The Siècle from April 6th, 1860 reports:
“Mr. Felix N…, a gardener from an area near Orléans, was said to have the talent of exempting conscripts from the draft lottery, in other words making them get an non-chosen number. He promised a certain Frederic Vincent P…, a young winemaker from Saint-Jean-de-Braye, a conscription number that he wanted, for a compensation of 60 francs that he would have to pay, 30 in advance and 30 after the draft lottery. The secret consisted of praying three Our Father and three Hail Mary for nine days. In addition, the sorcerer indicated that if he gracefully did his part, the actions would greatly influence the conscript, hindering him from sleeping on the very last night but yielding his release instead. Unfortunately the enchantment did not work. The conscript slept as usual and picked number 31, which made him a soldier. Since these facts occurred two more times the secret was out and the sorcerer, Felix N… was prosecuted.”
Spiritism’s adversaries accuse it of promoting superstitious ideas. However, what is the commonality between the doctrine that teaches the existence of the invisible world communicating with the visible one and facts of nature that were just reported, true superstitious facts? Where has anyone seen Spiritism teaching such absurdities? Had those who attack it, dedicated themselves to its serious study before judging it so lightheartedly, they would then know that Spiritism not only condemns all witchcraft practices but it also demonstrates its uselessness. Hence and as we have reiterated often, the serious study of Spiritism tends to destroy all superstitious practices. In the majority of the popular beliefs there is almost always some truth but it is typically altered or modified. That is how the genie and fairy tales are founded, on the idea of the existence of good and bad spirits, protecting or malevolent; that all stories of apparitions are based on the very real spiritist visible and even tangible manifestations. Such phenomenon, perfectly explained and verified now, enter into the category of natural phenomena, a consequence of the eternal laws of creation. But people are rarely satisfied with the truth that seems too simple. People tend to coat it with all fantasies created by imagination, falling then in the zone of absurd. Those who are interested in exploiting those same beliefs come next, adding a self-serving fantastic reputation. This explains the crowd of fortunetellers, witches and sorceress against whom the law is fairly enforced.
The true, rational Spiritism is then not more responsible for their abuse than Medicine is by the ridiculous formulas and practices employed by charlatans or ignorant people. Once more, before judging Spiritism, give yourself time to study it seriously.
It is conceivable that there might be some truth in certain beliefs, but one may ask about the origin of the belief in something like the facts described above, such as a wide spread belief in our countryside, as one knows it. It seems to us, at first sight, that one has in its origin an intuitive feeling about invisible beings and their inclination to attribute to them a power that they often do not have. The existence of deceiving spirits hanging out around us by force of our planet’s inferiority, like pesky insects in a swamp, who amuse themselves at the expense of credulous people, predicting their utopian futures, always suitable to flatter their tastes and desires, is a fact from which we have demonstrated daily by today’s mediums. These things that happen before our eyes have happened in all times as a means of communication according to the time and place required for that reality. With the help of charlatanism and greed, reality has turned into a superstitious belief.