General considerations - Spirits who may be evoked - Mode of addressing spirits - Utility of special evocations - Questions on evocation - Evocation of animals - Evocation of living persons - Human telegraphy.
269. Spirits communicate spontaneously, or come at our call, that is to say, as a result of evocation. Some persons think that we should abstain from evoking any given spirit, and should wait for some one to present himself spontaneously; because, say they, when we evoke a spirit previously decided upon, it is by no means certain that the spirit thus evoked will respond to our evocation, while, on the other hand, if a spirit comes spontaneously, he proves his identity by the fact of his desire to converse with us. In our opinion, this view of the subject is a mistaken one; first, because there are always spirits around us, and most frequently of low degree, who ask nothing better than to communicate; and, secondly, because, such being the case, by abstaining from the evocation of a given spirit, we open the door to any and every spirit who desires to enter. In an assembly where no one in particular is called upon to speak, we leave the floor free to everybody; and we know what that comes to. A direct appeal to a spirit previously fixed upon is a link between him and us; we attract him by our desire for his presence, and thus oppose a sort of fluidic barrier against intruders. Without a direct call on our part, few spirits of high degree would have any motive for coming to us; and the probability is that, with the exception of our own familiar spirit, or the spirits of our friends, we should, without such direct evocation, but rarely receive communications from any other than commonplace spirits of comparatively low advancement. But each of the two ways of proceeding referred to has its special advantages, and only becomes objectionable by the exclusion of the other. Spontaneous communications present no difficulties when we are sufficiently at home in the matter to be sure of not allowing inferior spirits to gain a footing among us; and there are cases in which it is well to wait for such, because, the thought of those who spontaneously manifest themselves being under no restraint, they often give us admirable communications; while, on the other hand, it is never absolutely certain that the spirit we evoke will be willing, or able, to give us information in regard to the special topic of which we desire him to treat. The scrupulous examination of direct messages, so constantly recommended by us, is the best protection against false or worthless communications. In the case of regular spiritist meetings, especially of those in which a stated plan of proceeding is adopted, there are always a number of spirits who have formed the habit of attending them, and who, through the regularity of the sittings, are able to come to them without being called. Such spirits often communicate spontaneously, treating of whatever subject may be under consideration, or giving advice as to what should be done; their presence is easily recognized, either by their language, which is always the same, by their writing, or by various little characteristic peculiarities.
270. If we would communicate with a spirit fixed on beforehand, we must necessarily evoke him (203). If he can come, the answer usually obtained is "Yes;" or "Here I am;" or, perhaps, "What do you desire of me?" Sometimes the spirit enters directly upon the subject on which we wish to learn his opinion; replying to the question we had intended addressing to him before we have had time to propound it. When we evoke a spirit for the first time, it is well to designate him precisely in our evocation; and our mode of addressing him, it is hardly necessary to point out, should be kindly or respectful according to his character, and such as may be calculated to conciliate his sympathy.
271. We are sometimes surprised at the promptitude with which a spirit presents himself when evoked, and even when evoked for the first time, so that it almost seems as though he had been informed beforehand of our intention to evoke him, and had been awaiting our invitation to manifest himself. And this, in fact, is what really occurs when we have been previously thinking of evoking a given spirit, for our intention, in such a case, is a sort of evocation and, as our familiar spirits are always about us, identifying themselves with our thoughts, they prepare the way for the spirit we are about to evoke, so that, if nothing opposes his coming, it often happens that he is already present when we evoke him. In the contrary case, the familiar spirit of the medium, or that of the evoker, or one of the spirits who habitually attend the meetings, goes to seek the spirit evoked; an operation for which very little time is usually needed. If the spirit evoked cannot come at once, the messenger (the pagans would have called him Mercury) notifies us that there will be a delay of a few minutes, a quarter of an hour, an hour, or, it may be, of several days; and, on the arrival of the spirit evoked, the messenger announces his presence, when we may address our questions to him without further delay. The intermediary of a messenger, however, is not always needed; for the call of the evoker may be heard at once by the spirit, as we shall show further on.
Transmission of Thought.
Our unvarying habit is to make every evocation in the name of God, and accompanied by an appeal for the Divine protection through the intermediary of our spirit-guides and protectors; and we strongly advise the adoption of this plan of proceeding in all evocations. But, in giving this advice, we wish it to be distinctly understood that it should be adopted with the utmost seriousness, or not at all. Those who would regard that course as being only an unmeaning formality would do better not to attempt to follow it.
272. The evocation of given spirits offers more difficulties for mediums than do spontaneous dictations; and especially when we desire to obtain precise answers to circumstantial questions. For this purpose, it is necessary to have special mediums, who must be at once flexible and positive; and we have seen that the last are very rare, for, as previously stated, the necessary fluidic connection is not always established at once between the medium and the spirit who presents himself Mediums will therefore do well to abstain from sitting for individual evocations until they are sure both of the development of their faculty, and of the nature of the spirits who assist them; for, with mediums whose spirit-surroundings are bad, evocations can offer no guarantee of authenticity.
273. Owing to the very natural desire that is usually felt to communicate with those who are dear to us, mediums are much more in demand for evocations of private interest than for communications of general import; and we therefore think it right to offer to them in this place several suggestions of great practical importance. 1. We would advise them not to accede too rashly to this desire on the part of applicants of whose sincerity they are not sure; and to be especially on their guard against ill-disposed persons who may be laying a trap for them. 2. Let them be careful not to lend themselves, under any pretext, to any evocation prompted merely by curiosity or worldly interests, instead of a sincere desire for enlightenment on the part of the person who evokes; and let them refuse their aid in reference to any idle question, or one that goes beyond the limits of what we may reasonably ask of spirits. 3. All questions addressed to spirits should be clear, concise, and honest, if we would obtain unequivocal answers. 4. It is also well, in most cases, to decline evoking any spirit in the absence of the party who makes the demand; the presence of that party being usually necessary for putting the incidental questions, and obtaining the subsidiary explanations, that may serve to settle the question of the identity, or otherwise, of the spirit who is replying. Moreover, the presence of the party desiring to evoke a given spirit is often the principal link in the chain of attraction by which the spirit, sometimes not desirous of communicating, may be drawn to the medium. 5. And lastly, the medium must carefully avoid everything that would tend to transform him into an agent for consultations in regard to worldly affairs, which, in the eyes of many, are synonymous with "fortune telling."
