100. Preliminary Observations. – Spirits are classifed based on the degree of their advancement, the qualities they have acquired, and the imperfections they still possess. This classifcation is by no means absolute. It is only a summary of the typical character of each category, for each fows seamlessly into the one immediately above it. Specifc characteristics of the successive categories blend into one another as is often the case in nature, as seen in the colors of the rainbow and the phases of a human life.
Consequently, spirits may be divided into a number of classes, depending on one’s perspective, as in the case of any other scientifc classifcation system. The systems adopted may be more or less comprehensive, rational or appropriate for understanding, but, regardless of this, they have no effect on the facts of science. When questioned in this respect, spirits vary as to the number of categories into which they are divided. This is not a matter of practical importance. Too much emphasis is placed on this contradiction by those who fail to realize that disembodied intelligences completely dismiss any form of orthodoxy. For them, the meaning of a statement is the only important factor. They leave its form, as well as the choice of terms and classifcation to us – basically all that is required to establish systems.
We should also never lose sight of the fact that spirits, just like physical beings, can be very unaware. We can never be too careful in believing that all spirits know everything simply because they are spirits.
Classification requires a method, analysis, and thorough knowledge of the subject. Spirits who possess only a small amount of knowledge are as incapable as unaware human beings in terms of grasping the whole scope of any subject, let alone formulating a system. They have no idea, or at best, an imperfect one, regarding any sort of classifcation. All spirits superior to them appear to be of the highest order, because they are incapable of distinguishing between the various shades of knowledge, capacity and integrity by which they are separated, much like a savage would not be able to distinguish between the characteristics of civilized people. Even those who are capable of making this perception may vary in their comprehension of details, according to their unique perspective, especially in regard to a matter that is not unconditional. Linnaeus, Jussieu and Tournefort each have their own classifcation system, but the nature of botany has not changed due to this variation between botanists. They have not invented plants or their characteristics, only observed certain analogies, according to which they have formed certain groups or classes. We have proceeded in the same fashion. We have not invented spirits or their characteristics, only seen and observed them. We have then judged them by their own words and actions, and then classifed them by similarity. Our classifcation is based on the information provided by them.
Spirits generally acknowledge the existence of three primary categories, or main divisions. The bottom of the hierarchy is made up of imperfect spirits who are characterized by the predominance of material instincts over the moral nature, and the propensity to be wicked. Second degree spirits are good spirits characterized by the predominance of the moral nature over material instincts, and the desire for good. The frst or highest category consists of those who are pure spirits and have attained the supreme degree of perfection.
This division of spirits into three separate categories is perfectly logical, and under this general classifcation, we only need to highlight subdivisions within these three categories. We have done this with the assistance of the spirits themselves, whose benevolent teachings have never failed us.
Using this table, it is easy to determine the superiority or inferiority of the spirits with whom we may communicate, and, consequently, the respect and confdence to which they are entitled. Determining these points is a key to Spiritism, as by enlightening us in regard to the intellectual and moral inequalities of spirits, it can explain the inconsistencies presented by spirit communications. We have, however, remarked that spirits do not always belong exclusively to one specifc class. As their progress is only accomplished gradually, they may display the characteristics of several categories, a fact that is easily reconciled by scrutinizing their language and their actions.
THIRD ORDER – IMPERFECT SPIRITS
101. General Characteristics – Matter has a predominant infuence over the spirit. The spirit has a propensity to do wrong and is marked by ignorance, pride, selfshness, and all the related vile passions.
They intuitively realize the existence of God, but they do not understand God.
They are not all entirely bad. Many of these spirits are more frivolous, lacking reasoning power, and love mischief, rather than being downright malicious. Some do neither good nor bad, but the very fact that they do not do good is a glaring indication of their subservience. In contrast, others take immense pleasure in doing wrong, and are thrilled when they discover an opportunity to do wrong.
A certain amount of intelligence is often associated with malice and the love of mischief in these spirits. However, regardless of their intellectual development, their ideas lack elevation, and their sentiments are inferior, overall.
