The presence of the hells is the most contentious subject in psychic research. Some psychics simply don’t find any evidence for them at all. Others do. I have concluded that the hells exist primarily because of the voluminous evidence for demonic entities and evil human spirits found in the narratives of exorcisms and violent hauntings. Everyone on earth has to live with both good and evil in order to learn our earthly lessons, but the reason that Heaven exists at all is to allow souls to advance toward their union with God. That means advancing from the darkness to the light. Therefore, Heaven is structured like a school with various “grades”, and it would make no sense for God to allow violent beings like demons and the souls of evil people to disrupt the advanced classes.
The hells are only for the most egregious criminals, the ones who commit atrocities and die unrepentant; those who, if released from prison would simply continue their career unabated. “Ordinary” criminals generally end up in one of the winterlands where they still have access to at least some of the better natured spirits in the summerlands, and will have a less arduous clime if they want to evolve to higher levels. It is only their ignorance that holds them back.
While most psychics freely contact spirits whose abode is in the summerlands and the upper winterlands, only Satanists, those engaged in the “dark arts” and amateur witches trying to cast spells intentionally communicate directly with a spirit actually living in Hell. In order to “make contact” with a demon or an evil human spirit whose home is in one of the hells, you have to wait until that spirit comes to the transitional plane (also known as the earth plane) and takes up residence as a spirit within our material world.
This brings up the question of whether the transitional plane is really just the “surface layer” of the hells, or whether it is a unique plane entirely independent of the hells. To tell the truth, I really don’t know, and in fact, it hardly matters! Whether these increasingly negative lower layers are separate layers distinct from the transitional plane or if the transitional plane is simply the “top layer” of the Hellish conditions below, is merely a mater of semantics. That the hells exist is not a matter up for debate.
People who have lived exceptionally evil and wonton lives generally gravitate to levels below the Winterlands where conditions are dark and where they will find neighbors as vicious as they are. They do this because their evil natures “weigh them down” and they simply sink into these regions due to the law of spiritual gravity.
These lower planes are what we think of as “Hell”, although they are not filled with fire and brimstone as described by medieval Catholicism. They are really levels of cold and darkness, each level a bit darker, a bit colder and further from the light of God. Here, evil souls must face others of their ilk. The suffering in these regions is not meted out by demons and devils, but by the mental state of the soul itself, or by other inmates. These realms are like prisons, but without the cells or prison guards. In the upper levels, souls must confront their own evil, as if it was constantly reflected back at them by a mirror from which they can never remove their gaze. Life in the lowest levels is like living in a stinking sewer while participating in a never ending prison riot with prisoners meting out horrible punishments on each other to avenge a never ending supply of slights and insults..
Most of us would like to believe that the souls confined here are evil and are just getting what they deserve, however, neither the Winterlands nor the planes below are actually intended to be places of punishment. Don’t get me wrong! The inmates confined in the hells will suffer horribly for what may feel to them like eons. Nevertheless, they are there to learn their lessons and eventually come to understand that their negativity doesn’t pay. Ultimately, it is their negativity that keeps them anchored in their hells. Even the hells are there for the eventual evolution of souls.
When a soul finds itself in dark conditions after its earth life, it is not exclusively due to its evil acts. It is because of its poor internal character! If a living person commits an evil act at one point in his or her life but later learns from the error, the act itself becomes insignificant. If the person’s character is truly reformed during his or her lifetime, then the spirit can continue its spiritual development after death as if the act never happened. On the other hand, if that person does not acknowledge his or her evil act and learns nothing from the experience, then the evil act becomes a significant negative event in its postmortem existence leading to a darker outcome after the soul crosses over.
Emanuel Swedenborg makes a distinction between internal character and external character. A person may lead what appears to be an outwardly virtuous life while internally harboring evil thoughts and secretly engaging in evil behaviors. His or her external appearance and behavior belies the true nature of the soul. After death, it is this “internal character” which determines the spiritual buoyancy of the soul, and thus the position within the spiritual realm where that soul initially lands.
The dark spheres are meant to be places of rehabilitation. Remember from our discussion of theodicy in Chapter 3 that after we die, we need to leave the world of matter behind. The realm a soul enters when it abandons its physical body is tailor-made to allow that spirit to gradually shed its narcissism and its addictions to matter. Even here, a soul retains it free will and can make independent decisions about its behavior and beliefs.
The hells are simply dark and desolate earthlike environments where the spirit must confront its hollowness by experiencing its own reflection in other spirits of similar nature. There is no “payback” in heaven. The point of the dark planes is to force the soul to see itself for what it is and thus to reform its overall character so that it can earn a place in a realm of brightness.
Consider the terms “penitentiary and “reformatory”. These were the names given to prisons during the great liberal reforms of the late nineteenth century. Instead of just punishing the criminal, the reformers wanted to provide an environment that would encourage the prisoner to redirect his character and nudge him toward becoming an upstanding citizen. Regardless of their success in achieving those ends, the general idea was to force the prisoner to confront his own evil and make the proper changes in his character. It may not have worked out quite the way that the reformers envisioned, but “their hearts were in the right place”.
Today, a vast majority of people see prisons merely as places of punishment, or warehouses for toxic people, but a fair number of the prisoners actually do reform. This is the result that the nineteenth century liberal reformers had in mind for all “sinners”, but, of course, some criminals require more time than their lifetimes allow.
The hells are just very long-term “correctional facilities” in which even the worst inmates have ample time to gain understanding and reform themselves. God does not punish anyone! He simply gives them opportunities to evolve. Their punishments and rewards lie deep within their own souls. Over the eons, even the worst criminals get tired of their isolation and the consequences of their negativity. Sooner or later they begin to long for something better. That’s when they begin the long climb up the spiritual ladder.
For reasons of their own they chose a dark path, but they are still God’s children. The hells are really just extremely “tough love”. These souls have free will and all of eternity to learn to apply it. Even if it takes eons, most of them will eventually learn their lessons and begin their very long climb toward the consciousness of God.
“Every soul who dwells in these dreadful dark realms has the power within himself to rise up out of the foulness into the light. He must make the individual effort himself, he must work out his own redemption…But the golden opportunity of spiritual reclamation is ready and waiting. He has but to show an earnest desire to move himself one fraction of an inch towards the realms of light that are above him, and he will find a host of unknown friends who will help him towards that heritage which is his due, but which in his folly he cast aside.”
Anthony Borgia: Life in the world unseen