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Allan Kardec: Biography and Reliable Information from Official Sources

Hello, friends of the Spiritist Content! We’ve finally managed to gather great observations and verified information about Allan Kardec. In this article we are going to talk about: “Who was Allan Kardec?” Why is that such a popular name in the Spiritist Doctrine? What was the mission of that reincarnated spirit in the 19th century? Curiosities about Allan Kardec, Main Books of Allan Kardec, etc.

Did you know that Allan Kardec, this very important character in the history of Spiritism, was skeptical about communication of spirits and the phenomena of the turning tables?

But it was precisely this logical questioning that allowed him, with the help of the spiritual plane, to develop an irrefutable method of investigation that would bring to the world proofs about the veracity of all that and finally gather that knowledge in the merciful work of Spiritist Doctrine, the Comforter promised by Jesus.

Let’s go then!

¿Who was Allan Kardec?

Allan Kardec, whose real name was Hyppolyte Léon Denizard Rivail, was born in France in 1804 and devoted 30 years of his life to education. Bachelor of Arts, educator and translator, he wrote several pedagogical works, one of them on classical French grammar. He was an outstanding disciple of the educator Henri Pestalozzi and an active propagator of his method. He went so far as to replace him in his role as a head of the eminent institute at Yverdon (Switzerland) which was regarded as a model in Europe.

After being introduced to the phenomena of the “Turning Tables”, he observed that behind that oddity there was something of greater value and depth. He studied the communications of the “immortal” beings, as they called themselves, and determined their authenticity.

The Codifier of Spiritism

He was invited by the Spirits to be the intermediary that delivers to the world a new science and a new philosophy of moral consequences based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is therefore considered the Codifier of Spiritism.

Thus, he adopted the pseudonym of Allan Kardec, so that his name wouldn’t have any influence on the publications of the books that would constitute the basis of the Spiritist Doctrine.

Recognized by the notable French astronomer Camille Flammarion as “The common sense incarnate”, Kardec founded the Paris Society for Spirit Studies and the Spiritist Magazine (Revue Spirite), both fundamental to the spreading of Spiritism throughout the world.

Kardec as ambassador of the Spirit of Truth, systematized, coordinated, organized, and finally codified the Spiritist Doctrine, which constitutes the “Comforter” promised by Jesus.

See also: Bezerra de Menezes: Biography, life, death, work and stories

¿Why the name Allan Kardec?

Because of his dedication to the study of spiritual phenomena, he participated in encounters where communications between the living and the said: dead or Spirits took place. During a mediumship session at the Baudin’s family home in Paris, a Spirit named Zefiro manifested himself and claimed that he had met Professor Rivail in a previous life, during the Druids’ time, when they lived together in Galia. According to Zefiro, at that time, Rivail ’s name was Allan Kardec.

And so that his name as a famous educator did not influence in the new emerging doctrine, when he published “The Spirits’ Book” in 1857, and, being that book authored by the Spirits who dictated the work, he chose to adopt the pseudonym “Allan Kardec” in all his new jobs. There were 23 volumes dedicated to the Spiritist Doctrine in more than 12 years of lucid, scientific and exhaustive writing and research, a true legacy left for all of us.

See also: Spiritist Pass: What is it ?, Main Benefits and Frequently Asked Questions

Young Rivail

A descendant of a family of magistrates, the little Hyppolyte was born in Lyon, France, he was the son of Jean Baptiste-Antoine Rivail, a campaign judge and Jeanne Louise Duhamel, his wife, residents of Calle Sala, No. 76. The family lived in the outskirts of the city of Lyon, in the district of Bourg-em-Bresse, a French commune, capital of the Ain department. When he was ten years old, he moved to the city of Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland to study at the Pestalozzi Institute, a pioneer of modern pedagogy, which introduced in Europe his new teaching method based on intuition (extract from within) as a source of knowledge.

Allan Kardec Educator: before the Spiritist Doctrine

Rivail’s daily activities and academic education at the Pestalozzi’s Institute certainly strengthened his body, nurtured his spirit, and moralized his heart. With a complete and improved educational program, many distinguished French and Germans were also instructed there. The organization and teaching method covered the subjects of Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mineralogy, Botany, Zoology, Comparative Anatomy, Natural History, Physiology, Psychology, teaching languages such as Greek, Latin, Italian, English, French, and German. Mathematics included Calculus, Higher Arithmetic and Geometry. Geography and Astronomy were also studied; as well as Fine Arts, Drawing, Music, and Religious and Moral Teaching.

