The Second Death: The Process of Ascension from 4D to 5D on the Spirit Planes

This article is a companion to “The First Death: Transitioning from 3D to 4D,” located at

In the literature on the afterlife, the “first death” is regarded as the death of the physical body while the “second death” is regarded as the dissolution of the astral body. (1) The first death moves us from the Physical Plane (3D) to the Astral Plane (4D) and the second death from the Astral Plane (4D) to the Mental Plane (5D).

The second death on the inner planes of life is the nearest equivalent I can think of to what we call “Ascension.”

Physical Ascension itself is a new phenomenon in the physical universe.  As things stand at this moment, a person’s consciousness could evolve while the person remained in the physical body. We call that “enlightenment.” But the person as an individual living entity would remain in this physical or Third Dimension.

But if a person ascended to the Mental Plane or 5D in the past, he or she had to leave or be outside the physical body. As with all things, there are a few exceptions. Jesus and Elijah ascended to the inner planes physically. But even Elijah ceased to exist in his physical body.

Jesus did not cease to exist in his physical body. He reappeared in it to his disciples if the version in the New Testament is to be believed (and I cannot say for sure that it is). But you recall that his disciples could not touch that version of his physical body. It may be that our mass Ascension will not have that drawback. (For those who ascend, there won’t be anyone around in a 3D body to test our hypothesis on.)

Ours will be the first generation for whom Ascension in the physical body becomes a normal event without the need to leave the body first and with no other limiting circumstances imposed on the body. In this way, Jesus may have been the “type of the New Man” (or “New Human”), as is maintained in the sacred literature. This improvement in Ascension may be one way in which Jesus intended to be understood when he said that we would do greater than he.

The passage from the Fourth Dimension to the Fifth, for most souls, occurred on the inner postmortem planes and is more often referred to as a passage from the Astral Plane to the Mental Plane. It involves a process called the “second death,” where the astral body dissolves revealing the mental body, which is often also called the light body.

Because Ascension in the physical body is new, we have no descriptions of it. The descriptions of the second death are the closest we can come to it, as far as I’m aware. Most of these descriptions are of the second death itself, but there are a few descriptions which compare what the individual being was like in its astral form compared to what it is like in its mental form. Later I will publish more accounts of life on the Mental Plane, or “Heaven” as it is known more generally, without reference to the Astral Plane.

All of life is spiritual evolution, from God to God. On the inner planes, spirits pass from 3D to 4D to 5D, etc., or from the Physical Plane to the Astral Plane to the Mental Plane and so on. But here on Earth, if we rise in dimension, we call the process “enlightenment” and it does not result in our leaving the Physical Plane. Here in 3D we are and remain all bunched together but after death we are all sorted out, so to speak.

However, now, with the new process we refer to as “Ascension,” we will again be sorted out – some going with the New Earth to 5D but others remaining in 3D and travelling to new settings where they will either be born or awaken with no conscious remembrance of this Earth.

From hereon I will speak only of 4D and 5D, but you know that I am referring to the Astral and Mental Plane.

So let’s consider what Ascension looks like on the inner planes even if it differs in important respects from our Ascension.

Theologian Archie Mattson discusses the prospect of advancement from 4D to 5D on the inner planes.

“When a person has fulfilled his purpose and development on the astral plane, he may then proceed permanently to enter the mental plane and the higher planes, in succession, to work and develop more fully there. In that case, the astral body is cast off, as is the physical body at death, and its particles disintegrate to be reused in the creative processes.

“However, a person who has gone into the higher planes in this way can still communicate through to earth and can still manifest himself in the astral plane through materialization.” (2)

The unnamed teacher who speaks through Betty Bethards also describes this second death.

“When one advances through the various levels of the higher planes, there is an initiation which takes place which allows the soul to shed his ‘outer layer’ (as when he shed the physical body). The heavier matter which makes up your coat for one level is shed for a lighter coat when you move to the next. You shed your old beliefs and lessons and attune to your new body, a little like a snake shedding its skin.” (3)

American philosopher William James knew when his “second death” was going to happen. He felt premonitions of becoming too small for his psychological quarters.

“I feel myself growing out of myself in a certain fashion. My adopted characteristics are becoming too small and cramped to contain my new growth and development, and I will move on most certainly to larger psychological quarters. It is not only the physical body we outlive, but the psychological house we have chosen. First after death we add new rooms and suites to accommodate our greater experience, but it is soon obvious that the entire structure has had its day. We must move out of it completely.” (4)

Her work finished in 4D, Frances Banks considers leaving the rest home she has been attached to and entering 5D.

“I am like a creature hibernating and yet, at the same time, sloughing off a skin which I no longer will be needing. I feel, sometimes, like a snake gradually shedding its skin. These coils of lower density are slipping away from me. I am emerging from regrets of earth memories, from disillusions, from idealizations which become illusions, ephemeral and of no true worth.

