IDENTITY OF SPIRITS.
Possible Proofs of Identity. — Distinction of Good and
Bad Spirits. — Questions on tlie Nature and Identity
Possible Proofs of Identity
255. THE question of the identity of spirits is one
that has given rise to the greatest controversy, even
among the believers of Spiritism ; spirits do not bring
us letters of introduction, and it is well known with
what facility some of them take borrowed names ; so
that, obsession aside, it is one of the greatest difficulties
in the practice of Spiritism ; yet, in many cases, absolute
identity is a secondary question, and without real
The identity of the spirit of ancient personages is
the most difficult to verify, often even impossible, and
we are reduced to a purely moral valuation. Spirits,
like men, are judged by their language; if a spirit presents
himself under the name of Fdnelon, for instance,
and gives us trivialities or puerilities, it very surely
cannot be he; if he says only things worthy the character
of F (melon, and which he would not disavow,
there is, if not material proof, at least a moral probability,
that it must be he. In such case, particularly,
the real identity is an accessory question: if the spirit says only good things, it matters little under what name
they are given.
It will, doubtless, be objected that the spirit who
would take an assumed name, even to say only good,
would not the less commit a fraud, and thus could not
be a good spirit. Here there are delicate shades quite
difficult to seize, but which we shall try to develop.
256. In proportion as spirits are purified and elevated
in the hierarchy, the distinctive characters of
their personality are, in some sort, obliterated in the
uniformity of perfection, and yet they do not the less
preserve their individuality :• this is the case with the
superior and with the pure spirits. In this condition,
the name they had on the earth, in one of their thousand
ephemeral corporeal existences, is quite an insignificant
thing. Let us remark again that spirits are
attracted to each other by the similarity of their qualities,
and that they thus form sympathetic groups or
families. Again, if we consider the immense number
of spirits who, since the beginning of time, have
reached the highest rank, and compare them with the
very-restricted number of men who have left a great
name on the earth, it will be understood that, among
the superior spirits who can communicate, the greater
part must have no name for us; but as names are
necessary to us to fix our ideas, they can take that of
any known personage whose nature is best identified
with their own ; thus our guardian angels most often
make themselves known under the name of one of the
saints we venerate, and generally under his name for
whom we have the most sympathy. It thus follows
that if a person's guardian angel gives his name as St.
Peter, for instance, there is no actual proof that it is
the apostle of that name ; it may be he, or it may be an entirely unknown spirit, belonging to the family of
spirits of which St. Peter makes a part: it also follows
that under whatever name the guardian angel is invoked,
he comes to the call that is made, because he
is attracted by the thought, and the name is indifferent
It is always the same when a superior spirit communicates
spontaneously under the name of a known
personage; nothing proves that it is precisely the
spirit of that personage; but if he says nothing that
discredits the elevation of character of this latter, there
is presumption that it is he, and, in all cases, it may be
said that, if it is not he, it must be a spirit of the same
degree, or, perhaps, one sent by him. In recapitulation, the question of name is secondary; we may consider
the name as a simple indication of the rank the
spirit occupies in the spirit scale.
The position is. quite different when a spirit of an
inferior order borrows a respectable name to give
credence to his words, and this case is so frequent
that we cannot too carefully guard against these substitutions
; for it is under cover of these borrowed
names, and with the help of fascination, that certain
spirits, more vain than learned, seek to gain credence
for the most ridiculous ideas.
The question of identity, then, is, as we have said,
nearly a matter of indifference in regard to general instructions,
for the best spirits can be substituted the
one for the other without its being of any consequence.
