What Is Hell Like? The Spiritualists’ View

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What Is Hell Like?

“With hideous ruin and combustion, down To bottomless perdition, there to dwell.”–John Milton, Paradise Lost.

Article by Craig Hamilton-Parker from my book What To Do When You Are Dead. Here I take a look at Hell and What Hell Is Like.

What to do in the lower planes

HellTell people that they will go to hell if they do not convert to your particular brand of religion and you’ll soon have converts knocking at your door. Sadly, many religions have used the fear of retribution to threaten their flock. The New Age philosopher David Ike summed it up for me when we met on a television show called the “Mystic Challenge.” “Religion is the most sophisticated form of brainwashing ever invented.”

Perhaps the hellfire preachers are right, and I will perish in some terrible pit in hell. Perhaps I should donate large sums of money to their causes to save me from my Faustian fate. Nonetheless, if I am to go to the sulphurous pit, I’m likely to meet some interesting people in this netherworld, including perhaps Homer, Socrates, Gandhi, Mohammed, Einstein, and other non-Christians. I may even see Jesus there, for he was a Jew not a Christian.

Unfortunately, many Christians have–and still do–abuse the teachings of Jesus and distort the Bible for their own ends. I find it incredible that the message of a carpenter, who taught us to love others as we do ourselves, could have become so distorted. The two people who did most to make these ideas acceptable were both murderers. The first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine killed his own family, and Calvin murdered Servetus because he disagreed with him. Mercy was not a word high on the agenda of these forefathers of the Church. They laid down the law for their own personal power. For many years, everything advocated in the Bible was considered as coming from God. For example, during the days of slavery, members of the clergy–and others–held stock in slave ships and slave-trading concerns, and justified this by quoting biblical texts.

What Is Hell Like?What Is Hell Really Like?

The literature that sums up all the best ideas about hell is perhaps the Divine Comedy, which was published in the fourteenth century, by Dante Alighieri. Many readers of this epic poem actually believed that Dante had made the trip to Hell and back. In the story, Dante finds himself lost in a dark forest where he is rescued by his literary hero the Roman poet Virgil.

Virgil tells Dante that he is looking for Beatrice–his lost love who awaits him in heaven. (Dante’s own first love was also called Beatrice who died during childhood.) Virgil’s mission is to guide him to her. The journey will take them through hell and purgatory.


If so you’ve got some fun things to look forward to. Assuming that Dante got it right, here are a few of the things that you can do if you go to Hell or Purgatory:

Give up hope. Instead of a welcome mat, Hell has written across its gates the words “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here” This is utter ruin, eternal damnation, permanent perdition. Hopefully humming a tune, wishfully whistling, and assured smiling are forbidden.

Take a boat trip. Outings with the grim boatman Charon are popular all year round. Take a trip with other dammed souls across the river Acheron to the inferno. Unfortunately, the crossing is usually pretty choppy there and the sulphurous odours can be a little distracting.

Play ball quizzes. This one is only for hoarders, squanderers, and those who have sinned through greed. These people are doomed forever to roll massive boulders against each other. A useful tip is to not pay the boatman, and you’ll get in for free.

Windsurf. Again admittance is restricted. This one is only for people who are lustful. You can join in 24/7. It’s even open Christmas day. You will be perpetually tossed and whirled in hurricane winds. This activity particularly attracts some well-known souls. Dante spotted Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, and Helen’s lover Paris.

Roast marshmallows. My personal favourite, this section of Hell is reserved for heretics. Accommodation is, however, a little cramped. You will be given your own fiery tomb on the vast plain within the walled city of Dis in nether hell.

Take a woodland tour. Actually you don’t get to see much on this excursion. For those of you who have taken your own life, you will be transformed into a grotesque tree. Because you rejected life on earth you will now stand fixed and withered in hell.

Play the amusements. This one’s popular with the clergy. Faithless priests who use their position within the church to gain temporal wealth are condemned to spend eternity upside down in reeking holes.

Visit the reptile house. You may need to take someone else’s ticket in order to get in. This place is for thieves who are eternally crushed by monstrous snakes.

Enjoy the magic show. You don’t need to volunteer, for participation in the show is mandatory. Here, sowers of discord among families, churches, and nations are doomed to be continually split apart by a sword-wielding demon. Cuts are perpetually healed and reopened so that the fun can last indefinitely.

Play winter quizzes. This is the in-house favourite of the residents and the resting place of the Devil who spends his time chewing on the head of Judas Iscariot. Here the giant Antaeus will personally lower you into the frozen lake that fills the pit of hell. Icebound in the silent Lake Cocytus reside the traitors to country and betrayers of family.

Marvel at the freak show. Popular with the kids is the scary sight of the woman Arcane who was transformed into a spider for the sin of pride. You are likely to meet many of my personal friends here. You will recognize them, for their heads have been twisted around to look forever behind them as punishment for the sin of foretelling the future. I predict you will want to go there.

You’ll be glad to know that Dante eventually ascends to Paradise…and gets the girl.

The Real Hell

The Real HellHell is usually depicted as punishment and retribution for sin. Within many religions, it is described as eternal damnation. When you go to Hell, it’s a one way ticket–there’s no coming back. Commit a sin in this life–such as not believing in the doctrines of your church–and it’s down to the sulphurous pits for you. You will be damned forever. The only way to avoid your diabolical destiny is to conform to what you are told by your religious leaders.

It will probably come to no surprise to hear that I don’t believe in hell and eternal punishment. It just doesn’t square with what I understand from my own mediumistic work and the spiritual insights of others. However, it is clear that not every person is worthy of the same treatment in the afterlife. Surely, the good and the wicked are not entitled to the same treatment in the next world. What happens to those whose hearts are filled with hate and selfishness?

Hell for eternity was invented by human beings to manipulate the hearts and minds of the unaware. It does not exist. Nonetheless, there are lower spheres in the afterlife which are particularly dark, unpleasant, and even horrific. For some, it may be like the classic depictions of hell, but it is not forever. This place, like the higher levels, is there to help with the eternal progress of the human soul. It is a reflection of yourself and is an opportunity to help you grow. The universal “law of progress” ensures that, at some time in the future, those with lower vibrations will eventually graduate to the higher spheres.

Being religious does not necessarily mean being spiritual. Atheists, agnostics, and others may not be encumbered from passing to the higher spheres when they die. It’s what they did in their lifetime, and the motivation for their actions that counts. In fact, religious belief can hold the spirit back. Those with dogmatic, unalterable fixed ideas about what to expect immediately after death are likely to experience serious problems when they pass over. Even the initial stages of death can be hard for them. For example, very materialistic people at the point of death will have a very heavy duplicate body and will find it difficult to separate from the physical body. Similarly, those who on earth are deeply caught in negative habits and vices may get caught on a lower astral level and not be able to progress until the habits are completely removed or they are drawn towards another earthly incarnation.

Most people when they die are met by their loved ones, their spiritual guardians, and beings who are part of the group soul. However, those who are consistently evil are either left alone or are met by others of the same low vibrations. Together they will be drawn into the shadowy lower spheres. Similarly, the negative karma that such persons have accumulated while in life now pulls them like a heavy weight into these dark worlds. Lies, greed, cheating, and cruelty to others hang upon them like heavy dark weights and pull them into places where they will be forced to confront the consequences of their deeds. Deathbed confessions or baptisms make no difference. You are what you are, and this determines the life to come.

The dream of the soul

The Dream of the SoulHell, like heaven, has many different planes. In fact, it is not really somewhere separate to heaven. There is no demarcation between heaven and hell–they are degrees of the same one reality. The degree of hell-like quality is determined by the person’s own nature.

People who are overtly wicked may immediately find themselves in a terrible place. It may not be a place where devils poke you with tridents, but it may feel much the same. For example, a corrupt doctor from the German death camps of WWII may find himself experiencing the same horrors that were inflicted on his victims on earth. The afterworld of such souls will be like a nightmare that has become reality. But far worse that this, will be the realization of what they have done. The angelic beings will present the culprit to their victims, who were made to suffer. They will feel every drop of pain that was inflicted upon their victims–from both the spirit worlds and from those still alive on earth. And this will not be a momentary experience but one which will afflict them until such time as they want to reform themselves.

On physical death, we go to the highest sphere accommodated by the vibrations we accumulated throughout our lifetimes on earth. Most people will go to either one of the higher spheres, too beautiful to imagine, or experience worlds almost the same as the earth plane. Once there, however, we all have to come to terms with the negative sides of our own natures. None of us is all good or all bad. Like the planes of heaven itself, there is no clear demarcation. We are all a mixture of good and bad qualities. (human .)

Your bad qualities will, at times, cause you to experience personal hells, generating scenarios in which you are able to consider issues in your life. For example, suppose you went through a divorce, with all of its hurtful aggression and legalized nastiness. Suddenly, you experience details of it again, but from the perspective of your ex-partner. Similarly, if you’ve willingly done things to hurt another, you may find your roles now reversed. The afterlife is a bit like virtual dreaming, which the soul can use to generate scenarios designed to enlighten. These dreams may be “good” or “bad” but this is not about reward and punishment. It’s part of the road to be traveled to attain spiritual reform and growth.

The afterlife planes are a continuation of the process of the life review, except now they are played out like a cosmic play. The good and bad deeds done on earth set the themes. Fortunately, there is always a happy ending to the cosmic play, for every sentient being will eventually know the bliss of the infinite even though, for some, this may take the work of many earth lives and extended periods spent in study and contemplation on different levels of the afterlife worlds.

Spiritual reform

There are places in the next life where every man, woman, and child actively tries to inflict as much emotional pain as possible on everyone else there. When they died, they were drawn together into these levels like a magnet. People of a similar disposition are drawn together by their makeup. There are places for thieves, pedophiles, murderers, liars, sadists, and the greedy. There are millions of hells.

