The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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Benvenuto Cellini


1. Evocation
- Ask. I am ready. Take your time as you wish since I have time to attend you.

2. Do you remember your existence on Earth in the XVI century, between 1500 and 1570?
- Yes, yes.

3. What is your current situation as a spirit?
- I lived in several other worlds and I am very satisfied with the position that I presently occupy. It is not a peak but I am

4. Have you had other corporeal existences on Earth, after the one we know?
- Corporeal, yes. On Earth, no.

5. For how long did you stay in the errant state?
- I cannot precise. Some years.

6. What did you do in that errant state?
- I worked towards my development.

7. Have you eventually returned to Earth?

- A few times.
8. Have you watched the drama by which you are represented? What do you think of that?
- I watched it several times. I was as happy as Cellini but not as much as a spirit that had progressed.

9. Before the existence from which we know you, have you had any other on Earth?
- No, none.

10. Could you tell us what you were in your preceding existences?

- My careers were very different from what I did on Earth.

11. In which world do you live?
- You don’t know and don’t see it.

12. Could you describe it to us, from a physical as well as moral point of view?
- Yes, easily. From the physical point of view, my dear friends, its plastic beauty satisfies me. Nothing shocks our vision there; there is a perfect alignment of forms; mimic is some- how a permanent expression; we are surrounded by perfumes of nature and lack nothing for our physical wellness, since we are subjected to only a few needs, promptly satisfied.
- From a moral point of view, however, perfection is not as great since one can find perturbed consciences and spirits dedicated to evil. It is no perfection, far from that, but as I have already told you, it is the path to that and we all expect to reach it one day.

13. What do you do in the world that you live in?
- We work with the Arts. I am an artist.

14. In your memoirs you tell the story of witchcraft and a possession that would have taken place in the Coliseum, in Rome, in which you would have taken part, do you remember?
- Not very clearly.

15. If we read it to you, would that clarify your memory? - Yes, it would give me a notion.

Then the following excerpt is read from his memoirs:
“In the middle of that strange life I was acquainted with a Sicilian priest of very fine spirit, seriously educated in Greek and Latin. One day our conversation was about necromancy and I told him that dur- ing my whole life I really wished I could see and learn something about that art. In order to get involved with that, said the priest, one needs to have a firm and intrepid soul.”

“One evening, though, the priest made the arrangements and asked me to find one or two companions. He invited a man from Pistoia, who was also involved with necromancy, and we all went to the Coliseum. There the priest dressed up according to the follow- ers of necromancy then he started to draw circles on the ground, followed by the most beautiful ceremonies that one can imagine. He had brought precious perfumes, smelly drugs and fire with him. When it was all set he created an opening in the circle, taking us there by the hand, one by one. He then distributed the papers, plac- ing the talisman in the hands of his necromancer friend. He assigned the others with the task of tendering the fire and the perfumes, after which the conjurations began. That ceremony lasted more than an hour and a half. The Coliseum was then taken by legions of infernal spirits. When the priest noticed that they were in good number he turned to me, who was taking care of the perfumes, and said:”

“ – Benvenuto, ask them for something.”

“I responded that I wished they could reunite me with my Sicilian Angelica.”

“Despite the fact that we had no answer that night, I was im- pressed by what I had seen.”

“The necromancer said that it was necessary to return a second time and that I would then obtain everything I wanted, as long as I brought a virgin young man along.”

“I chose one of my apprentices and brought two other friends of mine.”

“The priest placed the talisman in my hands, asking me to turn it in the direction that was indicated. My apprentice was placed under the talisman. The necromancer started his terrible evocations. He evoked several chiefs of the infernal legions by the name and gave them orders in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, in the name of the uncreated, living and eternal God. The Coliseum was soon taken by a number of demons, a hundred times more than the first time. Following the necromancer’s advice, I asked again to meet Angelica. He turned to me and said:”

“Haven’t you heard their announcement that you will be with her in one month?”

