This is Part 2 of a 3-part series of articles by longtime Edgar Cayce researcher and an A.R.E. Board member, Harvey A. Green, on the afterlife realms as revealed by Edgar Cayce. Harvey Green has written several books including: (1) Life and Death: The Pilgrimage of the Soul, (2) Voyage through Eternity, and (3) Letters to His Beloved. The following is an excerpt of his book, Life and Death: The Pilgrimage of the Soul which is his analysis of what happens after death using the important metaphysical knowledge of Cayce and others.
Table of Contents
- The first soul region
- The second soul region
- The third soul region
- The fourth soul region
- The fifth soul region
- The sixth soul region
- The seventh soul region
- From the soul land to the spirit land
1. The first soul region
As we move further from the review process, we become more fixed in the mental realms. We leave the mental-material overlap and move more into that part of the mental which we will call the First Region of reality after death. Rudolf Steiner, in his book Theosophy, discussed at great lengths successive realms he called the First Region, Second Region, and so forth. Now, we are fully invested in reality beyond physical materiality, and those periods of rest in which we approximate sleep are behind us. We will, from here and throughout the spiritual realms, now experience ceaseless activity, since life, like the spirit which it animates, is continuous. This region is ruled by those things which comprise such emotions as our urges, passions, sensual love, and all that is connected with them. Here in the First Region we begin to deal with our unfinished emotional business left over from our past incarnation. Those who lived by and were ruled mostly by their emotions will have more difficulty in this realm than those who were not. Those who are still fixated on Earthly desires will feel an expansion of those yearnings and will suffer by virtue of the inability to satisfy them directly. In any event, the souls will not move on until all of their material fixations are laid aside. Some of the desires, Steiner notes, will be purged permanently and others will be left aside in “safe keeping” to be dealt with at a more appropriate time.
This laying aside is a concept which may be alien to some because we think of spiritual progression as an overcoming rather than a continuous experience. In the First Region, as in others, we deal with those parts of ourselves which are ruled by forces which emanate throughout that realm. We are not required to deal successfully with all of those things; we will pass this way more than once, so we can set aside those things that can better be dealt with some other time and return later to deal with it. We may not pass from the First Region carrying our emotional ties to materiality; so we will deal with what we can and move on. We cannot choose to set aside that which we are able to successfully deal with simply because the challenges are difficult; our soul forces united with this region will not permit us to delude ourselves in such a way. Here in the First Region we live in communities with those with whom we share a like sympathy.
Helen Greaves, Ruth Montgomery, Edgar Cayce, Rudolf Steiner, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Ruth Matteson Taylor all discuss these groups, communities, or societies at length. We share relationships with souls with whom we have done so throughout our travels through reality. There are those in every realm who are part of our soul group, those with whom we have shared experiences, and those who will remain our soul family throughout our experiences.
Our communities in the First Region appear to us much the same as they did in the Earth realm. But they appear slightly different to each inhabitant. As we grow in a region, its appearance changes, but this is so gradual it goes largely unnoticed. All experiences are for learning; here we deal largely with our choices in our most recent Earth incarnation. We do not merely deal with observation but we actually inhabit the experience in all of its potential. This may be difficult to understand, so let us again explain by illustration. In the Earth realm we may have had an experience of helping another to grow. This choice may have caused us difficulty to a varying degree and may have opened the door to countless choices along our journey. The experience could have been complicated and spread over a long period of time. In the First Region we may experience the glory of growing fields of magnificently beautiful flowers. Such flowers would not only be attractive in appearance but beautiful beyond explanation to our soul. We may experience the radiance, the peace, the glorious symphony of creation at play in the fields and then we may find ourselves the keeper of those fields. The flowers, whose beauty we now experience on every level, find their growth and nourishment at our hand. We are the gardeners of the fields, the symphonic conductors of beauty; we share an exclusive relationship with what they represent. Likewise, we deal with our not so glorious choices by having the opportunity to be changed by their true essence.
For those who chose to experience materiality more passively, the First Region is more difficult than for those who made inappropriate choices. As much can be learned from unsuitable choices as from correct ones; but nothing can be learned from making no choice. If we lived a life of indifference in the Earth realm, Steiner notes that in the First Region we experience a helpless and useless state of being where we cannot participate in life around us. We have a burning desire to associate, to experience, but we are not guided by impelling forces that draw us into such experiences. We experience our own indifference and then see the possibilities all around us from which we may make choices. The desire to participate in any of our possible choices wells up inside of us because we see the full potential of those options never taken. We may not see the earthly potential of the choices not made, instead we see the emotional, mental, and spiritual possibilities. For a while, or what may seem like a thousand years, we find our experience very difficult. Then finally, when we have fully experienced our indifference, we begin to set it aside to be combated after we have gained more protective light for the task.
As we deal with our earthly experiences, good and bad, unfolding in their full potential, we glean the best and overcome or set aside the worst. All with whom we associate help us in our relationships to reality. We meet those with whom we feel close and others with whom we feel distant. Our clarity of vision and our relationships are in proportion to our affection; we have only the most limited use of the laws of cause and effect at this time. Life here is accented by the fact that we cannot change one aspect of our relationships with others. The lack of the full force of cause and effect seems so natural that we do not question it or even lament its absence. As in the Earth realm, we are surrounded by angels and other spirits. But their presence is somewhat more discernible to the senses in this dimension. Swedenborg and Steiner agree that as we rise into finer dimensions, those permeating from yet higher dimensions are more apparent to us. We all work together to experience the spiritual potential of our activities and are protected, guided, and healed by the angels of mercy.
From the First Region we take trips, as described by Helen Greaves, into higher dimensions and return again to use those experiences in our communities. This is not so unusual when one realizes that the same things are experienced in our sleep state in the Earth realm. Frequently we move out of our earthly bodies in sleep and travel to spiritual realms. This is accomplished under the guidance and protection of souls and spirits who have taken this as their ministry. The only difference is that after death, we do not sleep and we vividly recall the experience of having traveled to another dimension. Greaves notes that, when appropriate, those who minister to us always come to us; they change their own vibrations to be sympathetic with the realm to which we are to travel. Like two tuning forks, we are drawn to their resonance and eventually vibrate at the same rate. This process transports us to that realm with which we have been helped to develop a sympathy, where we are ultimately instructed and refreshed. When our experience is complete, we return to the First Region where we once again resonate to this dimension. Such a form of travel is not limited to the First Region and, in fact, exists in almost all dimensions of reality. It may seem hard to conceive of, but before we leave we expand to fill out all of the First Region. Each individual in the region occupies the same time and space but interacts only in accord to those with whom each has had a relationship.
2. The second soul region
Passing on from one region to another is not as traumatic as the exit from the physical Earth. It is not as outwardly abrupt nor are we as likely to become as fixed in these regions as we did in materiality. When our experiences in the First Region are complete we leave behind those karmic memories we will again reclaim and move to the Second Region. Here we now find ourselves in a balanced state of sympathy and antipathy. In such a balanced state we no longer are gripped by regrets of unfulfilled potential and are much more objective in our experiences. Here in the Second Region we are also divided into communities but are as unaware of those outside of our community as we were in the First Region. Swedenborg mentioned that those who led indifferent lives in the Earth are still relatively isolated from others; but their need for being part of the soul family is no longer as burning as it may have been in the First Region, nor does it last as long. Here, in this region, sympathy and antipathy are general laws and do not attach themselves to things as they do in the Earth, the lower realms, or the First Region. Because of this, emotions triggered by situations and things pass very quickly. We have now begun to move away from the relationship of experiences and the emotions they arouse, and likewise we have begun to deal with creation in a more balanced fashion. Here in the Second Region we begin to appear much younger if we lived past middle age in the Earth. This is not a physical youth but an internal youth. If we were to appear to others in materiality at this time we would project that image we had at the height of our physical vitality. The further we move through the regions outward from materiality, the younger and more vital we appear internally. We are illumined by those great ministers of mercy, and we receive life, light, and wisdom through this irradiation. In this region we are much more aware than ever before of those influences which work upon us; life becomes much more instructive for us. We still deal largely with our Earth choices and potentials, but because sympathy and antipathy are in balance, we do so much more objectively.
Rudolf Steiner noted that in the Second Region we interact more with spirits, souls, and angels from higher realms, and our travels to other dimensions continue at the same rate as they did in the First Region. Like before, our travels are to give us that which we need to better grow in the Second Region as we continue to work with the elevation and true nature of our lives just lived in the Earth. We feel just as close to those in our communities as we did in the First Region and we find that we possess a striking familiarity with all of those we contact.
All activity in the Second Region is mental and we are present by force of our mental energy. We can easily find ourselves anywhere we wish just by thought and can even be in more than one place at a time. Omnipresence is a concept we find difficult to relate to in materiality, but it is far more natural a state in other regions. We have shadows of omnipresence in the Earth, where we can be several places by force of our influence. We are aware of how mechanical communication devices can lend an aura of omnipresence to our being in the Earth, but these are only the poorest reflections of the true omnipresence which is a normal attribute in other regions ruled by mental or spiritual energy. Helen Greaves wrote that in the Second Region we have just to think of something and it is reality. However, we cannot change things as they exist; we can only experience them. Essentially reality works on us rather than us on it, and although we can move into any or all aspects of reality, we cannot in any way modify what we experience.
The pattern is the same; as we grow in experience, we expand to fill more and more of the region we occupy, until we embody it all. Nonetheless, we do not crowd out the countless others who occupy the same time and space as we do, for we have left time and space far behind us in the Earth.
When leaving the Second Region we leave behind those illusions created by our mental activities in the Earth. But by contrast with the First Region, we do not return to pick up anything left behind in this realm. Anything of a karmic nature is left in the First Region, and all that we shed thereafter is totally discarded.
3. The third soul region
The Third Region is that from which our desires emanated and one in which Rudolf Steiner notes we experience all of our earthly wishes. This includes our ambitions, our yearnings, our hopes, and all else connected with them. Here in this realm we work with the unfoldment of all we had aspired to in the Earth and see these aspirations blossom in their full purity. We are relatively unaffected emotionally, because we have left such a capacity behind in the First Region. We experience not what we had aspired to, but rather the combination of our earthly motivation and our expectation, raised to their ultimate expression.
Those who were particularly religious in the Earth spend the longest time or experience more in the Third Region than others, as also do those with very strong faith. Those whose lives were more mental in their attitudes spend far less time in this region than those who were not. As in other realms, we live in community in the Third Region and work together as well as with the angelic kingdom as described by Emanuel Swedenborg. Also, we cannot change what we experience in the Third Region. We travel out of this region from time to time as in the others which preceded it. There are striking similarities between the First, Second, and Third Regions. One deals with the mental, another the emotional, and another with the aspirations.
4. The fourth soul region
The Fourth Region is the region of attraction and repulsion. When passing through this region we have the opportunity to deal with our earthly likes, dislikes, and our attachment to them. Steiner notes that here, in the Fourth Region, growing souls complete purging themselves of remaining earthly attachments before moving on. Community is especially important because of the help and support it can give in the overcoming of those last great material weights we still carry. Because we are digging deep into our consciousness, this process can make for a difficult journey. Both the angels of grace and mercy are present in abundance to protect us from being overcome by more than we can deal with.
As in other realms we are not resident but transient in the Fourth Region, and we also take leave of this region occasionally to visit others. We never travel alone but are guided and helped by spirit guides in our journeys. When visiting another realm we take on the form of that realm, or we could not exist fully within it.
As an example, if we were to visit the physical Earth we would probably go as far as what we earlier called the outer fringes of the borderland. Here we would take on the form we had just after leaving material life, only it would be modified by our interior changes which have since taken place. We would probably look younger, healthier, more vibrant, and remarkably like we would have looked under such conditions in a physical body. Our exteriors would be comprised of finer matter which we have conformed to our interior reflection. One of the functions of our guardian would be to adjust our vibratory patterns so that we could attract and take on the matter of the borderland. The adjustment would come about your guardian’s establishing and drawing us into a sympathetic resonance to this region as described by Helen Greaves in her work. The same process holds true when we visit any realm in which we are not currently anchored.
As in the Second and Third Realms, we discard what we leave behind in the Fourth Region without returning to reclaim any of it. It cannot be repeated frequently enough that our transition from one level of reality to another is gradual and without the trauma we may have suffered in leaving the Earth. The reason separation from the Earth is so traumatic is because of our fixation resulting from such an extremely narrow focus.
5. The fifth soul region
In the Fifth Region we find that our sympathy with our community and all of those who inhabit it reaches its highest point. Here, Steiner notes, one grows from a stage similar to attachment to earthly things for their sensory values to attachment to them because they are representative here of God and life in higher realms. We work largely on our sympathy here, so that before we leave it will resonate to all here that is representative of what is holy. From the Fifth Region we begin to perceive life being resonated and held together by the harmonies which the Pythagoreans called the Music of the Spheres. This becomes the first region since leaving the material Earth where we begin to appreciate the creative force of harmonies. At first we are overwhelmed by the magnificence of the harmonies, the awesomeness of the “music“; then when we gradually overcome our initial wonder, we begin to work with the harmonies. As part of our learning process we witness symphonies of life unlike anything we could ever have imagined. With the help of our more experienced fellow souls as well as the ministers of grace, we mix with the harmonies; we vibrate to their resonance and become almost as one with them.
We are not allowed to go too deeply into mixing with the “music” because we are not yet ready to do so. If we were not kept toward the outer edges of the harmonies, we would risk becoming spiritually paralyzed and being permanently lost at this stage of our growth. All reality is the result of the combined activity of seemingly countless sources, acting together, transforming spirit to give it form. In this way manifest spirit can be said to have compound form, which we do not even begin to understand until we blend with the musical harmonies where we find the combined creative process, or compounding, in a much more primal state of existence. Subsequently, the benefit gained from our experience with the harmonies is that we learn through experience more of how compound reality is manifest. The experience in this region is to move ever closer to our awareness of oneness with our surroundings and to renew this attribute within ourselves. As in the other regions discussed, we cannot cause anything to happen to ourselves or our surroundings. We are changed as is our relationship with our surroundings by being acted upon by the realm and all whom we encounter there.
6. The sixth soul region
In the Sixth Region we find those impulses which move us into material action. Void of those things which were acquired in and tied us to the Earth, we are able to use this impulse in truly creative fashion. Steiner observed that former artists, musicians, poets, and scientists are especially at home in the Sixth Region where they learn how to move their creative focus from materiality to spirituality. In the Sixth Region we are active, but active only with experience. Our experience is transforming but has no external effect. Consequently, we still cannot change anything we find about us, because we left cause and effect a long, long way behind. From here on we are less likely to visit lower regions or the physical Earth. In the Sixth Region we have now moved so far from physical manifestation that we have little interest in the affairs of the Earth. We have learned by experience in all of the realms since leaving the Earth, but here is where we learn of the blessings of continuous activity for God’s sake.
7. The seventh soul region
In the Seventh Region where we complete the first stage of growth after a material life lived in the Earth, we finally become free of all earthly impulses. Here we find ourselves in a community with all of those who are on the same level as ourselves. We find ourselves in surroundings which are entirely of our own true nature. There are no emblems of materiality here nor are there any resemblances between the forces we encounter and materiality. Here in this final level of growth in this first series of regions, we no longer have any desire to visit the Earth nor any preceding realm through which we have traveled. When we first arrived in the Seventh Region we were certain that we had reached our eternal home. So in tune were we with it that there was not even a hint of internal conflict. We could not conceive of any higher order of life than here, from where we were certain the Music of the Spheres originated. Gradually we learn that there are higher realms of life, and we are in yet another stage of growth.
After the Seventh Region we will reverse the flow to which we have grown accustomed. Instead of releasing, we will begin acquiring. In the first six regions we had to release our fixations to become refreshed and allow for the influx of spiritual gifts. Now, as Swedenborg observed, we will experience influx continually.
Here in the Seventh Region we are prepared for such a condition by the harmonies and every energy which embraces us. We are modified so that we may again receive internal energies more continually. We no longer live in the result of our earthly activities. We live in a region made up of that which is sympathetic to our soul essence.
8. From the soul land to the spirit land
When we have been sufficiently prepared, we leave the entire set of regions in which we released our earthly ties. Rudolf Steiner called the first group of seven regions the Soul Land and the next seven regions the Spirit Land. The next seven regions are made up of the same substance of which thought consists. This is not thought as we had in the material body but a truer, unadulterated, and primal thought. In the Spirit Land there is ceaseless creating which takes place. Rest, immobility, and stillness do not exist in these regions, nor are they necessary. In these regions are found the archetypes which are creative beings and the builders of all that comes into being in the material and soul realms. They draw upon spirit from yet higher realms and transform it into a seemingly endless variety of forms which take shape in other realms. Shapes of infinite variety flow from the archetypes and no sooner does one end than a completely different one begins. The archetypes work together in unison and share a very close relationship. They cannot operate alone and even though each appears to be creating separately, the archetypes are totally dependent one on the other.
Steiner wrote that each archetype is visible to the senses of the realm in which it resides and it emits a sound as it creates. The sound of each archetype mixes with the sounds of the others, as they interact, expressing themselves in a variety of harmonies and spiritual music. The melodies and rhythms which result are not only the byproduct of creation but they are creative in themselves. All that is seen here can be heard as well. The lights and colors correspond to the harmonies and melodies which likewise correspond to the creative process. All is creative, all is in motion, visible, audible, and all can be perceived by the senses of that realm. The Spirit Land is one of brilliant lights, colors, harmonies, and melodies, all in concert with one another.
As we enter the regions of the Spirit Land we lose ourselves in the life of these realms. We lose our sense of personal identity, but not our individuality, and take on the characteristics of each of the Spirit Regions we pass through. Our being is permeated with the life in each sphere, and we will use as faculties in our next earthly incarnation what we experience here. Unlike the regions of the Soul Land, here we do not work on or even experience ourselves. We are however worked on by the forces of each region, and we experience the essence of each dimension in which we find ourselves.