As I stated earlier, the environments in all spiritual regions are communal illusions but are perceived by the resident souls as real and enduring. The spiritual laws that govern the hells are the same as those that govern the environments in the Summerlands and the planes above. The difference is the type of spirit that inhabits these lower levels. Since these spirits have dark, narcissistic mindsets, they create dark and unhappy spiritual environments. While a home in one of the Summerlands may resemble a nicely kept house in a good neighborhood, a home in the corresponding Winterland might resemble a condemned crack house in a slum with holes in the walls, broken furniture, dirty mattresses on the floor and a massive bedbug, louse and cockroach infestation.
As human spirits sink to the lower regions of the Winterlands and into the hells, they begin to suffer the more dramatic effects of their base natures. The lowest of the Winterlands and the planes beneath them are dark, cold and uninviting, dank with the strong stench of rotting flesh. The deeper the plane, the darker, colder, more violent, sickening and unpleasant the environment. A general feeling of depression pervades the atmosphere. The colors in the upper hells are all somber shades of grays and browns, and in the lowest hells, complete darkness. There are no pleasant sounds as there are in the Summerlands. Just a constant cacophony of crying, moaning, screams and chaos. Objects here are terrifyingly dangerous and filthy.
In the darker spheres, objects and structures also begin as thought-forms created by the resident spirits which, as in the Summerlands, transforms itself into spiritual matter. But mean, humble and evil thoughts create mean, humble and evil objects. Any objects intended for personal comfort and enjoyment created by these spirits will be willfully destroyed by others of their ilk. Thus their environment always resembles a wasteland of jagged wreckage.
The spirits in the lower hells are evil and narcissistic vandals who are constantly assaulting each other. They sabotage each other’s efforts to find personal comfort. Instead of beautiful green lawns, vibrantly colored flowers and pleasant dwellings, the lower Winterlands are barren, rocky, cold and dark. Depending on the level to which the spirit has fallen, “residences” may be hovels or caves, or even stinking sewage filled swamps.
The synaesthesia which in the Summerlands transforms colorful and fragrant flowers into music creates something rather different in the hells. The cold, darkness and gloom generated by the mindset of the inhabitants produces an all-pervading stench of excrement, garbage and rotting flesh while an unpleasant din punctuated by sudden loud, terror laden screams make the environment even more frightening and unpleasant.
Emanuel Swedenborg wrote the following about the dark realms.
“Some hells present an appearance like the ruins of houses and cities after conflagrations, in which infernal spirits dwell and hide themselves. In the milder hells there is an appearance of rude huts, in some cases contiguous in the form of a city with lanes and streets, and within the houses are infernal spirits engaged in unceasing quarrels, enmities, fightings, and brutalities; while in the streets and lanes robberies and depredations are committed. In some of the hells there are nothing but brothels, disgusting to the sight and filled with every kind of filth and excrement.”
Neither Swedenborg, nor Stainton Moses (who lived in the nineteenth century) believed that there was any Satan or king of devils standing in opposition to God. They believed that there is only the narcissism of the spirits who have gravitated into these dark realms as a result of their own self-absorption and foul attitudes. For Swedenborg, there would be no room for a Satan, since there are always lots of evil minded spirits who would be happy to vie for the job! Swedenborg notwithstanding, most of the evidence today suggests that non-human demons and devils DO exist in the lower levels of the spiritual world. These are discussed in some depth in chapter 13.
The lowest planes are a little like “Super Max” prisons without the guards or the cells to separate the prisoners. Human spirits here visualize themselves with humanoid, if deformed bodies with the faces of demons and all the inherent human vulnerabilities. They are free to form gangs, to fight and to maim each other at will. They create unspeakable tortures for each other, and their environment may be worse than the deepest and foulest of sewers. They haunt these hells with terrible deformities; torn off limbs, broken necks, rotting flesh, ghastly wounds that never heal. Of course they cannot actually die of their injuries. And their injuries are really just figments of their febrile imaginations. This is, after all, a realm of imagination and illusion. But they are low souls and entirely narcissistic. Their injuries seem to them to be permanent, and they feel the pain, terror and unfeeling hatred that they inflict on each other.
They perceive themselves and their surroundings to be as real they were when on earth, and because these low spirits can never rise above their mournful circumstances until they are truly rehabilitated, they cannot commit their mayhem on the spirits that live within the planes of illusion or on any of the higher spiritual levels. Therefore, they remain confined on their level and commit their mayhem on each other like the sociopaths and criminals they were on earth. In this way, they create their own hells. The whole point of these lowly planes is to make the inmates finally realize the futility of all their negativity, and in doing so, some of them realize their errors and begin the slow rise into the higher levels by earnestly requesting help.