The Chastisement of Light
At a séance of the Paris Society, after a discussion on the confusion that generally follows
death, a spirit to whom no allusion had been made and whom no one had thought evoking, manifested
himself spontaneously by the following communication; though the latter was not signed, it was easily
recognized as being made by a great criminal, who had just been executed.
“Why do you talk about confusion? Why these empty words? You are dreamers and visionaries.
You are utterly ignorant of the things with which you pretend to busy yourselves. No, sirs! The
confusion you speak of has no existence, excepting, perhaps, in your own brains. I am as really dead
as possible, and I see with perfect clearness in myself, around me, everywhere! ...Life is a lugubrious
comedy! Clumsy bunglers are they who get themselves driven from the stage, before the fall of the
curtain! Death is a terror, a chastisement, and a desire, according to the weakness or the strength of
those who fear, brave, or implore it. For all, it is a bitter mockery! Light dazzles and pierces, like
sharp arrows, the innermost recesses of my being...They punished me with the darkness of the prison;
and they thought to punish me with the darkness of the grave, or what is dreamed of as such by
Catholic superstitions. But it is you, sirs, who are in darkness; and I, the socially degraded, I tower
above you, and I mean to continue to do so! ...Strong in my self-possession, I disdain the pretended
warning that resound about me...I see clearly...Crime? A mere word! Crime exists everywhere. When
it is committed by masses of men, it is glorified; in private, it is scouted. Absurdity!
“I reject your pity...I ask for nothing...I suffice to myself; and I shall be able to resist this
He who was yesterday a man
The very cynicism of this unhappy spirit is highly instructive, as is also the spectacle of his
situation in the other life, which shows us a new phase of the punishment that awaits the guilty. While
some of the latter are plunged in darkness or in solitude, continue to endure, for many years, the
anguish of their last hour, or believe themselves to be still in this world, the light shines for this one;
he has the full use of his faculties, he knows that he is dead; he makes no complaint, asks for no help,
and braves the divine law, in the other world, as he braved human law down here. But does he
therefore escape punishment? No; but the Divine justice takes effect in many ways, and what makes
the joy of one spirit may make the torment of another. Light, of which the privation is the punishment
of some, is the chastisement of this spirit; he stiffens himself against it, but, despite his pride, he avows
the torment it causes him when he exclaims, “I suffice to myself; and I shall be able to resist this
odious light”; and in this other phrase. The light obfuscates and penetrates me, as a sharp arrow, in my
innermost being. These words, “the subtlety of my innermost being” reveals that the physical body is
fluidic and penetrable to the Light that it cannot escape, and that the Light goes through him as a sharp
We have here classed this spirit among the obdurate because he remained a long time without
showing any repentance; thus proving, once more, that moral progress does not always keep pace with
intellectual progress. Gradually, however, he began to improve; and, at a later period, he made many
wise and good communications. His place is now among the repentant and progressing spirits.
Our spirit-guides, requested to give us their opinions upon this subject, dictated the three
following communications, which are well deserving of careful attention.
Spirits in erraticity are evidently, in regard to the succession of existences, inactive, and in a
state of waiting; but they may, nevertheless, expiate in that state, provided that their pride, the strong
and restive tenacity of their errors, do not keep them back at the moment when they ought to be
preparing to take a step in advance. You have a terrible example of this danger in the communication
of the obdurate criminal who struggles against the grip of the Divine justice as he did against the
justice of men. In such cases, their expiation, or, rather, the inevitable suffering that oppresses them,
instead of benefiting them by making them understand the true meaning of their penalty, excites them
to revolt, and to what the Bible, in its poetic eloquence, calls the grinding of teeth; a most expressive
allegory, image of the suffering of those who, feeling themselves vanquished, refuse to submit! Who
are overwhelmed with anguish, yet in whom the spirit of revolt refuses to recognize the fact of reward
Great errors often persist for a considerable time in the spirit world; as well as the personal
characteristics of the criminals. Their determination to be themselves in spite of everything, to parade
their fancied independence in the presence of the Infinite, greatly resembles much of the blindness in
men, who contemplates the stars, taking them as arabesques of the ceiling, as did the Gaelic of the
time of Alexander the Great.
