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A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands

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Author Topic: A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands  (Read 635 times)
Cynthia
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« Reply #60 on: December 21, 2008, 05:25:18 pm »

I did not return to the city, for I felt my work there was done, and so wandered on in search of fresh fields of usefulness. In the middle of a dark lonely plain I came upon a solitary hut, in which I found a man lying on some wisps of dirty straw, unable to move and to all appearance dying.

He told me that in his earth life he had thus abandoned and left to die a sick comrade, whom he had robbed of the gold for which they had both risked their lives, and that now he also was dead he found himself lying in the same helpless deserted way.

I asked him if he would not wish to get up and go and do something to help others and thus atone for the murder of his friend, because if so I thought I could help him.

He thought he would like to get up certainly. He was sick of this hole, but he did not see why he should work at anything or bother about other people. He would rather look for the money he had buried, and spend that. Here his cunning eyes glanced furtively at me to see what I thought of his money and if I was likely to try to find it.

I suggested to him that he ought rather to think of trying to find the friend he had murdered and make reparation to him. But he wouldn't hear of that, and got quite angry, said he was not sorry he had killed his friend, and only sorry he was here. He thought I would have helped him to get away. I tried to talk to this man and make him see how he really might better his position and undo the wrong he had done, but it was no use, his only idea was that once given the use of his limbs again he could go and rob or kill some one else. So at last I left him where he lay, and as I went out his feeble hand picked up a stone and flung it after me.

"What," I asked mentally, "will become of this man?"

I was answered: "He has just come from earth after dying a violent death, and his spirit is weak, but ere long he will grow strong, and then he will go forth and join other marauders like himself who go about in bands, and add another horror to this place. After the lapse of many years--it may even be centuries--the desire for better things will awake, and he will begin to progress, but very slowly, for the soul which has been in chains so long and is so poorly developed, so degraded as in this man, often takes cycles of time to develop its dormant powers."

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« Reply #61 on: December 21, 2008, 05:25:33 pm »

After I had wandered for some time over this dreary desolate plain I felt so tired, weary of heart, that I sat down, and began musing upon what I had seen in this awful sphere. The sight of so much evil and suffering had depressed me, the awful darkness and heavy murky clouds oppressed my soul that ever had loved the sunshine and the light as I fancy only we of the Southern nations love it. And then I wearied. Ah! how I wearied and longed for news from her whom I had left on earth. No word had reached me as yet from my friends--no news of my beloved. I knew not how long I had been in this place where there was no day to mark the time, nothing but eternal night that brooded and reigned in silence over everything. My thoughts were full of my beloved, and I prayed earnestly, that she might be kept safe on earth to gladden my eyes when the time of probation in this place should be over. While I prayed I became conscious of a soft pale light suffused around me, as from a glowing star, that grew and grew till it expanded and opened out into a most glorious picture framed in rays of light, and in the centre I saw my darling, her eyes looking into mine and smiling at me, her sweet lips parted as though speaking my name; then she seemed to raise her hand and touching her lips with her finger tips, threw me a kiss. So shyly, so prettily, was it done that I was in raptures, and rose to return her that kiss, to look more closely at her, and lo! the vision had vanished and I was alone on the dark plain once more. But no longer sad, that bright vision had cheered me, and given me hope and courage to go on once more and bring to others such hope as cheered myself.

I arose and went on again, and in a short time was overtaken by a number of dark and most repulsive-looking spirits; they wore ragged black cloaks and seemed to have their faces concealed by black masks like spectral highwaymen. They did not see me, and I had found that as a rule the dwellers of this sphere were too low in intelligence and spiritual sight to be able to see anyone from the spheres above unless brought into direct contact with them. Curious to see what they were about, I drew back and followed them at a little distance. Presently another party of dark spirits approached, carrying what looked like bags with some sort of treasure. Immediately they were attacked by the first-comers. They had no weapons in their hands, but they fought like wild beasts with teeth and claws, their finger nails being like the claws of a wild animal or a vulture. They fastened upon each other's throats and tore them. They scratched and bit like tigers or wolves, till one-half at least were left lying helpless upon the ground, while the rest rushed off with the treasure (which to me seemed only lumps of hard stone).

When all who were able to move had gone, I drew near the poor spirits lying moaning on the ground to see if I could help any of them. But it seemed to be no use doing so; they only tried to turn upon me and tear me in pieces. They were more like savage beasts than men, even their bodies were bent like a beast's, the arms long like an ape's, the hands hard, and the fingers and nails like claws, and they half walked and half crawled on all-fours. The faces could scarcely be called human; the very features had become bestial, while they lay snarling and showing their teeth like wolves. I thought of the strange wild tales I had read of men changing into animals, and I felt I could almost have believed these were such creatures. In their horrible glaring eyes there was an expression of calculation and cunning which was certainly human, and the motions of their hands were not like those of an animal; moreover they had speech and were mingling their howls and groans with oaths and curses and foul language unknown to animals.

"Are there souls even here?" I asked.

Again came the answer: "Yes, even here. Lost, degraded, dragged down and smothered, till almost all trace is lost, yet even here there are the germs of souls. These men were pirates of the Spanish main, highwaymen, freebooters, slave dealers, and kidnappers of men. They have so brutalized themselves that almost all trace of the human is merged in the wild animal. Their instincts were those of savage beasts; now they live like beasts and fight like them."

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« Reply #62 on: December 21, 2008, 05:26:12 pm »

"And for them is there still hope, and can anyone help them?" I asked.

"Even for these there is hope, though many will not avail themselves of it for ages yet to come. Yet here and there are others who even now can be helped."

I turned, and at my feet lay a man who had dragged himself to me with great difficulty and was now too exhausted for further effort. He was less horrible to look upon than the others, and in his distorted face there were yet traces of better things. I bent over him and heard his lips murmur: "Water! Water for any sake! Give me water for I am consumed with a living fire."

