The Doctrine of Spiritism
So we just talked about the history of spiritism in the caribbean and briefly covered Allan Kardec's work. Now it's time to get a better picture of exactly what Kardec's work entailed. I can not overstate the fact that Kardec's books radically impacted spiritistic practices in the islands. However, it's my opinion that his books did more to validate and give license to traditional mediums and healers to practice more openly then convert them to his brand of Spiritism. Take that with a grain of salt. Creolized spiritism is not the same as a Kardecian Spiritist but it's hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins. On the islands there are people who practice both and the "pure" Kardecian followers look down on those who practice folk spiritism. It's important to note that Kardec's work highly impacted Puerto Rican folk religion, but the traditional religions had zero effect on his followers or the spiritist doctrines. His followers are still going strong preaching the "gospel of spiritism" to the world. Most Espiritistas will tell you it is a requirement to read the books of Allan Kardec to understand mediumship. It is important you pick up or download copies of the Spirit's Book, the Medium's Book, and the Gospel of Spiritism. Also find the YouTube channel of the United States Spiritist Foundation and watch their videos.
I want to be clear that you will not find Kardecian influences in Africa for those that are practicing IFA or Vudu. This was and still is a European influence that made its way into the Americas and Caribbean. Spiritism is not the same as Spiritualism. They hold different doctrines. I do recommend visiting a Spiritualist Church though. They are a lively bunch and very optimistic about the future and the afterlife. Spiritism and Spiritualism are both life affirming faiths that point to a brighter future. To me personally, Spiritism is intellectualized shamanism. And all religions were born from the shamanic experience. Those who participate in Puerto Rican Spiritism usually do so because it is a family tradition. This is why techniques vary from practitioner to practitioner. The Spiritual Court Everyone has a different “spiritual court” or “frame”, and it is up to that individual to learn directly from his spirit guides. As an example: One of my spirits might have been a Hindu in his last incarnation so he is guiding me based on what he practiced while alive for my spiritual progress. Two of your spirits might be a Druid and Buddhist Monk so they will advise you based on their last incarnation and life experience. Usually a person will go to an Espiritista to get a reading, or have an investigation made into their spiritual court. As you will see by examining the basic beliefs of Spiritism below they have a lot in common with shamanistic, Yogic, and Buddhist philosophies.
Espiritismo, especially when introducing Sanse into the mix, also starts to resemble the traditional religion of Japan known as Shinto. As someone who has been studying comparative religion most of his life this only reaffirms to me that there is an inherent unity at the root of all spiritual traditions.
Espiritismo Core Theology
Espiritismo believes in one God, the supreme intelligence, the Good, the one above all, the creator of all things. The Mother and Father of all things. In Spanish it is called Papa Dios (Father God), and in Creole Bondye (Good God). God the spirit is so advanced and infinite that we can not comprehend or put into words God’s nature. God created other spirits that do rule over us and act as intermediaries for God. Everything that comes from God is just and good.
Espiritismo believes in the immortality of the soul, it also believes in reincarnation. That means the soul of an individual can return here on Earth many times in different life cycles. Each life cycle is an opportunity for the soul to grow and evolve similar to Yoga and Buddhism.
Espiritismo believes in the progression of the soul, that the spirit always evolves, within many incarnations and it never de-evolves or goes backwards. That means a human will not be reincarnated as a dog. When a person dies their soul leaves the body and the spirit maintains its unique individuality.
Espiritismo believes that those who pass into the spirit world can still communicate with the living and at some point will incarnate again in a new body to experience the world. Spiritism believes in karma, the law of cause and effect. Karma is God’s merciful way of allowing us to learn right and wrong from our actions and experience their repercussions.
A soul will continue to reincarnate as many times as it has to to find enlightenment. After an unlimited number of life cycles, if enlightenment is achieved, the soul has no need to incarnate again and will remain in the spirit realm. A spirit can choose to come back to act as a person’s spirit guide. Hence each person’s spiritual court.
Ancestors are not composed of the recently deceased. They are very old spirits who have crossed over the abyss where they reside in the realm of the ancestors, Heaven, Summerland, or whatever you want to call that realm of existence. They are ancient elevated spirits who have lived many lifetimes and no longer have the need to incarnate. Your dead grandparents are not your ancestors nor any dead relatives who have lived in the past few hundred if not thousands of years. Spiritual progress and growth is the reason we are here. Similar to other Eastern spiritual traditions our primary goal is to perfect ourselves and become more compassionate, empathetic, forgiving, and merciful.
Espiritismo’s view on morality is Christian. Alan Kardec’s Spiritism aligns itself with Christian morality and views. Creolized Spiritism also holds to Christian principles but considers the natural state of man, as embodied by the peaceful, democratic, and hospitable Tainos to be the ideal.
Differences between an Espiritista and a Necromancer
A Necromancer is a conjurer of the dead that compels the dead to perform black magic with bribes and payments either to steal something, kill someone, or another immoral deed. Fear of sorcery and witchcraft traditionally stems from the necromancer's ability to call forth infernal spirits, or intranquil spirits, for the purpose of sending harm to others. They also use their knowledge of herbalism to make poisons, cause abortions, or turn people into living zombies. The conjuring of the dead for malicious purposes is not approved of in Puerto Rican Espiritismo. Remember that everything you think, everything you say, and everything you do vibrates throughout the entire universe. So take the high road. You are not required to believe these doctrines to practice Espiritismo. But over time, by practicing, you might come to believe them.