The superior spirits form, so to say, a collective whole,
whose individualities are, with few exceptions, totally
unknown to us. The matter of interest to us is, not
their person, but their teachings: now, if this teaching
be good, it matters little whether he who gives it calls himself Peter or Paul; we judge by his quality, and not
by his signature. If a wine is bad, the trade-mark will
not make it better. It"is otherwise with private communications,
because it is the individual, his very person,
that interests us ; and it is right that, in this case,
we should be particular to assure ourselves that the
spirit who comes at our call is really he whom we
257. The identity of contemporaneous spirits is
much more easily proved, those whose character and
habits are known, for it is precisely these habits, which
they have not yet had time to throw aside, by which
they can be recognized; and let us say here, that in
these very individual habits we find one of the most
certain signs of identity. Without doubt, the spirit
can give the proofs if asked, but he does not always do
so unless it is agreeable to him, and generally the asking
wounds him ; for this reason it should be avoided.
In leaving his body, the spirit has not laid aside his
susceptibility ; he is wounded by any question tending
to put him to the proof. It is such questions as one
would not dare to propose to him, were he living, for
fear of overstepping the bounds of propriety; why,
then, should there be less regard after his death ?
Should a man enter a drawing-room and decline to
give his name, should we insist, at all hazards, that
he should prove his identity by exhibiting his titles,
under the pretext that there are impostors ? Would
he not, assuredly, have the right to remind his interrogator
of the rules of good breeding ? This is what the
spirits do, either by not replying or by withdrawing.
Let us make a comparison. Suppose the astronomer,
Arago, during his life, had presented himself in a
house where no one knew him, and he had been thus addressed: " You say you are Arago; but as we do not
know you, please prove it by answering our questions:
solve this astronomical problem; tell us your name,
your Christian name, those of your children, what you
did such and such a day, at such an hour, &c." What
would he have answered ? Well, as a spirit, he will
do just what he would have done during his lifetime ;
and other spirits do the same.
258. While spirits refuse to answer puerile and impertinent
questions, which a person would have hesitated
to ask during their lives, they often spontaneously
give irrefutable proofs of their identity by their
character, revealed in their language, by the use of
words that were familiar to them, by citing certain
facts, particularities of their life sometimes unknown
to the assistants, and whose truth has been verified.
Proofs of identity will spring up in many unforeseen
ways, which do not present themselves at first sight,
but in the course of conversations. It is better, then,
to wait for them without calling for them, observing
with care all that may flow from the nature of the communications.
(See the fact given, No. 70.)
259. One means employed, sometimes with success,
to be assured of identity when the spirit who communicates
is suspected, consists in making him affirm,
in t/te name of Almighty God, that he is the one he
pretends to be. It often happens that he who usurps
a name would recoil before a sacrilege, and after having
begun to write, / affirm, in the name of—, he stops,
and traces some insignificant lines, or breaks the
pencil in anger : if he is more hypocritical, he eludes
the question by a mental reservation, writing, for instance,
/ certify that I have told you the truth ; or, /
attest, in tlie name of God, tluxt it is I who speak to you, &c. But there are some not so scrupulous, and
who swear whatever you want. One of them communicated
to a medium, calling himself God; and the
medium, highly honored by so high a favor, did not
hesitate to believe him. Invoked by us, he did not
dare sustain his imposture, and said, " I am not God,
but I am His son." " You are, then, Jesus ? That is
not probable; for Jesus is too high to employ subterfuge.
Dare then to affirm, in the name of God, that
you are the Christ." " I do not say I am Jesus: I say
I am the son of God, because I am one of His creatures."
We may conclude that the refusal on the part of a
spirit to affirm his identity in the name of God, is
always a manifest proof that the name is an imposture,
but that the affirmation is only a presumption, and not
a certain proof.
260. Among the proofs of identity may also be
classed the similarity of the writing and the signature,
but, as it is not always given to all mediums to
obtain this result, it is not always a sufficient guarantee
; there are forgers in the world of spirits as in
this ; so that this is but presumptive evidence, which
acquires value only by accompanying circumstances.
It is the same with all material signs that some give
as talismans that cannot be imitated by lying spirits.
For those who dare perjure themselves in God's name,
or counterfeit a signature, no material sign whatever
will offer an obstacle. The best of all the proofs of
identity is in the language and in casual circumstances.
261. It will be said, doubtless, that if a spirit can
imitate a signature, he can as well imitate the language.
