ROLE OF THE MEDIUM IN SPIRIT COMMUNICATIONS
Influence of the Personal Spirit of the Medium. —
System of Inert Mediums.— Aptitude of some Mediums for Things they do not know: Languages,
Music, Drawing, &c. — Dissertation of a Spirit on
the Role of Mediums.
Influence of the Personal Spirit of the Medium
223. 1. " Is the medium, at the time of exercising
his faculty, in a perfectly normal state ? "
" He is sometimes in a state of crisis more or less
pronounced ; this is what fatigues him, and why he
needs rest ; but more often his state does not sensi
bly differ from the normal state, especially in writing
2. " Can written or verbal communications also pro
ceed from the spirit incarnated in the medium ? "
"The soul of the medium may communicate, like
that of any other ; if it enjoy a certain degree of lib
erty it recovers its qualities of spirit. You have the
proof of this in the soul of living persons who come to
visit you, and communicate to you by writing, often
without your calling them.
" For you must know that among the spirits you
invoke, there are some who are incarnated on the
earth ; then they talk to you as spirits, and not as men.
Why should you suppose it cannot be the same with
that of the medium ? "
" This explanation seems to confirm the opinion of
those who believe that all communications emanate
from the spirit of the medium, and not from foreign
" They are wrong only because they are absolute ;
for while it is certain that the spirit of the medium can
act by himself, this is no reason that others cannot act
3. " How may it be known if the spirit who answers
is that of the medium, or a foreign spirit."
" By the nature of the communications. Study the
circumstances and the language, and you will distin
guish. It is more particularly in the state of som
nambulism, or ecstasy, that the spirit of the medium
manifests itself, because it is then more free ; but in
the normal state, it is more difficult. Besides, there
are answers it is impossible to ascribe to him : this is
why I tell you to study and observe.
Remark. When a person speaks to us, we readily
distinguish what comes from him, or what is only an
echo ; it is the same with mediums.
4. " As the spirit of the medium may have acquired
knowledge in his former existences, which he has for
gotten under his corporeal envelope, but which he
remembers as spirit, can he not draw from his own
sources the ideas that seem to surpass the breadth of
his instruction ? "
" That often happens in the somnambulic or ecstatic
crisis ; but even then there are circumstances that
admit no doubt ; study long and meditate."
5. "Are the communications coming from the medium always inferior to those that -might be made by
foreign spirits ? "
" Not always ; for the foreign spirit may himself be
of an order inferior to that of the medium, and then
speak less sensibly. It is seen in somnambulism, for
then it is most often the somnambulist's spirit who
manifests himself, and who yet says some very good
6. " Does the spirit who communicates by a medium
transmit his thought direct ; or has he the spirit in
carnated in the medium as an intermediary ? "
" The spirit of the medium is the interpreter, be
cause he is bound to the body that serves us to speak,
and a chain is necessary between you and foreign
spirits who communicate, as an electric wire is neces
sary to transmit news from afar, and at the end of
the wire an intelligent person, who receives and trans
7. " Does the spirit incarnated in the medium influ
ence the communications he has to transmit from for
eign spirits ? "
" Yes ; if he is not in sympathy with them, he may
alter their answers, and assimilate them to his own
ideas and inclinations ; but he does not influence the
spirits themselves ; he is only a bad interpreter."
8. " Is this the cause of the preference of spirits
for certain mediums ? "
" There is no other ; they seek the interpreter who
best sympathizes with them, and who renders most
exactly their thought. If there is not sympathy be
tween them, the spirit of the medium is an antagonist,
who brings a resistance, and becomes an ill-willed, and
often unfaithful, interpreter. It is the same among you when the advice of a wise man is transmitted by
a blunderer or an insincere person."
9. " It can easily be supposed that it may be thus
with an intuitive medium, but not with those who are
" You do not thoroughly take into consideration the
part played by the medium ; there is a law in it you
have not yet grasped. Remember that to eftect the
movement of an inert body, the spirit needs a portion
of animalized fluid, which he borrows from the medi
um, to animate, temporarily, the table, before it will
obey his will. Well, understand, also, that for an in
telligent communication he needs an intelligent inter
mediary, and that this intermediary is the spirit of the
—" This does not appear applicable to what are
called talking tables ; for when inert objects, such as
tables, planchettes, and baskets give intelligent an
swers, it seems as if the spirit of the medium has noth
ing to do with it."
