JUST THE FAQs
THEORY OF PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS
SPONTANEOUS PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS
BI-CORPOREITY AND TRANSFIGURATION
LABORATORY OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD
FORMATION OF MEDIUMS
DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS OF MEDIANIMITY
ACTION OF THE MEDIUM IN THE OBTAINING OF SPIRIT MANIFESTATIONS
MENTAL AND MORAL INFLUENCE OF THE MEDIUM
INFLUENCE OF SURROUNDINGS ON SPIRIT-MANIFESTATIONS
THEORY OF PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS.
Movements and liftings - Sounds - Temporary increase and decrease of the weight of bodies.
72. The existence of spirits being proved by reasoning and by facts, as well as their power of acting upon matter, we have now to ascertain the way in which this power operates, and the means by which spirits move tables and other inert bodies. In regard to these points, a supposition presented itself spontaneously to our own mind, and we held it for a time; but, as it was combated by spirits, who gave us an explanation of the matter altogether different from the one which had occurred to us, it is evident that this explanation was not of our inventing. The idea that had first occurred to us may probably have occurred to many others also; as for the explanation given by the spirits, we do not think it would ever have come into the head of any human being. It will easily be seen how very superior it is to our own idea, although not so simple, because it explains a vast number of other facts which could not have been satisfactorily explained by our own idea.
73. When we had arrived at a knowledge of the nature of spirits, of their human form, of the semi-material properties of the perispirit, and of the mechanical action that the perispirit can exercise over matter, - when we had seen their fluidic hands, often as tangible as human ones, taking hold of various objects, and Carrying them about, it was only natural to infer from all this that the spirit simply made use of its hands when it turned a table, and that it raised a table into the air by the action of its arms. But if so, where was the need of a medium? could not the spirit act alone? The medium, as we know, often places his hands the wrong way to help the movement, and sometimes does not even put them on the table at all; he therefore cannot assist the spirit by any muscular action. How was this difficulty to be explained? We will let this question be answered by the spirits whom we have interrogated in regard to it.
74. The following replies were given by the spirit of Saint Louis; they have since been confirmed by many others:
1. Is the universal fluid an emanation of the Divinity?
2. Is it a creation of the Divinity?
"All is created, except God."
3. Is the universal fluid the universal element?
"Yes, it is the elementary principle of all things."
4. Has it any relation to the electric fluid, the effects of which we know?
"It is its element."
5. What is the state in which the universal fluid presents itself to us in its greatest simplicity?
"To find it in its absolute simplicity, we must trace it up to the spirits who are completely purified; in your world it is always more or less modified for the formation of the compact matter which encompasses you; but what you call the animal-magnetic fluid is the universal fluid in the simplest state in which it can be known to you."
6. It has been said that the universal fluid is the source of life; is it also the source of intelligence?
No; this fluid only vitalizes matter."
7. The fluid of which the perispirit is composed appears to exist, in connection with our earth, in a state of condensation which identifies it, up to a certain point, with matter," properly so called. Is it so?
"Yes but only, as you say, up to a certain point; for it has not all the properties of matter; it is more or less condensed, according to the nature of each world."
8. How does a spirit effect the movement of a solid body?
"He combines a portion of the universal fluid with the fluid which is thrown off to this end by the medium."
9. Do spirits raise tables with the aid of their limbs rendered solid by some process known to them?
"Our answer to this question will not give you the confirmation you are wishing for. When a table moves under your hands, the spirit who is acting upon it draws from the universal fluid the means of vitalizing this table with artificial life. The table being thus prepared, the spirit attracts it, and moves it, under the influence of his own fluid, thrown off by an exertion of his will. When the mass which he desires to move is too heavy for the spirit, he calls to his aid other spirits, of the same degree as himself; On account of his ethereal nature, a spirit cannot act upon gross matter without an intermediary, that is to say, without the link which unites spirit to matter; this link, which is what you call the perispirit, gives you the key to all the materialized spirit-phenomena. I think I have expressed myself clearly enough to be understood."Remark. - We would call attention to tills first phrase: -"Our answer to this question will not give you the confirmation you are wishing for." The spirit evidently understood what we were driving at, and that all our previous questions had been put in order to lead up to it. He therefore alluded to our thought, which, in fact, anticipated an answer very different from the one we got; for, what we had expected was the confirmation of our own idea with regard to the manner in which spirits move tables and other objects.
10. When a spirit calls other spirits to his aid, are they his inferiors?-are they under his orders?
"They are almost always his equals; and they often come of their own accord."
11. Are all spirits capable of producing phenomena of this kind?
"The spirits who produce effects of this kind are always inferior spirits, who are not yet entirely disengaged from material influences."
12. We can understand that superior spirits do not occupy themselves with things beneath them; but we wish to ask, whether, being more dematerialized than the others, they would have the power of producing such effects, if they wished to do so?
"They have moral force, as the others have physical force; when they want the latter, they make use of those who possess it. Have you not been told that they make use of inferior spirits as you make use of porters?"Remark - It has been said that the density of the perispirit, if one may so express it, varies according to the condition of each world but it appears that it also varies, in the same world, according to the state of each individual. In the case of spirits who are advanced morally, it is more subtle, and approaches nearer to that of the higher spirits; with spirits of lower degree, on the contrary, it approaches to the condition of matter, and this is why low spirits retain terrestrial illusions for so long a time. Such spirits think and act just as if they were still in the flesh; they have the same desires, we might almost say, the same sensualities. This grossness of the perispirit, giving it more affinity with matter, renders the inferior spirits more fit for physical manifestations. It is, with spirits, just as it is with a man who, in this world, is accustomed to working with his intellect, and whose body, being therefore more delicate, cannot carry a heavy burden, like a porter. The matter of such a man's body is somewhat less compact, and, his organs having less of the nervous fluid, he has less power of resistance. The perispirit being to the spirit what the body is to the man, and its density being in proportion to the spirit's inferiority, it replaces, in lower spirits, the muscular force possessed by men of corresponding degree; that is to say, it gives them the denser kinds of fluids that are necessary for the physical manifestations, and thus gives them more power to produce such manifestations than is possessed by those whose nature is more ethereal. If an elevated spirit desires to produce effects of this character, he does just what is done, here, by people who are delicate; he gets it done by spirits whose quality fits them for that kind of work.
13. If we have rightly understood what you have told us, the vital principle resides in the universal fluid; the spirit draws from this fluid the semi-material envelope which constitutes his perispirit, and it is by means of this envelope that he acts upon inert matter. Is this so?
"Yes; that is to say, he temporarily vitalizes matter with a kind of factitious life, causing it to live, for a time, as it does in an animal body. When a table moves under your hands, the matter of which it is composed lives, for the time being, as matter lives in a body of flesh; that is to say, it spontaneously obeys the intelligent being who employs it. Intelligent beings do not move matter, as a man moves an object exterior to himself; matter moves of itself; under the impulsion of the intelligent will with which it is associated. So, when the table moves, it is not the spirit who moves it with his arms; it is the temporarily vitalized matter of the table that spontaneously obeys the impulsion communicated to it by the spirit."
14. What part does the medium play in the production of this phenomenon?
"I have told you that the fluid of the medium is combined with the universal fluid accumulated by the spirit. The union of these two fluids, that is to say, of the animalized fluid with the universal fluid, is necessary to give life to the table. But you must remember that this factitious life is only momentary; it ceases with the cessation of the spirit-action which produced it, and often before the cessation of that action, if the supply of fluid becomes insufficient to maintain it."
15. Can a spirit act on matter without the joint action of a medium?
"A spirit can act without the medium being aware of it; many persons serve as auxiliaries to spirits, in certain phenomena, without their suspecting it The spirit draws from them, as from a well, the animalized fluid that he requires; and this is why the concurrence of a medium, as you understand it, is not always necessary, especially in the case of spontaneous phenomena."
16. Does the table act with a knowledge of what it is about?-does it think?
"It no more thinks than does the stick with which you make an intelligent sign; but the vitality with which it is momentarily endowed permits it to obey the impulsion of an intelligence. The table which moves does not turn into a spirit; it has not of itself either thought or will."
17. What is the preponderating cause in the production of these phenomena; is it the spirit or the fluid?
"The spirit is the Cause, the fluid is the instrument; both are necessary."
18. What part does the will of the medium play in this case?
"That of calling the spirits, and seconding them in the impulsion given by them to the fluid."
--Is the action of the medium's will always indispensable?
"It adds to the power of the spirits, but it is not always necessary, for a given movement may be made to take place, against, and in spite of; the medium's will; which is a proof that there is a cause at work that is independent of the medium."Remark. - The contact of hands is not always necessary to make an object move. Such contact is needed, in most cases, to give the first impulsion; but, when once the object is vitalized, it can obey the will without material contact; this depends either on the power of the medium or on the nature of the object. A first contact, even, is not always indispensable; we have proof of this in the spontaneous movements and displacements that occur without any one having thought of obtaining them.
19. How is it that every one cannot produce the same effects, and why have not all mediums the same power?
"That depends on the Organization, and on the greater or less facility with which the combination of fluids can be effected; moreover, the spirit of the medium sympathizes sometimes more, sometimes less, with the disincarnate spirits, who do, or do not, find in him the necessary fluidic power. It is with this fluid as with that of magnetizers; it is more or less powerful. There are persons whose animalized fluids are, in this respect, absolutely refractile; with others, the combination is only effected by an effort of their will; while there are others, again, with whom the combination takes place naturally, and so easily that they are not even aware of it, and who thus serve as mediums without knowing it, as we have already said."Remark. - Magnetism is undoubtedly the principle of spirit-phenomena, but not in the way generally supposed; for there are very powerful magnetizers who cannot move the smallest table, while there are persons, and even children, who cannot magnetize, and who yet, by only placing their fingers upon a heavy table, can make it move and therefore, as the medianimic power is not always proportioned to the magnetic power, it is evident that some other condition is required for the production of the phenomena.
20. Are persons who are called "electrical" to be regarded as mediums?
"Those persons draw to themselves the fluid necessary for the production of the phenomena, and are able to act without extraneous help. They are, therefore, not mediums, in the sense you attach to the word; but it is quite possible that a spirit may also assist them, and make use of their natural idiosyncrasy."Remark. - It would seem to be with persons of this description as with somnambulists, who can act with or without the assistance of spirits.
21. Is the spirit who acts on solid bodies, when he moves them, inside or outside their substance?
"He may be in or out of it; we have told you that matter is no obstacle to spirits; they penetrate everything; a portion of their perispirit identifies itself; so to say, with the object it penetrates."
22. How does a spirit manage to rap? does he make use of a material object?
"No more than he makes use of his arms to move a table. You are well aware that he has no hammer at his disposal. His tool is the combined fluid put in action by his will, whether he moves an object, or whether he raps upon it. When he moves a body, the light shows you the movements; when he raps, the air conveys to you the sound."
23. We can understand that it may be so, when he raps on a hard body; but how does he cause us to hear raps, or even articulate sounds, in the air?
"Since he can act on matter, he can act upon the air as well as upon a table. As to articulate sounds, he can imitate them like other sounds."
