Allan Kardec

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Allan Kardec (October 3, 1804 – March 31, 1869) is the pen name of the French teacher and educator Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail, who developed the system of Spiritism.

Connections to Theosophists

Allan Kardec died in 1869, before the founding of the Theosophical Society and before the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky introduced the concepts of Theosophy. However, his own writings and the Spiritist journal Revue Spirite were well known to the first Theosophists.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophical Society founder Helena Petrovna Blavatsky wrote to Arthur Lillie of her early experiences with mediums that she "had a general and very vague idea of the teachings of Allan Kardec since 1860," before encountering Spiritualism in the United States. She further wrote:

In the beginning of 1872, on my arrival [in Egypt] from India, I had tried to found a Spiritist Society at Cairo after the fashion of Allan Kardec (I knew of no other), to try for phenomena, as a preparative for occult science.[1]

D. A. Courmes

Annie Besant wrote of the early French Theosophist Commander Dominique Albert Courmes:

He had studied Spiritualism both theoretically and practically, and it was in the Revue Spirite, during 1877 and '78, that he published the first message of Theosophy in France, for in 1876 he had met some of the first writings of H. P. Blavatsky. During the struggle of the Commune in the streets of Paris, M. Courmes, then a naval lieutenant, had saved from destruction the spiritualistic records and a statue of Allan Kardec, and it may have been in gratitude for this that his Theosophical articles were accepted.[2]

In other words, Theosophy was introduced into the pages of the Spiritist journal quite early in the history of the Theosophical Movement because Courmes had protected the legacy of Allan Kardec.

References in Mahatma Letters

The writings and theories of Allan Kardec were familiar to all the correspondents in the Mahatma Letters, and were used as reference points in several of the letters.

In Mahatma Letter No. 70a (Barker number 20a), Allan Octavian Hume wrote to Mahatma Koot Hoomi:

And thirdly it is a fact that thousands of spirits do appear in pure circles and teach the highest morality and moreover tell very closely the truths as to the unseen world (witness Alan Kardec's books pages on pages of which are identical with what you yourself teach)[3]

Clearly Hume expected KH to be familiar with the writings of Kardec. In his response, Mahatma Letter No. 70c (Barker number 20c) KH wrote:

I am sorry to contradict your statement. I know of no "thousands of spirits" who do appear in circles — and moreover positively do not know of one "perfectly pure circle" — and "teach the highest morality." I hope I may not be classed with slanderers in addition to other names lately bestowed upon me, but truth compels me to declare that Allan Kardec was not quite immaculate during his lifetime, nor has become a very pure Spirit since.[4]

In Mahatma Letter No. 93a (Barker number 23a), Alfred Percy Sinnett posed questions to Mahatma Koot Hoomi:

24 Is the Sun [a] as Allan Kardec says: — a habitation of highly spiritualized beings? (b) Is it the vertex of our Manvantaric chain? and of all the other chains in this solar system also?[5]

In response KH wrote in Mahatma Letter No. 93b (Barker number 23b):

(24) Most decidedly not. Not even a Dhyan Chohan of the lower orders could approach it without having its body consumed, or rather annihilated. Only the highest "Planetary" can scan it.[6]

KH also wrote to Sinnett in Mahatma Letter No. 101 (Barker number 57):

Write then, good friend, to Mr. Massey the truth. Tell him that you were possessed of the Oriental views of reincarnation several months before the work in question had appeared — since it is in July (18 months ago) that, you began being taught the difference between Reincarnation a la Allan Kardec, or personal rebirth — and that of the Spiritual Monad; a difference first pointed out to you on July 5th at Bombay.[7]

At times the work of Allan Kardec is implied without reference to his name. In Mahatma Letter No. 85b (Barker number 24b), KH wrote to A. P. Sinnett:

the Western especially the French reincarnationists, who teach that it is the personal, or astral monad, the "moi fluidique" the manas, or the intellectual mind, the 5th principle in short, that is reincarnated each time.[8]

"French reincarnationists" refers to the spiritists, and "moi fluidique" refers to the fluidic body, or périspirit as described by Kardec in The Book on Mediums.


  1. H. P. Blavatsky letter to Arthur Lillie, Light IV no. 197 (October 11, 1884), 418-19. See also HPB's Collected Writings Volume 6, page 289 at this website.
  2. Annie Besant, "Theosophical Worthies: Dominique Albert Courmes," The Theosophist 32.8 (May, 1911), 297-299.
  3. Mahatma Letter No. 70a, pages 5-6.
  4. Mahatma Letter No. 70c, pages 25-26.
  5. Mahatma Letter No. 93a, page 20.
  6. Mahatma Letter No. 93b, page 80.
  7. Mahatma Letter No. 101, page 8.
  8. Mahatma Letter No. 85b, page 12.