Allan Kardec

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90. Superior spirits do not, any more than grave and serious men, amuse themselves with playing ill-natured tricks. We have often made spirits of this disorderly nature come to us, and have questioned them as to the motives of their misbehaviour. The majority of them seem to have no other object than that of amusing themselves, and to be rather reckless than wicked ; they laugh at the alarm they occasion, and at the useless searchings that are made to find out the cause of the tumult. There are others, however, who will furiously assail some one whom it gratifies them to persecute, and will follow him from one house to another. Others, again, attach themselves to Some particular locality, from no graver motive than caprice. Sometimes it is a vengeance which they exercise, as we shall show farther on. In other cases, their object is more praiseworthy they wish to attract our attention, and to enter into communication with us, either for the purpose of giving advice which may be useful to us, or to ask something for themselves. We have often known them ask for our prayers ; others have begged that some vow, which they were not able to fulfil during their earthly life, might be fulfilled in their name ; others, again, have desired to make reparation for some evil deed committed by them when on earth, and this, for the sake of their own repose in their present state. Generally speaking, it is a mistake to be afraid of them; their presence may be troublesome, but is rarely dangerous.

It is not strange, however, that people are anxious to rid themselves of such visitants; but, unfortunately, they generally set about doing this in a wrong way. If spirits are only amusing themselves, the greater the gravity with which their antics are met, the more persistent they become ; like mischievous children, who only tease the more, the more anger they excite, and the more successful they are in frightening the timid. The wisest course is to laugh at their absurdities for they then get tired of playing the fool, and cease their efforts to annoy. We have an acquaintance who, far from being irritated by these attacks, excited them, defying their authors to do this or that, with such good effect, that, after a few (lays, they took themselves off. But, as we have said, there are some whose motives are less frivolous ; and for this reason it is always well to learn what they are aiming at. If they make some request, we may be sure they will cease their visits as soon as their wish is satisfied. The best way of gaining information in this respect is to evoke the spirit, through the intervention of a good medium, in order to ascertain with whom, and what, we have to do. Should it be a spirit who is unhappy, charity commands us to treat hint with the consideration due to his suffering ; if he be a practical joker, we may treat him more cavalierly if he be malicious, we must try to aid him in becoming better. In any case, prayer can only have a good effect, but the gravity of any formal exorcism only excites their merriment, and they treat it as of no account. If we are able to enter into communication with them, we must attach no importance to any titles they may assume, whether of a burlesque character, or assumed with a view of horrifying ; for this is often done to divert themselves with our credulity.

We shall recur to this subject, giving further details, and stating the reasons which often render prayer for spirits inefficacious, in the chapters on Haunted places and Obsession.

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