Mr. J. B. D—— was a man of considerable learning, but imbued with materialistic ideas, and believing neither in God nor the soul. He was evoked, a couple of years after his death, by the Paris Society, at the request of one of his relatives.
1. Evocation. – A. I suffer! I am damned.
2. We have been asked to call you by relatives of yours, who wish to know your state; please tell us whether our evocation is agreeable to you or painful?
3. Your death was voluntary?
The spirit wrote with great difficulty; his writing was large, irregular, convulsive, and almost illegible. At first, he betrayed anger, breaking the pencil, and tearing the paper.
4. Calm yourself. We will pray to God for you.
A. I am forced to believe that God exists.
5. What motive led you to destroy yourself?
A. The utter weariness of a life without hope.
We can understand that one who is without hope should be tempted to commit suicide, which appears to offer to him, who is unhappy, an escape from misfortunes that he has no motive for continuing to bear; but Spiritism, which reveals to us a future and gives us a firm foundation of hope, not only destroys all temptation to self-destruction, but shows us that, through suicide, we only escape a minor ill to fall into trouble a hundred times more severe. For this reason, Spiritism has removed numbers of people from the road of self-destruction. Great is the guilt of those who endeavor, by scientific sophistries and shallow reasoning, to give credence to the profoundly discouraging idea, source of so much evil and of so many crimes, that everything is ended with our present life! They will be held responsible, not only for their own errors, but for all the evils of which they will have been the cause.
6. Have you desired to be liberated from the vicissitudes of life? Have you gained something from it? Are you happier now?
A. Why is it that a state of nothingness does not exist?
7. Would you be kind enough to describe your present situation to the best of your ability?
A. I suffer when I feel obliged to believe in everything that I used to deny. My soul is in pain, horribly tormented.
8. How have you arrived at the materialistic ideas that you had during your life time?
A. In another existence I had been evil and my spirit was condemned to suffer the torments of doubt, during my life, under these impulses I committed suicide. Here you have a series of ideas. Many times, we ask ourselves, how can there be materialists, since having lived in the spiritual world, they should have the intuition of this. Well, it is precisely that intuition that is denied to certain spirits who still maintain pride within and have not repented from their errors. The trials of those spirits consist in acquiring during their corporeal existence, and from their personal reasoning, proof of the existence of God and of a future life, and who incessantly have before their eyes; more frequently, the insolence of not admitting to anything that contradicts their personal ideas and their knowledge still predominates, and they suffer this sorrow until their pride is overcome and finally surrender under the evidence.
9. When you had drowned yourself, what did you suppose was going to become of you? What reflections passed through your mind at the moment?
A. None at all; I seemed to be in the midst of nothingness. Afterwards, I saw that, not having undergone the whole of my punishment; I should still have to suffer severely.
10. Are you now convinced of the existence of God, of the soul, of the future life?
A. Alas! The torments I suffer have convinced me of all that, only too surely!
11. Have you seen your brother?
12. Why not?
A. Why should we bring our torments together? Happiness unites, but unhappiness separates, alas! share the opinions you then held; have you anything to say to them on that subject?
A. Ah! The unfortunate fellows! May they learn to believe in another life! It is the very best
thing I can possibly wish them! If they could see my sad position, it would set them thinking!
(Evocation of the brother, who had professed the same atheistic principles during his life, but who did not commit suicide. Although unhappy, he was calm; his writing was clear and legible.)
18. Evocation. – May the picture of our sufferings be a useful lesson for you, convincing you that there is another life, in which we expiate our faults and our incredulity.
19. Do you and your brother see one another?
A. No, he hides himself from me.
It may be asked how it can be possible for spirits to hide themselves from one another, as there are, in the spirit-world, no physical obstacles, no hiding-places, in which they can shut themselves off from each other’s sight. It must be remembered that everything, in the spirit-world, is in keeping with the fluidic nature of the beings by whom it is inhabited. It is only the higher spirits whose perceptions are unlimited; among spirits of lower degree, they are restricted, and fluidic obstacles produce, upon them, the same effect, as do material obstacles upon men. Spirits remove themselves from one another’s sight by an action of their will upon their perispiritual envelope and the fluids around them. But Providence, which watches over individuals, leaves, or takes from them this faculty, according to the moral qualities of each. It is for them a punishment or a reward, as the case may be.
20. You are calmer than your brother; can you give us a more precise idea of your sufferings?
A. Upon the Earth, do you not suffer in your self-love, in your pride, when you are compelled to acknowledge your mistakes? Does not your mind revolt against the idea of humiliating yourself before him who proves to you that you are in error? What, then, must be the suffering of the spirit who, having believed through an entire existence that nothing exists for us after death, finds himself brought face to face with the reality of the other life? He is overwhelmed with shame, with anxiety, and with remorse, for having so long lost sight of the existence of a Being so good, so indulgent! His state of mind is unbearable; he finds neither calm nor repose; and he only regains a little peace when the love of God has begun to touch him. For pride takes such hold of our unhappy spirit that it covers us as with a winding sheet; and it is only after a long time, and with the help of the prayers of our brothers, that we can throw off this fatal covering.
