For Want of a Name: Confusion about the Spirit Planes

When Michael Tymns interviewed me for the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies in 2007, he called what I did “afterlife cartography.”  I was after all creating “new maps of heaven.”

But never did cartographer face greater challenge. No one I encountered used a consistent or very helpful naming or numbering system when referring to the planes of life after life.

Some people talked about seven Mental Planes – the “seven heavens.” Others reserved the words “Causal Planes” for the last three of the Mental Planes. Many spoke about there being seven planes overall; others ten. Few named their seven planes or ten. In reality, there are probably countless planes receding into the vast distances above nine orders of angels.

Most people looking at the afterlife do not speak about “dimensions” or “densities” at all. They usually speak about “planes,” often “spheres,” sometimes “realms.” That’s alright as far as it goes, but what is the relationship between a “plane,” a “sphere,” a “realm,” and a “dimension”? Introduce “subplanes” and the mapmaker nearly keels over.

They did all agree, with Julia Ames, that “there are degrees in heaven.” (1)  There are different levels. Most discarnate beings agreed with Archdeacon Wilbeforce that “we spirits are not a democracy but a hierarchy — an ordered grade of beings, ascending beyond our capacity even here to follow its upward ranges.” (2)

They would agree with well-known spirit guide Silver Birch that spirits can go lower, but they cannot go higher, at will:

“The sphere or plane on which you exist in our world contains individuals at the same stage of spiritual development as you are. You can’t go higher spiritually until you are ready. You can go lower, as many of us do to perform missionary work among the unenlightened beings in the lower spheres.” (3)

Here is Astriel, in G. Vale Owens’ popular Beyond the Veil series, discussing this same point from an operational perspective:

“When I am in the tenth of these zones, my cognizance is limited, more or less, by that Tenth zone as to its outer or superior boundary. I may, on occasion and by permission, visit the Eleventh zone, or even go higher; but residence in those higher zones is not permitted me.

“On the other hand, the zones inferior to the Tenth are not impossible to me; for the zone in which I dwell, being a sphere, includes within itself, even geometrically considered, all the nine inferior spheres.”  (4)

But having admitted grades or degrees, to which we all gravitate by the Law of Attraction, and having admitted that we can go lower but not higher at will, there the agreement would probably end.

Let’s look at some of these schemes. Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson holds that there are seven spheres.

“The spirit world is divided into spheres or realms. These two words of designation have passed into current [acceptance] among most of those on the earth-plane who have a knowledge of, and practice communication with, our world. In speaking to you this, I have used the words interchangeably. They suffice for our purpose – one can think of none better.

“These spheres have been given numbers by some students, ranging from the first, which is the lowest, up to the seventh, the highest. It is customary among most us here to follow the system of numbering. The idea originated, I am told, from our side, and it is a very useful and convenient method of conveying the information of one’s position upon the ladder of spiritual evolution.” (5)

But we heard Astriel discussing spheres above the Tenth. And here too is the well-known spiritualist, Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding, discussing Sphere Ten, and saying that there are many more spheres beyond that, though we would not comprehend them:

“Sphere Ten is also of exceptional importance because it is the highest of those from which visitors commonly come down to earth level and below. After this stage it seems that some change occurs which makes visitations and communication with lower spheres more difficult.

“It is true that Manifestations of the Christ in presence Form often occur in the lower spheres, and occasionally some great angel may descend for a special purpose, but, broadly speaking, it seems that Sphere Ten represents the limit of human comprehensions as to its conditions. Beyond Sphere Ten, as I understand, human words are inadequate to give the remotest conception of spiritual life.” (6)

Spirit oracle Imperator says that there are three domains of seven spheres each, Earth being the highest of the first seven (Imperator being in the Tenth Sphere).  (7)  I had never heard this numbering system before.

John Heslop says he lives in the Seventh Sphere and it is the Christ Sphere, the Earth being far below it. Granted that Heslop is on a higher rung than the first seven, where is certainty about which rung he is referring to? And given that he calls his land a “sphere,” what is its relation to other lands called “planes”? On and on the disagreements go until one is left with no confidence in any numbering arrangements or any other system of nomenclature.

Now leaving that aside, let’s introduce the task of discussing so-called physical dimensions since we’ll be ascending with our physical body into what our sources commonly call the Fifth Dimension.

Archangel Michael through Ronna Herman said on Nov. 3, 2010 that the Mental Plane was the Fifth Dimension, making the Astral Plane the Fourth, and ours on Planet Earth the Third.

