Kardec is considered the father of Spiritism -- as compared to
Spiritualism -- in France. His real name was Hypolyte Leon Denizard
Rivail. The pseudonym originated from mediumistic communications.
Both the names "Allan" and "Kardec" were said to have been his
names in previous incarnations.
Not very much is known about Allan Kardec's early years within
the Spiritualist Movement, but his impact upon the Movement is
He is best known for his classic, Le Livre des Esprits
(The Spirits' Book), first published in 1856. Within this book
is expounded a new theory of human life and destiny. According
to an article by researcher, Alexander Aksakof, in The Spiritualist,
in 1875. The Spirits' Book is based on trance communications
received through Mlle. Celina Bequet, a professional somnambulist
(hypnotist) who, for family reasons, took the name of Celina Japhet
and, controlled by her grandfather, M. Hahnemann, and Franz Anton
Mesmer, gave medical advice.
Her somnambulist, M. Roustan, believed in reincarnation and, some
feel, may have influenced the communications from Spirit. The
automatic scripts brought forward a thorough and intriguing doctrine
The success of The Spirits' Book cannot be questioned.
It is, by far, one of the mostly popular books dealing with mediumship,
life in Spirit, and the evolution of the soul. It has attained
more than 25 editions and still remains widely read, especially
amongst the people of South America, Australia, and New Zealand.
It is, without question or equal, the primary text amongst Spiritists.
Later, in 1864, Kardec compiled and wrote Le Livre Des Mediums,
or The Medium's Book. This, too, became very successful,
as a wonderful source of guidance and information of mediumship
and mediumistic development.
Medium's Book and The Spirits' Book are, truly, Allan
Kardec's most lasting signature upon the Spiritualist Movement.
Both books are superb and a must for all students of the subject.
Allan Kardec, although a Spiritualist, did depart, with tremendous
resolve, from traditional Spiritualist teaching concerning the
growth and evolution of the Spirit. He believed and strongly advocated
-- as do we -- the doctrine of reincarnation. In order to delineate
clearly his teachings from traditional Spiritualism, the term
"Spiritism" was adopted and still used amongst many people. There
are other areas of thought which distinguish Spiritualism from
Spiritism, but the concept of reincarnation remains the most predominant.
It is said the Allan Kardec tended to be very dogmatic about the
issue of reincarnation. Furthermore, it is said that his categorical
views on reincarnation caused him to disparage the practice of
physical mediumship, which, for some reason, tended not to promote
this doctrine of the Spirit. Finally, it is said that a rift came
about between him and the famous medium, D. D. Home, because Mr.
Home denounced the doctrine of reincarnation. How many of these
allegations concerning Allan Kardec's character are based on truth
only the people involved can answer for sure; but, this we do
know: Allan Kardec's contribution to the cause of Spiritualism
was magnificent. He helped bring forth some of the most profound
and insightful teachings concerning Spirit and Spirit communication.
Other books written by Allan Kardec are: The Gospel as Explained
by Spirits (1864); Heaven and Hell (1865); Genesis
(1867); and Experimental Spiritism and Spiritualist Philosophy.
Our founder must have thought rather highly of Allan Kardec's
works. He had several copies of all his books in the Church Library,
for study and classroom purposes.