THE MEDIUMS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER XVII
FORMATION OF MEDIUMS
Development of Mediumship. Change of Writing. Loss and Suspension of Mediumship.

Developmeut of Mediumship.


200. W E shall speak here especially of writing medi- ums, because that is the most wide-spread mediumship, and because it is, at the same time, the simplest and most convenient, that which gives the most satisfactory and most complete results ; it is also the one all per- sons desire. Unhappily, up to this time there is no diagnostic that can indicate, even approximately, the possession of this faculty; the physical signs in which some have believed they could discover such indica- tions have in them no certainty. It is found in chil- dren and in the aged, among men and among women, whatever may be the temperament, the state of health, the degree of intellectual or moral development. There is but one single means to prove its existence; that is to make the trial.

Writing can be obtained, as we have seen,*by means of baskets and planchettes, or directly with the hand; this last method being the easier, and, we may say, the only one at present employed, it is the one to which we shall give the preference. The process is of the simplest: it consists solely in taking pencil and paper, and the position of writing, without other preparation ; but to succeed, several recommendations are indispensable.

201. As a material point, we recommend the avoid- ance of everything that can interfere with the free motion of the hand ; it is even preferable that it should not rest at all on the paper. The point of the pencil should rest enough to trace, but not enough to experi- ence any resistance. All these precautions are use- less when the person has come to write easily, for then no obstacle can arrest it: these are only the pre- liminaries of the scholar.

202. It is indifferent whether the pen or the pencil be used ; some mediums prefer the pen ; but it is only convenient to those who are formed and who write steadily ; there are some who write with such velocity that the use of the pen would be almost impossible, or, at least, very inconvenient; it is the same when the writing is jerky and irregular, or when violent spirits are communicating, who strike with the point, and break it, tearing the paper.

203. The desire of all who aspire to be mediums is, naturally, to be able to converse with the spirits of persons who are dear to them ; but they must moderate their impatience, for communication with an especial spirit frequently offers material difficulties that render it impossible for the beginner. In order that a spirit may communicate, there must be between him and the medium nuidic relations, which are not always instantly established ; it is only as the faculty is developed that the medium acquires, little by little, the fitness to enter into relation with the first comer. It may be, then, that the one with whom communication is desired may not be in propitious condition to make it, notwithstanding his presence, as it may also be that he has neither the possibility nor the permission to come at the call that is made. This is why it is best, in the beginning, not to persist in asking for one spirit to the exclusion of all others; for it often happens that fluidic relations are not established with that one most easily, whatever may be the sympathy for him. So, before expecting to obtain communications from such or such a spirit, it is necessary to press the development of the faculty, and for that purpose make a general appeal, and, above all, address yourself to your guardian angel.

There is no particular form to be used; whoever pretends to give one may boldly be taxed with jug- glery, because, for spirits, form is nothing. The in- vocation should always be made in the name of God ; it may be made in the following terms, or in something equivalent: / pray Almighty God to permit a good spirit to communicate with me, and make me write; I

pray, also, my guardian angel kindly to lielp me, and drive away bad spirits. Then wait until a spirit mani- fests himself by writing something. It may be that it will be the one desired, or it may be the spirit of a stranger, or the guardian angel; in any case he gen- erally makes himself known by writing his name; but then comes the question of identity, one that requires the most experience, for- there are few beginners who are not liable to be deceived. We treat of this after- ward in a special chapter.

When it is desired to call certain spirits, it is very essential, in the beginning, to address only those known to be good and sympathetic, and who might have a motive for coming, as relations or friends. In this case the invocation might be thus expressed: In the name of Almighty God I pray the spirit of such a one, to communicate with me: or, I pray Almighty God to permit the spirit of so and so to communicate with me: or any other form answering to the same thought. It is not the less necessary that the first questions should be so contrived that the answer may be simply

yes or no, as, for instance, Are you there ? Will you answer me ? Can you make me write ? &c. Later this precaution will be useless: we are speaking only of the beginning, when the relation is to be established: the essential thing is, that the question be not useless; that it does not pertain to things of private interest; and. above all, that it be the expression of a benevolent and sympathetic sentiment for the spirit addressed. (See, later, the special chapter on Invocations.)