That is true: we have seen those who had the effrontery to take the name of the Christ, and in order to
delude, simulated the evangelical style, constantly introducing
at hap-hazard the well-known words, Verily,
verily, I say unto you ; but when the whole was studied
without prejudice, the depth of the thoughts, the bearing
of the expressions, scrutinized, — when, by the side
of fine maxims of charity, ridiculous and puerile recommendations
were 'seen, — he would needs be fascinated
to mistake it. Yes, certain parts of the material form
of the language can be imitated, but not the thought:
never will ignorance imitate true knowledge, never will
vice imitate true virtue; some part will always show,
if but the tip of the ear; the medium, as also the
invocator, need all their perspicacity, all their judgment,
to unravel the truth from the falsehood. They
must remember that the perverse spirits are capable
of every stratagem, and the more elevated the name
under which a spirit announces himself, the more it
should inspire distrust. How many mediums; have
had apocryphal communications signed Jesus, Mary,
or a venerated saint!
Distinction of Good and Bad Spirits.
262. If the absolute identity of the spirits is, in
many cases, a secondary question, one of little importance,
it is not the same with the distinction of
good and bad; their individuality may be indifferent
to us, their quality never. In all instructive communications,
it is on this point the whole attention should
be concentrated, because it alone can give us the degree
of confidence we may accord to the spirit, whatever
may be the name under which he manifests himself.
Is the spirit good, or bad ? To what degree of
the spirit scale does he belong? That is the grand question. (See Spirit Scale in the Book on Spirits,
263. The spirits are judged, we have said, as men
are judged, by their language. Suppose a man should
receive twenty letters from as many unknown persons :
from the style, from the thoughts, from many signs, he
will decide who are educated or ignorant, polished or
ill-bred, superficial, profound, frivolous, vain, serious,
light, sentimental, &c. It is the same with spirits:
they should be considered as unknown correspondents,
and we should ask ourselves what we should
think of the knowledge and character of a man who
should write such things. It may be given as an invariable
rule, and one without exception, that the language
of the spirits is always in accordance with the
degree of their elevation. Not only do the really superior
spirits say only good things, but they say them in
terms which exclude in the most absolute manner all
triviality ; however good these things may be, if they
are tarnished by a single expression that savors of lowness,
it is an indubitable sign of inferiority; still more
if the whole of the communication outrages propriety
by its grossness. The language always betrays its
origin, whether by the thought it renders, or by its
form ; and if a spirit should desire to delude us as to
his pretended superiority, a little conversation suffices
for us to estimate him at his proper value.
264. Goodness and benevolence are the essential
attributes of purified Spirits ; they have no hatred,
neither for men nor for other spirits ; they pity weaknesses,
they criticise errors, but always with moderation,
without anger and without animosity. If it be
admitted that truly good spirits can will only good,
and say only good things, it must thence be concluded that anything which, in the language of the spirits,
betrays a want of goodness and benevolence, cannot
emanate from a good spirit.
265. Intelligence is far from being a certain' sign of
superiority, for intelligence and morality do not always
keep step. A spirit may be good and benevolent, and
have very limited knowledge, while an intelligent and
educated spirit may be very inferior in morality.
It is quite generally believed that in interrogating
the spirit of a man who was learned in a speciality on
the earth, the truth will be more certainly obtained:
this is logical, yet not always true. Experience shows
that savants, as well as other men, especially those who
have but lately left the world, are still under the dominion
of the prejudices of corporeal life; they do not
immediately rid themselves of the spirit of system. It
may, then, be that, under the influence of the ideas they
have cherished during their lives, and which have made
for them a glorious title, they see less clearly than we
think. We do not give this principle as a rule; far
from it; we say only that it shows for itself, and that,
consequently, their human science is not always a proof
of their infallibility as spirits.
266. By subjecting all communications to a scrupulous
examination, by scrutinizing and analyzing the
thought and the expressions, as we should do were we
judging a literary work, by unhesitatingly rejecting
everything that sins against logic and good sense,
everything that contradicts the character of the spirit
reputed to be manifested; the deceiving spirits are discouraged,
and end by withdrawing, once thoroughly
convinced that they cannot deceive us. We repeat
it, this is the only means, but it is infallible, because
no bad communication can resist a rigorous criticism.
