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Observations placeholder

Abbot Garo, five or six ‘elderly and respectable priests’ and the teacher Didelot witness automatic writing – in Latin



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

As described in Spiritism (Western Fakirism) Study Historical, Critical and Experimental - Dr. Paul Gibier [1887] - a letter written to the editors of the Revue spirite in Paris by a teacher

Gentlemen: A subscriber to the Spiritist Review lent me No. 16 of August 15, 1885, so I read its content with interest and especially an article entitled: "Automatic Writing". It is on this subject that I would like to send you these few notes that you will make such use of as you consider appropriate.

In 1854, I was a teacher in a village in my native town, Amance (Meurthe). By chance, I received an issue of a publication on spiritualism. This first intrigued me and then inspired me to try the experiments from which I had just read a few details. But despite all my will and a rather long perseverance I did not obtain any result; neither tables nor chairs were under my influence. I had to give it up in the conviction that I would never be anything but a medium of no value.

At that time, I had a young assistant teacher who curiously attended my tests, but did not take part in them. When I gave up the battle, he took the fantasy of trying to spin or hit a pedestal table himself. This young man turned out to be a medium of great power, barely touching a chair or pedestal table, when these small pieces of furniture trembled under his hand. For a long time, he used only a chair or pedestal table to establish his spiritual communications, using a conventional alphabet.

We laughed at these exercises; curiosity alone presided over them; they were not experiments that we were doing, because there was nothing ordered or methodical about our work, it was for us a hobby that entertained us and aroused our curiosity, nothing more.

One day, my assistant and I were thinking together about the disadvantages of transmission being too slow due to knocks. We spent a lot of time and were subjected to a thousand mistakes. It would be necessary, said Charles (it was my assistant's name), to be able to write with a pen or pencil that we would hold in our hands as we usually do and, no sooner said than done: he takes a pencil whose point he puts on a sheet of paper and, suddenly, we are stunned by the result: the pencil walks with surprising speed, all words are written clearly, all connect with the same line of pencil that returns to the drawing line when the medium's hand is on it.

This beginning surprised us so much that the young man, struck with terror, threw the pencil and fled. For a while he was not able to repeat this experiment; he was afraid of it and he often confessed to me that he felt invaded by a spirit that obsessed him by forcing him to write. Nevertheless, he resumed the sequel of these exercises and did so for about a year, but I finally gave him advice, and he followed it, to abandon from then on this kind of exercise, which turned into a real obsession and began to concern me greatly.

How many sheets of paper this young man used and how many unexpected, surprising, even astounding answers he got, but also how many more or less light jokes came to the tip of his pencil.

This writing was truly automatic in the sense that it was obtained outside the medium's will; the medium was always in complete ignorance of the answer or sentence he was going to write. He was not asleep and very often his thought was far from the acts that were happening with his pencil which was, that was indisputable, directed by a force and a will other than his own force and his own will.

Allow me to recall some facts:

A canon of the cathedral of Nancy (Mr. abbot Garo), having also heard about the surprising revelations obtained by my young man, had him invited one day to his house, I accompanied him there. There were five or six elderly and respectable priests gathered.

The young man was given paper and a pencil and was invited to answer some of the questions contained in a sealed envelope on the table.

I never knew the content of the questions asked, but I know that the first answer amazed the priests who looked at each other in amazement at the sentence that had just been written. An answer was even given in Latin; however, the young man had no idea of this language. Abbot Garo and his friends believed only on the medium's formal statement that he had no knowledge of Latin.

A last answer obtained made us guess the nature of the request; this answer was as follows: "It does not matter to you whether the moon is inhabited or not, you have a mission to fulfil here on earth, fulfill it ".

It was over, the meeting was closed and we left, leaving in astonishment the priests who wished to be witnesses of this séance of spiritism.

Young Charles had left my school and was working as a deputy-teacher at the Ville-en-Vermois school.

One Thursday, he was supposed to go to Saint-Nicholas to attend a conference of teachers. It was in winter, the earth was everywhere covered with snow. In the middle of the countryside he stopped to contemplate the picture offered to him by the bright white snow that covered the earth; he leaned on his cane when he suddenly felt it quivering in his hand; he left the cane free between his fingers and immediately this cane traces on the snow: "Charles, your father died this morning, return to the village and you will meet a person who comes to bring you the news". The name was well identified.

This news terrifies our young man, but he believes it; he returns to the village and the first person he meets is the one he is appointed, who tells him that on the same day, in the morning, his father fell from an attic and killed himself.

Later, this young man was appointed head of studies at the Commercy college.

One Thursday, he accompanied the students for a walk, it was in summer, it was hot; he was recklessly lost. While sweating he drank fresh water and went to rest in the shade of a tree. He went back to school with a fever and died six days later.

The day before his death, having all his consciousness, he felt his right hand shaking, he understood and asked the nurse for a pencil and paper and, although in a state of great weakness, the pencil vigorously drew these words: "Charles, prepare yourself, the day after tomorrow at 3 o'clock you will die". He surely stood warned, and indeed, the next day, at 3 o'clock, in the presence of the principal and a number of students, he breathed his last breath.

I got all these details from the headmaster himself, who kept very carefully the sheet of paper on which the words mentioned above were written. What conclusion can be drawn from all these facts? Well, let me give my personal opinion on spiritualism here.

Yes, spiritualism is real, it exists; yes, man is sometimes the medium by means of which manifestations from another world occur: the world of Spirits. But what is the nature of these spirits? That is the intractable question for me and I do not believe that it can ever be resolved.

I have read a great many books on spiritualism and I must admit that I have not seen this question clearly settled in any of them.

We have had, as it is said, revelations from some great men, warriors, speakers, philosophers. We heard about communications from a few members of their families, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, etc., etc., etc.

All these statements are gratuitous assumptions, nothing, absolutely nothing has been done to prove these assumptions.

But are there intimate characteristics of life that the named person reveals? The evidence is not conclusive. What did the philosophers reveal that was new outside the works they left behind? Have they discredited some of their doctrines; have they reaffirmed them again? Where is the proof that the philosopher who calls himself is indeed himself?

But I stop because it would never end. All I can say is that spiritualism is the most irrefutable and tangible proof, in a way, against materialism. No, when we die, not everything dies in us. Our spirit, our soul at last, survives matter; for if nothing survived in us, these spiritual manifestations would not be understood, would have no rational basis and even would not be possible.



Rosières-aux-Salines, October 1885.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Automatic writing