Their knowledge of the spirit world is narrow, and what they do know is muddled with the prejudices of the physical life. They give false and incomplete notions of the spirit world, but an intent observer may always fnd the validation of great truths proclaimed by higher spirits, no matter how imperfect their communication may be.
Their language reveals their character. Every spirit who betrays malicious intentions may be ranked in the third order. Every bad thought suggested to our minds comes from a spirit of this order.
The happiness enjoyed by good spirits causes everlasting torment on spirits of the third order. It stems from the anguish produced by envy and jealousy.
They retain the memory and perception of physical suffering, and this impression is often more painful than reality. They suffer both from the misfortunes they have themselves endured, and those that they have caused to others. As this torture persists for a very long time, they feel that they are destined to suffer for eternity. God allows them to believe in this eternal suffering as a form of atonement.
They may be further divided into fve main classes.
102. Tenth Class – IMPURE SPIRITS. – These spirits are inclined to wrongdoing, and make it the center of their attention. As spirits, they give false and devious advice, cause confict and suspicion, and don every mask possible to more effectively deceive humans. They torment weak people who yield to their suggestions, and take great joy in delaying their advancement and causing them to fail in the trials of corporeal life.
These spirits are recognized easily by the language they use while communicating. Vulgar or trivial language, whether employed by spirits or human beings, is always an indication of moral and at times intellectual inferiority. Their communications reveal the immorality of their inclinations. Try all they might to infuence us by speaking in a thoughtful manner, they are unable to keep up the charade, and eventually betray their true nature.
Some people designate them as malevolent divinities, while others call them demons, evil geniuses or bad spirits.
The human beings embodying such spirits are addicted to all the vices of debasing passions – sensuality, cruelty, deceit, hypocrisy, greed, and avarice. They commit heinous acts solely for the sake of doing evil, without having any specifc motive and, as they hate all that is good, they generally target honest victims. They are a plague upon humanity, regardless of their social standing, and the mask of civilization is not enough to hide their ignorance and depravity.
103. Ninth Class – FRIVOLOUS SPIRITS. – These spirits are ignorant, mischievous, irrational, and masters of ridicule. They intrude in everything, and reply to every question with no regard for the truth. They delight in irritating others, raising false hopes, and misleading people with hoaxes and tricks. The spirits commonly called goblins, sprites, will-o’-the-wisps, and gnomes belong to this class. They are often utilized as servants by spirits of higher orders.
In their communications with people, they are often witty and lighthearted but extremely superfcial. They are quick to pick up on people’s quirks and traits, on which they comment sarcastically. They are fond of borrowing the names of respected individuals for sport, rather than attempting to genuinely deceive.
104. Eighth Class – FALSE SCHOLARS. – These spirits often possess considerable knowledge, but fancy knowing a great deal more than they actually know. Having accomplished a certain degree of progress, their language has a tone of dignity that may easily give a false impression of their enlightenment. In truth, their ideas are generally nothing more than the refection of the preconceptions and fawed reasoning of their human life. Their statements are a combination of truths and the most absurd errors, overwhelmed by arrogance, pride, jealousy, and stubbornness, from which they have not been able to free themselves.
105. Seventh Class – NEUTRAL SPIRITS. – These spirits are neither good enough to do right, nor bad enough to do wrong. They sometimes are inclined to one, sometimes to the other and are equal to humankind in terms of both integrity and intelligence. They are strongly attached to the things of this world, and greatly miss all their material satisfactions.
106. Sixth Class – BOISTEROUS AND DISRUPTIVE SPIRITS. – Strictly speaking, these spirits do not form a clear-cut category based on their personal qualities, they may even belong to any of the third order classes. They often reveal themselves by producing of phenomena perceptible to people, such as knocking, the movement and abnormal displacement of inert bodies, rustling the air, and other similar occurrences. They appear to be attached to matter more than any other type of spirit, and are the principal agents in determining changes in the physical elements, air, water, fre, or in the entrails of the earth. Whenever these phenomena present a deliberate or intelligent nature, a random, physical cause should never be assumed. All spirits can produce physical phenomena, but elevated spirits usually leave them to the devices of lower spirits, who are more suitable to act upon matter than intelligent matters. When higher spirits deem that manifestations of this nature are of some noble use, they employ subordinate spirits as their aids.
