Spirit Hierarchy (excerpt from "The Spirits' Book")
(an excerpt from Chapter Five of "The Spirits' Book")
Part 1 of 3
Third Order - Imperfect Spirits
Influence of matter predominates over spirit. There is an inclination toward wrong-doing. Spirits are unaware, proud, self-centered, and exhibit all the negative sentiments that result from such attitudes.
They intuit the existence of God, although they have no comprehension of God. They are not all thoroughly bad. In many of them, there is more frivolity, lake of reasoning power, and love of mischief than down-right badness. Some do neither good nor evil, but the very fact that they do no good denotes their lack of advancement. Others, on the contrary, take pleasure in wrong-doing and are gratified when they find an opportunity of working harm.
Among spirits of this order, a certain amount of intelligence is often allied with malice and love of mischief. But whatever their intellectual development, their ideas are lacking in elevation, and their sentiments are more or less abject.
Their knowledge of the things of the spirit-world is narrow, and the little they know is confused with the ideas and prejudices of the incarnate life. They can give only false and incomplete notions of the spirit world; but the attentive observer can often find in their communications, however imperfect, confirmation of the great truths proclaimed by spirits of the higher orders.
Their character is revealed in their language. Every spirit who reveals a wrongful intention in its communications may be ranked in the third order; consequently, every harmful thought suggested to our mind comes to us from a spirit of that order.
They see the happiness enjoyed by good spirits, and this sight causes them to burn with jealousy and envy.
They hold on to the memory and the perception of sufferings in the incarnate life, which often creates more painful impressions on them than the reality. They suffer, in fact, both from the ills they have endured themselves and from those they have caused others to endure. And as these sufferings continue for a very long time, they believe themselves to be destined to suffer forever.
They may be subdivided into five principal classes:
Class - Impure Spirits
They are inclined to wrong-doing and make it the object of all their thoughts and activities. As spirits, they give human beings unwise advice, stir up conflict and distrust, and assume every sort of disguise in order to mislead more effectively. They besiege those with less developed characters, hoping they will accept their suggestions and thus be diverted from the path of progress. They rejoice greatly when these victims give way under the appointed trials of incarnate life. Spirits of this class can be recognized by their language, since they use coarse or trivial expressions, always a sign of an un-evolved ethical sense. Their communications show the baseness of their inclinations; and though they may try to impress us by speaking with an appearance of reason and propriety, they are incapable of keeping up false appearances and finally betray their true selves. Certain cultures have regarded them as infernal deities; others give them such names as "demons," "evil genii," or "evil spirits." The human beings in whom they are incarnated are addicted to all the faults brought about by debased sentiments; they are the sex addicts, the rogues, the brutal, the greedy, the insincere. They do wrong for its own sake, without any clear motive. And because they hate all that is good, their targets are generally decent and honorable people. Regardless of their social status, they are a burden to society. Not even the varnish of civilization can hide their true instinctual nature.
Class - Frivolous Spirits
They are unknowing, mischievous, unreasonable, addicted to mockery. They meddle with everything and answer questions with no regard for truth. They love to cause petty annoyances, raise false hopes of immediate rewards, and deceive people with tricks and hoaxes. The spirits in this class have the characteristic commonly attributed to goblins, elves, etc. They often work under the orders of other spirits. In their communications with human beings, their language is usually witty and humorous, but shallow. They are quick to discern the oddness and absurdity in people and things, on which they comment sarcastically. If they borrow distinguished names, as they are fond of doing, it is for the fun of it rather than from any malicious intention.
Class - Pseudo-Authorities
Their knowledge is often considerable, but they imagine themselves to know a good deal more than they really do. Since they've made a certain amount of progress from various points of view, their language has about it an air of importance that may easily give a false impression of their real capacities and enlightenment. Their ideas are generally nothing more than reflections of the prejudices and false reasoning of their earthly lives. Their statements contain a mixture of truths and absurdities, along with easily spotted traces of presumption, pride, jealousy, and stubbornness, from which they haven't yet freed themselves.
Class - Ordinary Spirits
They are neither advanced enough to take an active part in doing good nor bad enough to be active in doing wrong. They sometimes lean towards one or the other but they are not, ethically or intellectually, above the ordinary level of humanity. They are strongly attached to material things and miss the satisfactions they derive from them.
Class - Noisy and Boisterous Spirits
Strictly speaking, these spirits don't really form a distinct class based on personal qualities. They can be found among all the third order classes. Often they reveal their presence by producing sensory phenomena, such as rapping sounds, atmospheric disturbances, the moving and throwing of objects, etc. More than any other class of spirits, they seem to be attached to matter. They also appear to be active agents in certain environmental occurrences, acting on air, water, fire, and underground phenomena. These phenomena may seem logical, but it is hard to assign them either a random or a physical cause. All spirits, of course, can produce physical phenomena. Spirits of the higher orders, however, usually leave them to the lower order of spirits, since the latter are better fit to act on matter than to pursue affairs requiring intelligence. Moreover, when higher spirits find it useful to produce physical manifestations, they enlist the help of spirits of a lower degree as helpers.