204. One thing still more important to observe than the mode of appeal, is calm and concentration of thought joined to an ardent desire and a firm will to succeed ; and, by will, we do not understand an ephemeral will, that acts by jerks, and is, at each minute, interrupted by other preoccupations; but a serious, persevering, sustained will, wit/tout impatience or fever- ish desire. Concentration of thought is favored by solitude, silence, and the removal of all that might dis- tract the attention. But one thing more remains to be done ; every day renew the effort for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, and that during fifteen days, a month, two months, and more if necessary : we know mediums who were not formed until after six months' practice, while others write easily from the first.

205. To avoid useless attempts, a serious and ad- vanced spirit can be interrogated through another medium; but we must here remark that when the question of whether a person is or is not a medium is addressed to the spirits, they almost always answer affirmatively, which yet does not prevent the efforts from being unfruitful. This may be very naturally explained. A general question is put to the spirit; he answers in a general manner; for, as every one knows, nothing is more elastic than the medianimic faculty, as it can be displayed under the most varied forms, and in very different degrees. A person thus may be a medium without perceiving it, and in a different sense from the one thought of. To this vague ques- tion, Am I a medium ? the spirit may answer, Yes : to the more exact one, Am I a writing medium ? he may answer, No. The nature of the spirit questioned must also be taken into consideration; there are some so trifling and so ignorant that they answer at random, like veritable dunces: this is why we say, address en- lightened spirits, who usually answer these questions willingly, and indicate the best method to pursue if there is a possibility of success.

206. One method, which often succeeds, consists in employing as temporary auxiliary a good, flexible writ- ing medium already formed. If he rests his hand or his fingers on the hand that is wanted to write, it is seldom that it does not succeed immediately: this is easily comprehended: the hand that holds the pencil becomes, in a manner, an appendage to the hand of the medium, like a basket or a planchette; but that does not prevent this exercise from being very useful when it can be done, inasmuch as if, often and regu- larly repeated, it helps to overcome the material ob- stacle, and develop the faculty. Magnetizing strongly the arm and hand will sometimes suffice; often even the magnetizer may simply rest his hand on the shoulder, and we have seen persons write at once under this influence. The same effect may be produced without contact, by the sole effort of will. It may easily be seen that the confidence of the mag- netizer to produce this result will make a great differ ence, and that a skeptical one would have little or no action.

The concurrence of an experienced guide is, besides, sometimes useful to make the beginner observe a num- ber of little precautions, which he often neglects, to the detriment of the rapidity of his progress ; and especially to enlighten him on the nature of the first questions, and the manner of proposing them. His part is that of a professor, to be dispensed with when the person is sufficiently skillful.

207. Another means, that' may also powerfully con- tribute to the development of the faculty, consists in .gathering together a certain number of persons all animated by the same desire and by a community of intention; then let all simultaneously, in absolute silence, and with a religious concentration, try to write, each appealing to his guardian angel or to some sympathetic spirit. One of them may, without special designation, and for all the members of the assembly, make a general appeal to good spirits, say- ing, for instance, In the name of Almighty God, we pray good spirits to please communicate by the persons here present. It is very seldom that among the num- ber there will not be some who give prompt signs of mediumship, or even write easily in a very short time.

This can be readily explained. Persons united by a community of intention form a collective whole, whose power and susceptibility are increased by a kind of magnetic influence which aids in the development of the faculty. Among the spirits attracted by this con- course of wills, there are some who find the instrument suited to them ; if not one, it will be another, and they profit by it.

This method is suited to a circle of spiritists who are in want of mediums, or who have not a sufficient number.

208. Processes for the formation of mediums have been sought for as people seek diagnostics ; but as yet we know of none more efficacious than those we have indicated. In the persuasion that the obstacle to the development of the faculty is an entirely material resistance, some pretend to overcome it by a kind of gymnastics almost dislocating the arm and head. We do not describe this process, which comes to us from across the Atlantic, not only because we have no proof of its efficacy, but from the conviction we have that it may be dangerous to delicate constitutions by the disturbance of the nervous system. If the rudiments of the faculty do not exist, nothing can give them, not even electricity, which has been unsuccessfully em- ployed for the same end.

