1. PERCEPTION OF OUR THOUGHTS BY SPIRIT -- 2. INFLUENCE OF SPIRITS UPON OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS -- 3. POSSESSION -- 4. CONVULSIONARIES -- 5. AFFECTION OF SPIRITS FOR CERTAIN PERSONS -- 6. GUARDIAN--ANGELS; PROTECTING, FAMILIAR, AND SYMPATHETIC SPIRITS -- 7. INFLUENCE OF SPIRITS ON THE EVENTS OF HUMAN LIFE -- 8. ACTION OF SPIRITS IN THE PRODUCTION OF THE PHENOMENA OF NATURE -- 9. SPIRITS AND WAR -- 10. PACTS WITH SPIRITS -- 11. OCCULT POWER, TALISMANS, SORCERERS -- 12. BENEDICTIONS AND CURSES.
Penetration of Our Thoughts By Spirits
456. Do spirits see everything that we do?
"They can do so if they choose, since they are incessantly around you. But, practically, each spirit sees only those things to which he directs his attention; for he pays no heed to those which do not interest him."
457. Can spirits see our most secret thoughts?
"They often see what you would fain hide from yourselves; neither acts nor thoughts can be hidden from them."
-- It would appear, then, to be more easy to hide a thing from a person while living than to hide it from that same person after his death?
"Certainly; and when you fancy yourselves to be hidden from every eye, you have often a crowd of spirits around you, and watching you."
458. What is thought of us by the spirits who are about us, and observing us?
"That depends on the quality of the spirits themselves. Frivolous spirits enjoy the little annoyances they cause you, and laugh at your fits of impatience. Graver spirits pity your imperfections, and endeavor to aid you to cure yourselves of them."
459. Do spirits influence our thoughts and our actions?
"Their influence upon them is greater than you suppose, for it is very often they who direct both."
460. Have we some thoughts that originate with ourselves, and others that are suggested to us?
"Your soul is a spirit who thinks. You must have observed that many thoughts, and frequently very opposite ones, come into your mind in reference to the same subject, and at the same time. In such cases, some of them are your own, and some are ours. This is the cause of your uncertainties, because you have thus in your mind two ideas that are opposed to each other."
461. How can we distinguish between the thoughts which are our own and those which are suggested to us?
"When a thought is suggested, it is like a voice speaking to you. Your own thoughts are generally those which first occur to you. In point of fact, this distinction is not of much practical importance for you, and it is often better for you not to be able to make it. Man's action is thus left in greater freedom. If he decides for the right road, he does so more spontaneously; if he takes the wrong one, he is more distinctly responsible for his mistake."
462. Do men of intelligence and genius always draw their ideas from their own minds?
"Their ideas sometimes come from their own spirit; but they are often suggested to them by other spirits who judge them to be capable of understanding them, and worthy of transmitting them. When they do not find the required ideas in themselves, they make an unconscious appeal for inspiration; a sort of evocation that they make without being aware of what they are doing."
If it were useful for us to be able to distinguish clearly between our own thoughts and those which are suggested to us, God would have given us the means of doing so, as he has given us that of distinguishing between day and night. When a matter has been left by Providence in a state of vagueness, it has been left so because it is better for us.
463. It is sometimes said that our first thought is always the best,--is this true?
"It may be good or bad according to the nature of the incarnated spirit. It is always well to listen to good inspirations."
464. How can we ascertain whether a suggested thought comes from a good spirit or from an evil one?
"Study its quality. Good spirits give only good counsels. It is for you to distinguish between the good and the bad."
465. To what end do imperfect spirits incite us to evil?
"To make you suffer as they do themselves."
-- Does that lessen their own sufferings?
"No; but they do so from jealousy of those who are happier than themselves."
-- What kind of sufferings do they wish to make us undergo?
"Those which result from being of an inferior order, and far removed from God."
466. Why does God permit spirits to incite us to evil?
"Imperfect spirits are used by Providence as instruments for trying men's faith and constancy in well-doing. You, being a spirit, must advance in the knowledge of the infinite. It is for this end that you are made to pass through the trials of evil in order to attain to goodness. Our mission is to lead you into the right road. When you are acted upon by evil influences, it is because you attract evil spirits to you by your evil desires, for evil spirits always come to aid you in doing the evil you desire to do; they can only help you to do wrong when you give way to evil desires. If you are inclined to commit murder, you will have about you a swarm of spirits who will keep this inclination alive in you; but you will also have others about you who will try to influence you for good, which restores the balance, and leaves you of your decision."
It is thus that God leaves to our conscience the choice or the road we decide to follow, and the liberty of yielding to one or other of the opposing influences that act upon us.
467. Can we free ourselves from the influence of the spirits who incite us to evil?
"Yes; for they only attach themselves to those who attract them by the evil nature of their thoughts and desires."
468. Do spirits, whose influence is repelled by our will, renounce their temptations?
"What else can they do? When they see that they cannot accomplish their aim, they give up the attempt; but they continue to watch for a favorable moment, as the cat watches for the mouse."
469. By what means can we neutralize the influence of evil spirits?
"By doing only what is right, and putting all your trust in God, you repel the influence of inferior spirits, and prevent them from obtaining power over you. Take care not to listen to the suggestions of spirits who inspire you with evil thoughts, stir up discord among you, and excite in you evil passions. Distrust especially those who flatter your pride, for, in so doing, they attack you on your weakest side. This is why Jesus makes you say in the Lord's Prayer, 'Let us not succumb to temptation, but deliver us from evil.'"
470. Have the spirits who seek to lead us into evil, and who thus put our firmness in rectitude to the proof, received a mission to do this; and, if so, are they responsible for the accomplishment of such a mission?
"No spirit ever receives a mission to do evil; when he does it, he does it of his own will, and, therefore, undergoes the consequences of his wrongdoing. God may let him take his evil way, in order to try you; but He does not command him to do so, and it is for you to repel him."
471. When we feel a sensation of vague anxiety, of indefinable uneasiness, or of interior satisfaction, without any assignable cause, do these sensations proceed simply from our physical state?
"They are almost always an effect of the communications which you unconsciously receive from the spirits about you, or which you have received from them during your sleep."
472. When spirits wish to excite us to evil, do they merely take advantage of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, or can they themselves bring about the circumstances which may favor their designs?