There is the infinity of the moral world; and miserable indeed must be the pettiness of the spirit
who, continuing the abject struggles and boastings of Earth, sees no farther in the other world than he
did in this one! The portion of such a spirit in blindness, contempt, mean and egotistic self-absorption,
and the stoppage of every kind of progress. Oh man! It is a great truth that which states that between
the immortality of a very pure name left on Earth and the immortality that spirits truly conserve
through their successive trials, a secret concordance exists. LAMENNAIS
If a man is plunged into darkness or into floods of dazzling light, is not the result the same? In
either case, he sees nothing of what is around him; but his eyes will accustom themselves sooner to the
darkness than to the excessive brilliance of the electric luminosity. The spirit in question has well
depicted the suffering to which he is subjected by exclaiming: “Oh! I shall be able to deliver myself
from this odious light!” In truth, this light is all the more terrible, all the more overwhelming, that it
pierces him through and through, rendering his most secret thoughts visible to all. And this is one of
the most torturing peculiarities of his spirit-punishment. He finds himself enclosed, so to say, in the
glass-house demanded by Socrates, and the misery thus caused him is in itself instructive; for what
would have been the joy and consolation of the sage becomes the ignominious and incessant
punishment of the wicked, the criminal, the parricide, horrified at this manifestation of his own evil
You can easily understand the distress and terror that must weigh upon him who, throughout his
sinister existence, has taken pleasure in contriving and combining the most abominable atrocities in
the depths of his mind, into which he retired as a wild beast to his den, and who now finds himself
driven out from this secret hiding-place, in which he formerly shut himself up from the sight and
investigations of his contemporaries. His mask of impassibility is now torn away, and every thought of
his heart is reflected openly upon his brow!
Henceforward, there is no repose, no refuge, for this horrible criminal. His evil thoughts (and
God knows how many are constantly being formed in his mind!) are visibly manifested in him and
upon him, as though brought out by an electric shock. He tries to hide himself from the crowd about
him, and the “odious light” renders him transparent to the sight of all! He tries to flee; he rushes,
breathless and despairing, the incommensurable space; and still the light keeps pace with him! The
eyes of those about him penetrate the innermost fibers of his being! He hastens forward incessantly in
pursuit of shade, in search of night; but shade and night no longer exist for him. He calls death to his
aid; but death is a mere word, devoid of meaning. The unhappy wretch flees forward incessantly! He
is on the road to spirit-madness, a terrific chastisement, a fearful misery, in which he will struggle
with himself to get rid of himself! For such is the supreme law of the realm beyond the earth, viz., that
the guilty spirit becomes his own inexorable chastisement.
How long will this chastisement continue? Until his will, vanquished at last, shall bend under
the pressure of remorse, and his haughty brow shall humble itself before his appeased victims and
before the Spirits justice. Observe, finally, the supreme logic of the immutable laws; with it fulfilling
what had been written in that proud communication, so clear, so lucid, and sadly, peaceful, by the
Spirit who divulged it last Friday, freeing himself by an act of his own violation. ERASTUS
Human law takes no account of the individual peculiarities of those it chastises; making the
crime itself the standard of criminality, it strikes indiscriminately all those who have committed any
given offence, and punishes them all alike, without making any allowance for circumstances and for
differences of education. The Divine Justice proceeds otherwise, and its punishments correspond to the
degree of advancement of those on whom they are inflicted; for identity of crime does not necessarily
imply equality of guilt in those by whom it has been committed, and the guilt of two men, who have
done the same misdeed, may be differenced by the distance between the mental opacity of one at a
lower degree of development, and the mental lucidity of the higher degree already attained by the
other. In the latter case, the guilty spirit is punished, not by darkness, but by the intensity of spirit-
light, which transpierces the soul that is defiled with terrestrial impurities and causes it to undergo
torture analogous to that which is occasioned, in your world, by the probing of a wound.
The discarnate beings who are pursued by the visible and tangible representation of their crime
are subjected to the shock of physical electricity, and may be said to suffer through the senses: those
who are dematerialized by their intellectual advancement feel a species of pain that is far more intense,
and that drowns their remembrance of facts in its floods of bitterness, leaving them only the
knowledge of their causes to which the facts of the wrongdoing were due.
