Group Title: sociological analysis of spiritism in Brazil
Title: A Sociological analysis of spiritism in Brazil
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Title: A Sociological analysis of spiritism in Brazil
Physical Description: vi, 230 leaves.
Language: English
Creator: Renshaw, Jarrett Parke, 1923-
Publication Date: 1969
Copyright Date: 1969
Subject: Spiritualism   ( lcsh )
Religion -- Brazil   ( lcsh )
Sociology thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- UF   ( lcsh )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 223-229.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Vita.
General Note: Microfilm of typescript. Ann Arbor, Mich., University Microfilms, 1970. 1 reel. 35 mm.
Statement of Responsibility: by J. Parke Renshaw.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00097775
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000218290
oclc - 01028892
notis - AAY5393


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Dedicated to my professor of Missions and dear friend,

Arva C. Floyd,

through whom the Spirit led me to undertake this study.


The present study grew out of the attempt to know and understand

the Spiritist movement in Brazil, and to interpret it to new mission-

aries and other foreigners at the Escola de Portugues e Orientacao in

Campinas. It is my hope that the pages which follow reflect not only

the scholarly and objective effort to ascertain the place and signifi-

cance of this movement in Brazilian society, but also my unabashed

appreciation of and devotion to the people who compose that society.

I am grateful to the Board of Missions of the United Methodist

Church and to the Igreja Metodista do Brasil, especially in the persons

of Lewistine M. McCoy and Bishop Oswaldo Dias da Silva, respectively,

for the opportunities afforded me to live and work among the Brazilian

people, and to study the Spiritist movement. Particular thanks and

recognition are due my assistant at the Escola de Portugues e Orientagco,

Mary Alice Carr, and to Oda Gut and Lucia Pires Carvalho. They spent

many evenings in seances and in interviews with Spiritist adherents, and

always remained in high spirits. We were graciously received by

Spiritist centers and individuals: outstanding among these through the

formation of lasting friendships were Srta. Therezinha de Oliveira,

Senhor A. Ubinha, and Senhor Gustavo Marcondes, a selfless worker for

others who is now, in the Spiritist term, "disincarnate."

Grateful acknowledgment is due Professor T. Lynn Smith, whose

personal interest and encouragement have given a very Brazilian warmth

to hii professional guidance and counsel; his knowledge and comprehension


of multitudinous facets of Brazilian societal life have more than once

saved me from grievous error. I am also indebted to the other members

of my faculty advisory committee, Professors Sugiyama lutaka, Joseph

S. Vandiver, and Alfred Hower, and, in a particular way, to John V. D.

Saunders and to the Center for Latin American Studies of this university,

for making possible my studies here.

Many persons close to me have had a hand in the carrying through

of this study, and to them I am grateful. Here I can name only Mrs.

Vivian Nolan, Mrs. Laverne Cheshire, and Mrs. Diane Miller, who typed

the dissertation. Most of all, I am thankful for my wife, Eunice, and

our four children, who have made of these rather trying years a time of

new ways of partnership, exciting opportunities, and mutual support.


















l.--Proportions of Those Who Were Both Over 30 Years of Age
and Spiritists for 10 Years or More, in Sample of Allan
Kardec Center, Campinas 97

2.--Spiritists in the Population of Brazil by States, 1950 112

3.--Spiritists in the Munic{pios of the Capitals of States
and in the Remaining Municipios of Each State 113

4.--Municipios not State Capitals with Largest Numbers of
Spiritists 116

5.--Sex Ratios of the Total Population and of Spiritists in
Brazil and Its Major Geographic Regions, 1950 120

6.--Sex Ratios of Total Population and of Spiritists in Brazil,
By Age, 1950 120

7.--Age Distribution of Total Population and of Spiritists in
Brazil, 20 Years Old and Older, 1950 121

8.--Percentages of Persons Aged Ten Years and Over, Completing
Various Academic Stages in Brazil and the State of Sao
Paulo, 1950 125

9.--Educational Levels of Spiritists in Cities of Sao Paulo (1958)
and Campinas (1966) 125

10.--A Comparison of the Occupational Distribution of the Pop-
ulation Aged Ten Years and Over: Brazil as a Whole
(1950), and Two Samples of the Spiritist Population (1960) 213

l1.--Three Professional Categories Considered in Relation to
Spiritism 215



This study is an analysis of the societal factors related to the

existence and the vitality of Spiritism, a rapidly-growing religious

movement in Brazil.

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study are to describe the doctrinal, cultic,

and social aspects of the phenomenon known as Spiritism in Brazil; to

indicate the socio-cultural factors which have been associated with its

beginning and its relatively rapid growth in recent decades; and to

attempt to draw some conclusions as to its character as a socio-religious

movement and its relationship to Brazilian society at large.

The Pertinence and Importance of the Study

The various societal and religious phenomena which are lumped to-

gether in the popular mind as "spiritism" figure among the major social

forces in Brazil today. That portion of them which is here under

study is Kardec Spiritism. Nearly all of the elements which compose

the spiritistic cults of Brazil, including the Kardecist, can be found

in other societies. Nevertheless, the forms which they have assumed in

Brazilian society, and the sheer numbers of their adherents within this

large population, constitute a societal phenomenon of more than usual

scientific and human interest.

1The uses and the spellings of the word "spiritism" are explained
in the section which follows.

Thus it is with a sense of urgency that this investigation has

been undertaken. As far as the present writer is able to ascertain,

no previous attempt has been made to bring together in one presentation

an analysis of the nature, organization, and functioning of this social

movement, its background, social setting, beliefs and practices, and

social impact.

In this presentation of the cultural elements and societal factors

which have given form and growth to the spiritist movement in Brazil, it

will become apparent that we are dealing with some of the fundamental

aspects of Brazilian civilization. We can hope that the analysis of

this material will provide certain clues and guide-posts to what we may

expect with regard to the further development of the cultural and

societal patterns of this people. It is to be hoped further that this

information, much of it presented here for the first time in English,

and the conceptualization and analysis which are offered, may consti-

tute an addition of some value to the sociological work of those upon

whose efforts we build.

Scope of the Study

The scope of this study of Spiritism embraces the doctrinal content,

the membership, and the organizational, ritual, and interactional

aspects of the movement within itself, as well as its relationships with

the wider Brazilian society. Not included, except by occasional

reference, are other phenomena and movements which in a popular way come

under the rubric of espiritismo, or spiritism. These consist princi-

pally of the Afro-Brazilian cults, and some of the features which dis-

tinguish them from Spiritism are given in the following section.

Although the description and analysis cover Spiritism in the entire

country, major attention is focused upon the area of greatest Spiritist

activity, the Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro "urban-industrial axis."

The time-period which is of greatest interest in the analysis of

the data presented is confined to the years which have intervened since

World War II. Certain sections, however, are devoted to the colonial

period, and others to the latter half of the nineteenth century and the

early years of the twentieth, for the provision of necessary background


The Nature and Types of Spiritism in Brazil

The particular movement which is our subject was founded in France

a century ago. Its adherents insist that the designation "espiritismo,"

from a French neologism, "espiritisme," is correctly applied only with

reference to their movement. As a means of achieving distinctions, and

in deference to their denominational usage, we employ the spelling

"Spiritism" -- with capital s -- in our references to this movement,

even though, with the exception of proper names, few words are

capitalized in Portuguese (as witness brasileiro, catolicismo, indio).

Followers of Spiritism are known as espfritas, and here, too, we follow

normal English usage and capitalize, alluding to them as Spiritists.

The term "spiritism" -- with lower-case s -- is employed not simply

as a transliteration of the Portuguese expression "espiritismo," but

because, as an English word in its own right, it gives more cogent

expression to the reality it represents than does "spiritualism."

Moreover, as will be evident throughout the course of this dissertation,

"spiritism" in Brazilian usage refers to a much broader gamut of

phenomena than does the more common English term "spiritualism." The

latter designation, however, will be employed occasionally with

reference to the English and American movements which bear this name.

It is necessary at the outset to distinguish between spiritism

and animism. This latter term is most commonly used in the study of

religions to denote "the belief that all objects possess a natural

life or vitality or are endowed with indwelling souls."2 Although

there is some question as to the place of animism in the religions of

those who were brought from Africa to Brazil as slaves, and though its

position in the religions of the Amerindians is more certain, the

religions of modern Brazil are not animistic. The discussion of

animism in Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics includes

"Spiritism" as a sub-heading; nevertheless, the impersonal spirit-

beings referred to by the author are not encountered in the spirit-

istic religions which exist in Brazil.3

In the article entitled "Spiritism," in the same work, as well as

in popular thought, spiritism is considered with reference only to be

the belief in communication with the spirits of the dead. For many

spiritists, however, including the Brazilian and other followers of

2Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 7th ed., Springfield: G. C.
Merriam and Co.

3Goblet d'Alviella, "Animism," in James Hastings, ed.,
Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, New York: Harper's, 1955, vol. L,
pp. 535-537.

4F. C. S. Schiller, "Spiritism," in Hastings, op. cit., vol. XI,
pp. 805-807.


Allan Kardec, belief in such communication exists only as a corollary

to the more fundamental doctrine of reincarnation. The two principles

of spirit communication and reincarnation are basic to the Brazilian

expressions of spiritism, and give rise to their most distinctive

feature, the mediumistic seance.

There are other spiritistic manifestations within Brazilian

society, in addition to those which form the subject of this disserta-

tion; some of them have also the character of socio-religious move-

ments, and mention is made in this study of their relationships one to

another. Among the Brazilian people as a whole, there is often a lack

of precision as to the terminology used to refer to these movements.

Rapid changes in them during the period since World War II have been to

some extent responsible for this. It is common to hear the label

"espiritismo" applied as a generic term with reference to all spiritistic

phenomena. Therefore, when such a general meaning is intended in this

study, the words "spiritism," "spiritist," et cetera, are employed.

For the sake of further clarification, we must mention several

other terms which are in constant uncritical use by the people, and

which frequently even reflect the lack of precise knowledge of the

various spiritist and syncretic movements on the part of those not

closely related to them. Most of this imprecision and confusion is in

regard to the Afro-Brazilian cults, which are the product of the syn-

cretism of the religions brought from Africa during three centuries of

slave trading, with the Roman Catholic and Spiritistic religious ex-

pressions of the European components of the population.

The candombls, located principally in Bahia, represent the per-

sistence of the rites of the Yoruba-speaking Africans, although across

the years modifications and some syncretism with Roman Catholicism

have taken place. The spiritual beings invoked in their ritual are

deities, not spirits; also, these religions do not share the cosmology,

theology, and general practices of the Spiritists.

Particularly in Rio de Janeiro and other coastal cities, other

cults flourish in which the cosmologies and rites brought by the slaves

have lost most or all their religious nature, and are devoted in large

measure to the working of black magic. The most notorious of these are

the macumbas of Rio de Janeiro, known also as quimbandas. Similar

phenomena are called xangls in Recife, catimb6 and tamb8r (with in-

digenous elements) in the vicinity of Fortaleza and Sao Luiz do

Maranhao, and batuque in P8rto Alegre in the far south. Although in

most of these manifestations spiritistic elements have been appropri-.

ated only very crudely or not at all, they are popularly referred to as

baixo espiritismo ("low spiritism").

Another cult commonly included in this category is that of

Umbanda, for under casual observation it appears to be similar to the

above-mentioned Afro-Brazilian rites. Nevertheless, Umbanda, referred

to as "white magic" by its sympathizers, claims to be motivated by the

virtue of Christian charity and to seek only to help those in need.

The assiduous attempts on the part of the Spiritists to avoid being

confused with low spiritism are noted at several points in the present


As was indicated above, the terminology of these movements is far

from uniform in different sections of the country, and among social

groups which stand in different relationships to these phenomena. For

example, the terms "macumba" and "umbanda" are frequently- used inter-

changeably in Rio de Janeiro. However, for the purposes of such a

study as this, the terms as here used will be found acceptable by

members and students of these various groups.

The Nature and Sources of the Data

A wide variety of sources have been used in securing the data for

this dissertation. Among the more important of them are the following:

(1) the official Brazilian censuses of population, which include infor-

mation on religious affiliation; (2) figures on membership, congregations,

and educational and social work in the official reports of federated

spiritist bodies and their local organizations; (3) historico-cultural

materials, focusing on the religious, philosophical, and cultural

antecedents of the various racial, national, and cultural groups which

have participated in the development of Spiritism; (4) life histories

of Spiritist adherents and sympathizers, taken principally in inter-

views conducted personally by the writer; (5) information on the life

of local and federated spiritist organizations collected by the writer

in interviews with leaders and participants; (6) information on personal

and social characteristics of spiritists and sympathizers obtained by

means of questionnaires which the writer and assistants administered in

spiritist meeting-places; (7) personal observation by the writer of

the ritual, educational, charitable, and social practices of spiritists,

in their homes, meeting-places, service institutions, shops of religious

articles and books, and publishing enterprises; (8) the doctrinal and

other publications of local and federated spiritist bodies.


The writer has participated in numerous Spiritist meetings:

seances, doctrinal studies, social gatherings, and charity activities.

He has had the opportunity of hearing local leaders discuss the

financial and other problems involved in the operation of their centers

and charitable institutions. He has visited the headquarters of state

and national federations and talked with their officers.

He has also solicited, with varying degrees of success, copies of

statistical reports, both from local centers and from county, state

and national federations. Other reports, published in local Spiritist

periodicals and in those of wider scope, have also been collected and

used. Across the years, the writer has amassed a collection of

Spiritist publications, as well as of clippings from newspapers and

magazines which relate to Spiritist activities and frequently indicate

aspects of the relationships of Spiritists to the general society.

As concerns information on the social and religious behavior of

Spiritists, during fifteen years of residence in Brazil, the writer

was personally acquainted with many adherents and sympathizers of the

movement, and often discussed with them their practices and experiences.

He also made a point of discussing with non-Spiritists who were close

relatives or friends of Spiritist believers their own reasons for not

following this movement.

Finally, several Spiritist centers, principally in Campinas, state

of S-o Paulo, and Campo Grande, state of Mato Grosso, have been sur-

veyed by the writer, with the use of individual questionnaires con-

cerning the personal characteristics, as well as the activities of the

Spiritists. A number of such interviews were in great depth and

detail. Similar material gathered by other researchers has also

been employed.

Order of Presentation

Immediately following this introduction, in which are presented

briefly the subject and nature of this study, the Review of the

Literature places this dissertation in the context of preceding in-

vestigation and thought. Following this, the religious development of

Brazil is traced broadly down to the advent and spread of Spiritism.

In succeeding chapters are delineated the distinguishing features

of Spiritism in Brazil: its doctrines and cults, its social features,

the specific roles of mediums and other adherents, and its total scope

as a movement within Brazilian society.

Next follows the presentation of historical aspects of Brazilian

life which were conducive to, or inhibitive of, the acceptance of

Spiritism as it entered the country in the nineteenth century. A

further chapter deals with the inter-play of various aspects of

twentieth-century social life with the growth and spread of the

Spiritist movement.

The final part is devoted to the conclusions which can be drawn

regarding the place and role of Spiritism in Brazilian life at the

present time, and conjectures as to future possibilities.



The purpose of this review is to indicate, first, the major cur-

rents in the development of the study of religion as an aspect of societal

life; second, the principal conceptual and other theoretical formula-

tions which are employed in this dissertation and which have contributed

to its frame of reference; and third, the studies of spiritism in

general, and those concerning its development in Brazil, which have

provided materials and concepts necessary to the carrying out of this


The literature reviewed is presented in the following order:

general works on religion and society, from ancient times to the period

of the enlightenment; some representative works of the rationalists of

the enlightenment period; studies of religion by certain of the nine-

teenth-century evolutionary social philosophers; fundamental works of

the founders of modern sociology of religion; and works on religion in

Brazilian society, and on Spiritism.

General Works from Ancient Times to the Enlightenment

From the remotest times in recorded history, religion has occupied

an important place in historical, philosophical, and literary works.