209. Faith in the apprentice medium is not an ab- solute condition ; it seconds the efforts, certainly, but is not indispensable: purity of intention, desire, and good will are sufficient. Perfectly skeptical persons have been known to be surprised by writing in spite of themselves, while sincere believers could not; which proves this faculty to be an organic predisposition. (Note 10.)

210. The first indication of a disposition to write, is a kind of trembling in the arm and hand ; little by little the hand is carried along by an impulse that it cannot master. It often traces, at first, but insignificant signs; then the characters are drawn more and more clearly, and it ends by acquiring the rapidity of ordinary writing. In all cases the hand must be aban- doned to its natural movement, neither resisting nor propelling.

Some mediums write easily and rapidly from the beginning, sometimes even from the first sitting, which lis quite rare.; others for a long time make lines and genuine calligraphic exercises; the spirits say to limber the hand. If these exercises are too prolonged, or de- generate into ridiculous signs, there can be no doubt it is a spirit amusing himself, for good spirits never do anything useless : in such case it is necessary to appeal to them with redoubled fervor. If, in spite of that, there is no change, stop as soon as it is found nothing serious can be obtained. The attempt may be renewed daily, but it is best to cease at the first equivocal signs, so as not to give such satisfaction to mocking spirits.

T o these observations a spirit adds, " There are medi- ums whose faculty cannot go beyond these signs; when, at the end of some months, they obtain nothing but in- significant things, yes or no, or letters without continu- ance, it is useless to persist in soiling paper in pure loss: they are mediums, but unproductive mediums. The first communications obtained should be con- sidered only as exercises confided to secondary spir- its ; but slight importance should be atached to them, because of the spirits who are, so to say, employed as writing-masters to teach the beginner; for believe not that they are. elevated, spirits who take the medium through these preparatory exercises ; only it happens that, if the medium have no serious end in view, these spirits remain, and attach themselves to him. Nearly all mediums have gone through this crucible to be developed ; it is for them to do all they can to conciliate truly superior spirits.

211. The rock on which most debutants split, is having to do with inferior spirits; and they should think themselves happy when they are only trifling spirits. All their attention should be given to not allowing them to take footing; for once anchored it is not always easy to be relieved from them. This is such a special point, particularly in the beginning, that, without the necessary precautions, the fruit of the finest faculties may be lost.

The primary point consists in putting one's self, with a sincere faith, under the protection of God, and imploring the assistance of one's guardian angel, who is always good, while the familiar spirit, sympathizing with the good or bad qualities of the medium, may be trifling, or even bad.

The second point is to ascertain with scrupulous care, by every indication experience furnishes, the nature of the first spirits that communicate, and of whom it is always prudent to beware. If these indications are suspicious, a fervent appeal must be made to the guardian angel, and the bad spirit repulsed with the whole strength, proving to him that you are not his dupe, in order to discourage him. This is why a previous study of the theory is indispensable, if the dangers inseparable from inexperience would be avoided: fully developed instructions on this subject will be found in the chapters on Obsession and Identity of Spirits. We shall limit ourselves at this time to say- ing that, besides the language, all signs, figures, useless or trifling emblems, all absurd writing, jerky, designedly twisted, of exaggerated dimensions, or af- fecting ridiculous or unusual forms, are infallible proofs of the inferiority of the spirits; the writing may be very bad, quite illegible even, which is more the fault of the medium than of the spirit, without being at all unusual. We have seen mediums so deceived that they measure the superiority of the spirits by the dimensions of the characters, and who attached great importance to letters modelled like print — a puerility evidently incompatible with real superiority.

212. If it is important not to fall unwillingly into the power of bad spirits, it is still more so not to put one's self into a state of dependence upon them volun- tarily ; and an immoderate desire to write should not lead to the belief that it is indifferent to address the first comer, hoping to be rid of him later, if he should not suit, for assistance in anything is not asked of a bad spirit with impunity ; he can always make one pay dearly for his services.

