career he
may advance in knowledge, at another in morality."
366. What is to be thought of the opinion according to which a man's various intellectual and
moral faculties are the product of so many different spirits incarnated in him, and each
possessing a special aptitude?
"The absurdity of such an opinion becomes evident on a moment's reflection. Each spirit is
destined to possess all possible aptitudes; but, in order to progress, he must possess one sole
and unitary will. If a man were an amalgam of different spirits, this unitary will would not
exist, and he would possess no individuality, because, at his death, all the spirits would fly off
in different directions, like birds escaped from a cage. Men often complain of not
comprehending certain things, and yet how ingenious they are in multiplying difficulties,
while they have within reach the simplest and most natural of explanations! I Such an opinion
is but another instance of the way in which men so often take the effect for the cause. It does
for man what the pagans did for God. They believed in the existence of as many gods as there
are phenomena in the universe; but, even among them, the more sensible ones only saw in
those phenomena a variety of effects having for their cause one and the same God."
The physical and moral worlds offer us, in regard to this subject, numerous points of comparison. While
the attention of mankind was confined to the appearance of natural phenomena, they believed in the
existence of many kinds of matter. In the present day, it is seen that all those phenomena, however varied,
may very probably be merely the result of modifications of a single elementary matter. The various
faculties of a human being are manifestations of one and the same cause, which is the soul or spirit
incarnated in him, and not of several souls just as the different sounds of an organ are the product of one
and the same sir, and not of as many sorts of air as there are sounds. According to the theory in question,
when a man acquires or loses aptitudes or tendencies, such modifications would be the result of the
coming or going of a corresponding number of the spirits conjoined with him, which would make of him a
multiple being without individuality, and, consequently, without responsibility. This theory, moreover, is
disproved by the numerous. manifestations of spirits which conclusively demonstrate their personality
and their identity.
Influence of Organism
367. Does a spirit, in uniting itself with a body, identify itself with matter?
"Matter is only the envelope of the spirit, as clothing is the envelope of the body. A spirit, in
uniting himself with a body, retains the attributes of his spiritual nature."
368. Does a spirit exercise his faculties in full freedom after his union with a body?
"The exercise of faculties depends on the organs which serve them for instruments. Their
exercise is weakened by the grossness of matter."
- It would appear, then, that the material envelope is an obstacle to the free manifestation of
a spirit's faculties, as the opacity of ground glass is an obstacle to the free emission of light?
"Yes, an obstacle which is exceedingly opaque."
The action exercised upon a spirit by the gross matter of his body may also be compared to that of muddy
water, impeding the movements of the objects plunged into it.
369. Is the free exercise of a spirit's faculties subordinated, during his incarnation, to the
development of his corporeal organs?
"Those organs are the soul's instruments for the manifestation of its faculties; that
manifestation is, therefore, necessarily subordinated to the degree of development and
perfection of those organs, as the perfection of a piece of manual work depends on the
goodness of the tool employed."
370. May we, from the influence of the corporeal organs, infer a connection between the
development of the cerebral organs and that of the moral and intellectual faculties?
"Do not confound effect and cause. A spirit always possesses the faculties that belong to him;
but you must remember that it is not the organs that give the faculties, but the faculties that
incite to the development of the organs."
- According to this view of the subject the diversity of aptitudes in each 'man depends solely
on the state of his spirit?
"To say that it does so 'solely,' would not be altogether correct. The qualities of the incarnated
spirit are, undoubtedly, the determining principle of those aptitudes; but allowance must be
made for the influence of matter, which hinders every man, more or less, in the exercise of
the faculties inherent in his soul."
A spirit, in incarnating himself, brings with him certain characterial predispositions therefore, if we
admit the existence, for each of these, of a special organ In the brain. the development of the cerebral
organs is seen to be an effect, and not a cause. If his faculties were a result of his bodily organs, man
would be a mere machine, without free-will, and would not be responsible for his actions. Moreover, if
such were the case,
we should be forced to admit that the greatest geniuses-men of science, poets, artists-are only such
because a lucky chance has given them certain special organs whence it would follow, still further, that,
but for the chance-acquisition of those organs, they would not have been geniuses, and that the stupidest
of men might have been a Newton, a Virgil, or a Raphael, If he had been provided with certain organs a
supposition still more flagrantly absurd, if we attempt to apply it to the explanation of the moral qualities.
For, according to this system, Saint Vincent de Paul, had he been gifted by nature with such and such an
organ, might have been a scoundrel and the greatest scoundrel alive, had he only been gifted with an
organ of an opposite nature, might have been a Saint Vincent de Paul. If, on the contrary, we admit that
our special organs, supposing such to exist, are an effect and not a cause, that they are developed by the
exercise of the faculties to which they correspond, as muscles are developed by movement, we arrive at a
theory which is certainly not irrational. Let us employ an illustration equally conclusive and
commonplace. By certain physiognomic signs we recognise a man who is addicted to drink. Is it those
signs that make him a drunkard, or is It his drunkenness that produces those signs? It may be safely
asserted that our organs are a consequence of our faculties.
Idiocy - Madness
371. Is there any foundation for the common belief that the souls of idiots are of a nature
inferior to those of others?
"No; they have a human soul, which is often more intelligent than you suppose, and which
suffers acutely from the insufficiency of its means of communication, as the dumb man
suffers from his inability to speak."
372. What is the aim of Providence in creating beings so ill-treated by nature as idiots?
"Idiots are incarnations of spirits who are undergoing punishment, and who suffer from the
constraint they experience, and from their inability to manifest themselves by means of
organs which are undeveloped, or out of order."
- Then it is not correct to say that organs are without influence upon faculties?
"We have never said that organs are without influence. They have very great influence on the
manifestation of faculties, but they do not give faculties; there is just the difference. A skilful
player will not make good music with a bad instrument, but that will not prevent his being a
good player."
It is necessary to distinguish between the normal state and the pathologic state. In the normal state, the
moral strength of an Incarnated spirit enables him to triumph over the obstacles which are placed in his
way by matter but there are cases in which matter opposes a resistance so powerful that the
manifestations of the spirit incarnated In It are hindered or changed from what he intended, as in idiocy
and madness. These cases are pathologic and as the soul, in such states, is not in the enjoyment of its full
liberty, human law Itself exempts such persons from the responsibility of their actions.
373. What merit can there be in the existence of beings who, like idiots, can do neither good
nor evil, and therefore cannot progress ?
"Such an existence is imposed as an expiation of the abuse which a spirit has made of certain
faculties; it constitutes a pause in his career.'
-The body of an idiot may, then, contain a spirit that has animated a man of genius in a
preceding existence?
"Yes; genius sometimes becomes a scourge when it is abused."
Intellectual superiority is not always accompanied by an equal degree of moral superiority, and the
greatest geniuses may have much to expiate. For this reason, they often have to undergo an existence
inferior to the one they have previously accomplished, which is a cause of suffering for them the
hindrances to the manifestation of his faculties thus imposed upon a spirit being like chains that fetter the
movements of a vigorous man. The idiot may be said to be lame in the brain, as the halt Is lame in the
legs, and the blind, in the eyes.
374. Is the idiot, in the spirit-state, conscious of his mental condition ?
"Yes; very often. He comprehends that the chains which hinder his action are a trial and an
375. When a man is mad, what is the state of his spirit?
"A spirit, in the state of freedom, receives his impressions directly, and exerts his action
directly upon matter; but when incarnated, he is in an altogether different condition, and
compelled to act only through the instrumentality of special organs. If some or all of those
organs are injured, his actions or his impressions, as far as those organs are concerned, are
interrupted. If he loses his eyes, he becomes blind; if he loses his hearing, he becomes deaf;
and so on. Suppose that the organ which presides over the manifestations of intelligence and
of will is partially or entirely weakened or modified in its action, and you will easily
understand that the spirit, having at his service only organs that are incomplete or diverted
from their proper action, must experience a functional perturbation of which he is perfectly
conscious, but is not able to arrest the course.
- It is then always the body, and not the spirit, that is disorganised?
"Yes; but you must not forget that, just as a spirit acts upon matter, matter, to a certain extent,
reacts upon him; and that he may therefore find himself, for the time being, subjected to the
influence of the false impressions consequent on the vitiated state
of his organs of perception and of action. And it may happen, when this mental aberration has
continued for a long time, that the repetition of the same perverted action may exercise upon
a spirit an influence from which he is only delivered after his complete separation from all
material impressions."
376. How is it that madness sometimes leads to suicide?
"In such cases, the spirit suffers from the constraint which he feels, and from his inability to
manifest himself freely; and he therefore seeks death as a means of breaking his chains."
377. Does the spirit of a madman continue to feel, after death, the derangement from which
he suffered in his corporeal life?
"He may continue to feel it for some time after death, until he is completely freed from
matter; just as a man, on waking, continues to feel, for some little time, the confusion in
which he has been plunged by sleep."
378. How can brain-disease act upon a spirit after his death?
"It is an effect of remembrance, which weighs like a burden upon the spirit; and as he was not
aware of all that took place during his madness, he always needs a certain amount of time for
recovering the hang of his ideas. It is for this reason that the continuance of his uneasiness
after death is always proportioned to the longer or shorter continuance of the corporeal
insanity from which he has previously suffered. A spirit, when freed from the body, still feels,
for a longer or shorter time, the impression of the links that united him with it."
379. Is the spirit who animates the body of a child as developed as that of an adult?
"He may be more so, if. before reincarnating himself, he bad progressed farther; it is only the
imperfection of his organs that prevents him from manifesting himself. He acts according to
the state of the instrument by which alone, when incarnated, he can manifest himself."
380. During the infancy of his body, and without reference to the obstacle opposed to his free
manifestation by the imperfection of his organs, does a spirit think as a child, or as an adult?
"While he remains a child, it is evident that his organs of thought, not being developed,
cannot give him all the intuition of
an adult; his range of intellect is therefore only narrow, until increasing age has ripened his
reason. The confusion which accompanies incarnation does not cease, all at once, at the
moment of birth; it its only dissipated gradually with the development of the bodily organs."
The observation of a fact of human life furnishes us with a confirmation of the preceding reply-viz., that
the dreams of childhood have not the character of those of adult age. Their object is almost always
childish a characteristic indication of the nature of a spirit's thoughts during the Infancy of his organs.
381. At the death of a child, does its spirit at once regain his former vigour?
"He should do so, since he is freed from his fleshly envelope; but, in point of fact, he only
regains his former lucidity when the separation is complete - that is to say, when there is no
longer any connection between the spirit and the body."
382. Does the incarnated spirit suffer, during the state of childhood, from the constraint
imposed on him by the imperfections of his organs?
"No; that state is a necessity. It is a part of the ordination of nature, and of the providential
plan. It constitutes a time of repose for the spirit."
383. What is, the use, for a spirit, of passing through the state of infancy?
"The aim of incarnation is the improvement of the spirit subjected to it; and a spirit is more
accessible during childhood to the impressions he receives, and which may conduce to his
advancement-the end to which all those who are entrusted with his education should
384. Why is it that the infant's first utterances are those of weeping?
"It is in order to excite the mother's interest on his behalf, and to ensure to him the care he
needs. Can you not understand that if a child, before he is able to speak, uttered only cries of
joy, those around him would trouble themselves very little about his wants ? In all these
arrangements' admire the wisdom of Providence."
385. Whence comes the change which occurs in the character of the young on the approach
of manhood: is it the spirit that becomes modified?
"The spirit, regaining possession of himself, shows himself such as he was before his
"You know not the secrets hidden under the seeming innocence of children. You know
neither what they are, nor what they have been, nor what they will be; and nevertheless you
love and cherish them as though they were a part of yourselves, and to such a degree, that the
love of a mother for her children is reputed to be the greatest love that one being can have for
another. Whence comes the sweet affection, the tender benevolence, that even strangers feel
for a child ? Do you know its origin? No; but I will now explain it to you.
"Children are beings sent by God into new existences, and, in order that they may not be able
to reproach Him with having been unduly severe to them, He gives them all the external
appearances of innocence; even in the case of a child of the worst possible nature, its
misdeeds are covered by its unconsciousness of the quality of its acts. This apparent
innocence does not constitute for children any real superiority over what they previously
were; it is merely the image of what they ought to be, and, if they are not such, it will be on
themselves alone that the punishment will fall.
"But it is not merely for themselves that God has given to children this appearance of
innocence; it is given to them also, and especially, in view of their parents, whose love is so
necessary to them in their weakness: for this love would be greatly diminished by the sight of
a harsh or cross-grained nature, whereas, believing their children to be good and gentle, they
give them all their affection, and surround them with the most minute and delicate care. But,
when children no longer need this protection, this assistance, which has been given them
during fifteen or twenty years, their real character and individuality reappears in all its nudity.
He who is really good remains good; but, even then, his character reveals many traits and
shades that were hidden during his earlier years.
"You see that God's ways are always for the best; and that, for the pure in heart, they are
easily explicable.
"Get it well into your minds that the spirit of the child who is born among you may have
come from a world in which he has acquired habits totally different from yours; how would it
be possible for this new being, coming among you with passions, inclinations, tastes, entirely
opposed to yours, to accommodate
himself to your world, if be came among you in any other way than in that which has been
ordained by God-that is to say, by passing through the sieve of infancy? It is through this
sifting process of infancy that all the thoughts, all the characteristics, all the varieties of
beings engendered by the crowd of worlds in which creatures pursue the work of growth, are
eventually mingled. And you, also, on dying, find yourselves in a sort of infancy, and in the
midst of a new family of brothers; and in your new non-terrestrial existence you are ignorant
of the habits, manners, relations of a world which is new to you, and you find it difficult to
express yourselves in a language which you are not accustomed to employ, a language more
living than is your thought to-day. (319.)
"Childhood possesses yet another utility. Spirits only enter into corporeal life in order to
effect their improvement, their self-amelioration. The weakness of corporeal youth tends to
render them more pliable, more amenable to the counsels of those whose experience should
aid their progress. It is thus that evil tendencies are repressed, and faulty characters are
gradually reformed; and this repression and reformation constitute the duty confided by God
to those who assume the parental relation, a sacred mission of which parents will have to
render a solemn account to Him.
"You see, therefore, that childhood is not only useful, necessary, indispensable, but that it is,
moreover, the natural result of the laws which God has established, and which govern the
Terrestrial Sympathies and Antipathies
386. Could two beings, who have already known and loved each other, meet again and
recognise one another, in another corporeal existence?
"They could not recognise one another; but they might be attracted to each other. The
attraction resulting from the ties of a former existence is often the cause of the most intimate
affectional unions of a subsequent existence. It often happens in your world that two persons
are drawn together by circumstances which appear to be merely fortuitous, but which are
really due to the attraction exercised upon one another by two spirits who are unconsciously
seeking each other amidst the crowds by whom they are surrounded.”
-Would it not be more agreeable for them to recognise each other?
"Not always; the remembrance of past existences would be attended with greater
disadvantages than you suppose. After death they would recognise one another, and would
then remember the periods they had passed together." (392.)
387. Is sympathy always the result of anterior acquaintanceship?
"No; two spirits who are in harmony naturally seek one another, without their having been
previously acquainted with each other as men."
388. May it not be that the meetings which sometimes take place between two persons, and
which are attributed to chance, are really due to the action of some sort of sympathetic
"There are, among thinking beings, orders of relationship with 'which you are not yet
acquainted. Magnetism is the pilot of the science that will enable you to understand them at a
future period."
389. What is the cause of the instinctive repulsion sometimes excited in us by persons whom
we see for the first time?
"The latent antipathy of two spirits who divine each other's nature, and recognise one another,
without the need of speaking together."
390. Is instinctive antipathy allays the sign of an evil nature on the part of one or both of the
parties who feel it?