Since religion constituted, or was reflected in, a large part of the

activities of most early societies, it is not surprising that many of

these writings, such as those of Herodotus, Euhemerus, and the Roman

historian Varro, dealt which origins and descriptions of the religions

of their own and other peoples. Nor is it unnatural that much attention

should have been given to religion as a means of social control. This

latter interest is summed up in the following words of Cicero, who left

several descriptions of Roman religious practice:

In all probability the disappearance of piety
toward the gods will entail the disappearance
of loyalty and social union among men as well,
and of justice itself, the queen of all virtues.

The universal monotheism of the Old Testament religion brought

with it the aspects of intolerance,-polemic, and the high sense of

collective vocation and discipline which are found in the prophetic

writings.2 The completed universalism in Christianity, within the

cosmopolitan ambience of the Roman Empire, brought forth the patristic

polemical writings against the nonChristian religions, particularly

Manicheism and the Mithraic and other mystery cults. Clement of

Alexandria, Cyprian, and Tertullian, in the second and third centuries,

employed against the heathen the "euhemeristic" argument (first at-

tributed to the Sicilian, Euhemerus, in his search for the origins of

the gods) that their gods were mere men who had been apotheosized. In

the century which followed, first Eusebius and later Augustine, while

continuing the polemical task, showed deeper interest and insight into

the social dimension of religion; this is seen particularly in Augustine's

1Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Natura Deorum, Book I, trans.Hubert M.
Poteat, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950, p. 179.

2W. Robertson Smith, The Religion of the Semites, 3rd ed., New
York: Macmillan Co., 1927.

The City of God, in which pagan Rome is seen as outside the sphere

of Christian ethics.

Two thinkers of the thirteenth century characterize major streams

of Christian thought in the Middle Ages. Thomas Aquinas, writing within

a Chruch which was almost literally at one with the world which it

ruled, took a different point of view from that of the embattled

Augustine, as he united the Christian ethic with social life and

polity. Roger Bacon, on the other hand, foreshadowed the scientific

stance and the move away from the monistic view of society and re-

ligion. From data amassed by travelers and scholars, he produced the

first European comparative history of religion; of special significance

was his use of criteria other than those of the Church for determining

what "true" religion was.3 His major criterion was that of consensus,

not of authoritarian pronouncement.

Representative Works from the Rationalists of the Enlightenment

The cultural relativism and rationalistic approach to religion

of the period of the Enlightenment are well characterized by Lord

Herbert of Cherbury's De veritate (1624) and Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan

(1651). Herbert, in a deistic frame of reference, deduced five "uni-

versal" principles of religion. Hobbes, starting from the ancient

premise that religion is based on fear, constructed a scheme of the

origin and development of religion, in which -- although with gross

errors of fact and interpretation -- he became one of the earliest

3Annemarie de Waal Malefijt, Religion and Culture, New York:
Macmillan, 1968, p. 25.

employers of ethnographic data as scientific evidence. These views and

attitudes which increasingly saw all human activity, including the

religious, as the object of scientific inquiry, came to a synthesis in

the New Science (1725) of Giambattista Vico. Even this thinker, how-

ever, still exempted Judaism and Christianity from scientific investi-

gation, as did many of his contemporaries, such as J. F. Lafitau

(Moeurs des sauvages ameriquains comparees aux moeurs des premiers

temps, 1724).

But there were even men of the Church in the Middle Ages, who

saw religion principally as a means of social control. Marsilius of

Padua (1275-1343) saw religious belief as having only the function of

moral restraint upon the ignorant masses. This view was later adopted

by the practical Machiavelli (1469-1527) and by such vociferous foes of

Christianity as Voltaire (Essay on the Manners and Spirit of Nations,


Nineteenth Century Evolutionary Studies of Religion

It remained for the great synthesizers of the nineteenth century,

particularly Auguste Comte, (The Positive Philosophy, 1830-1842),

Edward Burnett Tylor (Primitive Culture, 1872), and Herbert Spencer

(Principles of Sociology, 1876-1896), to attempt to place religion

within a scientific view of the whole of knowledge. However, "there

can be little doubt that the modern comparative study of religions

began with Max Muller...,4 with the publication in 1856 of Comparative

4Joachim Wach, The Comparative Study of Religions, New York:
Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 3.

Mythology, followed later by The Introduction to the Science of

Religions (1870) and The Origin and Growth of Religion as Illustrated

by the Religions of India (1878), as well as other works in a similar


These writers, like many before and after them, sought the nature

of religion in its origins. Being committed to an evolutionary view

of Nature and of human existence, belonging as they did to the European

culture which was sweeping over the "primitive" world, and with their

conviction of the rational nature of man, they assumed that primitive

man evolved his beliefs through rational reaction to the phenomena

which life presented to him. The study of religions, freed from

theological systems, and supposedly freed from metaphysical ties, was

characterized in this period by the search for origins, for cultural

parallels, and for evolutionary stages.

Muller crowned a long and prodigiously productive career with the

opening of his rich mine of materials for comparison, the many volumes

of The Sacred Books of the East (began publication 1897). By this time

also the nature, origin, and history of religions were beginning to be

studied in the light of the observation of the religious behavior of

primitive, Oriental, and other non-European peoples. Tylor used

ethnographic data, but, like the great mass of material gathered by

James G. Frazer and published as The Golden Bough (1890-1915), much of

it was collected by untrained observers and was incomplete, unreliable;

moreover, it was not placed within its proper temporal and cultural

contexts. These writers presented rationalistic explanations of the

origins of religion, generally attributing to primitive man deductive

processes of reasoning, by which he arrived at belief in the soul

and spirits (Tylor) and came to differentiate between magic and re-

ligion (Frazer).

P. A. Sorokin has observed that, "The theory that belief,

especially a magical or religious belief, is the most efficient

factor in human destiny is possibly the oldest form of social
theory." Most of the writers mentioned thus far subscribed in some

measure to this theory; Auguste Comte based his whole system upon it.

Fustel de Coulanges, in The Ancient City, (1864, English trans.,

1900) wielded a great influence upon succeeding students of societal

life, not least among them Emile Durkheim. His major insistence was

upon the place of ideas in general, and religious beliefs in particular,

as the major determinant of social phenomena. The principal contributions

of Fustel de Coulanges were, first, his perception of religion as an

integral element of societal life which was not to be dismissed be-

cause of possible humble or even illusory origins, and, second, the

development of a structural view of religion in relation to the other

societal institutions; their forms were felt to be determined, to a

large extent, by religious factors.

W. Robertson Smith was among the first of the churchmen-scholars

to give major attention to the social factors which conditioned the

development of religion among primitive peoples; his Religion of the

Semites (1889), although based on the most tenuous evidence, was of a

P. A. Sorokin, Contemporary Sociological Theories, New York:
Harper & Row, Torchbook Edition, 1964, p. 622.

piece with the evolutionary, totemistic views of primitive religion of

his time, and, as Evans-Pritchard has observed, "misled both Durkheim

and Freud."6 His work was instrumental in breaking down the fears of

many churchmen concerning the objective study of the observable

phenomena of religion. Even so, publication of his views cost him his

position at the University of Aberdeen, for it was felt that he

humanized Old Testament religion, substituting social determinism for

the awesome compulsion of the"holy," as found in prophetic Hebrew


Modern Sociology of Religion: Durkheim, Weber, and Others

Emile Durkheim's Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1912)

represents the first major effort to form a theory of the relation of

religion and society on the basis of empirical evidence; the data

employed were those of Spencer and Gillen and others from their studies

of the Australian aborigines. The well-known criticisms of this work

have been admirably summarized by Sorokin and by Evans-Pritchard:7

inadequacy of the data and its erroneousness; unjustified reading into

the data of behavior which is unknown; generalization on the basis of

isolated, atypical cases; and the ultimate founding of the"social fact"

upon a psychological process.

Nevertheless, it was Durkheim who set the stage for most of the

subsequent positivistic study of religion: it was established as a

universal element of social life, and as being universally social in its

6E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Theories of Primitive Religion, London:
Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 52.

7P. A. Sorokin, op. cit., pp. 452-463, 476-480, and E. E. Evans-
Pritchard, op. cit., pp. 54-74.

manifestations; it was seen as dividing the life of man into two

sectors, the sacred and the profane. It is on this stage that have been

developed the variations of the functionalist view of religion, which

has been stated succinctly as follows:

...that the religious institutions of a society
represent, and elicit acceptance of, certain central
values whose internalization by members of the society
is necessary for the ade uate integration of that
society's various parts.

Here the point of reference is society, and the distinctions between

profane and sacred are psychological, involving attitudes toward

various facets of societal life, not toward the supernatural.

The supernatural had generally been thought of in terms of personal

power. In 1891, the concept of impersonal supernatural powers, called

mana by the Melanesians, was presented to the scholarly world by a

missionary, R. H. Codrington.9 Although the concept has been useful in

expressing the primitive view of the world and its processes as having

a supernatural foundation, it has produced confusion for three reasons.

First, it contributed further to the fruitless quest for a primordial

"origin" of religion. Second, it was immediately equated by anthro-

pologists with similar concepts of other peoples, such as orenda,

wakan, manitou (American Indian), and even the classic el, dynamics, and

numen, despite the fact that these terms are far from interchangeable.

8Anthony F. C. Wallace, Religion: An Anthropological View,
New York: Random House, 1966, p. 25.

9R. H. Codrington, The Melanesians: Studies in Their Anthropology
and Folklore, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1891.

Third, it does not refer, in Melanesian usage, to impersonal force

alone, but is intimately and necessarily connected, in many cases,
to spirits and persons, and to their control of it. Mana can thus

have two manifestations: personal and purposive, on the one hand; im-

personal, as an imparted force, on the other.

This distinction is important since a fundamental aspect of

religious behavior is its personal, relational, nature. When it is

employed in this sense, the concept of mana includes the genuinely re-

ligious attitude of awe, similar to that experienced in the confronta-

tion with the holy. It is directed to that which transcends the human,

and in this way differs from Durkheim's idea of the sacred.

Although Durkheim erred in making the worshipping subject --

society -- into its own object of veneration, his noteworthy contribu-

tion to the sociological study of religion was his combining of the

perception of the universally communal nature of religion with the

recognition of the distinctive character of the sacred and the corollary

concept of awe as the posture of the worshipping group.

This transcendental, "awe-full" aspect has been insisted upon by

other investigators.

Holiness is the great work in religion; it is even
more essential than the notion of God. Real religion
may exist without a definite conception of divinity,

lAmong the Polynesians, a central function of mana was related to
the maintenance of the social hierarchy and the control by the upper
classes. (Thomas F. Hoult, The Sociology of Religion, New York: Holt,
Rinehart,and Winston, 1958, p. 280.)

but there is no real religion without a distinction
between holy and profane...The only sure test is

This was firmly established among modern scholars of religion by the

work of Rudolph Otto, principally in The Idea of the Holy (1917), with

its theme, "Religion is the experience of the Holy." Religion is seen

as an encounter, with an objective basis, the subjective experience of

which is a combination of awe before the mysterium tremendum and at-

traction to the mysterium fascinans.

Paul Tillich, in reminding us that religion is not one human func-

tion among others, but rather "the dimension of depth in all of them,"

goes on to ask: "What does the metaphor depth mean? It means that the

religious aspect points to that which is ultimate, infinite, unconditional

in man's spiritual life."12 This is the source of the consciousness of

sin and unworthiness; of exaltation, joy, and praise; and of power and

sacrificial devotion, as these are conceived with a transcendental


Such a conceptualization as that provided by the authors just

cited aids us in the avoidance of facile psychologist and of the once-

fashionable evolutionism which seeks religious origins, and which finds

them in "primitive" manifestations. It also guards against Durkheim's

subjectivist error in the deification of the group. Soderblom, in the

11Friedrich Schleiermacher, cited by Nathan So'derblom, in
"Holiness," in James Hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics,
New York: Harper's, 1955, vol. VI, p. 731.

12Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture, New York: Oxford University
Press, 1964, p. 7.

above-cited article, is correct in rejecting Durkheim's objectifyingg

and idealizing the community" as the source of sanctity, for it has

led many anthropologists and sociologists into subjective definitions

of religion. A typical case is that of Hoult, who defines religion,

"functionally, [as] that aspect of culture which is concerned with the

sanctification of particular beliefs and behavior patterns."l3 Thus

religion is simply equated with ideology. When such identification

occurs empirically, it is because of the loss of the objective, "holy"

dimension peculiar and necessary to religion. In such a case, we will

find a fruitful field for sociological study, or perhaps a pertinent

object for the trumpetings of a Marx or a Mannheim, but we do not have

a normative example of religion. We deal in this study with some such

cases, as is indicated in subsequent sections.

Durkheim had sought the function of religion in the maintenance of

social solidarity. Max Weber, asking the question as to the part played

by religion in bringing about social change, created the first system-

atic sociology of religion. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit

of Capitalism (1905) Weber showed, as Evans-Pritchard cautiously puts

it, "that doctrines may create an ethos conducive to secular

developments."14 Through the elaboration of his ideal types of socie-

ties and of religious expression and economic activity, and through his

empathetic interpretive method, Weber examined the influence of the

13Hoult, op. cit., p. 30.

14o. cit., p. 118.

religious systems upon economic practice in the great ancient socie-

ties of Asia and Europe (The Sociology of Religion, 1922 and

Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Religionssociologie, begun 1911).

Another important product of Weber's typological method is the

church-sect conceptualization developed by him and expanded by Ernst

Troeltsch (Social Teaching of the Christian Churches, 1931 and

Gesammelte Schriften, vols. 3 and 4, 1922-1925). Such typologies have

been further developed by Howard Becker (Through Values to Social

Interpretation, 1950), H. Richard Niebuhr (The Social Sources of

Denominationalism, 1940), and, with less imagination, by many others.

Weber's work on the place of religion in society was only one

aspect of his attempt, on the basis of historical and current statis-

tical evidence, to comprehend the interrelationships of the various

societal institutions. It was on the basis of his conceptualization

that Joachim Wach later developed his frame of reference for the

sociological and comparative study of religions, as found in the

following works: Einfuhrung in die Religionssociologie (1931),

translated as Sociology of Religion (1944); Types of Religious Ex-

perience: Christian and Non-Christian (1951); and Comparative Study

of Religions (1958). It is this frame of reference which is em-

ployed in the present study, for the description of Spiritism and

other religious phenomena of Brazil and their relations to Brazilian


According to the conceptualization of Wach which forms the frame-

work for our observations of religious groups in Brazil, each group

is examined first as a religious system with three forms of expression:

first, that of doctrine and belief; second, that of the cultus, includ-

ing rituals and training; and third, that of the fellowship, or common

life of the group. A distinction is drawn between religious groupings

which follow natural social divisions (family, nation, et cetera), and

those formed specifically on the basis of religious affiliation, not

necessarily coextensive with natural groups. Wach has enlarged upon

Weber's threefold typology of leadership: charismatic, traditional,

and rational. These types are treated in relationship to the above-

mentioned character of the group as-natural or specifically religious,

and to the consequent nature of the relationship of the group to its

environing society; the relationship of the religious group to the

society is also classified in Weberian terms, as naively positive,

critically positive, and negative.

The Literature Concerning Spiritualism

In 1848 -- a fateful year for Europe and America in politics,

science, and philosophy -- in an obscure burg called Hydesville,

New York, the teen-aged Fox sisters, Margaret and Katie, began to

receive what they termed"messages from the spirits" through the rap-

pings of tables that moved. Modern spiritualism was launched, and it

swept across the two continents, as a half-serious parlor game, a form

of theatrical mystification, and often as a new straw of hope for the

bereaved and the fearful of death.

