(i.) After death and when they are reviving in spirit, which usually takes place on the third day after the heart has ceased to beat, they seem to themselves to be in a body so like that which they had in the world that they do not know but that they are still living in the former world, yet not in a material body, but in a body that is substantial and that appears to their senses to be material; but it is not.
(ii.) After some days, they see that they are in a world where various societies are formed, which world is called the world of spirits, and is intermediate between heaven and hell. All the societies there, and they are innumerable, are wonderfully arranged in accordance with good and evil natural affections; the societies arranged in accordance with good natural affections communicating with heaven, and those arranged in accordance with evil affections communicating with hell.
(iii.) The novitiate spirit or spiritual man is conducted and transferred into various societies, both good and evil, and is examined as to whether he is affected by what is good and true, and how, or by what is evil and false, and how.
(iv.) If be is affected by what is good and true, he is led away from evil societies, and is led into good societies, and into different ones until he comes into a society that is in correspondence with his natural affection, and there he enjoys the good that corresponds to that affection, and this until he has put off his natural affection and put on a spiritual affection, and then he is raised into heaven. This takes place with those who in the world had lived a life of charity, and thus a life of faith also, which is believing in the Lord and shunning evils as sins.
(v.) But those who have confirmed themselves in falsities by means of reasonings, especially by means of the Word, and so have lived a merely natural and thus an evil life (for evils accompany falsities and adhere to falsities), inasmuch as they are not affected by what is good and true, but by what is evil and false, are led away from good societies and into evil societies and into different ones, until they come into some society corresponding to the lusts of their love.
(vi.) But because these in the world had feigned good affections in externals, although in their internals there were only evil affections or lusts, they are kept by turns in their [good] externals. Those who in the world had presided over communities, are appointed over societies here and there in the world of spirits, either over a whole society or a part according to the extent of the offices they had filled in their former life. But as they have no love for what is true or what is just, and cannot be so far enlightened as to know what is true and just, after a few days they are deposed. I have seen such transferred from one society to another, and official authority everywhere given them, but always taken away after a short time.
(vii.) After frequent dismissals, some from weariness do not wish, and some from fear of losing their reputation do not dare, to seek office any more; and therefore they withdraw and sit in sadness and afterwards are led away into a desert, where there are huts into which they enter, and there some work is given them to do, and as they do it they receive food. If they do not do it, when they become hungry they receive no food and are thus compelled by necessity. The food there is similar to the food in our world, but is from a spiritual origin, and is given from heaven by the Lord to all according to the uses they perform. To the idle none is given because they are useless.
(viii.) After a while they become disgusted with work and leave their huts. If they had been priests they wish to build; and immediately heaps of cut stone, bricks, beams, and boards appear, also piles of reeds and rushes, of clay, lime, and bitumen. When they see these a strong desire to build is kindled in them, and they begin to construct a house, taking now a stone, and then a stick, then a reed and then some mud, and placing one upon the other without order, but to their sight in regular order. But what they build during the day falls down at night; and the next day they gather up the material from the rubbish and build again; and this goes on until they grow tired of building. This takes place from correspondence. The correspondence is that they have heaped up texts from the Word to prove what is false in faith, and their falsities do not otherwise build the church.
(ix.) Afterward from weariness they go away and sit solitary and idle; and as no food is given from heaven to the idle, as before said, they begin to grow hungry, and to think of nothing but how to get food and satisfy their hunger. While they are in this state persons come to them from whom they ask alms; but these say, “Why do you sit here idle? Come home with us, and we will give you work to do and will feed you.” Then they rise up gladly and go home with them, and each one is there given his own task, and for doing it he receives food. But since none of those who have confirmed themselves in the falsities of faith are able to do works that have a good use, but are able to do only such works as have an evil use, and are unable to do these faithfully, but only fraudulently and also unwillingly, they abandon their work, caring only to visit, talk, walk about, and sleep. And as they can no longer be induced by their masters to work they are dismissed as useless.
(x.) When they have been dismissed their eyes are opened and they see a road leading to a certain cavern. When they come to it a door is opened and they enter and ask if there is food there; and when told that there is they beg permission to remain there, and they are told that they may, and are introduced and the door is closed behind them. The overseer of the cavern then comes and says to them, “You can go out no more; you see your companions; they all labor, and according to their labor food is given them from heaven; I tell you this, that you may know.” Their companions also say to them, “Our overseer knows for what work each one is fitted, and assigns such work to each one daily. The days you do this work, food is given you, and if you do not do it, neither food nor clothing is given. If anyone does harm to another, he is thrown into a corner of the cavern upon a bed made of accursed dust, where he is sorely tortured, and this until the overseer sees in him some sign of repentance, and then he is released and is ordered to do his work.”
He is also told that everyone, after his task is done, is permitted to walk about, to talk, and afterward to sleep. And he is conducted further into the cavern where there are harlots, and each one is allowed to select one of these, and to call her his woman; but promiscuous harlotry is forbidden with penalties. Of such caverns, which are nothing but eternal workhouses, hell consists. I was permitted to enter into and see some of them, in order that I might make the facts known. All who were there seemed degraded; not one of them knew who he had been or what his employment had been in the world. But the angel who was with me said to me, “This man was in the world a servant, this a soldier, this a general; this was a priest; this a man of rank, and this a man of wealth, and yet not one of them knows but that they had been, then as now, slaves and boon companions. This is because they had been inwardly alike, although outwardly unlike, and all in the spiritual world are affiliated according to their interiors.”
In regard to the hells in general, they consist solely of such caverns and work-houses; but those where satans are differ from those where devils are. Those are called satans who had been in falsities and consequently in evils; and they are called devils who had been in evils and consequently in falsities. Satans in the light of heaven appear livid like corpses, and some black like mummies; but devils in the light of heaven appear dusky and fiery, and some black like soot; while in features and bodily form they are all monstrous. But in their own light, which is like the light of burning charcoal, they do not look like monsters but like men. This is granted to render them capable of association.