by Dr. Bouché de Vitray
There are certain times when an idea leads the world, preceding those cataclysms that transform people and nations. Even more than an idea that presides over the material interests, the religious idea also takes part in the big picture of the social movement. Frequently absorbed by material concerns, it happens suddenly or unnoticeably. Sometimes it is the lightning that escapes from the clouds, sometimes, the volcano that silently mines the mountain before crossing the crater. It affects another type of manifestation these days. After having shown up as an almost imperceptible point in the horizon of ideas, it ended up by invading the atmosphere. The air is impregnated by it. It crosses the spaces, fertilizes intelligences and touches the whole world. No, I am not using metaphors as an expression of reality. No. It is a phenomenon that one is aware of but that is difficult to translate into words. It is like a fluid that compresses us from all sides, something vague and fuzzy whose influence is felt by everyone, and that impregnates the brain and frequently comes out of the mind as if intuition, rarely formulated as a thought. The religious idea, I mean the spiritist idea, finds its place at the office of the businessman, of the doctor, of the lawyer, the general attorney, in the workshop of the worker, in the fields as in the barracks. The name of our great, our dear spiritist missionary is on everyone’s lips, as his image is in every heart and all eyes are now staring at this pinnacle, honorable interpreter of our Lord’s ministers. Wouldn’t this idea that spreads all over the place, that excites all human brains, that exists even instinctively in the most obstinate incarnate spirits, wouldn’t that be the work of this crowd of intelligences that surrounds us, preceding and facilitating our apostolic works?
We know that the testimony of legitimacy of our Doctrine goes back to the dawn of time; that the sacred books, fundamental basis of Christianity, report them and that several fathers of the Church like Tertullian and Saint Augustine, among others, attest its reality. The contemporary books themselves mention that and I cannot resist the temptation of citing a passage from a book published in 1843 that seems to publically expose the whole quintessence of Spiritism: ‘Some people doubt the existence of superior intelligences, incorporeal, the otherwise geniuses who preside over the administration of the world, and that entertain a private exchange with some privileged beings. The lines below are addressed to them. I hope it helps to convince them. In all kingdoms of nature there is a law that scales the species, from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. It is through imperceptible levels that one transitions from the insect to the elephant; from the grain of sand to the largest cosmic body. Such regular gradation is evident in every sensible work of the Creator; thus it must also be present in his masterpiece so that the scale is continual and leads to him! The prodigious distance between inert matter and rationality seems to be occupied by the organic world but deprived from the noble prerogative. In the infinite distance between people and the Creator there is the dwelling of the pure spirits. Their existence is indispensable for the accomplishment of creation in all senses. Thus, there is also the world of the spirits whose variety is as wide as the shining stars in the skies; there is also the universe of intelligences that through their subtleness, service and broadness, get gradually closer to the sovereign intelligence. His design, already manifested in the organization of the visible world, continues up until the final completion in the invisible world. Every religion proclaims the existence of these immaterial beings. They all represent them involved with human matters, as their secondary agents. Denying their intervention in the human’s incidents is evidently denying the facts upon which the beliefs of all peoples rest, all philosophers and all wise people since ancient times.’
There is no doubt that the person who painted this image was a spiritist from the bottom of his soul. This incomplete drawing lacks the dogma of reincarnation as well as the moral consequences that the teaching of the spirits has brought to the followers of Spiritism. The Doctrine existed as intuition in the minds and hearts. You came, Sir, as the elected of God. The Almighty added righteousness and a privileged mediumship to a vast erudition, to an elevated spirit. All elements of the eternal truths were disseminated in space. It was necessary to establish the Science; take conviction to the still undecided minds; compile the inspirations coming from the Almighty into a substantial body of doctrine. The work progressed and the pollen escaping from that intellectual stem produced the fertilization. Your name is the flag under which we position ourselves. Today you come in support of the children of Spiritism who are only beginning to pronounce the principles of this Science but to whom a large number of benevolent spirits do not deny their favors with their celestial inspirations. Amidst the congress of intelligences from the two worlds – and we congratulate ourselves for that – the bad passions rebel before the works of regeneration. The false knowledge, pride, egotism and human interests stand up against Spiritism, in a demonstration of power, while God, the great engine of this ascending progress towards heavenly regions, hidden behind the clouds of hateful and chimeric theories, remains calm and continues his work.
The work is in progress and spiritist centers are formed in all corners of the planet. Young people abandon the illusions of infancy that entails so much deception at a later stage; more mature people learn to take life seriously; older people who spend their emotions in the frictions of life fulfill their immense emptiness with more realistic pleasures than those left behind; and from all these heterogeneous elements the groups are formed, radiating to infinity. Our beautiful city was not the last one to take part in this intellectual movement. One of those righteous and sensible men took the initiative. His appeal was heard by other intelligences in harmony with his; around this luminous center the many other Spiritist circles gravitated.
