Before proceeding to a consideration of the experiences of the newly awakened disembodied soul, we ask you to take a brief glimpse at what may be called “geography” of the Astral Plane, that great scene or plane of the activities of the disembodied souls of the race; this is the logical path of approach to the subject. For, before we are asked to consider the inhabitants of a new country, we are generally made acquainted with the country itself, its hills and valleys, its rivers and plains, its highlands and lowlands. And, using the same figure of speech, let us now take a little lesson in the geography of the Astral Plane, the place of abode of the disembodied souls.
But, first let us again remind you that the Astral Plane is not a country—is not a place at all—in the usual sense. Its dimensions are not those of space, but of vibration. In a way it may be said that the dimensions of the Astral Plane are the dimensions of Time, for vibrations can be measured only by their rate of motion, and that rate is determined only in terms of Time. The same is true of all vibrations whether of Astral energy or the lower forms of energy. The vibrations of light are measured in terms of Time, that is to say so many vibrations to the second, and so on. The higher the rate of vibration, the greater the rate of speed
The Life Beyond Death
manifested in the vibration. The ancient occultists were fond of stating the truth regarding the highest forms of vibration, by saying that there a rate of vibration so infinitely rapid that it seems to be absolutely still and motionless. From this extreme, we descend by degrees until the very grossest forms of matter are reached, and there we find a rate of vibration so slow that it likewise seems motionless.
The substance of the Astral Plane is, of course, very much finer than that of the material plane—its vibrations very much higher than the finest form of material substance. But there is the widest range between the vibrations of the lowest planes and those of the higher ones. In fact, the difference between the lowest plane of the Astral, and the highest of the material plane, is less than the difference between the lowest and highest of the Astral itself. So that between these two extremes of Astral vibrations, we have the same great territory that we would have on the material plane, with this difference, however, that the material territory is measured by space dimensions, while that of the Astral is to be measured only in terms of vibration, or time, and not of space.
For instance, when one travels on the material plane, he must traverse space—feet, yards, or miles. But, on the Astral Plane, when one travels he traverses rates of vibrations—that is to say, he passes from a high rate of vibration to a lower, or vice versa. And these various planes or sub-planes of vibratory energy constitute the geographical features of the Astral Plane. There are countless planes and sub-planes, or “regions” of the Astral Plane, which may be traveled, but all Astral travel is performed simply by passing from one degree of vibration to another. Using a crude example, we may say that it is somewhat akin to passing from the state of ice to that of water, and then of steam. Or, again, it may be thought of as passing from ordinary atmospheric air, to liquid air, and then to solid air (the latter is theoretically possible, although science has not yet been able to solidify air. These illustrations are of course very crude, but
Astral Plane Geography
they may help you to understand the geography of the Astral Plane a little better.
Henceforth, we shall speak of travel on the Astral Plane— that is travel between the different planes and sub-planes of the Astral—as if it were on the material plane. That is to say, instead of saying that the soul passes from one state of vibration to another, we shall speak of it as proceeding from one subplane or plane to another, in the same terms that we would employ in describing a journey on the material plane. This will simplify matters for us, and will obviate a needless repetition of the statement regarding vibrational conditions or states. With this understanding, we shall now proceed.
There are many states or conditions of existence on the Astral Plane, which are spoken of as planes and sub-planes. These planes and sub-planes are inhabited by souls fitted to dwell upon the particular series of planes or sub-planes upon which they awaken from the soul-slumber. Subtle principles of soul attraction draw each soul to the particular place for which it is fitted. The great law of attraction operates unerringly here. There is no chance or haphazard about the mechanism of the law of attraction. The law operates with absolute precision and uniformity—it makes no mistakes.
Each soul is restricted in its range by its own inherent limitations and degrees of development. There is no need of Astral policemen to keep the disembodied souls in their rightful places. It is impossible for the disembodied soul to travel into planes above its own immediate series. The law of vibration prevents this. But, on the contrary, each and every soul may, if it so chooses, freely visit the planes and sub-planes beneath its own series, and freely witness the scenery and phenomena of those lower planes and mingle with the inhabitants thereof. (This entirely apart from the high form of telepathic communication which prevails between disembodied souls on the Astral Plane.) This is a very wise provision of the Law, for were it otherwise the higher planes would be open to the
The Life Beyond Death
influence of those dwelling on the lower, and the soul-life and development would be interrupted, just as a class-room in a school of philosophy might be interrupted by a gang of hoodlums from the slums of a large city. (For, remember, the Astral Plane has its slums and hoodlums, as well as the material plane.)
In a previous work we gave a somewhat crude, but nevertheless a very striking illustration of this matter of the intercommunication between the various planes and subplanes of the Astral Plane, which we herewith reproduce, as follows: “It is absolutely impossible for a soul to go beyond the plane to which it belongs, although those on the upper planes may freely revisit the lower planes, this being the rule of the Astral Plane—not an arbitrary law, but a law of nature. If the student will pardon the commonplace comparison, he may get an understanding of it by imagining a large screen, or series of screens, such as are used for sorting coal into sizes. The large coal is caught by the first screen, the next size by the second, and so on until the tiny coal is reached. Now, the large coal cannot get into the receptacle of the smaller sizes, but the small sizes may easily passthrough the screen and join the large sizes, if force be imparted to them. Just so on the Astral Plane, the soul with the greatest amount of materiality, and coarsest nature, is stopped by the screen of a certain grade or plane, and cannot pass on to the higher ones; while one which has passed on to the higher planes, having cast off more confining sheaths, can easily pass backward and forward among the lower planes, if it so desires. In fact, souls often do so, for the purpose of visiting friends on the lower planes, and giving them enjoyment and comfort, and, in case of a highly developed soul, much spiritual help may be given in this way, by means of advice and instruction, when the soul on the lower plane is ready to receive it.”
In the passage alluded to above, there is the following additional words, which also should be repeated here, for it concerns the geography of the Astral Plane. We allude to the
Astral Plane Geography
following: “The one exception to the rule of free passage to the planes below that of the particular soul, is the one which prevents the lower-plane souls from entering the ‘plane of the sleepers,’ which plane may not be entered by souls which have awakened on a low plane, but which may be freely entered by those pure and exalted souls who have attained a high place. The plane of soul-slumber is sacred to those occupying it, and those higher souls just mentioned, and it is in fact rather of the nature of a distinct and separate state than one of the great series of planes and subplanes.”
There are as many different kind of regions on the Astral Plane as there are on the material plane, and each plane is inhabited by exactly the class of souls which it might be expected to attract. There are to be found the abodes of degraded souls, so steeped in materiality and animality, that they would be veritable hell to a soul of higher attainment. It may well be imagined that the soul of higher impulses has no desire to travel into these depths of the Astral, unless, indeed it be some very highly developed soul which is willing to “descend into hell” in order to minister to the needs of some lower soul which is striving to emerge from the slough of despond into which its earth life has thrown it. Such ministering spirits do exist, and perform this work for their lower brothers and sisters. But, as a rule, the disembodied souls prefers to work out its own evolution on its own plane, that it may ascend to the higher grades of spiritual opportunity in its next incarnation, and that it may acquire spiritual knowledge during its sojourn on its particular plane of the Astral.