This section is from the book "A Book Written By The Spirits Of The So-Called Dead", by Carl Gustaf Helleberg. Also available from Amazon: A Book Written by the Spirits of the So-Called Dead.
"The original conception of a literal local heaven and hell was a feeble monstrosity and far exceeding the intuitions and anticipations of its originators, it has assumed huge and alarming proportions. Originally it was treated either as a human created joke, or as a wild vagary of the imagination, and in both cases without even the shadow of a foundation in fact. But as time moved along it began to grow seriously in the minds of the morbidly curious and credulously constituted, and it found many earnest advocates and believers, and they were not altogether limited to the ignorant. Had this been the case it would have been harmless and short-lived. The poet in depicting the career of vice aptly illustrates the history of this conception:
" Vice is a monster of such frightful mien, As to be dreaded needs to be seen. Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first pity, then endure, and then embrace.'"
" I unhappily lived in a day when it had been largely embraced. Had I lived in the day when it was conceived and promulgated, or approximately near it and been possessed of the physical, mental and spiritual organization with which I was favored in earth life, I would have undoubtedly earnestly combated it. But in my time it had grown into prominence and general acceptance among Christian sects, including the Lutheran, to which I adhered before my spiritual illumination ; and hence while my spiritual medium-istic unfoldment, mental adaptabilities and capabilities would not allow me to accept the literal teaching of purblind theology on the subject, I was disqualified from perceiving and promulgating the real truth. I endeavored, however, to do what the theologians have never attempted, namely, to assign reasons for the existence of heavens and hells in justification and defense of the Lord. The groundlessness of my philosophy and the impotency of my reasoning I was unable to understand until the lapse of years after my entrance into the spiritual world, and then only by slow and discreet degrees. Step by step only did I receive the influx of spiritual light and truth, opening my eyes to the truth and impressing my soul with the consciousness of the errors and falsities of my teachings when on the earth embodied.
" In the spiritual world we are not allowed to perceive truth except by degrees and interior growth, and only as we are enabled to outgrow and disown error. Our errors, whether of acts and deeds committed, duties omitted, or false theories, either taught or believed by us when in the form, follow us to the spiritual world and cling to us with a perfectly amazing and persistent tenacity, and this constitutes hell and it exists nowhere else."
" In my philosophy of correspondences there was much truth, with here and there a shade of error. It was argumentative, speculative, and characterized by analagous reasoning, but not sufficiently intuitive to reach the full height of spiritual induction. But whatever errors may have crept into this department of my writings, they have been comparatively harmless.
" What has given me the greatest annoyance since my departure from the flesh, or rather since I have better understood the subject; and what has given me the greatest anxiety to have eradicated from the minds of those who read me believingly, are my teachings on the subject of the hells in the spiritual world. I desire here to lay down a proposition I know to be true, whoever may state to the contrary, namely: No embodied spirit was ever enabled, no matter how highly developed the organism of the subject, to leave the body, go into the spiritual spheres, undergo experiences there, behold scenes, hold converse with their inhabitants, witness events and occurrences transpiring there, then return to the body, bring it back into normal action, and then correctly and in detail and in purity of narrative give to the world through the physical organism of the body, what it had seen, heard, and witnessed, during its temporary absence. If it were otherwise, and the spiritual world a real, fixed and objective reality, all who visited it in spirit during physical embodiment, would on returning and reanimating the body with the returning spiritual influx impart the same information and recite the same story. The directly opposite of this is true, and settles the question irrevocably in the negative as to the absolute reliability of knowledge imparted by spirits while inhabiting the natural body, although permitted by the operation of a certain law which is neither wholly spiritual nor physical, but a combination of both, to leave for a short period its tenement of flesh. Even then the spirit entire does not vacate the body, even for an instant of time, for if it did life in the body would become immediately extinct. However far the consciousness of the spirit may wander away from its home in the material house it must maintain an inseparable connection with it, at least by a portion of the magnetism of itself. Therefore during its visits away it is nevertheless all the while connected with the body, and hampered and fettered by it, and more or less governed by its laws and conditions. It can not, therefore, on returning, and it has never been wholly absent, give fully, purely, and correctly its spiritual observations and experiences.
" When I visited the spiritual world during ray embodied life I was governed by this same law and subjected to the same limitations, and hence what I related was not entitled to full credence and belief. So it has been in all cases of trance in the past, and will continue to be in the future for ages yet to come. In my next I shall speak of some instances illustrative of this truth."
"As illustrative of the proposition submitted in my last I will only mention a few among numerous instances.
" The book of Revelations states that John visited the Isle of Patmos on the Lord's day, and was then and there in the spirit. (I should have used the expression i entranced' or ' trance state,' or that 'the Lord permitted me to see.') While thus in the spirit or trance state he was taken to the heavens. After resuming his normal condition in the body he essays to write out what he thinks he saw, or so much of it as he is enabled to retain in memory, and call up after again fully controlling the physical body. He says that he saw beasts worshiping around the throne of God, and that he saw a beast rise out of the sea with seven heads and ten horns; that a book written in heaven was handed him with the command that he eat it, which he assures us he did, etc Does any one believe that these were veritable occurrences, ' that there were beasts in heaven full of heavenly love, evinced in .worshiping before the throne, and that books were written in heaven for men to eat? The Koran of Mahomet is an improvement on this, for it was not eaten, but preserved for use.
" Now, I want to say to the world, especially the New Church people, that my visions of the hells had no more foundation in fact than John's beasts, dragons and golden candlesticks. The difference between John and myself, that is, the important difference, consisted in the fact that John's symbolic visions were explained to be unrealities, while I was left to believe mine to be absolute verities. In fact one was as unreal as the other, and only forcibly illustrates the unreliability of this mode of deriving true and genuine spiritual knowledge.
" Your own Andrew Jackson Davis is another instance corroborative of my proposition. He avers that he has been, not' in the spirit,' like John, nor ' in the trance state,' like myself, but, in more aesthetic phraseology, ' in the superior state.' They all practically mean the same thing. Davis says he located while in the i superior state' the spirit world proper, and found it to be in or beyond the ' milky way,' thus inflicting a cruel blow upon the science of astronomy. Astronomy teaches, and correctly, too, as every well informed spirit knows, that the 1 milky way' is a vast assemblage or constellation of suns, worlds and systems of solar worlds, and yet Mr. Davis was honest.
"Judge John Worth Edmonds, in his earlier me-diumship and spiritualistic experiences, visited the other world in spirit, and his description of the hells recorded in his work entitled 'Spiritualism,' was somewhat analagous to mine, and very much in harmony with it. His temperament, mental methods and spiritual development were not very dissimilar to mine, and he had been previously as thoroughly grounded in Calvinism as I had been in Lutheranism. So it was but natural that we should see and interpret much alike. Yet in final conclusions we were in absolute antagonism, differing fully as widely as the poles, or separated in distance by terrestrial measurement.
" Truth can not dissemble nor assume deceptive garbs, and all seeing the same things differently, proves that neither could be relied upon, for if they had been true and genuine verities, all would have seen and reported them alike."