Biography

The Spirit’s Book, published in 1857, was the first of a series of books edited and written by Allan Kardec. Arranged in a question and answer format, The Spirit’s Book covers the results of years of paranormal research in many different countries that were then compared, analyzed and organized into this decisive work.

In 1854, Professor Leon Denizard Rivail, a renowned scientist, author and educator, became first aware of the mysterious “rapping” phenomena growing in occurrence and trend both in America and in Europe. Despite his initial skepticism and as man of science by nature, Prof Rivail was eventually convinced by close friends to attend these experimental meetings, witness such events firsthand and issue his impressions on them. Faced with the unexplained and led by his powerful intellect and scientific instincts, he was resolute such “paranormal” phenomena had a rational explanation behind them.

Thus, Prof Rivail set out to earnestly investigate these phenomena occuring before his very eyes. His rationale was simple:

“Every effect has a cause.
Every intelligent effect has an intelligent cause.
The nature of the cause is in direct proportion to the magnitude of the effect.”

His conclusions, astounding: after thorough and methodic investigation, isolating all variables and performed in controlled environments, Prof Rivail arrived at the logic result that there were indeed unknown forces manifesting these phenomena. Not only that, these forces showed clear intelligence, being not repetitive and automated, but interactive and intelligible. Prof Rivail, then, succeeded in seeing beyond just the phenomena themselves and now sought to understand their causes, the reality behind them — unseen intelligences constantly interacting with the physical world. In short, Spirts. The existence of incorporeal beings presumed an incorporeal world, and the implications were many; more than ever, mankind had proof that there exists life after life.

In the years that followed, Prof Rivail replicated this scientific experiments to exhaustion and was approached by other fellow researchers who contributed over 50 books with transcripts of spirit communications. Using the same logical rigor that had characterized his previous works in education and the sciences, Rivail thoroughly studied these findings, eventually supplementing them with the results of scientific and philosophic questions he had posed to different mediums in many distinct countries. These answers were then gathered, analyzed, compared and then organized into the first edition of “The Spirits’ Book”, published in 1857.

To illustrate that this was a result not only of his own intelligence, but also that of many others, both physical and incorporeal, Prof Rivail assumed the penname of Allan Kardec; already a renowned scientist and educator, publishing this work under his birthname would already convey it the credibility and attention it was to obtain on its own merits — as it did and continues to do throughout the modern world.

As the magnitude of these scientific discoveries became more apparent, Allan Kardec began to focus at once on their implications for humanity, which are too reflected in “The Spirits’ Book”. The science and mechanics of spirit communication itself were later revisited, at greater depth, in his 1861 publication, “The Medium’s Book”, which remains the unquestionable reference on the topic. In 1864, and as a continuation of his studies, Allan Kardec revisited earlier interpretations of Christianity in “The Gospel as Explained by Spiritism”, followed by “Heaven and Hell”, a dissertation on the nature of divine justice through the plurality of existences (reincarnation), in 1865. Finally, in 1867, Allan Kardec publishes “The Genesis”, an exposition on the concordance of the Spiritist Doctrine with the discoveries of modern science and with the general tenor of the Mosaic record as explained by spirits. Somewhere in between, Allan Kardec also published two short treatises, entitled “What is Spiritism?” and “Spiritism Reduced to its Simplest Expression”.

Particularly noteworthy is that Allan Kardec was not a “medium” himself, and was consequently obliged to avail himself of the medianimity of others in obtaining the spirit communications from which these works evolved. Unfortunately, the fruits of his labors (so immediately connected with his name) are often erroneously supposed to have been the product of his single mind or of the spirits in immediate connection with him. His works and the doctrine they originated are therefore far less the expression of a personal or individual opinion than are any other spiritualist theories. Therefore, the basis of religious philosophy laid down in his work was not, in any way, the product of his own intelligence, but was as new to him as to any of his readers, having been progressively compiled by him from the concurrent statements of a legion of spirits, through many thousands of mediums, unknown to each other, belonging to different countries, and to every variety of social position.