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  The Survival of the Soul and Its Evolution After Death
Pierre-Emile Cornillier

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Pierre Emile Cornillier (1862 – 1942) was a French artist who had an interest in psychical research. One day in 1912, he noticed that Reine, an 18-year-old model he had been employing for several months, had psychic abilities of some kind.  Although a student of agnostic philosopher Herbert Spencer, Cornillier had closely followed the psychical research of the time and had been an observer at some séances. On a November afternoon, when it became too dark to paint, Reine asked Cornillier if they could experiment with table tipping, something he had mentioned to her. He somewhat reluctantly consented and they sat facing each other at a small table.  They sat for a full hour and nothing happened.  They were about to give up when they heard cracking noises and the table swayed to the right and to the left, then tapped clearly several times. 

Familiar with this phenomenon, Cornillier noted that the taps were spelling out letters.  After some confusion and repetition of the message, Cornillier understood that he was to hypnotize Reine.  Although he had never hypnotized anyone before, he had observed the process and decided to give it a try.  It worked, but Cornillier was reluctant to go too far with it and was concerned about bringing Reine back to consciousness, so he quickly brought her back to full awareness.  He decided to wait until after Reine’s next modeling session with him to further experiment.

It was on November 29, 1912 that Cornillier recorded his first real success in what amounted to clairvoyance by Reine. After she was in “hypnotic sleep,” he asked her to visit his apartment, on another floor of the building, and she, never having been in the apartment, provided an accurate description of the layout.  Further experimentation involved communication with some apparently low-level spirits, but a “high spirit” named Vettellini emerged in the ninth séance and continued on as Reine’s primary guide, the 107th and final séance in this book taking place on March 11, 1914.

On some occasions, Vettellini would take her to distant places, and she would report back to Cornillier on what she had seen or with whom she had met.  On one occasion, near the end, Vettellini apparently took possession of Reine, as the voice heard by Cornillier was much deeper and not hers.

There were several contacts with deceased old friends and acquaintances that were evidential to Cornillier, his wife, and some visitors, but Reine’s mediumship was not about evidence, per se, as it was with most of the pioneering researchers.  Cornillier was more interested in learning how things worked in the spirit world. They discussed the nature of the spirit body, how spirits awaken on the other side, what they look like, their faculties, grades of consciousness among spirits, activities in the spirit world, spirit influence on humans, God, reincarnation, astral travel, difficulties in communication by high spirits, deception by inferior spirits, premonitions, dreams, time, space, animal spirits, materializations, apparitions, cremation, and other concerns that Cornillier had about the non-material world.

This book has it all!

About the author

Pierre-Émile Cornillier (1862 - 1942), was a renowned artist and the son of the merchant Pierre-Émile Cornillier,  the deputy mayor of Nantes, and Marie-Joséphine Leroux. He was also the uncle of the writer, Mireille Havet.

He married Anna Lyon, of American nationality, on March 20, 1901 in Paris, in the sixth arrondissement.

He exhibited for the first time at the Salon of 1885 and sent his works to the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts until the beginning of the First World War.

Sample chapter


January 3, 1913

This séance, as might be expected, is only a repetition of the last one, but with certain variations.

Reine sleeps a long time—about three-quarters of an hour—and tranquilly, without words or gestures. Finally, she sits up straight, seeks for me with her hands like a blind person, and meeting mine, begins by verifying me, so to speak. Then she reports: “Monsieur Cornillier? Ah! … Well, here I am! I’ve been a long way off! And now I must tell you what has happened.” She begins her account, calling attention constantly to the difference between this excursion and that of Wednesday. In the first place she went out voluntarily this time, and by the window. The Spirits, only one of whom she recognized—Vettellini—were waiting to escort her off and exercise her.

She did better this time. And at a given moment Vettellini said to her: “Reine, try to go alone now—without help.” He spoke severely, and with authority. She was frightened—frightened to death, feeling sure that she was not strong enough to go alone. When I ask what would have been the consequence of this fear and lack of strength, had she been alone, she replies: “Oh, I would have come straight back to my body ... and wakened. You, too, have done better today,” she adds, “the fluid that you sent me during my sleep helped me constantly, gave me new force.” (I had, as a matter of fact, returned several times to magnetize her while she was sleeping.) “But, you know … it’s something fearful! … And I’m not a coward, either! But just imagine being carried off like that by all those people who have only their heads! And sometimes even hardly that! They are really only a kind of shining smoke, but in order to make me understand better and be willing to go with them, they put on their heads! Vettellini is an old man with a gray beard and long hair; looks severe. Oh, that one will never mislead us. He’s the right kind.” And she goes on, describing the itinerary followed, etc., etc.

I ask further details about the astral body, and, after confirmation of what has already been said, I brusquely interrupt: “And animals—have they, too, a double?” She gives a rather hesitating “Yes,” seeming to look back, to recall. “Yes—but it is not at all the same thing. There is a certain kind of light around the horses and the dogs ... yes; but it cannot be compared to that of human beings. It’s another thing—quite another thing.” She says that in going to sleep she felt as though thousands of infinitesimal cords were pulling her and trying to carry her off.

When her story is finished I ask if the Spirit Vettellini is present, if she sees him. Upon her affirmation, I ask if he, Vettellini, can read my thoughts; if he knows the motives which impel me to continue these experiments, if he can understand my aim, my purpose. Reine seems to listen an instant, then exclaims: “But certainly he knows! Otherwise, he never would have come! They sent little ones at first—those inferior ones—to see what you were wanting to get in these séances, if it were just curiosity. But when they were sure of your intention, then they came. Vettellini is a high Spirit. He will direct the séances and will help you. He knows that you, who believe in survival, have no need of proofs, but that for others proofs are necessary ... and he will help you to get them,” etc.

Finally she gives me an order for herself, which I must repeat to her when she wakens. Every day she must auto-hypnotize herself by means of the crystal ball. This is a purely gymnastic exercise, she will probably see no result. But it is a means of obtaining a more rapid and complete fluidic intoxication when I magnetize her. She should always have at hand a pencil and paper, the latter firmly fixed to a board, in case she should need to write.
Informing me that there will be a séance next Monday, she then says I must waken her.


February 24, 1913

(I am alone during the first part of the séance)

Reine comes in at two o’clock,—in better health, more buoyant.

We set about the irksome task of the table, persisting during a good long hour, with no other result than crackings, violent movements, and some vague glimmers of phosphorescence on our hands, or on the centre of the table. Out of all patience, I cut short this tedious gymnastic to magnetize Reine, already so sleepy that she does not even hear my preparations. I work over her for a long time, adding the complementary method prescribed in the last séance, and, when the moment is auspicious, order her spirit to go into the studio and describe what I have arranged there for this purpose. She goes, but with so much difficulty that I ask if she is in the condition necessary to obey my orders. She tells me tersely, and in a hoarse voice, to continue the passes, adding, “I am sleeping well, but not deeply enough.” Finally, she says I may stop. She is more liberated, and perhaps will be able to see better.

I order her to go back to the studio and look on the writing table. Does she find anything unusual there? At expense of great effort she discovers three playing cards that I had pulled from a pack and thrown down without looking at them. She tries to name them but hesitates, sees nothing clearly, is not sure; and, rather awkwardly, gives a vague description, which I find to be false at the end of the séance. Suddenly, her manner changes, her attention is all alive. She declares that she sees a fire—“a big fire, flames are bursting out everywhere! ... Here are the firemen! Everybody is looking,” ... etc.

I try to get precise indications as to the quarter of the city and the building that is burning, but obtain only the statement that it is a big building not far from la Place de la République. (It was about half-past four.)1 She sees nothing more: says that she is back here.

I resume the passes, and when the hypnosis seems at the right point, send her imperatively to 86, rue de Miromesnil, telling her to enter an apartment of the fourth floor and describe what she sees there. As she does not know the street, I give directions. She reaches the house, takes the staircase (which she herself discovers in the court), and, at my formal order, enters the apartment. She sees the hall clearly, and is attracted to the room on the right, which she describes accurately, remarking a big writing-table, pictures on the wall, etc.; but it is only later that she discovers a man seated at the table and writing—“a big, strong man, ... with a beard, ... and who wears eyeglasses ... or is it spectacles? Oh, he’s a big man—powerful.”

She cuts off her description with an exclamation: “But I know who he is! It’s the gentleman who was here that day when we were at the table and the time by your watch was given!” Bravo. It is indeed to my friend S. O. that I have sent her, and Reine has recognized him though she has seen him only once, at that unsuccessful fifth séance, the twenty-first of December.

Just here the bell rings. Not wishing to open the door to a stranger, I take advantage of Reine’s condition to discover who the visitor may be. Quickly I order:—“Reine, come back immediately. Are you here? Then go to the door and see who has rung.”—“Must I go outside?”—“Yes, outside. Be quick. Look.”—A second of suspense, then she whispers gaily: “It’s Madame Cornillier.”—“You are quite sure?” “Ha! Yes!” I open the door to my wife.

This incident having brought Reine to a less profound state of hypnosis, I tell her to get into communication with Vettellini that he may clear up certain points that remain obscure for me.