“He then asked me to keep my firmness since there were a thou- sand legions which were not called yet, adding that these were more dangerous, and since they had attended my request, it was necessary to treat them kindly and calmly dismiss them. On another hand the boy commented with fear that he could see thousands of terrible men who were threatening us, and also four giants, armed from hair to toe, who seemed to want to get into our circle. Meanwhile, trembling of fear, the necromancer tried to conjure them, using the sweetest tone of voice. The boy hid his head between his knees, screaming like that:”

“I want to die! We are all dead!”
“I then told him:”
“These creatures are all below us. What you see is no more than

smoke and shadow. Raise your eyes then.”
“He had just obeyed me when he said:”
“The whole Coliseum is taken by flames and the fire is coming

towards us.”
“The necromancer then demanded to have asafetida burned.

Agnolo, in charge of the perfumes, was almost dead, horrified.”

“The noise and the bad smell made the boy raise his head. Once he heard me laughing he got a little animated, saying that the demons were starting to leave. We remained like that until dawn was announced. The boy told us that he could only see a few demons, from far away. Finally, when the necromancer concluded the ceremo- ny and undressed his outfit, we left the circle.”

“While we returned home through Via dei Banchi, he assured us that two demons were performing acrobatics in front of us, some- times running over the roofs, and other times on the ground.”

“The necromancer had sworn that since he had set foot for the first time in a magic circle he had never witnessed something so extraor- dinary. Later he tried to convince me to study a book with him that should provide us with incalculable richness and give us the means of forcing the demons to indicate places where hidden treasures are lo- cated, well kept by Earth...”

“After different reports more or less related to the preceding, Benvenuto tells how, after thirty days, or within the time frame es- tablished by the demons, he found his Angelica.”

16. Could you tell us what is true about that scene?
- The necromancer was a charlatan; I was a romance writer and

Angelica was my lover.

17. Have you met your protector Francis I again?
- Certainly. He has seen many others who were not his protégés.
18. How did you consider him when alive and how do you judge him now?
- I will tell you how I judged him: like a prince and as such, blinded by his education and by those who surrounded him.

19. And now what do you have to say about him?
- He made progress.

20. Did he protect the artists out a sincere love for the arts?
- Yes, but also for pleasure and pride.

21. Where is he now?
- Alive.

22. On Earth?
- No.

23. If we evoked him now could he come to speak with us?
- Yes. But do not force the spirits like that. Your evocations must be prepared well in advance and then you will not have much to ask the spirit. That way you will take much less risk of being deceived, as it does happen sometimes (St. Louis).

24. (To St. Louis): Could you arrange that two spirits would come to talk to each other?

- Yes.
- In that case would it be useful to have two mediums?
- Yes, it is necessary.

NOTE: The dialogue in question happened in another session. We will publish it in the next issue.

25. (To Cellini) What is the origin of your inclination towards art? Would it be due to a special prior development?

- Yes. I was attracted to poetry and the beauty of language for a long time. While on Earth I was linked to art as a re- production. Nowadays I am involved with the beauty as an invention.

26. You were also trained in the military hence Pope Clement VII assigned you with the defense of St. Angel Castle. However, your gift as an artist should not give room for many skills of the art of war.

- I had talent and knew how to apply it. There is the need for discernment in everything, particularly in the military art of that time.

27. Could you give some advices to the artists that try to follow your footsteps?

- Yes. I will tell them that more than what they do and more than what I did they should seek pureness and the true beau- ty. They will understand me.

28. Isn’t beauty relative and conventional? The European considers themselves prettier than the black and the black prettier than the white. If there is an absolute beauty where is the standard? Can you give us your opinion about it?

- With pleasure. I did not want to mention a conventional beau- ty. On the contrary, there is beauty everywhere, as a reflex of the spirit over the body and not only as a material form. As you said, a black person may be beautiful of a beauty only ap- preciated by their similar, which is true. Following that, your Earthly beauty is deformity in heaven as much as black beauty is almost misshapen to you, whites. To the artist, life is beauty, it is the feeling that the artist can associate to his work. With that the artist will provide beauty to the most vulgar things.

29. Could you guide a medium in the execution of a model, as Bernard Palissy did with respect to the paintings?
- Yes.

30. Could you lead the medium that currently serves you to produce something?

- Like the others but I would rather use one that knew the tricks of art.

OBSERVATION: Experience demonstrates that the ability of a medium for this or that kind of production depends on the flexibility presented to the spirit, abstraction made of his talent. The knowledge of the business and the material means of execu- tion do not constitute the talent, but it is understandable that the spirit would find less mechanical difficulty to overcome by lead- ing such a medium. However, one can see mediums that produce remarkable things without having the minimal notions, like in the case of drawings and poetry, engraving and music, etc. but certainly there is an innate ability in those mediums, no doubt, due to a previous development from which they only preserve the intuition.

31. Could you guide Mrs. G. S. who is present here, an artist, but who has never been able to produce something as a medium?
- If she is willing to, I will try.

32. (Mrs. G. S.) When do you want to start?
- Whenever you wish, starting tomorrow.

33. How could I know that the inspiration came from you?
- Conviction comes with proof. Allow it to come slowly.

34. Why haven’t I been successful so far?
- Little perseverance and lack of good will from the part of the spirits to whom you ask.

35. I thank you for the promised assistance.

- Good bye. So long, my colleague.

NOTE: Mrs. G. S. started the work but we still ignore the results.

Girard de Codemberg

Agraduate from the Polytechnic School, member of several scien- tific associations, author of a book entitled: The Spiritual World, or Christian Science of communication with the celestial powers and happy souls. Deceased in November 1858, evoked at the Society on the following January 14th.

1. (Evocation)
- I am here. What do you want?

2. Have you willingly attended our call?
- Yes.

3. Would you tell us what do you think now about the book that you published?
- I made some mistakes but there are useful things there. I believe, without self-praising, that you yourself agree with what I said.

4. You said that you had communications with Christ’s mother. Can you now be sure that it was really her?
- No. It was not her but a spirit that would take her name.

5. What was the objective of that spirit by taking her name?
- That spirit saw me taking a wrong path and pushed me even further. It was a perturbing spirit, a frivolous being, more inclined to evil than good. She would feel happy for my false enjoyment. I was her toy as you men are frequently to your fellow humans.

6. How could you, gifted by a superior intelligence, not have noticed the ridiculous of certain communications?
- I was fascinated, appreciating everything that I was told.

7. Don’t you think that such a book may do some harm in the sense that it may be ridiculed as far as the communications from beyond the grave are concerned?
- In that sense, yes. But I also said that there were useful things, as well as true ones, that from another point of view impress the masses. Sometimes we find a good seed in what seems evil to you.

8. Are you happier than when you were alive?
- Yes, but I still have the need for much enlightenment since I am still in the mist which follows death. I feel like the student beginning to spell.

9. When alive did you know The Spirits’ Book?

- I had never given it any attention. I had preconceived ideas. That was my sin since it is never too much to deeply study all things. However, pride is always present, giving us illusions. That is proper of the ignorant, in general, who do not investi- gate anything else but what they prefer and don’t listen to but those who praise them.

10. But you were not uneducated. Your titles demonstrate that.
- Who is the wise person from Earth before the Science of Heavens? As a matter of fact, there is always the influence of certain spirits, willing to push us away from light.

OBSERVATION: This confirms what has already been said that certain spirits inspire people to stay away from those who could give them good advices, thus frustrating their plans. That influence could never be from a good spirit.

11. And now, what do you think about that book?
- I could not tell without shamelessly representing myself and we don’t praise. You have to understand.

12. Have you changed your opinion about the future penalties?
- Yes. I believed in the material penalties. Now I believe in the moral penalties.

13. Can we do anything to please you?

Always. May each one say a prayer tonight on my behalf! I will appreciate that. Most importantly, do not forget me.