Where is Hell? Is Hell Bad?

I have been told by the spirit people that hell is not a place to be feared but a state of being that is necessary for some souls to grow towards the light. For example, on one occasion I worked with a group of mediums to “clear” a spirit that was causing poltergeist activity on board a boat. When the spirit spoke to us, through one of the mediums, we learned that the spirit was not moving on to the next world because he feared punishment for a crime he had committed while on earth. So, he was “clinging” to the aura of the woman now living in the cabin in which he had once lived. The solution was to get him to connect with his angelic helper and those in the spirit world who loved him. When he finally did so, he let go his paralyzing fear and moved towards the light–and no longer troubled the boat’s passengers. It was his fear of what he believed awaited him in Hell that prevented his moving on to the next world.

Soon after this, one of the mediums involved was given a message from the spirit who had caused the poltergeist activity. He was now happy in the afterlife; his irrational fear of a personal hell had been one of ignorance. He was not being punished so much as being helped to come to terms with what had happened and caused his distress.

I recall another incident where a spirit told us that he had done terrible things while on earth. He had spent much time in the lower planes facing the wrongs he had done. Now he had progressed from that place and wanted to help others to know that God’s world can be opened up even to the most hardened sinner as long as they are willing to reform. This spirit now works in helping other mediums. When he shows himself to clairvoyant people, they see him as wearing a Nazi uniform.

The highly respected American doctor Carl A Wickland recorded some very interesting cases of spirits who spoke through his wife’s trance mediumship during the 1920’s. In some instances. criminals spoke to the group and explained what happens to criminals when they die. In one instance, the spirit of a hanged criminal named Pete Neidemeyer spoke to the Wickland’s Spiritualist circle to tell what happened to him after death:

“The first thing I had to do was to conquer self, and it is very hard to conquer selfishness when you have never thought of anything else but selfishness. We must conquer that before we can do any work in the spirit world.

“The best way is to be put in a dark room–we sometimes call it a dungeon–where we see nothing but ourselves and our acts of the past. One after another these acts come crowding in. The good ones are so few that they hardly count for anything. When we do see a good act, it seems as if it belongs to someone else. We have to stay there until our hearts and our eyes are opened. When we seek to overcome our bad habits and to live for others then we get out of the selfish state.

“My heart was very hardened, but finally I cried out: ‘Not my will any longer, but thine.’

“The first thing to be done is to help the very lowest we come in contact with. I felt that I did not want to assist with this or that, but I had to. I had to learn patience. When we can serve without grumbling and do it for the love of our fellow man, it does not seem so hard.

“So I have gone on from one thing to another, always learning, and through learning I have stepped into a more beautiful condition. In the invisible world we advance by stages, but only through learning.”

Escaping Hell

There are also planes of hell where the inhabitants are so wrapped up in their own wickedness that they are hardly aware of the existence of the worlds of light that most people will know in the life beyond death. These dark lower planes are filled with the darkness of hate. It is a world that draws only the worst of people. Here live many sub-human spirits, who have descended into a demonic state of being. Many were once human but have now become caricatures of their own evil. But even here there is the option of redemption.

We create our own personal hell; not a form of punishment but self-created in order to resolve our imperfections. As this happens, the burdens on the soul become lighter and allow it to move “upwards” to the paradise planes of the afterlife. Only through the process of spiritual development can the soul escape the weight of the karma that prevents it from rising to the higher planes of the afterlife. (Strictly speaking, it is all about change of vibration rate rather than any “up” or “down” direction to heaven or to hell.)

For centuries. religions have used the concept of hell to frighten people into subscribing to their belief system. Mediums have been condemned to death as witches and warlocks and subjected to all sorts of horrible tortures. Their bodies were buried in unhallowed ground with knives and rivets through the thighs, knee bones, and feet to prevent the corpse from later rising and walking. Since 1712, when the last witch was burned in England, mediumship has developed and shown us that the hell planes are only a temporary sojourn on the soul’s journey. Also, we have learned, through mediumship, that the angelic beings are able to descend to hell in order to help guide the souls who are there toward a better way of living. Even in this terrible level of being, God’s work goes on.

Find Out More:


‘What to Do When You are Dead’ explores what happens after death and describes the world we will find there. It is a powerful book that draws on near death experiences, spiritual traditions as well as the medium’s direct experiences.

References and Works Cited

Hamilton-Parker, Craig (2010) What To Do When You Are Dead Sterling imprint Barnes & Noble ISBN 978-1-4027-7660-1 (Languages: English, Dutch, Portuguese) BUY THE BOOK HERE

About Post Author

Craig Hamilton-Parker

Craig is a TV medium, author and mystical teacher. I will approve and respond to comments that are short, well-written and on topic. For personal questions and experiences please post on our forums.
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