The good spirits are never offended by it, for they
themselves advise it, and because they have nothing
to fear from the examination ;• the bad alone take offence,
and try to dissuade from it: this of itself proves
what they are.
We give the advice of St. Louis on this subject: —
" However great may be the confidence with which
the spirits who preside over your labors inspire you, it
is a recommendation we cannot too often repeat, and
which you should always bear in mind when you give
yourself to your studies — to weigh and mature, that is,
submit to the censorship of the severest reason, all the
communications you receive ; as long as one point appears
suspicious, doubtful, or obscure to you. not to
neglect to ask the explanations necessary to satisfy
267. The means of recognizing the quality of the
spirits may be recapitulated in the following principles
1. Good sense is the sole criterion by which to discern
the value of the spirits. Every formula given for
this purpose by the spirits themselves is absurd, and
cannot emanate from superior spirits.
2. The spirits are judged by their language and by
their actions. The actions of spirits are the sentiments
they inspire and the advice they give.
3. It being admitted that good spirits can say and do
only good, nothing bad can come from a good spirit.
4. The superior spirits have a language always
worthy, noble, elevated, with not the least tincture
of triviality ; they say everything with simplicity and
modesty, never boast, never make a parade of their
knowledge or their position among others. That of
the inferior or ordinary spirit has always some reflex of human passions; every expression that savors of
vulgarity, self-sufficiency, arrogance, boasting, acrimony,
is a characteristic indication of inferiority, or of
treachery if the spirit presents himself under a respected
and venerated name.
5. We must not judge spirits by the material form
and the correctness of their style, but probe its inmost
sense, scrutinize their words, weigh them coolly, deliberately,
and without prejudice. Any digression from
logic, reason, and wisdom leaves no doubt of their
origin, whatever may be the name under which the
spirit is disguised. (224.)
6. The language of elevated spirits is always identical,
if not in form, at least in the inmost. The thoughts
are the same, whatever be the time and place; they
may be more or less developed, according to circumstances,
to the needs and to the facilities of communicating,
but they will not be contradictory. If
two communications bearing the same name are in
opposition, one of the two is, evidently, apocryphal,
and the true one will be that where NOTHING contradicts
the known character of the personage. For
instance, between two communications signed by St.
Vincent de Paul, of which one should preach union and
charity, and the other should tend to sow discord, no
sensible person could mistake.
7. Good spirits tell only what they know ; they are
either silent or confess their ignorance of what they
do not know. The bad speak of everything with boldness,
without caring for the truth. Any notorious
scientific heresy, any principle that shocks good sense,
shows fraud, if the spirit pretends to be an enlightened
8. Again, we recognize trifling spirits by the facility with which they predict the future and material facts
not given us to know. The good spirits may presage
future things when, that knowledge is useful for us to
know, but they never fix dates ; any announcement of
an event at a fixed date is indicatory of mystification.
9. The superior spirits express themselves simply,
without prolixity ; their style is concise, without excluding
the poetry of ideas and expressions, clear, intelligible
to all, and requires no effort for its comprehension
; they have the art of saying much in a few
words, because each word has its signification. The
inferior spirits, or false savants, hide under inflated
language and emphasis the emptiness of their thoughts.
Their language is often pretentious, ridiculous, or obscure,
by way of wishing to seem profound.
10. Good spirits never command ; they do not force
themselves on any one ; they advise, and if they are not
listened to, they withdraw. The bad are imperious;
they give orders, wish to be obeyed, and remain, whether
or no. Every spirit who forces himself on any one betrays
his origin. They are exclusive and absolute in •
their opinions, and pretend that they alone have the
privilege of truth. They exact a blind belief, and
make no appeal to reason, because they know that
reason will unmask them.
