The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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The intervention of deceiving spirits in the written communications is one of the greatest difficulties of Spiritism. It is known from experience that they do not have any scruples in taking supposedly pretense and even respectable names. Is there a way of keeping them away? That is the question. In order to keep them away certain persons employ what we call processes, that is, particular formulas of evocation, or some sort of exorcism, as for example making them swear in the name of God that they are telling the truth, making them write something, etc. We know a person who requires the spirit to sign their name, phrase by phrase. If the spirit is truthful he writes without any difficulty; otherwise they stop right in the middle, incapable of concluding. We have seen this person receiving the most ridiculous communications, from spirits that signed a false name with a clean face. Other people think that an efficient way is to make them confess to Jesus or other principles of religion.

Well then, we declare that if some more scrupulous spirits stop before the idea of perjury or profanation, others swear whatever we want, signing all names, laughing at everything, profaning the most venerable signs, from which we can conclude that among those things called processes there is no formula or material action which can serve as an efficient antidote.

In such a case some may say that the only thing to do is to stop writing. This would not be the solution. Far from that, in many cases that would be worse. We have said, and it is never too much to repeat, that the actions of the spirits upon us are incessant and not less real for being supernatural. If it is going to be bad, it will be even worse by the simple fact that the enemy is hidden. He has revealed through the written communications, he is unmasked; we get to know whom we are dealing with and we can fight it.
However, if there is no means of keeping them away, what to do then?
We did not say that there is no way but that most employed means are inefficient. That is the thesis that we propose to develop.
One needs to keep in mind that the spirits form a whole world, a whole population that fills up the space; that circulates around us; that meddles into everything that we do. If the veil that hides them from us were lifted we would see them around us, coming and going; following or avoiding us, according to their degree of sympathy, some indifferent, true vagabonds of the invisible world; others too busy with themselves or with other men to whom they connect with a more or less worthy purpose, according to their distinct qualities.
In one word, we would see a replica of our humanity, with good and bad qualities, with their virtues and vices. Such involvement, from which we cannot escape since there is no single corner sufficiently hidden to the point of becoming inaccessible to the spirits, exert upon us, irrespective of our will, a permanent influence. Some impel us to the good deeds, others to evil, and frequently our attitudes are the result of their suggestions. We are fortunate when our judgment is good enough to distinguish between the good and the bad path to which they try to drag us.
Considering that the spirits are nothing else but men without the gross envelope or souls that outlive the bodies, it follows that there are spirits since there are human beings in the Universe. They are one of the forces of nature and they have not waited for the mediums to act. The proof is that people have committed inconsequences at all times, the reason why we say that their influence is independent of the faculty of writing.

This faculty is a means of recognizing such an influence; of knowing who are the ones wandering around us, attached to us. Thinking that we can subtract ourselves from that by not writing is to act like the children who think to be able to avoid danger by blindfolding themselves. By revealing those that we have as companion, friends or enemies, the writing offers us a weapon to combat the enemies, for which we must be thankful to God. Instead of a clairvoyance to be able to recognize the spirits we have the written communications through which they show what they are. That is a sense that allows us to judge them. Denying such a sense is the same as gladly accepting blindness and exposing oneself to uncontrolled mistakes.
Then, the intervention of the bad spirits with the written communications is not a danger of Spiritism since if there is danger it continues and will always continue to exist, despite all that. We need to be convinced of the following: this is only a difficulty but over which it is easy to triumph, if we address the issue conveniently.
We can establish as a principle the fact that the bad spirits will only be where there is something attractive to them. Thus, when they meddle into the communications it is due to the fact that they sympathize with the environment where they present themselves, or they at least find weak spots from which they expect to take advantage. In any case it is clear that they do not find a strong enough moral force to repel them.
Among the causes which attract them we must include first the moral imperfections of all kinds, since evil always sympathize with evil; second, the excessive confidence with which their words are received.
When a communication indicates a bad origin it would be logical to infer that there is parity between the spirit and the evokers. We frequently see very honest persons exposed to the mockery of deceiving spirits, as it does happen in the world with decent people, cheated by rascals; but when we take precautions the rascals have nothing else to do. That is what also happens with the spirits.
