Allan Kardec (1804-1869)
Allan Kardec is considered the father
of Spiritism -- as compared to Spiritualism -- in France. His real name was
Hypolyte Leon Denizard Rivail. The pseudonym originated from mediumistic
communications. Both the names "Allan" and "Kardec"
were said to have been his names in previous incarnations.
Not very much is known about
Allan Kardec's early years within the
Spiritualist Movement, but his impact upon the Movement is profound.
He is best known for his
classic, Le Livre des Esprits (The
Spirits' Book), first published in 1856. Within this book is expounded a
new theory of human life and destiny. According to an article by
researcher, Alexander Aksakof, in The
Spiritualist, in 1875. The Spirits' Book is based on trance
communications received through Mlle. Celina Bequet,
a professional somnambulist (hypnotist) who, for family reasons, took the
name of Celina Japhet and, controlled by her
grandfather, M. Hahnemann, and Franz Anton Mesmer, gave medical advice.
Her somnambulist, M. Roustan, believed in reincarnation and, some feel, may
have influenced the communications from Spirit. The automatic scripts
brought forward a thorough and intriguing doctrine of reincarnation.
The success of The Spirits'
Book cannot be questioned. It is, by far, one of the mostly popular
books dealing with mediumship, life in Spirit, and the evolution of the
soul. It has attained more than 25 editions and still remains widely read,
especially amongst the people of South America, Australia, and New Zealand.
It is, without question or equal, the primary text amongst Spiritists.
Later, in 1864, Kardec
compiled and wrote Le Livre Des Mediums, or The Medium's
Book. This, too, became very successful, as a wonderful source of
guidance and information of mediumship and mediumistic development.
The Medium's Book and The Spirits' Book are,
truly, Allan Kardec's most lasting signature upon
the Spiritualist Movement. Both books are superb and a must for all
students of the subject.
Allan Kardec, although a
Spiritualist, did depart, with tremendous resolve, from traditional
Spiritualist teaching concerning the growth and evolution of the Spirit. He
believed and strongly advocated -- as do we -- the doctrine of
reincarnation. In order to delineate clearly his teachings from traditional
Spiritualism, the term "Spiritism" was adopted and still used
amongst many people. There are other areas of thought which distinguish
Spiritualism from Spiritism, but the concept of reincarnation remains the
It is said the Allan Kardec
tended to be very dogmatic about the issue of reincarnation. Furthermore,
it is said that his categorical views on reincarnation caused him to
disparage the practice of physical mediumship, which, for some reason,
tended not to promote this doctrine of the Spirit. Finally, it is said that
a rift came about between him and the famous medium, D. D. Home, because
Mr. Home denounced the doctrine of reincarnation. How many of these
allegations concerning Allan Kardec's character
are based on truth only the people involved can answer for sure; but, this
we do know: Allan Kardec's contribution to the
cause of Spiritualism was magnificent. He helped bring forth some of the
most profound and insightful teachings concerning Spirit and Spirit
Other books written by Allan
Kardec are: The Gospel as Explained by Spirits (1864); Heaven and
Hell (1865); Genesis (1867); and Experimental Spiritism and
Our founder must have thought
rather highly of Allan Kardec's works. He had
several copies of all his books in the Church Library, for study and
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