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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 #45 on: December 21, 2008, 05:17:56 pm »

"Very often they are, where the mischief-making spirit is of too low a type himself to come into direct contact with the medium. You must know by this time how wonderfully the thoughts of mortal men and women are mirrored upon the atmosphere of the astral plane, and as pictures they can be read and answered by spirits possessing the knowledge of how to read them. All spirits have not the power, just as all men and women on earth are not able to read a newspaper or a letter. It requires intellect and education with us as with those on earth. The spirits, then, of which men should most beware are not so much the poor ignorant half developed spirits of the earth plane and lower spheres, whose degraded lives have made them what they are and who are often glad of a helping hand to raise them, but it is of the intellectually evil, those who have great powers alike of mind and body and who have only used them for wrong purposes. These are the real dangers to guard against, and it is only by the increase of knowledge amongst the mediums incarnated in the earthly body that it will be successfully done, for then mortals and spirit workers will labor in unison, and mutually protect the spiritual movement from fraud and from the mistakes of the well meaning but half-ignorant spirits and mortals who are doing good work in directing the attention of mankind to the matter, but who often do harm both to themselves and others. They are like ignorant chemists and liable to bring destruction and harm upon others as well as on themselves in their experiments in search of knowledge."

"You do not think, then, that the purity of their motives will suffice to protect them?"

"Would purity of motive save a child from being burnt if it thrust its hands into a blazing furnace? No! then the only way is to keep the child as far from the fire as possible. This good and wise spirit guardians do in a great measure, but if the children are continually hovering near the danger, and try at all sorts of odd times and fashions to get just another peep at the dangerous thing, it is impossible but that some of them will get scorched."

"Then you would not advise the indiscriminate cultivation of mediumistic powers by all mortals?"

"Certainly not. I would have all men use the powers of those who have been carefully developed under wise guardians, and I would have all assisted to cultivate them who are truly anxious to develop their powers as a means of doing good to others. But when you consider how manifold and how selfish may be the motives of those mediumistically endowed, you will see how exceedingly difficult it would be to protect them. Perhaps my ideas are colored by the circumstances of race and my earthly education, but I confess I should wish to limit the practice of mediumship to those who have proved their readiness to give up more material advantages for its sake. I would, in fact, rather see them set apart as a body who have no share in the ambitions of mankind. But enough of our discussion. I am now about to let this astral shell go and draw your attention to another type of the same class."

As he spoke he made a swift upward motion with his hands over it and uttered some words in an unknown language, whereupon the astral--which had hitherto floated on beside us--stopped and seemed to waver about for a few seconds until an advancing current of magnetism caught it, and it was swept away from us like a piece of driftwood upon the waves. As I turned from watching it I saw a small cluster of dark, weird, horrible looking forms approaching us. These were astral shells which had never known soul life, but, unlike the pleasant waxy looking astral from which we had just parted, these were in all respects repulsive.

"These," said Hassein, "are the emanations thrown off by men and women of a low intellectual type and evil, sensual lives. They are from the slums of the earth life--not alone the social slums, but also from a higher grade of society where there are moral slums quite as degraded. Such beings as these, when animated by an evil intelligence can be used for the very worst purposes. Being so very material, they can even be used to affect material matter upon earth, and have been so used in the practice of what is known as Black Magic and witchcraft, and they are also (but very rarely) used by higher intelligences to effect physical phenomena at seances. Where wise and good intelligences control them no harm will be done, but under the direction of the evil or ignorant they become a danger beyond my power fully to express. To these astrals, and to those of a similar class in which the soul germ yet lingers as in a prison, are due those rough and dangerous manifestations sometimes seen in spirit circles (seances), where men of bad lives, and others too ignorant to protect themselves, are assembled from motives of curiosity or mere amusement."

"And amongst what class of spirits do you place those ghouls and vampires so firmly believed in, in many parts of the world?"

"Vampire spirits are those who have themselves known earth life, but have so misused it that their souls are still imprisoned in the astral envelope. Their object in sucking away the animal life principle of men and women is in order to retain thereby their hold upon the life of the earth plane, and so save themselves from sinking to far lower spheres. They are anxious to cling to their astral envelope and to prolong its life, just as men of very evil lives upon earth cling to the life of the earthly body because they fear that when they are separated from it they will sink into some unknown depths of darkness and horror. The constant renewal of the animal and astral life often enables these vampire spirits to hang about the earth for centuries."

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« Reply #46 on: December 21, 2008, 05:18:14 pm »

"Is it possible for a vampire spirit to possess itself of a sufficient amount of materiality to appear in mortal form and mingle with men as described in many of the tales told of such creatures?"

"If you mean to ask if the vampire can make to itself a material body, I say no, but it can and does sometimes take complete possession of one belonging to a mortal, just as other spirits do, and can cause its acquired body to act in accordance with its will. Thus it is quite possible for a vampire spirit clothed in the mortal body of another to so change its expression as to make it bear some resemblance to the vampire's own former earthly appearance, and through the power obtained by the possession of a material body he (or she, for the vampires are of both sexes) might really lead the curious double life ascribed to them in those weird tales current and believed in in many countries. By far the larger number of vampire spirits, however, are not in possession of an earthly body, and they hover about the earth in their own astral envelope, sucking away the earthly life of mediumistic persons whose peculiar organization makes them liable to become the prey of such influences, while they are themselves quite ignorant that such beings as these astrals exist. The poor mortals suffer from a constant sense of exhaustion and languor without suspecting to what it is to be attributed."

"But cannot spirit guardians protect mortals from these beings?"

