The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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Your Majesty has given me the honor of enquiring about several ques- tions regarding Spiritism. I will try to respond to them with the state of the art knowledge on the subject, summarizing in a few words what we have learned through study and observation. The referred issues are based on the principles of the Science. In order to give more clarity to the solution it is necessary to have those principles in mind. Thus, allow me to consider the subject from a little more elevated stand point, establishing certain fundamental preliminary propositions that will serve, as a matter of fact, as answers to some of those questions.

Outside the visible and corporeal world there are invisible beings that constitute the world of the spirits. The spirits are not disconnected beings but the souls of those who lived on Earth or in other worlds and have detached from their material envelope.

The spirits show all levels of intellectual as well as moral development. Hence, there are good and bad, liars and frivolous, scoundrels and hypo- critical spirits that try to deceive people, encouraging them to wrongdo- ings, as there are those spirits who are well superior in everything, who don’t do anything else but the good deeds. Such distinction constitutes a capital point.

The spirits surround us incessantly. They guide our thoughts and ac- tions irrespectively, thus influencing over the events and destinies of hu- manity. They sometimes reveal their presence through material effects.

Those effects have nothing to do with the supernatural; they only seem supernatural to us because they are founded on bases that are outside of our known laws of matter. Once those bases are known, the effects become part of the category of the natural phenomena. That is how the spirits can act upon the inert bodies and move them without the support of our external agents. Denying the existence of unknown agents just because we don’t understand them is the same as restraining God’s power, and believing that nature has already given us the last word.

Every effect has a cause, and nobody denies that. It is then illogical to deny the cause just because it is unknown.

Since every effect has a cause then every intelligent effect must have an intelligent cause. When we observe the parts of the telegraph produc- ing signs which correspond to a human thought we don’t conclude that those components are intelligent but that they are moved by intelligence. The same happens with the spiritist phenomena. If the intelligence which produces them is not ours then it is evidently from a foreign intelligence.

In the phenomena of natural Sciences, human beings act upon the inert matter, handling it at will. In the spiritist phenomena we act upon intelli- gences that have free will and are not submitted to our wishes. Thus, there is in principle a radical difference between the common phenomena and the spiritist phenomena. That is why ordinary Science is incompetent to judge the latter.

The incarnate spirit has two envelopes: one that is material, the body; another semi-material and indestructible, the perispirit. When discarnate, the spirit leaves the former and retains the latter that form a kind of sec- ond body that, essentially, has different properties. It is invisible to us in its normal state, but it can become visible and even tangible. Such is the cause of the phenomena of apparitions.

Hence the spirits are not abstracts, undefined beings, but real and limited, with their own existences, beings that think and act as a conse- quence of their free-will. They are everywhere around us; they populate space and move with the speed of thought.

Human beings can establish a relationship with the spirits and receive direct communications in writing, by the spoken word or other means. Since they are around us or can attend our call, it is possible to establish frequent communications with them through certain means, as a blind person can do with other persons that she cannot see.

Certain persons are more endowed than others of a special aptitude to transmit communications from the spirits. These are the mediums. The role of the medium is that of an interpreter; an instrument that serves the spirit; such an instrument can be more or less perfect, thus the communi- cations can be easier or more difficult.

The spiritist phenomena are of two orders: the physical and material communications and the intelligent communications. Inferior spirits pro- duces the physical effects; the elevated spirits don’t get involved with such things in the same way that our wise individuals are not occupied with the hard labor; their role is to educate through reason.

The communications may come from inferior as much as superior spirits. Like human beings, the spirits can be recognized by their lan- guage: the language of the superior spirits it is always serious, dignified, noble and plentiful of benevolence; every trivial or inconvenient expres- sion, every thought that shocks reason and common sense, which denotes pride, acrimony and malevolence necessarily comes from an inferior spirit.

The elevated spirits only teach good things. Their moral is that of the Gospels. They only preach union and charity and are never mistaken. The inferior spirits tell absurd, lies and sometimes even make rude remarks.

