SPONTANEOUS PHYSICAL MANIFESTATIONS.
Noises, racket, and disturbances - Things thrown about - Objects
introduced spontaneously into rooms - Statements by a spirit in regard to these
Noises, racket, and disturbances
82. The phenomena of which we are now about to treat are, for the most part,
elicited; but it sometimes happens that they occur spontaneously, without any
participation of the medium's will, and even in opposition to it, becoming, in some
cases, very troublesome. And, as though to prove still more conclusively that they are
not the figment of imaginations over-excited by spiritist ideas, they often occur with
persons who have never heard of spiritism, and just when they are least expected.
Phenomena of this spontaneous character, which we may call the practical spiritism of
nature, are very important, because they exclude all suspicion of connivance; for which
reason, we would invite those who are interested in spiritism to collect all the facts of
this description which come to their knowledge, and, above all, to ascertain their reality
by a minute study of the Circumstances under which they may have occurred, in order
to assure themselves that they are not the victims of trickery or illusion.
83. Of all spirit-manifestations, the simplest and most frequent are those which
are made audibly, by raps, or by other noises; and here it is that illusion is most to be
feared, for a vast number of natural causes may produce such sounds: the action of the
wind, an object that we may move ourselves without perceiving it, an animal not seen by us, an insect, etc.; not to mention silly tricks played off by foolish persons. Spirit-
sounds, however, are usually of a peculiar character; they have an intensity and a
character of their own, which, notwithstanding their great variety, can hardly be
mistaken, so that they are not easily confounded with common noises, such as the
creaking of wood, the crackling of a fire, or the ticking of a clock; spirit-raps are clear
and sharp, sometimes soft and light, sometimes loud and distinct, sometimes even
noisy; changing their place, and recurring, without any mechanical regularity. The best
means of ascertaining the nature of any unusual sounds, so as to leave no doubt about
their origin, is to satisfy oneself as to their obedience to the will. If the raps make
themselves heard in the place we designate, if they answer to our thought by their
number or character, we cannot doubt that an intelligence is at work; although it must
be remarked that failure to obey our will is not always a proof of the absence of such an
84. Let us suppose that, through careful observation, we have arrived at a
certainty that unusual sounds, or other manifestations, are the work of unseen
intelligences; is it reasonable to be afraid of them? Assuredly not, for in no such case is
there the least danger; only those who are persuaded that the devil has a hand in the
matter can be alarmed by them. like children who are frightened by stories of "Raw-
head and Bloody-bones." But it must be admitted that these manifestations do
sometimes assume uncomfortable proportions, and show a persistence which makes
people naturally desire to be rid of them ; and therefore a few words on this subject will
not be out of place here.
85. We have said that physical manifestations have for their object the desire of
spirits to attract our attention by some special act, and thus to convince us of the
presence of a power distinct from that of man. We have also said that spirits of high
degree do not make these signs them-selves but employ inferior spirits to do it for them,
as we employ servants to do rough work for us; and they do this for a purpose which we are about to explain. This purpose once attained, the
physical manifestation ceases, because it is no longer needed. One or two examples
will give a better idea of our meaning.
86. Several years ago, when we first began the study of spiritism, and while
occupied in writing a work in regard to it, we heard knockings around us for four hours
consecutively; it was the first time that anything of the sort had occurred to us, and we
had abundant proof that they were not produced by accident; but, for the moment, we
could not ascertain anything more about them. At that period, we frequently saw an
excellent writing medium; and, next morning, we questioned the spirit who
communicated through that medium as to the cause of the knockings we had heard. " It
is," he replied, "your familiar spirit who desires to speak to you."-What does he wish to
say to us?-" You can ask him yourself, for he is here." Having addressed the same
question to this spirit, he announced himself to us under an allegorical name (we
learned afterwards, from other spirits, that he belongs to a very elevated order, and
played a very important part when on earth), pointed out to us certain errors in our
work, indicating the lines in which they occurred, gave us wise and useful counsel, and
added that he would be always with us, and would come at our call, whenever we might
desire to interrogate him. From that time, the spirit alluded to has never quitted us. He
has given us innumerable proofs of his great superiority and his kindly and efficacious
intervention has been plainly shown in our worldly affairs, as well as in our
investigation of metaphysical questions. But, after our first meeting, the knockings
were never renewed. Why was this? Evidently, because lie had wished to enter into
regular communication with us ; and, in order to do this, it was necessary to apprise us
of the fact. The signal once made and explained, and regular relations established
between us, the raps ceased to be useful, and therefore were not again produced. When
soldiers are already on parade, the drum is no longer beaten to awaken them.