"Not always. In a great measure they do protect them, but only as one may protect a person from infectious fevers, by showing them the danger and warning them to avoid spots where, owing to the associations with their earthly lives, the vampire spirits are specially attracted. This the guardian spirit does by instilling into the mind of the mortal an instinctive dread of the places where crimes have been committed, or persons of evil lives have lived. But since man is and must be in all respects a free agent, it is not possible to do more. He cannot be directed in all things like a puppet, and must in a great measure gather his own experience for himself, however bitter may prove its fruits. Knowledge, guidance and help will always be given, but only in such a manner as will not interfere with man's free will, and only such knowledge as he himself desires; nothing will ever be forced upon him by the spirit world."



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« Reply #47 on: December 21, 2008, 05:18:58 pm »

CHAPTER XVIII.--The Approach to Hell.

I would have liked to ask Hassein a great many more questions about the astral plane and its many curious forms of life, but we were now fast leaving it behind, and passing downwards through those lower spheres which I had partly explored before. We were traveling through space at a wonderful velocity, not quite with the rapidity of thought but at a speed difficult for the mind of mortal to conceive. Onward and still onward we swept, sinking ever lower and lower away from the bright spheres, and as we sank a certain sense of awe and expectancy crept over our souls and hushed our talk. We seemed to feel in advance the horrors of that awful land and the sorrows of its inhabitants.

And now I beheld afar off great masses of inky black smoke which seemed to hang like a pall of gloom over the land to which we were approaching. As we still floated on and down, these great black clouds became tinged with lurid sulphurous-looking flames as from myriads of gigantic volcanoes. The air was so oppressive we could scarcely breathe, while a sense of exhaustion, such as I had never experienced before, seemed to paralyze my every limb. At last our leader gave the order for us to halt, and we descended on the top of a great black mountain which seemed to jut out into a lake of ink, and from which we saw on the horizon that awful lurid country.

Here we were to rest for a time, and here, too, we were to part from our friends who had so far escorted us upon our journey. After a simple repast consisting of various sustaining spiritual fruits and food which we had brought with us, our leader on behalf of the whole company offered up a short prayer for protection and strength, and then we all lay down upon that bleak mountain top to rest.





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« Reply #48 on: December 21, 2008, 05:19:49 pm »

PART III.
The Kingdom of Hell.
CHAPTER XIX.

The companion who was assigned to me in this expedition was a spirit who had been in this sphere before, and who was, therefore, well fitted to act as my guide on entering this Land of Horrors. After a short time we were to separate, he told me, and each to follow his own path--but at any time either of us could, if needful, summon the other to his aid in case of extremity.

As we drew near the great bank of smoke and flame I remarked to my companion upon the strangely material appearance they presented. I was accustomed in the spirit world to the realism and solidity of all our surroundings which mortals are apt to imagine must be of some ethereal and intangible nature, since they are not visible to ordinary eyesight,--still these thick clouds of smoke, these leaping tongues of flame, were contrary to what I had pictured Hell as being like. I had seen dark and dreary countries and unhappy spirits in my wanderings, but I had seen no flames, no fire of any sort, and I had totally disbelieved in material flames in a palpable form, and had deemed the fires of Hell to be merely a figure of speech to express a mental state. Many have taught that it is so, and that the torments of Hell are mental and subjective, not objective at all. I said something of this to my companion, and he replied:

"Both ideas are in a sense right. These flames and this smoke are created by the spiritual emanations of the unhappy beings who dwell within that fiery wall, and material as they seem to your eyes, opened to the sight of spiritual things, they would be invisible to a mortal's sight, could one still in the body of flesh by any miracle visit this spot. They have, in fact, no earthly material in them, yet they are none the less material in the sense that all things earthly or spiritual are clothed in matter of some kind. The number and variety of degrees of solidity in matter are infinite, as without a certain covering of etherealized matter even spiritual buildings and spiritual bodies would be invisible to you, and these flames being the coarse emanations of these degraded spirits, possess for your eyes an appearance even more dense and solid than for the inhabitants themselves."

My companion's spirit name was "Faithful Friend," a name given him in memory of his devotion to a friend who abused his friendship and finally betrayed him, and whom he had even then forgiven and helped in the hour when shame and humiliation overtook the betrayer, and when reproach and contempt or even revenge might have seemed amply justifiable to many minds. This truly noble spirit had been a man of by no means perfectly noble character in his earthly life, and had therefore passed at death into the lower spheres near the earth plane, but he had risen rapidly, and at the time I met him he was one of the Brotherhood in the second sphere, to which I had so recently been admitted, and had been once before through the Kingdoms of Hell.

We now drew near what appeared like the crater of a vast volcano--ten thousand Vesuviuses in one! Above us the sky was black as night, and but for the lurid glare of the flames we should have been in total darkness. Now that we have reached the mass of fire I saw that it was like a fiery wall surrounding the country, through which all who sought to enter or leave it must pass.

"See now, Franchezzo," said Faithful Friend, "we are about to pass through this wall of fire, but do not let that alarm you, for so long as your courage and your will do not fail, and you exert all your will-power to repel these fiery particles, they cannot come in actual contact with your body. Like the waters of the Red Sea they will fall apart on either side and we shall pass through unscathed.

