This series of articles explores the classic (1896) book, Wanderer in the Spirit Lands, about a self-absorbed man who dies and awakens, stuck, in a dark and seedy spirit world before finding his way painfully to the light. The regular text is a chapter-by-chapter summary, and the italicized text is my observations, based on what I’ve learned about the afterlife over the years, especially through ITC research.
Ch1. Charming Franchezzo lives for self-gratification, seeks admiration and praise, and shares passion with many “lovers” but withholds selfless love until he meets his “Angel,” the love of his life, a beautiful young woman… and for the first time he thinks of someone else more than himself, but he’s torn. He craves her presence but fears spoiling her purity, innocence, and truth. He wants to flee in order to save her from disgrace, but he’s drawn to her like a magnet. After a taste of true love (for him) and of ecstasy (for her), he suddenly falls gravely ill, goes into an agonizing sleep, and awakens in a void. There’s no pain, nor is there any light or sound. He gropes in vain for a door or another person. He can’t even hear his own cries of desperation as he feels shrunken, deformed. Then he sees a distant point of light approaching, growing… until he sees his lady love in the light, grieving. He’s unable to approach the light, and he not only realizes he’s dead… but senses he’s become a withered, grotesque version of himself.
Ch2. Frachezzo is a stunned agnostic who’s rejected religion because of the pomposity and hypocrisy of many of its leaders. He gazes on his grave and his decaying, lifeless carnal body underground, to which he’s attached by a tight, dark, elastic thread because he loved his body more than his spirit during lifetime. He sees his lady love come to grieve by his graveside, but he can’t get her attention nor follow her when she leaves. He can now see his own living spirit body, vile and deformed from a lifetime of neglect, and he falls asleep in horror. He awakens when she returns but shrinks away, afraid to be seen by her. He’s aware of days passing by in hopeless despair… then he begins to realize that life is eternal, and he feels himself growing slowly stronger, clearer.
Ch3. Franchezzo can feel his lady love yearning, and his thread becomes softer, letting him move slowly from his gravesite to her peaceful room that had been such a happy, familiar place while he was alive. She sits at her desk with pen in hand, begging for his return. She’s surrounded by three radiant spirits almost too bright to look at, who are helping her try her hand at automatic writing. One is a tall man, a guardian of sorts, and the other two are her brothers who’d died at a young age. He shrinks away, wondering if there is any hope for him. The guardian asks him if he has any remorse for the pain he caused others or if he’s only sorry for his own suffering. He realizes that in life, as now, he only lived and longed and was never really sorry for anyone else’s plight. He’s allowed to convey a short message to the young lady, who writes in a dreamy state, “Are you here, dearest friend?” He replies, “Yes,” and the bright spirit guardian moves the woman’s hand to write, “Yes.” She awakens ecstatic. Later her brothers warn Franchezzo that his presence in her life could drag her bright spiritual destiny down into his darkness, so he reluctantly agrees to tell her his shameful story then say good-bye. After the guardian narrates the sordid tale of his life and his fall to darkness, and the woman gets it all on paper, she’s heartbroken and exhausted, but she refuses to say good-bye and insists she be allowed to help him find the light. Her wish is granted, she begins to consult professional mediums, and his redemption begins.
Ch4. Franchezzo moves listlessly among lost, weary souls like himself until he encounters a kindly man bearing a spark of light in his hand, who offers him a place to live, a community called the Brotherhood of Hope, one of many spirit groups committed to helping lost souls find the way. The kind man assures him that people there, and everywhere in the spirit world, are free to come and go as they wish. So he and his lady love take a 3-month break from each other to regain strength in their respective worlds, and he follows his new friend to a massive, gray, prison-like building, with long, dark hallways and many tiny, dim cells, each with bare furniture determined by what the residents had “earned” during their lifetimes with their meager humane actions. The place is dark and misty because there’s no light of happiness among the dreary residents. Many have nothing but a cot or simple sofa. It’s a house of sorrow and of hope. Franchezzo has a bare bed, table, and chair, and at first all he can do is just lie in his cell in abject misery, waiting for the approach of the working Brothers who wander through the building carrying their sparks of light as they move among the hallways and cells to tend to the suffering. For some time he barely hears the conversations around him, but slowly becomes awake and aware. After many days of fitful sleep he can eventually attend meetings where people tell their stories about their selfishness and wrongdoings, which stand out starkly without the mitigating disguises and trappings of earth life. After the meetings he and the others return to their cells to soul-search. Some residents are so exhausted and hopeless that other residents have to hypnotize them into a deep sleep so they can forget about their pain for a while. As residents slowly heal, they feel a powerful craving for their earthly pleasures, especially if they had addictions. Franchezzo painfully resists being pulled back to Earth, but many other residents give in to the pull and leave their refuge, since they’re all free to come and go. They enter the carnal bodies of people leading sordid lives on Earth, only to return later to the refuge, in a more degraded condition than they were when they left… and the working Brothers keep caring for them. Franchezzo eventually is strong enough to visit his lady love on Earth, and he finds her sleeping. He’s met by her guardian, who maintains an invisible barrier against spirits. The guardian takes his hand, and as they penetrate the protective barrier Franchezzo is able to kiss her as she sleeps.