I had no water to give him and knew not where to get any in this land, but I gave him a few drops of the essence I had brought from the Land of Dawn for myself. The effect upon him was like magic. It was an elixir. He sat up and stared at me and said:

"You must be a magician. That has cooled me and put out the fire that has burned within me for years. I have been filled with a living fire of thirst ever since I came to this Hell."

I had now drawn him away from the others, and began to make passes over his body, and as I did so his sufferings ceased and he grew quiet and restful. I was standing by him wondering what to do next, whether to speak or to go away and leave him to himself, when he caught my hand and kissed it passionately.

"Oh! friend, how am I to thank you? What shall I call you who have come to give me relief after all these years of suffering?"

"If you are thus grateful to me, would you not wish to earn the gratitude of others by helping them? Shall I show you how you could?"

"Yes! Oh! yes, most gladly, if only you will take me with you, good friend."

"Well, then, let me help you up, and if you are able we had bettr leave this spot as soon as we can," said I, and together we set forth to see what we could do.

My companion told me he had been a pirate and in the slave trade. He had been mate of a ship and was killed in a fight, and had awakened to find himself and others of the crew in this dark place. How long he had been there he had no idea, but it seemed like eternity. He and other spirits like him went about in bands and were always fighting. When they did not meet another party to fight they fought amongst themselves; the thirst for fighting was the only excitement they could get in this horrible place where there was never any drink to be got which could quench the awful burning thirst which consumed them all; what they drank only seemed to make them a thousand times worse, and was like pouring living fire down their throats. Then he said: "You never could die, no matter what you suffered, that was the awful curse of the thing, you had got beyond death, and it was no use trying to kill yourself or get others to kill you, there was no such escape from suffering.

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« Reply #63 on: December 21, 2008, 05:26:39 pm »

"We are like a lot of hungry wolves," he said, "for want of anyone to attack us we used to fall upon each other and fight till we were exhausted, and then we would lie moaning and suffering till we recovered enough to go forth again and attack someone else. I have been longing for any means of escape. I have almost got to praying for it at last. I felt I would do anything if God would only forgive me and let me have another chance; and when I saw you standing near me I thought perhaps you were an angel sent down to me after all. Only you've got no wings nor anything of that sort, as they paint 'em in pictures. But then pictures don't give you much idea of this place, and if they are wrong about one place why not about the other?"

I laughed at him; yes, even in that place of sorrow I laughed, my heart felt so much lightened to find myself of so much use. And then I told him who I was and how I came to be there, and he said if I wanted to help people there were some dismal swamps near where a great many unhappy spirits were imprisoned, and he could take me to them and help a bit himself he thought. He seemed afraid to let me go out of his sight lest I should disappear and leave him alone again. I felt quite attracted to this man because he seemed so very grateful and I was also glad of companionship of any sort (except that of those most repulsive beings who seemed the majority of the dwellers here) for I felt lonely and somewhat desolate in this far-off dismal country.

The intense darkness, the horrible atmosphere of thick fog, made it almost impossible to see far in any direction, so that we reached the land of swamps before I was aware of it except for feeling a cold, damp, offensive air which blew in our faces. Then I saw looming before me a great sea of liquid mud, black, fetid and stagnant, a thick slime of oily blackness floating on the top. Here and there monstrous reptiles, with huge inflated bodies and projecting eyes were wallowing. Great bats, with almost human faces like vampires, hovered over it, while black and grey smoke wreaths of noisome vapor rose from its decaying surface, and hung over it in weird fantastic phantom shapes that shifted and changed ever and anon into fresh forms of ugliness--now waving aloft wild arms and shaking, nodding, gibbering heads, which seemed almost endowed with sense and speech--then melting into mist again to form into some new creature of repulsive horror.

On the shores of this great foul sea were innumerable crawling slimy creatures of hideous shape and gigantic size that lay sprawling on their backs or plunged into that horrid sea. I shuddered as I looked upon it and was about to ask if there could indeed be lost souls struggling in that filthy slime, when my ears heard a chorus of wailing cries and calls for help coming from the darkness before me, that touched my heart with their mournful hopelessness, and my eyes, growing more accustomed to the mist, distinguished here and there struggling human forms wading up to their armpits in the mud. I called to them and told them to try and walk towards me, for I was on the shore, but they either could not see or could not hear me for they took no notice, and my companion said he believed they were both deaf and blind to everything but their immediate surroundings. He had been in the sea of foul mud himself for a time, but had managed to struggle out, though he had understood that most were unable to do so without help from another, and that some went on stumbling about in it for years. Again we heard those pitiful cries, and one sounded so near us that I thought of plunging in myself and trying to drag the wretched spirit out, but faugh! it was too horrible, too disgusting. I recoiled in horror at the thought. And then again that despairing cry smote upon my ears and made me feel I must venture it. So in I went, trying my best to stifle my sense of disgust, and, guided by the cries, soon reached the man, the great phantoms of the mist wavering and swooping and rushing overhead as I did so. He was up to his neck in the mud and seemed sinking lower when I found him, and it seemed impossible for me alone to draw him out, so I called to the pirate spirit to come and help me, but he was nowhere to be seen. Thinking he had only led me into a trap and deserted me, I was about to turn and struggle out again, when the unfortunate spirit besought me so pitifully not to abandon him that I made another great effort and succeeded in dragging him a few yards and drawing his feet out of a trap of weeds at the bottom in which they appeared to be caught. Then, somehow, I half dragged, half supported him till we reached the shore where the unfortunate spirit sank down in unconsciousness. I was a good deal exhausted also and sat down beside him to rest. I looked round for my pirate friend, and beheld him wallowing about in the sea at some distance and evidently bringing out someone along with him. Even in the midst of my awful surroundings I could not help feeling a certain sense of amusement in looking at him, he made such frantic and exaggerated efforts to haul along the unlucky spirit, and was so shouting and going on that it was calculated to alarm anyone who was timid, and I did not wonder to hear the poor spirit almost imploring not to be so energetic, to take it a little slower, and to give him time to follow. I went over to them, and the poor rescued one being now near the shore I helped to get him out and to let him rest beside the other one.