24. You tell us that a spirit does not make use of his hands in moving a table; nevertheless, in certain visual manifestations, we have seen hands appear, the fingers of which ran over the keyboard of a musical instrument, struck the keys, and produced audible sounds. Was there not, in such cases, every appearance of the movement of the keys being produced by the pressure of the fingers? - Is not this pressure as direct and as real as when we feel these fingers upon ourselves, and when these hands actually leave their impress on our skin?
"You cannot comprehend the nature of spirits, and their manner of acting, except by comparisons which give you but an incomplete idea of them; and you are wrong to be always wanting to assimilate their ways of proceeding with yours. Spirits can only work in the way that is in keeping with their organization. Have we not told you that the fluid of the perispirit penetrates matter and identifies itself with the matter it penetrates, vitalizing it, for the time being, with a factitious life? Well when the spirit places his fingers on the keys, he really places them there, and what is more, he moves them; but it is by no muscular force that he presses on the key; he vitalizes the key, as he vitalizes the table, and the key obeys his will, moves itself, and strikes the string. And there is, yet further, in some cases of this kind, something to be remarked which you will find it difficult to understand, viz., that there are spirits so little advanced, and so material, as compared with elevated spirits, that they still retain the illusions of terrestrial life, and imagine themselves to be acting as they did when in the body. They no more understand the real cause of the effects which they themselves produce, than the peasant understands the laws of acoustics by which he articulates. If you ask such spirits how they play on the piano, they will tell you that they strike it with their fingers, because they suppose themselves to do so; the effect is produced by them instinctively, without their knowing how, and yet it is really produced by an action of their will. When they cause you to hear words pronounced, they do it in the same way."Remark. - From these explanations it appears that spirits can produce all the effects that we ourselves can produce, but that they do so by the use of means appropriate to their organization. Certain forces, peculiar to themselves, replace the muscles which are necessary to us in our manipulations; just as, with the dumb man, a gesture replaces the words which he is unable to articulate.
25. Among the phenomena adduced as proofs of occult power, there are some which are evidently contrary to all the known laws of nature; does not doubt appear to be reasonable in regard to such?
"Man is far from knowing all the laws of nature; if he knew them all, he would be superior to humanity. Every day disproves the pretensions of those who, believing they know everything, would assign limits to nature; and yet they remain as much puffed up as ever. By incessantly unveiling new mysteries, God warns man to distrust his own acquirements; for a day will come when the science of the most learned will be confounded. Have you not constantly before your eyes examples of bodies propelled by an impulsion capable of counteracting the force of gravity? - Does not a bullet, fired into the air, momentarily surmount that force? Poor human beings, who think yourselves so very wise, but whose absurd vanity is upset every instant, try to understand that you are, as yet, but very ignorant little creatures!"
SPONTANEOUS PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS. [Poltergeists]
"Where is the medium in the cases just referred to?" - Spirits have told us that, even in these cases, there is always some one whom the unseen agent makes use of, with, or without, his knowledge. Spontaneous manifestations very rarely occur in isolated places; it is almost always in inhabited houses that such things take place, and through the unconscious mediumship of some one present, whose influence aids their production, without his desiring to do so. Such persons are unmistakably mediums, although themselves unaware of their power, and may therefore be called natural mediums. They are, in comparison with other mediums, what natural somnambulists are to magnetic somnambulists, and offer quite as curious a subject of study.
93. The voluntary or involuntary intervention of a person endowed with a special aptitude for the production of these phenomena appears to be necessary in the greater number of cases, although cases occur in which the spirit appears to act alone; but even then, it is quite possible that he may draw the animalized fluid from some other source than the persons present: a possibility which explains why it is that spirits, though incessantly around us, do not always exert a perturbing action. To do this, it is necessary, first, that the spirit should will it, and, secondly, that he should have some motive for doing it; otherwise, he does nothing. It is also necessary for him to find, precisely in the place where he wishes to act, the person or persons fitted to second his action; a coincidence of comparatively rare occurrence. If an available person enters unexpectedly, the spirit may profit by the opportunity thus afforded; or, in spite of the concurrence of favorable circumstances, he may be prevented from acting by some superior will, which does not permit him to act as he wishes. He may be only permitted to act under certain limitations, and in a case in which the manifestations he wishes to produce would be useful, either as a means of conviction, or as a test for the person who is the object of them.
94. We will only quote, in illustration of the foregoing
Remarks, a conversation in reference to the occurrences in the rue des Noyers, in Paris, in June 1860.
1. (Question addressed to Saint Louis.) Will you have the kindness to tell us if the facts reported to have taken place in the rue des Noyers really took place? We have no doubt as to their possibility.
"Yes, they really occurred; the popular imagination exaggerates them, but they were really the work of a spirit who likes to amuse himself at the expense of the inhabitants of the house in question."
2. Is there any one in the house who is the cause of these manifestations?
"Such manifestations are always caused by the presence of the person attacked; they arise from the ill-will of the perturbing spirit towards an inhabitant of the place to which he comes; and his object is to annoy him, and to drive him out of the house."
3. We would ask if, among the people of the house, there is some one who causes these phenomena by a spontaneous, involuntary, medianimic influence?
"Without such an influence, these occurrences could not have taken place. A spirit dwells in a place for which he has a predilection; he remains passive, as long as there is in it no one fitted to be used as a medium; but if such a person comes thither, he uses his medianimity as much as he can."
4. Is the presence of such a person at the very place itself indispensable?
"It is so usually, and such is the case in the present instance; this is why I said that, without the presence of such a person, the occurrences could not have taken place. But it was not lily object to generalize; there are cases in which the immediate presence of a medium is not necessary."
5. Uproarious spirits being always of an inferior order, is the aptitude for serving as their auxiliary a presumption of inferiority on the part of the person they use as a medium, and does it show his sympathy with the beings who thus use him?
"No; not precisely so; for this aptitude results from a physical disposition nevertheless, it sometimes implies, on the part of the medium, a physical tendency from which he should endeavor to free himself. The more elevated you are morally, the higher are the spirits you attract; and these necessarily keep off the lower ones."
6. Where does the spirit find the projectiles he makes use of?
"The different objects thus employed are generally taken from the spot where the manifestations occur, or in its neighborhood; a force proceeding from the spirit impels them into the air, and they fall into the place designed by him."
7. Since these spontaneous manifestations are often permitted, and even ordered, with a view to convincing the incredulous, it appears to us that, if the latter were themselves the objects of these phenomena, they would be compelled to yield to the evidence of their own perceptions. They sometimes complain that they cannot get hold of conclusive facts is it not in the power of spirits to give such persons some proof that they could not deny?
"Do not atheists and materialists witness, every moment, the effects of the power of God and of thought? But does this hinder them from denying both God and the soul? Did the miracles of Jesus convert all his contemporaries? Do not those who, in your time, ask you to let them see some manifestations, too often resemble the Pharisees who said 'Master, show us a sign'? Those who are not convinced, by the wonders of the creation, of the existence of beings superior to man, would hardly be induced to admit the existence of spirits, even if the latter should appear to them in ways the most convincing. Opportunities of seeing are always to be found by those who seek for them with honesty and sincerity. Incredulity cannot hinder the accomplishment of the Providential purposes; it will not hinder the development of the spiritist movement. Do not trouble yourself about opposition, which is, to the truth, what shadow is to the picture, giving it a higher relief."
8. Do you think it would be of any use to evoke this spirit, so that we might ask him some questions?
"Evoke him if you will; but he is a spirit of low degree, who will not be able to give you much information."
VISUAL MANIFESTATIONS. Apparitions - Theoretic explanations of apparitions - Theory of hallucination.
100. Of all spirit-manifestations the most interesting, without doubt, are those by which spirits are those by which spirits are able to render themselves visible. We shall see, by the explanation of these phenomena, that there is nothing supernatural in them, any more than in the others; but we will first introduce the answers that have been given to us by spirits on this subject.
1. Can spirits render themselves visible?
" Yes, especially when you are asleep; but there are who see them while awake, though is less common. "Remark. - While the body reposes, the spirit disengages itself from its material bonds; it is then more free, and can more easily see other spirits, with whom it enters into communication. A dream is only a reminiscence of this state; when we remember nothing, we say we have had no dream, but the soul has none the less had its eyes open, and enjoyed its liberty. We shall here treat especially of apparitions seen while the seer is awake.
2. Do spirits who manifest themselves to the sight belong to one class rather than another?
"No, they belong to all classes, the highest as well as the lowest."
3. Have all spirits the power of manifesting themselves visibly?
"Yes, but they have not always the permission or the wish to do so."
4. When spirits thus manifest themselves, what is their object?
"That depends upon their nature; their object may be good or bad."
5. What! do you assert that permission may be given when their object is a bad one?
"In such cases the apparition is permitted as a trial for those to whom it appears. The intention of the spirit may be bad, but the result may be useful."
6. What can be the object of spirits in showing themselves when their intentions are evil?
"The desire to frighten, or sometimes to take revenge."
-- What is the object of spirits who come with good intentions?
"To console those who regret them; to prove that they still exist, and are still near you; to give good counsels; and sometimes to ask help for themselves."
7. What harm would there be, if the possibility of seeing spirits were permanent and general? Would not this be a means of removing doubts from the minds of the most incredulous?
"Men being constantly environed by spirits, the incessant view of the latter would trouble them, would put them out in their work, and would take from them, in most cases, their freedom of action; thinking themselves alone, men act more freely. As to the incredulous, they have means enough of conviction, if they would but profit by them. You know that there are people who have seen, and yet who do not believe any the more on that account, for they speak of what they have seen as illusions. Do not vex yourselves about such people; God has them in His keeping."Remark. - It would be as inconvenient to find oneself incessantly in the presence of spirits, as to see the air which environs us, or the myriads of microscopic animals around us and upon us. Hence we may conclude that what God does is well done, and that He knows what is good for us, better than we do.
8. If there be inconvenience in seeing spirits, why is it permitted in some cases?
"It is to give you proof that all does not die with the body, and that the soul preserves its individuality after death. The passing glimpse thus afforded is enough to give this proof, and to attest the presence of friends near you, but is attended with no permanent inconvenience."
9. Is the view of spirits more frequent in worlds which are more advanced than this is?
"The nearer man approaches to the spiritual nature, the more easily he enters into conscious relationship with spirits; it is the grossness of your envelope which renders the perception of ethereal beings rare and difficult."
10. Is it reasonable to be frightened at the apparition of a spirit?
"Any one who reflects must see that a spirit, whatever it may be, is less dangerous than a person in the flesh. Spirits go about everywhere; and there is no need of seeing them, to know that you have them at your elbow. If a spirit wishes to hart you, he can do so without showing himself, and with greater certainty when unseen; he is not dangerous because he is a spirit, but he may be so through the subtle influence that he is able to exercise over your thoughts, in turning you from the right path, and urging you to evil."Remark. - Persons who are afraid when alone, or in the dark, rarely understand the cause of their fear they could not tell you what they are afraid of, but, most assuredly, there is more to be feared in meeting with men than with spirits, for a malefactor is more dangerous while in the flesh than after his death. A lady of our acquaintance, saw, one evening, in her bedroom, an apparition so lifelike that she thought somebody had entered the room, and her first feeling was one of fear. Having ascertained that no one in the flesh was in the room, she said to herself: "It seems that it was only a spirit: so I can sleep in peace."