Moreover, few phenomena could have been better calculated to

excite the interest of many who, enthralled by the scientism of the

age, yearned uneasily to compensate for the transcendentalism of which

their view of science had robbed them. The article "Spiritisme," in

vol. XXX of La Grande Encyclopedie (n.d.) tells of the interest in the

phenomena on the part of thousands of Americans, and of the spread of

spiritualism to England, where it has been the subject of more intense

and serious inquiry. F. C. S. Schiller in his article in the

Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 11, entitled "Spiritism,"

observes that "The literature of the subject is immense, but much of it

is of very little value"; he notes that it was with the founding in

1882 of the Society for Psychical Research, by respected scholars, that

a source of reliable literature on-psychic phenomena was established.

The findings "in favor" of spiritualism by well-known scientists

of the period include those of Oliver Lodge, F. W. H. Myers, Richard

Hodgson, and -- most widely employed in the arguments of the spiritual-

ists -- the physicist William Crookes, whose exhaustive experiments are

recorded in Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism (1874). Others,

including colleagues of those mentioned above, have failed to be con-

vinced of spiritual explanations of the phenomena; representative of

these are Andrew Lang, The Making of Religion (1898); F. Podmore,

Phantasms of the Living (1886); and William James, The Will to Believe

(1897) and Memories and Studies (1911). Whether the phenomena be

designated "spiritualism," as in Europe and America, or (with modifica-

tions) "spiritism" in Brazil, so called "scientific proof" appears to

have been accepted, up to the present time, principally by those who

already believed in the spirit nature of the occurrences.

In this century, investigations of mediumistic occurrences led

the French psychologist, Charles Richet, into the study of what he

labeled "metapsychics." His studies of mediumistic activities,

corresponding in a general way to those of J. B. Rhine on extra-

sensory perception, came to conclusions ranging from exposition of

fraud in some cases to suspension of judgment as to cause in others.

They were reported in Trait6 de Metapsychique (1923).

Works Which Delineate the Religious Situation in Brazil

Thales de Azevedo, noted social anthropologist, observed in the

opening sentences of his brief 0 Catolicismo no Brasil that, except

for the sizeable amount of study devoted to indigenous and Afro-

Brazilian cults, little scientific investigation of religion had been

undertaken in Brazil. This still largely is true. Most writings on

the subject have been impressionist, and have added little to what had

been noted more than a century ago by the observant travelers Daniel P.

Kidder and J. C. Fletcher in Brazil and the Brazilians (1857). These

writers called attention to the relative indifference of the Brazilian

to theological orthodoxy, his pragmatic view of religion, and the

resulting tendencies to religious tolerance and syncretism.

Social scientists who have summarized the religious situation in

the country under study are Roger Bastide, with "Religion and the

Church in Brazil," in T. Lynn Smith and Alexander Marchant, Brazil:

Portrait of Half a Continent (1951); T. Lynn Smith, in Brazil: People

and Institutions (3rd ed., 1963); Charles Wagley, in his Introduction

to Brazil (1963); and Emilio Willems, chapter "Brazil," in Arnold M.

Rose, ed., The Institutions of Advanced Societies (1958).

Religion has been treated with regard to its role in local com-

munities in such studies as the following: Charles Wagley, Race and

Class in Rural Brazil (1952) and Amazon Town (1953); Marvin Harris,

Town and Country in Brazil (1956); and Oracy Nogueira, Famflia e

Comunidade: Um Estudo Sociol6gico de Itapetininga, Sao Paulo (1962).

Emilio Willems has done much to contribute to the understanding of

the proliferation of non-Catholic religions throughout Brazil. His

major contributions are: appropriate sections in Uma Vila Brasileira

(1961); "Religious Mass Movements and Social Change in Brazil," chapter

in Eric N. Baklanoff, ed., New Perspectives in Brazil (1966); and

Followers of the New Faith: Culture Change and the Rise of Protestantism

in Brazil and Chile (1967). This latter work deals principally with the

evangelical groups called "Pentecostals," and their rapid growth. The

same movement is described from a Protestant point-of-view in William

R. Read, New Patterns of Church Growth in Brazil (1965). Further in-

sight is given into the dynamics of Protestantism on the local level in

John V. D. Saunders, "Organizaggo Social de uma Congregagao Protestante

no Estado de Guanabara, Brasil," Sociologia, XIII (1960).

As deep and rapid changes appear to be underway within the Roman

Catholic Church in Brazil, Thales de Azevedo has worked toward the

development of more adequate conceptualization for the study of changes

in church structure and religious behavior. Recent important writings

of this anthropologist are the article on Brazil in "Church and State

in Latin America," New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) and "Catolicismo no

Brasil?", Vozes (Petr6polis, Brazil) Ano 63, no. 2 (Fevereiro de 1969).

He is accompanied by Roman Catholic clerics in this task: Fr. Jose

Comblin, O Catolicismo no Brasil (1955); A. Gregory, A Igreja no Brasil

(1965); and Fr. M. Schooyans, 0 Desafio da Secularizagao (1968).

Works Related to Spiritism as a Social Phenomenon in Brazil

Although the Spiritist movement itself had been relatively pro-

lific in the publication of its doctrinal works, nevertheless, sur-

prisingly little has been published concerning this important develop-

ment in the life of the Brazilian nation. Furthermore, most of what

has been produced falls into two categories: superficial, popularized

journalism on the one hand, and partisan -- often polemical -- writing

on the other.

There are, however, several works, which in spite of their

partisan character give helpful substantive presentations concerning

Spiritism, and in which information and opinion can be distinguished

with relative ease. Among these is JGlio Andrade Ferreira's 0

Espiritismo, uma Avaliaggo (1959); Rev. Ferreira is a Presbyterian

church historian and seminary professor. Representing the view of the

Roman Catholic hierarchy are two works by the foremost Roman Catholic

doctrinal apologist in Brazil, Friar Boaventura Kloppenburg: 0 Espiri-

tismo no Brasil (1960) and 0 Reincarnacionismo no Brasil (1961).

Leonidio Ribeiro and Murillo de Campos, former practitioners of legal

medicine with the police department of Rio de Janeiro, present a study

of the literature and of their own experiences concerning the rela-

tionship of spiritistic practices to the incidence of insanity and

crime, in 0 Espiritismo no Brasil, Contribuicgo ao Seu Estudo Clfnico e

Medico-Legal (1931). Unfortunately, the work is prejudiced by its

polemical tone and its frequent failure to distinguish between charlatans

and serious Spiritists, and between these latter and the adherents of

Afro-Brazilian cults.

Prof. Candido Proc6pio Ferreira Camargo, of the Escola de Socio-

logia e Politica de Sao Paulo, is outstanding among the few who are

engaged in the sociological study of Brazilian Spiritism. He presents

a functional analysis of Spiritism, based upon investigations in the

city of Sgo Paulo and other urban areas in the state of Sao Paulo, in

a brief work called Kardecismo e Umbanda (1961). The study, which

includes both Spiritism and the Afro-Brazilian movement known as

Umbanda, was done in cooperation with the Fd6eration Internationale

des Instituts de Recherches, under the auspices of the Roman Catholic

Church, and the material was also published by the Fed6ration with

adaptations on changes of organization, as Aspectos Sociol6gicos del

Espiritismo en Sao Paulo (1961). The thesis of this psycho-sociologi-

cal study is that Spiritism and Umbanda are functional in the adap-

tation and integration of people in the modern urban society of Sao

Paulo, with its changing values.

An informative general article, "Spiritism in Brazil," by

Donald Warren, Jr., has recently appeared in the Journal of Inter-

American Studies (July, 1968).



In view of the fact that the subject of this study is a re-

ligious movement, it seems essential for us to trace briefly the

major religious forces and the roles they played in the development

of Brazilian civilization from early colonial times to the end of the

nineteenth century. The most influential of these was Roman Catholi-

cism, and we first focus upon its role in the formation of the

society of the Portuguese colonizers and that of their Brazilian de-

scendants. As we set the scene for the entrance of Spiritism, it is

also necessary to note the religious contributions of the Indians

and the African slaves. Also, within the context of the development

of a plurality of religions in Brazil, we consider the Protestant

expressions of colonists and missionaries. Finally, we indicate

the presence and influence of certain non-religious movements.

The material surveyed here is not new; but it is hoped that it

acquires a new significance when related to the rise and spread of

Spiritism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some of the

relationships between Spiritism and certain elements of the religious

situation are fairly direct. For example, they involve commonality or

similarity of beliefs or practices. Some others, although less direct,

are more basic. They have to do with the forces which have pro-

duced societal conditions conducive to the introduction and ac-

ceptance of a religious alternative such as Spiritism. In this

respect, the relationships which prevailed among institutions such as

the Church, the plantation, and the family are particularly important.

Since we are dealing with the rise of a new, sectarian religion in

competition with a traditional, universal one, some of the relation-

ships are inverse. Although we hesitate to assert cause-effect re-

lationships, the recognition of certain associations and even patterns

of socio-religious phenomena, involved in the rise of Spiritism,

seems unavoidable.

Roman Catholic Institutions in the Formation of

Brazilian Society

In his historical presentation of Brazilian culture, Fernando

de Azevedo takes "Religious Institutions and Beliefs" as his point

of departure. This is in keeping with Brazilian sentiment as a

whole. Indeed, the first picture in many elementary school texts

and other children's books is that of the First Mass said on the

land that was baptized "Ilha de Vera Cruz" (the Island of the True

Cross), later called Brazil and Land of the Holy Cross. Azevedo

quotes Father Serafim Leite's dictum that "Brazil was born Christian,"

and goes on to describe the great cross of native wood before which

the mass was said as "the august symbol of the conquest of the newly

discovered lands for Christian civilization."

This social historian goes to great lengths in his quasi-

identification of Brazilian culture with the finest flowers and

Fernando de Azevedo, Brazilian Culture, trans. William Rex
Crawford, New York: Macmillan, 1950, p. 140.

fruits of Christianity, declaring that the influence was "without

doubt preponderant and practically exclusive in the defining of the

culture."2 In a similar vein, Gilberto Freyre finds great signifi-

cance in the place of the Cross on the Portuguese coat-of-arms, and

goes on to assert: "No other European dedicated himself to conquests

giving such emphasis to the missionary aspect of his conquering and

colonizing effort."3

Such sentiments place too great a burden of cultural explanation

upon a single element. They are hardly congruent with the theory

which Freyre himself has made fundamental to all Brazilian studies,

and which is outlined in the dwelling-symbolism employed in the

titles of his major works: Big House and slave-quarters, and Man-

sions and shanties. On the one hand, these dwellings stand for the

master's fondness for material wealth, political power and personal

assertion, a love which is often strangely and beautifully mixed with

religious tradition and devotion. On the other hand, they are

symbols of the slave's debasement and servility of a deep personal

loyalty to the master, and of the intermingling of varied religious

practices for protection, comfort, and social solidarity. The

Portuguese religious tradition was neither idyllic, nor was it an

isolated element in the formation of the Brazilian people and their

development up to the time of the advent and growth of Spiritism.

2Ibid., p. 139.

3Gilberto Freyre, A Proposito de Frades, Salvador: Livraria
Progresso Editera, 1959, p. 166.

Far more realistic are those appraisals which give due importance,

in the motivations and the dynamic for the colonization of Brazil,

to the place of the great social changes and the opportunities for

economic advancement and social mobility which accompanied them.4

It is generally recognized that times of great social upheaval are

characterized by extremes of religious expression; there is wide-spread

disbelief, but mysticism and religious fervor also increase. This

occurred in Portugal at the close of the Middle Ages. The increase

in such extremes of apostasy on the one hand, and religious commitment

on the other, was related positively to imperial expansion and its con-

comitant political and social instability; these forces had far

greater impact than that of the Lisbon earthquake centuries later.

We now examine the major features of the socio-religious back-

grounds of the various elements of Brazilian colonial society.

Religious Background of the Portuguese Colonizer

Portuguese piety was far more personal than proselyting, less

identified with the spread of the Kingdom of God than with the ex-

pansion and protection of the believer's own soul. The total life

of the Portuguese was vividly colored by religiosity. Antonio H.

Oliveira Marques, who has pictured in rich detail the day-to-day

existence of the medieval Portuguese, indicates that:

4Cf. J. F. Almeida Prado, Primeiros Povoadores do Brasil:
1500-1530, Sao Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1939, pp. 12-18;
cf. also F. J. Oliveira Vianna, Evolucgo do Povo Brasileiro, Sao Paulo:
Monteiro Lobato e Cia. Editores, n.d., pp. 50-52, 58.

All of daily life, from birth to the tomb, unrolled
under the sign [of religion]. This faith was not of
the most vital, nor was the belief in God of the
deepest kind. The fact is that at that time there
were fewer means of explaining the subordination of
life to supernatural powers.....Religion imposed it-
self upon men more in those times, because it was
more necessary.

Oliveira Marques goes on to indicate the multiplicity of acts in

which the holy, or the sacred, was brought to bear upon the every-day,

or profane, as in the blessing of a newly-built house, a freshly dug

well, or the first-fruits of the harvest. He also observes that such

practices are still encountered in Portugal.

Employing the framework which we have adopted for the descriptive

analysis of religions, following Joachim Wach, we note the principal

components of this religious system, which was coextensive with the

natural group.

Doctrines and beliefs

Rarely, where religious devotion is focused upon ritual santi-

fication of daily acts and, in other ways, upon the mystical, is any

particular attention given to intellectual expressions of the faith.

This does not mean that belief, in such relatively illiterate socie-

ties, is unimportant. On the contrary, the constant and repetitive

dramatization of belief, in the rituals of day, week, season, and year,

serves the functions of transmitting and perpetuating the beliefs,

and of allowing them uninhabited emotional expression in the local

society. In this manner belief is reinforced, and, although no belief

6A. H. Oliveira Marques, A Sociedade Medieval Portuguesa,
Lisbon: Livraria Sa da Costa Editora, 1964, p. 163.

is immune to loss of vitality and to embodiment in a dead ritual, the

union of concept and emotion in the ritual imparts a sacred quality

to the act and ensures its continuation. Sanctions are imposed more

for ritual deviance than for intellectual disbelief. In Portugual

and Brazil, the Inquisition was not directed against "heretics,"

but against "blasphemers." Generally, the blasphemy was an ex-

pression of exasperation at the failure of the functionalism to give

the desired material or practical results.

We consider under this heading the place of doctrine in the

ritualistic religion of an illiterate society; the veneration of the

saints; sin, punishment, and salvation; popular superstition; and

messianic hopes.

Widespread illiteracy, ignorance among the clergy, and a ritual-

ism through which the clerical hierarchy exercised a high degree of

social control, all militated against the development of a strong

theological education for the priests and against formal doctrinal

instruction of the people. Under such conditions, there was little

avowed heresy but much ignorance of Church doctrine, on all social

levels. It was natural that much of the Church's teaching should be

done through religious art, in the temple and in the home. Religious

expression in general appealed largely to the senses: in painting,

sculpture, and the figures caught in glass and tapestry; in the up-

ward reach of the church-building, and in its great doors open for

all village activities; and above all, in the ubiquitous Crucifix.

Certainly the characteristic belief of this medieval Catholicism--

-still alive in much of Portugal and Brazil -- is the functional belief

in the saints as beings to be venerated and called upon for help. The

saint is believed to be able to calm the terror inspired by the spirit-

world on the one hand, and a distant and wrathful God on the other.

He is called upon for miraculous help and deliverance, and as a visible

listener and consoler who can humanize religion and sanctify the human

plea before the Almighty. He is an intermediary who can be found in

the church, or kept at home, or dealt with at the road-side shrine.

The type of commerce with the spirit-world which is represented

by the popular cult of the saints has been an important point of trans-

fer from Roman Catholic to Spiritist belief for great numbers of


On the level of doctrine and belief, Roman Catholicism is

above all a religion of salvation. Eternal life is the great issue.

The elements most prominent in the exhortations of the priests in

colonial times -- and up to the present, in many localities -- were

the threat of Hell and the power of the clergy to aid in avoiding it.

Therefore, the emphasis on sin and punishment was heavy, with sin

considered principally as carnality, and this, in turn, equated with


In this manner great attention was focused upon sinful behavior,

and a complex causistic classification of sins and their corresponding

penances was developed. For example, the smelling of a flower could be

either in the praise of God, or a carnal act of voluptous pleasure.