"Were any one of weak will and timid soul to attempt this they would fail, and be driven back by the force of these flames which are propelled outwards by a current of strong will-force set in motion by the fierce and powerful beings who reign here, and who thus, as they imagine, protect themselves from intrusions from the higher spheres. To us, however, with our more spiritualized bodies, these flames and the walls and rocks you will find in this land, are no more impenetrable than is the solid material of earthly doors and walls, and as we can pass at will through them, so can we pass through these, which are none the less sufficiently solid to imprison the spirits who dwell in this country. The more ethereal a spirit is the less can it be bound by matter, and at the same time the less direct power can it have in the moving of matter, without the aid of the physical material supplied by the aura of certain mediums. Here, as on earth, we would, in order to move material substances, require to use the aura of some of the mediumistic spirits of this sphere. At the same time we shall find that our higher spiritual powers have become muffled, so to say, because in order to enter this sphere and make ourselves visible to its inhabitants, we have had to clothe ourselves in its conditions, and thus we are more liable to be affected by its temptations. Our lower natures will be appealed to in every form, and we shall have to direct our efforts to prevent them from again dominating us.

My friend now took my hand firmly in his and we "willed" ourselves to pass through the wall of fire. I confess that a momentary sense of fear passed over me as we began to enter it, but I felt we were "in for it," so exerting all my powers and concentrating my thoughts I soon found that we were floating through--the flames forming a fiery arch below and above us through which as through a tunnel we passed. Thinking of it now I should say it must have been about a quarter to half a mile thick, judging as one would by earthly measurements, but at the time I did not take sufficient note to be very exact, all my energies being directed to the repelling of the fiery particles from myself.

As we emerged we found ourselves in a land of night. It might have seemed like the bottomless pit of desolation had we not stood upon solid enough ground, while above us was this canopy of black smoke. How far this country extended it was impossible to form any idea, since the heavy atmosphere like a black fog shut in our vision on every side. I was told that it extended through the whole of this vast and dreadful sphere. In some parts there were great tumbled jagged mountains of black rocks, in others long and dreary wastes of desert plains, while yet others were mighty swamps of black oozing mud, full of the most noisome crawling creatures, slimy monsters, and huge bats. Again there were dense black forests of gigantic, repulsive-looking trees, almost human in their power and tenacity, encircling and imprisoning those who ventured amongst them. Ere I left this awful land I had seen these and other dreadful regions, but truly neither I nor anyone else could ever really describe them in all their loathsomeness and foulness.

As we stood looking at this country my sight, gradually becoming used to the darkness, enabled me to perceive the surrounding objects dimly, and I saw that before us there was a highway marked by the passage of many spirit feet across the black plain on which we stood. A plain covered with dust and ashes, as though all the blighted hopes, the dead ashes of misused earthly lives had been scattered there.




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« Reply #49 on: December 21, 2008, 05:20:40 pm »

CHAPTER XX.--The Imperial City.

We were now traversing a wide causeway of black marble, on either side of which were deep, dark chasms of which it was impossible to see the bottom from the great clouds of heavy vapor that hung over them. Passing and repassing us upon this highway were a great many dark spirits, some bearing great heavy loads upon their backs, others almost crawling along on all fours like beasts. Great gangs of slaves passed us, wearing heavy iron collars on their necks and linked together by a heavy chain. They were coming from the second or inner gate of what was evidently a large fortified city whose dark buildings loomed through the dense masses of dark fog in front of us. The causeway, the style of buildings, and the appearance of many of the spirits made me feel as though we were entering some ancient fortified city of the old Roman Empire, only here everything gave one the sense of being foul and horrible, in spite of the fine architecture and the magnificent buildings whose outlines we could dimly trace. The second gateway was finer in appearance than the first, and the gates being open we passed in with the stream of spirits hurrying through it, and as before we seemed to pass unseen.

"You will perceive," said Faithful Friend, "that here there is a life in no way different from the earthly life of such a city at the time when the one of which this is the spiritual reflection, was in the full zenith of its power, and when the particles of which this is formed were thrown off from its material life and drawn down by the force of attraction to form this city and these buildings, fit dwellings for its spiritual inhabitants; and you will see in the more modern appearance of many of the buildings and inhabitants how it has been added to from time to time by the same process which is going on continuously. You will notice that most of the spirits here fancy themselves still in the earthly counterpart and wonder why all looks so dark and foul and dingy. In like manner this same city has its spiritual prototype in the higher spheres to which all that was fair and good and noble in its life has been attracted, and where those spirits who were good and true have gone to dwell; for in the lives of cities as of men the spiritual emanations are attracted upwards or downwards according as there is good or evil in the deeds done in them. And as the deeds done in this city have in evil far exceeded those which were good, so this city is far larger, far more thickly peopled in this sphere than in those above. In the ages to come when the spirits who are here now shall have progressed, that heavenly counterpart will be fully finished and fully peopled, and then will this place we gaze at now have crumbled into dust--faded from this sphere."

We were now in a narrow street, such as it must have been in the earthly city, and a short distance farther brought us into a large square surrounded with magnificent palaces, while before us towered one more splendid in design than all the others. A great wide flight of marble steps led up to its massive portico, and looming through the dark cloudy atmosphere we could trace its many wings and buildings. All was truly on a magnificent scale, yet all to my eyes appeared dark, stained with great splashes of blood, and covered with slimy fungus growth which disfigured the magnificence and hung in great repulsive-looking festoons, like twisted snakes, from all the pillars and cope-stones of the buildings. Black slimy mud oozed up through the crevices of the marble pavement, as though the city floated upon a foul swamp, and noisome vapors curled up from the ground and floated above and around us in fantastic and horrible smoke wreaths like the huge phantoms of past crimes. Everywhere were dark spirits crawling across the great square and in and out of the palace doors, driven onward by other stronger dark spirits with lash or spear. Such cries of execration as broke forth from time to time, such fearful oaths, such curses and imprecations, it was truly the pandemonium of the lost souls in the Infernal regions! And over all hung those black night clouds of sorrow and suffering and wrong.

