THE SPIRITIST REVIEW - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1858

Allan Kardec

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Magnetism and somnambulism taught by the Church


We have just seen magnetism recognized by medicine. Here is another adhesion that, under a different point of view, is not of any lesser importance, since it demonstrates the weakening of the prejudices by the daily surge of more sound ideas that make them disappear: the adhesion of the Church.

We have in our hands a little book entitled “Abrégé, en forme de catéchisme”, from the elemental course of Christian instruction, to be used in the catechism and in the Christian schools, written by the abbot Marotte, General Vicar of Bishop Verdun, 1853. Using the Q&A format, the work contains every principles of the Christian doctrine about the dogma, sacred history, God’s commandments, sacraments, etc. In one of the chapters about the first commandment, where the sins against religion are treated, and after having taught about superstition, magic and sortileges, it states the following:

“Q – What is magnetism?”

“A – It is a reciprocal influence that sometimes take place among individuals, according to a harmony of relationships, be it by the will or by imagination, or by physical sensitivity, whose main phenomena are somnolence, sleepiness, somnambulism and the convulsive state.”

“Q – What are the effects of magnetism?”

“A – Typically, as it seems, magnetism produces two main effects: 1°) A somnambulistic state, in which the magnetized person, entirely subtracted from the use of the senses, sees, speaks and answers all questions addressed to them; 2°) An intelligence and wisdom that only exist during the crisis: the person knows their state, the adequate remedies to their diseases, as well as what other people are doing, even distant ones.”

“Q – Is it licit, in one’s right mind, to magnetize or become magnetized?”

“A – 1°) If through the magnetic operation, diabolic means are employed or effects obtained that suppose a diabolic intervention, it will be a superstitious work and should never be allowed. 2°) The same applies to the magnetic communications that are contrary to modesty. 3°) Supposing that all care has been taken to keep the abuse away from the practice of magnetism, eliminating every danger to the faith or to the customs, every pact with the devil, it is doubtful that one may recourse to that as a natural and useful remedy.”


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We regret that the author had made the final exception, in contradiction to what precedes. In fact, why the use of something healthy would not be allowed, since the inconvenient that he had pointed out was removed? It is true that he does not express a formal prohibition, but a simple doubt with respect to the permission. In any event, this is not found in a scientific book, dogmatic, for the exclusive use of the theologians, but in an elemental book, for the use of catechism, that is, destined to the religious instruction of the masses. Consequently, it is not a personal opinion, but an enshrined and acknowledged truth that magnetism exists; that it produces somnambulism; that the somnambulist enjoys special faculties, like vision without the eyes, even at a distance; hearing without the ears; providing knowledge that one does not have in the normal state; indicating medication that improves health.
The qualification of the author has great importance in this case. This is not about an obscure man speaking or a simple priest that issues his opinion: it is the teaching of a general vicar.

This is another backlash and another warning to those who judge with great hastiness.

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