Spiritism: The Codification and Its Study

To go back to the first page of ‘The Codification’ section click here.

Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell (Le Ciel et l’Enfer the original French title) was published on 1865. It is divided into two parts named “The Doctrine” and “The Examples”. The fist part explains the different view Spiritism has on the subject, stating that both “Heaven” (i.e. happiness in the after-life) and “Hell” (i.e. punishment in the after-life) are misconceptions, that the state of the spirits after their death is not definitive and that there is always hope, even for the crudest criminal. The second part is a series of interviews with spirits of deceased people, exemplifying the working truth of the doctrine previously detailed.

The book was not only a description by the spirit teachers of the real nature of these states (in the spirit world), it also included communications from recently deceased spirits from all moral classes…from the most evil, to the most blameless and charitable. Each type of personality described their current conditions and how their actions on Earth had contributed to their current joys or sorrows.

Contrary to the dogmas of the Catholic church which painted a picture of never ending suffering even for those whose only sin was not to be Catholic, the Spirit communicators maintained that suffering in the next life only lasts until the individual has made the necessary effort to rectify the cause, and that everyone is given an opportunity to achieve this.
In the case of a recently executed murderer… ‘a systematic poisoner, a physician who had employed his professional position as a means to the accomplishment of the long tissue of horrible murders for which he had just been executed’. This man, upon manifesting spontaneously at a seance, and despite complaining that ‘Light dazzles and pierces, like sharp arrows, the innermost recesses of my being’, contemptuously turned away from the help offered by the circle… ‘I reject your pity…I ask for nothing…I suffice to myself; and I shall be able to resist this odious light’. Rivail states, however, that this spirit, eventually began to improve, repented and became the author of ‘many wise and good communications’.56 Other murderers described a state of confusion and a terror at the prospect of meeting their victims. One who had told how this had actually happened to him described why it caused him such suffering:-

Q. ‘What do you feel on seeing them?’
A. ‘Shame and remorse…and I hate them still…They pray that I may expiate my crimes. You cannot imagine what a horrible torture it is to owe everything to those we hate.’57

There were also communications from many other types of spiritual miscreant. Some, although they had committed no evil during their lives, had achieved nothing good either and expressed remorse at this. Others who had been blatantly greedy expressed their desire to give in some way. Conversely, those who had led good lives described their relative happiness and the hope that they may continue to be of service to others in their new life.58

Allan Kardec wrote, in Le Revue Spirite (Spiritist Journal) of September 1865 , “The title of this work clearly indicates its objective. There, we compiled all the elements needed to enlighten man about his destiny. As in our other writings about the Spiritist Doctrine, we have introduced no product of any preconceived system or of any personal notion, which would have no authority. Everything there is deduced from observation and agreement of facts.”

Some of the main concepts presented by Heaven and Hell :

Upon death, the Spirit is compelled to face an overview of their past existence. Coming to terms with those he/she has harmed or helped. And becoming clearly aware of what personal changes are needed for the next stage of their evolution.

Spirits of different levels of evolution will find themselves in different dimensions in the spirit world. Each corresponding to the basic characteristics of its inhabitence.

A spirits in the lower dimensions will remain in these dimensions until they realize that they must change and ask God for help. At that moment Spirit friends from higher dimensions will take the Spirit to a place of rest and recuperation until they can be taken to their new higher dimension.

Some low level Spirits who have just passed on have no idea that they have even died. While others clearly understand their conditions but stubbornly refuse to change.

Spirits in lower levels who are very stubborn are some times routinely reminded by higher level Spirits of what joy and healing can come with trying to change.

Their is no ‘hell’ or ‘devil’, the lower dimensions of the Spirit world are places of violence, cruelty and chaos but only because it’s inhabitence choose to make it so.

Because of the “Law of Progress” even the most stubborn Spirit will eventually choose to change.

Many spirits who have recently passed on and lived what they believed to be ethical lives are shocked to realize that by choosing not to actively help others and perform acts of charity that they have mis-spent the precious opportunity to grow and progress on Earth and have not progressed since their last reincarnation.

Not all Spirits are aware of their past lives, such knowledge is stored in their subcontious. For Low Level Spirits such knowledge remains hidden until they choose to better themselves, and Spirit guides can supervise the process of remembering.

Spirits tend to reincarnate among the same group of people repeatedly. This reflects the lasting nature of the bonds of family and friendship and the fact that many of the debts needed to be repaied in many reincarnations are to family and friends.

Upon desincarnation a Spirit tends to keep the appearence, voice and personality they had before death until their next reincarnation

Book’s Table Of Contents

“Heaven and Hell” is divided into 2 main sections :

  • Chapter 2 FEAR OF DEATH
    1. Causes of the Fear of Death
    2. Why Spiritists are not Afraid of Death
  • Chapter 3 HEAVEN
  • Chapter 4 HELL
    1. intuition of Future Punishments
    2. The Christian Hell an Imitation of the Hell of Pagans
    3. Limbo
    4. Picture of the Pagan Hell
    5. Picture of the Christian Hell
  • Chapter 5 PURGATORY
    1. Origin of the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment
    2. Argument in support of the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment
    3. Physical Impossibilities of Eternal Punishment
    4. The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment is a Thing of the Past
    5. The Testimony of the Prophet Ezekiel against the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment and Original Sin
    1. The Flesh is Weak
    2. Sources of the Spiritist Doctrine of Future Punishment
    3. Penal Code of the Life to Come
  • Chapter 8 ANGELS
    1. Angels according to the Church
    2. Refutation
    3. Angels According to Spiritism
  • Chapter 9 DEMONS
    1. Origin of the Belief in Demons
    2. Demons According to the Church
    3. Demons According to Spiritism
  • Chapter 1 THE PASSAGE
  • Chapter 2 HAPPY SPIRITS
    1. Mr. Sanson
    2. Mr. Jobard
    3. Samual Philippe
    4. Mr. Van Durst
    5. Sixdeniers
    6. Dr. Demeure
    7. Madame Foulon
    8. A Russian Physician
    9. Bernardin
    10. Countess Paula
    11. Jean Reynaud
    12. Antoine Costeau
    13. Mademoiselle Emma
    14. Dr. Vignal
    15. Victor Lebufle
    16. Madame Anais Gourdon
    17. Maurice Gontran
    1. Joseph Bré
    2. Mrs. Helen Michel
    3. The Marquis of St. Paul
    4. Dr. Cardon
    5. Eric Stanislas
    6. Madame Anna Belleville
    1. punishment
    2. Novel
    3. Auguste Michel
    4. Regrets of One who had Indulged in High Living
    5. Lisabeth
    6. Prince Ouran
    7. Pascal Lavic
    8. Ferdinand Bertin
    9. Francois Riquier
    10. Clara
  • Chapter 5 PURGATORY
    1. The Suicide at the Samaritain
    2. The Father and the Conscript
    3. Francios-Simon Louvet
    4. A Mother and her Son
    5. A Double Suicide from Love and from a Sense of Duty
    6. Louis and Victorien
    7. An Atheist
    8. Mr. Félicien
    9. Anthony Bell
    1. Verger (Assassin of the Archbishop of Paris)
    2. Lemaire
    3. Benoist
    4. The Spirit of Castlenaudary
    5. Jackues Latour
    1. Lappommeray, The Chastisement of Light
    2. Angela, a Useless Life
    3. A Victim of Ennui
    4. The Queen D’Oude
    5. Xuméne
    1. Marcel, “No. 4”
    2. Syzmel Slizgol
    3. Julienne-Marie, “The Beggar-woman”
    4. “Count Max,” The Beggar
    5. History of a Footman
    6. Antonio B- Burried Alive
    7. Mr. Lentil
    8. An Ambitious Scientist
    9. Charles de Saint G- (An Idiot)
    10. Adelaide-Margaret Gosse
    11. Clara Rivier
    12. Frances Vernhes
    13. Anna Bitter
    14. Joseph Maitre (Blind)

To read this book as a free e-book click here and to purchase an at cost printed copy of this book click here.

The Genesis (The Genesis: Miracles and Predictions Explained by the Spiritist Doctrine)

The Genesis: Miracles and Predictions Explained by the Spiritist Doctrine (La Genèse: Les Miracles Et Les Prédictions Selon Le Spiritisme in the original French) was published 1868, just before Kardec’s death. This volume divided into three main sections, not just tries to find common ground between science and religion, and dispel the myth of miracles (the supernatural), but also delvs into important scientific and philosophical topics within Spitritism.

Part one “Genesis” deals with subjects in spiritisim such as God, good , evil, and the Spiritist view of the biblical genesis. Subjects of science as understood in 1868, relating to the origins of the universe, ancient and modern systems of the world, a study of space and time, geologic design of the Earth, theories about the Earth’s formation, global revolutions, organic genesis, and spiritual genesis.

Part two “Miracles”, discusses how, as with all other previously unexplained phenomena in human history, what in biblical times were referred to as miracles were actually natural occurrences governed by natural laws only now understood through Spiritism. The section delt with subjects such as: the characteristics of so called miracles, spiritual fluids and their role in such phenomena, and the miracles of the 4 Gospels.

