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A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands

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Author Topic: A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands  (Read 581 times)
Cynthia
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« Reply #30 on: December 21, 2008, 05:05:31 pm »

For example, in the lowest sphere of all, where no law prevails but the law of the strongest oppressor, you may do what you please; you may injure or oppress another to the very last limits of his endurance, and those who are stronger than you will do the same to you. The most oppressed slaves on earth are less unhappy than those whom I have seen in the lowest sphere of all, where no law prevails and where only those spirits are to be found who have defied all laws of God or man and have been a law to themselves, exercising the most boundless oppression and wrong towards their neighbors. In those spheres which I shall shortly describe, it seems that strong, cruel and oppressive as a spirit may be, there is always found someone still stronger to oppress him, some one still crueller, still wickeder, still more oppressive, till at last you arrive at those who may truly be said to reign in hell--Kings and Emperors of Evil! And it goes on till at last the very excess of evil will work its own cure. The worst and most tyrannical will long for some other state of things, some laws to restrain, some power to control; and that feeling will be the first step, the first desire for a better life, which will give the Brothers of Hope sent to work in those dark spheres, the little loophole through which to give the idea of improvement, and the hope that it is still possible for them. As the spirit progresses upwards there will be found in each circle of the ladder of progress an increased degree of law and order prevailing, to which he will be ready to conform himself, as he expects others to conform where the laws affect him. The perfect observance of the highest moral laws is found only in the highest spheres, but there are many degrees of observance, and he who respects the rights of others will find his rights respected, while he who tramples upon his neighbor will in turn be trampled upon by the stronger ones.

In all respects man in the spirit world is free to work or to be idle, to do good or to do evil, to win a blessing or a curse. Such as he is, such will be his surroundings, and the sphere for which he is fitted must ever be the highest to which he can attain till his own efforts fit him to become a dweller in one higher. Thus the good need no protection against the evil in the spirit world. Their own different states place an insurmountable barrier between them. Those above can always descend at will to visit or help those below them, but between them and the lower spirits there is a great gulf which the lower ones cannot pass. Only upon your earth and on other planets where material life exists, can there be the mixture of good and evil influences with almost equal power. I say almost equal, since even on earth the good have the greater power, unless man shuts himself out from their aid by the indulgence of his lower passions.

In days of old when men's hearts were simple as little children's, the spirit world lay close at their doors and they knew it not, but now men have drifted far from it, and are like mariners upon a raft, who are seeking now again through fog and mist to find it. Kind pilots of the spirit world are striving to guide and help them to reach that radiant land that they may bring back a bright store of hope and light for the weary strugglers upon earth.



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« Reply #31 on: December 21, 2008, 05:06:16 pm »

CHAPTER XII.--My Second Death.

The meetings for materialization were held once a fortnight, and from the number of them I judged that about three months had passed, when I was told by Ahrinziman to prepare myself for a great change which was about to take place in myself and my surroundings, and which would mean my passing into a higher sphere. I have heard the spheres divided differently by different spirit teachers, and it is not very important that they should be all divided by the same standard, since these divisions are very similar to mapping out a country where the boundaries melt so imperceptibly into one another that it is not very essential to have the limits defined with perfect exactitude, since the changes in the countries and the people will of themselves mark their different states as you progress on your journey. Thus, then, some will tell you there are seven spheres and that the seventh means the heaven spoken of in the Bible; others say there are twelve spheres; others again extend the number. Each sphere is, however, divided into circles, usually twelve to a sphere, though here again some spirits will reckon them differently, just as your standards of measurement on earth differ in different countries, yet the thing they measure remains the same. For myself, I have been used to count that there are seven spheres above the earth and seven below it--using the terms above and below as signifying the nearness to, or distance from, the great central sun of our solar system, the nearest point of attraction towards that sun being considered to be our highest point of attainment (while in the limits of the earth spheres), and the farthest away being regarded as our lowest or most degraded sphere. Each sphere, then, being subdivided into twelve circles, which are blended so closely into each other that you appear to pass almost insensibly from one to the other. I had hitherto been in what is called the earth plane, which like a great broad belt circles around the earth and permeates its atmosphere. This earth plane may be said to comprehend within its bounds the first of the seven spheres above and the first of those below the earth, and is used commonly in describing the habitations of those spirits who are said to be earth-bound in a greater or less degree because they are not able to sink below the earth attractions nor to free themselves from its influences.
I was now told that I had so far freed myself from the earth's attractions and overcome my desires for earthly things, that I was able to pass into the second sphere. The passing from the body of a lower sphere into that of a higher one is often, though not invariably, accomplished during a deep sleep which closely resembles the death-sleep of the spirit in leaving the earthly body. As a spirit grows more elevated, more etherealized, this change is accompanied by a greater degree of consciousness, till at last the passing from one high sphere to another is simply like changing one garb for another a little finer, discarding one spiritual envelope for a more ethereal one. Thus the soul passes onward, growing less and less earthly (or material) in its envelopment, till it passes beyond the limits of our earth spheres into those of the solar systems.

It happened, then, that upon my return from one of my visits to the earth, I felt overpowered by a strange unusual sense of drowsiness, which was more like paralysis of the brain than sleep.

I retired to my little room in the Twilight Land, and throwing myself upon my couch, sank at once into a profound dreamless slumber like unto the unconscious sleep of death.

In this state of unconsciousness I lay for about two weeks of earthly time, and during it my soul passed from the disfigured astral body and came forth like a newborn child, clothed in a brighter, purer spiritual envelope, which my efforts at overcoming the evil in myself had created for it. Only I was not born as an infant but as a full grown man, even as my experience and knowledge had been those of a mature spirit. There are some mortals whose knowledge of life is so limited, whose minds have been so little cultivated, and whose natures are so simple and childlike, that they are born into the spirit world as mere children, however many years of earth life they may have known, but it was not so with me, and in assuming my new condition I also possessed the development in age which my earth life had given me.

In a state of perfect unconsciousness my newborn soul was borne by the attendant spirit friends into the second sphere, where I lay sleeping my dreamless sleep till the time came for my awakening.

The discarded astral envelope I had left was by the power of attendant spirits dissolved into the elements of the earth plane, even as my earthly body left at my first death would decay into the earthly material from which it had been taken,--dust returning unto dust again, while the immortal soul passed on to a higher state.

Thus did I pass through my second death and awake to the resurrection of my higher self.




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« Reply #32 on: December 21, 2008, 05:07:18 pm »

PART II.
The Dawn of Light.
CHAPTER XIII.--Welcome in the Land of Dawn--My New Home There.

On my awakening for the second time from a sleep of death to consciousness in the spirit world, I found that I was in much pleasanter surroundings. There was daylight at last, though it was as that of a dull day without sun, yet what a blessed change from the dismal twilight and the dark night!

I was in a neat little room quite like an earthly one, lying upon a little bed of soft white down. Before me was a long window looking out upon a wide stretch of hills and undulating country. There were no trees or shrubs to be seen, and hardly any flowers, save here and there some little simple ones like flowering weeds, yet even these were refreshing to the eyes, and there were ferns and grass clothing the ground with a carpet of verdure instead of the hard bare soil of the Twilight Land.

This region was called the "Land of Dawn," and truly the light was as the day appears before the sun has arisen to warm it. The sky was of a pale blue grey, and white cloudlets seemed to chase each other across it and float in quiet masses on the horizon. You who think that there are no clouds and no sunshine in the spirit lands hardly know how beautiful a thing you would shut out, unless you have spent, as I did, a long monotonous time without seeing either of them.

The room I was in, though by no means luxurious, was yet fairly comfortable in appearance, and reminded me of some cottage interior upon earth. It held all that was needful to comfort, if nothing that was specially beautiful, and it had not that bare prison-like look of my former dwellings. There were a few pictures of scenes of my earth life which had been pleasant, and the recollections they called up gave me a fresh pleasure; there were also some pictures of spirit life and oh! joy, there was my picture mirror, and my rose, and the letter--all my treasures! I stopped my explorations to look into that mirror and see what my beloved was doing. She was asleep, and on her face was a happy smile as if even in her dreams she knew some good had befallen me. Then I went to the window and looked out over the country and those long rolling hills, treeless and somewhat bare, save for their covering of grass and ferns. I looked long upon this scene, it was so like and yet so unlike earth, so strangely bare and yet so peaceful. My eyes, long wearied with those lower spheres, rested in joy and peace upon this new scene, and the thought that I had thus risen to a new life filled me with a thankfulness of heart unspeakable.

At last I turned from the window, and seeing what was like a small mirror near me, I looked to see what change there might be in myself. I started back with an exclamation of joy and surprise. Was it possible? Could this be as I appeared now? I gazed and gazed again. This myself? Why, I was young again! I looked a man of about thirty or thirty-five, not more certainly, and I beheld myself as I had been in my prime on earth! I had looked so old, so haggard, so miserable in that Twilight Land that I had avoided to look at myself. I had looked twenty times worse than I could ever have looked on earth, had I lived to be a hundred years old. And now, why, I was young! I held out my hand, it was firm and fresh-looking like my face. A closer inspection of myself pleased me still more. I was in all respects a young man again in my prime of vigor, yet not quite as I had been; no! there was a sadness in my look, a certain something more in the eyes than anywhere else that showed the suffering through which I had passed. I knew that never again could I feel the heedless buoyant ecstasy of youth, for never again could I go back and be quite as I had been. The bitter past of my life rose up before me and checked my buoyant thoughts. The remorse for my past sins was with me yet, and cast still its shadow over even the joy of this awakening. Never, ah! never can we undo all the past life of earth, so that no trace of it will cling to the risen spirit, and I have heard that even those who have progressed far beyond what I have even yet done, bear still the scars of their past sins and sorrows, scars that will slowly, very slowly, wear away at last in the great ages of eternity. For me there had come joy, great joy, wonderful fulfillment of my hope, yet there clung to me the shadow of the past, and its dark mantle clouded even the happiness of this hour.

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« Reply #33 on: December 21, 2008, 05:07:47 pm »

While I yet mused upon the change which had passed over me, the door opened and a spirit glided in, dressed (as I now was) in a long robe of a dark blue color with yellow borderings, and the symbol of our order on the sleeve. He had come to invite me to a banquet which was to be given to myself and others who were newly arrived from the lower sphere. "All is simple here," said he, "even our festivals, yet there will be the salt of friendship to season it and the wine of love to refresh you all. Today you are our honored guests, and we all wait to welcome you as those who have fought a good fight and gained a worthy victory."

Then he took me by the hand and led me into a long hall, with many windows looking out upon more hills and a great peaceful quiet lake. Here there were long tables spread for the banquet, and seats placed round for us all. There were about five or six hundred brothers newly arrived, like myself, and about a thousand more who had been there for some time and who were going about from one to another introducing themselves and welcoming the new-comers cordially. Here and there someone would recognize an old friend or comrade, or one who had either assisted them or been assisted by them in the lower spheres. They were all awaiting the arrival of the presiding spirit of the order in this sphere, who was called "The Grand Master."

Presently the large doors at one end of the hall were seen to glide apart of themselves, and a procession entered. First came a most majestic, handsome spirit in robes of that rich blue color one sees in the pictures of the Virgin Mary. These robes were lined with white and bordered with yellow, while a hood of yellow lined with white hung from the shoulders, and on the sleeve was embroidered the symbol of the Order of Hope. Behind this man were about a hundred or so of youths, all in white and blue robes, who bore in their hands wreaths of laurel. At the upper end of the hall there was a handsome chair of state, with a white, blue and yellow canopy over it, and after saluting us all the Grand Master seated himself in it, while the youths ranged themselves in a semicircle behind him. After a short prayer of thanksgiving to Almighty God for us all he addressed us in these terms:

"My Brethren, you who are assembled to welcome these wanderers who are to find for a time rest and peace, sympathy and love, in this our House of Hope, and you our wandering brothers, whom we are all assembled to welcome and to honor as conquerers in the great battle against selfishness and sin, to you we give our heartiest greeting, and bid you accept, as members of our great brotherhood, these tributes of our respect and honor, which we offer and which you have fairly won. And from the increased happiness of your own lives we bid you stretch forth your hands in brotherly love to all the sorrowing ones whom you have left still toiling in the darkness of the earth life and in the spheres of the earth plane, and as you shall yourselves know yet more perfect triumphs, yet nobler conquests, so seek ye to give to others yet more and more of the perfect love of our great brotherhood, whose highest and most glorious masters are in the heavens, and whose humblest members are yet struggling sinners in the dark earth plane. In one long and unbroken chain our great order shall stretch from the heavens to the earth while this planet shall support material life, and each and every one of you must ever remember that you are links of that great chain, fellow workers with the angels, brother workers with the most oppressed. I summon you now, each in your turn, to receive and to cherish as a symbol of the honor you have won, these wreaths of fadeless laurel which shall crown the victors' brows. In the name of the Great Supreme Ruler of the Universe, in the name of all Angels and of our Brotherhood, I crown each one and dedicate you to the cause of Light and Hope and Truth."

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« Reply #34 on: December 21, 2008, 05:08:09 pm »

Then at a signal we, the new arrivals, many of us almost overcome by these kindly words and this mark of honor, drew near, and, kneeling down before the Grand Master, had placed upon our heads these laurel crowns which the youths handed to the Master, and with which he crowned us with his own hands.

When the last one had received his crown, such a shout of joy went up from the assembled Brothers, such cheers, and then they sang a most beautiful song of praise, with so lovely a melody and such poetical words that I would I could reproduce it all for you. When this was over we were each led to a seat by an attendant brother and the banquet began.

You will wonder how such a banquet could be in the spirit world, but do you think that even on earth your all of enjoyment at such a scene is in the food you eat, the wine you drink, and do you imagine that a spirit has no need for food of any kind? If so, you are in error. We need, and we eat, food, though not of so material a substance as is yours. There is no animal food of any sort, nor anything like it, save only in the lowest spheres of earth-bound spirits, where they enjoy through others yet in the flesh the satisfaction of the animal apetites.

But there are in this second sphere the most delicious fruits, almost transparent to look at, which melt in your mouth as you eat them. There is wine like sparkling nectar, which does not intoxicate or create a thirst for more. There are none of those things which would gratify coarse apetites, but there are delicate cakes and a sort of light bread. Of such fare and such wine did this banquet consist, and I for one confess I never enjoyed anything more than the lovely fruits, which were the first I had seen in the spirit world, and which I was told were truly the fruits of our own labors grown in the spirit land by our efforts to help others.

After the banquet was over there was another speech, and a grand chorus of thanks in which we all joined. Then we dispersed, some of us to see our friends upon earth and try to make them feel that some happy event had befallen us. Many of us, alas! were being mourned as among the lost souls who had died in sin, and it was a great grief to us that these earthly friends could not be made conscious how great were now our hopes. Others of the Brothers turned to converse with newly-found spirit friends, while for my part I went straight to earth to tell the good news to my beloved. I found her about to attend one of those meetings for materialization, and, trembling with joy and eagerness, I followed her there, for now I knew there was no longer any reason why I should not show my face to her who had been so faithful and so patient in waiting for me--no longer would the sight of me give pain or shock her.

Ah, what a happy night that was! I stood beside her all the time. I touched her again and again. I stood there, no more the dark shrouded figure hiding his face from all eyes. No! I was there in my new dress with my new hopes, my risen body, and the ashes of my dead past were there no more to give me such shame and sorrow of heart as I had known. And then--oh! crowning joy to that most joyful day--I showed myself to her wondering eyes, and they gazed into my own. But she did not know me at once; she was looking for me as she had seen me last on earth, with face of care and wrinkled brow, and the young man's face looked strange to her. Yet not quite strange, she smiled and looked with a puzzled wondering look which, could I but have held the material particles of my form together for but a few more minutes, must have changed to recognition. But, alas! all too soon I felt my material form melting from me like soft wax, and I had to turn and go as it faded away. But as I went I heard her say: "It was so like, so very like what my dear friend must have been in youth. It was so like and yet so unlike him, I hardly know what to think."

Then I went behind her and whispered in her ear that it was I myself, and no other. And she heard my whisper and laughed and smiled, and said she had felt sure it must be so. Then indeed the cup of my joy was full, then indeed was the crown of my day complete.



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« Reply #35 on: December 21, 2008, 05:09:06 pm »

CHAPTER XIV.--A Father's Love.

After this there came for me a time of happiness, a season of rest and refreshment upon which I shall not dwell; its memories are all too sacred to me, for those days were spent near to her I loved, and I had the happiness of knowing that she was conscious of much, though not all, I said to her, and I spent so much of my time on earth that I had none to explore the wonders of that Land of Dawn of which I had become an inhabitant.

And now a fresh surprise awaited me. In all my wanderings since my death I had never once seen any of my relatives nor the friends who had passed before me into the spirit land. But one day when I came as usual to see my beloved, I found her full of some mysterious message she had received, and which she was to give me herself. After a little she told me that it was from a spirit who had come to visit her, and who said he was my father and that he wished her to give his message to me. I was so overcome when she said this that I could scarcely speak--scarcely ask what his message was. I had so loved my father upon earth, for my mother had died when I was so young that she was but a faint tender memory to me. But my father! he had been everything to me. He had had such pride and joy in all my successes, such hopes for my future; and, then, when I had made shipwreck of my life, I knew that I had broken his heart. He did not long survive the crushing of all his hopes, and since his death I had only thought of him with pain and shame of heart. And now when I heard that from beyond the gates of Death he had come to my beloved and spoken to her of me, I feared lest his words might be but a lament over his buried hopes, his degraded son, and I cried out that I could not dare to meet him, yet I longed to hear what he had said, and to know if there was in it a word of forgiveness for me, his son, who had so deeply sinned.

How shall I tell what his words had been? How say what I felt to hear them? They fell upon my heart as dew upon a thirsty land, those words of his, and are far, far too precious to be given to the world, but surely the father in the parable must have welcomed back his prodigal son in some such words as these! Ah! how I cried out to my beloved when I heard those words, and how I longed to see that father again and be taken once more to his heart as when I was a boy! And as I turned away I beheld his spirit standing by us, just as I had seen him last in life, only with a glory of the spirit world upon him such as no mortal eyes have ever seen. My father--so long parted from me, and to meet again thus! We had no words to greet each other with but "My father" and "My son," but we clasped each other to the heart in a joy that required no words.

When our feelings had calmed down again we began to speak of many things, and not least of her whose love had led me so far upon my upward path, and then I learned that this beloved father had helped, watched over, and protected us both; that he had followed me during all my wanderings both on earth and in the spirit land, and had protected and comforted me in my struggles. Unseen himself he had yet been near, and unceasing in his efforts and his love. All this time when I had so shrunk from the thought of meeting him he had been there, only waiting an opportunity to make himself known, and he had come at last through her who had so much of my love, in order that he might thereby link us all three more closely together in the joy of this reunion.



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« Reply #36 on: December 21, 2008, 05:10:18 pm »

CHAPTER XV.--A New Expedition Proposed.

When I returned to the spirit land, my father went with me and we spent a long time together. In the course of our conversation he told me that an expedition was about to be sent from this sphere to work as "Rescuers" in the lowest sphere of all, a sphere below any I had yet seen and which was in truth the hell believed in by the church. How long the expedition would be absent was not known, but a certain work had to be accomplished, and like an invading army we would remain till we had attained our object.

My Eastern guide advised me to join this band of workers, and as my father had in earth life sent his sons forth to fight for their beloved country, so did he now wish me to go forth with this army of soldiers in the cause of Truth and Light and Hope. To fight successfully against these powers of evil, it was necessary to be beyond the temptations of the earth plane and lower spheres, and to help the unhappy ones by a visible help which they could see and take hold of; one must not belong to the higher spheres, for spirits more advanced than the Brothers of Hope in this, the first circle of the second sphere, would be quite invisible to the unhappy ones who could neither see nor hear them. Also in entering these lowest spheres we would, in order to be visible, have to clothe ourselves in a certain portion of their material elements, and this a more advanced spirit could not do. So that although unseen helpers from the higher spheres would accompany the expedition to protect and assist us, they would be invisible alike to ourselves and those we had come to help.

Those who were to go upon this expedition with me were similar to myself in disposition, and it was felt that we would all learn much from seeing to what our passionate feelings would have sunk us, had we indulged in them. At the same time we would be able to rescue from those dark spheres many poor repentant souls. Those whom we rescued would be taken to where I had been on my first passing over from earth life, where there were numerous institutions specially set apart for such poor spirits, presided over and attended by spirits who had themselves been rescued from the Kingdoms of Hell and who were therefore best fitted to aid these poor wanderers.

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« Reply #37 on: December 21, 2008, 05:10:51 pm »

Besides the Brothers of Hope from the Land of Dawn, there were other similar bands from other brotherhoods always being sent down to the dark spheres, such expeditions being, in fact, part of the great system of help for sinners ever being carried on in the name of the Eternal Father of all, who dooms none of his children to an eternity of misery.

A number of friends would accompany us a part of our journey, and our expedition would be commanded by a leader who had himself been rescued from the dark spheres and who knew their especial dangers.

As we would pass through the earth plane and lower spheres we would see them in a way we had not done before, and my Eastern guide said he would send one of his pupils to accompany me as far as the lowest sphere, in order that he might explain to me and make visible some of the mysteries of the astral plane which we would see as we passed. Hassein (as the student was named) was studying those mysteries of nature which have been classed under the name of magic and as such deemed evil, whereas it is their abuse only which is evil. A more extended intelligent knowledge of them would tend to prevent many existing evils and counteract some of those evil powers brought to bear upon man, often very injuriously, in his present ignorance. This student spirit had been a Persian and a follower of Zoroaster in his earth life, as Ahrinziman himself had been, and they belonged still to that school of thought of which Zoroaster was the great exponent.

"In the spirit world," said Ahrinziman, "there are a great number of different schools of thought, all containing the great fundamental eternal truths of nature, but each differing in many minor details, and also as to how these great truths should be applied for the advancement of the soul; they likewise differ as to how their respective theories will work out, and the conclusions to be drawn from the undoubted knowledge they possess, when it is applied to subjects upon which they have no certain knowledge and which are still with them as with those on earth, the subject of speculation, theory, and discussion. It is a mistake to suppose that in the spirit world of our planet there is any absolute knowledge which can explain all the great mysteries of Creation, the why and wherefore of our being, the existence of so much evil mixed with the good, or the nature of the soul and how it comes from God.

"The waves of truth are continually flowing from the great thought centers of the Universe, and are transmitted to earth through chains of spirit intelligences, but each spirit can only transmit such portions of truth as his development has enabled him to understand, and each mortal can only receive as much knowledge as his intellectual faculties are able to assimilate and comprehend.

"Neither spirits nor mortals can know everything, and spirits can only give you what are the teachings which their own particular schools of thought and advanced teachers give as their explanations. Beyond this they cannot go, for beyond this they do not themselves know; there is no more absolute certainty in the spirit world than on earth, and those who assert that they have the true and only explanation of these great mysteries are giving you merely what they have been taught by more advanced spirits, who, with all due deference to them, are no more entitled to speak absolutely than the most advanced teachers of some other school. I assert with knowledge not my own, but from another who is indeed regarded in the spirit world as a leader of most advanced thought, that it is in no way possible to give a final answer to or explanation of subjects which are beyond the powers of any spirit of our entire solar system to solve, and still more beyond those of the spirits of our earth spheres. In these subjects and their explanation are involved and required a knowledge of the limits of the universe itself which has no limits, and the nature of that Supreme Being of whom no man or spirit can know the nature, save in so far as we can grasp the great truth that he is Infinite Spirit, limitless in all senses, Unknowable and Unknown.

"Let men and spirits, then, argue or explain, they can only teach you to the limits of their own knowledge and beyond that again are limits none can reach. How can any pretend to show you the ultimate end of that which has no end, or sound the great depths of an infinite thought which has no bottom? Thought is as eternal as life and as fathomless. Spirit is infinite and all-pervading. God is in all and over and above all, yet none know his nature nor what manner of essense he is of, save that he is in everything and everywhere. The mind of man must pause on the very threshold of his inquiries, appalled by the sense of his own littleness, and the most he can do is to learn humbly and study cautiously, that each step be assured before he essays again to climb. The most lofty, the most daring minds cannot grasp all at once, and can man on earth hope that all can be explained to him with his limited range of vision, when the most advanced minds in the spirit world are ever being checked in their explorations after truth by the sense of their limited powers?"



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« Reply #38 on: December 21, 2008, 05:11:28 pm »

CHAPTER XVI.--Clairvoyance--The Journey Begun.

The friend whom Ahrinziman sent to accompany and instruct me, appeared to my eyes as a youth of about five-and-twenty to thirty years of age, judging by earth's standard in such matters, but he told me he had lived to upwards of sixty years on earth. His present appearance was that of his spiritual development, which alone constitutes the age of a spirit. As a spirit grows more highly developed in his intellectual powers, the appearance becomes more matured, till at last he assumes that of a sage, without, however, the wrinkles and defects of age in earth life, only its dignity, its power, and its experience. Thus, when a spirit has attained to the highest possible development of the earth (or any other planet's) spheres he would possess the appearance of one of its patriarchs, and would then pass into the higher and more extended spheres of the solar system of that planet, beginning there as a youth again since his development compared to that of the advanced spirits of those higher spheres would be but that of a youth.

Hassein told me that he was at present studying the various powers and forms of nature in those stages which were below soul life, and would be able to make visible and explain to me many curious things we should see upon our journey.

"Many spirits," he said, "pass through the sphere of the astral plane without being conscious of its spectral inhabitants, by reason of the fact that their senses are not developed in such a way as to enable them to become conscious of their surroundings in all their entirety, just as in earth life there are many persons quite unable to see the spirits around them, although to others again they are perfectly visible. There are upon earth persons who can see not alone the spirits of human beings but also these astral and elementary beings who are not truly 'spirits,' since that word should be used to denote only those which possess within them the soul germ. Now many of these beings which we shall see never possessed any soul, and others again are only the empty shells from which the soul germ has departed. To distinguish between the soul spirit and the soulless astral one must possess a double power of soul-sight or clairvoyance as it is termed, and many who possess only an imperfect degree of this double power will be able to see elementals and astrals, but without being able to distinguish them clearly from the soul-enveloping spirit forms. Hence much confusion and many mistakes have arisen amongst these imperfect clairvoyants as to the nature and attributes of these classes of beings. There are seven degrees of the soul-sight found in persons yet in the earth life; and in the next stage of life the spiritual part or soul being freed from the gross elements of material life, there will be found seven more expansions of this gift, and so on in progressive succession as the soul casts off one by one the envelopes of matter--first the most gross or earthly matter, then succeeding degrees of refined or sublimated matter, for we hold that there can be no such thing as entire severance between soul and matter--that is so long as it is conscious of existence in any of our solar systems. Beyond these limits we have no knowledge to guide us, and it is a matter of pure speculation. It is only a question of the degree and quality of the matter which is more or less refined and etherealized as the soul is in a higher or lower state of development. It is of the first stage of earthly conscious soul life that I shall now speak in speaking of the clairvoyant sight, leaving till another time the theories and beliefs involved in the study of what has passed before man's present conscious stage of existence and what may happen when he passes beyond the limits of our present knowledge.

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« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2008, 05:11:50 pm »

"We find, then, in the earthly stage of life persons--most often women or very young boys--who are endowed with some or all of these seven degrees of soul-sight. The first three degrees are very often found, the fourth and fifth more rarely, while the sixth and seventh are hardly ever met with except in persons endowed with certain peculiarities of organization, due to those astrological influences under which they are born--particularly to those prevailing at the exact moment the child sees the light of earth life. So rare are these perfect sixth and seventh degrees that very few possess them, though some are found with an imperfect sixth and none of the seventh, in which case they can never attain to the perfection of soul-sight, and as with imperfect glasses, the defect in their sight will cause them to have an imperfect vision of celestial things, and although they will see into the sixth sphere in a sense, yet their defective power will greatly impair the value of what they see.

"Those, however, who have the perfect sixth and seventh degrees can be taken in spirit into the seventh sphere itself, which is the highest, or heaven of the earth spheres, and like St. John of old they shall see unspeakable things. To do this the soul requires to be freed from all ties to the material body, save only the slender thread without which connecting link, body and soul would part forever. Thus they may be said to be out of the body at such times, and so difficult and dangerous is it to thus take the soul into the seventh sphere, that only with exceptional persons and under very exceptional circumstances can it be done even where the power exists. Of the clairvoyants of the lower degrees of power the same may be said, except that the less celestial their powers, the more safely and easily may they be used, each clairvoyant being able to see into that sphere which corresponds to the degree of power which they possess. It is, however, a curious fact that many clairvoyants possess one or more perfect degrees of soul-sight with at the same time an imperfect form of a degree still higher, and when this is so it will be found that the medium mixes the visions seen and is not reliable, since the defective degree (if used) will act like a defective eye and cause that which is beheld by both eyes at the same time to partake of its imperfections. It is, therefore, far better to have the entire absence of a degree than to possess an imperfect form of it, since the imperfect one only causes confusion in using the perfect ones, unless indeed you do with these powers as you might do with the defective eye, and close it altogether in order that the vision, though limited, may be correct. Thus the ancients when they found the highest amount of perfect vision of one or more degrees in their pupils, arrested their further development at that degree before the imperfect sight of a higher one could in any way impair the value of those they possessed. In this way they were able to train as reliable clairvoyants of moderate powers many who by a further effort at development would have lost far more than they could gain. In olden days seers were divided into classes even as they still are amongst certain schools of prophets in the East, though now the art is not studied to the perfection it once was when the Eastern nations were a power upon earth.

"Each class underwent a special training adapted to their special degrees of power and class of gifts, and there was not the present curious mixture of great gifts and entire ignorance of how to use them wisely, which in many instances results in so many inaccuracies and so much harm both to mediums and to those who go to them for spiritual knowledge. As well might a trainer of young gymnasts think that he could overtax and strain the growing muscles without lasting harm to them, as those who make an ignorant, unlimited, and indiscriminate use and development of the mediumistic powers. A young fledgling cast from the nest too soon flutters and falls to the ground, while if left till the wings are strong enough to bear its flight it will soar to heaven itself. With more extended knowledge upon earth there will be given to certain sensitives endowed with the needful mediumistic powers the knowledge by which under the guidance of those higher intelligences who are directing the great spiritual movement, they can judge between the spirits of low and degraded states and those of a higher degree of advancement, and thus much of the confusion and danger which still hampers the movement will be gradually eliminated from it.

"On the spirit side of life are many teachers who for centuries have made a study of these subjects--of all forms of life--and of the mediumistic powers of those who are incarnated upon earth, and they are even now seeking on all sides for open doors through which to impart such knowledge as may be of use to man. Much which they know could not yet be imparted, but there are things which could, and with this subject as with all others the minds upon earth will expand and develop as knowledge is given."

I thanked my new friend for his information and promised help, and as the expedition was soon to start I went to earth to bid adieu for a time to my beloved. Upon our parting I shall not dwell, nor say how much we both felt we should miss our constant little intercourse; for even restricted as it was by the barrier between us, it had been been a great joy to both.

I found on my return that the preparations for our journey were now complete, and I was summoned to bid my father and others adieu, and to join my companions in the great hall where they were now assembled to receive the farewell benediction of our Grand Master.

After this our band started amidst the cheers and good wishes of all the assembled Brotherhood.



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« Reply #40 on: December 21, 2008, 05:12:39 pm »

CHAPTER XVII.--The Astral Plane and Its Inhabitants--Spooks, Elves, Vampires, etc.

I can hardly give you a better idea of the course of our journey than by asking you to imagine a vast spiral or corkscrew winding upwards and downwards in circling rings. A tiny speck no bigger than a pin's head in the middle of a large cart-wheel might represent the earth in the centre of these circling rings, an equal number of which are above and below the earth, all winding in a connected series from the lowest to the highest around this speck, and the head of the spiral pointing towards our central sun--this being regarded as the highest point of the most advanced sphere.

This will give you a faint idea of the earth and its attendant spirit spheres, and help you to understand how in our journey we passed from the second into the lowest sphere, and in doing so passed through the earth plane. As we entered it I perceived many spirits of mortals hurrying to and fro just as I had been wont to see them, but now for the first time I also saw that mingling with them were many floating spectral shapes similar to those wraiths I had seen haunting the spirit in the icy cage in the Frozen Land. These wraiths seemed to be floating to and fro like driftweed upon a seashore, borne here and there by the different astral currents which revolve and circle round the earth.

Some were very distinct and life-like till a closer inspection revealed to me that the light of intelligence was wanting in their eyes and expressions, and there was a helpless collapsed look about them like wax dolls from which the stuffing has run out. For the life of me I can think of nothing that will so well express their appearance.

In my former wanderings through the earth plane I had not been conscious of any of these beings, and on asking Hassein the reason of this he answered: "First, because you were so much absorbed in your work, and secondly, your powers of sight were not sufficiently developed. Now look," he added, pointing to a strange little group of beings like elves which were approaching us hand in hand, gamboling like children. "Look at those; they are the mental and bodily emanations cast off from the minds and bodies of children which consolidate into these queer, harmless little elementals when brought into contact with any of the great life currents that circle around the earth, and which bear upon their waves the living emanations cast off from men, women and children. These curious little beings have no real separate intelligent life such as a soul would give, and they are so evanescent and ethereal that they take their shapes and change them, as you will observe, like the clouds on a summer sky. See how they are all dissolving and forming again afresh."

As I looked I saw the whole little cloud of figures shift into a new form of grotesque likeness, and whereas they had looked like tiny fairies in caps and gowns made from flowers, they now took wings, becoming like a species of half butterflies, half imps, with human bodies, animal's heads, and butterflies' wings. Then as a fresh strong wave of magnetism swept over them, lo! they were all broken up and carried away to form fresh groups elsewhere with other particles.

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« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2008, 05:13:15 pm »

I was so astonished at this, the real living appearance and the unreal disappearance, that I suppose Hassein read my puzzled state of mind, for he said, "What you have now beheld is only an ethereal form of elemental life, which is not material enough for a long continued existence on the earth plane, and is like the foam of the sea thrown up by the wave motions of pure earthly lives and thoughts. See now how much stronger on the astral plan can be the consistency of that which is not pure."

I beheld approaching us a great mass of aerial forms, dark, misshapen, human, yet inhuman, in appearance. "These," said he, "are the beings which haunt the delirium of the drunkard, which gather round him, drawn by his corrupted magnetism and unable to be repelled by one who has lost the will-force needful to protect him from such creatures which cling like barnacles to him, and like leeches suck his animal vitality with a strange ghoulish intelligence akin to that of some noisome plant which has fastened itself upon a tree. For such a one as the unfortunate drunkard the best help which can be given is by obtaining some one upon the earth side of life who possesses a strong will and mesmeric powers, and let him place the drunkard under the protection of his will and the strong influence of his magnetism, till the last of these phantoms drops off from inability to hold on longer under the stream of healthy magnetism poured upon them and the unlucky man upon whom they have fastened. The healthy magnetism acts like a poison upon these creatures, and kills them so that they drop off, and their bodies, unable to hold together, decay into immaterial dust. Should these beings, however, not encounter such a strong dose of healthy magnetism they will go on for years floating about and drawing away the animal vitality of one human being after another, till at last they become endowed with a certain amount of independent animal life of their own. At this stage they can be used by higher, more intelligent beings to carry out such work as their peculiar organizations fit them for, and it is these soulless creatures, though created and earth-nourished, whom a certain class of practitioners of the so-called black magic made use of in some of their experiments, as well as for carrying out their evil designs against any one who had offended them. But like deadly weeds at the bottom of a dark pool, these astrals draw down and destroy in their soulless clutches those who venture to meddle with them unprotected by the higher powers."

"And now tell me, friend Hassein," said I, "if these astrals, when they fasten upon a drunkard, can or do influence him to drink more, as is the case when the earth-bound spirit of a departed drunkard controls one still in the flesh."

"No! These beings do not derive any pleasure from the drink a man swallows, except in so far as by corrupting his magnetism it makes him such that they can more readily feed upon him. It is his animal or earthly life-force they desire. It means existence for them and is much the same as water to a plant, and beyond the fact that by draining the victim of his vitality they cause a sense of exhaustion which makes him fly to stimulants for relief, they do not affect the question of his continuing to drink. They are mere parasites, and possess no intelligence of their own except of so rudimentary a character that we can scarcely give it that name.

"To originate a thought or to impress your thoughts upon another requires the possession of an intelligent soul germ or spark of the divine essence, and once this has been given the being becomes possessed of an independent individuality it can never again lose. It may cast off envelope after envelope, or it may sink into grosser and still grosser forms of matter, but once endowed with soul-life it can never cease to exist, and in existing must retain the individuality of its nature and the responsibility of its actions. This is alike true of the human soul and the intelligent soul-principle as manifested in the animals or lower types of soul existence. Whenever you see the power to reason and to act upon such reasoning manifested either in man, the highest type, or in animals, the lower type, you may know that a soul exists, and it is only a question of degree of purity of soul essence. We see in man and in the brute creation alike a power of reasoning intelligence differing only in degree, and from this fact the school of thought to which I belong draws the inference that both alike have a conscious individual immortality, differing, however, in the type and degree of soul essence, animals as well as men having an immortal future for development before them. What are the limits of the action of this law we cannot pretend to say, but we draw our conclusions from the existence in the spirit world of animals as well as men who have alike lived on earth, and both of whom are found in a more advanced state of development than they were in their earth existences.

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« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2008, 05:15:54 pm »

"It is impossible for the soulless parasite to influence the mind of any mortal; and it is therefore undoubtedly the souls which have been incarnated in earthly bodies and have so indulged their lower passions in that state that they are not able to free themselves from the fetters of their astral envelopes, that haunt the earth and incite those yet in the flesh to indulgence in drink and similar vices. They, as you know, can control man in many ways, either partially or completely, and the most common way is for the spirit to partly envelop the man he controls with his spirit body until a link has been formed between them, somewhat after the nature of that uniting some twin children who possess distinct bodies, but are so joined to each other and interblended that all which one feels is felt by the other. In this fashion what is swallowed by the mortal is enjoyed by the spirit who controls the unfortunate man, and who urges him to drink as much as possible, and when he can no longer do so the spirit will then try to free himself and go elsewhere in search of some other weak-willed man or woman of depraved tastes. Not always, however, can either the spirit or the mortal free themselves from the strange link woven between them by the indulgence of their joint desires. After a long-continued connection of this sort it becomes very difficult for them to separate, and the spirit and the man may go on for years sick of each other yet unable to break the tie without help from the higher powers, who are always ready to assist those who call upon their aid. Should a spirit continue to control men for the purpose of self-gratification as I have described, he sinks lower and lower, and drags his victims down with him into the depths of hell itself, from which they will both have a bitter and weary task to climb when at last the desire for better things shall awaken. To a soul alone belongs the power to think and to will, and those other soulless creatures but obey the laws of attraction and repulsion, which are felt likewise by all the material atoms of which the universe is composed, and even when these astral parasites have, by long feeding upon the vital force of men or women, attained to a certain amount of independent life, they have no intelligence to direct their own or others' movements; they float about like fever germs generated in a foul atmosphere, attracted to one person more readily than to another, and like such germs may be said to possess a very low form of life.

"Another class of elemental astrals are those of the earth, air, fire, and water, whose bodies are formed from the material life germs in each element. Some are in appearance like the gnomes and elves who are said to inhabit mines and mountain caverns which have never been exposed to the light of day. Such, too, are the fairies whom men have seen in lonely and secluded places amongst primitive races of men. Such, with the variations caused by the different natures of the elements from which they are formed, are the water sprites and the mermaids of ancient fable, and the spirits of the fire and the spirits of the air.

"All these beings possess life, but as yet no souls, for their lives are drawn from and sustained by the lives of earthly men and women, and they are but reflections of the men amongst whom they dwell. Some of these beings are of a very low order of life, almost like the higher orders of plants, except that they possess an independent power of motion. Others are very lively and full of grotesque unmeaning tricks, with the power of very rapid flight from place to place. Some are perfectly harmless, while others again are more malignant in their instincts as the human beings from whom their life is drawn are of a more savage race. These curious earth elementals cannot exist long amongst nations where the more intellectual stage of development has been reached, because then the life germs thrown off by man contain too little of the lower or animal life to sustain them, and they die and their bodies decay into the atmosphere. Thus as nations advance and grow more spiritual, these lower forms of life die out from the astral plane of that earth's sphere, and succeeding generations begin at first to doubt and then to deny that they ever had an existence. Only amongst those ancient religions of the East who have kept still unbroken the threads of record, are there to be found accounts of these intermediate dependent races of beings and the causes of their existence.

"These soulless elementals of earth, air, fire and water, are a class distinct from those others which I have drawn you as emanating from the debased intelligence of man's mind and the evil actions of his body. Behold now, oh! man of a Western nation, the knowledge which your philosophers and learned men have shut out and locked away as being harmful fables, till man, shut into the narrow bounds of what he can with his physical senses alone see, hear, and feel, has begun to doubt if he has any soul at all; any higher, purer, nobler self than is sustained by the sordid life of earth. See now the multitudinous beings that surround man on every side, and ask yourself if it would not be well that he should have the knowledge which could help to keep him safe from the many pitfalls over which he walks in blind ignorance and unconsciousness of his danger. In the primitive ages of the earth man was content to look like a child for help and succor to his Heavenly Father, and God sent his angels and ministering spirits to protect his earthly children. In these latter ages man, like a full-grown troublesome youth, seeks in his self-conceit no higher help than his own, and rushes into danger with his eyes bandaged by his pride and ignorance. He scoffs at those things which he is too limited in his powers to understand, and turns aside from those who would instruct him. Because he cannot see his soul, cannot weigh it and analyze it, he says, forsooth, that man has no soul and had better enjoy this earthly life as one who shall some day die and turn to dust again, consciousness, individuality, all forever blotted out.

"Or, again, in abject fear of the unknown fate before him, man takes refuge in the vague superstitions, the shadowy creeds of those who profess to act as guides upon the pathway to the Unknown Land, with little more certain knowledge than man has himself.

"Thus, then, it is in pity to his wandering, struggling children that God has in these later days opened once more--and wider than ever before--the doors of communion between the two worlds. He is sending out again messengers to warn man, ambassadors, to tell him of the better way, the truer path to the happiness of a higher life, and to show him that knowledge and that power which shall yet be of right his inheritance. As the prophets of old spake, so speak these messengers now, and if they speak with clearer voice, with less veiled metaphor, it is because man is no longer in his infancy and needs now that he should be shown the reason and the science upon which his beliefs and hopes must be founded.

"Listen, then, unto this voice that calls, oh! ye toilers of the earth!" cried Hassein, turning and stretching out his hands towards a small dark ball that seemed to float far away on the horizon of our sight--a small dark globe that we knew to be the sorrowful planet called Earth. "Listen to the voices that call to you and turn not a deaf ear, and realize ere it be too late that God is not a God of the dead but of the living, for all things are alive for evermore. Life is everywhere and in everything; even the dull earth and the hard rocks are composed of living germs, each living according to its own degree. The very air we breathe and the boundless ether of universal space are full of life, and there is not one thought we think but lives for good or ill, not one act whose image shall not live to torture or to solace the soul in the days of its release from its incarnation in an earthly form. Life is in all things, and God is the central Life of All."

Hassein paused, then in a calmer voice he said to me: "Look yonder! What would you say those things were?"

He pointed to what seemed to me at first a mass of spirit forms which came sweeping towards us as though blown by a strong wind. As they came near I saw they were evidently soulless astral envelopes, but unlike those floating wraiths I had seen haunting the man in the icy cage, these were solid, and to my spiritual sight life-like and full of animal vigor; yet they were like automatons and did not seem to possess any intelligence. They were drifting and bobbing about like buoys at sea to which boats are anchored. As they drifted close to us my friend put forth his will-force and captured one, which then remained floating in mid air.

"Now look," said he, "you will observe this is somewhat like a great living doll. It is the result of countless little living germs which man is continually throwing off from his earthly body, emanations solely of his animal or lower life, material enough when brought into contact with the magnetic forces of the astral plane, to form into these imitations of earthly men and women, and immaterial enough to be invisible to man's purely material sight, although a very small degree of clairvoyant power would enable him to see them. A stronger and higher degree of clairvoyant power would enable him to see, as you do, that this is not a true spirit envelope, since the soul principle is wanting; and a yet higher degree of clairvoyant power would show that a soul has never been in this form, and that it has never had a conscious existence as a soul's astral envelope.

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« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2008, 05:16:48 pm »

"Amongst ordinary clairvoyants the subject of astral spirits is not studied sufficiently to develop these degrees of soul-sight, therefore few clairvoyants in your earthly country could tell you whether this was a true soul-enveloping astral form or one from which the soul had departed, or yet again one in which the soul had never been present at all. Presently I shall show you an experiment with this astral form, but first observe that being such as it is, it is fresh and full of the animal life of the earth plane, and has not the collapsed appearance of those you saw before, which had once contained a soul and which were there in a state of rapid decay yet. And mark this carefully: this fresh looking astral will decay far faster than the others, for it has none of the higher principle of life clinging to it, which, in the case of an astral that has once contained a soul, often remains for a long time animating and keeping it from perfect decay. Astral forms must draw their life from a higher source (from soul germs in fact), or they soon cease to exist and crumble away."

"But," I asked, "how do they assume the shapes of men and women?"

"By the action of the spiritualized magnetic currents which flow through all the ether space continually, as the currents flow in the ocean. These magnetic life currents are of a more etherealized degree than those known to scientific mortals, being in fact their spiritual counterpart, and as such they act upon these cloud masses of human atoms in the same way that electricity acts upon the freezing moisture upon a window pane, forming them into the semblance of men and women as the electricity forms the freezing moisture into a likeness of trees, plants, etc.

"It is an acknowledged fact that electricity is an active agent in the formation of the shapes of leaves and trees, etc., in vegetable life, but few know that this refined form of magnetism has a similar share in the formation of human forms and animal life. I say animal life as applied to those types which are lower than man."

"Are there, then, also the astral forms of animals?"

