por Gebaldo José de Sousa

The Book of Spirits “was the work of my life”

"Spiritism is the new science that comes to reveal to men, through irrefutable proofs, the existence and nature of the spiritual world and its relation with the corporeal world.” 1

Allan Kardec 2 was exhausted, depressed, on an April morning in 1860. He had few resources and an immense task, besides an increasing number of misunderstandings. In this state of mind, Gabi – his affectionate wife - brings him a package containing a letter and a "...richly bound copy of The Book of Spirits”.

The sender manifested his gratitude to Kardec: that book had saved his life. He encouraged the Encoder to "(...) continue in his tasks of enlightenment of Humanity (...)". And he described his personal drama: with the death of his wife, despair had led him to plan suicide in the waters of the Seine in Paris. After days of anguish, he was to take that insane step. On a bridge, staring at the waters of the river: "... I touched a somewhat wet object that shifted from the rail, falling to my feet".

He had been a bookbinder since his youth. The book had fascinated him and it was the one to which he had attached the letter. It contained the following: "This work saved my life. Read it carefully and enjoy it. - A. Laurent".

He followed this advice and changed his life. And he added his own testimony:

"It saved me too. God bless the souls who worked for its publication”. - Joseph Perrier.

Encouraged by these precious testimonies, Kardec continued his work.


When Allan Kardec became aware of the mediumistic facts, brought to him by a friend, he analyzed them, and asked the Spirits about these mentioned events. He then organized their answers, and gathered them in a didactic order in "The Book of the Spirits".3

In the Introduction of this work, Chapters III to V, he analyzes the "(...) progressive series of phenomena that gave rise to this Doctrine. The first fact observed was the movement of various objects. They were called "turning tables or dancing tables".

The phenomenon was not limited to the movement of material objects, or to uniform movements (circular, for the most part). They were sometimes abrupt and disorderly. Objects were violently shaken, knocked over, taken in any direction, lifted, and held in suspension. Tables would rise and, with one foot, give a certain number of strokes, answering the questions with a yes or no, according to the number of strokes.

The means was limited, but it answered questions. He set out for the alphabet. The dialogue was thus broadened.

"This means of correspondence was time consuming and uncomfortable. The Spirit, and this is still a noteworthy circumstance, indicated another one".

A pencil was then attached to a basket, or to another object. The basket was placed over a sheet of paper, and it moves and “(…) the pencil writes and forms letter, words, phrases and whole speeches of many pages, dealing with the highest questions of Philosophy, Moral, Metaphysics, Psychology, and so on, and as quickly as one might write by hand".

"The basket or the drawing board can only be set in motion under the influence of certain persons, endowed with a special power, which are called the mediums (…)”.

"It was later recognized that the basket and the drawing board were really no more than an appendix of the hand; and the medium, holding the pencil directly, began to write by an involuntary and almost feverish impulse".


The first edition of "The Book of Spirits”, resulted from fifty notebooks assembled by friends, plus the issues Kardec had asked the Spirits, totalizing 501 questions, and published on 04/18/1857.

In March of 1860, the second edition, then definitive, with the present form, was published and it was sold out in four months.

The book "Presents the basic foundations of Spiritism, and has the purpose of compiling the clarifications that this Doctrine provides to those who seek to understand human existence more comprehensively. It is divided into four parts, which are called: primary causes; the Spiritist world or the world of Spirits; of moral laws; of hopes and consolations.

It addresses the scientific, philosophical and religious aspects of the Spiritist Doctrine, (...) through 1019 questions followed by their answers (...).

It says that "Spiritism is strong because it rests on the very foundations of religion" and that through it "Humanity has to enter a new phase, that of moral progress which is an unavoidable consequence”. 4

In an article in the Spiritist Magazine of April 1866, edited by him, Kardec wrote:

"There are two parts in Spiritism: that of material facts and that of their moral consequences. The first is necessary as proof of the existence of the Spirits; so it was through it that the Spirits began; the second, which derives from it, is the only one that can lead to the transformation of Humanity through individual improvement. Improvement is, therefore, the essential objective of Spiritism. "- Mentioned by Zeus Wantuil and Francisco Thiesen, 5 page 240, vol. II, in the work "Allan Kardec".

In the September 1865 edition of the same Magazine, 6 the Encoder said that "The Book of Spirits contains the fundamental bases of Spiritism; it is the cornerstone of the building; all the principles of the Doctrine are exposed there (...)".