11. Good spirits do not flatter; they approve when
we do well, but always with reserve; the bad give
exaggerated eulogiums, stimulate pride and vanity,'
while preaching humility, and seek to exalt the personal
importance of those with whom they would curry
12. The superior spirits are above the puerilities of
form in everything. Only ordinary spirits attach importance
to petty details, incompatible with truly ele vated ideas. Any overparticular prescription is a
certain sign of inferiority and treachery on the part
of a spirit who takes an imposing name.
13. The odd and ridiculous names some spirits take,
who wish to impose on credulity, should be distrusted ;
it would be exceedingly absurd to take these names
14. It is also necessary to distrust those who present
themselves easily under extremely venerated names,
and to accept their words with the utmost reserve ; in
this case a severe censorship is indispensable, for it, is
often but a mask they assume to gain credit for their
pretended intimate relations with spirits beyond them.
-By this means they flatter the vanity of the medium,
and make use of it often to draw him into doing ridiculous
things, or things to be regretted.
15. The good spirits are very careful as to the steps
they advise; they never have any but a serious and
eminently useful aim. We should, then, regard with
suspicion alL motives that are not of this character, or
that would be condemned by reason, and should deliberate
seriously before undertaking them, for we
might be exposed to disagreeable mystifications.
16. We recognize good spirits by their prudent reserve
on all subjects that might prove compromising;
they dislike to unvail evil; light or malevolent spirits
are pleased with displaying it. While the good seek
to smooth over injuries and preach indulgence, the bad
exaggerate them, and stir up discord by perfidious insinuations.
17. Good spirits advise only good. Any maxim, any
advice, which is not strictly conformable to pure evangelical
charity, cannot be the work of a good spirit.
18. Good spirits advise only perfectly rational things.
Any recommendation which departs from the right line
of good sense, or from the immutable laws of nature,
shows a narrow spirit, and is, consequently, little worthy
of confidence. ,
19. Again, bad or simply imperfect spirits betray
themselves by material signs which cannot be mistaken.
Their action on the medium is sometimes violent,
and provocative of sudden and jerking movements,
a feverish and convulsive agitation, totally opposed to
the calm and gentleness of the good spirits.
20. Imperfect spirits often use the means of communication
opened to them to give perfidious advice;
they excite distrust and animosity against those who
are antipathetic to them; those who could unmask
their imposture are especially the objects of their animadversion.
Weak men are their best game; to induce them to
evil. Employing by turns sophisms, sarcasms, insults,
even material signs of their occult power the better to
convince them, they strive to turn them from the path
21. The spirits of men who have had, in the world,
a special preoccupation, whether material or moral, if
they are not disengaged from the influence of matter,
are still under the dominion of terrestrial ideas, and
retain a part of their prejudices, of their predilections,
and even of the fancies they had here below. This is
easily discerned in their language.
22. The learning that some spirits display, often with
a kind of ostentation, is not a sign of their superiority.
Unalterable purity of moral sentiment is the true touchstone.
23. The simple interrogation of a spirit is not sufficient
to know the truth. We should, before all things know whom we address ; for the inferior spirits, themselve
ignorant, treat with frivolity the most serious
Neither does it suffice that a spirit should have been
a great man on the earth to have supreme science in.
the spirit world. Virtue alone, in purifying him, can
bring him nearer to God and extend his knowledge.
24. On the part of superior spirits pleasantry is
often fine and piquant, but never trivial. Among the
joking spirits who are not gross, biting satire is often
full of meaning.
25. In carefully studying the character of the spirits
who present themselves, especially from a moral point
of view, their nature and the degree of confidence to
be accorded them is easily ascertained. Good sense
cannot be deceived.
26. In order to judge spirits, as in order to judge
men, one should know how to judge one's self. There
are, unhappily, many men who take their personal
opinion as exclusive'measure for good and bad, for
true and false ; all that contradicts their mode of seeing,
their ideas, the system they have conceived or
adopted, is bad in their eyes. Such persons evidently
lack the first requisite for a healthy appreciation — rectitude
of judgment; but they do not suspect it; in the
very defect is their greatest delusion.
