to yourself a battlefield, a long-stretching irregular double line of men
and guns and horses and all the paraphernalia of war.
In the old days on earth I once gave some study to the theory
and practice of war, but that labor had little value in preparing me to
study this war. Not only did it take for granted conditions that no longer
exist, but my point of observation then was an imaginary station on one side
or the other of an imaginary field; now I am really here, there and
everywhere. I read the thoughts of the commanders on both sides, I am with
the men in the trenches sometimes half-buried in mud and water, I am riding
with the cavalry, I go forward with the guns of the artillery, I go out and
up with the escaping spirits of the dead—go with them into the hell of
confusion that almost always swallows them for a time after they are
violently thrust from their bodies.
Truly, “War is hell!” Have no glorious
delusions to the contrary, you who dwell in the haunts of peace and babble
of what you know not.
The horrors do not end when the guns cease firing. The dark and
silent night of rain is full of souls in bewilderment and torment. Often one
will grope his way hither and thither, seeking to find a trench-mate to whom
he had become attached in the camaraderie of war—that sweet flower
which grows up an ugly stem. Often they live over and over again the rage
and madness of the attack; they plunge an imaginary bayonet into the form of
an imaginary foe; or, if a mass of them are together, and they generally
are, they strike recklessly at anything before them, conscious always of an
The General of whom I wrote in my last letter was a man of
marked spiritual development; he soon broke away from the entanglements of
matter; he was a devotee to whom his country was a god and his Emperor a
hero to be followed with aspiration. But most men who die on the
battlefields are common soldiers who fight because it is the will of the
mass behind them. They generally go out into darkness for a time, and most
of them wander in darkness and bewilderment for varying periods.
Some, on the contrary, are vividly
conscious almost from the hour of death. These may attack the men of the
opposing army when they sleep. The dreams of the battlefields are terrible
in their intensity.
Sometimes again, for in the general confusion distinctions may
be quite lost, souls that had believed themselves enemies cling together in
the tragic yearning of the dark that separates the worlds of the
“invisible.” In their great need they do not know their former friends from
their former enemies. Another pale flower that grows from the ugly stem of
The astral forms of men of low development are often found here
in shocking distortion, their consciousness only a glimmer, and with no
power of feeling anything but pain. No wonder the dreams of the unselfish
lovers of humanity are full of horror during these dark nights of the world,
for there are many noncombatants in all lands whose hours of sleep are given
to a devoted labor for the souls that need help so horribly. There is one
man whom you know who bears at this time a burden almost superhuman, and
speaks of it to no one.
It is needless for me to say how you
yourself spent the nights of many months, and when we bade you cease that
labor it was only that you might have more strength for the labor of writing
these pages at my dictation. A soul still held in the flesh cannot work all
day and all night. That is burning the astral candle at both ends.
When you return to the countries now devastated by war, some of
your friends will relate to you experiences similar to your own during these
terrible months. They who can be used are called upon when the need is
greatest, and the need is immense at this time.
Realize that those souls in the lower regions of the astral
world are actually in space near the ground of the physical planet. Those
who hang over the battlefields where they met their fate are still thrilled
or horrified by the noise of the battle horns, they can still hear the
shriek of shells and feel the shattering force of the explosions. Day in,
day out these unfortunate earth-bound ones live over and over again the
emotions of war, night after night they dread the morning when the sounds
will begin again. They cannot get away. They are not free merely because
their bodies are buried under a few feet of earth, or worse still left
I advise you to avoid for some years at
least the actual scenes of these battles. You can go to Switzerland or to
the more southern regions of France, but do not stay long in Northern France
or Belgium, or in any other place that may be thus affected.
The thought world of England is just now troubled, but the layer
of astral matter immediately above the earth is not full of the awful
emanations of death. Astral forms go there from the more terrible region,
but in order to go they must have themselves broken away from the immediate
scene of their worst suffering.
It is easier to protect oneself from sad thought–forms than from
the distracted astral entities and the “boiling” astral matter that lie
above those battlefields.
Why, even the field of Waterloo before this
war was not a pleasant place to spend the night. After a lapse of time you
may briefly visit the scenes of these recent battles, for the sake of the
practical experience; but do not go there just yet. The best place in Europe
for a long period will be the mountains of Switzerland. You should spend
much time there.
Do you remember telling me how, when a child, you used to see
the forms of American Indians on the hills and in the valleys of your native
State? They were those who many years before had walked those hills and
valleys in the sunlight, and who were still held in the tenuous matter above
that region. The eyes of childhood are sometimes very clear. Above those
battlefields of Europe the sensitive eye may see for many years the forms of
those who will not be able to make their escape. And I do not mean akashic
records. War is hell, and the hell does not end with the signing of peace
That is one reason why we want you, and
those others who believe in brotherhood, to carry that spirit of brotherhood
among the nations that have been at war. You have no conception of the power
of a quiet faith in a great and true idea. The man who really loves his
fellows has a wider influence than his own immediate circle of friends. The
atmosphere around him is permeated with that brotherly love, and sensitive
souls can feel it.
Some day sail up the Rhine with that sentiment in your heart.