Allan Kardec

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EXPERIENCE daily confirms us in the opinion that the difficulties and disappointments so often encountered in the practice of spiritism result from ignorance of its fundamental principles; and we rejoice to know that our endeavours to forewarn inquirers of the difficulties besetting this new study have borne fruit, and that many have been enabled to avoid them by an attentive perusal of the present work.

Persons who are interested in spiritism very naturally desire to enter into communication with spirits, and it is with a view to smoothing their path in this direction, by giving them the results of our own long and laborious investigation of the subject, that we have written this book, a perusal of which will show that those who imagine they have only to put their hands upon a table to make it move, or to hold a pencil to make it write, have come to a false conclusion in regard to the whole question.

They would be equally mistaken who should expect to find in this work a universal and infallible recipe for making mediums; for, although every one possesses the germ of the qualities necessary for becoming a medium, those qualities exist in very different gradations, and their development depends on causes which no one can control by his own will alone. The rules of poetry, painting, and music, do not make poets, painters, or musicians, of those who are not gifted with genius, although those rules guide men in the employment of the faculties which they naturally possess. So it is with the work before us ; its object is to indicate the means of developing the medianimic faculty so far as the receptivity of each will permit; and, above all, to guide it in a manner that may elicit its usefulness. Not, however, that this is the sole end for which the present work has been undertaken.

Besides mediums properly so called, there is a daily increasing throng of people seeking to obtain spirit-manifestations ; to guide them in their endeavours, to point out the obstacles which they may, or rather, will necessarily meet with in this new field, to initiate them into the manner of Communicating with spirits, to indicate the means of obtaining good communications, such is the aim of this new work, however incompletely it may be attained. The reader must therefore not be surprised at finding in this book information which, at first sight, may seem to be foreign to its purpose ; experience will show its utility. After having carefully studied the subject, he will better comprehend the facts lie may witness, and the language of some of the spirits will then appear less strange to him. The writer therefore addresses himself, not to mediums exclusively, but to all those who are desirous to study the phenomena of spiritism.

Some persons have wished us to publish a very concise, practical manual, containing in a few words the method of procedure for obtaining communications from spirits ; they think that a little book of that character would be widely disseminated, owing to the small price at which it could be issued, and would prove a powerful means of propagandism through the multiplication of mediums ; but, for our own part, we should regard such a work as being, at the present time, more likely to be hurtful than useful. The practice of spiritism is environed by difficulties, and is not exempt from dangers which only complete and serious study can avert. It is therefore to be feared that too succinct a treatise might lead to experimentation too lightly made, and that might be injurious to the experimenters. Spiritism is a subject with which it is neither proper nor prudent to trifle ; and we shrink from bringing it within the reach of every frivolous individual who might think it an amusing pastime to talk with the dead. We address ourselves to those who recognise the serious nature of the subject, who comprehend its great importance, and who do not make a sport of holding intercourse with the invisible world.

The present work will comprise all the data we have arrived at through long experience and conscientious study ; and will help, we hope, to give to spiritism the character of seriousness which is essential to its usefulness, and to dissipate the idea that it may be taken up as a matter of frivolous curiosity and amusement.

We would add to the above considerations one more of no small importance, viz., the unfavourable impression which the sight of experiments entered on lightly, and with no proper knowledge of the cause of the phenomena evolved, necessarily produces on novices and persons who are ill-disposed towards spiritism, giving them a very false idea of the world of spirits, and bringing ridicule upon the cause of spiritism ; sceptics usually leave such sittings unconvinced, and but little disposed to admit that Spiritism can have its serious side. The ignorance and frivolity of some mediums have done more harm to the cause than is generally supposed.

Spiritism has made great progress during the last few years, and especially since it has assumed a philosophical aspect ; men of intelligence having become convinced of its reality and importance. Spiritism is no longer a show ; it is a doctrine: and people who laughed at " "table-turning" no longer deride it. We believe that, by doing our utmost to retain spiritism on this serious ground, we shall gain more useful partisans than by provoking random experimentations that may be dangerous ; a conviction abundantly confirmed by the number of those who have been brought over to our side by the mere perusal of The Spirits’ Book.

Having treated of spiritism, in The Spirits’ Book, under its philosophical aspect, our object in the present work will be to elucidate its practical side for the guidance of those who are seeking manifestations through their own medianimity, and for those who desire to arrive at a correct appreciation of the phenomena. We would enable them to understand, and thus to avoid, the stumbling-blocks they may find in their path. These two works, although this one is a sequel to the other, are to a certain degree independent of each other ; but we would counsel the serious inquirer to read The Spirits’ Book first, because it contains the fundamental principles of spiritist science, without a knowledge of which, certain parts of the present book would hardly be understood.

The present treatise has been corrected with the utmost care by the spirits who have superintended its production, and who have introduced into it a great variety of remarks and instructions of the deepest interest. They have revised the whole, approving or modifying its various portions at their pleasure; and their co-operation has not been confined to the giving of the articles signed by them, although we have only appended their signatures when we have considered it advisable to do so, in order to render more evident the character of the communications given. Had we appended the names of all who have taken part in the work, every page would have borne testimony to their collaboration. We have, however, appended their signatures to all answers made by them to questions, the utility of so doing being evident; but names, in general, are of little importance in such a matter, what is essential being that the work, in its entirety, should answer the end proposed.

PARIS, 1861.

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