A Wanderer in the Sprit Lands, by Franchezzo (A. Farnese), , at sacred-texts.com
The friend whom Ahrinziman sent to accompany and instruct me, appeared to my eyes as a youth of about five-and-twenty to thirty years of age, judging by earth's standard in such matters, but he told me he had lived to upwards of sixty years on earth. His present appearance was that of his spiritual development, which alone constitutes the age of a spirit. As a spirit grows more highly developed in his intellectual powers, the appearance becomes more matured, till at last he assumes that of a sage, without, however, the wrinkles and defects of age in earth life, only its dignity, its power, and its experience. Thus, when a spirit has attained to the highest possible development of the earth (or any other planet's) spheres he would possess the appearance of one of its patriarchs, and would then pass into the higher and more extended spheres of the solar system of that planet, beginning there as a youth again since his development compared to that of the advanced spirits of those higher spheres would be but that of a youth.
Hassein told me that he was at present studying the various powers and forms of nature in those stages which were below soul life, and would be able to make visible and explain to me many curious things we should see upon our journey.
"Many spirits," he said, "pass through the sphere of the astral plane without being conscious of its spectral inhabitants, by reason of the fact that their senses are not developed in such a way as to enable them to become conscious of their surroundings in all their entirety, just as in earth life there are many persons quite unable to see the spirits around them, although to others again they are perfectly visible. There are upon earth persons who can see not alone the spirits of human beings but also these astral and elementary beings who are not truly 'spirits,' since that word should be used to denote only those which possess within them the soul germ. Now many of these beings which we shall see never possessed any soul, and others again are only the empty shells from which the soul germ has departed. To distinguish between the soul spirit and the soulless astral one must possess a double power of soul-sight or clairvoyance as it is termed, and many who possess only an imperfect degree of this double power will be able to see elementals and astrals, but without being able to distinguish them clearly from the soul-enveloping spirit forms. Hence much confusion and many mistakes have arisen amongst these imperfect clairvoyants as to the nature and attributes of these classes of beings. There are seven degrees of the soul-sight found in persons yet in the earth life; and in the next stage of life the spiritual part or soul being freed from the gross elements of material life, there will be found seven more expansions of this gift, and so on in progressive succession as the soul casts off one by one the envelopes of matter--first the most gross or earthly matter, then succeeding degrees of refined or sublimated matter, for we hold that there can be no such thing as entire severance between soul and matter--that is so long as it is conscious of existence in any of our solar systems. Beyond these limits we have no knowledge to guide us, and it is a matter of pure speculation. It is only a question of the degree and quality of the matter which is more or less refined and etherealized as the soul is in a higher or lower state of development. It is of the first stage of earthly conscious soul life that I shall now speak in speaking of the clairvoyant sight, leaving till another time the theories and beliefs involved in the study of what has passed before man's present conscious stage of existence and what may happen when he passes beyond the limits of our present knowledge.
"We find, then, in the earthly stage of life persons--most often women or very young boys--who are endowed with some or all of these seven degrees of soul-sight. The first three degrees are very often found, the fourth and fifth more rarely, while the sixth and seventh are hardly ever met with except in persons endowed with certain peculiarities of organization, due to those astrological influences under which they are born--particularly to those prevailing at the exact moment the child sees the light of earth life. So rare are these perfect sixth and seventh degrees that very few possess them, though some are found with an imperfect sixth and none of the seventh, in which case they can never attain to the perfection of soul-sight, and as with imperfect glasses, the defect in their sight will cause them to have an imperfect vision of celestial things, and although they will see into the sixth sphere in a sense, yet their defective power will greatly impair the value of what they see.
"Those, however, who have the perfect sixth and seventh degrees can be taken in spirit into the seventh sphere itself, which is the highest, or heaven of the earth spheres, and like St. John of old they shall see unspeakable things. To do this the soul requires to be freed from all ties to the material body, save only the slender thread without which connecting link, body and soul would part forever. Thus they may be said to be out of the body at such times, and so difficult and dangerous is it to thus take the soul into the seventh sphere, that only with exceptional persons and under very exceptional circumstances can it be done even where the power exists. Of the clairvoyants of the lower degrees of power the same may be said, except that the less celestial their powers, the more safely and easily may they be used, each clairvoyant being able to see into that sphere which corresponds to the degree of power which they possess. It is, however, a curious fact that many clairvoyants possess one or more perfect degrees of soul-sight with at the same time an imperfect form of a degree still higher, and when this is so it will be found that the medium mixes the visions seen and is not reliable, since the defective degree (if used) will act like a defective eye and cause that which is beheld by both eyes at the same time to partake of its imperfections. It is, therefore, far better to have the entire absence of a degree than to possess an imperfect form of it, since the imperfect one only causes confusion in using the perfect ones, unless indeed you do with these powers as you might do with the defective eye, and close it altogether in order that the vision, though limited, may be correct. Thus the ancients when they found the highest amount of perfect vision of one or more degrees in their pupils, arrested their further development at that degree before the imperfect sight of a higher one could in any way impair the value of those they possessed. In this way they were able to train as reliable clairvoyants of moderate powers many who by a further effort at development would have lost far more than they could gain. In olden days seers were divided into classes even as they still are amongst certain schools of prophets in the East, though now the art is not studied to the perfection it once was when the Eastern nations were a power upon earth.
"Each class underwent a special training adapted to their special degrees of power and class of gifts, and there was not the present curious mixture of great gifts and entire ignorance of how to use them wisely, which in many instances results in so many inaccuracies and so much harm both to mediums and to those who go to them for spiritual knowledge. As well might a trainer of young gymnasts think that he could overtax and strain the growing muscles without lasting harm to them, as those who make an ignorant, unlimited, and indiscriminate use and development of the mediumistic powers. A young fledgling cast from the nest too soon flutters and falls to the ground, while if left till the wings are strong enough to bear its flight it will soar to heaven itself. With more extended knowledge upon earth there will be given to certain sensitives endowed with the needful mediumistic powers the knowledge by which under the guidance of those higher intelligences who are directing the great spiritual movement, they can judge between the spirits of low and degraded states and those of a higher degree of advancement, and thus much of the confusion and danger which still hampers the movement will be gradually eliminated from it.
"On the spirit side of life are many teachers who for centuries have made a study of these subjects--of all forms of life--and of the mediumistic powers of those who are incarnated upon earth, and they are even now seeking on all sides for open doors through which to impart such knowledge as may be of use to man. Much which they know could not yet be imparted, but there are things which could, and with this subject as with all others the minds upon earth will expand and develop as knowledge is given."
I thanked my new friend for his information and promised help, and as the expedition was soon to start I went to earth to bid adieu for a time to my beloved. Upon our parting I shall not dwell, nor say how much we both felt we should miss our constant little intercourse; for even restricted as it was by the barrier between us, it had been been a great joy to both.
I found on my return that the preparations for our journey were now complete, and I was summoned to bid my father and others adieu, and to join my companions in the great hall where they were now assembled to receive the farewell benediction of our Grand Master.
After this our band started amidst the cheers and good wishes of all the assembled Brotherhood.