THE SPIRITIST REVIEW - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1858

Allan Kardec

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The obsessed and subjugated

A lot has been said about the dangers of Spiritism. It is remarkable; however, that those who screamed the most are exactly those who only know it from what they heard about it. We have already refuted the main arguments brought up by them – thus we shall not return to that topic. We shall only add that if we wanted to eliminate from society everything that could offer danger and give rise to abuses we wouldn’t have much left, even those things of real necessity, starting from the fire, a cause of so many tragedies; then the railroads and etc. If one admits that the advantages compensate the inconvenient, the same must apply to everything else. At the same time experience indicates the precautions that need to be taken to protect us against the inevitable dangers of things.

Spiritism truly poses a real danger but it is not the danger that one supposes. It is necessary to be initiated in the principles of the Science to understand it well. We do not address those who are unaware of such principles but the individuals aware of these principals themselves, those who practice them, since these are the individuals who face danger. It is necessary that those principles be understood so as the adepts can be on guard. As they say, a known danger is a half avoided danger. We say more: to whoever is well informed about the Science such a danger does not exist; it does exist only to those who have the presumption of knowledge, that is to say, as with everything else, to those that do not have the necessary experience.

A very natural desire in everyone that starts to get involved with Spiritism is to become a medium, mainly psychographic. It is really the kind that exerts more attraction, given the facility of communications and for being the one that more easily is developed by exercise. It is understandable the satisfaction that someone must feel when, for the first time, sees their hand forming letters and later on phrases, answering to their thoughts. These automatically traced answers, without the person knowing what is going on, that frequently is outside of any personal idea, cannot leave any doubt regarding the intervention of an occult intelligence. Therefore, they show great happiness on dealing with the beings of beyond the grave, with these mysterious and invisible beings that populate the spaces: relatives and friends are no longer absent; the fact that one cannot see them does not mean that they are not present; one talks to them and is seen by them through thought; one can know if they are happy, know what they do, what they want and exchange kindness. It is clear that the separation between them is no longer eternal and that they have expectations for the moment when they can finally meet in a better world. That is not all. How much more cannot one know through the communicating spirits? Won’t they lift the veil of all things? No more mysteries now: just ask to know it all. One can see antiquity shaking before the dust of times; excavate ruins; interpret symbolic scriptures and revive past centuries before one’s eyes. This one is more prosaic; less worried about probing the infinite where his thought is lost, being only interested in exploiting the spirits to make fortune. The spirits, who should know and see everything, cannot deny the allowance of some hidden treasure or some marvelous secret.

Whoever takes the time to study the Spiritist Science will never fall for such beautiful dreams. They know what should be avoided with respect to the power of the spirits, of their nature and the objective of the relationships that man can establish with them. Let us recall, to begin with, in a few words, the main points that must never be kept off sight as they are the cornerstone that sustain the whole edifice.

1° - The spirits are not all equal nor in power, nor in knowledge or wisdom. As they are no more than human souls detached from their corporeal body, they present a variety even greater than that of men on Earth, because they come from all worlds and, among the globes, Earth is neither the most basic nor the most advanced. Thus, there are very superior spirits as there are very inferior ones; very good and evil; very wise and very ignorant; there are those of levity, malevolence, liars, astute, hypocrites, polished, sharp, jokers, etc.

2° - We are incessantly surrounded by a cloud of spirits that occupy the space around us, despite the fact that we cannot see them, watching our acts, reading our thoughts, some to do us good, others to do us harm, whether good or bad spirits, accordingly.

3° - From the physical and moral inferiority of our globe in the hierarchy of the worlds, the inferior spirits are more numerous here than the superior ones.

4° - Among those spirits that surround us there are those that attach to us; that act more particularly over our thoughts, giving us advice, and whose influence we follow unnoticeably. Good for us if we hear the voice of the good spirits only.

5° - The inferior spirits only bond to those that listen to them, that give them access and to whom they connect. If successful on dominating someone, they identify with their own spirit, fascinating them, obsessing them, subjugating them, and leading them as one does to a child.

6° - Obsession can never happen but by inferior spirits. The good spirits don’t produce any kind of coercion, combat the influence of the bad spirits and stay away when they are not listened to.

7° - The degree of coercion and the nature of the effects it produces determine the difference between obsession, subjugation and fascination.

Obsession is the almost permanent action of a strange spirit that leads the person to be solicited by an incessant need to act by this way or the other and to do this or that.

Subjugation is a moral bond that paralyzes the free will of the one that suffers it, pushing the person to the most reckless attitudes, frequently most contrary to their own interest.