21. Do you mean your brothers of the Earth or of the spirit-world?
22. While we were talking with your brother, one of the persons present prayed for him; has this prayer been of use to him?
A. It will not be thrown away. If he rejects its help at present, he will have recourse to it by and by, when he is ready to profit by the mercy of the Almighty, that divine panacea.
We see, here, another kind of punishment, but which is not the same in the case of all skeptics; viz., besides the suffering he endures, the mortification of admitting truths that he denied while alive. The spirit’s present ideas show a certain amount of progress, in comparison with other spirits who persist in denying the existence of God. It is something, and a beginning of humility, to admit that one was mistaken; and it is highly probable that, in his next incarnation, the incredulity of this spirit will have given place to an innate belief in God and immortality.
The result of these two evocations having been transmitted to the person who had asked us to make them, we received from him the following reply:
“You cannot imagine how much good has been done by the evocation of my father-in-law and my uncle. We fully recognize their identity; the writing of the former is strikingly like what it was in life, especially during the last few months he spent with us, when it was jerky and illegible; the long strokes, many of the letters, and the signature, are exactly like his. The similarity of words, expressions, and style, is even more striking; for us, the authenticity of the communication is absolutely certain; the only change is his belief in God, the soul, and eternity, which he formerly denied. His brother’s identity is equally evident; there is the immense difference between the atheist and the believer, but we recognize his character, his style, and the turn of his sentences. One word, especially, has struck us most forcibly, viz., ‘panacea`; he constantly employed it, to everybody, and about everything. We are, therefore, fully convinced of the authenticity of these communications; our faith in spiritist truths will thus be strengthened, and many of our friends will be benefited by them, for I have shown them to several persons, all of whom have been greatly struck with their evident veracity. But some of our skeptical friends, who share the former opinions of my two relatives, would like to have some more categorical replies; they would like Mr. D—— for instance, to say where he drowned himself, where he is buried, etc. To satisfy and convince them, could you not evoke him again, and, if so, would you have the goodness to ask him the following question? – Where and how did you commit suicide? How long did his body remain in the water? At what place was it found? Where was it buried? And what were the circumstances of his funeral? Etc.
“I beg you to get him to reply, categorically, to these questions, essential for those who still hesitate to believe; such replies will do an immense deal of good. I write in haste, that my letter may reach you on Friday, so that you may make this evocation at the séance of the Society which will take place on that day.”
We have given this letter on account of the affirmation of identity contained in it. We add our reply, for the information of those who are not familiar with the subject of spirit-communication:
“The questions you request us to ask of the spirit of your father-in-law are dictated by a laudable desire to convince unbelievers; since we cannot see in you any manifestation of doubt or curiosity; but a fuller acquaintance with the subject of evocation would have shown you that it is not possible to obtain, from a spirit, the categorical replies you desire, unless he, himself, is willing to give them. We have no power over spirits; they reply to us if they will, as they will, and, as often as they can. Their freedom of action being greater than it was in life, they are still better able, than they then were, to elude the moral pressure we may attempt to bring to bear upon them. The best proofs of the identity of a spirit are those that he gives spontaneously, of his own accord, or which are furnished by circumstances; and it is, in general, useless to try to obtain otherwise. Your relative has proved his identity to your satisfaction; it is therefore probable that he would refuse to reply to questions which he might well regard as superfluous, and as being intended to satisfy the curiosity of people about whom he cares but little. Just as other spirits on such occasions he could respond: “Why ask me about things you already known?” The state of suffering and confusion in which he still is would naturally render him unwilling to make such an effort; it would be like trying to make a sick man think and speak, and recount the details of his life, which would certainly show a want of consideration for his position.
“As for the results you hope for, they would most likely not be obtained. The proofs of identity already furnished are of much greater value, because they were spontaneous, and because there was nothing that could have suggested them to the medium’s mind; if the skeptics you allude to are not convinced by them, they would be still less so by answers to questions decided on beforehand, and which they might regard as due to connivance. There are people whom nothing can convince; if they saw your relative, in person, with their own eyes, they would think themselves the sport of hallucination.
“As to your wish to have this evocation made the day your letter has come to hand, I must remind you that spirits do not always answer to our call. They only come when they will and can, when the medium suits them, when the place, the surroundings, and the persons present, are agreeable to them; and we can never be sure beforehand of all these conditions, which, nevertheless, are indispensable to the success of an evocation.”