In volume 1 of Life Beyond the Veil, and being named Astriel communicating from the afterlife explains about the spheres people who have physically died find themselves in.
Friday, October 24, 1913
We have come tonight with our friends, your mother and her companions, at their invitation once again, in order to speak to you some message of friendly help and counsel. And in thinking over what would most interest you, we concluded that if we were to say something to you of those powers which watch over the world, we might, perchance, be able to lead you and those who are willing to follow with you, a little onward towards the great body of knowledge which awaits your searching when you have laid aside those trammels of the earth life and stand free to progress into the greater glories of the realm of spirit.
Who writes this, please?
We are they who came before, friend. Astriel, as you know me, and my fellow-workers of the Tenth Sphere of progress. Shall we proceed, then?
If you please, and I thank you for your courtesy in coming down here into this dim realm, as it must seem to you.
You say “coming down here,” and that fairly well expresses the condition of things from your point of view. Yet not altogether, nor perfectly. For if the planet on which you live your present life is dependent in space, then “up” and “down” are terms which must be very restricted in their meaning. You already have noted this in your writing or, rather, you were impressed to note it.
When we said “the powers which watch over the world,” we did not, of course, mean to localize these powers on one side of this planet, but to imply the all-enveloping watch which the heavenly powers keep about the sphere which is called Earth. These powers are resident in zones of which the Earth itself is the centre, and they lie in concentric circles around it. The inferior zones are those near the planet’s surface, and progress in power and glory as the distance is increased. But yet, space must be enlarged in meaning when applied to these spheres, for distance has not the same obstructive sense to us as it has to you.
For instance, when I am in the tenth of these zones, my cognizance is limited more or less, by that Tenth zone as to its outer or superior boundary. I may, on occasion and by permission visit the Eleventh zone or even go higher, but residence in those higher zones is not permitted me. On the other hand, the zones inferior to the Tenth are not impossible to me; for the zone in which I dwell, being a sphere, includes within itself, even geometrically considered, all the nine inferior spheres. So that we may, for the sake of clarity of understanding, put it thus: The Earth is the centre about which many spheres are and is enclosed in all those spheres. And the residents in the earth life are potentially in touch with all those spheres and actually so in ratio to their altitude spiritually considered, spiritually, because these spheres are spiritual and not material.
Even the material Sphere of Earth is only so phenomenally, for it is a manifestation in matter of all these zones of spiritual power which envelop it and of others too, of other degree which interpenetrate it. Leave these latter aside, for the present at least, and consider the matter as we have outlined it.
You will now have some idea of what aspiration and prayer and worship mean. They are the means of communion with the Creator and His High and Holy Ones Who (to put it in a way which you will understand) dwell in the highest, or outermost, of these spheres, and include within Himself and These all the zones within that highest Zone or Sphere.
And so the Earth is enveloped by, and included in and affected by the spiritual powers, of varying degree and kind, entrusted by the Creator, God, to all these ministers of all these spheres which are around it.
But as you progress outward you come into a more complicated state of affairs. For not the Earth only but every planet in this Solar system has its like complement of spiritual zones or spheres. So, as you go farther and farther from the Earth, you come to a realm where the spheres of Earth and the nearest planet interweave with each other. As every planet is served with like attendance, so the complication is multiplied, and you will begin to see that the study of these spheres is not so simple as some good people among you evidently think it to be, who demand from us information as to the meaning of this thing.
Draw a diagram of the Solar system with the Sun at its centre and the planets roughly in their respective places around him. Then begin with Earth and encircle him with, say, a hundred circles. Do the same with Jupiter, Mars, Venus and the others, and treat the Sun in like manner, and you will have a faint idea of our work and its absorbing interest, but profound depths of meaning, who include in our studies that of the Spheres of God.
Nor have we yet reached the limit of our problem. For what applies to the Solar system must be applied also to that of every other star and its planets. Then each system having been separately considered, each and all must be studied in their correlation to the others. Think of it a while and you will acknowledge, I think, that there will be no lack of employment for your mental energies when you come over here.
Now, we are sometimes asked how many spheres there be. Well, having explained what we have above, I do not apprehend that we shall be asked that question by you. Did you ask it, we, who are only of the Tenth of these zones, would perforce have to answer, We do not know, and much doubt whether our answer to you would differ were you to put that question a million million of aeons hence, and we having progressed all the while.
And now, friend and fellow spirit, we wish to ask you to consider one other aspect of this matter. We have said that these spheres are spheres of spiritual power. Now, two worlds affect each the other by means of that which your scientists name gravitation. Also, two spheres of spiritual power coming into contact cannot fail to act and counteract each on the other. Referring to your mental diagram of the Solar system You will see that Earth is, of necessity, acted on by a large number of spheres, and that the greater number of these are they which are those of the Sun and other planets.
Yes, friend, there is, after all, something in the astrological idea, and perhaps your scientists do well to give it a wide berth, for it may not be much understood by, and would probably be fraught with danger too, such as they who do not understand that spiritual power is spiritual power. It is real and tremendous, and every sphere of all these is reinforced or modified by the others. The study of these things should be approached with the utmost reverence and prayer, for these are realms where Angels of high estate go softly, and we of lesser estate look on and wonder after the Sublimity of that Being Who unifies all this in Himself, and Who has no Name that can be transmitted to us who only can reach out after Him a little way and then our arm is shortened, who only can see a little way and then the light beyond is darkness by reason of its intensity.
But we testify to you, friend, and those who will think reverently of things they cannot understand, that if wonder gives us pause time and again as we proceed, yet never do we lose that sense of a Presence Whose breathing is of Love, and Whose leading is as gentle as a mother’s leading of her little child. So we, as you do, take His hand and do not fear, and the music of the Spheres is around us as we go on from glory to the glory beyond. Come this way ever, our brother in Him. Never faint nor weary of the road, for the mists are thinning as you proceed, and the light strengthens into the further light which issues onward into the unknown, but never feared, so we tread gently and humbly, as little children do, amid the glories of the planets and the heavens of suns and spheres, and of the Love of God.
Friend and brother, we say goodnight to you, and thank you for enabling us in this our service. May it be of some help, however little or much, to few or many seeking after the truth. Goodnight once more, and be assured of our help in blessing.
Saturday, October 25, 1913.
We will, if it is to your mind, continue our message of yesterday in regard to those spheres of power which affect the earth.
Still concerning the Solar system, we say that, on considering what we have already said, you will see that we have not yet mentioned all the complications which enter into the study of these spheres. For not alone do the concentric circles of zones about all the planets and the sun mingle with all the rest, but also the relative combination is continually changing with the changing positions of these bodies and their consequent proximity to, or distance from, one another. So that it is quite literally correct to say that during no two seconds of time is the influence from them impinging on the surface of the earth the same.
Nor is any combination of their influences identical in its effect or intensity all over the earth at the same time, but differs in different localities. There must further be taken into our calculations the stream of radiation coming to this Solar system from the systems of the other stars. All these things have to be reckoned in, for bear still in mind that we are speaking of zones and spheres of spiritual beings whose powers are energizing continuously, and whose wakefulness never fails.
This, then, is a rough outline of the conditions which obtain among the planetary systems whose outer manifestation is visible to the eye and telescope of the astronomer. But what is thus observed is but a very little mite when compared with the whole. It is but as a small shower of spray which besprinkles the voyager, as he stands in the prow of the vessel, and scatters itself in globules of mist around him. He sees the miniature globes of water where they float reflecting the light around them, and says they are innumerable. But if this is so, then what of the ocean itself from whence they came, and of which they are, and to which they will return?
As that small cloud of spray-mist is to the ocean, so is the star-bemisted heaven as seen from the surface of the earth, to the whole. And as the depths of the ocean are to the eye of him who gazes over the vessel’s side, so are the depths of space and all that it holds to the human intelligence.
Now let us think a little further afield. Space itself is but a term used to describe the indescribable. It is, therefore, without definite meaning. One of your poets began a poem on space and gave it up in despair. Wisely, for had he intended to do adequate justice to the theme he would have been compelled to continue that poem for ever.
For what is space, and where are the boundaries of it set? Is it illimitable? If so it has no centre. Where, then, is God His Dwelling Place? He is said to be at the Centre of all Creation. But what is Creation? A creation which has relation to space, or a creation which is invisible?