Spirits who may be evoked.
274. We are at liberty to evoke all spirits, to whatever step of the ladder they belong; the good and the bad those who have lately quitted the earth, and those who lived here in the remotest ages; the most illustrious, and the most obscure; our relations and friends, and those who are indifferent to us: but it is by no means certain that those whom we evoke will, or can, in all cases, respond to our call. Besides the refusal which may be prompted by the action of their will, or imposed upon them by a superior power, they may be prevented from answering our call by innumerable causes unknown to us. On the other hand, except in certain cafes which we shall presently point out, there is nothing absolutely and intrinsically opposed to our communicating with any given spirit; the obstacles which may prevent a spirit from manifesting himself being usually of an individual and personal nature, or depending on circumstances.
275. Of the causes which prevent a spirit's manifestation, some, as just remarked, are personal to the spirit himself, while others are extraneous to him. Among the first are to be placed the occupations or missions in which he may be engaged, and which he may not be able to quit for the purpose of responding to our call; in which case the desired visit, refused for the moment, is only deferred.
The situation of the spirit evoked is also to be taken into the account. Although his reincarnation is not an insuperable obstacle to communication, it is necessarily a hindrance (unless he happens to be asleep), and especially if he is reincarnated in a world of low degree, and is, himself, but little dematerialized. In the higher corporeal worlds, in which the links that attach the spirit to matter are very slight the manifestation of a spirit during incarnation is almost as easy as in the wandering state, and is always easier than in worlds of which the corporeal matter is more compact.
The extraneous hindrances to a spirit's manifestation consist, principally, in the nature of the medium, in that of the person who evokes, in the surroundings amidst which the evocation is made, and lastly, in the object of the evocation itself. Some mediums receive communications only through their familiar spirits, who may be more or less elevated, while other mediums are able to act as intermediaries for all spirits; this depends on the sympathy or antipathy, the attraction or repulsion, exercised by the spirit of the medium on the spirit evoked, to whom it may be agreeable or repugnant to take him as an interpreter, owing to the special nature or degree of development of the medium's faculty. Spirits come more willingly, and express themselves more explicitly, through a medium in whom they encounter no physical obstacle. Other things being equal as regards moral conditions, the greater the facility with which the medium expresses himself by writing or speaking, the more general do his relations become with the spirit-world.
276. We must also take account of the greater facility resulting from habitual communication with a particular spirit; the latter, in course of time, identifying himself both with the spirit of the medium, and with that of the evoker. A fluidic connection is thus established between them, rendering the work of communication easier and more rapid. Owing to the imperfect connection between them, a first attempt at communication is often unsatisfactory to all parties; in which cases, the spirits themselves frequently ask to be evoked again. The spirit who comes habitually is, as it were, at home; he is familiarized with his auditors and his interpreters, and he therefore speaks and acts more freely.
277. To recapitulate: the possibility, on our part, of evoking any and every spirit, does not imply any obligation, on the part of any spirit, to come at our call The spirit evoked may, or may not, be able or willing to come to us; he may be able to come to us at one time, and not at another, and through the fluidic assistance of some particular medium or evoker, and not of others. He may come to us for a time; and then, for reasons which he may, or may not, be able to explain, he may suddenly cease coming, after having been for a long period an habitual and assiduous visitor. For the foregoing reasons it is well, when we desire to evoke a spirit for the first time, to begin by asking our protecting guide whether the evocation is possible, or not; when it is not possible, he generally tells us why, and, in such cases, it is useless to insist.
278. Here an important question presents itself, viz., whether it is, or is not, right to evoke evil spirits? To this question we reply, that this depends entirely on the aim we have in view in evoking them, and on our ability to exercise the necessary ascendancy over them. There is no impropriety in our evoking them from a serious motive, in order to instruct them, and to help forward their amelioration; but there is, on the contrary, a very great impropriety in such evocations, when they are made from curiosity or for amusement, or when we put ourselves under the power of the spirits thus evoked by asking of them any kind of favor. Superior spirits, under such circumstances, sometimes permit inferior ones to do what is asked of them; but only to punish severely, at a later period, the rash fool who has dared to invoke them, thus practically attributing to them a power greater than that of God. In vain would such a one flatter himself that, if he makes only a good use of the boon thus obtained, he will be able to dismiss the spirit when the desired service has been rendered; for the service he has solicited and accepted, however small it may be, constitutes a virtual compact entered into by him with an evil spirit, and he may rest assured that the latter will not easily let go his hold
279. No other ascendancy can be exercised over inferior spirits but that of moral superiority. Perverse spirits find their masters among men of sound moral principle; they wrestle so to say, by a sort of brute force, with those who can only oppose them by the energy of their will, and they frequently show themselves to be the stronger party. A person known to us once endeavored to cow a violent spirit by the force of his will; but the spirit said to him "Let me alone, with your duelist's airs, you who are no better than I am! As well might one thief preach up honesty to another thief!" People are often astonished to find that the name of God, when invoked against bad spirits, is so frequently powerless. Saint Louis explains this fact in the following reply: - "The name of God has no influence over imperfect spirits, unless pronounced by some one whose own excellence enables him to use it with authority; in the mouth of one who has no moral superiority over the spirit, it is only a word, like any other. The most formidable weapon is inoffensive in the hands of those who have not the skill and the strength to use it."
Mode of addressing Spirits.
