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

CHAPTER V.--Spirits of the Earth Plane.

The time came at last for me to leave the House of Hope and go forth, strong in the lessons I had learned there, to work out my atonement on the earth plane and in those lower spheres to which my earthly life had sunk me

Eight or nine months had elapsed since I had died, and I had grown strong and vigorous once more. I could move freely over the great sphere of the earth plane. My sight and my other senses were so far developed that I could see and hear and speak clearly. The light around me now was that of a faint twilight or when the night first begins to dawn into the day. To my eyes so long accustomed to the darkness, this dull light was very welcome, though after a time I grew so to long for the true day to dawn that this dull twilight was most monotonous and oppressive. Those countries which are situated in this, the third circle of the earth plane or first sphere, are called "The Twilight Lands," and it is thither that those spirits pass whose lives have been too selfish and material to allow their souls to reach any higher state of development. Even these Twilight Lands, however, are a degree above those "Haunting" spirits of the earth plane who are literally earthbound to their former habitations.

My work was to be begun upon the earth itself, and in those haunts which men of the world call the haunts of pleasure, though no pleasure is so fleeting, no degradation so sure, as that which they produce even during the earthly life. And now I found the value of the teachings and the experience I had gained during my stay in the House of Hope. Temptations that might once have seemed such to me were such no longer. I knew the satisfaction such pleasures give, and the cost at which alone they can be bought, and thus in controlling a mortal, as I often had to do, I was proof against the temptation such control offered of using his body for my own gratification.

Few people yet in their earthly envelopes understand that spirits can, and very often do, take such complete possession of the bodies of mortal men and women that, for the time, it is as though that earth body belonged to the disembodied and not the embodied spirit. Many cases of so-called temporary madness are due to the controlling power of very low spirits of evil desires or frivolous minds, who are, through the weakness of will or other causes, put into complete rapport with the embodied spirit whose body they seek to use. Amongst many ancient races this fact was acknowledged and studied as well as many branches of the occult sciences which we of the nineteenth century have grown too wise, forsooth, to look into, even to discover, if we can, those germs of truth with which all ages have been blessed and which are worth disinterring from the mass of rubbish in which succeeding generations of men have buried them.

The work upon which I was now engaged will seem no less strange to you than it did at first to me. The great Brotherhood of Hope was only one of a countless variety of societies which exist in the spirit world for the purpose of giving help to all who are in need. Their operations are carried on everywhere and in all spheres, and their members are to be found from the very lowest and darkest spheres to the very highest which surround the earth, and even extend into the spheres of the solar systems. They are like immense chains of spirits, the lowest and humblest being always helped and protected by those above.

A message would be sent to the Brotherhood that help was required to assist some struggling mortal or unhappy spirit, and such one of the brothers as was thought to be most fit would be sent to help. Such a one of us would be sent as had in his own earth life yielded to a similar temptation, and had suffered all the bitter consequences and remorse for his sin. Often the man or woman to be helped had unconsciously sent out an aspiration for help and strength to resist temptation, and that of itself was a prayer, which would be heard in the spirit world as a cry from earth's children that appealed to all in the spirit world who had been themselves earth's sons and daughters; or it might be that some spirit to whom the struggling one was very dear would seek for help on their behalf and would thus appeal to us to come to their aid. Our task would be to follow and control the one we desired to help till the temptation had been overcome. We would identify ourselves so closely with the mortal that for a time we actually shared his life, his thoughts, everything, and during this dual state of existence we ourselves often suffered most keenly both from our anxiety for the man whose thoughts became almost as our own, and from the fact that his anxieties were as ours, while in thus going over again a chapter in our past lives we endured all the sorrow, remorse and bitterness of the past time. He on his side felt, though not in so keen a degree, the sorrowful state of our mind, and where the control was very complete and the mortal highly sensitive, he would often fancy that things which we had done must have been done by himself, either in some former forgotten stage of existence, or else seen in some vivid dream they could scarcely recall.