All these instructions flow from experience and the
teachings of the spirits ; we complete them by answers
given by them on the most important points.
268. Questions on the Nature and Identity of Spirits.
1. "By what signs can we discern the superiority
or inferiority of spirits ?"
" By their language, as you distinguish a trifler from a man of sense. We have already said, the superior
spirits never contradict themselves, and say only good
things ; they will nothing but good: it is their whole
" The inferior spirits are still under the dominion of
material ideas ; their discourses show their ignorance
and imperfection. It is given only to the superior
spirits to know all things, and to judge without passion."
2. " Is scientific knowledge always a certain sign of
a spirit's elevation ?"
" No, for if he is still under the influence of matter,
he may have your vices and your prejudices. There
are persons who, in this world, are excessively jealous
and vain: do you believe that as soon as they leave
here they lose these defects ? There remains, after
the departure from here, especially to those who have
had very decided passions, a kind of atmosphere that
envelops them, and leaves them all these bad things.
" These semi-imperfect spirits are more to be dreaded
than bad spirits, because most of them combine astuteness
and pride with intelligence. By their pretended
knowledge they impose on simple people and on the
ignorant, who accept without criticism their absurd
and lying theories ; though these theories cannot prevail
against the truth, they none the less do temporary
harm, for they hinder the progress of Spiritism, and
mediums are willingly blind to the merit of what is
communicated to them. This is what demands great
study on the part of enlightened spiritists and mediums
; all their attention should be given to distinguish
the true from the false."
3. " Many spirit protectors designate themselves by the names of saints or well-known personages ; what
should we believe on this subject ?"
" All the names of saints and of well-known personages
would not suffice to furnish a protector to each
man; among the spirits are few who have a name
known on the earth ; this is why very often they give
none ; but almost always you want a name; then, to
satisfy you, they take that of a man you know and
4. " May not this borrowed name be considered a
" It would be a fraud on the part of a bad spirit who
might want to deceive; but when it is for good, God
permits it to be so among spirits of the same order,
because there is among them a solidarity and similarity
5. " So, when a spirit protector calls himself St. Paul,
for instance, it is not certain to be the spirit or soul of
that apostle ?"
" Not at all, for you find thousands of persons to
whom it has been said that their guardian angel is St.
Paul, or some other ; but what matters it, if the spirit
who protects you is as elevated as St. Paul ? I have said,
you want a name; they take one to be called, and recognized
by, as you take a baptismal name to distinguish
you from the other members of your family. They can
just as well take those of the archangel Raphael, St.
Michael, &c, and it would be a matter of no consequence.
" Besides, the more elevated the spirit, the more
multiple his radiation; believe that a spirit protector
of a superior order may have under his tutelage hundreds
of incarnated beings. With you, on the earth,
you have notaries who have charge of the affairs of
one or two hundred families: why should you suppose that we, spiritually speaking, would be less capable of
directing men morally than those of directing their
material interests ?"
6. " Why do the spirits who communicate so often
take the names of saints ?"
"They identify themselves with the habits of those
to whom they speak, and take the names calculated to
make the strongest impression on the man by reason
of his belief."
7. " Do superior spirits, when invoked, always come
in person ? or, as some think, do they come only by
mandataries charged to transmit their thought?"
" Why should they not come in person, if they can ?
but if the spirit cannot come, it will surely be a mandatary."
8. " Is the mandatary always sufficiently enlightened
to answer as the spirit would who sends him ?"
" The superior spirits know to whom they confide
the care of replacing them. Besides, the more elevated
the spirits, the more they are commingled in one
common thought, in such manner that they are indifferent
to personality; and it ought to be the same
for you. Do you think that, in the world of superior
spirits, there are only those you have known on the
earth capable of instructing you ? You are so prone
to consider yourselves types of the universe, that you
always believe out of your world there is nothing.
Truly you are like those savages, who, never having
left their own island, fancy the world does not go beyond
9. " We comprehend that this may be the case when
it is a question of serious teaching; but how is it that
the superior spirits permit spirits of a low class to avail themselves of respectable names to lead into error by
perverse maxims ?"
