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A Wanderer in the Sprit Lands, by Franchezzo (A. Farnese), [1896], at

CHAPTER IX.--The Frozen Land--The Caverns of Slumber.

I was next sent to visit what will indeed seem a strange country to exist in the spirit world. The Land of Ice and Snow--the Frozen Land--in which lived all those who had been cold and selfishly calculating in their earthly lives. Those who had crushed out and chilled and frozen from their own lives and the lives of others, all those warm sweet impulses and affections which make the life of heart and soul. Love had been so crushed and killed by them that its sun could not shine where they were, and only the frost of life remained.

Great statesmen were amongst those whom I saw dwelling in this land, but they were those who had not loved their country nor sought its good. Only their own ambitions, their own aggrandizement had been their aim, and to me they now appeared to dwell in great palaces of ice and on the lofty frozen pinnacles of their own ambitions. Others more humble and in different paths in life I saw, but all alike were chilled and frozen by the awful coldness and barrenness of a life from which all warmth, all passion, was shut out. I had learned the evils of an excess of emotion and of passion, now I saw the evils of their entire absence. Thank God this land had far fewer inhabitants than the other, for terrible as are the effects of mis-used love, they are not so hard to overcome as the absence of all the tender feelings of the human heart.

There were men here who had been prominent members of every religious faith and every nationality on your earth. Roman Catholic cardinals and priests of austere and pious but cold and selfish lives, Puritan preachers, Methodist ministers, Presbyterian divines, Church of England bishops and clergymen, missionaries, Brahmin priests, Parsees, Egyptians, Mohammedans--in short all sorts and all nationalities were to be found in the Frozen Land, yet in scarcely one was there enough warmth of feeling to thaw the ice around themselves even in a small degree. When there was even a little tiny drop of warmth, such as one tear of sorrow, then the ice began to melt and there was hope for that poor soul.

There was one man whom I saw who appeared to be enclosed in a cage of ice; the bars were of ice, yet they were as bars of polished steel for strength. This man had been one of the Grand Inquisitors of the Inquisition in Venice, and had been one of those whose very names sent terror to the heart of any unfortunate who fell into their clutches; a most celebrated name in history, yet in all the records of his life and acts there was not one instance where one shade of pity for his victims had touched his heart and caused him to turn aside, even for one brief moment, from his awful determination in torturing and killing those whom the Inquisition got into its toils. A man known for his own hard austere life, which had no more indulgence for himself than for others. Cold and pitiless, he knew not what it was to feel one answering throb awake in his heart for another's sufferings. His face was a type of cold unemotional cruelty; the long thin high nose, the pointed sharp chin, the high and rather wide cheek bones, the thin straight cruel lips like a thin line across the face, the head somewhat flat and wide over the ears, while the deep-set penetrating eyes glittered from their penthouse brows with the cold steely glitter of a wild beast's.

Like a procession of spectres I saw the wraiths of some of this man's many victims glide past him, maimed and crushed, torn and bleeding from their tortures--pallid ghosts, wandering astral shades, from which the souls had departed forever, but which yet clung around this man, unable to decay into the elements whilst his magnetism attached them, like a chain, to him. The souls and all the higher elements had forever left those--which were true astral shells--yet they possessed a certain amount of vitality--only it was all drawn from this man, not from the released spirits which had once inhabited them. They were such things as those ghosts are made of which are seen haunting the spot where some one too good and innocent to be so chained to earth, has been murdered. They seem to their murderers and others to live and haunt them, yet the life of such astrals (or ghosts) is but a reflected one, and ceases as soon as remorse and repentance have sufficed to sever the tie that links them to their murderers.

Other spirits I saw haunting this man, and taunting him with his own helplessness and their past sufferings, but these were very different looking; they were more solid in appearance and possessed a power and strength and intelligence wanting in those other misty-looking shades. These were spirits whose astral forms still held the immortal souls imprisoned in them, though they had been so crushed and tortured that only the fierce desire of revenge remained. These spirits were incessant in their endeavor to get at their former oppressor and tear him to pieces, and the icy cage seemed to be regarded by him as being as much a protection from them as a prison for himself. One more clever than the rest had constructed a long, sharp-pointed pole which he thrust through the bars to prod at the man within, and wonderful was the activity he displayed in trying to avoid its sharp point. Others had sharp short javelins which they hurled through the bars at him. Others again squirted foul, slimy water, and at times the whole crowd would combine in trying to hurl themselves en masse upon the sheltering bars to break through, but in vain. The wretched man within, whom long experience had taught the impregnability of his cage, would taunt them in return with a cold crafty enjoyment of their fruitless efforts.

To my mental query as to whether this man was ever released, an answer was given to me by that majestic spirit whose voice I had heard at rare times speaking to me, from the time when I heard it first at my own grave. On various occasions when I had asked for help or knowledge, this spirit had spoken to me, as now, from a distance, his voice sounding to me as the voice spoken of by the prophets of old when they thought the Lord spoke to them in the thunder. This voice rang in my ears with its full deep tones, yet neither the imprisoned spirit nor those haunting him heard it; their ears were deaf so that they could not hear, and their eyes blind so that they could not see.

And to me the voice said: "Son, behold the thoughts of this man for one brief moment--see how he would use liberty were it his."