Part three “Predictions” discusses premonitions of future events, the predictions of the Gospels, and the characteristics and implications of the coming evolution of this Earthly plain.

In spite of the fact that the Spirit Teachers, like with other revelations in history, were tempered by the very limited scientific understandings of the era, much of what was revealed to Kardec in 1868 predicts later scientific discoveries. “… it is astonishing how few of the spirits’ ‘scientific’ statements appear anachronistic today. In fact, some of the answers to Rivail’s questions could be interpreted as being remarkably ahead of their time. One such example was Rivail’s question ‘Does an absolute void exist in any part of space?’ which received the reply:- ‘No, there is no void. What appears like a void to you is occupied by matter in a state in which it escapes the action of your senses and of your instruments.’ This statement (given in the 1860’s), to the effect that seemingly empty space is really full of matter, has only received confirmation quite recently by the discovery of what is termed the ‘quantum vacuum’, and was given shortly after the spirits had also casually announced that ‘…what you term a molecule [or, perhaps, ‘particle’ or ‘atom’] is still very far from being the elementary molecule’. This latter scientific fact would not be confirmed until J.J. Thomson discovered the electron almost half a century later. “

Book’s Table Of Contents

“The Genesis” is divided into 2 main sections :

  1. PART FIRST- Genesis
  • Chapter 1 Character of the Spiritist Revelation
  • Chapter 2 God
    1. Existence of God- The Divine Nature- Providence- The View of God
  • Chapter 3 The Good And The Evil
    1. Source of Good and Evil- Instinct and Intelligence – Destruction of Living Beings by One Another
  • Chapter 4 The Scientific Note in Genesis
  • Chapter 5 Systems of the Ancient and Modern Worlds
  • Chapter 6 General Uranography
    1. Space and Time- Matter- Laws and Forces – First Creation- Suns and Planets – Satellites – Comets- The Milky Way- Fixed Stars- Deserts of Space- The Eternal Succession of Worlds- The Universal Life – The Plurality of Worlds
  • Chapter 7 Geological Outline of the Earth
    1. Geological Periods- Primitive State of the Globe- Primary Period- Transition Period- Secondary Period- Tertiary Period- Deluge Period- Post-Deluge Period- Birth of Man
  • Chapter 8 Theories of the Earth
    1. Theory of Projection – Theory of Condensation – Theory of Incrustation – The Earth’s soul
  • Chapter 9 Revolutions of the Globe
    1. Geberal or Partial Revolution- Age of the Mountains – Biblical Deluge – Periodical Revolutions – Future Cataclysums – Increase or Diminution of the Volume of the Earth
  • Chapter 10 Organic Genesis
    1. First Formation of Living Beings – Vital Principle- Abiogenesis or Spontaneous Generation- Scale of Organic Beings- Man
  • Chapter 11 Spiritual Genesis
    1. Spiritual Principle – Union of Spiritual Principle with Matter – Hypothesis upon the Origin of Human Bodies – Incarnation of Spirits – Reincarnation – Emigration and Immigration of Spirits – The Adamic Race – Doctrine of Fallen Angels
  • Chapter 12 Mosaic Genesis
    1. Six Days – Paradise Lost
  1. PART SECOND – Miracles
  • Chapter 13 Miracles According to Spiritism
    1. Miracles according to Theology – Spiritism Does NMot Perform Miracles – Does God Perform Miracles? – The Supernatural and the Religious
  • Chapter 14 Fluids
    1. Nature and Properties of Fluids:Fluid Elemments – Formation and Properties of the Perispirit – Action of the Spirit Upon the Fluids _ Fluidic Creations – Photograph of the Thought – Quality of the Fluids.
    2. Explanation of Some Facts Refuted to be Supernatural:Spirit or Psychic Sight – Second Sight – Sonanbulism – Dreams – Catalepsy – Resurrection – Cures – Apparitions – Transfiguration – Physical Manifistations – Mediumship – Obsessions and Possessions
  • Chapter 15 The Miracles of the Gospel
    1. Superiority of the Nature of Jesus – Dreams – The Star of the Wise Men of the Easr- Second Sight – Cures – Possessed Persons – Ressurrections – Jesus Walks Upon the Water – Transfiguration – The Tempest Stilled – Marriage at Canaan – The Miracle of the Multiplication of Bread – Temptation of Jesus – Remarkable Phenomena at the Death of Jesus – Appearance of Jesus After His Death – Disappearance of the Body of Jesus
  1. PART THIRD – Predictions
  • Chapter 16 The Prophecies in the Light of Spiritism –
    1. Theory of Foreknowledge
  • Chapter 17 Predictions of the Gospels
    1. No One is a Prophet in His Own Country – Death and Passion of Jesus – Persecution of the Apostles – Impenitent Cities – Ruin of the Temple of Jerusalem – Maledictions on the Pharisees – “My Word Will Not Pass Away’ – The Cornerstone – The Parable of the Tenants – “One Flock and One Shepherd ” – Advent of Elias – Announcement of the Consoler – Second Coming of Christ – Precursory Signs – “Your Sons And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy” – The Last Judgment
  • Chapter 18 The Time Has Arrived
    1. The Time Has Arrived – Signs of the Time – The New Generation

