Spirit Hierarchy (excerpt from "The Spirits' Book")
Each spirit is unique, and there is an infinite gradient of variations among their levels of advancement, which results in different degrees, or ranks, depending on the spirits' level of purification. The spirits tell us, in answer to question 97 of Kardec's "The Spirits' Book", that while "the number of orders can change, depending on the point of view from which they're being considered", "if we consider the general characteristics of spirits, we can reduce them to three principle orders or ranks."
They provide the following explanation of these three orders: "In the first and highest rank are the spirits who have reached the degree of relative perfection; they constitute what may be called pure spirits. In the second rank are those who have reached the middle of this ascending ladder; they have arrived at a degree of purification in which the love of good is the ruling desire of their existence. In the third and lowest rank, occupying the lower rungs of the ladder, are the less advanced spirits; they are in a state of unawareness and so tend toward mistakes, wrongdoing, and base sentiments." Note: Not all spirits in the third category are essentially bad. Within this category, there are spirits who are inactive and neutral, performing neither good or bad; spirits who are frivolous and mischievous; and still others who are malicious and take pleasure in doing harm. It must be understood that this classification is not absolute; there is no abrupt change from one to the next. At the boundaries from one to the next, their peculiarities blend together like the colors of a rainbow.
Following some notes regarding preliminary observations of this hierarchy, Kardec goes on to present a subdivision of these classes, derived through much observation along with systematic analysis and comparison of spirit communications. He writes, "Having arrived at this general classification, it only remains for us to bring out, through a sufficient number of subdivisions, the principal differences in the three great classes we have established. We have done this with the aid of the spirits themselves, whose friendly instructions have never failed to carry us forward in the work we have started." Stating also that this system will help to understand the intellectual and ethical inequalities among the communications and to determine the degree of esteem and confidence to which the communicating spirit is entitled, he then remarks, "Spirits do not, in all cases, belong exclusively to such-and-such a class. Their progress occurs only gradually, and at times, inconsistently. As a result, they may exhibit in themselves the characteristics of several sub-classes, a point easily understood and confirmed by observing their language and acts."
The above said, the text to follow following comprises Kardec's subdivision of classes, derived at through careful, systematic study of spirit communications, and with the help of the superior spirits.