The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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This evocation was carried out last year by the request of Mr. Borreau, from Niort, who sent us the following note:

“Some thirty years ago we had at the Priory of Amilly, in the surroundings of Mauzé, a priest by the name Don Peyra who held the reputation of being a sorcerer. In fact, he was always involved with the occult sciences. They say things about him that would sound fabulous but that according to the Spiritist Science might well be possible. About twelve years ago I had contact with his spirit during some very interesting experiments that I was doing with a somnambulist. He presented himself as an assistant and with whom we could not fail in our experiments, but we did fail. I come to ask you, if this is not at all an inconvenience, to have him evoked and asked about his previous and current relationships with me. From there on I might have some interesting things to tell you someday perhaps.”

First dialogue, January 13th, 1860

1. Evocation. – A. I am here.

2. Where does the reputation of being a sorcerer come from? – A. Old wives’ tales. I studied Chemistry.

3. Why have you contacted Mr. Borreau from Niort? – A. The wish of having some fun, considering the power that he thought I had.

4. He says that you presented yourself as a helper to his research. Could you tell us the nature of that research? – A. I am not that indiscreet to reveal a secret that he considered proper to keep from you. I take offense in your question.

5. We don’t insist but wish to tell you that you could have answered in a more adequate way to people who seriously and benevolently interrogate you. Your language is not compatible with that of an advanced spirit. – A. I am what I have always been.

6. What is the nature of these things that people say about you? – A. As I said, they are just stories. I knew their opinion about me and far from trying to deny, I did what I could to reinforce it.

7. Considering your preceding answer it seems that you have not done much progress after your death. – A. Truth be said I did not try it, since I did not know how. However, I believe there is something to be done. I gave some thought to that not long ago.

8. Your language surprises us considering that it comes from a spirit that was a priest and thus should have thoughts of certain elevation. – A. I truly believe that I had little instruction.

9. Kindly elaborate. – A. I had a lot of instruction on how to believe but not enough on how to understand.

10. In that case you were not what people call a good priest? - A. Oh! No!

11. What do you do as a spirit? – A. Always Chemistry. I believe I would have done better had I looked for God instead of matter.

12. How can a spirit be involved with Chemistry? – A. Allow me to say that this is a silly question. Do you really believe that I need the microscope or the alembic to study the properties of matter that you know is penetrable by the spirit?

13. Are you happy as a spirit? – A. I give you my word that I am not. As I said, I believe I followed the wrong path and I will change that, particularly if I am fortunate enough to find some help, I, who should have prayed for the others; I confess that I have not always done that for the money I received; and that is if I thought there would not be any retaliation against me.

14. We thank you for having come to us and we shall do for you what you have not done for others. – A. You are more worthy than I am. Second conversation, June 25th, 1861 Since Mr. Borreau sent us new question to be addressed to the spirit of Don Peyra he was evoked again through another medium, providing the answers below, from which we can extract useful lessons about the individualities in the spiritual world as well as a general teaching.

15. Evocation. – A. What do you want from me and why do you disturb me?

16. It was Mr. Borreau, from Niort, that asked us to address some questions to you. –A. What else does he want from me? Isn’t he happy to disturb me in Niort? Why does he need to evoke me in Paris where I have no business? I wish he would leave me alone. He calls me, put me in touch with somnambulists, and evokes me through others. He is annoying, this man.

17. Nevertheless you must remember that we have already evoked you once and that you answered more kindly than today. We even promised to pray for you. – A. I remember that very well, but promise and action are two different things. You prayed but the others…

18. Others have certainly prayed as well. Now, are you willing to answer Mr. Borreau’s questions? – A. I assure you that I would not do it for him, who is always on my back, pardon the expression but that it is true, particularly considering that there is no affinity between us. But as for you who had pity on me and begged for God’s mercy on my behalf, I want to answer the best I can.

19. A short while ago you said that you were disturbed. Could you give us an explanation about it for our own instruction? – A. I meant that you called my attention and my thoughts to you - you involved me requesting my answers, at least out of education. That is not a good explanation. My mind was somewhere else, in my studies, in my common occupations. Your evocation forced my attention to you, to the Earthly things. As a consequence and since I was not thinking of working with you, I was disturbed.

OBSERVATION: The spirits are more or less talkative and come with more or less good will according to their character. However, we can rest assured that like serious people they don’t appreciate to be disturbed uselessly. As for the lightheaded spirits, that is different: they are always ready to get involved in everything, even when not invited.

