Allan Kardec

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98. The theory of physical manifestations in general is summed up remarkably well in the following dissertation of a spirit whose communications bear an evident stamp of logical superiority. Much more from the same spirit will be found in the course of this work. He has made himself known to us, under the name of Erastes, as a disciple of Saint Paul, and as the Spirit-guide of the medium who serves as his interpreter

"It is absolutely necessary, in order to obtain phenomena of this description, to have with you mediums whom I will call sensitives, that is to say, persons gifted, in the highest degree, with the medianimic faculties of expansion and penetrability; because, the nervous system of such mediums being easily excited, they are able, by means of certain vibrations, to project their animalised fluid around them in profusion.

"Impressionable natures, those whose nerves vibrate at the faintest emotion or sensation, responding at once to any moral or physical influence, internal or external, furnish excellent mediums for the physical phenomena of tangibility, and for the transport of objects. The peculiarity of their nervous system, which is almost entirely deprived of the refractile envelope that isolates the nervous system in the greater number of incarnated spirits, renders them specially apt for the development of these phenomena. Consequently, with a medium of this nature, and whose other faculties arc not antagonistic to medianimisation, phenomena of tangibility, raps in walls or furniture, intelligent movements, and even the floating of the heaviest bodies in the air, are easily obtained. And these results will occur with still greater certainty if, instead of a single medium, there are present several mediums equally endowed.

"But, between the production of these phenomena and the obtaining of the introduction of objects into closed rooms, there is an immense step to be accomplished; for, in the latter case, not only is the work of the spirit more complex and more difficult, but, what is still more important, the spirit can only operate by means of a single medianimic mechanism; in other words, in this case, several mediums cannot be made to co-operate simultaneously for the production of the same phenomenon. On the contrary, it often happens that the presence of persons antipathetic to the operating spirit renders the operation impossible. Moreover, this sort of medianimity always necessitates a greater power of concentration, and, at the same time, a full diffusion of certain fluids; and these fluids can only be obtained through mediums endowed with the highest medianimic gifts; those, in a word, whose electro-medianimic machinery is of the best quality.

"In general, the phenomenon of the transport of objects into closed rooms is, and will remain, exceptionally rare. There is no need for me to point out why phenomena of this character should be less common than the other facts of tangibility; from "'hat I have said, you can draw your own conclusions. On the other hand, these phenomena are of such a nature that, not only all mediums are not fitted for their production, but all spirits themselves cannot produce them. In fact, it is necessary that, between the spirit and the medium whom he influences, there should exist an affinity, an analogy, in a word, a certain homogeneity, which allows the expansible quality of the spirit fluid * of the incarnated agent to blend, unite, and combine with that of the spirit who desires to bring you something. This fusion must be such that the resulting force becomes, so to speak, one; as, when the electric current acts on charcoal, fire and light are produced as though the current and the charcoal were one. Why this union? Why this fusion? you will ask. It is because, for the production of these phenomena, it is necessary that the essential qualities of the spirit-motor should be increased by certain qualities of the medium; because the vital fluid, indispensable for the production of all medianimic phenomena, is the exclusive property of the incarnated spirit, and consequently, the operating spirit is obliged to impregnate himself with it. It is only then that he can, by means of certain properties of your surrounding atmosphere which are unknown to you, isolate certain material objects, and thus render them invisible, move certain objects, and even move people in the flesh as well.

"It is not permitted, at this time, to unveil to you the laws that regulate the gases and the fluids by which you are environed; but, before many years have passed, before the space of a human life is accomplished, the explanation of these laws and of these phenomena will be obtained by you; and you will witness the rise of a new variety of mediums, who will fall into a peculiar cataleptic state as soon as they are medianimised. *

"You have seen with what great difficulties the bringing of objects into closed rooms is surrounded. You may reasonably conclude, therefore, that phenomena of this nature are, as I have said, very rare, and the more so, because the spirits themselves are but little inclined to their production, since it necessitates on their part a kind of labour which, from being almost physical in its nature, is really disagreeable and fatiguing for them. There is yet another obstacle to the generalisation of facts of the character in question, viz., the state of the medium himself, which often opposes an insuperable barrier to their production, notwithstanding the energy and goodwill of the spirit operators.

