por Alexandre Fontes da Fonseca

Mechanisms of Mediumship according to Spiritism - Part 2

II.2 Perispirit

Now, we can understand what the perispirit is and how it is formed. In question 93 of the Book of Spirits, Kardec asks the Spirits if they have any type of substance that covers or involves them, to which they answer that yes, “A substance involves the Spirit, vaporous for your eyes, but still very coarse for us; quite vaporous, however, in order to be able to rise in the atmosphere and transport it wherever it wants”. In note of this issue, Kardec proposes the term / word “perispirit”.

If a “vaporous substance” involves the Spirit and forms its perispirit, what is that substance made of? How does the perispirit form? We return to the work Genesis where Kardec answers this in item 7 of Chapter XIV:

The perispirit, or fluidic body of Spirits, is one of the most important products of the cosmic fluid. It is a condensation of that fluid around a focus of intelligence or soul. (Our emphasis).

Thus, the perispirit is simply formed by fluids which, in turn, are modifications of the UF carried out by the Spirit itself. That is, the Spirit, through its thinking, modifies the UF around and forms around itself, a "covering" that Kardec called the perispirit. We emphasize that the perispirit is formed only around "a focus of intelligence" and, therefore, there is no perispirit without Spirit. The material body can exist separate from the Spirit, as at death and before it decomposes. But the perispirit cannot exist apart from the soul. This is another important principle of the Spiritist Doctrine.

The properties of the perispirit, according to the Spiritist Doctrine, can be summarized as follows (all of them stem from comments by Kardec present in Chapter XIV of GE):

a) Imponderable. As spiritual fluids are imponderable, and the perispirit is composed of these fluids, naturally the perispirit will be relatively light and subtle, not subject to the action of gravity. In Kardec's words (item 7, Chapter XIV of GE): “In the perispirit, molecular transformation occurs differently, since the fluid retains its weightlessness and its ethereal qualities”. Just as spiritual fluids cannot be "trapped" by material objects, so the perispirit cannot be trapped too.

b) Plasticity. Its form can vary according to the Spirit’s thought and will. In the words of Kardec (item 14, Chap. XIV of GE): “It is like this, for example, that a Spirit presents itself to the incarnate - endowed with spiritual vision - with the appearance it had when it lived at the time when the incarnate knew him, although he lived, after that time, many other incarnations. He presents itself with the clothes, the external signs, illnesses, scars, amputated limbs, etc., that it had then. A beheaded man will appear without his head. This does not mean that it has kept that appearance; of course not, since, as a Spirit, it is not lame, nor one-handed, neither one-eyed nor beheaded. What happens is that its thinking, when referring to the time when it was like this, makes the perispirit instantly take on that appearance, which it abandons, in the same way, as soon as the thought stops acting in that sense”. However, there is a caveat that, in general, the human form is the natural way for Spirits to present themselves1.

c) Expandable. Because it has plasticity, the perispirit can expand. In the incarnate, this means that your perispirit can expand beyond the perceptions located in the organs. In Kardec's words (item 17, Chap. XIV of GE): “Due to its intimate union with the body, the perispirit plays a predominant role in the organism; by its expansion, it puts the incarnated Spirit in a more direct relationship with the free Spirits”.

d) It assimilates fluids with ease. In Kardec's words (item 18, Chap. XIV of Genesis): “As the perispirit of the incarnates is of a nature identical to that of spiritual fluids, it assimilates them easily, like a sponge that is soaked with liquid. These fluids have an even more direct action on the perispirit because, due to its expansion and irradiation, the perispirit is mistaken by them”.

e) In its normal state, it is invisible and intangible to the human senses. In Kardec's words (item 35, Chap. XIV of Genesis): “The perispirit is invisible to us in its normal state, but, as it is formed of ethereal matter, the Spirit can, in certain cases, by an act of its will, make it undergo a molecular modification that makes it momentarily visible. (...) Depending on the degree of condensation of the perispiritual fluid, the appearance is sometimes vague and vaporous; other times it is more clearly defined; others, in short, have all the appearances of tangible matter. It can even reach real tangibility, to the point where the observer is mistaken about the nature of the being before him”.

f) Irradiation. In the words of Kardec (item 17, Chap. XIV of Genesis): “The Spirit, when incarnated, preserves its perispirit with the qualities that are its own, and, as is known, is not circumscribed by the body, but radiates around it and envelops it as in a fluid atmosphere”.