"They take advantage of the occurrence of any favorable circumstances, but they also often bring them about, by urging you on, without your being aware of it, towards the object of your unwise desire. Thus, for instance, a man picks up a roll of banknotes by the wayside. You must not imagine that spirits have brought this money to this particular spot, but they may have suggested to the man the idea of going that way; and, when he has found the money, they may suggest to him the idea of taking possession of it, while others suggest to him the idea of restoring it to its rightful owner. It is thus in all other temptations."
473. Can a spirit temporarily assume the envelope of a living person, that is to say, can he introduce himself into an animate body, and act in the room and place of the spirit incarnated in it?
"A spirit does not enter into a body as you enter into a house. He assimilates himself to an incarnate spirit who has the same defects and the same qualities as himself, in order that they may act conjointly; but it is always the incarnate spirit who acts at his pleasure on the matter with which he is clothed. No other spirit can substitute himself in the place of the spirit who is incarnated in a given body, for a spirit is indissolubly united with his body until the arrival of the hour that has been appointed by Providence for the termination of his material existence."
474. If there be no such thing as "possession", in the ordinary sense of that term,-that is to say, cohabitation of two spirits in the same body--is it possible for one soul to find itself dominated, subjugated, obsessed by another soul to such a point as that its will is, so to say, paralyzed?
"Yes; and it is this domination which really constitutes what you call possession. But you must understand that this domination is never established without the participation of the spirit who is subjected to it, either through his weakness or his free-will. Men have often mistaken for cases of possession what were really cases of epilepsy or madness, demanding the help of the physician rather than of the exorciser."
The word possession, in its common acceptation, presupposes the existence of demons, that is to say, of a category of beings of a nature essentially evil, and the cohabitation of one of those beings with the soul of a man in the body of the latter. Since there are no such beings as demons in the sense just defined, and since two spirits cannot inhabit simultaneously the same body, there is no such thing as "possession" in the sense commonly attributed to that word. The word possessed should only be understood as expressing the state of absolute subjection to which a soul in flesh may be reduced by the imperfect spirits under whose domination it has fallen.
475. Can a soul, of its own motion, drive away the evil spirits by whom it is thus obsessed, and free itself from their domination?
"You can always shake off a yoke if you are firmly resolved to do so."
476. Might not the fascination exercised by the evil spirit be so complete that the person subjugated should be unaware of it; and, in such a case, might not a third person be able to put an end to the subjection? And what course should be taken by the latter to that end?
"The will-power of an upright man may be useful by attracting the cooperation of good spirits in the work of deliverance; for the more upright a man is, the more power he possesses, both over imperfect spirits to drive them away, and over good ones to draw them nearer. Nevertheless, even the best of men would be powerless in such a case, unless the subjugated person lent himself to the efforts made on his behalf, for there are persons who take delight in a state of dependence which panders to their depraved tastes and desires. In no case can one who is impure in heart exercise any liberating influence, for he is despised by the good spirits, and the bad ones stand in no awe of him."
477. Have formulas of exorcism any power over bad spirits?
"No; when bad spirits see any one seriously endeavoring to act upon them by such means, they laugh at him, and persist in their obsession."
478. Persons who are well-intentioned are sometimes obsessed; what are the best means of getting rid of obsessing spirits?
"To tire out their patience, to give no heed to their suggestions, to show them that they are losing their time. When they see that they can do nothing, they go away."
479. Is prayer efficacious as a means of putting an end to obsession?
"Prayer is always an efficacious means of obtaining help; but you must remember that the muttering of certain words will not suffice to obtain what you desire. God helps those who help themselves, but not those who limit their action to asking for help. It is therefore necessary for the person obsessed to do his utmost to cure himself of the defects which attract evil spirits to him."
480. What is to be thought of the casting out of devils, spoken of in the Gospels?
"That depends on the meaning you attach to the word devil. If you mean by that term a bad spirit who subjugates a human being, it is evident that, when his influence is destroyed, he will really be driven away. If you attribute a malady to the devil, you may say, when you have cured the malady, that you have driven the devil away. A statement may be true or false, according to the meaning attributed to certain words. The most weighty truths may appear absurd when you look only at the form under which they are presented, and when an allegory is taken for a fact. Get this principle well into your mind, and keep it there; for it is of universal application."
481. Do spirits play a part in the phenomena exhibited by the individuals designated under the name of convulsionaries?
"Yes, a very important one, as does also the agent that you call magnetism, whether employed by human beings or by spirits; for this agent is the original source of those phenomena. Hut charlatanism has often exaggerated those effects, and made them a matter of speculation, which has brought them into ridicule."
-- What is generally the nature of the spirits who help to produce phenomena of this kind?
"Of slight elevation. Do you suppose that spirits of high degree would waste their time in such a way?"
482. How can a whole population be suddenly thrown into the abnormal state of convulsions and crises?
"Through sympathy. Moral dispositions are sometimes exceedingly contagious. You are not so ignorant of the effects of human magnetism as not to understand this, and also the part that certain spirits would naturally take in such occurrences, through sympathy with those by whom they are produced."
Among the strange peculiarities remarked in convulsionaries, several are evidently identical with those of which somnambulism and mesmerism offer numerous examples, namely, physical insensibility, thought reading, sympathetic transmission or sensations, etc. It is therefore impossible to doubt that these crisiacs are in a sort of waking somnambulism, determined by the influence which they unwittingly exercise upon each other. They are at once mesmerized and mesmerized, unconsciously to themselves.
483. What is the cause of the physical insensibility sometimes remarked in convulsionaries, and sometimes, also, in other persons, when subjected to the most atrocious tortures?
"In some cases it is simply an effect of human magnetism, which acts upon the nervous system in the same manner as do certain substances. In other cases, mental excitement deadens the sensibility of the organism, the life seeming to retire from the body in order to concentrate itself in the spirit. Have you not observed that, when the spirit is intensely occupied with any matter, the body neither feels, nor sees, nor hears?"
The excitement of fanaticism and enthusiasm often offer, on the part of persons subjected to a violent death, examples of a calmness and coolness that could hardly triumph over excruciating pain unless the sensibility of the patient were neutralized by a sort of moral anesthesia. We know that, in the heat of battle, a severe wound is often received without being perceived; whilst, under ordinary circumstances, a mere scratch is felt acutely.
