Allan Kardec

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65. In all that we have just passed in review, it must be admitted that there is nothing to prove the intervention of any occult intelligence, nothing that might not be explained by the supposition of a magnetic or electric current, or the sole action of some known or unknown fluid. Such was, in fact, the first explanation suggested in regard to these phenomena, and it seemed to be a very reasonable one. But new facts soon showed its insufficiency, for these new facts gave proof of intelligence; and, as every intelligent effect must have an intelligent cause, it became evident, that, even admitting the action of electricity or any other fluid, the action of some intelligent agent must also be admitted. But what was this intelligent agent? -What was the nature of the intelligence whose co-operation in the production of these phenomena had now become evident?

66. For a phenomenon to prove the action of intelligence, it is not necessary that it should be eloquent, witty, or even wise; it is sufficient that it should give evidence of free and voluntary action, expressive of intention, and transmitting or replying to a thought. If we see a weathercock turned by the wind, we know that it obeys only a mechanical impulsion; but if; in these movements, we detected any thing that appeared to be intentional, anything in the nature of signals, - for example, if it turned quickly or slowly, to the right or to the left, at our command,-we should be forced to acknowledge, not that the weathercock was intelligent, but that it was submitted to the action of an intelligence. And this was the conclusion forced upon observers by the movement of the tables.

67. We have seen that a table may move, raise itself up, and strike on the floor, under the influence of one or more mediums. The first evidence of intelligence that was remarked, in connection with these movements, was the fact that they were obedient to the command of the operators: thus, without changing its place, a table would raise, alternately, one or other of its legs, as required, or would strike the floor with it a determinate number of times, in answer to a question. At other times, the table, without being touched by any of the persons present, would move about the room of itself; turning to the right or the left, backwards or forwards, and executing various other movements, at their order.

68. By means of the raps of which we have spoken, manifestations still more clearly indicative of intelligence were obtained. Sounds were produced like the beat of the drum, like file and platoon firing, like a cannonade; now the grating of a saw would be heard, and anon, the blows of a hammer; or the raps would imitate the movement of well-known airs, or beat time to tunes sung, or played, by the experimenters. People then began to see that, as some occult intelligence was evidently at work, it ought to be able to reply to questions susceptible of being answered by a given number of raps or tiltings, previously agreed upon, as meaning yes, or "no." * This was accordingly done; and, from the rudimentary attempts at conversation which were all that could be made through those monosyllabic signs, people soon went on to the use of the alphabet, recited by one of the sitters, the unseen intelligence indicating, by a rap or tilt, the letter of the word or phrase to be communicated. Messages and statements, often of considerable length and of most interesting character, were thus obtained.

69. The experience of tens of thousands of persons, in every country, left no doubt as to the reality and intelligence of these communications; but this intelligence was generally supposed to be that of the medium, the questioner, or the persons composing the circle in which they were obtained. When it was ascertained that the raps were not made by the medium, it was suggested that they must be made by his thought; but the idea of intelligence reflecting itself; so to say, in a piece of wood, of thought producing raps and motions in a table, was felt to be an explanation even more astounding than the phenomena themselves, and the latter speedily showed it to be inadmissible. For, as previously stated, the communications were often directly opposed to the opinions and sympathies of the medium, or beyond the grasp of his intellectual faculties, and were sometimes conveyed in a language of which the medium was ignorant, or referred to matters unknown to the whole party. Such instances have now become so numerous that almost all of those who have had even a slight experience of spirit-communications could probably adduce a great number of them. We will cite, in this place, only one instance of the character now alluded to; a fact that was related to us by one of the persons who witnessed its occurrence.

70. On board a ship of the Imperial French Navy, stationed in Chinese waters, every soul, from the officers to the cabin boys, had taken up the amusement of "talking with tables." One day, it occurred to some of them to address the spirit of a former lieutenant of the same vessel, who had died two years before. He responded, and, after several communications which struck them all with astonishment, he gave the following message by raps "I beseech you to pay at once, to the Captain, the sum of- (mention mg the amount), that I owe to him. I am sorry that it was not in my power to repay it before I died." No one on board knew anything of the matter; the Captain himself had forgotten the debt thus alluded to, and which was a very trifling one ; but, on searching his account-book, he found a mention of a loan made by him to this lieutenant, the amount being exactly as stated by the table. Of whose "thought," we would ask, was the knowledge thus displayed a "reflexion ?

71. The employment of the letters of the alphabet, though a very important step in advance, was still but a slow and roundabout method of communication; but it nevertheless soon came into general use, and many highly interesting revelations concerning the invisible world were thus obtained. But the spirits themselves speedily suggested other means of communication, and, by their directions, the practice of writing was next brought into use.

The first written communications were obtained by attaching a pencil to the foot of a toy-table, placed upon a sheet of paper. The table, set in motion by the influence of a medium, began by tracing letters, then words and phrases. This method was successively simplified, first, by making use of light baskets, boxes made of cardboard, and planchettes; and next, by finding that these objects were mere pencil-holders, and might all be dispensed with, and the pencil held the usual way, in the hand, which, moved and guided by an involuntary impulsion, was made to write, without the concurrence either of the will or of the thought of the medium. Thenceforth, communication was held as freely with the world of spirits as with people in the flesh.

We shall discuss the different methods of communication, explaining them in detail, in another part of the present work; we have only wished, in this rapid sketch, to record the succession of facts which have gradually led up to a recognition of the intervention of unseen intelligences, otherwise called "spirits," in the production of the phenomena we are considering.

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