This controlling or overshadowing of a mortal by an immortal is used in many ways, and those who foolishly make themselves liable to it either by a careless evil life, or by seeking in a frivolous spirit of mere curiousity to search out mysteries too deep for their shallow minds to fathom, often find to their cost that the low spirits who haunt the earth plane, and even those from much lower spheres, can often obtain so great a hold over a mortal that at last he becomes a mere puppet in their hands, whose body they can use at will. Many a weak-willed man and woman who in pure surroundings would lead only good and pure lives, are drawn by evil surroundings into sins for which they are but partly responsible--sins for which indeed those controlling spirits who have thus made use of these weak mortals, will be held responsible as well as the mortal sinner himself. For thus tempting and using another's organism those evil spirits will have to render a terrible account, since they have been doubly guilty. In sinning, themselves, and in dragging down another soul with them, they sink themselves to a depth from which many years, and in come instances many centuries of suffering cannot free them.

In my work I have had to act the part of controlling spirit many times, but I was sent to do so only in order that I might impress the mortal with a sense of the terrible consequences of yielding to sin, and also that I might, when not actually controlling the mortal myself, act as guard and watchman to protect him from the control of the wandering tempting spirits of the earth plane. My work was to raise the barrier of my strong will-force against theirs, and keep them back so that they could not come sufficiently en rapport with my charge to control him.

If, however, he had allowed himself to be already controlled by these lower spirits, they would still be able to project their thoughts and suggestions to him, though they did so with difficulty.

Although I did not know it at the time, and believed that upon myself would rest the responsibility of keeping safe those I was sent to guard, I was only the last link in a long chain of spirits who were all helping at the same time. Each spirit was a step in advance of the one below him, and each had to strengthen and help the one below him should he faint or fail in his task. My part was also intended to be a lesson to myself in self-denial and the sacrifice of my own comfort that I might help another. My condition as a spirit on the earth plane made me of use, seeing that I could oppose a material force of will against those tempting spirits in an atmosphere where a more refined spirit would have been unable to penetrate, and I as one of the earth-bound myself could come en rapport with the mortal more closely than a more advanced spirit would have been able to do. I had, by means of dreams when he slept and constant haunting thoughts while he waked, to impress upon the mind of the man I controlled what my experience had been, to make him feel all the terrible sufferings of remorse and fear, all the loathing of himself through which I had passed, and through which I passed again in bitter agony of soul while thus recalling them. All my feelings were transferred to his mind till he might truly have said he was haunted by all the terrible possibilities of his meditated sins.

Over this particular phase of my experiences I shall not dwell longer now, since it is one familiar to many on this side of life. I will but say that I returned from my mission with a consciousness that I had saved many others from the pitfalls into which I had fallen, and thereby had atoned in part for my own sins. Several times was I sent upon such missions and each time returned successful; and here I must pause to say that if my progress in the spirit world has been so rapid as to surprise most who knew of my first condition on entering it, and if I again and again resisted all the temptations that befell me, the credit is not so much due to myself as to the wonderful help and comfort that was given to me by the constant and unvarying love of her who was indeed my good angel, and whose image ever came between me and all harm. When all others might have pleaded to me in vain, I ever hearkened to her voice and turned aside.

When I was not helping someone yet in the earth body, I was sent to work amongst the unhappy spirits of the earth plane who were still wandering in its darkness even as I had at first done. And to them I went as one of the great Brotherhood of Hope, bearing in my hand the tiny starlike light which is the symbol of that order. Its rays would dispel the darkness around me, and I would see poor unhappy spirits crouching on the ground two or three together, or sunk in helpless misery in some corner by themselves, too hopeless, too unhappy to heed anything.

To them it was my work to point out how they could either be taken to such a House of Hope as the one in which I had been, or in other cases how they might, by trying to help others around them, help themselves and earn the gratitude of those who were even more hopeless than themselves. To each poor suffering soul a different balm of healing would be given, for each had known a different experience and each had had a different cause for his sins.

Next: Chapter VI.--Twilight Lands--Love's Gifts--The Valley of Selfishness--The Country of Unrest--The Miser's Land--The Gambler's Land