Psychic Self-Defense in Multiple Relationship Domains

psychic domains

Important preliminary point: People’s minds do not operate on their own, but in network. Our intellectual life takes place in a network that involves multiple intelligences (human being in physical and non-physical forms) in vibrational resonance. We are constantly surrounded and interacting with other intelligences that harmonize with us at some level. They are drawn to us due to common interests, desires, experiences, ties from the past, etc. The invisible world exerts significant influence upon us, good and bad. So common is this influence that we can say we are all mediums, just in different degrees of awareness and intensity of the phenomena. Our virtues, good intentions and efforts in a moral path connect us with intelligences aligned with such energies. Our vices, evil inclinations, flaws of character and rebellious behavior connect us with intelligences that align with such vibrations and allow them to influence us. Therefore, the most important aspect of our spiritual practice is in the moral realm (and any spiritual practice devoid of a moralizing factor can be considered dead and flawed). This is why Jesus advised us to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. The depth of such statement can’t be summarized in a few words, but we’d like to highlight the following aspects: 1. Know yourself. 2. Strive to love yourself to your highest potential. 3.  Because you love yourself, strive to rid yourself from all flaws of character you identify within yourself. 4. Love all other God’s creations to the limit of your ability.

“459. Do spirits influence our thoughts and actions? ‘They often direct both; their influence is greater than you suppose, for very frequently it is they who guide you.’ ” [1]

If the elements covered above are clear to you, we can now proceed to exploring our relationship with non-physical intelligences to a higher degree. Where do they come from?  How can they help or harm? How their influence fit in the perspective of inner reform, awakening to a spiritual life and contribution to the development of Earth?

Life exposes us to multiple forms of relationships. Relationships are critical to our development as each person with whom we interact work as a mirror of ourselves. In this sense, healthy relationships reflect our internal harmony and unhealthy relationships reflect our internal conflicts and dissatisfactions. While we are influenced by all relationships to some degree, some of them receive more of our own energy, dedication, time, etc. Our level of involvement, intimacy, vested interest and exposure naturally provide them a characteristic and proportional psychic intensity (strength, lasting effect, probability and nature of multiple psychic influences). In other words, where we spend most of our energy and time is also where we are probably most exposed to psychic influences and where those influences maintain the stronger and more lasting connection with us (psychic intensity). The nature of such influences will depend on our moral inclinations and the direction we give to our though and will – good or bad.

For instance, consider our life in society. We are influenced by our culture, customs, language, etc. In the society where we express ourselves, we have a good idea of what is accepted, rejected, supported or disdained in multiple situations. In many situations, however, we might feel like we don’t really need to care about people’s opinions regarding what we do or think. This is a clear indication that the societal domain typically has a low psychic intensity. Unless we gather their contact information, we might not re-encounter someone we talked to at a park or in a leisurely day at the beach. This is the same from an invisible perspective, so that most likely the intelligences (incarnated or discarnate) we interact with today in the societal relationship domain won’t be seen again tomorrow or ever. Relationships in the societal domain can be described as casual.

“Question 767. Is absolute isolation contrary to the law of nature? ‘Yes, since man instinctively seeks society, and since all men are intended to help forward the work of progress by aiding one another.’

Question 770. What is to be thought of those who live in absolute seclusion in order to escape the pernicious contact of the world? ‘The life of such persons is doubly selfish. In avoiding one evil, they fall into another, since they forget the law of love and charity.’” [1]

Now, consider our professional environment. This is already a much different relationship domain, with stronger psychic strength. In the professional domain, we are typically expected to attend specific physical locations where work takes place and interact regularly with the individuals whom are there. Because of the higher frequency of interaction, time of exposure, vested interest and energy spent in this environment, the relationships we maintain in this domain have a much stronger influence and impact over our psyche. We are more careful on our approach in this domain. Things we just wouldn’t care about in a societal relationship domain, when affecting the professional relationship domain might matter a lot more! For instance, some people might not care about screaming at someone in a traffic jam or being disrespectful somehow – but if we then learn that the person we interacted with is a co-worker, then things get a little different, isn’t it? Some people here in Oregon, for instance, enjoy attending to nudist sites. But how does it sound bumping into a co-worker there? Yeah, chances are it is not that cool! So, if we are clear about those two domains, let’s insert a new one into this picture. Let’s call it friendship circles. In this domain, relationships start getting more personal. We might not spend the same time we do at work with friends, but friends are people we get to know more intimately and that know us more deeply too. We typically have something in common with our true friends. In other words, we are in energetic or vibratory resonance with them – and naturally might harmonize with their invisible influences too. We are more opened to being ourselves around friends. In a professional setting, people are typically careful about the ideas and opinions shared. Among frinds, this is remarkably different. The emotional connection in this relationship domain is stronger, promoting an environment of safety and trust.

Continuing the logic developed thus far, we can now explore the relationship domain here described as the extended family. This domain is composed of those individuals connected by ties of family but that do not participate on the same household. We can change country, state, city, address. We can change jobs and friends, but family will always be family. It is true that the psychic intensity maintain with certain family members might not be as strong as perhaps some of a professional nature, but if a regular relationship is maintained, then there is a lasting factor of the family bonds that shouldn’t be neglected. In any case, the central point we are developing in this text is that different relationships have different psychic intensities. The relationship domains explored here are not supposed to be applicable in all case, but just theoretical frames of references that allow us to understand the logic of spiritual influences. The final relationship domains we’d like to note are the conjugal life and our relationship with ourselves. None of the former relationship domains noted here have the intensity, the lasting factor, the depth of intimacy and the demand of love and moral virtues observed in the conjugal life (assuming this relationship is taken seriously by the partners, of course). But if love partners have a deep bond established among them, no relationship can be as profound as that we have with ourselves. This is why most psychic influences happens within and affect our household environment and our relationship with ourselves – therefore the importance of knowing ourselves cannot be underestimated.