A man, notwithstanding the criminality of his acts, may be advanced intellectually; and, while
led by his passions to act like a brute, he may be raised, by the sharpening of his mental faculties,
above the thick atmosphere of the lower strata. The inequality of a spirit’s progress in intellect and in
morality produces frequent anomalies of this kind, especially during periods of materialism and
The light that tortures the guilty soul is a spiritual ray that lets a flood of brightness into the
most secret recesses of his pride, and shows him how small a thing is his personal individuality. The
torments thus caused to him are the precursory symptoms of the approaching separation of the
opposing elements of intellectuality and materiality that compose the primitive human duality and give
rise to the warfare between its fleshly and its spiritual elements; a warfare that will cease with the
duality which is its source, and which is destined to be succeeded by the glorious unity of the
completed being. JEAN REYNAUD
These three communications, obtained simultaneously at the same séance
of the Paris Society,
complete each other and present the subject of future punishment under an aspect that is, at once,
novel, rational, and philosophical. It is probable that our Spirit-Guides, wishing to treat of this subject
on the basis of a practical example, purposely induced the making of the unsought communication of the spirit to whom they refer.
Let the reader compare, with the picture of real life in the spirit-world just placed before him,
the following description of “hell,” by the preacher of the Lenten Sermons, at Montreuil-sur-Mer, in
“The fire of Hell is millions of times more intense than that of Earth; and if any one of the
bodies that are burning therein without being consumed should be thrown out upon our planet, it
would infect the globe from one end to the other! Hell is a vast and gloomy cavern, stuck all over with
pointed nails, with keen, steely, sword-blades, with well-sharpened razors, into which are hurled the
souls of the damned.”
A USELESS LIFE
A spirit who presented herself spontaneously to the medium
1. Do you repent of your faults?
Q. Then why do you come to me?
Q. Are you not happy?
Q. Are you suffering?
Q. What is that you lack?
Certain Spirits solely consider suffering as that which causes them to recall physical pain, but
accepting at the same time that their moral state is intolerable.
2. How can you fail to have peace in the spirit-life?
A. Regret for the past.
Q. Regret for the past is remorse; then, you do repent?
A. No, but I dread the future.
Q. What are you afraid of?
A. The unknown.
3. Will you tell me what you did in your last existence? To do so will, perhaps, help me to
4. What was your social position?
Q. Were you married?
A. Y es, and I had children.
Q. Did you fulfill your duties as a wife and a mother?
A. No, my husband wearied me, my children, also
5. How did you employ your time?
A. In amusing myself, when I was a girl; in being tired of everything, when I grew up.
Q. What occupations had you?
Q. Who, then, looked after your housekeeping?
6. Is not uselessness the source of your present regrets and apprehension?
A. Perhaps so.
Q. It is not enough to make that admission. Will you, to atone for the uselessness of your
life, help the guilty and suffering spirits around you?
A. In what way?
Q. By aiding them to grow better, with the help of your counsels and your prayers.
A. I don’t know how to pray.
Q. We will pray together; that will show you how. Will you try?
Q. Why not?
COMMENTARY BY THE MEDIUM’S GUIDE
It is for the general instruction that we bring under your eyes the various degrees of suffering
and of position of the spirits who are condemned to expiation, as the consequence of their faults.
Angele was one of those creatures devoid of initiative, whose life is as useless to others as to
themselves. Caring only for pleasure, incapable of finding, in the accomplishment of her duties to her
family and to society, the affectionate satisfactions that alone can impart a charm to life, because they
belong to all ages, she could only employ her youth in frivolous amusements; afterwards, when the
time for serious duties had come,she found emptiness around her, because there was only emptiness in
her own heart. Without any serious faults, but also without good qualities, she made her husband
miserable, destroyed her children’s comfort, and ruined their prospects, through her carelessness and
negligence. She perverted their feelings and their judgment, both by her own bad example and by
leaving them to the care of the servants whom she did not even take the trouble to choose with care.