And I saw, as one sees images reflected in a mirror, the mind of this man. First the thought that he could get free, and when once free he could force himself back to earth and the earth plane, and once there he could find some still in the flesh whose aspirations and ambitions were like his own, and through their help he would forge a still stronger yoke as of iron to rivet upon men's necks, and found a still crueller tyranny--a still more pitiless Inquisition, if that were possible, which should crush out the last remnant of liberty left to its oppressed victims. He knew he would sway a power far greater than his earthly power, since he would work with hands and brain freed from all earthly fetters, and would be able to call up around him kindred spirits, fellow workers with souls as cold and cruel as his own. He seemed to revel in the thought of the fresh oppressions he could plan, and took pride to himself in the recollection that he had ever listened unmoved to the shrieks and groans and prayers of the victims he had tortured to death. From the love of oppression and for his own relentless ambition had he worked, making the aggrandizement of his order but the pretext for his actions, and in no single atom of his hard soul was there awakened one spark of pity or remorse. Such a man set free to return to earth would be a source of danger far more deadly than the most fierce wild beast, since his powers would be far less limited. He did not know that his vaunted Inquisition, which he still sought to strengthen in all its deadly powers, had become a thing of the past, swept away from the face of God's earth by a power far mightier than any he could wield; and that, like the dark and terrible age in which it had sprung up like a noisome growth, it had gone nevermore to return--thank God!--never again to disgrace humanity by the crimes committed in the name of him who came only to preach peace and love on earth--gone, with its traces and its scars left yet upon the human mind in its shaken and broken trust in a God and an immortality. The recoil of that movement which at last swept away the Inquisition is yet felt on earth, and long years must pass before all which was good and pure and true and had survived throughout even those dark ages shall reassert its power and lead men back to their faith in a God of Love, not a God of Horrors, as those oppressors painted him.

From this Frozen Land I turned away chilled and saddened. I did not care to linger there or explore its secrets, though it may be that again at some future time I may visit it. I felt that there was nothing I could do in that land, none I could understand, and they but froze and revolted me without my doing them any good.

On my way back from the Frozen Land to the Land of Twilight, I passed a number of vast caverns called the "Caverns of Slumber," wherein lay a great multitude of spirits in a state of complete stupor, unconscious of all around them. These, I learned, were the spirits of mortals who had killed themselves with opium eating and smoking, and whose spirits had thus been deprived of all chance of development, and so had retrograded instead of advancing and growing--just as a limb tied up and deprived of motion withers away--and now they were feebler than an unborn infant, and as little able to possess conscious life.

In many cases their sleep would last for centuries; in others, where the indulgence in the drug had been less, it might only last for twenty, fifty, or a hundred years. These spirits lived, and that was all, their senses being little more developed than those of some fungus growth which exists without one spark of intelligence; yet in them the soul germ had lingered, imprisoned like a tiny seed in the wrapping of some Egyptian mummy, which, long as it may lie thus, is yet alive, and will in a kindly soil sprout forth at last. These caverns, in which kind spirit hands had laid them, were full of life-giving magnetism, and a number of attendant spirits who had themselves passed through a similar state from opium poisoning in their own earth lives, were engaged in giving what life they could pour into those comatose spirit bodies which lay like rows of dead people all over the floor.

By slow degrees, according as the spirit had been more or less injured by the drug taken in the earthly life, these wretched beings would awake to consciousness and all the sufferings experienced by the opium eater when deprived of his deadly drug. By long and slow degrees the poor spirits would awaken, sense by sense, till at last like feeble suffering children they would become fit for instruction, when they would be sent to institutions like your idiot asylums, where the dawning intellect would be trained and helped to develop, and those faculties recovered which had been all but destroyed in the earth life.

These poor souls would only learn very slowly, because they had to try to learn now, without the aids of the earthly life, those lessons which it had been designed to teach. Like drunkards (only more completely) they had paralyzed brain and senses and had avoided, not learned, the lessons of the earthly life and its development of the spirit.

To me these Caves of Slumber were inexpressibly sad to behold--not less so that those wretched slumberers were unconscious for so long of the valuable time they lost in their dreamless, hopeless sleep of stagnation.

Like the hare in the fable, while they slept others less swift won the race, and these poor souls might try in vain through countless ages to recover the time which they had lost.

When these slumberers shall at last awake, to what a fate do they not waken, through what an awful path must they not climb to reach again that point in the earth life from which they have fallen! Does it not fill our souls with horror to think that there are those on earth who live, and pile up wealth through the profits made from that dreadful trade in opium, which not alone destroys the body, but would seem to desroy even more fatally the soul, till one would despondently ask if there be indeed hope for these its victims?

These awful caves--these terrible stupified spirits--can any words point a fate more fearful than theirs? To awaken at last with the intellects of idiots, to grow, through hundreds of years, back at last to the possession of the mental powers of children--not of grown men and women. Slow, slow, must be their development even then, for unlike ordinary children they have almost lost the power to grow, and take many generations of time to learn what one generation on earth could have taught them. I have heard it said that many of the unhappy beings when they have attained at last to the development of infants, are sent back to earth to be reincarnated in an earthly body, that they may enjoy again the advantages they have misused before. But of this I only know by hearsay, and cannot give any opinion of my own upon its truth. I only know that I should be glad to think of any such possibility for them which could shorten the process of development or help them to regain all that they had lost.

Next: Chapter X.--My House in the Twilight Lands--Communion Between the Living and the Dead