g) It evolves with the Spirit. In Kardec's words (item 10, Chap. XIV of Genesis): “It also follows that the perispiritual wrapping of the same Spirit changes with the moral progress that it makes in each incarnation, although incarnating in the same environment;” and (item 9, Chap. XIV of Genesis): "The nature of the fluidic envelope is always in accordance with the degree of moral advancement of the Spirit".

h) Relative density. For the reason of the property of item f), the perispirit of the Spirits is not the same for the whole Spirit. In the words of Kardec (item 7, chap. XIV of GE): “There are some whose fluidic envelope, even though it is ethereal and imponderable in relation to tangible matter, is still very heavy, if we can say so, in relation to the spiritual world, for allow them to leave the environment where they are”. And also (item 10, chap. XIV of GE): "... as the Spirit itself is more or less purified, its perispirit is formed from the purest or grossest parts of this medium."

The properties of the perispirit, described above, combined with the properties of the fluids, allow us to summarize, below, the functions of the perispirit, according to the Spiritist Doctrine, as being:

i) The agent of external sensations (Question 257 of the LE and item 22, chap. XIV of the GE);

ii) The vehicle for the transmission of thought, like the electric wire (Question 455 of the LE);

iii) It proves the existence of the Spirit and makes its individuality recognized. (items 4 and 17 of chapter XI of GE, and questions 150 and 284 of LE);

iv) Influence on the formation of the physical body (in items 11, 16 and 29 of chapter XI of GE, Kardec talks about the influence of the Spirit in the evolution of physical form).

Next, we will see how these properties and functions of the perispirit and fluids allow us to understand the mechanisms of mediumship according to the Spiritist Doctrine.

III. The Spirits’ Perceptions

The question we want to answer in this article is: how does mediumship occur according to Spiritism? How does the person who has the mediumistic faculty, the medium, manages to feel this influence of the Spirits to the point of being able to transmit their message or information to other people? The answer to these questions consists of the mechanisms behind mediumship.

To discover such mechanisms, it is necessary to verify, first, how the Spiritist Doctrine teaches the way in which Spirits feel things. In other words, how are the perceptions of us or of the Spirits? In the questions from 245 onwards, we find the first information about this. The Spirits stated that the sense of a vision resides in the whole Spirit, and not in a circumscribed way as through a vision organ (the eyes and the retina) in the incarnates. Kardec, when asked if it occurs in the same way with the perception of the Spirits “hearing” receives not only the information about the hearing itself, but also the general clarification on the question of the Spirits' perceptions (answer to question 249a of The Book of Spirits):

“All perceptions are attributes of the Spirit and are inherent to the being. When a material body coats it, they only reach it through the conduit of the organs. However, they are no longer located, since it is in the condition of a free Spirit”. (Our emphasis).

The answer above clarifies the question in general as the Spirits state that "all perceptions" are attributes of the Spirit. This means two important things:

A) Every Spirit has perceptions. Incarnate or disembodied, simple and ignorant or pure, all Spirits have the capacity to perceive things. In other words, there is no Spirit without perceptions or incapable of having perceptions.

B) If the Spirit is incarnated, the sensations reach him through the sense organs present in the physical body. If the Spirit is in the “free” condition, that is, emancipated as, for example, through sleep, or disincarnated, the sensations are not localized, that is, they do not reach him through organs similar to those of the senses (the five senses).

The combination of the contents of the answers given to questions 245 and 249 forms yet another of the foundations of the Spiritist Doctrine: the mechanism of perceptions in the Spirits. When incarnated (that is, when a Spirit is clothed with a material body) perceptions reach him through the sense organs that are: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. The organs are the eyes, ears, tongue, nose and skin, respectively. It includes the nervous system that is responsible for allowing external stimuli to be sent to the brain. As a free Spirit, perceptions are no longer localized, which means that they are no longer dependent on the sense organs. They, the perceptions, reside in the whole Spirit, “in all of it” as the Spirits answered Kardec in question 245 of The Book of Spirits. This word "localized" is very important. It concerns the correspondence that our mind makes between perception and the part of the body that receives the stimulus that produces it. Although science has already shown that the senses are perceived by the brain, by light stimuli reaching through the eyes, for example, we think or have the impression that the vision is located on our forehead, in the head. Similarly, we think or have the impression that smell occurs in the nose, hearing in the ears, the taste in the tongue and the skin localizes the perception of touch and temperature.