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« Reply #64 on: December 21, 2008, 05:26:58 pm »

The pirate spirit seemed greatly delighted with his successful efforts and very proud of himself, and was quite ready to set off again, so I sent him after someone else whom we heard calling, and was attending to the other two when I again heard most pitiful wailings not far from me, though I could see no one at first, then a faint, tiny speck of light like a will-o'-the-wisp glimmered in the darkness of that disgusting swamp, and by its light I saw someone moving about and calling for aid, so, not very willingly, I confess, I went into the mud again. When I reached the man I found he had a woman with him whom he was supporting and trying to encourage, and with considerable trouble I got them both out and found the pirate spirit had also arrived with his rescued one.

Truly a strange group we must have made on the shores of that slimy sea, which I learned afterwards was the spiritual creation of all the disgusting thoughts, all the impure desires of the lives of men on earth, attracted and collected into this great swamp of foulness. Those spirits who were thus wallowing in it had reveled in such low abominations in their earth lives and had continued to enjoy such pleasures after death through the mediumship of mortal men and women, till at last even the earth plane had become too high for them by reason of their own exceeding vileness, and they had been drawn down by the force of attraction into this horrible sink of corruption to wander in it till the very disgust of themselves should work a cure.

One man I had rescued had been one of the celebrated wits of Charles the Second's court, and after his death had long haunted the earth plane, sinking, however, lower and lower till he had sunk into this sea at last, the weeds of his pride and arrogance forming chains in which his feet were so entangled that he could not move till I released him. Another man had been a celebrated dramatist of the reign of the early Georges. While the man and woman had belonged to the court of Louis the Fifteenth and had been drawn together to this place. Those rescued by the pirate were somewhat similar in their histories.

I had been somewhat troubled at first as to how I was going to free myself from the mud of that horrible sea, but I now suddenly saw a small clear fountain of pure water spring up near to us as if by magic, and in its fresh stream we soon washed all traces of the mud away.

I now advised those whom we had rescued to try what they could do to help others in this land of darkness as a return for the help given to themselves, and having given them what advice and help I could I started once more upon my pilgrimage. The pirate, however, seemed so very unwilling to part from me that we two set forth together once more.

I shall not attempt to describe all whom we sought to help in our wanderings. Were I to do so this narrative would fill volumes and probably only weary my readers, so I shall pass over what seemed to me like weeks of earthly time, as nearly as I am able to reckon it, and will describe our arrival at a vast range of mountains whose bleak summits towered into the night sky overhead. We were both somewhat discouraged with the results of our efforts to help people. Here and there we had found a few who were willing to listen and to be helped, but as a rule our attempts had been met with scorn and derision, while not a few had even attacked us for interfering with them, and we had some trouble to save ourselves from injury.

Our last attempt had been with a man and woman of most repulsive appearance who were fighting at the door of a wretched hovel. The man was beating her so terribly I could not but interfere to stop him. Whereupon they both set on me at once, the woman spirit doing her best to scratch my eyes out, and I was glad to have the pirate come to my assistance, for, truth to tell, the combined attack had made me lose my temper, and by doing so I put myself for the moment on their level, and so was deprived of the protection afforded me by my superior spiritual development.

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« Reply #65 on: December 21, 2008, 05:27:25 pm »

These two had been guilty of a most cruel and brutal murder of an old man (the husband of the woman) for the sake of his money; and they had been hanged for the crime, their mutual guilt forming a bond between them so strong that they had been drawn down together and were unable to separate in spite of the bitter hatred they now felt for each other. Each felt the other to be the cause of their being in this place, and each felt the other more guilty than themselves, and it had been their eagerness each to betray the other which had helped to hang both. Now they seemed simply to exist in order to fight together, and I can fancy no punishment more awful than theirs must have been, thus linked together in hate.

In their present state of mind it was not possible to help them in any way.

Shortly after leaving this interesting couple we found ourselves at the foot of the great dark mountains, and by the aid of a curious pale phosphorescent glow which hung in patches over them we were able to explore them a little. There were no regular pathways, and the rocks were very steep, so we stumbled up as best we might--for I should explain that by taking on a certain proportion of the conditions of this low sphere I had lost the power to rise at will and float, which was a privilege of those who had reached the Land of Dawn. After a toilsome ascent of one of the lower ranges of the mountains we began to tramp along the crest of one, faintly lighted by the strange gleaming patches of phosphorescent light, and beheld on either side of us vast deep chasms in the rocks, gloomy precipices, and awful looking black pits. From some of these came wailing cries and moans and occasionally prayers for help. I was much shocked to think there were spirits down in such depths of misery, and felt quite at a loss how to help them, when my companion, who had shown a most remarkable eagerness to second all my efforts to rescue people, suggested that we should make a rope from some of the great rank, withered-looking weeds and grass that grew in small crevices of these otherwise barren rocks, and with such a rope I could lower him down, as he was more used to climbing in that fashion than I, and thus we might be able to draw up some of these spirits out of their dreadful position.