We hope that at this point it is abundantly clear that the multiple relationship domains we maintain have different levels of psychic intensity according to their own nature. This means, we are more likely to suffer spiritual obsessions (or spiritual attacks) coming from our family circles than from that leisurely day at the beach. This also means we will have more conflicts coming from our family circles that from that leisurely day at the beach… We should also not ignore such conflicts and simply focus on peacefully enjoying that leisurely day at the beach. Doing so would be a waste of time and an escape from the urgent need for inner reform. Remember, relationships are mirrors of ourselves and conflicts that are painful to us typically indicate something we have to revise within ourselves. But, just in case, let’s be a little clearer on this point. We are not instigating you to pick fights and engage in conflict. We are simply suggesting that our spiritual development only takes place when we successfully manage the conflicts within them – with love and maturity. A spiritually developed person is only that who can bring peace where there was anger and warmongering; hope where there was only despair and delusion, and light where a blinding darkness prevailed.

In a previous post from our site (“What is the measure of your spiritual wisdom?”), it was mentioned that the measure of our spiritual development is related to the quality and impact of our influence in the environments with which we engage. This influence takes place in all of those relationship domains. So what is your ability to make peace by inspiring others? What is your qualification to manage discordance with empathy, love and honesty? How much light do you bring to the multiple relationship domains you maintain? Are you inspired by a network of intelligences working for the common good of the cosmos or those that simply inspire you to do whatever is best for your own self-interest? Are you defending privileges or promoting a world of freedom and equal access to opportunities?

In order to develop adequate psychic self-defense, it is critical that we understand our personal goals in each of those domains. Where are we doing well, where are we failing. What do we want to achieve in each of them, and why. What to watch for and how/when to contribute. Start with your relationship with yourself and work your thoughts up to your relationship with your spouse, family, workplace and society. Remember that a consequence of operating in a network means that if we don’t know what we want, defend and care about – then other intelligences will fill the void. Therefore, it all starts by knowing who we are and what we stand for. If we don’t have a working compass for our relationship with ourselves, then most likely our other relationship domains won’t be functional either.

If we trust the spiritual realm has plans to bring peace and order to our world, than know that we are right, but they depend on human hands – which actually live in this world to do the job. They do this by inspiring those of us who want to learn to face conflict and transform ourselves. They understand that external changes can only be a natural consequence of internal reforms (see our post “Inner light to a brighter future”). We are their mediums, all of us who seek to change and make change. But, more than ask for change, we must be the change we want to see. Be the change, not forgetting that it starts with us, our relationships with those who are most dear to us, and so on… before impacting the whole of society. So, again, what positive impact are you making to yourself? How about your spouse or significant other? Family? Friends? Are you contributing to their development? Are you learning with your conflicts in those relationship realms? Are you inclined to peace, love, freedom, trust and good on them? Or you seek to dominate, dictate what’s right and wrong, acceptable or not, expected or not. Are you coherent with what you defend? Are your actions coherent with your speech and is your speech coherent with your mind? Are your head and hands occupied? Do you ONLY and ALWAYS employ words for good? How malicious and futile is your mouth? Do you fear silence and need to find ways to distract your mind (with alcohol, narcotic drugs, loud music, work stuff, sports, etc.)? Do you demand from others more than from yourself? Do you suppose the annoyances from others only indicate changes they need to make? Do you take others as ungrateful or evil? Are you easily influenced by money, power, fame or the need for appreciation and recognition? One more: do you know who you are and what you stand for? The following section has been extracted from The Gospel According to Spiritism, from Allan Kardec for being a remarkable good reference for moral development and psychic self-defense. Peace, love and much work to all!


Moral Persons [2]

Truly moral persons are those who practice the law of justice, love and charity in its greatest purity. If they question their conscience about their actions, they ask themselves if they have violated this law; if they have done any evil; if they have done all the good they could; if they have willingly disregarded any opportunity to be useful; if anyone might have a complaint about them; and, finally, if they have done unto others everything they would like to have done unto themselves.

They have faith in God, and in God’s goodness, justice and wisdom. They know that nothing happens without God’s permission, so they submit to the Divine Will in everything.

They have faith in the future; thus, they place spiritual possessions above temporal ones.

They know that all the vicissitudes of life, all its sorrows and all its disappointments are trials or expiations, and they accept them without complaining.

Persons imbued with the sentiment of charity and love for their neighbor do the good for its own sake without expecting anything in return, and they repay evil with good, defend the weak against the strong and always sacrifice their own interests to the interests of justice.

                They find their satisfaction in the benefits they spread around, the service they render, the happiness they promote, the tears they dry and the consolation they provide to the afflicted. Their first impulse is to think of others before thinking of themselves and to attend to the interests of others before their own. The selfish, on the other hand, calculate the profits and losses entailed in every generous act.

Moral persons are kind, humane and benevolent toward all regardless of race or creed, because they regard all people as their brothers and sisters.

They respect all sincere convictions that others might hold to and they do not anathematize those who do not think like they do.

