249. The means of combating obsession vary accord ing to the character it takes. The danger does not really exist for any thoroughly convinced medium to be brought into relations with a lying spirit, as in simple obsession ; it is only a disagreeable thing for him.
But precisely because it is disagreeable to him, is a reason the more for the spirit to follow him persis tently to vex him. There are two essential things to do in such case : to prove to the spirit that one is not his dupe, and that it is impossible to deceive us ; secondly tire his patience by showing ourself more patient than he ; if he is thoroughly convinced that he will lose his time, he will end by retiring, as importunate persons . do when we do not listen to them. But that does not always suffice, and it may be long, for some of them are very tenacious, and months and years are but little to them. The medium should make a fervent appeal to his good angel, also to the good spirits who are sympathetic to him, and beg them to assist him. As for the obsessing spirit, however bad he may be, he should be treated with firmness, but with kindness, vanquishing him by good in praying for him. If he is really perverse, he will at first mock at it ; but in perseveringly moralizing with him, he will end by amending ; it is a conversion to under take, a task often painful, ungrateful, even discoura ging, but whose merit is in the difficulty, and which, if well accomplished, always gives the satisfaction of having fulfilled a duty of charity, and often that of having led a lost soul into the good road.
It is equally expedient to break off all written com munication as soon as it is known to come from a bad spirit, who will not listen to reason, in order not to give him the pleasure of being listened to. In some cases, even, it might be necessary to cease writing for a time ; it must be regulated according to circum stances. But if the writing medium can avoid these discourses by abstaining from writing, it is not the same with the hearing medium, whom the obsessing spirit sometimes pursues every instant with his gross and obscene remarks, and who has not even the resource of closing his ears. There are persons who are amused by the frivolous language of these spirits, whom they encourage and urge by laughing at their follies, instead of imposing silence on them, and trying to teach them better. Our advice does not apply to those who will drown themselves.
250. There is, then, only disgust, and not danger, for any medium who will not allow himself to be abused, because he cannot be deceived ; it is entirely other wise with fascination, for then the dominion the spirit assumes over him whom he invades has no bounds. The only thing to do with him is to try to convince him he is deceived, and to lead his obsession to a case of simple obsession ; but it is not always easy, if it is not even sometimes impossible. The ascendency of the spirit may be such that he makes the one fascinat ed deaf to every kind of reasoning, and, when the spirit commits some gross scientific heresy, makes him go so far as to doubt if science itself is not wrong. As we have said, he generally takes advice in very ill part ; criticism annoys, irritates him, and makes him dislike those who do not partake his admiration. To suspect his' spirit is almost a profanation in his eyes, and that is all the spirit asks, for what he wants is, that we should bend before his word. One of them exercised on a person of our acquaintance a most extraordinary fascination ; we invoked him, and after some romancing, seeing that he could not delude us as to his identity, he ended by confessing that he was not the one whose name he had taken. Having asked why he so deceived this person, he answered in these words, which very clearly expresses the character of spirits of this kind : " I lookedfor a man I could lead ; I havefound him, and here I stay'.' " But if we should make him see clearly, he will drive you away." " We'll see about that ! " As there is none more blind than he who will not see, when we find the uselessness of every attempt to open the eyes of the fascinated, the best thing to do is, to leave him to his delusions. A patient cannot be cured who persists in keeping his disease, and even delights in it.
251. Corporeal subjugation often takes from the obsessed the energy necessary to rule the bad spirit ; for this reason the intervention of a thjrd person is needed, acting either by magnetism or by his strength of will. In default of any assistance from the ob sessed, this person should take the ascendency over the spirit ', but as this ascendency can only be moral, it is given only to a being morally superior'to the spirit to exercise it, and his power will be as much greater as his moral superiority is greater, for he commands the spirit who is forced to bend before him ; this is why Jesus had such great power to drive out what were then called demons, that is, bad obsessing spirits.