11. Can a person to whom a spirit appears enter into conversation with him?
"Certainly, and, moreover, this is what you should always do under such circumstances. You should ask the spirit who he is, what he wants, and what you can do to be of service to him. If the spirit is unhappy and suffering, he will be soothed by your commiseration; if he is a kindly spirit, he may have come with the intention of giving you good counsel."
-- How, in such a case, can the spirit answer?
"Sometimes he answers by articulate sounds, like a living person, but, more frequently, there is transmission of thought."
12. When spirits appear with wings, have they wings in reality, or are these wings only a symbolic representation?
"Spirits have no wings; they have no need of them, because, from their spiritual capabilities, they are able to transport themselves everywhere. They assume any appearance they choose, according to the effect they desire to produce on the person to whom they show themselves. Sometimes they appear in ordinary clothing; sometimes enveloped in flowing drapery; sometimes with wings, etc., as attributes of the category of spirits which they represent."
13. Are the persons we see in dreams always those whom they seem to be by their appearance?
"They are almost always the very persons whom your spirit has been to see, or who come to find you, during your sleep."
14. Could not mocking spirits assume the appearance of persons who are dear to us, and so lead us astray?
"They may assume fantastic appearances, to amuse themselves at your expense; but there are some things that they are not permitted to meddle with."
15. Thought itself being a kind of evocation, we can well understand that it may induce the presence of a spirit; but why does it so frequently happen that the people of whom we think most often, and whom we most ardently desire to see again, never appear to us in our dreams, while, on the contrary, we constantly see people who are indifferent to us, and whom we never think of?
"Spirits have not always the power to manifest themselves to your view, even in a dream, notwithstanding your desire to see them; causes which are independent of their will may prevent their doing so. Moreover, this often occurs as a trial, which your most ardent desire is powerless to escape. As to persons whom you regard with indifference, although, you do not think of them, it is quite possible that they may think you. Besides, you can form no idea of the relations of the world of spirits; you meet there with a host of acquaintances, old and new, of whom you have no remembrance during your waking hours."Remark. - When there is no confirmation of visions or apparitions, we may fairly set them down as hallucinations; but, when they are confirmed by events, we cannot attribute them to imagination. Such are, for example, the apparitions so often seen, sometimes in a dream, sometimes in the waking state, of persons of whom we had not been thinking, and who come at the moment of their death, to show us, by various signs, the circumstances of their decease, of which we had no previous idea. Horses have been often found to rear, and refuse to on, in the presence of apparitions which frightened their riders also. If imagination counts for something in the human subject, we can hardly suppose horses to be troubled by it. Again, if the images that we see in dreams were always the reflex of the preoccupations of our waking hours, it would not explain the fact, that we often never dream at all of what we think of most frequently while awake.
16. Why do certain kinds of visions occur most frequently during illness?
"They occur as frequently in perfect health; but the material bonds are relaxed during illness, when the weakness of the body leaves the spirit more free; so that it then enters more easily into communication with other spirits.
17. Spontaneous apparitions appear to be more frequent in some countries than in others. Is it that some races are better endowed than others for receiving this kind of manifestation?
"Apparitions, noises, all kinds of manifestations, in short, occur equally, all over the earth; but they present distinctive characteristics according to the peoples among whom they occur. Among those nations, for example, where writing is in little use, you will not find writing mediums; elsewhere, they abound. Again, noises and movements of objects are more frequent than intelligent communications, because these last are least esteemed, and least sought after."
18. How is it that apparitions generally take place during the night? -- Is it owing to the effect of silence and darkness on the imagination?
"It is for the same reason that you see stars during the night, and do not see them during the day. A strong light effaces an apparition of slight force, but it is an error to suppose that night has anything to do with the matter. Interrogate those who have seen apparitions, and you will find that the greater number of them have occurred during the day."Remark. Apparitions are much more frequent and more general than is usually supposed; but many persons do not speak of them from fear of ridicule, while others attribute them to illusion. If facts of this nature appear to be more common among certain peoples, it is because these facts, true or false, are more carefully recorded in the traditions of those peoples, multiplied, as well as amplified, by the taste for the marvelous to which certain localities are more or less predisposed by their aspect, and other natural conditions; the credulity of the inhabitants dressing up the commonest occurrences in the garb of the supernatural. The silence of sparsely-peopled regions, the abruptness of ravines, the moaning of the wind through the trees, the roar of the tempest, mountain echoes, the fantastic shapes of clouds, shadows, mirages, all tend to excite illusions in the minds of the rude and the unlettered, who recount, with entire belief, what they have seen, or fancy they have seen. But side by side with fiction, is a reality; the establishing of the latter, freed from the puerile and debasing accessories added by the former, is one of the most important results of the serious study of spiritist doctrine.
19. Does the seeing of spirits take place in the normal state or only in the ecstatic state?
"It may take place under perfectly normal conditions; nevertheless, people who see them are often in a peculiar state, bordering on trance, which gives them a kind of second-sight."
20. Do those persons who see spirits see them with their eyes?
"They think they do; but, in reality, it is their soul that sees, for they can see them with their eyes shut."
21. How does a spirit make himself visible?
"As in all other manifestations, by employing certain properties of the perispirit, which may be made to undergo a variety of modifications, at the will of the spirit."
22. Can that which is the spirit himself be made visible, or can it only be manifested by the perispirit?
"To you, in your materialized state, spirits can only manifest themselves with the aid of their semi-material envelope, which is the intermediary that enables them to act on your senses. It is with this envelope that they sometimes appear to you under the human form or any other; whether in your dreams or in your waking state, whether in the light or in the dark."
23. Is it by the condensation of the fluid of the perispirit that the spirit renders himself visible?
"Condensation is not the right word, but rather a term of comparison which may aid you to form an approximate idea of the phenomenon; for, there is, in reality, no condensation. The combination of fluids produces, in the perispirit, a peculiar condition, to which nothing in your experience offers any analogy, and which renders it perceptible by you."
24. Are the spirits who appear to us inaccessible to the touch; could they not be laid hold of?
"When in their normal state, you could no more seize them than you could seize a shadow: but, they can, nevertheless, make themselves felt by your sense of touch, and leave traces of their presence. They can even, in certain cases, render themselves tangible for a short time; which proves that there is something material in common between them and you."
25. Are all persons so constituted as to be able to see spirits?
"Yes, during sleep; but not in the waking state. In sleep, the soul sees without any intermediary; while you are awake, it is always influenced more or less by your organs. This is why the conditions are not quite the same when you are awake as when you are asleep."
26. Whence comes the faculty of seeing spirits while we are awake?
"That faculty depends on the organization, and on the greater or less degree of facility with which the fluid of the seer combines with that of the spirit. It is, therefore, not sufficient for the spirit to desire to manifest himself; it is also necessary that he should find the requisite aptitude in the person by whom he wishes to be seen."
-- Can this faculty be developed by exercise?
"Yes, like all other faculties; but it is one of those of which it is well to await the natural development, for fear of Over-exciting the imagination. A general and permanent sight of spirits is exceptional, and does not appertain to the normal state of humanity."
27. Is it possible to obtain the apparition of a spirit by summoning him to appear?
"Sometimes, but very rarely; apparitions are almost always spontaneous. To evoke with authority, you must be endowed with a special faculty."
28. Can spirits render themselves visible under any other than the human form?
"The human form is the normal form; a spirit can vary the appearance of this form, but it is always the human type."
-- Cannot they manifest themselves under the appearance of a flame?
"They can produce flames and lights, as they can any other appearances, in order to attest their presence; but these appearances are not the spirits themselves. A flame is often only a mirage, or an emanation of the perispirit, of which, in all such cases, it is only a part: the perispirit only appears, in its entirety, in visions."
29. What are we to think of the idea which attributes the Will-o'-the-Wisp to the presence of souls or spirits?
"Such an idea is mere superstition; the result of ignorance. The physical cause of the Will-o'-the-Wisp is well known."
-- Was the blue flame, said to have been seen on the head of Servius Tullius, when a child, a fable or a reality?
"It was a reality, produced by a familiar spirit who desired to warn his mother. The mother, a seeing medium, perceived the radiation of her child's spirit guide. All seeing mediums do not see with the same degree of Vision, just as your writing mediums do not all write the same thing. While this mother saw only a flame, another medium might have seen the spirit's body."
30. Could spirits present themselves under the form of animals?
"That may happen but it is only very inferior spirits who assume such a form. It could not, in any case, be more than a momentary appearance: for it would be absurd to believe that any veritable animal could be the incarnation of a spirit. Animals are always animals and nothing else."Remark. - Superstition alone could suggest the idea that certain animals are animated by spirits. Only a very gullible or moonstruck, imagination could see anything supernatural in the peculiarities sometimes displayed by animals; but fear often makes people see things that have no real existence. Fear, however, is not the only source of this idea we knew a lady, a very intelligent person in other respects, who had an unbounded affection for a large black cat, because she believed it to be of a superanimal nature. This lady had never heard of spiritism; if she had known anything of it, she would have known that such a metamorphosis is impossible.
BI-CORPOREITY AND TRANSFIGURATION. [BILOCATION]
119. But to return to our subject. The spirit of a person in the flesh, when partially disengaged from the body, can show himself just as well as that of one who has departed this life, and with all the appearance of reality; and may even, through the means already described, acquire a momentary tangibility. This is the phenomenon designated as bi-corporeity, which has given rise to the stories of doubles, that is to say, of individuals who have been proved to have been simultaneously present in two different places. Here are two examples of this fact, taken, not from mere popular legends, but from ecclesiastical history.
Saint Alfonso of Liguori was canonized before the lapse of the usual period after his death, because he was seen simultaneously in two different places, which was accounted a miracle. When Saint Antony of Padua was in Spain, and while he was one day preaching, his father, who was at Padua, was being led to death, having bee accused of murder. At the moment when he was about to be executed, Saint Antony appeared, proved his father to be innocent, and pointed out the real criminal, who underwent the punishment of his crime. It was subsequently ascertained that, at this time, Saint Antony had not quitted Spain. Saint Alfonso, having been evoked by us, for interrogation in regard to these occurrences, the following conversation took place between us: -
1. Can you give us an explanation of this phenomenon?
"Yes; a man who, as the result of his moral advancement, has attained to a certain degree of dematerialization, can show himself in a place other than that in which his body is, and by the following means. Finding sleep to be stealing upon him, he asks of God that his spirit may be enabled to transport itself to a given place. If his request is granted, his spirit abandons his fleshly body, as soon as the latter falls asleep, and, accompanied by a part of his perispirit, leaves the gross material body in a state closely bordering on death. I say bordering on death, because there still remains in the body a link which cannot be defined, but which keeps up its union with the perispirit and the soul. The perispirit then appears in the place where the spirit desires to show himself."
2. Your statement does not explain our question, as regards the visibility and the tangibility of the perispirit.
"The spirit, finding himself disengaged from the bonds of matter, according to his degree of elevation, can render himself tangible by a special action on matter."
3. Is the sleep of the body indispensable, in order that the spirit may appear in another place?
"The soul can divide itself when it feels itself attracted to a place, other than that in which its body is. It may happen that the body is not asleep when this takes place, though that is a very rare occurrence; but, on such occasions, the body is never in a perfectly normal state, it is always more or less entranced."Remark. - The soul does not "divide itself" in the literal sense of those words; it radiates in different directions, and can thus manifest itself on several points without being divided, just as a light can be simultaneously reflected in several mirrors.
4. How would it be if a man, whose spirit is appearing elsewhere while his body is asleep, were suddenly awakened?
"That could not happen, because, if any one approached his body, with the intention of awaking it, the spirit would re-enter it, before the intention could be executed; for the spirit would read the thoughts of the intending disturber."Remark. - The same explanation has repeatedly been given to us, by the spirits of persons deceased as well as living. Saint Alfonso explains the fact of the double presence; but he does not give us the theory of visibility and of tangibility.
LABORATORY OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
127. Direct writing, or pneumatography, is that which is produced spontaneously, that is to say, without the help of the medium's hand, or a pencil. It is enough to provide a clean sheet of paper (which can be done with all due precautions, so as to assure ourselves that we have not been made the victims of trickery), to fold it up, and to put it into a drawer, or upon a table; after which, if conditions are favorable, we find, and perhaps in a very short time, various signs, letters, and even long communications, traced upon the paper, usually with some black or gray substance having the appearance of lead or crayon, sometimes as though traced with a red pencil, and sometimes, again, as though written with common ink or even with printer's ink. When a pencil is placed with the paper, we may suppose that the spirit has used it for writing; but when the paper only is left, without anything else, it is evident that the writing is done with some sort of material produced by the spirits themselves; but where do the spirits find that material? To this question, the snuff-box above-mentioned was the means of procuring for us an answer which appears to us to be conclusive.
128. It was the spirit of Saint-Louis who gave us, in reference to this problem, the solution referred to, and which is embodied in the following dialogue: -
1. We have laid before you the case of an apparition of the spirit of a person in the flesh. This spirit carried a snuff-box and took snuff; did he feel the sensation which we should feel in this act?
2. This snuff-box looked exactly like the one which he habitually used; but that real snuff-box was in his house. What was the snuffbox seen in his hand?
"An appearance; it was made to occur, in order both that the circumstance might be remarked, as, in fact, was the case, and also that the apparition might not be taken for an hallucination produced by the ill-health of the seer. The spirit desired that the lady should be convinced of the reality of his presence; he therefore assumed all the appearances of reality."
3. You say it was an appearance; but there is nothing real in an appearance, which is a sort of optical illusion. What we want to know is whether this snuffbox was only an image without reality, or whether there was not something of materiality in its nature?
"Certainly there was something material in its nature; it is by the aid of this materiality that the perispirit takes on the appearance of clothes like those which the spirit wore while on earth."Remark - It is evident that we must here understand the word "appearance" in the sense of aspect, or imitation. The snuffbox in its reality was not there; what the spirit held in his hand was only its representative; it was therefore an appearance as compared with the original, although formed of a sort of matter. Experience teaches us not to take too literally every expression employed by spirits. By interpreting their expressions according to our own ideas, we run the risk of falling into serious errors; and we should therefore endeavor to ascertain the real meaning of their words, whenever these present the least ambiguity, as the spirits themselves constantly recommend us to do. For instance, without the explanation just given, the word appearance, frequently recurring in analogous cases, might give rise to false interpretations.
4. Can it be that inert matter has its "double?" Can it be that, in the invisible world, there is an essential matter which assumes the forms of the objects of our world? in other words, have the objects of the terrestrial world their ethereal counterparts in the invisible world, as spirits are the counterparts of men?
"That is not the case. A spirit exerts, over the material elements everywhere disseminated through space and in your atmosphere, a power such as you are far from suspecting. He can, by his will, concentrate those elements, and give them the apparent form required for his projects."Remark. - The foregoing question, as will have been seen, was the translation of our own thought, that is to say, of the idea that we had formed in regard to the nature of those objects. If the answer had been, as some may surmise, the reflection of our own thought, we should have received the confirmation of our own supposition, instead of receiving an explanation altogether contrary to the one which we had imagined.
5. We repeat our question, categorically, to avoid all ambiguity, and we again ask you: -- Are the clothes, worn by spirits, something real?
"It appears to me that my previous answer replies to your question. Do you not know that the perispirit itself is something real?"
6. Your explanation seems to imply that spirits transform ethereal matter at pleasure, and that, consequently, with regard to the snuffbox, for example, the spirit did not find it ready made, but made it himself, at the moment when he wanted it, by an act of his will, and that he was able, afterwards, to unmake it. It must therefore be the same in regard to all other objects seen with spirits, whether clothes, jewels, or what not.
7. The snuffbox in question was visible for the lady, and so plainly as to make her think it real. Could the spirit have made it tangible for her?
"He could have done so."
8. Could the lady have taken the box in her hands, and, in that case, would it still have appeared to her to be a real snuffbox?
9. If she had opened it, she would probably have found snuff there; if she had taken a pinch, would it have made her sneeze?
10. A spirit, then, cannot only produce a form, but can give to that form the special properties of the object thus imitated?
"Yes, if he so wills it; it was in virtue of this principle that I gave affirmative replies to your preceding questions. You will have abundant proofs of the powerful action exercised by spirit over matter; proofs such as you little imagine at present, as I have already told you."
11. If a spirit had compounded a poisonous substance, and some human being should swallow it, would the latter be poisoned?
"Such a compound could be made; but no spirit could make it, for he would not be permitted to do so."
12. Could he fabricate a substance that would be beneficial to health, and capable of curing a malady? has such a thing ever been done?
"Yes, very often."
13. If so, he could, no doubt, as easily fabricate all alimentary substance; suppose he made some fruit, or any other article of food, would it appease a man's hunger if he ate it?
"Yes, yes; but do not try so hard to find out what it is so easy to understand. A ray of sunlight suffices to enable your gross organs to perceive the material particles which fill the space in the midst of which you live. Do you not know that the air contains the vapor of water? Condense that vapor, and you bring it back to its normal state of water; deprive it of heat, and do! the impalpable and invisible molecules of that vapor have been changed into a solid body; and how many other substances are there, from which chemists will produce marvels even more astonishing! But spirits possess instruments more perfect than yours, viz., their will, and the Divine permission."Remark. - This question of the appeasing of hunger by substances of the character we are considering is very important. If a substance has only temporary existence and properties, and is, so to say, only a sort of pretence, how can it appease the hunger of the material body? This substance, by its contact with the stomach, produces a sensation of satiety, but not the satiety which results from filling the stomach with its natural food. If such a substance can act on the bodily economy so as to modify a morbid state, it can just as well act on the stomach so as to produce the sensation resulting from the satisfaction of appetite. Nevertheless, those whose business it is to provide us with drugs and with dinners need not be jealous of spirit-power, nor imagine that the denizens of the other world are coming into competition with them. Such cases of spirit-action are rare, exceptional, and independent of the human will; otherwise we should really be fed and cured too cheaply.
14. Could objects that have been thus formed by spirits, and rendered tangible by their will, obtain the attributes of permanence and stability, and be made use of by men?
"The thing is possible in itself, but it is never done; it would be an infringement of the laws of natural order in the sphere of human life."
15. Do all spirits possess the power of producing tangible objects in the same degree?
"The higher the spirit, the more easily does he obtain this effect; but it also depends upon circumstances: inferior spirits sometimes have this power."
16. Does a spirit always comprehend the way in which he makes his garments and the other objects he shows us?
"No, he often determines their formation by an instinctive act which, if he is not sufficiently enlightened, he does not understand."
17. If a spirit can draw from the universal element the materials for making all sorts of things, and if he can give to each of those things a temporary reality and peculiar properties, it is evident that he can draw from this element the matter necessary for writing; and your explanations would therefore appear to give us the key to the phenomenon of direct writing: is it so?
"Ah! you've found that out, at last, have you?"Remark. - All our preliminary questions had been put with a view to arriving at the solution just given. The spirit's exclamation proves that he had read our thought.
18. If the matter employed by the spirit be not permanent, how is it that the traces of direct writing do not disappear?
"Do not strain at words; I did not say that spirit-formations are never permanent. I have been speaking of voluminous objects; but writing consists merely of signs that have been traced, and which it may be useful to preserve; and they are accordingly preserved. I meant to say that the objects thus composed by spirits could not become objects of common use, because there is, in them, no real aggregation of matter such as there is in your solid bodies."
129. The explanation just given may be thus summed up: Spirit has the power of acting upon matter. Individual spirits draw, from the universal cosmic matter, the elements necessary to form, according to their wishes, objects having the appearance of the various bodies existing on the earth. They can also, by their will, effect the particular transformation of elementary matter which gives to it certain determinate properties. This faculty is inherent in the nature of spirits, who often exercise it instinctively, when necessary, without being able to explain how they do it. Objects formed by a spirit have only a temporary existence, subordinate to his will, or to the necessity of the case; he can make and unmake them at pleasure. These objects may, in certain cases, be made to present to us all the appearances of reality; that is to say, they may become, for the time being visible and tangible. In such action there is formation, but not creation; for no spirit can evolve something out of nothing.
132. The spontaneous manifestations which have occurred in all times, and the persistence of some spirits in giving ostensible evidence of their presence in certain localities, are the source of the belief in haunted places. The following spirit-answers were elicited by our questions on this subject.
1. Do spirits attach themselves to persons only, or do they also attach themselves to things?
"That depends upon their elevation. Certain spirits may attach themselves to terrestrial objects; misers, for instance, who have hidden their hoards, and who are not sufficiently dematerialized, may still watch over and guard them."
2. Are there any places for which errant spirits have a predilection?
"Spirits who are no longer earth-bound go where they find those whom they love, for they are attracted rather by persons than by material things. Some of them may, for a time, retain a preference for certain places; but those who do so are spirits of inferior advancement."
3. Since the attachment of spirits for localities is a sign of inferiority, is it also a proof that they are evil spirits?
"Assuredly not; a spirit may be but little advanced, and yet not be a bad spirit; is it not so among men?"
4. Is there any foundation for the belief that spirits frequent ruins by preference?
"No; spirits go to such places, just as they go every where else; but the lugubrious aspect of certain places strikes the human imagination, and leads you to attribute, to the presence of spirits, what is often merely a natural effect. How often does fear turn the shadow of a tree into a phantom, or mistake the cry of an animal, or the murmuring of the wind, for the wail of a ghost! Spirits like the presence of men, and usually seek out inhabited places rather than solitary ones."
-- Nevertheless, knowing what we do of the diversity of character among spirits, may we not suppose that there are misanthropes among them, preferring solitude to society?
"Have I not already answered you on this point, by saying that spirits may seek out desolate places, as well as all other places? If some of them live alone, they do so because it pleases them, but this is no reason why spirits should necessarily prefer ruins; and, assuredly, there are many more spirits in cities and inhabited dwellings than in solitary places."
5. Popular beliefs have generally a foundation of truth; what is the origin of the belief in haunted places?
"It has grown out of men's instinctive belief in spirit manifestations, a belief that has prevailed in all ages of the world; but, as I said just now, the aspect of lugubrious places strikes the imagination, and men have naturally located, in such places, the beings whom they have regarded as supernatural. This superstitious belief is upheld by the fanciful imaginings of your poets, as well as by the nonsensical stories told to you in the nursery."
6. Spirits who assemble together, have they any preferences in regard to days and hours of meeting?
"No; days and hours are measurements of time for the use of men, and for the needs of corporeal life; spirits have no need of any such measurements, and take very little heed of them."
7. What is the origin of the idea that spirits come by preference at night?
"The impression produced on the imagination by darkness and silence. All such ideas are superstitions that a rational knowledge of spiritism will destroy. It is the same with respect to the notion, held by some people, that certain days and hours are more propitious than others; the influence of midnight has no existence except in story books."
-- If this be the case, how is it that many spirits announce their arrival and manifestations for midnight, or for certain predetermined days, as Fridays, for example?
"Such spirits only trifle with your credulity. In the same way, there are spirits who declare themselves to be the devil, or give themselves some other diabolical or fantastic name. Show them that you are not to be taken in by them, and you will hear no more of such absurdities."
8. Do spirits come back by preference to the burial place of their body?
"The body was but a garment; they care no more for their fleshly envelope, in which they have had to suffer, than the prisoner cares for his chains. The memory of those they love is the only thing they value."
-- Are prayers offered up at their graves especially pleasing to them, and do they attract them more than prayers would do elsewhere?
"Prayer is an evocation which attracts a spirit, as you know. The more fervent and sincere the prayer, the greater the effect it produces; and therefore, the sight of a venerated tomb may serve to concentrate the thought of him who prays, while the interest attached to it, as to any other treasured relic, being a testimony of affection offered to the spirit, he is always attracted and touched thereby. But, in all such cases, it is the thought which acts on a spirit, and not any material objects; for these have less influence on the spirit who is prayed for than on the person who prays, and whose attention they serve to concentrate and intensify."
9. That being the case, the belief in haunted places would appear to be not absolutely groundless?
"We have told you that there are spirits who are attracted by material things; such spirits may also be attracted to certain places, and may even take up their abode in them, until the cessation of the circumstances that have attracted them thither."
-- What are the circumstances that may attract spirits to a given place?
"Their sympathy with persons who frequent that place, and, in some cases, the desire to communicate with them. Their motives, however, are not always so praiseworthy; inferior spirits may desire to revenge themselves on persons against whom they have a grudge. Sojourn in a fixed locality may be, also, a punishment inflicted on them especially if they have committed a crime there, so that the crime may be constantly before their eyes."
10. Have haunted places, in all cases, been the former habitation of the spirits who haunt them?
"Not in all cases; if the former inhabitant be an elevated spirit, he will no more hold to his old house than to his old body. Spirits who haunt certain localities, when not attracted to them by sympathy for certain persons, are often only actuated by caprice."
-- Can they attach themselves to certain places, in order to act as protectors of particular persons of families?
"Assuredly, if they are good spirits; but, in that case, they never manifest their presence by disagreeable actions"
11. Is there any truth in the legend of "The White Lady?"
"It is as true as are a thousand other facts of a similar nature."
12. Is it rational to dread places that are reputed to be haunted by spirits?
"No; the spirits who haunt certain places, and make disturbances there, do so to amuse themselves at the expense of the credulous and the cowardly, rather than for any evil purpose. Besides, you must not forget that there are spirits everywhere; and that, wherever you may be, you have them incessantly around you, even in the quietest houses. They only appear to haunt certain habitations because they find, in them, the conditions necessary for manifesting their presence."
13. Is there any method of expelling them?
"Yes; but most frequently what people do for that purpose attracts rather than repels them. The best way of expelling bad spirits is to attract good ones, by doing all the good you can; the bad ones will then go away, for good and evil are incompatible. Be always good, and you will have only good spirits about you."
-- Many very good people, however, are greatly annoyed by the persecutions of bad spirits.
"If persons thus annoyed are really good, the annoyance may be a trial to exercise their patience, and to excite them to greater goodness."
14. Can evil spirits be driven from haunted places by exorcisms?
"Have you often seen exorcisms successful? Have you not, on the contrary, often found that they increased the disturbances? Mischievous spirits are often amused at being mistaken for the devil.
"Spirits who come without any evil intention may also manifest their presence by rendering themselves visible, or by noises; but the noises they make never degenerate into racket. They are often suffering spirits whom you may relieve by praying for them; they are sometimes kindly spirits, who desire to show you that they are near you; or they may be frivolous spirits, who are only in sport. Since these who disturb you are, almost invariably, spirits in search of amusement, the best thing to do is to laugh at them they will tire of playing pranks, if they see that they neither frighten nor vex you."Remark. - From these explanations, we learn that there are spirits who attach themselves to localities, and remain in them by preference, without having any motive for manifesting their presence to us. Any place may be the sojourn of a spirit, either from a preference on his part, or from its having been assigned to him as a temporary abode, without his ever producing a manifestation of any kind; and this, even in the case of those who have led an evil life.
The spirits who attach themselves to localities, or to material things, are never of superior advancement; but although not of high degree, they are not necessarily wicked, nor animated by hostile intentions. Such inmates are sometimes even useful; for, when they take an interest in the people of the house, they often render them various services.
...prayer is unquestionably an invocation as well as an evocation.
176. The following conversation occurred between ourselves and the spirits we questioned in reference to this subject: -
1. Can we consider persons endowed with magnetic power as forming a variety of mediums?
"You surely can have no doubt on that point."
2. A medium is an intermediary between spirits and men but the magnetizer, finding, as he does, his force in himself, does not appear to be the intermediary of any extraneous power.
"You are mistaken; the magnetic force undoubtedly resides in the man himself; but it is increased by the action of the spirits whom he calls to his aid. For example, when you magnetize with a view to healing, you invoke the aid of a good spirit, who is interested in you and in your subject; that spirit increases your will power, directs your fluid, and gives to it the qualities required for effecting the desired cure."
3. Yet there are very good magnetizers who do not believe in spirits.
"Do you suppose that spirits only act for those who believe in them? Those who magnetize with a good intention are always seconded by good spirits. Every man, when animated by good intentions, calls good spirits to him without suspecting it; and so, too, does a man practically invoke evil spirits, when his desires and intentions are evil."
4. If a healing medium believes that spirits help him, does that belief enable him to act with greater efficacy?
"Such a man might do things that would seem to you to be miracles."
5. Is it true that some persons have really the gift of healing simply by the touch, without having recourse to mesmeric passes?
" Assuredly it is; have not you many examples, of this gift?"
6. In such a case, is it the mesmeric action, or is it solely the influence of spirits, that effects the cure?
"It is both. Such persons are really mediums, for they act under the influence of spirits; but that does not imply that they are mediums for writing or other phenomena, as you understand medianimity."
7. Can this power be transmitted?
"Not the power; but the knowledge which enables the possessor of that power to make an efficient use of it. There are persons who would not suspect themselves to have this power, if they did not believe that it had been transmitted to them by something higher than themselves."
8. Can cures be effected by prayer alone?
"Yes, in some cases, if God permits it; but when it is for the good of the sufferer to continue to suffer, your prayer is not granted."
9. Are some forms of prayer more efficacious than others?
"It is mere superstition to attribute special virtue to certain words; and only ignorant or lying spirits foster such ideas by prescribing forms. For persons but little enlightened, and incapable of comprehending things purely spiritual, a form may be useful, by inspiring them with confidence; but, even then, the efficacy of the prayer is not in the form but in the faith which is increased by the idea attached to the use of the form."
FORMATION OF MEDIUMS. Loss and Suspension of Medianimity.
220. The medianimic faculty is subject to intermittence and temporary suspension, both as regards writing and all other modes of spirit-manifestation. In regard to this subject the questions addressed by us to spirits have elicited the following replies: -
1. Can the medianimic faculty be lost?
"That often happens, whatever may be the specialty of the faculty; but the interruption is more frequently of short duration, and ceases with the cause that produced it."
2. Is that cause the exhaustion of the medium's fluid?
"Whatever may be the faculty possessed by a medium he can do nothing without the sympathetic concurrence of spirits; when he obtains nothing, it is not always his faculty that is at fault, for it often happens that spirits will not, or cannot, make use of him."
3. What are the causes that lead spirits to abandon a medium?
"Good spirits are mainly influenced, in regard to a medium, by the use he makes of his faculty. We abandon the medium who uses his faculty for frivolities, or for the furtherance of ambitious designs, or if he refuses the exercise of his faculty for the convincing of those who seek his aid, or who need to witness our manifestations in order to acquire conviction. God has not granted this faculty to a medium merely for his own pleasure, and, still less, to subserve his ambition, but as a means of aiding his own advancement and that of his fellow men. If a spirit sees that a medium no longer subserves his intentions, and does not profit by his instructions and advice, he withdraws from him, and seeks some one more worthy of his assistance."
4. Is not the place of the spirit who withdraws often filled by another? and, if so, how are we to understand the suspension of the medium's faculty?
"There is no lack of spirits who ask nothing better than to communicate, and who are quite ready to take the place of those who withdraw; but, when the spirit who leaves a medium is a good one, he sometimes quits him only for a moment, depriving him, for a certain time, of all communication, in order to give him a lesson, and to show him that the exercise of his faculty does not depend on himself; and should not be regarded by him as a thing to be vain of. This temporary powerlessness also serves to prove to the medium that he writes under an influence foreign to himself, as, were it otherwise, there would be no discontinuance of the impulsion.
"But this interruption of the medianimic faculty is not always a punishment; it is sometimes due to the spirit's solicitude for the health of his medium, to whom he wishes to give a rest that he sees to be necessary to his physical well-being; and, when this is the case, he allows no other spirits to take his place."
5. Nevertheless, we sometimes see mediums of great moral worth, and who are in no need of rest, abandoned by their spirit-friends, and much distressed by these suspensions of their faculty, which they are quite unable to account for?
"In such cases, the suspension occurs as a trial of their patience and constancy; it is for the same reason that spirits rarely assign any fixed time for the duration of such interruptions of medianimity. Such suspensions, moreover, are sometimes useful by giving the medium time for thinking over the communications already made to him. It is by the use a medium makes of our instructions that we recognize those who are really worthy of our assistance; we cannot regard as such the experimenters who regard our manifestations only as an amusing curiosity."
6. In such a case, should the medium still endeavor to write?
"Yes, if the spirit advises him to do so; but if he tells him to abstain, he should cease the attempt, until some sign from the spirit announces the end of the suspension."
7. Is there any way of abridging such a trial?
"Resignation and prayer are the only means to which you can resort under such circumstances. All you can do is to make the attempt each day, but only for a few minutes at a time, as it would be unwise to lose time and strength In fruitless efforts. The attempt should be made simply with a view to ascertaining whether the faculty is recovered or not."