The good quality of a medium is shown not only by the easiness of the communications but above all by the nature of the received communi- cations. A good medium is the one who sympathizes with the good spirits and only receives good communications.

All of us have a familiar spirit that is devoted to us from birth, who guides, advises and protects us. That is always a good spirit. Besides the familiar spirit there are others attracted to us thanks to their sympathy towards our qualities and defects or as a consequence of past Earthly affections. Hence, in all gatherings there is always a number of spirits, more or less good, according to the nature of the environment.
The spirits can only know the future in proportion to their elevation. The inferior spirits do not know their own future, let alone other people’s future. The superior spirits do know the future but they are not always allowed to reveal it. In principle, and by a wise design of the Providence, the future must be hidden from us. If we had the ability of knowing it, our free will would be compromised! Certainty of success would sub- tract from us the desire of doing anything, since we would no longer see the need for doing it; the certainty of a disgrace would discourage us. Nevertheless, there are cases in which knowledge of the future may be useful; we can never, however, be the judges of such cases. The spirits re- veal it to us whenever they find it convenient and have been granted God’s permission. Then, it is spontaneously done and never triggered by our request. We must wait for the opportunity with confidence and, above all, do not insist whenever it is denied, since we might otherwise risk to be dealing with frivolous spirits who make fun of us.


Yes, they can and gladly do so. Such advices reach us every day through the thoughts that they suggest to us. We frequently do things whose merit we attribute to ourselves when in fact they are nothing more than inspira- tions transmitted to us. Now, as we are surrounded by spirits that influ- ence us, some in one direction, some in another, we always have our own free-will to guide us with respect to the choices we make, being a real joy when we give preference to our good genie.

Besides the transcendental advices, we can obtain other direct ad- vices through the mediums. However, the fundamental principles that we have just mentioned must be pointed out here. The first thing to consider is the quality of the medium, when the medium is a third party. A medium that only receives good communications, and due to his personal qualities only sync with the good spirits, is a precious server, from whom one can expect great things, as long as seconded by the purity of one’s own instructions, conveniently connecting us to them. I will say more: it is an instrument of Providence.

The second, not less important point, consists of the nature of the spirits with whom we communicate. We should not believe that the first spirit that shows up can guide us adequately. It would be a grave mis- take to see spiritist communications as a means of prediction and the medium as a reader of good luck. It is necessary to consider that we have friends in the spiritual world who are seriously interested in us, more sin- cere and devoted than those considered so here on Earth, who don’t have any interest in flattering or deceiving us. These are, besides our guardian spirit, relatives or persons who were dear to us or even spirits who wish us well, just out of sympathy. These spirits eagerly come when evoked, or even without being called. We often have them inadvertently by our side. These are the ones to whom we should directly ask for advice through the mediums, who give it to us even spontaneously. They do that particularly in the closeness, in silence and when they are not perturbed by any alien influence. They are, as a matter of fact, very prudent and we should not be afraid of any indiscretion on their side: they silence when there are too many ears around! They do more so when in frequent communication with us. Since they say only proper and timely things, we should expect their good will and never imagine that they would hastily satisfy our de- mands. By doing so they demonstrate that they are not under our control.

The nature of the answers depends a lot on the way the questions are framed. It is necessary to learn how to talk to the spirits, as we learn to talk to human beings. Experience is necessary with everything. On another hand, the habit leads the spirits to get acquainted with us and with the medium; the fluids combine and the communications become easier; the conversations then become really familiar between them and us. Something they don’t say today they will say tomorrow; they get used to our way of living as we get to theirs; we become more reciprocally comfortable. Regarding the interference of bad and deceiving spirits – which constitutes the big obstacle – experience teaches us to combat them and we can always avoid them. If we don’t provide shelter to those spirits they don’t come since they know it will be a waste of time.


Since Spiritism is the tangible and evident proof of the existence, indi- viduality, and immortality of the soul, it is the destruction of materialism, the denial of every religion and the ulcer of every society. The number of materialists that Spiritism has led to healthier ideas is considerable and it does increase every day. That alone represents a social benefit. Spiritism not only proves the existence and immortality of the soul but it also shows their happy or unfortunate state, according to the merits of this current life. The future penalties and rewards are no longer a theory but become a patent fact before our eyes. Now, considering that there is no possible religion without the belief in God, in the immortality of the soul and in the future penalties and rewards, Spiritism revives in people those beliefs, whenever those beliefs have faded away. It results that Spiritism is the most powerful support to the religious ideas. It provides religion to those who don’t have it; reinforces it in those who hesitate; consoles by the certainty of the future; leads people to withstand the tribulations of this life with patience and resignation, deviating minds from suicide, an idea that we naturally repel by observing its consequences. That is why those who have penetrated into the mysteries of Spiritism feel happy. To those, Spiritism is a light which dissipates the shadows and anguishes of uncertainty.

If we then consider the moral teachings of the superior spirits we will see that it is totally the moral of the Gospels, for it is enough to say that it preaches the Christian charity in all its sublimity; it does more because it shows its necessity, as much to the present as to the future life, since the consequences of our good as well as bad deeds are there, before our eyes. Spiritism neutralizes the effect of doctrines subversive to the social order, thus redirecting people towards the feelings of reciprocal duties.


Haven’t all Sciences supplied their masses to the asylums of the alienated? Should they all be condemned for that? Aren’t the religious beliefs also greatly represented among them? Would it be fair to proscribe religion for that? Do we know the number of lunatics produced by the fear of devil? All great intellectual concerns lead to exaltation and may produce harm- ful reactions in a feeble mind. We would be right by assessing Spiritism as having a special danger if it were the only or even the major cause of madness. A huge noise is produced by two or three cases that, under other circumstances, would go unnoticed.

Furthermore, the prior predisposing causes are not taken into ac- count. I could mention other cases in which the spiritist ideas halted the development of madness. In short, and with that in mind, Spiritism does not offer more danger than the other thousand and one causes. I will say more: Spiritism offers them in a much smaller number since it has the cor- recting element in itself and by the guidance it provides, by the calmness it brings to the spirits of those who understand it, it can neutralize the effect of strange causes. One of these causes is despair. Spiritism, by lead- ing us to face the most unpleasant things with cold blood and resignation, gives us the strength to withstand them with courage and acquiescence, thus attenuating the dismal effects of despair.

AREN’T THE SPIRITIST IDEAS A CONSECRATION OF THE SUPERSTITIOUS IDEAS OF THE ANTIQUITY AND THE MIDDLE AGES, AND AREN’T THESE IDEAS GOING TO ENDORSE THOSE? Don’t people without religion call superstition in the great majority of the religious beliefs? An idea is only superstitious if it is false; it is no longer when it becomes true. It is demonstrated that behind all superstitions there is an amplified truth or a truth modified by imagination. Well, re- moving from those ideas their fantastic content, leaving them with reality only, it destroys superstition. Such is the effect of the Spiritist Science by unveiling what is true and false in the popular beliefs.

For a long time the apparitions were considered as a superstitious belief. Now that they are a demonstrated fact and, even more, perfectly explained, they move into the domain of the natural phenomena. There is no point in condemning them because we will not preclude them from happening. However, those who understand them not only are no lon- ger afraid but also become satisfied. And it is so much true that those who don’t share these ideas wish to do so. By just leaving the field open to imagination, the unknown phenomena constitute a source of many accessory and absurd ideas which degenerate into superstition. Once the reality is shown and the causes are explained, the imagination stops at the border of the possible; the marvelous, the absurd and impossible disappear, and with them superstition. Such are the cabalistic practices; the virtue of the signs and magic words; the sacramental formulas; the amulets, the disastrous days; the diabolic hours and so many other things whose ridicule Spiritism understands and demonstrates well.

Those are, Prince, the answers which seemed appropriate to me to the questions that Your Majesty has honored me with. I will feel happy if they corroborate the ones that Your Majesty already has about this issue and persuade Your Majesty to the deeper study of the subject, of so elevated interest. It makes me even happier still if my further help can be of any utility.

With my deepest respect, I am the much humble and obedient server of Your Majesty,


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