" That is an error ; the spirit can give to the inert
body a momentary, factitious life, but not intelligence :
never has an inert body been intelligent. It is, then,
the spirit of the medium who receives the thought
unwittingly, and gradually transmits it by the help of
10. " It seems to result from these explanations that
the spirit of the medium is never entirely passive."
" He is passive when he does not mingle his own
ideas with those of the foreign spirit, but he is never
absolutely null ; his concurrence is always necessary
as intermediary, even in what you call mechanical
11. " Is there not a greater guarantee of independence in the mechanical medium than in the intu
itive ? "
" Without doubt ; and for some communications a
mechanical medium is preferable ; but when the facul
ties of an intuitive medium are known, it is immaterial,
according to circumstances ; I mean, there are com
munications that require less precision."
12. "Among the different systems that have been
set forth to explain the spirit phenomena, is one which
consists in believing that the real mediumship is in a
body completely inert — is in the basket or the card,
for instance, which serves as the instrument ; that the
foreign spirit identifies himself with this object, and
renders it not only living, but intelligent ; from thence
the name of inert mediums given to these objects.
What do you think of it ?"
" There is but one word to say to that : if the spirit
had transmitted intelligence to the card, at the same
time as life, the card would write alone, without the
help of the medium ; it would be strange if an intelli
gent man should become a machine, and an inert
object should become intelligent. This is one of the
many systems born of a preconceived idea, and which,
like so many others, fall before experience and obser
13. "A well-known phenomenon — that of tables,
baskets, &c, which express, by their movements, anger
or affection —might easily accredit the opinion that
there is in animated inert bodies more than intelli
gence, even life."
" When a man shakes a stick in anger, it is not that
the stick is angry, nor even the hand that holds the
stick, but the thought that directs the hand ; tables
and baskets are no more intelligent than the stick; they have not one intelligent sentiment, but obey an
intelligence ; in a word, it is not the spirit transformed
into a basket, nor even that he lives in it."
14. " If it be not rational to attribute intelligence to
these objects, may they be considered as a variety of
mediums, designating them as inert mediums ? "
" It is but a question of words, which is of little mo
ment to us, provided you understand us. You are free
to call a man a puppet."
15. " Spirits have but the language of thought ; they
have no articulate language ; this is why there is, for
them, but one single language ; according to that, could
a spirit express himself through a medium in a lan
guage he had never spoken during his lifetime, in such
case, from whence would he draw the words he would
" You have answered your own question by saying
that spirits have but one language — that of thought ;
this language is understood by all, as well by men as
by spirits. The wandering spirit, in addressing him
self to the incarnated spirit of the medium, speaks to
him neither French nor English, but the universal
language, which is that of thought ; to translate his
ideas into an articulate, transmissible language, he
draws his words from the medium's vocabulary."
16. " If this be so, the spirit would be able to express
himself only in the language of the medium ; whereas
mediums are seen to write in languages unknown to
them : is that not a contradiction ? "
" Understand, in the first place, that all mediums are
not fit for this kind of exercise ; and secondly, that the
spirits lend themselves to it only incidentally, when they
consider it may be useful ; but for ordinary communi
cations, and those of some extent, they prefer to use a language familiar to the medium, because it presents
less material difficulty to overcome."
17. "Does not the aptitude of some mediums for
writing in a language foreign to them proceed from
the fact of their having been familiar with this language
in another existence, and that they may have preserved
an intention of it ? "
" That may be, certainly, but it is not a rule ; the
spirit can, with some effort, temporarily overcome the
material resistance he encounters —exactly what hap
pens when the medium writes in his own language
words he does not understand."
18. "Could a person who does not know how to
write serve as a writing medium ? "
" Yes ; but you can readily imagine that there would
be a great mechanical difficulty to surmount, the hand
being unaccustomed to the movement necessary to
form the letters. It is the same with drawing medi
ums, who do not know how to draw."