A fact of a similar character occurred in the experience of a friend of ours. For
some time his bedroom had resounded with different noises, which at length became
very annoying. Having had an opportunity of conferring with the spirit of his father,
through a writing medium, he learned that the noises had been made by him,
ascertained his wishes, did what he was thus requested to do, and was never again
disturbed. It may here be remarked that those who have the means of communicating
regularly and easily with spirits are much more rarely subject to manifestations of this
kind than those who have not the means of doing so ; a fact which explains itself.
87. Spontaneous manifestations are not always confined to noises and rappings;
they sometimes degenerate into downright racketing and disturbance, furniture and
other objects are upset, projectiles of all descriptions are hurled from without, windows
are opened and shut by invisible hands, panes of glass are broken; annoyances which
can hardly be set down as illusions.
The confusion thus produced among material objects is often very real ; but
sometimes there is only the appearance of reality. We hear? a rattling in an adjoining
room ; pots and pans appear to be falling about, and breaking with a crash ; logs of
wood seem to be rolling about the floor; we hasten to see what is the matter, but find
everything in order; and we have hardly left the room, before the tumult begins again.
88. Manifestations of this description are neither rare nor novel; there are few
places without some stories of the kind. Fear has doubtless frequently exaggerated
facts, which have thus been made to assume gigantic and ridiculous proportions,
through passing from mouth to mouth superstition aiding, the houses where such
disturbances have occurred have come to be reputed as haunted, and hence have arisen
many wondrous and frightful legends of beasts and devils. Knavery, on the other hand,
has not failed to make use of the opportunity of trading on credulity afforded by these
stories. It is, moreover, easy to imagine
the impression which events of the nature referred to, even when shorn of
exaggerations, may produce on weak minds, predisposed by education to superstitious
ideas. The surest method of avoiding any such disagreeable impressions (since there is
no preventing the occurrence of the facts which give rise to them,) is to learn the truth
about them. The simplest things may become appalling when their cause is not
understood. When the world becomes familiarised with spirits, and when those who
are subject to their manifestations no longer fancy that they have a legion of devils at
their heels, the prevalent fear of spirits will vanish.
Many authentic facts of the above nature are recorded in the Revue Spirite;
among others, the history of the Rapping Spirit of Bergzabern, whose unpleasant tricks
continued more than eight years (Nos. of May, June, and July 1858); that of
Dibbelsdorf (August 1858); that of the Baker of Grandes Ventes, near Dieppe (March
1860); that of the disturbances which occurred in the rue des Noyers, in Paris (August
1860); that of the Spirit of Castelnaudary (February 1860); that of the Manufactory in
Saint-Petersbourg (April 1860), and many others.
89. Facts of this nature have often the character of unmistakable persecution.
We knew of six sisters who lived together, and who, for several years, had their dresses
scattered about, every morning, sometimes hidden under the roof of the house,
sometimes torn, or cut into shreds, notwithstanding all the precautions they took in
keeping them under lock and key. Persons in bed, and wide awake, have seen their
curtains shaken, or have had their bed-clothes or their pillows violently snatched away
from them have been lifted up from their mattresses, or even been thrown out of bed.
These facts are more frequent than is imagined; but the vast majority of the victims dare
not talk of them, for fear of ridicule. And, to our certain knowledge, the treatment to
which some persons have been subjected, with a view to curing them of what has been
thought to be a tendency to hallucinations, has sometimes produced madness. Physicians cannot comprehend these things, because they admit only material
causes, and thus make some most terrible mistakes. History will, one day, recount
some of the medical treatments of this nineteenth century, as, now-a-days, we tell of the
horrors of the Middle Ages.
We fully admit that certain occurrences have been the result of trickery or of
malice ; but if, when all the evidence has been examined, it is proved that some of these
things are not the work of men, we must necessarily come to the conclusion that they
are the work of unseen intelligences some will say of ''the devil!," we say, of spirits ;
but the question next arises, of what sort of spirits?
90. Superior spirits do not, any more than grave and serious men, amuse
themselves with playing ill-natured tricks. We have often made spirits of this
disorderly nature come to us, and have questioned them as to the motives of their
misbehaviour. The majority of them seem to have no other object than that of amusing
themselves, and to be rather reckless than wicked ; they laugh at the alarm they
occasion, and at the useless searchings that are made to find out the cause of the tumult.
