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Delanne, Gabriel

Category: Scientist

François Marie Gabriel Delanne (23 March 1857 – 15 February 1926) was a notable French psychical researcher, writer, and electrical engineer, born in Paris. 

He was a very active experimenter and collector of observations, and as a consequence described as “one of the greatest disseminators of the reality of Spirit communication”. 

After Allan Kardec died, Delanne and Léon Denis took over from him in being the principal exponents of Spiritism.

Delanne also managed "La Revue scientifique et morale du spiritisme" (The Scientific and Ethical review of Spiritism), the journal of the "Union Spirite Française" (French Spiritist Union), from its first appearance in March 1883, thanks to the generosity of an English woman, Elisabeth D’ Esperance, who donated the necessary funds.

Life and work

Delanne was immersed in paranormal and occult research from a very early age as a consequence of his parent’s interests in the subject.

Great Exponents of Spiritism - (Excerpt From the website of The Spiritist Federation of Paraná)

Gabriel Delanne was born on March 23, 1857 , in France , exactly in the year in which Allan Kardec published the first edition of “The Spirits’ Book.” His father, Alexandre Delanne, was a spiritist and a very close friend of Kardec’s; for this reason, Gabriel Delanne was greatly influenced by spiritist ideas. His father was one of the founders of the Parisian Teaching League, and along with Kardec, was also involved in the administration of the Spiritist Society, founded by both.

His mother specialised in automatic writing (Fr: "médium écrivain") and helped her husband and Kardec with the ‘codification, reception of communications, and transmission of reliable filtered information from the spiritual world, through her gift’.

Delanne's writings were mainly concerned with the question of the immortality of the soul and with reincarnation.  He approached the entire subject from a scientific perspective collecting observations and doing studies.  His books – all but one in French include the following:

  • Le Spiritisme devant la science (Paris, E. Dentu, 1885). French text - ” Spiritism and Science”
  • Le Phénomène spirite, témoignage des savants, étude historique, exposition méthodique de tous les phénomènes, discussions des hypothèses, conseils aux médiums, la théorie philosophique (Paris, Leymarie éditeur, 1909) - “The Spiritist Phenomenon”
  • L'Évolution animique Essais de psychologie physiologique suivant le spiritisme (Paris, Chamuel, 1897). French text - “The Evolution of the Soul”
  • L'Âme est immortelle. Démonstration expérimentale de l'immortalité (Paris, Chamuel, 1899). French text.  The immortal soul.
  • Evidence for a future life (P. Wellby; G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1904). English translation of "L'Âme est immortelle".
  • Les Apparitions matérialisées des vivants et des morts: Volume 1, Volume 2 (Paris, Leymarie, 1909-1911, 2 vol.) - “The Materialized Apparitions of the Living and the Dead”.  In 1904 together with Charles Richet and other researchers, he witnessed the ‘prodigious phenomenon’ of materialization in Villa Carmen, in Argel.
  • Recherches sur la médiumnité (Paris, BPS, 1923). - “Researches on Mediumship”
  • Documents pour servir à l'étude de la réincarnation (Paris, Vermet, 1985) - Documents for the Study of Reincarnation.  And finally
  • Reincarnation – Delanne  had begun studying the soul when he was 13 years old.  This final work was published, when he was 68.  It is described as ‘ a work of incomparable value’: “Reincarnation” is said to be the best example of his scientific method in action demonstrating “solidity in presentation, sturdiness of logic, value of argument, choice of proofs, the superiority of thesis, and the impartiality with which he presents the facts

Le Spiritisme devant la science should be of great interest to anyone who wishes to base their research on a firm scientific foundation.  In this, his first book, Delanne explores what occult research data is needed in order to be classified as ‘scientific’ and thus ‘deserve the respect of scientists’.  In effect, he lay down the protocols and basis of his research and those that others should follow. 

