THE MEDIUMS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

Back to the menu
CHAPTER XIV
OF MEDIUMS
Mediums for Physical Effects. Electrical Persons. Sensitive or Impressible Mediums. Hearing Medi- ums. Speaking Mediums. Seeing Mediums. Somnambulic Mediums. Healing Mediums. Pneumatographic Mediums.


159. EVERY person who feels, in any degree what- ever, the influence of the spirits, is a medium. This faculty is inherent in man, and consequently not an exclusive privilege ; so there are few in whom are not found some rudiments of it

It might thus be said that very nearly every one is a medium. Usually, this qualification is applied only to those in whom the medianimic faculty is clearly characterized, and shown by visible effects of a certain intensity, which depends on an organization more or less sensitive. It must be remarked that this faculty is not revealed in the same manner with all; mediums, usually, have a special aptitude for such or such order of phenomena, which makes as many varieties as there are kinds of manifestations. The principal are, mediums for physical effects; sensitive or impressible mediums; auditive ; speaking; seeing; somnambulis- tic; healing; pneumatographic ; writing or psychographic.

I. Mediums for Physical Effects.


160. Mediums for Physical Effects are more espe- cially fit to produce material phenomena, such as move- ments of inert bodies, noises, &c. They may be divided into optional mediums and involuntary mediums. (See Part II., Chapters II. and IV.)

Optional Mediums are those who have a conscious- ness of their power, and who produce the spirit phe- nomena by the power of their will. This faculty, though, as we have said, inherent in the human spe- cies, is far from existing in all in the same degree; yet, if there are few persons with whom it is absolutely null, those who are capable of producing great effects, such as the suspension of heavy bodies in space, aerial trans- lation, and, above all, apparitions, are still more rare. The most simple effects are those of rotation of an object, rapping by the raising of the object, or even within its substance. Without attaching primary importance to these phenomena, we engage not to neglect them ; they may give occasion to interesting observations and aid conviction. But it is to be remarked that the faculty of producing physical effects rarely exists with those who have more perfect means of communication, as writing and speaking. Generally, the faculty diminishes in one sense in proportion as it develops in another.

161. Involuntary or natural mediums are those in whom the influence is exercised without their will. They have no consciousness of their power, and often the abnormal occurrences around them seem to them nothing extraordinary; it is a part of themselves, absolutely like persons endowed with second sight, and who never suspect it. These subjects are very worthy of observation; and collecting and studying facts of this kind that may come to our knowledge should not be neglected ; they show themselves at all ages, even with very young children. (See, in Chap. V., Spontaneous Manifestations?)

This faculty is not, by itself, the indication of a pathological state, for it is not incompatible with perfect health. If the one who possesses it is suffering, that proceeds from a foreign cause; also therapeutic means are powerless to end it. It may, in some cases, be consecutive with a certain organic weakness, but it is never the efficient cause. No inquietude, then, can be reasonably felt in a hygienic point of view ; it could produce inconvenience only if the subject, having become an optional medium, should abuse its use, because in that case there might be enfeebling of the organs, from too abundant emission of the vital fluid.

162. Reason revolts at the idea of the tortures, moral and corporeal, to which science has sometimes subjected weak and delicate beings, to ascertain if there were treachery on their part; these experimentations, most often made through malice, are always injurious to sensitive organizations ; there might result from them serious disorders in the economy ; to make such trials is to sport with life. The sincere observer needs not these means ; besides, a person familiar with these phenomena knows that they belong more to the moral than to the physical order, and that their solution will be vainly sought in our exact sciences. For the very reason that these phenomena belong to the moral order, everything that can over-excite the imagination should be avoided with the most scrupulous care. We know what accidents fear can occasion, and persons would be less imprudent if they knew all the cases of insanity and epilepsy that have their origin in the stories of the were wolf and Croquemitanie; what will it be, then, if persuaded it is the devil?

