The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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The phenomenon through which the spirits may manifest their presence has a twofold nature, namely the physical and the intelligent manifestations. Through the former, the spirits attest their action upon matter. Through the latter, they reveal a more or less superior mind, according to their degree of depuration. One and the other may be spontaneous or provoked. Those who are provoked when impelled by want and obtained with the support of persons bestowed with special gifts, such as the mediums. They are spontaneous when they occur naturally, without any participation of free-will and frequently in the absence of any knowledge or spiritist belief. Belonging to this classification are certain phenomena that cannot be explained by ordinary physical causes; however we must not rush, as said before, in attributing to the spirits everything that is uncommon and not well understood. It is never too much to insist on this point so that we are on guard against the effects of the imagination, and often fear.

When an extraordinary phenomenon is produced – we repeat – the first thought must be that it has a natural cause since it is the most frequent and most likely. That applies to mainly noises and certain movements of objects. In such cases it is necessary to seek the cause and it is more than likely we find that it was something very simple and common.

Furthermore, we say that the true and only real sign of intervention of the spirits is the intentional and intelligent characteristic of the produced effects, when the impossibility of a human intervention is thoroughly demonstrated. In such cases, following the axiom that every effect has a cause, and that every intelligent effect must have an intelligent cause, it becomes clear that if the cause is not in the ordinary agents of the material effects, it shall then be beyond those agents; that if the acting intelligence is not human, it must be outside the domains of humanity.

• Then there are extra human intelligences?
• It seems likely. If certain things are not and cannot be the work of human beings, then they must be the work of someone else. Well, if that someone else is not a human being, it seems that it must necessarily be outside humanity; if we cannot see it then it must be invisible. It is decisive reasoning which is easier to understand than that of Mr. de la Palisse.
• Then, what are those intelligences? Angels or demons? And as invisible entities, can they act upon visible matter?
• That is what is perfectly known to those who study the Spiritist Science, which like the other sciences one cannot understand in a blink of an eye and cannot be summarized in a few lines.

We will counter such a question with this one only: How can your thoughts, which are immaterial, move your body, which that is material, at will? We believe that they will not be puzzled by this problem and if they reject the explanation given by Spiritism to such a common question it means that they have something more logical to offer. However, so far we don’t know that explanation.

Let us move on to the facts that have motivated those observations.

Several newspapers, like the Opinion Nationale from February 14th last, and the Journal de Rouen, from the 12th of the same month, report the following fact, according to the Vigie de Dieppe.

The Journal de Rouen reports the following:

“The La Vigie de Dieppe reproduces the following letter from its correspondent in Grandes-Ventes. We have already mentioned part of the facts described today in our Friday issue, but the emotion caused by those extraordinary events in our column lead us to reveal new details contained in the correspondence.”

“Today we laugh at the more or less fantastic stories of the good old times and in our days the pretense witches don’t enjoy much respect. They are not more accepted in Grandes-Ventes than elsewhere. However, our old popular prejudices still have some adepts among those villagers. The truly extraordinary event which we have just witnessed comes just in time to strengthen their superstitious belief.”

“Yesterday, in the morning, Mr. Gouber, one baker from our village, his father who works for him and a young trainee who is about sixteen to seventeen years old, were starting their daily routine when they noticed that several objects had spontaneously left their original places to be thrown into the dough blending machine. Thus, they had to remove pieces of coal, a couple of weights, a pipe and a candle from the dough. Despite their astonishment they carried on with their duties, to the point of having kneaded the dough when suddenly a large piece of about two kilograms escaped from the young helper’s hand and was thrown a few meters away. This was the prelude and a kind of signal to a strange disturbance. It was about nine o’clock and up until noon it was positively impossible to stay near the oven area and the wine cellar next to it. Everything was turned, knocked down, broken. The bread, which was thrown away with the trays, was completely lost. More than thirty wine bottles were broken, and while the crank of the water-well turned on its own at high speed, the ember, the shovels, the trestle and the weights jumped in the air, executing the most diabolic evolutions.”

