In addition to hell itself, there is also a process of devastation, described at length in the Word. We take with us into the next life innumerable evils and falsities acquired from the sins we have actually committed. These we heap up and twine together, even those of us who have lived honorably. Before the honest can be lifted into heaven, their evils and falsities have to be dispelled, and this process is called devastation. There are many kinds of devastation, and it can last for a longer or shorter time. Some people are taken to heaven after a very brief period, and some go immediately after death.
I have been sent down to hell several times in order to see the torture that those in hell go through and the devastation of those in the underground realm. (Being sent to hell is not a matter of moving from one place to another but of gaining entrance to one of hell’s communities while staying in the same place.) Let me report on just one experience.
I had the clear sensation of a kind of pillar drawing around me and growing perceptibly larger. The idea came to me that this was the bronze wall mentioned in the Word, formed out of angelic spirits to keep me safe in my mission to the unfortunates below. While there, I heard plaintive wails like these: “Oh God, oh God! Have mercy on us! Have mercy on us!” These laments continued for a long time. I was allowed to talk with those unhappy people as much as I wanted. Their main complaint concerned the evil spirits, whose sole and burning desire was to cause them pain. They had lost hope, saying that they believed the agony would go on to eternity. But I was able to comfort them.
Because there are so many hells, as I said, describing them in an organized way means doing so in this order:
1. The hells of those who spent their lives in hatred, revenge, and cruelty [Sections 814–823].
2. The hells of those who spent their lives in adultery and lechery; in addition, the hells of deceivers and witches [824–831].
3. Misers’ hells; the foul Jerusalem there and outlaws in the wilderness; in addition, the feces-laden hells of those who have pursued sensual pleasure alone [938–946].
4. Next, other hells than these [947–970].
5. Last, those who are undergoing spiritual devastation [1106–1113].
from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Sections 698-700