After peace was established in Europe at the end of the Napoleonic wars, captivating the sympathy and admiration of the teachers, Denizard Rivail, at the age of 14, became an efficient teaching assistant for the school, helping students with learning difficulties. Later on, after receiving higher education at the Institute (Normal School), he expanded his knowledge and experience that would be important in the future publications of his own didactic books.

Academic activities

On a controversial date among his biographers, Rivail probably separated from the Pestalozzi Institute in 1822, returned to Lyon and immediately moved to Paris and established residence at Calle de la Harpa, No. 117. There he found opportunities to continue his educational activities.

Among his twenty-two educational works, we will cite the following, as cited in the Spiritist Magazine of May 1869:

  • Plan Proposé pour L’amélioration de L’éducation Publique (Proposed plan to improve Public Education), 1828.
  • Cours pratique et théorique d’arithmétique, d’après la méthode de Pestalozzi, à l’usage des instituteurs et des mères de famille (Practical and theoretical course of Arithmetic according to the Pestalozzi method, to be used by teachers and mothers), 1824.
  • Grammaire française classique (Classical French grammar), 1831.
  • Manuel des examens pour les brevets de capacité (Examination manual for the aptitude diploma).
  • Solutions raisonnées des questions et problèmes d’arithmétique et de géométrie (Rational solutions to questions and problems of Arithmetic and Geometry), 1846.
  • Catéchisme grammatical de la langue française (Grammatical Catechism of the French language), 1848.
  • Programme des cours usuels de chimie, physique, astronomie, physiologie qu’il professait au Lycée Polymathique (Program of regular courses in Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Physiology, which he taught at the Lycée Polymathic).
  • Dictées normales des examens de l’Hôtel de Ville et de la Sorbonne, accompagnées de Dictées spéciales sur les difficultés orthographiques (Normal dictates of the examinations of the Town Hall and the Sorbonne, followed by Special Dictations on spelling difficulties), 1849, a highly appreciated work at the time of its appearance and from which new editions were recently released.

See also: Joanna de Ângelis: Reincarnations, Books and Messages

Allan Kardec and the turning tables

Since 1853, after the Hydesville events in North America, Europe was captivated by the phenomena of the “turning and dancing tables” which was considered the biggest event of the century by the press and authors of the time. Eminent scientists, such as Faraday, Chevreul, Arago, Babinet, among others, committed themselves to finding out and explain the causes of it. In France, especially in Paris, the High Society gathered in elegant rooms to put their hands on the tables with the intention of getting in touch with the Spirits through moving them or writing on slates.

The most diverse theories emerged and were soon dismissed for not corresponding to the observed facts. The most coherent was brought forward by a scholar of “Magnetism” who considered the phenomena to be the consequence of the action of an electric or magnetic fluid of unknown nature. Prof. Denizard Rivail knew and wrote about the subject in the book “Posthumous Works” when his good friend Mr. Fortier brought him a strange novelty: the tables talk and answer questions, they show certain intelligence. It was at the end of 1854, when Rivail replied to his colleague: “I will only believe it when I see it and when it can be proved to me that a table has a brain to think, nerves to feel with and can also become a sleepwalker. Until then, let me see nothing more in the case, only an old wife´s tale”.

Scientific and ethical rigour

We can see the scientific and ethical rigor of Prof. Rivail, who in 1855, at Mrs. Plainemaison’s home, witnessed the phenomenon for the first time and declared that “it left no room for any doubt”, as he received intelligent answers through blows, written slates, and baskets attached to a pen. He also added that he “foresaw” something serious in those apparent trivialities, such as the revelation of a new law, “which I took the opportunity to investigate thoroughly”.

He continued his studies through the meetings at the Baudin’s family home, and in 1856 he began to envisage his project about “a book that one day will bring together humankind in the same feeling of love and charity”, as the Spirit of Truth says in the Prolegomena of “The Spirits’ Book”.

See also: Mediumship: Types, Examples, How to Develop and Trusted Books

Is Allan Kardec the encoder or the creator of Spiritism?

According to the dictionary Aurelio, to create is: to make in the mind; to originate or invent; and to code is: to bring together different elements into a single work; to compile.