“At noon the noise stopped gradually and a few hours later, when everything was back to normal and the objects were placed back into their places, the owner was then able to reestablish his work routine.”

“Such an event has caused Mr. Goubert a loss of at least one hundred francs.”

The Opinion Nationale adds the following to those facts:

“On reproducing such a singular story we would be causing harm to our readers had we invited them to be on guard against the supernatural facts which were reported. There you have, we know well, a story which is not from our times and which may shock some of the wise readers of the Vigie, but however verisimilar it may look, it is not less truthful, and hundreds of people may attest its accuracy if needed.”

We confess to not understand well the thoughts of the reporter who seems to contradict himself. On another hand he tells the readers to be on guard against the supernatural facts reported in the letter, ending by saying “however verisimilar it may look, it is not less truthful, and hundreds of people may attest its accuracy if needed.” It has to be either true or false. If it is false then there is nothing else to say but if it is true, as attested by the “Opinion Nationale”, the fact reveals something very serious to be taken lightheartedly. Let us keep aside the issue of spirits and let us see a physical phenomenon only. Isn’t that extraordinary enough to deserve the attention of serious observers? Then, may the scientists get to work and rummage through the archives of science to provide us with a reasonable and undeniable explanation, showing the causes of the events. If they cannot, we must agree that they don’t know all the secrets of nature. Furthermore, if only Spiritism provides the solution then it is necessary to choose between the theory that explains and the other one which explains nothing.

When events of such a nature are reported our first approach, even before questioning about its reality, is to examine if they are possible or not, according to what we know from the theory of the physical manifestations. We mention some, demonstrating their absolute impossibility, notably the story told in the February 1859 issue of the Review, extracted from the Journal des Debats, under the title “My friend Hermann”, to which certain points of Spiritism might have given an appearance of likelihood. From that point of view, the phenomena that took place with the baker of Dieppe have nothing of more extraordinary than many others which were perfectly verified and whose complete solution is provided by the Spiritist Science. Hence, if the facts were not true, to our eyes they would still be possible.

We asked one of our reliable correspondents from Dieppe to investigate the reality of the facts. Here is his answer:

“Today I can give you all the information you want since I received it from a trustworthy source. The report from the “Vigie” is the exact truth. It is useless to report all the facts. It seems that some individuals of science came from far away to learn about the events that they couldn’t explain unless using the principles of the Spiritist Science. As for our peasants, they are confused. Some say that it is the work of witchcraft. Others say that the cause is the fact that the cemetery has changed places and constructions were built on top of it. The experts, known by their own as those who know everything, particularly if in the military, ended up by saying: For God’s sake! I don’t know how it can be. It is useless to tell you that they attribute a large portion of the events to the devil. In order to explain all those events to the people it would be necessary to try to initiate them into the true Spiritist Science. It would be the only means of eradicating from them the belief in witches and in all superstitions that will still be the greatest obstacle to their moralization for a long time to come.”

We will finish with one final observation.

We have heard from some people that they did not want to have anything to do with Spiritism for fear of attracting the spirits, thus provoking manifestations of the kind that we have just reported.

We don’t know Mr. Goubert, the baker, but we believe that we are able to ensure that neither he nor his son and helper have ever gotten involved with the spirits. It is actually remarkable to notice that the spontaneous manifestations preferably take place among people that have no idea about Spiritism, an evident proof that the spirits come without an invitation. We will also say: the profound knowledge of this Science is the best way of preventing us from the inopportune spirits, since it shows the only rational means of keeping them away.

Our correspondent is perfectly right by saying that Spiritism is a remedy against superstition. In fact, isn’t that superstitious to believe that those strange phenomena are due to the change of a cemetery location? Superstition does not consist on the belief in a fact, when verified, but on the irrational cause attributed to the fact. Superstition is present above all in the belief in the pretense means of foretelling, in the effect of certain rituals, in the virtue of the talismans, in the cabalistic days and times, etc… things whose ridicule are demonstrated by Spiritism.

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