First, I would like to know if the length of each individual life is determined at birth. “No,” says Vettellini, “except in the case of children destined to die young. But for those who are to have a normal life the date of death is determined in the course of their existence, and even by the course of their existence. Their development of consciousness may advance or delay the fatality which, in any case, can be foreseen a long time before it occurs.”
I ask if Reine is right in affirming that to die in infancy is a sign of fairly high evolution.—“Yes, certainly.” I remark that there are children who die between five and ten years of age who seem to be mentally inferior and who are sometimes even idiots. “That is true,” replies Vettellini, “but it is merely an inferiority of the organism, it has nothing whatever to do with the Spirit who, indeed, in many cases, has a dull consciousness of imminent death, and does not take the trouble to ameliorate his instrument of expression.”

If to die in infancy is a sign of high evolution, does that imply that death in age shows an inferiority of the Spirit? “Not at all. Generally speaking, inferior Spirits should have a long life, to give all possible chances for their evolution. But a high Spirit may also attain an advanced age—and for various reasons: for instance, if he has a role to fill, an aim to accomplish, teaching to give; if he is a cause of evolution to those around him, or, even, merely for his own benefit.”

The accidents which suddenly cut off life, are they always determined beforehand? Is it not sometimes a question of chance?—“Never. They always occur at the date and under the conditions determined.”
Those whose existence is a long physical agony, do they in this way expiate faults or crimes committed in a former life?—“Yes, always. It is the result of past acts. It is the redemption—which sometimes they themselves have chosen ... as expiation.”

I come to the question of suicide and try to obtain the assurance that under exceptional circumstances it has its excuse.—“There is no excuse for arresting life—one’s own, or that of another. They who have killed themselves are reprobate, as are all murderers and assassins, as is even the judge who inflicts a death sentence.” Here Reine gives an interesting appreciation of this question of capital punishment. Vettellini considers it as another crime—for which, in a relative degree, each public officer is reponsible, be he judge, juror, or hangman. They will bear the consequences until they come to understand that one may not arrest a life in its course. Never. Never. He even goes so far as to say that it is wrong to neglect one’s health, and the care of one’s body. One should keep one’s instrument in the best possible condition.

I turn again to the question of cremation, not yet quite clear. Can it possibly be just that those who have been cremated, either without their consent, or voluntarily, believing it best, should suffer from the fatal function of a law of which they were ignorant? “On principle, no one may be punished for an act that he has committed through ignorance,” replies Vettellini. “There is no question of expiation, no painful remorse for people in this case; but they will nevertheless be retarded, because of certain physico-chemical difficulties, in their reincarnation. But the white Spirits appreciate the circumstances and modify the application of the law in consequence.”

Here I ask if I was wrong to leave the table before the time prescribed—explaining how annoying it is to sit in the dark for an hour or so, holding on to a piece of unstable furniture. He says that it was because he saw my great desire for material phenomena that he had recommended this exercise, and had sent his aids—Jeanik and the other one. As a matter of fact, it is hardly possible to get what I want except with a group of assistants forming a chain, etc., etc. If we wait for the complete development of Reine’s faculties, she herself will realize such phenomena; but for that she must reach the point of catalepsy. Until she becomes lifeless and cold as death, we shall obtain nothing in this direction. Today the sleep has been profound, but not sufficiently profound to allow her double to obey me instantly. I should begin earlier, magnetize her gently and slowly (not to fatigue myself), but during a very long time, and without questioning her. After several such séances she should obey me, as my own thought obeys me. I must work especially on her head, inhibit her will and substitute my own. For instance, today, when I sent her into the studio, she calmly strolled outside on her own errands. It was then she saw the fire—which Vettellini says really existed. He repeats and affirms that I shall get marvelous results with Reine, but I must have patience: her health worries him; she is better, but she must continue to take great precautions ... and this she does not always remember.

This last reflection provokes one of the scenes, so impossible to describe, and so convincing that we always regret being the only observers of them. There is a discussion between them—a violent one. At first we catch only a few sharp disjointed phrases, it is more by her gestures and expression that we understand her anger. Evidently she flatly refuses to obey, turns her back abruptly on Vettellini and sulks. Too angry to be silent, however, she flings about in her chair again, only to repeat that she does not want to, and she won’t! But probably the Maître knows how to make use of a fit of temper, for there are signs of capitulation; she yields ... on one point only.

Reluctantly turning to me, she confesses that the last two days she has not taken her cod liver oil ... But this is not enough. Vettellini insists. No, and no! She will not and she will not! And the scene of fury begins all over again.