"Raps, movements, and suspensions, are simple phenomena, produced by the concentration and dilatation of certain fluids, and can be obtained by the will and effort of mediums fitted for the work, provided they are seconded by the necessary concourse of special circumstances, only to be brought about by a single spirit and a single medium, and demanding, beyond the conditions of tangibility, a fluid combination of a peculiar nature, in order to isolate and render invisible the objects which are to be brought to the circle.

"You, spiritists, who have already studied the subject, will easily understand these explanations, and what I have said about the concentration of special fluids required for producing the transport and tactility of inert matter ; you are able to admit it, just as you admit the phenomena of electricity and magnetism, with which the facts of medianimity are in close analogy, and of which, they are, so to say, the confirmation and development. As for the incredulous, and those who oppose the light in the name of science, I am not anxious to convince them they will be convinced in time, by the force of evidence, and will have to admit the facts of spirit-manifestation, as they have had to admit so many other facts which human science formerly denied.

"To recapitulate the facts of tangibility are of frequent occurrence, but the bringing of objects to a circle is very rare, because the conditions for obtaining this order of phenomena are very difficult to combine ; consequently, no medium can say: 'At such an hour and moment I shall get something brought,' for the spirit himself often meets with an insuperable obstacle to his efforts. I should add that these phenomena are doubly difficult in public gatherings ; for, in such, there are almost always strongly refractile elements, which paralyse the spirit's action, and weigh even more heavily on that of the medium. You may hold it as certain, on the other hand, that these phenomena almost always occur in private and spontaneously, and generally without the medium's knowledge or expectation, for, in fact, they rarely occur when. the medium is expecting them; from all of which you may conclude that there is fair ground for suspicion, whenever a medium professes to be able to obtain these phenomena at his will, in other words, to command the spirits as he would a servant, which is simply absurd. Hold also as a rule for general use, that spirit-phenomena are not intended simply to excite and amuse the curious. If some spirits give themselves up to this sort of manifestation, it can only be for simple phe- nomena, and not for those that require exceptional conditions, such as are necessary for the bringing of objects into closed rooms.

"Keep in mind, spiritists, that, if it is absurd to repudiate systematically all spirit-phenomena, it is none the less so, on the other hand, to give a blind acceptance to every tale. When phenomena, such as facts of tangibility, apparitions, clairvoyance, or the transport of objects, occur spontaneously, and, as it were, instantaneously, accept them; but, I cannot urge you too strongly to accept nothing blindly, to subject every occurrence to a minute and thorough sifting. Believe me, spiritism, rich as it is in sublime and grand phenomena, has nothing to gain from petty manifestations that skilful conjurors may imitate.

"You may reply that these phenomena are useful to convince the incredulous ; but remember that, if spiritism did not offer other means of conviction, it would not have numbered at this time the hundredth part of its present adherents. Address yourselves to the heart ; it is thus that you will make converts worth gaining. If you consider it useful, for certain persons, to proceed by the presentation of physical phenomena, at least present these under circumstances that can give no handle to false interpretation ; and, above all, do not attempt to obtain these phenomena under any but their normal conditions; for even facts, when presented under wrong conditions, furnish arguments for the incredulous, instead of convincing them.


* When a new idea has to be expressed by a new word, spirits show themselves to be quite capable of coining neologisms. The words electro-medianimic, and perispiritic, are not of our making. Those who have criticised us for creating the words spiritist, spiritism, perispirit, &c., should have directed their criticisms, not against us, but against the spirits from whom we have received them.

