The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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Marquis de Saint-Paul

It is a mistake to believe that there is nothing to gain from conversations with the spirits of common people and that it is only the nobility that offers useful teachings. There are certainly many useless lessons among them but sometimes a serious observer obtains unforeseen revelations from those when one least expects it. As a matter of fact, there is a point that is of great interest to us for it touches us closely: the passage, the transition from the current to the future life, a feared passage that only Spiritism can help us face it fearlessly, and that we can only know by studying the current cases, that is, from those who have just made that transition, famous or not famous.

Marquis de Saint-Paul was a member of the Society, deceased in 1860 and evoked following a request from his sister on May 16th, 1861.

1. Evocation. – A. I am here.

2. Your sister has asked us to evoke you, and although she is a medium she does not feel confident enough in the current development of her mediumship. – A. I will do my best to respond.

3. First, she would like to know if you are happy. – A. I am still in an errant state and in this transient state there is no absolute happiness or unhappiness.

4. Has it taken you long to become aware of yourself? – A. I spent a long time in a confused state and only emerged from it to bless those who had not forgotten me and who prayed for me.

5. Can you estimate the time you spent in this confused state? – A. No.

6. Which relatives did you promptly recognize? – A. I recognized my mother and my father who welcomed me when I woke up. They were the ones who initiated me in my new life.

7. How could it be that towards the end of your illness it looked like you were speaking with your loved ones from Earth? – A. Because I had the revelation of the world I was about to enter before I died. I became clairvoyant before I died and my eyes were veiled during the definitive transition and separation from the body, because the corporeal links were still very strong.

OBSERVATION: The phenomenon of early separation of the soul is quite frequent. Many people foresee the world of the spirits before they die. That certainly happens to smooth out the pain of leaving life behind through hope. But here the spirit adds that his eyes were veiled at the time of separation. It is a common occurrence; at that very moment when the spirit loses consciousness. The spirit never witnesses the last breath of the body and the actual separation occurs unsuspectingly. The agonizing convulsions are purely physical whose sensation is almost never experienced by the spirit. We say almost because it may happen that the suffering may be imposed onto the spirit as a punishment.

8. Why were your memories mainly of your childhood? – A. Because the beginning is closer to the end than is the center of life.

9. What do you mean? – A. I mean that those in agony remember and see the pure and young years as a reassuring mirage.

OBSERVATION: It is likely that seniors usually have more accurate and detailed memories of their early days for the same providential reason.

10. Why did you always use the third person when referring to your own body? – A. Because, as I said, I was clairvoyant and clearly felt the differences between the physical and the spiritual. Those differences, interconnected by the fluid of life, become very distinct to the eyes of the agonizing visionary.

OBSERVATION: Here we have a singular particularity presented by the death of this gentleman. In his last moments he used to say: - ‘He is thirsty, he needs to drink something, he is feeling cold, one needs to warm him up; he suffers this or that, etc.’ - When asked: But is that you who are thirsty? He replied: - ‘No, it is him.’ – Here the two lives are perfectly drawn: the thinking self is in the spirit and not in the body; once feeling separated, the spirit considered his body as another person, as if it were not him. Hence, it was his body that needed attending to and not him, the spirit.

11. What you just said above about your errant state and the duration of your confusion would lead us to believe that you are not happy. However, your character must lead us to a contrary opinion. As a matter of fact there are errant spirits who are very happy as there are others very unhappy. – A. I am in a transient state. Human virtues acquire their true value here. There is no doubt that my current condition is a thousand times preferable than that of my Earthly incarnation, but I have always carried the aspiration of true good and true beauty and my soul will only be satisfied when it has reached the feet of our Creator.

Henri Mondeux
(Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, April 26th, 1861)

Last February the newspapers announced the sudden death of the shepherd Henri Mondeux, the renowned calculator who passed in the early days of February 1861, victimized by a stroke at the age of 34, in the Condom Commune (Gers). He was born in Touraine and since the age of 10, he was recognized for his prodigious capacity of resolving complicated problems of Arithmetic, in his head, although he was completely illiterate and did not have any formal education. He soon captured people’s attention and many used to go and see him while he was taking care of his herd. He made some additional cash while entertaining the visitors who came to asking him to solve mathematical equations. The phenomenon reminded them of Vito Mangiamele, a shepherd from Napoli who had also presented the same prodigy a few years back. A college Math professor from Tours thought that such a remarkable gift should produce even more remarkable results with some additional help. He then started to educate the young man only to discover, that he was dealing with an incredibly rebellious mind. In fact he could barely read and write at the age of 16 and – a remarkable thing – the professor could not get him to remember the names of elementary geometrical shapes, indicating that his skills were limited to the ability of numerical combinations alone. He was then a calculator but not a Mathematician.