Her life was fruitless of good and therefore guilty, for evil comes from the absence of good. Study the
Master’s Commandments, meditate and understand that if you place a barrier that detains the evil path
to the side, it will impulse you to retreat and to take the opposite path, conducive to righteousness. Evil
is opposed to goodness; therefore, whoever desires to avoid it should follow the contrary path, without
which, your life will be null and void, and your achievements shall be obscured. God, our Father, is
not the God of the dead, but rather, God of the living.
Q. May I inquire what was the existence of Angele previous to her last one? For the last
must have been the consequence of the preceding one.
A. She had lived in the stupid laziness and uselessness of a convent. Idle and selfish, she wished,
in her last existence, to try family-life; but her spirit made very little progress. She constantly repelled
the inner voice that warned her to her danger; the slope was easy, and she preferred to let herself slip
into the gulf rather than make the effort to arrest her fall in time. Although she now sees the danger of
this passivity, she has not yet acquired sufficient strength of purpose to make an earnest attempt to
emerge from her slothful indifference. Pray for her; rouse her; force her to open her eyes to the light; it
is a duty to do this; neglect nothing that can help to bring her into the right road.
Man was created to be active; the activity of the spirit is the essence, and the activity of the body
is a necessity. Therefore, fulfill the conditions of that existence, as a spirit destined to eternal peace and as a body created for the service of the Spirit, a role in which the body is nothing but a machine
subordinated to its intelligence. Work and cultivate your intelligence in order to effect a healthy
stimulus to the instrument which it should help in the fulfillment of its task. Do not permit rest nor
truce, and remember that the peace which is aspired shall only be conceded through work. Therefore,
the greater the time that has been wasted in their task, the longer the duration of the anxiety for hope.
Work, therefore, incessantly; fulfill all your duties with zeal and perseverance, and let your faith
sustain you in everything that you have to do. He who conscientiously accomplishes the most modest
task, even though it be classed as the lowest and meanest according to your social fictions, is a
hundredfold nobler, in the sight of the Almighty, than he who leaves to others the work which is
incumbent upon himself. Duties are the rungs of the ladder by which we ascend to the supreme degree.
Be careful to miss none of them; and remember that you are always surrounded by friends who hold
out a helping hand to those who put their trust in the Almighty.
A VICTIM OF BOREDOM
A spirit who announced himself spontaneously to the medium and asked to be prayed for
1. What has induced you to ask for prayers?
A. I am weary of wandering without an aim.
Q. Have you been long in this situation?
A. About one hundred and eighty years.
Q. What did you do upon the earth?
A. Nothing good.
2. What is your position among spirits?
A. I am among those who are the victims of boredom.
Q. But that does not constitute a category?
A. Everything, among us, constitutes a category. Every sensation meets with its similar, and this sympathy brings us together.
3. Why have you remained so long without advancing, if you were not condemned to your present state
as a punishment?
A. I was condemned to suffer boredom; it is a mode of suffering for us; whatever is not an
enjoyment is, for us, a suffering.
Q. Have you, then, been obliged to remain errant against your will?
A. This question could only be answered by a reference to causes too subtle for your flesh-
Q. Try to make me understand them; the effort will be a useful beginning for you.
A. I could not do so, having no terms of comparison. An earthly life leaves, to the spirit who
has made no good use of it, what fire leaves of the paper it has consumed; — sparks, reminding the
still-untied but ashy tissue of what it was and of the cause of their own production, or, if you will, of
the destruction of the paper. These sparks are the remembrance of terrestrial ties that run through the
spirit until he has dispersed the ashes of his body. It is only then that he recovers possession of
himself, as an ethereal essence, and desires to go forward.
4. What could have caused you the boredom of which you complain?
A. The consequences of an anterior existence. Boredom is the child of idleness. I knew not how
to employ the long succession of years I had formerly passed upon the Earth; and the consequences of
my inactivity still follow me in the spirit-world.
5. Cannot the spirits who, like you, are wandering a prey to boredom, put an end to that
state when they will?
A. Not always, because their will is paralyzed by their state of boredom. They undergo the
consequences of their previous existence; they have been useless, devoid of initiative, and they find no
help from one another. They are abandoned to themselves until the weariness of this neutral state
suggests to them the desire to change it. As soon as this desire begins to awaken in them, they find
help and wise counsels that assist them to persevere in their effort to change their position.
