The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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The Gazette de Lyon published the article below, in its August 2nd, 1860 edition, with the title “A session of the spiritists”, to which Mr. Allan Kardec gave the answer that follows, unfortunately not yet published by that paper.

“The so called spiritists are certain hallucinatory people who broke apart from every religious belief of their time and country, and yet pretend to be in communication with the spirits. Born out of the turning tables, Spiritism is nothing more than one out of a thousand pathological states in which the human brain may fall into, when allowed to be carried away by the other thousand and one aberrations that the antiquity, the middle ages and the current times have given way too. Sensibly condemned by the Catholic Church, all those mysterious studies, away from the positive facts, have no other result than the production of madness in all those who get involved with it, supposing that this state of madness has not yet become chronic in the brains of the adepts, a fact that is far from being demonstrated.”

“The spiritists have a periodical in Paris and it is enough to read some of its contents to be assured that we are not exaggerating. The clumsiness of the questions addressed to the evoked spirits is only matched by the clumsiness of their answers, and in good faith we can tell them that it is not worth it to come back from the other world to say so many silly things.”

“And finally, this new madness, renewed from the ancient times, is looming over our town. Lyon has spiritists and it is in the house of simple weavers that the spirits come to communicate.”

“Throphonius’ cave is located in a weaver’s workshop; the high priest of the place is a silk weaver and the prophetess is his wife; the followers are generally workers, since they don’t receive well those who denounce much intelligence from their looks; the spirits only care to manifest to the simple ones. That is the likely cause of our admission there.”

“Invited to attend one of the weekly sessions of the spiritists of Lyon, we got to the workshop where there were four looms, one of them idle. There, among the four gallows25, the prophetess sat in front of a square table where there was a notebook and a goose feather pen. Notice that I said a goose feather pen and not a metallic pen because metals horrify the spirits. “

“Twenty five people, including this server of yours, formed a circle around the table. After a brief speech given by the high priest about the nature of the spirits, everything done in a style that may enchant the spirits, due to its… simplicity, the questions began.”

“A young man approaches and asks the prophetess why, eight days before the battles, in Crimea or Italy, he was always called somewhere else?”

“The inspired (that is how they call her) takes the pen and moves it over the paper where she sketches cabalistic signs, and then pronounces this formula: - Lord, allow us the grace of learning about this. Then she adds: - I read the following answer: - You are destined to live to teach and enlighten your brothers.”

“That is evidently an influential adept that they want to entice to the cause. Besides, he had been a soldier and perhaps a Zouave. Let us not create difficulties and proceed.”

“Another young man approaches and asks if the spirit of his father followed him and protected him during combats. The answer: Yes.”

“We took the man aside and asked him how long his father had been dead. – My father is not dead, he said.”

“Then an old man approaches and asks: - pay attention to the subtleness of the question, by imitation of the former Tarquinius: - if what he thinks is the reason why his father had given him the name John. Answer: - Yes.”

“An old soldier of the first Empire asks if the spirits of the soldiers of the old empire haven’t followed our young soldiers to Crimea and Italy. Answer: Yes.”

“Then follows a superstitious question, framed by a young lady: Why is Friday an ill-fated day? The answer was given promptly and certainly deserves attention for several historical obscurities that it eliminates. The inspired answer: - Because Moses, Salomon and Jesus died on that day.”

“A young worker form Lyon, based on his accent, wants to learn about a marvelous fact. One night, he said, my mother felt a face touching hers. She wakes both, my father and I up. We searched everywhere and found nothing. Suddenly, one of our looms starts moving. We approached and it stopped. Another one starts moving on the other side of the workshop. We were scared to death and it got worse when we saw them all working simultaneously, and saw nobody. It is your grandfather, responded the prophetess. He came to ask for prayers.”

“The young man responded with an air that it would be easy for him to enter the sanctuary: That is true. Poor old man! He was promised Church masses which never happened.”

“Another worker asks why the pointer of his scale sometimes moves by itself. The inspired responds: - It is a rapping spirit that produces the phenomenon.”

“Very well, said the worker. But I stopped the prodigy by placing a mass of lead on the lighter plate. – It is very simple, the foreteller continued, the spirits are afraid of lead due to the mirage.”

“All wanted an explanation about the word mirage. The power of the prophetess stops there.”

“God does not wish to explain that, not even to me.”

“It was a force major, before which everyone bowed.”

“Then the high priest, foreseeing serious internal objections, took the word and said:”

“We must abstain from this question, ladies and gentlemen, since we would be dragged to other scientific questions that we cannot solve.”

“At this point in time the questions were plenty and all over the place.”

“If the signs that appear in the skies, for some time now (the comets!), are those mentioned in the Apocalypse.” She responds: Yes and this world will no longer exist in one hundred and forty years.”

“Why has Jesus said that there will always be poor people? Answer: Jesus was talking about the poor of spirit. For these God has just prepared a special world.”

“We will not point out the whole importance of such an answer. Who cannot understand how happy our descendants will be when they no longer have to worry about any contact with those poor of spirit? As for the others, the prophetess’s answer fortunately gives us indication that her reign is over. Good news to the economists who go sleepless to solve the poverty issue.”

“To finalize, a forty-five-year old lady approaches and asks if her spirit has already reincarnated and how often? You, like me, would be very embarrassed to answer that but the spirits respond to everything. Yes, the goose pen answered, it was three times: the first as a natural daughter of a respectable Russian princess (this word respectable, near the preceding word, intrigues me); the second as the natural daughter of a ragman from Bohemia, and the third she knows…”

“We hope that this sample of a session of the spiritists of Lyon will be suffice to demonstrate that the spirits of Lyon are as much worthy as those of Paris.”

“However, here is the question: wouldn’t it be good to stop the poor mad people from becoming even crazier?”

“In former times the Church was powerful enough to silence similar diversions. It was perhaps too harsh, it is true, but it stopped evil. Nowadays, since the religious authority is powerless and common sense does not have sufficient power to do justice to such hallucinations, shouldn’t the established authority intervene in such a case, putting an end to practices whose least effect is to ridicule those involved?”

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