"Two spirits are not necessarily evil because the)' are not sympathetic; for antipathy may
spring from a want of similarity in their way of thinking. But in proportion as they ascend,
these shades of difference are effaced, and their antipathy disappears."
391. Does the antipathy of two persons take its first beginning on the part of the better or the
worse one of the two?
"It may begin simultaneously on the part of both; but, in such a case, its causes and effects are
different. A bad spirit feels antipathy against whoever is able to judge and to unmask him. On
seeing such a person for the first time, he knows that he will be disapproved by him; his
repulsion changes into hatred or jealousy, and inspires him with the desire of doing harm to
the object of his antipathy. A good spirit feels repulsion for a had one, because he knows that
he will not be understood by him, and that they do not share the same sentiments; but, strong
in his own superiority, he feels neither hatred nor jealousy towards him, and contents himself
with avoiding and pitying him."
Forgetfulness of the Past
392. Why does the incarnated spirit lose the remembrance of his past?
"Man cannot, and may not, know everything; God, in His wisdom, has so ordained. Without
the veil which hides certain things from his view, man would be dazzled, like one who passes
suddenly from darkness to light. Through the forgetfulness of his past a man is more fully
393. How can a man be responsible for deeds, and atone for faults, of which he has no
remembrance? How can he profit by the experience acquired in existences which he has
forgotten? We could understand that the tribulations of life might be a lesson for him if he
remembered the wrong-doing which has brought them upon him; but if he forgets his former
existences, each new existence is, for him, as though it were his first, and thus the work is
always to be begun over again. How is this to be reconciled with the justice of God?
"With each new existence a spirit becomes more intelligent, and better able to distinguish
between good and evil. Where would be his freedom if he remembered all his past ? When a
spirit reenters his primitive life (the spirit-life), his whole past unrolls itself before him. He
sees the faults which he has committed, and which are the cause of his suffering, and he also
sees what would have prevented him from committing them; he comprehends the justice of
the situation which is assigned to him, and he then seeks out the new existence that may serve
to repair the mistakes of the one which has just passed away. He demands new trials
analogous to those in which he has failed, or which he considers likely to aid his
advancement; and he demands of the spirits who are his superiors to aid him in the new task
he is about to undertake, for he knows that the spirit who will be appointed as his guide in
that new existence will endeavour to make him cure himself of his faults by giving him a sort
of intuition of those he has committed in the past. This intuition is the evil thought, the
criminal desire, which often come to you, and which you instinctively resist, attributing your
resistance to the principles you have received from your parents, while it is due in reality to
the voice of your conscience; and that voice is the reminiscence of your past, warning you not
to fall again into the faults you have already committed. He who, having entered upon a new
existence, undergoes its trials
with fortitude, and resists its temptations to wrong-doing, rises in the hierarchy of spirits, and
takes a higher place when he returns into the normal life."
If we have not an exact remembrance, during our corporeal life, of what we have been, and of the good or
evil we have done, in our preceding existences, we have the intuition of our past, of which we have a
reminiscence in the instinctive tendencies that our conscience, which is the desire we have conceived to
avoid committing our past faults in the future, warns us to resist.
394. In worlds more advanced than ours, where the human race is not a prey to our physical
wants and infirmities, do men understand that they are better off than we are? Happiness is
usually relative; it is felt to be such by comparison with a state that is less happy. As some of
those worlds, though better than ours, have not reached perfection, the men by whom they
are inhabited must have their own troubles and annoyances. Among us, the rich man,
although he has not to endure the physical privations that torture the poor, is none the less a
prey to tribulations of other kinds that embitter his life. What I ask is, whether the inhabitants
of those worlds do not consider themselves to be just as unhappy, according to their standard
of happiness, as we consider ourselves to be according to ours; and whether they do not, like
us, complain of their fate, not having the remembrance of an inferior existence to serve them
as a standard of comparison ?
"To this question two different answers must be given. Three are some worlds among those
of which you speak the inhabitants of which have a very clear and exact remembrance of their
past existences, and therefore can and do appreciate the happiness which God permits them to
enjoy. But there are others, of which the inhabitants, though placed, as you say, in better
conditions than yours, are, nevertheless, subject to great annoyances, and even to much
unhappiness, and who do not appreciate the more favourable conditions of their life, because
they have no remembrance of a state still more unhappy. But if they do not rightly appreciate
those conditions as men, they appreciate them more justly on their return to the spirit-world."
Is there not, in the forgetfulness of our past existences, and especially when they have been painful, a
striking proof of the wisdom and beneficence of Providential arrangements? It is only in worlds of higher
advancement, and when the remembrance of our painful existences in the past Is nothing more to us than
the shadowy remembrance of an unpleasant dream, that those existences are allowed to present
themselves to our memory. Would not the painfulness of present suffering, in worlds of low degree, be
greatly aggravated by the remembrance of all the miseries we may have had to undergo in the past?
These considerations should lead us to conclude that whatever has been appointed by God is for the
best, and that it is not our province to find fault with His works, nor to decide upon the way in which He
ought to have regulated the universe.
The remembrance of our former personality would be attended, in our present existence, with many very
serious disadvantages. In some cases, it would cause us cruel humiliation in others, it might incite us to
pride and vanity in all cases, it would be a hindrance to the action of our free-will. God gives us for our
amelioration just what is necessary and sufficient to that end, viz., the voice of our conscience and our
instinctive tendencies. He keeps from us what would be for us a source of injury. Moreover, if we retained
the remembrance of our own former personalities and doings, we should also remember those of other
people a kind of knowledge that would necessarily exercise a disastrous influence upon our social
relations. Not always having reason to be proud of our past, it is evidently better for us that a veil should
be thrown over it. And these considerations are in perfect accordance with the statements of spirits in
regard to the existence of higher worlds than ours. In those worlds. in which moral excellence reigns,
there is nothing painful in the remembrance of the past, and therefore the inhabitants of those happier
worlds remember their preceding existence as we remember to-day what we did yesterday. As to the
sojourns they may have made in worlds of lower degree, it is no more to them, as we have already said,
than the remembrance of a disagreeable dream.
395. Can we obtain any revelations respecting our former existences?
"Not in all cases. There are, however, many who know who they have been and what they
have done. If it were permitted to them to speak openly, they would make curious revelations
about the past."
396. Some persons believe themselves to have a vague remembrance of an unknown past,
which comes before them like the fugitive image of a dream that one vainly endeavours to
recall. Is this belief only an illusion?
"It is sometimes real, hut it is often an illusion to he guarded against; for it may be merely the
effect of an excited imagination."
397. In corporeal existences of a more elevated nature than ours, is the reminiscence of our
anterior existences more exact?
"Yes; in proportion as the body is less material, the spirit incarnated in it remembers them
more clearly. The remembrance of the past is always clearer in those who inhabit worlds of a
higher order."
398. A man's instinctive tendencies being a reflex of his past, does it follow that) by studying
those tendencies, he can ascertain what are the faults he has formerly committed?
"Undoubtedly he can do so up to a certain point; but he would also have to take account of
the improvement which may have been effected in his spirit, and of the resolutions taken by
him in the state of erraticity. His present existence may he very much better than his
preceding one."
-Might it be worse? - that is to say, might a man commit, in a subsequent existence, faults
which he had not committed in the preceding one?
"That depends on his advancement. If he were unable to resist temptation, he might be drawn
into new faults as a consequence of the situation chosen by him; but such faults must be
considered as indicating a state which is stationary rather than retrograde, for a spirit may
advance or remain stationary, but he never goes back."
399. The vicissitudes of corporeal life being at once an expiation of the faults of the past and
lessons for the future, can we, from the nature of those vicissitudes, infer the character of our
preceding existence?
"You can do so very frequently, since the nature of the punishment incurred always
corresponds to that of the fault committed. Nevertheless, it would not do to consider this as
being an absolute rule. The instinctive tendencies furnish a more certain indication; for the
trials undergone by a spirit are as much for the future as for the past."
When a spirit has reached the end of the term assigned by Providence to his errant life, he chooses for
himself the trials which he determines to undergo in order to hasten his progress - that is to say, the kind
of existence which he believes will be most likely to furnish him with the means of advancing and the trials
of this new existence always correspond to the faults which he has to expiate. If he triumphs in this new
struggle, he rises in grade; if he succumbs, he has to try again.
A spirit always possesses free-will. It is in virtue of this free-will that he chooses, when in the spirit-state,
the trials he elects to undergo In the corporeal life, and that he deliberates, when in the incarnate state
whether he will do, or not do, and chooses between good and evil. To deny a man's free-will will would be
to reduce him to a machine.
When a spirit has re-entered corporeal life, he experiences a temporary forgetfulness of his former
existences, as though these were hidden from him by a veil. Sometimes, however, he preserves a vague
consciousness of them, and they may, under certain circumstances, be revealed to him but this only occurs
as a result of the decision of higher spirits, who make that revelation spontaneously for some useful end,
and never for the gratification of idle curiosity.
A spirit's future existences cannot, in any case, be revealed to him during the corporeal life, because they
will depend on the manner in which he accomplishes his present existence, and on his own ulterior choice.
Temporary forgetfulness of the faults he has committed is no obstacle to a spirit's improvement for if he
have not a precise remembrance of them, the knowledge he had of them In the state of erraticity, and the
desire he then conceived to repair them, guide him intuitively, and inspire him with the Intention of
resisting the evil tendency. This Intention is the voice of his conscience, and is seconded by the spirits who
assist him, if he gives heed to the suggestions with which they inspire him.
Although a man does not know exactly what may have been his acts in his former existences, he always
knows the kind of faults of Which he has been guilty, and what has been his ruling characteristic. He has
only to study himself, and he will know what he has been, not by what he is, but by his tendencies.
The vicissitudes of corporeal life are both an expiation of faults In the past. and trials designed to render
us better for the future. They purify and elevate, provided we hear them resignedly and unrepiningly.
The nature of the vicissitudes and trials that we have to undergo may also enlighten us in regard to what
we have been end what we have done, just as we infer the crimes of which a convict has been guilty from
the penalty Inflicted on him by the law. Thus, he who has sinned through pride will be punished by the
humiliations of an inferior position the self-indulgent and avaricious, by poverty the hard-hearted, by the
seventies he will undergo the tyrant, by slavery a bad son. by the Ingratitude of his children the idle, by
subjection to hard and incessant labour, and so on.
Sleep and Dreams
400. Does the incarnated spirit reside willingly in his corporeal envelope ?
"You might as well ask whether a prisoner willingly remains locked up in prison. The
incarnated spirit aspires incessantly after his deliverance; and the grosser his envelope, the
more desirous is be to be rid of it."
401. Does the soul take rest, like tile body, during sleep?
"No; a spirit is never inactive. The bonds which unite him to the body are relaxed during
sleep; and as the body does not then need his presence, he travels through space, and enters
into more direct relation with other spirits.”
402. How can we ascertain the fact of a spirit's liberty during sleep?
"By dreams. Be very sure that, when his body is asleep, a spirit enjoys the use of faculties of
which he is unconscious while his body is awake. He remembers the past, and sometimes
foresees the future: he acquires more power, and is able to enter into communication with
other spirits, either in this world or in some other.
"You often say, 'I have had a strange dream, a frightful dream, without any likeness to reality'
You are mistaken in thinking it to be so; for it is often a reminiscence of places and things
which you have seen in the past, or a foresight of those which you will see in another
existence, or in this one at some future time. The body being torpid, the spirit tries to break
his chain, and seeks, in the past or in the future, for the means of doing so.
"Poor human beings! how little do you know of the commonest phenomena of your life! You
fancy yourselves to be very learned, and you are puzzled by the most ordinary things. To
questions that any child might ask, 'What do we do when we are asleep?' 'What are dreams?'
you are incapable of replying.
"Sleep effects a partial freeing of the soul from the body. When you sleep, your spirit is, for
the time being, in the state in which you will be after your death. The spirits who at death are
promptly freed from matter are those who, during their life, have had what may be called
intelligent sleep. Such persons, when they sleep, regain the society of other spirits superior to
themselves. They go about with them, conversing with them, and gaining instruction from
them; they even work, in the spirit-world, at undertakings which, on dying, they find already
begun or completed. From this you see how little death should be dreaded, since, according to
the saying of St. Paul, you 'die daily.'
"What we have just stated refers to spirits of an elevated degree of advancement. As for those
of the common mass of men, who, after their death, remain for long hours in the state of
confusion and uncertainty of which you have been told by such, they go, during sleep, into
worlds of lower rank than the earth, to which they are drawn back by old affections, or by the
attraction of pleasures still baser than those to which they are addicted in your world; visits in
which they gather ideas still viler, more ignoble, and more mischievous than those which they
had professed during their waking hours. And that which engenders sympathy in the earthly
life is nothing else than the fact that you feel yourselves, on waking, affectionately attracted
towards those with whom you have passed eight or nine hours of happiness or pleasure. On
the other hand, the explanation of the invincible antipathies you sometimes feel for certain
persons is also to be found in the intuitive knowledge you have thus acquired of the fact that
those persons have another conscience than yours, because you know them without having
previously seen them with your bodily eyes. It is this same fact, moreover, that explains the
indifference of some people for others; they do not care to make new friends, because they
know that they have others by whom they are loved and cherished. In a word, sleep has more
influence than you think upon your life.
"Through the effects of sleep, incarnated spirits are always in connection with the spiritworld;
and it is in consideration of this fact that spirits of a higher order consent, without
much re-
pugnance, to incarnate themselves among you. God has willed that, during their contact with
vice, they may go forth and fortify themselves afresh at the source of rectitude, in order that
they, who have come into your world to instruct others, may not fall into evil themselves.
Sleep is the gate opened for them by God, that they may pass through it to their friends in the
spirit-world; it is their recreation after labour, while awaiting the great deliverance, the final
liberation, that will restore them to their true place.
"Dreams are the remembrance of what your spirit has seen during sleep; but you must remark
that you do not always dream, because you do not always remember what you have seen, or
all that you have seen. Your dreams d6 not always reflect the action of your soul in its full
development; for they are often only the reflex of the confusion that accompanies your
departure or your return, mingled with the vague remembrance of what you have done, or of
what has occupied your thoughts, in your waking state. In what other way can you explain the
absurd dreams which are dreamed by the wisest as by the silliest of mankind ? Bad spirits,
also, make use of dreams to torment weak and timid souls.
"You will see, ere long, the development of another kind of dream, a kind which is as ancient
as the one you know, but one of which you are ignorant. The dream we allude to is that of
Jeanne Darc,¹ of Jacob, of the Jewish prophets, and of certain Hindoo ascetics-a dream which
is the remembrance of the soul's experiences while entirely freed from the body, the
remembrance of the second life, of which I spoke just now.
"You should carefully endeavour to distinguish these two kinds of dreams among those which
you are able to recall: unless you do this, you will be in danger of falling into contradictions
and errors that would be prejudicial to your belief."
Dreams are a product of the emancipation of the soul, rendered more active by the suspension of the
active life of relation, and enjoying a sort of indefinite clairvoyance which extends to places at a great
distance from us, or that we have never seen, or even to other worlds. To this state of emancipation is also
due the remembrance which retraces to our memory the events that have occurred in our present
existence or in preceding existences the strangeness of the images of what has taken place in worlds
unknown to us, mixed up with the things of the present world, producing the confused and whimsical
medleys that seem to be equally devoid of connection and of meaning.
The incoherence of dreams is still farther explained by the gaps resulting from the incompleteness of our
remembrance of what has appeared to us in our nightly visions - an incompleteness similar to that of a
narrative from which Whole sentences, or parts of sentences, have been omitted by
¹ Joan of Arc.
chance, and whose remaining fragments, having been thrown together again at random, have lost all
intelligible meaning.
403. Why do we not always remember our dreams?
"What you call sleep is only the repose of the body, for the spirit is always in motion. During
sleep he recovers a portion of his liberty, and enters into communication with those who are
dear to him, either in this world, or in other worlds; but as the matter of the body is heavy and
gross, it is difficult for him to retain, on waking, the impressions he has received during sleep,
because those impressions were not received by him through the bodily organs."
404. What is to be thought of the signification attributed to dreams ?
"Dreams are not really indications in the sense attributed to them by fortune-tellers; for it is
absurd to believe that a certain kind of dream announces the happening of a certain kind of
event. But they are indications in this sense-viz., that they present images which are real for
the spirit, though they may have nothing to do with what takes place in his present corporeal
life. Dreams are also, in many cases, as we have said, a remembrance; they may also be
sometimes a presentiment of the future, if permitted by God, or the sight of something which
is taking place at the time in some other place to which the soul has transported itself. Have
you not many instances proving that persons may appear to their relatives and friends in
dreams, and give them notice of what is happening to them? What are apparitions, if not the
soul or spirit of persons who come to communicate with you ? When you acquire the
certainty that what you saw has really taken place, is it not a proof that it was no freak of your
imagination, especially if what you saw were something which you had not thought of when
you were awake?"
405. We often see in dreams things which appear to be presentiments, but which do not come
to pass,-how is this?
"Those things may take place in the experience of the spirit. though not in that of the body;
that is to say, that the spirit sees what he wishes to see because he goes to find it. You must
not forget that, during sleep, the spirit is always more or less under the influence of matter;
that, consequently, he is never completely free from terrestrial ideas, and that the objects of
his waking thoughts may therefore give to his dreams the appearance of what
he desires or of what he fears, thus producing what may be properly termed an effect of the
imagination. When the mind is much busied with any idea, it is apt to connect everything it
sees with that idea."
406. When, in a dream, we see persons who are well known to us doing things which they are
not in any way thinking of, is it not a mere effect of the imagination?
"Of which they are not thinking? How do you know that it is so? Their spirit may come to
visit yours, as yours may go to visit theirs; and you do not always know, in your waking state,
what they may be thinking of. And besides, you often, in your dreams, apply to persons whom
you know, and according to your own desires, reminiscences of what took place, or is taking
place, in other existences."
407. Is it necessary to the emancipation of the soul that the sleep of the body should be
"No; the spirit recovers his liberty as soon as the senses become torpid. He takes advantage,
in order to emancipate himself, of every moment of respite left him by the body. As soon as
there occurs any prostration of the vital forces, the spirit disengages himself from the body,
and the feebler the body, the freer is the spirit."
It is for this reason that dozing, or a mere dulling of the senses, often presents the same images as
408. We sometimes seem to hear within ourselves words distinctly pronounced, but having no
connection with what we are thinking of,-what is the cause of this?
"Yes, you often hear words, and even whole sentences, especially when your senses begin to
grow torpid. It is sometimes the faint echo of the utterance of a spirit who wishes to
communicate with you."
409. Often, when only half-asleep, and with our eyes closed, we see distinct images, figures
of which we perceive the minutest details,-is this an effect of vision or of imagination?
"The body being torpid, the spirit tries to break his chain. He goes away and sees; if the sleep
were deeper, the vision would be a dream."
410. We sometimes, when asleep, or half-asleep, have ideas which seem to us to be excellent,
but which, despite all the efforts
we make to recall them, are effaced from our memory on waking,-whence come these ideas?
"They are the result of the freedom of the spirit, who emancipates himself from the body, and
enjoys the use of other faculties during this moment of liberty; and they are often counsels
given you by other spirits."
- What is the use of such ideas and counsels, since we lose the remembrance of them, and
cannot profit by them?
"Those ideas often belong rather to the world of spirits than to the corporeal world; but, in
general, though the body may forget them, the spirit remembers them, and the idea recurs to
him at the proper time, in his waking state, as though it were an inspiration of the moment."
411. Does the incarnated spirit, when he is freed from matter and acting as a spirit, know' the
epoch of his death?
"He often has the presentiment of it. He sometimes has a very clear foreknowledge of it; and
it is this which gives him the intuition of it in his waking state. It is this, also, which enables
some persons to foresee the time of their death with perfect exactness."
412. Can the activity of the spirit, during the repose or the sleep of the body, cause fatigue to
the latter?
"Yes, for the spirit is attached to the body, as the captive-balloon is fastened to the post; and,
just as the post is shaken by the movements of the balloon, so the activity of the spirit reacts
upon the body, and may cause it to feel fatigued."
Visits Between the Spirits of Living Persons
413. The emancipation of the soul during sleep would seem to indicate that we live
simultaneously two lives; the life of the body, which is that of exterior relation, and the life of
the soul, which is that of occult relation,-is this so?
"During the emancipation of the soul, the life of the latter takes precedence of the life of the
body; this, however, does not, strictly speaking, constitute two lives, but rather two phases of
one and the same life, for a man does not live a double life."
414 Can two persons, who are acquainted with each other, visit one another in sleep?
"Yes; and many others, who, in their waking state, do not know that they are acquainted, meet
and converse together. You may, without suspecting it, have friends in another country. The
fact of going, during sleep, to visit friends, relatives, acquaintances, persons who can be of
use to you, is extremely frequent; and you yourselves accomplish these visits almost every
415. What can be the use of these nocturnal meetings, since we do not remember them?
"The intuition of them generally remains with you in your waking state, and is often the
origin of ideas which afterwards occur to you, as it were, spontaneously, without your being
able to account for them, but which are really those you had obtained in the spirit-intercourse
carried on by you during your sleep."
416. Can a man ensure the making of spirit-visits by the exertion of his will? Can he do so,
for example, by saying to himself, on going to sleep, "I will to-night meet such and such a
person in spirit, and speak with him about such and such a thing"?
"This is what takes place. The man falls asleep, and his spirit wakens to the other life; but his
spirit is often very far from following out the plan which had been resolved upon by the man,
for the life of the man excites but little interest in a spirit when he is emancipated from
matter. This statement, however, only applies to men who have already reached a certain
degree of elevation. The others pass their spirit-existence very differently. They give free rein
to their passions, or remain inactive. It may happen, therefore, according to the aim of the
proposed action, that a spirit may go to see the parties he had, as a man, proposed to visit; but
it does not follow that, because he has willed to do so in his waking state, he will necessarily
do so in his state of freedom."
417. Can a number of incarnate spirits, during sleep, meet together, and form assemblies?
"Undoubtedly they can. The ties of friendship, old or new, often bring together spirits who are
happy to be in each other's company."
By the term old must be understood the ties of friendship contracted in anterior existences. We bring
back with us. on waking, an intuition of the ideas which we have derived from these occult meetings, but
of the source of which we are ignorant.
418. If a person believed one of his friends to be dead who is not dead, could he meet him as
a spirit, and thus learn that he is living? Could he, in such a case, preserve the intuition of
this fact on waking?
"He could, certainly, as a spirit, see his friend, and know what is his situation; and if the
belief in the death of that friend had not been imposed on him as an expiation, he might retain
an impression of his existence, as, in the contrary case, he might retain that of his death."
Occult Transmission of Thought
419. Whence comes it that the same idea-that of a discovery, for instance-so often suggests
itself at the same time to several persons, although they may be at a distance from one
“We have already said that, during sleep, spirits communicate with one another; well, when
his body awakes, a spirit remembers what he has learned, and the man thinks he has invented
it. Thus several persons may find out the same thing at the same time. When you say that an
idea is 'in the air,' you employ a figure of speech that is much nearer the truth than suppose.
Every one helps unconsciously to propagate it."
In this way our spirit often reveals to other spirits, without our being aware of it. that which formed the
object of our meditations before we went to sleep.
420. Can spirits communicate between themselves when the body is awake?
"A spirit is not enclosed in his body as in a box, but radiates around it in every direction. He
can, therefore, hold communication with other spirits even in the waking state, although he
does so with more difficulty."
421. How comes it that two persons, perfectly awake, often have the same thought at the
same moment?
"It is because two spirits, who are in sympathy, may communicate their thought to each other
even when the body is not asleep."
There is, between spirits, a communication of thoughts which sometimes enables two persons to see and
understand one another without having any need of human speech. They may be said to speak the
language of spirits.
Lethargy, Catalepsy, Apparent Death
422. In lethargy and catalepsy, the patients generally see and hear what takes place around
them, but are unable to manifest their impressions. Is it through the eyes and ears of the body
that these impressions are received?
"No; they are received by the spirit. The spirit is conscious, but cannot express himself."
-Why can he not express himself?
"The state of his body prevents his doing so; an(l this peculiar state of his bodily organs
proves that man consists of something more than a body, since the body no longer works, and
yet the spirits acts."
423. Can a spirit, in a state of lethargy, separate himself entirely from his body, so as to give
to the latter all the outward appearances of death, and afterwards come back and inhabit it?
"In lethargy, the body is not dead, for it still accomplishes some of its functions. Its vitality is
latent, as in the chrysalis hut is not annihilated; and a spirit is united to his body as long as it
remains alive. When once the links which keep them together are broken by the death and
desegregation of the bodily organs, the separation 15 complete, and the spirit never again
comes back to his body. When one who is apparently dead comes to life again. it is because
the process of death was not entirely consummated."
424. Is it possible, by means of timely help, to renew the ties which were ready to break, and
to give back life to a person who, but for this help, would have definitively ceased to live?
"Yes, undoubtedly; and you have proofs of this every day. Mesmerism often exercises, in
such cases, a powerful restorative action, because it gives to the body the vital fluid which it
lacks, and which is necessary to keep up the play of the organs."
Lethargy and catalepsy proceed from the same cause, viz., the temporary loss of sensibility and power of
motion, from some as yet unexplained physiological condition. They differ in this respect, viz., that, in
lethargy, the suppression of the vital force is general. and gives to the body an the appearances of death,
whereas, in catalepsy, that Suppression is localised, and may affect a more or less extensive portion of the
body, while leaving the intelligence free to manifest itself a fact which does not allow it to be confounded
with death. Lethargy is always natural catalepsy is sometimes spontaneous, but it may be produced and
dissipated artificially by mesmeric action.
425. Is there any connection between natural somnambulism and dreaming?
"In somnambulism the independence of the soul is more complete, and its functions are more
developed, than in dreaming, and it has perceptions that it has not in dreaming, which is an
imperfect somnambulism.
"In somnambulism, the spirit is entirely freed from the action of matter; the material organs,
being in a sort of catalepsy, are no longer receptive of external impressions.
"This state most frequently occurs during sleep, because the spirit is then able to absent itself
from the body which is given up to the repose that is indispensable to matter. When
somnambulism occurs, it is because the spirit of the sleeper, intent upon doing something or
other that requires the aid of his body, makes use of it in a manner analogous to that in which
spirits make use of a table, or other material object, in producing the phenomena of physical
manifestations, or of a human hand, in giving written communications. In the dreams of
which a man is conscious, his organs, including those of memory, are beginning to awaken;
and, as they only receive and transmit to the spirit imperfectly the impressions made on them
by exterior objects or action, the spirit, who is then in a state of repose, only perceives these
impressions through confused and often disconnected sensations, which, in many cases, are
still further confused by being mingled with vague remembrances of his present life and
anterior existences. It is easy, therefore, to understand why somnambulists do not remember
their visions, and why the greater number of the dreams you remember have no rational
meaning. I say the greater number, for it sometimes happens that dreams are the consequence
of a precise remembrance of events that have occurred in one of your former lives, or even a
sort of intuition of the future."
426. Is there any connection between what is called mesmeric somnambulism and natural
"They are the same thing; the only difference between them being that one of them is
artificially produced."
427. What is the nature of the agent called the magnetic or mesmeric fluid ?
"It is the vital fluid, animalised electricity; a modification of the universal fluid."
428. What is the nature of somnambulic clairvoyance?
"We have told you that it is soul-sight."
429. How can the somnambulist see through opaque bodies?
"It is only to your gross organs that bodies are opaque. Have we not told you that matter is not
an obstacle for a spirit, since he passes freely through it ? A somnambulist often tells you that
he sees through his forehead, his knee, etc., because you, being plunged in matter, do not
understand that he can see without the help of organs. He himself, influenced by your ideas,
believes that he needs those organs; but, if you left him to himself, he would understand that
he sees through every part of his body, or rather, that he sees independently of his body."
430. Since the clairvoyance of the somnambulist is that of his soul or of his spirit, why does
lie not see everything, and why does he so often make mistakes?
"In the first place, spirits of low degree do not see and comprehend everything, for, as you
know, they still share your errors and your prejudices; and, in the next place, as long as they
remain more or less attached to matter, they have not the use of all their spirit-faculties. God
has given the faculty of clairvoyance to man for a serious and useful purpose, and not to
inform him of what it is not permitted to him to know; and this is why somnambulists do not
know everything."
431 What is the source of the somnambulist's innate ideas, and how can he speak correctly of
things of which he is ignorant in his waking state, and which are even above his intellectual
capacity ?
"A somnambulist may possess more knowledge than you give him credit for; but this
knowledge is latent in his waking state, because his envelope is too imperfect for him to be
able to remember all he knows as a spirit. But, in point of fact, what is he ? Like all of us, he
is a spirit who has been incarnated in matter for the accomplishment of his mission, and his
going into the somnambulic state rouses him from the lethargy of incarnation. We have
repeatedly told you that we re-live many times. It is this changing of our existences that
causes him to lose sight, in a new connection with matter, of what he may have know in a
preceding one. On entering into the state which you call a crisis, he recalls what he has
formerly 'known, but not always with completeness. He knows, but he cannot tell whence he
derives his knowledge, nor in what way he possesses it. The crisis over, his reminiscences
fade from his consciousness, and he re-enters the obscurity of corporeal life."
Experience shows us that somnambulists also receive communications from other spirits, who tell them
what they are to say, and supply what is lacking on their part. This supplementing ef their insufficiency is
often and especially witnessed in medical consultations the spirit of the clair-
voyant seeing the malady, and another spirit Indicating the remedy required. This double action is often
patent to bystanders, and is also frequently revealed by such expressions on the part of the somnambulist
as, "1 am told to say," or, "I am forbidden to say," etc. In the latter case, it is always dangerous to persist
in the effort to obtain a revelation refused by the clairvoyant, because, by doing so, we open the door to
frivolous and unscrupulous spirits, who prate about everything without any regard to veracity.
432. How do you explain the power of seeing at a distance possessed by some
"Does not the soul transport itself to a distance during sleep? It does the same thing in
433. Does the greater or less degree of somnambulic clairvoyance depend on the Physical
organisation of the body, or on the nature of the spirit incarnated in it?
"On both; but there are physical qualities that allow the spirit to liberate himself more or less
easily from matter,"
434. Are the faculties enjoyed by the somnambulist the same as those possessed by the spirit
after death?
"They are the same, but only up to a certain point; for you have to take into account the
influence of the matter to which he is still attached."
435. Can somnambulists see' other spirits?
"That depends on the nature and degree of their faculties. The greater number of them see
other spirits perfectly well, but they do not always recognise them at once as being such, and
thus mistake them for corporeal beings; a mistake that is often made by somnambulists, and
especially by those among them who know nothing of Spiritism. Not understanding anything
of the essence of spirits, they are astonished at seeing them in human form, and suppose them
to be living persons."
The same effect is produced at the moment of death in the consciousness of those who suppose themselves
to be still living. Nothing about them appears to them to be changed. The spirits around them seem to
have bodies like ours, and they take the appearance of their own body to be that of a real body of flesh.
436. When a somnambulist sees objects at a distance, does he see them with his body or with
his soul?
"Why should you ask such a question, since it is the soul that sees, and not the body?"
437. Since it is the soul that transports itself to a distance, haw is it that the somnambulist
feels in his body the sensation of
the heat or the cold of the place where his soul is, and which is sometimes very far from the
place where his body is?
"His soul has not entirely quitted his body, to which it is still attached by the link which
unites them together; it is this link that is the conductor of sensation. When two persons in
two different cities correspond with each other by electricity, it is the electricity that
constitutes the link between their thoughts, and enables them to communicate with one
another as though they were close together."
438. Is the state of the somnambulist influenced after death by the use he has made of his
"Very considerably; as is done by the good or bad use of all the faculties that God has given
to man."
439. What difference is there between trance and somnambulism?
"Trance is a more refined somnambulism. The soul, when in trance, is still more
440. Does the soul of the ecstatic really enter into higher worlds ?
"Yes; he sees them, and perceives the happiness of those who are in them; but there are
worlds that are inaccessible to spirits who are not sufficiently purified."
441. When a person in trance expresses the desire to quit the earth, does he speak sincerely,
and is he not retained by the instinct of self-preservation?
"That depends on the degree of the spirit's purification. If he sees that his future situation will
be better than his present one, he makes an effort to break the links that bind him to the
442. If the ecstatic were left to himself, might his soul definitively quit his body?
"Yes, he might die; and it is therefore necessary to call him back by everything that may
attach him to the lower life, and especially by making him see that, if he breaks the chain
which keeps him here, he will have taken the most effectual means of preventing his staying
in the world in which he perceives that he would be happy."
443. The ecstatic sometimes professes to see things which are evidently the product of an
imagination impressed with earthly beliefs and prejudices. What he sees, therefore, is not
always real?
"What he sees is real for him; but, as his spirit is always under the influence of terrestrial
ideas, he may see it in his own way, or, to speak more correctly, he may express it in a
language accommodated to his prejudices, or to the ideas in which he has been brought up, or
to your own, in order the better to make himself understood It is in this way that he is most
apt to err."
444. What degree of confidence should be accorded to the revelations of persons in a state of
"The ecstatic may very frequently be mistaken, especially when he seeks to penetrate what
must remain a mystery for man; for he then abandons himself to his own ideas, or becomes
the sport of deceiving spirits, who take advantage of his enthusiasm to dazzle him with false
445. What inductions are to be drawn from the phenomena of somnambulism and of trance?
May they not be considered as a sort of initiation into the future life?
"It would be more correct to say that, in those states, the somnambulist may obtain glimpses
of his past and future lives. Let man study those phenomena; he will find in them the solution
of more than one mystery which his unassisted reason seeks in vain to penetrate."
446. Could the phenomena of somnambulism and trance be made to accord with theoretic
"He who should study them honestly, and without preconceived ideas, could not be either a
materialist or an atheist."
447. Is there any connection between the phenomena of what is designated as second-sight
and those of dreaming and somnambulism ?
"They are all the same thing. What you call second-sight is also a state in which the spirit is
partially free, although the body is not asleep. Second-sight is soul-sight."
448. Is the faculty of second-sight a permanent one?
"The faculty of second-sight is permanent, but its exercise is not. In worlds less material than
yours, spirits free themselves
from matter more easily, and enter into communication with one another simply by thought,
without, however, excluding the use of articulate speech. In those worlds, second-sight is, for
the greater part of their inhabitants, a permanent faculty. Their normal state may be compared
to that of lucid somnambulism among you; and it is for this reason that they manifest
themselves to you more easily than those who are incarnated in bodies of a grosser nature."
449. Does second-sight occur spontaneously, or through an exertion of the will of those who
possess that faculty?
"It generally occurs spontaneously; but the will, nevertheless, often plays an important part in
producing this phenomenon. Take, for example, the persons who are called fortune-tellersand
some of whom really have that power-and you will find that the action of their will helps
them to this second-sight, and to what you call vision."
450. Is second-sight susceptible of being developed by exercise?
"Yes; effort always leads to progress, and the veil which covers things becomes more
- Is this faculty a result of physical organisation ?
"Organisation has undoubtedly a great deal to do with it; there are organisations with which it
is incompatible."
451. How is it that second-sight appears to be hereditary in certain families?
"This proceeds from similarity of organisation, which is transmitted, like other physical
qualities; and also from the development of the faculty through a sort of education, which,
also, is transmitted from one generation to another."
452. is it true that circumstances develop second-sight?
"Illness, the approach of danger, any great commotion, may develop it. The body is
sometimes in a state which allows of the spirit's seeing what cannot be seen with the fleshly
Times of crisis and of calamity, powerful emotions. all the causes, in short, which excite the moral nature,
may develop second-sight. It would seem as though Providence gave us, when in the presence of danger,
the means of escaping it. All sects and all parties subjected to persecution have offered numerous
instances of this fact.
453. Are the persons who are gifted with second-sight always conscious of their faculty?
"Not always; it appears to them to be altogether natural, and many of them suppose that, if
everybody observed their own im-
pressions, they would find themselves to be possessed of the same power."
454. May we attribute to a sort of second-sight the perspicacity of those persons who, without
being remarkably gifted in other ways, possess an unusually clear judgement in relation to
the things of everyday life?
"Such clearness of judgement is always due to a freer radiation of the soul, enabling the man
to see more correctly than those whose perceptions are more densely veiled by matter."
- Can this lucidity of judgement, in some cases, give the fore-knowledge of future events?
"Yes, it may give presentiments; for there are many degrees in this faculty, and the same
person may possess all those degrees, as he may possess only some of them."
Explanation of Somnambulism, Trance, and Second-Sight.
455. The phenomena of natural somnambulism occur spontaneously and independently of
any known external cause; but, in persons endowed with a special organisation, they may be
produced artificially through the action of the mesmeric agent. The only difference between
the state designated as mesmeric somnambulism. and natural somnambulism is, that the one
is artificially produced. while the other is spontaneous.
Natural somnambulism is a notorious fact, the reality of which few now dispute,
notwithstanding the marvellous character of the phenomena it presents. Why, then, should
mesmeric somnambulism be regarded as more extraordinary or incredible, simply because it
is produced artificially, like so many other things ? It has been abused by charlatans, some
persons will reply; but that fact only affords an additional reason for not leaving it in their
hands. When science shall have taken possession of it; charlatanism will have much less
credit with the masses; but, meanwhile, as somnambulism, both natural and artificial, is a
fact, and as a fact cannot be argued down, it is making its way, despite the ill-will of its
adversaries, and obtaining a footing even in the temple of science, which it is entering by a
multitude of side-doors, instead of entering by the principal one. Its right to be there will, ere
long, be fully recognised.
For the spiritist, somnambulism is more than a physical phenomenon; it is a light thrown on
the subject of psychology; it i3 a state in which we can study the soul, because in it the soul
itself, so to say, without covering. Now, one of the phenomena which characterise the soul is
clear-seeing independently of the ordinary visual organs. Those who contest this fact do so on
the ground that the somnambulist does not see at all times, and at the will of the
experimentalist, as with the eyes. Need we be astonished if, the means employed being
different, the results are not the same? Is it reasonable to demand identical effects in cases in
which the instruments employed are not the same? The soul has its properties just as has the
eye; and the former must be judged of by themselves, and not by analogy with the latter.
The cause of the clairvoyance of the mesmeric and of the natural somnambulist is identically
the same: it is an attribute of the soul, a faculty inherent in every part of the incorporeal being
which is in us, and has no other limits than those assigned to the soul itself. The
somnambulist sees wherever his soul can transport itself, at no matter what distance.
In sight at distance, the somnambulist does not see from the point at which his body is, and as
though through a telescope. The things he sees are present with him, as though he were at the
place where they exist, because his soul is there in reality; and it is for this reason that his
body is, as it were, annihilated, and seems to he deprived of sensation, until the moment when
the soul comes back and retakes possession of it. This partial separation of the soul and the
body is an abnormal state, which may last for a longer or shorter time, but not indefinitely; it
is the cause of the fatigue felt by the body after a certain lapse of time, especially when the
soul during that partial separation, busies itself with some active pursuit. The fact that soulsight
or spirit-sight is not circumscribed, and has no definite seat, explains why
somnambulists are unable to assign to it any special organ or focus. They see, because they
see, without knowing why or how; their sight, as spirit-sight, having no special focus. If they
refer their perception to their body, this focus seems to them to he in the organic centres in
which the vital activity is greatest, especially in the brain, in the epigastric region, or in
whatever organ appears to them to be the point at which the bond between the spirit and the
body is most tenacious.
The scope of somnambulistic lucidity is not unlimited. A spirit, even when completely free,
only possesses the faculties and the knowledge appertaining to the degree of advancement at
which he has arrived, a limitation which becomes still further narrowed when
he is muted with matter, and thus subjected to its influence. This is the reason why
somnambulistic clairvoyance is neither universal nor infallible; and its infallibility is all the
less to be counted on when it is turned aside from the aim which has been assigned to it by
nature, and made a mere matter of curiosity and experimentation.
In the state of comparative freedom in which the somnambulist finds himself, he enters more
easily into communication with other spirits, incarnate or disincarnate; and this
communication is established through the contact of the fluids which compose their
perispirits, and serve, like the electric wire, for the transmission of thought. The
somnambulist, therefore, has no need of articulate speech as a vehicle of thought, which he
feels and divines; a mode of perception that renders him eminently accessible to, and
impressionable by, the influences of the moral atmosphere in which he finds himself. For the
same reason, a numerous concourse of spectators, and especially of those who are attracted by
a more or less malevolent curiosity, is essentially unfavourable to the manifestation of his
peculiar faculties, which close up, so to say. at the contact of hostile influences, and only
unfold freely in intimacy. and under the influence of sympathetic surroundings. The presence
of those who are malevolent or antipathetic produces upon him the effect of the contact of the
hand upon a sensitive plant.
The somnambulist sees. at the same time, his own spirit and his body; they are, so to say. two
beings which represent to him his double existence, spiritual and corporeal, and which,
nevertheless. are blended into one by the ties which united them together. The somnambulist
does not always comprehend this duality, which often leads him to speak of himself as though
he were speaking of another person; in such cases, the corporeal being sometimes speaking to
the spiritual being, and the spiritual being sometimes speaking to the corporeal being.
The spirit acquires an increase of knowledge and experience in each of his corporeal
existences. He loses sight of part of these gains during his reincarnation in matter, which is
too gross to allow of his remembering them in their entirety; but he remembers them as a
spirit. It is thus that some somnambulists give evidence of possessing knowledge beyond their
present degree of instruction, and even of their apparent intellectual capacity. The intellectual
and scientific inferiority of a somnambulism in his waking state, therefore, proves nothing
against his possession of the knowledge
he may display in his lucid state. According to the circumstances of the moment and the aim
proposed, he may draw this knowledge from the stores of his own experience, from his
clairvoyant perception of things actually occurring, or from the counsels which he receives
from other spirits; but, in proportion as his own spirit is more or less advanced, he will make
his statements more or less correctly.
In the phenomena of somnambulism, whether natural or mesmeric, Providence furnishes us
with undeniable proof of the existence and independence of the soul, by causing us to witness
the sublime spectacle of its emancipation from the fetters of the body, and thus enabling us to
read our future destiny as in an open book. When a somnambulist describes what is taking
place at a distance, it is equally evident that he sees what he describes, and that he does not
see it with his bodily eyes. He sees himself at that distant point, and he feels himself to be
transported thither. Something of himself, therefore, is really present at that distant point; and
that something, not being his body, can only be his soul or his spirit.
While man, in search of the causes of his moral being, loses himself in abstract and
unintelligible metaphysical subtleties, God places daily before his eyes, and within reach of
his hand, the simplest and most certain means for the study of experimental psychology.
Trance is the state in which the soul's independence of the body is made most clearly visible,
and, so to say, palpable, to the senses of the observer.
In dreaming and somnambulism, the soul wanders among terrestrial worlds; in trance, it
penetrates into a sphere of existence of another order, into that of the etherealised spirits with
whom it enters into communication, without, however, being able to overstep certain limits
which it could not pass without entirely breaking the links that attach it to the body.
Surrounded by novel splendours. enraptured by harmonies unknown to earth, penetrated by
bliss that defies description, the soul enjoys a foretaste of celestial beatitude, and may be said
to have placed one foot on the threshold of eternity.
In the state of trance, the annihilation of corporeal ties is almost complete. The body no
longer possesses anything more than organic life; and we feel that the soul is only held thereto
by a single thread, which any further effort on its part would break for ever.
In this state, all earthly thoughts disappear, and give place to the purified perception that is
the very essence of our immaterial being. Entirely absorbed in this sublime contemplation, the
ecstatic regards the earthly life as being merely a momentary halt upon our eternal way; the
successes and misfortunes of this lower world, its gross joys and sorrows, appear to him only
as the futile incidents of a journey of which he is delighted to foresee the end.
It is with ecstatics as with somnambulists; their lucidity may be more or less perfect, and their
spirit, according as it is more or less elevated, is also more or less apt to apprehend the truth
of things. In their abnormal state, there is sometimes more of nervous excitement than of true
lucidity; or, to speak more correctly, their nervous excitement impairs their lucidity, and, for
this reason, their revelations are often a mixture of truths and errors, of sublime ideas and
absurd or even ridiculous fancies. Inferior spirits often take advantage of this nervous
excitement (which is always a source of weakness to those who are unable to control it), in
order to subjugate the ecstatic; and to this end they assume to his eyes the appearances which
confirm him in the ideas and prejudices of his waking state. This subjugation of clairvoyants
by the presentation of false appearances is the "rock ahead" of this order of revealment. But
all of them are not equally subject to this dangerous misleading; and it is for us to weigh their
statements coolly and carefully, and to judge their revelations by the light of science and of
The emancipation of the soul occurs sometimes in the waking state, and gives, to those who
are endowed with the faculty designated by the name of second-sight, the power of seeing,
hearing, and feeling, beyond the limits of the bodily senses. They perceive things at a
distance, at all points to which their soul extends its action; they see them, so to say, athwart
their ordinary sight, and as though in a sort of mirage.
At the moment when the phenomenon of second-sight occurs, the physical state of the seer is
visibly modified. His glance becomes vague; he looks before him without seeing; his
physiognomy reflects an abnormal state of the nervous system. It is evident that his organs of
sight have nothing to do with his present perceptions; for his vision continues, even when his
eyes are shut.
The faculty of second-sight appears to those who are endowed with it to be as natural as
ordinary sight. It seems to them to be an attribute of their being; and they are not aware of its
character. They generally forget this fugitive lucidity, the remembrance of which, becoming
more and more vague, disappears at length from their memory like a dream.
The power of second-sight varies from a confused sensation to a clear and distinct perception
of things present or distant. In its rudimentary state, it gives to some persons tact,
perspicacity, a sort of sureness, in their decisions and actions, that may be styled the rectitude
of the moral glance. At a higher degree of development, it awakens presentiments; still
further developed, it shows to the seer events that have already happened, or that are about to
Natural and artificial somnambulism, trance, and second-sight are only varieties or
modifications of the action of one and the same cause. Like dreams, they are a branch of
natural phenomena, and have therefore existed in every age. History shows us that they have
been known, and even abused, from the remotest antiquity; and they furnish the explanation
of innumerable facts which superstitious prejudices have led men to regard as super-natural.
Penetration of Our Thoughts By Spirits
456. Do spirits see everything that we do?
"They can do so if they choose, since they are incessantly around you. But, practically, each
spirit sees only those things to which he directs his attention; for he pays no heed to those
which do not interest him."
457. Can spirits see our most secret thoughts?
"They often see what you would fain hide from yourselves; neither acts nor thoughts can be
hidden from them."
