The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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We have discussed the theory of the apparitions several times. It was recalled in our last issue given the fact that we had the report of strange phenomena. We remind our readers about those phenomena in order to better understand what follows next.

Everybody knows that among the most extraordinary manifestations produced by Mr. Home there was the appearance of perfectly tangible hands, which everyone could see and touch; which shook hands and sud- denly offered the emptiness when attempted to be caught by surprise. That is a positive fact, produced under several circumstances, attested by numerous eyewitnesses. However, abnormal and as strange as those facts may seem, the marvelous stops from the moment when it is possible to give them a logical explanation. It then enters into the category of the natural phenomena, although of an order completely different from those that take place before our eyes and with which we should not confuse them.

We can find elements of comparison with the common phenomena – like that blind person who could feel the shining light or the colors by the sound of a trumpet – but not similarities. It is precisely the attempt of comparing everything to what we already know that leads so many people to confusion: some think that these new elements can be manipulated as if they were molecules of Oxygen and Hydrogen. Well, that is a mistake. Those phenomena are submitted to conditions that escape the normal circle of our observations. Before anything else, it is necessary to know those conditions and comply with them if we wish to be successful. It is necessary, above all, not to lose sight of this essential principle, the true key of the Spiritist Science: the agent of the vulgar phenomena is a physi- cal force, material, that can be submitted to the laws of Calculus, whereas in the spiritist phenomena such agent is always an intelligence that has its own free-will and does not submit to our caprices.

Was there flesh, skin, bones and nails on those hands? Of course not: it was an appearance but in such a way that it produced the effect of reality. If the spirit has the power of turning a given part of their body visible and tangible, there is no reason why the same would not happen to other organs. Let us then suppose that the spirit extends that appear- ance to all parts of the body and we will then have the impression of seeing one of our analogous, acting like us, when in fact that is nothing more than a momentarily solidified vapor.

Such is the case of the Elf of Bayonne. The duration of that appear- ance is submitted to conditions unknown to us. No doubt it depends on the will of the spirit, who can produce or undo them at will, but within certain limits which they do not always have the freedom of surpassing. Once questioned about this and all intermittences of any manifesta- tion, the spirits have always said that they were acting following superior permission.

If with certain spirits the duration of the corporeal appearance is lim- ited, we can in principle say that it is variable and it is capable of persisting for a more or less lengthy time interval, since it can be produced all the time and at any time. A spirit whose body was completely visible and tan- gible would have the appearance of a human being to us; the spirit could talk to us and sit around us at home, as any other visitor, and we would take that spirit by one of our fellow human beings.

We start from a patent fact – the appearance of tangible hands – to arrive at a hypothesis that is the logical consequence of that. However, we would not have considered it if the story of the boy from Bayonne would not have paved the way, showing such possibility to us.

Once interrogated with that respect, a superior spirit answered that we can effectively meet beings of such a nature, unsuspectedly. He added that the fact is rare but it does happen.

Since we need a name to each and every thing in order to make our- selves understood, the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies call them agé- nères, in order to indicate that its origin is not the result of a generation.

The following fact that recently happened in Paris seems to belong to that category.

A poor woman was in the Church of Saint Roche begging for God’s help to alleviate her sufferings. Coming through the exit door at Saint Honoratus Street she finds a gentleman who approaches her, saying:

My good lady, would you like to find a job?
Ah! Good man, she answers, I beg God for that favor since I am in great need.
Then, go to X... Street, number # and look for Mrs. T... she will give you a job.

That said the man followed his way. The poor lady wasted no time to go to the referred address. The indicated lady told her:
In fact, I do have a job opening but since I have not told anybody, I don’t know how you could have come here, looking for me.
Then the poor lady, observing a portrait hanging on the wall, responded:

Madam, it was that gentleman who sent me.
That gentleman? Said the other lady, now scared. But it is impos- sible! That is the picture of my son, who died three years ago.

I don’t know how could that be but I assure you that he was the gentleman that I met when I left Church, where I had gone to beg for God’s help. He approached me and sent me over here.

From what we have just seen, it is not surprising that the spirit of that lady’s son, in order to do a good deed to that poor woman, whose prayer he had certainly heard, would have then appeared to her under a corpo- real form, indicating the address of his own mother. What has become of him after this? No doubt, what he was before: a spirit, unless he had found it convenient to appear to other people on his path.

That woman would have then met an agénères with whom she talk- ed. A question that may be asked is this: why then he did not appear to his mother?

Under such circumstances, the motives that determine the action of the spirits are completely unknown to us: they act as they will, or even, according to what they have said themselves, under a permission without which they cannot reveal their existence in a material way. As a matter of fact, it is clear that his presence might have caused his mother a great commotion. Who knows he had not appeared to her in her dreams or by any other means? Moreover, wouldn’t that be a way of revealing his existence to her? It is very likely that he had witnessed the encounter between the two ladies.