280. The degree of superiority or inferiority of spirits naturally decides the tone which we should adopt in addressing them. It is evident that, the higher they are, the greater is their right to our respect, regard, and attention. We ought not to show them less deference than we should show them if they were still in the flesh, although our deference, in the case of those who have quitted the earth, is prompted by different motives. In regard to our fellow-men, we are more or less influenced by their name and social position; in regard to the denizens of the spirit-world, our respect is prompted solely by their moral superiority. Their elevation raising them above the puerile flatteries of earthly forms, it is not by words that we can win their good-will, but by sincerity. It would therefore be absurd to give them the titles which social usage consecrates to the distinction of ranks among ourselves, and which, during their earthly life, may have flattered their vanity; if they are really superior, they not only do not desire this sort of homage, but are displeased by it. A kindly thought is more agreeable to them than any praise; were it otherwise, they would not be above humanity.
The spirit of a venerable and excellent ecclesiastic who, while on earth, was a "Prince of the Church," but who, nevertheless, practiced the law of Jesus, replied one day to a person who evoked him under the title of "My Lord, " "You should, at least, say 'ex-My Lord;' for here there is no Lord but God. Know that I see many here who, on the earth, went on their knees to me, but to whom I now bow, in all humility!" As for inferior spirits, their character, also, prescribes the sort of language we should use towards them. Among their number are some who, although inoffensive or even well-intentioned, are nevertheless frivolous, ignorant, and giddy; to treat them as we should treat serious spirits is about as reasonable as to take off one's hat to a schoolboy, or to a donkey with a college-cap. A certain amount of familiarity is not out of place with spirits of this description, and is not taken amiss by them; on the contrary, they like it.
Among inferior spirits, there are many who are unhappy. Whatever may be the faults they are expiating, their suffering is a title to our commiseration, and one that is all the more valid because none of us can flatter ourselves with being beyond the application of those words of Christ: "Let him that is without sin cast the first stone." The kindness we show to such spirits is a consolation to them;- needing sympathy, they should find in us the same indulgence that we should desire for ourselves.
Spirits who reveal their inferiority by the cynicism of their language, their lies, the baseness of their sentiments, and the perfidiousness of their counsels, are certainly less worthy of our interest than those whose words bear witness to their repentance; still, we owe to them, at least, the pity we bestow upon great criminals, and the best way to silence them is to prove ourselves superior to them. They do not usually intrude their vileness except upon persons from whom they have nothing to fear; for perverse spirits recognize their masters in honest men, as they do in superior spirits.
To sum up; just as it would betoken irreverence to put ourselves on an equality with superior spirits, so it would be absurd to treat all spirits with the same deference. Let us venerate those who are worthy of our veneration; let us be grateful to those who protect and assist us; and let us treat all others with the kindness and forbearance that we may some day need for ourselves. Through the relations into which we are now able to enter with the incorporeal world, we learn to know it; and this knowledge should guide us in our relations with those by whom it is inhabited. The ancients, in their ignorance, raised altars to them; but for us, they are only our brethren, more or less advanced: and we raise our altars to God alone.
The utility of private evocations.
281. The communications which we obtain from very superior spirits, whether those of later days, or those who have animated the great personages of antiquity, are precious on account of the high teachings they convey. Those spirits, having attained a degree of advancement which enables them to embrace a vast sphere of ideas and to enter regions beyond the ordinary reach of human thought, are able to initiate us into various mysteries more fully than can be done by spirits of lower degree. It does not follow from this that the communications of spirits of a lower degree are without utility; on the contrary, the observer may draw much instruction from them. If we would understand the manners of a people, we must study them at every degree of the social scale. To make acquaintance with any nation, we must study all its various classes; just as, in order to learn its history, we must study not only the lives of its kings and its upper classes, but also those of the humblest of its people. Superior spirits are the social grandees of the spirit-world; their very elevation raises them so greatly above us that we are startled at the distance between us. More homely spirits, if we may be allowed to use such an expression, bring the circumstances of their new existence more palpably before us; in their case, the connection between the corporeal life and the spirit-life is more intimate, and we understand it better, because, being revealed to us by those who are nearer to us, it is brought more closely to our thought. On learning from them what becomes of men of all conditions and characters in that other life,-what is thought, felt, experienced, in the world beyond the grave, by the virtuous and the vicious, the great and the small, the happy and the unhappy, of our own time, in a word, by the people who have lived among us, whom we have seen and known, with whose life, habits, virtues, and defects we were personally acquainted,-we understand their joys and their sufferings, we make them our own, and we draw from them a moral teaching that is all the more profitable in proportion as the relations between them and us are more intimate. We put ourselves, in thought, more easily in the place of him who has been Our equal than in that of one whom we only see amidst a halo of celestial glory. Common-place spirits show us the practical application of the sublime verities which the superior spirits teach us theoretically. Moreover, in the study of any given subject, nothing that bears upon that subject is useless. Newton deduced the law of gravitation from the analysis of a very simple phenomenon. The evocation of ordinary spirits has the additional advantage of bringing us into connection with suffering ones, whom we may relieve, and whose advancement we may assist, by our counsels, so that we may thus be useful to others while instructing ourselves. There is selfishness in seeking only our own satisfaction in our communion with spirits; and to refuse a helping hand to the wretched of either world is to give evidence of hardness and of pride. What is the use of a man's obtaining fine communications from elevated spirits, if they do not make him better in himself, and more charitable and benevolent towards his brothers of this world and of the other? What would become of the hapless victims of war, or of accident, if the surgeons refused to dress their wounds?
282. Questions concerning evocations.
[kardec asks for clarifications from a trusted spirit guide]
1. Can spirits be evoked by those who are not mediums?
"Every one can evoke spirits; and if those whom you call cannot manifest themselves physically, they are none the less near you, and hear your call."
2. Does a spirit always come when evoked?
"We have already told you that this depends upon the conditions in which a spirit finds himself; there are circumstances under which he may be unable to come."
