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Two years later he published his first spiritistic book containing answers of spirits to his questions.

Since then he used his new spiritistic name which had its origin in the information by a spirit: 'We have known us before, Rivail. We lived together in another existence, in Galleon, at the time of the druids, and your name was Allan Kardec' Baumgartner Until the time of his death, he wrote several books about Spiritism, published a spiritistic journal and founded a spiritistic society in Paris. Kardec was not the only spiritistic figure in his time, but he is until today the most well-known in Latin America.

Under Spanish and Portuguese rule, spiritistic writings and practices were forbidden in the colonies. However, even strict control could not prevent the spread of Kardec's ideas, in particular in Puerto Rico and Brazil see Hess for an historical overview about Brazilian Spiritism. The Catholic Church, working hand in hand with the colonial government, attacked spiritists in every possible way for instance, spiritists were not allowed to marry in church or to be buried in a Catholic cemetery , but Spiritism developed in Puerto Rico more and more into a socio-political and non-aggressive way to oppose the Spanish rule as I will explain a bit later.

Spiritism is based on the belief in the existence of spirits and their immortality. Spirits are non-material beings who live for a limited time inside a human body. Some time after death, the spirit chooses another body to be reincarnated in. During its incorporated period the spirit has to perfect its qualities because it has to remain on earth until it reaches to highest level of perfection. The spirits are divided into different levels, from the highest level of the angels down to the good spirits and to the bad underdeveloped spirits.

While the inferior spirits cause disturbances, the good ones can be asked for help by humans. This leads to the second fundamental characteristics of Spiritism: human beings can communicate with the spirits in different ways, according to their personal abilities.

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Some people can sense the nearness of spirits, some can see them, some can hear their voices and some can even 'lend' their bodies to a spirit for direct contact though this manifestation is regarded as dangerous for the 'mediums' as these persons are called who have to learn to control the spirits. The spiritistic reunions are seen therefore as the only places to 'communicate with the other world, the world of the departed ones' Morales-Dorta Morality signifies the third foundation of Spiritism because only a moral life of the spirit in its free as well as in its incorporated i.

The latter have to learn that it is harmful for their own evolution to cause disturbances in the material world. The Humans have to learn that only a moral life can prevent serious problems - not only in this life, but also during their next incarnations. Aside from the belief of reincarnation which Kardec incorporated from Hinduism, the spiritistic morality is based more or less on Christian faith. Kardec himself integrated his doctrine into Christianity, even as he denounced the Catholic Church 'Spiritism doesn't bring a new morality and therefore doesn't distinguish from the Christian one', Kardec He declared Spiritism to be the only way out of the misery of the world, away from the materialism of our society.

This aspect constitutes part of the popularity of Spiritism from the very beginning. Puerto Rican spiritists founded hospitals, actively promoted literacy, fought against the death penalty and for better social conditions. While Spiritism started out as a 'philosophy' of the educated urban class, it soon developed into a popular religion. In the rural areas of the island, Spiritism mixed with other religious elements: The espiritismo popular, the popular Puerto Rican Spiritism, includes aspects of popular Catholicism of rural Spanish migrants, some relics of the Taino religion as well as religious and medical beliefs and practices of the African slaves and their descendants.

The spirits are believed to exert direct influence on the lives of humans, and it is therefore very important to discover the reason causa of the illness. The specific form of the treatment depends on the leader who is often the founder of the group. Sometimes a meeting begins with Christian prayers or a bible lecture, sometimes with African drums.

Unlike kardecism, the pantheon of espiritismo popular includes Catholic saints and African orishas which are often regarded as guardian angels. The leader usually has highly developed abilities as a medium mediumnidades and conducts communal meetings as well as private consultations.

A fundamental aspect of Spiritism is the transfer of guilt from the human beings to the spirits: a person can suffer illness, lose his job, money or lover, and have drug problems and so on because of the spirits. The medium has to investigate the reason and advise the patient on what to do. Sometimes the victim has to apologize for former mistakes perhaps done during a former incarnation , sometimes he has to ask for the assistance of good spirits, and sometimes the mediums can persuade the spirit to leave the human alone:.

Though originally from Spain Trinicado migrated in to Argentina. In sum, Spiritism is not a homogenous system but a frame for several different concepts. It even cannot be called unanimously a religion, a philosophy or a science but a bricolage of ideas founded by Kardec. His teachings were used to develop various systems with different meaning and functions. We can distinguish in Puerto Rico today three different spiritistic ways: the philosophical system Kardecism, the religious-therapeutic system espiritismo popular and the religious institutions of spiritistic churches such as the Escuela de Consejo Moral.

Most of the literature about Puerto Rican Spiritism focuses on the therapeutic function of Spiritism. Though in spiritists had declared Spiritism should become a new psychiatry Bram , scholars, and in particular medical anthropologists in the US, treated spiritists mainly as mentally ill people. Spiritism became known as Puerto Rican Syndrome see e. Oscar Lewis characterized Puerto Ricans in La Vida even as an ethnic group with a high portion of mental illness - he was probably referring to Spiritism. As I explained in a former article , a therapeutic function can never explain the whole practice.

In the following part I will concentrate on another but very different function: Spiritism as part of the Puerto Rican culture, a concept that influences as I will show later on even Puerto Ricans living off the island. But I have to go back to the nineteenth century, to the beginning of Spiritism on the island.

When I started my study about Spiritism in Puerto Rico in , I was surprised by the ambivalent results of my first research. Though I discovered much material in the archives about the development of Spiritism from the middle of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenties century , I had problems finding people to speak openly about their practice. I often got the answer 'Oh, yes, Spiritism…. I have heard about it. But I not, I am Pentecostal. I got the impression as if Spiritism has been vanished from the island.