- It would appear, then, to be more easy to hide a thing from a person while living than to
hide it from that same person after his death?
"Certainly; and when you fancy yourselves to be hidden from every eye, you have often a
crowd of spirits around you, and watching you."
458. What is thought of us by the spirits who are about us, and observing us?
"That depends on the quality of the spirits themselves. Frivolous spirits enjoy the little
annoyances they cause you, and laugh at your fits of impatience. Graver spirits pity your
imperfections, and endeavour to aid you to cure yourselves of them."
Occult Influence of Spirits on Our Thoughts and Actions.
459. Do spirits influence our thoughts and our actions?
"Their influence upon them is greater than you suppose, for it is very often they who direct
460. Have we some thoughts that originate with ourselves, and others that are suggested to
"Your soul is a spirit who thinks. You must have observed that many thoughts, and frequently
very opposite ones, come into your mind reference to the same subject, an(l at the same time.
In such cases, some of them are your own, and some are ours. This is the cause of your
uncertainties, because you have thus in your mind two ideas that are opposed to each other."
461. How can we distinguish between the thoughts which are our own and those which are
suggested to us?
"When a thought is suggested, it is like a voice speaking to you. Your own thoughts are
generally those which first occur to you. In point of fact, this distinction is not of much
practical importance for you, and it is often better for you not to be able to make it. Man's
action is thus left in greater freedom. If he decides for the right road, he does so more
spontaneously; if he takes the wrong one, he is more distinctly responsible for his mistake."
462. Do men of intelligence and genius allays draw their ideas from their own minds?
"Their ideas sometimes come from their own spirit; hut they arc often suggested to them by
other spirits who judge them to be capable of understanding them, and worthy of transmitting
them. When they (10 not find the required ideas in themselves, they make an unconscious
appeal for inspiration; a sort of evocation that they make without being aware of what they
are doing."
If it were useful for us to be able to distinguish clearly between our own thoughts and those Which are
suggested to us, God would have given us the means of doing so, as he has given us that of distinguishing
between day and night. When a matter has been left by Providence in a state of vagueness, it has been left
so because it is better for us.
463. It is sometimes said that our first thought is always the best,-is this true?
"It may be good or bad according to the nature of the incarnated spirit. It is always well to
listen to good inspirations."
464. How can we ascertain whether a suggested thought comes from a good spirit or from an
evil one?
"Study its quality. Good spirits give only good counsels. It is for you to distinguish between
the good and the bad."
465. To what end do imperfect spirits incite us to evil?
"To make you suffer as they do themselves."
- Does that lessen their own sufferings?
"No; but they do so from jealousy of those who are happier than themselves."
- What kind of sufferings do they wish to make us undergo?
"Those which result from being of an inferior order, and far removed from God."
466. Why does God permit spirits to incite us to evil?
"Imperfect spirits are used by Providence as instruments for trying men's faith and constancy
in well-doing. You, being a spirit, must advance in the knowledge of the infinite. It is for this
end that you are made to pass through the trials of evil in order to attain to goodness. Our
mission is to lead you into the right road. When you are acted upon by evil influences, it is
because you attract evil spirits to you by your evil desires, for evil spirits always come to aid
you in doing the evil you desire to do; they can only help you to do wrong when you give way
to evil desires. If you are inclined to commit murder, you will have about you a swarm of
spirits who will keep this inclination alive in you; but you will also have others about you
who will try to influence you for good, which restores the balance, and leaves you of your
It is thus that God leaves to our conscience the choice or the road we decide to follow, and the liberty of
yielding to one or other of the opposing influences that act upon us.
467. Can we free ourselves from the influence of the spirits who incite us to evil?
"Yes; for they only attach themselves to those who attract them by the evil nature of their
thoughts and desires."
468. Do spirits, whose influence is repelled by our will, renounce their temptations?
"What else can they do ? When they see that they cannot accomplish their aim, they give up
the attempt; but they continue to watch for a favourable moment, as the cat watches for the
469. By what means can we neutralise the influence of evil spirits?
"By doing only what is right, and putting all your trust in God, you repel the influence of
inferior spirits, and prevent them from obtaining power over you. Take care not to listen to
the suggestions of spirits who inspire you with evil thoughts, stir up discord among you, and
excite in you evil passions. Distrust especially those who flatter your pride, for, in so doing,
they attack you on your weakest side. This is why Jesus makes you say in the Lord's Prayer,
'Let us not succumb to temptation, but deliver us from evil.'"
470. Have the spirits who seek to lead us into evil, and who thus put our firmness in rectitude
to the proof, received a mission to do this; and, is so, are they responsible for the
accomplishment of such a mission?
"No spirit ever receives a mission to do evil; when he does it, he does it of his own will, and,
therefore, undergoes the consequences of his wrongdoing. God may let him take his evil way,
in order to try you; but He does not command him to do so, and it is for you to repel him."
471. When we feel a sensation of vague anxiety, of undefinable uneasiness, or of interior
satisfaction, without any assignable cause, do these sensations proceed simply from our
physical state?
"They are almost always an effect of the communications which you unconsciously receive
from the spirits about you, or which you have received from them during your sleep."
472. When spirits wish to excite us to evil, do they merely take advantage of the
circumstances in which we find ourselves, or can they themselves bring about the
circumstances which may favour their designs?
"They take advantage of the occurrence of any favourable circumstances, but they also often
bring them about, by urging you on, without your being aware of it, towards the object of
your unwise desire. Thus, for instance, a man picks up a roll of banknotes by the wayside.
You must not imagine that spirits have brought this money to this particular spot, but they
may have suggested to the man the idea of going that way; and, when he has found the
money, they may suggest to him the idea of taking possession of it, while others suggest to
him the idea of
restoring it to its rightful owner. It is thus in all other temptations."
473. Can a spirit temporarily assume the envelope of a living person--that is to say, can he
introduce himself into an animate body, and act in the room and place of the spirit
incarnated in it?
"A spirit does not enter into a body as you enter into a house. He assimilates himself to an
incarnate spirit who has the same defects and the same qualities as himself, in order that they
may act conjointly; hut it is always the incarnate spirit who acts at his pleasure on the matter
with which he is clothed. No other spirit can substitute himself in the place of the spirit who
is incarnated in a given body, for a spirit is indissolubly united with his body until the arrival
of the hour that has been appointed by Providence for the termination of his material
474. If there be no such thing as “possession", in the ordinary sense of that term-that is to
say, cohabitation of two spirits in the same body-is it possible for one soul to find itself
dominated, subjugated, obsessed by another soul to such a point as that its will is, so to say,
"Yes; and it is this domination which really constitutes what you call possession. But you
must understand that this domination is never established without the participation of the
spirit who is subjected to it, either through his weakness¹ or his free-will. Men have often
mistaken for cases of possession what were really cases of epilepsy or madness, demanding
the help of the physician rather than of the exorciser."
The word possession, in its common acceptation, presupposes the existence of demons-that is to say, of a
category of beings of a nature essentially evil, and the cohabitation of one of those beings with the soul of
a man in the body of the latter. Since there are no such beings as demons in the sense just defined, and
since two spirits cannot inhabit simultaneously the same body, there is no such thing as "possession" in
the sense commonly attributed to that word. The word possessed should only be understood as expressing
the state of absolute subjection to which a soul in flesh may be reduced by the imperfect spirits under
whose domination it has fallen.
475. Can a soul, of its own motion, drive away tile evil spirits by whom it is thus obsessed,
and free itself from their domination?
¹ The "weakness" which sometimes brings a human being under the power of spirit-tormentors, despite the
strenuous resistance of his will, is always the punitive and expiatory result of his own wrong-doing, either in his
present earthly life or in a former one.-TRANS.
"You can always shake off a yoke if you are firmly resolved to do so.
476. Might not the fascination exercised by the evil spirit be so complete that the person
subjugated should be unaware of it; and, in such a case, might not a third person be able to
put an end to the subjection? And what course should be taken by the latter to that end?
"The will-power of an upright man may be useful by attracting the co-operation of good
spirits in the work of deliverance; for the more upright a man is, the more power he
possesses, both over imperfect spirits to drive them away, and over good ones to draw them
nearer. Nevertheless, even the best of men would be powerless in such a case, unless the
subjugated person lent himself to the efforts made on his behalf, for there are persons who
take delight in a state of dependence which panders to their depraved tastes and desires. In no
case can one who is impure in heart exercise any liberating influence, for he is despised by
the good spirits, and the bad ones stand in no awe of him."
477. Have formulas of exorcism any power over bad spirits?
"No; when bad spirits see any one seriously endeavouring to act upon them by such means,
they laugh at him, and persist in their obsession."
478. Persons who are well-intentioned arc sometimes obsessed; what are the best means of
getting rid of obsessing spirits?
"To tire out their patience, to give no heed to their suggestions, to show them that they are
losing their time. When they see that they can do nothing, they go away."
479. Is prayer efficacious as a means of putting an end to obsession ?
"Prayer is always an efficacious means of obtaining help; but you must remember that the
muttering of certain words will not suffice to obtain what you desire. God helps those who
help themselves, but not those who limit their action to asking for help. It is therefore
necessary for the person obsessed to do his utmost to cure himself of the defects which attract
evil spirits to him."
480. What is to be thought of the casting out of devils, spoken of in the Gospels?
"That depends on the meaning you attach to the word devil. If you mean by that term a bad
spirit who subjugates a human
being, it is evident that, when his influence is destroyed, he will really be driven away. If you
attribute a malady to the devil, you may say, when you have cured the malady, that you have
driven the devil away. A statement may be true or false, according to the meaning attributed
to certain words. The most weighty truths may appear absurd when you look only at the form
under which they are presented, and when an allegory is taken for a fact. Get this principle
well into your mind, and keep it there; for it is of universal application."
481. Do spirits play a part in the phenomena exhibited by the individuals designated under
the name of convulsionaries.?
"Yes, a very important one, as does also the agent that you call magnetism, whether employed
by human beings or by spirits; for this agent is the original source of those phenomena. Hut
charlatanism has often exaggerated those effects, and made them a matter of speculation,
which has brought them into ridicule."
-What is generally the nature of the spirits who help to produce phenomena of this kind?
"Of slight elevation. Do you suppose that spirits of high degree would waste their time in
such a way?"
482. How can a whole population be suddenly thrown into the abnormal state of convulsions
and crises.'
"Through sympathy. Moral dispositions are sometimes exceedingly contagious. You are not
so ignorant of the effects of human magnetism as not to understand this, and also the part that
certain spirits would naturally take in such occurrences, through sympathy with those by
whom they are produced."
Among the strange peculiarities remarked in convulsionaries, several are evidently identical with those of
which somnambulism and mesmerism offer numerous examples-viz., physical insensibility, thought
reading, sympathetic transmission or sensations, etc. It is therefore impossible to doubt that these crisiacs
are in a sort of waking somnambulism, determined by the influence which they unwittingly exercise upon
each other. They are at once mesmerised and mesmerised, unconsciously to themselves.
483. What is the cause of the physical insensibility sometimes remarked in convulsionaries,
and sometimes, also, in other persons, when subjected to the most atrocious tortures?
"In some cases it is simply an effect of human magnetism, which acts upon the nervous
system in the same manner as do certain substances. In other cases, mental excitement
deadens the
sensibility of the organism, the life seeming to retire from the body in order to concentrate
itself in the spirit. Have you not observed that, when the spirit is intensely occupied with any
matter, the body neither feels, nor sees, nor hears ?
The excitement of fanaticism and enthusiasm often offer, on the part of persons subjected to a violent
death, examples of a calmness and coolness that could hardly triumph over excruciating pain unless the
sensibility of the patient were neutralised by a sort of moral anaesthesia. We know that. in the heat of
battle, a severe wound Is often received without being perceived; whilst, under ordinary circumstances, a
mere scratch is felt acutely.
Since the production of these phenomena is due, in part, to the action of physical causes, in part to that of
Spirits, it may be asked how it can have been possible for the civil authorities, in certain cases, to put a
stop to them? The reason of this Is, however, very simple. The action of spirits, in these cases, Is only
secondary they do nothing more than take advantage of a natural tendency. The public authorities did
not suppress this tendency, but the cause which kept up and stimulated it, thus reducing it from a state of
activity to one of latency and they were right in so doing, because the matter was giving rise to abuses and
scandal. Such intervention, nevertheless, is powerless in cases where the action of spirits is direct and
Affection of Certain Spirits for Certain Persons.
484. Do spirits affectionately prefer certain persons?
"Good spirits sympathise with all men who are good, or susceptible of amelioration; inferior
spirits, with men who are bad, or who may become such. The attachment, in both cases, is a
consequence of the similarity of sentiment."
485. Is the affection of certain spirits for certain persons exclusively one of sentiment?
"True affection has nothing of carnality; but, when a spirit attaches himself to a living person,
it is not always through affection only; for there may also be in that attachment a
reminiscence of human passions."
486. Do spirits take an interest in our misfortunes and our prosperity? Those who wish us
well, are they grieved by the ills we undergo during life?
"Good spirits do you all the good they can, and rejoice with you in all your joys. They mourn
over your afflictions when you do not bear them with resignation, because in that case
affliction produces no beneficial result, for you are like the sick man who rejects the
disagreeable draught that would cure him."
487. What is the kind of ills that causes most grief to our spirit-friends? Is it cur physical
sufferings, or our moral imperfections?
"What grieves them most is your selfishness and your hard heartedness, for these are the root
of all your troubles. They smile at the imaginary sorrows that are born of pride and ambition;
they rejoice in those which will shorten your term of trial."
Our spirit-friends, knowing that corporeal life is only transitory, and that the tribulations by which it is
accompanied are the means that will enable us to reach a happier state, are more grieved for us by the
moral imperfections which keep us back, than by physical ills, which are only transitory.
Spirits attach as little importance to misfortunes which affect us only in our earthly ideas, as we do to the
trilling sorrows of childhood. Seeing the afflictions of life to be the means of our advancement, they
regard them only as the passing crisis which will restore the sick man to health. They are grieved by our
sufferings, as we are grieved by those of a friend but, judging the events of our lives from a truer point of
view, they appreciate them differently. While inferior spirits try to drive us to despair, in order to hinder
our advancement, the good ones seek to inspire us with the courage that will turn our trials into a source
of gain for our future.
488. Have the relatives and friends who have gone before us into the other life more
sympathy for us than spirits who are strangers to us?
"Undoubtedly they have; and they often protect you as spirits, according to their power."
- Are they sensible of the affection we preserve for them?
"Very sensible; but they forget those who forget them.".
Guardian - Angels - Protecting, Familiar, and Sympathetic Spirits.
489. Are there spirits who attach themselves to a particular individual, in order to protect
and help him?
"Yes, the spirit-brother; what you call the- spirit- protector, or tile good genius."
490. What is to be understood by the expression, "guardian-anger' ?
"A spirit-protector of high degree."
491. What is the mission of a spirit- protector?
"That of a father towards his children-to lead the object of his protection into the right road,
to aid him with his counsels, to console him in his afflictions, and to sustain his courage
under the trials of his earthly life."
492. Is a spirit-protector attached to an individual from his birth?
"From his birth to his death; and he often follows him after death in the spirit-life, and even in
several successive corporeal
existences; for these existences are hut every short phases of his existence as a spirit."
493. Is the mission of a spirit-protector voluntary or obligatory?
"Your spirit-protector is obliged to watch over you, because he has accepted that task; but a
spirit is allowed to choose his ward among the beings who are sympathetic to him. In some
cases this office is a pleasure; in others, it is a mission or a duty."
In attaching himself to a person, is a spirit obliged to refrain from Protecting other
"No; but he does so less exclusively."
494. Is the spirit-protector indissolubly attached to the person confided to his guardianship ?
"It often happens that spirits quit their position in order to fulfil various missions; but, in that
case, an exchange of wards takes place."