To read this book as a free e-book click here and to purchase an at cost printed copy of this book click here.

The Backlash to the Codification

Even though these 5 amazing books made Rivail a house hold name in much of the continent, the UK and later in America and Brazil, for him personally putting the revelations of the Spirit Teachers to paper cost him dearly. The Spirit teachers had told Rivail that he would find harsh criticism and resistance among the Church, among other intellectuals and even among the growing Spiritist organizations that were forming as a result of the Codification. Even physically Rivail would pay a hard price for taking on this immense task. Unfortunately that was exactly how things progressed.

Before the publication of The Spirits’ Book in 1856, the Holy Office, under Pope Pius IX, had prohibited mediumship and ‘other analogous superstitions’ as ‘heretical, scandalous, and contrary to the honesty of customs’. But in 1861 the Bishop of Barcelona took more direct action. He ordered an auto-da-fe (act of the faith) known as the Edict of Barcelona, against three-hundred Spiritist books, including many by Rivail, that were confiscated and burnt in public.40 However, the Bishop’s actions did nothing more than stir up French nationalism and contribute to the further growth of Spiritism in both France and Spain. Hess adds that when the Bishop died nine months afterwards, his repentant spirit manifested through several French mediums begging for Rivail’s forgiveness which was, apparently, granted. In France, the dean of the Faculty of Theology of Lyons began public education courses against Spiritism and Mesmerism in 1864 and Spiritism was widely branded as a form of demon worship in writings by clergymen.

Rivail accused the Church of deliberately inciting hatred against Spiritists:- ‘From the pulpit, we Spiritists have been called enemies of society and public order…In some places, Spiritists were censured to the point of being persecuted and injured on the streets, while the faithful were forbidden to hire Spiritists and were warned to avoid them as they would avoid the plague. Women were advised to separate from their husbands…Charity has been refused to the needy and workers have lost their livelihoods, just because they were Spiritists. Blind men have even been discharged, against their will, from some hospitals because they would not renounce their beliefs.’41

As with Spiritualism in America and Britain, certain sections of the French scientific establishment also reacted with hostility to the spread of Spiritism. Hess mentions that a Dr Dechambre, a member of the Academy of Medicine, published a critique of the movement in 1859, and also cites reports of insanity, allegedly caused by Spiritism, that had started to circulate by 1863.42 There was even a French equivalent to the theory, which originated in America, that spirit raps were produced by the cracking of the knee and toe joints. The French variation on this theme was presented to the Academy of Medicine by a surgeon, M. Jobert, who attributed the noises to skilful cracking of the short tendon of the muscle of the instep.43

Kardec spent the remainder of his life defending Spiritism from attacks from every direction. In spite of having developed a heart condition, Rivail never stopped his tireless works in the study, teaching and spreading of Spiritism. Inevitably in March 31st, 1869 he succumb to an aneurysm, dieing instantly in the small Spiritist bookstore he ran out of his home.

Why the Works Theselves Have Endured

Today Spiritism has found a huge rebirth in the UK, Brazil, and America, with growing branches all over Europe and South America. Since Rivail’s amazing work over 100 years ago countless books on every aspect of Spiritism and its relation to our daily lives has been dictated through mediums from Spirit Teachers. Yet none of these wonderful writings can ever come close to Rivail’s 5 book codification. Even though he was not a medium, he never saw a Spirit, and these works were put to paper over a century ago, these 5 books continue to be the basis of Spiritism. Why?

A simplistic reply would be that these books remain current because the Spirit Teachers intended them to remain current centuries after they were revealed to Rivail. But why did they choose Rivail? What did the Spirit Teachers know about him that made him the correct person to organise and publish the vast amount of information they wanted to share? The answer is two fold:

1- As a child he showed an aptitude for the sciences and philosophy and, at the age of ten, he was sent to the Pestalozzi Institute in Yverdun. This was the school of the influential Swiss educationalist Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, whose radically new methods of teaching were attracting pupils from well connected families all over Europe.