" It is not with their permission ; does it not happen
the same among you ? Those who thus deceive
will be punished, believe me, and their punishment
will be in proportion to the gravity of the imposture.
Besides, if you were not imperfect, you would have
around you only good spirits, and if you are deceived,
you should blame no one but yourselves. God permits
it to be so to make trial of your perseverance and
your judgment, and to teach you to distinguish truth
from error; if you do not, it is that you are not sufficiently
elevated, and still need the lessons of experience."
10. " Are not spirits, slightly advanced but animated
by good intentions and a desire to progress, sometimes
delegated to replace a superior spirit, in order
that they may exercise themselves in teaching ? "
" Never in great circles ; I mean serious circles for
general instruction; those who present themselves
there do it from their own desire, and, as you say, to
exercise themselves ; this is the reason their communications,
though good, always bear traces of their inferiority.
Where they are delegated, it is for communications
of little importance, and those that may be called
11. " Ridiculous spirit communications are sometimes
intermingled with very good maxims: how reconcile
this anomaly, which would seem to indicate the
simultaneous presence of good and bad spirits ?"
" Bad or frivolous spirits mingle thus to make sentences,
without much concern as to their bearing or
signification. Are all those among you superior men ?
No ; the good and bad spirits do not mingle ; it is the constant uniformity of good communications by which
you may recognize the presence of good spirits."
12. "Do the spirits that lead persons into error
always do it purposely ?"
" No ; there are spirits, good, but ignorant, who
might deceive in all sincerity; when they are conscious
of their insufficiency, they say so, and tell only
what they know."
13. "When a spirit makes a false communication,
does he always do so with a malicious intention ?"
" No ; if it is a trifling spirit, he amuses himself by
mystifying, and has no other motive."-
14. "As certain spirits can deceive by their language,
can they also, to the eyes of a seeing medium,
take a false appearance ?"
" That may be done, but with great difficulty. In
all cases it never takes place, unless with an aim that
the bad spirits themselves do not know. They serve
as instruments to give a lesson. The seeing medium
can see frivolous and lying spirits, as others hear
them, or write under their influence. Frivolous spirits
may profit by this disposition in order to abuse him
by deceitful appearances; that depends on the qualities
of his own spirit."
15. "Is it sufficient that we are actuated by good
intentions, not to be deceived ; and are perfectly serious
men, who mingle no sentiment of vain curiosity
with their studies, as liable to be deceived ?"
" Less than others, evidently ; but man has always
some hobby which attracts mocking spirits ; he thinks
himself strong, and often is not; he should beware of
the weakness born of pride and prejudices. These
two causes, by which spirits profit, are not sufficiently taken into consideration; by flattering whims they
are sure to succeed."
16. " Why does. God permit bad spirits to communicate
and say evil things ? "
" Even in what is worst there is instruction ; it is
for you to know how to extract it. There must be
communications of all kinds, for you to learn to distinguish
good spirits from bad, and to serve as mirrors
17. " Can spirits, by means of written communications,
inspire unjust suspicions against certain persons,
and embroil friends ?"
" Perverse and jealous spirits can do in evil all that
men can do ; it is, therefore, necessary to beware of
them. The superior spirits are always prudent and
reserved when they are obliged to blame; they never
speak evil; they warn with caution. • If they desire,
for the interest of two persons, that they should never
see each other, they will bring about incidents that
shall separate them in a perfectly natural manner.
Language calculated to sow trouble and discord is
always from a bad spirit, whatever may be the name he
assumes. Therefore receive with the greatest circumspection
the evil that a spirit may say of one of you,
especially when a good spirit has said good to you of
the same; and also mistrust yourselves and your
own prejudices. In communications from spirits, take
only what is good, great, rational, and what your conscience
18. " By the facility with which bad spirits mingle
in communications, it appears that one is never sure
of the truth ?"