“I am viewing each piece of skin which peels off from me in its right connection with the true Self which it served to obscure. And more and more I become thankful for the Reality which, God be praised, was there beneath the skin, all the time.” (5)

She continues to observe the dissolution of her astral body, comparing it to a snake sloughing its skin. Most people lie down and go to sleep, so to speak, during this process, but not psychologist Frances. She observes the whole thing.

“I realize that what is passing from me, like sloughing a skin, is insubstantial, impermanent, decomposing, as it drops from me into a dusty nothingness. What is left is essentially Light, is Reality, is permanent and is true. I call this my new Body of Light and that, indeed, is what it truly is. A Body of Light, not dense and material and dull and heavy as the physical body, not insubstantial, shadowy and unreal as the astral body in which I have been sheltering, but brilliant, ‘encelled’ with Light, ethereal in that there is no weight, no dragging down into matter but is enmeshed with colour and beauty and form and substance.

“Is that a difficult conception? You must remember that I am forming this, my spiritual Body, or should I be more correct in saying I am merging into it. That sounds a paradox but then much to which I am becoming adjusted here is paradoxical when viewed in the light of the restricted thinking of the human mind. I still have a mind, I still have a body, but both are inevitably changing and because of that I feel as if I am emerging, like a grub from a chrysalis, to a butterfly. Gradually I can function more readily and for deeper periods in my Body of Light, and, in it, can commune with more advanced Souls and imbibe their wisdom.” (6)

Frances emerges into the 5D body of light for periods of time, and realizes that this movement from 4D to 5D is itself only a temporary thing and that she will go on to even higher dimensions. The “judgment” she refers to is the process of reviewing one’s entire life that Frances has just completed, which is the prelude to exiting 4D or the Astral Plane and full entry into 5D or the Mental Plane in the afterlife.

“I am trying to function more and more in the Body of Light. I cannot sustain it for long yet, but I have the joy and bliss of the certainty of a further expansion which is available to us all. This is the next step in progression, the stepping out of illusion into the consciousness of the functioning of the Higher Self, an emergence into a wider consciousness and an awareness of Spiritual Beings and of Forces from the All-Creative Mind of God.

“This [full entry into and journey through the Mental Plane] is a gradual process and may take years (in earth consciousness of time) to fulfill. I feel as though I am starting on a Path of Light which leads upwards and onwards into Realms of unimaginable beauty and wonder and of which I have, as yet, but the faintest glimmer of comprehension. The journey itself is compensation enough for the trials of earth existence and for the emotion of judgment in action of those trials and my individual response to them, from which judgement I am now emerging.” (7)

Ivy Northage’s “Chan” describes the more usual form of the second death, where one lies down and surrenders to the process of sloughing the astral body, rather than observing it as Frances does.

“[The second death] is not a separation … but a feeling of complete serenity and peace, with no concern for anything, or awareness of people around you. … You are supported by something that is almost unidentifiable, you have lost your own identity without any concern or anxiety about it. … It is a true spiritual release, and for a little while you don’t really know where you are. … There is no feeling of distress. It is a kind of oblivion, but a conscious oblivion.

“Then you become aware of what I can only describe as a harmonic reverberation around you, a beautiful ecstacy. … You feel this divine, ecstatic, unified power with such indescribable joy that you just don’t know what is happening to you.” (8)

Here is Rosicrucian Max Heindel describing his second death. The “Desire World” refers to the Astral Plane, the plane where desires are worked out.

“The change is made from the first heaven, which is in the Desire World, to the second heaven.  … Then the man passes into a great stillness. For the time being everything seems to fade away. He cannot think. No faculty is alive, yet he knows that he is. He has a feeling of standing in “The Great Forever’; of standing utterly alone, yet unafraid; and his soul is filled with a wonderful peace. … In occult science this is called ‘The Great Silence.’ Then comes the awakening. The spirit is now in its home-world – heaven.” (9)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and a long-time spiritualist, describes how, with the second death, one leaves behind one’s narrow personal self.

“That Second Death [is] so marvelous and yet so terrible an experience. For in this life we cling with all our might to – Self. … Why not, when it seems desirable to enrich that personality with all the treasure we can gather by labour of hand or brain. … We do not pass naked into the astral, but rather bear with us many an earthly treasure of knowledge, strength and pride of accomplishment.

“And then … crown and climax of all our striving comes utter relinquishment – such is the marvel and miracle of the human soul and spirit.

“To relinquish knowledge, power, accomplishment, all that goes to make our personal self of claims and assertions; to relinquish self-pity, self-centredness, the hope of accomplishment for self; to bare oneself, to become nothing; to restore to the Giver of all … all that one has and is.” (10)

The fullest description of the second death I’ve seen is from A. Farnese, but it is a long passage. Farnese describes how this passage is often accomplished while the soul “sleeps.”

“The meetings for materialization were held once a fortnight, and from the number of them I judged that about three months had passed, when I was told by Ahrinziman to prepare myself for a great change which was about to take place in myself and my surroundings, and which would mean my passing into a higher sphere. …

“I was now told that I had so far freed myself from the earth’s attractions and overcome my desires for earthly things, that I was able to pass into the second sphere.