We differentiate both terms to underline that Prof. Rivail was responsible for observing, comparing and judging the facts, caring and persevering in his intention; to finally draw the conclusion that the intelligent source behind the phenomena were the Spirits of those who had already died. And extracted from there, by deduction, the laws that govern these phenomena, of philosophical, scientific and religious consequences.

In addition, Prof. Rivail reveals in the book “Posthumous Works” that he understood the seriousness of those phenomena and that they were the “key” for the future of humanity and the solution he had been searching throughout his life. He began to bring to the sessions a series of questions concerning different problems and the Spirits wisely responded. He perceived that it consisted of “a whole” and that given its proportions, it constituted a doctrine, and he prepared to publish the teachings received, for the instruction of all people.

See also: Spiritist talks: about Jesus, Reincarnation, Mediumship and the Doctrine

What was Allan Kardec’s mission?

In 1856, Rivail received, for the first time, a revelation through the medium Miss Japhet about an important mission that he had to fulfil. The Spirit of Truth announced to him that this mission carried great responsibility and if he failed to succeed someone else would take his place. His work would be the Third Revelation, the “Comforter” promised by Jesus.

Hippoliyte Léon Denizard Rivail dedicated his time, his rest, his life in the communion between the two worlds, accumulating intense work and study in the format of “The Book of Spirits”. From 50 different communication notebooks of Miss Japhet, her parents delegated to the noble teacher the task of separating, compiling, comparing, condensing and coordinating those messages that the Spirits dictated to the sleepwalking medium (unconscious).

It was a herculean task: systematizing hundreds of dictations received from various mediumistic sources —mainly from the Baudin ladies— in the presence of a large and select attendance. He developed, completed, remodeled and submitted the results to the missionary Spirits, who many times recommended a new revision.

See also: Life’s purpose: How to define your purpose? Tips and Inspiring notes

The Spirits’ Book – The foundation of Spiritism

The first edition of “The Spirits’ Book” was published on April 18, 1857, with 176 pages and 501 questions and answers regarding the “Spiritist Doctrine”, the “Moral Laws”, and a special chapter of “Hope and Consolation”. This date marks the birth of Spiritism. New editions were made and the book was expanded; the 2nd edition had 1019 questions and 500 pages approximately.

Thousands of copies were sold and the outcome was surprising, even to Rivail and the publishers. The event brought praise but also criticism and detractors.

Allan Kardec, as he became known, began to publish a monthly Newspaper, The Spiritist MagazineJournal of Psychological Studies—, distributed for the first time in Paris on January 1, 1858, and was published under the direct responsibility of Allan Kardec until his disincarnation, which took place on March 31, 1869, from then on to be administered by his followers until today.

Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies

On April 1, 1858, he founded the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies aiming to “Study all phenomena related to spiritist manifestations and its applications to moral, physical, historical and psychological sciences.”

He began to exchange letters with a vast number of people who had read his books praising or criticizing (supporters or opponents), (supporters or opponents) and he replied with kindness to them all.

But his mission was not over yet, he kept working and published the five fundamental works (Spiritist pentateuch), established in the following books:

  1. The Spirits’ Book: launched in 1857, addressing the first causes, the Spirits world, moral laws, and hope and consolation according to the spiritist vision.
  2. The Medium’s Book: second of the five basic works of Spiritism, published in 1861, in France, which deals with the phenomena of Mediumship, the communication between the incarnates and the Spirits, and the surprising chapter on Obsessions.
  3. The Gospel according to Spiritism: launched in April 1864, reveals the religious connection of the Spiritist Doctrine with Jesus, relating the evangelical teachings from the perspective of the Spiritist Doctrine.
  4. Heaven and Hell: fourth of the five basic works of Spiritism, launched in 1865, in France, which in the first part critically examines religious beliefs and their inconsistencies with current knowledge. In the second, dozens of dialogues of the Spirits, which narrate their impressions from beyond the grave.
  5. The Genesis: published on January 6, 1868, addresses various questions of a philosophical and scientific nature, such as the creation of the Universe, the formation of worlds, the emergence of the Spirit according to the Spiritist paradigm of understanding reality.

See also: Gospel at Home: How to do Gospel at Home (step by step)

Curiosities about Allan Kardec

Madame Allan Kardec

In 1832, Allan Kardec married the also professor Amélie-Gabrielle Boudet, partner of Mme. Pestalozzi at the Yverdon Institute, in the education of children and young people. Author of three books: one about stories, others about drawing and Fine Arts, subjects she taught. Amélie was nine years older than Prof. Rivail, but she was physically and spiritually jovial. They had no children, but they educated many.

