What is Spiritism?

Allan Kardec

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Visitor - Hasn't it been proven that the same phenomena can be produced outside of Spiritism? One may conclude, therefore, that they don't have the origin that Spiritists attribute to them.

A.K. — Simply because something can be imitated, does that mean that it doesn't exist? What would you say about the logic of someone who claimed that, because wine from Champagne is made with seltzer water, all wine from Champagne is nothing but seltzer water? Such is the particular character of all things that can be counterfeited. Illusionists have believed that, due to its popularity and the controversies surrounding it, the name Spiritism might be worth exploiting, and in order to attract a crowd, they have more or less crudely simulated a few mediumist'ic phenomena, just as they used to simulate somnambulistic clairvoyance. And all the scoffers applauded, exclaiming, "Look at what Spiritism is!" When the ingenious production of specters appeared on the scene, didn't they proclaim far and wide that Spiritism had received its mortal blow? Before passing such an assured judgment, they should remember that the assertions of a magician are not the Gospel truth, and they should check to see if there is a true identity between the imitation and the thing imitated. No one buys a diamond before first making sure it's not a rhinestone. A study of the matter, even if not very thorough, would have convinced these scoffers that spirit phenomena occur under completely different conditions, and furthermore, they would have known that Spiritists concern themselves neither with making specters appear nor with fortune-telling.

Only malevolence and remarkable ill will would compare Spiritism to magic and sorcery, since Spiritism repudiates their purpose, practices, formulas and mystical words. There are even those who haven't been afraid to compare Spiritist meetings with Sabbat gatherings where people wait for the ominous hour of midnight to make ghosts appear.


One of my Spiritist friends was watching a presentation of Macbeth one day seated next to a journalist he did not know. When it was time for the scene with the witches, he overheard the journalist say to his neighbor, "Oh, look! We're going to watch a session of Spiritism. This is exactly what I need for my next article. Now I'm going to see what goes on in them. If there were one of those crazies here, I'd ask him if he recognized himself in this scene." "Well, I'm one of those crazies," said my Spiritist friend, "and I can assure you that I don't see myself in this scene at all because, although I have taken part in hundreds of Spiritist meetings, I haven't found anything like this at any of them. If you have come here to gather material for your article, it will not shine with the truth."


Many critics do not have a more serious basis. On whom does the ridicule fall if not on those who proceed so carelessly? Far from being bruised, Spiritism's credibility has grown because of the publicity that all these ruses have provided by arousing the interest of a crowd of individuals who had never heard of Spiritism. These ploys have prompted the study of it and have increased the number of its adherents because they saw that, instead of a mere game, it was something to be taken quite seriously.

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