James Hewat McKenzie was born in 1869 in Edinburgh, Scotland. By 1900, he left his practice as a psychologist and psychoanalyst to pursue parapsychology full-time. He wrote his seminal work, Spirit Intercourse: Its Theory and Practice in 1917. He also helped a number of spiritual mediums to develop their abilities, including: Gladys Osborne Leonard, Franek Kluski, Maria Silbert and Eileen J. Garrett. Before he died in 1929, he founded the British College of Psychic Science with his wife in 1920. McKenzie’s research contributed to the spiritual movement of the early 20th century, paving the way for future study of clairvoyance, extrasensory perception and remote viewing.
The spirit world has been described as an ethereal plane that exists in the same space as the earth, but descriptions differ considerably from one medium to the next. In his book, McKenzie described the spirit world as he envisioned it, and went on to explain why he thought there were contradicting descriptions.
McKenzie described the spirit world as a set of seven spheres that surrounded each planet in the solar system. “The sun would not be seen as a physical object upon the seventh or any other super-physical sphere, for it illuminates physical matter only,” he wrote. There was no heaven and hell. “The old idea of heaven was as a dead level of experience for the ‘good’ and another level for the ‘bad,’ but the new conception pictures all, at various stages of progress, mostly happy and contented, and never left without help and instruction when they desire these at any stage.”
The first and second astral spheres were described as basic levels, very similar to earth. The third sphere, located 1,350 miles from the earth’s surface, was a higher level that still had pets, animals, gardens, houses, plants, flowers and trees. The forth sphere was the Philosopher’s Sphere. Located 2,850 miles above the surface, it held some plants and animals, and inhabitants lived together in brotherhoods, “devoting much their time to intellectual, artistic and ascetic pursuits.” The fifth sphere held fewer animals and plants and was devoted to contemplation, aspiration and helping others. The sixth sphere he called the Love Sphere. Highly evolved birds and flowers were some of the few reminders of the physical world. The seventh sphere he called the Christ Sphere. Located 18,250 miles above the surface, it was no longer composed of earth, but was crystalline in nature. This sphere was filled with dazzling brightness, streets of gold and buildings of jasper.
He explained the contradictory messages coming from spirits through their mediums as a problem of viewpoint. The spirit’s view of the world is dependent upon the level in which he resides. “One who enters the astral plane after death will describe life there,” he wrote. “Quite ignorant of higher states, while those who enter directly into the third sphere will be similarly unable to tell what the life of a spirit is upon the astral plane.”
When describing time and space, he said that space exists, but “time is difficult to reckon in spirit life, as it is of little importance in comparison with development, for a spirit is only judged to have wasted time if he has not evolved.”
He described the transition from sphere to sphere. “Man has a soul composed of several envelopes or bodies. The grossest is the astral which he uses to enter the astral world, in the first sphere.” The spirit world acts as a purifier on the astral body, “reducing its density atom by atom like chemical evaporation” as the spirit evolves.
He stated that, “Man’s ideas of physical and spiritual states is delusive. It is purely a matter of standpoint as to how these seemingly contrary states shall be judged. For the spiritual world is just as concrete a reality to spirits as the physical earth is a reality to mortals.”