8. The suspension of the medianimic faculty does not, then, always imply the withdrawal of the spirits who habitually communicate with the medium?
"Certainly not the medium is only in the position of one who is suffering from an attack of blindness, but who is none the less surrounded by his friends, although he does not see them. The medium therefore can, and should, continue to communicate by thought with his familiar spirits, and may feel assured that he is heard by them. The loss of medianimity deprives the medium of ostensible communication with his spirit friends, but it cannot deprive him of mental communication with them."
9. The interruption of the medianimic faculty, then, does not necessarily imply displeasure on the part of the spirits who usually communicate through a medium?
"By no means, for, on the contrary, it may be a proof of their consideration and kindness for him."
10. How can we find out when such interruptions are caused by their displeasure?
"Let the medium examine his conscience; let him ask himself what use he has made of his faculty, what good others have derived from it, what profit he himself has derived from the counsels he has received from his spirit friends, and he will hardly have much difficulty in ascertaining that point."
11. When the medium finds himself unable to write, may he not have recourse to some other medium?
"That depends on the cause of the interruption. A spirit, after having given you counsel, often leaves you for some time without communications, in order that you may not get into the habit of consulting us incessantly, and especially in regard to the details of your earthly life; when we have left a medium on this account, he will get nothing satisfactory through the aid of any other medium. And these suspensions are sometimes intended to subserve yet another end, viz., to prove to you that spirits are free agents, and are not to be made to come at your beck and call; and for the same reason, those who are not mediums, do not always succeed in learning all that they desire to know."
12. To what end has Providence endowed certain individuals with special medianimic faculties?
"Mediumship is a mission, and should always be exercised as such. Mediums are the interpreters between spirits and men."
13. But there are some mediums who only use their faculties with reluctance?
"They are imperfect mediums; they know not the worth of the favor accorded them."
14. If mediumship is a mission, why is it not the exclusive privilege of good men, and why is this faculty so often possessed by persons who are far from estimable, and who make a bad use of it?
"It is given to them precisely because they need it for their own improvement, and in order that they may be open to good counsels; if they do not profit by the gift, they must bear the consequences of their unfaithfulness. Did not Jesus address his teaching specially to sinners?"
15. When those who have an earnest desire to write as mediums, find themselves unable to do so, should they conclude that there is a want of kindly feeling towards them on the part of spirits?
"No, for this faculty may be lacking in their organization, just as may be that of poetry or of music; but the lack of this faculty may be compensated by the possession of some other one, equally valuable."
16. How is a man to benefit by the teaching of spirits, if he has not the means, either of himself or through other mediums, of receiving this teaching directly?
"Has he not books, as the Christian has the Gospel? In order to practice the morality taught by Jesus, it is not necessary for the Christian to have actually heard Him utter the words in which He embodied it."
DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS OF MEDIANIMITY. Difficulties and dangers of Medianimity - Influence of Medianimity on the health, on the brain, and on children.
1. Is the medianimic faculty an indication of a morbid state of health, or is it simply abnormal?
"It is sometimes abnormal, but not morbid. Some mediums are very robust; those who are weakly are so from other causes."
2. Does the exercise of the medianimic faculty cause fatigue?
"A too prolonged exercise of any faculty causes fatigue it is the same with medianimity, especially when employed for the obtaining of physical manifestations, which necessarily occasions fatigue, because it is a loss of fluid that is only to be restored by rest."
3. Is the proper exercise of medianimity (we do not speak of its abuse), injurious to health?
"There are cases in which the physical or moral state of a medium may render it prudent, or even necessary, to abstain from exercising it, or, at least, to exercise it with great moderation. A medium is generally warned, when this is the case, by his own feeling; and he should always abstain from using his medianimity when he is Conscious of fatigue in so doing."
4. Is the exercise of medianimity more likely to be injurious to some persons than to others?
"I have already said that this depends upon the physical and moral state of the medium. There are persons whose temperament renders it necessary to avoid all causes of over-excitement; and mediumship may be of the number.
5. Can the exercise of medianimity produce madness?
"No more than anything else may produce it, when there is a predisposition to brain disease. Mediumship will not produce madness, where the germ of madness does not exist; but, where that germ exists (which is easily known), commonsense should suffice to show you the necessity of avoiding every kind of mental excitement."
6. Is it imprudent to develop the medianimic faculty in children?
"It is not only imprudent, but very dangerous to do so: for the frail and delicate organization of childhood would be too much shaken, and the youthful imagination too much excited, by such attempts; parents should therefore keep these ideas from their children, or, at least, should only speak of them in reference to their moral aspect."
7. Yet there are children who are mediums by nature, not only for physical manifestations, but also for writing and for visions; is there danger for such as these?
"No; where a child's faculty is spontaneous, it belongs to his temperament, and his constitution is prepared for its exercise; it is a very different thing when you attempt to develop medianimity artificially, and thus subject the child's nervous system to overexcitement.
"It is also to be remarked that a child who is naturally subject to visions is generally but little impressed by them; they appear so natural to such a child, that he pays but little heed to them and easily forgets them; and in after years, if these visions recur to his memory, he is not apt to be painfully affected by the remembrance of them."
8. At what age may we attempt to develop the faculty of medianimity without danger?
"There is no rule in regard to age; it depends partly on the physical, and still more on the moral, development of the individual; there are children of; say, a dozen years of age, who would be less affected by the attempt than many grown persons. I am now speaking of medianimity in general; but physical medianimity is that which is most likely to cause fatigue to the organism. Writing, however, in the case of a child, has another danger, owing to his inexperience, viz., the mischief which might result to his health, if he took to writing when alone, and should thus make an amusement of it."
222. Practical spiritism, as we shall see more clearly the more we know of it, demands our utmost tact and discretion to avoid being taken in by deceitful spirits; if grown people are in danger of being deceived by these, children and young persons are evidently, on account of their inexperience, still more exposed to this danger. We know, too, that concentration of thought and feeling is absolutely necessary for obtaining the concentration of serious and benevolent spirits. An evocation made rightly and jokingly is a profanation which gives easy access to mocking and maleficent spirits; and as we cannot expect a child to possess the seriousness necessary for such an act, it is to be feared that he would make a mere amusement of it if left to himself. Even under the most favorable conditions, it is highly desirable that a child who is endowed with the medianimic faculty should only exercise it under the eyes of experienced persons, who may inspire him, by their example, with the sentiment of respect that should always preside at the evocation of souls who have quitted the earthly life. The question of age, as I have said, is subordinate to conditions of temperament as well as of character; and you should not only avoid forcing the development of this faculty in children, where it is not spontaneous, but its exercise, in every case, should be conducted with very great circumspection, and should neither be excited nor encouraged even on the part of grown persons, if they are weak in body or in mind. Those who show the slightest symptoms of mental eccentricity or weakness should be dissuaded from its exercise by every possible means; for there is, in such persons, an evident predisposition to insanity, which any and every species of excitement would tend to develop. Spiritist ideas are not more likely to produce cerebral excitement than any others; but madness brought on by spiritist ideas would take its character from them, just as it would assume the character of religious mania, if it had been brought on by the excitement attendant on an excess of devotional practices, and spiritism, in such cases, would naturally, though unjustly, be held responsible for that result. The best thing to be done, with every one who shows a tendency to fall under the influence of a fixed idea, is to direct his attention to something altogether different from that idea, so as to give rest to the organs which are the seat of the excitement
THE ACTION OF THE MEDIUM IN THE OBTAINING OF SPIRIT MANIFESTATIONS. Influence of the medium - Mediumship attributed to inert bodies - Aptitude of certain mediums for languages, music, drawing, etc., of which they have no present knowledge - Dissertation of a spirit on the action of mediums in spirit manifestation.
1. Is the medium, at the time he is exercising his faculty, in a perfectly normal state?
"He is sometimes in a state of crisis, more or less decided; it is this which fatigues him, and makes him need rest. But, more frequently, he is in his normal state; especially if he is only a medium for writing"
2. Can written or verbal communications be given, medianimically, by the spirit of the medium himself?
"The soul of the medium may communicate like any other; if it attains a Certain degree of liberty, it recovers its qualities as a spirit. You have a proof of this in the souls of living persons who come to visit you and communicate with you by writing or otherwise, even, in some cases, without your calling them. Among the spirits whom you evoke, some are reincarnated, in this world or in other worlds; in such cases they speak to you as spirits, and not as men. Why may it not be the same with the spirit of a medium?"
-- Does not your explanation confirm the opinion of those who believe that all communications emanate from the spirit of the medium, and not from other spirits?
"That opinion is only wrong because held too exclusively. It is certain that the spirit of the medium can act of itself; but that is no reason why others should not act also by his means."
3. How are we to know whether the spirit who communicates is that of the medium, or some other?
"By the nature of the communication. Study the circumstances of the case, and the language employed; and you will learn to distinguish. It is chiefly in somnambulism or trance that the spirit of the medium manifests himself, because he is then in a state of greater freedom; it is more difficult for the medium's spirit to manifest himself; so to say, apart from his human personality, when he is in the normal state. Besides, mediums often reply to questions by answers which you cannot possibly attribute to the mediums themselves; and I therefore say to you, observe and reflect."Remark. - When a human being speaks to us, we have no difficulty in deciding whether what he says comes from himself or whether he is, expressing the ideas of another; it is the same in regard to mediums.
4. Since the spirit of the medium may have acquired, in anterior existences, knowledge which he has temporarily lost sight of; under his present corporeal envelope, but which he remembers as a spirit, may it not be that he derives, from the recesses of his own nature, the ideas which appear to exceed the limits of his understanding?
"That often happens in somnambulic crises and in trance; but I would again remind you that there are manifestations which exclude all doubt in regard to the fact of our intervention. Continue your observation for a sufficient length of time, meditate on what you see, and you can have no doubt upon this subject."
5. Are the communications which emanate from the medium's own spirit always inferior to those given by other spirits?
"Not always; for other spirits may be of an order inferior to that of the medium, and may therefore make communications of less value than those given by the latter. This is often seen in somnambulism, in which state it is usually the somnambulist's own spirit who manifests; and yet very good things are often said by somnambulists."
6. When a spirit communicates through a medium, does he transmit his thought directly, or does he use the incarnated spirit of the medium as his intermediary?
"The medium's spirit acts as the interpreter of the communicating spirit, because he is linked with the body, which, in such cases, plays the part of speaker, and also because there must be a conductor between you and the disincarnate spirits who communicate with you, just as, for the transmission of a telegraphic message, there must be a wire connecting the points of transmission and of reception, and, at the ends of the wire, an intelligent person who transmits, and another who receives, the message conveyed by the electric fluid."
7. Does the spirit of the medium exercise an influence over the communications which he transmits from other spirits?
"Yes. If he is not in sympathy with them, he may alter their replies and assimilate them to his own ideas and propensities; but he does not influence the spirits themselves: he is only an inexact interpreter."
8. Is it for this reason that certain spirits have a preference for certain mediums?
"Yes. Spirits seek for interpreters in sympathy with themselves, and able to transmit their thought correctly. When there is no sympathy between them, the spirit of the medium becomes an antagonist and produces resistance; he is an unwilling interpreter, and, as such, is often an unfaithful one. The same thing occurs among yourselves, when a message is conveyed through a careless, hostile, or unfaithful messenger."