In all circumstances charity is their guide; they tell themselves that those who harm others with malevolent words, who hurt others’ feelings with their pride and disdain, who do not recoil from the idea of causing suffering or difficulty, however slight, when it could be avoided, fail in their duty of love for their neighbor and do not deserve the Lord’s clemency.

They hold no hatred or rancor, or desire for vengeance. Following Jesus’ example, they forgive and forget offenses, and remember only good deeds, because they know that they will be forgiven according to how they themselves have forgiven.

They are indulgent toward others’ weaknesses, for they know that they themselves need indulgence, and they recall these words of Christ, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

They never take pleasure in searching for defects in others or in calling attention to them. If necessity forces them to do so, they always look for the good that might mitigate the evil.

They study their own imperfections and strive incessantly to combat them. All their efforts are focused on being able to say to themselves tomorrow that they are better than they were yesterday.

They do not seek to exalt their spirit or talents at the expense of others; instead, they seize every opportunity to point out what is praiseworthy in other people.

They do not gloat over their wealth or their personal advantages, for they know that everything that has been given to them can be taken away.

They use but do not abuse the possessions that have been accorded to them, for they know that they are a trust for which they will have to render an accounting, and that the worst use of them in regard to themselves would be to use them to satisfy their passions.

If the social order has placed others under their tutelage, they treat them with kindness and benevolence, because they are their equals before God. They use their authority to lift their morale and not to squash them with their pride. They avoid anything that could render their subordinates’ position more painful.

Those who are subordinate, on the other hand, understand the duties of their position and are scrupulous in consciously fulfilling them.

Finally, moral persons respect in their fellow beings all the rights arising from the laws of nature, in the same way they wish their own to be respected.

This is not a list of all the qualities that define moral persons, but whoever makes an effort to possess them is on the road that leads to all the others.


[1]: Kardec, Allan. The Spirits’ Book.

[2]: Kardec, Allan. The Gospel According to Spiritism.

Paid Mediumship: A Risky Business

By Ricardo C. Mastroleo, Ph.D., Allan Kardec Spiritist Educational Center .



Spiritism is based on natural, and therefore, universal laws. However, the way it must be introduced and taught to anyone who is new to its core ideas strongly depends on each individual’s cultural values, religious background, and personal motivation to learn this new body of knowledge. In fact, this is a general pedagogical truth that is valid not only to the teaching of Spiritism, but also to the teaching of any field of human knowledge. The ability to educate depends heavily on the understanding the educator has about the individuals that will be learning the new knowledge.

As Spiritism is being established in more and more countries, with different cultures, languages and ethical values, it is imperative that the spiritists in different parts of the globe who lead study groups or deliver talks about Spiritism, take into careful consideration the local cultural values so as to put forward the spiritist message in a way that better resonates in people’s hearts [1], [2], [3].

Charity is one of the pillars of Spiritism, and the act of giving without expecting anything in return is a bright source of light that illuminates and directs our spiritual path. In this context, Kardec extensively discussed [4], [5]the drawbacks of associating the practice of mediumship with financial or any material compensation. On the other hand, in countries like the United States the entrepreneurial attitude is highly valued and encouraged. The ability individuals have to use their talents and ingenuity to create new businesses embodies the basis of the economical system of this country. The value of honest and hard work is taught to children in early ages, where many parents reward their kids with small monetary payments for performing household chores, or encourage them to engage in remunerated activities like mowing a neighbor’s lawn, babysitting, or setting up the traditional lemonade booth in their home’s front yards to sell cold lemonade in a summer day.

It is clear that in such a business oriented environment, which permeates the lives of many people in the United States, it becomes a little tricky to convey the idea that the practice of paid mediumship should be avoided. The purpose of this article is to highlight the main points in Kardec’s arguments discouraging such a practice, and then point out a way in which this concept can be better assimilated in this country.

Give for free what has been received gratuitously

This is the title of Chapter 26 of The Gospel According to Spiritism [4], and is an argument frequently used by spiritists to advocate against the practice of paid mediumship. However, this argument might not be very effective when presented by itself only. Kardec used this passage from the Gospel (Matthew 10:8), and two others, “Paid Prayers” (Mark 12:38-40), and “The Money Changers Expelled from the Temple” (Matthew 21:12-13), to illustrate the importance of charity through our prayers and donation of our time and talents for the benefit of others, and also to emphasize the fact that spiritual progress cannot be purchased, but only attained as a result of our own commitment to self reform in conformity with the Law of Love. But the isolated use of this argument against the commercialization of mediumship might have little impact in a culture where the financial recompense for professional services is always expected. The argument “give for free what you received for free” has a counterargument that is often invoked: “If a gifted and skilled musician, medical doctor, or scientist can charge for their work, why not a gifted and skilled medium? They all got their gifts for free and acquired their skills with their own effort. Why would it be ethically unacceptable for mediums to make a living off their natural aptitudes and skills?”

One might respond to this counterargument by invoking another statement, also found in the same chapter [4] : “Mediums are not to sell words that do not belong to them, seeing that they are not fruits of their conception, nor their research, nor of their personal work”. Although undoubtedly true, this argument can be easily refuted with questions like these: “In the exercise of their activities, sign language interpreters or simultaneous translators are also saying nothing that is fruit of their conception. Does it mean that it is ethically wrong for them to charge for their work? If they are charging for their knowledge of different languages and their ability to provide an instantaneous, accurate translation, why cannot a medium charge for his/her ability and skill to serve as the translator between the spiritual and material realms?”