" Yes, if you have judgment to appraise them. In
reading a letter, you know how to judge if it is a hod man or a refined person, a fool or a savant, who has
written to you: why can you not do the same when
spirits write to you? If you receive a letter from a
far-off friend, what proves to you it is really from him ?
His writing, you will say: but are there not forgers
who imitate all writing, rascals who might know your
affairs ? Yet there are signs in which you cannot be
mistaken. It is the same with spirits. Imagine, then,
that it is a friend writing to you, or that you are reading
a literary work, and judge by the same means."
19. " Could superior spirits prevent bad spirits from
taking false names ?"
" Certainly they could do so; but the worse the
spirits, the more headstrong they are, and they often
resist injunctions. You must also know that there are
persons in whom the superior spirits are more interested
than they are in others ; and when they deem it
necessary, they know how to preserve them from the
injury of the lie : against these persons the deceiving
spirits are powerless."
20. " What is the motive of this partiality ?"
" It is not partiality ; it is justice : the good spirits
are interested in those who profit by their advice, and
labor seriously in their own improvement: these are
their preferred ones, and they help them; but they
trouble themselves little about those with whom they
lose their time in vain words."
21. "Why does God permit spirits to commit sacrilege,
by falsely taking venerated names ?"
" You should also ask why God permits men to lie
and blaspheme. Spirits, as well as men, have their
free will, in good as in bad; but to neither will the
justice of God be wanting."
22. " Is there any formula that will drive away deceiving
" Formula is matter ; good thought toward God is
of more value."
23. "Some spirits have said they have inimitable
graphic signs, a kind of emblems, by which they may
be recognized and their identity established. Is that
" The superior spirits have no other signs, by which
they may be recognized, than the superiority of their
ideas and of their language. Any spirit can imitate a
material sign. As to the inferior spirits, they betray
themselves in so many ways, that one must be blind
to be deceived."
24. "Cannot deceiving spirits counterfeit thought,
" They counterfeit thought,, as theatrical decorators
25. " It appears, then, that it is always easy to detect
fraud by an attentive study."
" Never doubt it; spirits deceive only those who
allow themselves to be deceived. But it is necessary
to have the eyes of diamond merchants to distinguish
the true stone from the false ; he who knows not
how to distinguish one from the other goes to the
26. " There are persons who allow themselves to be
seduced by emphatic language, who think more of
words than of ideas, who take false and common
ideas for sublime: how can these persons, who are not
even capable of judging the works of men, judge those
of spirits ?"
" When these persons have sufficient modesty to know their own inefficiency, they will not trust to
themselves ; when, through pride, they think themselves
capable, when they are not, they must bear the
penalty of their silly vanity. The deceiving spirits
know whom they address : there are simple, uninstructed
persons more difficult to deceive than others
who have wit and learning. By flattering his passions
they make a man do as they please."
27. " In writing, do not bad spirits often betray
themselves by involuntary material signs ?"
" The skillful do not; maladroits go astray. Any
useless or puerile sign is a certain indication of inferiority
; elevated spirits do no useless thing."
28. " Many mediums recognize good and bad spirits
by the agreeable or painful impression they experience
at their approach. We ask if any disagreeable impression,
convulsive agitation, any uneasiness, in short,
are always indications of the evil nature of the spirits
who manifest themselves ?"
" The medium experiences the sensations of the
state in which the spirit is who comes to him. When
the spirit is happy, he is tranquil, easy, sedate; when
he is unhappy, he is agitated, feverish, and this agitation
naturally passes into the nervous system of the
medium. It is the same with men on the earth; he
who is good is calm and tranquil, he who is wicked is
Remark. There are mediums of greater or less
nervous impressibility, so that the agitation cannot be
regarded as a general rule; as in all other things, we
must, in this, take into account the circumstances.
The painful and disagreeable character of the impression
is an effect of contrast; for if the spirit of the medium sympathizes with the bad spirit who manifests
himself, he will be little or not at all affected by
it. The rapidity of the writing, which pertains to the
extreme flexibility of some mediums, must not be confounded
with the convulsive agitation that the slowest
mediums may experience from contact with imperfect