I urge her then to make a clean breast of it, just to get out of trouble, and suddenly she breaks down. She did not breakfast this morning, but it was not her fault, she had no money (pas des sous). This time all is confessed.

Only, she hears Vettellini laugh, and once again turns her back on him—wounded and angry. But evidently his charm is irresistible, for, like a child tired of sulking, she laughs herself and makes peace.


February 26, 1913

(Mlle. D. is present)

I foresaw that this séance of training would be of no great interest. My orders were to assume more and more control of Reine’s will, by magnetizing her as long as possible, and to exact nothing from her; and I made every effort to accomplish this end.

Reine arrives late, miserable in health and much affected by a family scene. (In the last few years her father has become an inveterate alcoholic.) Nevertheless she sleeps rapidly and during one hour and a half I continue to magnetize her.

Finally she sits up and informs me in a tired voice that she has been outside—without doing much of anything. Her head was completely empty, as it should be, she had slept profoundly; but her body was still too living—due to her state of health. Vettellini made her look at different scenes, in order to habituate her to observe with precision. I ask if one of the scenes which she describes— a snow-covered country, where bears are playing about— has any signification. Vettellini says not, only an exercise, an image which he created for the purpose of training her astral sight to notice details.

Reine speaks of the cataleptic state which she should attain as soon as her health permits: “When the condensation of my double is accomplished, I shall lose weight and even seem to grow smaller. It is then that disincarnated Spirits—Vettellini or others—will be able to use my organism to communicate with you. If they speak, you will hear their voices, the gestures will be their gestures. They will also be able to use my fluidic substance to materialize and make themselves visible.”

I turn again to the question of children predestined to an early death. In certain almshouses, such as Bicêtre for example, four or five hundred little children may be found together, all idiots or deformed, destined to die, between three and twelve years of age. Must we then believe that all these pitiful creatures are highly evolved beings? The answer is precise:—“They are all Spirits of about the same degree—and of a fairly high degree. At the moment of their reincarnation they were conscious of the fate ahead of them. They accepted without revolt—sometimes voluntarily choosing it—this painful destiny, for the purpose of more quickly attaining a superior degree of evolution.”

I ask if in the entire existence of a being,—that is, throughout the succession of his periods of incarnation and disincarnation,—the earthly period may not be considered the most difficult to endure, the time of hard labor and painful effort; and the period in the Astral as the time of harvest, good or bad, according to the work accomplished, but, in any case, a repose? The answer is affirmative. “Earth is hard labor, struggle and suffering. The Astral may be a happiness, but in every case it is a respite, a truce, and the ...”

“Vettellini wants me to tell you to look at your lamp!” exclaims Reine. Amazed by this absurd interruption, I nevertheless jump in the direction of the red lantern, to find that it is smoking frightfully. Lowering the wick, I ask her:

“But did the odor inconvenience Vettellini?”—“Oh, no—he says it was on account of the ladies. He warned me a few minutes ago that your lamp was smoking, but I did not understand what he meant; so then he insisted.”

Our amusement breaks the thread of my ideas.

I explain to the Guide how useful it would be to have an exact and clear prediction from him—one that would be realized at an early date. It would add considerable weight to the value of the tragic visions which he has already given us. He promises to try to satisfy my wish.

This brings me to ask: what is the basis upon which Spirits establish a prediction of future events? Reine transmits that when there is merely question of the future of an individual, Spirits can first enter into relation with his double, during his sleep, and thus obtain many indications for a prognosis. But all events exist in the astral long before their realization on earth; and Spirits are able to take cognizance of them by reading the mysterious signs of currents and fluids, more or less correctly, according to the acuity of their perceptions, and the competence of their judgment,—which is always determined by their degree of evolution.

This explanation is purely verbal. Our human intelligence cannot conceive of currents and fluids that contain or express ... future events. But what do we understand of the phenomena that we witness each day of our lives?


April 14, 1913

Reine, still in bad condition, but gay and valiant, undertakes the séance with her usual good will. Great precautions are now imposed because of her fragile health, and we must no longer hope to obtain the phenomena which can be produced only when the body is completely cold. But those which can be provoked at the degree of hypnosis already attained, are sufficiently valuable. The facility with which she obeys me, the rapidity of her displacements, the precision of her astral vision,—all this becomes more and more marked.

In reply to my inquiry, she says that she is just back from far away, from the high places,—higher even than the last time! She has talked at length with Spirits whom she saw at that great reunion, but this time they were not holding counsel, and she could ask them about anything she chose. She chose to ask about Death.