Intention and mediumship

The discussion above illustrates well the fact that the use of purely ethical arguments in countries like the United States to advise against remunerated mediumistic work can be very ineffective because they conflict with the strong and long-standing culture of hard work along with the merit and remuneration compatible with one’s personal skills and efforts. Consequently, the discussion about the exercise of mediumship as a profession must be conducted in a manner where less weight is given to the ethics of it, and more emphasis put on the practical negative outcomes that might result from such a practice.

That said, an important point to consider is that mediumship is a spiritual and mental activity, where the true intention of the medium, manifested through his/her current vibratory states of mind and heart, will determine the nature of the spirit with whom the connection is to be established [6], [7] . Besides, in any mediumistic activity the bulk of the work is done by the spirit, with the medium being only the translator, the instrument utilized by the spirit. Therefore, the quality of any assistance work is strongly influenced by the level of spiritual evolution of the communicating spirit. However, benevolent spirits, in their willingness to share their love and wisdom with those in need, will tend to stay away from mediums that don’t have a genuine intention to serve. Not because they don’t have the desire to assist the person that requested the medium’s help, but because the vibratory mismatch between the medium and the spirit becomes an impediment for the spirit to properly perform the needed work, in the same way that an out of tune violin becomes a serious obstacle for a virtuoso violinist to produce good music. As Kardec points out [5], “Mediumship is a faculty given for good, and good spirits withdraw from everyone who would make it a stepping-stone for aught that does not answer to the views of Providence. Egotism is the sore spot in the social system; the good spirits combat it, and it cannot be supposed that they come to serve it.”

Consequently, a good medium is not only measured by his/her ability to serve as an accurate translator between the spiritual and material realms, but also by his/her ability to connect to more evolved spirits. This connection takes place when the medium is in a vibratory spiritual state that is compatible with the spiritual state of the spirit, and when it comes to assistance work, this compatibility is influenced by the intention of both medium and the spirit to selflessly do good to others. Similarly, a medium that has the intention to do frivolous or self-interested work will attract frivolous and selfish spirits with whom the vibratory state is more compatible. Kardec underscores this point very clearly [4] : “Those who desire serious communications should before all else ask with seriousness, and following this, should inform themselves of the nature of the sympathies the medium may have with the beings from the Spirit world. Therefore the first condition necessary to attract the benevolence of the good Spirits are humility, devotion, abnegation, and total disinterest, both moral and material.”

Having established the fact that during any mediumistic activity the medium’s underlying intention to perform that activity is a determinant factor of the nature of spirits with whom he/she can be connected, the issue of paid mediumship work can be more soundly examined.

When a medium has a business to provide mediumistic services, profit is expected and it will originate from the revenue generated by the clients. When the medium’s living expenses depend on this revenue, the true intention and motivation to perform the work must be questioned. Is the medium more interested in the client’s consultation fee or in being the instrument of solace for a brother or sister in need? Is the medium more interested in customer satisfaction, feeling compelled to say what the client wants to hear, or in being the channel to the guidance (not always easy to be followed) of benevolent spirits to help a brother or sister to advance in their spiritual journey? Note that these questions are not as relevant to other professionals like, say, a medical doctor or a dentist, because the success of a treatment depends much more on the doctor’s knowledge and experience, and much less on the doctor’s true intention, be it to keep a good reputation and cash flow or to genuinely be an instrument to the patient’s well-being. However, for mediumistic work the true intention of the medium will determine the nature of the spirits who will be doing the work, and any medium engaged in remunerated mediumistic work will be walking a fine line between strictly selling a service to a client and altruistically assisting a brother or sister in need.

Another point to consider is that mediums cannot make promises with respect to specific spirits to channel or spiritual effects to produce, and Kardec states this truth very boldly [4]: “There is not a single medium in the world who can guarantee the obtaining of a spiritual phenomenon at any given moment.” If a medium charges to channel a client’s departed loved one, what if the communication cannot be established? In this scenario, fraud starts to become an attractive option, either for the medium or for mocking spirits who will take no time to seize the moment to take pleasure in being deceitful.

“Mediumship only exists through the co-operation of the Spirits.” [4] Making it into a profession exposes the medium to the risk of becoming an agent of less evolved and untrustworthy spirits because the main driving force for the work might be removed from love and genuine intent to help and instead, focused on the medium’s financial and material needs. For this reason, remunerated mediumship is not a recommended practice.

One might argue that discouraging mediums from charging for their services will prevent the good ones from devoting their whole time for the activity, thus depriving many people of the benefits of their work. The flaw of this argument resides in the misunderstanding of what a good medium really is. As it was pointed out earlier, a good medium is not only the one who has a good control of the mechanics that governs the mental and spiritual connections with the communicating spirit, but also the one who can earn the trust of evolved and loving spirits, who accept to utilize the medium as the instrument of their work. When mediumship becomes a source of revenue, selflessness has a greater chance to be partially or totally replaced by self-centeredness, thus discouraging or even impeding the intervention of benefactor spirits, and favoring the intervention of less evolved spirits, more attuned to the lower vibratory state of the medium.

In conclusion, mediumship is a gift intended to bring us solace, knowledge and light to our spiritual path. Meaningful and dignifying mediumship is the one that enlightens, educates, edifies, and unites us, but it can only be achieved with the concurrence of evolved and loving spirits along with the work of mediums committed to their own inner reform and to a humble and selfless practice focused solely on those they were given the opportunity to assist. When financial recompense is present, there is a risk for the focus on the work to move away from the spiritual needs of the assisted and towards the medium’s material necessities and appetites. This shift in the focus and intention of the medium has a direct impact on the level of the spirits who will do the work, and therefore, in the quality of its outcome. Hence, paid mediumship should be avoided. The problem is not the payment itself, but the selfish intentions that might result from it. In fact, a medium who does not charge but uses his/her mediumistic faculties in an ostentatious manner, as a tool for self-promotion, will incur in the same problem. Mediumship with pride and egotism invariably produces futile results. In order to fulfill its dignifying mission mediumship must always be fueled by love and a sincere and selfless desire to serve.