19. " Could a medium of slight intelligence transmit
communications of an elevated order ? "
" Yes, by the same means that one can write in a
language unknown to him. Mediumship, properly so
called, is independent of intelligence as well as of the
moral qualities, and in default of a better instrument,
the spirit can use the one at hand ; but it is natural
that, for communications of a certain order, he should
prefer the medium who offers the least material obsta
cles. And, then, another consideration : The idiot is
often an idiot only from the imperfection of his organs,
but his spirit may be more advanced than you sup
pose ; you have a proof of it by certain invocations of
idiots, dead or living."
Remark. This is a fact verified by experience ; we have several times invoked living idiots, who have
given proofs patent of their identity, and answered in
a very sensible and even superior manner. This state
is a punishment for the spirit who suffers from the
constraint in which he is bound. An idiot medium
may sometimes offer to the spirit who desires to mani
fest himself, greater resources than would be supposed.
(See Revue Spirite, July, i860, article on Phrenology
20. " From whence comes the aptitude of some medi
ums to write in verse, notwithstanding their positive
ignorance of poetry ? "
" Poetry is a language ; they can write in verse as
they can write in a language they do not know ; and
then, too, they may have been poets in another exist
ence ; and, as you have been told, knowledge acquired
is never lost to the spirit, who must attain perfection
in all things. Thus, what they have known gives them,
doubtless, a facility they do not have in the ordinary
21. " Is it the same for those who have a general ap
titude for drawing and music ? "
" Yes, drawing and music are also methods of ex
pressing the thought ; spirits use the instruments that
offer them the greatest facility."
22. " Does the expression of the thought by poetry,
drawing, or music, depend solely on the special apti
tude of the medium, or on that of the spirit who com
municates ? "
" Sometimes on the medium, sometimes on the spirit.
The superior spirits have all aptitudes, the inferior
spirits have limited knowledge."
23. "Why does the man who has a transcendent
talent in one existence not have it in a following one?"
" It is not always so, for often he perfects in one
existence what he began in a preceding one ; but it
may happen that a transcendent faculty sleeps during
a certain time, to leave another more free to be de
veloped ; it is a latent germ, which will be found after
ward, and of which there always remain some traces,
or, at least, a vague intuition."
Aptitude of some Mediums for Things they do not know: Languages, Music, Drawing, &c.
224. The foreign spirit doubtless understands all
languages, as languages are the expression of thought,
and as the spirit understands by thought ; but to ren
der this thought he needs an instrument ; this instru
ment is the medium. The soul of the medium who
receives the foreign communication can transmit it
only by the organs of his body ; and these organs can
not have the same flexibility for an unknown language
which they have for the one familiar to them. A
medium who knows only French might, incidentally,
give an answer in English, for instance, should it
please the spirit to do so ; but spirits, who already find
the human language too slow, considering the rapidity
of thought, though they abridge as much as they can,
are impatient of the mechanical resistance they experi
ence ; this is why they do not always do it. This is
also the reason a novice medium, who writes laborious
ly and slowly, even in his own language, usually ob
tains but very brief and undeveloped answers ; so the
spirits recommend that only simple questions be asked
through him. For those of higher bearing it needs a
formed medium, who offers no mechanical difficulty to
the spirit. We would not take for our reader a scholar
who spells. A good workman does not like to use
Let us add another consideration of great gravity in
what concerns foreign languages. Trials of this kindare always made from curiosity and for experiment, and
nothing is more antipathetic to the spirits than fhe
trials to which persons endeavor to subject them. The
superior spirits never lend themselves to it, and leave
as soon as this is begun. Inasmuch as they like use
ful and serious things, in so far they dislike to be
engaged in frivolities and things without motive.
Skeptics will say, " It is to convince us ; and that is
a useful motive, since it gains believers to their cause."
To that the spirits answer, " Our cause has no need
of those who have so much pride as to consider them
selves indispensable: we call to us those whom we
wish, and they are often the least and the most hum
ble. Did Jesus perform the miracles demanded of him
by the scribes, and what men did he use to revolu
tionize the world ? If you desire to be convinced, you
have other means than by tricks ; begin first by sub
mitting yourselves : it is not in order that the scholar
should impose his will upon his teacher."
It thus results that, with some exceptions, the medi- ,
um renders the thoughts of the spirits by the mechani
cal means at his disposal, and that the expression of
this thought may, and most often must, partake of the
imperfection of these means ; thus, the uncultured man,
the peasant, might say the most beautiful things, ex
press the most elevated, most philosophical thoughts,
speaking as a peasant, for it is well known that with
the spirits the thought is all.