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« Reply #50 on: December 21, 2008, 05:21:00 pm »

Far away to the earth my thoughts traveled, back to the days of the Roman Empire, and I saw reflected as in a glass this city in all the splendor of her power, in all the iniquities of her tyranny and her crimes, weaving down below, from the loom of fate, this other place of retribution for all those men and women who disgraced her beauties by their sins; I saw this great city of Hell building atom by atom till it should become a great prison for all the evil spirits of that wicked time.

We went up the wide flight of steps through the lofty doorway and found ourselves in the outer court of the Emperor's Palace. No one spoke to us or seemed aware of our presence, and we passed on through several smaller halls till we reached the door of the Presence Chamber. Her my companion stopped and said:

"I cannot enter with you, friend, because I have already visited the dark spirit who reigns here, and therefore my presence would at once excite his suspicions and defeat the object of your visit, which is that you may rescue an unhappy spirit whose repentant prayers have reached the higher spheres, and will be answered by the help you are sent to give him. You will find the person you seek without any difficulty. His desire for help has already drawn us thus near to him and will draw you still closer. I must now for a time part from you because I have my own path of work to follow, but we shall meet again ere long, and if you but keep a stout heart and a strong will and do not forget the warnings given you, no harm can befall you. Adieu, my friend, and know that I also shall need all my powers."

Thus, then, I parted from Faithful Friend and passed out alone into the Council Chamber, which I found thronged with spirits, both men and women, and furnished with all the barbaric splendor of the days of the Emperors; yet to my sight there was over everything the same stamp of foul loathsomeness which had struck me in the exterior of the palace. The men and women, haughty patricians in their lives, no doubt, appeared to be eaten up with a loathsome disease like lepers, only they were even more horrible to look upon. The walls and floors seemed stained with dark pools of blood and hung with evil thoughts for drapery. Worm-eaten and corrupting were the stately robes these haughty spirits wore, and saturated with the disease germs from their corrupted bodies.

On a great throne sat the Emperor himself, the most foul and awful example of degraded intellect and manhood in all that vast crowd of degraded spirits, while stamped upon his features was such a look of cruelty and vice that beside him the others sank into insignificance by comparison. I could not but admire, even while it revolted me, the majestic power of this man's intellect and will. The kingly sense of power over even such a motley crew as these, the feeling that even in Hell he reigned as by a right, seemed to minister to his pride and love of dominion even in the midst of his awful surroundings.

Looking at him I beheld him for one brief moment, not as I saw him and as he saw these disgusting creatures round him, but as he still appeared in his own eyes, which even after all these centuries were not opened to his true state, his real self. I saw him as a haughty handsome man, with cruel clear-cut features, hard expression, and eyes like a wild vulture, yet withal possessing a certain beauty of form, a certain power to charm. All that was repulsive and vile was hidden by the earthly envelope, not revealed as now in all the nakedness of the spirit.

I saw his court and his companions change back to the likeness of their earthly lives, and I knew that to each and all they appeared just the same in their own eyes, all were alike unconscious of the horrible change in themselves, yet perfectly conscious of the change in each of their companions.

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« Reply #51 on: December 21, 2008, 05:21:12 pm »

Were all unconscious? No! not quite all. There was one man crouching in a corner, his mantle drawn over his disfigured face, whom I perceived to be fully conscious of his own vileness as well as the vileness of all who surrounded him.

And in this man's heart there had sprung up a desire, hopeless, as it seemed to himself, for better things, for a path to open before him which, however hard and thorny, might lead him from this night of Hell and give him even at this eleventh hour the hope of a life removed from the horrors of this place and these associates; and as I looked I knew it was to this man that I was sent, though how I was to help him I knew not, I could not guess. I only felt that the power which had led me so far would open up my path and show me the way.

While I had stood thus gazing around me the dark spirits and their Ruler became conscious of my presence, and a look of anger and ferocity passed over his face, while in a voice thick and hoarse with passion he demanded who I was and how I dared to enter his presence.

I answered: "I am a stranger only lately come to this dark sphere and I am still lost in wonder at finding such a place in the spirit world."

A wild ferocious laugh broke from the spirit, and he cried out that they would soon enlighten me as to many things in the spirit world. "But since you are a stranger," he continued, "and because we always receive strangers right royally here, I pray you to be seated and partake with us of our feast."

He pointed to a vacant seat at the long table in front of him at which many of the spirits were seated, and which was spread with what bore the semblance of a great feast, such as might have been given in the days of his earthly grandeur. Everything looked real enough, but I had been warned that it was all more or less illusionary, that the food never satisfied the awful cravings of hunger which these former gluttons felt, and that the wine was a fiery liquid which scorched the throat and rendered a thousand times worse the thirst which consumed these drunkards. I had been told to neither eat nor drink anything offered me in these regions, nor to accept any invitation to rest myself given by these beings; for to do so would mean the subjugation of my higher powers to the senses once more, and would at once put me more on a level with these dark beings and into their power. I answered: "While I fully appreciate the motives which prompt you to offer me the hospitality of your place, I must still decline it, as I have no desire to either eat or drink anything."

At this rebuff his eyes shot gleams of living fire at me and a deeper shade of anger crossed his brow, but he still maintained a pretense of graciousness and signed to me to approach yet nearer to him. Meanwhile the man whom I had come to help, aroused from his bitter meditations by my arrival and the Emperor's speech with me, had drawn near in wonder at my boldness and alarmed for my safety, for he knew no more of me than that I seemed some unlucky new arrival who had not yet learned the dangers of this horrible place. His anxiety for me and a certain sense of pity created a link between us, which, unknown to either, was to be the means whereby I would be able to draw him away with me.