[1] Francisco Cândido Xavier and Waldo Vieira, Among Brothers of Other Lands, Edicei of America, 2011.

[2] Rodrigo Machado, Disseminating Spiritism Worldwide: Quo Vadimus?, The Spiritist Magazine, 14 Jan-Jun 2011.

[3] Ricardo C. Mastroleo, Disseminating Spiritism in the United States, The Spiritist Magazine, 17 AprJun 2012.

[4] Allan Kardec, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Chapter 26, International Spiritist Council, 2004.

[5] Allan Kardec, The Mediums’ Book, Chapter 28, International Spiritist Council, 2006.

[6] Andre Luiz, through the mediumship of Francisco Cândido Xavier, In the Domain of Mediumship, Chapter 13, International Spiritist Council, 2006.

[7] Allan Kardec, The Mediums’ Book, Chapter 20, International Spiritist Council, 2006.

Spiritism: The Work of Allan Kardec and Its Implications for Spiritual Transformation

By Alexander Moreira-Almeida



Despite the growing discussion about science-spirituality relationships, there remains many problems in integrating spirituality and scientific knowledge. This debate has often been characterized by radicalism and mutual denial. As another consequence of the contemporary emphasis on rationality and empirically based knowledge, building a strong and acceptable base to support the spiritual aspect of life as well as ethics has remained a huge challenge.

Although the current debate on science and spirituality has discussed several important topics, it usually does not touch the scientific investigation of certain claims about the spirit (its existence, survival after bodily death, reincarnation, etc.). However, this was not always the case. During the 19th century, through the vehicles of spiritualism, spiritism, and psychical research, many researchers tried to use a scientific approach to investigate spiritual experiences. Of special interest among these three related groups was the investigation of evidence that suggested the personality’s survival after death (AubrÈe & Laplantine, 1990; Gauld, 1968; Kardec, 1860; Myers, 1903). The scientific investigation of the existence of a non-physical or spiritual realm, a fundamental claim of many, if not most, spiritual traditions (Hufford & Bucklin, 2006), was a main goal of those investigators.

This effort involved numerous high level scientists and scholars who provided many contributions to topics such as the dialogue between religion and science, between faith and reason and even a new approach to metaphysics. However, these works are virtually unknown by contemporary authors in those fields.

Despite often dealing with the same subject (spiritual/psychic experiences), spiritualism, spiritism and psychical research frequently differed from each other regarding views of science, research methods, and success in formulating a comprehensive theory. Spiritism, developed by Allan Kardec (1804-1869),  developed a more inclusive philosophical system based on a research program of spiritual experiences. Stressing a rational and empirical investigation, Spiritism developed a theory of the self, including its survival after death—the  concepts of reincarnation and unlimited spiritual evolution that formed the basis for a new empirical foundation of ethics, i.e. the founding of moral precepts on experimentally observed facts. Studies in Spiritism also could contribute to topics such as metaphysics, the science and religion dialogue and the rediscovery of human meaning and purpose. However, these implications of Spiritism have not been the subject of systematic study. The relatively few academic studies of Spiritism usually focus largely on the religious aspect that became prominent in the spiritist movement later in its history. Currently, the principal ideas of Spiritism have led to a developing social movement spawning study groups, healing centers, charity institutions and hospitals utilized by millions of people in dozens of countries, most of them found in Brazil (AubrÈe & Laplantine, 1990; CEI, 2008; Moreira-Almeida & Lotufo Neto, 2005; Stoll, 2003).

Spiritism has become an important social force in Brazil, with a large interest in assisting poor people, health care, and religious issues (AubrÈe & Laplantine, 1990; Sampaio, 2003). However, we will focus our present discussion on the philosophical aspects of Spiritism and its potential contribution to the current academic dialogue on science and spirituality. The purpose of this paper is to introduce into the contemporary debate some contributions of Spiritism to the religion and science dialogue and its relevance to spiritual transformation and a foundation for ethics. To better provide readers with a first hand contact with Kardec’s original ideas, we will base our paper largely on direct quotations form Kardec’s writings on Spiritism.

Development of Spiritism

Allan Kardec (1804-1869) was one of the first scholars to propose a scientific investigation of psychic/spiritual phenomena, but his research work is not well known. He was a French scholar who worked mainly as an educator and writer. By the middle of the 19th century, a strong interest in mediumistic phenomenabegan in the United States, quickly spread to Europe and then became worldwide, becoming known as modern spiritualism (Gauld, 1968). In 1855, Kardec started an investigation of mediumistic experiences. His purpose was to submit these experiences to scientific investigation (Kardec, 1890; Moreira-Almeida, 2008).

During his initial investigation, Kardec posed and tested several hypotheses to explain mediumistic phenomena: fraud, hallucinations, a new physical force, somnambulism (including unconscious mental activity and clairvoyance), thought reflection (including telepathy and super-psi), disincarnate spirits and several other theories. He accepted that fraud, hallucination, unconscious cerebration and thought reflection could explain many phenomena regarded as mediumistic. However, when mediumistic phenomena were studied as a whole (taking into account all kinds of observed mediumistic experiences), the best explanation would be the spiritist hypothesis – a spiritual origin for the phenomena (Kardec 1859,1860,1861; Moreira-Almeida, 2008). Evidence produced by mediums convinced Kardec that personalities that had survived death could be the source of mediumistic communications (some of this evidence is listed below).

  1. Mediums providing accurate information (e.g. personal information about some dead person) unknown to themselves and to any sitter at the mediumistic séance
  2. Mediums showing unlearned skills such as:
    • A) illiterate mediums who produce mediumistic writing;
    • B) writing with calligraphy similar to the alleged communicating personality
      when alive;
    • C) speaking or writing in a language unknown to the medium (xenoglossy
      and xenography);
  1. Mediumistic communications showing a wide range of personal psychological characteristics (such as character, humor, conciseness, choosing of words, likes, dislikes, etc) related to the alleged communicating personality.

After Kardec became convinced that mediums could put him in touch with spirits (human personalities who survived bodily death), Kardec worked to develop a scientific research program to study this subject and called it Spiritism, defined by him as “a science that deals with the nature, origin, and destiny of spirits, and their relation with the corporeal world” (Kardec, 1859:6):

“Spiritism has not discovered nor invented the spirit, but was the first to demonstrate its existence by undeniable proofs. It has studied it, analyzed it, and made evident its action” (Kardec, 1868:12).

Spirituality and Science: Spirits as components of the natural world

Spiritism does not accept miracles or the supernatural. According to Spiritism, spirits (like matter) are components of the natural world, thus regulated by natural laws and suitable to scientific investigation. Kardec stressed that considering the interaction between both elements of universe (matter and spirits) would make it much easier to understand and accept many phenomena, mainly those described by spiritual traditions:

“Spirit and matter are the two elements, or forces, governing the universe. (…) Spiritism, in demonstrating the existence of the spiritual world and its relations with the material world, provides the key to a multitude of hitherto unknown phenomena, which have been considered as inadmissible by a certain class of thinkers” (Kardec, 1868:3).

According to Kardec, we should be “on guard against the exaggeration from both credulity and skepticism” (Kardec, 1858:2). He stressed that we should be very careful in attributing to spirits all sorts of phenomena that are unusual or that we do not understand:

“I cannot stress this point enough, we need to be aware of the effects of imagination (…). When an extraordinary phenomenon is produced – we insist – the first thought should be about a natural cause, because it is the most frequent and the most probable” (Kardec, 1860:77).

Kardec, despite being a contemporary of positivism, developed epistemological and methodological guidelines for his investigation that are in several aspects in line with later developments in philosophy of science throughout the 20th century. He advocated, and actually used, research methods appropriate to the subject matter he was interested in investigating, namely, the spiritual element. Thus, for instance, he pointed out the relevance of well-attested reports of spontaneous cases, in contrast with a misplaced attempt to mimicking physics, which, in many cases, appeals to quantitative measurements and laboratory experiments. Kardec also stressed that just collecting experimental data is not enough to make a science, for which it is essential to develop a comprehensive, logically consistent theory. In his pioneering exploration of the new field, he succeeded in allying a sense of rigor to a salutary openness to the novel (Kardec 1859; 1860,1861; Chibeni 1999; Moreira-Almeida, 2008).

Kardec often emphasized the need for a comprehensive and diversified empirical basis for spiritual experiences. To enlarge the range of observed phenomena, he asked that reports of mediumistic manifestations of several sorts be sent to him (Kardec, 1858:6). He reported having received “communications from almost a thousand serious spiritist centers scattered over highly diversified areas of the Earth” (Kardec, 1864:8). Fernandes (2004), investigating the amplitude of Kardec’s correspondence, surveyed Kardec’s publications on Spiritism and found published references to contacts related to Spiritism from 268 cities in 37 countries (in Africa, Asia, Europe, and from the three Americas).

“Spiritism proceeds in the same way as the positive sciences, by using the experimental method. When facts of a new kind are observed, facts that cannot be explained by known laws, it observes, compares and analyzes them. Reasoning then from the effects to the causes, it discovers the laws which govern them. Then it deduces their consequences and seeks for useful applications. Spiritism proposes no preconceived theory (…) Thus, it is rigorously correct to say that Spiritism is an experimental science, not the product of imagination. The sciences have not made real progress before they adopted the experimental method. This method has hitherto been taken as applicable only to matter, but in truth it is equally applicable to metaphysical things.” (Kardec, 1868:10-1).

In his revolutionary approach to spirituality, Kardec frequently compared mediums to microscopes, since both were instruments that revealed and put humankind in contact with an invisible world that, despite being previously ignored, have always had a strong impact on human lives (Kardec,1860:421). Following Kardec`s analogy, the empirical observations provided by mediums and microscopes would allow the investigator to “see” how these invisible worlds are, making possible to formulate and to test hypothesis regarding the natural laws governing them.

Based on his investigations, Kardec developed a comprehensive theoretical framework to account for the whole body of observed phenomena. This resulted in the spiritualist philosophy called Spiritism. As a philosophical system, Spiritism has many concepts that have been proposed by other philosophies and religions. Some of Spiritism’s core concepts are: survival of consciousness after death, communication between incarnate and discarnate minds (mediumship), reincarnation, and unlimited spiritual evolution. According to Kardec, a scientific basis and the coordination of these concepts in a single theory were the main difference between Spiritism and previous philosophies that hold similar notions.

A new ground for ethics

Kardec strongly stressed the ethical implications of his studies. Spiritism neither has any ritual nor claims to be the only way to spiritual evolution and happiness. However, Kardec proposed that Spiritism could provide a much larger perspective to evaluate consequences of a behavior. Through Spiritism, one would be able to evaluate the long-run consequences of our actions, not just during one terrestrial life, but also at postmortem and in future lives.

This represents a crucial reinforcement of an approach to ethics known as “utilitarianism”, whose main exponents were Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill (18th and 19th centuries). In this approach moral norms are not taken on the basis of authority, pure intellection, but as following from a scientific appraisal of the consequences of human actions with regard to the attainment of happiness of the whole of humankind.

“Spiritism has, furthermore, a particularly strong moralizing power, to the extent in which it clearly shows […] the consequences of good and bad actions, which become so to speak palpable” (Kardec, 1868:21).

 “What Spiritism adds to the Christian moral is the knowledge of the principles governing the relationships  between alive and dead men, thus completing the vague notions he gave of the soul, its past and future. It thereby grounds the Christian doctrine on the very laws of nature. […] Charity and fraternity become thus a social necessity. Heretofore, man does by conviction what he before did by pure sense of duty, and he does it better” (Kardec, 1868:30-1).

A call for spiritual transformation

Kardec stressed that an experimental demonstration of survival after death would have a high impact on humanity:

“The very possibility of communicating with the beings inhabiting the spiritual world has very important, incalculable consequences. […] It represents a complete revolution in our ideas” (Kardec, 1868:13).

“Had Spiritism just eliminated man’s doubt concerning future life, it would already made more in behalf of his moral amelioration than all disciplinary laws, capable of bridling him in certain circumstances, but which does not really transform him to the better” (Kardec, 1868:19-20).

Reincarnation would also have large implications:

“The plurality of existences (…) is one of the most important laws revealed by Spiritism, since it shows the reality of this law and its need for progress. This law explains a lot of apparent anomalies of human life; differences in social position, premature deaths that, without reincarnation, would make useless to the souls such short existences; the inequality of moral and intellectual abilities, by the antiquity of the soul who has progressed and learned more or less, and who, being reborn, brings what has acquired in his previous lives” (Kardec, 1868:19).

The cognitive framework provided by Spiritism would be a strong call to spiritual transformation:

“Communication with the beings of the world beyond the grave enables us to see and to comprehend the life to come, initiates us into the joys and sorrows that await us therein according to our deserts, and thus brings back to spiritualism those who had come to see in man only matter, only an organised machine; we are therefore justified in asserting that the facts of Spiritism have given the death-blow to materialism. Had Spiritism done nothing more than this, it would be entitled to the gratitude of all the friends of social order; but it does much more than this, for it shows the inevitable results of evil, and, consequently, the necessity of goodness. (…) the future is no longer for them a vague imagining, a mere hope, but a fact, the reality of which is felt and understood when they see and hear those who have left us lamenting or rejoicing over what they did when they were upon the earth. Whoever witnesses these communications begins to reflect on the reality thus brought home to him, and to feel the need of self-examination, self-judgment, and self-amendment” (Kardec, 1860:421-2).


Despite being virtually absent from the academic debate on the relationship between spirituality and science, Spiritism has developed several contributions to the field that may provide new insights on the religion and science dialogue. A major aspect of Spiritism is the project of pursuing a fact-grounded scientific investigation of topics previously considered metaphysical.

Most of spiritist ideas discussed here are not new, Kardec did not create them, but they were submitted to experimental investigation and organized into a comprehensive theory through Spiritism. By proposing an investigation of spirituality based on a rational analysis of facts, Spiritism aims to provide a basis for spirituality in the contemporary world, by fostering the pursuit of ongoing spiritual transformation.


AubrÈe, M. & Laplantine, F. (1990). La table, le livre et les esprits (The table, the book, and the spirits). Paris: …ditions Jean-Claude L‡ttes.

Chibeni, S. S. “The spiritist paradigm”, Human Nature, vol. 1, n. 2,  pp. 82-87, January 1999. Available at:

Fernandes, W. L. N. (2004). Allan Kardec e os mil n˙cleos espÌritas de todo o mundo com os quais se correspondia em 1864… Retrieved from:

Gauld, A. (1968). The founders of psychical research. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Hess, D. J. (1991). Spirits and Scientists: Ideology, Spiritism, and Brazilian Culture. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Hufford, David J & Bucklin, M. A. (2006). The Spirit of Spiritual Healing in the United States. In: Koss-Chioino, J. D. & Hefner, P. Spiritual Transformation and Healing. Lanham: Altamira.

Kardec, A. (1858). Introduction. Revue Spirite – Journal d’…tudes Psychologiques 1(1), 1-6. Available at:

Kardec, A. (1859/1999). What is Spiritism? Philadelphia: Allan Kardec Educational Society.

Kardec, A. (1860). Manifestations physiques spontanÈes. Revue Spirite – Journal d’…tudes Psychologiques 3(1), 77-81.

Kardec, A. (1860/1996) The spirits’ book. 2nd ed. Rio de Janeiro: FEB. Available at:

Kardec, A. (1861/1986) The mediums’ book. Rio de Janeiro: FEB. Available at:

Kardec, A. (1864/1987) The gospel according to the Spiritism. London: The Headquarters Publishing Co Ltd. Available at:

Kardec, A. (1868) La genese, les miracles et les predictions selon le spiritisme. Paris: Union Spirite FranÁaise et Francophone. Available at:

Kardec, A. (1890/1927). Oeuvres Posthumes. Paris: Union Spirite FranÁaise et Francophone. Available at:

Moreira-Almeida, A. (2008). Allan Kardec and the development of a research program in psychic experiences. Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association & Society for Psychical Research Convention. Winchester, UK. pp.136-151.