Those who accredit such ideas know not the re- sponsibility they assume; they might kill. But the danger is not alone for the subject, but for those around him, who might be frightened at the thought of their house being a haunt of demons. It is this fatal belief that has caused so many acts of atrocity in times of ignorance. At the same time, with a little more discernment, they would, know that, in burning the body supposed to be possessed by the devil, they could not burn the devil. Since they wish to get rid of the devil, it is he they should kill: the spirit doc- trine, by-enlightening us on the true cause of all these phenomena, gives him the death-blow. Thus, far from encouraging this idea, we should, as a duty of morality and humanity, combat it where it exists.

What should be done when such a faculty is spon- taneously developed in an individual, is to leave the phenomenon to take its natural course. Nature is more prudent than man : besides, Providence has His views, and the smallest can be an instrument of the greatest designs. But it must be conceded that this phenomenon sometimes acquires fatiguing and importunate proportions for every one * ; here is what, in all cases, should be done. In Chapter V., on Spontaneous 'Physical Manifestations, we have already given some advice on this subject, saying that it is necessary to try to come into relations with the spirit, to know from him what he wants. ' T h e following method is also founded on observation. The invisible beings who reveal their presence by effects, are, in general, of an inferior order of spirits, who can be governed by moral ascendency ; it is this ascendency we must endeavor to acquire.

To obtain it, the subject must be made to pass from the state of natural to that of optional medium. Then there is produced an effect analogous to that which takes place in somnambulism. It is known that natu- ral somnambulism generally ceases when it is replaced by magnetic somnambulism. The emancipative fac- ulty of the soul is not stopped, but is turned into another course. It is the same with the medianimic faculty. Then, instead of arresting the phenomena, which is rarely successful, and not always without danger, the medium must be incited to produce them at will, by overawing the spirit; by this means he may be able to master him, and from a somewhat tyrannical ruler he makes of him a subordinate, and often very docile being. A fact worthy of remark, and justified by experience, is, that in such cases a child has as much, and often more, authority than an adult; new proof in support of this main point in the doc- trine that the spirit is a child only by the body, and that he has, by himself, a development necessarily anterior to his actual incarnation —a development that can give him the ascendency over spirits who are his inferiors.

The moralization of the spirit by the counsels of a third influential and experienced person, if the medium is not in a state to do it, is often a very efficacious means: we shall return to it later.

____________________________________________________
* One of the most extraordinary facts of this nature, for the variety and strangeness of the phenomena, is that which took place in 1852, in the Palatinate (Rhenish Bavaria) at Bergzabern near Wissembourg. It is the more remarkable, that it reunites, and with the same subject, nearly every kind of spontaneous mani festations — racket enough to shake the house, upsetting of fur niture, objects thrown to a distance by an invisible hand, visions and apparitions, somnambulism, ecstasy, catalepsy, electrical at traction, aerial cries and sounds, instruments playing without contact, intelligent communications, &c, and, what is not of minor importance, the verification of these facts during nearly three years, by innumerable eye-witnesses, all worthy of belief from their knowledge and social position. The authentic account of it was published in several German papers, and especially in a tract now out of print and very rare. The complete translation of this fact will be found in the Revue Spirite of 185 J, with the necessary commentaries and explanations. It is the only French publication, to our knowledge. Beyond the great interest at tached to these phenomena, they are eminently instructive for the pra:tical study of Spiritism.


163. In this category of mediums seem to belong the persons endowed with natural electricity — veri- table human torpedoes, producing, by simple contact, all the effects of attraction and repulsion. It would be wrong, however, to regard them as mediums, for true mediumship supposes the direct intervention of a spirit; but in the case of which we speak, conclusive experiments have proved that electricity is the only" agent of these phenomena.

This strange faculty, which might almost be called an infirmity, may sometimes be allied to mediumship, as may be seen in the history of the rapping Spirit of Bergzabern; but often it is completely independent. So, as we have said, the sole proof of the intervention of spirits is the intelligent character of the manifesta- tions ; wherever this character does not exist, there is the right to attribute them to a purely physical cause.

The question is, to know if electric persons would possess a greater aptitude for becoming mediums for physical effects; we think so, but this would be the result of experience.