20. When you were in touch with Mr. Borreau did you know about his beliefs in the possibility of realizing great things that would be enough to convince the incredulous? – A. Mr. Borreau wanted me to help in a kind of half magnetic half spiritist operation. However, he is not wired to carry out such activity and I did not think that I should help him any longer. In fact I would if I could. Time was not right and it is not right for that yet.

21. Could you see and tell him the reasons for his failure in Vendée that determined his fall as well as of his somnambulist and two other assistants? – A. You can use my preceding answer here. Mr. Borreau was knocked down by the spirits who wanted to teach him a lesson to not look for what should be kept hidden. I was the one who pushed him down using the fluids of the magnetizer.

OBSERVATION: This answer agrees perfectly with the theory given about physical manifestations. The spirits did not push him with their hands but with the animated fluid of the persons combined with that of the spirit. The dissertation given below about the transportation of objects contains a development of the highest interest about this subject. A comparative analogy seems to justify the expression used by spirit. When a person approaches a body charged with positive electrical charge the person is charged with the opposite charge. The voltage increases up to the discharge level. At that level the two bodies are connected by the violent discharge and the person receives a shock that, according to the amount of electricity, may knock the person down or even kill her. In such phenomenon it is always necessary that the person provides her contribution with the electrical charge. If we consider the electrified body as an intelligent being that acts and understands the operation, we would say that she combined her own electrical fluid with that of the person. In the case of Mr. Borreau things may not have been exactly like that but it is clear that a similar effect may have taken place and that Don Peyra was logical when he said that he knocked the others down with their own fluids. This will be even better understood when referred to The Spirits’ Book and The Mediums’ Book with respect to the universal fluid that is the principle of the vital fluid, the electrical fluid and animal magnetism.

22. During his long and dramatic experiment he says that he had made discoveries that to him where even more remarkable than what he was looking for. You are aware of that, aren’t you? – A. Yes. But there is something that he did not discover: that it is not up to the spirits to help people in research like the one he was doing. If they could, then God would not be able to hide anything and people would neglect their own work and skills to look for treasures with the intervention of the spirits, having all that provided on a tray, easily achieving glory and fortune. Truly, we would have a lot to do if we were supposed to satisfy everyone’s ambitions. Can you imagine the uproar in the spiritual world just by the general belief in Spiritism? We would sometimes be called to the left, sometimes to the right; here to dig up the land and satisfy the lazy one; there to spare an idiot the effort of solving a problem; then to provide energy to the oven of a Chemist; and we would have to give the philosopher’s stone to everybody. The most important discovery that Mr. Borreau could have made was to understand that there are always spirits who have fun by providing people with the mirage of a gold mine, even to the eyes of the most clairvoyant somnambulist, making them believe that they are where they are not and making fun of you, just when you believe to have found them, and all that is to teach you that wisdom and work are the real treasures.

23. Was Mr. Borreau’s objective to find a treasure? – A. It seems to me that I have already told you when you called me the first time that I am not indiscreet. If he meant to keep it from you it is not up to me to tell you that.

OBSERVATION: The spirit is clearly discreet. In fact this is a quality found in all of them, even the least advanced ones, leading to the conclusion that if a given spirit made indiscreet revelations about someone it would most likely be for fun and thus it would be a mistake to take them seriously.

24. Could you give us an explanation about the invisible hand that wrote several characters that he found on the pages of a notebook that was prepared to receive them? – A. The writings were not from the spirits. He will learn about their source later but I must not reveal it now. The spirits may have provoked them with the objective that I mentioned earlier but they were not the ones who did it.

OBSERVATION: Although the two dialogues above were separated by an eighteen months interval and received through different mediums, we must acknowledge a sequence, a similarity of language and style that would not raise any doubt regarding their authorship by the same spirit. As for the identity, it becomes clear from the letter below, sent by Mr. Borreau, after he had received the second evocation from us.

“July 18th, 1861

Dear Sir,

This is to thank you for your work and your kindness in sending me the last evocation of Don Peyra. As you say, the spirit of the former Prior was not in a good mood, vehemently showing his impatience with this new initiative. A great lesson results from that, Sir. The spirits who play the spiteful game of tormenting us may in turn be paid with the same token by us.

Ah! Ladies and gentlemen from beyond the grave! I am only talking about the deceitful and lighthearted spirits – no doubt they will boast about having the exclusive privilege of disturbing us. And here you have a poor man from Earth, a pacifist, just trying to guard against your maneuvers and trying to clarify you, and now he is tormenting you to the point that you feel his heavy burden on your spiritual shoulders!