This answers the objections of some critics on the
subject of the incorrectness of style and of orthography
with which they may reproach the spirit, and which
may come from the medium, as well as from the spirit.
It is frivolous to care for such things. It is not less
puerile to take great pains to reproduce such faults with minute exactness, as we sometimes see done.
They may be corrected without scruple, at least, un
less they be a characteristic type of the spirit who
communicates, in which case it is useful to preserve
them, as proof of identity. Thus, for instance, we
have seen a spirit constantly write Jule (without the s)
in speaking to his grandson, because, during his life,
he wrote it in this way, and though his grandson, who
served as medium, knew perfectly well how to write
Dissertation of a Spirit on the Rdle of Mediums
225. The following dissertation, given spontaneously by a superior spirit who revealed himself by
communications of the highest order, recapitulates, in
the clearest and most complete manner, the question
of the role of mediums : " Whatever may be the nature
of writing mediums, whether mechanical, semi-me
chanical, or simply intuitive, our processes of com
munication with them do not essentially vary. In
fact, with the incarnated spirits themselves, as. with
the spirits proper, we communicate solely by the radi
ating of our thought.
"Our thoughts do not need the clothing of words to
be understood by spirits, and all spirits perceive the
thought you desire to communicate to them, simply
by your .directing the thought toward them, and this
by reason of their intellectual faculties ; that is to say,
a certain thought can be comprehended by certain
ones according to their advancement, while to certain
others the thought, awakening no remembrance, no
knowledge in the depths of their heart or brain, is
not perceptible to them. In such case the incarnated
spirit who serves us as medium is more fit to render
our thought for other incarnated beings, even should
he not comprehend it, than a spirit decarnated and but little advanced could be to do so, were we forced
to have recourse to his intervention ; for the terrestrial
being puts his body at our disposal, which the wander
ing spirit could not do.
"Thus, when we find a medium whose brain is fur
nished with knowledge acquired during his actual life,
and whose spirit is rich with latent anterior knowledge
proper to facilitate our communications, we use him in
preference, because with him the phenomenon of com
munication is much easier for us than with a medi
um whose intelligence is limited, and whose anterior
knowledge may be insufficient. We will make our
selves understood by a few concise and exact explanations.
"With a medium whose actual or anterior intelli
gence is developed, our thought is communicated in
stantly, spirit to spirit, by a faculty proper to the spirit
himself. In such case we find in the brain of the
medium the elements suitable to give to our thought
the word-clothing corresponding to the thought, and
that whether the medium be intuitive, semi-mechani
cal, or mechanical pure. This is the reason that how
ever great may be the number of spirits communicating
through a medium, the dictations obtained by him,
though proceeding from different spirits, bear the seal
of form and color personal to the medium. Yes, even
though the thought may be altogether strange to him,
or the subject be one of the same kind he is accustomed
to, or even if what we wish to say proceed in no way
from him, he does not the less influence the form by
the qualities, the properties belonging to his individu
ality. It is absolutely as when you look at different
points with colored spectacles —green, white, or blue ;
be the point of view or objects looked at entirely opposite, or totally independent of each other, they are
not the less always affected by the tint from the color
of the spectacles. Or, better, let us compare mediums
to those jars full of colored and transparent liquids
seen in the windows of druggists ; well, we are as lights
that illuminate certain points of view —moral, philo
sophic, and internal —through mediums of blue, green,
or red, in such a way that our luminous rays, obliged
to pass through glasses more or less cut, more or less
transparent, —that is to say, through mediums more
or less intelligent, —reach the object they wish to en
lighten, only with the tint, or rather the form, peculiar
and special to these mediums. Finally, to end by a last
comparison, we spirits are like composers of music
who have composed, or would improvise, an air, and
we have at hand only a piano, or a violin, or a flute, or
a bassoon, or only a two-penny whistle. It is true that
with the piano, the flute, or the violin, we could exe
cute our bit in a manner very comprehensible to our
auditors ; and though the sounds coming from a piano,
bassoon, or clarinet, may differ essentially, our com
position will not be less identically the same, save for
the shades of sound. But if we have at our disposal
only a two-penny whistle — therein lies the difficulty
"When we are obliged to use mediums but little ad
vanced, our work becomes longer, much more tedious,
because we are obliged to have recourse only to in
complete forms, which is a complication for us ; for then
we are forced to decompose our thought, word by word,
letter by letter, which is an annoyance and fatigue for
us, and a real hinderance to the promptitude and de
velopment of our manifestations.