Opportunity was given to the rich to compensate for sinful acts with

gifts to the Church, and for the poor to be constant in church

devotions, as their respective acts of penance. Later, in the nine-

teenth and twentieth centuries, these beliefs were to appear unjust or

otherwise unacceptable to many, great numbers of whom would find comfort

in the reincarnationist evolution taught by the Spiritists.

The type of religious mentality which is here described possesses

also the traits of credulity and superstition. Oliveira Marques notes

the persistence in popular custom of practices related to ancient cults

and superstitious beliefs. Many of these still carry a facade of nomi-

nal Christianity. The existence of many others is made evident, says

this historian, by the "long roll" of them named as sins in records of

the Church, with their proper penances duly established.

In a recent article, one writer has indicated what he considers

to be two major "roots of Spiritism" in medieval and modern Portugal.

These are the practice of witch-craft and the persistence of the
socio-political messianic hope known as "Sebastianism." It is true

that there is some congruence between the psycho-social factors

associated with the prevalence of superstitious beliefs and practices

and those associated with phenomena such as "spirit-possession,"

"exorcism," et cetera. Even so, it is also true that witch-craft and

related practices exist in many areas, including large parts of

Europe, in which Spiritism is unknown. Moreover, in certain countries

such as England and Germany, in which Spiritism is relatively un-

important, belief in ghosts is nevertheless common.

With regard to messianism as a preparation for Spiritism it must

be remembered that messianic beliefs are normally found among oppressed

7Donald Warren, Jr., "Portuguese Roots of Brazilian Spiritism,"
Luso-Brazilian Review, Vol. 5, no. 2 (December, 1968), pp. 3-33.

rural populations and other "pariah peoples." Many of their members,

on migration to urban centers, may very well enter into "low-

spiritist" practices related to voo-dooism. Few members of such groups,

however, are attracted to the low-key evolutionist preachments --

diametrically opposed to messianic apocalypticism -- of such indoctri-

nators as Allan Kardec.8 The isolated rural descendants of the

Portuguese colonists and later immigrants, who according to Warren

would have preserved most completely the folklore of the mother

country, are those among whom Spiritist organization and practice

are least found.9 Finally, all types of Brazilian Spiritist activities

are entered into by great numbers of people of the most varied ethnic


Thus, we are in complete agreement with Warren that the religious

beliefs and superstitions of the Portuguese were among the elements

involved in the formation of the Brazilian ambience in which Spiritism

would later take root. We do not feel, however, that the evidence

presented by Warren points to the causal relationships which he has


This concludes the discussion of the belief system of the

Portuguese colonizers of Brazil. We turn now to the examination of

their cultic activities.

Cf. Maria Isaura Pereira de Queiroz, 0 Messianismo -- no Brasil
e no Mundo, Sgo Paulo: Dominus Editora, 1965, pp. 93-115, 282-307; and
Yonina Talmon, "Pursuit of the Millenium: The Relation Between Religions
and Social Change," Archives Europeenes de Sociologie, Vol. 3, no. 1
(1962), pp. 125-148.

Professor Warren has employed as one of his sources the same
work of A. H. Oliveira Marques to which repeated reference is made in

The cultus: ritual and observances

In view of such ideological conditions as those found in medieval

Portugal, it is not surprising that the three basic religious practices

were the hearing of the Mass, confession, and penance. The fear of

Hell was the mainspring of much devotion. There was much fasting;

and set hours of prayer in the home, especially during seasons such

as Lent, were the rule. Reference has already been made to the pene-

tration of ritual to the steps and stages of daily life.

The Portuguese were unusually given to pilgrimages, which were

considered to be among the most efficacious means of obtaining in-

dulgences, as well as offering chances for the enlarging of the

villagers' restricted horizons. To this end, "throughout the whole

country there had grown up churches, chapels, and shrines, all of
them sanctuaries of miraculous images and objects of fervent devotion,"

to which king and peasant alike repaired, the former often conspicuous

in humble attire and afoot, the latter wide-eyed with touristic wonder

and pious awe. This aspect of the mystical life, the pilgrimage to

the holy place, still holds sway in the lives of devoted Brazilian

Catholics. An outstanding instance of this is the existence of the

shrine of Nossa Senhora Aparecida in the Paulista town of Aparecida do

Norte -- a town almost exclusively religious in function -- and other

local, regional, and national shrines.

the present study. The writer has conferred with Prof. Oliveira
Marques on the points made here, and has found that the historian's
views coincide with his own.
10a Marques, p. ci., p. 169.
Oliveira Marques, op. cit., p. 169.

Chroniclers of the colonial period describe the emphasis upon

externalities and the lack of depth of religious sentiment which pre-

vailed and which has continued into the modern era. Jogo Cruz Costa

quotes an oft-cited passage of Father Julio Maria, a leading Roman

Catholic figure of the nineteenth century:

Ceremonies which fail to edify; devotions which fail
to purify the spirit; novenas which reveal no fervor;
processions which do naught but entertain; festivals
which neither benefit the soul nor give glory to God
-- this is what has befallen the glorious and majestic
practices of Catholic worship in the parishes of

In Chapter VI, the subservience of the Church to the land-owners

in the colonial period is indicated. During the period of the Empire,

in the nineteenth century, the ecclesiastical hierarchy became deeply

compromised with the political regime, and lacked both administrative

autonomy and moral authority. The intense personalism of the Brazilian

people has made it difficult for them to "separate the man from the

act," and disrespect for the clergy undermined belief in the effi-

cacy of the Sacraments. There was a widening rift between such men

as Father Diogo Antonio Feijo, the regent of the boy-emperor Pedro II,

and enlightened men of culture. Such men remained in the Church by

custom or out of respect for family tradition. Cruz Costa has a

reference to the emperor himself which even today reflects the religious

attitudes of multitudes of Brazilian people: "Dom Pedro II, like his

11 -
lJoao Cruz Costa, A History of Ideas in Brazil, Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press, 1964, pp. 55-56.

cultured contemporaries, was a Voltairean -- a rationalist who somehow

managed to reconcile a vague spiritualism with Catholicism."12

We turn now to the third aspect of the Roman Catholic heritage of

the Brazilians: its social organizational patterns.

The religious body as social group

The Church in Portugal, and later in Brazil, was coextensive with

society. Except for the presence of a very small number of Jews and

others, the Church was what Wach refers to as a natural or societal

religious group, embracing every member of society from birth to death.

Thus it was that common religious practice could permeate all

of life; that religious law could be promulgated, and its flouting be

punished, by the king; and that deviance from custom in any area of

life might come under local religious sanction. Hierarchical autho-

rity in religion was accompanied by, and often identical with, civil


In the midst of a generalized religiosity, the mendicant and

other religious orders -- some of them monastic -- provided institu-

tionalized means of giving deeper and more specific expression to

piety, in addition to serving the economic and social functions which

were characteristic of them throughout medieval Europe. Laymen de-

veloped confrarias, or brotherhoods, a type of religious trade-guild,

which promoted the observance of certain feast-days and other seasons

of the Church, and provided mutual aid for the members and works of

charity in the community. As membership for the craftsmen became

12bid., p. 57.

obligatory, the craft union aspect developed and the more spiritual
and charitable functions waned in importance.

Thus, on the local and the more general levels, the Church was

the focus and the centrally-located local temple often the scene, of

the social life of the people, the slow rhythm of life being measured

by the passing of the days and seasons of ritual observance and re-

ligious feast.

A low level of personal and public morality was promoted by the

following: an atmosphere of unnatural and excitable piety; a religious

fixation on carnality, both in sin and in its punishment; and a

society composed chiefly of an idle nobility and clergy and a brutalized

lower class. In addition to Fernao Lopes, famed chronicler of the

14th century, Portuguese writers such as Alexandre Herculano in the

last century and the more modern Te6filo Braga and Mario Martins are

among the many who have commented on these conditions. Oliveira Marques

notes that the clergy were not -- as is often supposed -- worse than

others of the upper classes, except as their vocation implied different

standards. "Not a few women preferred a liaison (with a priest) to

a normal marriage, as a means of satisfying their desires for luxury

and wealth," this author reports, and he goes on to cite the great

numbers of certificates of legitimacy which had to be secured for the
children of the clergy.4 Thus the laxity of the priests in Brazil --

1Oliveira Marques, op. cit., pp. 151-152, 172, 182, 242, 244.
Ibid., pp. 136-137.

many of whom also took concubines -- was not a new thing, but, in the

Brazilian phrase, vinha de long, "came from a long way back," in

space and time.

A decisive element in the organized religious body consisted

of the religious orders. The outstanding example of religious motiva-

tion in colonizing was the dedication of the members of the Society of

Jesus to their twin objectives: the Christianizing of the Indians and
the building of Brazilian civilization through education. This acti-

vity itself was a product of the socio-religious and intellectual

ferment of sixteenth-century Europe. In 1549, 15 years after Ignatious

Loyola had founded the Society of Jesus in order to counteract the

Protestant movement, a group of Jesuits accompanied Tome de Souza,

first governor-general of Brazil, to the colony. Further mention of

their work is made in this and subsequent sections. Their civilizing

efforts came to an end in 1759, when they were officially expelled.

Aside from the over-statements such as those cited earlier, con-

cerning the role of religion in Brazilian life, the high place gener-

ally accorded the leaders of various religious orders and the popular

Roman Catholic piety in the formation of the Brazilian society and

character is well-deserved. The two "founding Fathers," Manuel de

N6brega and Jose de Anchieta, of disciplined missionary fervor and

political acumen; Father Antonio Vieira, the powerful preacher and

defender of Indians and slaves; Friar Vicente de Salvador; Friar

Caneca, the patriot; and Mont'Alverne, preacher to the emperors --

Fr. Serafim Leite, Pgginas de Historia do Brasil, Sao Paulo:
Companhia Editora Nacional, 1937, Ch. I, and Fernando de Azevedo, op.
cit., pp. 141-150.

these and such students of their as Eusebio and Greg6rio de Matos, were

decisive figures in the political, social, and literary development of

life in Brazil.

An important aspect of the role of the Church as a social body in

the formation of Brazilian society was the subservience of the Church to

landed interests. For three centuries and more this society centered

upon the large agricultural holding. With political power in the

hands of the "senhores de engenho," who lived on their properties,

there were few functions to be carried out by towns, and the Roman

Catholic Church lacked a focus for centralized control. The Jesuits,

during their two centuries in colonial Brazil, dedicated their efforts

in large measure to the mission work among the Indians. They under-

stood this mission to consist in great part of clothing the Indians

totally with their own Portuguese culture. For this purpose, they

developed large plantations and sugar mills, to the extent that

Azevedo could refer to the Jesuit as "the great colonial producer,
the greatest plantation owner of the tropics." This is probably

an exaggeration, in view of the enormous holdings in the hands of a

few colonial families. In any case, as Smith has pointed out, the

Church never had land-holdings in Brazil on a scale even remotely

approaching that which it enjoyed in the Spanish-American territories.

Moreover, because of a royal letter issued on February 23, 1711, lands

could not thenceforth be passed to religious orders, and many properties
were owned by local chapels; these were usually small.

1Azevedo, op. cit., p. 350.
T. Lynn Smith, Brazil: People and Institutions, 3rd ed., Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, pp. 290, 322.

As is indicated in the discussion of the family in Chapter VI,

one aspect of the extended family organization was the tying of

the priest-hood to the land-owning families. A common figure in the

great houses was the uncle-Father, a brother or a cousin of the master

who returned from the seminary as the spiritual shepherd of the

plantation community, the tutor of the children, and often -- with

more or less discretion -- the progenitor of his own brood of

mulatto children. After the victory of the large landed proprietors

over the Jesuits, in the eighteenth century, the clergy was placed in

an even more dependent relationship to the landowners.

Lack of mechanisms for protest and change

It is typical of "natural" religious institutions that they

discourage the development of social and cultic mechanisms for the

formulation of protest or the institution of change.18 Wach de-

lineates four types of religious protests: "first, the isolated

protest, individual criticism and deviation from the rest of the

community; second, the collective protest; [third and fourth] both

kinds either within the main body, or leading to secession."19

Religious protests or efforts at change may take place in any of

the three areas which have been examined: doctrinal, cultic, or

social. Movements of doctrinal protest normally come -- among the

Christian churches -- as a result of renewed emphasis upon Biblical

18Joachim Wach, Sociology of Religion, Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1944, pp. 289 ff.

191bid., p. 156.

and theological studies; we have seen that Brazilian Catholicism has

presented little of such emphasis. Within a highly centralized

ecclesiastical hierarchy, such movements, which also are normally

prerequisite to cultic changes, are restricted to the clergy, and

their spontaneous appearance is highly improbable. Until the modern,

largely secular, movements of social protest began to impinge also

upon the religious institutions, the only types of religious protest

that were possible on any significant scale were laxity in religious

observance and the practice of superstition. Such negative isolated

expressions, and the futile cultic sanctions and moralistic preach-

ments with which they were combatted by the clergy, only attested to

the servility of the religious institution, which was incapable of

calling into question the social order. Maximum ecclesiastical bodies,

in Wach's terminology, are generally "naively positive" with regard

to the society of which they are a part.

Having noted briefly the principal doctrinal, cultic, and social

features of Roman Catholicism as they have affected, and have been

expressed in, Brazilian life, we turn now to the Indian and African


The Religious Influence of the Indian and the Negro

Although such writers as Azevedo and Pedro Calmon refer to the

effects of the Indian and the Negro upon the character of Brazilian

religion, none of them present specific contributions of the Indian

which might have endured and become a part of Brazil's general

religious heritage. The indigenous culture encountered by the

Portuguese explorer and colonist was far simpler and more primitive in

content and much weaker and less developed in institutions than were

the complex civilizations which faced many of the Spanish conquista-

dores. To this day, the over-all reaction of the Indian to the advance

of the white man has been a combination of submission and withdrawal.

Except for some influence of pajelanga, or shamanism, in isolated areas

of the Amazon country, the contribution of the Indian has been re-

stricted largely to the domestic and literary aspects of culture.20

Freyre has emphasized the major role played by the Negro slaves,

particularly the women within the houses of their masters, in shaping

the total outlook and patterns of behavior -- including the religious

-- of the children of the Portuguese from the day of their birth. An

important part of this influence, Freyre reminds us, was Catholic:

"I am concerned with correcting the idea that it was through his nurse

that the child received the evil influences of the slave hut."21

In this, he is emphasizing the human warmth and kindliness which

the Negroes imparted to their adopted Roman Catholic observance. This

latter, on the part of the whites, was apt to be merely formal, when

not motivated by fear. Much of the burden of Freyre's massive work,

20Cf. Artur Ramos, Introduggo A Anthropologia Brasileira, Rio de
Janeiro: Casa do Estudante do Brasil, 1943; Azevedo, op. cit., pp.
147-149, 303-304, 330-331; Pedro Calmon, Espirito da Sociedade Colonial,
Sao Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1935, pp. 182-199.

21Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves, trans Samuel Putnam,
2nd Eng. ed., rev., New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961, p. 372.

however, has been the tracing of the manner in which the institution of

slavery infused into Brazilian society and culture elements of extreme

importance -- including those of the African religions. In the volume

referred to above, he enumerates religious fears and superstitious be-

liefs which passed from the slaves to the children of both blacks and

whites.22 The effects of this transmission of beliefs, as late as the

nineteenth century -- and, in many places, to the present time -- are

set forth in another work:

Fetishism was predominant. At times the porch of a house
was found in the morning to be spattered with sand from
the cemetery; or cabalistic signs were scratched on the
wall with charcoal; or pans full of vile things or frogs
with their mouths sewn shut would appear in the yard.
It was fetishism. The fear of black magic over-shadowed
the lives of many women. Filled with anxiety, the poor
matrons sent for Negroes known to them who could take the
spell from their houses. The struggle against witch-
craft was one of the constant preoccupations, one of the
tasks with which a housewife of the Northeast was faced
in the nineteenth century.

