What is Spiritism?

Allan Kardec

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Visitor - Since mediumship consists in communicating with unseen powers, it seems to me that mediums and sorcerers are almost the same thing.

A.K. — In every age there have been natural, unconscious mediums who, just because they produced unusual and misunderstood phenomena, were labeled as sorcerers and were accused ofmaking a pact with the Devil. It was the same with most of the learned individuals who possessed knowledge beyond the ordinary. Ignorance increased their power, and they themselves often abused public credulity by exploiting it; hence their justified, condemnation. V/e only need compare the power attributed to sorcerers with the faculty of genuine mediums to see the difference, but most critics do not go to the trouble. Far from reviving sorcery, Spiritism has destroyed it forever by stripping it of its supposed supernatural power, formulas, conjuring books, amulets and talismans, and by reducing the feasible phenomena to their rightful worth, without departing from natural laws.

The similarity that certain people claim exists comes from their error in thinking that spirits are under mediums' orders; it is repugnant to their reason to believe that the first medium to come along could make the spirit of this or that relatively illustrious character respond to the medium's beck and call at just that given moment. They are absolutely right in this, and if they had taken the trouble to familiarize themselves with Spiritism before casting stones at it, they would know it states very clearly that spirits are not at the command of anyone's whim, and no one can make them come at will and against their wishes; from which it follows that mediums are not sorcerers.

Visitor - Based on this, wouldn't all the effects that certain accredited mediums obtain at will and in. public be, according to you, nothing more than trickery?

A. K. - I wouldn't say so categorically. Such phenomena are not impossible, because there are low order spirits who may willingly participate and have fun with these sorts of things, having perhaps been in the sleight-of-hand trade themselves when alive. Moreover, there are mediums especially suited to these kinds of manifestations; nonetheless, the most average common sense rejects the idea that even little-evolved spirits would turn up to put on a show and perform clever feats simply to amuse the curious.

Obtaining these phenomena at will - and especially in public — is always suspect; in this case, mediumship and sleight- of-hand are so similar that it is often very hard to distinguish one from the other. Before seeing the action of spirits in such a situation, meticulous observation is required, either taking into account the medium's character and antecedents or a multitude of circumstances that only a thorough study of the theory of spirit phenomena can enable us to evaluate. It is worth noting that this type of mediumship - when mediumship is actually involved - is limited to producing the same phenomenon over and over with a few variants, which is not likely to clear up any doubts about it. An absolute disinterestedness is the best guarantee of authenticity.

Whatever the reality of these phenomena may be, as mediumistic effects, they have a good result in that they lend impact to the Spiritist idea. The controversy surrounding this subject stimulates many to study the subject more deeply. Of course, it is not there that Spiritism's true teachings or its philosophy should be sought, but it is a way to grab the attention of the indifferent and to force the most recalcitrant to talk about them.

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