People who are interested in Spiritism very naturally desire to enter into communication with spirits, and it is with a view to smoothing their path in this direction, by giving them the results of our own long and laborious investigation of the subject, that we have written this book, a perusal of which will show that those who imagine they have only to put their hands upon a table to make it move, or to hold a pencil to make it write, have come to a false conclusion in regard to the whole question.
They would be equally mistaken who should expect to find in this work a universal and infallible recipe for making mediums; for, although every one possesses the germ of the qualities necessary for becoming a medium, those qualities exist in very different gradations, and their development depends on causes which no one can control by his own will alone. The rules of poetry, painting, and music, do not make poets, painters, or musicians, of those who are not gifted with genius, although those rules guide men in the employment of the faculties which they naturally possess.
So it is with the work before us ; its object is to indicate the means of developing the medianimic faculty so far as the receptivity of each will permit; and, above all, to guide it in a manner that may elicit its usefulness. Not, however, that this is the sole end for which the present work has been undertaken.
Besides mediums properly so called, there is a daily increasing throng of people seeking to obtain spirit-manifestations; to guide them in their endeavors, to point out the obstacles which they may, or rather, will necessarily meet with in this new field, to initiate them into the manner of Communicating with spirits, to indicate the means of obtaining good communications, such is the aim of this new work, however incompletely it may be attained. The reader must therefore not be surprised at finding in this book information which, at first sight, may seem to be foreign to its purpose; experience will show its utility.
After having carefully studied the subject, he will better comprehend the facts lie may witness, and the language of some of the spirits will then appear less strange to him.
The writer therefore addresses himself, not to mediums exclusively, but to all those who are desirous to study the phenomena of Spiritism.
Some people have wished us to publish a very concise, practical manual, containing in a few words the method of procedure for obtaining communications from spirits ; they think that a little book of that character would be widely disseminated, owing to the small price at which it could be issued, and would prove a powerful means of propaganda through the multiplication of mediums ; but, for our own part, we should regard such a work as being, at the present time, more likely to be hurtful than useful.
The practice of spiritism is environed by difficulties, and is not exempt from dangers which only complete and serious study can avert. It is therefore to be feared that too succinct a treatise might lead to experimentation too lightly made, and that might be injurious to the experimenters. Spiritism is a subject with which it is neither proper nor prudent to trifle ; and we shrink from bringing it within the reach of every frivolous individual who might think it an amusing pastime to talk with the dead. We address ourselves to those who recognize the serious nature of the subject, who comprehend its great importance, and who do not make a sport of holding intercourse with the invisible world.
From the Medium’s book. Introduction. Allan Kardec