SECOND ORDER – GOOD SPIRITS
107. General Characteristics – These spirits prevail over matter and desire excellence. Their qualities and power to do good match their degree of perfection. While some possess scientifc knowledge, others have acquired wisdom and charity. The more advanced spirits combine intelligence with moral superiority. Not yet completely dematerialized, they preserve the traces of their physical existence, which vary greatly according to their rank. These traces are seen either in their method of expression, practices, or even in the quirks and habits still retained by them. If it were not for these weaknesses and imperfections, they would be able to be pure spirits.
They understand God and infnity, and share the happiness of higher spirits. Doing good and preventing malevolence truly inspires them and makes them happy. Envy, regret and all the bad passions that torment imperfect spirits have no place in the hearts of good spirits, the love that unites them is an overwhelming source of happiness. Nevertheless, they still have trials to undergo to reach absolute perfection.
As spirits, they inspire good thoughts, turn people away from the path of wickedness, protect those whose actions make them worthy of their assistance, and neutralize the infuence of lower spirits on the minds of those who do not willingly yield to the sinful guidance of the latter.
The human beings that these spirits reincarnate into are good and compassionate towards others. They are motivated neither by pride, selfshness, nor ambition. They feel neither hatred, resentment, envy, nor jealousy, and do good purely for the sake of doing good.
Good, protective, and benevolent spirits belong to this order. During periods of ignorance and superstition, people worshiped them as benefcent deities.
They may be divided into four main groups.
108. Fifth Class – BENEVOLENT SPIRITS. – These spirits shine in their sense of kindness. They take pleasure in helping and protecting people. Their knowledge is somewhat narrow and although they have progressed in the moral sense, they are lacking in intelligence.
109. Fourth Class – SCHOLARLY SPIRITS. – These spirits are particularly marked by the vast extent of their knowledge. They are more interested in scientifc research, for which they have a greater aptitude, than moral issues. Their scientifc studies are always focused on practical utility, and are entirely free of the passions commonly possessed by imperfect spirits.
110. Third Class – WISE SPIRITS. – These spirits are set apart by their extremely elevated moral qualities. Not yet possessing unlimited knowledge, they have an intellectual capacity that enables them to judge people and things correctly.
111. Second Class – SUPERIOR SPIRITS. – These spirits exemplify scientifc knowledge, wisdom, and goodness. Their language only displays benevolence and it is always dignifed and elevated, often times sublime. Their superiority makes them the most likely to be motivated to share the most honest ideas with respect to the invisible world with human beings, within the limits of the knowledge permitted to us. They willingly communicate with those who honestly seek truth, and with those who have freed themselves enough from the shackles of materialism to be capable of understanding it. They dismiss those whose inquiries are prompted only by curiosity, or who veer from the path of righteousness in pursuit of material temptations.
Under exceptional circumstances, they may incarnate on Earth to accomplish a mission of advancement or development, and they show us the ideal perfection to which we can hope to attain on Earth.
FIRST ORDER – PURE SPIRITS
112. General Characteristics. – Matter has no infuence over these spirits. They are characterized by the moral and intellectual superiority in relation to the spirits of others.
113. First Class – ONLY CLASS. – These spirits have climbed every rung of the ladder of progress, and have shed all the impurities of matter. As they have reached the sum of perfection that can be achieved by created beings, they no longer experience trials or tribulations. No longer subjected to reincarnation, they enter eternal life in the immediate presence of God. They enjoy permanent happiness, because they are no longer subject to the wants or variations of material life. This happiness is not the tedious idleness of perpetual contemplation. They are God’s messengers and ministers, the executors of God’s will in maintaining universal harmony. They exercise independent control over all inferior spirits, aid them in accomplishing their purifcation, and assign each of them a mission for their progress.
They genuinely strive to assist human beings in their time of need by motivating them to the love of good or making amends for the faults that keep them from supreme happiness. They are sometimes called angels, archangels, or seraphim
People can communicate with them; however, those who claim to have them constantly at their service are foolishly arrogant.