Multiple communications appear from everywhere with the seal of the author: it is the mother that communicates with her beloved son from glorious spheres and with a myriad of details out of her infinite kindness; it is the father, or the grandfather, that adds the severity of the form to the paternal love; it is Fénelon speaking about charity and showing the beautiful hallmark of former times in the melody and prose of his language; it is the touching spectacle of a son that becomes a happy spirit revealing the echo of his elevated teachings to the very one who brought him to life; it is the mother who reveals herself to her son with her head crowned by stars, leading him from trial to trial to the place that he must occupy by her side in God, through the eternities (sic); it is the Archbishop of Utrecht whispering his eloquent inspirations to his protégé, submitting them to the impediments of orthodoxy; it is a certain angel Gabriel, homonymous of the great archangel, spontaneously taken upon him and with God’s permission the mission of guiding his brother, following him step by step and adding to his fraternal love the divine love of a superior spirit; it is the pure spirits, the saints, the archangels covering their sublime instructions with the seal of divinity; and finally the physical manifestations after which anyone’s doubt is just absurd if not profanation. After having raised our eyes to the superior levels of the scale of creatures, allow me dear colleagues, to look down to the infinitely small who will still give you lessons.
About ten years ago the clarity of Spiritism reached my eyes but it was Spiritism in its rudimentary state, stripped from the main documentation and without the characteristic know-how. It was a reflection, a few rays of fine radiation. It was not light yet. Instead of using the pencil to obtain quick communications through a simplified method, one was still resorting to rapping’s at the table and indirect writing. The table was not but an appendix of the hand and such means of communication were generally rejected by superior spirits, keeping them away. Thus I only found mystification, trivial or obscene answers, and I therefore stayed away from those mysteries from beyond the grave, converted into things that were much below my expectations, or even better, into something that terrified me. Several trials were carried out leading to similar results. However, those apparent deceptions were not but temporary tests that had the definitive consequence of rooting my convictions. Despite all that, the positivism of my studies had affected my philosophical beliefs. I was skeptical but not ‘pyrrhonic’ since I doubted with great sorrow, uselessly making efforts to repel the materialism that had unexpectedly taken over my soul and my heart. How impenetrable are God’s designs! It was precisely that moral setting that served my transformation. I had the immortality of the soul before my eyes presenting itself like a material fact and to establish this new faith why bother if the manifestations would come from a superior or an inferior spirit, as long as coming from a spirit! Didn’t I know already that an inert body like a table can be the instrument and not the cause of an intelligent manifestation? That it was not absolutely in the sphere of my own ideas and that no fluid theory was good enough to explain?
Hence, I had shaken off those materialistic tendencies against which I fought unsuccessfully with a desperate energy and would have frankly explored those intellectual regions that were just envisaged had it not been for the devil phobia of Mr. de Mirville and the profound impression it had left in my soul. To counter that it was necessary to have this unbelieving luminous, substantial work, full of reassuring truths, dictated by celestial intelligences to an incarnated spirit, but an outstanding spirit to whom his mission on Earth has since been revealed.
Today my recognition obliges me to write on this page the name of one of my good friends who opened my eyes to the light, Mr. Roustaing, a distinct and particularly conscientious attorney, destined to an important role in the history of Spiritism. I owe him this short tribute of acknowledgment and friendship. If I were not afraid of abusing the time in this ceremony I would certainly cite numerous communications of unquestionable interest. However, in this purely intellectual activity and above our unstoppable communications with the world of the spirits there are two facts that exceptionally protest against an absolute silence. The first one is about intimate and touching details that led us to tears; the second, given the strange nature of the phenomenon, belongs to the clairvoyant mediumship, constituting such a tangible proof that we would have to deny the good faith of the mediums if we wanted to deny the reality of that fact.
I and some eager spiritists get together weekly to study and take broader advantage of the teachings given by the Doctrine of the spirits. Plentiful of faith and the similarity of studies and education of the majority of the group gave rise to a reciprocal sympathy and a communion of thoughts, therefore leading to the most favorable moral and intellectual dispositions to receive serious communications.