This was a good idea, so we set to work and soon had a rope strong enough to bear the weight of my friend, for you should know that in spiritual, as well as in material things, weight is a matter of comparison, and the materiality of those low spheres will give them a much greater solidity and weight than belongs to a spirit sphere more advanced, and though to your material eyes of earth life my pirate friend would have shown neither distinct material form nor weight, yet a very small development of your spiritual faculties would have enabled you to both see and feel his presence, though a spirit the next degree higher would still remain invisible to you. Thus I am not in error, nor do I even say what is improbable, when I thus speak of my friend's weight, which for a rope made of spiritual grass and weeds was as great a strain as would have been the case with an earthly man and earth materials. Having made one end of the rope fast to a rock, the spirit descended with the speed and sureness acquired by long practice as a sailor. Once there he soon made it fast round the body of the poor helpless one whom he found lying moaning at the bottom. Then I drew up the rope and the spirit, and when he had been made safe I lowered it to my friend and drew him up, and having done what we could for the rescued one we went on and helped a few more in like fashion.

When we had pulled out as many as we could find, a most strange thing happened. The phosphorescent light died out and left us in utter darkness, while a mysterious voice floating, as it seemed, in the air, said, "Go on now, your work here is done. Those whom you have rescued were caught in their own traps, and the pitfalls that they made for others had received themselves, till that time when repentance and a desire to atone should draw rescuers to help them and free them from the prisons they had themselves made. In these mountains are many spirits imprisoned who may not yet be helped out by any, for they would only be a danger to others were they free, and the ruin and evil they would shed around make their longer imprisonment a necessity. Yet are their prisons of their own creating, for these great mountains of misery are the outcome and product of men's earthly lives, and these precipices are but the spiritual counterparts of those precipices of despair over which they have in earthly life driven their unhappy victims. Not till their hearts soften, not till they have learned to long for liberty that they may do good instead of evil, will their prisons be opened and they be drawn forth from the living death in which their own frightful cruelties to others have entombed them."

The voice ceased, and alone and in darkness we groped our way down the mountain side till we reached the level ground once more. Those awful mysterious dark valleys of eternal night--those towering mountains of selfishness and oppression--had struck such a chill to my heart that I was glad indeed to know there was no call of duty for me to linger longer there.

Our wandering now brought us to an immense forest, whose weird fantastic trees were like what one sees in some awful nightmare. The leafless branches seemed like living arms held out to grasp and hold the hapless wanderer. The long snake-like roots stretched out like twisting ropes to trip him up. The trunks were bare and blackened as though scorched by the blasting breath of fire. From the bark a thick foul slime oozed and like powerful wax held fast any hand that touched it. Great waving shrouds of some strange dark air plant clothed the branches like a pall, and helped to enfold and bewilder any who tried to penetrate through this ghostly forest. Faint muffled cries as of those who are exhausted and half smothered came from this awful wood, and here and there we could see the imprisoned souls held captive in the embrace of these extraordinary prisons, struggling to get free, yet unable to move one single step.

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« Reply #66 on: December 21, 2008, 05:27:46 pm »

"How," I wondered, "shall we help these?" Some were caught by the foot--a twisted root holding them as in a vice. Another's hand was glued to the trunk of a tree. Another was enveloped in a shroud of the black moss, while yet another's head and shoulders were held fast by a couple of branches which had closed upon them. Wild ferocious looking beasts prowled round them, and huge vultures flapped their wings overhead, yet seemed unable to touch any of the prisoners, though they came so near.

"Who are those men and women?" I asked.

"They are those," was the reply, "who viewed with delight the sufferings of others, those who gave their fellow men to be torn in pieces by wild beasts that they might enjoy the excitement of their sufferings. They are all those who for no reason but the lust of cruelty have, in many different ways and in many different ages, tortured and entrapped and killed those who were more helpless than themselves, and for all now here release will only come when they have learned the lesson of mercy and pity for others and the desire to save some one else from suffering, even at the expense of suffering to themselves. Then will these bands and fetters which hold them be loosed, then they will be free to go forth and work out their atonement. Till then no one else can help them--none can release them. Their release must be effected by themselves through their own more merciful desires and aspirations. If you will but recall the history of your earth and think how men in all ages have enslaved, oppressed and tortured their fellow men in every country of that globe, you will not wonder that this vast forest should be well peopled. It was deemed right that for your own instruction you should see this fearful place, but as none of those you see and pity have so far changed their hearts that you can give them aid, you will now pass on to another region where you can do more good."

After leaving the Forest of Desolation we had not gone far upon our road when to my joy I saw my friend Hassein approaching. Mindful, however, of Ahrinziman's warning I gave him the sign agreed upon and received the countersign in return. He had come, he said, with a message from my father and from my beloved who had sent me what were indeed sweet words of love and encouragement. Hassein told me that my mission would now lie amongst those great masses of spirits whose evil propensities were equalled only by their intellectual powers, and their ingenuity in works of evil. "They are those," said he, "who were rulers of men and kings of intellect in all branches, but who have perverted and abused the powers with which they were endowed till they have made of them a curse and not a blessing. With most of them you will have to guard yourself at all points against the allurements they will hold out to tempt you, and the treachery of every kind they will practice on yourself. Yet amongst them are a few whom you are sent to succor and whom your own instinct and events will point out as those to whom your words will be welcome and your aid valuable. I shall not in all probability bring you messages again, but some other may be sent to do so, and you must, above all things and before all things, remember to distrust any who come to you and cannot give the sign and symbol I have given. You are now in reality about to invade the enemies' camp, and you will find that your errand is known to them and resented, whatever it may suit them to pretend. Beware, then, of all their false promises, and when they seem most friendly distrust them most."

I promised to remember and heed his warning, and he added that it was necessary I should part for a time from my faithful companion, the pirate, as he could not safely accompany me in those scenes to which my path would now lead, but he promised he would place him under the care of one who could and would help him to leave that dark country soon.

After giving him loving and helpful messages to my beloved and my father, which he promised to deliver to them, we parted, and I set forth in the direction pointed out, greatly cheered and comforted by the good news and loving messages I had received.



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« Reply #67 on: December 21, 2008, 05:28:29 pm »

CHAPTER XXII.--Amusements in a Great City of Hell--Words of Caution.