It is important to observe that black magic was fought with still

stronger powers, and rarely with exorcisms or other practices of the

Church alone; the domestic intertwining of two cultures facilitated

the syncretism which began in the overt submission of the imported

African to Roman Catholic ritual.

As in the case of the Indian beliefs and practices, much of the

African heritage was concerned with superstitions which were not


23Gilberto Freyre, Regigo e Tradig0o, Rio de Janeiro: Livraria
Jos6 Olympio Edit8ra, 1941, p. 139.

intrinsically religious, and which have had their counterparts in

many cultures, alongside various types of religion. Nevertheless,

the African religions have been among the most influential of the

cultural elements brought by the slaves. The Afro-Brazilian cults,

loosely known as "low spiritism," constitute a major religious and

social phenomenon in Brazil. Their emphasis upon ritual healing is

beginning to be felt strongly among rationalistic Kardecists.

Despite the presence of such disparate religious elements, the

nineteenth-century Brazilian could conceive of himself as belonging

to only one religious institution, the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed,

vast numbers of people knew of no other. As commercial and cultural

ties with Europe and North America grew stronger, new expressions of

religious faith were brought to Brazil which were to produce in-

calculable social effects in that country. These are considered in

the following section.

The Development of Religious Pluralism

The position of the Roman Catholic Church as a maximum-type

ecclesiastical body, co-terminous with a major part of the population

of Brazil, continues until the present. Its increasing loss or

weakening of functions for and control over the people led to the

sharpening of distinctions not only between the professionally "re-

ligious" and the laity, but between the devoted laymen, "beatos," and

the more or less indifferent mass. It remained, however, for exogenous

groups to introduce new doctrines, practices, and religious social

structures which would make of the Catholic Church one among several

competing religious bodies.

The growing individualization and rationalization of human life

in the modern era contributed to the weakening of traditional religious

institutions and to the development of a plurality of religious sects

and denominations. This was the case in both France -- the home of

Kardecism -- and Brazil, the country in which Spiritism has had its

greatest growth.

The teachings of Allan Kardec were brought to Brazil no later than

the early 1860's, and conditions surrounding their acceptance there

are similar in many ways to those related to the growth of Spiritism

in France itself. (In Chapter VI, we concern ourselves with intellec-

tual and other influences of France which were brought to bear upon

Brazil.) Here we merely indicate certain aspects of French religious

life that had a direct effect during this period upon Brazilians who

were discovering Kardec as they studied in Paris. These same aspects

exercised a more diffuse effect as parts of the general French impact

upon Brazilian culture and societal life.

The Roman Catholic hierarchies in France and in Brazil passed

through similar vicissitudes, in subordination to their respective

governments, and to the Papacy, during the nineteenth century. In

both cases there were movements for latitude and liberty for the

clergy, but these movements had different motivations and expressions.

A distinguished historian has noted that in France, by 1830, the

relative freedom of expression enjoyed by the people was also of value

to the Church in the identification of its mission of service. "In

order to take their place in the life of the nation...the Catholics

had to recognize Liberalism as the basis of action."24 The Liberaliz-

ing movement was led by Montalembert and Lamennais, who were also

instrumental in changing the liturgy from Roman to Gallican. The

ethical expressions of religion were also emphasized: "Fr6&dric

Ozanam (1813-1853) gathered Catholic students at the universities into

a society for charitable activity among the working classes, and thus

became the forerunner of 'social Catholicism.'"25 This liberal move-

ment was brusquely cut off by the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX in 1864.

Nevertheless, the image of a servant Church had been upheld be-

fore the people. In this respect the Brazilian experience was of a

contrary nature. The position of Roman Catholicism as the official

religion of the Empire had been found to be a trap, as we have indi-

cated, and as far-sighted clergymen had warned, in the constituent

assembly of 1823. This condition was brought to a head in 1872, when

two of the leading bishops ordered their priests to withdraw from the

Masons, and were themselves finally imprisoned by the Crown. The

issue at stake was not -- as in France -- the Church's place in the

socio-religious life of the nation, but the limits of its political

power and of its own internal control. The hierarchy in general was

pleased with the separation of its power from those of the State in the

24Ernst Robert Curtius, The Civilization of France, trans. Olive
Wyon, New York: Macmillan, 1932, p. 142.

25Ibid., p. 143. Cf. also A. Latreille, E. Delaruelle, J. R.
Palanque, and R. Remond, Histoire du Catolicisme en France, Vol. 3,
Paris: Editions Spes, 1962, pp. 301-324, 423 ff.

republican decree of November 15, 1889. However, from that period on,

the Church's ultramontane tendency helped to draw it even further away

from the life of the people.

Thus while the French codifier of Spiritism and the young

Brazilians who were studying in his homeland were witnessing the

preaching of humanity as a high religious value -- perhaps the highest

-- the stronger tendencies in the dominant religious institution of

the Land of the True Cross were away from the ministry to basic human

needs. At the same time other groups were at work which did manifest

concern with the welfare of society, at the same time that they de-

manded a commitment which for many of their followers was almost


For example, Masonry, with emphasis upon humanitarian and demo-

cratic values, created another center of loyalty which was often in

opposition to the Church. It helped to meet certain social needs of

its own members (relatively few in number) and to promote, at least

verbally, liberal ideas. Positivism, which is treated in some detail

in Chapter VI, brought -- in addition to its intellectual function -- a

type of quasi-religious expression to an even smaller elite. Much of

the importance of such movements lies in their popularization of the

assumption that commitment to a social or religious system should be

made on the basis of rational choice. There were other, more speci-

fically religious, forces at work to complete the creation of a re-

ligious pluralism in Brazilian society, and we turn to them at this


The Advent and Growth of Protestant Churches

During the 1960's, several Protestant bodies celebrated the

centenary of the beginning of their missionary efforts in Brazil.

In the early days, legal restrictions and the opposition of the Roman

Catholic Church were partially responsible for the channelling of a

great part of their resources of the Methodists and Presbyterians,

in particular, to educational work. In this way they were able to

make a legitimate, acceptable entrance into the social system with a

vital contribution in an area in which Brazil was weak and also to

gain the good will and support of many substantial citizens. Their

religious activity had two major foci: the towns in which the schools

were operated as well as others from which students were drawn, and

the great rural areas.

Fernando de Azevedo has pointed out the function of the rivalry

between the Protestant and Catholic forces in bringing them to a

sharpening of their belief and to greater exertions in ministering to

the material, intellectual, and spiritual needs of the population.26

The posing of options in matters of religion was, in most areas, an

innovation. The alternatives were put in terms of all of the funda-

mental aspects of religious experience: of doctrinal belief (with the

reading of the Bible, and therefore a modicum of education, as a

central issue); of loyalty to and participation in the central social

institutions (the religious and often the familial); of the moral life

and eternal destiny; and of pageantry and priestliness as over against

26Azevedo, op. cit., pp. 157-159.

personal, inner decision. With the presence of a plurality of well-

articulated religious statuses, the factor of choice came to be present

in Brazilian religion to a far greater extent than formerly.

Other important developments in Brazilian Protestantism were the

arrival within a few decades of large numbers of German Lutherans, the

rise and growth of Pentecostal sects, and the increasing nationaliza-

tion of all the Protestant groups. Nevertheless, in relation to

the rise and growth of Spiritism in Brazil, the most important aspect

of the advent of the Protestants is the nature of the major missionary

Protestant denominations mentioned above. These groups put a premium

upon education, rational decision, personal experience in religion,

moral uprightness, and the practical application of religious princi-

ples in every-day life. These features, which they shared with

Spiritism, were instrumental in guiding the development of the major

segments of these denominations into middle-class organizations. Thus

the sociological similarities exhibited by the Protestant denomina-

tions and the groups of Spiritist believers were indicative of the

competition which would inevitably develop among them, as well as

between each of them and Roman Catholicism. That the similarities and

parallelisms have been only partial is apparent in the following

section. This, however, does not affect the present point: that

Protestantism was largely instrumental in creating a condition of

"religious pluralism" in Brazil, and that Spiritism was also involved

in bringing about this condition and in profiting from it.

Spiritism on the Scene in Nineteenth-Century Brazil

By 1850, the rappings heard by the Fox sisters (Cf. supra, p. 22)

had been transformed, in the salons and parlors of America and

Europe, into actual moving of tables, chairs, hats,and other objects,

under the conditions of the seance.

A Spiritist writer has verified, through newspaper accounts in

Rio de Janeiro, that the table-turning phenomenon reached that city in

1853,27 and the newspapers of other major cities report the spread of

the fad. Mesmer's "animal magnetism," together with homeopathic

medicine, were already in use by a few Brazilian physicians during

the 1840's.28 The beginning of Spiritism in Brazil, however, is

officially identified with a seance held in Salvador, Bahia on

September 17, 1865, under the direction of Luis Olympio Telles de

Menezes, a physician. In the same year Telles de Menezes defended the

teachings of Allan Kardec in a Bahian newspaper, an act for which he

27ZZus Wantuil, As Mesas Girantes e o Espiritismo, Rio de Janeiro:
Federacao Espirita Brasileira, 1958, pp. 7 ff.
2Isidoro Duarte Santos, 0 Espiritismo no Brasil (Ecos de uma
Viagem), Rio de Janeiro: J. Ozon Editor, 1961, p. 226. The author,
director of Estudos Psfquicos, official organ of Portuguese Spiritism,
in this work describes (euphorically but helpfully) the people, the
activities, and the installations of Spiritism in a number of Brazilian
cities visited by him. In the item cited, he refers to two physicians,
Bento Mure and Vicente Martins, as "famous doctors" who conducted a
great charitable enterprise in which they employed mediunic trances.
Many such items, for which there is, to this writer's knowledge, no
documentation, will be referred to as historical, since they are a
part of the accepted Spiritist lore. Mention is also made of these
two men by Francisco Candido Xavier in his psychographed history of
Brazil, Brasil: Cora$go do Mundo e Patria do Evangelho, 6th ed.,
Rio de Janeiro: Federacgo Espirita Brasileira, 1957, p. 141.

received the appreciative acknowlegement of the Master himself. A

short-lived organization was formed, with the name "Grupo Familiar de

Espiritismo"; in 1869 -- the year of Kardec's death -- this group

published the first Brazilian Spiritist periodical, O Eco de Alem-

T6mulo (The Echo from Beyond the Grave). The journal was circulated

only for one year. In 1873, the "Grupo Conf6cio" was formed in

Rio de Janeiro, including in its number professional and military men.

Under the auspices of this group, and despite much criticism, the

Livraria B. L. Garnier, the nation's largest printing establishment,

published the Spiritist Pentateuch, Kardec's five basic works. Further

developments in the organization and growth of Spiritism are recounted

in Chapter IV.

A recent biographical sketch of Telles de Menezes indicates that

the brief existence of many of the early Spiritist organizations was

not due entirely to the doctrinal and other dissensions which swirled

about the new movement.29 When, in 1871, Telles de Menzes and 29

others attempted to charter the "Sociedade Esplrita Brasileira,"

Godoy reports that despite civil approval, they were denied the

charter by the negative reply of the authorities of the established

religion.30 The group then re-applied, indicating that the society was

of a scientific nature, and denominating it the "Associagco Espirftica

29Paulo Alves de Godoy, "Centenario do Primeiro Jornal Espfrita
do Brasil e a Obra de Telles de Menezes," ANUARIO ESPIRITA 1969,
Araras: Instituto de Difusgo Espirita, 1969, pp. 73-76.

30Ibid., p. 76.

Brasileira." Such conditions must have been of some aid to those

Spiritists who insisted, in the internal struggles of the movement,

upon the scientific and non-religious nature of the doctrine.

Friar Boaventura Kloppenburg, ready to demonstrate the liberty

enjoyed by the Spiritists, cites the following passage from a report

sent by the "Grupo Conf6cio," on April 11, 1874, to the Revue Spirite

in Paris:

...[hoping that] with the help of the men of good will,
and thanks to the freedom of the press which we enjoy
here without restrictions, the propaganda so propi-
tiously begun may continue to grow with each day,
without obstacles, and will not be long in a driving
in the most distant provinces of the Empire.

Heavy polemics involved both Spiritists and Catholics, however, and

outside cosmopolitan Rio, a city in which Spiritism had highly placed

friends, greater repression of the new doctrine was possible. Even in

the capital, the interloper was under attack, especially as it sought

recognition as a religion. Kloppenburg records the reaction of a

Church paper, 0 Ap6stolo:

The Spiritists miss no occasion to antagonize the
Church....We have already reached the time when a
religion can be instituted just like any social
club: it is merely a matter of drawing up the by-
laws, appointing the leader and beginning to marry
and baptize and exercise all the functions of
religion. This is real progress, and humanity has
gone a long way with Spiritism.

31Boaventura Kloppenburg, O Espiritismo no Brasil, Petr6polis:
Editora Vozes, 1960, p. 16.

32Ibid., p. 17.

Thus in the final third of the nineteenth century, Brazilian

society came to feel the effects of a genuine religious pluralism.

Previously, the clergy often had had to deal with the heathenish

practices and superstitions of the African religions, with occasional

blasphemies or heresies, and with the widespread indifference to the

Church, but all these had been considered as conflicts within the

system. Now, with lines drawn between the official religion on the

one hand, and the Protestant denominations and Spiritism on the other,

religion was a matter of choice. There was also to become increasingly

apparent within Roman Catholicism itself the distinction between those

who made their faith a question of conscious decision and those who

were nominal adherents. The assertion which is often heard, "Sou

cat6lico praticante," is one small manifestation of the manner in which

the ecclesia has taken on certain characteristics of a denomination.



In this chapter, it is our purpose to examine the movement under

study, within the framework of its three major forms of expression:

doctrines and beliefs, cultic activities, and internal social


Spiritist Doctrine According to Allan Kardec

Hippolyte L6on Denizard Rivail (1803-1869), resident of Paris,

professor of mathematics, science, and grammar, was introduced in 1854,

to the "table turning" phenomena of the spiritualist seances then popu-

lar in Europe. His inquisitive mind was intrigued by a message given to

him through two young girls who were mediums, and signed, "Spirit of

Truth." In essence, the message informed him that spirits of a very

high rank would continue to communicate with him through the two mediums,

since he had been selected for a mission of the highest order.

A methodical man by nature, Rivail -- who was not himself a medium

-- proceeded to "try the spirits." The spirit communications had been

made at first through a code of taps of the seance table. A scientistic

pedant, Rivail assumed that such patterned "effects" must have an in-

telligent "cause," the most plausible one being that which was claimed

in the messages...the activity of spirits. He hit upon a system of

"planchette-writing," whereby the spirits guided a pencil attached to

a small basket, upon which the mediums' fingers were lightly laid.

Rivail then began an extensive interrogation, in which the revelatory

spirits guided, answered, and commented on a systematized series of

questions concerning life and the universe.

On April 30 of 1856, according to a biographer, the "Spirit of

Truth" announced to Rivail that his mission on earth was to publish and

promulgate,under the pen name "Allan Kardec," the teachings which he

had received from the spirits. One year later he brought out Le Livre

des Espirits, first in an abbreviated form, and, in a few months, in a

second and fuller edition which has remained definitive for his followers

to this day.

This adaptation of the experimental method became the hallmark of

the Spiritists' mediunic activity in the face of a skeptical world. In

addition to his own epitaph, Kardec's followers had the following words

inscribed on his tomb in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise, in Paris:

Allan Kardec

Fondateur de la Philosophie spirit.
Tout effet a une cause.
Tout effet intelligent
a une cause intelligence.
La puissance de la cause
est en raison de la grandeur de l'effet.
3 octobre 1804 -- 31 mars 1869

Thus a major characteristic of Kardec's writings is the constant

appeal to the candid consideration of facts as they are observed, in

accordance with the self-confident scientistic ethos of his century.