Myers, F. W. H. (1903/2001). Human personality and its survival of bodily death. Charlottesville: Hampton Roads Publishing.

Sampaio, J. R. (2004). Volunt·rios: um estudo sobre a motivaÁ„o de pessoas e a cultura em uma organizaÁ„o do terceiro sector (Volunteers: a study about people’s motivation and the culture of a third sector organization). PhD dissertation. Faculdade de Economia, AdministraÁ„o e Contabilidade. Universidade de S„o Paulo. S„o Paulo.

Stoll, S. J. (2003). Espiritismo ‡ Brasileira. S„o Paulo: Edusp; Curitiba: Editora Orion.

Always when available, quotations were extracted from published English versions of Kardec’s works. Otherwise, I translated from the French original. When necessary to improve fidelity to French originals, I amended quotations from published English versions.

Mediumship is the alleged human faculty that would allow people called mediums to be in contact with discarnate spirits.

“Positive science” means, in the philosophical parlance of that time, inquiry thoroughly based on facts (Kardec, 1864a).

“Experimental method” should not  be taken as simply laboratory method, but research method based on empirical observations, i.e. on every kind of fact attestable by careful observation



Brazilian Mediums Shed Light on Brain Activity During a Trance State

Originally posted by on 14-Nov-2012 10:00 AM EST. 

Source Newsroom: Thomas Jefferson University


Newswise — (PHILADELPHIA) – Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil analyzed the cerebral blood flow (CBF) of Brazilian mediums during the practice of psychography, described as a form of writing whereby a deceased person or spirit is believed to write through the medium’s hand. The new research revealed intriguing findings of decreased brain activity during the mediums’ dissociative state which generated complex written content. Their findings will appear in the November 16th edition of the online journal PLOS ONE at

The 10 mediums—five less expert and five experienced—were injected with a radioactive tracer to capture their brain activity during normal writing and during the practice of psychography which involves the subject entering a trance-like state. The subjects were scanned using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) to highlight the areas of the brain that are active and inactive during the practice.

“Spiritual experiences affect cerebral activity, this is known. But, the cerebral response to mediumship, the practice of supposedly being in communication with, or under the control of the spirit of a deceased person, has received little scientific attention, and from now on new studies should be conducted,” says Andrew Newberg, MD, director of Research at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and a nationally-known expert on spirituality and the brain, who collaborated with Julio F. P. Peres, Clinical Psychologist, PhD in Neuroscience and Behavior, Institute of Psychology at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues on the research.

The mediums ranged from 15 to 47 years of automatic writing experience, performing up to 18 psychographies per month. All were right-handed, in good mental health, and not currently using any psychiatric drugs. All reported that during the study, they were able to reach their usual trance-like state during the psychography task and were in their regular state of consciousness during the control task.

The researchers found that the experienced psychographers showed lower levels of activity in the left hippocampus (limbic system), right superior temporal gyrus, and the frontal lobe regions of the left anterior cingulate and right precentral gyrus during psychography compared to their normal (non-trance) writing. The frontal lobe areas are associated with reasoning, planning, generating language, movement, and problem solving, perhaps reflecting an absence of focus, self-awareness and consciousness during psychography, the researchers hypothesize.

Less expert psychographers showed just the opposite—increased levels of CBF in the same frontal areas during psychography compared to normal writing. The difference was significant compared to the experienced mediums. This finding may be related to their more purposeful attempt at performing the psychography. The absence of current mental disorders in the groups is in line with current evidence that dissociative experiences are common in the general population and not necessarily related to mental disorders, especially in religious/spiritual groups. Further research should address criteria for distinguishing between healthy and pathological dissociative expressions in the scope of mediumship.

The writing samples produced were also analyzed and it was found that the complexity scores for the psychographed content were higher than those for the control writing across the board. In particular, the more experienced mediums showed higher complexity scores, which typically would require more activity in the frontal and temporal lobes, but this was not the case. Content produced during psychographies involved ethical principles, the importance of spirituality, and bringing together science and spirituality.

Several possible hypotheses for these many differences have been considered. One speculation is that as frontal lobe activity decreases, the areas of the brain that support mediumistic writing are further disinhibited (similar to alcohol or drug use) so that the overall complexity can increase. In a similar manner, improvisational music performance is associated with lower levels of frontal lobe activity which allows for more creative activity. However, improvisational music performance and alcohol/drug consumption states are quite peculiar and distinct from psychography. “While the exact reason is at this point elusive, our study suggests there are neurophysiological correlates of this state,” says Newberg.

“This first-ever neuroscientific evaluation of mediumistic trance states reveals some exciting data to improve our understanding of the mind and its relationship with the brain. These findings deserve further investigation both in terms of replication and explanatory hypotheses,” states Newberg.

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Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia, is nationally renowned for medical and health sciences education and innovative research. Founded in 1824, TJU includes Jefferson Medical College (JMC), one of the largest private medical schools in the country and ranked among the nation’s best medical schools by U.S. News & World Report, and the Jefferson Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, Population Health and the College of Graduate Studies. Jefferson University Physicians is TJU’s multi-specialty physician practice consisting of the full-time faculty of JMC. Thomas Jefferson University partners with its clinical affiliate, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.