Since the production of these phenomena is due, in part, to the action of physical causes, in part to that of spirits, it may be asked how it can have been possible for the civil authorities, in certain cases, to put a stop to them? The reason of this is, however, very simple. The action of spirits, in these cases, is only secondary; they do nothing more than take advantage of a natural tendency. The public authorities did not suppress this tendency, but the cause which kept up and stimulated it, thus reducing it from a state of activity to one of latency and they were right in so doing, because the matter was giving rise to abuses and scandal. Such intervention, nevertheless, is powerless in cases where the action of spirits is direct and spontaneous.
484. Do spirits affectionately prefer certain persons?
"Good spirits sympathize with all men who are good, or susceptible of amelioration; inferior spirits, with men who are bad, or who may become such. The attachment, in both cases, is a consequence of the similarity of sentiment."
485. Is the affection of certain spirits for certain persons exclusively one of sentiment?
"True affection has nothing of carnality; but, when a spirit attaches himself to a living person, it is not always through affection only; for there may also be in that attachment a reminiscence of human passions."
486. Do spirits take an interest in our misfortunes and our prosperity? Those who wish us well, are they grieved by the ills we undergo during life?
"Good spirits do you all the good they can, and rejoice with you in all your joys. They mourn over your afflictions when you do not bear them with resignation, because in that case affliction produces no beneficial result, for you are like the sick man who rejects the disagreeable draught that would cure him."
487. What is the kind of ills that causes most grief to our spirit-friends? Is it our physical sufferings, or our moral imperfections?
"What grieves them most is your selfishness and your hard heartedness, for these are the root of all your troubles. They smile at the imaginary sorrows that are born of pride and ambition; they rejoice in those which will shorten your term of trial."
Our spirit-friends, knowing that corporeal life is only transitory, and that the tribulations by which it is accompanied are the means that will enable us to reach a happier state, are more grieved for us by the moral imperfections which keep us back, than by physical ills, which are only transitory.
Spirits attach as little importance to misfortunes which affect us only in our earthly ideas, as we do to the trifling sorrows of childhood. Seeing the afflictions of life to be the means of our advancement, they regard them only as the passing crisis which will restore the sick man to health. They are grieved by our sufferings, as we are grieved by those of a friend; but, judging the events of our lives from a truer point of view, they appreciate them differently. While inferior spirits try to drive us to despair, in order to hinder our advancement, the good ones seek to inspire us with the courage that will turn our trials into a source of gain for our future.
488. Have the relatives and friends who have gone before us into the other life more sympathy for us than spirits who are strangers to us?
"Undoubtedly they have; and they often protect you as spirits, according to their power."
-- Are they sensible of the affection we preserve for them?
"Very sensible; but they forget those who forget them.".
489. Are there spirits who attach themselves to a particular individual, in order to protect and help him?
"Yes, the spirit-brother; what you call the spirit-protector, or the good genius."
490. What is to be understood by the expression, "guardian-angel"?
"A spirit-protector of high degree."
491. What is the mission of a spirit-protector?
"That of a father towards his children-to lead the object of his protection into the right road, to aid him with his counsels, to console him in his afflictions, and to sustain his courage under the trials of his earthly life."
492. Is a spirit-protector attached to an individual from his birth?
"From his birth to his death; and he often follows him after death in the spirit-life, and even in several successive corporeal existences; for these existences are but every short phases of his existence as a spirit."
493. Is the mission of a spirit-protector voluntary or obligatory?
"Your spirit-protector is obliged to watch over you, because he has accepted that task; but a spirit is allowed to choose his ward among the beings who are sympathetic to him. In some cases this office is a pleasure; in others, it is a mission or a duty."
-- In attaching himself to a person, is a spirit obliged to refrain from protecting other individuals?
"No; but he does so less exclusively."
494. Is the spirit-protector indissolubly attached to the person confided to his guardianship?
"It often happens that spirits quit their position in order to fulfill various missions; but, in that case, an exchange of wards takes place."
495. Does a spirit-protector sometimes abandon his ward when the latter persists in neglecting his counsels?
"He withdraws from him when he sees that his counsels are useless, and that there is a stubborn determination to yield to the influence of inferior spirits; but he does not abandon him entirely, and continues to make himself heard. It is not the spirit who quits the man, but the man who closes his ears against the spirit. As soon as the man calls him back, the spirit returns to him.
"If there be a doctrine that should win over the most incredulous by its charm and its beauty, it is that of the existence of spirit-protectors, or guardian-angels. To think that you have always near you beings who are superior to you, and who are always beside you to counsel you, to sustain you, to aid you in climbing the steep ascent of self-improvement, whose friendship is truer and more devoted than the most intimate union that you can contract upon the earth-is not such an idea most consoling? Those beings are near you by the command of God. It is He who has placed them beside you. They are there for love of Him, and they fulfill towards you a noble but laborious mission. They are with you wherever you may be; in the dungeon, in solitude, in the leper-house, even in the haunts of debauchery. Nothing ever separates you from the friend whom you cannot see, but whose gentle impulsions are felt, and whose wise monitions are heard, in the innermost recesses of your heart. "Would that you were more fully impressed with this truth! How often would it aid you in your moments of need! How often would it save you from the snares of evil spirits! But, at the great day of account, how often will your guardian-angel have to say to you, 'Did I not urge you, and yet you would not follow my leading? Did I not show you the abyss, and yet you persisted in throwing yourself into it? Did I not cause your conscience to hear the voice of truth, and have you not followed lying counsels?' Question your guardian-angels; establish between yourselves and them the affectionate intimacy which exists between tried and loving friends. Do not think to hide anything from them, for they are the eye of God, and you cannot deceive them. Think of the future; seek to advance on the upward road: your trials will be shorter, your existences happier. Men, take courage! Cast far from you all prejudices and mental reservations; enter resolutely upon the new road that opens before you! You have guides; follow them. Your goal cannot fail you, for that goal is God Himself.
"To those who may think it impossible that spirits of high degree should bind themselves to a task so laborious and demanding so much patience on their part, we reply, that we influence your souls while at many millions of leagues from you. To us, space is nothing; and, while living in another world, our spirits preserve their connection with yours. We possess qualities of which you can form no idea; but be sure that God has not imposed upon us a task above our strength, and that He has not abandoned you upon the earth without friends and without support. Every guardian-angel has his ward, over whom he watches as a father watches over his child: he rejoices when he sees him following the right road; he mourns when his counsels are neglected.