3. What are the circumstances that may prevent a spirit from coming at our call?
"His will, in the first place; in the next, his corporeal state, if reincarnated, or, if in the wandering state, the missions with which he may be charged, or the refusal of permission to communicate.
"There are some spirits who can never communicate because, by their present degree of advancement, they belong to worlds still lower than the earth. Those also who are in the spheres of punishment cannot come, unless permission be granted them by a higher power, which is only done for some object of general utility. In order for a spirit to be able to communicate, he must have attained the average degree of advancement of the world to which he is called; otherwise he is unversed in the ideas of that world, and therefore has no connecting, sympathetic link with it. This is not the case with those who have missions that bring them to your world, or who are undergoing expiation in inferior worlds to which they have been temporarily exiled as punishment for wrong-doing, in your world or in worlds of similar degree; for, in such cases, they possess the ideas necessary for replying."
4. For what reasons is permission to communicate refused to a spirit?
"As a trial or a punishment, either for the spirit or for him by whom he is evoked."
5. How can spirits, dispersed as they are in space, or in different worlds, know when they are evoked at some distant point of the universe?
"They are informed of it beforehand by the familiar spirits who surround you, and who go to them, and tell them of your intention; but, in such cases, something occurs which it is difficult to explain to you, because you do not yet understand the mode of transmission of a spirit's thought. All I can tell you is, that the spirit whom you evoke, however distant he may be, receives, so to say, the impact of the thought addressed to him in your evocation, and which acts upon his consciousness like an electric shock, attracting his attention to the place from which the thought is addressed to him. He may be said to hear the thought, as you, upon the earth, hear the spoken word."
--Is the universal fluid the vehicle of thought, as the air is the vehicle of sound?
"Yes, with this difference, viz., that sound can only be heard within a very limited circle, while thought reaches to infinity. The spirit in space is like the traveler in the midst of a vast plain, who, suddenly hearing himself addressed by name, turns to the point from which the voice proceeds."
6. We know that distances are of small account with spirits; nevertheless, we are sometimes surprised to find them answering our call as promptly as though they had been close to us and awaiting our call.
"That is sometimes the case, when your evocation was premeditated; because, as we have already told you, the spirit has been made aware of your intention beforehand, and is therefore often present before your evocation has been formally made."
7. Is the thought of the person who evokes more or less easily heard by the spirit evoked, according to circumstances?
"Certainly; a spirit evoked under the influence of a sympathetic and benevolent sentiment is the more forcibly impressed thereby; the evocation is then like a friendly voice which he recognizes; when unaccompanied by such a sentiment, it often happens that the evocation miscarries. The thought which springs forth from a well-directed evocation strikes the spirit; but a misdirected evocation is lost in space. It is with spirits as with men; if called by one who is indifferent or antipathetic to them, they may hear, but not heed, his call."
8. When a spirit is evoked, does he come voluntarily, or because he is constrained to do so?
"He obeys the will of God, that is to say, the general laws which govern the universe; and moreover; 'constrained' is not the right word, for he himself judges whether it is useful to come, and, in so doing, exercises his free-will A superior spirit always comes when he is called for a useful purpose; he only refuses to answer those who evoke him as an amusement."
9. Can a spirit refuse to come when evoked?
"Certainly he can; where would be his free-will if he could not? Do you suppose that all the beings of the universe are at your orders? Would you consider yourself obliged to reply to every one who should pronounce your name? When I say that a spirit can refuse to come, I mean, at the demand of the evoker; for an inferior spirit may be constrained by a superior spirit to present himself."
10. Has the evoker any means at his disposal by which he can compel a spirit to present himself against his will?
"Not any, if he be your superior, or even your equal (I refer, here, to equality in morality), because you have no authority over such a one; but if he be your inferior in morality, you can constrain him, provided your evocation is intended to promote his welfare; for, in that case, your action will be seconded by other spirits."
11. Is it improper to evoke inferior spirits, and do we run any risk of placing ourselves in their power by calling them?
"They only lord it over those who allow them to do so. He who is assisted by good spirits has nothing to fear; for he dominates inferior spirits, and they cannot dominate him. But, when alone, and especially when only beginners, mediums should abstain from evocations of this sort."
12. Is it necessary to bring any particular state of feeling to an evocation?
"The most essential of all states of feeling, when you wish to hold converse with spirits of high degree, is seriousness and concentration of purpose. Faith in God, and the aspiration after goodness, are the most powerful of all evocations as regards superior spirits. By raising the soul towards the higher spheres, through a few moments of serious thought, before evoking, you identify yourselves with spirits of correspondingly higher degrees, and thus dispose them to come to you."
13. Is faith an indispensable condition of evocation?
"Faith in God is necessary; but faith will follow, if you sincerely desire to advance in knowledge and in virtue."
14. When men are united in a community of thought and intention, have they a greater power of attracting good spirits by evocation?
"It is when those who evoke are united by charity and good-will that the best results are obtained. Nothing hinders evocation so much as divergencies of thought and feeling on the part of those who evoke."
15. Is it useful for the latter to form a chain, by holding each other's hands for a few minutes, at the commencement of a sitting?
"The forming of a chain is a physical act which brings no union if such be not already in your thoughts; what is very much more useful is union of thought and purpose, in making your appeal to the higher spirits you desire to attract to your sitting. You little know what results might thus be obtained by a company of earnest persons, free from all feeling of pride and personality, and united by mutual cordiality in a persevering effort of this kind."
16. Is it better to have stated days and hours for evocation?
"Yes; and, if possible, to hold your sittings in the same place; for spirits then come to you more easily and willingly. The constancy of your desire, as well as its earnestness, aids the spirits whom you call in coming to you and in communicating with you. Spirits have occupations which they cannot always quit, unpreparedly, for your personal satisfaction. I have said that it is well for the meetings to be in the same place; but you must not suppose this to be absolutely necessary, for spirits come everywhere, what I mean is, that a place selected for the purpose is preferable, because its influence favors concentration of thought on the part of those who assemble there."