Well, what should I then say, my dear Prior, when I hear you confessing that you took part in the spiritual mob that obsessed me with cruelty, tricking me so many times during my trips to Vendée? If it is true that you were there, you must have known that I conducted my research only with the objective of finding the truth through unquestionable facts. There is no doubt that it was very ambitious, I appreciate that, but at least it was very honest, I believe. The only problem was that I was not strong enough to fight and you and your peers knocked me down in such a way that we were forced to abandon the activity, carrying our dead, since your fantastic maneuvers led to that terrible struggle, debilitating our poor somnambulist who passed out and for a period of not less than 6 six hours gave almost no sign of life, to the point that we thought she was dead.

Our situation can be undoubtedly better understood if you take into account the fact that it was around midnight and that we were in the bloody fighting fronts of Vendée’s war, in a savage region surrounded by bare mountains, whose echoes repeated the lancinating screams of the victims. I was horrified and thought of the terrible responsibility I had from which I did not know how to escape. I was confused! Only prayer could save me and it did. If that is what you call lessons you must agree that they are tough! It was certainly to give me one of those lessons that you called me to Mauzé a year later. I was better educated then and I knew what to think about the existence of the spirits and the actions and gestures of many of them. Besides, the situation was no longer dramatic as it was in Châtillon. I was then free to fight.

My apologies Sir that I allowed myself to get carried away with the Prior; My intention is to ask you something else if you would allow me so. A few days ago I visited the house of a very dignified man who has experienced much, since his youth and I showed him the communication that you sent me. He recognized perfectly well the language, the style and the caustic spirit of the former Prior, and told me the following facts:

‘Forced to abandon the Priory of Surgères by the Revolution, Don Peyra bought the small property of Amilly, near Mauzé, where he established residence. He became known for his wonderful cures through the use of magnetism and electricity, successfully employed. Since his business was not doing as well as he wanted, he used charlatanisms and with the aid of his electric machine, played tricks passing them off as sorcery. Far from fighting this opinion, he provoked and encouraged it. There was in Amilly a long pathway, outlined by trees, much used by customers coming from ten to twenty leagues away. His machine was connected to the door knob and when the poor peasants wanted to knock on the door or come inside the house they would receive a terrible electric shock and fall thunderstruck instantaneously. We can only imagine what such events would produce in the minds of non-educated people, particularly in those days.’

We have a saying that goes like this: dans la peau mourra le renard,(one remains always cunning). Alas! I can see that we need to change the skin more than a couple of times before we leave behind our bad instincts. From that, dear Sir, it does not follow that I don’t wish the Prior well. No. The proof is that following your example I prayed for him and this is something that I confess I had not done before as he told you.

Yours, etc.

J.-B. Borreau”

Noticed that this later is dated July 18th, 1861 while the first evocation took place in January 1860. At that time we did not know all these details about Don Peyra’s life and his answers perfectly agree with that. He said for example that he did everything he could to keep up with his fame as a sorcerer. What happened to Mr. Borreau has a remarkable analogy with Don Peyra’s mockery applied to the travelers during his life and we are strongly inclined to believe that he wanted to repeat them. In this case he did not need his electrical machine since he has the great universal machine at his disposal. That possibility can be seen in his answer to question 21.

Mr. Borreau finds some sort of compensation to the malice of certain spirits on the nuisance that we can return to them. However we advised him not to trust that too much since the spirits have better means of escaping from us than otherwise with respect to their influence. In fact, it is clear that if Mr. Burreau had a more thorough knowledge of Spiritism in those days he would know what is reasonable to expect from them, and he would not have ventured into attempts that Science would have demonstrated without leading him to mystification. He was not the first one to learn the hard way. That is why we never stop saying: learn the theory first. It will teach you every practical difficulty allowing you to remove obstacles from which you will feel happy to have left behind with a few scratches only. He claims that his intention was good, because he wanted to demonstrate through a great thing the truth about Spiritism. However, in similar cases the spirits give proof that they wish and when they want, and never when asked for that. We know people who also wanted to give irrefutable proof through the discovery of colossal treasures through the spirits but what happened in fact was that they just spent their own money. We must add that if such proof gave the expected result just once, that would be more damaging than useful since it would provide the wrong idea about the objective of Spiritism, establishing the belief that it can be used as a means of prediction. In that case, Don Peyra’s answer to question 22 would be justified.

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