I love to hear about spirits; love to hear about the next world. Lately I’m looking at the 1800s when Spiritism spread across America and Europe. Here’s my take on the definitive 1857 book by Allan Kardec – The Spirits’ Book (Le Livre Des Espirits).
I’ve heard about séances from that era, where tables would knock or move or bounce.
What I didn’t know is that when they mention “table turning,” they mean the table actually rotates, spins in a circular movement. (A phenomenon that also occurred in ancient times, says the editorial note.)
Sometimes a table would be overturned or carried around or held up in the air by an invisible force. The popular term for all of this was “the dance of the tables.”
Soon people realized an intelligence was handling the table, because it answered questions by rising up and striking the floor with one leg in code to reply “yes” or “no.”
Later its answers became more detailed. The table leg tapped out numbers corresponding to letters, slowly spelling words and sentences. At this point the table entity revealed that it was a spirit. (This idea came as a surprise to many.)
The leg tapping method was cumbersome and finally Spirit suggested a pencil. In fact this quiet request was made simultaneously in several countries including America and France. (How charming that several mediums were given this instruction privately and asked not to talk about it. Later they discovered they had all received it at the same time.)
They were told to firmly attach a pencil through the dome of a small basket and rest their fingertips upon the face-down basket.
On a sheet of paper the basket moved by the same power that had lifted tables. But now Spirit could write whole essays and answer the deepest questions of ethics, psychology, and metaphysics.
In France they invented a planchette, a pencil-holder triangular structure on casters. (See picture below – similar to the planchette on a Ouija board.)
The medium lightly touched the edge of the planchette, but it moved on its own to write messages.
From there it was a natural progression into automatic writing from Spirit. The medium would lightly hold the pencil and allow it to move, sometimes quite fast.
Another fascinating point is that different spirits produced different handwriting styles, not the handwriting of the human tending the pencil.
If you asked questions of a departed friend or relative, they still produced their own handwriting. Family members of the deceased were delighted to recognize that spirit’s unique handwriting which they had exhibited when they were in the flesh.
Spiritists hosted séances and channelings. They also approached this material scientifically, asking the higher realm for insight about the nature of the earth and the universe.
Sometimes a participant would ask a question mentally (not aloud), and yet Spirit would perceive it and answer it.
Sometimes a question would be asked in a foreign language, and despite the medium’s limitations the answer would be written in that same language.
In some cases the writings revealed much wisdom. At other times the writings might be frivolous and shallow. This reflected characters from all walks of life, just the way we are in our material world.
As expected many people of the day criticized this whole thing, but prominent doctors and scientists investigated it with an open mind. Nobel Prize winners Marie Curie and Pierre Curie declared to their surprise that “these phenomena really exist” and after testing them “under perfect control conditions,” they found them “impossible to deny.”
Famous writers like Hugo, Balzac, Gautier and Sardou used Spiritist concepts in their books.
At least 92% of us believe in spirits, believe in an afterlife, so why are we hesitant to talk about it?
I say it’s because we’re so freaking attached to the illusion that this material plane is the only reality.
In fact we could see this plane as a (fake) playground for our learning.
What do you think?
Below are some of the core ideas given by Spirit in this 19th century book. (If you’ve seen recent books on this topic, you’ll notice how Spirit continues to repeat itself to us.)
- The spirit world pre-exists the material world. The spirit world is the real world, the eternal world.
- The material world is only secondary. It could cease to exist without really changing the spirit world at all.
- Spirits temporarily take on a material body. Later the death of the body restores them to freedom.
- Each Spirit retains its individuality through its travels in both realms and through many incarnations.
- Life on Earth is a learning experience for the spirit, advancing toward more wisdom.
- We alternate our time between the spirit world and the material world, taking on many incarnations for the benefit of improving our character.
- In the material world discarnate spirits are always active around us.
And yes, the reason it’s called The Spirits’ Book is because Kardec took dictation from Them – Spirits wrote the book.
(How does this fit in with practical health tips? Well – I certainly want a good-feeling body for my whole incarnation, but to me, the ultimate well-being is to feel fine about dropping the body someday …)
Diane does Biofield Tuning, Chakra Repair and Balancing, energy healing, health coaching, and gives you practical ways to lift your wellbeing. Make a appointment in Phoenix or Fountain Hills. Inquire about our healing class, Tuesday evenings in Phoenix, and free meditation classes on Mondays in Fountain Hills.
(Thanks to etsy and Wikimedia commons for these images we combined.)