17. Have talismans the property of attracting or repelling spirits, as some persons imagine?
"Your question is unnecessary, for you know that matter has no influence over spirits. Be assured that no good spirit ever inculcated any such absurdity, and that the virtue of talismans has never existed except in the imaginations of the credulous."
18. What are we to think of spirits who make appointments in lugubrious places and at unseasonable hours?
"That they are amusing themselves at the expense of those who listen to them. It is always useless, and often dangerous, to conform to such suggestions; useless, because you gain absolutely nothing by so doing, except being hoaxed; dangerous, not from any harm the spirits may do you, but from the effect which such assignations may have upon your own weak brains."
19. Are certain days and hours more propitious than others for evocation?
"No physical conditions are of any importance to spirits; to believe in the influence of days and hours is mere superstition. The most propitious time is that in which the thought of the evoker is least preoccupied with his daily affairs, and in which he enjoys the greatest calmness of mind and of body."
20. Is evocation agreeable or disagreeable to the spirits evoked? Do they come willingly when thus called?
"That depends upon their character and the motive of the evocation. Evocation in view of noble and useful ends, and when the evokers and surroundings are sympathetic, is agreeable to them. For some spirits, communication with men is a very great pleasure; many of them, in fact, are much pained by the abandonment in which they are left by men. But, as I have already said, all this depends on their individual character; for there are misanthropic spirits who do not like to be disturbed, and whose answers, when questioned, betray their ill-humor, especially if they are evoked by persons in whom they take no interest. A spirit has no motive for responding to the call of an evoker who is unknown to him, or with whom he is not in sympathy, especially when the call is prompted by mere curiosity should he come, it will generally be only for a short time, and he most likely will not come at all, unless he sees that some useful end will be subserved by his coming."Remark. - There are persons who only evoke their spirit-friends in order to ask them about the common things of their earthly life; whether they shall buy or sell a house, whether they will make a profit by some commercial speculation, or whether such and such a transaction will turn out advantageously. Our friends and relations in the world beyond the grave only interest themselves in us in proportion to the affection that we feel for them; and if we only think of them as magicians, and to get them to advise us about our worldly affairs, they cannot feel any great sympathy for us, and we should hardly be surprised at any corresponding deficiency of good-will on their part.
21. Do good or bad spirits come to us most willingly when we evoke them?
"Bad spirits only come voluntarily in the hope of dominating and deceiving; they come very unwillingly when compelled to do so, and in order that they may be made to avow their faults. Under such circumstances, they would gladly keep away, like schoolboys called up to be punished; but they are sometimes constrained to come, by superior spirits, as a chastisement and means of advancement for themselves, and a lesson for the human beings who evoke them. Evocation for puerile purposes can only be wearisome to superior spirits, who either do not come at all, or soon retire. "Remember that spirits do not like, any more than you do, to serve as an amusement for the curious. You have often no better purpose in evoking a spirit than to see what he will say, or to ask him particulars in relation to his earthly life, which it is not your business to pry into, and which he has no motive for confiding to you. Do you suppose that a spirit likes to be put into the witness-box and cross-questioned at your pleasure? Undeceive yourselves; what a spirit would not have consented to do while on earth he will most likely decline to do as a spirit."Remark. - Experience shows that evocation is always agreeable to spirits, when made for serious and useful ends. The good come with pleasure to instruct us; those who suffer find relief in our sympathy; those whom we have known are gratified by our recollection of them. Frivolous spirits delight in being evoked by the frivolous, because it gives them an opportunity of amusing themselves at their expense; but they are ill at ease with more serious persons.
22. Is it necessary to evoke a spirit in order for him to be able to manifest himself?
"No, spirits very frequently come without being called; which proves that they come voluntarily."
23. When a spirit comes of his own accord, are we more certain of his identity?
"By no means; deceptive spirits frequently employ this method, in order the better to take you in."
24. When we evoke a spirit by our thought, does he come to us, even when there is no manifestation of his presence by writing or otherwise?
"Manifestations are attestations of the presence of a spirit; but it is your thought which attracts him."
25. When an inferior spirit manifests his presence, how can we oblige him to retire?
"By paying no attention to him. But how can you expect him to go if you amuse yourselves with his follies? Inferior spirits attach themselves to those who listen to them with complacency, just as is done by foolish persons among yourselves."
26. Is the making of an evocation in the name of God a guarantee against the intermeddling of evil spirits?
"The name of God does not affect all perverse spirits, though a good many are restrained by it. If employed with faith and sincerity, it will always drive away some of them; and it would keep off a great many more if it were always employed with conviction, and not as a mere formality."
27. Can we evoke several spirits at the same time, by name?
"There is no difficulty in doing so; and if you had three or four hands to write with, three or four spirits would answer you at the same time. They do this when several mediums are present."
28. When several spirits are evoked at the same time, and there is only one medium present, which spirit replies?
"The one who is most in sympathy with the medium replies for all, by expressing their collective thought."
29. Can the same spirit, during a sitting, communicate at the same time by two different mediums?
"Just as easily as a man can dictate several letters at the same time to several amanuenses."Remark. - We have often known a spirit to reply, at the same time, through two mediums, to the questions addressed to him; in some cases, the answers have been given to one of the mediums in English, to the other in French, both being identical in meaning, and, sometimes, literal translations of one another.
Two spirits simultaneously evoked by two mediums can establish a conversation between themselves; although this mode of communication is quite unnecessary for them, since they reciprocally read each others' thoughts, they sometimes lend themselves to this experiment for our enlightenment. If both are inferior spirits, and therefore still imbued with earthly passions and ideas, they may quarrel and say hard things of one another, each reproaching the other with his faults. They have even been known, on such occasions, to hurl pencils, planchettes, etc., at one another.
30. Can the same spirit, when evoked simultaneously in different places, give simultaneous replies to the questions addressed to him?
"Yes, if he is an elevated spirit."
-- In this case, does the spirit divide himself, or has he the gift of ubiquity?
"The sun is one, yet its light radiates in all directions, sending out its rays to incommensurable distances without any subdivision of itself; so it is with spirits. The thought of a spirit is like a spark which throws out its light on all sides, and may be perceived from all points of the horizon. The purer a spirit is, the farther does his thought radiate, and the more widely does it spread abroad, like the light. Inferior spirits are too material to effect this wide radiation they can only reply to one person at a time, and cannot come to you if they are answering another call elsewhere.
"A superior spirit, evoked at the same time in two different places, will answer both calls if both are equally serious and fervent; in the contrary case, he gives the preference to the more serious evocation."Remark. - It is the same with a man, who is able to transmit his thought in various directions, by signals seen from different points, without changing his place. A spirit spontaneously dictated the following communication at a meeting of the Parisian Society for Psychologic Studies, in which the question of ubiquity had been under discussion: -
"You have inquired, this evening, what is the difference of spirits at the different degrees of the hierarchy as regards ubiquity. You may compare us to a balloon rising gradually into the air. While the balloon keeps close to the earth, very few people can see it; in proportion as it rises, the circle of those by whom it can be seen is proportionally enlarged; and when it has attained a still greater altitude, it is visible to a vast number. So it is with us; the action of a low spirit, who is still attached to the earth, is limited to a narrow circle. As lie becomes wiser and better, he rises, and can converse with a greater number of persons at once; and when lie has reached the supreme degree, he radiates in every direction, like the sun, showing himself at the same time, not only to many persons, but in many places. -- CHANNING."
31. Can we evoke the fully-purified spirits, those who have terminated their series of incarnations?
"Yes, but they very rarely respond to your call; they communicate only with pure and sincere hearts, never with the proud and the selfish; you must therefore beware of the inferior spirits who claim to be of that degree, in order to give you a false idea of their importance."
32. How is it that the spirits of the most illustrious men come so familiarly and easily as they sometimes do, at the call of the most obscure evokers?
"Men judge of spirits by themselves, which is a mistake. After the death of the body, terrestrial rank no longer exists; goodness is then the only distinction among spirits, and the only superiority they recognize among men. Good spirits go everywhere where good can be done."
33. How soon after death can a spirit be evoked?
"You can evoke a spirit even at the very moment of death; but, as he is then in a state of confusion, he can only reply imperfectly."Remark. -As the duration of the state of confusion varies greatly with different persons, there can be no fixed rule in regard to the delay of evocation it is rare, however, for a spirit not to have recovered his self-consciousness sufficiently for replying, by the end of a week or so. He may be able to reply two or three days after death; in any case the attempt may be made, but with caution and gentleness.
34. Would evocation, at the moment of death, be more fatiguing to a spirit than at a later period?
"In most cases it would be so; for it is like speaking to some one, whom you thereby rouse from slumber, before he is fully awake. There are persons, however, who are not annoyed by this; and to whom your call may even be useful by drawing them out of the state of confusion."
35. How is it that the spirit of a little child can reply to us with full intelligence, when, on earth, he had not even arrived at self-consciousness?
"The soul of an infant is a spirit confined in the swaddling-clothes of matter; but when disengaged from matter, he regains the use of his faculties as a spirit, for age has no existence for spirits. The fact that the spirit of an infant can answer you like that of an adult proves that he had lived before. Nevertheless, until he is completely disengaged from matter, he may retain some traces of the characteristics of infancy."Remark. - The corporeal influence which may act, for a longer or shorter period, upon the spirit of a child, is equally observable in the case of those who have died insane. The spirit himself is not really insane; but we know that some spirits believe themselves, for a time, to be still living in their old flesh-body upon the earth; it is therefore not surprising that, in some cases, the spirit of a madman should fancy that he still feels the pressure of the malady which, during life, deprived him of the control of his intellect, and that this illusion should last until he is completely disengaged from the influence of matter. This effect varies with the causes of the mental malady; for there are some madmen who recover the lucidity of their ideas as soon as they have quitted the body.
283 - Evocation of Animals.
36. Can we evoke the spirit of an animal?
"After the death of an animal, the intelligent principle which animated it is in a state that may be qualified as latent; but it is immediately utilized, by spirits specially charged with that work, for animating new beings, in which new beings the intelligent principle continues the work of its elaboration. Thus, in the world of spirits, there are no wandering spirits of animals, but human spirits only. This statement answers your question."
-- How is it, then, that some persons who have evoked animals have obtained answers?
"Evoke a rock, and it will answer you. There is always a crowd of spirits about you, ready to speak for everybody and for everything.Remark. - For the same reason, if we evoke mythic or allegorical personages, we shall get a reply; that is to say, there will always be a spirit ready to reply for them, and the answering spirit will assume the character and peculiarities of the personage evoked. One day, some one took it into his head to evoke Tartuffe, and Tartuffe came at once; and what is more, he spoke of Orgon, Elmire, Damis, and Valère, and gave news of them; enacting the hypocrite as exactly as though Tartuffe had been a real person! He afterwards stated that he was the spirit of an actor who, when on earth, had performed the part of Tartuffe. Frivolous spirits always take advantage of the inexperience of their questioners; but they rarely take the trouble to address themselves to those whom they know to be sufficiently enlightened to discover their imposture, and who are therefore not likely to credit their stories. There are men who do just the same. A gentleman whom we knew had in his garden a nest of young gold-finches, in which he took much interest. One fine day the nest disappeared. Having satisfied himself that none of his household had taken it, it occurred to him, as he was a medium, to evoke the mother-goldfinch. His evocation was promptly responded to, as follows, and in very good French: -"Accuse no one, and make yourself easy about my children. The cat upset the nest when taking a leap; you will find it in the grass, and the young ones too, for the cat did not eat them." On searching the spot indicated, the nest and the young birds were found exactly as had been stated. Are we to conclude from this fact that it was the spirit of the bird that answered the evocation? Assuredly not; it was simply a spirit who knew all about it. This shows how much we must distrust appearances, and how true is the assertion just quoted--"Evoke a rock, and it will answer you."