2. Sensitive or Impressible Mediums.


164. Persons capable of perceiving the presence of spirits by a vague impression, a kind of feeling through- out the whole body, for which they can give no reason, are thus designated. This variety has no very decided character; all mediums are necessarily impressible: impressionability is rather a general than a particular quality; it is the rudimentary faculty indispensable to the development of all the others; it differs from purely physical and nervous impressionability, with which it must not be confounded ; for there are per- sons who have not delicate nerves, and who yet feel, more or less, the presence of spirits ; and others, very irritable, who have not the slightest perception of them. This faculty is developed by habit, and may acquire such a subtilty that the person endowed with it recognizes, by the-impression he feels, not only the good or bad nature of the spirit at his side, but even his individuality, as a blind person recognizes, by a certain unknown sense, the approach of this or that person ; he becomes, in relation to spirits, a veritable sensitive plant A good spirit always makes a gentle and agreeable impression ; that of a bad spirit, on the contrary, is painful, anxious, and disagreeable; there is, as it were, a scent of impurity.


3. Hearing Mediums.


165. They hear the voice of the spirits : it is, as we have said, in speaking of pneumatophony, sometimes an interior voice, which makes itself heard in the soul; at other times it is an exterior voice, clear and distinct as that of a living person. An auditive medium can enter into conversation with the spirits. When they are accustomed to communicate with certain spirits, they immediately recognize the character of the voice. When a person is not himself endowed with this fac- ulty, he can communicate with a spirit by means of an auditive medium, who fills the office of interpreter.

This faculty is very agreeable when the medium hears only good spirits, or only those he calls ; but it is not the same when a bad spirit is always after him, making him hear at every moment the most disagreea- ble, and often the most improper things. It then becomes necessary to get rid of him by the means we indicate in the chapter on Obsession.


4. Talking Mediums.


166. Hearing mediums, who transmit only what they hear, are not, properly speaking, talking mediums; these last very often hear nothing; with,them the spirit acts on the organs of speech, as he acts on the hand of writing mediums. The spirit wishing to com- municate acts on the organ he finds most flexible; of one the hand, of another the speech, of another the hearing. The talking medium usually expresses him- self without having a consciousness of what he says, and often says things completely beyond his custom- ary ideas, his knowledge, or even the height of his intelligence.

Though he may be perfectly awake, .and in a normal state, he rarely preserves the remembrance of what he has spoken ; in a word, speech is, with him, the instru- ment the spirit uses, and through which another per- son can enter into communication, as can be done by the interposition of the hearing medium.

The passivity of the hearing medium is not always so complete; there are some who have the intuition of what they say at the moment of pronouncing the words. We shall return to this variety when we treat of intuitive mediums.


5.. Seeing Mediums.


167. Seeing mediums are endowed with the faculty of seeing spirits. There are some who enjoy this faculty in the normal state ; then they are perfectly awake, and preserve an exact remembrance of it; others have it only in a somnambulic state, or one bordering on somnambulism. This faculty is rarely permanent; it is almost always the effect of a momentary and fleet- ing crisis. All persons endowed with second sight may be placed in the category of seeing mediums. The possibility of seeing spirits in dreams most certainly results from a kind of mediumship, but does not, properly speaking, constitute seeing mediums. We have explained this phenomenon in Chapter V I , on Visual Manifestations.

The seeing medium thinks he sees with his eyes, as also those who have double sight; but in reality it is the soul that sees, because he sees as well with his eyes shut as with them open'; from whence it follows that a blind person can see spirits as well as one who has the use of his eyes. This last point might give an interesting subject for study, to know if this faculty is more frequent with the blind. Spirits who have been blind have told us that, while living, they had, by the soul, a perception of certain objects, and that they were not plunged in black obscurity.

