The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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The mediumistic faculty is diverse. It presents infinite nuances in mechanisms and effects. Anyone who is capable of receiving or trans- mitting the communications of the spirits is thus a medium, whatever the employed means or the degree of development of the faculty, from the simple occult influence to the most remarkable phenomena. However, in the common use, the word has a more restrictive meaning and it is gener- ally applied to persons endowed by a very important mediumistic power, both to produce physical effects and to transmit the thoughts of the spir- its, through writing or the spoken word.

Although the faculty is not an exclusive privilege, it is certain that it finds refractory minds, at least regarding the meaning given to that faculty. It is also certain that it is not exempt of hurdles to those endowed by such faculty: it can be altered and even be lost, and frequently be a source of grave disillusions. About this point, we judge useful to call the attention of all those who deal with the spiritist communications, be it directly or through third parties. We say through third parties because it is important to those that are served by mediums to be able to appreciate the worth and trust that their communications deserve.

In order to notice this state of affairs and understand what we are go- ing to say, it is necessary to refer to the fundamental principle that there are all degrees of benevolence as well as wickedness, of knowledge and ignorance among the spirits; that they pullulate around us and when we think that we are alone, we are incessantly surrounded and nudged by beings, some with indifference, like strangers, others that observe us with more or less benevolent intentions, according to their nature.

The proverb “each sheep seeks its flock” has its application among the spirits as well as with us, and possibly even more with them, since they are not under the influence of social prejudices. If such precepts, however, sometimes confuses individuals of very diverse tastes and culture, such a confusion is only material and transient. The similarity or the divergence of thoughts will always be the cause of attractions or repulses.

Our soul, which in the end is nothing more than an incarnate spirit, is still a spirit. Although momentarily dressed by a material envelope its rela- tionships with the incorporeal world, although not as easy as when in such a state of freedom, are not absolutely broken because of that. Thought is the bond between the spirits and us, and through our thoughts we at- tract those who sympathize with our ideas and inclinations. Let us then represent the mass of spirits that surround us like the crowds that we find in this world. Everywhere we intend to go we find people attracted by the same tastes and desires. In the meetings of serious objectives we find serious persons; in those of frivolous objectives, we find frivolous persons. Spirits attracted by the prevailing thought are found everywhere. If we observe the moral state of humanity, in general, we will understand without difficulty that in such an occult crowd the elevated spirits should not constitute the majority. This is one of the consequences of the state of inferiority of our planet.

The spirits that surround us are not passive. They form an essentially uneasy population which incessantly thinks and acts, influencing us irre- spectively; exciting and discouraging us; pushing us to the good or to the evil, a fact which does not subtract our free-will more than the good or bad advices that we receive from our fellow human beings. However, when the imperfect spirits incite someone to do something bad, they know very well who they are talking to and they will not waste their time when they realize that they are not welcome. They excite us according to our own inclinations or according to the germs that they see in us, as to our disposition to listen to them. That is why a person who is firm in the principles of good doesn’t give them the opportunity.

Those considerations naturally lead us to the problem of the medi- ums. As with all beings, they are submitted to the occult influence of the good or bad spirits; they attract or repel them according to the sympathies of their own souls, and the bad spirits take advantage of all faults, as from a missing protection, in order to impose themselves, irrespective of the medium, meddling with every act of the medium’s private life. Moreover, once such spirits find in the medium the means of intelligibly expressing their thoughts and attesting their presence, they also meddle with the communications, provoking them, because they expect to have a greater influence by doing so, then becoming the masters of the medium. They act as if they were at home, sending away the other spirits who could create any difficulty to them and, according to the need, they adopt the names and even use the language of those, with the objective of deceiving.

However, they cannot represent such a role for long. In contact with a more experienced and forewarned observer, such spirits are soon un- masked. If the medium allows to be dominated by such an influence the good spirits stay away from him or absolutely do not attend when evoked or even come with certain antipathy, since they see that the spirit who has identified with the medium and that, so to speak, has settled in, can alter their instructions. If we have to choose an interpreter, a secretary, any mandatory, it is obvious that we would choose not only a capable one, but one who is even worthy of our affection; that we would not entrust a deli- cate mission, as well as our interests, to someone that is insane or that is an a habitué of a suspicious society. The same happens to the spirits. The superior spirits will not choose a medium familiarized with frivolous spir- its to transmit serious instructions, unless there is the need for that or that there aren’t other mediums available at the time of the communication; or even when they want to teach the medium a lesson, which sometimes does happen; but in such cases they only accidentally use the medium, abandoning him when convenient, leaving him to his own sympathies in case he insists on keeping them. The perfect medium then would be the one who would not grant any access to the bad spirits out of negligence. However, such a condition is very difficult to fulfill, if absolute perfection is not an attribute of the human being it is always possible to assess them by their actions, and the spirits, more than anything, take their efforts, their will power and perseverance into account.