Zêus Wantuil writes that in 1835, the couple suffered a significant setback —the Institute was forced to shut down. However, the very understanding, resigned, and courageous nature of Amélie helped her husband to easily overcome these stormy events. Supporting each other, they launched into greater jobs. During the day, while Rivail took care of the accounting of the commercial houses, she worked in preparing the free courses that they were running in their place from 1835 until 1840.

Accompanying her husband in these investigations, it was possible to see the emotional joy with which Amélie realized the events that opened new horizons of happiness for Humanity. After countless observations and experiences, Professor Rivail put his hands on the wonderful work of the Codification, and it is from his dear wife, who was then 60 years old, that he receives all the moral support in that commitment. She became the husband’s true secretary, supporting him in the new and much more arduous jobs that now took him all the time, stimulating and encouraging him in the fulfillment of his mission.

Anonymous Society of Spiritism

Deeply convinced of the truth of the Spiritist teachings, she sought to guarantee the vitality of Spiritism in the future, and, according to her own words, she couldn’t find a better way to spend her time on Earth before she would meet her husband again. Striving to carry out the plans exposed by Allan Kardec in the “Revue Spirite” of 1868, she succeeded, after careful studies carried out jointly with some of Kardec’s old disciples, founding the “Anonymous Society of Spiritism”.

Destined to the dissemination of Spiritism by all means permitted by the laws, the aforementioned society had, however, as its main objective, the continuation of “Revue Spirite”, the publication of Kardec’s works as well as all the books related to Spiritism. Thanks to the vision, commitment and limitless devotion of Madame Allan Kardec, Spiritism grew by leaps and bounds, not only in France, but throughout the world.

Reincarnations of Allan Kardec (confirmed by the Spirits

  1. Allan Kardec: in Gaia, currently France, according to Spirit Zéfiro’s revelation. This information is in the book “Posthumous Works – My first introduction to Spiritism” and in the book “What is Spiritism?” by Henry Sausse, published by FEB (Brazilian Spiritist Federation).
  2. Quirílius Cornélius: roman centurion, in Jerusalem, Palestine, currently Israel. This information can be found in the psychographic work by a medium with exceptional resources and, finally – which is very important – published under the seal of the FEB, with the translation by Manuel Quintão. It is the book Herculanum, by Count J. W. Rochester.
  3. Jan Huss: a philosopher and religious reformer, in Bohemia, currently Czech Republic. This information was given to the medium Ermance Dufaux in 1857 and could be found in the Leymarie Library from where Canuto Abreu copied it. Later on, with the Nazi invasion, the originals were destroyed. Divaldo Pereira Franco also revealed this fact in his spiritists’ talks.
  4. Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail: on the 3rd of October, 1804.

See also: Does reincarnation exist? What is it, what does the Bible say about it, what is it for?

How did Allan Kardec die and where is his grave?

Kardec died in Paris, on March 31, 1869. Victim of the rupture of an aneurysm, at the age of 65. Professor Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail closed his eyes in the Physical World to wake up with the bliss of the fulfilled duty in the Spiritual World. The body of Allan Kardec is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, next to his wife, Amélie-Gabrielle Boudet (who was disincarnated on January 21, 1883).

Did Allan Kardec make any profit from his works?

Allan Kardec paid for “The Spirits’ Book” first edition, transferred the publishing rights to the publishers and obtained only symbolic copyrights. When Kardec presented the financial balance of the publications to the Society of Spiritist Studies, in 1862, it showed that they did not make “much profit”. Sometimes he had to buy the books “at a discount” to distribute them. His travels, made in the years 1860, 1861, 1862, 1864, 1866 and 1867, where he visited Spiritist centers in France and other countries, were paid for with his earnings, despite having received many false criticisms that he was a rich man.

See also: Forgiveness is good! But, how to forgive? Real Stories and Forgiveness in the Bible

What is the reading order of Allan Kardec’s books?

Allan Kardec recommended in “The Mediums’ Book” (Part First – Preliminary observations – Chapter III – Plan of proceeding), a way or guide to the study of the Spiritist Doctrine:

Starting with the book “What is Spiritism?” which exposes briefly the basis of the Spiritist Doctrine; then “The Spirits’ Book” which contains the complete doctrine with all its philosophy and its moral consequences dictated by the Spirits themselves. It is the revelation of man’s destiny, the starting point in the knowledge of the nature of the Spirits and in the mysteries of life beyond the grave; and the next volumes in the following order:

  1. “What is Spiritism?”.
  2. “The Spirits’ Book”.
  3. “The Medium’s Book”.
  4. “12 volumes | The Spiritist Magazine”.
  5. “The Genesis”.
  6. “The Gospel According to Spiritism”.
  7. “Heaven and Hell”.

Is there any Allan Kardec or Spiritism museum?

Based on a recent research on the internet (May / 2020), here is a list of active museums related to Allan Kardec and Spiritism:

Museu Nacional do Espiritismo (MUNESPI) – National Spiritist Museum, in Curitiba, PR

The organization emerged simultaneously with the Brazilian Society of Spiritist Studies. It proposes to be always open to the scientific study of everything that refers to Spiritism, by that we mean: organizing, preserving, classifying, listing, restoring and contextualizing the results of mediumship works. The collection is made from the results of mediumship work, such as photographs, magnetic tape recordings, psychic painting, materializations, psychographies. As part of the collection, are included documents related to the history of the Brazilian Spiritist Movement and its main mediums.

Read more:

Historic Spiritist Route in Paris

A journey through the historical places that are linked to Spiritism, in the French capital, the summit of the merciful doctrine by mid XIX century. It presents the places where Allan Kardec developed his spiritist discoveries and codified the doctrine.

Read more:

O Museu Espírita de São Paulo – The Spiritist Museum of São Paulo

Belongs to the Institute of Spiritist Culture of the State of São Paulo (ICESP) organized by Dr. Paulo Toledo Machado and includes a collection, gathered over decades, carefully placed and organized for its preservation and analysis. The Museum, located in the Lapa, has an excellent library, a newspaper library, and conference rooms where the main collection is also presented. In an annex building are under construction the Pinacotheca, a movie room, a historical archive and a theatre. The Museum has a total of three buildings.

Read more:

Městské muzeum Nová Paka – Nová Paka City Museum, in Czech Republic

In the attic of the building, you can see exhibitions of “mediumistic” drawings and other articles related to the Spiritist movement. The collection of these drawings of “l´Art brut”, style is the largest in the Czech Republic and also one of the largest in Europe. The exhibition also features works from Karel Sezemský’s edition, “Spirit Nová Paka”.

Read more:

6 Quotes by Allan Kardec

  1. “Unshakable faith is only that which can face reason, in all the ages of Humanity.”
  2. “The quality of the Spirits is recognized by their language; that of the truly good and superior Spirits is always worthy, noble, logical, free from contradiction; breathe wisdom, benevolence, modesty and the purest morality; it is concise and without unnecessary words; that of the inferior, ignorant or proud Spirits, is void of ideas and is almost always compensated with the abundance of words. Any obviously false thought, any maxim contrary to sound morality, any ridiculous advice, any crude, trivial or simply frivolous expression, and finally any sign of malice, presumption or arrogance are clear indications of inferiority in a Spirit.”
  3. “The true spiritist can be recognized by their moral transformation and by the efforts they employ in order to dominate their bad instincts.”
  4. “Through Spiritism, the human race will enter upon a new phase; that of the moral progress which is the inevitable consequence.”
  5. “Walking in step with progress, Spiritism will never be outdated, because if new discoveries would contradict any point, that point would be rectified. If a new truth is revealed, it will be accepted.”
  6. “Improved men will offer only good Spirits to the invisible world; these, incarnating, will only offer perfected elements to humankind. The Earth will then cease to be a world of expiation and men will no longer suffer the miseries that are a consequence of their imperfections.”


  • WANTUIL, Zêus (Org.) – Allan Kardec: o educador e o codificador – 4ª ed. Brasília: FEB, 2019.
  • Revista Espírita, maio /1869 – available on the FEB website, 2020.
  • KARDEC, Allan – Obras Póstumas – Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 13/04/2005.
  • KARDEC, Allan – Livro dos Espíritos – 93ª ed. Brasília: FEB, 2019.
  • WANTUIL, Zêus, Grandes Espíritas do Brasil – 2ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 1981 p. 51.

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