Fascination is a kind of illusion produced by the direct action of a strange spirit or by his cunning thoughts. Such an illusion produces an alteration in the comprehension of moral things, leading to misjudgment and to mistaken evil for good.

8° - Man can always disengage from the oppression of the imperfect spirits by their will power, by the choice between good and evil. If the coercion achieved the point of paralyzing the will and if the fascination is such that it obliterates reason, then the will of a third person may replace it.
The name possession was used in the past to describe the control exerted by the bad spirits, when their influence would go to the aberration of the faculties. But ignorance and prejudice have taken by possession what many times was just a pathological state. For us, possession would be a synonym of subjugation. We do not adopt that term for two reasons: first because it implies the belief in beings created and perpetually devoted to evil when in fact there is only more or less imperfect beings who can improve; second that it implies that the strange spirit takes over the body, in a kind of co-inhabitation, when in fact there is only a connection. The word subjugation gives a perfect idea. Thus for us there is no possessed in the vulgar sense, but only obsessed, subjugated and fascinated.

For the same reason we do not use the term “devil” to designate the imperfect spirits, although these are frequently not better than those called devils; it is only due to the specialty and perpetuity associated to that term. Thus, when we say that there are no devils we do not wish to say that there are only good spirits. Far from that and we know well that there are evil and much evil ones, who solicit us to evil, tricking us, not surprisingly considering that they were all men. We wish to say that they do not make a special class in the order of Creation and that God gives all creatures the opportunity to improve themselves.

Having said that let us go back to the mediums. For some the progress is slow, really slow; these have their patience tested sometimes. For others it is fast, and in a short time the medium begins to write with ease and eventually even more promptly than he would do under normal conditions. It is then that the medium can get carried away and it is there where the danger resides because enthusiasm leads to weakening and it is necessary to be strong with the spirits. It seems a paradox to say that enthusiasm provokes weakening but there is nothing more correct than this. Some will say that enthusiasm marches with a conviction and a confidence that overcome every obstacle, thus yielding more strength. No doubt but we become enthusiastic by the false as well as by the true. Accept the most absurd ideas of the enthusiast and you can do anything you want with him. The object of the enthusiasm is their weak spot by which they can always be dominated. The cold man, on the contrary, is impassive. He is not misled; correlates, weighs, maturely examines and does not allow seduction through subterfuge. That is his strength. The malevolent spirits who know this better than us, also know how to take advantage of the situation to subjugate those who they wish to control. The faculty of writing as medium serves them wonderfully well as it is a powerful means of captivating the medium’s trust and consequently take advantage, if we are not vigilant against them. Fortunately, as we will see later, the illness also carries the remedy.

Be it out of enthusiasm, out of fascination by the spirits or the medium’s self esteem, the psychographic medium in general is led to believe that the spirits that communicate with him are superior and that even more the more the spirits, by noticing the medium’s inclination, ornate themselves with pompous titles, according to the necessity. Thus, pending on the circumstances, they take the names of saints, scholars, angels, of the Virgin Mary herself, and play their roles like actors, ridiculously dressing the outfits of those they represent. Remove their masks and they become what they are: ridiculous. This is what one must do both with the spirits and with men.

From the blind and unthoughtful belief in the superiority of the spirits to the trust in their words there is only one step, as it also happens with men. If they are able to inspire such a confidence they then feed it through sophisms and cunning reasoning, before which people normally lower their heads. The rude spirits are less dangerous: we recognize them immediately and these do not inspire but disgust. The most terrible in their world, like in ours, are the hypocrite spirits: they always speak with kindness, flatter people’s inclinations; are sweet, shrewd, and plentiful of nice expressions, demonstrating dedication. It is necessary to be really strong to resist to similar seduction.

Some will ask: Where is the danger if the spirits are intangible? The danger is in the evil advices that they give, and in the ridiculous, baleful and untimely attitudes they lead us to do. We have already seen some that made certain people to walk from region to region searching for fantastic things, at the risk of their health, fortune and own life. We have seen them dictating the most banal things with a grave attitude, applying the strangest teachings.

Considering the adequacy of supplying the example side by side with the theory, we will report the case of an acquaintance of ours who had been under the dominion of a similar fascination.

Mr. F..., a highly educated young man, of kind and benevolent character, but a bit weak and indecisive, became a psychographic medium in a very short time. Obsessed by the spirit that controlled him and would not let him go, he wrote incessantly. If a pen or a pencil reached his hand he would convulsively take it, filling pages and pages out in a few minutes. In the absence of an instrument he would simulate writing with his finger, wherever he was: in the streets, on the walls, on the doors, etc. Among other things he used to write this: Man is made up of three things: man, the bad spirit and the good spirit. All of you have your bad spirit that is connected to your body by material links. In order to expel the bad spirit it is necessary to break these links that requires the weakening of the body. When the body is sufficiently weak the link breaks and the bad spirit goes, leaving only the good spirit behind.”