When I advanced a few steps towards the Emperor's throne, this repentant spirit followed me, and, coming close, whispered:

"Do not be beguiled by him. Turn and fly from this place while there is yet time, and I will draw their attention from you for the moment."

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« Reply #52 on: December 21, 2008, 05:21:25 pm »

I thanked the spirit but said: "I shall not fly from any man, be he whom he may, and will take care not to fall into any trap."

Our hurried speech had not been unnoticed by the Emperor, for he became most impatient, and striking his sword upon the ground he cried out to me:

"Approach, stranger! Have you no manners that you keep an Emperor waiting? Behold my chair of state, my throne, seat yourself in it and try for a moment how it feels to be in an Emperor's place."

I looked at the throne as he pointed, and saw it was like a great chair with a canopy over it. Two immense winged figures in bronze stood at the back of the seat, each with six long arms extended to form the back and sides, while upon the heads of these figures the canopy rested as upon pillars. I had no thought to sit in such a place; its late occupant was too repulsive to me to desire to go any nearer to him, but had even curiosity made me wish to examine the chair the sight I saw would have effectually prevented me. The chair seemed suddenly to become endowed with life, and before my eyes I beheld a vision of an unhappy spirit struggling in the embraces of those awful arms which encircled it and crushed its body into a mangled writhing mass. And I knew that such was the fate of all those whom the Emperor induced to try the comforts of his chair. Only for one brief instant the vision lasted and then I turned to the Emperor and, bowing, said to him:

"I have no desire to place myself upon your level, and must again decline the honor you would do me."

Then he broke into a tempest of rage, and cried out to his guards to seize me and thrust me into that chair and pour the food and the wine down my throat till they choked me.

Immediately there was a rush made towards me, the man I had come to save throwing himself before me to protect me, and in a moment we were surrounded by a seething, fighting mass of spirits, and for that moment, I confess my heart sank within me and my courage began to fail. They looked so horrible, so fiendish, so like a pack of wild beasts let loose and all setting upon me at once. Only for a moment, however, for the conflict aroused all my combative qualities of which I have been thought to possess my fair share. And I threw out all my will to repel them, calling upon all good powers to aid me while I grasped firm hold of the poor spirit who had sought to help me. Thus I retreated to the door, step by step, the whole crowd of dark spirits following us with wild cries and menacing gestures, yet unable to touch us while I kept firm my determination to keep them off. At last we reached the door and passed through it, whereupon it seemed to close fast and keep in our pursuers. Then strong arms seemed to lift us both up and bear us away into a place of safety on the dark plain.

My rescued companion was by this time in a state of unconsciousness, and as I stood by him I saw four majestic spirits from the higher spheres making magnetic passes over his prostrate form; and then I beheld the most wonderful sight I had ever seen. From the dark disfigured body which lay as in a sleep of death there arose a mist-like vapor which grew more and more dense till it took shape in the form of the spirit himself; the purified soul of that poor spirit released from its dark envelope; and I saw those four angelic spirits lift the still unconscious risen soul in their arms as one would bear a child, and then they all floated away from me up, up, till they vanished from my sight. At my side stood another bright angel who said to me: "Be of good cheer, oh! Son of the Land of Hope, for many shalt thou help in this dark land, and great is the joy of the angels in Heaven over these sinners that have repented."

As he finished speaking he vanished, and I was alone once more on the bleak plains of Hell.



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« Reply #53 on: December 21, 2008, 05:22:11 pm »

CHAPTER XXI.--The Fires of Hell--A Vengeful Spirit--Pirates--The Sea of Foul Mud--The Mountains of Selfish Oppression--The Forest of Desolation--Messages of Love.

Away before me stretched a narrow path, and curious to see where it would lead I followed it, sure that it would somehow lead me to those whom I could help. After following it for a short time I came to the foot of a range of black mountains, and before me was the entrance to a huge cavern. Horrible reptiles were hanging on to the walls and crawling at my feet. Great funguses and monstrous air plants of an oozy slimy kind hung in festoons like ragged shrouds from the roof, and a dark pool of stagnant water almost covered the floor. I thought of turning away from this spot, but a voice seemed to bid me go on, so I entered, and skirting round the edge of the dark pool found myself at the entrance to a small dark passage in the rocks. Down this I went, and turning a corner saw before me a red light as from a fire, while dark forms like goblins passed and repassed between it and myself. Another moment and I stood at the end of the passage. Before me was a gigantic dungeon-like vault, its uneven rocky roof half revealed and half hidden by the masses of lurid smoke and flames which arose from an enormous fire blazing in the middle of the cavern, while round it were dancing such a troop of demons as might well typify the Devils of Hell. With shrieks and yells of laughter they were prodding at the fire with long black spears and dancing and flinging themselves about in the wildest fashion, while in a corner were huddled together a dozen or so of miserable dark spirits towards whom they made frantic rushes from time to time as if about to seize and hurl them into the fire, always retreating again with yells and howls of rage.
I soon perceived that I was invisible to these beings, so taking courage from that fact, I drew nearer. To my horror I discovered that the fire was composed of the bodies of living men and women who writhed and twisted in the flames, and were tossed about by the spears of those awful demons. I was so appalled by this discovery that I cried out to know if this was a real scene or only some horrible illusion of this dreadful place, and the same deep mysterious voice that had often spoken to me in my wanderings answered me now.

"Son! they are living souls who in their earthly lives doomed hundreds of their fellow men to die this dreadful death, and knew no pity, no remorse, in doing so. Their own cruelties have kindled these fierce flames of passion and hate in the breast of their many victims, and in the spirit world these fiery germs have grown till they are now a fierce flame to consume the oppressors. These fires are fed solely by the fierce cruelties of those they now consume; there is not here one pang of anguish which has not been suffered a hundred fold more in the persons of these spirits' many helpless victims. From this fire these spirits will come forth touched by a pity, born of their own sufferings, for those they wronged in the past, and then will be extended to them the hand of help and the means of progression through deeds of mercy as many and as great as have been their merciless deeds in the past. Do not shudder nor marvel that such retribution as this is allowed to be. The souls of these spirits were so hard, so cruel, that only sufferings felt by themselves could make them pity others. Even since they left the earth life they have only been intent upon making others more helpless suffer, till the bitter hatred they have aroused has become at last a torrent which has engulfed themselves. Furthermore, know that these flames are not truly material, although to your eyes and to theirs they appear so, for in the spirit world that which is mental is likewise objective, and fierce hatred or burning passion does indeed seem a living fire. You shall now follow one of these spirits and see for yourself that what seems to you cruel justice is yet mercy in disguise. Behold these passions are burning themselves out and the souls are about to pass into the darkness of the plain beyond."

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« Reply #54 on: December 21, 2008, 05:22:35 pm »

As the voice ceased the flames died down and all was darkness save for a faint bluish light like phosphorus that filled the cavern, and by it I saw the forms of the spirits rise from the ashes of the fire and pass out of the cavern. As I followed them one became separated from the others and passing on before me went into the streets of a city that was near. It seemed to me like one of the old Spanish cities of the West Indies or South America. There were Indians passing along its streets and mingling with Spaniards and men of several other nations.

Following the spirit through several streets we came to a large building which seemed to be a monastery of the order of Jesuits--who had helped to colonize the country and force upon the unhappy natives the Roman Catholic religion, in the days when religious persecution was thought by most creeds to be a proof of religious zeal; and then, while I stood watching this spirit, I saw pass before me a panorama of his life.

I saw him first chief of his order, sitting as a judge before whom were brought many poor Indians and heretics, and I saw him condemning them by hundreds to torture and flames because they would not become converts to his teachings. I saw him oppressing all who were not powerful enough to resist him, and extorting jewels and gold in enormous quantities as tribute to him and to his order; and if any sought to resist him and his demands he had them arrested and almost without even the pretense of a trial thrown into dungeons and tortured and burned. I read in his heart a perfect thirst for wealth and power and an actual love for beholding the sufferings of his victims, and I knew (reading as I seemed to do his innermost soul) that his religion was but a cloak, a convenient name, under which to extort the gold he loved and gratify his love of power.

Again I saw the great square or market place of this city with hundreds of great fires blazing all round it till it was like a furnace, and a whole helpless crowd of timid gentle natives were bound hand and foot and thrown into the flames, and their cries of agony went up to Heaven as this cruel man and his vile accomplices chanted their false prayers and held aloft the sacred cross which was desecrated by their unholy hands, their horrible lives of cruelty and vice, and their greed for gold. I saw that this horror was perpetrated in the name of the Church of Christ--of him whose teachings were of love and charity, who came to teach that God was perfect Love. And I saw this man who called himself Christ's minister, and yet had no thought of pity for one of these unhappy victims; he thought alone of how the spectacle would strike terror to the hearts of other Indian tribes, and make them bring him more gold to satisfy his greedy lust. Then I beheld this man returned to his own land of Spain and revelling in his ill-gotten wealth, a powerful wealthy prince of the church, venerated by the poor ignorant populace as a holy man who had gone forth into that Western World beyond the seas to plant the banner of his church and preach the blessed gospel of love and peace, while, instead, his path had been marked in fire and blood, and then my sympathy for him was gone. Then I saw this man upon his deathbed, and I saw monks and priests chanting mass for his soul that it might go to Heaven, and instead I saw it drawn down and down to Hell by the chains woven in his wicked life. I saw the great hordes of his former victims awaiting him there, drawn down in their turn by their thirst for revenge, their hunger for power to avenge their sufferings and the sufferings of those most dear to them.

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« Reply #55 on: December 21, 2008, 05:23:01 pm »

I saw this man in Hell surrounded by those he had wronged, and haunted by the empty wraiths of such as were too good and pure to come to this place of horror or to wish for vengeance on their murderer, just as I had seen in the Frozen Land with the man in the icy cage; and in Hell the only thought of that spirit was rage because his power on earth was no more--his only idea how he might join with others in Hell as cruel as himself and thus still oppress and torture. If he could have doomed his victims to death a second time he would have done it. In his heart there was neither pity nor remorse, only anger that he was so powerless. Had he possessed one feeling of sorrow or one thought of kindness for another, it would have helped him and created a wall between himself and these vengeful spirits, and his sufferings, though they might be great, would not have at last assumed the physical aspect in which I had beheld them. As it was, his passion of cruelty was so great it fed and fanned into fresh life the spiritual flames which theirs created, till at last when I saw him first they were dying out exhausted by their own violence. Those demons I had beheld were the last and most fierce of his victims in whom the desire for revenge was even then not fully satisfied, while those I had beheld crouching in the corner were some who, no longer desirous of tormenting him themselves, had yet been unable to withdraw themselves from beholding his sufferings and those of his accomplices.

And now I beheld that spirit with the newly awakened thought of repentence, returning to the city to warn others of his Jesuit fraternity, and to try to turn them from the path of his own errors. He did not yet realize the length of time that had elapsed since he had left the earth life, nor that this city was the spiritual counterpart of the one he had lived in on earth. In time, I was told, he would be sent back to earth to work as a spirit in helping to teach mortals the pity and mercy he had not shown in his own life, but first he would have to work here in this dark place, striving to release the souls of those whom his crimes had dragged down with him. Thus I left this man at the door of that building which was the counterpart of his earthly house, and passed on by myself through the city.