“The passing from the body of a lower sphere into that of a higher one is often, though not invariably, accomplished during a deep sleep which closely resembles the death-sleep of the spirit in leaving the earthly body. As a spirit grows more elevated, more etherealized, this change is accompanied by a greater degree of consciousness, till at last the passing from one high sphere to another is simply like changing one garb for another a little finer, discarding one spiritual envelope for a more ethereal one. Thus the soul passes onward, growing less and less earthly (or material) in its envelopment, till it passes beyond the limits of our earth spheres into those of the solar systems.

“It happened, then, that upon my return from one of my visits to the earth, I felt overpowered by a strange unusual sense of drowsiness, which was more like paralysis of the brain than sleep.

“I retired to my little room in the Twilight Land, and throwing myself upon my couch, sank at once into a profound dreamless slumber like unto the unconscious sleep of death.

“In this state of unconsciousness I lay for about two weeks of earthly time, and during it my soul passed from the disfigured astral body and came forth like a newborn child, clothed in a brighter, purer spiritual envelope, which my efforts at overcoming the evil in myself had created for it. Only I was not born as an infant but as a full grown man, even as my experience and knowledge had been those of a mature spirit. …

“In a state of perfect unconsciousness my newborn soul was borne by the attendant spirit friends into the second sphere, where I lay sleeping my dreamless sleep till the time came for my awakening.

“The discarded astral envelope I had left was by the power of attendant spirits dissolved into the elements of the earth plane, even as my earthly body left at my first death would decay into the earthly material from which it had been taken,–dust returning unto dust again, while the immortal soul passed on to a higher state.

“Thus did I pass through my second death and awake to the resurrection of my higher self.” (11)

Finally, South African Mike Swain shows his father the difference between his astral and mental bodies. And when he does his attitude shifts and he ceases being Jasper’s son and becomes his “brother.” I would expect that Matthew Ward also showed this same side to his mother, Suzy Ward, at one point in his progression. However, I believe that Matthew resides on a plane far higher than the Mental. Here is Mike revealing his Light Body to Jasper.

“Mike continued to look at his father with an affectionate smile on his face: then, suddenly, Jasper was looking at a mature and wonderfully beautiful soul. In a flash he realized that his son’s life had been the final link in a long, long series of lives and that it had been Jasper’s privilege to have been his father while he was alive.

“’At last you can see me as I really am,’ Mike greeted him. ‘Now you can see me with the dark glasses removed from your eyes. You are doubly my brother for every human traveler is the brother of his fellow.’

“The joy that Jasper experienced flooded throughout the whole of his mind.

“’But for the time being,’ continued Mike pleasantly, ‘I think we’ll all feel more at ease if I retain the outward form of Mike!’

“Jasper could only nod, inarticulate with happiness at the sight of this golden figure.” (12)

“’I see it still makes you self-conscious to see me as I really am. But as I am, so are you!’” (13)

Given that our Ascension is a new process being tried out in the universe for the first time, I’m not aware that we have any accounts of it. I’ve mentioned to readers several times that I know of two souls who are here to observe Ascension and report back on it. One is Ellie Miser in Oklahoma, who reports to her father, who is Pleiadian royalty. And the second is a Throne or angel, who resides in Ontario, and reports back to Kuthumi on it. What they learn will be incorporated in future Ascensions of this type.


(1) These quotes have been taken from New Maps of Heaven: The Conditions of Life on the Spirit Planes, a cartography of the afterlife, available at

(2) A.D. Mattson in Ruth Mattson Taylor, ed., Witness from Beyond. New Cosmic Concepts on Death and Survival from the Late A.D. Mattson, S.T.D., through the Clairvoyant Margaret Flavell Tweddell. Portland, ME: Foreword Books, 1975, 45.

(3) Unnamed spiritual teacher in Betty Bethards, medium, There is No Death. Novato, CA: Inner Light Foundation, 1976; c1975, 17.

(4) William James through Jane Roberts, medium, The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The World View of William James. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1978, 159.

(5) Frances Banks in Helen Graves, Testimony of Light. London: Churches Fellowship for Psychical & Spiritual Studies, 1975; c1969, 124.

(6) Loc. cit.

(7) Ibid., 125.

(8) Chan in Ivy Northage, Trance Talks by Chan, 9-11.

(9) Max Heindel in Paul Beard, Living On. How Consciousness Continues and Evolves After Death. New York: Continuum, 1981, 131.

(10) Arthur Conan Doyle in Paul Beard, LO, 127.

(11) A. Farnese in Franchezzo (A. Farnese), A Wanderer in the Spirit Lands. (1896) downloaded from

(12) Mike Swain to his father, Jasper  in Jasper Swain, From My World to Yours: A Young Man’s Account of the Afterlife. New York: Walker, 1977, 72.

(13) Ibid., 73.

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