Allan Kardec (French: [kaʁdɛk]) is the pen name of the French educator, translator, and author Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail ([ʁivaj]; 3 October 1804 – 31 March 1869). He is the author of the five books known as the Spiritist Codification, and the founder of Spiritism.[1][2]

Allan Kardec
Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail

(1804-10-03)3 October 1804
Died31 March 1869(1869-03-31) (aged 64)
Burial placePère Lachaise Cemetery
Known forSystematizer of Spiritism
SpouseAmélie Gabrielle Boudet (married 1832)

Early life edit

Rivail was born in Lyon in 1804 and raised as a Roman Catholic. He pursued interests in philosophy and the sciences, and became an acolyte and colleague of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.[2][3] Rivail completed a number of educational courses including a Bachelor of Arts degrees in science[4] and a doctorate in medicine.[5] He was also fluent in German, English, Italian, and Spanish, in addition to his native French.[6] Kardec became interested in Protestantism after his education in Switzerland.[7][8]

Career edit

He was a member of several scholarly societies, including the Historic Institute of Paris (Institut Historique), Society of Natural Sciences of France (Société des Sciences Naturelles de France), Society for the Encouragement of National Industry (Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale), and The Royal Academy of Arras (Académie d'Arras, Société Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts).[2] He organized and taught free courses for the underprivileged.[2][9]

Educator edit

Rivail's work with Pestalozzi helped lay the foundations for the teaching model in schools in France and Germany.[citation needed] For several decades he helped advance Pestalozzi's pedagogy in France, founding schools and working as a teacher, educational writer and translator.[2]

Banker edit

In 1839, with a new partner, Mr. Maurice Delachatre, a merchant, he created a so-called "exchange" bank, which aimed to facilitate commercial transactions and thus create new opportunities for trade and industry, in order to support in default of pecuniary resources for the natural products. The duration of the trading bank was fixed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry at ten years.

Spiritualism edit

According to “My predictions concerning spiritualism” as he himself described in his manuscript written between 1855 and 1856, "in May 1855, he met a certain Mr. Fortier, a magnetizer, who took him to Madame de Plainemaison, a medium who lived in the Rue de la Grange Bateliere in Paris, just a step away from the Opera House. In the presence of other guests for the session, he entered into communication with a spirit named Zephyr, who gave him the mission of being the spokesman of the Dead. For him, it was a revelation. He was there, for the first time, witnessing the phenomenon of turntables jumping and running".

Spiritism edit

Rivail was in his early 50s when he became interested in séances, which were a popular entertainment at the time. Strange phenomena attributed to the action of spirits were considered a novelty, featuring objects that moved or "tapped", purportedly under the control of "spirits". In some cases, this was alleged to be a type of communication: the supposed spirits answered questions by controlling the movements of objects so as to pick out letters to form words, or simply indicate "yes" or "no".[10][note 1] At the time, Franz Mesmer's theory of animal magnetism had become popular. When confronted with the phenomena described, some researchers, including Rivail, pointed out that animal magnetism might explain them. Rivail, however, after seeing a demonstration, dismissed animal magnetism as insufficient to explain his observations.[11]

As a result of these influences, Rivail began his own investigation of psychic phenomena, mainly mediumship.[2] During his initial investigation, he stated that before accepting a spiritual or paranormal cause for some phenomena, it would be necessary first to test if ordinary material causes could explain them. He proposed that fraud, hallucination and unconscious mental activity might explain many phenomena regarded as mediumistic, and also proposed that telepathy and clairvoyance may be responsible.[12]

He compiled over one thousand questions concerning the nature and mechanisms of spirit communications, the reasons for human life on earth, and aspects of the spiritual realm. He asked those questions to ten mediums, all purportedly unknown to each other, and documented their responses. From these, he concluded that the best explanation was that personalities that had survived death were the source of at least some mediumistic communications.[13] He became convinced that the mediums:

  • provided accurate information unknown to themselves or others present (e.g. personal information about deceased individuals);
  • demonstrated unlearned skills such as writing by illiterate mediums, handwriting similar to the alleged communicating personality, and speaking or writing in a language unknown to the medium (xenoglossy and xenography);
  • accurately portrayed a range of personality characteristics of deceased individuals.