I had proceeded but a short distance when I saw Faithful Friend sitting by the wayside, evidently waiting for me. I was truly glad to see him again and to have further guidance from him. We greeted one another with much cordiality. He was now, he said, appointed to accompany me during a part of my present journey, and he told me of many strange circumstances which had befallen him and which I am sure would prove very interesting, but as they do not properly belong to my own Wanderings I will not give any account of them here.

Faithful Friend took me to a tall tower, from the top of which we could see all over the city we were about to visit--this view of it beforehand being, he said, likely to prove both useful and interesting to me. We were, as I have said, surrounded always by this dark midnight sky and heavy smoky atmosphere somewhat like a black fog yet different and not quite so dense, since it was possible to see through it. Here and there this darkness was lighted up in some places by the strange phosphorescent light I have described, and elsewhere by the lurid flames kindled from the fierce passions of the spiritual inhabitants.

When we had climbed to the top of the tall tower, which appeared to be built of black rocks, we saw lying below us a wide stretch of dark country. Heavy night clouds hung upon the horizon, and near to us lay the great city, a strange mixture of magnificence and ruin, such as characterized all the cities I saw in this dark land. A treeless blackened waste surrounded it and great masses of dark blood-tinged vapor hung brooding over this great city of sorrow and crime. Mighty castles, lofty palaces, handsome buildings, all stamped with ruin and decay--all bleared and blotched with the stains of the sinful lives lived within them. Crumbling into decay, yet held together by the magnetism of their spiritual inhabitants--buildings that would last while the links woven by their spiritual occupants' earthly lives held them in this place, and would crumble into the dust of decay whenever the soul's repentance should sever those links and suffer it to wander free; crumble into decay, however, only to be reconstructed by another sinful soul in the shape into which his earthly life of pleasure should form it. Here there was a palace--there beside it a hovel. Even as the lives and ambitions of the indwelling spirits had been interwoven and blended on earth, so were their dwellings constructed here side by side.

Have you ever thought, ye who dwell yet on earth, how the associates of your earthly lives may become those of your spiritual? How the ties of magnetism which are formed on earth may link your spirits and your fates together in the spirit land so that you can only with great difficulty and much suffering sever them? Thus I saw in these buildings before me the proud patrician's palace, built of his ambitions and disfigured by his crimes, joined to the humble abodes of his slaves and his parasites and panderers of earth which had been as surely formed by their desires and disfigured by their crimes, and between which and his palace there were the same links of spiritual magnetism as between himself and those who had been the sharers and instruments of his evil ambitions. He was no more able to free himself from them and their importunities than they were able to free themselves from his tyranny, till a higher and purer desire should awaken in the souls of one set or the other of them and thus raise them above their present level. So it was that they still repeated over again their lives of earth in hideous mockery of the past, impelled thereto by that past itself, their memories presenting to them over and over again as in a moving panorama their past acts and the actors, so that by no plunge into wild excess in that dark land could they escape the grinding of memory's millstones, till at length the last lust of sin and wickedness should be ground out of their souls.

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« Reply #68 on: December 21, 2008, 05:28:52 pm »

Over this great spiritual city of past earth lives hung, as I have said, patches of light of a dim misty appearance like faintly luminous smoke, steel grey in color. This, I was told, was the light thrown off from the powerful intellects of the inhabitants whose souls were degraded but not undeveloped, and whose intellects were of a high order but devoted to base things, so that the true soul light was wanting and this strange reflection of its intellectual powers alone remained. In other parts of the city the atmosphere itself seemed on fire. Flames hung in the air and flickered from place to place, like ghostly fires whose fuel has turned to ashes ere the flames have burned out, and as the floating phantom flames were swept to and fro by the currents of the air I saw groups of dark spirits passing up and down the streets heedless, or perhaps unconscious, of these spectral flames that were thrown into the atmosphere by themselves, and were created by their own fierce passions which hung around them as spiritual flames.

As I looked and gazed upon this strange city of dead and ruined souls, a strange wave of feeling swept over me, for in its crumbling walls, its disused buildings, I could trace a resemblance to the one city on earth with which I was most familiar and which was dear to my heart since I had been one of her sons, and I called aloud to my companion to ask what this meant--what was this vision I beheld before me. Was it the past or the future or the present of my beloved city?

He answered, "It is all three. There before you now are the buildings and the spirits of its past--such, that is, as have been evil--and there among them are buildings half finished, which those who are dwelling there now are forming for themselves; and as these dwellings of the past are, so shall these half finished buildings be in the days to come when each who builds now shall have completed his or her lifework of sin and oppression. Behold and look upon it well, and then go back to earth a messenger of warning to sound in the ears of your countrymen the doom that awaits so many. If thy voice shall echo in even one heart and arrest the building of but one of these unfinished houses, you shall have done well and your visit here would be worth all that it may cost you. Yet that is not the only reason for your coming. For you and me, oh! my friend, there is work even in this city; there are souls whom we can save from their darkened lives, who will go back to earth and with trumpet tongues proclaim in the ears of men the horrors of the retribution they have known, and from which they would save others.

"Bethink you how many ages have passed since the world was young and how much improvement there has been in the lives and thoughts of the men who dwell upon it, and shall we not suppose that even ordinary reason might admit it must naturally be due to the influence of those who have returned to earth to warn others from the precipice over which themselves had fallen in all the pride and glory and lust of sin. Is it not a far nobler ideal to place before men--the idea that God sends these his children (sinful and disobedient once if you will, but repentant now), back to earth as ministering spirits to war and help and strengthen others who struggle yet in the unregenerated sinfulness of their lower natures rather than believe that he would doom any to the hopeless, helpless misery of eternal punishment? You and I have both been sinners--beyond pardon, some of the good of earth might have said--yet we have found mercy in our God even after the eleventh hour, and shall not even these also know hope? If they have sunk lower than we, shall we therefore in our little minds set limits to the heights to which they may yet climb? No! perish the thought that such horrors as we have looked upon in these Hells could be eternal. God is good and his mercy is beyond any man's power to limit."

