The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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North America claims, and rightly so, the honor of having been the first to reveal the manifestations from beyond the grave in our times; why must she also be the first to give examples of commerce and among these people, so advanced in so many ways and so worthy of our sympathy, why has the commercial instinct not stopped at the doorway of eternal life? Reading their newspapers we find ads like the ones below on every page:

“Mrs. S. E. Royers, somnambulist, medium-doctor, psychological cure through sorcery. Common treatment if required. Description of physiognomy, morality and the soul of people. From 10am to 12pm, Mon-Thu; from 7-10pm, except Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, unless previously arranged. Price: $1/hour.”

We believe that the sympathy of that medium by her patients seems to be in direct proportion to the amount of dollars paid. It seems unnecessary to provide the addresses.

“Mrs. E. C. Morris, writing medium; from 10am-12pm, and 7-9pm, Mon-Fri.”

“J.B. Conklin, medium. Welcomes guests to his salon every day and every evening. Attend at his home.”

“A. C. Styles, lucid medium, guarantees accurate diagnostic of disease of a present person or money back. Strictly imposed rules: a lucid in person exam and prescription, $2; psychometric descriptions of characters, $3. Do not forget that appointments are paid in advance.”

“To the amateurs of Spiritualism. Mrs. Beck, trance medium, speaking, spelling, knocking and rapping. True observers may schedule an appointment from 9-10pm at her residence. Mrs. Beck is associated as being a very powerful rapping medium.”

Would you think that there is such commerce only among obscure and ignorant speculators? Here is the contrary proof:

“Dr. G. A. Redman, experienced medium, is back to New York. He can be found at his home address where he receives as before.”

The exploitation of Spiritualism extended even to common objects. We read an ad in the Spiritual Telegraph from New York: “Spiritual matches, new invention without friction and smell.”

Even more remarkable for that country is the following ad that we found in the Weekly American, from Baltimore, dated February 5th, 1859:

“Statistics of Spiritualism. The Spiritual Register from 1859 estimates as 1,284,000 the number of spiritualists in the USA. The Register accounts for 1,000 spiritualist speakers; 40,000 public and private mediums; 500 books and brochures; 6 weekly, 4 monthly and 3 bi-weekly journals dedicated to that cause.”

The exploiting mediums arrived in England. There are many in London who charge nothing less than 1.25 francs per session. We hope that if they try to come to France the common sense of the true spiritist will do them justice. The production of physical effects excites more curiosity than it touches the heart. Hence the mediums with those skills have the tendency of exploiting such curiosity. Those who only receive moral communications of a higher order have an instinctive distaste for anything that may have smell of speculation of any kind. The reasons for the former are twofold: first, exploitation of curiosity is more profitable because there are a large number of curious people in every country; second, the physical phenomena act less on the moral side thus their scruples are diminished. To their eyes, their skills are a gift that must help them to get by like a beautiful voice is to a singer. The moral question is secondary or inexistent. Thus, once walking that path their self-serving interest develops the skills of astuteness. As a matter of fact, who knows if the customer today will come back again tomorrow? Then, he must be satisfied at any price. If the spirit does not satisfy the customer, the medium will do something that is easier from a material point of view than from a moral or intelligent communication, of elevated moral and philosophical reach. The former ones find recourses in conjuring that is greatly absent in the latter ones. That is why we say that the morality of a medium must be taken into account before anything else; that the best defense against trickery is in the medium’s character, his honorability, his absolute altruism. Whenever there is a shadow of interest, however minor it may be, there is reason for suspicion. Fraud is always disgraceful but when related to moral issues it is blasphemy.

Someone that knows Spiritism only by name and tries to imitate its effects is not more reprehensible than the juggler who tries to imitate the experiments of a wise Physicist. There is no doubt that it would be better that such a thing would never happen but in reality he is not deceiving anyone since his condition cannot be hidden. He only hides the means. The same cannot be said about someone that knows the holiness of what he is trying to imitate with the despicable objective of mystification. This is more than a fraud. It is hypocrisy since one tries to impersonate what one cannot do. One is even more culpable if truly endowed by some mediumistic faculty and uses that to continuously abuse the trust put in him. God knows what is reserved to them, even here on Earth. If the false mediums harm themselves only this would then be a half-evil. The worst part is the ammunition that they supply to the non-believers and the disgraceful behavior shown to undecided persons when such fraud is unveiled. We do not contest their faculties, even some powerful ones of certain mercenaries, but we say that greed is a direct path to the temptation of fraud that must inspire distrust, all the more legitimate, that one cannot see in this exploitation, the effect of zeal for the sole good of the cause.

Even when there is no fraud, criticism may still reproach someone that speculates with something as sacred as the soul of the dead.

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