When an honest person is deceived by them this can happen for two reasons: first, there is an absolute trust which fails an adequate examination; second, the best qualities do not exclude certain weak spots which provide entry to the bad spirits, willing to discover the minuscule openings in the armor. We do not speak of pride and ambition that are more than hurdles. We speak of a certain weakness of character and particularly about the preconceived ideas that these spirits skillfully exploit, flattering them. That is why they wear all masks to inspire trust.
The open gross communications are the least dangerous since they cannot trick anyone. The most deceiving ones are those with a false appearance of wisdom or seriousness, in one word, those from the hypocritical and pseudo-wise spirits. Some may deceive in good faith, due to their ignorance; others only act malevolently. Let us see the means that we have to unravel from them.
The first thing to do is not to attract them, avoiding everything that may give access to them.
As said before, the moral dispositions are a fundamental cause. However, abstraction made of this cause, the mode employed to communicate with them has influence also. There are persons who have by principle not to make evocations ever, waiting for the first communication to come out of the medium’s pencil. Now, keeping in mind what we said about the crowd of spirits that surrounds us, we can easily understand that, by acting in such a way, we are offering ourselves to the influence of the first one to show up, good or bad. As the bad ones outnumber the good ones in that crowd, there is more opportunity to the bad ones. This is the same as if we open the door of our house to everybody that walks in the street, whereas through the evocation we make the choice and, while surrounded by good spirits, we silence the bad ones, who may sometimes try to sneak in despite all that. The good ones may even allow it in order to exercise our sagacity in recognizing them. In such a case their influence will be null.
The spontaneous communications have great utility when we are sure about the quality of the spirits who surround us. In that case we must congratulate ourselves for leaving the initiative to the spirits. The inconvenience is only in the absolute system, consisting of an abstention of direct appeal and questioning.

Among the causes that powerfully influence the quality of the spirits who visit the centers, and which must not be omitted, is the nature of the subjects that are discussed. Those who are associated to a serious and useful objective attract serious spirits as a consequence; those who aim at the satisfaction of a vain curiosity or their personal interests are at least exposed to mystifications, or even to something worse. In summary, we can take the most sublime and useful teachings from the spiritist communications, as long as we know how to drive them. The whole secret lies in not allowing ourselves to be driven by the astuteness of the jester or malevolent spirits. Well, for that, we need to know whom we are dealing. For starters, let us listen to the advices given by the spirit of St. Louis at the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, through Mr. R…, one of its good mediums. This is a spontaneous communication, received at his house, with the mission of transmitting it to the Society.
“However great it may be the confidence inspired in you by the spirits that preside over your activities, it is never too much to repeat the recommendation that you must always have in mind, when dedicating to your studies: thinking and reflection. Submit every communication that you receive to the strictest control of reason. As long as an answer may seem doubtful or obscure, do not forget to ask for the necessary clarifications to guide you. Know that the revelation has existed since the remotest times but it was always adequate to the degree of evolution of those who received them. Today there is no need to speak through parables or images. You must receive our teachings in a more clear, precise and unambiguous way. It would be too comfortable, however, to limit oneself to question in order to receive the clarifications. As a matter of fact, this would be to run away from the laws of progress, which oversee the universal evolution. Don’t be surprised, then, if in order to credit you with the merit of the choice and the work, and also to punish the infractions against our advices, it may sometimes be allowed that certain spirits, more ignorant than ill intended, may in certain cases come to answer your questions. Instead of a reason for discouragement this must be a powerful stimulus for an ardent search for the truth. Be then assured that following this path you cannot fail to achieve happy results. Be united through hearts and intentions; work everyone; seek, seek always and you will find it.” Louis.
The language of the good and serious spirits has a trait that makes it impossible to be mistaken, however little tact, reason and habits of observation we may have. However much they disguise their turpitudes by the veil of hypocrisy, the bad spirits cannot play this role indefinitely. They somehow always let it out. Otherwise, if their language were immaculate they would be good spirits. The language of the good spirits thus gives us the true criterion by which we can judge them. As the language is the expression of thought, it always contains a reflection of the good or bad qualities of the individual. Isn’t that also by the language that we judge the persons that we don’t know? If we receive twenty letters from twenty persons that we have never seen before, wouldn’t we be differently impressed by their reading? Wouldn’t that be by the quality of style, by the choice of expressions, by the nature of thoughts and even by certain details of form that we would recognize the rustic man, the well educated, the wise or ignorant, the proud or the humble? It is absolutely the same with the spirits.