Some persons, impatient for the development in themselves of the medianimic faculty, — too slow in its growth for them, — have had the idea of calling to their aid any spirit whatever, even a bad one, intending to dismiss him afterward. Many have been served to their wish, and have written at once; but the spirit, not caring to be taken as a makeshift, has been less docile to go than to come. We know some who have been punished for their presumption in thinking them- selves strong' enough to drive them away as they pleased, by years of obsessions of every kind, by the most ridiculous mystifications, by a tenacious fascina- tion, and even by material misfortunes and the most cruel deceptions. The spirit at first showed himself openly wicked; then hypocritical, in order to lead to a belief in his conversion, or in the pretended power of his victim, to drive him away at will.
213. The writing is sometimes very legible, words and letters perfectly detached ; but with some mediums it is difficult to decipher for any other than the one who writes it; the habit must be acquired. It is quite often formed in large characters ; the spirits are little economical of paper. When a word or phrase is illegi- ble, ask the spirit to please begin again, which he is usually willing to do. When the writing is habitually illegible, even for the medium, he can almost always succeed in obtaining clearer copy by frequent and con- tinued practice, bringing to it a strong will, and ear- nestly requesting the spirit to be more correct. Some spirits often adopt conventional signs, which pass cur- rent in habitual circles. To mark when a question displeases them, or they do not wish to answer, they will, for instance, make a long bar, or something equiva- lent.

When the spirit has finished what he had to say, or will no longer answer, the hand remains immovable, and the medium, be his power and will what they may, can obtain no further word. On the contrary, until the spirit has finished, the pencil goes on with- out the hand being able to stop it. If he wish to say something spontaneously, the hand seizes the pencil convulsively, and begins to write without power to oppose it. The medium almost always feels within him something that indicates, if it is only a suspension, or if the spirit has ended. It is seldom he does not feel when he is gone.

Such are the most essential explanations we have to give concerning the development of psychography; experience will show, in the practice, certain details use- less to bring in here, and for which each one must be guided by general principles. Let every one try, and there will be found more mediums than are sup- posed.

214. All that we have said applies to mechanical writ- ing ; it is that all mediums seek to obtain, and with reason ; but purely mechanical writing is very rare; it is more or less mixed with intuition. The medium, having the consciousness of what he writes, is, natural- ly, prone to doubt his faculty ; he does not know if it comes from himself or the foreign spirit He need not be disquieted, and should continue all the same; let him observe with care, and he will easily recognize in what he writes a crowd of things not in his thought, that even are contrary to it — evident proof that they do not come from him. Let him then continue, and doubt will be dissipated by experience.

215. If it is not given to a medium to be entirely mechanical, all attempts to obtain this result will be fruitless; yet he will do wrong to think himself disin- herited : if he be endowed only with intuitive medium- ship, he must be content with it, and it will not fail to be of great service to him, if he knows how to profit by it, and does not repulse it.

If, after useless attempts followed up for some time, no indication of involuntary movement is produced, or if these movements are too weak to give results, he should not hesitate to write the first thought suggested to him, without troubling himself as to whether it come from himself or a foreign source ; experience will teach him to make the distinction. It very often hap- pens that the mechanical movement will be ulteriorly developed.

We have said above that there are cases in which it is indifferent to know if the thought is from the medium or a foreign spirit; when a purely intuitive or inspired medium writes a work of imagination, it is little matter if he should attribute to himself a thought suggested to him ; if good ideas come to him, let him thank his good genius, and he will have other good ones suggested to him. Such is the inspiration of poets, philosophers, and savants.

216. Let us now suppose the medianimic faculty completely developed; that the medium writes with facility ; in a word, let him be what is called a formed medium ; it will be very wrong on-his part to think he can dispense with all further instruction ; he has over- come only a material resistance; but then begin for him the real difficulties, and he has, more than ever, need of the advice of prudence and experience, if he would not fall into the thousand traps that will be set for him. If he would fly with his own wings, it will not be long before he will be the dupe of lying spirits, who will try to make capital from his presumption.

217. When the faculty is developed with a medium, it is essential that he should not abuse it. The satisfaction it gives to some beginners excites in them an enthusiasm it is important to moderate; they should remember that it is given to them to do good, and not to satisfy a vain curiosity ; this is why it is best to use it only at opportune moments, and not at every instant ; spirits not being constantly at their orders, they run the risk of being dupes of mystifiers. It is well to adopt certain days and hours for this purpose, for then greater concentration can be brought to it, and the spirits who desire to come are informed, and consequently prepared.