OBSERVATION: Mr. Codemberg’s book has caused some sensation, and we even say, a painful sensation among the adepts of Spiritism, as a consequence of the extravaganza of certain communications, given to ridicule. His intention was praiseworthy since he was a sincere man, but it is an example of domination that certain spirits may exercise, flattering and exaggerating ideas and prejudices of those who do not ponder with great severity the pros and cons of the spiritist commu- nications. He mainly shows the dangers of very lightheart- edly publicizing them to the public, since they can become a reason for denial, strengthening the incredulity in certain people, thus doing more harm than good, once it provides weapons to the enemies of the cause. We would never be care- ful enough with that respect.

Poitevin, the airman

Session of the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, on February 11th, 1859

He passed away about two months ago, from typhoid fever contracted after a forced aircraft landing at sea.

1. (Evocation)
- I am here. Speak.

2. Do you miss your Earthly life?
- No.
3. Are you happier now than when you were alive?
- Much.
4. What was the reason that led you to aeronautics experiences?
- The need.

5. Have you considered serving science?
- No way.

6. Do you see aeronautics now from a different perspective as compared to when you were alive?
- No.I saw it as I see today since I saw it with good eyes.I used to see many improvements to be introduced but I could not do them myself, due to my lack of knowledge. But wait. Other people will come, giving it the importance it deserves and that it will one day have.

7. Do you believe that aeronautics will one day become of public utility?
- Yes, certainly.

8. The major concern of those involved with that science is the driv- ability of the balloons. Do you believe that it will be achieved?
- Yes, for sure.

9. In your opinion what is the major difficulty for the drivability of the balloons?
- The winds and the storms.

10. Then it is not the lack of a supporting point?

- If we could drive the winds we could drive the balloons.

11. Could you indicate the focus to which the researches should be driven?

- Let us leave it as is.

12. When alive, did you study all the proposed systems?
- No.

13. Could you give advice to those involved with that subject?
- Do you think that your advice would be followed?

14. Not ours but yours.
- Do you want a treaty? I will have it prepared.

15. By whom?
- By the friends that guided me.

16. We have here with us two very distinct inventors, in matters of air stations, Mr. Sanson and Mr. Ducroz, both men received presti- gious scientific awards. Do you know their systems?
- No. There is a lot to say. I don’t know them.

17. Admitting that the problem of drivability is solved, do you believe in the possibility of large-scale air navigation over the oceans?
- No, never like the telegraph.

18. I am not talking about the speed that can never be compared to that of the telegraph, but to the mass transportation of people and load. Which result can we expect from that side of developments?
- Not much usefulness.

19. When in imminent danger, have you thought of what you could be after death?
- No. I was completely absorbed by the maneuvers.

20. Which impression had danger caused in you?
- Fear had diminished with the habit.

21. What was your sensation when you felt lost in space?
- Perturbation, but happiness. It seemed that my spirit was running away from your world. However, the need for ma- neuvering would bring me back to reality, bringing me back to my cold and dangerous reality.

22. Does the fact that your wife follows the same adventurous career as yours give you pleasure?
- No.

23. What is your situation as a spirit?
- I live like you do, that is, I can provide for my spiritual life as you do for yours.

OBSERVATION: The curious experiences of Mr. Poitevin, his intrepid- ity, his remarkable ability in balloon maneuvering, gave us more expectations with respect to his elevation and greatness of ideas. The result did not correspond to our expectations. As we have seen, aeronautics to him was nothing else but an industry, a way of life, and a special kind of spec- tacle. Every faculty of his was concentrated on the means of satisfying public amusement. That is why some predictions in these family con- versations are sometimes uncertain: sometimes they are outdated, other times they are below expectation, which is an evident demonstration of the independence of the communications. In a private session, Poitevin dictated, through the same medium, the following advices in order to carry out the promises he had made above

Each person may assess their value since we provide it as an object of study about the nature of the spirits and not for its scientific merit, which is more than arguable.