She transmits abundantly, but in confusion, what has been told her. She has not quite clearly understood. There is a certain amount of nonsense and contradiction in what she repeats, aggravated by the poverty of her vocabulary. To my remark, “All that is none too clear,” she replies quite simply: “You must ask Vettellini about it. You know I often don’t understand, and then sometimes I repeat badly.—I haven’t the right words.” And she adds, picturesquely, “My body tangles me up.”

So I cut short her narrative and ask her to make an excursion for my personal gratification. Will she go to find and bring here the Spirit of an old friend who died in B. on the Seine, some five or six years ago? The letter which I present, to guide her in finding the fluid, is of an old date; she says there is almost no fluid left in it. So I give her one that has come to me quite recently from his daughter (and which will allow her to find the house where they have lived together) and start her off to B.

After some moments Reine tells me she has reached the spot. She sees a high and ancient tower. “They have pretty well spoiled it,” she remarks. I wonder what she means, but have not the time to make her specify,1 for at once, thanks to the second letter, she discovers the house, not far from the tower, and is not long in entering into relation with my old friend T. himself.

What is his color? (This is now a capital question with me. “Tell me your color, and I’ll tell you what you are.”)—“He is gray; bluish-gray; about the color of your father.” He seems to make some difficulty, objects to follow my messenger, but finally risks it. “He is there,” says Reine, indicating by a nod of the head the space just above me.

He answers my banal questions coherently. Yes, he remembers me; he was very fond of me, is glad to have come, etc. He does not wander far from the banks of the Seine and the country round about this place, where he was born and where he died. He is not unhappy, no, … he does not suffer, ... but neither is he happy, for he does not know what to do. He wanders about, … goes down to sit by the riverside, exactly as he did all his life long, … and is bored to death! He remembers his daughter with affection, goes often to her house to see her, but he can do nothing for her. And again he repeats: “I don’t know what to do.”

Reine explains that he is not at all a bad sort—quite the contrary. He is even rather remarkable in his way, for he has had so few incarnations. He is like a child—ignorant, that is all. Again he says that he is glad he came, and asks Reine to explain carefully how he can find his way here alone, for he means to come back.

Another question provokes a characteristic reply. What did he love the most in his lifetime? Reine transmits: “Most of all I loved to stroll about—and to paint.” (This is exact. He neglected the most serious affairs to gratify his passion for painting. He left a house full of pictures—and little else.)

All told, the incident offers no great interest, and Reine, after my thanks and au revoir, gallantly escorts him back to the banks of the Seine.

As soon as she returns the child calls Vettellini, and before I have time to speak she is leaning toward him and listening attentively. Presently she turns to me: “Well, … Vettellini says that I did not understand the communication of the blue Spirits. I made a perfect mess of it,—said everything wrong! But he is going to straighten it out for you.”

Resuming, then, the general question of Death, Vettellini, to simplify the explanation, supposes four degrees in the scale of evolution and defines the characteristics of the passage from earthly life to astral life in each one of them:

At the first degree—the lowest—the incarnated being uses his body to the ultimate limit. His spirit literally grapples itself to his organic body, and even sometimes the intervention of the Spirits is necessary to wrest him away from it. At this degree there is not the slightest consciousness after death. Such a Spirit wanders about heavily in the lower atmosphere of earth, in a sort of coma, so to speak, until the moment arrives for another incarnation.
At the second degree, the soul on leaving his body is received by a group of Spirits who try to awaken his conscience and rouse in him a notion of responsibility. They aid him to acquire, according to his capacity, some notion of the phenomenon of Death. And in his next incarnation such a soul will sustain the reaction of what he has done in his preceding life—whether it be good or bad—and through it he will acquire his first inkling of responsibility.
At the third degree, the soul has developed a certain conscience. He is responsible. And even before his death, during his periods of sleep or delirium, he will be able to foresee what awaits him. It is this foreknowledge, whose repercussion creates an obscure presentiment in the waking hours, that explains a given attitude in face of death—terror or serenity. The soul, having left the body, is conducted by a messenger-Spirit before an assembly of white Spirits in whose presence he takes a complete and conscious view of his past life and of his responsibilities in it. At this degree of evolution, a disincarnated Spirit is able to accept with understanding and resignation the ordeal of his future life, for he realizes the necessity of it.

And finally, at the fourth degree, a modification of destiny may be offered just before death, as the blue Spirits explained to Reine today, and which Vettellini elucidates as follows: Sometime before the epoch determined for their death—determined by destiny—Spirits who have reached a high degree of evolution are able to disengage themselves during their sleep, or during a state of unconsciousness, and go to consult with the superior Spirits. Aided by them, they will take complete cognizance of their responsibilities in life and the consequences involved. Then, if the soul, though highly evolved, has still to return to earth for a short period of incarnation, he may choose not to die at the moment normally determined, but to continue to live for some years, or some months, in the same conditions of suffering that he has been enduring up to that moment, and thus terminate once and for all his evolution on earth, without being obliged to undergo the slow ordeal of incarnation.

