The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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Poitevin, the airman

Session of the Parisian Society of Spiritist Studies, on February 11th, 1859

He passed away about two months ago, from typhoid fever contracted after a forced aircraft landing at sea.

1. (Evocation)
- I am here. Speak.

2. Do you miss your Earthly life?
- No.

3. Are you happier now than when you were alive?
- Much.

4. What was the reason that led you to aeronautics experiences?
- The need.

5. Have you considered serving science?
- No way.

6. Do you see aeronautics now from a different perspective as compared to when you were alive?
- No.I saw it as I see today since I saw it with good eyes.I used to see many improvements to be introduced but I could not do them myself, due to my lack of knowledge. But wait. Other people will come, giving it the importance it deserves and that it will one day have.


7. Do you believe that aeronautics will one day become of public utility?
- Yes, certainly.

8. The major concern of those involved with that science is the driv- ability of the balloons. Do you believe that it will be achieved?
- Yes, for sure.

9. In your opinion what is the major difficulty for the drivability of the balloons?
- The winds and the storms.


10. Then it is not the lack of a supporting point?

- If we could drive the winds we could drive the balloons.


11. Could you indicate the focus to which the researches should be driven?

- Let us leave it as is.

12. When alive, did you study all the proposed systems?
- No.


13. Could you give advice to those involved with that subject?

- Do you think that your advice would be followed?


14. Not ours but yours.
- Do you want a treaty? I will have it prepared.


15. By whom?
- By the friends that guided me.


16. We have here with us two very distinct inventors, in matters of air stations, Mr. Sanson and Mr. Ducroz, both men received presti- gious scientific awards. Do you know their systems?
- No. There is a lot to say. I don’t know them.

17. Admitting that the problem of drivability is solved, do you believe in the possibility of large-scale air navigation over the oceans?
- No, never like the telegraph.


18. I am not talking about the speed that can never be compared to that of the telegraph, but to the mass transportation of people and load. Which result can we expect from that side of developments?
- Not much usefulness.


19. When in imminent danger, have you thought of what you could be after death?
- No. I was completely absorbed by the maneuvers.

20. Which impression had danger caused in you?
- Fear had diminished with the habit.

21. What was your sensation when you felt lost in space?
- Perturbation, but happiness. It seemed that my spirit was running away from your world. However, the need for ma- neuvering would bring me back to reality, bringing me back to my cold and dangerous reality.

22. Does the fact that your wife follows the same adventurous career as yours give you pleasure?
- No.

23. What is your situation as a spirit?
- I live like you do, that is, I can provide for my spiritual life as you do for yours.


OBSERVATION: The curious experiences of Mr. Poitevin, his intrepid- ity, his remarkable ability in balloon maneuvering, gave us more expectations with respect to his elevation and greatness of ideas. The result did not correspond to our expectations. As we have seen, aeronautics to him was nothing else but an industry, a way of life, and a special kind of spec- tacle. Every faculty of his was concentrated on the means of satisfying public amusement. That is why some predictions in these family con- versations are sometimes uncertain: sometimes they are outdated, other times they are below expectation, which is an evident demonstration of the independence of the communications. In a private session, Poitevin dictated, through the same medium, the following advices in order to carry out the promises he had made above

Each person may assess their value since we provide it as an object of study about the nature of the spirits and not for its scientific merit, which is more than arguable.


“You will always find great difficulties to drive a gas balloon: the huge area exposed to the winds; the insignificance of the weight that can be carried by air; the weakness of the wrapping, required by the subtleness of air. All these causes will never allow you to obtain the system with the desired features. A powerful means of communication is required in order to make the aerostat useful. We said that it would represent a medium between electricity and steam. Yes, based on two points of view:


  1. It must transport passengers faster than the railroads and mes- sages slower than the telegraph;
  2. It is not placed as a mid-ground between the two systems just be- cause it is simultaneously part of air and ground, both operating as a path. It is between the sky and Earth.
You have not asked me if by such a means you will be able to visit oth- er planets. However, such a thought has already occupied several minds and its solution would scare your world. No. You will not achieve that. Consider that it takes light years in order to cover the millions and mil- lions of leagues of space. Then consider how long it would take to get to those planets, even considering the steam and wind.

Returning to the central point, I was saying that one should not ex- pect much from the current system but that a lot more would be obtained by acting upon the air by strong and extensive compression. The support point that you are looking for is standing before your eyes, surrounding you from all sides. You clash with that in all of your movements; it blocks your route every day, influencing on everything that you touch. Think carefully about this and take from this revelation all that is possible. The consequences are enormous. We cannot take you by the hand and lead you to build the utensils needed to the task. We cannot persuade you word by word. It is necessary that your spirit do the work, maturing your projects, without which you would not understand the achievements nor would you know how to handle the instruments. We would be forced to operate your devices; then the unforeseeable circumstances which, one day or another, would hinder your endeavors and would also cast you back into your primitive ignorance.”

“Do the work and you shall find what you seek. Guide your spirit towards the direction that we have indicated to you for we do not lead you astray.”


OBSERVATION: Although containing undisputable truths, these advices still show a not very enlightened spirit, from certain angles, since he seems to ignore the actual impossibility of reaching other planets. It is another proof of the diversity of aptitudes and knowledge in the world of the spirits, as we find on Earth as well. It is through the multiplicity of observations that we shall understand and assess that world. That is why we provide examples of all sorts of communications, taking the necessary care of pointing out to the weaknesses and strengths.

This one from Poitevin ends by a very fair statement, seeming to have been inspired by a spirit more philosophical than his. As a matter of fact he had said that his advices would be revised by his friends which defi- nitely teach nothing. We also find a demonstration that men who had a specialization on Earth are not always the best ones to provide teachings as spirits, particularly if not much elevated and detached from the earthly life. It is most unfortunate that for the progress of aeronautics the majority of those intrepid men cannot use their experience to the benefit of Science while the theorists ignore practical things, like the seamen who had never seen the sea. No doubt, one day there will be aeronautics engineers, like there are naval engineers, but only when they have seen and probed the depths of the oceanic spaces themselves. How many ideas wouldn’t they be able to pick up from the direct contact with the elements, ideas that es- cape those in the industry, whatever their knowledge level, since they can- not perceive all difficulties from behind their desks. Nevertheless, if this Science is to become reality one day, it can only be through them. To the eyes of many people these thoughts are illusions thus the inventers who are typically not wealthy cannot find the necessary encouragement or the support. When the airstation yield dividends, even if an expectation, and may be financially assess, there will be no lack of capital. Meanwhile it is necessary to count on the dedication of those who place progress above speculation. While there is lack of resources for the execution there will be failures due to the impossibility of carrying out experiences in sufficient number or in adequate conditions. If we have to do it in limited terms then it is not done properly, as with everything else. There will not be suc- cess but to the price of sufficient sacrifices in order to definitely belong to practical life. This excludes any idea of profit. Hopefully the thought of providing the world with the solution to a big problem, even if only from the point of view of science, will inspire some generous disinterestedness. But the first thing to do would be to provide theorists with the means of gaining experience in the air, even with the imperfect means at our disposal. Had Poitevin been a knowledgeable man and had he invented a system of aerial locomotion that would have unquestionably inspired more confidence than those who have never left the ground, and he would probably have found the resources that are denied to others.

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