Paranormal Book Club: Spiritism

27th December 2022. Reading Time: 6 minutes General, Paranormal Book Club. 680 page views. 0 comments.

Books you can read about the philosophy of Spiritism - what is even better is they are free via public domain!

Following on from the previous article on psychophony, below is a quick look at spiritism and some free public domain books you can read in this area.

What is spiritism?

Spiritism is a philosophy created by Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail.  In the 1850's, Rivali who used the pen name of Allan Kardec, became interested in seances which of course were extremely popular at the time.  Initially believing them to be a fraudulent act, he decided to conduct his own investigations into psychic mediumship.  He compiled a list of over 1000 questions that were asked of 10 participating mediums.  After compiling all of the results from the mediums that were unknown to each other, Kardec concluded that the answers were coming from personalities who had survived after death.  He then adapted them into a philosophy he called Spiritism, writing 5 books known as the Spiritist Codification.  Spiritism works on the philosophy that all living beings are immortal spirits that are temporarily inhabiting a physical body for several necessary incarnations to attain moral and intellectual improvement.  It explores the concept that a spirit is a soul that survives the physical body after death.  

Two of Kardec's 5 books from the spiritist doctrine go into great detail and are intriguing readings for anyone interested in the paranormal.  It is important to note that spiritism is not the same as spiritualism.  While there are similarities, the concepts are different.

The Spirits Book - Allan Kardec (1857)

‘The Spirits Book’ (1857), written by Allan Kardec, is widely regarded as the most important piece of writing in the ‘Spiritist’ canon. It is the first in a series of five books that Kardec wrote that are collectively known as the ‘Spiritist Codification’. Although the other four books; ‘The Medium’s Book’, ‘The Gospel According to Spiritism’, ‘Heaven and Hell’ and ‘The Genesis According to Spiritism’ are of great importance to the Spiritist movement it is ‘The Spirits Book’ that lays out the doctrine of the belief system.
The Spiritist movement was founded by Allen Kardec and although its roots lay in Spiritualism there are differences in belief. The most important of these differences is the Spiritist belief in reincarnation. Although some Spiritualists believe in reincarnation and some do not, all Spiritists consider it as a basic truth of their ideology.

In the 1850’s, whilst investigating the afterlife, Kardec communicated in séances with a collection of spirits named ‘The Spirit of Truth’ who discussed many important topics such as life after death, good and evil, the universe and the origin of spirits, amongst others. ‘The Spirit of Truth’ counted many of history’s great thinkers amongst its number such as Thomas of Aquino, Voltaire and Augustine of Hippo. Over time and after several sessions with the group Kardec had gathered enough information to convince him of life after death and he was compelled to spread the teachings of ‘The Spirit of Truth’. He ‘codified’ their comments and listed them as answers to questions and this is the content of ‘The Spirits Book’.

The subjects that Kardec discusses, via ‘The Spirit of Truth’, laid down the foundations for the Spiritist philosophy and all of the concepts that would become, and still are, key to the movement’s thinking have their genesis in the book. The belief that there is one Supreme Being, God, who created everything in the universe, is postulated. According to the text the Devil does not exist and Jesus is a messenger of God.

Although the book does not refer to Jesus as the son of God and no mention is made of the ‘immaculate conception’ he is considered God’s perfect messenger and his teachings are to be adhered to. Reincarnation and the survival of the soul after death are vital beliefs and it is stated that it is through reincarnation that lessons are learnt that can be taken into the next life and that every life moves the soul closer to perfection. According to the book man is made up of three separate elements; the body, the spirit and the spiritual body. One’s spirit also predates the matter of the universe and will outlast it.

After the publication of ‘The Spirits Book’ Kardec’s Spiritist doctrine began to take root, firstly in France from where it spread throughout Europe and found its way to North America. Most significant, however, was the reaction to Spiritism in South America. In Brazil the Spiritist movement swept across the nation and it is still one of the country’s main religions to this day with millions of Kardec’s followers from Brazil visiting his tombstone in Paris every year.

Blurb by Amazon

Read this book for free via public domain: The Spirits Book - Allan Kardec (1857)

The Mediums Book - Allan Kardec (1861)

The Book on Mediums, also known as The Mediums Book, was written by Allan Kardec and originally published in 1861. It is the widely respected follow up to The Spirits Book which was published in 1857 and is the second in a series of five books that Kardec wrote that are collectively known as the ‘Spiritist Codification’.

In the 1850’s, whilst investigating the afterlife, Kardec communicated in séances with a collection of spirits named ‘The Spirit of Truth’ who discussed many important topics such as life after death, good and evil, the nature of the universe, the origin of spirits, and many other subjects. The Spirit of Truth’ allegedly counted many of history’s great thinkers amongst its number such as Thomas Aquinas, Voltaire and Augustine of Hippo. Over time and after several sessions with the group Kardec had gathered enough information to convince him of life after death and he was compelled to spread the teachings of ‘The Spirit of Truth’. He ‘codified’ their comments and listed them as answers to questions and this forms the content of his teaching.

The Books on Mediums is intended to be an essential guide to mediumship for mediums and those interested in the spirit world. The book covers the different types of mediumship including, table-turning, incorporation of spirits, haunted houses, transfiguration, apparitions, psychography and telekinesis. It explains how to deal with manifestations and how to guard against frauds, charlatans, and skeptics alike.

The book warns against the perils of un-guided mediumship, possession, and obsession that often go hand in hand with the beautiful revelation that spiritual communication can reveal. Some of Kardec’s advice found in the book include;
“Do not believe the spirit to be who he purports to be unless there is evidence supporting his claim, but even then, wait till others confirm what one has said.”

“Do not judge the spirits by their purported names, but by the quality of the morals and the philosophy found in their communications.”

“Do not let yourself be too entertained with the evocation or incorporation of spirits enough to disregard what is more important, like living your own life and helping your neighbour.”

“Do not live by the spirits' advice: the communications from the spirits are to be studied and revered — but they should not be taken as the word-by-word expression of the ultimate truth.”
“Do not judge the quality of the communication by the culture or the social status of the medium by which it was brought.”

Blurb by Amazon

Read this book for free via public domain: The Mediums Book - Allan Kardec (1861)

There are further works of Kardec linked in the LLIFS Resource Directory


The spirits and mediums books remain two of the most important works of Kardecs.  While there are more volumes to digest and writings which have followed, the above two are intriguing readings for those interested in the afterlife and its concepts.

Cover Image: Photo by RF._.studio:

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