This, it would seem, is a great favor accorded by the white Spirits.

This most interesting communication brings me to the precise question I have been wishing to ask Vettellini. It was said in the last séance that the determinism of the elements is inevitable (sidereal evolution, meteorological phenomena, terrestrial convulsions, etc.), but that events that result from the play of human passions and characters may be modified, in a certain measure, by the superior Spirits. On the other hand, Vettellini has declared that astrology is true in principle; that is to say, that the stars and planets do have an influence on human beings, and that there is correspondence between their different phases and the events in a human life.—“Then, there is, just the same, in individual and historical events, a part that is irresistibly fatal—a part that even the high Spirits cannot modify?” I ask. “For example, in the appalling predictions of the war, and the consequent social upheavals, many events must be enchained with the sidereal movement,—the rise or fall of certain men, for instance.”

Vettellini replies that it is true: even the highest Spirits cannot touch certain events in preparation. They are beyond all influence. The law comes from on high—higher than they. They have no possibility of averting wars predestined in the Astral with such intense precision. Beyond any doubt the destiny of a Napoleon is determined and fixed. But if it is not in their power to change the essence of events, they have, in many cases, the possibility of modifying them. The race must be run, and the field is given: this is Destiny. But the high Spirits are able to break down, or pile up, the obstacles; and even, if need be, they create new ones. They can also give fresh speed to the runner, revive his energy, aid him when he falls, etc.

I remark that there are, however, certain cases tending to prove that Spirits may have an influence upon the elements. Is there any measure of truth in the stories where they are said to have dissipated a hailstorm, provoked rain ... etc.? The Guide says that it is not impossible. Very high Spirits, uniting together, may be able to produce, or cause to be produced, certain meteorological phenomena. Since, by the combination of fluids and vibrations, they can momentarily abstract an object from the influence of gravitation, modify molecular cohesion, etc., there is no valid reason why they might not dissolve a cloud, ward off an accumulation of electricity, provoke a current in the atmosphere, etc.; but their action in this field is so exceptional that it is scarcely more than theoretic.

I ask if their power of penetrating matter is without limit, or if certain substances can oppose their passage. “The power depends upon the evolution. A Spirit of high evolution passes everywhere, penetrates everything.”—The centre of the earth? I suggest. But Vettellini says that penetration is not possible there after the stratum of lava in fusion. Spirits of his degree can penetrate terrestrial matter even to the bottom of this liquid sheet, but further than that they cannot go. Why, he does not know. It is a limitation which they do not understand, but which is nonetheless effective. With this exception, nothing can oppose their passage, no metal, no substance; they can fathom the profoundest depths of the sea as they can pierce the most resisting plates of steel.

It is said that inferior Spirits may be arrested by running water. Could they not pass above it?—Vettellini says the fact is correct. Very undeveloped Spirits are like cripples: a man without arms cannot hoist himself over a barrier.
I allude to the recent book of two Dutch savants, who claim to have imprisoned Spirits, in conditions indicated by these Spirits themselves, in order that they might be weighed and measured. Vettellini replies that there are practical jokers even in the Astral, and they find nothing more amusing than the grave and scientific joke prepared expressly for the learned. It helps to pass the time in the Au-Delà.

And this brings me to a point of supreme interest. How is it that in spirit-communications of value, where not only a high morality is expressed, but where a philosophical, or even a scientific interest may be found, there is such an extraordinary facility in the use of the name of God, such a familiar use of His commands and His will? One would infer that the communicating Spirits have personal acquaintance with God; that God has engaged and commissioned them. Can Vettellini explain this state of affairs? Never since he has been communicating with us, never in any of his counsels nor in any of his teachings, not once, has the name or idea of God been introduced.

Are, then, the inspirers of the religion called spiritualism of mediocre evolution? And how can this be true when some of their communications are so remarkable?

The Maître replies that many of the inspirers of the religion called spiritualism, are of very high evolution, and for that reason know how to use the best means of reaching their audience, the means adequate to their mentality.

Those who make a religion of Spirit-presence and Spirit-intercourse are almost always people who have an intense need of faith in God, in a personal God. A religion without God, who is at once king and father, would have no meaning for them. They cannot grasp an ideal that has no representation. And for this reason the inspiring Spirits, observing and judging from their higher point of view, give them the mental nourishment that is necessary, the only one they can digest—and which, consequently, will sustain them.