Thus, the perfect medium would not have but perfect communica- tions, in terms of truthfulness and morality. Since perfection is impossible, the best medium would be the one who would give the best communica- tions. It is by their works that they can be judged. The constantly good and elevated communications, in which not a trace of inferiority could be detected, would undoubtedly be a proof of the moral superiority of the medium, because they would attest happy sympathies. Due to the simple fact that the medium is not perfect, frivolous, impostor, and liar spirits may meddle with their communications, altering their purity and leading the medium to stumble as well as those who seek their help. This is the highest hurdle to Spiritism whose seriousness we don’t disguise. Can it be avoided? We say out loud and clear: yes, we can avoid it. The means is not hard, only requiring good judgment.

The good intentions and the morality of the medium are not always sufficient to prevent the prying of frivolous, lying and pseudo-wise spirits into the communications. Besides the spirit of the medium own faults, the medium can also provide entry to those spirits through other causes from which the most important is the weakness of character and an exces- sive confidence in the invariable superiority of the communicating spirits. Such blind confidence resides in a cause that we will explain below.

If we don’t want to become victims of those frivolous spirits it is nec- essary to assess them. In order to do this, we have an infallible criterion: common sense and reason. We know that the qualities of the language characterizing the really good and superior individuals among us are the same as with the spirits. We must assess them based on their language. It would never be too much to repeat what characterizes the language of the elevated spirits: it is permanently dignified, noble, without swag- ger or contradiction, exempt from trivialities and marked by an accent of unaltered benevolence. The good spirits advise; they don’t command; they don’t impose; they remain silent about things that they ignore.

The frivolous spirits show the same level of confidence about things that they know and things that they ignore; they respond to everything without any concern for the truth. In a supposedly serious message, we have seen them placing Cesar in the same period as Alexander, with an untouched audacity; others affirmed that it is not Earth that turns around the Sun. In short, every gross or simply inconvenient expression; every indication of pride and presumption; every maxim contrary to the sound moral; every scientific heresy is to the spirits an incontestable sign of their evil nature, of ignorance or at least frivolity, similarly to what happens with human beings. Hence it is necessary to weigh-in at everything they say, pushing it through the winnow of logic and common sense. This is a recommendation incessantly made by the good spirits. They say: “God has purposelessly given you reason. Use it so that you know what you are doing.”

The bad spirits fear examination. They say: “Accept our words and do not judge them.” If they were consciously telling the truth they would show no fear of light.

The habit of scrutinizing the simplest messages from the spirits, of assessing their worth – from the point of view of the content and not the grammatical form, to which they give little importance – does naturally keep away the spirits of ill intent, who would not uselessly come to waste their time, since we reject everything that is bad or that may have a suspi- cious origin. However, when we blindly accept everything that they say, when, say, we kneel before their pretense wisdom; they do what human beings would do: abuse us.

If the medium is his own master and not dominated by a senseless en- thusiasm, he will then be able to do what we advise. It frequently happens, however, that the spirit subjugates the medium to the point of fascination, leading the medium to consider the most ridiculous things.

Then the mediums become even more overconfident, getting all wrapped up by their good intentions and feelings. The medium thinks that this is enough to keep the bad spirits away. Unfortunately, that is not enough, since those bad spirits enjoy trapping such mediums, taking advantage of their weakness and credulity. What to do then? Have ev- erything brought to a third and uninterested person. This will allow the third person to assess and judge, without prejudice, areas where the third person may well see a speck of sawdust where the medium could not see a plank.

The Spiritist Science demands a great experience only acquired through a long, assiduous and persevering study, and through numerous observa- tions, as with every other Science, philosophical or not. That Science en- compasses not only the study of the phenomena, per se, but also and above all, the habits, if we can say so, of the occult world, from the lowest to the highest degree of the scale. It would be presumptuous to judge oneself suf- ficiently enlightened and graduated as a master after a few tests. This would not be the pretension of a serious person, since whoever lay investigative eyes on these strange mysteries sees, unfolding before their eyes, such a vast horizon that long years would not be enough to cover them all. There are some, however, who wish to do so in a few days only!

From all moral dispositions, pride is the one that mostly facilitates entry to the imperfect spirits. The more arrogant the medium, the more it constitutes a danger. It is pride that gives the medium a blind belief in the superiority of the spirits who are attached to him, by bragging about certain names imposed on him. Whenever a spirit says: I am “Joe Doe” those mediums bow and don’t admit any doubt, as their self esteem would suffer if an inferior or low level spirit would be found under that mask. The spirit detects all these things and takes advantage of the weak side of the medium; flatters his supposed protégé; talks about illustrious origins which trap the medium even further; promises a brilliant future, honor and fortune, of which the spirit seems to be the distributor; and if neces- sary, shows a hypocritical tenderness towards the medium.

