The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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As interpreters of the spiritist communications, the mediums have an extremely important role, thus the attention given to the study of all possible influencing causes will never be excessive, all that with respect to the mediums’ own interest as well as the interest of those who, not being mediums, are served by them as their intermediaries. Everyone can then judge the degree of confidence deserved by the communications received by them.

Everyone is a medium in a greater or lesser degree, as we have already said. That name, however, has been conventionally given to those who present patent and facultative manifestations, so to speak. Well, the ap- titudes among them are widely diverse. One can say that each medium has their specialty. At first examination there are two well-established cat- egories: the mediums of physical effects and those of intelligent commu- nications. The latter ones present a large variety, being the principal: the writing or psychographic mediums, the drawing mediums, the speaking, hearing and clairvoyant mediums. The mediums of poetry, musicians and the polyglots are subclasses of the writing and speaking mediums. We will not return to the definitions of those several classes. We just want to recol- lect and succinctly remember the whole picture for a better explanation.

From all sorts of mediums the most common is that of psychography as this is the easiest type which can be acquired through exercise. That is why, and rightly so, the desires and efforts of the aspiring mediums are geared towards it. It also presents varieties equally found in the other categories: the mechanical writers and the intuitive writers. In the former case the movement of the hand is independent of the medium’s will. The hand moves by itself; the medium is not aware of what he writes. His thoughts can even be somewhere else. With the intuitive mediums, the spirit acts upon the mind; his thoughts cross the thoughts of the medium, if we can say so, but without confusion. As a consequence, the medium is aware of the writing, sometimes even having an earlier awareness, since the intuition precedes the movement of the hand; however, the expressed thought is not that of the medium.

A very simple comparison helps us to understand the phenomenon. When we want to talk to someone whose language we ignore we use the support of an interpreter. The interpreter is aware of the thoughts of the interlocutors; he must understand them in order to be able to express them; however, those are not his thoughts. Thus, the role of an intuitive medium is the same as that of an interpreter between the spirits and us. Experience has taught that the intuitive as well as the mechanical medi- ums are equally good, equally capable of receiving and transmitting good communications. As a means of convincing, the mechanical mediums have more value, no doubt about it, but once conviction has already been acquired then there is no useful preference. Attention should be entirely concentrated on the nature of the communications, say, about the apti- tude of the medium for receiving communications from bad as well as the good spirits. This summarizes the whole issue and this is of the essence, since this is the only means of determining the degree of confidence that the medium deserves. This is the result of study and observation and that is why we recommend our preceding article about the hurdles to the mediums.

With the intuitive medium the difficulty lies in the distinction of their thoughts from those that are suggested. The medium also faces that difficulty. The suggested thoughts seem so natural to the medium that it is frequently taken by their own thoughts, and therefore the medium doubts his faculty. The means of convincing the medium and the others is a frequent exercise. Then, among the evocations in which the medium will take part in, there will be a thousand and one circumstances; a lot of private information, particulars that the medium could not have any previous knowledge about, which will undeniably indicate total indepen- dence of the spirit.

The different varieties of mediums rest on the special skills whose principle we don’t understand well so far. At first sight, and to the persons who did not carry out a systematic study of this Science, it seems that it is not more difficult to write poetry than prose. One would say – par- ticularly if the medium is mechanical or unconscious – that the spirit can make him write in a foreign language as well as make a painting or write music. However, that is not the case. Although we see paintings, poetry and music produced by mediums that in their normal state are not painters, artists, poets or musicians, it is certain that not all of them are capable of producing those things. Despite their ignorance about those arts, they have an intuitive faculty and a flexibility that transform them into the kindest instruments. That is what Bernard Palissy responded, when asked about his choice of the medium Victorien Sardou, who could not paint, and still produce his remarkable paintings. “That is because I find him more flexible”, he said. The same happens to other abilities. And – what an interesting thing – we have seen spirits refusing to dictate poems through mediums that are familiar with poetry, while dictating delightful verses to others who were ignorant about the rules of poetry. This demonstrates once more that the spirits have free will and that any attempt to submit them to our caprices are useless. From the previous observations it results that the medium must follow the impulses that are natural to them, according to their own abilities; that must try to perfect such ability through exercise; that any effort to develop the one that is missing will result fruitless since it could be harmful to the ones that he has. Forcing our talent would yield no grace, as La Fontaine said, to which we could add: we would not do anything good. When a medium has a precious faculty with which he can become really useful he should be content with that and do not try to seek the vain satisfaction of his self- love with a variant that would weaken his fundamental faculty. In case a given faculty has to be modified, as it frequently does, or if the medium has to acquire a new faculty, it will all come spontaneously and not as a result of the medium’s wishes.

The faculty of producing physical effects is a very distinct category, rarely associated with intelligent communications, particularly those of elevated reach. It is well known that the physical effects are peculiar to spirits of an inferior order, as among us the exhibition of strength is pecu- liar to the acrobats. Well, the rapping spirits belong to that inferior class; they frequently act on their own, in order to have fun or tease others, but they sometimes act under the orders of superior spirits who use them as we do with our servants. It would be absurd to think that superior spirits would come to have fun by knocking on tables or making them turn. They use such means, we said, through intermediaries, be it to convince us or to communicate with us, as long as we do not have other means; however, they abandon such means as soon as they can act more rapidly, more conveniently and more directly, as we have abandoned the air tele- graph as soon as we had the electrical one available to us. The physical effects must not be neglected by any means, since they represent a means of conviction to many people. Moreover, they offer a precious study mate- rial about the occult forces. However, it should be noticed that the spir- its generally refuse to produce such phenomena to those who don’t need them or, at least, they advise us to not get particularly involved with them. This is what the spirit of St. Louis wrote about at the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies:

“They mocked the turning tables but they will never mock the phi- losophy, the wisdom and the charity that shines out of the serious com- munications. The turning tables were the lobby of the Science that once initiated we cast our prejudices aside, like the mantle that is left behind. You will never be advised enough to turn your meetings into serious cen- ters. May the physical demonstrations be done elsewhere; that one may see and hear somewhere else but that among you, may there be love and understanding. How do you expect to be seen through the eyes of the superior spirits when you make a table turn? Ignorant! Does the scholar spend his time reviewing Science 101? If you, on the contrary, are seen in search of intelligent and instructive communications, you will then be considered serious people, searching for the truth.”

It is impossible to summarize in a more logical and precise way the character of both kinds of manifestations. The one who receives elevated communications owes them to the assistance of the good spirits. It is a demonstration of their sympathy. Resigning to that in order to entertain the material effects is the same as exchanging a select society by an in- ferior one. Willing to unite both is the same as attracting antipathetic beings and, in such a conflict, it is likely that the good ones will leave and the bad ones stay. Having said all that, there is no disregard for the mediums of physical effects. They exist for a reason and their objective is providential. They do an incontestable service to the Spiritist Science but when a medium has a faculty which puts him in contact with superior spirits, we do not understand that the medium would resign from that faculty or even wish others, unless out of pure ignorance. Frequently, the desire to be everything may in the end transform the medium in nothing.

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