Like the Roman city this one was disfigured and its beauties blotted out by the crimes of which it had been the silent witness; and to me the air seemed full of dark phantom forms wailing and weeping and dragging after them their heavy chains. The whole place seemed built upon living graves and shrouded in a dark red mist of blood and tears. It was like one vast prison house whose walls were built of deeds of violence and robbery and oppression.

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« Reply #56 on: December 21, 2008, 05:23:28 pm »

And as I wandered on I had a waking dream, and saw the city as it had been on earth ere the white man had set his foot upon its soil. I saw a peaceful primitive people living upon fruits and grains and leading their simple lives in an innocence akin to that of childhood, worshiping the Great Supreme under a name of their own, yet none the less worshiping him in spirit and in truth--their simple faith and their patient virtues the outcome of the inspiration given them from that Great Spirit who is universal and belongs to no creeds, no churches. Then I saw white men come thirsting for gold and greedy to grasp the goods of others, and these simple people welcomed them like brothers, and in their innocence showed them the treasures they had gathered from the earth--gold and silver and jewels. Then I saw the treachery which marked the path of the white man; how they plundered and killed the simple natives; how they tortured and made slaves of them, forcing them to labor in the mines till they died by thousands; how all faith, all promises, were broken by the white man till the peaceful happy country was filled with tears and blood.

Then I beheld afar, away in Spain, a few good, true, kindly men whose souls were pure and who believed that they alone had the true faith by which only man can be saved and live eternally, who thought that God had given this light to but one small spot of his earth, and had left all the rest in darkness and error--had left countless thousands to perish because this light had been denied to them but given exclusively to that one small spot of earth, that small section of his people.

I thought that these good and pure men were so sorry for those who, they thought, were in the darkness and error of a false religion, that they set forth and crossed that unknown ocean to that strange far-away land to carry with them their system of religion, and to give it to those poor simple people whose lives had been so good and gentle and spiritual under their own faith, their own beliefs.

I saw these good but ignorant priests land on this strange shore and beheld them working everywhere amongst the natives, spreading their own belief and crushing out and destroying all traces of a primitive faith as worthy of respect as their own. These priests were kind good men who sought to alleviate the physical lot of the poor oppressed natives even while they labored for their spiritual welfare also, and on every side there sprang up missions, churches and schools.

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« Reply #57 on: December 21, 2008, 05:24:04 pm »

Then I beheld great numbers of men, priests as well as many others, come over from Spain, eager, not for the good of the church nor to spread the truths of their religion, but only greedy for the gold of this new land, and for all that could minister to their own gratification; men whose lives had disgraced them in their own country till they were obliged to fly to this strange one to escape the consequences of their misdeeds. I saw these men arrive in hordes and mingle with those whose motives were pure and good, till they had outnumbered them, and then thrust the good aside everywhere, and made of themselves tyrannical masters over the unhappy natives, in the name of the Holy Church of Christ.

And then I saw the Inquisition brought to the unhappy land and established as the last link in the chain of slavery and oppression thus riveted round this unhappy people, till it swept almost all of them from the face of the earth; and everywhere I beheld the wild thirst, the greed for gold that consumed as with a fire of hell all who sought that land. Blind were most of them to all its beauties but its gold, deaf to all thought but how they might enrich themselves with it; and in the madness of that time and that awful craving for wealth was this city of Hell, this spiritual counterpart of the earthly city built, stone upon stone, particle by particle, forming between itself and the city of earth chains of attraction which should draw down one by one each of its wicked inhabitants, for truly the earthly lives are building for each man and woman their spiritual habitations. Thus all these monks and priests, all these fine ladies, all these soldiers and merchants, yea, and even these unhappy natives had been drawn down to Hell by the deeds of their earthly lives, by the passions and hatreds, the greed of gold, the bitter sense of wrongs unrequited and the thirst for revenge which those deeds had created.

At the door of a large square building, whose small grated windows looked like a prison, I stopped, arrested by the cries and shouts which came from it; then guided by the mysterious voice of my unseen guide I entered, and following the sounds soon came to a dungeon cell. Here I found a great number of spirits surrounding a man who was chained to the wall by an iron girdle round his waist. His wild glaring eyes, disheveled hair and tattered clothing suggested that he had been there for many years, while the hollow sunken cheeks and the bones sticking through his skin told that he was to all appearance dying of starvation; yet I knew that here there was no death, no such relief from suffering. Near him stood another man with folded arms and bowed head, whose wasted features and skeleton form scarred with many wounds made him an even more pitiable object than the other, though he was free while the other was chained to the wall. Around them both danced and yelled other spirits, all wild and savage and degraded. Some of them were Indians, a few Spanish, and one or two looked, I thought, like Englishmen. All were at the same work--throwing sharp knives at the chained man that never seemed to hit him, shaking their fists in his face, cursing and reviling him, yet, strange to say, never able to actually touch him, and all the time there he stood chained to the wall, unable to move or get away from them. And there stood the other man silently watching him.

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« Reply #58 on: December 21, 2008, 05:24:30 pm »

As I stood looking at this scene I became conscious of the past history of those two men. I saw the one who was chained to the wall in a handsome house like a palace, and knew he had been one of the judges sent out from Spain to preside over the so-called courts of justice, which had but proved additional means for extorting money from the natives and oppressing all who sought to interfere with the rich and powerful. I saw the other man who had been a merchant, living in a pretty villa with a beautiful, a very beautiful, wife and one little child. This woman had attracted the notice of the judge, who conceived an unholy passion for her, and on her persistently repulsing all his advances he made an excuse to have the husband arrested on suspicion by the Inquisition and thrown into prison. Then he carried off the poor wife and so insulted her that she died, and the poor little child was strangled by order of the cruel judge.