Among these we highlight:

- God’s existence,

- The Spirits’ existence; their pre-existence to the physical body; and their immortality,

- The Spirits’ nature and their relation with human kind

(the Spirits’ communicability),

- The Spirits’ infinite progress

(Created simple and ignorant, they build their destiny) - the Law of Evolution;

- free will;

- The Law of Cause and Effect;

- The Moral Laws;

- Successive reincarnations (plurality of existences and inhabited worlds);

- Forgetfulness of the past;

- The Reasoned Faith;

- The Moral Laws – The Inner Reformation;

- The present life, the future life and the future of Humanity, according to the teachings given by the Superior Spirits with the help of various mediums.


“The mediumistic phenomena always occurred in the world, but men were not aware of the laws that govern them". 7

It was up to Allan Kardec to compile and order the information received from the Superior Spirits that allow us to become acquainted with this knowledge.

The repercussion with the launch of The Book of Spirits made him think about the greatness of the work and the efforts that he had to develop:

"I understood then the immensity of my task and the importance of the work I had to do to complete it. Difficulties and obstacles, far from frightening me, redoubled my energies. I saw the goal and resolved to achieve it with the assistance of the Good Spirits. I felt I had no time to lose, and I did not lose it, either in useless visits or in useless ceremonies; it was the work of my life. I gave it all my time; I sacrificed my rest, my health, because the future was written before me in irrefutable letters”.
8 [Our highlight]


Herminio C. Miranda calls it “The Book of Hope”:

These Spirits (...) came to teach that all human wisdom is in conscious obedience to the Divine Laws. They came to warn that we invite pain whenever we stubbornly try to go against the unchangeable wisdom of these laws. They came, finally, to bring to men the book of hope".9 [Our Highlight]

Reading this book is thus of immense value to anyone.

And it is the Encoder himself who recommends it in The Book of Mediums and indicates the order of readings of the Basic Works of the Spiritist Codification - the so-called Pentateuch Kardec or Spiritist Pentateuch: "We shall say (...) anyone who wishes to engage seriously in this matter, should first read The Book of Spirits because it contains the fundamental principles without which it may be difficult to understand some parts of this work”. 10

He recommends the following sequence to read his work:

- "The Book of Spirits";

- "The Book of Mediums";

- "The Gospel According to Spiritism";

- "Heaven and Hell", and

- The "Genesis".

Subsequently (July 1859) published What is Spiritism. On page 149 of this book, he suggests that we read it before the order he indicated.

How many lives has this extraordinary Doctrine transformed for the better since April 18, 1857, with the release of The Book of Spirits?!

And how many others will benefit, especially when prejudice and superstitions are banished from their hearts.

The understanding of these teachings will little by little lead us to know the Divine Laws and to harmonize with them - which will favor our evolution.

Studying it, in order to understand it well and live its teachings, is the best way to worship Allan Kardec and the utmost book of the Codification of the Spiritist Doctrine.



1 - KARDEC, Allan. The Gospel According to Spiritism. Translator: Evandro Noleto Bezerra. 2nd Edition, Brasilia: FEB, 2013. Chapter I, item 5, page 39.

2 - XAVIER, F. Candido. The Spirit of Truth, by the Spirit Hilario Silva. 3rd

. ed. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 1977. cap. 52.

3 - KARDEC, Allan. The Book of Spirits. Translator: Evandro Noleto Bezerra. 2nd

Edition, one impression. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 2011.

4 - BRAZILIAN SPIRITIST FEDERATION. The Spiritist Book in FEB: general catalog. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 1993, pages: 54/55.

5 - WANTUIL, Zeus, THIESEN, Francisco. Allan Kardec: biobibliographic research and interpretation essays. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 1980, v. 2, page 134.

6 - KARDEC, Allan. Spiritist Magazine. Translator: Evandro Noleto Bezerra. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 2004. Eighth year, 1865, page 378.

7 - REFORMER, Aug / 74, page 249, FEB.

8 - KARDEC, Allan. Posthumous Works. Translator: Evandro Noleto Bezerra. 1st

Edition. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 2009. pt. 2, Constitution of Spiritism, item X - Allan Kardec and the new constitution of Spiritism, page 483.

9 - MIRANDA, C. Herminio. Lights in the dark night. One edition. Brasilia: FEB, 1992. Chapter 23 - The Book of Hope, 126.

10 - KARDEC, Allan. The Book of Mediums. Translator: Evandro Noleto Bezerra. 2nd Edition. One impression, Brasília: FEB, 2013. Introduction, page 11.



Eleni Frangatos



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita