Spiritism in Brazil*

Magda L. Abreu

*Published article in Boletim GEAE 2(19)/93, 16/02/1993

In April 18th, 1857 was published the first book which compiled the principles of the Doctrine of the Spirits that is equally referred to as Spiritism. Its author was Allan kardec who made it clear that the Doctrine did not and does not belong to any man, but to the Higher Spirits. His real name was Hippolyte Leon Denizard Rivail but he adopted the pseudonym Allan Kardec. The objective was to separate the Spiritism work from the educational one, since Rivail had been Pestalozzi's pupil (1) and had written a vast educational literature. His motivation to exert such an important task, which is to spread the truth about Immortality of the Soul, can be found in the spirit's manifestation phenomena which occurred in France and Europe last century, and which can be traced back to the ones in America, which started with the Fox Sisters and originated Modern Spiritualism.

The work done by Kardec constituted in the compilation of information given by the Spiritual World to whom he was always loyal. This is the reason why in Brazil he is known as the Codificador that means one who gathers other's ideas and divulges them. The beloved Codificador has never been in Brazil during his earthly life, but from the Spiritual World he has visited us through automatic writing, in a mediunic meeting held on June 14th, 1979 at FEB (Brazilian Federation of Spiritism (1)).

His ideas and the Doctrine, however, made him more alive than ever. In Brazil there are thousands of Spiritist Groups legally registered which practice Spiritism according to Kardec and the number of Spiritists can be counted by the millions. Kardec and the Doctrine are so well known here that in 1957, 1964, 1969 and more recently in 1989 during the First International Congress of Spiritism held in Brasilia(Brazil's Capital), commemorative stamps were issued to honor summarized as follows and are found in the five books of the Doctrine written by Kardec (2). We believe that:

* "God is the Supreme Intelligence and First cause of all things.:

* we are all spiritual beings in ascending evolution.

* The spiritual world interferes in the material one either in the phenomena of nature or in human behavior. We can communicate with the Spiritual World and receive messages from there through Mediunism which is a free gift and must be freely exerted.

The most well-known medium of automatic writing in Brazil is Francisco Candido Xavier (Chico xavier) who during his more than 60 years of mediunic work, has been dictated 352 books from many different and elevated spiritual entities, most of them well known and respected by Brazilian Spiritists. The majority of his books are published by FEB and all profit derived from them are donated to Spiritist Institutions which have social programs such as: children and elderly care or hospitals.

The principles mentioned above show the many similarities that exist between Spiritism and American Spiritualism. However, there are two main differences between them and which must be pointed out: A fourth principle of the Religion of the Spirits (as Spiritism is also known in Brazil, since it is a religion) is that we believe that Jesus is the Highest Spiritual Being that had incarnated on Earth and that by following His teachings in their purest form, explained by the Doctrine, we conquer the title of Christians in the same way as those who followed Him at His time. What does it mean? It means that we consider Christians those who, as defined in the New Testament, follow Jesus by practicing His teachings. It does not mean we believe that Jesus is an incarnation of God, because we do not. Emmanuel (3), a spiritual guide, in his book "A Caminho da Luz" which was automatically written by Chico Xavier, inform us that Jesus is the Spiritual Guide of our planet, therefore He is our brother in Spirit. We also do not believe in the Vicarious Atonement because we are convinced that we are solely responsible for our attitudes and we believe that our salvation is on practicing His teachings: " Love God with all your heart and your neighbors as yourselves." By teaching us how to understand God and how to promote spiritual progress we can consider the Lord a Savior as much as someone who being lost in a desert, would consider his/her savior a guide who would take him/her by their hands and give them a compass with which they would be able to trace their way back to their safety homes. Because we consider ourselves Christians, we normally start and end our services praying to Jesus so that He will be present among us, represented by the Higher Spirits who work in His name.

Another difference between Spiritism and American Spiritualism is that we believe, as explained and defended at his time by Kardec, that reincarnation is the way by which God's Justice can be fully comprehended. We understand that in our ascending journey to the Creator of the Universe, we are given many opportunities to learn and also to redeem from our mistakes by assuming new lives in different bodies and environments. As mentioned before we know that we are solely responsible for our attitudes and actions that there is no such a thing as free forgiveness of our sins by someone else's sacrifice. We believe as explained by the Higher Intelligences, that we are all free to choose the direction that we prefer to our lives, and this is a Natural Law (or God's Law) which we Spiritists call Free Will. However, God's Law also determines that whatever we seed we will sow and this Law we call Cause and Effect. Therefore, if we spread Love around us we can expect Love in return; nevertheless, by living with hate in our hearts we can not expect anything else but violent attitudes from others. We Spiritists believe that it is through reincarnation that we learn how to transform hate into Love; pride into humbleness. In this way for Spiritists, God is always merciful and there is no such a thing as eternal punishment.

Normally Spiritists have their meetings held in the evenings and during the weekends because we have our duties in the society, and we have our jobs like every other citizen. Therefore, like mediunism, all other activities are exerted in a voluntary base. We meet in houses which we call Centros (Centers) and we hane many activities. there are meetings dedicated only to the study of the Doctrine's principles, based on the Book of the Spirits and also studies of the Bible for which we utilize Kardec's third book: The Gospel According to Spiritism (first printed in 1864), as a secure guide. We Spiritism, who follow Kardec, understand that we must practice the Spirit Guide's instruction:  "Spiritists, love each other. This is the first commandment; educate yourselves this is the second."

We have mediunic meetings which we prefer, most of the times, to hold privately. We also use healing therapy which we call Passe Normally they are practiced during or after public meetings. We have meetings for spiritual healing in which the mediums participate in the treatment of specific illness as directed by the Spirit Guides. These meetings are done in the Centros with reduced number of participants, among them the mediums, and they may or may not have the presence of the patient, since all the treatment is done in the spiritual body after which it will be reflected in the physical one. All these activities are also done (if by the Spiritists) in a voluntary basis so that we can understand and practice one of the most important messages of the Doctrine: "Without Charity there is no Salvation."

Finally, we want to report that there are also Lyceum for our children known as Escola de Evangelizacao da Crianca. The classes are taught normally on Saturday afternoons or Sundays mornings. There the kids are introduced to the principles of the Doctrine. There is no College Education on Spiritism in Brazil and again all instructors and Lyceum's teachers are volunteers who are chosen among those who demonstrate loyalty and true Love for the Doctrine's principle. Most of them are prepared by the people who have more experience by their practice on teaching and working in the meetings. The Lyceum's teachers can receive instruction from the Spiritist's organizations through short courses where they are also giving some knowledge of children's psychology and methods of education for youths.

There are many other activities exerted by the Spiritists in Brazil which have not been mentioned here. We hope, however, that we were able to give to our American Spiritualist friends an idea of how active is the Spiritist Movement in Brazil. May God bless you all in your mission of spreading the truth about Life after Death.