"Do not fear to weary us with your questions. Remain, on the contrary, always in connection with us: you will thus be stronger and happier. It is this communication between each man and his familiar spirit that will eventually make all men mediums, and drive out incredulity from your world. You who have received instruction, instruct in your turn: you who are possessed of talents, raise your brethren. You know not how great a work you accomplish by so doing; it is the work of Christ, the work imposed on you by God. Why has God given you intelligence and knowledge, if not to share them with your brethren, to aid them to advance on the road that leads to eternal felicity?"
The doctrine of guardian-angels watching over their wards, notwithstanding the distance which separates different worlds, has in it nothing that should excite our surprise it is as natural as it is grand and sublime. Do we not see a father, upon the earth, watch over his child even though at a distance from him, and aid him by the wise counsels of his letters? Why, then, should it be deemed surprising that spirits should guide, from one world to another, those whom take under their protection, since, to them, the distance which separates worlds is less than that which, on earth, separates continents? Besides, have they not the universal fluid which binds together all the worlds of the universe, and makes them part and parcel of each other-the universal vehicle of the transmission of through, as the air is, for us, the vehicle of the transmission of sound?
496. If a spirit abandons his ward, and no longer does him good, can he do him harm?
"Good spirits never do harm to any one. They leave that to those who take their place; and you then accuse fate of the misfortunes which overwhelm you, while these are, in reality, the result of your own wrong-doing."
497. Can a spirit-protector leave his ward at the mercy of a spirit who should desire to do him harm?
"Evil spirits unite together to neutralize the action of the good ones; but the will of the ward suffices to give back all his power to the spirit-protector. The latter may find elsewhere another person whose goodwill renders it easy to help him; in such a case, he takes advantage of the opportunity of doing good, while awaiting the return of his ward."
498. When the spirit-protector allows his ward to wander into wrong paths, is it because he is unable to cope with the malevolent spirits who mislead him?
"It is not because he is unable, but because he does not choose to do so; he knows that his ward will become wiser and better through the trials he will have brought upon himself. The spirit-protector assists his ward through the sage counsels he suggests to his mind, but which unhappily are not always heeded. It is only the weakness, carelessness, or pride of men that gives strength to bad spirits; their power over you comes solely from your not opposing sufficient resistance to their action."
499. Is the spirit-protector constantly with his ward? Are there no circumstances under which, without abandoning him, he may lose sight of him?
"There are circumstances under which the presence of the spirit-protector is not necessary to the ward."
500. Does a time arrive when the spirit no longer needs a guardian-angel?
"Yes; when he has reached the degree of advancement which enables him to guide himself, as a time arrives when the scholar has no longer need of a master. But this does not take place upon your earth."
501. Why is the action of spirits upon our existence occult? and why, when they are protecting us, do they not do so ostensibly?
"If you counted on their support, you would not act of yourselves, and your spirit would not progress. In order to advance, each man needs to acquire experience, and often at his own expense. He needs to exercise his powers; otherwise he would be like a child, who is not allowed to walk alone. The action of the spirits who desire your welfare is always regulated in such a way as to leave you your free-will; for, if you had no responsibility, you would not advance on the road that is to lead you to God. Man, not seeing his supporter, puts forth his own strength; his guide, however, watches over him, and calls to him from time to time, to bid him beware of danger."
502. When the spirit-protector succeeds in leading his ward on the right road, does he thereby gain any benefit for himself?
"It is a meritorious work, which will he counted to him either for his advancement or for his happiness. He rejoices when he sees his care crowned by success, and triumphs as a teacher triumphs in the success of his pupil."
-- Is he responsible if he does not succeed?
"No, since he has done everything that depended on him."
503. Does the spirit-protector feel sorrow on seeing a ward taking the wrong road? and does not such sight disturb his own felicity?
"He is grieved at his errors, and pities him; but this affliction has none of the anguish of terrestrial paternity, because he knows that there is a remedy for the evil, and that what is not done today will be done tomorrow."
504. Can we always know the name of our guardian-angel?
"How is it possible for you to know names which have no existence for you? Do you suppose there are no spirits but those whom you know of?"
-- But how can we invoke him if we do not know who he is?
"Give him any name you please--that of any superior spirit for whom you feel sympathy or veneration. Your spirit-guardian will answer this appeal; for all good spirits are brothers, and assist each other."
505. Are the spirit-guardians who take well-known names always the persons who bore those names?
"No; but they are spirits who are in sympathy with them, and who, in many cases, come by their order. You require names; they therefore take a name that will inspire you with confidence. When you are unable to execute a commission in person, you send some one in your place, who acts in your name."
506. When we are in the spirit-life, shall we recognize our spirit-guardian?
"Yes; for it is often a spirit whom you knew before being incarnated."
507. Do all spirit-guardians belong to the higher classes of spirits? Are they sometimes found among those of average advancement? Can a father, for example, become the spirit-guardian of his child?
"He may do so; but such guardianship presupposes a certain degree of elevation, and, in addition, a power or virtue granted by God. A father who watches over his child may himself be assisted by a spirit of more elevated degree."
508. Can all spirits who have quitted the earth under favorable conditions become the protectors of those whom they love among their survivors?
"Their power is more or less narrowed by their position, which does not always leave them full liberty of action."
509. Have savages, and men who are very low as regards their moral state, their spirit-guardians? and if so, are these spirits of as high an order as those of men who are more advanced?
"Every man has a spirit who watches over him; but missions are always proportional to their object. You do not give a professor of philosophy to a child who is only learning to read. The advancement of the familiar spirit is always proportioned to that of the spirit he protects. While you yourself have a spirit of higher degree who watches over you, you may, in your turn, become the protector of a spirit who is lower than you; and the progress you help him to make will contribute to your own advancement. God does not demand of any spirit more than is consistent with his nature, and with the degree at which he has arrived."
510. When a father who watches over his child is reincarnated, does he still continue to watch over him?
"His task, in that case, becomes more difficult; but, in a moment of freedom, he asks some sympathetic spirit to assist him in accomplishing it. But spirits do not undertake missions which they cannot carry on to the end.