On the other hand Morales-Dorta described Spiritism in as the integral element of Puerto Rican life and culture What had happened? It became obvious that the increase of protestant churches supported the denial of spiritistic practices. And some of them are even more hostile against Spiritism than the Catholic Church was.

Speaking with a white foreigner about such a condemned belief has to be problematic. Everyone is reluctant to acknowledge a practice outsiders connect to Satanism or worse. Spiritism became a secret though still alive. Finally, I found entry in the hidden world of the spirits on the island and discovered the fascinating and lively variations of Puerto Rican Spiritism on the island.

After a while I looked back on the material I collected from the archives. As I wrote in the short overview of the central ideas, Spiritism became important on the island in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was the time of the beginning of the independence movement against Spain based on socio-economical oppression.

Duany characterizes the Spanish Caribbean under Spanish rule as being geographical isolated, economically underdeveloped and lacking competition, factors that explained why the development was so different from other Spanish colonies on the continent Duany Nevertheless, between and the population on the island also developed some self-consciousness against the Spanish domination though different from the population on the continent.

Puerto Rico experienced at this time an economical boom and an important movement towards the world trade market. When Puerto Rico remained one of the last Spanish colonies in together with Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines , it was economically dominated by coffee production on haciendas in combination with small agricultural units cultivating mixed crops, and not by sugar production as the other islands.

Even the migration strategy of the Spanish government concerning Puerto Rico was different. The ports were finally opened for trade, and the countryside inside the island was developed for agriculture. Though at the coast some sugar plantations were founded which led to an increase of African slaves, most of the new European immigrants came from poor areas, for instance, from the poor parts of Spain such as the Canary Islands. Since they lacked the capital to start large plantations with slavery, they established in the inner parts of the island small coffee and tobacco units.

As Duany writes 'social class - not skin colour or family origin - was the crucial cleavage in Puerto Rico's mixed society. The term Catholic customs indicates already a separation between the official Catholic Church and the Catholic practices of the rural people which increased just few years later with the spread of Spiritism on the island. As I already mentioned Spiritism arrived on the island in the middle of the nineteenth century, still during the lifetime of Kardec. Though prohibited by the Spanish government who was afraid that Spiritism could led to uprising, Spiritism soon became popular among various parts of the population.

Spiritists became well-known for their fight for better social conditions for everyone, from hospitals to schools and more - and it attracted more and more practitioners. Soon Spiritism developed to a - what I call with reference to Giordano - social movement which leads to the creating of ethnicity. Giordano describes ethnicity as the search of a marginalised group for identity which is characterized by ethnic elements Ethnicity includes according to him the possibility for suppressed groups to pronounce resistance against domination.

In this sense ethnicity has all characteristics of a social movement which Giordano defines as the processual representation of a social group that shows a relatively long-term interaction of its members, a weak structure or organization, and a feeling of belonging among its members All these elements can be found in Puerto Rican Spiritism in the second part of the nineteenth century.

Though it lacked a strong structure, the practitioners developed a strong sense of belonging and depended on interaction with all members in order to fulfil their goals. Unsatisfied by the social and political conditions people started to look for a new way to express their identity.

During the nineteenth century the different economical and social conditions divided the population in two sections as Duany demonstrates The towns were inhabited by Spanish servants, clerks, priests and militaries which lived isolated from the Creole population. New immigrants from Catalonia and Mallorca worked often as traders and business people. While the rural farmers, the producers of the goods, became more and more independent from Spain and even from the Spanish towns in Puerto Rico, the distribution of the goods and the trade - hence the money - remained in the hand of Spanish people.

This difference created according to Duany a separation between traders and civil servants on the one side who were still oriented towards Spain and attracted Spanish immigrants instead of people from the island, and farmers, the producers of the agricultural goods, on the other side, who developed a sense of belonging to the island, a sense of Creole identity. In the conflict between the Creole farmers and the Spanish business people culminated in an open uprising, the Grito de Lares.

Though the Spanish force soon stopped the rebellion, the Spanish government had to accept certain demands for instance, the abolishment of slavery and the so-called libreta system which suppressed the sharecroppers. Its symbols are the Creole landholders representing the core values of the Puerto Rican character, embodied in the land Duany Hence the pueblo, the place of birth, continues as major point of reference for the individual identity, not the nation. However, at the end of the nineteenth century the population again started to fight against the Spanish rule, and again in opposition to the Peninsulares, the part of the population still loyal to Spain.

According to Serbin this interaction finally led to the development of a Puerto Rican identity and the beginning of nationalism , a development that was stopped by the US-occupation after the Spanish-American war in During this second event, the short independence movement against Spain at the end of the twentieth century, Spiritism played a significant role though in the literature mainly neglected. When after the Lares' uprising the ideas of Spiritism spread through the island, it developed a notion of a counter culture. Kardecism offered a frame for ideas in favour of social justice and morality.

According to Kardec's teaching life on earth was a test of our conduct as well as atonement for former sin. We should therefore accept pain without reluctance. The main aim of Kardecism is therefore individualistic. Nevertheless, by leading a moral life this teaching supports the improvement of social conditions for the population because every spiritist has to do good work. Decades after the Grito de Lares spiritists became more and more involved in political issues.

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Though Spain officially never abolished the ban of Spiritism, the fight against spiritists became less aggressive. At the end of the nineteenth century it was even possible for a spiritist to become a political leading figure. Having the reputation of leading moral life spiritists acquired a good standing.

And Spiritism became an acceptable alternative, in particular because the Catholic Church had always neglected the rural population. Because the Spanish government was afraid that the education of people from the island would support uprising, only few Puerto Ricans were ordained as priest under Spanish colonial rule. The Catholic Church focussed on the spiritual welfare of urban Spaniards and ignored the wellbeing of the rural Creole people.

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