495. Does a spirit-protector sometimes abandon his ward when the latter persists in
neglecting his counsels?
"He withdraws from him when he sees that his counsels are useless, and that there is a
stubborn determination to yield to the influence of inferior spirits; but he does not abandon
him entirely, and continues to make himself heard. It is not the spirit who quits the man, but
the man who closes his ears against the spirit. As soon as the man calls him back, the spirit
returns to him.
"If there be a doctrine that should win over the most incredulous by its charm and its beauty,
it is that of the existence of spirit-protectors, or guardian-angels. To think that you have
always near you beings who are superior to you, and who are always beside you to counsel
you, to sustain you, to aid you in climbing the steep ascent of self-improvement, whose
friendship is truer and more devoted than the most intimate union that you can contract upon
the earth-is not such an idea most consoling ? Those beings are near you by the command of
God. It is He who has placed them beside you. They are there for love of Him, and they fulfil
towards you a noble but laborious mission. They are with you wherever you may be; in the
dungeon, in solitude, in the lazar-house, even in the haunts of debauchery. Nothing ever
separates you from the friend whom you cannot see, hut whose gentle impulsions are felt, and
whose wise monitions are heard, in the innermost recesses of your heart.
"Would that you were more fully impressed with this truth! How often would it aid you in
your moments of need! How often would it save you from the snares of evil spirits! But, at
the great day of account, how often will your guardian-angel have to say to you, 'Did I not
urge you, and yet you would not follow my leading? Did I not show you the abyss, and yet
you persisted in throwing yourself into it? Did I not cause your con-science to hear the voice
of truth, and have you not followed lying counsels?’ Question your guardian-angels; establish
between yourselves and them the affectionate intimacy which exists between tried and loving
friends. Do not think to hide anything from them, for they are the eye of God, and you cannot
deceive them. Think of the future; seek to advance on the upward road: your trials will be
shorter, your existences happier. Men, take courage! Cast far from you all prejudices and
mental reservations; enter resolutely upon the new road that opens before you! You have
guides; follow them. Your goal cannot fail you, for that goal is God Himself.
"To those who may think it impossible that spirits of high degree should bind themselves to a
task so laborious and demanding so much patience on their part, we reply, that we influence
your souls while at many millions of leagues from you. To us, space is nothing; and, while
living in another world, our spirits preserve their connection with yours. We possess qualities
of which you can form no idea; but be sure that God has not imposed upon us a task above
our strength, and that He has not abandoned you upon the earth without friends and without
support. Every guardian-angel has his ward, over whom he watches as a father watches over
his child: he rejoices when he sees him following the right road; he mourns when his counsels
are neglected.
"Do not fear to weary us with your questions. Remain, on the contrary, always in connection
with us: you will thus be stronger and happier. It is this communication between each man
and his familiar spirit that will eventually make all men mediums, and drive out incredulity
from your world. You who have received instruction, instruct in your turn: you who are
possessed of talents, raise your brethren. You know not how great a work you accomplish by
so doing; it is the work of Christ, the work imposed on you by God. Why has God given you
intelligence and knowledge, if not to share them with your brethren, to aid them to advance
on the road that leads to eternal felicity?"
The doctrine of guardian-angels watching over their wards, notwithstanding the distance which separates
different worlds, has in it nothing that should excite our surprise it is as natural as it is grand and
sublime. Do we not see a father, upon the earth, watch over his child even though at a distance from him,
and aid him by the wise counsels of his letters? Why, then, should it be deemed surprising that spirits
should guide, from one world to another, those whom take under their protection, since, to them, the
distance which separates worlds is less than that which, on earth, separates continents? Besides. have they
not the universal fluid which binds together all the worlds of the universe, and makes them part and
parcel of each other-the universal vehicle of the transmission of through, as the air is, for us, the vehicle
of the transmission of sound?
496. If a spirit abandons his ward, and no longer does him good, can he do him harm ?
"Good spirits never do harm to any one. They leave that to those who take their place; and
you then accuse fate of the misfortunes which overwhelm you, while these are, in reality, the
result of your own wrong-doing."
497. Can a spirit-protector leave his ward at the mercy of a spirit who should desire to do
him harm?
"Evil spirits unite together to neutralise the action of the good ones; but the will of the ward
suffices to give back all his power to the spirit-protector. The latter may find elsewhere
another person whose goodwill renders it easy to help him; in such a case, he takes advantage
of the opportunity of doing good, while awaiting the return of his ward."
498. When the spirit-protector allows his ward to wander into wrong paths, is it because he
is unable to cope with tile malevolent spirits who mislead him?
"It is not because he is unable, but because he does not choose to do so; he knows that his
ward will become wiser and better through the trials he will have brought upon himself. The
spirit-protector assists his ward through the sage counsels he suggests to his mind, hut which
unhappily are not always heeded. It is only the weakness, carelessness, or pride of men that
gives strength to bad spirits; their power over you comes solely from your not opposing
sufficient resistance to their action."
499. Is the spirit-protector constantly with his ward? Are there no circumstances under
which, without abandoning him, he may lose sight of him?
"There are circumstances under which the presence of the spirit-protector is not necessary to
the ward."
500. Does a time arrive when tile spirit no longer needs a guardian-angel?
"Yes; when he has reached the degree of advancement which enables him to guide himself, as
a time arrives when the scholar bas no longer need of a master. But this does not take place
upon your earth."
501. Why is the action of spirits upon our existence occult? and why, when they are
protecting us, do they not do so ostensibly?
"If you counted on their support, you would not act of yourselves, and your spirit would not
progress. In order to advance, each man needs to acquire experience, and often at his own
expense. He needs to exercise his powers; otherwise he would be like a child, who is not
allowed to walk alone. The action of the spirits who desire your welfare is always regulated in
such a way as to leave you your free-will; for, if you had no responsibility, you would not
advance on the road that is to lead you to God. Man, not seeing his supporter, puts forth his
own strength; his guide, however, watches over him, and calls to him from time to time. to
bid him beware of danger."
502. When the spirit-Protector succeeds in leading his ward on tile right road, does he
thereby gain any benefit for himself?
"It is a meritorious work, which will he counted to him either for his advancement or for his
happiness. He rejoices when he sees his care crowned by success, and triumphs as a teacher
triumphs in the success of his pupil."
-Is he responsible if he does not succeed?
"No, since he has done everything that depended on him."
503. Does tile spirit-protector feel sorrow on seeing a ward taking tile wrong road? and does
not such sight disturb his own felicity?
"He is grieved at his errors, and pities him ; hut this affliction has none of the anguish of
terrestrial paternity, because he knows that there is a remedy for the evil, and that what is not
done to-day will be done to-morrow."
504. Can we always know the name of our guardian-angel?
"How is it possible for you to know names which have no existence for you? Do you suppose
there are no spirits but those whom you know of?"
-But how can we invoke him if we do not know who he is?
"Give him any name you please-that of any superior spirit for whom you feel sympathy or
veneration. Your spirit-guardian will
answer this appeal; for all good spirits are brothers, and assist each other."
505. Are the spirit-guardians who take well-known names always the persons who bore those
"No; but they are spirits who are in sympathy with them, and who, in many cases, come by
their order. You require names; they therefore take a name that will inspire you with
confidence. When you are unable to execute a commission in person, you send some one in
your place, who acts in your name."
506. When we are in the spirit-life, shall we recognise our spirit-guardian ?
"Yes; for it is often a spirit whom you knew before being incarnated."
507. Do all spirit-guardians belong to the higher classes of spirits? Are they sometimes found
among those of average advancement? Can a father, for example, become the spirit-guardian
of his child?
"He may do so; but such guardianship presupposes a certain degree of elevation, and, in
addition, a power ()r virtue granted by God. A father who watches over his child may himself
be assisted by a spirit of more elevated degree."
508. Can all spirits who have quitted the earth under favourable conditions become the
protectors of those whom they love among their survivors?
"Their power is more or less narrowed by their position, which does not always leave them
full liberty of action."
509. Have savages, and men who are very low as regards their moral state, their spiritguardians?
and if so, are these spirits of as high an order as those of men who are more
"Every man has a spirit who watches over him; but missions are always proportional to their
object. You do not give a professor of philosophy to a child who is only learning to read. The
advancement of the familiar spirit is always proportioned to that of the spirit he protects.
While you yourself have a spirit of higher degree who watches over you, you may, in your
turn, become the protector of a spirit who is lower than you; and the progress you help him to
make will contribute to your own advancement. God does not demand of any spirit more than
is consistent with his nature, and with the degree at which he has arrived."
510. When a father who watches over his child is reincarnated, does he still continue to
watch over him?
"His task, in that case, becomes more difficult; but, in a moment of freedom, he asks some
sympathetic spirit to assist him in accomplishing it. But spirits do not undertake missions
which they cannot carry on to the end.
"A spirit, when incarnated, especially in worlds in which existence is grossly material, is too
much fettered by his body to be able to devote himself entirely to another-that is to say, to
give him personally all the help he needs. For this reason, those who are not sufficiently
elevated to suffice for the work of guardianship are themselves assisted by spirits of higher
degree, so that if, from any cause, the help of one spirit should fail, his place is supplied by
511. Is there, besides the spirit-guardian, an evil spirit attached to each individual for the
purpose of exciting him to evil, thus of furnishing him with the opportunity of struggling
between good and evil?
'It would not be correct to say 'attached.' It is very true that bad spirits endeavour to draw you
out of the right road when they find an opportunity of doing so; but when one of them
attaches himself to an individual, he does so of his own accord, because he hopes to be
listened to. In such a case, there is a struggle between the good and the evil spirit, and the
victory remains with the one to whose influence the man has voluntarily subjected himself."
512. May we have several protecting spirits?
"Every man has always about him a number of sympathetic spirits of more or less elevation,
who interest themselves in him from affection, as he also has others who help him to do evil."
513. Do spirits who are sympathetic to an individual act upon him in virtue of a mission to
that effect?
"In some cases they may have a temporary mission; but, in general, they are only drawn to an
individual by similarity of sentiments in good or in evil."
- It would seem, then, that sympathetic spirits may be either good or bad?
"Yes; a man is always surrounded by spirits who are in sympathy with him, whatever may be
his character."
514. Are "familiar spirits" the same as "sympathetic spirits" and “spirit- guardians" ?
"There are very many shades in guardianship and in sympathy; you may give to these
whatever names you please. But the 'familiar spirit' is rather the general friend of the family."
From the above explanations. and from observation of the nature of spirits who attach themselves to men,
we draw the following inferences: -
The spirit-protector, good genius. or guardian-angel, is the one whose mission it is to follow each man
through the course of his life, and to aid him to progress. His degree of advancement is always superior to
that of his ward.
Familiar Spirits attach themselves to certain persons, for a longer or shorter period. in order to be useful
to them within the limits (often somewhat narrow) of their possibilities they are generally wellintentioned.
but sometimes rather backward. and even frivolous. They busy themselves with the everyday
details of human life and only act by order. or with the permission, of the spirit-guardians.
Sympathetic spirits are those who are drawn to us by personal affectation, and by a similarity of tastes in
good or in evil. The duration of their relationship with us is almost always dependent on circumstances.
An evil genius is an imperfect or wicked spirit who attaches himself to a man for the purpose of
perverting him but he acts of his own motion. and not in virtue of a mission. His tenacity is proportionate
to the more or less easy access accorded to him. A man is always free to listen to the suggestions of an evil
genius, or to repel them.
515. What is to be thought of those persons who seen to attach themselves to certain
individuals in order to urge them on to their injury, or to guide them on the right road?
"Some persons do, in fact, exercise over others a species of fascination which seems
irresistible. When this influence is used for evil, it is to be attributed to evil spirits, who make
use of evil men in order the more effectually to subjugate their victim. God may permit this in
order to try you."
516. Could our good or our evil genius incarnate himself in order to accompany us more
closely in our earthly life?
"That sometimes occurs; but they more frequently entrust this mission to incarnated spirits
who are in sympathy with them."
517. Are there spirits who attach themselves to all the members of a family in order to watch
over and aid them?
"Some spirits attach themselves to the members of a family who live together, and who are
united by affection; but do not attribute pride of race to spirit-guardians."
518. Spirits being attracted to individuals by their sympathies, are they similarly attracted to
companies of persons united in view of special ends?
"Spirits go by preference to the places where they meet their similars; they are more at ease
among such, and more sure of
being listened to. Every one attracts spirits to himself according to his tendencies, whether as
an individual or as an element of a collective whole, such as a society, a city, or a nation.
Societies, towns, and nations are therefore assisted by spirits of more or less elevated degree,
according to the character and passions which predominate in them. Imperfect spirits
withdraw from those who repel them; from which it follows that the moral excellence of
collective wholes, like that of individuals, tends to keep away bad spirits and to attract good
ones, who rouse and keep alive the sense of rectitude in the masses, as others may sow among
them the worst passions."
519. Have agglomerations of individuals-such as societies, cities, nations-their special spiritguardians?
"Yes, for those assemblages constitute collective individualities, who are pursuing a common
end, and who have need of a higher direction."
520. Are the spirit-guardians of masses of men of a higher degree of advancement than those
who are attached to individuals?
"Their advancement is always in proportion with the degree of advancement of masses as of
521. Can certain spirits advance the progress of the arts by protecting those who cultivate
"There are special spirit-protectors who assist those by whom they are invoked when they
judge them to be worthy of their help; but what could they do with those who fancy
themselves to be what they are not ? They cannot make the blind to see, nor the deaf to hear."
The ancients converted these spirit-guardians into special deities. The Muses were nothing else than the
allegoric personification of the spirit-protectors of arts and sciences, just as the spirit-protectors of the
family-circle designated by the name of lares or of penates. Among the moderns, the arts, the various
industries, cities, countries, have also their protecting patrons, who are no other than spirit-gusrdians of a
higher order, but under different names.
Each man having his sympathetic spirit, it follows that, in every collective whole, the generality of
sympathetic spirits corresponds to the generality of individuals that stranger-spirits are attracted to it by
identity of thoughts : in a word, that these assemblages, as well as individuals, are more or less favourably
surrounded, influenced, assisted, according to the predominant character of the thoughts of those who
compose them.
Among nations, the conditions which exercise an attractive action upon spines are the habits, manners,
dominant characteristics, of their people, and. above all, their legislation, because the character of a
nation is reflected in its laws. Those who uphold the reign of righteousness, among themselves combat the
influence of evil spirits. Wherever the laws consecrate injustice, inhumanity, good spirits are in the
minority and the mass of bad ones who flock in, attracted by that state of things, keep the people in their
false ideas, and paralyse the good influences which, being
only partial. are lost in the crowd, like a solitary wheat-ear in the midst of tares. It is therefore easy, by
studying the characteristics of nations, or of any assemblage of men, to form to oneself an idea of the
invisible population which is mixed up with them in their thoughts and in their actions.
522. Is a presentiment always a warning from the spirit-guardian?
"A presentiment is a counsel privately addressed to you by a spirit who wishes you well. The
same may be said of tile intuition which decides the choice of his flew existence by a spirit
about to reincarnate himself; the voice of instinct is of the same nature. A spirit, before
incarnating himself, is aware of the principal phases of his new existence-that is to say, of the
kind of trials to which he is about to subject himself. When these are of a very marked
character, he preserves, in his inner consciousness, a sort of impression respecting them; and
this impression, which is the voice of instinct, becoming more vivid as the critical moment
draws near, becomes presentiment."
523, Presentiments and the voice of instinct are always some-what vague; what should we do
when in a state of uncertainty?
"When you are in doubt, invoke your spirit-guardian, or implore our common Master, God, to
send you one of His messengers-one of us."