9. We see that such may be the case with intuitive mediums, but we do not see how it can be so with mechanical mediums.
"You do not rightly understand the part that is played by a medium. There is, in this matter, the action of a law which you have not yet discovered. You must remember that, in order to effect the movement of an inert body, the spirit requires a certain quantity of animalized fluid which he borrows from the medium, for the purpose of lending a momentary vitality to the material object he wishes to make use of; and which he thus renders momentarily obedient to his will. In the same way, in order to transmit an intelligent communication, he must have an intelligent intermediary, and this intermediary is furnished him by the spirit of the medium."
-- This explanation appears to be hardly applicable to what are called "talking tables," for it would seem to imply that, when inert objects, such as tables, planchettes, etc., give intelligent answers, the spirit of the medium is a mere cipher.
"Such an inference would be erroneous. A disincarnate spirit can lend a momentary, factitious life to an inert body, but it cannot give it intelligence; no inert body was ever intelligent. It is therefore the spirit of the medium that receives the thought, without being aware of it, and transmits it by successive steps through various intermediaries."
10. It would seem from these explanations, that the spirit of the medium is never completely passive?
"He is passive when he does not mingle his own ideas with those of the communicating spirit, but he is never an absolute nullity his cooperation as an intermediary is always necessary, even in what you call mechanical mediumship."
11. Is there not a greater probability of the spirit's thought being correctly transmitted by a mechanical medium than by an intuitive one?
"Undoubtedly there is; and, therefore, for some kinds of communications, a mechanical medium is to be preferred; but when you are sure of the genuineness of the faculty of an intuitive medium, it is of little importance. Everything in this matter depends upon circumstances; what I wish to impress on your mind is the fact that less precision is necessary in some sorts of communications than in others."
12. Among the different explanations put forth in regard to spirit-phenomena, there is one which attributes medianimity to inert bodies, to the planchette, for example, which serves as the instrument for writing; the communicating spirit being supposed to identify himself for the time being with the object employed by him for transmitting his message, and thus to render it momentarily, not only alive, but intelligent. Hence the term inert mediums, given by those who hold this view of the subject, to the inert objects employed by spirits in manifesting themselves. What do you say to this hypothesis?
"There is but one thing to be said about it, viz., that if the communicating spirit transmitted intelligence to the planchette as well as life, the planchette would be able to write of itself without the cooperation of the medium. For an inert body to become intelligent would be as impossible, in the nature of things, as it would be for an intelligent being, a man, to become a machine. Such a supposition is only one of the fancies that are engendered by preconceived ideas, and are dissipated by experience and observation."
13. Yet a well-known phenomenon seems to confirm the opinion that there is, in the inert bodies thus temporarily vitalized, something more than mere vitality, something that looks like a kind of intelligence; for the inert bodies thus vitalized by the spirit's will frequently appear, by their movements, to express anger, affection, and various other sentiments.
"When an angry man shakes a stick, the stick is not angry, nor is the hand angry that holds the stick; it is the thought which directs the hand that is angry. The table, or planchette, is no more intelligent than is the stick; they obey an intelligence, but they have neither intelligence nor sentiment. In short, a spirit does not transform himself into a table or a planchette, nor does he even enter into them."
14. If it be irrational to attribute intelligence to the objects in question, may they nevertheless be considered as a variety of mediums, designated by the term, inert mediums?
"Such a question is one of words, and has little interest for us, provided you yourselves understand the meaning you attribute to it. You are quite at liberty, if it pleases you, to call puppet a man."
15. Spirits possess only the language of thought; they have no articulate language; and accordingly, for them, there is but one language. This being the case, could a spirit express himself through medianimic agency, in a tongue which he has never spoken when in the flesh; and if so, whence would he derive the words which, in such a case, would be employed by him?
"You answer your own question when you say that spirits have but one language, viz., the language of thought; for that language is understood by all intelligences, by men as well as by spirits. The errant spirit, in addressing himself to the incarnate spirit of the medium, speaks to him neither in French nor in English, but in the universal language, which is that of thought; in order to translate his ideas into an articulate tongue, and to transmit them in that tongue to you, he obtains the words he needs from the vocabulary of the medium's brain."
16. If this be the case, the spirit should be able to express himself only in the language of the medium; yet we have communications written or spoken in languages unknown to the medium; is there not a contradiction in this?
"You must remark, first, that all mediums are not equally fit for this sort of exercise and, next, that spirits only lend themselves occasionally to this sort of effort, when they judge it to be useful. In ordinary communications they prefer to employ the native language of the medium, because, in doing so, they have less of physical difficulty to overcome."
17. Does not the aptitude of certain mediums, who write or speak in a foreign language, result from the fact that this language is one which has been familiar to them in a previous existence, and the intuition of which they have preserved?
"That is sometimes the case, but it is not a rule; for the spirit can, in some cases, and by an extra effort, surmount the physical resistance which he encounters. This occurs when a medium writes, in his own tongue, words which he does not understand."
18. Can one who, in his normal state, is ignorant of the art of writing, write as a medium?
"Yes; but it is evident that, in such a case, the communicating spirit has a greater mechanical difficulty to overcome, because the medium's hand is unaccustomed to the movements necessary for the tracing of letters. It is the same with drawing mediums who, in their ordinary state, do not know how to draw."
19. Can an unintelligent medium be used for transmitting communications of a high order?
"Yes; just as a medium can be made to write or speak in a language that he does not understand. Medianimity, properly speaking, is independent of the intelligence as well as of the moral qualities; and, when no better instrument is at hand, a spirit does the best he can with the one he finds within his reach. But it is natural that; for communications of importance, he should prefer the medium who presents the fewest physical obstacles to his action. Moreover, an idiot is often only such through the imperfection of his organs, and his spirit may be far more advanced than you suppose it to be; a fact shown by evocations that have been made of idiots, both dead and living."Remark. - We have several times evoked idiots in the flesh, who have given indisputable proofs of their identity, and who have nevertheless given very sensible and even intelligent answers. Idiocy is a punishment for the spirit thus incarnated, and who suffers from the restraint imposed on him by an imperfect corporeal organization. An idiot may therefore offer, as a medium, greater facilities for spirit communication than could he supposed by those who are unaware of the fact of reincarnation.
20. Whence comes the aptness of certain mediums for writing verses, notwithstanding their ignorance of the rules of versification?
"Poetry is a language; mediums may be made to write in verse as they may be made to write in any other language that is not known to them. Besides, they may have been poets in a previous existence, and, as you have already been told, knowledge when once acquired is never lost by a spirit, who is destined to attain to every species of perfection. What they have formerly known gives to incarnate spirits, when acted upon by us, various facilities which they do not possess in their ordinary state."
21. Is it the same with mediums who have a special aptitude for drawing, music, etc.?
"Yes; for drawing and music may be considered as languages, since they are ways of expressing thought: spirits make use, among the instruments furnished by the aptitudes of a medium, of the one which offers them the greatest facility."
22. Does the expression of thought through poetry, drawing, or music, depend on the special aptitude of the medium, or on that of the communicating spirit?
"Sometimes on that of the medium, sometimes on that of the spirit. Superior spirits possess all aptitudes; inferior spirits have only a narrow range of knowledge and of power."
23. How is it that a man, who has possessed transcendent talent in a former existence, no longer possesses it in a subsequent one?
"Such is not always the case, for, on the contrary, it often happens that a man perfects, in a new corporeal existence, what he had commenced in a previous one; but a transcendent faculty is often purposely allowed to slumber for a time, in order to leave to its possessor greater freedom for developing, in a given incarnation, some other faculty. The faculty thus allowed to slumber remains with him as a latent germ, which will spring up again at a later period, but, of which, meantime, some traces usually remain with him, if only as a vague intuition."
MENTAL AND MORAL INFLUENCE OF THE MEDIUM. Questions - Dissertation of a spirit on the mental and moral influence of Mediums on Spirit-manifestation.
1. Does the development of medianimity depend on the moral development of the medium?
"No; strictly speaking, the medianimic faculty depends on the organism, and is independent of the moral nature. This, however, is not the case as regards the use made of medianimity, which may be good or bad, according to the moral qualities of the medium."
2. It has always been asserted that the medianimic faculty is a gift of God, a grace, a favor; why, then, is it not the exclusive privilege of the good, and why is it bestowed on persons who are unworthy of it, and misuse it?
"All faculties are favors for which you should be grateful; but you might just as well ask why God grants good eyesight to malefactors, sharp wits to sharpers, eloquence to men who use it for evil purposes. It is the same in regard to medianimity; unworthy persons are often endowed with it, because they need it more than others, and in order that it may aid their improvement. Do you suppose that God refuses the means of amendment to the wicked? On the contrary, He multiplies those means about them at every step; He places them in their hands; it is for those to whom they have been given to profit by them. Was not Judas endowed, as an apostle, with apostolic gifts?
"God permitted him to be thus endowed, that he might afterwards see more clearly the odiousness of his treason."
3. Will mediums who misuse their faculty suffer in consequence?
"They will be punished doubly, because they possess, beyond others, the means of enlightenment. He who, having the use of his eyes, fails to follow the right road, is judged otherwise than the blind man who falls into a ditch."
4. Some mediums receive communications spontaneously, and almost constantly, on the same subject; on moral questions, for example, or certain faults. Is this allowed to occur for any special object?
"Yes; for their own enlightenment in regard to the subject so frequently treated of; and to cure them of the faults thus pointed out. It is to this end that spirits constantly speak, to one, of pride, to another, of charity; for there are natures that need this incessant repetition of warning and advice to open their eyes to a perception of their own defects. The medium who misuses his faculty through ambition or selfishness, or who disgraces it by some glaring fault, such as vanity, egotism, levity, etc., is sure to receive, from time to time, warnings from the spirits about him; but unfortunately, he often fails to take such warnings to himself."Remark. - Spirits are often extremely cautious in their remonstrances, and make them indirectly, in order to leave the greater merit to him who profits by their homilies. But there are persons so blinded by pride and self-conceit as not to recognize their own portrait, even when placed before their very eyes; nay, more, if a spirit gives them to understand that the picture is meant for them, they get angry, which shows that spirits are right to act with caution in their endeavors to moralize those to whom they address themselves.
5. But are there not cases in which a homily is thus dictated to a medium in a general way, without its being intended for him; and in which he merely serves as an instrument for the instruction of others?
"Undoubtedly; the advice we give is often intended for others, whom we can only address through the intermediary of the medium, but he, too, might sometimes reap benefit from the lesson, if he were willing to do so, although you are right in assuming that the medianimic faculty is intended, not merely for the moral improvement of the medium himself, but for that of all mankind. We regard a medium as an instrument, and we prize him as such, but without regarding him as being individually of any more importance than other people; and accordingly, as we give our teachings for the general good, we make use, indifferently, of any medium who offers us the requisite organic conditions. But you may be very sure that the time will come when good mediums will be so common, that superior spirits will be able to choose their instruments, and will no longer make use of mediums of inferior mental and moral advancement, merely because of their medianimic organism."