6. Can you tell me anything of your earthly life?
A. Alas! There is little to tell of it, as you may easily understand. Boredom, inutility, idleness,
come of laziness; laziness is the mother if ignorance.
7. Have you made no progress in your former lives?
A. I advanced a little in all of them, but very little; for all our lives are reflexes of one another.
A spirit always makes some progress in an existence; but it is sometimes so slight as to be
inappreciable by us.
8. While you are waiting to begin a new existence, would you like to come to me
A. Call me, to compel me to come; you would be doing me a service.
9. Can you tell me why it is that your handwriting changes so often?
A. Because you ask me so many questions. It tires me and obliges me to get help.
The Medium’s Guide – It is the exercise of his thought that tires him and obliges us to give him
our help, that he may be enabled to reply to your questions. He is one of the lazybones of the spirit-
world, as he was of the world of men. We have brought him to you, that you may try to draw him out
of the apathy that is really a state of suffering, and one that is often still more painful than a sharper
pain, for it may be prolonged indefinitely. Can you imagine a worse torture than the prospect of
lassitude prolonged forever? The spirits who seek a terrestrial existence only as an amusement and to
break the wearisome monotony of their spirit-life are, for the most part, of this category; they go back
into the earthly life without any fixed determination to cultivate goodness, and they have therefore to
begin that life over and over again, until, at length, they feel a sincere desire to advance.
THE QUEEN D’OUDE
(Died in France, in 1858)
What have you felt since you left the terrestrial world?
Still confused, it’ s impossible to explain.
Are you happy?
I miss life ... I don’t know... I feel a sharp pain. I think that physical life would have
liberated me from it. I wish my body could rise from the grave.
2 – Do you feel bad for having been buried among the Christians and not in your own
A – Yes. The Hindu soil would be less heavy over my body.
Q – What do you think of the funeral honors that were bestowed on your remains?
A – They weren’t such a big event. I was a Queen and not everyone bowed before me. Leave
me alone... do not force me to talk. I don’t want you to know what I am now... Be assured you that I
was a queen.
3 – We respect your hierarchy; we insist only because we’re looking to be educated. Do
you believe that your son will recover the land and the heritage that his parents left him?
A – My blood will reign for sure; he is entitled to it.
Q – Is your opinion of your son’s integration into society, the same that you had when
you were alive?
A – My blood could not be mixed with the blood of the multitude.
4 – Your birthplace was not part of your death certificate; can you give us that
A – I come from one of the noblest bloods of India. I think I was born in Delhi.
5 – You, who lived in the splendor of luxury, surrounded by honors, what do you think
of all of this today?
A – That I have the right.
Q – Did your terrestrial hierarchy contributed to a more elevated rank where you are?
A – I continue being a Queen ... Let them send slaves to serve me! But I don’t know ... it
seems like they are not concerned with me here... and yet ... I am the same person.
6 – Are you a Muslim or a Hindu?
A – Muslim, however, I was too powerful to be concerned with God.
Q – Considering human happiness, what is the difference between your religion and Christianity?
A – Christianity is absurd; it teaches that we are all brothers and sisters.
Q – What is your opinion of Mohamed?
A – He was not the son of a king.
Q – Do you believe that he had a Divine mission?
A – Of what importance is that?
Q – What is your opinion of Christ?
A – The son of a carpenter is not worthy of occupying my thoughts.
7 – What do you think of this Muslim custom that women must hide their faces from
A – I think that women were born to dominate: I was a woman.
Q – Were you envious of the freedom that European women enjoy?
A – No. Why should I care about their freedom? Don’t they serve on their knees?
9 – Do you have any recollection of past lives, before the last one you just left?
A – I must have always been a queen.
Q – Why did you answer our call so promptly?
A – I didn’t want to do it. I was forced. Do you by any chance, think that I would consider you worthy of my response? Who are you in comparison to me?
Q – Who forced you to come?
A – I don’t know ... considering that there should not be anyone here more powerful than I.
10 – Under what circumstances did you come here?
A – Always as a queen, do you think that I could have stopped being one? You lack the
proper respect. I inform you that this is not the way to talk to a queen.
11 – If it were possible for us to see you. Would we see you with the appropriate jewels
A – Certainly.