“You will always find great difficulties to drive a gas balloon: the huge area exposed to the winds; the insignificance of the weight that can be carried by air; the weakness of the wrapping, required by the subtleness of air. All these causes will never allow you to obtain the system with the desired features. A powerful means of communication is required in order to make the aerostat useful. We said that it would represent a medium between electricity and steam. Yes, based on two points of view:

  1. It must transport passengers faster than the railroads and mes- sages slower than the telegraph;

  2. It is not placed as a mid-ground between the two systems just be- cause it is simultaneously part of air and ground, both operating as a path. It is between the sky and Earth.

You have not asked me if by such a means you will be able to visit oth- er planets. However, such a thought has already occupied several minds and its solution would scare your world. No. You will not achieve that. Consider that it takes light years in order to cover the millions and mil- lions of leagues of space. Then consider how long it would take to get to those planets, even considering the steam and wind.

Returning to the central point, I was saying that one should not ex- pect much from the current system but that a lot more would be obtained by acting upon the air by strong and extensive compression. The support point that you are looking for is standing before your eyes, surrounding you from all sides. You clash with that in all of your movements; it blocks your route every day, influencing on everything that you touch. Think carefully about this and take from this revelation all that is possible. The consequences are enormous. We cannot take you by the hand and lead you to build the utensils needed to the task. We cannot persuade you word by word. It is necessary that your spirit do the work, maturing your projects, without which you would not understand the achievements nor would you know how to handle the instruments. We would be forced to operate your devices; then the unforeseeable circumstances which, one day or another, would hinder your endeavors and would also cast you back into your primitive ignorance.”

“Do the work and you shall find what you seek. Guide your spirit towards the direction that we have indicated to you for we do not lead you astray.”

OBSERVATION: Although containing undisputable truths, these advices still show a not very enlightened spirit, from certain angles, since he seems to ignore the actual impossibility of reaching other planets. It is another proof of the diversity of aptitudes and knowledge in the world of the spirits, as we find on Earth as well. It is through the multiplicity of observations that we shall understand and assess that world. That is why we provide examples of all sorts of communications, taking the necessary care of pointing out to the weaknesses and strengths.

This one from Poitevin ends by a very fair statement, seeming to have been inspired by a spirit more philosophical than his. As a matter of fact he had said that his advices would be revised by his friends which defi- nitely teach nothing. We also find a demonstration that men who had a specialization on Earth are not always the best ones to provide teachings as spirits, particularly if not much elevated and detached from the earthly life. It is most unfortunate that for the progress of aeronautics the majority of those intrepid men cannot use their experience to the benefit of Science while the theorists ignore practical things, like the seamen who had never seen the sea. No doubt, one day there will be aeronautics engineers, like there are naval engineers, but only when they have seen and probed the depths of the oceanic spaces themselves. How many ideas wouldn’t they be able to pick up from the direct contact with the elements, ideas that es- cape those in the industry, whatever their knowledge level, since they can- not perceive all difficulties from behind their desks. Nevertheless, if this Science is to become reality one day, it can only be through them. To the eyes of many people these thoughts are illusions thus the inventers who are typically not wealthy cannot find the necessary encouragement or the support. When the airstation yield dividends, even if an expectation, and may be financially assess, there will be no lack of capital. Meanwhile it is necessary to count on the dedication of those who place progress above speculation. While there is lack of resources for the execution there will be failures due to the impossibility of carrying out experiences in sufficient number or in adequate conditions. If we have to do it in limited terms then it is not done properly, as with everything else. There will not be suc- cess but to the price of sufficient sacrifices in order to definitely belong to practical life. This excludes any idea of profit. Hopefully the thought of providing the world with the solution to a big problem, even if only from the point of view of science, will inspire some generous disinterestedness. But the first thing to do would be to provide theorists with the means of gaining experience in the air, even with the imperfect means at our disposal. Had Poitevin been a knowledgeable man and had he invented a system of aerial locomotion that would have unquestionably inspired more confidence than those who have never left the ground, and he would probably have found the resources that are denied to others.

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