"A spirit, when incarnated, especially in worlds in which existence is grossly material, is too much fettered by his body to be able to devote himself entirely to another, that is to say, to give him personally all the help he needs. For this reason, those who are not sufficiently elevated to suffice for the work of guardianship are themselves assisted by spirits of higher degree, so that if, from any cause, the help of one spirit should fail, his place is supplied by another."
511. Is there, besides the spirit-guardian, an evil spirit attached to each individual for the purpose of exciting him to evil, thus of furnishing him with the opportunity of struggling between good and evil?
"It would not be correct to say 'attached.' It is very true that bad spirits endeavor to draw you out of the right road when they find an opportunity of doing so; but when one of them attaches himself to an individual, he does so of his own accord, because he hopes to be listened to. In such a case, there is a struggle between the good and the evil spirit, and the victory remains with the one to whose influence the man has voluntarily subjected himself."
512. May we have several protecting spirits?
"Every man has always about him a number of sympathetic spirits of more or less elevation, who interest themselves in him from affection, as he also has others who help him to do evil."
513. Do spirits who are sympathetic to an individual act upon him in virtue of a mission to that effect?
"In some cases they may have a temporary mission; but, in general, they are only drawn to an individual by similarity of sentiments in good or in evil."
-- It would seem, then, that sympathetic spirits may be either good or bad?
"Yes; a man is always surrounded by spirits who are in sympathy with him, whatever may be his character."
514. Are "familiar spirits" the same as "sympathetic spirits" and "spirit-guardians"?
"There are very many shades in guardianship and in sympathy; you may give to these whatever names you please. But the 'familiar spirit' is rather the general friend of the family."
From the above explanations, and from observation of the nature of spirits who attach themselves to men, we draw the following inferences:--
The spirit-protector, good genius, or guardian-angel, is the one whose mission it is to follow each man through the course of his life, and to aid him to progress. His degree of advancement is always superior to that of his ward.
Familiar Spirits attach themselves to certain persons, for a longer or shorter period, in order to be useful to them within the limits (often somewhat narrow) of their possibilities they are generally well intentioned, but sometimes rather backward, and even frivolous. They busy themselves with the everyday details of human life and only act by order, or with the permission, of the spirit-guardians.
Sympathetic spirits are those who are drawn to us by personal affectation, and by a similarity of tastes in good or in evil. The duration of their relationship with us is almost always dependent on circumstances.
An evil genius is an imperfect or wicked spirit who attaches himself to a man for the purpose of perverting him; but he acts of his own motion, and not in virtue of a mission. His tenacity is proportionate to the more or less easy access accorded to him. A man is always free to listen to the suggestions of an evil genius, or to repel them.
515. What is to be thought of those persons who seem to attach themselves to certain individuals in order to urge them on to their injury, or to guide them on the right road?
"Some persons do, in fact, exercise over others a species of fascination which seems irresistible. When this influence is used for evil, it is to be attributed to evil spirits, who make use of evil men in order the more effectually to subjugate their victim. God may permit this in order to try you."
516. Could our good or our evil genius incarnate himself in order to accompany us more closely in our earthly life?
"That sometimes occurs; but they more frequently entrust this mission to incarnated spirits who are in sympathy with them."
517. Are there spirits who attach themselves to all the members of a family in order to watch over and aid them?
"Some spirits attach themselves to the members of a family who live together, and who are united by affection; but do not attribute pride of race to spirit-guardians."
518. Spirits being attracted to individuals by their sympathies, are they similarly attracted to companies of persons united in view of special ends?
"Spirits go by preference to the places where they meet their similars; they are more at ease among such, and more sure of being listened to. Every one attracts spirits to himself according to his tendencies, whether as an individual or as an element of a collective whole, such as a society, a city, or a nation. Societies, towns, and nations are therefore assisted by spirits of more or less elevated degree, according to the character and passions which predominate in them. Imperfect spirits withdraw from those who repel them; from which it follows that the moral excellence of collective wholes, like that of individuals, tends to keep away bad spirits and to attract good ones, who rouse and keep alive the sense of rectitude in the masses, as others may sow among them the worst passions."
519. Have agglomerations of individuals--such as societies, cities, nations--their special spirit-guardians?
"Yes, for those assemblages constitute collective individualities, who are pursuing a common end, and who have need of a higher direction."
520. Are the spirit-guardians of masses of men of a higher degree of advancement than those who are attached to individuals?
"Their advancement is always in proportion with the degree of advancement of masses as of individuals."
521. Can certain spirits advance the progress of the arts by protecting those who cultivate them?
"There are special spirit-protectors who assist those by whom they are invoked when they judge them to be worthy of their help; but what could they do with those who fancy themselves to be what they are not? They cannot make the blind to see, nor the deaf to hear."
The ancients converted these spirit-guardians into special deities. The Muses were nothing else than the allegoric personification of the spirit-protectors of arts and sciences, just as the spirit-protectors of the family-circle designated by the name of Lares or of Penates. Among the moderns, the arts, the various industries, cities, countries, have also their protecting patrons, who are no other than spirit-guardians of a higher order, but under different names.
Each man having his sympathetic spirit, it follows that, in every collective whole, the generality of sympathetic spirits corresponds to the generality of individuals that stranger-spirits are attracted to it by identity of thoughts: in a word, that these assemblages, as well as individuals, are more or less favorably surrounded, influenced, assisted, according to the predominant character of the thoughts of those who compose them.
Among nations, the conditions which exercise an attractive action upon spines are the habits, manners, dominant characteristics, of their people, and, above all, their legislation, because the character of a nation is reflected in its laws. Those who uphold the reign of righteousness, among themselves combat the influence of evil spirits. Wherever the laws consecrate injustice, inhumanity, good spirits are in the minority and the mass of bad ones who flock in, attracted by that state of things, keep the people in their false ideas, and paralyze the good influences which, being only partial, are lost in the crowd, like a solitary wheat-ear in the midst of tares. It is therefore easy, by studying the characteristics of nations, or of any assemblage of men, to form to oneself an idea of the invisible population which is mixed up with them in their thoughts and in their actions.
522. Is a presentiment always a warning from the spirit-guardian?
"A presentiment is a counsel privately addressed to you by a spirit who wishes you well. The same may be said of the intuition which decides the choice of his new existence by a spirit about to reincarnate himself; the voice of instinct is of the same nature. A spirit, before incarnating himself, is aware of the principal phases of his new existence, that is to say, of the kind of trials to which he is about to subject himself. When these are of a very marked character, he preserves, in his inner consciousness, a sort of impression respecting them; and this impression, which is the voice of instinct, becoming more vivid as the critical moment draws near, becomes presentiment."