Let us pretend that it is men who write to us and let us judge them in the same way. Let us be strict since the good spirits would never be offended by such a scrupulous investigation, for they are the ones themselves who recommend that as a control. We know that we can be deceived. Hence, our first feeling must be that of suspicion. The bad spirits that try to lead us to mistakes may fear the investigation because far from provoking it they want to be accredited under oath.
The most efficient way of keeping the bad spirits away, preventing ourselves from their malicious intents, is a very natural and logical consequence of that principle. A man that is not heard, silences; someone who sees his mischievous acts always discovered moves somewhere else; the thief, aware that we are always alert, does not make fruitless attempts.
That is how the deceiving spirits abandon the game when they know that they can do nothing or when they find vigilant people that repel everything that seems suspicious.
To finalize, let us review the main characters that indicate the origin of the spiritist communications:
1. As we have already said on many occasions, the superior spirits always have a dignified language, noble, elevated, without any contamination by triviality. They tell us everything with simplicity and modesty; never boast; never make exhibition of their wisdom or position among the others. The language of the inferior or vulgar spirits always has a reflex of human passions. Every expression that indicates rudeness, presumption, arrogance, pride or acrimony is an indication of inferiority and deception, as long as the spirit bears a respectable and venerable name.
2. The good spirits only say what they know. They go quiet or confess their ignorance with respect to what they don’t know. The bad spirits talk about everything with confidence, not giving any importance to the truth. Every scientific heresy or every principle that shocks reason and common sense reveal fraud, as long as the spirit considers itself an enlightened being.
3. The language of the superior spirits is always the same, if not in the form but at least in the content. The thoughts are the same at any place and at any time. They can be more or less developed, according to the circumstances, to the needs and to the means of communication, but will not be contradictory. If two communications with the same signature are in opposition, one will necessarily be apocryphal and the other truthful, will be the one in which nothing may deny the known character of the spirit. When a communication presents a character of sublimity and elevation, without any fault, it comes from an elevated spirit, whatever the name. If it contains a mix of things, good and bad, it will be from a common spirit, if presented as such; it will be from an imposter spirit if presented with a name that cannot be justified.
4. The good spirits never give orders. They do not impose, but give advice, and if they are not heard, they leave. The bad spirits are dominant. Give orders and want to be obeyed. Every spirit that imposes upon others betrays his origin.
5. The good spirits do not flatter. They approve the good actions but always with reservations. The bad spirits praise in excess, stimulate pride and vanity, even when preaching humility, and try to exalt the personal importance of those who they want to capture.
6. The superior spirits are beyond all formal puerilities in all things. For them, thought is everything, and the form means nothing. Only the vulgar spirits give importance to certain details, incompatible with the really elevated ideas. Every meticulous prescription is a certain sign of inferiority and deception from the part of a spirit who carries an important name.
7. It is necessary to be suspicious of any bizarre and ridiculous name that certain spirits take, willing to impose its believability. It would be a supreme absurd to take those names seriously.
8. One must also be suspicious of those who easily present themselves with highly venerable names, not accepting their word but with the greatest reservation. In such cases, particularly, it is necessary a strict control since in general it is a mask that they adopt to make us believe in supposed intimate relationship with spirits of high elevation. It is how they flatter and exploit vanity, in order to frequently encourage people to regrettable or ridiculous attitudes.
9. The good spirits are very careful with respect to actions that they advise. In all cases they always have a serious and eminently useful objective. We must then consider suspicious all those that do not have that character and we must carefully think before adopting them.
10. The good spirits only prescribe good deeds. Every maxim, every advice which is not strictly according to the purest evangelical charity cannot be the work of the good spirits. The same applies to every malicious comment, tending to incite or feed feelings of hatred, jealousy or selfishness.
11. The good spirits only give perfectly sensible advices. Every recommendation that is away from the straight line of common sense or from the immutable laws of nature indicates a limited spirit, still under the influence of Earthly prejudices, thus not trustworthy.
12. The bad spirits or simply imperfect spirits are also betrayed by material signs, with which one cannot be mistaken. Their action upon the medium is sometimes violent, provoking jerk and irregular movements in the writing process: a convulsive and febrile agitation, contrasting with the calm and smoothness of the good spirits.
13. Another sign of their presence is the obsession. The good spirits never obsess. The bad ones impose themselves at all times. That is why the medium must be suspicious about the irresistible need of writing which occurs at the most inadequate times. It is never from a good spirit and the medium must never give in.