We can give here only general advice, for there is no material process, no formula, nor any sacramental word that has the power to drive away obsessing spirits. Sometimes the obsessed lacks fluidic force ; in such case the magnetic action of a good magnetizer might be a very useful help. Then it is always well to take, by a sure medium, the advice of a superior spirit, or of his guardian angel.
252. The moral imperfections of the obsessed are often an obstacle to his deliverance. Here is a re markable example, which may serve as instruction to every one : —
Several sisters were, for a number of years, victims of very disagreeable depredations. Their clothing was constantly thrown about in every corner of the house, and even upon the roof, cut, torn, and riddled with holes, whatever care they might take to lock it up. These ladies, brought up in a small provincial locality, had never heard of Spiritism. Their first thought, naturally, was, that they were the butt of some joker's tricks ; but the persistence and their precau tions destroyed that idea. It was not until a long time after, that, on some indications, they thought they ought to address us to know the cause of the trouble, and the means to remedy it, if possible. The cause was not doubtful ; the remedy was more difficult. The spirit who manifested himself by these acts was evidently malicious. He showed himself, in the invo cation, of great perversity, and inaccessible to every good sentiment. Prayer seemed, nevertheless, to exer cise a salutary influence ; but after a short respite, the depredations recommenced. The advice of a superior spirit on this subject is here given.
" What these ladies had better do is, to pray their spirit protectors not to abandon them ; and I have no better advice to give them than to look into their con sciences, and confess to themselves, and examine if they have always practiced the love of the neighbor and charity ; I do not mean the charity that gives and distributes, but the charity of the tongue ; for unhappily they know not how to control theirs, and do not justify, by their pious acts, their desire of being delivered from him who torments them. They like too well to slander their neighbor, and the spirit who obsesses them is taking his revenge, for he was their drudge during his life. They have only to search their memory, and they will soon see with whom they have to do.
"At the same time, if they become better, their guardian angels will return to them, and their pres ence will suffice to drive away the bad spirit, who could not have troubled one of them, but that her guardian angel had withdrawn to a distance from her on account of some reprehensible acts or bad thoughts. What they must do is, to pray fervently for those who suffer, and to practice the virtues enjoined by God to each one according to his condition.
" On our observing that these words seemed to us a little severe, and that they ought to be somewhat softened before transmitting them, the spirit added, —
" I ought to say what I have said, and as I have said it, because the persons in question have the habit of believing they do no harm with the tongue, while they do a great deal. We must, therefore, strike their minds in such a way that it will be a serious warning."
From this may be drawn instruction of great signi fication —that moral imperfections give a footing to obsessing spirits, and that the surest means of ridding one's self of them is to attract the good by well doing. The good spirits have, without doubt, more power than the bad, and their will is sufficient to remove these last ; but they assist only those who second them by the efforts they make to become better; otherwise they withdraw, and leave the field free to the bad spirits, who thus become, in some cases, instru ments of punishment, for the good leave them to act for this purpose.
253. Yet we should beware of attributing to the direct action of the spirits all the annoyances that may arise : these annoyances are often the consequence of negligence or improvidence. A planter wrote to us, that for twelve years all sorts of misfortunes had befallen his animals. Sometimes his cows died, or would give no milk ; sometimes the trouble was with the horses ; again his sheep or his pigs. He hired new people, but without remedying the evil, no more than the masses he had said, or the exorcisms he had made. Then, according to country prejudice, he was per suaded some one had cast an evil eye on his animals Believing, no doubt, that we were endowed with greater power than the priest of his village, he sent to ask our advice. We obtained the following answer : —
" The mortality or the sickness of this man's beasts is, because his stables are infected, and that he does not have them repaired because it costs."