Now it is useless, for all practical purposes, to speculate on things we do not understand. It is well to feel after these things sometimes in order that we may discover our own limitations. This done, let us now speak of such things as we, in a measure, are able to understand.
All these zones of which we have spoken are inhabited by beings according to their degree, who progress from one sphere to a higher as they accumulate knowledge within themselves. You will see from what we already have written that, as we advance from the lowest, to the higher spheres, there comes a region of spheres which are interplanetary, inasmuch as they embrace within their circumference more planets than one. Still advancing, we come to a state where the spheres are of such a diameter that they are interstellar, that is they embrace within their circumference not only more planets than one, but more stars, or suns, than one. All these are filled with beings, according to their degree of sublimity, of holiness and of power, whose influence extends to all, both spiritual and material, within the sphere to which they have attained. We have but advanced, you see, from planet to star and from star to stars in their grouping. Beyond are spheres more awful still and more tremendous. But of these we in this Tenth Sphere know but little indeed, and nothing certain.
But you will be able faintly to realise, by a large effort of your imaginative powers, the meaning we had in mind when we wrote last evening of Him Whose Name is to us unknown and unknowable. So, when you worship the Creator, you have, I suppose, no very definite idea of the Order of Creator you intend. It is easy to say you mean the Creator of all. But what do you mean by all?
Now, know this, for this much, at least, we have progressed to know, that you do right to worship the Creator and Father of all, whatever you mean, if you mean anything definite by that very inclusive word. Still, your worship passes first into the lower spheres and through them to the higher, and some worship goes farther and into higher spheres than other worship does, according to its worth and inherent power. And some goes very far indeed. Far above us is the Christ Sphere of glorious intensity of light and awesome beauty. Your worship, then, proceeds to the Father through Him, that is, through the One Who came to earth and manifested the Christ to men.
Now, for all that all we have said is true, yet it is truth expressed quite inadequately by reason of the limitations both of us who are speaking to you, and of your own earth state. For you will understand that when we speak of proceeding through these spheres, we are really using phrasing of a local character, as of a journey from one locality through another to a third. And I fear, friend, that I can do little more at this present time than remind you that these states of which we have been thinking are rather better expressed as spheres than as zones. For, I would repeat, the higher include within themselves O the lower, and he who moves in any of them is present in all those inferior to his own. For which reason it is not without some degree of truth that we speak of Him Who is all, and in all, and throughout all, and of the Omnipresence of God.
Now, we feel that we have laboured this theme too long and should cease further endeavour to put into the little wineglass of earth knowledge and wisdom to understand the vintage of these wide vineyards of the heavens. One thing is enough to know for you and us, The Husbandman and the Vinedresser both, are sure in their power and in their wisdom to deal with us. Toward them is our journey set, and ours is to do the thing we find to hand, to do it thoroughly and well, and finish it quite, and then to reach out for the task set next in order. When that is finished well, then another will be awaiting us. We shall never find that we have reached the end, I think. For as we progress one comes to feel the possibility more and more of a truth beneath those words “for evermore, world without end.” But we doubt if you do yet friend, and we say this with courtesy.
And now we bless you and leave you in the hope we may come again, for it is well, and there is sweetness in it, to bend to whisper into willing ears of some of the minor glories of our Heavenly Realms. Be sure friend, and tell others who will hear it that this life which awaits you is not a mere bodiless dream in a twilight region somewhere beyond the boundary of the real and actual. No, it is strenuous and intense, this life of ours. It is filled with service and endeavours crowned, one after another, with success, of patient pressing onward, and of indomitable wills attuned each to others in comrade service for the Lord of Love, Whose Life we sense and inspire, but Whom we do not see, and Whose Home is too sublime for us to know.
Onward we press, and often take the hand of one a little behind us, and with the other seize the skirt of one a little on before. And so we go, my brother; yes, and so do you, and others working with you. And if we are a little way on before, well, there are many who lag behind. Take their hand in your own, and gently, remembering your own comparative frailty, and if the task be too heavy for you, do not loose that hand you hold, but reach the other out, and here is mine and that of many another with us. You shall not fail, so you keep your own vision and your life both bright and pure. Nay, rather shall that Vision grow more glorious, for is it not written, friend, that such as are pure in heart shall SEE GOD?