14. Among the imperfect spirits who interfere with the communications there are those that jokingly sneak in, who leave at the first confrontation as easily as they came in. Others, on the contrary, are tenacious. These spirits bond to the individual and only yield after persistence and constraint. They control, subjugate and fascinate the person, to the point of inducing them to the grossest absurd, as if they were wonderful things. These persons are fortunate when find calm and centered people who can open their eyes, not always easy since these spirits have the skills of inducing mistrust and distance from whoever can unmask them. Therefore, we must suspect inferiority and ill intent from any spirit that prescribes separation from individuals who can give good advices. The medium self-love helps negatively since it is difficult to recognize that one was victimized by mystification, recognizing as a scoundrel a spirit who honored the medium with his protection. Such influence of the spirit is independent from the writing faculty. In the absence of writing, the malevolent spirit has a thousand and one ways of acting and deceiving. To the spirit it is a means of persuasion but not a cause; to the medium it is a means of enlightenment.
Passing all spiritist communications through the control of the preceding considerations, we will easily recognize their origin and destroy the malice of the deceiving spirits, who only target those who are easily deceived. When noticing that we listen to them, they take advantage, as the simple mortals would do. It is up to us then to prove to them that they are wasting their time. We must add that prayer is a powerful help; through prayer we attract God’s assistance and the assistance of the good spirits, increasing our strength. The precept is known: help yourself and heavens will help you. God wants to assist us but with the condition that we pull our own weight doing what is necessary.
Let us add an example to that principle. One day I was visited by a gentleman who I did not know before, saying that he was a medium. He was receiving communications from a very elevated spirit who had assigned to him the mission of coming to me, to make a revelation with respect to some secrets that my enemies were plotting against me. And he added: “Do you want me to write in your presence?” With pleasure, I said. But to begin with I must tell you that those enemies are less fearful than you suppose. I know I have them. Who doesn’t? The most bloodthirsty are in general those who we most benefit. I know I have never voluntarily done harm to anyone. Those who do me harm will not be able to say the same and God will be the judge before us. However, let us hear the advice that the spirit wants to give me.
The gentleman then wrote the following:
“I have ordered C… (the name of that person), who is a beam of light from the good spirits, from whom he received the mission of spreading it among his brothers, to go to Mr. Allan Kardec’s house, who will blindly believe in what I say, for I am among the elected of God, watching the salvation of people and because I come to announce the truth…”
“That is enough, I said; no need to continue. This preface is sufficient to show the kind of spirit you are dealing with. I will say one word only: to a spirit that pretends to be smart he is a bit too clumsy.” That gentleman seemed stunned by the little importance I gave to the case of his spirit, which he naively took by an archangel or at least a saint of first order that specially came to him. I said:
“This spirit betrays himself with the few words only that he has just written. Let us agree that he cannot hide his game very well. To begin with he commands. Therefore he wants to have you under his belt, a characteristic of the inferior spirits; he calls you “beam of light from the good spirits”, a painfully emphatic and ambiguous language, well dissociated from the simplicity which characterizes the good spirits; through that language he flatters your pride, exalting your importance, which is enough to turn him into a suspect. He unceremoniously places himself among the elected of God. This is arrogance, unworthy of a really superior spirit. Finally he tells me that I should believe blindly. This crowns the work. That is the style of the deceitful spirits, who want us to believe in them under oath, once they know that they have everything to lose by a serious examination. With a little more perspicacity he should have seen that I do not bend to the beautiful words and that he was wrong by prescribing me a blind trust.
Thus, I conclude that you are a toy in the hands of a spirit that mystifies you, abusing your good faith. I advise you to pay serious attention to this otherwise you can be victimized by a harmful action.”
I don’t know if he took the advice because I have no longer seen him, or the spirit. I would never stop if I were to mention all the communications of such a kind that have been submitted to me, sometimes very serious, as if from the greatest saints, from the Virgin Mary and from Christ himself. It would be really curious to see the turpitudes attributed to those venerable names.
One needs to be blind to be mistaken with respect to their origin, when many times an equivocal word only, a single contradictory thought is enough to whoever takes the burden of reasoning, to discover the lie.
For remarkable examples supporting this, we advise the readers to refer to the articles published in the Review, July and October 1858 issues.

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