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Allan Kardec
Born Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail
October 3, 1804(1804-10-03)
Lyon, France
Died March 31, 1869 (aged 64)
Paris, France
Cause of death aneurysm
Known for Systematizer of Spiritism

Allan Kardec is the pseudonym of the French teacher and educator Hippolyte L√©on Denizard Rivail (Lyon, October 3, 1804‚ÄďParis, March 31, 1869). He is known today as the systematizer of Spiritism for which he laid the foundation with the five books of the Spiritist Codification.


Early life

Rivail was born in Lyon in 1804. Rivail was a disciple and collaborator of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, and a teacher in courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, physiology, comparative anatomy and French in Paris. For one of his research papers, he was inducted in 1831 into the Royal Academy of Arras[1]. He organized and taught free courses for the underprivileged.

On February 1832 he married Amélie Gabrielle Boudet.

Spirit interest

Allan Kardec in 1865.

He was already in his early 50s when he became interested in the wildly popular phenomenon of spirit-tapping. At the time, strange phenomena attributed to the action of spirits were reported in many different places, most notably in the U.S. and France, attracting the attention of high society. The first such phenomena were at best frivolous and entertaining, featuring objects that moved or "tapped" under what was said to be spirit control. In some cases, this was alleged to be a type of communication: the supposed spirits answered questions by controlling the movements of objects so as to pick out letters to form words, or simply indicate "yes" or "no."

At the time, Franz Mesmer's theory of animal magnetism was popular in the upper reaches of society. When confronted with the phenomena described, some researchers, including Rivail, pointed out that animal magnetism might explain them. Rivail, however, after personally seeing a demonstration, quickly dismissed the animal-magnetism hypothesis as being insufficient to completely explain all the facts observed (see Chapters VIII and XIV in the The Book on Mediums). Rivail was determined to understand exactly what was causing the physical effects popularly attributed to spirits.


Allan Kardec and his wife Amélie Gabrielle Boudet.

As a teacher with some scientific background (he had never attended a university), Rivail decided to do his own research. Not being a medium himself, he compiled a list of questions and began working with mediums and channelers to put them to spirits. Soon the quality of the communications, allegedly with spirits, appeared to improve.

Rivail used the name "Allan Kardec" allegedly after a spirit identified as Zefiro, whom he had been communicating with, told him about a previous incarnation of his as a Druid by that name. Rivail liked the name and decided to use it to keep his Spiritists writings separate from his work, basically books for high school students.

In April 18, 1857 Rivail (signing himself "Allan Kardec") published his first book on Spiritism, The Spirits' Book, comprising a series of 1,019 questions exploring matters concerning the nature of spirits, the spirit world, and the relations between the spirit world and the material world. This was followed by a series of other books, like The Book on Mediums and The Gospel According to Spiritism, and by a periodical, the Revue Spirite, which Kardec published until his death. Kardec thus produced the books that form the Spiritist Codification.

Allan Kardec coined the word "spiritism" and followed modern scientific methods in its study, which was recognized among others by Camille Flammarion, a famous French astronomer and author, who said "spiritism is not a religion but a science". [2]


Allan Kardec's grave at Cimetière du Père Lachaise. The inscription says Naitre, mourir, renaitre encore et progresser sans cesse, telle est la loi ("To be born, die, again be reborn, and so progress unceasingly, such is the law").

Having died due to aneurysm, Kardec is buried at the Cimetière du Père Lachaise. The eulogy was delivered by Camille Flammarion. [2]

Visitors from all over the world, especially from Brazil where his doctrine has millions of followers, come bringing flowers to his tombstone, which is reputed to be one of the most flowered at the Cimetière. The body of his wife Amélie Gabrielle Boudet is also buried there. At the top part of his burial chamber is written a sentence that became a sort of spiritist's motto: Naitre, mourir, renaitre encore et progresser sans cesse, telle est la loi ("To be born, die, again be reborn, and so progress unceasingly, such is the law.")


  1. ^ (Portuguese) Textos - Allan Kardec
  2. ^ a b Allan Kardec's eulogy on April 2, 1869, in "Death and Its Mystery - After Death. Manifestations and Apparitions of the Dead; The Soul After Death" Translated by Latrobe Carroll (1923, T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd. London: Adelphi Terrace.), online version at Manifestations of the Dead in Spiritistic Experiments

See also

External links


Simple English

Allan Kardec (Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail October 3, 1804 - March 31, 1869) was a French philosopher and teacher. He dedicated the last 15 years of his life to organise a philosophical doctrine called Spiritism. He was a great divulger of the educational ideas of Pestalozzi in the 19th century. Published books of grammar, mathematics and suggestions for the improvement of public education in France. He was a teacher of physiology, astronomy, physics and chemistry and the classes were in your own home, in Paris.

In 1854, Rivail started studying a phenomena that some people called as "paranormal" or "supernatural", that were very common in that time. Other people actually tell that these phenomenas are unknown natural¬īs law.

His pedagogical sense made him create a philosophy in which the spiritual manifestations were useful to social and moral improvements of men. Inspired by this idea, he dedicated his last years to organise a philosophical system with a strong educational appeal: the Spiritism (fr. Spiritisme).

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