Spiritism

“For new things new words are necessary for the sake of clarity of language so we may avoid the confusion inherent to the multiple meanings of various terms. The words spiritual, spiritualist and spiritualism all have a well defined meaning. To give them a new one, in order to apply them to the Spirits’ Doctrine would be to multiply the already-numerous causes of ambiguity. Strictly speaking, Spiritualism is the opposite of Materialism; all who believe that there is something within them that is more than matter or spiritualists, but it does not follow that they believe in the existence of spirits or in communication with the visible world.

Therefore, instead of the words spiritual and spiritualism for designating this latter belief, we have employed the words Spiritist and Spiritism. These two terms we call their origin and radical meaning, and they therefore have the advantage of being perfectly understandable. We will leave spiritualism to its own signification. Hence, we will say that the Spiritist Doctrine or Spiritism has as its principle the relations of the material world with spirits or the beings of the invisible world. The adherents of Spiritism will be called Spiritists. We say, then, that the fundamental principle of the spiritist theory, or Spiritism, is the relation of the material world with spirits, or the beings of the invisible world; and we designate the adherents of the spiritist theory as spiritists.

In a specialized sense, The Spirits’ Book contains the Spiritist Doctrine; in a general sense, it is linked to spiritualism, representing one aspect of it. That is why we have inscribed the words on the title-page: Spiritualist Philosophy.”

Introduction, The Spirit’s Book, Allan Kardec