Gallery: Ascension steps

The Second Death: The Process of Ascension on the Spirit Planes – Part 1/2

Steve is away today. We repost this two-part article from 2011, greatly revised.

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 our 4D astral body into our 5D lightbody.

The second death happens inside the Fifth. We remain in our astral forms until we navigate an event generally called “the Judgment” (2) and experience the second death or dissolution of the astral 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.

Let’s consider what Ascension looks like on the inner planes.

Theologian Archie Mattson discusses the prospect of advancement (Ascension) 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.” (3)

The unnamed teacher who speaks through Betty Bethards also describes this ascending event, the 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.” (4)

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.” (5)

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.” (6)

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 like 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.” (7)

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.” (8)

(Conclude tomorrow in Part 2.)


(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) See “The Judgment” at “The Judgement” is the second life review we have. The first is immediately upon leaving the physical body.

This one is an in-depth review of our last life, carried out with our spiritual director. This second one occurs inside the Mental Plane. After it we lose the astral body and end up in our Mental-Plane or Fifth-Dimensional lightbody.

(3) 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.

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

(5) 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.

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

(7) Loc. cit.

(8) Ibid., 125.

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