"Unshakable faith is only that which can meet reason face to face in every human epoch.” Allan Kardec
"Spiritism, marching hand in hand with progress, will never be overthrown because if new discoveries should demonstrate that it is in error upon a point, it would modify itself in regard to it. If a new truth is revealed, it accepts it." Allan Kardec
Who was Allan Kardec?
Allan Kardec was born Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail in Lyon, France, in October of 1804. From an
affluent family, the young Rivail at the age 10 was sent to Switzerland to
study in one of the most prestigious schools in Europe at that time, the
Yverdon Institute, led by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi,
a renowned pedagogue and
educational reformer. Pestalozzi’s pedagogy, whose goal was to develop
in his pupils their academic and practical skills as well as a social
awareness and their ability to love and selfishlessly do good
to others (summarized as Head, Heart and Hands), had a profound and
lasting impact on the young Rivail. After
graduation, he returned to Paris and devoted most of his life to
was a teacher and author of many publications, among others, A Plan for
the Improvement of Public Instruction, submitted by him in 1828 to the French
Legislative Chamber; A Course of Practical and Theoretic Arithmetic, on the
Pestalozzian System, for the’ use of Teachers and Mothers (1829); A Classical
Grammar of the French Tongue (1831); Reform plan for the examination and schools to educate young people (1847), where he emphasized the need to offer equal opportunities of education for girls; A Manual for the use of Candidates for
Examination in the Public Schools; with Explanatory Solutions of various
Problems of Arithmetic and Geometry (1848). He was a member of several academic societies, among others, the Royal Society
of Arras, which, in 1831, awarded him the Prize of Honor for his
essay on the question, “What is the System of Study most in Harmony with the
Needs of the Epoch?” For
many years, inspired by his mentor Pestalozzi, Prof. Rivail gave
free lectures of Math and Sciences for those who had no other means to
afford them otherwise.
In the spring of 1855, Prof. Rivail reluctantly accepted an invitation to participate in a “dancing table” experiment. Dancing or turning table was a trendy form of entertainment at that time in Europe, where a small group of people sitting around a table with the palm of their hands on top, but not necessarily touching it, enabled the table to move up in the air and down. The members of the group then asked questions that were answered by the table (allegedly by the action of spirits) according to a pre-arranged code associating the letters of the alphabet to the taps of the leg’s table on the floor.
Prof. Rivail’s scientific mind scoffed the idea that tables had the capacity to think. But after attending the séance and conducting some experiments he was very impressed with the results. There was no doubt in his mind that the table did jump independently of the participants’ will and logically responded to their queries. Intrigued by the nature of the phenomenon, he participated in other meetings to continue his observations. When he asked the table how it could think without having a brain and a nervous system, the answer was that it was not the table that was thinking, but the souls of people who once lived on Earth. Surprised by this revelation, he started to ask questions in his own mind (without vocalizing them), to which the table gave proper answers. In order to avoid being deceived, he brought to the meetings questions written in a sealed envelope and unknown by any other participant. The questions were answered appropriately.
that the table was being handled by an intelligent being, Prof. Rivail
wanted to expedite the communication with it since tapping out the
alphabetic code was tedious and slow. He placed a small basket on the
with a pencil attached to it. He realized that just one person in the
with a hand on top of the basket, could make the basket move and write
sentences. Later he found that the basket was unnecessary and the
directly hold the pencil and serve as the medium (or intermediary) to
intermediate the communications from the intelligent sources he called
He continued conducting these meetings, asking thoughtful questions in
exploit the scientific, philosophical and religious aspects of this new
that it was being presented to him by the spirits. In order to rule out
influence of the medium in the communications, Prof. Rivail asked the
questions through several mediums in different meetings. After two
intensive work, asking questions, compiling and organizing the material
based on the agreement and universality of the answers, and adding his
commentaries, he published in 1857 The Spirit’s Book under the pseudonym of
Allan Kardec. This book is the foundation of what he called Spiritism, which is
a science that studies the origin, nature and destiny of spirits as well the
relationships that exist between the corporeal and spiritual worlds. Kardec also wrote The Mediums' Book (1861), The Gospel According to Spiritism (1864), Heaven and Hell (1865), and The Genesis
(1868). These five books together comprise the codification of
Spiritism. These and other publications were written during years of
methodic investigation and rigorous analysis of information obtained by
many mediums and many spiritist groups in France and other countries in
Europe. This exchange of information was made through the monthly
journal Spiritist Review, a Journal of Psychological Studies , and the Parisian Society of Psychological Studies, both founded (and directed) by Kardec in 1858.
Kardec was a progressive thinker with a strong sense of social justice, and a passionate educator who viewed education as an important tool to correct social imbalances. He was a self-taught person who was well versed in several subjects and a gifted writer with a deep knowledge of the French language (he also spoke fluent German and English). He was well known and well connected in the intellectual circles of Paris, and even without a university education he was a scholar who helped shaping the French educational system of his time. He firmly believed in the power of love and giving as well as in the power of reason and scientific observation.
Kardec passed away in March of 1869 after devoting the last fourteen years of his life to the research and development of the philosophical, scientific and religious foundations of Spiritism, which brings forth a renewed vision of our true spiritual nature, our relationship with the Creator, and the strong ties of brotherhood to which we are all connected.
What is Spiritism?
There are many resources on the Internet that discuss and explain the foundations of Spiritism, Spiritist Education and Explore Spiritism being just a few of them. But in a nut shell, its main basic concepts can be summarized as (extracted from the Spirits' Book):
departure of Allan Kardec Spiritism has been enhanced by a number of
unselfish and altruistic individuals who devote(d) their time and
resources to obtain and disseminate new information, be it through
their mediumistic faculties, be it as a result of study and research,
but all, without exception, putting their hearts and hard work to the
service of the highest good, without any monetary compensation. Leon
Denis, Cammille Flammarion, Ernesto Bozzano, Bezerra de Menezes,
Euripedes Barsanulfo, Chico Xavier and Divaldo Franco are just a few in
a long list of men and women who add(ed) many bricks to the edifice of
Spiritism and, at the same time, use(d) its structure of love and
charity to give solace to so many.