284. - Evocation of Living Persons.
37. Is the incarnation of a spirit an absolute obstacle to his evocation?
"No; but it is necessary that the state of his body, at the moment of evocation, should be such as to allow his spirit to disengage itself immediately. An incarnated spirit comes all the more easily in proportion to the elevation of the world in which he is living, because the body is less material in the higher worlds."
38. Can we evoke the spirit of a person now living in our world?
"Yes; just as you can evoke a spirit incarnated in some other world. The spirit of a person living in your world can also, in his moments of liberty, render himself visible to you without evocation; that depends on the degree of his sympathy with the parties to whom he manifests himself."
"It is asleep or dozing; it is then that the spirit is freest."
-- Could the body awake during the absence of the spirit?
"No; if something were about to waken the body, which is the spirit's home during his earthly life, he would be forced to return to it; it, at that moment, he were conversing with you, he would suddenly leave you, telling you, perhaps, why he did so."
40. How is the spirit, when absent from the body, informed of the necessity of returning to it?
"The spirit of a living body is never completely separated from the latter; however far off he may go, he is always attached to it by a fluidic thread, or link, which serves to recall him to his body when necessary; this thread, or link, is not broken until the moment of death."Remark. - This fluidic link has often been seen by clairvoyant mediums. It is a sort of phosphorescent trail between the body and the spirit; when the latter is away from the body, this trail seems to disappear in space. Spirits say it is by means of this trail that they distinguish those who are incarnated from those who are disincarnated.
41. What would happen if, while asleep, and in the absence of the spirit, the body received a mortal blow?
"The spirit would be informed of what was about to happen, and would re-enter the body, before death could occur."
-- It is, then, impossible that the body should die during the absence of the spirit, and that the spirit, on his return, should find, so to say, the door of his fleshly tabernacle closed against him?
"Quite impossible; for it would be contrary to the law which regulates the union of soul and body."
-- But suppose the blow should be struck suddenly and unexpectedly?
"The spirit would be warned of the impending blow before it could be struck."Remark. -The spirit of a person in the flesh, interrogated upon this point, replied: "If the body could die in the absence of the spirit, suicide would be too easy!"
42. Is the spirit of a person evoked during sleep as free to communicate as that of a person deceased?
"No; matter always exerts more or less influence on spirits who are incarnated."Remark. - A living person, evoked while asleep, and questioned on this subject, replied: "I am still chained to the bullet that I drag after me."
--Would this absence of a spirit from his body prevent his coming if evoked?
"It might do so; for instance, it, at the moment of evocation, he were in some place where he wished to remain, the evocation would not bring him, especially if made by some one in whom he took no interest."
43. Is it absolutely impossible to evoke the spirit of a person who is awake?
"It is difficult to do so, but it is not absolutely impossible; for, if the evocation tells, the person evoked may fall asleep. But a spirit can only communicate, as a spirit, at times when his presence is not necessary to the intelligent activity of his body."Remark. - Experience shows us that an evocation, made while the person evoked is awake, may produce sleep, or, at least, a state of somnolence akin to sleep; but this effect can only be produced through a very energetic willing on the part of the evoker, combined with the influence of sympathy between the evoker and the evoked, as, otherwise, the evocation does not "tell." Even should the evocation produce somnolence, if the moment were unpropitious - as, for instance, if the person evoked did not wish to go to sleep - he would resist, or, if he succumbed, his spirit would be troubled, and would find it difficult to reply. The moment most favorable for the evocation of a person in the flesh is during his natural sleep; because his spirit, being then comparatively free, can come to the caller as easily as it can go elsewhere. When the evocation is made with the consent of the person evoked, and he tries to go to sleep for this purpose, it may happen that the act of evocation troubles him and keeps him from sleeping; on every account, therefore, such evocations should only be made during the natural sleep of the person evoked.
44. When a person in the flesh is evoked while sleeping, has he, on waking, any consciousness of what has occurred to him?
"No; not in most cases. You are all of you evoked more often than you suppose; but it is usually your spirit only that is aware of the occurrence, which may, however, In some cases, leave on the mind a vague impression as of a dream."
-- Who is likely to evoke us if we are only obscure persons?
"You may have been widely known in former existences, in this world, or in other worlds; you have many more relations and friends in this world, or in other worlds, than you know of in your waking state, and all these people may evoke you. Suppose that your spirit, in some former existence, has animated the body of the father of somebody or other in this world or elsewhere, if that other person should evoke his father, it is your spirit that would be evoked, and that would answer the evocation."
45. When the spirit of a person in the flesh is evoked, does he reply as a spirit, or with the ideas of his waking state?
"That depends on his elevation; but, at all events, his judgement will be clearer, and less influenced by prejudices, than in his waking state, for, when answering an evocation, his state is analogous to that of lucid somnambulism; the two states, in fact, are almost the same."
46. If the spirit of a somnambulist be evoked while in the magnetic sleep, will he be more lucid than one who is not a somnambulist?
"He will undoubtedly answer with greater facility, because he is more disengaged from matter; everything depends on the degree of the spirit's independence of the body."
-- Could the spirit of a somnambulist answer the evocation of a person at a distance, while answering another person verbally?
"The faculty of communicating simultaneously at two different points is the attribute only of spirits who have passed beyond the influence of matter."
47. Would it be possible to modify a person's waking ideas, by acting on his spirit during sleep?
"Yes, in some cases; the spirit, during sleep, is not so closely bound to matter as when awake, and is therefore more accessible to moral impressions; and these impressions may influence his judgement in the waking state. Unfortunately, however, it often happens that, on waking, the corporeal nature regains the ascendancy, and causes the man to forget the good resolutions that he may have taken, as a spirit, during the sleep of his body."