Another important fact was that he could never absorb our conventional methods of calculation. He did not even understand them. He had his own way of doing things and he did not know how he did it; he did not understand the phenomenon himself, a phenomenon limited to a prodigious memory of numbers. We say numbers instead of totals because the vision of numerical totals confused him more than helped. He preferred to have the problems formulated verbally rather than in writing.

In short this is the result of our own observations carried out with the young Mondeux that gave us material for a lecture given at the Parisian Society of Phrenology. Such a special gift, although taken to the limit, could not help him to start in any career, even as an accountant to a commercial establishment, something that concerned his teacher and was rightly so. He was sorry for having taken the young man away from his herd, asking himself what would become of that youngster once he was deprived from the common interest that brought them together, particularly considering his age. We lost contact with him for eighteen years. As it seems he found ways of surviving giving presentations from town to town.

1. Evocation. – A. 4 plus 3 is 7 in the other worlds as it is here.

2. We thought of evoking you just after your death but we were told that you were not ready yet. It seems that you are now. – A. I was waiting for you.

3. You may not perhaps remember me but I had the occasion of meeting you in private in Prussia and even attend your sessions. As for myself, it seems that I still see you and the Math teacher that followed you and gave me valuable information about you and your skills. – A. That is all I can tell you that I remember about you, but it is only today that my ideas are clearer.

4. What was the origin of that strange skill that gifted you? – A. Ah! That is the question that I was sure you would ask me. You started by saying: I knew you, I saw you, you were skilled, and finally you ask for an explanation. Well then! I had the ability of reading in my own spirit the immediate calculation of a given problem. You could say that the solution was unfolded by a spirit before my eyes and all I had to do was to read it. I was a kind of clairvoyant and calculating medium, and it must be said as if carrying a little book of calculus, prepared beforehand.

5. As far as I remember you did not have this sort of sarcastic wit when alive. You were actually somewhat circumspect. – A. Well, my skills were thoroughly used for the calculations; there was nothing left for other things.

6. How could you have developed such a skill for calculation and be so poor on other elemental parts of Math? – A. Bottom line is that I was stupid, right? You can say the word, I understand. Here, however, I no longer have to develop a faculty to handle numbers and my skills now develop faster on other things.

7. You no longer have to develop that skill for the numbers… (the spirit writes not waiting for the end of the question) – A. That means that God has assigned a mission to all of us. You, he said, will scare away the wise Mathematicians. I will make you look like dumb so that they will be even more astonished; beat them in all calculations and make them say: How can he do it better than us? What is it that he has that is stronger than education? God wanted them to look beyond the body since what it is that exists and is more material than a numeral?

8. What did you do in your previous existences? – A. I was sent to show other things.

9. Were they always related to Math? – A. No doubt since that is my specialty.

10. I had formulated a few problems to check if you still had the same ability but according to what you have just said it seems pointless. – A. I no longer have solutions to give you. I cannot do that. The instrument is bad since it is not a mathematician.

11. Can’t you overcome that limitation? – A. Ah! Nothing is impossible. Even Sebastopol was taken over. But what a difference!

12. What do you do now? – A. Do you want to know my occupation? I wonder and wait a little bit before restarting my career as a medium that must go on.

13. What do you believe is going to be that mediumistic skill? – A. Always the same but more developed and remarkable.

14. (A member makes the following reflection): From the answers it appears that he acted as a medium on Earth, leading to the supposition that he had the support of another spirit, thus explaining why he does not enjoy the same skills today. – A. I was wired in such a way that I could see those numbers provided by other spirits to me. I captured them better than you would; I had the skills of calculation because that is what I was prepared for. All means of convincing are sought. They are all good, great or small, and the spirits capture them all.

15. Did you make a fortune with your skills, going around the world with your sessions? – A. Oh! You ask a medium if he made a fortune! Wrong direction. Of course not!

16. But you did not see yourself as a medium! You did not even know what that was. – A. No. It surprised me also that I received so little financially. That served me morally and I prefer my equity duly registered in the great book of God to the income obtained from the State.

17. We thank you for your kindness in responding to our appeal. – A. You changed your opinion about me.

18. I did not change because I always liked you. – A. I am glad I solved the problems otherwise you would not have noticed me.

