The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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The Academy defines this word as: “It is said of the spirits that supposedly come back from the other world”. The Academy does not say: that come from the other world. The spiritists are the only ones crazy enough to dare to say such things. Yet, one can say that the belief in revenants is universal. It is evidently founded on the intuition about the existence of the spirits and in the possibility of communicating with them. From that stand point, every spirit that manifests its presence through the writings of a medium or by knocking on a table would be a revenant. However, that almost sepulchral name is reserved to those who become visible and come, as the Academy rightly supposes, under more dramatic conditions. Are these old wives tales? The fact itself, no; the accessories, yes. It is widely known that the spirits may be seen and even under a tangible form; that is what is real. But the accessories form the fantastic through which fear, which exaggerates everything, ordinarily follows the phenomenon that is so simple that can be explained by a very natural law, consequently having nothing magical or diabolic. Why then are revenants feared? Precisely due to those accessories that imagination insists in making terrifying, because imagination had been terrified before and had perhaps believed to have seen something that was not true.
They are generally presented in a lugubrious way, coming preferably at night, particularly at the darkest nights, at fatal hours, in sinister places, appearing zombie like or dressed in a very strange way. Spiritism, on the contrary, teaches that the spirits may show up anywhere, at any time, during the day or at night; that they generally bear the same appearance they had when alive; that only imagination created the ghosts; that those who show up, far from inspiring fear, most of the time are friends or relatives that come to us for fondness or even unfortunate spirits that we can help. They are also sometimes the jesters of the spiritual world, making fun of us and enjoying the fear that they inspire. It is understandable that the best thing to do with those is to have fun also and demonstrate to them that we have no fear. As a matter of fact, those spirits most of the time limit their action to making noise, rarely becoming visible. Most unfortunate is the one who takes them seriously for they multiply their jokes. It would be the same as exorcising a Parisian brat. Even supposing that it is a bad spirit what bad could it do? Wouldn’t it be a hundred times more rational to fear a living bully than a dead bully that became a spirit? In fact, we know that we are constantly surrounded by spirits whose only difference from the so-called ghosts is that we don’t see them. The adversaries of Spiritism will not refrain from accusing you of accepting a superstitious belief. However, they cannot deny the fact of the visible manifestations, attested, explained in theory and confirmed by many witnesses, and every denial cannot even impede the manifestations from happening since there are only a handful of people who don’t remember nor have any memory of one case of such a nature and that cannot be disputed. The best thing to do then is to be informed about what is true or false, possible or impossible in those stories. It is by explaining, reasoning about these things that we can forearm against fear. We know several people who were afraid of ghosts. Now that they know the meaning of that, thanks to Spiritism, their strongest desire is to encounter one. We know others who had visions that scared them; they became fearless after understanding them. The dangers of fear to weak minds are well known. Well then, one of the results of an elucidated Spiritist is precisely the cure of that illness, and that is not one of its least benefits.

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