Q – And how do you explain that having lost everything, you were able to keep these
jewels and ornaments?
A – I haven’t lost them. I am as beautiful as before and I don’t understand your opinion of me.
Truth is that you have never seen me.
12 – What do think of finding yourself in our midst?
A – If I could avoid it, I would. You treat me so disrespectfully.
Leave her alone, poor disturbed soul. Take pity on her blindness and let it serve as an example.
You don’t know how much her pride harms her!
Considering the education given to women in that country, we did not expect wisdom when we
evoked her. We expected to hear from this spirit, maybe not philosophy, but a more accurate view of
reality. We thought we would hear maybe more common sense ideas than about vanity and terrestrial
grandeur. Far from it, we saw a spirit who retained all the terrestrial prejudices as strong as ever. We
noticed that her pride had not diminished with her passing. We noticed that she fought against her own
weakness and that she was doomed to suffer a great deal for its impotence.
A spirit who presented himself spontaneously, to the medium, accustomed to manifestations of
this nature on the part of inferior spirits brought to him, by his Guide, for his own instruction and for
Q. Who are you? Is this name that of a man or a woman?
A. Of a man, and one who is utterly miserable. I am undergoing all the torments of hell.
Q. Hell does not exist. How, then, can you be undergoing its torments?
A. A useless question.
Q. If I understand what you mean, an explanation of your words may be useful for others.
A. I don’t care for them.
Q. Is not selfishness among the causes of your suffering?
Q. If you wish to be relieved from your misery, you must begin by getting rid of your evil
A. Don’t trouble yourself about them; they are no business of yours. Begin by praying for me,
as you do for the others; we will see about the rest, by and by.
Q. If you do not help me by your repentance, prayer will avail you very little.
A. If you talk instead of praying, you will not do much towards helping me to advance.
Q. Do your really wish to advance?
A. Perhaps I do; I don’t know. Let me see whether prayer relieves suffering; that’s the essential
Q. Well, then, join your mental action to mine, with the firm determination to obtain
(After a prayer by the Medium.)
– Q. Are you satisfied?
A. Not as I wish to be.
Q. A remedy, when first employed, cannot cure a disease of long standing.
A. Maybe so.
Q. Would you like to come again?
A. Y es, if you call me.
The Medium’s Guide. – You will have a good deal of trouble with this hardened spirit; but
there would not be much glory in saving those who are not lost. Courage! Persevere, and you will
succeed. There are none so bad that they cannot be brought back into the right road by persuasion and
example; for the most perverse must necessarily end by amending in course of time: if you do not
succeed, at once, in bringing them back to better sentiments, which is often impossible, the labor you
have bestowed on them is never lost. The ideas you have suggested to them stir their minds and make
them reflect, in spite of themselves; they are seeds that will grow and fructify, sooner or later. A rock
is not broken down by the first stroke of the pickaxe.
And what I have just said is equally true of spirits incarnate, and explains how it is that
Spiritism, even among its firmest believers, does not always make people perfect all at once. Belief is
the first step; the application of that belief comes next, and the transformation of character follows in
its turn: but, in many cases, this transformation will only be accomplished, even by believers, after a
new return into the spirit-world.
Among obdurate spirits, all are not entirely perverted and actively wicked. A great many of
them, without trying to do much harm, lag behind through pride, indifference, or apathy. They are
nonetheless unhappy, for they suffer all the more from their inertia because they have not the interests
of the earthly life. The prospect of infinity renders their position intolerable, and yet they have neither
the strength, nor the will, to change it. It is the spirits of this class who, when incarnated, lead idle and
aimless lives, useless alike to themselves and to others, and who often end by committing suicide,
without any serious motive, and simply from weariness and disgust of life.
Spirits of this character are usually more difficult to bring back to the path of progress than
those who are decidedly and actively bad, because these latter, at least, possess energy, and, when
once they have been made to see the truth, they are as ardent in the pursuit of goodness as they have
been in the service of evil. Inactive spirits will doubtless need a good many existences before they can
accomplish any marked amount of progress; but, little by little, vanquished by weariness, as others are
vanquished by suffering, they will seek for sources of interest in active occupation which, in course of
time, will become for them a necessity.