As a consequence of that beautiful theory they made him fast for five days in a row and wake at night. When he was worn out they told him: “Now the thing is done and the link is broken. Your bad spirit is gone: it is now only us that you must believe without reservations.” And the man, persuaded that the bad spirit had fled, blindly believed in everything he was told. The subjugation had come to a point that if they asked him to jump in the waters or leave to the other side of the earth he would have done so. When asked to do something that disgusted him he felt dragged by an invisible power.

We give a small sample of their moral disposition and from there on it is possible to judge the rest:

In order to obtain better communications it is necessary to pray first and fast for several days, some more, others less. Fasting weakens the existing links between the ego and a particular devil connected to each human being. That devil is connected to each person through the covering that unites body and soul. Such covering weakens by the lack of food, allowing the spirits to remove that devil. Then Jesus gets into the heart of the promised person, replacing the evil spirit. Such a state of having Jesus in each one is the only way one has to attain the whole truth and many other things. By successfully replacing the devil by Jesus the creature does not have the truth yet. It is necessary to believe. God does not give the truth to the doubtful: it would be like doing something useless and God does not do such things. As the majority of the new mediums doubt what they say and write, the good spirits, unwillingly, by a formal commandment of God, are obliged to lie and they have no other alternative but to lie until the medium is convinced; but as soon as they believe in one of those lies the elevated spirits rush into unveil the secrets of heavens to them: the whole truth shines up instantly over that cloud of mistakes with which they were obliged to cover their protégé. Once there, the medium has nothing else to fear. The good spirits will never leave them. However, he should not believe that he always holds the truth and only the truth. Be it to protect him or to punish him for his past faults, be it still to punish him for selfish or curious questions, the good spirits inflict him physical and moral corrections, coming to torment him in the name of God. Sometimes those elevated spirits regret the sad mission that they accomplish: a father harasses his son for weeks in a row, from a friend to his friend, all for the happiness of the medium. Then the noble spirits say silly things, blasphemies and even nasty ones. It is necessary that the medium resist and say: you are trying me; I know that I am in the hands of caring and kind spirits; that the evil ones can no longer approach me. Good souls that torment me, you shall not impede my belief in what you have taught me and that you shall still teach. The Catholic more easily expel the devil * because he left instantly at the day of baptism. The Catholics are judged by Jesus, the others by God. It is better to be judged by the Christ. The Protestants are not right in not admitting that: it is necessary that you become a Catholic as soon as possible. While you don’t do that, go and drink the holy water: this will be your baptism.”

Later, after being cured from the obsession that victimized him, by means that we will report, we asked him to write his own story, providing us with a description of the principles that were dictated to him. He added the following text to his explanations:

“I ask myself if I am not offending God by means of writing such silly things.”

We respond to that: No, you do not offend God; far from that since now you acknowledge the trap in which you fell. If I asked you for a copy of such perverse statements was to highlight them, as they deserve; unmask the hypocrites and alert whoever may receive similar thing.

One day they will make you write: “You shall die tonight”. And he will answer: I feel bored in this world; let us die, if that is meant to be; I ask for no more; may I no longer suffer; this is all I wish – Then firmly sleeps at night believing that he will no longer wake up. What a surprise and disappointment in the next morning when he sees himself in his usual bed. During the day he writes: “Now that you have gone through the trial of death, that you firmly believed that you would die, you are like one of us, dead: we can now tell you the whole truth; you will know everything. There is nothing hidden from us; nothing hidden from you. You are one reincarnation of Shakespeare. Isn’t Shakespeare your bible?

On the next day he writes:

  • - You are Satan.

  • - This a bit too much, says Mr. F...

  • - Haven’t you done... haven’t you devoured the Lost Paradise? You have read the Fille du Diable de Beranger; you knew that Satan would convert. Haven’t you always believed; haven’t you said that; haven’t you written that? In order to convert he has reincarnated.

  • - I agree that I may have been some rebel angel but the king of angels...!

  • - Yes, you were the angel of intrepidity. You are not evil. You have a proud heart; it is that pride that you need to abate. You are the angel of pride, that men call Satan. Who cares about the name! You were the evil genie of Earth. Behold you are now humiliated... Men will progress... You will see wonders. You have deceived men; you deceived the woman personified by Eve, the sinful woman. They say that Maria, the personification of the spotless woman, will crush your head. Maria will come.

