A Wanderer in the Sprit Lands, by Franchezzo (A. Farnese), , at sacred-texts.com
On one occasion when we were seated in my little home enjoying one of our many conversations, I asked him to tell me more of the spheres and their relation to the earth.
"The term spheres," said he, "is, as you have seen, applied to those great belts of spiritual matter which encircle the earth and other planets. It is likewise applied to those still vaster, more extended, thought waves which circle throughout all the universe. Thus we may say there are two classes of spheres--those which are in a measure material and encircle each their own planet or their own solar system and form the dwelling places of the spiritual inhabitants of each planet. These spheres are divided into circles indicating, like steps upon the ladder of progress, the moral advancement of the spirits.
"The other class of spheres are mental, not material, in their constituents and do not belong to any planetary or solar system, but are as limitless as the universe, circling in ever widening currents of thought emanations from the central point, around which all the universe is held to be revolving, and which point is said to be the immediate environment of the Supreme Being, from whom these thought waves are held to proceed. It may perhaps make my meaning still clearer to say there is one great sphere of the intellectual faculties or attributes belonging essentially to the soul, and then to divide this sphere into circles such as the circles of Philosophy, of Art, of Music, of Literature, etc.
It is a common mode of expression to call them spheres, but to my mind it is more correct to describe them as circles. These Intellectual Circles, like great wheels, inclose all those lesser wheels, those spiral rings, which surround each their own solar system, or parent planet, wheels within wheels, revolving around the one great centre continually. In the spirit world only those who are in sympathy ever remain together, and though the ties of relationship or the links of kind remembrance may at times draw together those who have no common bonds of union, these will be but flying visits, and each will return to their own circle and sphere, drawn back by the strong magnetic attraction which holds each sphere and each circle of a sphere in unison. A spirit belonging to the sphere of Music or Philosophy, will be drawn to others of a like disposition who are in the same stage of moral advancement as himself, but his development of a higher degree of music or philosophy will not enable him to ascend into a higher circle of the Moral Spheres, or planetary spheres, than his moral development entitles him to occupy. The central suns of each of the vast intellectual circles of the mental sphere shine as burnished magnets. They are as great prisms glowing with the celestial fires of purity and truth, and darting on all sides their glorious rays of knowledge, and in these rays cluster the multitudes of spirits who are seeking to light their lamps at these glowing shrines. In those rays which reach the earth pure and unbroken, are found those gems of truth which have illuminated the minds of men in all ages of the world's history, and shattered into a thousand fragments the great rocks of error and darkness, even as the lightning's flash shivers a granite rock, letting into the depths below the clear light of God's sun, and those spirits who are most highly advanced are those who are nearest to the central force, to the dazzling light of these starlike centres. These great spheres of the intellectual and moral faculties may, then, be termed the "universal" spheres; those around each planet, "planetary" spheres; and those surrounding the sun centres, "solar" spheres; the first being understood to consist of thought or sound essence, the others of various degrees of spiritualized matter."
"And how, then, would you describe the creation of a planet and its spheres?"
"The creation of a planet may be said to begin from the time when it is cast off from the parent sun in the form of a nebulous mass of fiery vapor. In this stage it is a most powerful magnet, attracting to itself the minute particles of matter which float through all the ether of space. This ether has been supposed to be void of all material atoms such as float in the atmosphere of planets, but that is an incorrect supposition, the fact being that the atoms of matter are simply subdivided into even more minute particles compared to which a grain of sand is as the bulk of the sun to the earth. These atoms being thus subdivided and dispersed through space (instead of being clustered by the forces of magnetic attraction in the planet into atoms the size of those which float as motes in the earth's atmosphere), have become not only invisible to man's material sight but are also incapable of being detected by the ordinary chemical means at his disposal. They are, in fact, etherealized, and have become of the first degree of spirit matter in consequence of the amount of soul essence which has become amalgamated with their grosser elements. In becoming attracted to the glowing mass of an embryo plant, these atoms become so thickly clustered together that the more ethereal elements are pressed out and escape back into space, leaving the solid gross portion to form into rock, etc., through the constant attracting of fresh atoms and the necessarily vast increase of pressure thus caused. These atoms exist eternally, and are as indestructible as all the other elements which constitute the universe, and they are absorbed and cast off again by planet after planet as each passes through the various stages of its existence and development.
"The atoms of matter may be broadly classed under three heads, and again each of the three heads may be subdivided into an infinite number of degrees of density, in order to express the various stages of sublimation to which they have attained. The three principal classes may be termed, material or planetary matter--spiritual or soul enveloping matter, which is no longer visible to material sight--and soul essence, this last being so sublimated that it is not possible for me yet to describe its nature to you. Of the material matter the lowest, most gross form, is that of which mineral substances, such as rocks, earth, etc., are formed; these are thrown off into the atmosphere as dust and reabsorbed continually to be changed, by the process continually going on in nature everywhere, into plants, etc. The intermediate degree between the rocks and the plants is the fluidic, in which the more solid particles are held in solution by the various gases or vaporized form of the chemical elements which constitute them. The second degree of material matter is that of plant or vegetable life which is nourished by the blending of the most gross matter with the fluidic. Thus through infinite gradations of earthly matter we reach the highest, namely, flesh and bones and muscles which, whether it clothes the soul of man or one of the lower animals, is still the highest degree of material matter, containing in this highest degree of earthly material development all those elements of which the lower degrees are composed.
"The second or spiritual form of matter is, as I have said, merely the etherealized development of the first or earthly form of matter, while the soul essence is the animating principle of both, the Divine germ, without which the two first forms of matter could not exist. It is a part of the law of the two first classes of matter that they should clothe the higher soul principle, or they lose their power of cohesion and are diffused into their elemental parts again. Soul matter is the only one which possesses any permanent identity. It is the true Ego, since by no power can it be disintegrated or lose its individuality. It is the true life of whatever lower forms of matter it may animate, and as such changes and shapes that lower matter into its own identity. Soul essence is in and of every type of life, from the mineral and vegetable to man, the highest type of animal, and each of these types is capable of development into the highest or celestial form, in which state it is found in the Heavenly Sphere of each planet and each solar system.
"Since, then, we maintain that everything has its soul of a higher or lower type, it need not create surprise in the mind of any mortal to be told that there are plants and flowers, rocks and deserts, beasts and birds, in the spirit world. They exist there in their spiritualized or developed state, and are more etherealized as they advance higher, in accordance with the same law which governs alike the development of man, the highest type, and that of the lowest form of soul matter. When a plant dies or the solid rock is dispersed into dust or fused into gas, its soul essence passes with the spiritual matter pertaining to it, into the spirit world, and to that sphere to which its development is most akin--the most material portion being absorbed by the earth, the more sublimated particles of matter feeling less of the earth attraction and therefore floating farther from it. Thus in the early stages of a planet's life, when it possesses but a small portion of the soul essence and a large amount of gross matter, its spheres are thrown out first in the direction farthest from its sun and are very material, and the development of its spiritual inhabitants is very low.
"At this early stage the vegetable as well as the animal and human types of soul life are coarse and gross, wanting in the refinement and beauty which may be observed as the evolution of the planet advances. Gradually the vegetation changes, the animals change, the races of men who appear become each higher, more perfect, and as a consequence the spiritual emanations thrown off become correspondingly higher. In the first stages of a planet's life the spheres scarcely exist. They may be likened to a cone in shape, the small end being represented by the planet itself, the earth plane being the highest sphere which has developed, and the lower spheres--by reason of the degraded tastes and low intellectual development of the planet's inhabitants--being like the wide end of the cone. As the planet develops the spheres increase in size and number, and the higher ones begin to form, the point of the cone receding from the planet towards the sun as each of the higher spheres begins its existence.
"Thus are the spheres formed below and above the planet by the constant influx of the atmoms thrown off from the parent planet. At a certain stage of their formation, when the intellectual and selfish propensities of man are more highly developed than his moral and unselfish faculties, these lower spheres in extent greatly exceed the higher ones, and these may be termed the Dark Ages of the World's History, when oppression and cruelty and greed spread their dark wings over mankind.
"After a time the eternal law of the higher evolution of all things causes the higher and lower spheres to become equal in extent and number. Then may we see the forces of good and evil equally balanced, and this period may be termed the meridian of the planet's life. Next follows the period when by the gradual improvement of mankind the figure of the cone becomes gradually reversed, the earth plane becoming again the narrow end by reason of the shrinking and disappearance of the lower spheres, while the higher ones expand towards the highest of all, till at last only this highest sphere exists at all and the planet itself shrinks gradually away till all the material gross particles have been thrown off from it, and it vanishes from existence, all its gross atoms floating away imperceptibly, to be reabsorbed by other planets yet in process of formation.
"Then will the sphere of that planet together with its inhabitants become absorbed into the great spheres of its solar system, and its inhabitants will exist there as do already many communities of spirits whose planets have passed out of existence. Each planetary community, however, will retain the characteristics and individuality of their planet--just as different nationalities on earth do--till they become gradually merged in the larger nationality of their solar system. So gradual, so imperceptible, are these processes of development, so vast the periods of time they take to accomplish, that the mind of mortal man may be forgiven for failing to grasp the immensity of the changes which take place. The lives of all planets are not similar in their duration, because size and position in the solar system, as well as other causes, contribute to modify and slightly alter their development, but the broad features will in all cases be found the same, just as the matter of which each planet is composed shows no chemical substance which does not exist in a greater or less degree in every other. Thus we are able to judge from the condition of the planets around us what has been the history of our earth in the past and what will be its ultimate destiny."
"If, as you say, our spheres are to become absorbed into those of our sun centre, will our individuality as spirits become merged in that of the solar system?"
"No! most certainly not. The individuality of each soul germ is indestructible; it is but a minute unit in the vast ocean of soul life, but still it is a distinct unit, the personality of each being in fact its Ego. It is this very individuality, this very impossibility of dispersing or destroying the soul which constitutes its immortality, which distinguishes it from all other matter, and makes its nature so difficult of explanation or analysis. You have become a member of our Brotherhood of Hope, yet you retain your individuality, and so it is with the soul eternally, no matter through what conditions of existence it may pass. Try to imagine a body so light that the most etherealized vapor is heavy beside it, yet a body possessing such power of cohesion that it is utterly impossible to disintegrate its particles, the power of resistance against all material or spiritual forms of matter which it possesses being equal to that which a bar of steel offers to a cloud of vapor. Imagine this and you will realize how it is that as a spirit you can pass through solid doors and walls of earthly matter, and how a spirit higher than yourself can pass with equal ease through these walls of spiritual matter which surround us here. The more perfectly the soul is freed from gross matter, the less can it be bound by any element, and the greater become its powers, since it is not the soul essence but its dense envelope which can be imprisoned on earth or in the spheres. To you now the walls of earthly houses offer no impediment to free ingress or egress. You pass through them as easily as your earthly body used to pass through the fog. The density of the fog might be disagreeable to you, but it could not arrest your progress. Moreover, when you passed through a fog there was no vacuum left to show where your passage through it had been. This was because the elements of which the fog was composed were attracted together again too quickly for you to perceive where they had been dispersed, and that is exactly what happens when we spirits pass through a material door or wall, the material atoms of which it is composed closing after our progress even more quickly than the fog."
I understand you, and now if, as you say, each type of soul essence has a distinct individuality of its own you will not agree with those who believe in the transmigration of the soul of an animal of the lower type into a man, and vice versa."
"Certainly not. The soul of each type we hold to be capable of the highest degree of development in its own type; but the soul of man being the highest type of all is, therefore, capable of the highest degree of development, namely, into those advanced spirits we call angels. Angels are souls who have passed from the lowest degree of human planetary life through all the planetary spheres till they have attained to the celestial spheres of the solar system, our Heaven of Heavens, which is as far in advance of our Heaven of the planetary spheres as that is in advance of the planet itself. We believe that the soul will go on mounting continually as by ever widening spiral rings, till it has reached what we now term the centre of the universe, but whether when we do attain that summit of our present aspirations we shall not find it to be but a finite point revolving round a still greater centre I cannot say. My own feeling is that we shall attain to centre after centre, ever resting, it may be millions of years, in each, till our aspirations shall again urge us to heights as far again above us. The more one contemplates the subject the more vast and limitless it becomes. How, then, can we hope to see an end to our journeyings through that which has no end, and has had no beginning, and how can we even hope to form any clear idea of the nature and attributes of that Supreme Being whom we hold to be the Omnipotent Ruler of the universe, seeing that we cannot even fully and clearly grasp the magnitude of his creation?"