523. Presentiments and the voice of instinct are always somewhat vague; what should we do when in a state of uncertainty?
"When you are in doubt, invoke your spirit-guardian, or implore our common Master, God, to send you one of His messengers--one of us."
524. Are the warnings of our spirit-guardians given solely for our moral guidance, are they also given for our guidance in regard to our personal affairs?
"They are given in reference to everything that concerns you. Your spirit-guardians endeavor to lead you to take, in regard to everything that you have to do; the best possible course; but you often close your ears to their friendly counsels, and thus get yourselves into trouble thorough your own fault."
Our protecting spirits aid us by their counsels, and by awakening the voice of our conscience; but as we do not always attach sufficient importance to these hints, they give us more direct warnings through the persons about us. Let a man reflect upon the various circumstances of his life, fortunate or unfortunate, and he will see that, on many occasions, he received advice which, had he followed it, would have spared him a good deal of annoyance.
525. Do spirits exercise an influence over the events of our lives?
"Assuredly they do; since they give you advice."
-- Do they exercise this influence in any other way than by means of the thoughts they suggest to us, that is to say, have they any direct action on the course of earthly events?
"Yes; but their action never oversteps the laws of nature."
We erroneously imagine that the action of spirits can only be manifested by extraordinary phenomena we would have spirits come to our aid by means of miracles, and we imagine them to be always armed with a sort of magic wand. Such is not the case; all that is done through their help being accomplished by natural means, their intervention usually takes place without our being aware of it. Thus, for instance, they bring about the meeting of two persons who seem to have been brought together by chance they suggest to the mind of some one the idea of going in a particular direction. They call your attention to some special point, if the action on your part thus led up to by their suggestion, unperceived by you, will bring about the result they seek to obtain. In this way, each man supposes himself to be obeying only his own impulse, and thus always preserves the freedom of his will.
526. As spirits possess the power of acting upon matter, can they bring about the incidents that will ensure the accomplishment of a given event? For example, a man is destined to perish in a certain way, at a certain time. He mounts a ladder; the ladder breaks, and he is killed. Have spirits caused the ladder to break, in order to accomplish the destiny previously accepted by or imposed upon this man?
"It is very certain that spirits have the power of acting upon matter, but for the carrying out of the laws of nature, and not for derogating from them, by causing the production at a given moment of some unforeseen event, in opposition to those laws. In such a case as the one you have just supposed, the ladder breaks because it is rotten, or is not strong enough to bear the man's weight. But, as it was the destiny of this man to be killed in this way, the spirits about him will have put into his mind the idea of getting upon a ladder that will break down under his weight, and his death will thus have taken place naturally, and without any miracle having been required, to bring it about."
527. Let us take another example; one in which the ordinary conditions of matter would seem, to be insufficient to account for the occurrence of a given event. A man is destined to be killed by lightning. He is overtaken by a storm, and seeks refuge under a tree; the lightning strikes the tree, and he is killed. Is it by spirits that the thunderbolt has been made to fall, and to fall upon this particular man?
"The explanation of this case is the same as that of the former one. The lightning has fallen on the tree at this particular moment, because it was in accordance with the laws of nature that it should do so. The lightning was not made to fall upon the tree because the man was under it, but the man was inspired with the idea of taking refuge under a tree upon which the lightning was about to fall; for the tree would have been struck all the same, whether the man had been under it or not."
528. An ill-intentioned person hurls against some one a projectile which passes close by him, but does not touch him. Has the missile, in such a case, been turned aside by some friendly spirit?
"If the individual aimed at were not destined to be struck, a friendly spirit would have suggested to him the thought of turning aside from the path of the missile, or would have acted on his enemy's sight in such a way as to make him take a bad aim; for a projectile, when once impelled on its way, necessarily follows the line of its projection."
529. What is to be thought of the magic bullets which figure in certain legends, and which, by a mysterious fatality, infallibly reach their mark?
"They are purely imaginary. Man delights in the marvelous, and is not contented with the marvels of nature."
-- May the spirits who direct the events of our lives be thwarted by other spirits who desire to give to our lives a different direction?
"What God has willed must needs take place. If delay or hindrance occur, it can only be by His appointment."
530. Cannot frivolous and mocking spirits give rise to the various little difficulties that defeat our projects and upset our calculations? In a word, are they not the authors of what may be termed the petty troubles of human life?
"Such spirits take pleasure in causing vexations which serve as trials for the exercise of your patience; but they tire of this game when they see that they do not succeed in ruffling you. But it would neither be just nor correct to charge them with all your disappointments, the greater number of which are caused by your own heedlessness. When your crockery is broken, the breakage is much more likely to have been caused by your own awkwardness than by spirit-action."
-- Do the spirits who bring about petty vexations act from personal animosity, or do they direct their attacks against the first person who comes handy, without any fixed aim, and simply to gratify their malice?
"They act from both these motives. In some cases, they are enemies whom you have made during your present life, or in some former one, and who pursue you accordingly; in others, they act without any fixed motive."
531. In the case of those who have done us harm in the earthly life, is their malevolence extinguished when they return to the spirit-world?
"In many cases, they perceive the injustice of their action, and regret the wrong they have done you; but, in other cases, they continue to pursue you with their animosity, if God permits them to do so, as a continuation of your trial."
-- Can we put an end to this sort of persecution, and by what means?
"You can do so, in many cases, by praying for them, because, by thus rendering them good for evil, you gradually bring them to see that they are in the wrong. And, in all cases, if you can show them, by your patience, that you are able to rise superior to their machinations, they will cease to attack you, seeing that they gain nothing by so doing."
Experience proves that imperfect spirits follow up their vengeance from one existence to another, and that we are thus made to expiate sooner or later, the wrongs we may have done to others.
532. Are spirits able to avert misfortunes from some persons, and to bring them upon others?
"Only to a certain extent; for there are misfortunes that come upon you by the decrees of Providence. But spirits can lessen your sufferings by helping you to bear them with patience and resignation.