For example, the objectors to spiritistic manifestations, who dub them

works of the devil, are reminded: "...if they exist, it can only be with

Andre Moreil, La Vie et L'Oeuvre d'Allan Kardec, Paris: Editions
Sperar, 1961.

the permission of God, and how then can we, without impiety, believe

that He would permit them to occur only for a bad purpose...? Such

a supposition is contrary alike to the simplest dictates of religion
and of common sense."

In the same way, Biblical literalism is eschewed. The harmoniza-

tion of the Genesis narrative of the Creation and the miracles of the

Bible with the scientific knowledge and opinions of his day is remini-

scent of the general approach accepted by many today: to wit, that

scientific error on the part of Biblical writers does not mar the

spiritual value of that which they have to say. Thus, for Allan Kardec

and the adherents of his doctrine, the Bible is not a final authority,

and where it is in conflict with Spiritist doctrine, the latter is


The Spread of the Teachings of Kardec

Le Livre des Esprits, and, to a lesser extent, the more practically-

oriented Le Livre des Mediums (1861) and a commentary of the four Gospels

of the New Testament, L'Evangile selon le Spiritisme (1864), provide the

basic content of Spiritist doctrine. With his phlegmatic, diffident

manner, Kardec laid no claims to originality for them, considering him-

self merely a systematizer and codifier. "History," he stated, con-

cluding the preface to his first work, "proves that most of the ideas

herein set forth have been held by the most eminent thinkers of ancient

Allan Kardec, The Spirits' Book, trans. Anna Blackwell, Sao Paulo:
Livraria Allan Kardec Editora, 1964, p. 44.

and of modern times, and thus gives to them the additional sanction of

its testimony."

All of the works mentioned, and some of Kardec's lesser writings,

have gone through many editions in French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese,

and other languages. An English translation of Le Livre des Esprits

was made circa 1880 by Anna Blackwell, who gave it the rather awkward

title, The Spirits' Book.3 The publication of Kardec's works in Brazil

is mentioned in some detail at a later point.

Allan Kardec's doctrinal presentation appears to have provided a

rallying point for those -- especially in Europe -- who had been in-

trigued by the "psychic phenomena" but had not found a meaningful way

in which to relate them to their own existence. Shortly after the pub-

lication of Le Livre des Esprits in 1857, Kardec organized the Societe

Parisienne des Etudes Psychologiques and founded, as its official organ,

the Revue Spirite, which is still published. Kardec received corre-

spondence and detailed reports concerning spirit messages and other

spiritistic phenomena from many parts of the world. Although his bi-

ographers tell of his careful and systematic study of these voluminous

reports, they are considered only as confirmatory of his published

doctrinal formulations, and none of these latter were modified. Kardec's

later writings consist of the spelling out in greater detail or the

summarizing of his teaching in the major works; these later books are:

3This translation was recently brought out, after years of being
out of print, in its first Brazilian printing in English, by the
Livraria Allan Kardec Editora (LAKE), Sgo Paulo, 1964. A major pur-
pose of this edition is its diffusion in Great Britain.

La Genese, les Miracles et las Predictions, selon le Spiritisme (1867),

Le Ciel et L'Enfer ou la Justice Divine selon le Spiritisme (1864),

Qui est le Spiritisme? (n.d.), Le Spiritisme a sa plus Simple Expression

(n.d.), and collected occasional papers called Oeuvres Posthumes (n.d.).

Although "spiritualism" has a substantial following in Great Britain,

Anglican orthodoxy and the traditional directions of English philosophy

have militated against the acceptance of the idea of reincarnation.

Thus, with Britain and America outside their camp, the works of Kardec

and of others of his movement have been little known in the English-

speaking world. The socio-cultural reasons for his acceptance in

southern Europe and South America are, of course, at the heart of the

present study.

The "Spiritualist Philosophy"

The Spirits' Book is given its title under the heading, "Spiritualist

Philosophy," and the resume of Spiritist doctrine contained in this sec-

tion follows the plan of that work. The volume is divided into four

"books." The first deals with God, Creation, and the composition of the

universe. The second is concerned with spirits and man, the plurality

of existences through reincarnation, and the intervention of spirits in

the corporeal world. In the third book are presented the divine laws of

the universe, and Book Four is called "Hopes and Consolations." We pro-

ceed now to such consideration of these teachings as will throw light on

the socio-religious movement to which they are related in Brazil.

The editions used by the writer have in almost all cases been in
Portuguese; these editions will therefore be cited in this study.

The Kardecist Concept of Deity

"God is immutable, immaterial, unique, all-powerful, sovereignly

just and good."5 Thus Allan Kardec begins his summary of Spiritist

doctrine. In accordance with the author's positivist background, Deity

is described principally in terms of intelligence and power. God,

having once created the universe, has left its direction to immutable

laws; were He to interfere with them, this would show imperfection in

Him, and instability in the universe.6 This is, of course, simply a

restatement of traditional deism.

Similarly, God's existence can be proven: Question 4, "What proof

have we of the existence of God?" receives the reply, "The axiom you

apply in all your scientific researches, 'There is no effect without a

cause.' Search out the cause of whatever is not the work of man, and

reason will furnish the answer....

God is one. Jesus was not divine, but a perfected Spirit; there is

therefore no place for the Christian Church's doctrine of the Trinity.


Man's pride and imperfection are the causes of much ignorance.

Yet through the spirits God can and does reveal to man that which is

essential for his progress but which is beyond the pale of scientific


5The Spirits' Book, p. 31.

6This is often important as an assurance to the timid and fearful
that the occurrences in seances are simply natural phenomena. There
is no supernatural; all is under the laws of God.

7The Spirits' Book, p. 64.

There are four aspects of the composition of the universe: The

first aspect, "spirit," is the "intelligent principle of the universe,"

and the second, "matter," is its agent or instrument. There is, thirdly,

another element, a "universal fluid," which contains the fourth, the

"vital principle." The mediation of these is necessary for the spirit

to be linked to matter and give it life.

There are, then, two worlds, a world of spirit and a world of

matter. Spirits are created by God. Theirs is the enduring world;

the material is transitory. The spirits are everywhere, though unseen.

Our globe is but one of millions of inhabited planets in the

universe. As is shown in detail below, these "worlds" are crucial for

the journey of the spirits throughout their existence.

The spirits form a hierarchy of three general orders: that of

predominant ignorance and evil, when the spirits are as yet relatively

undeveloped; that of predominant goodness; and that of perfectedness in

knowledge and purity. These orders embrace a total of 10 "classes,"

or sub-divisions; the destiny of all spirits is to develop and progress

through the 10 stages by their own efforts until they reach perfection.

All spirits are of equal potential, though at lower stages in their

existence they may be unaware of this. There are no "evil spirits" or

"demons" in the popular sense, but through the exercise of their free

will, spirits may be ignorantly rebellious or frivolously mischievous.

The Nature and Place of Man

The process of development of the spirits must be carried out

largely under the conditions of corporeal existence; therefore, spirits

must be incarnated in order to carry out their missions. Man has

been created by God to be the instrument in the incarnation of the

spirits in our world. The universal fluid, or life-giving link re-

ferred to above, is described, in the case of man, as a "semi-material

envelope," called a "perispirit." Man is thus composed of three

elements, the spirit (or the soul), the body, and the perispirit which

links them. Man's responsibility is great; for it is according to his

deeds in this life that his spirit will find its place and mission in

its next existence. His duty is to learn to obey God, the law-giver.

The doctrine of grace, whereby God establishes a relationship of mutual

trust and love, through his forgiveness and acceptance of man, is

firmly rejected.

The special importance of "magnetic fluids" in Brazilian Spiritism

The idea of the fluidicc" action of spiritual forces is important

for the directions taken by Spiritism in Brazil, in view of the emphasis

on magical and spiritual healing in that country.

Allan Kardec adopted Mesmer's concept of "animal magnetism" as the

operative force in spiritistic phenomena. It is through the mutual

action of their perispiritic fluids that the medium and the incorporat-

ing spirits are thought to communicate and to channel efficacious

forces to those in need.8 One of the few references to healing made by

Kardec in his major works concerns the basis for it in the action of a

spirit upon the magnetic.fluids.9 He gives further attention to the

8Allan Kardec, 0 Livro dos M6diuns, Sao Paulo: Edit8ra Pensamento,
1963, pp. 62-71.

9Ibid., p. 117.

subject in A Genese, a large part of which is devoted to the"demytholo-

gizing" of the miracles of the Bible. F. C. Xavier, through his in-

fluential books, has popularized the application of a scientistic argot

to the mediumistic processes, especially those of healing. In one of

these books, the author purports to accompany Superior Spirits as they

heal the sick through the instrumentality of devoted mediums. There is

due association of the work with the names of William Crookes, the

Curies, Roentgen, Einstein, et al., and the Spirits observe the inner

states and actions of the mediums with the use of a sort of spiritual

X-ray machine called a "psychoscope." They speak of men as being

"generators of electromagnetic force," who also emit ultraviolet

radiations. The selfless devotion of the mediums, say the Spirits,

puts them in "appreciable vibratory, therefore, to

project mental rays..., assimilating superior currents and enriching

the vital rays of which they are dynamos in common."10

One of the most influential of the books concerning spiritistic

healing is particularly impressive to the average reader because of

the copious use of scientific jargon, the presence of well-executed

multi-colored drawings, anatomical charts, et cetera, and because of

the introduction written by Sergio Valle, a Spiritist medical doctor.11

In this work also, the operation of the magnetic fluids is fundamental

to the presentation.

10F. C. Xavier, Nos Domfnios da Mediunidade, Rio de Janeiro:
Federacao Espfrita Brasileira, 1954, p. 24.

11Wenefledo de Toledo, Passes e Curas Espirituais, Sao Paulo:
Edit8ra Pensamento, 1958.

This doctrinal emphasis is a major aspect of a fundamental turn

which Brazilian Spiritism has taken: that toward a mystical charitable-

ness, with emphasis on mental and physical healing as central to its

mission in the universe. Such an emphasis upon thaumaturgy and religious

therapy might well have been predicted on the basis of the instrumental

character of religion and of the relation of religious sentiment to

natural and physiological processes, which were indicated in Chapter

III,on Brazilian religious backgrounds.

Reincarnation and ultimate destiny

Newly-created, undeveloped spirits -- all of equal intelligence at

their beginnings -- gradually acquire consciousness of themselves and of

their duty to obey the will of God, as they gain experience. Through

reincarnation, the spirits progress to the final stage of perfect in-

telligence and rationality, which means perfection of decisions and

choices of the divine will, which is characterized mainly by charity.

Kardec is at pains to emphasize that all movement is forward and

upward, all reincarnation is to a higher place and form. Spirits do

not regress; man cannot become animal, as he is thought to do in Hindu

metempsychosis. Neither is there a continuity by which the spirits in

animals "rise up" to human level; there is a qualitative difference.

The necessity of progress is not considered as a negation of freedom.

The different conditions faced in the successive incarnations are

designed to stimulate the spirit in its progress, and to provide it

with appropriate opportunities for retribution and expiation. This is

the Law of Karma at work. If for every cause there is an effect, then

also for every wrong, every act of ignorance or disobedience, there

must be retribution in exactly the same measure. Legion are the stories

such as that of the man who stabs his enemy, and in his next incarnation

is a paralytic in his right arm.

Paradoxically, this implacable law expresses the theodicy from

which Spiritists profess to derive great comfort: here lies the justi-

fication for all of what appear in this life to be injustices, in-

equalities, and undeserved suffering. In the end, everything balances.

Faced by the objection that some of these ideas resembled doctrines

of Pythagoras and of the sacred writings of India, Kardec blandly re-

iterated his observation that the truths enunciated by the spirits in

his seances have been in the thoughts of great men from the earliest

times. It is perhaps more than coincidental that he began his writing

in the period when French and German scholars were in the forefront of

the modern study of ancient and Oriental religions, and were translating

their sacred writings. Such studies would not go unnoticed by a man

with the interests held by Kardec.12

The numberless habitable worlds in the universe fall into cate-

gories which correspond to the various levels of development of the

spirits. Even within our own solar system there is differentiation.

It is apparent that the vale of tears which is the Earth is at a rude

stage of evolution. Jupiter is at a far, far higher stage; Saturn, less

so; Venus is superior to Earth; while Mars is at an even lower stage

than ours. In this broad but finite perspective, with its wide range

of possibilities, the apparent injustices, the cruel inequalities, and

the seemingly undeserved suffering and evil of this world are seen as

12Cf. Yvonne Castellan, 0 Espiritismo, Sao Paulo: Difusao Europeia
do Livro, 1955.

parts of a forward-moving process within which justice and equality are

at work.

To sum up: We assert that the doctrine of the
plurality of existences is the only one which ex-
plains what, without this doctrine, is unexplainable;
that it is at once eminently consolatory and strictly
conformable with the most rigorous justice;
and that it is the anchor of safety which God
in His mercy has provided for mankind.13

Many pages of Book Two of this volume are given over to questions

representing the popularly curious mind: the infancy of spirits,

their experience of death, their means and rates of locomotion, their

sex (none), the relationships among those which have had previous

kinship ties here on Earth, and many others. The third major subject

treated in Book Two is the one which follows.

Intervention of the spirits in the corporeal world

Such types of intervention by spirits as thought-penetration, the

influencing of historical events, the universality of guardian angels,

and intervention in physical acts (very rare) are dealt with. Com-

munication through mediums is mentioned only in the introduction of The

Spirits' Book, in summary fashion; the full treatment of this is found

in The Book of the Mediums.14 In this latter volume are presented the

conditions for development of the mediunic "gift," the various types

of mediumistic activity -- speech, spiritwriting, clairvoyance, etc. --

and much practical guidance. The author's theme here is the evolutionary

13Kardec, The Spirits' Book, p. 147.

14Kardec, 0 Livro dos Mediuns, pp. 138-200. In an appended
glossary, a medium is defined as "a person who can serve as an inter-
mediary between the Spirits and men," p. 335.

differentials among the non-incarnate spirits, differentials which

determine the nature of their relationships with incarnate spirits;

that is, human beings.

The Laws of Life and the Universe

Book Three of The Spirits' Book may be called the book of the

laws. In positivistic fashion, Kardec felt that he had been given

the observable and reasonable evidence, by spirit revelation, for the

stating of certain principles as laws of life and as regulatory princi-

ples of the universe. We can only mention each by name here: the laws

of adoration, of labor, of reproduction, of preservation, of destrz.c-

tion, social law, law of progress, of equality, of liberty, and the law

of justice, love and charity. This last, by which we are commanded to

achieve perfection, is also summed up in what Jesus has given to us as

the Golden Rule.

The Ultimate Theodicy

The fourth and final book, called "Hopes and Consolations," is

another section which was later expanded and developed into a larger

work, Heaven and Hell. It sums up the theodicy which runs through from

the beginning of the work, with the assurance that "Heaven" and "Hell,"

so violently insisted upon by formal Christianity as final, objective

realities, are states which the soul creates for itself. The peace and

joy of the one grow, and the tortures of the other diminish, as the

spirit makes its way along the evolutionary path to perfection. The


...teach us that there are no unpardonable sins, none
that cannot be effaced by expiation. Man finds the
means of accomplishing this in the different exist-
ences which permit him to advance progressively, and


according to his desire and his efforts, towards 15
the perfection that constitutes his ultimate aim.

The deistic rationalism, the pragmatic moralism, and the non-

transcendent spiritism of this system leave it centered on man himself.

The heart of the doctrine is reincarnation; all other major aspects of

it are corollaries of the plurality of existences. From a practical,

epistemological point of view, one of those aspects -- communication

with the spirits -- might be considered just as basic, for acceptance

of such communication is necessary to the authoritativeness of the


Thus, in theory, the "Third Testament," or "Third Revelation,"

depends for its authority upon the acceptance of spirit communication

as valid. However, what is posed is a problem in the sociology of

knowledge: are the teachings and practices of Spiritism so in tune with

certain socially-felt needs and societal changes and currents as to be

accepted on their common-sense appeals? Do they in this manner lend

credence themselves to the spirit-source to which they are attributed,

regardless of its validity? The question which must be asked of

every religious and social movement must be put in this case also:

What are the latent societal factors in its inception and growth, and

to what extent are they dependent upon the manifest factors? to what

extent may the manifest factors depend upon them? These questions will

come to a natural focus in the analytical sections of this study.