48. Is the spirit of a person in the flesh, when evoked, free to speak, or not to speak, as he chooses?
"He has his spirit-faculties, and, consequently, his free will; and as he then has more perspicacity than in his waking state, he is even more circumspect than when awake."
49. Could we, by evoking an incarnate while he is asleep, constrain him to tell what, in his waking state, he desires to hide?
"I have told you that a spirit has his free will; but when his body is asleep, he attaches less importance to some things than he does when he is in his waking state, and his conscience may also assert itself more freely. On the other hand, if he does not choose to speak, a spirit can always rid himself of importunities by slipping away; for you cannot hold a spirit as you can hold a body."
50. Could not the spirit of a person in the flesh be constrained, by another spirit, to come and speak out, as is done in the case of wandering spirits?
"Among spirits, whether in the flesh or out of it, there exists no other supremacy than that which belongs to moral superiority; and you may be very sure that no superior spirit would lend himself to any such cowardly piece of villainy."Remark. - Such an abusive attempt would, indeed, be an evil action, but it could not attain the desired result, because it would be impossible to drag from the spirit any secret which lie wished to keep to himself, unless, moved by a sense of justice, he should elect to avow what, under other circumstances, he would have kept secret. A lady, known to us, resorted to this method in order to learn from one of her uncles whether the will of the latter was in her favor. Evoked by her during his sleep, and questioned by her as to whether lie had left his property to her, the spirit replied - "Yes, my dear niece; and you will soon have proof of it. "This was the fact at that time; but, a few days afterwards, the uncle destroyed his will, made another of a different tenor, and was malicious enough to tell his niece that he had done so, although he did not know that he had been evoked by her. An instinctive feeling had urged him, no doubt, to execute a resolution taken by his spirit when the question about his will was put to him by his niece. It is a base and dastardly thing to ask a spirit, as a spirit, whether in or out of the flesh, what we would not venture to ask him as a man; and it is, moreover, a baseness which has not even the advantage of attaining the result it is intended to compass.
51. Can we evoke the spirit of an infant during the period of gestation?
"No; at that time the spirit is in a state of confusion too dense for consciousness."Remark. - Incarnation does not take place definitively until the moment when the infant breathes; but, from the instant of conception, the spirit designed to animate a given body is seized with a sort of confusion, which increases with the approach of birth and deprives him of self-consciousness, and, consequently, of the possibility of answering to any call.
52. Can a deceptive spirit take the place of the spirit of a person whom we evoke?
"Undoubtedly he can do so; and such substitutions are or very frequent occurrence, especially when the intention of the evoker is not a pure one. But the evocation of persons in the flesh is only interesting for purposes of psychological study, and should only be resorted to with a 'view to that end.'"Remark. - If the evocation of wandering spirits does not always tell (to make use of their own expression), such failure is still more frequent in tile case of spirits who are reincarnated; and it is especially in the latter case that deceptive spirits take the place of those who have been called.
53. Does the evocation of a person in the flesh present any danger?
"It is not always quite safe, but that depends on the situation of the person evoked; if he is in bad health, his illness may be increased by it."
54. What are the cases in which the evocation of a person in the flesh is most unadvisable?
"You should never evoke infants, young children, those who are seriously ill, the infirm, or the aged; in short, evocation should never be attempted with any one whose bodily health is weak."Remark. - The sudden suspension of the intellectual faculties, while a person is awake, would also be a source of danger; especially, if at the moment of evocation, the person evoked were in some situation requiring all his presence of mind.
55. Does the body, during the evocation of a person in the flesh, experience any fatigue from the action of the spirit while absent from it?
(The following answer to this question was given by a person who, while in this state, asserted that his body was getting tired.)
"My spirit is like a captive balloon, fastened to a post; my body is the post, and is shaken by the jerkings of the balloon."
56. Since the evocation of persons in the flesh may prove injurious when attempted without due precaution, might we not unwittingly do harm by evoking a spirit, who, without our being aware of it, is reincarnated, and who may therefore not be in a favorable condition for replying to our evocation?
"No, the circumstances are not the same, and the spirit so evoked would not come unless he were in a condition to do so; and besides, have I not told you that you should always inquire of your spirit-guides, before making an evocation, whether it is advisable to do so or not?"
57. When we feel an irresistible desire to go to sleep at some unsuitable moment, may it not arise from our being evoked in some quarter?
"That may unquestionably be the case, but it is more frequently a purely physical effect; either the body wants rest, or the spirit wants liberty."Remark. - A lady of our acquaintance, a medium, had, one day, the idea of evoking the spirit of her grandchild, who was asleep in the same room. The identity was conclusively proved, both by the spirit's language and familiar expressions, and by his exact narration of various things that had happened at his school, when a circumstance occurred which still further confirmed it. The hand of the medium, who was writing under the dictation of the spirit of the child, suddenly stopped, in the middle of a sentence, without her being able to obtain anything further, and, at that moment, the buy, half awakened, moved several times in his bed a few moments afterwards, the boy having again dropped off to sleep, the lady's hand again wrote as before, continuing the sentence which had been interrupted by the partial awaking of the buy. The evocation of persons lit the flesh, conducted under good conditions, affords incontestable evidence of the distinct action of the spirit and the body, and consequently of the existence of an intelligent principle independent of matter.
285. - Human Telegraphy.
58. Could two persons at a distance from each other, by reciprocally evoking one another, transmit their thoughts, and thus correspond together?
"Yes; and this human telegraphy will one day be the universal method of correspondence."
-- Why cannot it be practiced now?
"It might be, by some persons, but not by all. Men must pure in order for their spirits to disengage themselves from matter; and, until the human race has reached a higher degree of advancement, this power will be confined to a few pure and dematerialized souls, such as are rarely found among the inhabitants of the earth in its present state."
These pages are lightly edited excerpts from The Mediums' Book: Guide for Mediums and Invocators by Allan Kardec [Leon Rivail] A download (acrobat format) of the complete volume is free.