99. The phenomenon of transport sometimes offers one very singular peculiarity, inasmuch as certain mediums only obtain it when in a somnambulic state; but this is easily explained. The somnambulic state constitutes a natural release from fleshly trammels, a sort of isolation of the spirit and perispirit, which facilitates the combination of the necessary fluids. This has frequently been the case when objects have been brought in our presence. The following questions were addressed by us, on one occasion, to the spirit by whom the phenomenon of transport was effected but, his answers not being sufficiently clear, we submitted them also to the spirit Erastes, who is much more enlightened as regards theoretic knowledge, and who completed what was lacking in the explanations of the other by his very judicious observations. The one is the artisan, the other the scientist; and we gain instruction even by comparing these two intelligences ; for we thus find that the mere fact of release from the fleshly body does not suffice to enable a spirit to understand everything.

1. Will you have the kindness to tell us why it is that, whatever you bring us, comes while the medium is in the magnetic sleep?

"That is owing to the medium's nature ; what I bring, when my medium is asleep, I could bring, with another medium, when awake."

2. Why do you make us wait so long for what you bring, and why do you excite the covetousness of the medium, by stimulating his desire to obtain the promised gift?

"It takes time to prepare the fluids which I need for the transport; as to exciting the medium's desire, I often do so in order to amuse the people who are present, as well as the somnambulist himself."

Remark of Erastes. "The spirit who has answered does not know any better ; he does not take account of the use of this covetousness which he instinctively excites, without being aware of its effects he thinks he only amuses by so doing, whilst, ill reality, he thus brings about, without suspecting it, a greater emission of fluid. This stimulation is necessitated by the difficulty of the phenomenon ; all the greater when it is not spontaneous, and especially with certain mediums."

3. Does the production of the phenomenon depend upon the special nature of the medium., and could it be produced, more quickly and easily, with other mediums?

"Its production depends upon the nature of the medium, and cannot take place except with natures between whom there exists the requisite correspondence ; as to effecting the transport more quickly, the habit we get into, when we act frequently with the same medium, is of great service to us."

4. As regards the influence of the persons present, has it any effect in impeding or facilitating the production of the phenomenon?

"When there is disbelief and opposition, we are often much hampered by them we prefer to make our attempts in the presence of believers, and of persons versed in spiritism. But I do not mean to say that the ill-will of the incarnated can paralyse us completely."

5. Whence did you get the flowers and the sugar-plums that you have brought us?
"I get the flowers in the gardens; I take those that please me."

6. And the sugar-plums? The shopkeeper must perceive his loss.

"I take them just where I like ; the shopkeeper never perceives it at all, because I put others in their place."

7. But the rings you have brought? They are valuable; where did you get them? Have you not wronged the person from whom you took them ?

"I took them from places unknown to any one, so that nobody can be the worse for my taking them."

Remark of Erastes. - "The fact is insufficiently explained, owing to the want of knowledge on the part of the spirit who is replying. It is quite possible that some wrong may have been done in the matter; but the spirit is unwilling to pass for having committed a larceny. An object can only be replaced by another which is identical with it in form and value; consequently, if a spirit had the power of substituting an object precisely similar to that which he takes, he would have no motive for taking it, and should rather give the one which serves as a substitute."

8. Is it possible to bring flowers from another planet? "No ; that is not possible for me."
- (To Erastes.) Have other spirits this power?

"No, it is not possible, on account of the difference of the atmospheric surroundings."

9. Could you bring flowers from another hemisphere; from the tropics, for example?

"Yes; if they are on this earth, I could bring them."

10. These objects which you have brought, could you make them disappear and take them back?

"Just as easily as I brought them; I can take them back whenever I like."

11. Does the bringing of objects give you any trouble, or necessitate anything like labour or fatigue?

"It does not give us any trouble, when we have per-mission ; it might give us a good deal, if we attempted to produce these phenomena without permission."