The Spirits' Book, p. 36.

From philosophy to religion

The principal expression given to a religious doctrine by its

adherents can be intellectual, mystical, or practical. Which of these

expressive emphases is taken in a given situation is partially determined

by the kinds of religious expression encountered in already-existing

religious institutions, and by the relationships of the various seg-

ments of society to those institutions.

Allan Kardec gave to The Spirits' Book the descriptive title,

"Spiritualist Philosophy." J. Herculano Pires, professor of psychology

and a leading Spiritist intellectual in Sao Paulo, has called attention

to Kardec's avoidance of the term "religion" in The Spirits' Book,

citing verbal statements of "The Codifier" to the effect that to call

Spiritism a religion at that stage would have simply identified it in
the mind of the public as another sect. Pires reiterates the point

that the religious aspect of the contents of The Spirits' Book is

evident, but that the doctrines are of such nature that their revelation

had to be held in abeyance until the dawn of the scientific era. "'With-

out scientific development,' asserted Kardec, 'there would not have been

created in the world the climate necessary to the comprehension of

Spiritism.'"17 In these and other passages it becomes clear that in his

positivistic age Kardec felt the necessity of the protecting mantle of


16J. Herculano Pires, 0 Espirito e o Tempo, Sao Paulo; Editara
Pensamento, 1964, pp. 191-192. This position is generally held in
Brazil today; Spiritism is not a religion, but is fundamental to all

1Ibid., p. 66; see also pp. 75 and 143.

Kardec devotes half of the Introduction of The Spirits' Book to

the refutation of objections to Spiritism; the first of these is "the

opposition of the learned world." It is here that a paradoxical tone

is set for the treatment of the subject of science in its various

reappearances in the volume. The unity of knowledge, both spiritual

and material, is strongly asserted:

All the laws of nature are divine laws, since God is
the author of all things. The seeker after science
studies these laws of nature in the realm of matter;
the seeker after goodness studies them in the soul,
and practices them.1

But alongside the unity of Truth, the diversity of method is also

affirmed in statements such as the following: therefore incompetent, as such, to
decide the question of the truth of Spiritism;
it has nothing to do with it.... Spiritist belief
is the result of a personal conviction.19

Nevertheless, the appeal to observation and reason runs throughout the

book. It is Kardec's book Genesis, however, which has for its major

theme the relationship between science on the one hand and Spiritism

as a religion on the other, and affirms the unity of the two. Herculano

Pires observes that Allan Kardec has added to Comte's three stages --

theological, metaphysical, and positive -- the fourth, and crowning one:

...the psychological phase, in which the sciences
open up to the discovery and the affirmation of the
psychic as a phenomenon (and no longer as merely an
epiphenomenon), recognizing its autonomy and its
positive reality which is verifiable, susceptible
of experimental proof....Spiritism is presented as

18The Spirits' Book, p. 271.

19Ibid., pp. 37-38.

science, because, as the master explains in Genesis,
in the first chapter: "As a method of elaboration,
Spiritism proceeds exactly in the same way as the
positive sciences, applying in the experimental
method....Until now, it was thought that this method
was only applicable to matter, whereas it applies
also to metaphysical subjects."20

Pires, one of the founders of the Paulista Institute for Para-

psychological Studies, a society of persons interested in psychic

phenomena, goes on to indicate that out of Kardecism came the "meta-

psychics" of Charles Richet, and the parapsychology of J. B. Rhine.

Kardec's development, in Genesis, of the mutual necessity and

complementarity of science and Spiritism is the expansion of the opening

part of the more specifically religious work, The Gospel According to

Spiritism. Spiritists believe that the immutable laws of Spiritism,

spelled out in The Spirits' Book, are the long-awaited connecting link

between material science and spiritual truth, and that they show the

intertwining of the spiritual and corporeal worlds. After eighteen

centuries of being overlaid with cumbersome forms, the real Christianity

emerges in its simplicity as the natural moral law of the universe,

capable of revolutionizing human social relations. Kardec's method for

arriving at this essential moral kernel of the second revelation -- that

which was given by Jesus -- is that of stripping away from the Four

Gospels those parts which have to do with "the ordinary acts of the life

of Christ, the miracles, the prophecies, the words which served for the

establishment of the dogmas of the Church," for these "have been the

object of controversies," while retaining the part "which has remained

20Pires, op. cit., p. 155.

unassailable," the moral teachings.21 Once again, doctrinal originality

or claims to a new revelation are deliberately eschewed. The dynamic

is that of the rediscovery and reform, not of mere doctrine, but of a

"way of life," a practicum considered all-important for this and future

existences. Candido P. F. Camargo has observed in this connection, that

"The role of the 'orientation of life' which...characterizes the

Spiritist movement, is greatly facilitated by its practical, non-

revealed nature."22 Religion is the ethic of practical charity. For

Spiritists by the millions, "outside of charity there is no salvation"

is the supreme motto, the summing up of religion.

The Gospel According to Spiritism (0 Evangelho Segundo o Espiritismo)

is also the volume which goes into greatest detail in claiming to show

the mediumistic nature of the first and second revelations in Moses and

the prophets, and in Jesus and the apostles. The use of this book

almost to the exclusion of others in hundreds of Spiritist centers

indicates that despite the truth of Camargo's statement above, charity

is not merely a calculated system of action for Spiritists, but that

the doctrinal study session is increasingly becoming a worship service,

with a mysticism of charity at its center. This is quite at variance

with the detached, philosophical approach of the Founder.

21Allan Kardec, 0 Evangelho Segundo 0 Espiritismo, trans. JGlio
de Abreu, Sao Paulo: EditSra Pensament, 1963, p. 11.

22Candido P. F. Camargo, Kardecismo e Umbanda, Sao Paulo:
Livraria Pioneira Edit8ra, 1961, p. 25.

The Challenge of J. B. Roustaing

The subjective nature of spirit-communication and the reaction

against ecclesiastical dogmatism and the "tyranny of orthodoxy" made it

inevitable that differing doctrines would arise. Even so, the practical

emphasis on the acts of charity has to a large extent overshadowed

doctrinal divergences. Within Kardec's own lifetime, however, one

dispute arose which was to have far-reaching effects in the institu-

tionalization of Spiritism in Brazil.

Jean-Baptiste Roustaing, of Lyons, published a four-volume study

called Les Quatres Evangiles, or R&velation de la Revelation. The

work, otherwise of little originality, presents the "docetic" view that

Jesus did not have a corporeal body, but that his body here on earth

was purely fluidicc," thus relieving him of the physical suffering and

limitations of ordinary humans. One circumstance militates against the

authority of such a work, among even the Spiritists, for whom it is

normal to accept as genuine the mediunically-dictated works of promi-

nent but deceased literary figures. This is the dubious circumstance

that the work is attributed to the spirits of the four Evangelists,

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, assisted by all the other Apostles, as

a rectification of the Biblical texts which have been mutilated in their

passage through the centuries. The gathering of such a celestial edi-
trial committee is considered improbable even by many Spiritists.3

23Isidoro Duarte Santos, Spiritist leader of Portugal, has ob-
servations of this type, speaking as an "outsider" to Brazilian
Spiritism, 0 Espiritismo no Brasil (Ecos de Uma Viagem), Rio de Janeiro:
J. Ozon Editor, 1961.

Nevertheless, Bezerra de Menezes, the so-called "Allan Kardec of

Brazil" and sometime president of the Federacgo Esp{rita Brasileira,

and many other illustrious figures, endorsed Roustaing's doctrine, and

since 1900 several editions of a Portuguese translation have come from

the press of the Federaggo.24 Although doctrinal rifts and organi-

zational hiatuses exist as a result of this position, the breach is

bridged to some extent by the organization's having become by far the

largest publisher of the works of the Master, Allan Kardec.

Beliefs Concerning the Etiology of Illness

In Kardec's works only tangential references are made to belief in

spiritual causes of human ailments. Nevertheless, the constant preoc-

cupation with threats to health and the inadequate medical and health

services had facilitated the Brazilians' acceptance of treatment by

combinations of magic and herbs; little distinction was made among

practices inherited from old Europe, Africa, or the Amerindians. The

Kardeckian system offered a rationale for such beliefs, and even

covered them with the mantle of "science." On the other hand, healing

offered a means of expression for charity, and the healing of mind and

emotions assumed the role of assistance in the evolution of "spirits."

The belief-system with reference to healing, then, has developed and

has captured the interest of those inside and outside the movement in

24In a folder of the press of the Federacgo Espfrita Brasileira,
the book is described as "the only mediunic work in the world which
makes a complete study of all of the words, all of the miracles, all
of the passages, of all, that is, which was narrated by the four truth, a College Course in Spiritism."

Brazil in a manner apparently undreamed of by Allan Kardec. It is

therefore important to note the salient features of this typically

Brazilian emphasis given to a marginal aspect of Kardec's teaching.

Despite the general admission among Kardecists that certain cases

demand "doctor's medicines" and surgery, the ultimate causes of all

illnesses are considered to be spiritual. The following etiology of

illness has been drawn from the writings of Spiritist and other commen-

tators25 and verified by this writer's own observations and interroga-

tions. It will be apparent that certain of the causes overlap; for

example, illnesses of a "Karmic" nature may take any of several forms.

1. Karmic effects. Rebellious or evil attitudes and behavior in

previous existences are thought to necessitate retributive suffering

and sacrifice. This may take the form of physical or mental illnesses

or defects, which provide opportunity to make retribution through patient

suffering, faith, and gnostic development. A picture-story in the

ANUARIO ESPIRITA shows how a worker, whose arm was broken in a factory

accident, comes to question his ill fate. He is taken by a kindly

Spiritist friend to a session; there the spirits inform him that the

accident is the result of his having committed murder with that

right hand in a previous incarnation.26 Thus, although no direct

25Toledo, op. cit., passim; Camargo, op. cit., pp. 99-104;
Xavier, op. cit., passim; Boaventura Kloppenburg, 0 Espiritismo no
Brasil, Petr6polis: Editora Vozes, 1960, pp. 217-219.

2ANUARIO ESPIRITA 1966, Araras: Instituto de Difusgo Espirita,
1966, pp. 120-125.

physical cure was performed, the more important task of inner re-

conciliation was carried out. This, it was felt, would even have the

indirect effect of speeding physical recovery.

Enmity and vengeance -- universally considered in myth and legend

to be stronger than death -- are considered to be particularly apt to

bring illness and suffering through the Karmic process, since retribu-

tion must be in proportion to the wrong which was done.

2. Undeveloped mediumship. Many persons, in attendance at

Spiritist sessions for the first time, are attacked by muscular spasms,

convulsions, spells of screaming or fainting, or similar manifestations.

The writer has observed many such cases; and they are usually associated

with symptoms of tension or of nervous or emotional disorders. The

usual immediate prescription is: "He needs to desenvolver (develop his

mediunity)." Failure to "develop," particularly after the discovery

of latent mediunic capacity, is said to result in increased suffering.

It amounts to a rejection of the mission to minister to the errant

spirits which need the mediunic channel for the carrying out of their

own expiatory services, and it inhibits the reception of those services

by "incarnate spirits of the material sphere" (i.e., people now alive),

who are needy.

3. Religious ignorance or negligence. This is closely related,

in many cases, to the undeveloped mediunity just described. It is also

important in the conceptions of Umbanda, the Afro-Brazilian "white-

magic" cult.

4. Possession by an ignorant or "low" spirit (often termed "ob-

sessao"). This can be related to the above if an unsuspecting medium

is taken over by a spirit, without his own knowledge or even against

his will. Another term commonly applied here is "perturbagoes," the

expression "enc8sto" (something which is "lodged") being the one most

used among lower class people and followers of Umbanda. The effects of

this phenomenon may be felt in the areas of employment, business, home

life, et cetera. The term "obsessao" is applied indiscriminately to

all types of abnormal and psychopathic phenomena. In both small places

and large, Spiritists maintain asylums and hospitals for sufferers of

such ills. The 550-bed Hospital Espfrita in Porto Alegre has psychia-

trists and modern equipment, but an extensive program of sessions of

"desobsessao" (lit., "dis-obsession") is carried on daily. Desob-

sessao is also the name given to the monthly bulletin published by

the hospital.

5. Anger, vengeance, and other unwholesome attitudes. The

principle that "like attracts like," which is also basic to homeo-

pathic medicine, operates here; an evil spirit joins the vindictive

heart, bringing illness or even "obsession." The sentimental but

rationalistic moralism which insists upon the necessity of constant

thoughts of sweetness and light is central in Spiritist writings and

exhortations. It perceives in negativism and hatred major sources of

human ill-health. The writings of Francisco Candido Xavier and his

many emulators are replete with anecdotal and homiletical applications

of this common-sense psychological principle.

The Cultus of Kardec Spiritism: Religious Practices

and Training

Attention is directed in the present section to the varieties of

seances and to the programs conducted for the winning of new sympathizers

and the indoctrination of experienced members, youth, and children.

The increasingly rigidity of institutional structure and of patterns

of religious expression is noted.

Toward the Uniformity of Spiritist Practice

The first formal contact of most persons with Spiritism occurs

at a sessao, or seance. Visitors are generally filled with apprehen-

sion; they expect to hear "voices" and see apparitions, possibly of

the spirits of people they have known. Such expectations are rarely

fulfilled; the meetings normally proceed with order and may seem dull

at points. Yet the atmosphere is permeated with the expectant convic-

tion of rapport with the unseen but stable and permanent world of the

Spirits. This is the fundamental attraction of Spiritism. It also

creates situations of potential danger, and requires regulation.

Such regulation is one of the major tasks of the federative in-

stitutions. The Federacgo Esplrita Brasileira has published several

works, in addition to Kardec's Book of the Mediums, with the view of

establishing standards for the conduct of meetings and the activity of
mediums. Among its most effective publications for this purpose,

however, is one which carries the prestige and the charismatic aura

of Francisco Candido Xavier and his colleague, Waldo Vieira, rather

than the flavor of an official pronouncement; it is entitled Mecanismos

da Mediunidade (1960). The "spirit of Andre Luiz," believed to have

dictated this book to the two mediums, is also given credit for another

Martins Peralva, Estudando a Mediunidade, n.d.; and Aurelio
Valente, Sessoes Praticas e Doutrinrrias do EsDiritismo, n.d.

publication of the Federagao, Conduta Espirita (n.d.), which was

"received" by Waldo Vieira. This work is relied upon heavily by the

Federacao Esplrita do Rio Grande do Sul in its publication which

establishes norms of Spiritist practice for its members.28

The Federagao Esplrita do Estado de Sao Paulo has made strenuous

efforts to obtain some uniformity of practice among the diverse groups.

In its great gray headquarters building in Sao Paulo, the Federagao has

dozens of sessions of various types each day, in which hundreds of mem-

bers participate. Through the experiences thus obtained, the Federagio

has developed approved orders and techniques for the conduct of the

sessions. These have been published as texts for use in the School for

Mediums maintained by this body, and also have become the accepted

manuals for use in other states. Edgard Armond is the author of some

of these texts, and the descriptions presented in the present study,

while also dependent upon the writer's observations and further reading,

are consonant with Armond's major book on the direction of the seance
and other types of sessions.

Armond's presentation is somewhat pedantic and repetitious.

Although he considers 10 types of meetings, three of which are for doc-

trinal instruction and do not involve the "reception" of spirits, the

agendas for most of the varieties of sessoes are similar. Thus it is

28Normas para os Trabalhos Praticos e Doutrinarios, Porto Alegre,
1968, 2a. ed. rev.

