The science of Spiritism studies the existence and nature of spirits, which are nothing more than the immortal souls of men, created by God. All souls are created pure and ignorant, and evolve over time during its various incarnations.
The philosophy of Spiritism, which was derived from the information received in communications with discarnate (not currently incarnated) spirits, deals with the details of spirit life and the journey of evolution through the process reincarnation. A natural consequence of that that philosophy is the understanding of the role we play in our own spiritual evolution, which is ultimately achieved through the efforts we make to grow, both morally and intellectually. Spiritism helps us to understand the natural laws that govern that process of evolution. From a moral perspective, we follow the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ, as our model and guide.
The religious aspect stems from the moral ties between ourselves, and others, and the direction that Spiritism leads us, toward God, our creator, by helping us to understand life and by teaching us, ultimately, how to develop the ability to love, in the greatest sense of the word.
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The history of what now we call the Spiritist Doctrine began in 1848, in the small town of Hydesville, New York. This is where two young sisters, Maggie Fox - 14 and Kate Fox - 11, invited their neighbor over to share an odd phenomena they had been experiencing. Every night at bed time, they'd hear a series of raps or knocks on the walls and furniture. These knocks appeared to have a kind of intelligence to them and soon they discovered that they were able to ask questions such as "can you count to five?" and get answers in the form of 5 knocks; "How old is the neighbor?" and 33 hard knocks followed.
These questions expanded to movement of objects, such as tables, with no apparent cause. They would happen spontaneously, several times, with a characteristic intensity and frequency. However, it soon became clear that these phenomena could also occur through the presence of certain people whom were known as ”mediums”. These people could provoke the phenomena at will, making experiments possible. Such experiments were made using tables, not because these objects are more favorable than others, but because they were more convenient, movable, and because it was easier to sit around them than any other furniture. These phenomena were originally called ‘table dancing’ or ‘table turning’. These events triggered the first study groups around the cause of these phenomena, which eventually led to the birth of the Spiritist Doctrine.
There are 5 basic principles that govern and serve as the pillars of the Spiritist Doctrine:
Allan Kardec was the codifier of Spiritism. With the teachings he received from higher spirits through various mediums, he wrote five books that would become the basis of the Spiritist Doctrine: The Spirits’ Book, The Mediums’ Book, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell and The Genesis. He also left unpublished writings, which were collected 21 years after his death in the book Posthumous Works, and several other books of initiation to the doctrine which has not yet being translated to English. Allan Kardec is the pen name of a French educator called Léon-Hipollyte Denizard Rivail. Rivail was born in Lyon, France, on October 3rd, 1804. He was baptized in the Catholic religion; Rivail started using the pseudonym Allan Kardec many years later, when he got in contact with Spiritist phenomena. During a mediunic meeting at the Baudin’s family home in Paris, the protective spirit Zefiro, manifested by saying that he had known Rivail in a previous existence, when they lived together in Gaul. According to Zefiro, at that time, Rivail was called Allan Kardec. When Rivail published his first Spiritist book – The Spirits’ Book – in 1857, he decided to sign it with the pen “Allan Kardec”, and began to use it in all his new works.
The valuable educational experience of Hipollyte-Léon-Denizard Rivail prepared him for his great mission: the coding of Spiritism. Kardec was 50 years old when, in 1854, the magnetizer Fortier told him about the strange phenomenon of “turning-tables”, which had been reported in the French newspapers. The tables were moved and rotated without the intervention of anyone. At first, Kardec believed that the phenomenon could be an action of magnetism. Some time later, however, Fortier reported something even more extraordinary: the tables could also speak and answer questions. “This is something else now,” Kardec replied. “I will believe it when I see it, and when it has been proved to me that a table has a brain to think, nerves to feel, and can become a sleepwalker; until then, I’ll see it as a bedtime story only.” In May 1855, he witnessed the phenomenon at Mrs. Plainemaison’s house, and then no longer doubted it. “My ideas were far from being held, but there was a fact that should have a cause. I foresaw something serious beyond the apparent futility in this kind of game that was made of these phenomena, and also the revelation of a new law, which I promised to study further.” In meetings at the Baudin’s family house, Kardec could observe the phenomena more carefully. The young Caroline and Julie Baudin wrote on a slate with the help of a basket, a method that required the work of two people and therefore totally excluded the intervention of the medium’s ideas. There, he saw several communications and responses to the questions posed. Kardec concluded, after all, that the messages were actually intelligent manifestations produced by the spirits of men who have left the Earth.
The 5 main books that comprise Allan Kardec's codification are: