The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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Benvenuto Cellini


1. Evocation
- Ask. I am ready. Take your time as you wish since I have time to attend you.

2. Do you remember your existence on Earth in the XVI century, between 1500 and 1570?
- Yes, yes.

3. What is your current situation as a spirit?
- I lived in several other worlds and I am very satisfied with the position that I presently occupy. It is not a peak but I am

4. Have you had other corporeal existences on Earth, after the one we know?
- Corporeal, yes. On Earth, no.

5. For how long did you stay in the errant state?
- I cannot precise. Some years.

6. What did you do in that errant state?
- I worked towards my development.

7. Have you eventually returned to Earth?

- A few times.
8. Have you watched the drama by which you are represented? What do you think of that?
- I watched it several times. I was as happy as Cellini but not as much as a spirit that had progressed.

9. Before the existence from which we know you, have you had any other on Earth?
- No, none.

10. Could you tell us what you were in your preceding existences?

- My careers were very different from what I did on Earth.

11. In which world do you live?
- You don’t know and don’t see it.

12. Could you describe it to us, from a physical as well as moral point of view?
- Yes, easily. From the physical point of view, my dear friends, its plastic beauty satisfies me. Nothing shocks our vision there; there is a perfect alignment of forms; mimic is some- how a permanent expression; we are surrounded by perfumes of nature and lack nothing for our physical wellness, since we are subjected to only a few needs, promptly satisfied.
- From a moral point of view, however, perfection is not as great since one can find perturbed consciences and spirits dedicated to evil. It is no perfection, far from that, but as I have already told you, it is the path to that and we all expect to reach it one day.

13. What do you do in the world that you live in?
- We work with the Arts. I am an artist.

14. In your memoirs you tell the story of witchcraft and a possession that would have taken place in the Coliseum, in Rome, in which you would have taken part, do you remember?
- Not very clearly.

15. If we read it to you, would that clarify your memory? - Yes, it would give me a notion.

Then the following excerpt is read from his memoirs:
“In the middle of that strange life I was acquainted with a Sicilian priest of very fine spirit, seriously educated in Greek and Latin. One day our conversation was about necromancy and I told him that dur- ing my whole life I really wished I could see and learn something about that art. In order to get involved with that, said the priest, one needs to have a firm and intrepid soul.”

“One evening, though, the priest made the arrangements and asked me to find one or two companions. He invited a man from Pistoia, who was also involved with necromancy, and we all went to the Coliseum. There the priest dressed up according to the follow- ers of necromancy then he started to draw circles on the ground, followed by the most beautiful ceremonies that one can imagine. He had brought precious perfumes, smelly drugs and fire with him. When it was all set he created an opening in the circle, taking us there by the hand, one by one. He then distributed the papers, plac- ing the talisman in the hands of his necromancer friend. He assigned the others with the task of tendering the fire and the perfumes, after which the conjurations began. That ceremony lasted more than an hour and a half. The Coliseum was then taken by legions of infernal spirits. When the priest noticed that they were in good number he turned to me, who was taking care of the perfumes, and said:”

“ – Benvenuto, ask them for something.”

“I responded that I wished they could reunite me with my Sicilian Angelica.”

“Despite the fact that we had no answer that night, I was im- pressed by what I had seen.”

“The necromancer said that it was necessary to return a second time and that I would then obtain everything I wanted, as long as I brought a virgin young man along.”

“I chose one of my apprentices and brought two other friends of mine.”

“The priest placed the talisman in my hands, asking me to turn it in the direction that was indicated. My apprentice was placed under the talisman. The necromancer started his terrible evocations. He evoked several chiefs of the infernal legions by the name and gave them orders in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, in the name of the uncreated, living and eternal God. The Coliseum was soon taken by a number of demons, a hundred times more than the first time. Following the necromancer’s advice, I asked again to meet Angelica. He turned to me and said:”

“Haven’t you heard their announcement that you will be with her in one month?”

“He then asked me to keep my firmness since there were a thou- sand legions which were not called yet, adding that these were more dangerous, and since they had attended my request, it was necessary to treat them kindly and calmly dismiss them. On another hand the boy commented with fear that he could see thousands of terrible men who were threatening us, and also four giants, armed from hair to toe, who seemed to want to get into our circle. Meanwhile, trembling of fear, the necromancer tried to conjure them, using the sweetest tone of voice. The boy hid his head between his knees, screaming like that:”

“I want to die! We are all dead!”
“I then told him:”
“These creatures are all below us. What you see is no more than

smoke and shadow. Raise your eyes then.”
“He had just obeyed me when he said:”
“The whole Coliseum is taken by flames and the fire is coming

towards us.”
“The necromancer then demanded to have asafetida burned.