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« Reply #69 on: December 21, 2008, 05:29:12 pm »

We descended now from the tower and entered the city. In one of the large squares--with whose earthly counterpart I was very familiar--we found quite a large crowd of dark spirits assembled, listening to some sort of proclamation. Evidently it was one which excited their derision and anger for there were yells, and hoots, and cries resounding on all sides, and as I drew yet more near I perceived it was one which had been read recently in the earthly counterpart, and had for its object the further liberation and advancement of the people--an object which, down here in this stronghold of oppression and tyranny, only provoked a desire for its suppression and these dark beings around me were vowing themselves to thwart the good purpose as far as lay in their power. The more men were oppressed and the more that they quarreled and fought against the oppression with violence, the stronger were these beings here below to interfere in their affairs and to stir up strife and fightings among them. The more men became free and enlightened and improved, the less chance was there that these dark spirits would be drawn to earth by the kindling of kindred passions there and thus be enabled to mingle with and control men for their own evil purposes. These dark beings delight in war, misery and bloodshed, and are ever eager to return to earth to kindle men's fierce cruel passions afresh. In times of great national oppression and revolt when the heated passions of men are inflamed to fever heat, these dwellers of the depths are drawn up to earth's surface by the force of kindred desires, and excite and urge on revolutions, which, begun at first from motives that are high and pure and noble, will under the stress of passion and the instigation of these dark beings from the lower sphere become at last mere excuses for wild butcheries and excesses of every kind. By these very excesses a reaction is created, and these dark demons and those whom they control are in their turn swept away by the higher powers, leaving a wide track of ruin and suffering to mark where they have been. Thus in these lowest Hells a rich harvest is reaped of unhappy souls who have been drawn along with the evil spirits that tempted them.

As I stood watching the crowd, Faithful Friend drew my attention to a group of spirits who were pointing over at us and evidently mediated addressing us.

"I shall go," said he, "for a few moments and leave you to speak with them alone. It will be better to do so, for they may recognize me as having been here before, and I would wish you to see them by yourself. I shall not, however, be far away, and will meet you again later when I see that I can help you by doing so. At this moment something tells me to leave you for a little."

As he spoke he moved away, and the dark spirits drew near to me with every gesture of friendliness. I thought it as well to respond with politeness, though in my heart I felt the most violent repugnance to their company, they were so repulsive looking, so horrible in their wicked, leering ugliness.

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« Reply #70 on: December 21, 2008, 05:29:31 pm »

One touched me on the shoulder, and as I turned to him with a dim sense of having seen him before, he laughed--a wild horrid laugh--and cried out: "I hail thee, friend--who I see dost not so well remember me as I do thee, though it was upon the earth plane we met before. I, as well as others, then sought hard to be of service to thee, only thou wouldst have none of our help, and played us, methinks, but a scurvy trick instead. None the less for this, we, who are as lambs, didst thou but know us, have forgiven thee."

Another also drew near, leering in my face with a smile perfectly diabolical, and said: "So ho! You are here after all, friend, in this nice land with us. Then surely you must have done something to merit the distinction? Say whom you have killed or caused to be killed, for none are here who cannot claim at least one slain by them, while many of us can boast of a procession as long as the ghosts that appeared to Macbeth, and others again--our most distinguished citizens--count their slain by hundreds. Did you kill that one after all?--ha! ha! ha!" and he broke into such a wild horrible peal of laughter that I turned to fly from them--for like a flash had come across my mind the memory of that time when I, too, could have been almost a murderer, and I recognized in these horrible beings those who had surrounded me and counseled me how to fulfill my desire--how to wreak my vengeance even though no earthly form was still mine. I recoiled from them but they had no thought to let me go. I was here--drawn down, as they hoped, at last--and they sought to keep me with them that I might afford them some sport and they might avenge themselves upon me for their former defeat.

I read in their minds this thought, though outwardly they were crowding around me with every protestation of hearty friendliness. For a moment I was at a loss what to do. Then I resolved to go with them and see what they intended, watching at the same time for the first opportunity to free myself from them. I therefore suffered them to take me by an arm each, and we proceeded towards a large house on one side of the square which they said was theirs, and where they would have the pleasure of introducing me to their friends. Faithful Friend passed close to us and looking at me impressed the warning,

"Consent to go, but beware of entering into any of their enjoyments or allowing your mind to be dragged down to the level of theirs."

We entered and passed up a wide staircase of greyish stone, which like all things here bore the marks and stains of shame and crime. The broad steps were broken and imperfect, with holes here and there large enough, some of them, to let a man through into the black dungeon-like depths beneath. As we passed up I felt one of them give me a sly push just as we were stepping over one of these, and had I not been watching for some such trick I might have been tripped up and pushed in. As it was I simply drew aside and my too officious companion narrowly escaped tumbling in himself, whereat the rest all laughed and he scowled savagely at me. I recognized him just then as the one whose hand had been shriveled in the silver ring of fire drawn around my darling on the occasion when her love had drawn me to her and saved me from yielding to these dark fiends. This spirit held his hand carefully hidden under his black cloak, yet I could see through it, and I beheld the shriveled hand and arm, and knew then that I might indeed beware of its owner.

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« Reply #71 on: December 21, 2008, 05:30:05 pm »

At the top of the staircase we passed into a large magnificent room, lighted up by a glare of fire and hung around with dark draperies which were in perfect rags and tatters and all splashed with crimson stains of wet blood, as though this had been the scene of not one but many, murders. Around the rooms were placed ghostly phantoms of ancient furniture--ragged, dirty, and defaced, yet retaining in them a semblance to an earthly apartment of great pretensions to splendor. This room was filled with the spirits of men and women. Such men! and alas! such women! They had lost all that could ever have given them any claim to the charms and privileges of their sex. They were worse to look upon than the most degraded bedraggled specimens to be seen in any earthly slum at night. Only in Hell could women sink to such an awful degradation as these. The men were to the full as bad or even if possible worse, and words utterly fail me to describe them, were it indeed advisable to do so. They were eating, drinking, shouting, dancing, playing cards and quarreling over them--in short, going on in such a way as the worst and lowest scenes of earthly dissipation can but faintly picture.

I could see a faint reflection of the earthly lives of each, and knew that each and all of them, men and women alike, had been guilty, not only of shameless lives, but also of murder from one motive or another. On my left was one who had been a Duchess in the days of the sixteenth century, and I beheld that in her history she had from jealousy and cupidity poisoned no less than six persons. Beside her was a man who had belonged to the same era, and had caused several persons obnoxious to him to be assassinated by his bravoes, and had moreover slain another with his own hand in a most treacherous manner during a quarrel.

Another woman had killed her illegitimate child because it stood between her and wealth and position. She had not been many years in this place and seemed more overcome by shame and remorse than any of the others, so I resolved if possible to get near to and speak to her.

My entrance was greeted with great shouts of laughter and wild applause, while half a dozen or so of eager hands took hold of me and dragged me to the table, whereupon there were cries: "Let us drink to the damnation of this our new Brother! Let us baptize him with a draught of this our new Brother! Let us baptize him with a draught of this fine cooling wine?" And before I well realized their intentions, they were all waving their glasses aloft amidst yells and shouts and horrible laughter, whilst one, seizing a full glass of the fiery liquid, tried to throw it over me. I had just presence of mind enough to step lightly aside, so that the liquor was nearly all spilt upon the floor and only a small portion fell upon my robe which it scorched and burned like vitrol, while the wine itself turned into a bluish flame--such as one sees with lighted whiskey--and disappeared at last with an explosion as of gunpowder. Then they put before me a tray full of dishes which at first sight resembled earthly delicacies, but on closer inspection I saw they were full of the most horrible corrupting and loathsome maggots. As I turned away from them one hag of a woman (for she was much more old and ugly and horrible to look upon than the most degraded specimen you can imagine) whose bleared eyes and fiendish expression made me recoil from her, seized me round the neck and tried, with many grimaces which she intended for coquettish smiles (she had been, oh ye powers! a great beauty on earth) to induce me to join her and her party in a little game of cards. She said: "The stakes for which we would play consist of the liberty of the loser. We have invented this pleasing mode of passing our time here since it revives for us the divertissements of the past; and because there is no money here which one can win, or use if you win, seeing it all turns to dross in your hands, we have adopted this mode of paying our debts, and we agree to be the slave of anyone who beats us at our games of chance and skill till we can turn the tables on them by ourselves winning and making them in turn our slaves. 'Tis a charming arrangement, as you would find did you join our party for a little. These others here," she added, with a strange mixture of insolent arrogance and animosity in her tone--"these others here are but the canaille, the scum of the place, and you do well to turn from them and their amusements. But for me, I am a Royal Duchess, and these my friends are all noble also--and we would adopt you, who are also, I perceive, one of the elite, among ourselves."
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« Reply #72 on: December 21, 2008, 05:30:47 pm »

With the air of a queen she signed me to be seated beside herself, and had she been a few degrees less horrible I might have been tempted to do so if only from my curiosity to see what their game would be like. But disgust was too strong in me and I shook myself free of her as well as I could, saying, which was true, that cards had never possessed any attraction for me. I was bent on getting near the woman I wished to speak to, and very soon an opening in the crowd allowed me to do so.

As soon as I got beside her I addressed her in a low voice and asked if she was sorry for the murder of her child, and would she wish to leave this place even though it would be a long and sad and suffering road that would take her from it? How her face brightened as I spoke! How eagerly she faltered out: "What do you mean?"

"Be assured," I said, "I mean well to you, and if you will watch and follow me, I shall doubtless find some means for us both to leave this dreadful place." She pressed my hand in assent, for she did not venture to speak for the other spirits were again crowding around us in a way that was rapidly growing more and more threatening, although the guise of friendliness was still kept up.

The Duchess and her party had returned to their cards with a frightful avidity; they were quarreling over them and accusing each other of cheating, which I have no doubt was the case, and it seemed as though a fight was about to begin in that corner of the room to vary the monotony of their existence. I noticed also that the others were collecting in groups round the doors so as to keep me from leaving in case I desired to do so, and I saw my enemy with the withered hand whispering with some others of very low degraded type, such as might have been slaves in their past lives. Half a dozen men and women came up and urged me to join in a dance they were indulging in, which was like some of those abominations we read of in descriptions of the Witches' Sabbaths of the old days of witchcraft, and which I shall certainly not attempt further to describe. Can it be, I thought to myself as I looked at them, that there was truth in these old tales after all? and can the explanation be that these unfortunate beings, who were accused as witches, did really allow themselves to be so dominated by evil spirits that their souls were for a time drawn down to one of these spheres, and took part in some of its frightful orgies? I know not, but there seems truly a marvelous resemblance between these things I was now witnessing and what was related by the so-called witches, most of them poor half-witted mortals more to be pitied than condemned.

As these creatures, whose gestures it were an insult to call dancing, approached, I saw they were trying to get behind us in a ring and surround us, and some instinct seemed to tell me not to allow them. I drew back close to the wall, holding the woman's hand in mine and whispering to her not to leave go of me on any account. The whole crowd of spirits were now gathering towards my end of the room, the dull ferocity of their faces and wild savage glitter of their eyes in terrible contrast to their affectation of light-hearted gaiety. Closer and closer they gathered--a moving mass of evil personified.

