Allan Kardec

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The phenomena of apparitions are now presented in a kind of new aspect, shedding a powerful light over the mysteries of life beyond the grave. Before moving into the strange facts that we will report, we find it appropriate to recap the explanations given earlier and complete them.

One should keep in mind that during its life the spirit is united to the body by a semi-material substance that forms the first covering called perispirit. The spirit thus has two coverings: one dense, heavy and destructible – the body; the other, ethereal, vaporous, indestructible – the perispirit. Death is nothing but the destruction of the gross covering; it is like the worn clothes that we abandon. The semi material covering persists and constitutes, per say, a new body to the spirit.

Such ethereal matter – interesting to point out – is not the soul, absolutely; it is nothing more than its first covering. The intimate nature of that substance is not yet perfectly known to us but the observation has led us to understand some of its properties. We know that it represents a fundamental role in every spiritist phenomena; that after death it is the intermediary agent between the spirit and matter, as the body is during its life. This allows for the explanation of a large number of phenomena hitherto inexplicable. We shall see in a following article the role that it plays in the sensations of the spirits. Besides, the discovery of the perispirit, if we can say so, led the Spiritist Science into a huge step in an entirely new route.

But the perispirit, some may argue, isn’t that a fantastic creation of imagination? Wouldn’t that be one of those suppositions made several times to explain certain effects? No. It is not the work of imagination since it was revealed by the spirits themselves. It is not a fantastic idea since it can be verified by the senses and can be seen and touched. It does exist; we only gave it a name. We need new words to describe new things. The spirits also adopted it in the communications that we have established with them.

By nature and in its normal state the perispirit is invisible to us but it can go through changes to allow us to see it, both by a kind of condensation as well as by an alteration in its molecular structure. It is then that it can appear to us in a vaporous state. The condensation (we should not take this term formally hence we only employ it for the lack of a better one) can be such that the perispirit acquires the properties of a solid and tangible body. It can, nevertheless, instantly return to its ethereal and invisible state. We can have an idea of that effect by the vapor that can pass from the invisible to a foggy state then to liquid and then to solid and vice-versa. Those different states of the perispirit are the product of the free-will of the spirit and not of an exterior cause. When visible to us it is because the spirit gives to the perispirit the necessary property to make it visible. That property can be extended, restricted and ceased, according to their wishes.

Another property of the perispirit is its penetrability. It cannot be blocked by any matter, passing through them all, like the light passes through the transparent bodies.

The perispirit, separated from the body, takes a determined and limited form which normally is the human body, but that is not constant. The spirit can give it a variety of forms at will, including that of an animal or a flame. As a matter of fact, this capability can be easily understood. Don’t we see people that make the most diverse expressions, imitating the voice and the facial looks of other people, to the point of deceiving us; pretending to be fat, disabled, etc? Who can recognize around town those actors that we only see playing a characteristic role on a stage? If man can thus give to his material and rigid body such contradictory appearances, with even more reason the spirit can do it with a covering, which is eminently flexible and can yield to all caprices.

The spirits generally appear to us showing a human form. In its normal state such a form does not have anything very characteristic, anything that markedly separate one from the others. With the good spirits that shape is, by a rule of thumb, beautiful and regular: long and fluctuating hair over their shoulders, ample mantles surrounding their bodies. But whenever they want to be identified they assume all traces by which they were known, including the outfits, if necessary. That is for example like Aesop who is not disabled as a spirit but if evoked as Aesop, considering that he had several existences prior to that, he will show up ugly and with a hunchback, as well as traditionally dressed. It is perhaps the dressing that is most intriguing; if however we consider that the dressing is also part of the semi material covering, we then understand that the spirit can give to that covering the appearance of this or that outfit as with this or that facial looks.

The spirits can appear in dreams as well as in the waking state. The apparitions in the waking state are neither rare nor new; they have happened at all times and history records them in great number. Without going back to the past, however, they are very frequent nowadays and many people have, at first, taken such visions as hallucinations.

The apparitions are particularly frequent in cases of death from individuals that come to visit relatives and friends. They do not often have a determined objective but one can generally say that the spirits that appear to us are attracted by mutual sympathy.

We know a young lady that appear many times in her house, in her bedroom, with or without light, men that would come and go, despite the fact that the door would be closed. She would feel so scared that she showed an almost ridiculous cowardice. One day she distinctly saw her brother who was alive in California, giving proof that the spirits of the living beings can cover the distances and show up in a place when the body is in another.

Once that lady was initiated into Spiritism she is no longer be afraid since she is aware of the visions and she knows that the spirits that come to visit her cannot do her any harm. It is likely that her brother was asleep when he appeared to hear. If she only knew that she could have established a conversation with him, of which he could have kept a faint impression when awaken. It is also likely that he would then have thought to have dreamt of being close to his sister.

We said that the perispirit can become tangible. We spoke of that when describing the manifestations produced by Mr. Home. It is a known fact that he has made hands appear several times, hands that could be touched as if they were alive, but that would suddenly disappear as shadows, although no complete bodies had yet been seen under such a tangible form. Yet, this is also possible.

In one of our member’s family, a spirit has been associated to the daughter of this family. This daughter is a ten to eleven year old child who has befriended a handsome young man of the same age. He is visible to her and willingly becomes visible or invisible to the other persons. He does all sorts of errands; he brings toys and chocolates to her; cleans the house; go to the stores for groceries and more expensive items. This is not a legend of the German mystic neither a medieval story. It is an actual fact that happens at this very moment while we write, in a French town, in the core of a very respectable family. We have even carried out interesting studies about this case which provided us with the most original and unexpected revelations. We will address this subject with our readers in a more thorough article to be published soon.

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