"Know, also, that it often depends on yourselves to avert misfortunes, or, least, to attenuate them. God has given you intelligence in order that you may make use of it, and it is especially by so doing that you enable friendly spirits to aid you most effectually, namely, by suggesting useful ideas; for they only help those who help themselves: a truth implied in the words, 'Seek, and yet shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.'"
"Besides, you must remember that what appears to you to be a misfortune is not always such; for the good which it is destined to work out is often greater than the seeming evil. This fact is not always recognized by you, because you are too apt to think only of the present moment, and of your own immediate satisfaction."
533. Can spirits obtain for us the gifts of fortune, if we entreat them to do so?
"They may sometimes accede to such a request as a trial for you; but they often refuse such demands, as you refuse the inconsiderate demands of a child."
-- When such favors are granted, is it by good spirits or by bad ones?
"By both; for the quality both, of the request and of the grant depends on the intention by which they are prompted. But such acquiescence is more frequent on the part of spirits who desire to lead you astray, and who find an easy means of doing this through the material pleasures procured by wealth."
534. When obstacles seem to be placed, by a sort of fatality, in the way of our projects, is it always through the influence of spirits?
"Such obstacles are sometimes thrown in your way by spirits, but they are more often attributable to your own bad management. Position and character have much to do with your successes or failures. If you persist in following a path which is not your right one, you become your own evil genius, and have no need to attribute to spirit-action the disappointments that result from your own obstinacy or mistake."
535. When anything fortunate happens to us, ought we to thank our spirit-guardian for it?
"Let your thanks be first for God, without whose permission nothing takes place; and, next, for the good spirits who have been His agents."
-- What would happen if we neglected to thank them?
"That which happens to the ungrateful."
-- Yet there are persons who neither pray nor give thanks, and who nevertheless succeed in everything they do?
"Yes; but wait to see the end of their lives. They will pay dearly for this passing prosperity, which they have not deserved; for, the more they have received, the more they will have to answer for."
536. Are the great phenomena of nature, those which we consider as perturbations of the elements, due to fortuitous causes, or have they all a providential aim? "There is a reason for everything; nothing takes place without the permission of God." Have these phenomena always some reference to mankind?
"They have sometimes a direct reference to man; but they have often no other object than the re-establishment of the equilibrium and harmony of the physical forces of nature."
-- We fully admit that the will of God must be the primal cause of these phenomena, as of everything else; but, as we know that spirits exercise an action upon matter, and that they are the agents of the divine will, we ask whether some among them do not exert an influence upon the elements, to rouse, calm or direct them?
"It is evident that they must do so; it could not be otherwise. God does not exercise a direct action upon matter; He has His devoted agents at every step of the ladder of worlds."
537. The mythology of the ancients is entirely based on spiritist ideas with this difference that they regarded spirits as divinities. They represented those gods or spirits with special attributes; thus, some of them had charge of the winds, others of the lightning; others, again, presided over vegetation, etc. Is this belief entirely devoid of foundation?
"It is so far from being devoid of foundation, that it is far below the truth."
-- May there, in the same way, be spirits inhabiting the interior of the earth and presiding over the development of geological phenomena?
"Those spirits do not positively inhabit the earth, but they preside over and direct its developments according to their various attributions. You will some day have the explanation of all these phenomena, and you will then understand them better."
538. Do the spirits who preside over the phenomena of nature form a special category in the spirit-world; are they beings apart, or spirits who have been incarnated like us?
"They are spirits who will be incarnated, or who have been so."
-- Do those spirits belong to the higher or lower degrees of the spirit-hierarchy?
"That is according as their post is more or less material or intelligent; some command, others execute; those who discharge material functions are always of an inferior order, among spirits as among men."
539. In the production of certain phenomena, of storms, for example, is it a single spirit that acts, or a mass of spirits?
"A mass of spirits; or, rather, innumerable masses of spirits."
540. Do the spirits who exert an action over the phenomena of nature act with knowledge and intention, in virtue of their free-will, or from an instinctive and unreasoning impulse?
"Some act in the one way, others in the other. To employ a comparison-Figure to yourself the myriads of animalcule that build up islands and archipelagos in the midst of the sea; do you believe that there can be, in this process, no providential intention, and that this transformation of the surface of the globe is not necessary to the general harmony? Yet all this is accomplished by animals of the lowest degree, in providing for their bodily wants, and without any consciousness of their being instruments of God. In the same way, spirits of the most rudimentary degrees are useful to the general whole; while preparing to live, and prior to their having the full consciousness of their action and free-will, they are made to concur in the development of the various departments of nature, in the production of the phenomena of which they are the unwitting agents. They begin by executing the orders of their superiors; subsequently, when their intelligence is more developed, they command in their turn, and direct the processes of the material world; still later, again, they are able to direct the things of the moral world. It is thus that everything in nature is linked together, from the primitive atom to the archangel, who himself began at the atom; an admirable law of harmony, which your mind is, as yet, too narrow to seize in its generality."
541. When a battle is being fought, are there spirits who assist and support each party?
"Yes, and who stimulate their courage."
The ancients represented the gods as taking part with such and such a people. Those gods were nothing else than spirits represented under allegorical figures.
542. In every war, the right is only on one side. How can spirits take the part of the one which is in the wrong?
"You know very well that there are spirits who seek only discord and destruction; for them war is war; they care little whether it be just or unjust."
543 Can spirits influence a general in the planning of a campaign?
"Without any doubt spirits can use their influence for this object, as for all other conceptions."
544. Could hostile spirits suggest to him unwise combinations in order to ruin him?
"Yes; but has he not his free-will? If his judgment do not enable him to distinguish between a good idea and a bad one, he will have to bear the consequences of his blindness, and would do better to obey than to command."
545. May a general sometimes be guided by a sort of second-sight, an intuitive perception that shows him, beforehand, the result of his combinations?
"It is often thus with a man of genius; this kind of intuition is what is called 'inspiration,' and causes him to act with a sort of certainty. It comes to him from the spirits who direct him, and who act upon him through the faculties with which he is endowed."
546. In the tumult of battle, what becomes of the spirits of those who succumb? Do they continue to take an interest in the struggle after their death?
"Some of them do so; others withdraw from it."
In the case of those who are killed in battle, as in all other cases of violent death, a spirit, during the first few moments, is in a state of bewilderment, and as though he were stunned. He does not know that he is dead and seems to be taking part in the action. It is only little by little that the reality of his situation becomes apparent to him.
