Louis Michel.

Louis Michel ages, still conserving his stupefying faculties, however, as this anecdote proves.  It is reported by his biographer, Louis Honore:

“In 1883, a certain Joseph Honore, an agriculturist, was accomplishing his military service in the 15th Section des commis et ouvriers d’administration in Algiers.  The Tonkin expedition had started.  There was a rumour that numerous soldiers, stationed in the colonies, were going to be sent to this faraway country.  Joseph Honore’s mother was upset.  She went to see Michel to find out if her son’s name figured on the embarkment list for the Tonkin.  Michel went to sleep and his mind was transported to Algiers.  There, at the local storehouse, he saw Joseph Honore in the process of kneading bread, right beside another soldier, also from Figanieres, called Marius Maisse.  He questioned both of them and learned that Honore would remain in Algiers, while Maisse would leave two days later for Hai-phong.  This new case of vision was entirely corroborated by Joseph Honore who soon returned to France, while his fellow soldier was killed in the Tonkin.”

This was Louis Michel’s last “dream trip”.  He died a few days later, on 19 August 1883, at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried in Figanieres.

His case remains an absolute enigma.

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Guy Breton, whose work I have translated, found most of this story in the Annales de la Societe scientifique et litteraire de Cannes where the historian, Louis Honore, himself a native of Figanieres, published an eighty-page study on Louis Michel, in 1931.  But he also consulted the press of the epoch.

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The witnesses cited are very firm about the visions.  Except of course when it concerns voyages to the centre of the Earth or in interstellar space, and even more so when it is a question of the Holy Virgin or the Supreme Being…

***

To go to sleep, he usually sat in an armchair and passed without transition from the state of wakefulness to the state of sleep.  In certain (very rare) cases he had to make a slight effort.  Then he said:

“My dear and good friends, I am going to try, of my own will, to go into my quarter… into my third… into my half… and into my full ecstasy”…

He had hardly pronounced this last word than he was sleeping soundly…  After that, having pronounced his ritual li siou [Provencal for “I’m there”, “j’y suis” in French], he described aloud the people that he was seeing, sometimes pointing to them with his index finger, as if they were in the room where he was sleeping.  During these visions, his face, we are told, “was illuminated”.

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His visions lasted from ten minutes to an hour.

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He mostly woke up on his own.  But sometimes he was heard to say:

“I ask to come out of my clairvoyance;  I need you to help me with your will;  all give me your hands.”

His friends immediately obeyed and he reintegrated what he called, either “his mediocre condition”, or “his compact envelope”.  After which, he embraced everyone.

***

It was his wish that “Humanity live in a climate of universal love”.  With this aim, he had started to constitute some “spiritual families” in Provence and Paris.  Regularly, these people had to meet, lunch together, and sing and say prayers that he had composed.

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He married a young adept named Anna Monier who took the title of “Mother” or of “Great Messenger of Love”.  The wedding ring that he gave her was baptised “harmonious ring of humanitarian concord”.  Alas, despite these beautiful titles, the union was not happy.  After eight years, Anna went away.  She claimed that she had never ceased to be “Mademoiselle Monier”…

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Louis Michel left no writings on his dream travelling.  On the other hand, he published four rather singular works:  Cle de la Vie, of which the literary critic of Siecle, Louis Jourdan, was able to say:

“It is the strangest, the deepest, the most extraordinary, the most curious, the most naive and the most scholarly book that has ever been published”;

Vie universelle, Le Reveil des Peuples, and Plus de mysteres! which was dedicated to Victor Hugo…

***

Parapsychologists tell us that our minds, whose possibilities are infinite, can, during sleep, travel in time and in space.  Very serious research has been done in this domain by scientists.  During one experiment, Doctor Charles Richet, for example, ordered a young girl who had been put into a state of hypnosis, to go in her mind to Chartres, a town that she did not know.  After a few minutes, the young girl declared that she was in Chartres, described houses, shops, people, a seller of newspapers accompanied by a dog the colour of whose fur she indicated, etc. All of this was verified and recognized as true…

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Today, scientists – at least those who don’t wear blinkers – are careful to refrain from denying the possibility of such peregrinations in dreams.  But they give no explanation for it, prudently awaiting a discovery which will suddenly shed light on the nature of the human mind…  that unknown part of us.

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