April 16, 1913

(Madame G. is present)

In spite of Reine’s ill health the séance has been good. As excursionist she was evidently less brilliant; she saw slowly, confusedly, and had only one desire—to get back to her body. On the other hand her transmissions were extremely clear.

She sleeps quickly, despite her fever, but does not grow cold. When I question her she says that she sees nothing, that she is there, disengaged from her physical body, and waiting to know what she is to do.

I give her an object that has belonged to my father, telling her to find him and bring him here. (I would like to get from my father himself an account of his death and passage into the Au-Delà. I doubt if he can give a precise analysis, but wish to make the experiment.)

After a few moments Reine announces his presence. I then explain my wish, begging her to make my father understand the great interest that an exact description of his experience would have for me, and for the work in which we are engaged.

Reine listens long to what he has to say, and when I, impatient, urge her to transmit his words, she tells me not to interrupt, for he is in the midst of describing what he can remember. Finally, I gather from what she afterwards reported that he had no sensation of death. He was conscious of nothing, felt no shock. He merely found himself suddenly, as in a dream, surrounded by Spirits who led him off, far and high, very high, to an assembly of other Spirits who, he realized later on, were superior. They tried to make him speak of his past life and to help him understand the good and the bad in it. But it was in vain. He understood nothing. All was confused and unreal for him. In face of his irresponsibility, the messenger-Spirits then led him back to the lower terrestrial atmosphere where they had found him, and left him there sleeping, stagnating in complete unconsciousness, ignorant even of his passage into death. It was only a long time after that the situation became clearer to him; and it is only recently—since he came here to see us, in fact—that he could seize the significance of the different phases through which he had passed. Now light is penetrating; his memories grow more definite; he begins really to understand. (What he says of his condition corresponds, in short, to what Vettellini ascribes to the second category. Forty-seventh séance). After some further talk, I thank my father for his effort ... and ask Reine to make an excursion.

In the hope of interesting Madame G., who is with us today, I send the child to see what is going on in a certain apartment (Madame G.’s apartment), giving her merely the address and directions for reaching it. She obeys—limply; she sees—vaguely; and it is only little by little, that she gives a rather colorless description of the place. She does not see the lady who lives there: she must have gone out. But she perceives the presence of a child and, after some hunting about, discovers the room where the child is at that moment. “A little girl. She is reading near a window.” She also sees another person—“Not a servant, ... but she is not a lady either. Well ... after all, she is a kind of servant just the same ... you know? She is sewing. There is a bed in the room. It is the bedroom of this young girl. It is her place—she is at home there.” (This was verified later. Madame G.’s little daughter was at that hour in her room, reading at the window, and her English nurse was sewing near her.) I suggest that Reine play a joke on the child, pull her hair, for instance. “Oh, no, Monsieur,” she protests, “just think; if I succeeded it would frighten her!” Reine sees blonde hair, the child’s hair is dark.

In directing the medium to Madame G.’s apartment, I had asked the latter for some small object which she was wearing that I might know from Reine if the fluid in the apartment was quite surely the same as that contained in the object—a shell comb—which I then handed to her. She compared the fluids and affirmed that she was surely there in the place where I had sent her. But on entering the child’s room she quickly picked up the comb again, felt it more attentively and said: “This child, who is here ... h’m ... it’s the same fluid as the comb. She must be a daughter,—or at least there is a very close relationship.”

I send Reine to find the salon, and, when she is there, ask what she sees on the walls. She smiles: “Oh well, I feel it at once, you know. It’s a portrait of yours. Oh, I can’t be mistaken in that fluid! There’s no possibility of error.” Here she appears to be examining something and finally says: “No, it is not a portrait, it’s a picture. I cannot see it very clearly, but certainly it is not exactly a portrait of a person—it’s more of a picture.” (This is exact. It is a picture in which there is a woman’s figure.) She sees exactly the arrangement of the room, the position of the window, the piano, etc. It is a pretty place,—sympathetic, she would like very well to live there ... but, after all, she would prefer to come back. And for the second time she insists upon my calling her home.

It is evident that she is very tired.

We learn afterwards that, during her excursion, Vettellini has been obliged to stand guard over her physical body and chase back her astral body which had returned twice, wishing to enter. Finally, however, she is allowed to reintegrate her domicile!

After a short respite, I ask our friend Vettellini to be good enough to answer a few questions.

