Flammarion, Camille (1842–)(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Flammarion’s introduction to Spiritualism came through Allan Kardec’s book Le Livre des Esprits (The Spirits’ Book) (1856). After reading the book and visiting the author, Flammarion became a member of Kardec’s Society for Psychologic Studies. The society’s weekly séances focused on inspirational writing. Activities with the society then brought Flammarion entrance to various French Spiritist groups, though he did not himself become a Spiritist.
Flammarion experimented with various techniques including automatic writing, rapping, use of the planchette, but after two years deduced that there was no evidence to suggest actual spirit communication. In 1865, he published Unknown Natural Forces, which offered a critical study of the phenomena produced by such mediums as the Davenport Brothers. He coined the word “psychic” in this book. He stated, “these forces are as real as the attraction of gravitation and as invisible as that.” In 1907, he published an enlarged version of the book under the title Mysterious Psychic Forces. When Kardec died on March 30, 1869, Flammarion gave the funeral oration.
Flammarion attended séances given by many mediums; some of whom became famous. He sat with Mme. De Girardin at the home of Victor Hugo, and also with Mlle. Huet. He experienced levitations in full daylight, with drumbeats, the sound of wood-sawing, rushing water, and similar sounds that a medium would not be able to produce. He underwent a series of experiments with the medium Eusapia Paladino. In 1898, she gave eight séances in Flammarion’s home. A number of scientists were present and it is reported that “surprising manifestations were witnessed”. A later investigative series was conducted with Paladino in 1905 and 1906. Flammarion reported, “Mediumistic phenomena have for me the stamp of absolute certainty and incontestability, and amply suffice to prove that unknown physical forces exist outside the ordinary and established domain of natural philosophy.”
In October 1923, in a Presidential address before the Society for Psychical Research, Flammarion said, “There are unknown faculties in man belonging to the spirit, there is such a thing as the double, thought can leave an image behind, psychical currents traverse the atmosphere, we live in the midst of an invisible world, the faculties of the soul survive the disaggregation of the corporeal organism, there are haunted houses, exceptionally and rarely the dead do manifest, there can be no doubt that such manifestations occur, telepathy exists just as much between the dead and the living as between the living.”
Born Feb. 26, 1842, in Montigny-le-Roi; died June 4, 1925, in Juvisy-sur-Orge. French astronomer.
Flammarion studied Mars, the moon, and binary stars. In 1883 he founded an observatory at Juvisy-sur-Orge, near Paris. He became famous as the author of popular scientific books on astronomy, of which Popular Astronomy (1880) enjoyed the greatest success; it was translated into many languages. In 1882, Flammarion founded the popular scientific magazine L’Astronomie.
WORKSIn Russian translation:
Populiarnaia astronomiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941.
Zvezdnoe nebo i ego chudesa. St. Petersburg, 1899.
Atmosfera. St. Petersburg .
REFERENCESGoriainov, G. “Pamiati uchitelia—Kamilla Flammariona.” In Russkii astronomicheskii kalendar’ (ezhegodnik) na 1926 god: Peremennaia chast’. Nizhnii Novgorod, 1926.
Touchet, E. “La Vie et l’oeuvre de Camille Flammarion.” Bulletin de la Société astronomique de France, 1925, [vol.] 39, pp. 341–65.