It is thought that humans first made direct contact with the spirits of the dead in 1847, these spirits are otherwise known as ghosts. Two young Americans, the Fox brothers, confirmed having had a conversation by clicking their fingers, and since then the spirit world has been explored by many. This is also known as spiritism.
Through spiritism, humans attempt to penetrate deep within a universe hidden to us. We still aren't sure whether this universe is just a product of our vivid imagination or the findings of long and tedious scientific investigations. Within the world of spiritism, these is a name which stands out above all others: Allan Kardec, considered to be the founder of spiritism.
Ghosts, ok; spirits, ok... but who is Allan Kardec?
We could define spiritism as a primitive doctrine based on the ancient belief of us having a soul separate to our bodies, in another dimension, our souls have a superior and almost divine essence, and are known as spirits.
Modern day spiritism was formulated by a French man named Allan Kardec in the 19th Century, and later enrichened by its disciples.
Allan Kardec was the pseudonym of the professor and writer Hippolyte Léon Denizard Riva, who believed that the spirits of the dead (those who hadn't been able to return to God or who were awaiting reincarnation) could communicate with us through some people who possessed a special ability, known as mediums.
Just like most grand religions, spiritism was exported rapidly from its country of origin, France. It became very well-known once it had arrived in the North American continent and the Asian continent, especially in the second half of the 19th century
This is due to the publication of "The Spirit Book" on the 18th of April, 1857. A book around 50 pages long which pooled together animist African beliefs, tribal Amazonian beliefs and Christian beliefs, amongst many others. This spiritual book is the predecessor to the works of the American Jackson Davis and can be considered as the foundations of the international spiritist movement.
It was soon translated to the most widely spoken languages, and in 1858, it had been reedited. This was the first work Hippolyte published under the pen name Allan Kardec, and for him was a revealing moment. From then one he was convinced that he had a mission in this world, to reveal the richness of the world invisible to our eyes, the spirit realm, and he kept stubbornly working with passion.
In this book, he accepts that God created the universe, but claims that we are surrounded by many spirits waiting for be reincarnated. He also highlights that ghosts or spirits are beings in a constant state of evolution, and they may get stuck in one of their many forms but never go back. Lastly, he stated that there are other worlds in our universe inhabited by beings in different stages of evolution, some more evolved than humans and some less.
How many of these facts did you know about the father of spiritism? Not suitable for those scared of ghosts!
Allan Kardec was already 50 when he began studying spirits and the world they inhabit, although he had previously shown great interest in magnetism. Up until his 50s, he simply didn't believe in the claims upper class people would make about having made initial contact with the another realm.
Allan Kardec's first paranormal experience occurred in May, 1855. It took place in the house of a woman whose surname was Plainemason, here he witnessed tables turning and moving, and various attempts to write on a whiteboard.
In a posterior visit to the same house, he met the Baudin family, who invited him to watch the weekly séances that took place at their house. This is where he began to study spiritism.
3. The Real Spirit
One of the spirits that most communicated with Allan Kardec made itself known as Real Spirit, and identified itself as a family spirit. It would communicate with him once a month through a magnetism session. On the 30th of April 1856, Kardec had a revelation in the house of a woman known as Japhet, a sleepwalker. This spirit told Allan that he was the chosen one amongst mortals to fulfil a mission to save the world by communicating the spirits' messages.
‘The Spirit Book’ we previously mentioned became a bestseller which has withstood the test of time, nowadays it's very easy to get your hands on a copy as lots of editorials keep it on stock. However, it's not the only book by Allan Kardec.
Amongst many others, some of his most notable books are 'The Book on Mediums', 'The Gospel According to Spiritism' and 'The Genesis According to Spiritism'. He also began a magazine in 1858 called "Revue Spirite" which is still produced and edited today, and not only in French but also in English, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.
In 1861, a library in Barcelona, Spain, requested 300 copies of Allan's books to sell. As France and Spain are neighbouring countries, the librarian wanted to spread the teaching of Spiritism in the Iberian Peninsula. The package was opened at the border and because they seemed suspicious from a religious point of view, the border agents sent a sample to the Bishop of Barcelona to give them his opinion.
The Bishop was scandalized after reading the sample and asked the Holy Office to seize and destroy the books, even though Allan Kardec asked for his books to be sent back to him, his request was denied. The reason given by the Bishop was that since Spain was a Catholic country, and the books went against the Catholic faith, the government couldn't allow them to pervert the country's religion.
The books were finally burned on a pyre in a public square, the ash was thrown into the wind and the square was then blessed and purified. However, many people present at the square protested against the Inquisition and made sure to collect the remains to make talismans from them.