There are others, however, who will furiously assail some one whom it gratifies them to
persecute, and will follow him from one house to another. Others, again, attach
themselves to Some particular locality, from no graver motive than caprice. Sometimes
it is a vengeance which they exercise, as we shall show farther on. In other cases, their
object is more praiseworthy they wish to attract our attention, and to enter into
communication with us, either for the purpose of giving advice which may be useful to
us, or to ask something for themselves. We have often known them ask for our prayers ;
others have begged that some vow, which they were not able to fulfil during their
earthly life, might be fulfilled in their name ; others, again, have desired to make
reparation for some evil deed committed by them when on earth, and this, for the sake
of their own repose in their present state. Generally speaking, it is a mistake to be afraid
of them; their presence may be troublesome, but is rarely dangerous.
It is not strange, however, that people are anxious to rid themselves of such visitants;
but, unfortunately, they generally set about doing this in a wrong way. If spirits are only
amusing themselves, the greater the gravity with which their antics are met, the more
persistent they become ; like mischievous children, who only tease the more, the more
anger they excite, and the more successful they are in frightening the timid. The wisest
course is to laugh at their absurdities for they then get tired of playing the fool, and
cease their efforts to annoy. We have an acquaintance who, far from being irritated by
these attacks, excited them, defying their authors to do this or that, with such good
effect, that, after a few (lays, they took themselves off. But, as we have said, there are
some whose motives are less frivolous ; and for this reason it is always well to learn
what they are aiming at. If they make some request, we may be sure they will cease
their visits as soon as their wish is satisfied. The best way of gaining information in
this respect is to evoke the spirit, through the intervention of a good medium, in order
to ascertain with whom, and what, we have to do. Should it be a spirit who is unhappy,
charity commands us to treat hint with the consideration due to his suffering ; if he be a
practical joker, we may treat him more cavalierly if he be malicious, we must try to aid
him in becoming better. In any case, prayer can only have a good effect, but the gravity
of any formal exorcism only excites their merriment, and they treat it as of no account.
If we are able to enter into communication with them, we must attach no importance to
any titles they may assume, whether of a burlesque character, or assumed with a view
of horrifying ; for this is often done to divert themselves with our credulity.
We shall recur to this subject, giving further details, and stating the reasons
which often render prayer for spirits inefficacious, in the chapters on Haunted places
91. The phenomena we are considering, although produced by spirits of an
inferior order, are often superintended by spirits of higher degree, with the view of
convincing us of the existence of incorporeal beings in close connection with mankind The sounds
they make, the very fears excited by them, arrest attention, and end by opening the eyes
of the incredulous. The question as to the nature of the mysterious beings who take
these means of manifesting their presence and their power, is answered by the means
which they themselves point out of communicating with them. The explanations which
they give us, in regard to themselves and their procedures, teach us also to distinguish
between what is real and what is false or exaggerated in statements of these
phenomena; a discrimination hardly to be arrived at of ourselves. Whenever anything
unusual occurs in our presence, such as an unaccustomed noise, a movement, or even
an apparition, our first care should be to ascertain whether it may not be due to some
natural cause, because this is most probable; and we must be careful not to admit the
intervention of spirits, unless we are sure that the phenomenon is of their producing. In
this way we exclude the possibility of illusion. If, for example, at a time when we are
sure that no creature in the flesh is near us, we get a box on the ear, or a slap on the
back, we can be in no doubt as to whether an invisible being is, or is not, in our
We should be very careful in regard, not only to tales which may be more or less
exaggerated, but also to our own impressions, and not b in haste to attribute an occult
origin to all that is beyond our comprehension. An immense number of very simple
natural causes may produce effects that appear strange at first sight; and it would be
mere superstition to lay to the account of spirits all the accidents that may happen in the
house, or in daily life, and which are usually the result of our awkwardness or want of
Things thrown about
92. The explanation given respecting the movement of inert bodies is equally
applicable to all the spontaneous phenomena that may occur. The noises referred to,
though louder than the rappings on tables, have the same origin; the throwing or
displacement of objects is effected by the same force that raises a table. It may be
"Where is the medium in the cases just referred to?" - Spirits have told us that, even in
these cases, there is always some one whom the unseen agent makes use of, with, or
without, his knowledge. Spontaneous manifestations very rarely occur in isolated
places; it is almost always in inhabited houses that such things take place, and through
the unconscious mediumship of some one present, whose influence aids their
production, without his desiring to do so. Such persons are unmistakably mediums,
although themselves unaware of their power, and may therefore be called natural
mediums. They are, in comparison with other mediums, what natural somnambulists
are to magnetic somnambulists, and offer quite as curious a subject of study.