524. Are the warnings of our spirit-guardians given solely for' our moral guidance, are they
also given for our guidance in regard to our personal affairs?
"They are given in reference to everything that concerns you. Your spirit-guardians endeavour
to lead you to take, in regard to everything that you have to do; the best possible course; but
you often close your ears to their friendly counsels, and thus get yourselves into trouble
thorough your own fault."
Our protecting spirits aid us by their counsels, and by awakening the voice of our conscience but as we do
not always attach sufficient importance to these hints, they give us more direct warnings through the
persons about us. Let a man reflect upon the various circumstances of his life, fortunate or unfortunate,
and he will see that, on many occasions, he received advice which, had he followed it, would have spared
him a good deal of annoyance.
Influence of Spirits en the Events of Human Life
525. Do spirits exercise an influence over the events of our lives?
"Assuredly they do; since they give you advice."
- Do they exercise this influence in any other way. than by means of the thoughts they suggest
to us; that is. to say, have they any direct action on the course of earthly events?
"Yes; but their action never oversteps the laws of nature."
We erroneously imagine that the action of spirits can only be manifested by extraordinary phenomena we
would have spirits come to our aid by means of miracles, and we imagine them to be always armed 'with a
sort of magic wand. Such is not the case; all that is done through their help being accomplished by
natural means, their intervention usually takes place without our being aware of it. Thus, for instance,
they bring about the meeting of two persons who seem to have been brought together by chance they
suggest to the mind of some one the idea of going in a particular direction. They call your attention to
some special point, if the action on your part thus led up to by their suggestion, unperceived by you, will
bring about the result they seek to obtain. In this way, each man supposes himself to be obeying only his
own impulse, and thus always preserves the freedom of his will.
526. As spirits possess the power of acting upon matter, can they bring about the incidents
that will ensure tile accomplishment of a given event? For example, a man is destined to
perish in a certain way, at a certain time. He mounts a ladder; the ladder breaks, and he is
killed. Have spirits caused the ladder to break, in order to accomplish the destiny previously
accepted by or imposed upon this man?
"It is very certain that spirits have the power of acting upon matter, but for the carrying out of
the laws of nature, and not for derogating from them. by causing the production at a given
moment of some unforeseen event, in Opposition to those laws. In such a case as the one you
have just supposed, the ladder breaks because it is rotten, or is not strong enough to bear the
man’s weight. But, as it was the destiny of this man to be killed in this way, the spirits about
him will have put into his mind the idea of getting upon a ladder that will break down under
his weight, and his death will thus have taken place naturally, and without any miracle having
been required, to bring it 'about."
527. Let us take another example; one in which the ordinary conditions of matter would
seem, to be insufficient to account for the occurrence of a given event. A man 'is destined to
be killed by lightning. He is overtaken by a storm, and seeks refuge under a tree; the
lightning strikes the tree, and he is killed. Is it by spirits that the thunderbolt has been made
to fall, and to fall upon this particular man?
"The explanation of this case is the same as that of the former one. The lightning has fallen on
the tree at this particular moment,
because it was in accordance with the laws of nature that it should do so. The lightning was
not made to fall upon the tree because the man was under it, but the man was inspired with
the idea of taking refuge under a tree upon which the lightning was about to fall; for the tree
would have been struck all the same, whether the man had been under it or not."
528. An ill-intentioned person hurls against some one a projectile which passes close by him,
but does not touch him. Has the missile, in such a case, been turned aside by some friendly
"If the individual aimed at were not destined to be struck, a friendly spirit would have
suggested to him the thought of turning aside from the path of the missile, or would have
acted on his enemy's sight in such a way as to make him take a bad aim; for a projectile, when
once impelled on its way, necessarily follows the line of its projection."
529. What is to be thought of the magic bullets which figure in certain legends, and which, by
a mysterious fatality, infallibly reach their mark?
"They are purely imaginary. Man delights in the marvellous, and is not contented with the
marvels of nature."
- May the spirits who direct the events of our lives be thwarted by other spirits who desire to
give to' our lives a different direction?
"What God has willed must needs take place. If delay or hindrance occur, it can only be by
His appointment."
530. Cannot frivolous and mocking spirits give rise to the various little difficulties that defeat
our projects and upset our calculations? In a word, are they not the' authors of what may be
termed the petty troubles of human life?
"Such spirits take pleasure in causing vexations which serve as trials for the exercise of your
patience; but they tire of this game when they see that they do not succeed in ruffling you. But
it would neither be just nor correct to charge them with all your disappointments, the greater
number of which are caused by your own heedlessness. When your crockery is broken, the
breakage is much more likely to have been caused by your own awkwardness than by spiritaction."
- Do the spirits who' bring about petty vexations act from personal animosity, or do they
direct their attacks against the first person who comes handy, without any fixed aim, and
simply to gratify their malice?
"They act from both these motives. In some cases, they are enemies whom you have made
during your present life, or in some former one, and who pursue you accordingly; in others,
they act without any fixed motive."
531. In the case of those' who have' done us harm in the earthly life is their malevolence
extinguished when they return to the spirit-world?
"In many cases, they perceive the injustice of their action, and regret the wrong they have
done you; but, in other cases, they continue to pursue you with their animosity, if God permits
them to do so, as a continuation of your trial."
- Can we put an end to this sort of persecution,, and by what means?
"You can do so, in many cases, by praying for them, because, by thus rendering them good
for evil, you gradually bring them to see that they are in the wrong. And, in all cases, if you
can show them, by your patience, that you are able to rise superior to their machinations, they
will cease to attack you, seeing that they gain nothing by so doing."
Experience proves that imperfect spirits follow up their vengeance from one existence to another, and
that we are thus made to expiate sooner or later, the wrongs we may have done to others.
532. Are spirits able to avert misfortune's from some persons, and to bring them upon others?
"Only to a certain extent; for there are misfortunes that come upon you by the decrees of
Providence. But spirits can lessen your sufferings by helping you to bear them with patience
and resignation.
"Know, also, that it often depends on yourselves to avert misfortunes, or, least, to attenuate
them. God has given you intelligence in order that you may make use of it, and it is especially
by so doing that you enable friendly spirits to aid you most effectually-viz., by suggesting
useful ideas; for they only help those who help themselves: a truth implied in the words,
'Seek, and yet shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.'
"Besides, you must remember that what appears to you to be a misfortune is not always such;
for the good which it is destined to work out is often greater than the seeming evil. This fact
is not always recognised by you, because you are too apt to think only of the present moment,
and of your own immediate satisfaction."
533. Can spirits obtain for us the gifts of fortune, if we entreat them to do so?
"They may sometimes accede to such a request as a trial for you; but they often refuse such
demands, as you refuse the in-considerate demands of a child."
-When such favours are granted, is it by good spirits or by bad ones?
"By both; for the quality both, of the request and of the grant depends on the intention by
which they are prompted. But such acquiescence is more frequent on the part of spirits who
desire to lead you' astray, and who find an easy means of doing this through the material
pleasures procured by wealth."
534. When obstacles seem to be placed, by a sort of fatality, in the way of our projects, is it
always through the influence of spirits?
"Such obstacles are sometimes thrown in your, way by spirits but they are more often
attributable to your own bad management. Position and character have much to do with your
successes or failures. If you persist in following a path which is not your right one, you
become your own evil genius, and have no need to attribute to spirit-action the
disappointments that result from your own obstinacy or mistake."
535. When anything fortunate happens to us, ought we to thank our spirit-guardian for it?
"Let your thanks be first for God, without whose permission nothing takes place; and, next,
for the good spirits who have been His agents."
-What would happen if we neglected to tank them?
"That which happens to the ungrateful."
-Yet there are persons who neither pray nor give thanks, and who nevertheless succeed in
everything they do?
"Yes; but wait to see the end of their lives. They will pay dearly for this passing prosperity,
which they have not deserved; for, the more they have received, the more they will have to
answer for."
Action of Spirits in the Production
of, the Phenomena of Nature.
536. Are the great phenomena of nature, those which we consider as perturbations of the
elements, due to fortuitous causes, or have they all a providential aim?
"There is a reason for everything; nothing takes place without the permission of God."
Have these phenomena always some reference to mankind?
"They have sometimes a direct reference to man; but they have often no other object than the
re-establishment of the equilibrium and harmony of the physical forces of nature."
- We fully admit that the will of God must be the primal cause of these phenomena, as of
everything else; but, as we know that spirits exercise an action upon matter, and that they are
the agents of the divine will, 'we ask whether some among them do not exert an influence
upon the elements, to rouse, calm or direct them.?
"It is evident that they must do so; it could not be otherwise. God does not exercise a direct
action upon matter; He has His devoted agents at every step of the ladder of worlds."
537, The mythology of the ancients is entirely based on spiritist ideas with this difference that
they regarded spirits as divinities. They represented those gods or spirits with special
attributes; thus, some of them had charge of the winds, others of the lightning; others, again,
presided over vegetation, etc. Is this belief entirely devoid of foundation?
"It is so far from being devoid of foundation, that it is far below the truth."
- May there, in the same way, be spirits inhabiting the interior of the earth and presiding over
the development of geological phenomena?
"Those spirits do not positively inhabit the earth, but they preside over and direct its
developments according to their various attributions. You will some day. have the
explanation of all these phenomena, and you will then understand them better."
538. Do the spirits who preside over the phenomena of nature form a special category in the
spirit-world; are they beings apart, or spirits who have been incarnated like us?
"They are spirits who will be incarnated, or who have been so."
- Do those spirits belong to the higher or lower degrees of the spirit-hierarchy?
"That is according as their post is more or less material or intelligent; some command, others
execute; those who discharge material functions are always of an inferior order, among spirits
as among men."
539. In the production of certain phenomena, of storms, for example, is it a single spirit that
acts, or a mass of spirits?
"A mass of spirits; or, rather, innumerable masses of spirits."
540. Do the spirits who exert an action over the phenomena of nature act with knowledge and
intention, in virtue of their freewill, or from an instinctive end unreasoning impulse?
"Some act in the one way, others in the other. To employ a comparison -Figure to yourself the
myriads of animalcule that build up islands and archipelagos in the midst of the sea; do you
believe that there can be, in this process, no providential intention, and that this
transformation of the surface of the globe is not necessary to the general harmony? Yet all
this is accomplished by animals of the lowest degree, in providing for their bodily wants, and
without any consciousness of their being instruments of God. In the same way, spirits of the
most rudimentary degrees are useful to the general whole; while preparing to live, and prior
to their having the full consciousness of their action and free-will, they are made to concur in
the development of the various departments of nature, in the production of the phenomena of
which they are the unwitting agents. They begin by executing the orders of their superiors;
subsequently, when their intelligence is more developed, they command in their turn, and
direct the processes of the material world; still later, again, they are able to direct the things of
the moral world. It is thus that everything in nature is linked together, from the primitive atom
to the archangel, who himself began at the atom; an admirable law of harmony, which your
mind is, as yet, too narrow to seize in its generality."
Spirits During a Battle
541. When a battle is being fought, are there spirits who assist and support each party?
"Yes, and who stimulate their courage."
The ancients represented the gods as taking part with such and such a people. Those gods were nothing
else than spirits represented under allegorical figures.
542. In every war, the right is only on one side. How can spirits take the part of the one
which is in the wrong?
"You know very well that there are spirits who seek only discord and destruction; for them
war is war; they care little whether it be just or unjust."
543 Can spirits influence a general in the planning of a campaign?
"Without any doubt spirits can use their influence for this object, as for all other
544. Could hostile spirits suggest to him unwise combinations in order to ruin him?
"Yes; but has he not his free-will? If his judgement do not enable him to distinguish between
a good idea and a bad one, he will have to bear the consequences of his blindness, and would
do better to obey than to command."
545. May a general sometimes be guided by a sort of second-sight, an intuitive perception
that shows him., beforehand, the result of his combinations?
"It is often thus with a man of genius; this kind of intuition is what is called 'inspiration,' and
causes him to act with a sort of certainty. It comes to him from the spirits who direct him, and
who act upon him through the faculties with which he is endowed."
546. In the tumult of battle, what becomes of the spirits of those who succumb? Do they
continue to take an interest in the struggle after their death?
"Some of them do so; others withdraw from it."
In the case of those who are killed in battle, as in all other cases of violent death, a spirit, during the first
few moments, is in a state of bewilderment, and as though he were stunned. He does not know that he is
dead and seems to be taking part in the action. It is only little by little that the reality of his situation
becomes apparent to him.
547. Do the spirits of those who had fought against each other while alive still regard one
another as enemies after death; and arc they still enraged against one another?
"A spirit, under such circumstances, is never calm. At the first moment, he may still be
excited against his enemy, and even pursue him; but, when he has recovered his selfpossession,
he sees that his animosity has no longer any motive. But he may, nevertheless,
retain some traces of it for a longer or shorter period, according to his character,"
- Does he still perceive the clang of the battle field?
"Yes; perfectly."
548. When a spirit is coolly watching a battle, as a mere spectator, does he witness the
separation of the souls and bodies of those who fall, and how does this phenomenon affect
"Very few deaths are altogether instantaneous. In most cases, the spirit whose body has just
been mortally struck is not aware of it for the moment; it is when he begins to come to
himself that his spirit can be seen moving beside his corpse. This appears so natural, that the
sight of the dead body does not produce any disagreeable effect. All the life of the individual
being concentrated in his spirit, the latter alone attracts the attention of the spirits about him.
It is with him that they converse, to him that orders are given."
Pacts With Spirits.
549. Is there any truth in the idea that pacts can be entered into with evil spirits?
"No; there is. no pact, but there is sympathy, between an evil nature and evil spirits. For
example; you wish to torment your neighbour, but you know not how to set about it; and you
therefore call to your help some of the inferior spirits, who, like yourself, only desire to do
evil, and who, in return for the help they give you in carrying out your wicked designs, expect
you to help them with theirs. But it does not follow that your neighbour will not be able to get
rid of such a conspiracy by an opposing conjuration and the action of his will. He who desires
to do an evil deed calls evil spirits to his assistance by that mere desire; and he is then obliged
to serve them as they have served him, for they, on their side, have need of his help in the evil
they desire to do. What you call a pact consists simply in this reciprocity of assistance in
The subjection to evil spirits, in which a man sometimes finds himself, proceeds from his abandoning
himself to the evil thoughts suggested by them, and not from any sort of stipulations between them and
him. The idea of a pact, in the sense commonly attached to that word, is a figurative representation of the
sympathy which exists between a bad man and malicious spirits.
550. What is the meaning of the fantastic legends of persons selling their soul to Satan in
order to obtain from him certain favours?
"All fables contain a teaching and a moral; your mistake is in taking them literally. The one
you refer to is an allegory that may be thus explained -He who calls evil spirits to his aid, in
order to obtain from them the gifts of fortune or any other favour, rebels against Providence.
He draws back from the mission he has received, and from the trials he was to have under-
gone, in his earthly life; and he will reap the consequences of this rebellion in the life to
come. By this we do not mean to say that his soul is condemned to misery for ever; but as,
instead of detaching himself from matter, he plunges himself deeper and deeper into it, his
enjoyment of earthly pleasures will only have led to his suffering in the spirit-world, until he
shall have redeemed himself from the thraldom of evil by new trials, perhaps heavier and
more painful than those against which he now rebels. Through his indulgence in material
pleasures, he brings himself under the power of impure spirits, and thus establishes between
them and him a tacit compact which leads him to his ruin, but which it is always easy for him
to break with the assistance of higher spirits, if he have the firm determination to do so."
Occult Power - Talismans - Sorcerers.
551. Can a bad man, with the aid of a bad spirit who is at his orders, cause harm to his
"No; God would not permit it."