Note that the stimuli of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch are all of a material nature. The light that enters the eyes and forms the image in the retina, the sound that reaches the eardrums in the ear, the substances that generate flavors in foods and odors in the aromas, and the stimuli of touch and temperature are all material phenomena that involve objects and known material systems. In the case of Spirits in the free state, there are no organs in the perispirit that receive these stimuli of perception. According to the Spirits, they can perceive directly in the perispirit some of these impressions.

In the words of Kardec (question 257 of The Book of Spirits): “The same is not true of those with a denser perispirit, who perceive our sounds and odors, but not only for a limited part of their individualities, as happened to them when alive. It can be said that, in them, the molecular vibrations are felt in the whole being and thus reach the sensorium commune, which is the Spirit itself, although in a different way and perhaps also giving a different impression, which modifies the perception." In item 22 of Chapter XIV of the Genesis, Kardec says: “Through the body's organs, vision, hearing and different sensations are localized and limited to the perception of material things; by the spiritual sense, they are generalized; the Spirit sees, hears and feels throughout his being what is in the sphere of irradiation of his perispiritual fluid”. In the case of the Spirits' perceptions, it is the spiritual fluids that they perceive through their perispirit. In the words of Kardec (item 24 of Chapter XIV of the Genesis): “... for the spiritual world there is a special light whose nature is unknown to us, but which, undoubtedly, is one of the properties of the etheric fluid, adequate to the perceptions visuals of the soul”.

From this we can conclude that although a person who was born with a disability in some sense organ(s), or injured it or them in an accident, and the corresponding perception is impaired, this is only valid while it is incarnated. In an emancipated state, therefore free, the person remains with his capacity to have spiritual perceptions intact.

Let us go back to the meaning of free Spirit or in a free state. We have already commented that there are two general situations in this regard: a) by free Spirit, meaning the disincarnated Spirit and, therefore, free from a material physical body; and b) by free Spirit, meaning the Spirit incarnated in some state of emancipation of the soul, as when asleep, for example, already mentioned above. In this case, the free state of the Spirit is momentary and partial. It is momentary and partial because it is the altered state of consciousness and the emancipation is partial (total only in the case of disincarnating).

The physical body, in this second case, has its waking activities suspended, reduced or asleep, and the Spirit enjoys a relatively free state. In this state, the Spirit can move away from his physical body, relate to other Spirits in the spiritual world and move to places that interest it. Their perceptions in this state are similar to that of a completely free or disembodied Spirit, that is, they are not localized.

The point that interests us here is the state of free or relatively free state that an incarnate can have. Therefore, being an incarnate in a state of emancipation of the soul, the Spiritist Doctrine guarantees that its Spirit has all its perceptions, vision, hearing and other sensations, occurring through its perispirit, as a whole, and not through the organs in the body. In Kardec's words, when talking about the spiritual vision, it is clarified that (item 26, Chapter XIV of the Genesis): “The spiritual vision, therefore, offers special perceptions thatnot having the headquarters of material organs, occur in very different from those of body vision”. (Our emphasis). In item 22, Chapter XIV of the Genesis, it is stated: “Through the body's organs, vision, hearing and various sensations are localized and limited to the perception of material things; by the spiritual sense, they are generalized; the Spirit sees, hears and feels throughout its being...” (Our emphasis).

We seize the opportunity of the topic to present a clarification. Aren't there sense organs in the perispirit? No! Question 257 of The Book of Spirits clearly states that there are no sensitive organs in the perispirit. As already mentioned in the various sections of Kardec above, Spirits in the free state have their perceptions occurring through the entire perispirit. Therefore, Spirits do not see with the “eyes of the perispirit”, nor do they hear with the “ears of the perispirit”, and so on, but simply feel the images or sounds, or perceive the thoughts of the other Spirits through their perispirit. At most, it can be said, with Kardec (item 22, Chapter XIV of the Genesis) that “The perispirit is the sensory organ of the Spirit ...” Other studies demonstrate this by presenting more arguments based on Kardec (MASSI, 2018).


(Continued in the next edition.)



Regarding the human form, see items 3, 53, 56 and Question 28 of item 100 of The Book of Mediums [O Livro dos Médiuns (LM)] (KARDEC, 1996).

Science already recognizes the existence of other senses, but all of them are related to the nervous system. See, for example the Wikipedia text (in English), accessed on 02/18/2020: click here


Eleni Frangatos - eleni.moreira@uol.com.br



O Consolador
 Revista Semanal de Divulgação Espírita