Meantime the unfortunate husband lay in prison, ignorant of the fate of his wife and child and of the charge under which he had been arrested, growing more and more exhausted from the scanty food and the horrors of the dungeon, and more and more desperate from the suspense. At last he was brought before the council of the Inquisition, charged with heretical practices and conspiracy against the crown, and on denial of these charges was tortured to make him confess and give up the names of certain of his friends who were accused of being his accomplices. As the poor man, bewildered and indignant, still protested his innocence he was sent back to his dungeon and there slowly starved to death, the cruel judge not daring to set him at liberty, well knowing that he would make the city ring with the story of his wrongs and his wife's fate when he should learn it.

As so this poor man had died, but he did not join his wife, who, poor injured soul, had passed at once with her little innocent child into the higher spheres. She was so good and pure and gentle that she had even forgiven her murderer--for such he was, though he had not intended to kill her--and between her and the husband she so dearly loved there was a wall created by his bitter revengeful feelings against the man who had destroyed them both.

When this poor wronged husband died, his soul could not leave the earth. It was tied there by his hatred of his enemy and his thirst for revenge. His own wrongs he might have forgiven, but the fate of his wife and child had been too dreadful. He could not forgive that. Before even his love for his wife came this hate, and day and night his spirit clung fast to the judge, seeking for the chance of vengeance; and at last it came. Devils from Hell--such as had once tempted me--clustered round the wronged spirit and taught it how through the hand of a mortal it could strike the assassin's dagger to the judge's heart, and then when death severed the body and the spirit he could drag that down with him to Hell. So terrible had been this craving for revenge, nursed through the waiting years of solitude in prison and in the spirit land, that the poor wife had tried and tried in vain to draw near her husband and soften his heart with better thoughts. Her gentle soul was shut out by the wall of evil drawn round the unhappy man, and he also had no hope of ever seeing her again. He deemed that she had gone to Heaven and was lost to him for evermore. A Roman Catholic of the narrow views held nearly two hundred years ago when this man had lived, he believed that being under the ban of its priests and denied the ministrations of the church when he died, was the reason he was one of the eternally lost, while his wife and child must be with the angels of Heaven. Is it wonderful, then, that all this poor spirit's thoughts should center in the desire for vengeance, and that he should plan only how to make his enemy suffer as he had been made to suffer? Thus, then, it was he who inspired a man on earth to kill the judge; his hand guided the mortal's with so unerring an aim that the judge fell pierced to his false, cruel heart. The earthly body died but the immortal soul lived, and awakened to find itself in Hell, chained to a dungeon wall as he had chained his victim, and face to face with him at last.

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« Reply #59 on: December 21, 2008, 05:24:55 pm »

There were others whom the judge had wronged and sent to a death of suffering to gratify his anger or to enrich himself at their expense, and these all gathered round him and made his awakening a Hell indeed. Yet such was the indomitable strength of will of this man that none of the blows aimed at him could touch him, none of the missiles strike, and thus through all the years had those two deadly enemies faced each other, pouring out their hatred and defiance while those other spirits, like the chorus of a Greek tragedy, came and went and amused themselves devising fresh means to torment the chained man whose strong will kept them at bay.

And away in the bright spheres mourned the poor wife, striving and hoping till the time should come when her influence would be felt even in this awful place, when her love and her unceasing prayers should reach the soul of her husband and soften it, that he might relent in his bitter purpose and turn from his revenge. It was her prayers which had drawn me to this dungeon, and it was her soul which spoke to mine, telling me all the sad cruel story, and pleading with me to carry to her unhappy husband the knowledge that she lived only in thoughts of him, only in the hope that he would be drawn by her love to the upper spheres to join her in peace and happiness at last. With this vision strong upon me, I drew near the sullen man who was growing tired of his revenge, and whose heart was full of longing for the wife he loved so passionately.

I touched him upon the shoulder and said: "Friend, I know why you are here, and all the cruel story of your wrongs, and I am sent from her you love to tell you that in the bright land above she awaits you, wearying that you do not come and marveling that you can find revenge more sweet than her caresses. She bids me tell you that you chain yourself here when you might be free."

The spirit started as I spoke, then turning to me grasped my arm and gazed long and ernestly into my face as though to read there whether I spoke truly or falsely. Then he sighed as he drew back, saying: "Who are you and why do you come here? You are like none of those who belong to this awful place, and your words are words of hope, yet how can there be hope for the soul in Hell?"

"There is hope even here; for hope is eternal and God in his mercy shuts none out from it, whatever man in his earth-distorted image of the divine teachings may do. I am sent to give hope to you and to others who are, like you, in sorrow for the past, and if you will but come with me, I can show you how to reach the Better Land."

I saw that he hesitated, and a bitter struggle went on in his heart, for he knew that it was his presence which kept his enemy a prisoner, that were he to go the other would be free to wander through this Dark Land, and even yet he could hardly let him go. Then I spoke again of his wife; his child; would he not rather go to them? The strong passionate man broke down as he thought of those loved ones, and burying his face in his hands wept bitter tears. I put my arm through his and led him, unresisting, out of the prison and out of the city. Here we found kind spirit friends were awaiting the poor man, and with them I left him that they might bear him to a bright land where he would see his wife from time to time, till he worked himself up to the level of her sphere, where they would be united forever in a happiness more perfect than could ever have been their lot on earth.

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