6. Since the moral goodness of a medium keeps away imperfect spirits, how is it that false or unseemly statements are sometimes transmitted through a medium who is morally good?
"Can you look into all the recesses of a medium's soul? Though not vicious, he may still be frivolous, or may be but imperfectly cured of some defect; and he may need an occasional lesson to keep him on his guard."
7. How is it that superior spirits permit persons endowed with great medianimic power, and who might therefore do much good, to be the instruments of error?
"Spirits try to influence all mediums for good; but when mediums persist in following a wrong road, we leave them to themselves. We use mediums of slight moral advancement, but reluctantly, and from lack of better ones; for we know that truth cannot be duly transmitted by a liar."
8. Is it absolutely impossible to obtain good communications through a medium but little advanced in point of morality?
"Such a medium may sometimes obtain good communications, because, if possessed of good medianimic faculties, the higher spirits may use him, as we have just said, under particular circumstances, or for want of a better; but they will only make a momentary use of him, and will give him up as soon as they find another whose moral qualities suit them better."
Remark. - It is to be observed, that, when superior sprits see a medium becoming, through his moral delinquencies, the prey of deceitful spirits, they almost always bring about incidents which show up his faultiness, and thus prevent serious and well-intentioned inquirers from being taken in by him. In such a case, however great may be the faculty of the medium, his exposure is not to be regretted.
9. What are the qualities that would constitute a perfect medium?
"Perfect? Alas! you well know that perfection is not to be found upon the earth; and that, moreover, if it were, you would not be in it! Say, rather, a good medium; and that is saying a good deal, for 'good mediums' are rare. The 'perfect' medium would be one whom evil spirits would not even dare to attempt to deceive; the best your earth can furnish at present is he, who, sympathizing only with good spirits, is least often deceived."
10. If a medium sympathizes only with good spirits, why do they allow him to be deceived?
"Good spirits sometimes permit deception to be practiced even on the best mediums, in order to exercise their judgement, and to teach them to discern the true from the false and besides, however good a medium may be, he is never so perfect that he has not some weak point which lays him open to attack; and so he now and then gets a lesson. The false communications which he receives from time to time are warnings not to think himself infallible, and not to give way to pride; for the medium who obtains the most admirable communications has no more reason to be proud of them than an organ-grinder who should grind out the most splendid music by merely turning the handle of some unusually well-constructed barrel organ."
11. What are the best conditions for ensuring the correct transmission of the communications of superior spirits?
"Good intentions, and the renunciation of selfishness and pride; both these conditions are essential."
12. If the communications of superior spirits can only be correctly transmitted to us under conditions so difficult to secure, does not this difficulty constitute an obstacle to the propagation of truth?
"No; for light always comes to those who are willing to receive it. The darkness you have to dissipate results from impurity of heart. Get rid of pride, cupidity, uncharitableness, and good spirits will help you to light, even without the aid of ostensible medianimity.
"Let all who, not having a medium at hand, are desirous to obtain enlightenment, use their own reason in learning more and more of the infinite power and wisdom of the Creator; they will thus give the best evidence of their sincerity, and that sincerity will ensure to them the occult assistance of spirits of high degree."
227. Although a medium, as such, is only an instrument, he nevertheless exercises a very considerable influence on the communications from the spirit-world. The communicating spirit is obliged, in order to communicate, to identify himself with the spirit of the medium; and as this identification can only take place in proportion to the sympathy, the "affinity," to borrow the expression of Erastes, existing between them, it follows that the soul of the medium attracts or repels disincarnate spirits, according to the degree of their similitude or dissimilitude. Thus good mediums attract good spirits, and bad mediums attract evil spirits; because the moral qualities of the medium necessarily determine the kind of spirits who communicate through his medianimity. If a medium is vicious, inferior spirits come around him in crowds, taking the place of the good spirits who may have been evoked. The qualities that attract good spirits are kindness, good-will, single-mindedness, love of the neighbor, and detachment from earthly things; the defects that repel them are pride, vanity, selfishness, envy, jealousy, hatred, greed, sensuality, and all the passions by which man attaches himself to matter.
INFLUENCE OF SURROUNDINGS ON SPIRIT-MANIFESTATIONS.
1. Is the action of medianimity affected by the quality of the spirits with whom a medium is habitually surrounded?
"All the spirits who surround a medium influence him for good or for evil."
2. Cannot the higher spirits neutralize the evil tendency of the incarnate spirit who serves as their interpreter and of the inferior spirits by whom he is surrounded?
"Yes, when they consider it useful to do so. We have already said that spirits are sometimes enabled, by a special favor, to transmit a communication correctly, despite the imperfection of the medium and his surroundings; but, in such cases, the influence of the latter is nullified by their action."
3. When people seek to obtain manifestations merely as an amusement, do higher spirits sometimes respond to their evocation, in order to lead them on, if possible, to more serious thoughts?
"Superior spirits do not go to circles where they know that their presence would be thrown away. We willingly go to circles of which the members are but little enlightened, provided we see them to be animated by a sincere desire for light, even though we know that we shall find only inferior instruments among them; while we do not go to meetings of more educated persons, if we see that they have been brought together by a sentiment of hostility or of scorn. Such persons must be convinced through the eyes and the ears; and that is a work which must be performed by the rappers and the mountebanks of the spirit-world. It is fitting that those who are puffed up by what they call their 'science,' should be puzzled and baffled by the least scientific and the least advanced of the people of the world so contemptuously ignored by their 'science.' "
4. Is access to serious meetings forbidden to inferior spirits?
"No; they sometimes attend them in order to profit by the instructive communications received in them; but they are obliged to remain silent, like ignorant listeners in the assemblies of the wise."
232. It is a mistake to suppose that a man must be a medium in order to attract to himself the beings of the invisible world. Space is peopled with spirits; they are always around us, always beside us; they see us and watch us; they mingle in our meetings, and follow or avoid us, according as we attract or repel them. The medianimic faculty has no influence in this respect; for that faculty is only a means of communication. After what we have said respecting the causes of sympathy and antipathy in spirits, it will be easily understood that we are surrounded by those who are in affinity with us, whether our state be one of elevation or of degradation. If we consider the moral condition of our globe, we see what must be the character of the vast majority of the wandering spirits about us; and if we take each country separately, we may judge, by the ruling characteristics of its inhabitants, by their occupations, and by their moral and humanitary sentiments, what sort of spirits are most intimately connected with it.
254. We will conclude this chapter by appending, in confirmation of the foregoing statements, the answers given us by spirits to various questions bearing upon the subject we have been considering.
1. How is it that same mediums are unable to rid themselves of troublesome spirits, and how is it that the good spirits whom they call to their aid are not strong enough to drive away the others, and to communicate directly with the medium?
"There is no lack of power on the part of good spirits; in all such cases, the want of power is on one part of the medium, who is not strong enough to second their action. Each medium, in virtue of his particular temperament, enters most easily into certain relationships, because his fluid identifies itself with that of one spirit more easily than with that of another. It is this which gives so great a power to the spirits who make a bad use of a medium's fluid."
2. But there are many excellent persons, of irreproachable morality, who are prevented from communicating with good spirits, notwithstanding their excellence. "In such cases, the action of evil spirits, if not an expiation, is permitted as a trial. Can you be sure that there is not still some latent impurity in the secret heart of those persons? That pride does not lurk under their seeming excellence? Such testings are intended, by showing to the obsessed his weak side, to help him to the acquisition of humility.
"Can any one on earth call himself perfect? And are there not always, under the most virtuous exteriors, some hidden faults, some old leaven of imperfection? For example, you say of one who does nothing wrong, who is upright in his social dealings, that he is an honorable and worthy man; but do you know whether the worth of those good qualities is not diminished by secret pride, whether there may not still be some remains of selfishness in him, whether he may not be covetous, jealous, bitter, caluminous, or defective in other ways that you do not perceive, because your intercourse with him has not shown you all the innermost recesses of nature? The surest way of combating the influence of evil spirits is to emulate, as far as possible, the nature of good ones."
3. When obsession prevents a medium from obtaining the communication which he desires, is it always a sign of unworthiness on his part?
"I do not say that it is necessarily a sign of unworthiness, but that it shows the existence of some obstacle, moral or other, to those communications. The medium should therefore try to get rid of that obstacle, which is always in himself; otherwise, his desires and entreaties will be of no avail. It is not enough for a sick man to say to his physician, "Give me health, I would fain be well!" The physician can do nothing for him unless he, on his part, consents to follow the necessary treatment."
4. The privation of communication with certain spirits may, then, be a species of punishment?
"In some cases it is a very real punishment, as the possibility of obtaining such communication is a reward that you should strive to deserve."
5. May we not also combat the influence of evil spirits by moralizing them?
"Yes; people too often fail to attempt this, but it is exactly what they ought to do; for it is frequently a duty laid upon you, and one that should be kindly and religiously accomplished by you. Your influence may bring them to repentance, and thus hasten their advancement."
-- How can a man possess in such cases more influence than is possessed by good spirits?
"Perverse spirits are nearer to the human beings, to whom they come with the desire to torment them, than to the superior spirits, whom they do their utmost to avoid. When, in their approach to the former, they meet with those whose influence is calculated to make them better, they at first refuse to listen to them, and only laugh at their remonstrances; but if the human being persists judiciously in his effort to act upon them, they usually end by following his counsels. Elevated spirits are too far above them; they dazzle and terrify them by their splendor. Assuredly men have not more power than the higher spirits, but the influence of men is more consonant with their nature; and superior spirits, on seeing the ascendancy that a man may exercise over inferior spirits, recognize still more clearly the solidarity which exists between heaven and earth.
"A man's ascendancy over spirits is always in proportion to his moral superiority. He can have no mastery over superior spirits, nor over those who, without having arrived at that grade, are good and kind but he can master all spirits who are inferior to himself in moral advancement".
6. Could corporeal subjugation be carried to the extent of producing madness?
"Yes; a species of madness of which the cause is unknown to the world in general, but which has no connection with ordinary madness. Among those who are treated as mad there are many who are only subjugated, and whose treatment ought to be exclusively moral; but such patients are often made really mad by the physical treatment to which they are subjected. When your doctors understand spiritism, they will be able to distinguish between these two classes of madness; and they will then cure many more patients than they now do."
7. What is to be thought of those who, fancying they see danger in spiritism, believe they can prevent it by interdicting spirit-communications?
"It might be possible to prevent individuals from seeking to hold communication with spirits, but it would not be possible to prevent spontaneous spirit manifestations from occurring to these very persons; for spirits can neither be suppressed, nor prevented from exercising their occult power. Those who should attempt such a repression would be like children who put their fingers into their eyes, and suppose that no one can see them. It would be folly to try to suppress what brings with it such great advantages, merely because unwise people may make a bad use of it; the best way to prevent the inconveniences that may result from spiritism, among those who do not understand it, is, on the contrary, to let it be universally known and understood."
These pages are lightly edited excerpts from The Mediums' Book: Guide for Mediums and Invocators by Allan Kardec [Leon Rivail] A download (acrobat format) of the complete volume is free.