547. Do the spirits of those who had fought against each other while alive still regard one another as enemies after death; and are they still enraged against one another?
"A spirit, under such circumstances, is never calm. At the first moment, he may still be excited against his enemy, and even pursue him; but, when he has recovered his self-possession, he sees that his animosity has no longer any motive. But he may, nevertheless, retain some traces of it for a longer or shorter period, according to his character."
-- Does he still perceive the clang of the battle field?
548. When a spirit is coolly watching a battle, as a mere spectator, does he witness the separation of the souls and bodies of those who fall, and how does this phenomenon affect him?
"Very few deaths are altogether instantaneous. In most cases, the spirit whose body has just been mortally struck is not aware of it for the moment; it is when he begins to come to himself that his spirit can be seen moving beside his corpse. This appears so natural, that the sight of the dead body does not produce any disagreeable effect. All the life of the individual being concentrated in his spirit, the latter alone attracts the attention of the spirits about him. It is with him that they converse, to him that orders are given."
549. Is there any truth in the idea that pacts can be entered into with evil spirits?
"No; there is no pact, but there is sympathy, between an evil nature and evil spirits. For example; you wish to torment your neighbor, but you know not how to set about it; and you therefore call to your help some of the inferior spirits, who, like yourself, only desire to do evil, and who, in return for the help they give you in carrying out your wicked designs, expect you to help them with theirs. But it does not follow that your neighbor will not be able to get rid of such a conspiracy by an opposing conjuration and the action of his will. He who desires to do an evil deed calls evil spirits to his assistance by that mere desire; and he is then obliged to serve them as they have served him, for they, on their side, have need of his help in the evil they desire to do. What you call a pact consists simply in this reciprocity of assistance in evil."
The subjection to evil spirits, in which a man sometimes finds himself, proceeds from his abandoning himself to the evil thoughts suggested by them, and not from any sort of stipulations between them and him. The idea of a pact, in the sense commonly attached to that word, is a figurative representation of the sympathy which exists between a bad man and malicious spirits.
550. What is the meaning of the fantastic legends of persons selling their soul to Satan in order to obtain from him certain favors?
"All fables contain a teaching and a moral; your mistake is in taking them literally. The one you refer to is an allegory that may be thus explained:--He who calls evil spirits to his aid, in order to obtain from them the gifts of fortune or any other favor, rebels against Providence. He draws back from the mission he has received, and from the trials he was to have undergone, in his earthly life; and he will reap the consequences of this rebellion in the life to come. By this we do not mean to say that his soul is condemned to misery forever; but as, instead of detaching himself from matter, he plunges himself deeper and deeper into it, his enjoyment of earthly pleasures will only have led to his suffering in the spirit-world, until he shall have redeemed himself from the thralldom of evil by new trials, perhaps heavier and more painful than those against which he now rebels. Through his indulgence in material pleasures, he brings himself under the power of impure spirits, and thus establishes between them and him a tacit compact which leads him to his ruin, but which it is always easy for him to break with the assistance of higher spirits, if he have the firm determination to do so."
551. Can a bad man, with the aid of a bad spirit who is at his orders, cause harm to his neighbor?
"No; God would not permit it."
552. What is to be thought of the belief in the power of certain persons to throw a spell over others?
"Certain persons possess a very strong magnetic power, of which they may make a bad use if their own spirit is bad, and, in that case, they may be seconded by other bad spirits; but do not attach belief to any pretended magical power, which exists only in the imagination of superstitious people, ignorant of the true laws of nature. The facts adduced to prove the existence of this pretended power are facts which are really due to the action of natural causes that have been imperfectly observed, and above all, imperfectly understood."
553. What is the effect of the formulas and practices by the aid of which certain persons profess to be able to control the wills of spirits?
"Their only effect is to render such persons ridiculous, if they really put faith in them; and, if they do not, they are rogues who deserve to be punished. All such formulas are mere jugglery; there is no 'sacramental word,' no cabalistic sign, no talisman, that has any power over spirits; for spirits are attracted by thought and not by anything material."
-- Have not cabalistic formulas been sometimes dictated by spirits?
"Yes; there are spirits who give you strange signs and words, and prescribe certain acts, with the aid of which you perform what you call 'conjurations;' but you may be very sure that such spirits are making game of you, and amusing themselves with your credulity."
554. Is it not possible that he who, rightly or wrongly, has confidence in what he calls the virtue of a talisman, may attract spirit to him by that very confidence; for in that case it would be his thought that acts, the talisman being only a sign that helps to concentrate and direct his thought?
"Such an action is quite possible; but the nature of the spirit thus attracted would depend on the purity of intention and the elevation of sentiment of the party attracting him; and it rarely happens that one who is simple enough to believe in the virtue of a talisman is not actuated by motives of a material rather than of a moral character. At all events, such practices imply a pettiness and weakness of mind that would naturally give access to imperfect and mocking spirits."
555. What meaning should we attach to the qualification of sorcerer?
"Those whom you call sorcerers are persons gifted, when they are honest, with certain exceptional faculties, like the mesmeric power or second-sight; and as such persons do things that you do not comprehend, you suppose them to be endowed with supernatural power. Have not many of your learned men passed for sorcerers in the eyes of the ignorant?"
556. Do some persons really possess the gift of healing by merely touching the sick?
"The mesmeric power may act to that extent when it is seconded by purity of intention and ardent desire to do good, for, in such a case, good spirits come to the aid of the mesmerizer. But you must be on your guard against the way in which facts are exaggerated when recounted by persons who, being too credulous or too enthusiastic, are disposed to discover something marvelous in the simplest and most natural occurrences. You must also be on your guard against the interested recitals of persons who work on credulity with a view to their own benefit."
557. Do benedictions and curses draw down good and evil on those who are the object of them?
"God does not listen to an unjust malediction, and he who utters it is guilty in His eyes. As we are subjected to two opposite influences, good and evil, a curse may have a momentary action, even upon matter; but this action can never take place unless by the will of God, and as an increase of trial for him who is its object. Besides, curses are usually bestowed on the wicked, and benedictions on the good. But neither blessing nor cursing can ever turn aside the justice of Providence, which only strikes the one who is cursed if he is wicked, and only favors the one who is blessed if he merits its protection."