Ch5. Nine months of rehabilitation have restored Franchezzo to vitality and strengthened him against tempations, and he is shown the vast, multilevel network of spirits who serve the Brotherhood, one of many spirit groups committed to helping lost souls find their way. He’s recruited to Earth’s Twilight Lands, where frustrated spirits can be seen entering living humans and taking over their personalities… pushing them to abuse drugs and alcohol and to do harm to other people, even murder. As sufferers on Earth or their loved ones (often unconsciously) pray or call for help for protection or to overcome temptations, word is sent from ethereal observers down through the network of the Brotherhood, and rescue missions are coordinated. Franchezzo is part of a spirit team who gets so close to these sufferers that he can feel their compulsions and desperations as though they’re his own… and the sufferers likewise feel his presence and thoughts, usually subconsciously or in dreams. His main purpose is to instill in them a sense of the terrible consequences of yielding to their compulsions. Then it becomes more difficult for the darker, more troubled spirits (who are still close to the sufferers) to impose their will. Franchezzo realizes that he’s only the bottom link in a long chain of right-minded spirits dedicated to helping these sufferers, each helper receiving support from above. He impresses his thoughts so strongly onto the sufferers that they assume the thoughts are their own. By the time he has saved many sufferers from their powerful temptations, he feels he has begun to atone for his own mistakes. He attributes his success in overcoming his own temptations largely to the on-going support of his lady love and the light spirits of her life. When not helping sufferers on Earth, he’s often helping unhappy lost spirits in the dark… like he was. Now he’s in the role of working Brother, carrying a spark of light in his hand to light the way, encountering many small groups of lost souls huddled together in the dark… inviting them to a House of Hope, of which there are many.
The previous article here compared dying to going through airport security. If we’re carrying a lot of emotional baggage when we die, we’re not passed through to paradise (level 3) right away. Instead we’re taken off to the side (level 2) to process the baggage and to decide how much of our earthly stuff we’re willing and able to relinquish. If we’re attached to the baggage (like Franchezzo was) we’ll be stuck at level 2 or taken downstairs to level 1 for a while… Earth’s shadow world. This book by Franchezzo gives an excellent first-hand look at the arduous inner workings of the shadow world. Things can get ugly around the Earth, but there’s always hope.
If you’ve visited 12-step meetings of recovering addicts, its easy to envision how there are many spirits in the room working with people, strengthening their resolve, helping them to overcome their compulsions. I suspect that’s one reason for the amazing success rate of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Spiritside workers at many levels stream light from the highest realms downward through the network and into those meetings, where many deceased addicts have chosen to serve their fellow sufferers on Earth. Hence the importance, when you’re suffering, of attending those meetings and working the program.
Some people are more sensitive than others to the spirit influences around them. They may hear voices and see faces rather than just feel the vague compulsions of the nearby spirits. If those sensitive people surround themselves in a loving or supportive community on Earth, then they’re likely to be influenced largely by some of those light, friendly, supportive spirit networks who work with those earthside groups. If they’re involved only in troubled earthside friendships or relationships they’ll more likely be influenced by the dark and troubled spirits that move in and out of our world. If the sensitive person keeps to himself or herself, it’s something of a gamble as to what sort of spirit influences he or she might feel, depending on their own changing moods and life conditions.