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The spontaneous manifestations which have occurred in all times, and the persistence of some spirits in giving ostensible evidence of their presence in certain localities, are the source of the belief in haunted places. The following spirit-answers were elicited by our questions on this subject.

 

1. Do spirits attach themselves to persons only, or do they also attach themselves to things?

 

“That depends upon their elevation. Certain spirits may attach themselves to terrestrial objects ; misers, for instance, who have hidden their hoards, and who are not sufficiently dematerialised, may still watch over and guard them.”

 

2. Are there any places for which errant spirits have a predilection ?

 

“Spirits who are no longer earth-bound go where they find those whom they love, for they are attracted rather by persons than by material things. Some of them may, for a time, retain a preference for certain places; but those who do so are spirits of inferior advancement.”

 

3. Since the attachment of spirits for localities is a sign of inferiority, is it also a proof that they are evil spirits ?

 

“Assuredly not; a spirit may be but little advanced, and yet not be a bad spirit; is it not so among men?”

 

4. Is there any foundation for the belief that spirits frequent ruins by preference?

 

“No; spirits go to such places, just as they go everywhere else; but the lugubrious aspect of certain places strikes the human imagination, and leads you to attribute, to the presence of spirits, what is often merely a natural effect. How often does fear turn the shadow of a tree into a phantom, or mistake the cry of an animal, or the murmuring of the wind, for the wail of a ghost! Spirits like the presence of men, and usually seek out inhabited places rather than solitary ones.”

 

– Nevertheless, knowing what we do of the diversity of character among spirits, may we not suppose that there are misanthropes among them, preferring solitude to society?

 

“Have I not already answered you on this point, by saying that spirits may seek out desolate places, as well as all other places? If some of them live alone, they do so because it pleases them, but this is no reason why spirits should necessarily prefer ruins; and, assuredly, there are many more spirits in cities and inhabited dwellings than in solitary places.”

 

5. Popular beliefs have generally a foundation of truth; what is the origin of the belief in haunted places?

 

“It has grown out of men’s instinctive belief in spirit manifestations, a belief that has prevailed in all ages of the world; but, as I said just now, the aspect of lugubrious places strikes the imagination, and men have naturally located, in such places, the beings whom they have regarded as supernatural. This superstitious belief is upheld by the fanciful imaginings of your poets, as well as by the nonsensical stories told to you in the nursery.”

 

6. Spirits who assemble together, have they any preferences in regard to days and hours of meeting?

 

“No; days and hours are measurements of time for the use of men, and for the needs of corporeal life; spirits have no need of any such measurements, and take very little heed of them.”

 

7. What is the origin of the idea that spirits come by preference at night?

 

“The impression produced on the imagination by darkness and silence. All such ideas are superstitions that a rational knowledge of Spiritism will destroy. It is the same with respect to the notion, held by some people, that certain days and hours are more propitious than others; the influence of midnight has no existence except in story-books.”

 

– If this be the case, how is it that many spirits announce their arrival and manifestations for midnight, or for certain pre-determined days, as Fridays, for example?

 

“Such spirits only trifle with your credulity. In the same way, there are spirits who declare themselves to be the devil, or give themselves some other diabolical or fantastic name. Show them that you are not to be taken in by them, and you will hear no more of such absurdities.”

 

8. Do spirits come back by preference to the burial-place of their body?

 

“The body was but a garment; they care no more for their fleshly envelope, in which they have had to suffer, than the prisoner cares for his chains. The memory of those they love is the only thing they value.”

 

– Are prayers offered up at their graves especially pleasing to them, and do they attract them more than prayers would do elsewhere?

 

“Prayer is an evocation which attracts a spirit, as you know. The more fervent and sincere the prayer, the greater the effect it produces; and therefore, the sight of a venerated tomb may serve to concentrate the thought of him who prays, while the interest attached to it, as to any other treasured relic, being a testimony of affection offered to the spirit, he is always attracted and touched thereby. But, in all such cases, it is the thought which acts on a spirit, and not any material objects; for these have less influence on the spirit who is prayed for than on the person who prays, and whose attention they serve to concentrate and intensify.”

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Medium’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora). Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

 

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For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Medium’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

 

If the identity of a spirit is, in many cases, only a secondary question of no great importance, the distinction between good and evil spirits can never be unimportant; for, although their individuality may, under certain circumstances, be indifferent to us, such can never be the case in regard to their quality, because it is their quality alone that can give us the measure of the confidence we should accord to them, whatever may be the name they assume.

 

 

As previously remarked, we must judge of spirits as we judge of men, by their language. Supposing a man receives twenty letters from persons unknown to him; by their style, by the thoughts conveyed in them, and by a multitude of other indications, lie will distinguish those which are written by educated persons from those which come from ignorant ones; he will see, by the peculiarities of each letter, whether its writer is well or ill-bred, whether he is shallow or profound, whether he is proud, serious, frivolous, or sentimental. It is just the same with spirits; ‘we must regard them as correspondents, or interlocutors, whom we have never seen, and ask ourselves what we should think of the knowledge and general character of men who should express themselves in the same way. We may lay it down as an invariable rule, admitting of no exception, that the language of spirits is always in, accordance with the degree of their elevation. The communications of really superior spirits are not only excellent, but are always couched in simple and dignified language; and therefore the use of low and unsuitable language, by a spirit, always indicates inferiority on his part, no matter how good may be the intentions implied in it. We need hardly add, that any grossness of language, as of thought, is conclusive proof of a corresponding grossness in the nature of the communicating spirit. The language of a communication always shows its origin, whether by the nature of the thought conveyed, or by the form in which it is given; so that, whenever a spirit tries to deceive us by a pretended superiority, we have only to converse with him a little, in order to appraise him at his true value.