Remark of Erastes. - "He will not admit that it gives him trouble, although it really does ; as he is obliged to perform an operation which is, so to say, almost physical in its nature."

12. What are the difficulties that you meet with?
"Only unfavourable fluidic conditions, that hinder our action."

13. How do you carry an object; do you hold it in your hands? " No, we envelop it in ourselves."

Remark of Erastes. - " He does not explain the operation clearly, for lie does not envelop the object in his own personality ; but as his personal fluid is dilatable, penetrable, and expansible, he combines a portion of this fluid of his with a portion of the animalised fluid of the medium, and it is in this combination of fluids that he hides and transports the object to be brought. It is therefore not correct to say that he envelops it in himself."

14. Could you bring us, with the same facility, an object of considerable weight; of a hundred pounds weight, for instance?

"Weight is nothing to us; we bring you flowers, because a flower is more agreeable than anything heavy."

Remark of Erastes. - "What he says is true he could bring two hundred- weight, or any weight, for the weight that exists to your perceptions is annulled in his case : but here again there is a hitch in his explanation. The mass of the combined fluids must be in proportion to the mass of the objects to be moved: in a word, the force employed must be in proportion to the resistance to be overcome ; from which it follows, that, if a spirit only brings a flower, or some light thing, it is often because lie does not find in the medium, or in himself, the elements necessary for any greater effort."

15. Does it sometimes happen that things which disappear, we know not how, have been removed by spirits?

"That happens very frequently, much oftener than you have any idea of; and it might be remedied by asking the spirit to bring back what has disappeared."

Remark of Erastes. - "That is true; nevertheless, what is carried away, is sometimes made away with very effectually, for the things are often conveyed to a great distance. But, as almost the same conditions are required for taking things away as for bringing them, it can only be accomplished by the aid of mediums gifted with special faculties therefore, when anything disappears, it is far more probable that your own carelessness, rather than spirit-action, has caused its disappearance."

16. Are some occurrences, which we regard as natural phenomena, really the work of spirits?

"Your daily life is replete with incidents of this character, which you do not understand, because you have not made them a subject of thought, but of which a little reflection would enable you to perceive the real nature."

Remark of Erastes. - "Do not attribute to spirits what is the work of men ; but remember that their occult influence is constantly exerted, and gives rise, around you, to various circumstances and incidents necessary to the accomplishment of your acts, and even to your existence."

17. Among the things brought by spirits, may there not be some which are fabricated by them, that is to say, spontaneously produced by the modifications which the universal fluid is made to undergo by spirits?

"Not in my case, for I have no such permission; only an elevated spirit could do this."

18. How did you manage to introduce those things, the other day, since the room was entirely closed?

"I brought them in with me, enveloped, so to say, in my substance: the long and the short of it is, 'tis inexplicable."

19. How did you manage to render visible those objects which were invisible an instant before?

"I took away the matter that enveloped them."

Remark of Erastes. - "Strictly speaking, it is not matter that envelops them, but a fluid drawn in part from the perispirit of the medium, and, in part, from that of tile operating spirit."

20. (To Erastes.) Can an object be brought into a room that is perfectly closed ; in short, can a spirit spiritualise a material object so that it may pass through matter?

"This is a complex question. A spirit can render material things invisible but not penetrable; he cannot break through the aggregation of matter, for that would be the destruction of the object.* An object being rendered invisible, he can bring it into the room when he pleases, and can deprive it of its invisibility at any given moment. It is quite another affair in regard to things that we compose, for, in such cases, we only introduce the elements of matter, and these elements are essentially penetrable ; for we ourselves can penetrate and pass through the most condensed bodies, as easily as the rays of the sun pass through a windowpane; so that we may truly say that we have introduced the object into the place, however closed it may be; but only in such a case." *


* See hereafter, for the theory of the formation of evanescent objects by spirits, the chapter entitled: Laboratory of the invisible world.

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