OBSERVATION: As everyone knows, the identity of the spirits is the most difficult thing to determine. It is generally revealed through unforeseen circumstances and details; by subtle nuances only captured by a very careful examination, often demonstrating more than the material signs that can be easily imitated by deceiving spirits, while these cannot simulate the intellectual capacity or the moral qualities that they lack. One could doubt the identity in this case without a much logical explanation about the difference of the current personality and the other when alive, because the numerical answer that he gives at the beginning of the evocation cannot be considered as an authentic proof. Whatever the opinion that one may form about the communication above we must acknowledge that besides the witty remarks it contains some profound thoughts. The answers given to questions 7 and 16 are notable with that respect. It results from those answers, like from answers given by other spirits, that the spirit Mondeux has a predisposition for Math; that he likely had that skill in previous existences, but he was no scientific celebrity. It would be hard to understand that a true wise man would be restricted to do calculations to entertain the public, without any other reach or scientific utility. There would be much more reason for doubt if he tried to pretend to have been Newton or Laplace.

Mrs. Anais Gourdon

A young lady, remarkable for her kind disposition and by the most eminent moral qualities, died in November 1860. She was evoked after a request from her father and her husband. She belonged to a family of miners near Saint-Étienne, an important aspect to be taken into account for the analysis of the evocation.

1. Evocation. – A. Here I am.

2. Your father and your husband asked me to evoke you and will be very happy for receiving your communication. – A. I am also very happy for being able to communicate with them.

3. Why have you been taken away so soon from the warmth of your loving family? – A. Because my Earthly trials were over.

4. Do you see them from time to time? – A. Oh! I am always with them.

5. Are you happy as a spirit? – A. I am happy, I serve and I love. Heaven does not frighten me and I wait confidently and with love so that my white wings may grow.

6. What do you mean by those wings? – A. I mean I should turn into a pure spirit and shine like the celestial messengers that dazzle me.

OBSERVATION: The wings of angels, archangels and seraphs, the pure spirits, are evidently attributes imagined by human beings to portray the speed of their dislocation, since their ethereal nature excuses them from any obstacle when covering spaces. However, they may show themselves to people using that accessory, responding to people’s thoughts, like others who take the appearance they had on Earth in order to make themselves known.

7. Do you see your brother-in-law who died some time ago, and who was evoked last year? – A. I saw him when I arrived to the spiritual world. I don’t see him now.

8. Why don’t you see him anymore? – A. I know nothing about that.

9. Can your relatives do anything to please you? – A. My beloved ones should no longer be sad, despite their grief, since they know that I am not gone forever. May my memory be kind, light and fragrant to them! I passed away like a flower and there is nothing sad about my passage.

10. Where does your poetic language come from, considering the position you had when on Earth? – A. It is my soul that speaks. Yes, I had acquired knowledge and God often allows refined spirits to incarnate amidst the roughest people to make them foresee the kindness that they will one day understand and conquer.

OBSERVATION: Without such explanation that is both so logical and so in agreement with God’s solicitude to his children, we would hardly understand, at first sight, what could in principle seem like an anomaly. In fact, what can be more gracious and poetic than the language of the spirit of this young lady, raised in the middle of a very tough environment? The opposite is also frequently seen: inferior spirits incarnate among more advanced people, but with the opposite objective. God puts them in touch with a more enlightened world for their own advancement, while serving as trials to that world. Which other philosophy can solve these issues?

11. (Evocation of Mr. Gourdon, the oldest son, already evoked in 1860) – A. I am here.

12. Do you remember that you were evoked by us? – A. Yes, perfectly.

13. How come your sister-in-law no longer sees you? – A. She has moved up.

OBSERVATION: She had responded to the same question: “I know nothing about it”; it was certainly out of modesty. It is now explained: with her superior nature she belongs to a more elevated order of spirits, while he is still attached to Earth. They follow different paths.

14. What have you been doing since that occasion? – A. I made progresses in terms of the acquisition of knowledge, listening to the instructions of our guides.

15. Please, I ask you to provide a communication to your father who would be very happy with that. – A. My dear father, you must not think that your children are lost and don’t suffer by seeing their empty places. I also wait and don’t be impatient because I know that the passing days are other steps that need to be overcome, taking us closer to one another. Be grave but not sad since sadness is a mute criticism addressed to God, who wishes to be glorified in his work. In reality, why suffer in this sad life where everything vanishes, except our good or bad deeds? Dear father, be confident and have courage!

OBSERVATION: The first evocation of this young man was marked by the same feelings of filial piety and elevation. It was a huge consolation to his parents who could not get over his loss. That is totally understandable, as it is with the young lady.

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