THE MEDIUMS’ BOOK

Allan Kardec

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CHAPTER XIX
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 mediums."

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 spirits."

" 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 through him."

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 things."
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 mits it."
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 mechanical."
" 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 medium."
—" 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 various intermediaries."
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 mediums."
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 vation."
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 use?"
" 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 and Physiognomy.)
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 state."
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 poor implements.

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 his name.

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 for us.
"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 typography.
" 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 tools.
If those who ask these phenomena as a means of conviction had previously studied the theory, they would know under what exceptional conditions they are produced.

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