Allan Kardec

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102. - Apparitions, properly so called, take place when we are awake, and in the full enjoyment of our faculties. They are often vague and undecided ; usually presenting themselves under a vaporous and diaphanous form. At first, in many cases, only a whitish light is perceived, the outlines of which become gradually more distinct ; at other times, the form of the apparition is clearly defined, every feature being plainly seen. In such cases the air and aspect of the figure before us are the same as those of the spirit when in the flesh.

A spirit being able to assume any and every appearance, he presents himself under that by which he can best obtain recognition, if such be his desire. Although, as a spirit, he has no corporeal infirmity, he can appear as if maimed, lame, humpbacked, wounded, or scarred, should he consider this to be necessary to his identification. Aesop, for example, is not deformed as a spirit; but if we evoked him as Aesop, though he may have had many subsequent incarnations, he would show himself as Aesop, with his ugliness, his humped back, and his traditional costume. It is worthy of notice that, while the head, trunk, and arms, are always clearly defined, the lower limbs except under particular circumstances, are less clearly shown, and that apparitions rarely walk, but seem to glide, like shadows. Their costume generally consists of a drapery, terminating in long floating folds ; their hair is wavy and graceful ; such, at least, is the usual appearance of spirits who have retained none of their terrestrial peculiarities. But ordinary spirits, those whom we have known, generally preserve the costume that they wore in the latter part of their earthly existence. They often show themselves with appearances indicative of their degree of elevation ; with a halo or wings, for example, in the case of those whom we may consider as "angels ;" while others present themselves with the appear- ance of objects referring to their terrestrial occupations. Thus, a warrior may appear with his armour, a learned man with his books, an assassin with a dagger, &c. Spirits of ugh degree have a beautiful countenance, a serene and noble air; while the degraded have a fierce and bestial expression, and often show traces of the crimes they have committed, or of the punishments they have committed, or of the punishments they have endured. This question of spirit-aspect, with its various accessories, is perhaps what excites most astonishment among the uninitiated. We shall return to this subject in a special chapter, because of its bearing upon other very important phenomena.

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