Flight to my Starry Home, by Frederika Bremer

I was in Stockholm when the ambassador, who is sent by the all-wise Father to pilot his children to the unknown land of roses, called for me, and I was obliged to part with the body which, though homely and unattractive, like the dear, good "family roof,"[A] had rendered me service in many a stormy day.

[Footnote A: Swedish term for umbrella.]

The feeling I experienced in taking my departure was like that of going out into a pitiless storm, and it was followed by an intense prickling sensation, similar to that familiarly known as the "foot asleep." This, I afterwards understood, was occasioned by the electrical current passing through my spirit as it assumed shape upon emerging from its old frame.

Some twenty minutes perhaps elapsed after the breath leaving the body before I became perfectly conscious in my new form. Upon recovering the use of my senses, my whole attention was drawn from myself to the friends who had gathered in the room which had so recently been my sick chamber.

As I watched them combing the hair and attiring the white, stiff figure that lay so solemnly stretched upon the couch, my emotions were indescribable. I endeavored to speak, but my voice gave but a faint sound, which they evidently did not hear as a spirit, I attracted no attention. This caused me deep grief, for I desired them all to see me still living.

My sad emotions were presently dispelled by the sound of most mellifluous music bursting upon my senses; and as I turned my eyes to discover the source from whence it proceeded, I beheld, resurrected before me, a group of dear old friends, whose bodies were already dust and ashes in the Swedish grave-yards, and in the cemeteries of the old and new worlds. A hearty burst of joy escaped from my lips as I recognized them. We laughed, cried, shook hands, and kissed first on one cheek and then on the other, with the same enthusiasm and naturalness we would have shown had we been inhabitants of dear old mother Earth.

"Come, Frederika! Dear Frederika! don't stay gazing on that old body! Leave friends who cannot talk with you and come with us!" they clamored on all sides. Their voices were like a full orchestra; besides, some had instruments of music, upon which they improvised little songs to my honor. I was fairly bewildered. Presently they formed a circle about me and commenced whirling rapidly around and around. I felt as in a hammock swayed by the wind; a dreamy lethargy stole over me, and I gradually became unconscious; and thus, I am told, they bore me through the earth's atmosphere, out in the stellar spaces, to a new world a world not of the earth, earthy, but the New Jerusalem which I had so often pictured to my fancy.

A soft, pleasant breeze blowing directly upon my face, restored me to consciousness. I opened my eyes, and, lo! I was reclining upon a divan in a great pavilion. The friends whom I had previously recognized were around me, some making magnetic passes over me, others engaged in preparations for my comfort. Upon seeing me awaken, several friends approached with flowers and fruits. The term "flowers," though a beautiful appellation, gives but a faint idea of these marvellous creations.

My attention was particularly attracted to one whose corolla was of deep violet striped with gold, having long silvery filaments spreading out from the cup in lines of light like the luminous trail of a comet.

In a state of delicious languor, I watched the varied wonders before me. The pavilion, which was of silver lace or filagree woven in the most exquisite patterns, was a hundred or more feet in circumference, and adorned with open arches and columns on its several sides. These columns and arches were of coral and gold, which contrasted with the silver network, and the blossoms and foliage of curious plants and vines which graced the interior, forming altogether a structure of singular elegance and beauty.

Numberless forms like the fabled peris and gods of mythology glided in and out of these arches, and approached me with offerings of welcome. One blooming Venetian maiden presented me with a crystal containing a golden liquid, which she said was the elixir of the poets and painters of her nation. The name she gave it was "The Poet's Fancy," and she informed me that it was distilled from a plant which fed upon or absorbed the emanations which the active mentalities of these poetic beings exhaled.

This information was quite new to me, and gave me pleasure, as it accorded with my ideas of correspondence. So I sipped the "Poet's Fancy," and imagined that its delicious, aromatic flavor vivified me like rays of sunshine. If, previously, I had been charmed, I now certainly experienced a power of enjoyment and quickness of perception tenfold increased.

I then inquired for Swedenborg, Spurzheim, and Lavatar. "You will meet them further on," said she, smiling. "They are not here." I was so well pleased with her that I twined my arm around her fairy-like form and we glided away together. As I desired to obtain a peep at the outside of the beautiful pavilion, my companion led the way, pausing here and there to present me to groups who had advanced for that purpose. The company I found to be composed of writers and painters, interspersed with a few of my own personal friends; and I felt gratified to find myself so well received by those whom I had known on earth as celebrities.

"'Tis strange," I remarked to my companion, "that such choice minds should all be gathered together in one place."

"They are spirits congenial to your own," said she. "Like attracts like, and they have come from their respective homes in the spirit world to welcome you here."

"Ah," said I, "I now begin to understand what all this fine company means! This is my reception."

As we were leaving the pavilion we were joined by Herr Von, the celebrated Swedish naturalist who had recently entered the spirit world. He congratulated me upon my safe arrival, and kindly offered to act as cicerone and to point out to me the marvels by which I was surrounded.

To my astonishment, on reaching the open air I discovered that the pavilion was located upon the summit of a lofty mountain. The face of this mountain was of many colors and glistened like precious stones. My friend led me to the point of a precipice on one side and bade me look down. This I did, and beheld phosphorescent rays issuing from the sides.

"What wonder is this?" I asked. He informed me the mountain was magnetic in its character, and that it was, so to speak, the first station from earth, and a point easily attained by a spirit newly arriving from that planet. He said I was not permanently to remain upon the mountain, but was placed there until I should become acclimated to the spirit atmosphere, and to acquire strength before travelling to that portion of the spirit land which would form my permanent abode.

The apex of the mountain formed a flat plain about two miles in extent. We walked onward some distance, when he pointed out to me another pavilion, much larger than the one to which I had been borne. The exterior form of each was alike, and resembled a Turkish mosque; the crown-like canopy which formed the top being surmounted by a ball so dazzling in brightness that I was obliged to turn my gaze from it. This ball was composed of an electric combination, which shed its rays far through space. "And," said the good Herr Von, "as the pavilion is used for the reception of the friendless and the homeless, they are attracted and guided to it by its coruscations."

We proceeded some steps further, and he showed me how the mountain, which is steep and precipitous on the northern exposure, sloped into broken chains and lower elevations on the southern; and from this point, looking down, I beheld through the clear atmosphere a billowy landscape, clothed with soft, rich verdure, more fresh and green to the eye than that which covers dear mother Earth.

"How wonderful are thy works, O God!" I exclaimed, as we retraced our steps. And I could not but reflect upon the singular trait exhibited by Jesus of frequenting a high mountain to pray. Surely, altitude elevates one into the spiritual state, and no doubt Christ felt nearer to the spirit world when elevated far above Jerusalem, on the mountain-top, amid the clouds. Thus, looking down from the sublime height, I realized for the first time that I too was a spirit and an inhabitant of the world in which Jesus dwelt!