It does not seem to us that the Elf of Bayonne should be considered an agénères, at least under the circumstances in which he manifested; to the family he always showed the characteristics of a spirit, which he had never tried to dissimulate. It was his permanent state. The corporeal appear- ances that he embodied were only accidental, whereas the agénères, per se, does not reveal its nature and is nothing but a living person to our eyes. Its corporeal appearance may have a long duration, according to the need, in order to establish social relationships with one or several individuals.

We enquired the spirit of Saint Louis to kindly clarify us about several points, responding to our questions.

1. The spirit of the Elf of Bayonne could show up, corporeally, in other places and to other persons, besides its own family?
- Yes, no doubt.

2. Would that depend on its will?
- Not exactly. The power of the spirits is limited. They only do what is allowed to them.

3. What would happen if it presented itself to an unknown person?

- It would have been seem as an ordinary child. I will how- ever tell you something: sometimes there are spirits on Earth that take such an appearance and are not recognized by people.

4. Such spirits belong to the category of the superior or inferior spirits?

- They can belong to one or the other. These are rare facts that the Bible has examples.

5. Rare or not, it is enough that the phenomenon is possible so as to deserve attention. What would happen if such a being, taken by an ordinary man, received a mortal wound? Would it die?
- It would suddenly disappear, like the young man in London. 3

6. Do they have passions?
- Yes. As spirits, they have the passions of the spirits, according to their inferiority. If they take a visible body it is sometimes to enjoy the human passions. If they are elevated it is with a useful objective.

7. Can they procreate?
- God would not allow that. This is contrary to the laws established by God on Earth and those laws cannot be broken. 8. If such a being showed up to us, would we have any means of recognizing it?
- No, unless through an unexpected disappearance. It would be the same as the motion of furniture from one floor to the next, which you have previously read.

9. Which objective can lead the spirits to take such a corporeal state?

Are they acting with a good or wicked intent?
- Many times with a wicked one. The good spirits use inspiration in their favor. They act upon the soul and the heart.

You should know that inferior spirits produces the physical manifestations, and the ones we are dealing with are of that category. However, as I said, the good spirits may also take that corporeal appearance, with a useful objective. I say that as a general principle.

10. In such a state they can become visible and invisible at will? - Yes, since they can disappear whenever they wish.

11. Do they have an occult power, superior to that of human beings? - They only have the power of their category in the spirits’ scale.

12. Do they have real need for food? - No. Their body is not real.

13. Nevertheless, the young man from London, although he did not have a real body, he had breakfast with his friends and shook hands with them. What happened to the food that he ingested? - Before he shook hands, where were the tightening fingers?

Do you understand that the body disappears? Why don’t you want to understand that the matter also disappears? The body of the young man from London was not real since he was in Boulogne; it was thus an appearance. The same happened to the food that he apparently ingested.

14. If we had among us a being of that kind, would that be good or bad? - That would be bad. Besides, it is not possible to keep in touch for a long time with those beings. We cannot tell you much. These facts are excessively rare and have never a permanent character. Still more rare are the instantaneous corporeal apparitions, like those of Bayonne.

15. Can the family protector spirit take that form sometimes?

- No. Doesn’t that spirit count on innermost resources? The spirit manipulates them with more easiness than it would do under a visible form and taken by one of your similar.

16. There is a question about the Count of Saint-Germain; wouldn’t he belong to the category of the agénères?
- No. He was a skillful mystifier.

The story of the young man from London, reported in our last December issue, is a fact of bi-corporeity, or even, of double presence, that essentially differs from what we are discussing. The agénères has no living body on Earth; it is only their perispirit that takes a tangible appearance. The youngster from London was perfectly alive. While his body was asleep in Boulogne, his spirit, surrounded by the perisp- irit, went to London, where it took a visible form.

An almost analogous case happened to us. While lying calmly in bed, one of our friends saw us several times at his house, although under an appearance that was not tangible, sitting by his side and talking to him, as usual. Once he saw us wearing a robe, other times wearing a jacket. He transcribed our conversation and sent it to us the following day. It was clearly about our favorite works. Willing to carry out an experiment, he offered us a beverage. Here is our answer: “I don’t need this, for it is not my body that is here, you know that. Then, there is no need to create an illusion to us.”

A very strange fact then took place. Be it through a natural dispo- sition, be it the result of our own intellectual works, serious since our youth and we would even say, almost since our infancy, our character has been the one of extreme gravity, even at the age when one thinks of anything but pleasures.

That constant concern gives us a cold appearance, really cold. This is, at least, what we have been criticized for on several occasions. However, under this apparently glacial envelope, the spirit may feel more vividly than if it had a greater external expansion. Well, dur- ing our nightly visits to our friend, he became really surprised for seeing us completely different; we were more extroverts, more talk- ative, almost happy. Everything in us would reveal the satisfaction and calmness of feeling well. Wouldn’t that be an effect of the spirit, disengaged from matter?

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