29Trabalhos Praticos de Espiritismo, Sao Paulo: Livraria Allan
Kardec Editora, 1954. Armond has another work, Mediunidade, for which
publication data are lacking.

easily understood why most centers have, in general, two types of

meetings. One is for instruction and the preaching of the Spiritist

message, with some routine mediumistic activity. The other is for the

invocation of spirits for tasks of healing and other specific functions.30

In practice, as Armond himself notes, the majority of the meetings held

in Brazilian centers are "mixed sessions," involving both of these gen-

eral functions. In this manner, as the Spiritist author puts it, in a

candid and homely phrase, those present "get a little bit of everything

in a short time."

The Organization and Functioning of the Mixed Session

In small centers, the mixed session is often the principal meeting

of the week, and is attended by all members. In the larger organizations,

such as the Allan Kardec Center in Campinas or the headquarters of a

state federation, many such meetings are held by small groups in rooms

set aside for this purpose. Each group is permanent, and holds its

meetings weekly or more often.

The sessions are normally carried on by the light of day or normal

electric illumination, though in some situations and local settings

only subdued or colored lights may be used. Frequently there is a bust

or a picture of Allan Kardec; his austere aspect is appropriate to the

bare severity of the surroundings. In iconoclastic reaction to Roman

Catholic practice, there are no images or "distracting decorations." This

is also in conscious contrast to the gaudy collections of images and

ornaments on the altars and walls of centers of low spiritism. Soft

One of the principal and most strict prohibitions in the norms
and regulations is that of invoking specific spirits; those which "make

music may be played on records, but Armond reiterates the Spiritist in-

sistence that this is only for the creation of a "mood," and is not

liturgical;31 there are no Spiritist hymns. "The thought is everything;

the form is worth nothing"; these words from the Book of the Mediums

constitute a popular saying within this movement. This extreme ex-

pression of rationalism, however, is inevitably accompanied by the

patterning and formalization of cultic behavior.

Each local center has a Spiritual Department which is the organ

responsible for the proper functioning of the sessions. The leader of

each group, however -- called the "director of the table"-- must be

selected by the board of directors of the "society" which operates the

center. At the time appointed for the meeting, the director takes his

place at a large table, usually flanked by the speaker for the day and

a "medium of incorporation." The latter is a person considered to be

capable of receiving corporately a spirit, so that it may act or speak

through the person's body. In many centers it is the custom for these

leaders to sit apart at a smaller table, so that -- without interference

from the possible presence of "heavy or perturbed spirits" -- the direc-

tor may receive inspiration and energy from "On High." (Armond adds that

in this manner the sessions gains in "dignity and efficiency because of

its better structure";32 there are many such evidences of growing

themselves known" upon the general invocation must be accepted. This
is an attempt to avoid "personality cults" among mediums and "spirits."
3Armond, op. cit., p. 156.

32Ibid., p. 130.

hierarchical tendencies.) In any case, the large main table is sur-

rounded by the mediums and other "cooperators," while the overflow of

such persons and the outsiders who may have come occupy other seats in

the room. It should be remembered that thousands of such sessions each

year are also held in humble homes, with mediums and audience crowded

about a small dining-table.

The agenda for a session is as follows with variations according
to circumstances:

1. The director invites all present to open the session with

silent concentration. This is done with bowed heads and closed eyes.

2. The director gives the opening prayer, with all in the same

reverent attitude.

3. The speaker for the day -- usually a regular member of the

group -- reads a text and gives a homily based upon it. The most

common source of such readings is 0 Evangelho Segundo o Espiritismo,

while the writings of Francisco Candido Xavier also are relied upon


4. "Vibrations" are produced for the cure of sick persons not

present. This involves simple mental concentration of the part of

the audience, but often it is the preparation for the receptive state

of the mediums. This state is one in which it is believed that the

mediums' respective "guides," "protectors," or "controls," as their

customary guiding spirits are known, can be incorporated in them. It

3Ibid., pp. 127 ff.

is not necessarily an unconscious state. The process of "incorporation"

involves varying degrees of apparent physical and emotional effort and

effects on the part of the mediums. Even during the preceding talk,

a few yawning sights, groans, and weaving heads may have indicated

that some "incorporation" was already in progress. In the Normas

referred to above, such physical manifestations are discouraged.

5. "Passes" and vibrations are given for the cure of the sick

who are present and for the "fluidification" of bottles of water brought

by members and others. The passe (pronounced pah-see) is accomplished

by the medium's moving his hands over the head and down parallel to

the body of the consultee. The hands are maintained several inches

away from the body, sometimes with the muscles tense so that there is

a physical, as well as a "spiritual," or fluidicc," vibration. Usually

the passe is terminated with a shaking or snapping of the fingers, for

the more efficacious dismissal of harmful spiritual forces or effects.

"Fluidification" refers to the impregnating of a material -- in this

case, water -- with healing fluids from the incorporating spirit. The

bottle of water thus becomes a vehicle by which the healing powers can

be taken home and used daily by recipients and other people.

6. There may follow a period for the exercising of mediums who are

"in development'; that is, those who are still in the process of de-

veloping their natural mediunic powers, or gifts. It is considered

important that this be done only when experienced mediums are present,

and in secret sessions; that is with no non-members present.

7. Indoctrination is given to non-incarnate spirits which it is

thought may be present, by mediums who are experienced and apt for this

work. It is considered natural that there be many more spirits present

from the "invisible" than the "visible plane," and that many of these

"invisible brothers" be on low levels of evolution. Such spirits must

be taught and improved; their presence is often manifested in the form

of illness or suffering on the part of a person present. (More details

of such cases are given in the discussion of healing sessions in the

following section.)

8. A message is brought by the "spiritual mentor" of the group;

that is, the spirit who is considered to be their invisible leader. The

message is given through a medium who has previously been selected for

this part of the program and is seated with the director of the table.

It usually consists of words of inspiration or moral uplift.

9. All are again asked to concentrate together, for the closing

of the meeting.

10. A prayer of thanks is led by the director.

The duration of the program is rarely more than one-and-one-half


As has been indicated, each of the mediunic practices included in

this agenda is frequently encountered as the sole activity of a given

session. Such sessions are usually closed to all except members (with

the exception of persons being treated); this applies principally to

sessions devoted to indoctrination of "non-incarnate spirits," to heal-

ing -- and particularly to treatment of the mentally ill -- and to the

seeking of the "orientation of the spirits" in the direction of the local

society. The most important and numerous are those sessions devoted to

the attempt to heal body and mind, and to them we now turn.

Healing Sessions

The treatment and the cure of human ailments, both "material"

(physical) and "spiritual" (including emotional disturbances and nervous

disorders), is a major function of Spiritism in Brazilian life.

It is commonly accepted that most persons have their initial con-

tacts with Spiritism because of illness, either their own or that of

loved ones. The findings of the previously mentioned survey conducted

by Camargo are in accord with this. Of the 580 respondents, 62.1 per

cent attributed their first attendance at Spiritist sessions to the

search for cures. It is worthy of note that, among those who had been

frequenters of Spiritism for five years or less, the percentage of those

who recall having first sought healing was 70.0.34

Many sessions for the exercising of the healing ministry must, of

necessity, be held at the bedside of the sick, at home or in a hos-

pital. (In the latter case, sharp controversies often arise between

hospital personnel -- especially Roman Catholic "sisters" -- and

Spiritist practitioners.)

Although the nature and degree of seriousness of the illness deter-

mine the particular combinations of techniques employed for the healing,

the essential features of the session are the following: (1) mental

concentration of those present, reinforced by the joining of hands, to

form the "current", (2) spoken prayers, (3) the execution of the passe

or the laying on of hands, on the site of the medulla oblongata, the

34Camargo, op. cit., p. 171. Also, cf. infra, pp. 97-98.

solar plexus, or other "central part," or upon the affected part itself.

These techniques have been developed into complex patterns by specialized

teams of the Federaago Espirita do Estado de Sao Paulo. These teams are

known as "Pasteur groups," since their guiding spirit in the science of

healing is considered to have been Louis Pasteur in a recent incarnation.

Many Spiritist physicians give their services without charge to

centers that have medical consultation as a part of their social service

program. Frequently the work of the healing session is preparatory for
or complementary tc "official" medical treatment, especially surgery.3

It is increasingly common for the healing session, or a portion of it,

to be devoted in a somewhat routine manner to passes de limpeza

(cleansing passes) and to "vibrations." The purpose of these is the

removal of maleficent influences (many of which may have been suffered

without the subject's awareness) and the imparting of spiritual power

over evil forces. Many persons receive such vibrations and passes

regularly -- "like taking a bath," as some have ingenuously put it --

and even the children are brought forward to receive them. Such activi-

ties are usually accompanied by low lights, often with soft music

played on a phonograph. They become routinized, much as were the

prayer meetings once common in Protestant churches. When questioned as

to the specific function and value of such sessions, many participants

give such answers as : "It is a purification," "I feel better," "I don't

feel right without it," "I feel lighter," and "It frees me from depres-

sion." In some centers, the mediums circulate among the assemblage

35Spirit surgery, and related phenomena, are treated in the
section on special mediunic phenomena.

during this period, administering passes to all; the present writer has

often been the "beneficiary" of such ministrations.

As was suggested above, the treatment of a disorder is determined

by what are considered to be spiritual, as well as physical, factors
in its cause. The various types of treatments are noted briefly in

the following paragraphs.

The categories of Spiritist treatments

The treatments dispensed in the mediunic sessions vary with the

type of sufferer and his illness; nevertheless, they fall generally

within the following categories.

1. Prayers and passes, and -- for more powerful action of the

magnetic fluids -- laying on of hands and the forming of a "current"

by the joining of hands of the mediums present.

2. Religious teaching and exhortation, for both the sufferer

and his tormenting spirit. One of the surprises of the neophyte --

to whom "spirits" are awesome beings -- comes upon hearing the director

of the table reprehend sharply an insolent or ignorant spirit, or

patiently explain to him his condition and the steps he should take

concerning it. Again the emphasis upon will-power and the rationalistic

basis of behavior comes to the fore; the reading of such books as the

translation of Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking is

often recommended. Cures are frequently attributed to cumulative

effects of regular attendance at the sessions.

For beliefs concerning the spiritual factors in physical and
other disorders, cf. supra, pp. 76-79.

3. The development of mediunic faculties, referred to above.

4. Expulsion of the perturbing spirit. This, of course, has

ample precedent in the Bible, and above all in the work of Jesus Christ;

for this reason, convincing persuasion can be made to Roman Catholics and

Protestants to bring their sick to the center for treatment. Often per-

suasion of the evil spirit, rather than expulsion, is the remedy; it is

believed that the consulting discarnate spirit, which acts through the

medium, or one of the "incarnate" Spiritists can employ sympathy and

low-key argumentation to induce the ignorant or guilty spirit to depart.

Or, a more developed spirit must expel the perturber. Certain

rebellious spirits, however, are of such violence that the more refined

beings of the Kardecist level can have no effect. In such cases, even

against the admonitions of the Kardecists, the sufferer frequently

takes his woe to the tendas of Umbanda. New and inexperienced mediums

are constantly warned against the dangers of attempting to "develop" or

attempting any mediunic activity except in the company of more ex-

perienced mediums. Otherwise, they are subject, at any moment in such

efforts, to the unwitting "incorporation" of some inferior spirit, which

may do great damage to them and those related to them.

5. Homeopathic medicines and treatments. The alleged superiority

and efficaciousness of such medications are considered to be due to their

being products of Nature.

6. "Spiritual surgical operations," such as those performed by

mediums of special gifts.

7. Spiritist treatments given as supplements to "official," or

formal medicine. These are usually passes, use of "fluidificated"

water, et cetera.

The healing practices are thus integrally related to the mediunic

phenomena and to the religious beliefs and activities. Even so, some

programs are given over entirely to doctrinal instruction and per-

suasion, and to these we now turn.

Classes for Instruction in Doctrine

Doctrinal teaching is of two kinds: the first is called, as in

the churches, "a pregaggo do Evangelho" ("the preaching of the Gospel")

and refers principally to the presentation of the religious message of

Spiritism to non-believers; the second is "doutrinag~o" ("indoctrination")

and signifies doctrinal instruction of any kind.

For adults

The following is patterned on the announcements circulated in the

city of Campinas, describing the types of activities under consideration

here, within the context of other phases of the program of the "Allan

Kardec" society. These meetings are typical of thousands which occur in

Brazilian towns and cities each week.


Irma Serafina Street, 674

Today, from 14:00 to 16:00 hours: passes, vibrations
and ministry to the sick, and doctrinal teachings; from
19:40 to 21:00 hours, passes followed by doctrinal teach-
ings and development of mediums (School of Mediums).

A study on Reincarnation, under three aspects: Scienti-
fic, Philosophical, and Evangelical. The classes will
be held on Saturdays at 20:00 hours, the second being
given on the 2nd of October, by Sr. Afonso Ubinha. Ad-
mission is open to all, in order that interested persons
may become informed about one of the fundamental princi-
ples of Spiritist doctrine.

Commemorating the date of the birth of the codifier of
Spiritist doctrine, this Center will hold a solemn session
on the 3rd of October, at 10:00 hours. The program

consists of a talk by Dr. Lauro Gongalves and an
artistic part under the responsibility of the "Allan
Kardec" Spiritist Youth. All are invited.

Fraternal Evening

The Municipal Spiritist Union and the Spiritist
Youth groups announce that the next "Fraternal Even-
ing" will be held at the "Allan Kardec" Spiritist
Center, Irma Serafina Street, 674, on next Sunday, at
20:00 hours. The speaker's tribunal will be occupied
by the widely acclaimed speaker, Dr. Wilson Vieira de

For youths

Organizations of young people from about ages 15 to 30, such as

those mentioned in the above-cited announcement, follow closely the

patterns set by the corresponding groups of the Protestant churches.

Usually under the guidance of an adult counselor, they meet weekly for

studies of doctrine very similar to those held by the adults. They are

not usually as successful as the Protestant groups in obtaining the

visits of "outsiders," except in the case of youth who are in schools,

orphanages, or other institutions maintained by the centers. There-

fore, the content of the studies is rarely prepared with neophytes in

mind. An important activity, through which the youth often attempt to

reach their "outside" peers, is the editing and publishing of small

newspapers and journals; these and the social activities of the youth

groups are further examined from other points of view in Chapter V.

For children

The instruction of children, too, follows the lead, to some extent,

of the Protestant denominations. The writer has visited "Sunday School"

classes of children who sang "Jesus Loves Me," and who were shown Bible

film-strips produced (with English titles) by Protestant-oriented

organizations in the United States. In recent years, slides, films,

records, and other audio-visual materials have been developed by

Spiritists. The numerous local and regional journals carry frequent

articles on the "orientation" and education of children, as well as

announcements of meetings of Spiritist educators. Even so, much of what

is said and written is more hortatory than pedagogical in nature, and

the educational process is antiquated. The material remains largely

within the extremes of heavy, doctrinaire teaching on the one hand,
and the "Peter Rabbit" and fairy story level, on the other.37 It can

be said that in general Spiritism does not see in the children the

evangelistic opportunity which is seen by the Protestants. Most of the

children in Spiritist "Sunday Schools" are those of the members. For

this reason, since large numbers of centers have few young couples, many

of such centers do not have an educational program for small children.

Where there are orphanages, the children are given religious instruc-

tion or, in some cases, allowed to receive Roman Catholic or Protestant

instruction. This latter occurs principally when such instruction is

available in the public schools.

The Practice of Charity
"Outside of charity there is no salvation.38 This statement is

The ubiquitous writings of Francisco Candido Xavier appear also
on this level. Nearly a dozen books, "for children from those with
their first teeth to those with false teeth," have come from his mediunic
pen. Some of them are grim fairy tales, and nearly all end with the
moral, "Be good." They comprise almost the entire range of the Federagao's
catalog of children's literature.
Allan Kardec, 0 Evangelho Segundo o Espiritismo, Sao Paulo: Edi-
t~ra Pensamento, 1963, Ch. 15, "Fora da Caridade n2o Ha Salvacao,"
paragraph 10, with same title. The early part of the chapter is a
refutation of Tertullian's dictum, "Outside the Church there is no

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