In one of those sessions someone endowed by a remarkable level of mediumship wanted to evoke the spirit of a little girl that had died of croup, I believe, when she was six years old. He served as the medium and I as the evoker. The evocation had just finished when we heard some percussion in a piece of furniture in an adjacent room; it excited our attention leading us to question if the uncommon noise was provoked by natural causes or if it was originated by a spiritist cause. The guides responded that it was caused by Estelle’s (the girl’s name) companions that came to introduce themselves to her friend. In our minds we followed that graceful entourage floating in space. We were given the name Antonia, a young lady among them who had just passed through Earth and whose life had been taken by a wrongly committed murder when she had just turned four. Predicting that they would complete their trials in a new existence, I prayed to my guardian angel, that good mother whose kindness never failed me, to take them under her care and to clearly show them their heavenly protection. It did not take long for the help to arrive but God allowed her to show up to one of them only and she chose Antonia:
• What do you see my little friend – I asked evoking the latter.
• Oh! What a beautiful lady! She is resplendent of lights!
• And what is the beautiful lady telling you?
• She says: ‘Come to me, my dear, I love you!”
That is why I represented this kind mother with a head crowned by stars. If this touching story that belongs to the world of the spirits seems to be a chapter of a novel to you, then one must deny every communication.
The other fact may be summarized in two words: I was with one of my spiritist colleagues. It was eleven thirty at night and we were praying to God for the suffering spirits when I vaguely saw a shadow moving away from a corner of my office, following a diagonal line extending up to my bed in the adjacent room. When the path was covered we heard a very distinct crack and the shadow moved on to the library, forming an acute angle with the initial direction. I was taken by emotion but given that I was involved by emotions and mystery, I initially thought that it was hallucination or optical illusion and said to myself that I should keep quiet about the fantastic apparition when my companion of continuous studies looked at me and asked if I had not seen anything. I was confused but decided to wait for a better opportunity thus limiting myself to question him the reason for his question. He then described the strange phenomenon that he had also witnessed and with such accuracy that it was impossible for me to doubt it and to let go the confirmation of the reality of that apparition. Two days after that we had the presence of a great medium with us. Consulting with the guides they confirmed the fact adding that the spontaneous apparition was that of a spirit that when on Earth had the name Maria de los Angeles. We were allowed to evoke her and responding to our questions she said that she had been born in Spain where she was a nun; her life had been censored for a long time, but a serious mistake, that death had not given her a chance to atone was the cause of her suffering in the world of the spirits. A few days later by chance, or even rather, God’s will, gave us a second observation of that strange event. A spiritist, a young mechanic of remarkable intelligence, had spent the latter part of the afternoon with me. While I was speaking with him I noticed that his eyes were remarkably fixated. He did not wait for the question to explain the situation: ‘While you were looking at me I clearly saw the silhouette of a woman moving from the window to the couch nearby, then kneeling. She had the appearance of twenty five years of age; she was dressed in black; her torso was covered by a cape; her head was covered by some sort of handkerchief or bonnet’
The description matched perfectly well with the idea I had of the Spanish nun and the place where she kneeled was more or less the place where I usually pray to God for the dead. To me it was Maria des los Angeles. I have no doubt that the unbelievers and the false spiritists will laugh at my certainty and will identify three visionaries in the event, instead of one. As for the sincere spiritist those will believe me particularly when I give my word for that. I give nobody the right to doubt similar testimony.
The work of Spiritism in Bordeaux, regardless of how modest and reserved they may be, are not less subjected to public curiosity and not a single day goes by that I am not questioned about it. Every profane person impressed by the spiritist phenomena insistently demands the favor of a trial; his soul floats between his own doubts and the conviction of followers.
I introduced one person into a serious meeting of spiritists who showed profound worship and reverence, showing the seriousness of the circumstance. What would be the reaction? Will an experienced medium be able to make that person accept the message inspired by a superior spirit? I had one of those embarrassing experiences. If the message has the seal of a divine inspiration the person will attribute it to the merit of the medium. If the message of God’s ministers takes the nuances of that of the medium to whom it is revealed, it will certainly look like something purely human.
In such a case here is my rule of conduct. It was previously outlined by this providential man, by this missionary of ideas that we momentarily have among us and who will from his habitual center of activities irradiate upon us the celestial treasures that a special grace has made him the source. To the curious one who comes to inquiry about the reality of the facts or request an audience as a distraction or an emotion that passes through the heart but does not stay, I limit myself to expose the seriousness of the subject. To the pseudo-wise spirit that in my opinion represents well those of the 8th class, 3rd order of the spiritist scale, I answer with no intention of allowing that person in, but the one who may still be obsessed by doubts but who foresees the truth in its germinal state, showing a goodwill to have faith, I then advise the theoretical studies which will soon lead to the practical studies or experimentation. Hence, as soon as a new fact stems out of a new idea that person keeps that side by side with the fact; then the spiritist science gradually penetrates his mind and his heart; these are works and trials that alternate in the two existences in a shiny eternity that takes place before the eyes of God, the source of life and happiness!
Bouché de Vitray,
doctor in Medicine