What is Spiritism?

Allan Kardec

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93. Since all the defects of humanity may be found among spirits, cunningness and deceitfulness may also be found. There are spirits who have no qualms about adorning themselves with the most respectable names in order to inspire trust. Hence, it is necessary to refrain from believing wholeheartedly in the authenticity of every signature.

94. Identity is one of the big problems of practical Spiritism and it is often impossible to prove its authenticity, especially when dealing with highly evolved spirits from ancient times. Amongst those that manifest, many do not have names that mean anything to us; consequently, to provide us with something to fix our thoughts on, they may take the name of a known spirit of the same category. Thus, if a spirit communicates using the name St. Peter, for example, that does not mean that it really is the apostle himself; it could be him, or it could be a spirit of the same order, who has been sent by him.

The question of identity in this case is by all means secondary, and it would be childish to connect any importance to it; what matters is the nature of the teaching. Is it good or bad, worthy or unworthy of the personage who took the name? Would he or she approve of it or condemn it? That is the whole issue.

95. Identity is easiest to prove when dealing with contemporary spirits, whose character and habits are known, because it is by the habits and characteristics of their private lives that their identity is more assuredly revealed, and often in an incontestable manner. Whenever relatives or friends are evoked, it is their personality that is ofmost interest and it is thus quite natural to try to prove their identity. However, for those who are only partially familiar with Spiritism, the means to do so are generally insufficient and may lead to error.

96. A spirit can reveal its identity through a multitude of circumstances highlighted in its communications, which reflect its habits, character, language and even its familiar quirks. It may also reveal its identity through intimate details, which it willingly divulges to persons it cares about - these are the best proofs. However, it is very rare that it will satisfy any direct questions asked of it in this regard, especially if asked by persons who are indifferent toward it, and whose sole objective is curiosity or proof. The spirit proves its identity as it wishes or as it is able according to the type of its interpreter's faculty, and often these proofs are super-abundant. The mistake is to want it to provide them in the way the evoker wants them given; that is, when it refuses to yield to his or her demands.

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