218. If, in spite of all efforts, mediumship is in no way revealed, it must be renounced, as a person gives up singing who has no voice. One who does not know a language uses an interpreter ; he must do the same here, that is, have recourse to another medium. In default of a medium, he must not think himself de- prived of the assistance of the spirits. Mediumship is for them a means of expressing themselves, but not an exclusive means of attraction ; those who love us are near us whether we be mediums or n o t : a father does not abandon his child because this child is deaf and blind, and can neither see him nor hear him ; he sur- rounds him with his solicitude as the good spirits do for us ; if they cannot transmit their thoughts to us materially, they come to aid us by inspiration.

Change of Writing.

219. A very ordinary phenomenon, with writing mediums, is the change of writing according to the spirits who communicate; and what is more remarka- ble, the same writing is constantly reproduced with the same spirit, and sometimes it is identical with that he had while living ; we shall see, by and by, the re- sults that may be drawn from this as to identity. The change of writing takes place only with those medi- ums who are mechanical or semi-mechanical, because with them the movement of the hand is involuntary, and directed by the spirit; it is not the same with mediums purely intuitive, for in such case the spirit acts solely on the thought, and the hand is directed by the will, as in ordinary circumstances, but the uniform- ity of the writing, even with a mechanical medium, proves absolutely nothing against the faculty, change not being an absolute condition in the manifestations of the spirits ; it pertains to a special aptitude, with which the most mechanical mediums are not always endowed. We designate those who have this aptitude name of poly graphic mediums.


Loss and Suspension of Mediumship.


220. The medianimic faculty is subject to intermis- sions and temporary suspensions, whether for physical manifestations or for writing. We give the answers of the spirits to some questions on this subject;

1. "Can mediums lose their faculty?"
" That very often happens, whatever kind it may be;

but often it is only a temporary interruption, which ceases with the cause that produced it."

2. " Is the cause of this loss the exhaustion of the fluid ?"

"With whatever faculty the medium may be en- dowed, he can do nothing without the sympathetic concurrence of the spirits ; when he obtains nothing, it is not always that the faculty is lacking, but that the spirits will, or can, no longer use him."

3. " F o r what cause would the spirits abandon him?"

" The use he makes of his faculty is the most power-' ful with good spirits. We may abandon him when he uses it for frivolities or for ambition ; when he refuses to impart our words or our facts to the incarnated who call to him, or who need to see in order to be con- vinced. This gift of God is not granted to the medium for his good pleasure, and still less to serve his ambi- tion, but for his own advancement, and to make known the truth to men. If the spirit sees that the medium no longer answers his views, and does not profit by his instructions, and by the warnings he gives him, he retires to find a more worthy protege.

4 " Might not the spirit who withdraws be replaced, and. thus the suspension of the faculty not be understood?"

" Spirits are not wanting who ask nothing better than to communicate, and are ready enough to replace those who withdraw ; but when it is a good spirit who forsakes the medium, it may very well be that he leaves him only temporarily, and deprives him for a certain time of all communication in order to give him a lesson, and prove to him that his faculty depends not on himself, and that he should not be vain of it This temporary impotence is also to give the medium a proof that he writes under a foreign influence; other- wise there would be no intermittence in it.

" Yet the interruption of the faculty is not always in punishment; it is sometimes a proof of the solicitude of the spirit for the medium, whom he loves; he would by that means procure him a material rest, which he sees to be necessary, and in such case he does not permit other spirits to replace him."

5. " Yet we see mediums, very meritorious in a moral point of view, who experience no need of rest, and are annoyed by interruptions, whose motive they cannot understand."

" It is in order to put their patience to the proof, and to judge of their perseverance; this is why the spirits assign no general end to this suspension; they wish to see if the medium will become disheartened. It is often, also, to leave them time to meditate on the in- structions they have given them, and this meditation on our teachings we recommend to all truly serious spiritists ; we cannot give this name to those who, in reality, are only amateurs of communications."

6. " Is it necessary in this case for the medium to continue his attempts to write ?"

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