168. A distinction must be made between incidental and spontaneous apparitions, and the faculty proper of seeing spirits. The former are frequent, particu- larly at the moment of the death of persons loved or known, and who come to warn us they are no longer in the world. There are numerous examples of facts of this kind, without reckoning visions during sleep. At other times, relatives or friends, who, though a longer or shorter time dead, appear either to warn us of a danger, or to.give advice, or to ask a service. The service a spirit can claim consists usually in

the accomplishment of a thing he could not do while living, or in the help of prayers. These apparitions are isolated facts, which have always an individual and personal character, and do not constitute a faculty proper. The faculty consists in the possibility, if not permanent, at least very frequent, of seeing any spirit, even that of an entire stranger. It is this faculty that, properly speaking, constitutes seeing mediums.

Among seeing mediums there are those who see only those whom they call, and whom they describe with a perfect minuteness; they tell, to the smallest detail, their gestures, their expression of countenance, their features, costume, and even the sentiments by which they are animated. With others this faculty is still more general; they see all the surrounding spirit population go, come, and, as one might say, attend to their affairs.

169. One evening we were at a representation of the opera of Oberon, with a very good seeing medium. There were in the house quite a number of seats vacant, but many of which were occupied by spirits, who seemed to be taking their share in the scene; some went near certain of the spectators, and appeared to listen to their conversation. On the stage another scene was passing ; behind the actors several humor- ous, jovial spirits amused themselves in mimicking them, imitating their gestures in a grotesque manner ; others, more serious, seemed to inspire the singers, and make efforts to give them energy. One of them was constantly near one of the principal female singers; we thought his intentions a little light. Having called him, after the fall of the curtain, he came to us, and reproached us with some severity for our rash judg- ment. "I am not what you think," said he ; "I am her guide and spirit protector ; it is I who am charged to direct her." After some moments of very serious conversation, he left us, saying, " Adieu! she is at home: I must go watch over her."

We afterward called the spirit of Weber, the author of the opera, and asked him what he thought of the execution of his work. " It is not so very bad," said he; "but it is tame; the actors sing—that is all; there is no inspiration. Wait!" added he ; "I will try to give them a little of the sacred fire." Then we saw him on the stage, hovering above the actors: a breath seemed to part from ,him, and spread over them, and a. very visible increase of energy took place among them.

170. Here is another fact which proves the influ- ence spirits exercise at their will on man. We were, as before, at a theatrical representation with another seeing medium. Having engaged in conversation with a spirit spectator, he said to us, " Do you see those two ladies alone in that private box ? Well, I warrant you I will make them leave the theater."

So said, he was soon in the box, talking to the two ladies ; suddenly, from having been very attentive to the play, they looked at each other, consulted together, and finally went out, and did not return. The spirit made us a comical gesture, to show that he had kept his word, but did not return, that we might ask fur- ther explanations.

We have thus been many times witness of the part spirits play among the living : we have seen them at many reunions, — ball, concert, church, funerals, wed- dings, &c, — and everywhere we have found them ex- citing the evil passions, stirring up discord, inciting brawls, and rejoicing in their prowess ; others, on the contrary, combated this pernicious influence, though but rarely listened to.

171. The faculty of seeing spirits can, without doubt, be developed, but it is one of which it is best to- await the natural development, without trying to call it out, if one would not wish to become the dupe of his im- agination. When the germ of a faculty exists, it will be manifested of itself; from principle, we must be contented with those God has granted to us, without seeking the impossible; for then, in wishing to have too much, we risk losing what we have. When we said spontaneous apparitions are frequent, we did not intend to say that they are very common ; as to see- ing mediums, properly so called, they are still more rare, and we should be very careful of those who pre- tend to enjoy this faculty; it is prudent not to trust them except upon positive proofs. We do not mean those who are given to the ridiculous illusion of globular spirits, which we described No. 108, but of those who pretend to see spirits in a rational manner. Some persons may, doubtless, be deceived in all sincerity, but others may simulate this faculty from self-love or interest. In this case, particular account must be taken of the character, of the morality and habitual sincerity; but it is especially in the details the most certain test can be found, for they can be such as to leave no doubt; as, for instance, the exactness of the description of spirits whom the medium has never known living. The following fact is of this category:—

A widowed lady, whose husband frequently commu- nicated with her, found herself one day with a seeing medium, who did not know her nor her family: the medium said to her, " I see a spirit near you."