Is an uncompromising materialist of necessity a spirit of mediocre evolution? The disinterestedness and abnegation of many great savants—materialists—has been admirable. All religions—including Spiritualism and the doctrines having reincarnation for basis—promise, after all, a recompense for effort, a compensation for suffering. Materialism alone is disinterested. What is Vettellini’s opinion?—He answers:

“The greater number of materialists persist in their opinion simply because they have not the slightest intuition of anterior existences. Absolutely nothing rises in them, obscurely, to combat the arguments of gross evidence and extreme simplification which, in good faith, they accept. Before their reincarnation, while they were wandering in the Astral, their state was not unlike that of your father before you called him: that is to say, they were in a sleep. Reincarnated, they have not the faintest echo of the past, not the least intuition; and they naturally go straight to the belief that is the most materially logical. This applies to materialists of mediocre value.

“The brilliant ones, even those who have great intellectuality, are often no more advanced in evolution. They have had the luck to incarnate in an organism so perfect, so supple, that it is the organism which does all the work:—a well-trained mount gives an air of skill to the most ignorant horseman.

“But there are savants of the highest value, of admirable disinterestedness, who work for the welfare of Humanity, and with no hope whatever of recompense. Ah, these! They are making a glorious evolution. Their lives of abnegation and research, by which they do not dream of benefitting themselves, will carry them high. But these are rare. And then, you do not know whether even they, at that moment which precedes death, do not say: ‘Who knows? I have spent the best that was in me for what I believe to be truth, and so it is well. But ... who knows?’”

I turn to another question: Art. Is there in astral life anything corresponding to the joy procured to us here by music, painting, sculpture, and poetry?

“But it is in the Astral that all Art is generated!” exclaims Vettellini. Its essential substance is created in the Astral, and your earthy manifestations are only the poorest copies! Understand me. When a work is of high and noble aspiration it is the spirit which has conceived it, and it is by the spirit that its beauty will be perceived. When, then, a Spirit is disengaged from his material envelope, it is easier for him to understand and penetrate the very essence of art-creation; he is no longer embarrassed and limited by material conditions. Obviously, Spirits have no musical instruments to play upon, but they can create and combine innumerable vibrations giving the most marvelous sensations of music and poetry. You, the incarnated, have but the mere suggestion, the faintest echo of what it really is!

I then speak of Nature, the exquisite and profound delight we have in contemplating it, and here again Vettellini applies the same reasoning: “When you are in contemplation before a scene of nature, it is your spirit which enjoys, your spirit which is exalted, but, once liberated, your capacity of emotion will be infinitely greater, and you will understand the very essence of what causes the emotion.”

At Madame G.’s request, I inquire if the joy of affection persists, if the happiness which we have in our friendships and associations here on earth has its analogy in the Astral. “But certainly. It is always the same principle. All that proceeds from and pertains to spirit is considerably intensified in the Au-Delà. In the groups that are formed—and which themselves are always based upon affinities—certain Spirits are happier together than with the others, they attract each other, and their evolution continues together.

Reine is very tired. I consult the Guide about her health. He can do nothing. The poor child must suffer, she is destined to suffer.

I close the séance by asking the explanation of a strange incident that Reine related when she came today ... Last night, her husband, as usual, wound their two watches. Each one indicated exactly five minutes before nine. This morning, when he wakened, Armand glanced mechanically at the watches and saw that each indicated five minutes before nine. Terrified at the thought of arriving late at his desk, he gave a big groan; but Reine, listening to the noises in the street and in the house, assured him that it could not possibly be so running to a neighbor’s door for verification, found that it was only twenty-five minutes after six. The two watches were ticking regularly and were still wound completely. It would seem, then, that some malicious genius had stopped the movements at five minutes before nine last evening and had set them going again this morning at twenty-five minutes past six? Vettellini knows nothing about it; he will investigate; he sees only Jeanik—our old friend Jeanik—who might have wished to recall himself to our attention!

April 18. It seems that it was, in fact, Jeanik, who felt that we were neglecting him too long. It was he who stopped both watches the moment that Armand had wound them. “But,” says Vettellini, “his action was limited to that. The two watches were not going when Armand looked at them the next morning. He did not verify this at the moment. It was only when he took them up to set the hands at the proper hour, that the two instantly began their tic-tac.”

This rectification is more interesting than the fact itself.

The Survival of the Soul and Its Evolution After Death by Pierre-Emile Cornillier is available from Amazon and other online bookstores.


Publisher: White Crow Books
Published September 2017
434 pages
Size: 229 x 152 mm
ISBN 978-1-78677-031-8
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Proof of Survival by Lord Dowding – I think that "Raymond" is a very important book because its main purpose appears to be to convey to the world proof of human survival after death. This proof is conveyed by the publication of a series of messages from Raymond Lodge, the son of Sir Oliver Lodge, the famous scientist and author of the book. Read here
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