 

 

Kindness and benevolence are also essential attributes of purified spirits ; they have no hatred, either for men or for other spirits; they pity the weaknesses of those who are below them, and, though they criticise their errors, they always do so with moderation, and without bitterness or animosity. If we admit that really good spirits can only desire the good of others, and can only give utterance to kind and noble sentiments, we must necessarily conclude that language, evidencing a want of kindness or nobility, cannot emanate from a good spirit.

 

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Medium’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), page 302. Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Medium’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

– Can spirits foretell to us the future?

 

“If men foresaw the future, they would neglect the present; and yet it is about the future that you are always trying to obtain answers. But you are wrong in doing so; for spirit-manifestation is not divination. If you are absolutely determined to obtain answers about the future, or anything else, you will get them; for foolish and deceiving spirits are always ready to answer you. We are perpetually telling you this” (See The SpiritsBook, 868, Foreknowledge).

 

– But are not future events sometimes spontaneously foretold, and truly, by spirits?

 

“A spirit may foresee events which he considers it useful to make known, or of which he may be commissioned to inform you; but announcements respecting the future are generally to be distrusted, because they are more often made by deceptive spirits for their own amusement. It is only by a consideration of all the circumstances of the case that you can judge of the degree of confidence to which any prediction is entitled.”

 

– What kinds of predictions are most to be distrusted?

 

“All that are not of general utility. Predictions about personal matters are almost always deceptive.”

 

– What object have spirits in spontaneously announcing events which are not to take place?

 

“They usually do so to amuse themselves with your credulity and the alarm or satisfaction they occasion. False predictions, however, have sometimes a more serious object; viz., that of testing him to whom they are made, by showing the good or evil sentiments they excite in his mind.”

 

Remark. – Such would he, for example, an announcement that flatters our cupidity or ambition, such as the prospect of an inheritance, &c.

 

– Why do serious spirits, when they predict an event, so rarely fix its date; is it because they cannot, or because they will not, do so?

 

“It may be for either reason. Spirits feel the approach of an event, and may sometimes give you warning of it; but as to predicting exactly the time when it will take place, they are sometimes not permitted to do so, and sometimes they cannot do so, because they do not know it themselves. A spirit may foresee that an event will happen; but the precise moment of its happening may depend upon conditions not yet accomplished, and which are only foreseen by the Almighty.

 

Frivolous spirits, who have no scruple in deceiving you, specify days and hours without troubling themselves about the fulfilment of their predictions. For this reason, circumstantial predictions are usually to be distrusted.

 

“We cannot too often remind you that our mission is to aid your moral progress, and thus to help you forward on your road to perfection. He who seeks only wisdom from his commerce with spirits will never be deceived. But you must not suppose that we waste our time in listening to your foolishness, telling your fortunes, and assisting you to waste your time; we leave all that to the tricksy spirits who amuse themselves with doing so, like mischievous children.

 

“Providence has placed a limit to the revelations that may be made to men. Serious spirits keep silence concerning everything that they are forbidden to reveal. By insisting on receiving answers to questions which it may not be lawful for us to reply to, you expose yourselves to imposition on the part of inferior spirits, ever ready to seize on any pretext for playing with your credulity.”

 

Remark. – Spirits may foresee certain future events as a consequence of other events which they see occurring, or of which they may have a presentiment. They infer the happening of the events thus foreseen, but within a period of time which they do not measure as we do; and, in order to fix the epoch at which those events will occur, they would have to identify themselves with our manner of calculating the duration of time.

 

As spirits are often unwilling to do this, apparent errors are of frequent occurrence in the predictions made by them.

 

– Are not some persons endowed with a special faculty, by which they are enabled to foresee future events?

 

“Yes; those whose souls have the power of disengaging themselves from matters are able; when thus disengaged, to see; and, when such revelations will be useful, they are permitted to reveal certain things. But, of those who make predictions, the majority are impostors and charlatans. The prophetic faculty, however, will be more common hereafter”

 

– What is to be thought of spirits who take pleasure in predicting the death of certain persons at some stated time?

 

“Such spirits are malicious jesters, having no other aim than that of enjoying the alarm they create. You should pay no heed to such absurdities.”

 

– How is it that some persons are warned by a true presentiment of the time of their death?

 

“It is usually because their own spirit, in its moments of liberty, has learned its approaching release; and the intuition of this release is retained by them on waking. Persons thus prepared for such an intuition are neither frightened nor troubled by it. They see, in the separation of body and soul, only a change of condition; or, to employ a commonplace metaphor, they look upon it as the exchanging of a coarse and cumbrous garment for a silken robe. The fear of death will diminish in proportion to the spread of Spiritist belief.

 

 

Excerpt from Allan Kardec‘s “The Medium’s Book”, translated by Anna Blackwell, LAKE (Livraria Allan Kardec Editora), page 211. Printed in Brazil. Version found at Public Domain.

 

Image: “Fortune Teller”, by Henry Bacour (public domain image).   

 

***

 

For more information, please check out these links:

 

– Our Spiritist Studies section – published on Tuesdays

 

– Questions & Answers section

 

– The version of “The Medium’s Book” (that is in public domain) is available for free download here (.pdf format)

 

– Get to know the other basic books of Christian Spiritist Doctrine by clicking here

 

– Download the other basic books of Spiritism here (.pdf format). All of the books are on public domain.

 

 

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