Rivail quickly proved himself to be a child genius of rare distinction. He was asked to teach his own classmates. He also became one of Pestallozi’s favourite pupils and most ardent disciples and left Yverdun with a degree in letters and science and a doctorate in medicine.

Rivail’s most significant achievement was to develop a systematic method of scrutinising mediumistic communications of a philosophical nature that resulted in a consistent body of teachings to suit all needs

His training as a scientist, and acute, rational mind allowed him to detach himself emotionaly and develop a way to verify that what was being communicated from the Spirit Teachers (through many mediums) was exactly what the Spirit Teachers were trying to communicate. This precession assured that the ideas expressed within the codification are consistent, clearly expressed and not influenced by the mediums or by Rivail himself.

2- Rivail came to believe that education was ‘the key to harmonizing the relations between rich and poor’. These factors must have played a major role in making the spirit teachings that Rivail would encounter later in his life appear so attractive to him. Not only would he be open minded enough not to reject them for religious reasons, but they would also appear to be confirmation of his egalitarian beliefs which ran counter to many of the Church’s dogmas.

After leaving the Pestalozzi Institute Rivail settled in Paris and in 1824 he published his first book. This was based on his own system for teaching mathematics and was reprinted until 1876. The following year, at the age of 21, he opened his own ‘First Grade School’ and in 1826 he opened another, ‘The Rivail Technical Institute’. He taught chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy, comparative anatomy and rhetoric, and also spoke nine languages…Italian and Spanish fluently. Rivail also submitted proposals for educational reform to the French Legislative Chamber which were highly praised although not adopted.

By 1848, Rivail was a well known and highly respected educator who could have existed quite comfortably for the rest of his life by living on the proceeds of his books

It is obvious that the Spirit Teachers also saw in Rivail a person who was already an established publisher of books on education, and adept at expressing complex ideas in ways that anyone could understand.

In conclusion Rivail’s scientific mind allowed him to accurately filter through the mass amount of communications he sought out, while his ability to publish these ideas in a way that made them easy to understand made him the perfect candidate in the eyes of the Spirit Teachers. That these 5 books are still current today, and still the basis for Spiritism is testament to the genius that was Rivail: the scientist, the educator and publisher of school textbooks.

Study Of The Codification

The study of the Spiritist codification is most effective when done in groups of like-minded individuals. The purpose of this study is not just to answer people’s questions but also to encourage the asking of new ones and the sharing of the conclusions each individual reaches from the studied material. None of these benefits can be achieved when the student is always alone during the study sessions.

In terms of personal growth, working in groups is essential. The Law of Society means that only by sharing , helping others and receiving the same can any learning be applied. The obstacles, trials and conflicts that can result from groups are critical to practicing indulgence, cooperation, awareness and learning from others. And certainly charity, compassion and love cannot be learned, taught or practiced in an environment of isolation, and these three virtues are vital to any personal progress.

For mediums a third benefit comes from Spiritist centers as discussed in the section on the ‘Evolution of Mediumship’ (part of the Mediumship Guide) . Attending a center’s general meetings, study groups and mediumship development sessions is critical to the development, refinement and control of a mediumship gift. And only through this refinement can this tool be used to its full potential as a tool for good and enlightenment of others.

If study groups or Spiritist Centers are out of reach or you wish to begin study of the codification alone here are some suggestions:

– Before each study session find a way to relax, you can do anything you find effective like pray or meditate it is up to you.

– Pick a quiet place to study, one far from distractions like TVs, radios or people. And try to hold every study session in that same place.

– Begin by studying The Spirits’ Book, then The Mediums Book and then the Gospel According To Spiritism. The last two books can be studied in what ever order you wish.

– Study each book in small sections. With the Spirits Book for example don’t review more than 2 questions at a time. It is important that time be taken to think about what is being read and reach conclusions or come up with more personal questions.

– Have a note book as part of your study sessions. Write down all your ideas, comments, conclusions and questions about each part of the books as you read them.

– If you are confused by a part of what you are reading, first try reading it more than once, any words that you might be confused about can be looked up in a dictionary, and if that does not work, skip on to the next section and come back to it later.

– Realistically even if you have studied the codification by yourself, you will eventually have to find like minded individuals in order to gain a deeper understanding of the many many ideas brought forth in these works. Even if you are not a Spiritist, nor ever intent to become one. You can find a Spiritist Center near you and join it’s study group. Such study groups are open to everyone and of course free of charge.

– If you are serious about the study of these books understand that even in study groups each book of the codification is studied more than once. Each time they are studies something new will be learned.

To go back to the first page of ‘The Codification’ section click here.