254. We close this chapter with the answers given by the spirits to some questions supporting what we have said.
1. " Why cannot certain mediums rid themselves of bad spirits who are with them, and how is it that the good spirits they call are not powerful enough to remove the bad spirits, and communicate directly ? "
" It is not power that is wanting to the good spirits, it is often the medium who is not strong enough to second them ; his nature adapts itself better to certain relations, or rather his fluid identifies itself sooner with one spirit than with another ; this ig what gives such great sway to those who wish to take advantage of it."
2. " Nevertheless, it seems to us that there are very many meritorious persons, of irreproachable morality, who yet are prevented from communicating with good spirits."
" It is a trial ; and, besides, who can tell if the heart is not stained with an evil thought ? if pride does not a little govern the appearance of goodness ? These trials, by showing to the obsessed his weakness, should turn him to humility.
" Is there any one on the earth who can say he is perfect ? and he who has all the appearances of virtue may still have hidden defects, an old leaven of imper fection. Thus, for instance, you say of him who does no wrong, who is loyal in his social relations, This is a true and worthy man : but do you know if his good qualities are not tarnished by pride ; if there is not within him a fund of egotism ; if he is not avaricious, jealous, spiteful, slanderous, and a hundred other things you do not perceive, because your relations with him have not developed them ? The most powerful means of striving against the influence of bad spirits is to make yourself as much as possible like the good."
3. " Is the obsession which prevents a medium's obtaining the communications he desires always a sign of unworthiness on his part ? "
" I did not say it was a sign of unworthiness, but that an obstacle might be there to oppose certain com munications ; it is to remove the obstacle within him that all attention should be given ; without that all his prayers, his supplications, will be of no avail. It is not enough for a sick person to say to his doctor, Give me health ; I want to be well : the doctor can do nothing if the patient does not do what is necessary."
4. " Would the privation, then, be a kind of pun ishment ? "
" In some cases, this may be a real punishment, as the possibility of communicating with them is a recom pense you should endeavor to deserve." (See Loss and Suspension of Mediumship, No. 220.)
5. " Cannot the influence of bad spirits be also over come by giving them moral instruction ? "
" Yes ; this is what no one does, but it is what should not be neglected ; for it is often a task given to you, and one that you should accomplish charitably and religiously. By wise counsel they may be incited to repentance, and their advancement hastened."
" How can a man have more influence in this respect than the spirits themselves ? "
"The perverse spirits are allied rather to men whom they seek to torment, than to spirits from whom they withdraw as far as possible. In this' approach to man, when they find one who talks to them trying to im prove their morals, they do not listen at first ; they laugh at it ; then, if you know how to take them, they will eventually allow themselves to be affected. The elevated spirits can speak to them only in the name of God, and that frightens them. Man, certainly, has not more power than the superior spirits, but his language is better identified with their nature, and in seeing the ascendency he can exercise over the inferior spirits, he comprehends better the solidarity existing between the heavens and the earth.
"Then, too, the ascendency that man can exercise over the spirits is by reason of his moral superiority. He cannot master the superior spirits, nor even those who, without being superior, are good and benevolent, but he can master the spirits who are morally inferior to him."
6. " Can corporeal subjugation carried to a certain length induce insanity ? "
" Yes ; a kind of insanity whose cause is unknown to the world, but which has no relation to ordinary insanity. Among those treated as insane, there are many who are only subjugated ; a moral treatment is necessary for them, while they make them really insane by their corporeal treatments. When doctors understand Spiritism, they will know how to make a distinction, and will cure more patients than they are now curing with their shower-baths." (221.)
7. "What may be thought of those who, seeing danger in Spiritism, think to prevent it by interdicting spirit communications ? "
" If they can prevent some persons from communi cating with spirits, they cannot prevent the sponta neous manifestations made to these same persons, for they cannot suppress the spirits, nor hinder their secret influence. It is like children shutting their eyes and thinking no one can see them. It would be folly to suppress a thing that offers great advantages because some imprudent persons might abuse it ; the way to prevent these abuses is, on the contrary, to search the thing to the bottom."