" Ah ! " said the lady, " it is, doubtless, my husband, who seldom leaves me."

" No," answered the medium ; " it is an elderly lady; her head-dress is very singular; she has a white band across her forehead."

From this particular and other descriptive details, the lady unmistakably recognized her grandmother, of whom she was not thinking. If the medium had wished to simulate the faculty, it was easy to follow the thought of the lady, whereas, instead of the husband, of whom she was thinking, he sees a woman with a peculiarity of head-dress, of which nothing had given him the idea. This fact proves another thing, — that the sight, with the medium, was not the reflec- tion of any person's thought. (See No. 102.)


6. Somnambulic Mediums.



172. Somnambulism may be considered as a variety of the medianimic faculty, or, rather, they are two orders of phenomena very often found combined. The somnambulist acts under the influence of his own spirit; it is his soul, which, in moments of emancipa- tion, sees, hears, and perceives, outside the limit of the senses ; what he expresses, he draws from himself; his ideas are, in general, more just than in the normal state, his knowledge more extended, because his soul is free; in a word, he lives, by anticipation, the life of spirits.

The medium, on the contrary, is the instrument of a foreign intelligence; he is passive, and what he says comes not from himself. To recapitulate: the somnam- bulist expresses his own thought, the medium that of another. But the spirit who communicates to an ordi- nary medium could also as well to a somnambulist; often the state of emancipation of the soul renders this communication more easy. Many somnambulists see spirits perfectly, and describe them with as much pre- cision as the seeing mediums; they can talk with them, and transmit their thought to u s ; what they say beyond the circle of their own knowledge is often suggested to them by other spirits. Here is a remark- able example, where the double action of the spirit of the somnambulist and of the foreign spirit reveals itself in the most unequivocal manner.

173. One of our friends had for a somnambulist a young boy of fourteen or fifteen years of age, of very ordinary intelligence, and extremely limited instruc- tion. Nevertheless, in somnambulism he gave proofs of extraordinary lucidity and great perspicacity. He excelled especially in the treatment of diseases, and made a great many cures regarded as impossible. One day he gave a* consultation to a sick person, whose malady he described exactly.

" That is not all," said they ; " now you must indi- cate the remedy." " I cannot," he answered. " My angel doctor is not here" "What do you mean by your angel doctor?" "He who dictates to me." " It is not you, then, who see the remedies ?" " Why, n o ; don't I tell you my angel doctor dictates them to me ?"

Thus, with this somnambulist, the action of seeing the disease was that of his own spirit, who for that needed no assistance, but the indication of the reme- dies was given by another; this other not being there, he could say nothing. Alone, he was only a somnam- bulist ; assisted by what he called his angel doctor, he was a somnambulistic medium.

174. Somnambulistic lucidity is a faculty that per- tains to the organism, and which is entirely indepen- dent of the elevation, of the advancement, and even of the moral state of the subject. A somnambulist may, then, be very* clear, and be incapable of solving certain questions, if his spirit be but little advanced. He who talks by himself may say good or bad, true or false things ; put more or less delicacy or fastidiousness into his proceedings, according to the degree of eleva- tion or inferiority of his own spirit; then the assist- ance of a foreign spirit may supply his insufficiency; but a somnambulist may be assisted by a lying, or trifling, or even a bad spirit, as well as mediums ; it is here, above all, that the moral qualities have a great influence to attract good spirits. (See Book on Spirits, Somnambulism, No. 425; and in this, the chapter on the Moral Influence of the Medium)