" This is why we are glad to find mediums well appointed, well furnished, armed with materials ready to
work, —in a word, good instruments, —because then
our p&risprit, acting on the perisprit of him whom we
mediumize, has only to give impulsion to the hand
which serves us as a pen-holder ; while with insuffi
cient mediums we are obliged to perform a labor anal
ogous to that we do when we communicate by rappings,
designating letter by letter, word by word, each of the
phrases which form the translation of the thoughts we
wish to communicate.
"It is for these reasons we address ourselves in
preference to the enlightened and instructed classes
for the divulgation of Spiritism, and the development
of the scriptive medianimic faculties, though it may
be among these classes we meet the most skeptical,
the most rebellious, and the most immoral individuals.
It is for the same reason we now leave to juggling
spirits, and those but little advanced, the exercise of
tangible communications, of rappings, of materializa
tion, as, among you, men but little serious prefer phe
nomena that strike their eyes or their ears, to those
which are purely spiritual, purely psychological.
"When we wish to work by spontaneous dictations,
we act on the brain of the medium, and we mingle our
materials with the elements he furnishes us, and that
entirely without his will, just as if we should take the
money in his purse, and arrange the different kinds in
whatever order might seem to us most useful.
"But when the medium himself desires to question
us in a special manner, it is well for him to reflect
seriously, in order that he may question methodically,
thus facilitating our labor in answering. For, as has
been told you in a former instruction, your brain is
often in inextricable confusion, and it is as painful as it is difficult for us to move in the labyrinth of your
thoughts. Where questions involve each other, and
should be made in proper succession, it is well, it is
useful, that the series of questions should be com
municated in advance to the medium, so that he may
identify himself with the spirit of the invocator, and
be impregnated with it, because we ourselves have
then much greater facility to answer, by the affinity
existing between our perisprit and that of the medium
who serves us as interpreter. '
" Certainly we could talk mathematics by means of
a medium who seems to know nothing about it ; but
the spirit of this same medium may often possess this
knowledge in a latent state, that is to say, personal to
the fluidic being, and not to the incarnated, because his
actual body is an instrument, rebellious or contrary to
this knowledge. It is the same with astronomy, with
poetry, with medicine, and the different languages, as
well as all other knowledge pertaining to mankind.
We still have the means of toilsome elaboration in
use with mediums completely ignorant of the subject
treated, putting together by words and letters, as in
" As we have said, spirits do not need to clothe their
thoughts ; they perceive and communicate thought by
the simple fact of its existence in them. Corporeal
beings, on the contrary, perceive thought only when
clothed. While the letter, the word, the substantive,
the verb, the phrase, all are necessary to you in order
to perceive even mentally, no visible or tangible form
is necessary for us. Erastus and Timotheus."
Remark. This analysis of the role of mediums, and
of the processes by help of which the spirits com
municate, is as clear as it is logical. From it results this principle —that the spirit draws, not his ideas, but
the materials necessary to express them, from the brain
of the medium, and that the richer this brain is in
materials, the easier is the communication. When the
spirit expresses himself in the language familiar to the
medium, he finds within him the words all formed
with which to clothe the idea ; if it is a language un
known to the medium, he does not find the words, but
simply the letters ; the spirit then is obliged to dictate,
as it were, letter by letter, exactly as you would do if
you wished to make a person write German who is
totally ignorant of that language. If the medium can
neither read nor write, he does not possess even the
letters ; it is then necessary to conduct the hand, as
you would that of a scholar ; and there is a still greater
material difficulty to overcome. These phenomena are
possible ; we have numerous examples of them ; but
it may readily be comprehended that this mode of
procedure accords little with the extent and rapidity
of communications, and that the spirits must prefer
the most flexible instruments, or, as they express it, the
mediums, from their point of view, best furnished with
If those who ask these phenomena as a means of
conviction had previously studied the theory, they
would know under what exceptional conditions they