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« Reply #44 on: December 21, 2008, 05:17:23 pm »

"Certainly, and very queer, grotesque combinations some of them are. I cannot show them to you now, because your powers of sight are not yet fully developed, and also because we are traveling too rapidly to enable me to develop them for you, but some day I shall show you these, as well as many other curious things relating to the astral plane. I may tell you that atoms may be classed under different heads, and that each class will have a special attraction for others of its own kind; thus vegetable atoms will be attracted together to form astral trees and plants, while animal atoms will form into the semblance of beasts, birds, etc., and human atoms into men and women's forms. In some cases, where the human beings from whom the atoms come are very low in the scale of humanity and nearly akin to animals, their atoms will blend with those of the lower forms of life and create grotesque horrible creatures which resemble at once animals and men, and having been seen by clairvoyants in a semi-trance condition are described as nightmare visions. In the earth spheres an immense amount of these living atoms are thrown off continually from man's lower or animal life, and these sustain and renew the astral forms, but were we to transport one of these shells to a planet whose spheres had been spiritualized beyond the stage of material life, or in other words freed from all these lower germs, the astrals could not exist, they would become like a noxious vapor and be blown away. These astrals being, as I have said, created from the cloud masses of human atoms, and never having been the envelope of any soul, are very little more permanent in their nature than the frost flowers on a window pane, unless the power of some higher intelligence acts upon them to intensify their vitality and prolong their existence. They are, as you will see, expressionless and like wax dolls in appearance, and readily lend themselves to receive any individuality stamped upon them, hence their use in ancient times by magicians and others. Astral atoms, whether of trees, plants, animals, or human beings, must not be confounded with the true spirit or soul-clothing atoms which constitute the real spirit world and its inhabitants. Astrals of every kind are the intermediate degree of materiality between the gross matter of earth and the more etherealized matter of the spirit world, and we talk of a soul clothed in its astral envelope to express that earth-bound condition in which it is too refined or immaterial for earth existence, and too grossly clad to ascend into the spirit world of the higher spheres, or to descend to those of the lower."

"Then you mean that a spirit even in the lowest sphere is more spiritualized as regards its body than an earth-bound spirit?"

"Certainly I do. The astral plane extends like a belt around each planet and is, as I said, formed of the matter which is too fine for reabsorption by the planet, and too coarse to escape from the attraction of the planet's mass and pass into the spheres of the spirit world to form either matter in the course of disintegration or change from one form to another, and it is only the vitalizing power of such soul magnetism as it retains which enables it to cling together in any shape at all.

"In the case of human astral forms which have possessed individualized life as a soul's envelope, the astral atoms have absorbed a greater or less degree of the soul's magnetism, or true life essence, according as the earthly existence of the soul has been good or evil, elevated or degraded, and this soul magnetism animates it for a longer or shorter period, and forms a link between it and the soul which has animated it. In the case of a soul whose desires are all for higher things, the link is soon severed and the astral envelope soon decays, while with a soul of evil desires the tie may last for centuries and chain the soul to earth, making it in fact earth-bound. In some cases the astral of a soul of very evil life will have absorbed the lower or higher spheres. Astral matter is practically so much of the soul's vitality that after the soul itself has sunk into the lowest sphere of all, the empty shell will still float about the earth like a fading image of its departed owner. Such are sometimes seen by clairvoyants hanging about the places where they once lived, and are truly 'spooks.' They have no intelligence of their own, since the soul has fled, and they can neither influence mediums nor move tables, nor do any other thing except as mechanical agents of some higher intelligence, whether that intelligence be good or evil.

"The astral before us now has no soul magnetism in it; it never possessed any, therefore it will soon decay and its atoms be absorbed by others. But see to what use it can be turned when acted upon by my will power and animated for the time being by my individuality."

I looked as he spoke and saw the astral doll become suddenly animated and intelligent, and then glide to one of the Brotherhood whom Hassein had selected and touch him upon the shoulder, seeming to say, "Friend, Hassein Bey salutes you." Then bowing to the amused and wondering brother, it glided back to us as though Hassein had held it by a string like a performing monkey.

"Now you see," he said, "how if I chose I might use this astral as a messenger to execute some work I wished done at a distance from myself, and you will understand one of the means made use of by the old magicians to carry out some work at a great distance from themselves and without their appearing to take any share in it. These astrals, however, are only capable of being made use of upon the astral plane. They could not move any material object, although they would be visible to material sight at the will of the mortal using them. There are other astrals more material in substance who could be used to penetrate into the earth itself and to bring forth its hidden treasures, the precious metals and the gems deeply buried from the eyes of men. It would not, however, be lawful or right for me to explain to you the power by which this could be done, and those magicians who have discovered and made use of such powers have sooner or later fallen victims to those powers they could summon to their aid but rarely continue to control."

"Then were this astral to become animated by an evil intelligence it would be an actual danger to man?" I said.

"Yes, without doubt it might; and you will also observe that although I should not care to descend to clothe myself in this astral form, yet a spirit more ignorant than myself could easily do so in order to make himself felt and seen upon the earth in a more palpable form than possible to any spirit who has left the earth plane; but in doing so he would run a danger of creating a link between himself and the astral envelope not easily broken, and which might thus tie him to the astral plane for a considerable time. You will, therefore, see how the idea has arisen that men on earth, in seeking to see their departed friends, draw the spirits back into earthly conditions and do them harm. Many an ignorant spirit who is good and pure himself, has committed the mistake of reclothing himself in one of these fresh astral shells when he would have turned away from those which he knew to have been left by another spirit, and has found to his cost that he has thereby made of himself a prisoner upon the earth plane, till a higher intelligence comes to his aid and releases him.

"In a like manner spirits of a low type can clothe themselves in these empty astral garments, but in their case the very grossness of the spirit (or soul) prevents them from retaining possession long, the dense magnetism of the low spirit's own body acting as a strong noxious vapor or gas would do upon a covering made, say, of a spider's web of fine gossamer, and rending it into a thousand pieces. To a spirit above the astral plane an astral envelope appears almost as solid as iron, but to one below it these fragile shells are like a cloud or vapor. The lower the soul the stronger is its envelope and the more firmly does it hold the soul, limiting its powers and preventing it from rising into a more advanced sphere."

"You mean, then, that spirits sometimes use these astral shells as they do earthly mediums, and either control them independently or actually enter into the form?"

"Yes, certainly. A spirit above the earth plane, anxious to show himself to a clairvoyant of the lowest or first degree of power, will sometimes enter one of these shells which he at once stamps with his identity, and in that way the clairvoyant will truly see and describe him. The danger lies in the fact that when the good spirit of limited knowledge seeks to leave again the astral shell, he finds he cannot do so; he has animated it and its strong life holds him prisoner, and it is often difficult to release him. In similar manner the too complete, too long continued control of an earthly medium by a spirit, has been found to create a link between them which becomes at last a chain. To a spirit of the lowest spheres an astral envelope is but a convenient, all too evanescent cloak with which to hide his own degraded spirit body, and thus impose upon clairvoyants unable to see the vile spirit underneath; but to a good and pure spirit the astral envelope is as a suit of iron capable of imprisoning him."

"Then in the case of what are called personations by one spirit of another at seances upon earth, are these astrals made use of?"

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