For once their quarrels and jealousies merged in their common desire to do me harm, to get me down and trample me and rend me to pieces. As the muttering of a storm came here and there broken disjointed words of hate and menace, while those dancing demons kept up their wild antics in front of us. All at once a great cry--a yell--of fury broke from them. "A spy! a traitor! An enemy has got amongst us! It is one of the accursed brothers from above come here to spy upon us and carry away our victims. Down upon him! Stamp upon him! Crush him to death! Tear him to pieces! Hurl him into the vaults below! Away with him! Away! Away!"

Like as an avalanche sweeps down the mountain side they rushed upon us--those raging fiends--and I for one thought we were done for and could not but regret that I had been drawn into entering the place at all. I thought I was lost, when lo! just as the nearest of them were actually upon us the wall behind opened and Faithful Friend and another spirit drew us through, the wall closing again so suddenly that the yelling crowd scarce realized how we had disappeared.




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« Reply #73 on: December 21, 2008, 05:32:37 pm »

CHAPTER XXIII.--The Palace of My Ancestors--False Brothers Baffled.

On the outskirts of the town we came to a magnificent palace, also most strangely familiar and yet unfamiliar to my eyes. In wandering through this city I was so reminded of its earthly double that I felt as one who sees some familiar beloved spot in a nightmare vision which has distorted and rendered hideous all that he demed so fair. I had oftentimes in my youth gazed up at this beautiful palace and taken pride to myself that I came of the race who had once owned it and all its broad lands, and now, here, to behold it thus, with all its beauties tarnished, its marble stained and mildewed, its terraces and statues broken and defaced, its fair front marred with the black cobwebs of past crimes and wrongs done within its walls, and its lovely gardens a dreary blackened waste as though the breath of a pestilence had swept over it--sent through me a thrill of sorrow and dismay, and it was with a saddened heart I followed my friend into the interior.
Up its great broad stairways we passed, and through the handsome doors which opened of themselves to admit us. Around us were many dark spirits flitting to and fro. Each and all seemed to expect and welcome us as guests whose coming was awaited. At the last door Faithful Friend once again left me, saying he would rejoin me in another place.

A great blaze of ruddy light greeted my eyes as this last door opened, and seemed as though someone had opened the door of a furnace, so hot and stifling was the atmosphere. At first I almost deemed the place on fire, then by degrees the blaze of light died down to a dull red glow and a wave of steel grey mist swept through the hall instead, while a wind as of ice froze the blood at my heart and seemed to impart its icy chill. These strange waves of heat and cold were caused by the intense fire of passion and the cold selfish chill of the dual nature of the man who reigned here as Prince. To the most fierce insatiable passions he united an intense selfishness and an intellect of the highest order. As these swayed him in turn in his earthly life, causing strange alternations of fiery passion and cool calculation in his conduct, so did these as waves thrown off by his spirit cause in this his spiritual mansion these extraordinary variations of intense heat and extreme cold that knew no medium of temperature between. As he had dominated all men on earth who came within the range of his power, so did he dominate the spiritual beings around him now, and rule as absolutely over them as he had ruled over his earthly subjects.

At the top of this great hall I beheld him seated in his chair of state which had around it all but imperial insignia. His walls were hung with the semblance of ancient tapestry, but, ah! how more than merely faded and ragged it looked. It was as though the thoughts and the life and the magnetism of the man had become woven into those ghostly hangings and had corrupted them with his own corruption. Instead of pictures of the chase, of floating nymphs, and crowned sea-gods there was a constantly shifting panorama of this man's past life in all its hideousness and nakedness, thrown like pictures from a magic lantern upon the stately mouldering ragged Arras drapery behind and around him. The great windows, through which the light of day never shone, were hung with the semblance of what had on earth been handsome velvet curtains, but which now appeared as some funeral pall shrouding the skeleton shapes that lurked like avenging spectres within them--spectral forms of those victims whom this man had sacrificed to his lust and ambition. Great drinking cups of silver, that seemed of a white heat when you touched them, and huge costly vases adorned the tables, and here as elsewhere there was the same hideous phantom of a feast--the same bitter mockery of earthly pleasure.

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« Reply #74 on: December 21, 2008, 05:32:54 pm »

At my entrance the Lord of this horrid place rose from his throne to greet me with welcoming words, and I recognized with a thrill of horror that he was the spiritual counterpart of that ancestor of my family from whom we had all been so proud to think we were descended, and whose portraits I had often been told I much resembled. The same man, the same haughty handsome features, without doubt, but, ah! how subtle, how awful was the change upon them, the brand of shame and dishonor stamped on every line, the corruption showing through the mask with which he still strove to cover it. Here in Hell all men are seen as they are, and no power can avail to hide one atom of their vileness--and this man was vile indeed. Even in an age of sensuality he had been distinguished for his sins, and in an age when men thought but little of cruelty he had shown as one without pity or remorse. I saw it all now mirrored in those pictures around him, and I felt overwhelmed to think that there could have been points of resemblance of any sort between us. I shuddered at the false empty pride of those who had gloried in saying they were allied to such a man, simply because he had in his day wielded almost regal power. And this man spoke to me now as one in whom he had an interest, since I was of his race.

He told me he welcomed me here and would that I should dwell with him. By the mysterious link that earthly relationship gave he had attached himself to my earth-life and had from time to time been able to influence it. When I had felt most of ambition and a proud desire to rise and be again one with the great ones of earth as had been my ancestors in the past, then had he been drawn up to me and had fed and fostered my pride and my haughty spirit, that was in a sense akin to his own. And he it was, he told me, who had prompted those acts of my life of which I felt now the most ashamed--acts that I would have given all my life to undo, after I had done them. And it was he, he said, who had from time to time sought to raise me in the world till I should be able to grasp power of some kind and reign a king in the field of intellect if I could not reign king of a country as he had done. Through me, he had hoped himself again to wield power over men, which should be some compensation for his banishment to this place of darkness and decay.

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