552. What is to be thought of the belief in the power of certain persons to throw a spell over
"Certain persons possess a very strong magnetic power, of which they may make a bad use if
their own spirit is bad, and, in that case, they may be seconded by other bad spirits; but do not
attach belief to any pretended magical power, which exists only in the imagination of
superstitious people, ignorant of the true laws of nature. The facts adduced to prove the
existence of this pretended power are facts which are really due to the action of natural causes
that have been imperfectly observed, and above all, imperfectly understood."
553. What is the effect of the formulas and practices by the aid of which certain persons
profess to be able to control the wills of spirits?
"Their only effect is to render such persons ridiculous, if they really put faith in them; and, if
they do not, they are rogues who deserve to be punished. All such formulas are mere jugglery;
there is no 'sacramental word,' no cabalistic sign, no talisman, that has any power over spirits;
for spirits are attracted by thought and not by anything material."
-Have not cabalistic formulas been sometimes dictated by spirits?
"Yes; there are spirits who give you strange signs and words, and prescribe certain acts, with
the aid of which you perform what you call 'conjurations;' but you may be very sure that such
spirits are making game of you, and amusing themselves with your credulity."
554. Is it not possible that he who, rightly or wrongly, has confidence in what he calls the
virtue of a talisman, may attract spirit to him by that very confidence; for in that case it
would be his thought that acts, the talisman being only a sign that helps to concentrate and
direct his thought?
"Such an action is quite possible; but the nature of the spirit thus attracted would depend on
the purity of intention and the elevation of sentiment of the party attracting him; and it rarely
happens that one who is simple enough to believe in the virtue of a talisman is not actuated
by motives of a material rather than of a moral character. At all events, such practices imply a
pettiness and weakness of mind that would naturally give access to imperfect and mocking
555. What meaning should we attach to the qualification of sorcerer?
"Those whom you call sorcerers are persons gifted, when they are honest, with certain
exceptional faculties, like the mesmeric power or second-sight; and as such persons do things
that you do not comprehend, you suppose them to be endowed with supernatural power. Have
not many of your learned men passed for sorcerers in the eyes of the ignorant?"
556. Do some persons really possess the gift of healing by merely touching the sick?
"The mesmeric power may act to that extent when it is seconded by purity of intention and
ardent desire to do good, for, in such a case, good spirits come to the aid of the mesmeriser.
But you must be on your guard against the way in which facts are exaggerated when
recounted by persons who, being too credulous or too enthusiastic, are disposed to discover
something marvellous in the simplest and most natural occurrences. You must also be on
your guard against the interested recitals of persons who work on credulity with a view to
their own benefit."
Benedictions an Curses
557. Do benedictions and curses draw down good and evil on those who are the object of
"God does not listen to an unjust malediction, and he who utters it is guilty in His eyes. As we
are subjected to two opposite influences, good and evil, a curse may have a momentary
action, even upon matter; but this action can never take place unless by the will of God, and
as an increase of trial for him who is its object. Besides, curses are usually bestowed on the
wicked, and benedictions on the good. But neither blessing nor cursing can ever turn aside the
justice of Providence, which only strikes the one who is cursed if he is wicked, and only
favours the one who is blessed if he merits its protection."
558. Have spirits anything else to do but to work out their own personal amelioration?
"They co-operate in the production of the harmony of the universe by executing the volitions
of God, whose ministers they are. Spirit-life is a continual occupation, hut one that has
nothing in common with the painful labour of the earthly life, because there is in it neither
bodily fatigue, nor the anguish of bodily wants."
559. Do inferior and imperfect spirits also subserve any useful end in the universe?
"All have duties to fulfil. Does not the lowest mason concur in the building of an edifice as
really as the architect?" (540.)
560. Has each spirit special attributes?
"We all have to inhabit all regions, and to acquire a knowledge of all things, by presiding
successively over all the details of the universe. But, as is said in Ecclesiastes, there is a time
for everything. Thus, one spirit is accomplishing his destiny, at the present day, in your world;
another will accomplish his, or has already accomplished it, at another period, upon the earth,
in the water, in the air, etc."
561. Are the functions discharged by spirits, in the economy of things, permanent on the Part
of each spirit, or do they constitute the exclusive attributes of certain classes?
"All spirits have to ascend all the steps of the ladder in order to attain to perfection. God, who
is just, has not willed to give science to some without labour, while others only acquire it
through painful effort."
Thus. among men, no one arrives at the highest degree of skill in any art, without having acquired the
necessary knowledge through the practice of that art in all its degrees, from the lowest upwards.
562. Spirits of the highest order having nothing more to acquire, are they in a state of
absolute repose, or have they, too, occupations?
"Can you suppose that they remain idle through eternity ? Eternal idleness would be eternal
- What is the nature of their occupations?
"They receive orders directly from God, transmit them throughout the universe, and
superintend their execution."
563. Are spirits incessantly occupied?
"Incessantly? yes, if it be understood that their thought is always active, for they live by
thought. But you must not suppose that the occupations of spirits are similar to the material
occupations of men; their activity is itself a delight, through the consciousness they have of
being useful."
- That is easily understood as regards good spirits; but is it the same in regard to inferior
"Inferior spirits have occupations suitable to their nature. Would you entrust intellectual
undertakings to an ignorant labourer?"
564. Are there, among spirits, some who are idle, or who do not employ themselves in
anything useful?
"Yes; but that idleness is only temporary, and depends on the development of their
intelligence. Certainly, there are among spirits, as among men, some who live only for
themselves; but their idleness weighs upon them, and, sooner or later, the desire to advance
causes them to feel the need of activity, and they are glad to make themselves useful. We
speak of spirits arrived at the point at which they possess self-consciousness and free-will;
for, at their origin, they are like new-born children, and act more from instinct than from a
determinate will."
565. Do spirits examine our works of art, and take an interest in them?
"They examine whatever indicates the elevation of incarnated spirits and their progress."
566. Does a spirit who has had a special occupation upon the earth, as a painter or an
architect, for example, take a special interest in the labours 'which have formed the object of
his predilections during the earthly life?
"Everything blends into one general aim. A good spirit interests himself in whatever enables
him to assist other souls in rising towards God. Besides, a spirit who has been devoted to a
given pursuit, in the existence in which you have known him, may have been devoted to some
other in another existence; for, in order to
be perfect, he must know everything. Thus, in virtue of his greater advancement, there may be
no speciality for him-a fact to which I alluded in saying that everything blends into one
general aim. Take note, also, that what seems sublime to you, in your backward world, would
be mere child's play in worlds of greater advancement. How can you suppose that the spirits
who inhabit those worlds, in which there exist arts and sciences unknown to you, could
admire what, in their eyes, is only the work of a tyro?"
- We can easily conceive that this should be the case with very advanced spirits; but our
question referred to more commonplace place spirits, to those who have not yet raised
themselves above terrestrial ideas.
"With them it is different; their mental outlook is narrower, and they may admire what you
yourselves admire."
567. Do spirits ever take part in our occupations and pleasures?
"Commonplace spirits, as you call them, do so; they are incessantly about you, and take, in all
you do, a part which is sometimes a very active one, according to their nature; and it is
necessary that they should do so, in order to push men on in the different walks of life, and to
excite or moderate their passions."
Spirits busy themselves with the things of this world in proportion to their elevation or their inferiority.
The higher Spirits have, undoubtedly, the power of looking into the minutest details of earthly things but
they only do so when it will be useful to progress. Spirits of lower rank attribute to such things a degree of
importance proportioned to their remembrances of the earthly life, and to the earthly ideas which are not
yet extinct in their memory.
568. When spirits are charged with a mission, do they accomplish it in the state of erraticity,
or in the state of incarnation?
"They may be charged with a mission in either state. There are wandering spirits to whom
such missions furnish much occupation."
569. What are the missions with which wandering spirits may be charged?
"They are so varied that it would be impossible to describe them; and there are some of them
that you could not comprehend. Spirits execute the volitions of God, and you are not able to
penetrate all His designs."
The missions of spirits have always good for their object. Whether in the spirit-state, or as men, they are
charged to help forward the progress of humanity, of peoples, or of individuals, within a range of ideas
more or less extensive, more or less special, to pave the way for certain events, to superintend the
accomplishment of certain things. The missions of some spirits are of narrower scope, and may be said to
be personal, or even
local as the helping of the sick, the dying, the afflicted to watch over those of whom they become the
guides and protectors, and to guide them by their counsels or by the wholesome thoughts they suggest. It
may be said that there are as many sorts of spirit-missions as there are sorts of interests to watch over,
whether In the physical world or in the moral world. And each spirit advances in proportion to the
fidelity with which he accomplishes his task.
570. Do spirits always comprehend the designs they are charged to execute?
"No; some of them are mere blind instruments, but others fully understand the aim they are
working out."
571. Is it only elevated spirits 'who have missions to fulfil?
"The importance of a mission is always proportioned to the capacities and elevation of the
spirit who is charged with it; but the estafette who conveys a despatch fulfils a mission,
though one which is not that of the general."
572. Is a spirit's mission imposed upon him, or does it depend on his own will?
"He asks for it, and is rejoiced to obtain it."
- May the same mission be demanded by several spirits?
"Yes, there are often several candidates for the same mission, but they are not all accepted."
573. In what does the mission of incarnated spirits consists?
"In instructing men, and aiding their advancement; and in ameliorating their institutions by
direct, material means. These missions are more or less general and important; but he who
tills the ground accomplishes a mission as really as he who governs or instructs. Everything
in nature is linked together; and each spirit. while purifying himself by his incarnation,
concurs, under the human form, to the accomplishment of the Providential plans. Each of you
has a mission, because each of you can be useful in some way or other."
574. What can be the mission of those who, in this life, are wilfully idle?
"It is true that there are human beings who live only for them selves, and who do not make
themselves useful in any way. They are much to be pitied, for they will have to expiate their
voluntary inutility by severe sufferings, and their chastisement often begins even in their
present existence, through their weariness and disgust of life."
- Since they had the freedom of choice, why did they choose a life which could not be of any
use to them?
"Among spirits, as among men, there are lazy ones who shrink from a life of labour. God lets
them take their own way; they will learn, by and by, and to their cost, the bad effects of their
uselessness, and will then eagerly demand to be allowed to make up for lost time. It may be,
also, that they had chosen a more useful life; but have subsequently recoiled from the trial,
and allowed themselves to be misled by tile suggestions of spirits who encourage them in
their inactivity."
575. The common occupations of everyday life appear to us to be duties rather than missions,
properly so called. A mission according to the idea we attach to this 'word, is characterised
by au importance less exclusive, and especially less personal. From this point of view, have
can we ascertain that a man has really a mission upon this earth?
"By the greatness of the results he accomplishes, and the progress he causes to be made by his
576. -Are those who have received an important mission predestined thereto before their
birth, and are they aware of it?
"Yes, in some cases; but, more often, they ate not aware of it. They are only vaguely
conscious of an aim in coming upon the earth; their mission reveals itself to them gradually,
after their birth, through the action of circumstances. God leads them on into the road which
they are to take for the accomplishment of His designs."
577. When a man does anything useful, is it always in virtue of an anterior and predestined
mission, or may he receive a mission not previously foreseen?
"Everything a man does is not the result of a predestined mission; he is often the instrument
of a spirit who makes use of him in order to procure the execution of something he considers
useful. For example: -A spirit thinks it would be useful to publish a book which he would
write himself if he were incarnated. He seeks out the writer who will be the fittest to
comprehend and develop his idea; he suggests to him the plan of the work, and directs him in
its execution In such a case, the man did not come into the world with the mission of doing
this work. It is the same in regard to various works of art or scientific discoveries. During the
sleep of his body, the incarnated spirit communicates directly with the spirit in erraticity, and
the two take counsel together for the carrying out of their undertaking."
578. May spirit fail in his mission through his own fault?
"Yes; if he is not of a high degree of elevation."
- What, for him, are the consequences of such a failure?
"He is obliged to begin his task over again; this is his punishment. And, besides, he will have
to undergo the consequences of the mischiefs caused by his failure."
579. Since it is from God that each spirit receives his mission, how can God have entrusted
an important mission, one of general interest, to a spirit capable of failing in its discharge?
"Does not God foresee whether His general will be victorious or vanquished ? Be sure that
He foresees all things, and that the carrying out of His plans, when they are important, is
never confided to those who will leave their work half done. The whole difficulty lies, for
you, in the foreknowledge of the future which God possesses, but which you cannot
580. When a spirit has incarnated himself for the accomplishment of a mission, does he feel
the same anxiety in regard to it as the spirit whose mission has been undertaken as a trial?
"No; for he has the results of experience to guide him."
581. The men who enlighten the human race by their genius have certainly a mission; but
there are among them many who make mistakes, and who, along 'with important truths,
spread abroad serious errors. In what way should we regard their mission?
"As having been falsified by themselves. They are unequal to the task they have undertaken.
In judging of them, however, you must take into account the circumstances in which they
have been placed. Men of genius have had to speak according to their time; and teachings
which appear erroneous or puerile, in the light of a later epoch, may have been sufficient for
the epoch at which they were given."
582. Can paternity be considered a mission?
"It is undeniably a mission; and also a most serious duty, the responsibilities of which will
exercise a more important influence upon his future than a man is apt to suppose. God has
placed the child under the tutelage of his parents, in order that they should direct his steps into
the path of rectitude; and he has facilitated their task by giving to the child a frail and delicate
organisation, that renders him. accessible to new impressions. But there are many parents
who take more pains to train the trees in their gardens, and to make them bring forth a large
crop of fine fruit,
than to train the character of their child. If the latter succumbs through their fault, they will
bear the punishment of their unfaithfulness; and the sufferings of the child in a future life will
come home to them, because they have not done their part towards helping him forward on
the road to happiness."
583. If a child goes wrong, notwithstanding the care of his parents, are they responsible?
"No; but the more vicious the disposition of the child, and the heavier their task, the greater
will be their reward if they succeed in drawing him away from the evil road."
- If a child becomes a good man, despite the negligence or bad example of his parents, do the
latter obtain any benefit therefrom?
"God is just."
584. What can be the mission of the conqueror 'whose only aim is the satisfaction of his
ambition, and who, in order to attain that end, does not shrink from inflicting the calamities
he brings in his train?
"He is generally only an instrument used by God for the accomplishment of His designs; and
these calamities are sometimes a means of making a people advance more rapidly."
- The good that may result from these passing calamities is foreign to him who has been the
instrument in producing them, since he had only proposed to himself a personal aim; 'will he,
nevertheless, profit by that result?
"Each is rewarded according to his works, the good he has 'wished to 4o, and the uprightness
of his intentions."
Spirits, while incarnated, have occupations inherent in the nature of their corporeal existence. In the state
of erraticity, or of dematerialisation, their occupations are proportioned to their degree of advancement.
Some of them journey from world to world, acquiring instruction, and preparing for a new incarnation.
Others, more advanced, devote themselves to the cause of progress by directing the course of events, and
suggesting propitious ideas they assist the men of genius who help forward the advancement of the human
Others incarnate themselves again with a mission of progress.
Others take under their care individuals, families, societies, cities, countries, and peoples, and become
their guardian-angels, protecting genie, and familiar spirits.
Others, again, preside over the phenomena of nature, of which they are the immediate agents.
The great mass of spirits of lower rank busy themselves with our occupations, and take part in our
Impure and imperfect spirits await, in sufferings and anguish, the moment when it shall please God to
furnish them with the means of advancing. If they do harm, it is through spite against the happiness
which they are not yet able to share.

click here the continuation

THE SPIRITS’ BOOK by ALLAN KARDEC (Spirituality, New-Age - Editions, Livres)    -    Author : Melanie - Canada

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Zen-Blogs >> Spirituality, New-Age >> Blog #51