    A few moments later writes slow and kindly:

    Maria is coming to see you. She, the one who sought you at the bottom of your kingdom of shadow, shall not abandon you. God is ready to extend his arms to you. Read The Prodigal Son. Good Bye.

    On another day he writes:

    The serpent told Eve: Your eyes shall open and you shall be like the gods. The devil told Jesus: I will give you all the power. I tell you as you believe in our words: we love you; you will know everything... You will be king of Poland.

    - Persevere in the good conditions we placed you. This lesson will give the Spiritist Science a big boost. You will see that the good spirits may say silly things and lies to make fun of the scholars. Allan Kardec has said that a way of recognizing the spirits is to make them confess Jesus in flesh. I say that only the good spirits confess Jesus in flesh, and I do it. Tell Kardec that.

    ♦♦♦ However the spirit had the modesty of not advising Mr. F... to publish such beautiful statements. Had he done so and he would have published it - that would have been a perverse attitude, considering that he would have distributed it as something serious.

    We would have filled a book with all that silliness dictated to him and the circumstances that followed it. Among other things they made him draw an edifice whose dimensions required an amount of sheets of paper glued on each other, which reached a height of a two-storey building.

    Notice that in none of that there is something gross or banal. It is a series of sophistic thoughts, connected to give the appearance of logic. The means employed to deceive the medium demonstrates that there is indeed an evil art and, given the opportunity to report all of the manifestations, one would see to which point such astuteness was taken and with which skills such mellifluous words were employed.

    The spirit that represented the main role in that business used the name Francois Dillois, when not covered by a respectable name. Later we came to know what this Dillois had been in life and then his language no longer surprised us. But in the middle of all this confusion it was easy to recognize a good fighting spirit, who from time to time would bring a word of denial to the other spirit’s teachings. There was an evident struggle, but the fight was unfair. The young man was so much subjugated that the voice of reason was powerless in him. The spirit of his father notably made him writes the following: “Yes, my son, courage! You are through a tough trial that will be for your benefit in the future. Unfortunately, as of now, there is nothing I can do to free you and that is hard on me. Go and see Allan Kardec; listen to him and he shall save you.”

    Mr. F... effectively came to see me and from start I recognized, without difficulty, the pernicious influence on him, be it by his words or by some material signs that experience helps us to identify and that cannot fool us. He came back several times. I employed all my will power to attract the good spirits through him; all my rhetoric to demonstrate that he was the victim of evil spirits; that what he was writing was meaningless, besides the fact that it was profoundly immoral. A colleague, Mr. T, seconded me... and gradually we were able to see him writing sensible things. He then created aversion to that bad influence, repelling him by his own will whenever he wanted to manifest, and then the good spirits slowly triumphed.
    In order to modify his ideas he followed the spirits’ advice and found himself a tough job that would not allow him time to listen to the bad suggestions. Dillois himself ended up acknowledging defeat and manifested interest of progressing in another life. Confessed the evil things he tried to do and gave proofs of regret. The fight was long lasting and tough, offering curious particularities to the observer. Nowadays Mr. F... feels free and happy. It felt as if he had unloaded a burden. He recovered his joyfulness and is thankful to us for the service we have done. Some people deplore the fact that there are evil spirits. Truly, it is not without certain disenchantment that we find perversity in that world, where we would like to see only perfect spirits. However, it is what it is and there is nothing we can do about it. It is our own inferiority that makes the imperfect spirits bounce around us. Things will change when we become better, as with the more advanced worlds. While we wait and find ourselves in the undergrounds of the moral universe, we are warned: it is up to us to be prepared and not accept everything that we are told without exam. Experience should make us circumspect while enlightening us. See and understand evil is a means of protecting ourselves against it. Wouldn’t that be a hundred times more dangerous to have illusions with respect to the nature of the invisible beings around us? The same happens among men, as we are daily exposed to malevolence and perfidious suggestions; those make for many more trials that our consciousness and reason offer the means to resist. The more difficult is the struggle, the greater the merit of success. “Victory without danger is triumph without glory”. This story, that unfortunately is not the only one to our knowledge, raises a very grave question. Wouldn’t that be troublesome to that young man to be a medium? Wasn’t the mediumship the cause of the obsession that victimized him? In one word, isn’t that a proof of the danger of the spiritist communications? Our answer is simple and our request is that it be carefully analyzed. The mediums have not created the spirits. They have always existed and exerted a healthy or pernicious influence on men. It is not necessary to be a medium for that to occur. The medianimic faculty is nothing more than a means for their manifestation; in the absence of such a faculty they act in a thousand other ways. If that young man were not a medium it does not mean that he would be free from the influence of that bad spirit who, no doubt, would have made him do extravagant things that would have been attributed to any other cause. Fortunately for him, as his faculty of mediumship allowed the spirit to communicate by words through him, it was by those words that the spirit betrayed himself. The words allowed the identification of the cause of an illness that could have had dismal consequences to him and that we have destroyed, as shown, by means of very simple and rational means, and without exorcisms. The medianimic faculty made it possible to see the enemy, if we can say so, face to face, and fight him with his own weapons. We can then say, with absolute certainty, that it was that very faculty that saved him. As for ourselves, we were only the doctors that having analyzed the cause of the illness applied the remedy. It would be a serious mistake to think that the spirits do not exert their influence other than through verbal and written communications. Such influence is constant and those who do not believe in spirits are as much under their influence as the others and even more than the others because they do not have, as a counterpoint, the knowledge.

