“The spheres are subdivided laterally to correspond broadly with the various nations of the earth, each subdivision being situated immediately over its kindred nation. When you consider the enormous variety of national temperament and characteristics distributed throughout the earth-plane, it is not surprising that the people of each nation should wish to gravitate to those of their own kind in the spirit world just as much as they wish to do when upon the earth-plane.”
Anthony Borgia, Life in the world unseen
The spirits on any given level of the lower Summerlands, as well as the Winterlands and the hells are of generally equal evolutionary qualities, but they divide themselves into spiritual groups, or as Emanuel Swedenborg called them, “Societies”, depending on their various beliefs and customs. The nature of the beliefs themselves appear to be based on lifelong prejudices and habits rather than any form of advanced thinking. The groups are the result of numerous “superficial” characteristics such as nationality, culture, and religion.
Aside form the usual social groupings like nationality and religion, there can exist “temporary” groups that are specific to a given time frame. As an earthly example, during the time of the emperor Justinian, nearly the entire upper social strata was divided into political groups based on their belief in the nature of Christ. Monophysitism is the doctrine that the son (Jesus Christ) had only a single “nature” which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human. Dyophysitism maintains that Christ was of two separate natures, one divine and one human. It often came to blows and even wars between these groups. These disputes affected political affiliations as well as personal relationships and marriages.
Swedenborg speaks of meeting an old friend confined to one such grouping in the Winterlands because of his hatred for people who didn’t believe one of the more silly doctrines of the eighteenth century. Of course, this spirit was perfectly happy within his spiritual home because it was full of his old friends who held the same hatreds. It is up to each spirit to free itself from the shackles of ignorance.
Leslie Stringfellow, a Texan born just after the civil war and who died at the age of nineteen had long conversations with his parents through a Ouija board. His story was well known at the time and even stirred the interest of Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books. Stringfellow’s story was recently resurrected in a 2005 book entitled The Afterlife of Leslie Stringfellow. He had this to say about these divisions within the astral realm:
“We should not expect the Eskimo’s afterworld to look like the Maori’s. The laws governing their worlds will be the same, but the appearances will vary. Nor should we expect Sunni and Shia Muslims to be living comfortably side by side in the same sector of the afterworld— or Han Chinese entrepreneurs and Tibetan peasants.”
This horizontal division is a form of separation that is not caused by unequal spiritual evolution, which is the quality which separates the “vertical” levels and planes. It can occur on any of the lower levels and results because of lingering earthly misconceptions, fears and prejudices. It is a product of the very human tendency for individuals to separate themselves into groups with familiar characteristics where kindred spirits feel safer.
The point of spiritual evolution within any of the planes is to evolve beyond personal prejudices while retaining all the spiritual truths that a soul may learn, both within the spirit realm, and while living in a physical body on the earth. One of the major lessons every spirit must learn is to evolve beyond the need to remain in these separate spiritual ghettos. There’s no hurry. They have all of eternity to evolve.