“It is vitally important that you stay firmly grounded and balanced within the accepted range of duality while functioning within the reality of the third dimension. You must also strive to establish emotional harmony and serenity within the illusionary world of the fourth dimension as you seek wisdom and endeavor to become acclimated to the mental plane of the lower fifth dimension.” (8)

And in July 2009 he made a somewhat similar statement:

“The ascension process entails mastering the physical plane, the astral (emotional) plane, the mental plane and, eventually, up through the higher dimensions.” (9)

Lisa Renee’s Guardians seem to agree with him in July 2009, calling the Physical the Third Dimension and the Astral the Fourth:

“There are intermediary transit stations and arrangements being made with other star races to support the shifting of the 3D and 4D group levels of humanities vibrational consciousness. (This is to cover both physical 3D embodied and 4D Astral embodiments.)” (10)

In case, like me, you’re wondering what the first and second dimensions are, Jani King’s P’taah informs us:

“That which is called first density, you may say, is the reality of what you perceive to be inanimate, like mineral, called rock, called your earth itself; that which you pereive to be of non-sconsciousness. Then of second density, you may say, is what you would call flora and fauna. … Third density you can say is humanity and that which is Cetacean, that is whale and dolphin. Fourth density is what you are going to be, what you will transform yourselves into.” (11)

But wait a minute! Where are the seven planes of which Earth is the highest, according to Imperator? Someone help me please!

Where all of this really starts to break down is that discussions exist in which it is said that the Annunaki exist in a higher dimension than us, even being regarded as Gods by the Sumerians, and yet have ways of being that are anything but exemplary. Here is SaLuSa, for instance:

“In your ancient times … the Annunaki allowed the people to hold them in awe because of their seeming ability to perform miracles. As you will realise not every advanced Being is necessarily spiritually advanced.” (12)

How can beings in higher dimensions be dark?  If we were on the other side, in the spirit planes, dark beings would not exist in the higher astral, called the Summerlands. They would only exist on the Lower Summerlands and not be represented as being somehow “higher” than us. How then can the Annunaki be more highly evolved and yet dark?

So you see where a tremendous amount of confusion sets in around “higher” and “lower,” “planes” and “dimensions,” “more evolved” and “less evolved.”

All these difficulties exist unexplained at this moment.  In frustration at this state of affairs when Michael Tymns interviewed me, I protested:

“I know that spirits listen to us as much as we listen to them. While drawing maps, I’m also trying to convey to them the message that we need them to tighten up the process of communication. One way would be to ensure that all communicators be required to tell us specifically from which plane (and subplane) they are communicating. Location on the other side is of critical importance to us who are trying to fit the pieces together.

“I also ask for the help of spirit teachers in correlating the different terminologies that spirits use. For example, I do not know what planes names like the ‘Christ Sphere’ or ‘Empyrean Plane’ refer to generally, but also how they correlate to numbering systems like ‘the seventh plane,’ etc., specifically.

“Even more importantly than that, I hope to persuade spirit and physical folks to get together on some really broad anthropological projects that would subject spirit planes to rigorous social-scientific study. Until recently, most accounts have resembled tourist guides.

“We can do better than that and, I think, we are ready for intensive, scholarly examinations carried out by groups on this side co-operating with groups on ‘the other.'”  (13)

Though that article was widely reprinted, no one ever took me up on my call for co-operative research or a standard nomenclature. But I think it will become vital for us at some point to straighten out the cartography of the heavens. Otherwise we’ll be hopelessly confused.

I introduce the comment here because the original question that the reader approached me with is how could alien civilizations be more highly-evolved than us and yet still be acting darkly? To answer that question, I’d have to be able to resort to some commonly-accepted way of referring to the spheres and so of placing the civilizations in question in relation to each other and I know I have no way at present to do that.


(1) Julia [Julia T. Ames] through W.T. Stead, medium, After Death. A Personal Narrative. New York: George H. Doran, n.d.; c. 1914, 52.

(2) Henry Thibault, Letters from the Other Side. [Letters from Archdeacon Wilberforce or “Philemon.”] London: 1919, 28.

(3) Silver Birch, LSB, 19.

(4) Astriel in G. Vale Owen, medium, The Life Beyond the Veil. Book I: The Lowlands of Heaven. New York, 1921., 216.

(5) Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson through Anthony Borgia, medium, Life in the World Unseen. M.A.P., 1993, 128.

(6) Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Many Mansions. London, etc.: Rider and Co., n.d., 59.

(7) “Imperator described the earth as the seventh sphere, with six below it, seven above (spheres of work and probation: progressive spheres) and seven beyond (spheres of contemplation).” (Rev. Stainton Moses in More Spirit Teachings. Electronically published by, 17.)

(8) Archangel Michael,  Nov. 2010, at

(9) Archangel Michael, through Ronna Herman, July 2009, at

(10) The Guardians through Lisa Renee, “Surpassing the Glass Ceiling,” July 2009, at

(11) P’taah in Jani King, The P’taah Tapes: Transformation of the Species. Cairns: Triad, 1991, 13.

(12) SaLuSa, Aug. 6, 2010 at

(13) “No Humdrum Heaven: An Interview,” at

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