    How many actions, unfortunately, aren’t we led to and that could have been avoided had we had the means of enlightening ourselves! The most incredulous are unaware that they tell the truth when they say, with respect to someone that chooses the wrong path: “It is his bad genie that pushes him to his loss.”

    General rule: Whoever obtains bad spiritist communications, verbal or written, is under bad influence. Such influence is exerted on them irrespectively if a medium. The writing provides a means of ensuring the nature of the spirits that act upon the person and to combat them, what can be done with such more success the better one knows about the reasons that make them act that way. If the medium is blind enough to not understand, others can open their eyes. As a matter of fact, is it necessary to be a medium to write an absurd? Who can tell that among these dangerous or ridiculous theories wouldn’t be some whose authors are motivated by malevolent spirits? Three quarters of our bad actions and our bad thoughts are the result of such occult suggestion.

    Could we have stopped the obsession if Mr. F... were not a medium? We certainly could. Only the means would have been different, according to the circumstances. But then the spirits could not have referred him to us, as they did, and the cause would have been probably neglected, since there would have been no ostensive spiritist manifestation.

    Every creature of good will and who is sympathetic to the good spirits can always, with their support, paralyze a harmful influence. We say that the person should be sympathetic to the good spirits because if the person attracts the inferior ones then it is evident that it is like hunting wolves with wolves.

    Summarizing, the danger is not properly in the Spiritism since it can, on the contrary, serve as a control, protecting us from what we are unwillingly exposed. The danger is in the tendency of certain mediums to, very recklessly, believe that they are exclusive instruments of the superior spirits, under a kind of fascination that does not allow them to understand the fatuity to which they operate as interpreters. Even those that are not mediums can be dragged. We will finish this chapter with the following considerations:

    ♦♦♦ 1° - Every medium must prevent from the irresistible excitement that leads them to write incessantly, even at inadequate times; they must control themselves and only write when they want to;

    2° - We cannot dominate the superior spirits, not even those who are not superior but who are kind and benevolent; however we can dominate and tame the inferior spirits.

    3° - There is no other criteria to distinguish the value of the spirits but commonsense. Any formula given by the spirits with that purpose is absurd and cannot proceed from superior spirits;

    4° - The spirits, like men, are judged by their language. Every expression, every thought, every concept, the whole moral or scientific theory that shocks commonsense or does not correspond to the idea that we have of a pure and elevated spirit, comes from a more or less inferior spirit;

    5° - The superior spirits always use the same language with the same person and never contradict themselves;

    6° - The superior spirits are always good and benevolent. We never find acrimony, arrogance, rudeness, pride, swagger, or silly presumption in their language. They speak with simplicity, give advice and leave when not heard;

    7° - We should not judge the spirits by their material form or by the correction of their language, but probe their intimacy, scrutinize their words, cold-bloodedly analyze them, maturely and without prevention;

    8° - The inferior spirits fear for their words to be analyzed, unmask their turpitude and are not attached to their sophisms. Eventually they try to resist but end up fleeing when notice that they are the weakest part;

    9° - The one that always acts thinking about the good deeds elevates above human vanities, expels selfishness, pride, envy, jealousy and hatred from the heart and forgives their enemies, practicing this teaching from Jesus: “Do to others what you would have them do to you”; sympathizes with the good spirits, whereas the bad ones are fearful and stay away from them.

    Following such principles we are guaranteed protection against bad communications and against the domination of impure spirits. By taking advantage of everything that the truly superior spirits teach us we will contribute, each in a particular way, to the moral progress of humanity.

  • ______________________
  • * The young medium was protestant

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