Le Spiritisme devant la science

Do we have a soul? This is the question we propose to study …. At first glance, it seems that this problem can be easily solved, for, from the earliest antiquity, the researches of the philosophers have had for their object man, his physical and intellectual nature; could one believe that they arrived at a result? Well, according to some modern scholars, it is not so.
The ancients, who had taken for their motto the celebrated maxim "Know thyself," did not know each other; they imagined that man was composed of two distinct elements: the soul and the body; they had based on this duality all the deductions of philosophy, and now in our time, a new school claims that they were mistaken, that in us everything is matter, that the old entity qualified by the name of There is no soul, and it is necessary to abjure this old error, daughter of ignorance and superstition.
Before we passively bow to this judgment, we wish to examine whether the arguments given by the materialists really have the value they wish to attribute to them. We will try to follow them on their ground, and we will try to unravel what is true and false in their theories. We shall compare their works with the impartial conclusions of modern science and speculation. From this comparison will be born, we hope, the certainty that there exists in us a principle independent of matter, which directs the body and which we call the soul.
To those who doubt the usefulness of the spiritual principle to man, we will answer: There is no subject more worthy of attention, for nothing interests us more than to know who we are, where we are going, where did we come from?

After going through the various methods one can use to obtain a spiritual experience – hypnotism, anaesthesia, dreams and what we would today call lucid dreaming, he then gets to the nub of the problem, how do we prove the soul exists and is immortal?

Le Spiritisme devant la science

Constrained by the evidence of the facts to admit a guiding force in man, a great number of materialists take refuge in a last negation by pretending that this energy is extinguished with the body, of which it was only an emanation. Like all physical and chemical forces, they say, the soul, this vital resultant, ceases with the cause that produced it; the man being dead, the soul is annihilated.
Is it possible? are we only a vulgar mass of molecules without solidarity with each other? Should our loving individuality ever go away, and of what has been a man, does he really remain but a corpse, destined to disintegrate slowly in the cold night of the grave?
Faced with this grandiose question of the immortality of the thinking being, in the face of this formidable problem which has fascinated the most vast intelligences, in the face of this mysterious unknown, we do not hesitate to answer in an affirmative manner.
We have certain proofs of the existence of the soul after death, we can irrefutably establish that we are in the right, and that by means of simple, practical experiments, accessible to everybody and for the explanation of which there is no need of a transcendent genius. The ignorant can, like the scientist, create a conviction, and this result is due to a new science: spiritualism.

One of the things that should give him great appeal to the modern day materialist, scientist and even atheist, was that he was no friend of organised – that is politically motivated -  religion.  His aim was to research by ignoring the restrictions, horrors and past problems with the institutions of religion and concentrate entirely on what might be called revelation as the principle source of data:

Le Spiritisme devant la science

Blind faith, imposed by the priests, has produced innumerable errors and crimes against which the human spirit has revolted, freed from its prejudices. Nobody looks without horror at the massacres of the Waldensians, the Albigenses, the Camisards. The cries of the victims of St. Bartholomew, Savonarola, and John Huss sound painfully in the depths of their hearts, and the tortures of the Inquisition, its monstrous autodafes, make a bloody stain on the history of Catholicism. The fanatics who condemned Galileo knew nothing of the wonders of the universe; their narrow and intolerant faith could only engender ignorance and credulity.

Death

He remained a modest man with a very clear idea of his destiny throughout his life

I have not added anything new. Everything that exists stems from Kardec. I have been merely making verifications. I presented them in my books and I demonstrated them in daily practice. I have not added anything new.”

Gabriel Delanne died in Paris in 1926, and was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Great Exponents of Spiritism - (Excerpt From the website of The Spiritist Federation of Paraná)

According to the point of view of those that only consider the here and now as the true reason of living, his life was a useless sacrifice. They cannot understand that thanks to his disinterest in earthly ambition and vanity, Delanne was covered with spiritual glories for a work well driven, without hesitations and faithfully executed until the last instant of his corporeal life.

References

Bodier, Paul & Régnault, Henri. Un grand disciple d'Allan Kardec: Gabriel Delanne, sa vie, son apostolat, son œuvre (Paris: J. Meyer, B.P.S., 1937) -biography.

Observations

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