Spiritualism—France
Animal magnetism, the phenomenon so important and
central to Spiritualism, manifested itself in France at a comparatively
early period in the movement. From correspondence
between J. P. F. Deleuze and G. P. Billot from the year 1829,
it appears that phantom forms and the phenomenon of apports
were well known in this early age. Deleuze more frankly
admitted that his experience was more limited.
Almost the full range of the phenomena of Spiritualism are
found in Baron Du Potet’s Journal du Magnétisme, which records
his investigations between 1836 and 1848. His magnetized
subjects excelled in clairvoyance, trance speaking, healing,
dermography, levitation, fire immunity, telekinesis,
apports, xenoglossis, prophecy, crystal gazing, materializations,
and descriptions of scenes in the spirit world.
The best early séance records come from Louis-Alphonse
Cahagnet, the author of Arcanes de la vie future dévoilés
(1848–54), translated as The Celestial Telegraph (1850). He received
many evidential communications from departed spirits
through his somnambule, Adèle Maginot.
Table turning was introduced into France by Baron Ludwig
von Guldenstubbe and the Compte d’Ourches in 1850 and became
an epidemic, as in England. Soon other phenomena followed.
The famous direct scripts of Guldenstubbe were obtained
in 1856.
In that same year Allan Kardec’s book Le Livre des Esprits
was published, and developments took a radically different
route from that in the United States and England. Kardec
founded a school of thought called Spiritism that was dominated
by the idea of a series of compulsory reincarnations. This
was the opposing school to Spiritualism, which followed the
American and English ideas. Spiritualism was represented in
France by Z. J. Piérart and La Revue Spiritualiste, founded in
1858; Spiritism was championed by Kardec’s La Revue Spirite,
founded in the same year.
Kardec’s school eventually prevailed. Piérart, after years of
bitter controversy, retired to the country. By 1864 there were
ten periodicals published in France three in Paris, the two already
mentioned and L’Avenir; four in Bordeaux, which, in
1865, were merged into L’Union Spirite Bordelaise; La Médium
Evangélique, of Toulouse; L’Echo d’Outre Tombe, of Marseilles;
and La Vérité of Lyons. With the exception of La Revue Spiritualiste
all represented the school of Kardec.
Kardec and his followers discouraged physical phenomena.
Because of that the stimulus for experimental investigators was
largely provided by the visits of D. D. Home, the Davenport
brothers, Henry Slade, William Eglinton, Frank Herne,
Charles Williams, Elizabeth d’Esperance, Florence Cook,
Lottie Fowler, and other famous mediums.
Joseph Maxwell, Camille Flammarion, Eugene Rochas,
Paul Joire, Charles Richet, Emile Boirac, Gustav Geley, and
Eugèn Osty represented psychical research. Gabriel Delanne
founded the Revue scientifique et morale du spiritisme. The first attempt
at organized psychical research was La Societé de Psychologie
Physiologique and its journal, La Revue des Sciences
Psychiques.
In 1890 the Annales des Sciences Psychiques was founded. It was
replaced in 1920 by La Revue Métapsychique, the official organ
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Spiritualism—France
1467
of the Institut Métapsychique. In 1904 the Institut Général Psychologique
was established in Paris.
The real benefactor of Spiritism and psychical research arrived
during the war in the person of Jean Meyer, a rich industrialist.
He founded La Maison des Spirits for spiritistic propaganda
and the Institut Métapsychique for psychical research.
In 1918 the institute was recognized as a public utility. Meyer
endowed it with a portion of his fortune. The work it has carried
on in experimentation and in demonstration of supernormal
phenomena before invited scientists has been of great importance
for psychical research in France.
In 1987, due to the general dissatisfaction with the nature
of the research there, the Organisation pour la Recherche en
Psyochtronique was established. Such research has had a difficult
time in France due to the university system’s refusal of official
recognition. Much of the work done there at the end of the
twentieth century was done ‘‘underground.’’ Prof. Remy Chauvin
has been one such researcher forced to take his work out
of the mainstream due to the overly critical educational establishment.
Sources
Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of
Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York Paragon
House, 1991.
Cahagnet, Alphonse. Arcanes de la vie future dévoilés. 3 vols.
1848–54. Translated as The Celestial Telegraph; or, Secrets of Life
to Come Revealed Through Magnetism. 2 vols. London, [1850]. Reprint,
New York, 1851.
Kardec, Allan. Le Ciel et L’Enfer ou la justice divine selon le
Spiritisme. 1865. Translated as Heaven and Hell, or The Divine
Justice Vindicated in the Plurality of Existences. N.p., 1878.
———. L’Evangile selon le Spiritisme. 1864. Translated as The
Gospel According to Spiritism. London Headquarters Publishing,
1887.
———. Le Livre des Esprits. Translated as The Spirits’ Book by
Anna Blackwell. Reprint, S˜ao Paulo Livraria Allan Kardec Editora,
1972.
———. Le Livre des Mediums. Translated as The Book of Mediums
by Emma E. Wood. Reprint, New York Samuel Weiser,
1970.
Osty, Eugene. Supernormal Faculties in Man. London Methuen,
1923.
Richet, Charles. Thirty Years of Psychical Research. New York
Macmillan, 1923.

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