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vol. 3, p. 151
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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From the London Spiritualist

Researches on the Historical Origin of the Reincarnation Speculation of French Spiritualists

In view of the approaching publication of translations in the English language of the works of Allan Kardec, of which the principal volume, The Spirits’ Book, is already out, I feel it my duty to lay before the English public the result of my researches in the direction of the origin of the dogma of Reincarnation. When “Spiritism,” newly baptised with this name, and embodied in form of a doctrine by Kardec, began to spread in France, nothing astonished me more than the divergence of this doctrine from that of “Spiritualism,” touching the point of Reincarnation. This divergence was the more strange because the sources of the contradictory affirmations claim to be the same, namely, the spirit-world and communications given by spirits. As Spiritism was born in 1856 with the publication of the Book of Spirits, it is clear that to solve this enigma it was necessary to begin with the historical origin of this book. It is remarkable that nowhere, either in this volume or in any of the others, does Kardec give upon this head the slightest detail. And why was this the essential point in all serious criticisms being to know before all things how such a book came into existence? As I did not live in Paris, it was difficult for me to procure the necessary information; all that I could learn was that a certain somnambulist, known by the name of Celina Japhet, had contributed largely to the work, but that she had been dead for a long time. During my stay in Paris in 1873, I explained to a Spiritualistic friend my regret that I had never met this somnambulist la life, to which he replied that he had also heard that she was dead, but he doubted whether the rumor was true; also that he had reason to suppose that this was nothing hut a rumor spread abroad by the Spititists, and that it would he well if I made further personal inquiry. He gave me a former address of Mme. Japhet, and what was my astonishment and joy to find her in perfect health! When I told her of my surprise, she replied that it was nothing new to her, for the Spiritists were actually making her pass for a dead person. Here is the substance of the information which she was obliging enough to give me.

Madlle. Celina Baquet was a natural somnambulist from her earliest years. At sixteen or seventeen yean of age. while residing with her parents in Pane, she was mesmerised for the first time by Ricard, and three times by him in all. In 1841 she was living in the provinces, and was attacked with a serious illness; having lost the use of her legs, she was confined to her bed for (went) seven months: afterwards, having lost all hope of relief from medicine, she was mesmerised and put to sleep by her brother; she then prescribed the necessary remedies, and after treatment for six weeks she got out of bed and could walk with the aid of crutches, which she was obliged to use for eleven months. At last, in 1843, she had entirely recovered her health.

In 1845 she went to Paris in search of M. Ricard, and she made the acquaintance of M. Roustan, at the house of M Millet, a mesmerist. She then took, for family consideration the name of Japhet, and became a professional somnambulist under the control of M. Roustan, and remained in that position till about 1848. She gave, under her assumed name, medical advice under the direction of her spiritual grand- father, who had been a doctor, and also of Hahnemann and of Mesmer, from whom she received a great number of communications. In this manner in 1846 the doctrine of Retcarnation was given to her by the spirits of her grandfather St. Theresa, and others. (As the somnambulic powers of Madame Japhet were developed under the mesmeric influence of M. Roustan, it may be well to remark in this place that M. Roustan himself believed in the plurality of terrestial existences. See Cahagnet’s Sanctuaire du Spiritualisme—Paris, 1850—page 164: since dated August 24th. 1848).

In 1849 Madame d’Abnour, on her man from America, desired to form a circle for spiritual phenomena, of which she had lately been a witness. For this purpose she called non M. de Guldenstubbe, by whom M. Roestan and Celina Japhet were asked to become members of his spirit-circle. (See the German edition of Pneumatologie Positive of the Baron de Guldenstubbe—Stuttgart, 1870—page 87). This circle was also joined by the Abbe Chatel and the three Demoiselles Bouvrais; it consisted therefore of nine persons. This circle met once a week at the house of Madame Japhet, 46, Rue des Martyrs; afterwards, almost up to the time of the war of 1870, it met twice a week. In 1855 the circle was composed of the following persons: M. Tierry, M. Taillandier. M. Tillman, M. Ramon de la Sagra (since deed), Messrs. Sardou (father and son), Madame Japhet, and M. Roustan, who continued a member of it until about 1864. They began by <... continues on page 3-152 >


Editor's notes

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  2. Researches on the Historical Origin of the Reincarnation Speculation of French Spiritualists by Aksakof, Alexander, Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 1, September 9, 1875, p. 1
  3. image by unknown author