How to resist such a generosity? In one word, the spirit fools the medi- um, as vulgarly said; the spirit’s happiness is to make someone dependent. We have questioned several of those spirits regarding the reasons for their obsession. One of them responded as below.


“I want to have a person who submit to my whims. That is my plea- sure.” When we told him that we would do our best to uncover his tricks thus removing the veil from the eyes of the oppressed, he said: “I will fight you and you will not prevail because I will do so many things that he will not believe you.” This is in effect one of the tactics of these malicious spirits: they inspire mistrust and separation from the persons that can unmask them, giving good advice. This can never happen with the good spirits. Every spirit that stimulates disagreement, that excites animosity and that entertains resentment reveals their inferior nature, as a conse- quence. It would be necessary to be blind in order not to understand this and to believe that a good spirit could lead anyone to disharmony.

Pride frequently develops in a medium as their mediumistic faculty improves. The mediumistic faculty makes them feel important. They are sought thus they feel indispensable. Hence, many times, the boasting and pretentious tone, or an air of sufficiency and disdain, incompatible with the influence of a good spirit. The one that falls into such a mistake is lost because God has given such a faculty for the good and not for the satisfaction of their vanity or to transform that faculty in a ladder to their ambition. They forget that such power, which makes them proud, can be subtracted and that it has frequently been given as a trial only, as it also happens to some people’s wealth. Once that faculty is abused the good spirits move away, step by step, until they become a toy in the hands of the frivolous spirits, who shake those mediums with their illusions, feeling happy for having won over those who considered themselves strong. That is how we have seen the annihilation and loss of the most precious facul- ties that without such a behavior would have become the most powerful and useful supporters of the cause.

This applies to all kinds of mediums, be of physical or intelligent manifestations. Unfortunately pride and arrogance is one of the defects which make us less inclined to acknowledge in ourselves and even less so by pointing it out on others, since they would not believe. Try to tell a medium that he is being led like a child. He will turn his back on you, saying that he knows how to behave and that you cannot see things clearly. You can tell a man that he is a drunk, scornful, lazy, awkward and silly and he will laugh and agree; tell him that he is arrogant and he will be upset. That is the evident proof that you are telling the truth. In such cases the advices are so more difficult the more the medium avoids those who can give them. He flees from a feared proximity. The spirits, once feeling that the advices are blows against their power, push the medium to the opposite side, in order to feed his illusions. Thus, many deceptions will come, making the self- esteem of the medium suffer. Fortunate are those who do not have to endure even more serious things.

If we have significantly over emphasized in regard to this theme it is because experience has demonstrated to us, on many occasions, that this is one of the large stumbling stones with respect to the purity and sincer- ity of the communications from the medium. Hence, it is almost useless to speak about the other imperfections of the mediums, such as selfish- ness, envy, jealousy, ambition, greed, stiffness of heart, ingratitude, sen- suality, etc. Everyone understands that these are additional doors open to the imperfect spirits, or at least, causes of weakness. In order to repel those spirits it is not good enough to ask them to leave; it is not even good enough to wish or even less to conjure them. It is necessary to close the doors and the ears to them; demonstrate that we are stronger than they are – and we are incontestably, through the love of good, through charity, kindness, simplicity, modesty and disinterest, qualities that at- tract the benevolence of the good spirits. It is their support that gives us strength. If they sometimes allow us to face evil, it is a trial to our faith and character.

May the mediums not fear those conditions so much, which we have just mentioned. We must acknowledge that those conditions are logical thus it would be a mistake to feel discouraged. In any case they give us a means of recognizing our own imperfections. We have already said in another article that it is not necessary to be a medium to be under the influence of the bad spirits, who act in the shadow. The enemy shows up and betrays himself through the mediumistic faculty. We become aware of whom we are dealing with and how to combat them. That is how a bad communication may become a useful lesson, if we know how to take advantage of that.

As a matter of fact, it would be unfair to attribute all bad communica- tions to the medium. We speak of those that are obtained by the mediums alone, without any other influence, and not about those that are produced in any other environment. Well, everyone knows that the spirits, attracted by that environment, may damage the manifestations, be it by the diver- sity of characters, or be it by the lack of reverence. It is a general rule that the best communications occur in the closeness of a concentrated and ho- mogeneous group. Several influences play a role in every communication: the medium, the environment and the person that interrogates the spirits. These influences may interact with one another, neutralize or reinforce each other. That depends on our proposed objective and on the dominat- ing thought. We have seen excellent communications in gatherings and from mediums that did not have all the necessary conditions. In this case the spirits would come for one person in particular, since that was useful. We have also seen bad communications obtained by good mediums only because the interrogator did not have serious intentions and attracted the frivolous spirits who made fun of him or her. It all requires sensibility and observation. The preponderance that all these conditions combined must have is easily understandable.


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