He compiled the mediums' responses that were consistent and adapted them into a philosophy that he called Spiritism, which he initially defined as "a science that deals with the nature, origin, and destiny of spirits, and their relation with the corporeal world."[14][15]

Rivail wrote under the name "Allan Kardec", allegedly following the suggestion of a spirit identified as "Truth".[16] On 18 April 1857, as Allan Kardec, Rivail published his first book on Spiritism, The Spirits Book, comprising a series of answered questions (502 in the first edition and 1,019 in later editions)[citation needed] exploring matters concerning the nature of spirits, the spirit world, and the relationship between the spirit world and the material world.[citation needed] This was followed by a series of other books, including The Medium's Book, The Gospel According to Spiritism, Heaven and Hell and The Genesis According to Spiritism, and by a periodical, the Revue Spirite, which Kardec published until his death. Collectively, the books became known as the Spiritist Codification.[citation needed]

Kardec's research influenced the psychical research of Charles Richet, Camille Flammarion and Gabriel Delanne.[17][18][19]

Personal life edit

Family edit

On 6 February 1832 he married Amélie Gabrielle Boudet.[20]

Death edit

Allan Kardec's grave at Cimetière du Père Lachaise. The inscription says Naitre, mourir, renaitre encore et progresser sans cesse, telle est la loi ("To be born, to die, to be reborn again and keep progressing, that is the law").

After his death caused by aneurysm in 1869, Kardec was buried at the Cimetière du Père Lachaise.[21]

Writings edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ A possible explanation for these movements is the ideomotor phenomenon.

References edit

  1. ^ Lewis Spence. (2003). Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Kessinger Publishing. p. 491; ISBN 978-11613-618-2-7
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moreira-Almeida, Alexander (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.
  3. ^ Eliane Rezende Garcia. A Educação: saber e sabor na relação entre sujeitos (In Portuguese). Ponto-e-Vírgula, 10: 282–285, 2011. PUC-SP. ISSN 1982-4807.
  4. ^ Kardec, A. (1860b). Formation de la terre. Théorie de l'incrustation planétaire. Revue Spirite – Journal d’Études Psychologiques
  5. ^ Allan Kardec (a), a compilation of short works entitled Christian Spiritism (Philadelphia: Allan Kardec Educational Society, 1985), p. 189
  6. ^ Janet Duncan, Translator's Preface to Allan Kardec's The Gospel According to Spiritism (London: Headquarters Publishing, 1987), pp. ix–x
  7. ^ Introduction to the U.S. Latina and Latino Religious Experience. Brill Academic Publishers. 2004. ISBN 9780391042407.
  8. ^ Of Wonders and Wise Men: Religion and Popular Cultures in Southeast Mexico, 1800–1876. University of Texas Press. 6 March 2009. ISBN 9780292774711.
  9. ^ (in Portuguese) Textos – Allan Kardec Archived 2009-12-24 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 30 October 2015.
  10. ^ Mario Dos Ventos. (2008). Sea El Santisimo: A Manual for Misa Espiritual & Mediumship Development. Nzo Quimbanda Exu Ventania. p. 13. ISBN 978-09556-903-0-3
  11. ^ The Medium's Book, Chapters 8 & 14.
  12. ^ Kardec 1860
  13. ^ Kardec 1986, 1996, 1999; Moreira-Almeida 2008
  14. ^ Kardec 1868, p. 12
  15. ^ Spiritism and Mental Health: Practices from Spiritist Centers and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals in Brazil. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  16. ^ Posthumous Works] (26th Ed. FEB, pp. 273-75)
  17. ^ Brady Brower. Unruly Spirits. The Science of Psychic Phenomena in Modern France, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010. Pp. 17.
  18. ^ Banque des savoirs. Histoire des sciences - Camille Flammarion: la passion des étoiles à la portée de tous Archived 2014-12-14 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 12 July 2014. (in French)
  19. ^ Gabriel Dellane. Le Spiritisme devant la science, Paris, E. Dentu, 1885.
  20. ^ Maior, Marcel Souto (2013). "Forças Ocultas" [Hidden forces]. Kardec – A Biografia [Kardec – The Biography]. Record. ISBN 9788501100979.
  21. ^ Raymond Buckland. (2005). The Spirit Book: The Encyclopedia of Clairvoyance, Channeling, and Spirit Communication. Visible Ink Press. p. 210; ISBN 978-15785-921-3-5

External links edit