93. The voluntary or involuntary intervention of a person endowed with a
special aptitude for the production of these phenomena appears to be necessary in the
greater number of cases, although cases occur in which the spirit appears to act alone;
but even then, it is quite possible that he may draw the animalised fluid from some
other source than the persons present : a possibility which explains why It IS that
spirits, though incessantly around us, do not always exert a perturbing action. To do
this, it is necessary, first, that the spirit should will it, and, secondly, that he should have
some motive for doing it; otherwise, he does nothing. It is also necessary for him to
find, precisely in the place where he wishes to act, the person or persons fitted to
second his action; a coincidence of comparatively rare occurrence. If an available
person enters unexpectedly, the spirit may profit by the opportunity thus afforded; or, in
spite of the concurrence of favourable circumstances, he may be prevented from acting
by some superior will, which does not permit him to act as he wishes. He may be only
permitted to act under certain limitations, and in a case in which the manifestations he
wishes to produce would be useful, either as a means of conviction, or as a test for the
person who is the object of them.
94. We will only quote, in illustration of the foregoing remarks, a conversation in reference to the occurrences in the rue des Noyers, in Paris,
in June 1860. (See the Revue Spirite, for August 1860.)
1. (Question addressed to Saint Louis.) Will you have the kindness to tell us if
the facts reported to have taken place in the rue des Noyers really took place? We have
no doubt as to their possibility.
"Yes, they really occurred; the popular imagination exaggerates them, but they
were really the work of a spirit who likes to amuse himself at the expense of the inhabi-
tants of the house in question."
2. Is there any one in the house who is the cause of these manifestations?
"Such manifestations are always caused by the presence of the person attacked;
they arise from the ill-will of the perturbing spirit towards an inhabitant of the place to
which he conies; and his object is to annoy him, and to drive him out of the house."
3. We would ask if, among tile people of tile house, there is some one who
causes these phenomena by a spontaneous, involuntary, medianimic influence?
"Without such an influence, these occurrences could not have taken place. A
spirit dwells in a place for which lie has a predilection ; lie remains passive, as long as
there is in it no one fitted to be used as a medium; but if such a person comes thither, he
uses his medianimity as much as he can."
4. Is the presence of such a person at the very place itself indispensable?
"It is so usually, and such is the case in the present instance; this is why I said
that, without the presence of such a person, the occurrences could not have taken place.
But it was not lily object to generalise; there are cases in which the immediate presence
of a medium is not necessary."
5. Uproarious spirits being always of an inferior order, is the aptitude for serving
as their auxiliary a presumption of inferiority on the part of the person they use as a
medium, and does it show his sympathy with the beings who thus use him?
"No; not precisely so; for this aptitude results from a physical disposition
nevertheless, it sometimes implies, on the part of the medium, a physical tendency from
which he should endeavour to free himself. The more elevated you are morally, the
higher are the spirits you attract; and these necessarily keep off the lower ones."
6. Where does the spirit find the projectiles he makes use of?
"The different objects thus employed are generally taken from the spot where
the manifestations occur, or in its neighbourhood; a force proceeding from the spirit
impels them into the air, and they fall into the place designed by him."
7. Since these spontaneous manifestations are often permitted, and even
ordered, with a view to convincing the incredulous, it appears to us that, if the latter
were them-selves the objects of these phenomena, they would be compelled to yield to
the evidence of their own perceptions. They sometimes complain that they cannot get
hold of conclusive facts is it not in the power of spirits to give such persons some proof
that they could not deny?
"Do not atheists and materialists witness, every moment, the effects of the
power of God and of thought? But does this hinder them from denying both God and
the soul? Did the miracles of Jesus convert all his contemporaries? Do not those who,
in your time, ask you to let them see some manifestations, too often resemble the
Pharisees who said 'Master, show us a sign'? Those who are not convinced, by the
wonders of the creation, of the existence of beings superior to man, would hardly be
induced to admit the existence of spirits, even if the latter should appear to them in
ways the most convincing. Opportunities of seeing are always to be found by those who seek for them with honesty and sincerity.
Incredulity cannot hinder the accomplishment of the Providential purposes; it will not
hinder the development of the spiritist movement. Do not trouble yourself about
opposition, which is, to the truth, what shadow is to the picture, giving it a higher
8. Do you think it would be of any use to evoke this spirit, so that we might ask
him some questions?
