The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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Spiritist Society in the XVIII century


“Mr. President,
It is not since 1853, a period in which the spirits started to manifest through the motion of the tables and the knocks, that the renovation in these evocations is marked. In the history of Spiritism that we read in your publications, you don’t mention a Society that existed and, like ours and to my great surprise, was revealed to me by Mercier in his Tableau de Paris, 1788 edition, in the chapter entitled Spiritualists, volume 12. Here is what he says:

“Why do theology, philosophy and history mention several apparitions of spirits, genies or demons? The belief of part of the ancient times was that each person had two spirits, one good, inviting virtue, the other bad, inciting evil.”

“A new sect believes in the return of the spirits to this world. I heard several people really influenced that there are means of evoking these spirits. We are surrounded by a world that we don’t see. Around us there are beings that go completely unnoticed. Endowed by a superior intellectual nature, they see us. There is no emptiness in the Universe; this is what the followers of this new science affirm.”
“Thus, the return of the souls of the dead, accepted since the remotest antiquity, mocked by our philosophy, today is accepted by people who are neither ignorant nor superstitious. All these spirits, called princes of air in the scriptures, are always under the orders of the lord of nature. Aristotle says that the spirits always appear to human beings because ones need the others. I do nothing more here than reporting what the partisans of the existence of the genies say.”
“If we believe in the immortality of the soul we must admit that the crowd of spirits must manifest after death. Among the huge amount of prodigies reported in all countries on Earth, if only one has in fact occurred, then the incredulity is mistaken. I then believe that there would not be less risk in denying this than supporting the truthfulness of the apparitions. We are in an unknown world.”
Mercier will not be accused of incredulity and ignorance. In the preceding excerpt we see that he does not reject the spirits manifestations by default, although he did not have the opportunity of witnessing them. However, as a prudent man, he suspended his judgment up until the availability of better information. As for magnetism he had already said: “This is so mysterious, so profound and incredible that we must laugh or fall on our knees. I don’t do either one. I wait and observe.”
It would be interesting to know why these evocations, reestablished in 1788, were interrupted up until 1853. Would the members of the Society have perished during the revolution? It is unfortunate that Mercier had not mentioned the name of the president of that Society.
Sincerely, etc.
A regular member of the Society.”
OBSERVATION: The fact reported by Mercier is very important and a reach that no one can deny. It proves that, since those days, people commendable by their intelligence seriously dealt with the Spiritist Science. As for the cause that determined the extinction of the Society, it is more likely that the disturbances that followed had a strong role on that. But it is not correct to say that the evocations were interrupted until 1853. It is true that the manifestations had a greater development around that time but it is demonstrated that they have never stopped. We had, in hand, a manuscript reporting that in 1818, in the Society of the Theosophists, existing in the beginning of this century, indicating that through worship and prayer it was possible to enter into communication with the spirits. It could perhaps be the continuation of the Society mentioned by Mercier. Since the year 1860 the celebrity Abbot Faria, according to a friend of his, former missionary in Paraguay, dealt with evocations and obtained written communications. We daily learn about persons that witnessed those manifestations well before it was cogitated in America.
Nevertheless, it is proper to clarify that before those days everyone who had such knowledge kept that in secrecy. It vulgarizes today, as public domain. That is the whole difference. And if it were an illusion it would not have implanted in all corners of the world in just a few years. Common sense would have made it justice, since everyone can see and understand. Certainly nobody will dispute the daily progress of these ideas, even in the most educated layers of society. Well, an idea that requires reasoning, that grows and gets illuminated by discussion and examination, does not bear the features of a utopia.

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