Agnolo, in charge of the perfumes, was almost dead, horrified.”

“The noise and the bad smell made the boy raise his head. Once he heard me laughing he got a little animated, saying that the demons were starting to leave. We remained like that until dawn was announced. The boy told us that he could only see a few demons, from far away. Finally, when the necromancer concluded the ceremo- ny and undressed his outfit, we left the circle.”

“While we returned home through Via dei Banchi, he assured us that two demons were performing acrobatics in front of us, some- times running over the roofs, and other times on the ground.”

“The necromancer had sworn that since he had set foot for the first time in a magic circle he had never witnessed something so extraor- dinary. Later he tried to convince me to study a book with him that should provide us with incalculable richness and give us the means of forcing the demons to indicate places where hidden treasures are lo- cated, well kept by Earth...”

“After different reports more or less related to the preceding, Benvenuto tells how, after thirty days, or within the time frame es- tablished by the demons, he found his Angelica.”

16. Could you tell us what is true about that scene?
- The necromancer was a charlatan; I was a romance writer and

Angelica was my lover.

17. Have you met your protector Francis I again?
- Certainly. He has seen many others who were not his protégés.
18. How did you consider him when alive and how do you judge him now?
- I will tell you how I judged him: like a prince and as such, blinded by his education and by those who surrounded him.

19. And now what do you have to say about him?
- He made progress.

20. Did he protect the artists out a sincere love for the arts?
- Yes, but also for pleasure and pride.

21. Where is he now?
- Alive.

22. On Earth?
- No.

23. If we evoked him now could he come to speak with us?
- Yes. But do not force the spirits like that. Your evocations must be prepared well in advance and then you will not have much to ask the spirit. That way you will take much less risk of being deceived, as it does happen sometimes (St. Louis).

24. (To St. Louis): Could you arrange that two spirits would come to talk to each other?

- Yes.
- In that case would it be useful to have two mediums?
- Yes, it is necessary.

NOTE: The dialogue in question happened in another session. We will publish it in the next issue.

25. (To Cellini) What is the origin of your inclination towards art? Would it be due to a special prior development?

- Yes. I was attracted to poetry and the beauty of language for a long time. While on Earth I was linked to art as a re- production. Nowadays I am involved with the beauty as an invention.

26. You were also trained in the military hence Pope Clement VII assigned you with the defense of St. Angel Castle. However, your gift as an artist should not give room for many skills of the art of war.

- I had talent and knew how to apply it. There is the need for discernment in everything, particularly in the military art of that time.

27. Could you give some advices to the artists that try to follow your footsteps?

- Yes. I will tell them that more than what they do and more than what I did they should seek pureness and the true beau- ty. They will understand me.

28. Isn’t beauty relative and conventional? The European considers themselves prettier than the black and the black prettier than the white. If there is an absolute beauty where is the standard? Can you give us your opinion about it?

- With pleasure. I did not want to mention a conventional beau- ty. On the contrary, there is beauty everywhere, as a reflex of the spirit over the body and not only as a material form. As you said, a black person may be beautiful of a beauty only ap- preciated by their similar, which is true. Following that, your Earthly beauty is deformity in heaven as much as black beauty is almost misshapen to you, whites. To the artist, life is beauty, it is the feeling that the artist can associate to his work. With that the artist will provide beauty to the most vulgar things.

29. Could you guide a medium in the execution of a model, as Bernard Palissy did with respect to the paintings?
- Yes.

30. Could you lead the medium that currently serves you to produce something?

- Like the others but I would rather use one that knew the tricks of art.

OBSERVATION: Experience demonstrates that the ability of a medium for this or that kind of production depends on the flexibility presented to the spirit, abstraction made of his talent. The knowledge of the business and the material means of execu- tion do not constitute the talent, but it is understandable that the spirit would find less mechanical difficulty to overcome by lead- ing such a medium. However, one can see mediums that produce remarkable things without having the minimal notions, like in the case of drawings and poetry, engraving and music, etc. but certainly there is an innate ability in those mediums, no doubt, due to a previous development from which they only preserve the intuition.

31. Could you guide Mrs. G. S. who is present here, an artist, but who has never been able to produce something as a medium?
- If she is willing to, I will try.

32. (Mrs. G. S.) When do you want to start?
- Whenever you wish, starting tomorrow.

33. How could I know that the inspiration came from you?
- Conviction comes with proof. Allow it to come slowly.

34. Why haven’t I been successful so far?
- Little perseverance and lack of good will from the part of the spirits to whom you ask.

35. I thank you for the promised assistance.

- Good bye. So long, my colleague.

NOTE: Mrs. G. S. started the work but we still ignore the results.

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