"Evoke him if you will; but he is a spirit of low degree, who will not be able to
give you much information."
95. (Communication with the disturbing spirit of the rue des Noyers.)
"Why do you call me? Do you want to have some stones thrown at you? In that
case, we should soon see you scampering away, though you look so brave!"
2. We should not be frightened even though you threw stones at us; we ask you
to tell us if it is really in your power to do so?
"Perhaps I could not, here; you have a guardian who looks so sharply after you."
3. Was there any one in the rue des Noyers who helped you in playing off your
tricks on the inmates of that house?
"Certainly, I had a capital instrument, and no wise and priggish spirit to hinder
me; for I am merry and like to amuse myself sometimes."
4. Who was the person that served as your instrument?
5. Was she your auxiliary unawares?
"Oh yes; poor girl she was the most frightened of them all."
6. Did you do this from ill-will?
" I ? I had no ill-will whatever ; but you men, who get hold of everything, will
turn this to your advantage."
7. What do you mean? We do not understand you.
"What I wanted was to amuse myself; but you spiritists will study the thing, and
you will have one more fact to prove that we exist."
8. You say you had no ill-will; but you broke all the windows of the apartment;
and that was a real injury of your doing!
"That's a mere trifle."
9. Where did you get the things you threw into the house?
"They are common enough ; I found them in the yard, and in the neighbouring
10. Did you find them all, or did you fabricate some of them? (See Chap. VIII.)
"I created nothing, composed nothing."
11. If you had not found them, could you have made them?
"That would have been more difficult; but we can mix things together, and so
make a sort of a whole."
12. Now tell us how you threw them?
"Ah! that is more difficult to tell. I helped myself by the electric nature of the
girl, joined to my own, which is less material; we were able thus to transport these
objects between us."
13. You would not object, I think, to give us some information about yourself.
Tell us, first of all, if you have been long dead?
"A long time ; full fifty years."
14. What (lid you do when living?
"Not much good; I did rough work, such as picking up rags, &c., in this quarter;
and people used to tease me, because I was too fond of Goodman Noah's red liquor. So
I wanted to make them all decamp from the house."
15. Is it of yourself, and of your own free-will, that you have answered our
"I had an instructor."
"Your good King Louis."
Remark. - This question was suggested by the nature of some of the above
answers, which appeared to be beyond the attainment of this spirit, both in point of
ideas, and of expression. There is nothing surprising in his having been aided by more
enlightened spirit, wishing to take advantage of this occasion, in order to give us
information; on the contrary, cases of the kind are very common. But there was a
remarkable peculiarity in the present instance, the influence of another spirit being
made apparent in the very writing of the answers in which he intervened, and which
was more even and flowing than the rough and irregular writing of the rag-picker,
which was indistinct, and of a different character.
17. What are you doing now? do you ever think of your future?
"Not yet; I am a wanderer. People think so little of me upon the earth; nobody
prays for me. I am not helped, and therefore I do not exert myself."
Remark.-We shall see, farther on, how much we may contribute to the comfort
and advancement of inferior spirits, by prayer and counsel.
18. What was your name when living?
19. Well, Jeannet, we will pray for you. Tell us if out evocation has given you
pleasure, or whether it has annoyed you?
"Pleasure, rather; for you are kind, good folks, though somewhat too grave. You
have listened to me, and I am pleased with that."
Objects brought by Spirits.
96. The only difference between this class of phenomena and those just alluded
to consists in the nature of the objects brought (which are almost always pleasing), the
good intentions of the spirit who brings them, and the gentle and often delicate manner
in which they are presented. We allude to the spontaneous exhibition of things which
were not in the room when we entered it; these spirit-gifts being generally flowers,
sometimes fruit, sugar-plums, jewels, etc.
97. It is, however, to be observed that phenomena of this character are more easily imitated than most others; for which reason we must
always be on our guard against trickery. We know what conjurors can do in this line
and dupes may easily be made by skilful and interested manoeuvres, even without the
conjuror's skill. The best of all guarantees against frauds of the description alluded to
are, first, the honourability and disinterestedness of the medium; secondly, the attentive
examination of all the circumstances under which such reputed phenomena occur; and,
thirdly, a wide and enlightened experience of spiritism, which alone enables us to form
a correct judgement in regard to Occurrences that may appear suspicious.
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
"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.
* 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.
"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
"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
"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 phenomena, 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.
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
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
9. Could you bring flowers from another hemisphere; from the tropics, for
"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
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
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
"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
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.