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Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others

Allan Kardec

Written and compiled by George Knowles

Man is not only made up of matter, there is in him a thinking principle linked to the physical body which he leaves, as one leaves a used garment, when his present incarnation is finished.  Once disembodied, the dead can communicate with the living, either directly or through mediums in a visible or invisible way”. (The Book of Spirits).

Allan Kardec was a French academic whose early writings had a great influence on French and German educational reforms during the early 1800s.  However he is perhaps better known as the founder of “Spiritism” in the mid 1850s, and the author of five books known as the “Spiritist Codification”.

Allan Kardec was born Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail in Lyon, France, on the 03rd October 1804.  He was born into a traditional French family of lawyers, judges and teachers; the third of four children born to Judge Jean Baptiste Antoine Rivail (1759-1834) and Jeanne Louise Duhamel, whose father was also a lawyer and royal notary.  Sadly the two eldest children died in infancy:  Auguste (1796-1802) and Marie (1799-1801), his younger sister Isaure, born in 1806 is also believed diseased, but her fate is unknown.

Rivail was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith and initially educated at a local primary school until he was ten years old, but due to the various troubles and conflicts being experienced in the area toward the end of the Napoleonic era, his wealthy parents sent him away to Yverdon-les-Bains (Canton de Vaud) in Switzerland, there to complete his education at the Pestallozzi Institute located in the prestigious Château d'Yverdon, headed by Professor Johann Heinrich Pestallozzi (a Swiss educational reformer who put Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theories into practice.  Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer whose political philosophy influenced the progress of Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought).  The school was one of the most respected of that time in Europe.  Rivail later became a collaborator in promoting Pestallozzi’s education system, which had a great influence on French and German educational reforms.


Johann Heinrich Pestallozzi  -  Jean-Jacques Rousseau  -  Château d'Yverdon

While at Yverdon, Rivail mixed and learned with other young people from good wealthy European families, and so in addition to his native French he became fluent in several other languages including:  German, English, Dutch, Italian and Spanish.  He also had a natural inclination for teaching, and devoted himself to aiding the studies of his fellow students, particularly those less advanced than himself.  At the same time he gained a fondness for Botany, and often spent an entire day out in the mountains walking twenty or thirty miles with a bag on his back in search of specimens for his herbarium.

When finished with his studies at Yverdun, Rivail returned to Lyon with the intention of following the family tradition and taking up a career in with the Judiciary; but various acts of religious intolerance and conflict still existed in Lyon so he elected to continue his education in Paris and start a new career in teaching after completing a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Science and a doctorate in Medicine.  Rivail’s impressive intellectual background led to his teaching Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Physiology, comparative Anatomy and French in many prestigious scientific schools in Paris.

Rivail wrote his first educational book “A Practical and Theoretical course in Arithmetic” for children in 1823.  Later in 1828 he purchased a large and flourishing educational establishment for boys and devoted himself to the work of teaching and organizing free courses for the underprivileged.  Later in 1830 he hired, at his own expense, a large hall in the Rue de Sèvres, and there started running courses and giving gratuitous lectures on Chemistry, Physics, Comparative Anatomy, and Astronomy.  These were highly successful lectures, which he continued for a period of ten years, many being attended by audiences of over five hundred persons coming from every rank of society, some of whom have since attained their own eminence in the scientific world.

Over time Rivail became a member of several scholarly societies, including:  the Historic Institute of Paris (Institut Historique), the Society of Natural Sciences of France (Société des Sciences Naturelles de France), the Society for the Encouragement of National Industry (Société d'Encouragement pour l'Industrie Nationale) and the Royal Academy of Arras (Académie d'Arras, Société Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts).  He also played an active role in the Society of Magnetism in Paris, spending much of his time in the practical investigation of somnambulism, trance, clairvoyance and various other phenomena connected mesmeric action.

In 1831, he met Amélie Gabrielle Boudet, a fellow teacher, author and artist who worked with him, and who he married on the 09th February 1832.  Amelie later became a valuable contributor to his future works.

Amélie Gabrielle Boudet

Rivail was in his early fifties when he first became interested in a new and popular phenomenon known as “spirit-tapping”.  Around this time, strange phenomena attributed to the action of spirits were reported in many different places, most notably in the Unites States and France, attracting the attention of high society.  The first such phenomena were at best frivolous and entertaining, featuring objects that moved or ‘tapped’ under what was described as spirit control.  In some cases, this was alleged to be a type of communication; the supposed spirits answered questions by controlling the movements of objects so as to pick out letters to form words, or simply indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’, this was known then as ‘planchette-writing’ (the popular parlour game known as the ‘Ouija Board’ did not come into general use until much later when two businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard invented the idea to patent a planchette to be sold with a board on which the alphabet was printed in 1890).


Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard inventors of the popular Quija Board

During Rivail’s time, Franz Mesmer’s theory of animal magnetism was popular in the upper reaches of society, and when confronted with the described phenomena, many researchers, including Rivail, pointed out that animal magnetism might well explain it.  However, after personally witnessing demonstrations of the phenomena, Rivail dismissed the animal-magnetism hypothesis as being insufficient to completely explain all the facts he observed.

Through his association with the Magnetics Society of Paris, in May 1855 he met a Mr. Fortier, a fellow magnetizer, who took him to see a Madame de Plainemaison, a medium who lived in the Rue de la Grange Bateliere in Paris.  In the presence of other guests for the session, he entered into a communication with a Greek spirit named Zephyr, who told him about a previous incarnation he had as a Druid by the name of “Allan Kardec”, and gave him the mission of being the spokesman for the Dead.  For him, it was a revelation.  He was there and for the first time was witnessing the phenomenon of spirit tapping.  Rivail liked the name given and decided to use it to keep his ‘Spiritist’ writings separate from those of his academic work.

Kardec was determined to understand fully what was causing the physical effects popularly attributed to spirits.  Using the same logical rigour that he applied to his work in education and science, he set out to understand the phenomena, submitting 1019 questions exploring matters concerning the nature of spirits, the spirit world, and the relations between the spirit world and the material world to many different mediums in different countries.  During his initial investigation, he stated that before accepting a spiritual or paranormal cause for some of the phenomena, it would be necessary first to test if ordinary material causes could explain them.  He proposed that fraud, hallucination and unconscious mental activity might explain many phenomena regarded as mediumistic, he also proposed that telepathy and clairvoyance may be responsible.

From his responses he concluded that the best explanation was that some people who had survived death were the source of at least some mediumistic communications.  He became convinced that the mediums could provide accurate information unknown to themselves or others present (e.g. personal information about deceased individuals); and demonstrate unlearned skills such as writing by illiterate mediums, handwriting similar to the alleged communicating personality, and speaking or writing in a language unknown to the medium (known as xenoglossy and xenography); and accurately portraying a range of personality characteristics of deceased individuals.

He compiled the mediums’ responses that were consistent and adapted them into a philosophy he called “Spiritism”, which he initially defined as “a science that deals with the nature, origin, and destiny of spirits, and their relation with the corporeal world.”  The answers he received were then compared, analysed, and organised for inclusion in his book:  The Spirits Book”, first published on the 18th April 1857.  He followed this with a series of other books, including:  The Medium’s BookThe Gospel According to SpiritismHeaven and Hell and The Genesis According to Spiritism.  He also produced a periodical called the Revue Spirite, which he published until his death.  Collectively, his books became known as the “Spiritist Codification’.”

Allan Kardec (Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail) sadly died on 31st March 1869 as a result of the rupture of the aneurysm from which he had suffered for a long time.  He was buried at the Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris, which is reputed to be the world’s most-visited cemetery.  Located on Boulevard de Ménilmontant, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually to the graves of those who have enhanced French life over the past 200 years.  Kardec’s followers come from all over the world bringing flowers to decorate his tombstone.

The tombe of Allan Kardec - (Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail)

His books known as the “Spiritist Codification” include: 

The Spirits' Book

(Le Livre des Esprits)  -  First published in 1857, this book explains the fundamentals of the Spiritist Doctrine concerning the nature of Spirits, their manifestations, and how they relate to men, moral laws, and the present and future life and destiny of humankind.  The book is both an introduction to the other works and a summary of them, which, in their turn, can each be seen as an unfolding of one of the issues it covers.

The Mediums' Book

(Le Livre des Médiums)  -  First published in 1861 with a subtitle of “Guide des Médiums et des Évocateurs”, this book deals with the teachings of the Spirits on the various kinds of manifestations, the means of communication with the invisible world, the development of mediumship, and the difficulties and embarrassments that one can face during Spiritist practice;

The Gospel According to Spiritism

(L'Évangile Selon le Spiritisme)  -  First published in 1864, this book explains the moral teachings of Jesus, showing how they are in accordance with Spiritism and how they can be applied to the many aspects of life.

Heaven and Hell

(Le Ciel et L'Enfer)  -  First published in 1865, this book examines “La Justice Divine Selon le Spiritisme”.  It compares doctrines and explains the passage from the physical life to the life of the spirit, to a future penalty or reward, angels and devils and eternal damnation.  Many examples are given of the condition of the soul before and after physical death.

The Genesis According to Spiritism

(La Genèse)  -  First published in 1868 with the subtitle “Les Miracles et les Preditions Selon le Spiritisme”, this book examines theories about Earth’s emergence and evolution and scriptural texts on the matter. 

Other academic works:

Rivail, wrote several textbooks:

A practical and theoretical course in arithmetic - (published in 1824, 1845, 1847).

A plan proposed for the improvement of Public Instruction - (1828, crowned by the Royal Academy of Arras).

A brief on Public Instruction - (1831, addressed to the members of the commission charged with revising university legislation).

French and classical grammar - (1831).

French grammatical catechism - (1848, 1868).

Normal grammar for exams - (1849, published each year until 1883).  Book written in collaboration with David Lévi Alvarès .

Normal dictations of exams - (1850 and republished four times).  Work written in collaboration with David Lévi Alvarès.



May he rest in peace and enjoy his next life.


Plus so many others to many to mention.

Written and compiled by George Knowles  © 15th July 2020


Best wishes and Blessed Be




Site Contents - Links to all Pages


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About me:

My Personal PageMy Place in England / My Family Tree (Ancestry)


Wicca & Witchcraft


Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick


Traditional Writings:


The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality


Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /  Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /    


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:

(Our Ancestors)


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagorasParacelsus /  Abramelin the Mage Archimedes AgrippaSocrates  /  Aristotle 





A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /   Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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