Today I want to discuss the subject of mediumship among animals, brought up and supported by one of your most devout members. Based on the maxim the one that can do the most can do the least, he believes that we can pass mediumship to birds and other animals, using them in our communications with humans. This is what in Philosophy, or better said, in Logic, you simply call sophism.
He has said: “We know already, you can animate the inert matter, such as a table, a chair, a piano; more so, you should then be able to animalize matter that is already animated, especially in birds.” Well, according to the principles of Spiritism this does not exist.
To begin with let us be clear about the facts. What is a medium? It is an individual who serves as the intermediary to the spirits so that they can easily communicate with people; incarnated spirits. Therefore, without the medium there is no tangible, mental, written, physical or any other type of communication. There is a principle that I am sure is accepted by every spiritist: those who are similar act with their peers and as their peers act. Well then, who are the peers of the spirits if not the spirits themselves, incarnated or not? Do we need to repeat it again? I will tell you once more: Your perispirit and ours are both extracted from the same environment; they have an identical nature. In one word they are similar. Both have the property of assimilation and magnetization more or less developed which enable us, disincarnate and incarnate, to promptly communicate with one another. Finally, there is something that is truly part of the medium, a special affinity, the very essence of the medium, and that at the same time is a power of expansion that removes any deflection from occurring, establishing something similar to an electric current between the medium and us; like a fusion which facilitates our communications. In fact it is exactly this deviated property of matter that opposes the development of mediumship in most people who are not mediums. It is this same rejection of property that one must attribute the fact that certain individuals who are not mediums may develop mediumship by the mere contact with novice or somewhat passive mediums, that is to say, if they are lacking some mediumistic skills.
People are always willing to exaggerate everything. Some – I am not talking about the materialists – refuse to believe that animals even have a soul and others want to give animals a soul similar to ours. Why would they want to confuse the perfectible with the non-perfectible? No, no. Rest assured that the fire that animates animals, the breath that gives them life, that makes them move and communicate through their own language, has at present, no ability to blend, to unite, to merge with the divine breath, the ethereal soul, in a word, the spirit, that animates the essentially perfectible being, the human being, the king of creation. Now, isn’t this character of perfectibility exactly what marks the superiority of the human race above other Earthly species? Well Then! You must acknowledge that it is not possible to attribute to any other living species on Earth the inherent perfectibility of human beings.
Take the dog whose superior intelligence has made him a friend and companion of humans; is the dog perfect by itself through its own personal initiative? Nobody would accept that since dogs do not enable other dogs to advance and the best trained dog is always trained by its human trainer. The otter has always built its home on the water following the same proportions and an unchanged rule since the world began. The nightingales and the swallows have never built their nests differently from their parents. A nest of a sparrow from before the floods is the same as the one built in modern day, built in the same way and using the same system of intertwining straws and debris of vegetation collected during the spring, the season of love. The bees and ants in their little domestic republics have never changed their habits of catering and provisioning, both in their attitudes, customs and ways of production. Finally, the spider has always weaved its web in the same way.
On another hand, if you are searching for the tents and huts built with barks and leaves from human’s earlier times on Earth, you will find castles and palaces of modern civilization in their places. Fine fabrics of gold and silk replaced the outfits made of brute animal skin. You can find proof of the advancement of human society in every step of the way.
There is a constant, invincible, undeniable progress of the human race and an indefinite standstill of other animal species, therefore you will acknowledge that while there are common principles uniting every living creature on Earth, the breath of life and matter, it is not less true that only you, the incarnate spirits are subjected to that unavoidable law of progress that always and relentlessly pushes you forward. God placed the animals by your side to feed you, dress and accompany you. They were given a certain level of intelligence because they must understand you in order to help you, and their intelligence is limited to the type of service they are expected to do. God in His wisdom did not want them to follow the same law of progress. They shall remain as they are until the extinction of their species.
It has been said: the spirits act upon inert matter and make chairs, tables and pianos move. They make them move, that is correct, but the spirits don’t turn them into mediums! That is for the very reason again, that none of those effects could have been produced without mediums. What is so extraordinary is the fact that we give motion to the inert and passive matter, when it is that very passivity that is adequate for us to determine the impulses and motions that we wish to give it? We need mediums for that, it is true. But there is no need to have them present or conscious since we can act with the elements provided by the medium, by default and even in their absence, particularly in cases of tangibility and apports. Our fluidic envelope, more imponderable and subtle than the most imponderable and subtlest of your gases, mixing and combining with the heavier and more animalized envelope of the medium, whose properties of expansion and penetrability are not detected by your material senses, nearly inexplicable to you, enables us to move furniture and even break it in empty rooms.
The spirits can certainly become visible and tangible to animals, often taken by surprise by a fear that doesn’t make sense to you and that can be caused by the sight of one or several bad spirits who appear unfriendly towards the individuals present or the animal’s owner. Very often you will find horses that don’t want to move, stalling before an imaginary obstacle. Well then! You can be certain that the imaginary obstacle is frequently a spirit or a group of spirits who are having fun by deterring them from moving forward. Remember the donkey of Balaam that saw an angel with its flaming sword and refused to move. Before making himself visible to Balaam the angel was first seen by the animal. But I repeat, we do not act directly upon animals or inert matter. We always need the conscious or unconscious support of a human medium since we need the union of similar fluids, something that is not found in animals or in inert matter.
They say that Mr. Thiry magnetized his dog. What happened? He killed the dog; this unfortunate animal fell into a state of unresponsive lifelessness as a consequence of being magnetized. In effect, infusing the dog with a fluid of a superior essence to its nature, acted like a strike of lightning, although much slower. Thus we instantly kill an animal by trying to magnetize it for there is no feasible assimilation between our perispirit and theirs.
Having said that, I still fully recognize that animals have several abilities; that they may show certain feelings and passions similar to humans; that they are sensitive and grateful, vindictive and hateful depending on how they are treated. God, in doing nothing incomplete, has given domestic animals as companions and servants, the qualities of sociability that are missing entirely by the savage animals who live in the wilderness. To summarize: mediumistic acts cannot occur without the conscious or unconscious support of a medium, and it is only among humans that we can find those capable of serving us as mediums. As for training dogs, birds or other animals to perform this or that exercise, that is your business and not ours.
OBSERVATION: Regarding the discussion that took place at the Society about animal mediumship Mr. Allan Kardec said that he had carefully observed experiments carried out lately with birds to which people were attributing mediumistic skills, adding that he was able to unequivocally identify conjurer’s tricks employed with great ability to delude the spectator who is easily satisfied by the appearances, without investigating the bottom line. The birds in fact do things that could lead to the belief that they have superior intelligence and that not even the most lucid somnambulist would be able to reproduce, from which one could conclude, contrary to the laws of nature, that these birds have intelligence superior to human beings.
What is really remarkable about these experiments is the art, the patience needed to train the animals, making them docile and attentive. In order to achieve these results one need a lot of flexibility, typically found in domesticated animals where there is much more habit than deception. The proof is that if they are no longer trained for some time they soon forget what was learned previously. The appeal of such experiments, as with any other trickery, is in the secrecy behind the processes. Once the process is known, the attraction is over. That is what happened when the conjurers wanted to imitate lucid somnambulism with their double vision. There could not be any illusion to anybody who was familiar with somnambulism. The same happens here with the mediumship of birds that any experienced observer can easily demystify.