7. Healing Mediums.


175. We shall here give but a glance at this variety of mediums, because this subject requires too extended developments for our outline ; we know, besides, that a doctor, one of our friends, proposes to treat it in a spe- cial work on intuitive healing. We shall say only that this kind of mediumship consists principally in the gift possessed by some persons of healing by the sim- ple touch, by the look, even by the gesture, without the help of any medication. It will, doubtless, be said, that it is nothing but magnetism. It is evident the magnetic fluid here plays a great part; but when this phenomenon is carefully examined, it is easily seen that there is something more. Ordinary magnetiza- tion is a real treatment, continuous, regular, and me- thodical ; in it things happen very differently. Nearly all magnetizers are capable of curing, if they know how properly to undertake it; but with healing medi- ums the faculty is spontaneous, and some even possess it without ever having heard of magnetism. The inter- vention of a hidden power, which constitutes medium- ship, becomes evident under certain circumstances : it is so, particularly, when it is considered that most persons, whom we can reasonably qualify as healing mediums, have recourse to prayer, which is a real invo- cation. (See No'. 131.)
176. Here are the answers to the following questions addressed to the spirits, on this subject: —

1. " Can persons endowed with magnetic power be considered as forming a variety of mediums ?"

" You cannot doubt it."

2. "Yet the medium is an intermediary between the spirits and man ; but the magnetizer, drawing his strength from within himself, seems not to be the inter- mediary of any foreign power."

" It is an error: the magnetic power resides, doubt- less, in the man ; but it is augmented by the action of the spirits he calls to his aid. If you magnetize with a view to healing, for instance, and you invoke a good spirit, who interests himself in you and your patient, he augments your strength and your will; he directs your fluid, and gives it the necessary qualities."

3. " But there are very good magnetizers who do not believe in spirits."

" Do you think that spirits act only on those who believe in them ? Those who magnetize for good pur- poses are seconded by good spirits. Every man who has a desire to do good undoubtedly calls them ; the same as by the desire of evil, and evil intentions, he calls the evil."

, 4. " Would he who has the power act more effica- ciously, should he believe in the intervention of spirits ?"

" He would do things you would look upon as mir- acles."

5. " Have some persons truly the gift of healing by the simple touch, without employing magnetic passes ?"

" Assuredly ; have you not numerous examples of it?"

6. " I n this case is there magnetic action, or only influence of spirits ?"

" Both; these persons are veritable mediums, be- eause they act under the influence of spirits ; but that is not to say they would be writing mediums, as you would understand it."

7. " Can this power be transmitted ?"

" The power, no ; but the knowledge of the things necessary to its exercise where it is possessed. A person would not suspect that he has this power if he did Jiof believe it has been transmitted to him."

8. " Can cures be made by prayer alone ?"

" Yes, sometimes, if God permits ; but perhaps the good of the sick person is that he should suffer, and then you believe that your prayers are not heard."

9. " Are there some forms of prayer more efficacious for that than others ?"

" Superstition alone can attach a virtue to certain words, and ignorant or lying spirits alone can enter- tain such ideas in prescribing forms. Yet it may happen that, for persons not much enlightened, and incapable of understanding things purely spiritual, the employment of a formula helps to give them confi- dence ; in this case it is not the form that is efficacious, but the faith that is increased by the idea attached to the use of the form."

8. Pneumatographic Mediums.



177. This name is given to mediums suitable to the obtaining of direct writing, which is not given to all writing mediums. This faculty is, as yet, extremely rare; it is, probably, developed by exercise; but, as we have said, its practical utility is limited to the patent verification of the intervention of an occult power in the manifestations. Experience alone can prove its possession : a person can try, and also ask it of a protecting spirit, through other means of commu- nication. According to the degree of power possessed by the medium, simple marks, signs, letters, words, phrases, and even whole pages are obtained. It suf- fices, ordinarily, to fold a piece of paper, put it in some place designated by the spirit, for ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or sometimes longer. Prayer and concentration of thought are essential conditions ; this is why it may be looked upon as impossible to obtain anything in a reunion of persons but little serious, or who might not be animated by sympathetic and benevolent sentiments. (See Theory of Direct Writing, Chapter VIII., Laboratory of the Invisible World, No. 127, &c, and Chapter XII, Pneumatografhy.)

We shall treat, in a special manner, of writing medi- ums in the following chapters.

Related articles

Show related items
Wait, loading...